Stanaway: Newcastle finale ‘could be my last race’
By Tom Howard
Sunday 24th November, 2019 - 6:00am
Richie Stanaway says today’s Newcastle season finale could be his last race in Supercars after admitting securing a drive for next season is not ‘looking likely’.
The 28-year-old is facing an uncertain future in the category given his current employer Garry Rogers Motorsport will exit the series after a 24-year spell after this weekend.
It has left the New Zealander searching for a new drive at a time when vacant 2020 seats are rapidly diminishing.
The uncertainty hanging over Stanaway’s future arrives at the end of a turbulent campaign for the former GP2 and GP3 race winner after a fractious debut Supercars Championship year with Tickford Racing.
While GRM struggled broadly this year, Stanaway’s season has been hampered by on and off track incidents, including the aggravation of an old neck injury that ruled him out of seven races.
Stanaway’s performances have improved since his return to the category, headlined by a pair of top 10 finishes at Pukekohe, although last month the team stood him down for a race at the Gold Coast after missing an autograph session.
The Kiwi has not given up on continuing his career in Supercars but admits there is an odd feeling heading into today’s race knowing it might be his last.
“It’s odd. It’s been a good couple of years, (but I) just don’t know what’s happening in the future,” Stanaway told Speedcafe.com.
“(It) could be my last race on Sunday.
“I can only hope that something comes good. It’s not really looking likely at the moment and there’s nothing I can really do about that.
“It’s just I guess a bizarre feeling not really knowing what’s happening. (I’m) just kind of focusing on the weekend and just trying to have fun.”
Amid the uncertainty Stanaway says it has been a frustrating task trying to adapt to Supercars and is concerned he may never receive the opportunity or time to realise his potential.
The former sportscar ace has shown glimpses of success in Supercars having won on debut in Super2 at Sydney Motorsport Park in 2017 before helping Cameron Waters to victory in the Sandown 500 that year.
“I think obviously things haven’t quite gone the way I would have liked them to have gone,” he said.
“I’ve had to probably push myself to a level that I’ve never really had to push myself to.
“Regardless of the poor results I’m probably better than I’ve ever been in my career.
“It’s a nice feeling to develop yourself and push yourself to new heights.
“Unfortunately there’s a lot more to success in this category than just the driver, it’s a lot about everything else that goes into it and I just haven’t really had the chance to get that yet.
“(I) might not ever get that chance (but it’s) still been a good experience.
“It’s frustrating, especially it takes at least three years in the main game to really find your feet and that’s for most people that have done a decent amount of Super2.
“Obviously I sort of came in with not much Supercars experience so I’ve always sort of been up against it; this isn’t my forte like it is (for) the other guys.
“If you look at (Scott) McLaughlin, he’s the best reference because he’s a two-time champion and just went straight out of karting and into a touring car and he’s done a lot of seasons now.
“When you’re someone that’s just done a lot of other stuff it’s hard to come into their territory and make up for all of that lost time.
“I’ve tried my hardest to short track it but now that I’m in my second year I’m starting to get comfortable and I feel like I’m starting to get somewhere, but then it might all be coming to an end just as I start to get somewhere. It’s unfortunate.”
Stanaway heads into today’s race after finishing Saturday’s 95 lap encounter in 16th despite running the majority of the race without a functioning coolsuit.