B12 Hour a head-start for Stanaway Supercars return

Richie Stanaway. Image: Ross Gibb Photography

Richie Stanaway’s appearance with Triple Eight Race Engineering at this weekend’s Bathurst 12 Hour gives the New Zealander a ‘head-start’ for his Supercars return.

The New Zealander will co-drive with countryman Shane van Gisbergen at this year’s Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000 enduros after almost three years away from motor racing ended with a wildcard entry at last year’s Bathurst 1000 with Greg Murphy, the pair finishing a solid 11th.

This weekend, Stanaway is part of the Triple Eight’s GT racing programme, racing alongside team boss Jamie Whincup and Prince Jefri Ibrahim in the operation’s Pro-Am car.

Across the garage, van Gisbergen is driving a similar Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Broc Feeney and Maximilian Gotz in the team’s Pro class entry.

Though Stanaway and van Gisbergen are not sharing a car, the weekend affords a valuable opportunity to forge their relationship well ahead of September’s Sandown 500.

“Yeah, it’s an incredible opportunity,” Stanaway told Speedcafe.com.

“It’s a great way to start the year and for me, [as] it’s important to get some mileage in a race car again after having a few years off.

“This is a great way to achieve that and it’s pretty special to be down here racing in Australia, but you’re competing against so many people I’m familiar with from when I was in Europe.”

Bathurst is about more than just dusting off some of the racing cobwebs as it also allows Stanaway the opportunity to begin developing  relationships within the team.

At the same time, it allows Triple Eight a chance to work with its new signing and begin to understand how to get the best out of him.

“Fantastic to have him here working with the team early on in the year at the Bathurst 12 Hour,” said Whincup.

“Richie is a class act. There’s absolutely no question about his pace.

“It’s just a fantastic opportunity for him to work with the team so early on, get familiar with us, be comfortable.”

Stanaway is itching for the link-up with van Gisbergen later in the year, who became a back-to-back Supercars champion last year, when he set a new record for the number of race wins in a season (21).

“I’ve known Shane for probably half my life,” said Stanaway.

“It’s quite nice to be coming back to race and Supercars, and two of the biggest races of the year with someone I don’t have to meet for the first time; it’s someone I’ve known for a very long time and have a lot of rapport already.

“I think it will make [it] a lot of fun to share a car with someone who’s been a friend for so long,” he added.

“It makes it a lot more interesting too, and he’s operating at the level that he does operate.

“From that point of view, it’s good as well, because I know that when I get out of the car, I get out and probably the best guy in the pit lane jumps in and takes over.

“It’s a nice, nice feeling.

“Also, even though I’ve known him quite a while, I’ve never actually worked with him directly.

“I have always wondered, ‘How does he achieve the results that he achieved?’

“I think I’ll get a pretty good insight into that this year and probably learn a lot from him.”

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