Supercars 2022 championship, Bathurst 1000: Richie Stanaway, Greg Murphy, wildcard, documentary, Peter Adderton

Getting into the Supercars is only part of the challenge. Keeping yourself there is another story.

Just ask Richie Stanaway.

There was a time when the Kiwi had the racing world at his feet.

He was a German Formel Masters and Formula 3 champion, a three-time GP3 race winner, a Monaco GP2 winner and a two-time WEC winner. Three times he finished in the top 10 in class at Le Mans. His sixth Supercars entry was a victory at the Sandown 500 with Cameron Waters, and they could’ve won Bathurst too were it not for a car problem.

So when he landed a full-time Supercars drive with Tickford in 2018, he seemed certain to become New Zealand’s next big thing.

Watch every practice, qualifying and race of the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship live and ad-break free during racing on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >

But at the end of the year he switched to Garry Rogers Motorsport, and at the end of 2019 the team withdrew from the championship.

Stanaway was back out of the sport after just two difficult seasons, and without an offer to continue, he announced his retirement.

“I was disappointed the way that Richie left in 2019, and to be honest I have a lot of guilt for that to tell you the truth,” Boost mobile founder Peter Adderton says, having been the architect of his move to GRM.

The switch was immediately controversial for forcing the retirement of Holden legend and fan favourite Garth Tander.

“I’m a marketer,” Adderton says. “At the time we put Richie in the car and Garth got thrown out and I thought, ‘This is great, we’re getting all this coverage’.

“I always try to come up with ideas and stories. I kind of forgot the personal effects they have on people.

“It turned the fans a little bit against Richie. It had nothing to do with him. And then he went into a pretty bad period.

“I kind of felt responsible for putting him in that situation.

“I didn’t want to finish that way — I didn’t want to finish his career that way and I didn’t want to have me leave him that way.”

That sense of responsibility set into motion an ambition mission to give Stanaway a shot at redemption at the biggest race in the country, the Bathurst 1000.

It’s a story told by the new documentary Wildcard: One Last Shot, which is streaming on Kayo from 2pm this afternoon.

The path to redemption wound via New Zealand racing icon Greg Murphy, the four-time Bathurst 1000 champion and author of the seminal ‘lap of the gods’.

“I know Greg felt like, ‘If there’s anything I can do, Peter, to help him’,” Adderton recounts.

“I said to him, ‘Greg, this would be really good for Richie. He would come back because of you, to drive with you’.”

But the then 50-year-old Murphy has a distinctly different recollection of how the plan was hatched. In fact at one stage it seemed destined not to happen at all.

“I think Pete played the whole ‘Richie’s keen’ [card] but he hadn’t spoken to Richie,” Murphy says.

“And then he spoke to Richie and he goes, ‘Murph’s keen’, but I hadn’t given an affirmative on it either. He cleverly did that!

“I think then Richie and I actually spoke and I think we were both like, ‘Nah, this is a stupid idea’ — I think we both went, ‘Nah, I’m not really that keen’.

“And then somehow we still ended up here!”

Wildcard: One Last Shot goes behind the scenes of the pair’s heralded Bathurst arrival, and despite the initial hesitation, there’s no doubting the commitment both drivers brought to the Great Race.

Murphy’s ferocity despite having retired from full-time race almost a decade ago is clear, as is Stanaway’s steely determination to seize his last chance at Supercars redemption.

“After watching so much of this race on TV, when you get out there and drive it yourself, it never quite feels real, to be honest,” he says. “It’s just cool to be out there and live the dream.”

There’s a destiny about Stanaway’s blistering qualifying time in the damp getting him to a superb fifth on the grid, and though an alignment of technical problems and safety car timing dropped them to a still commendable 11th at the flag, it’s undeniable that the 30-year-old made the most of his opportunity and impressed the paddock.

There’s now significant momentum to get him into a full-time seat.

But if getting into the Supercars is difficult and staying there is harder, getting back into a seat is the most difficult challenge to surpass.

Adderton has had his attempts to field an additional full-time car on the grid next year quashed; he’s now hoping to be granted a series of wildcard entries through the year to give Stanaway more chances to find himself a place on the full-time grid.

Bathurst was billed as Stanaway’s last shot, but he may yet have a few more chances up his sleeve.

The final round of the Supercars championship is this weekend at the Adelaide 500. Final practice starts at 11:30am (AEDT) ahead of the top-10 shootout at 1:05pm and the first race at 3:45pm.

Wildcard: One Last Shot which is streaming on Kayo from 2pm this afternoon.

Originally published as Doco lifts lid on ‘stupid’ Bathurst wildcard idea to save Kiwi’s career

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *