CHARLOTTE, N.C. Robby Gordon on Friday aligned his race team with Gillett Evernham Motorports in a partnership that will give the owner/driver the technical, manufacturing and marketing support his single-car operation has lacked.
As part of the agreement, Gordon will field Dodges instead of Fords this season. Gordon will also use GEM-produced engines.
"Ford has been very good to me, and this move is not a reflection on our relationship at all," said Gordon. "Ford was planning on supporting me, and even increasing its engineering support for my program in 2008. However, I felt that I needed to make this move to help put my team in a more stable financial situation in terms of marketing and sponsorship help."
Gordon took a severe financial hit when the Dakar Rally was canceled last month due to terrorism threats. He estimated his losses at approximately $4.5 million and was furious organizers didn't run at least a portion of the 16-day race.
Gordon built two cars for the event, and invested more than $1 million into each of them. He said following the cancellation of the event that it would take a considerable amount of time for Robby Gordon Motorsports to recover from the setback.
As the only owner and driver of a single-car team, Gordon has been fairly successful while also managing to grow his organization. He switched from Chevrolet to Ford before the start of the 2007 season so he could climb higher on the priority list with a manufacturer, and his 28th-place finish in the points was the highest among all single-car teams.
"Robby made a difficult decision to do what he thought was necessary to financially support and stabilize his race team," said Doug Hervey, manager of Ford Racing Technology's North American operations.
"We were fully prepared to continue our commitment with him this year, and had plans to increase our level of engineering support, before he told us of this decision to partner up with Gillett Evernham Motorsports," Hervey added. "As a manufacturer, we're disappointed to be losing him and his team, but understand the difficulties of running a one-car team in the sport today."
Gordon will now be a satellite of GEM, which was formed by three-time championship winning crew chief Ray Evernham. He sold majority ownership of the team last year to Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett Jr., and the organization has since added heavy sponsor support in an attempt to grow globally.
The team hired Canadian driver Patrick Carpentier to a lineup that already includes Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler, signed Budweiser and Best Buy and opened an office in New York. GEM also provides engines and technical assistance for BAM Racing and Petty Enterprises.
"We pride ourselves on being a leader in technology, innovation, and provider of top flight equipment to other Cup teams," Gillett said. "This is another example of a team coming to us for help in areas where we believe we excel."