Robin Liddell says he’s relishing the opportunity to craft the Rebel Rock Racing program to his liking in his role as both driver and team manager for the program in its return to the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
After his driving opportunities dried up at the end of last year, the veteran racer made his foray into a managerial role this year, first with Barwell Motorsport in British GT and the Blancpain GT Series and now with the reincarnated Rebel Rock operation under the ownership of Frank DePew.
Liddell, who drove for DePew in the previous iteration of the team in 2016, said the relationships he developed that season and throughout his career helped set the stage for the team’s return to action this year with a Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.
“I’ve been talking to Frank for the last 12 months about putting this deal together and that was slowly coming down stream,” he told Sportscar365.
“I’ve had a lot of involvement in getting people together, dealing with the series, getting everything we need. My role is team manager and I’ve certainly done a lot to get it to this point.
“I’m quite proud of that and I’ve really enjoyed the challenge. Coming to the track and driving, I’m not finding balancing those two roles as difficult as I thought I might.
“I can’t do both jobs entirely at the same time, but the reality is you just have to be here a bit earlier.
“You have to go to the team managers’ meeting, do the crew briefing in the morning and make sure the guys have what they need to do their job, but then you can stay back a little bit when you have good people.”
Liddell has consciously surrounded himself with trusted, familiar faces ranging from engineers and mechanics to co-driver Andrew Davis and GM support staff.
The results have been positive and immediate.
Liddell and Davis impressed with a podium finish in their first outing at VIR which the Scot directly attributed to the staff the team has in place.
“I drove for Rebel Rock two years ago in the ST car and I liked Frank, we got on well, and I think he started to trust me and listen to my ideas about what things were good, bad, and indifferent,” Liddell said.
“The reality is the team was pretty dysfunctional at that time and there were a lot of inherited people and work ethics around the team.
“He’s a succesful businessman in his own right and he understands process and structure, so he could see himself what was broken. What he doesn’t have is the knowledge or experience to know how to fix it in a racing context.
“Fortunately, I’ve got the overall knowledge from my driving career so I can go to solutions that I know and trust. What we’ve done is essentially start with a fairly clean sheet of paper.
“Going down the GM, Chevy route, igniting all those relationships for me, that was a fairly easy decision to make. I think that’s borne fruit and it’s been a good decision.
“I’ve got good people who I trust to get on with the job so I don’t have to micromanage it. It seems to be working at the moment so I’m quite pleased with that.”
Rebel Rock Building for 2019 Program
Liddell indicated that the team has two Camaro GT4s in its possession and is building toward a possible two-car effort next season if the necessary hurdles can be cleared.
While the status of the second car in unclear at this stage, he said there was no question about where he and Rebel Rock would like to be racing.
“The ideal goal is to run two cars and we’re discussing the feasibility of it,” he said.
“I think right now, the reason we chose this series is because frankly as it is at the moment it’s the place to be in North American sports car racing.
“If you’re running a GT4 program, being in IMSA is still the place you want to be, ideally. We picked IMSA for that reason.
“We think it’s the best platform, we like the races, we like the events. I think now we’re going to evaluate our options for next year but I’d like to think we’re going to run a minimum of one car next year in this series.
“GT4 globally is a growth class. It’s simply too expensive to run GT3 cars. I’ve encouraged Frank to invest in this program, in this commodity, and in this set of regulations. I think we’ve got a car that we can compete with and I’m very excited coming into this weekend.
“I really want to go out at the end of the season on a bit of a high to demonstrate that we’ve made good decisions, we’ve got a good product, now let’s commit to next year and do a full program.”