Erebus prepared for last-minute Bathurst wildcard madness

Richie Stanaway (left) and Greg Murphy are set to contest this year’s Bathurst 1000 together. Picture: Mark Horsburgh

Bathurst 1000 wildcards Greg Murphy and Richie Stanaway might not get their first test with Erebus Motorsport until the week of this year’s Great Race.

After the well-documented rigmarole of putting the Boost Mobile-backed effort together, the wildcard is under a cloud amid the escalating COVID-19 situation on both sides of the Tasman.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently halted the Australian travel bubble in light of the situation in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland.

That halt is set to continue until at least September 13 and looks likely to be extended as new daily cases come close to 1000 in New South Wales.

New Zealand is grappling with its own surge in COVID-19 cases, which has prompted State Governments to designate the country a hot spot and close their respective borders.

This year’s Bathurst 1000 has already been postponed once, moving from October 7-10 to November 4-7.

There is speculation the Bathurst 1000 could be pushed even further back with rumours that a December date is looming, which could work in the favour of Erebus Motorsport.

In any case, Ryan said he’s working towards the dates he has at hand.

“At the moment it’s just so hard,” Ryan told Speedcafe.com.

“We’re just pressing on like it’s happening and if it doesn’t happen or if it has to happen very late, worst case we’ve talked about practicing on the way to Bathurst, doing some testing.

“That’s the absolute worst-case scenario. In a perfect world they’ll get to test at the start of October, they’ll do a couple of days, decide if they need any more testing, then roll into Bathurst.

“There’s a lot of stuff you’ve got to do at the workshop as well; seats, driver changes, helmet connections, all the stuff that makes sure that you have a successful Bathurst.

“We’ve got to make sure we tick those boxes too. We don’t want to have that last-minute rush scenario where you’re setting yourself up to fail.”

A silver lining in the coronavirus-induced mid-season break has been that Erebus Motorsport has gone all-in on a refresh of its third Holden ZB Commodore.

Nevertheless, Ryan is hopeful they have plenty of time in the lead-up to test and get the drivers comfortable well in advance.

“The car will be fine because we’ve got all this time to prep it right,” Ryan explained.

“But if you’ve got to change the seats or pedal box setting or all that stuff that can potentially make it fail, we don’t want to have that situation.

“We need to get there with the car perfect, the drivers happy, and ready to go out on the track.”

Erebus Motorsport has begun putting together a crew for the wildcard, which includes members who Ryan and Murphy previously worked with at the then-known Kelly Racing.

Wayne Mackie will engineer the entry while experienced team manager Bruin Beasley, who was recently appointed Winton Motor Racing operations manager, will oversee the project.

Beasley has previously worked with Erebus Motorsport and has his own team, MTEC Motorsport, which competes in New Zealand’s Castrol Toyota Racing Series.

“We’ve assembled a great team of guys,” said Ryan.

“A lot of them are not full-time guys. They’re guys that have worked with us before part-time or are GT guys.

“We’ve got Wayne Mackie who’s our data engineer in the other garage at the moment. He does a lot of stuff with the Erebus Academy and has worked really closely with Image Racing the last couple of years.

“He’s done a lot of race engineering in the past too in Europe in junior categories. He’s really good and really enthusiastic about doing it because he’s sort of been in the background the last couple of years, building dampers, and just being like a bit of a support engineer.

“To have this opportunity, he’s really champing at the bit to do it. We’ve got a good data guy to fill his position in the other garage. Wayne will take on that role and will do a really good job.

“We’ve got Bruin Beasley who has worked with us in the past, he’s going to manage the project on the race weekend.”

The Murphy/Stanaway entry is one of two wildcards confirmed for the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000, the other being Russell Ingall and Broc Feeney for Supercheap Auto and Triple Eight.

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