October 09, 2009
Published on tags: Superleague
Synergetic's owner and driver Mal McKee is back from his extended leave. McKee was tied up with personal commitments and matrimonial affairs, but returned to drive in Italy after being absent since his home race in the UK and being incommunicado for the last couple of months.

Despite a continuation of the team's bad luck on his return, Mal was upbeat. "It's good to be back in the saddle. I've missed the team and the racing." The team has undergone several changes since McKee's absence, but Mal was at pains to point out how he supported those changes wholeheartedly. "Phil and Ryan both did a great job and brought in new talent and kept the team running well, despite their own frustrations on the track."

Teammate Phil Cullen was deputised by Mal before he went on leave and he handed over the reigns to reserve driver Ryan McConkey in turn, after his own departure. "Working with Phillie was great," said Mal, "We had a good working relationship and benefitted from a similar driving style. Phil brought many fresh ideas to the team and will be sorely missed by all."

When asked about Phil's decision to leave, Mal said that he was only aware of the it after his return. "I was not available for the last few weeks of my holiday, so I only found out a few days ago. I trusted Phil to do the right thing with the team and he certainly didn't let me down. From what I understand, he was jaded with turning up and being frustrated despite showing good form time after time. I think the record shows that Phil had eight DNFs in ten races, despite qualifying strongly with a good strategy. I can understand his decision perfectly and I wish him all the best for the future. I'd like him to know that the team will always strive to find a place for him in the future if we're commitment-free. Phil was one of the best assets I've ever had working with me, since back in the days of Down Racing. Phil is a serious competitor though, and he just wasn't having any luck with us considering he is capable of much, much more than his nine points tally might suggest."

Mal then digressed into a short talk about his experience with the history of the league. "You know, other than the GP2 series, I've never had as strong and committed team as I have this year. With Down and Ultima I've basically experienced a lack of interest from other drivers and had to resort to entering most races with only myself taking part. This year has been the breakthrough similar to the one that Woods had some years ago. Last year was great - it was another breakthrough for the team in terms of results, albeit in a reduced field, but this year marks the start of a team I own being a serious contender for seasons to come." Mal puts this breakthrough down to Phil agreeing to race for the team on a provisional basis at the start of this season, after last minute negotiations.

"The other major factor has been Ryan (McConkey). He's a dedicated racing driver who is perhaps not taken as seriously as he should be due to his sense of fun - another great guy. He's also brought a lot to the team and both he and Phil bounced off eachother in a fantastic way. I really think they brought the best out in eachother." Initially Ryan was also signed up with Synergetic on a provisional contract, but has now solidified his position as reserve driver for the remainder of the season. "As far as I'm aware, Ryan signed two experienced drivers for us while I was away - Martin and Liam. Ryan's no stranger to management and Phil made absolutely the correct decision in leaving Ryan in charge."

So what of Synergetic's latest talent, Liam Hatchell and Martin Wright? "Well it's only been a few days but, from what I can tell, they're both decent lads and team players. After a team meeting, it's been determined that Liam will race with both Martin and Ryan as reserve/test drivers. From what I could ascertain, both Martin and Ryan have commitments elsewhere which means neither will be available at a consistent level. Liam is raring to go!"

Martin managed to secure four points for the team in his debut race in Brazil. Unfortunately, due to technical issues, Liam was unable to compete in Italy. "Martin bagging fifth place in Brazil shows the potential the team still has to mount a serious challenge for fourth place in the Constructors'.

Meanwhile Mal continues to be dogged by mechanical problems, bringing his total contribution for the team so far this season to a total of seven DNFs in the same amount of race entries. Ryan has had the best of the teams fortunes, managing to finish in four of the seven races started. The blame for the misfortunes is believed to be due to the team's late start to the season, missing out on the Winter testing sessions and development the car.

While the team is looking forward to next season, they have not ruled out a strong finish to the current one. Mal plans to bring in some "tried and tested" hardware in order to help overcome his own mechanical issues, which should arrive within the next couple of sessions. Again stressing the importance of caretakers Ryan and Phil, Mal finished the interview by expressing his gratitude to both drivers for their help which he described as "invaluable".