Richie Stanaway will take Garth Tander’s seat at a Garry Rogers Motorsport team which has attracted naming rights sponsorship from Boost Mobile.
GRM has announced that Stanaway will join James Golding at the team for the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship campaign, while Boost Mobile has signed a ‘multi-year partnership’.
Stanaway experienced a shocking rookie season at Tickford Racing in 2018, finishing second-last of the full-time drivers in the championship.
However, Stanaway has now conceded that he may have erred in his behaviour on occasions and thanked GRM and Boost Mobile for giving him another opportunity in Supercars.
“I am excited and thankful to GRM and Boost Mobile for giving me a chance to race in one of the greatest championships in the world,” said the 27-year-old.
“My approach last year and my attitude which often stemmed from my own frustration was the wrong approach at times. I apologise to the people and fans that supported me and believed in me.
“GRM and Boost Mobile have given me a chance and I am committed to give it 100 percent and do what it takes as a team to win.”
The signing brings to an end an unbroken run of just over two decades in the Supercars Championship for Garth Tander, whose time in the category started at GRM and came full circle when he returned from a 12-year stint in Clayton Commodores in 2017.
The 41-year-old debuted at GRM midway through 1998 to replace the United Kingdom-bound Steven Richards, and helped the team to its first and so far only Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 win in 2000.
He was also part of the highly successful GRM-run Holden Monaro crew that won the 2002 Bathurst 24 Hour and finished runner-up to the sister car in 2003.
Team owner Garry Rogers said that the decision to effectively end Tander’s Supercars career as a full-time driver was an extremely difficult one.
“It obviously comes as a surprise to most that Garth will not be driving at GRM in 2019,” noted Rogers.
“Garth has rewarded the GRM team some of the biggest moments in motorsport including the 2000 Bathurst 1000 win alongside Jason Bargwanna, second in the championship behind Mark Skaife in the same year and the success of the Monaro 427 in the Bathurst 24 Hour races of 2002 and more.
“On Garth’s return to GRM in 2017 he was guaranteed two years of full-time driving and a management role following that.
“There were many aspects to my decision including that Garth was nearing the end of his career and has expressed that 2019 could be his final full-time season as a driver.
“I was very conscious of the fact that I would be both the one that started and ended Garth’s full-time Supercar career and this weighed heavily on me.
“In a perfect world I would absolutely have loved to give Garth the send-off that such a champion deserves, but I never lost sight that motorsport although centred around the driver is about the team and not any one individual.”
Tander himself, who finished 13th in season 2018, was gracious about the decision.
“I’m grateful for the start that Garry gave me in Supercars and understand his decision to end my full-time driving career,” he said.
“I’m now going to take a deep breath and consider my future that won’t be at GRM, I wish the team well for the future.“
Stanaway’s arrival makes for two second-year drivers at GRM after 22-year-old Golding ended his rookie campaign 22nd in the standings.
Rogers is unconcerned about the inexperience of his line-up and sees potential in both drivers.
“I have a lot of faith in ‘Bieber’ (Golding) and although his inaugural year in Supercars was not spectacular he certainly has the potential to be a successful driver, as does Richie,” declared Rogers.
“The future of the team is always what is at the foremost of our focus, and this chance to partner with a vibrant youth brand like Boost, who have shown their support of Supercars over the years, whilst developing up-and-coming stars.”
The Holden outfit will be known at the Boost Mobile Racing Team following Wilson Security’s decision to end its backing after four years.
The telco’s founder, Peter Adderton, was bullish about Stanaway’s prospects in 2019 after the New Zealander’s performances in the 2017 Pirtek Enduro Cup, including victory with Cameron Waters in the Sandown 500.
“Boost Mobile has a long history in supporting motorsport both in Australia and in the United States,” he said.
“We are excited about the opportunity to work with Garry Rogers, the entire GRM team and potential talent like potential Richie and James.
“We all saw what Richie was capable at Bathurst in 2017 and believe in the right team with the right management, support, and cars we will see him battle up the front.
“We don’t mind being the underdog and fighting our way forward, it makes for great entertainment.”
Last year’s Dunlop Super2 Series winner, Chris Pither, had already lost that ride at GRM after the departure of Wilson Security.
The Kiwi, who partnered Tander to sixth in last year’s Bathurst 1000, will be replaced by Dylan O’Keeffe while Mason Barbera continues on.
Both the Supercars Championship and Super2 kick off at the Superloop Adelaide 500 on February 28-March 3.