Feeney’s challenge as potential Whincup successor
Friday 14th May, 2021 - 4:57pm
Broc Feeney will have to defy history if he’s to challenge for the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship with Triple Eight Race Engineering.
Feeney is considered by many to be the favourite to replace retiring seven-time champion Jamie Whincup next year as Shane van Gisbergen’s team-mate.
It’s a tall ask for a teen who’ll only turn 19 in October this year.
Triple Eight team principal Roland Dane recently revealed a six-strong shortlist had been collated, with Feeney confirmed to be on there.
It’s been suggested that Triple Eight lured Feeney away from Tickford Racing in the most recent off-season with the promise of candidacy for a 2022 main game opportunity.
Feeney had joined Tickford after winning the 2019 Super3 Series title, and is now running the iconic #888 in the second-tier on a VF Commodore sponsored by Red Bull, Supercheap Auto and Boost Mobile.
He’ll be the primary driver in a Triple Eight wildcard at the Repco Bathurst 1000 in October, with Russell Ingall as his co-driver.
Just last weekend at The Bend Motorsport Park, he was called up to substitute for van Gisbergen as the lead steerer of the team’s Mercedes in Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS – and responded by clinching a pole position.
Performing consistently at the front in the pressure cooker environment that comes hand-in-hand with the highest profile team in Australia’s highest profile motorsport category is a different matter altogether, though.
Scott McLaughlin is the only Supercars rookie in the past 20 years to have finished his maiden season inside the championship’s top 10… and that was a 10th place result in the 2013 standings.
Beyond that, Marcos Ambrose was the next most recent, in 2001. It should be noted Erebus Motorsport rookie Brodie Kostecki holds 10th in the current season, although eight rounds remain.
If Triple Eight is to contend next season for the teams’ championship trophy it values so highly, it will need both its drivers chalking up truckloads of points. Van Gisbergen will undoubtedly provide a formidable benchmark, too.
On the flipside, Triple Eight doesn’t seem the type to opt for a stop-gap solution, meaning it could be now or never for Feeney to join the Banyo squad at the top level.
Dane made clear he’s been pleased with what he has seen to date.
“So far Broc is doing a great job for us. He’s doing what I hoped he would, which is good,” Dane told Speedcafe.com.
“We’ve only had one Super2 event, so he’s got plenty more to do this year.”
James Courtney is a relevant voice on the matter, having co-driven with Feeney at the 2020 Bathurst 1000, and as someone who made his Supercars debut at a powerhouse team.
Courtney’s first full-time campaign came in 2006 at Stone Brothers Racing, at a time when it had won the past three drivers’ titles.
“There’s been a trend of going younger and younger and younger,” Courtney told Speedcafe.com.
“The Formula 1 guys have been getting younger; a [Max] Verstappen is a very different character to a Broc Feeney.
“The calibre that you’re racing at a young age in Europe, it’s massively high pressure, like in the karting stuff it’s ridiculous and then all the junior formulas – Formula 4 and Formula 3 and all that sort of stuff.
“You sort of mature as a driver a lot quicker than I think what people do here, just dealing with that high pressure.
“When I came back and did [Supercars], I’d already done the Jaguar stuff in F1 and everything, so for me… it sounds really bad, but it felt like a step back. For Broc, it’s going to be a massive jump.
“We see guys that absolutely dominate in the development series and then come in, how much of a big jump it is from the development series to this [championship].
“It’s a very different position to perform under.
“Ultimately if they pick him, then they think he’s ready.”
Triple Eight has only had three different full-time drivers on its books since the start of 2006, namely Whincup (’06 to current), van Gisbergen (’16 to current), and Craig Lowndes (’05 to ’18).