While Fabian Coulthard, Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin were creating history with the first all-New Zealand podium in the history of the Australian Touring Car Championship/Supercars at Winton, the latest Kiwi off the production line on the other side of the Tasman, Richie Stanaway, scored a breakthrough top-10 finish in an otherwise tough initiation as a full-time driver in the category. We profile Stanaway in Supercar Xtra Magazine issue #104.
CLICK HERE for more information on issue #104.
When you sit back and listen to Stanaway speak, it quickly becomes apparent how elevated himself to the main game after just a handful of drives in Supercars. Eloquent, analytical, relaxed yet focused, the 26-year-old has an honest and open approach which Kiwis are famous for.
Throughout our interview, the GP2 race winner displays a rare ability to describe the process of driving a Supercar in such clear and thoughtful terms that you feel like you are right there with him in the driver’s seat. But, that’s what a quality mix of international single-seater and tin-top experience buys you; feedback that the top echelon of engineers crave. It’s little wonder Stanaway’s signature was being sort after by more than just Tickford Racing for 2018.
Starting out as New Zealand Formula Ford champion in 2009, Stanaway first impressed the Supercars paddock that same year in Hamilton on his Toyota Racing Series debut. He claimed the outright lap record and race wins.
The Kiwi moved overseas in 2010 to chase his single-seater dream and won the German ADAC Formula Masters series. He graduated to German Formula 3 and duly won that title in 2011. He progressed to Formula Renault 3.5, GP3 and GP2, adding to his growing tally of race wins along the way, including at the famed Monaco Grand Prix.
But Stanaway’s international experience doesn’t end on the cusp of Formula 1. He’s raced for DAMS in the highly-competitive Porsche SuperCup and has been a key figure in Aston Martin’s sportscar program, where he’s competed in the GrandAm Series in the United States and the World Endurance Championship, winning more races.
Still, the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship has claimed many ex-international victims with impressive resumes. There’s been plenty of guys and gals with big name reputations who were meant to show the local folk how it’s done, only to discover with some surprise that they’ve arrived at one of the toughest championships in the world.
When Stanaway secured the gig at Super Black Racing for the 2016 enduros, by his own admission, he was lucky to be there. Arguably underprepared and with a lack of Supercars miles under his belt, to the seasoned observer it appeared a high-risk play. But from his first event in slippery conditions at Sandown he impressed.
If his 2016 efforts secured him a plumb drive alongside young gun Cameron Waters for the 2017 enduros, then last year’s performance cemented his full-time championship arrival. He won a race on his debut weekend in the highly-competitive Dunlop Super2 Series at Sydney Motorsport Park. A frontrunner all weekend at Sandown, alongside fellow young gun Waters, the pair secured their first main-game triumph. At Bathurst a mega stint in the wet saw the duo lead much of the race. And at the Gold Coast he produced another mighty drive in difficult conditions, securing another podium.
It’s hard to name an international driver who’s adapted to these cars better than Stanaway. Other internationals who made the transition were highly regarded, but it is the new Tickford Racing full-timer who seems to have accelerated the learning process. And his steady approach to his first season in the category now seems to be paying dividends.
CLICK HERE to purchase issue #104 within Australia to read the full feature.
CLICK HERE to purchase issue #104 within New Zealand to read the full feature.
CLICK HERE to purchase issue #104 for the rest of the world to read the full feature.
CLICK HERE to purchase the digital edition of issue #104 to read the full feature.