Motorsport: Young Kiwi ends season on podium

By Eric Thompson

Life's looking up for Stanaway after a tough year, writes Eric Thompson

The rumours are swirling that Aston Martin want to sign Stanaway as a full-time driver for next year.
The rumours are swirling that Aston Martin want to sign Stanaway as a full-time driver for next year.

Kiwi Richie Stanaway stood on the podium at the World Endurance Championship in Shanghai at the weekend.

He was driving the second-placed Aston Martin with Pedro Lamy and Bruno Senna at the last GT round.

Stanaway, Lamy and Senna finished hot on the heels of the winning Aston Martin of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke.

"It was really nice to finally get a podium," said Stanaway. "I have a whole new respect for being able to go the entire six hours and have nothing go wrong. It's a really good feeling."

He also had a good finish to his fraught Porsche Supercup season at the last round in Singapore where he had his best finish in the category with fourth. He started the season so well and was leading the rookie championship at one stage until a catalogue of mechanical failures and other drivers' errors put paid to that.

"That was the best result of the year for me," Stanaway said. "It was good to be able to have two races over the weekend instead of just the one. It allowed me more time in the car and helped me to learn the track better, which went a long way to me finishing fourth."

The New Zealander has had his ups and downs the last couple of years, with his big accident putting him out of action for nearly a year, getting his head around racing a Porsche and then coming to grips with an endurance GTE Aston Martin. He has taken all the challenges in his stride.

"Obviously it's been difficult being in two very competitive categories and environments," he said. "I'd have to say they are probably the two most difficult championships I've had to race in so far in my career.

"Unfortunately, they were also the ones I was the least prepared for. I didn't race for 11 months after my injury and all my experience has been in open wheelers.

"My first race back after my accident was the Spa round of the WEC, which is very competitive. The whole year I've had this feeling that I've been thrown in the deep end every weekend I've gone racing.

"It's been hard going up against drivers with loads of GT experience but I've given it the best I can and at times I've done all right. It's taken the guys at the top of their game in Porsche and WEC cars all their careers to get there and I'm still learning.

"I've done the best job I can and, while I think some of the results may look a bit average, to get as far up the grid as I have been able to is more of an achievement than a few people realise. I think it's made me a more-rounded individual having to cope with all the new challenges and situations and being realistic about understanding the situation I'm in.

"The competition in the two categories is really tough, especially the Porsche Supercup where I was the only driver in the field to have never raced one of those cars before. However, I've learned so much this year and it's all going to make me a better driver next year."

The rumours are swirling that Aston Martin want to sign Stanaway up for next year as a full-time driver rather than the current race-by-race situation. They must at least be interested as what was originally a one-off gig at the start of the WEC season turned to the young Kiwi racing every round.

"Nothing has been sorted out yet and there's no done deal," said Stanaway. "It might be an option but no one's really spoken about it yet and we might have a talk about it after the last round [six hours of Bahrain, November 30], and in the New Year."

Stanaway and his management might be able to get something sorted for next season. When asked about the inside skinny, he was at pains to say nothing is settled yet and there will be an announcement on his racing plans for 2014 early in the new year and he's keeping all his options open.

- NZ Herald

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