SVG wishes Stanaway was his replacement at T8
Sunday 15th October, 2023 - 2:00pm
Shane van Gisbergen was hoping that Richie Stanaway would be chosen as his replacement at Triple Eight Race Engineering in 2024.
The three-time Supercars champion, now also a three-time Bathurst 1000 winner, leaves for NASCAR at the end of the current Supercars season.
Triple Eight moved to fill the breach left by van Gisbergen by signing Will Brown in August, a deal which required the latter to extricate himself from the final year of his contract with Erebus Motorsport.
Since then, Stanaway has helped take the #97 Red Bull Ampol Camaro to finishes of third in the Penrite Oil Sandown 500 and victory at the Repco Bathurst 1000.
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It is the latest chapter in a remarkable return to motor racing for Stanaway, who retired in 2019 after two tumultuous years a full-time Supercars driver but will be back in that position with Grove Racing/Penrite Racing in 2024.
“It’s pretty cool to get him back in the sport,” said van Gisbergen, who urged the Supercars paddock not to give up on his friend after a benching from the Gold Coast 600 in 2019 over a missed signing session.
“Then seeing how he is this year – his mentality and drive, focus, determination on and off the track – it’s been really cool to work with him.
“Yeah, just in some ways, I wish he was replacing me in that car.
“I know they’ve got a capable driver replacing, but I was secretly hoping Richie would get the drive.
“But he’s in a good team. You know, Grove’s got some great people and I’m sure he’ll do well next year if that environment’s what it looks like.”
While Brown has endured a rough period of late, he led the championship at the NTI Townsville 500 and was still vying with current team-mate Brodie Kostecki for top spot in the standings when Triple Eight swooped on his services.
Van Gisbergen had stated in July that he “want[ed] to make sure that there’s someone here to replace me” before he left for the United States, but says he had little role in the deliberations over who would take over his seat.
“I didn’t have too much input, to be honest,” he recalled.
“But at that point in time, I just wanted to make sure, before I committed to USA, that they were happy with what they had.
“Richie was obviously on the shortlist but Jamie [Whincup, Team Principal] didn’t involve me too much with the main discussions about it.”
Peter Adderton, a long-time back of Stanaway’s, financially and otherwise, declared passing up on the GP2 race winner a “huge error”.
One theory put to Speedcafe is that Brown and Stanaway would probably not be dissimilar with respect to performance, but that the former has youth in his side given he is 25 years of age versus 31 for the latter, and is possibly a better fit with the team’s partners.
Adderton, though, reasons that Triple Eight has youth covered with incumbent Broc Feeney, who only turns 21 this Wednesday.
He told the Speedcafe Podcast, “If Roland [Dane, former Team Principal] was running that team, Richie’d be in that car.
“I think they made a huge error, a huge mistake.
“I love Will Brown, I think Will’s one of the most talented drivers out there, but they’ve already got a Will Brown in Broc; they’ve already got a young driver.
“What Ritchie would have brought was what he brought, so I think hindsight, they probably would have done that.
“But at the end of the day, I think he’s in a great team at Grove.
“I think obviously the Groves are putting a huge amount of resources and money behind that team and they’ve got a good team around Richie, so I think that he’ll do pretty well if they if they’re not in a hobbled Mustang.”
As Adderton alluded to, Triple Eight made its decision before Stanaway raced in one of its Supercars, although he had tested for the squad and driven one of its Mercedes-AMG GT3s in GT World Challenge Australia.
Stanaway will form an all-Kiwi line-up next year at Grove, which retains 2023 Repco Supercars Championship rookie Matt Payne on a long-term deal.