Motorsport: Stanaway gets Brazil endurance drive

By Eric Thompson

Incredible opportunity for young Kiwi driver to secure a place in a fully-backed, leading works team

Aston Martin will be running five cars at this weekend's World Endurance Championship round in Sao Paulo.
Aston Martin will be running five cars at this weekend's World Endurance Championship round in Sao Paulo.

Kiwi driver Richie Stanaway will drive one of five Aston Martins entered in the World Endurance Championship round in Brazil this weekend.

He will race alongside Paul Dalla Lana and former F1 driver Pedro Lamy in the Six Hours of Sao Paulo.

One of the other team cars is returning to the WEC following the tragic events of Le Mans where V8 Supercars endurance driver Allan Simonsen died in a massive crash. Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen will continue the team's championship-winning bid in a brand new Vantage GTE, and fellow Dane Nicki Thiim will join them following a successful test session with the team at Snetterton, UK, last month.

In the Pro class a third Vantage GTE will once again be piloted by Aston Martin Racing's long-standing works drivers Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke who finished third in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Ex-Formula One driver Bruno Senna will take a fourth GTE to his home race in Sao Paulo alongside his Le Mans teammate Rob Bell.

Together the pair finished second in the Six Hours of Spa and led the 24 Hours of Le Mans for several hours.

In the Pro-Am class, British drivers Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall will continue their championship campaign, while Roald Goethe will take a break at Sao Paulo due to other commitments.

In his first major hit-out in a year back in May, and the first time in the Aston Martin, the Kiwi driver brought the car home sixth in class in the six-hour endurance race at the second round of the WEC. The race was held at Spa-Francorchamps, the scene of his immense shunt that sidelined the Kiwi for 12 months.

"As I mentioned earlier to Driven, the drive with Aston Martin goes on a race-by-race basis," said Stanaway. "There's also a lot of drivers they could have chosen from and the fact they've chosen to put me in makes me feel very grateful.

"I'm really grateful I'm getting another opportunity to do another race with them. It's a high-calibre championship and I'll obviously try and do a really good job so I'm in with a chance to do more races with them."

The car Stanaway will be driving is part of a fully backed works team and not some private, locally funded outfit with a rich benefactor. On the back of his last outing at Spa, Aston Martin has decided to keep faith in the young Kiwi.

If Stanaway does well at the Interlagos circuit, it's entirely possible he could start to build a longer-term relationship with the British car manufacturer.

"They're always looking for new drivers and if I can do a good job hopefully there will be more opportunities to not only race in the remaining four events this year, but maybe more races in the future.

"I've just got to make sure I don't make any of the young driver mistakes. I've got to be fast but keep the car on the road. It's a bit of a pitfall for younger drivers coming into endurance racing trying to stay calm as the races are so long," said Stanaway.

The red mist descending and the berserker rage taking over is more prevalent in youth than it is in more established veteran racers who had been around the block a few times.

For Stanaway to have been signed up by the team, albeit on a race-to-race basis at the moment, at such a young age is an exceptional feat and shows Aston Martin has seen something in him.

Twenty-one is a tender age for this sort of motorsport discipline and if Stanaway can avoid the younger driver cliche crashes he's bound to do all right.

"I'm aiming to keep the car between the white lines and pointing in the right direction. Being paired with a driver [Lamy] who's been in Formula One for quite a while, and also raced in just about everything under the sun, is quite cool.

"In most junior formulas you race against drivers who are about the same age as you are so you're pretty much on a level playing field.

"It's quite rare to go into team like Aston Martin [at my age] and go to a driver's briefing and debriefing with drivers who have done this professionally for 15 or 20 years.

"They don't get to race professionally for that long without being very good at their jobs ... Not only inside the car but outside it as well," said Stanaway.

It will be an eye opener for the young man from Tauranga and hopefully he'll soak up the experience, and regardless of whether he does well or not, the experience will be invaluable for his desire to become a fulltime professional race car driver.The WEC Six Hours of Sao Paulo starts with qualifying from 5.30am tomorrow (NZT) and the race gets under way at 3am on Monday.

SuperTourers in Taupo

The high-velocity V8 SuperTourers series is back from its winter break, and heading to the, er, tropical climes of Taupo this weekend for the final round of its exciting sprint
race programme. Here's how the weekend will unfold:


Picture / Euan Cameron

TODAY

14.00 Cogent V8 Challenge Cup Qualifying

14:25 Winger Suzuki Swift Sport Cup Qualifying

14:50 UDC V8 Utes Qualifying

15:07 UDC V8 Utes _ Race One 6 Laps

15:30 BNT V8 SuperTourers (For Race One) Qualifying

15:53 BNT V8 SuperTourers (For Race Two) Qualifying

16:10 Winger Suzuki Swift Sport Cup _ Race One 10 Laps


TOMORROW

09:35 UDC V8 Utes _ Race Two 8 Laps

10:00 Cogent V8 Challenge Cup _ Race One 8 Laps

10:35 BNT V8SuperTourers _ Race One 14 Laps

11:05 Winger Suzuki Swift Sport Cup _ Race Two 10 Laps

12:10 UDC V8 Utes _ Race Three 8 Laps

12:35 Cogent V8 Challenge Cup _ Race Two 10 Laps

13:10 BNT V8 SuperTourers _ Race Two 18 Laps

13:45 Winger Suzuki Swift Sport Cup _ Race Three 12 Laps

14:10 UDC V8 Utes _ Race Four 12 Laps

14:35 Cogent V8 Challenge Cup _ Race Three 12 Laps

15:45 BNT V8 SuperTourers _ Race Three 28 Laps

- NZ Herald

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