Erebus Motorsport owner Betty Klimenko (above, left) has hit back at comments made by Mercedes-Benz AMG boss Tobias Moers, who told CarAdvice at last week's Frankfurt motor show that he wasn't happy with the team's performance and things would need to change.
Followed by the Irwin tools E63 AMG, driven by Lee Holdsworth and Craig Baird coming home fourth and achieving its best-ever finish at the Sandown 500 at the weekend – shortly after Moers made his comments – Klimenko told the V8 Supercars website that “I am very happy, I’m very proud.
“This is what Erebus does well – we come from the bottom and work our way up. Adversity is our friend!
“We’ve had a lot of naysayers all weekend – here, overseas, everywhere – and one thing these boys do well is prove people wrong. So I don’t think there’s anything I can say. To me that wasn’t a fourth, it was a first.”
V8 Supercars reports that Klimenko’s reference to overseas ‘naysayers’ was a direct shot at Moers, who when asked whether he was happy with team’s performance, replied “honestly … no we’re not today, it’s not really good where we are today in that race series, that’s clear, there is no sense to talk about we’re happy with that. No we’re not happy.” (Read more here).
He said that Mercedes-Benz AMG was promised the “chequered flag” after a while, but that hasn’t yet happened, with the three Erebus cars languishing towards the bottom of the leaderboard. He also added that the setup of the AMG cars wasn’t ideal, and that things would need to change, and the team would need to start winning, for the Erebus-AMG contract to be renewed late next year.
Asked her immediate response after reading Moers’ comments, Klimenko repied “I don’t have a response because my team, my cars, you know, we don’t need to prove or disprove what anyone says about us, to us, or for us.
“We do what we do and that’s it. It’s the same with the GT program, we proved ourselves, we proved how good we could be under stress and this is exactly what these boys (have done). You give us something to fight for and we will.”
To fourth-place finisher Holdsworth, Klimenko said “all year, I’ve been telling him don’t worry, your karma points are building up for the enduros – and I was right. And I’m really happy I was right.
“I burst into tears.
“It was hard on me, basically it broke my heart having to see them work round after round getting one knock after another knock, after another knock. When something like (the fourth place) happens, it evens out."
But fourth place still doesn’t achieve the “chequered flag” result that Moers (below) needs for the Erebus contract to be renewed next year.
Moers, an engineer and keen driver who earlier this year, flew to Australia for the SLS AMG Black Series launch at Phillip Island, takes over the top job at Mercedes-Benz AMG from Ola Kallenius who green-lighted the Erebus contract.
Kallenius, who has a business background, was believed to have given the third-party V8 Supercars the go-ahead partially because billionaire Klimenko is a major customer of Mercedes-Benz AMG.
Equally, it is understood that Moers has been lukewarm about the project, while Mercedes-Benz Australia was – and still is – in fierce opposition to the Erebus-AMG team.
The comments made by Moers, and the lack of unity it has created with Klimenko, means that the chances of a Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG fronting the V8 Supercars grid after late next year are slim … unless the team begins to win.