One of the worst-kept secrets of the 2018 Supercars Championship’s ‘silly season’ can finally be confirmed, after Prodrive Racing announced that Richie Stanaway will join its line-up full-time.
The New Zealander will take over the team’s fourth Ford Falcon FG X car as teammates to Chaz Mostert, Mark Winterbottom and Cam Waters, who Stanaway served as a Pirtek Enduro Cup co-driver and shared victory in this year’s Sandown 500 (pictured above).
Stanaway’s drive was secured through Prodrive’s acquisition of the second Racing Entitlements Contract formerly owned by LD Motorsport. The REC was secured as part of the sale of a PRA chassis to the backmarker outfit, which has been bought out and renamed 23Red Racing.
Previously supported by Eric Boullier’s Gravity driver development program, Stanaway was on the radar as a future Formula 1 driver until he fractured vertebrae in a frightening accident at Spa-Francorchamps while contesting the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2012.
He made a quick recovery and returned to racing in 2013, but the path to Formula 1 appeared to have left him behind. Despite a number of outstanding drives in the GP3 Series in 2014 and GP2 Series in 2015, Stanaway incredibly could not secure a call-up to Formula 1.
It was his exploits in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s GT classes with Aston Martin Racing that started to earn him attention in Australia. Invited to co-drive for the Prodrive-support Super Black Racing team in the 2016 Pirtek Enduro Cup, Stanaway immediately impressed and earned himself another call-up for the 2017 season with Prodrive to support Cam Waters.
Midway through 2017, Stanaway was already being touted as a full-time recruit for Prodrive Racing, who supported a one-off outing in the feeder Super2 Championship at Sydney Motorsport Park. Predictably, Stanaway won on his debut.
Stanaway’s confirmed signing means that the sole remaining seat to be confirmed is that of TEKNO Autosports, which is expected to announce Jack Le Brocq as its driver in 2018.
Image via LAT Images