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Wednesday, Oct 11 01:10pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Opinion: Richie Stanaway deserves a Supercars drive in 2018

The result didn’t reflect the performance, but Richie Stanaway’s storming drive in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 is deserving of a seat at the front of the Supercars grid in 2018.


Stanaway and Prodrive Racing teammate Cam Waters probably should’ve been 600-points up in the Pirtek Enduro Cup come the end of Sunday afternoon. But Chaz Mostert’s misdemeanour and a sideways Garth Tander meant luck didn’t fall their way.

 

A broken rear wing ended any chance of the young pair winning the race, for which they had led most of it. However, that shouldn’t detract from what was arguably an even better performance than their Sandown 500 win.


Stanaway is undoubtedly one of New Zealand’s greatest wet weather racers ever.


Some say Shane van Gisbergen is one of the best rain meister’s on the Supercars grid, but Stanaway was a wet weather God on Sunday. His drive wasn’t perfect by any means, but this year’s Bathurst 1000 was the race no one wanted to win.


Just about everyone who led the race spun or went too deep at either Hell Corner or Murray’s Corner, including Stanaway. Up against Supercars veteran and two-time Bathurst 1000 podium winner Steve Owen, the Kiwi had to close a 20-second margin to the Australian for the lead.


He did that in a matter of 10-laps, spun, then caught that deficit back up in five more laps.


Barnstorming.


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Historically Stanaway has always been good in the wet. In his first race in the GP3 Series at Spa-Francorchamps he finished eighth after starting 17th in the same race Mercedes Formula 1 driver Valtteri Bottas won. That race was wet too.


A day later he won his first GP3 Series race in just his second appearance.


Stanaway has proven his pace in the rain on several occasions. His maiden drive in the Supercars Championship came with Prodrive’s Super Black Racing division where he teamed up with Chris Pither.


At the 2016 Sandown 500 in damp but drying conditions, Stanaway hauled their Ford Falcon FG to the lead before eventually finishing 17th.


At 25-years-old Stanaway has a German Formula 3 title to his name, three GP3 Series wins, two GP2 wins of which one was at Monaco, a win in the FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Pro field and countless podiums to boot.


With a drive in the Supercars Pirtek Enduro Cup on the horizon Prodrive drafted him into the Super2 field to get a bit more experience in a car he’d only driven a handful of times.


He won in just his fourth race, defeating the likes of veteran Paul Dumbrell, and rising stars Todd Hazlewood and Jack Le Brocq, all of which had several seasons under their belt.


Stanaway is talented, experienced, and presents a cool and calm demeanour.


To put him in a Super2 drive next year would be criminal.


Get him to the main game.


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