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GRM will not contest Bathurst 1000 if Herne cannot race

Simon Chapman

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Monday 21st September, 2020 - 6:28pm

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Garry (left) and Barry Rogers pic: GRM website

Garry Rogers Motorsport will not contest this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 if prospective Supercars debutant Nathan Herne cannot race.

Herne has today been refused dispensation for a Motorsport Australia Superlicence to compete in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

Speaking with Speedcafe.com, Team Director Barry Rogers said he intends to fight the decision, otherwise the team will not compete in the Great Race.

Rogers labelled the announcement “disappointing” for the team.

When asked if the team had a back-up plan, Rogers replied, “There’s no back-up plan, we won’t run (if Herne cannot race).

“We’re confident that we can get this through on the precedents that has been set.”

Rogers said he was optimistic the team would get the dispensation allowed, citing 17-year-old driver Broc Feeney who will also contest this year’s race.

“It was something we always knew we had to apply for a dispensation for Nathan,” said Rogers.

“But it was never something that we saw was going to be an issue based on previous dispensations that had been given to drivers that had had Superlicence points, and even in some instances, below the 17-year-age minimum.

“Even in the current grid of drivers this year, I think Broc Feeney is there with less points than Nathan. Supercars like to highlight the fact that he’s been in a Super3 car and maybe a couple of Super2 races this year.

“Nathan has been racing TA2 cars, and let me tell you, you could argue they’re a more difficult car to handle than a Supercar. Very similar terminal speed; it’s not like he’s been racing around in a Hyundai.

“Anyway, we’ll battle on further. We’re not stopping here. So we’ll see what unfolds.”

Rogers said the decision didn’t fit the spirit of the Great Race, labelling the current state of Supercars “closed shop” to smaller teams.

“This is the sad part about it for us, not just us, but motorsport fans, in general, see Bathurst as a people’s race,” said Rogers.

“It’s a race where if you go back in the history of the race, you see those grids of 50 and 60 cars where someone had a bit of go in them, get it out, and go to Bathurst.

“It’s become a bit of a closed shop. It’s sad because you get a guy like Garry, there are very few of them around these days that are prepared to back young guys.

“Garry has always done things a bit different. He hasn’t always toed the line of what everyone else wanted to do.

“He spotted young Nathan a few years ago in his Formula Ford days and followed him through TA2. He sees someone that can get there and that’s disappointing that others can’t have a bit of faith in Garry.

“You’d have to argue, has there been anybody else that has done for Australian motorsport what he’s done? Not only just with drivers but with cars and everything.

“For this decision as it stands at this particular point in time, it’s disappointing. Our plan is to press on with it. We’ll seek some advice to see where we go from here.”

Following Motorsport Australia’s statement, Supercars issued its own response affirming its view that drivers must have a Superlicence.

The decision comes on the eve of the team’s first test with Herne and his co-driver Tyler Everingham at Winton Motor Raceway.

The team is set to complete two days of running with the pair in preparation for the race, which is less than a month away.

As it stands, the team has no plans to bring in another driver to its line-up should the status quo remain.

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