ITS primary purpose might be as proving ground for the stars of the future, but the Dunlop Super2 Series has had its fair share of big-name drivers pop up across its 20-year history.
One star cameo that comes to mind is when multiple Le Mans 24 Hour winner Earl Bamber paired with Brenton Grove for the two-driver Mount Panorama round of the 2018 series, the reigning World Endurance Champion doing so in order to get more seat time in a Supercar around the circuit ahead of pairing with Shane van Gisbergen for the Bathurst 1000.
Episode 59 of the V8 Sleuth Podcast looked back at the first two decades of the Super2 Series and touched on some of the cameo appearances that have made headlines over the years – listen to the podcast below!
Here are five Super2 cameos you might have forgotten.
David Brabham – 2004 Bathurst non-championship race
Just like Stanaway, F1 racer and sports car star David Brabham’s sole Super2 Series start came as a way to get race miles in a Supercar.
The ex-pat Australian raced for Dick Johnson Racing for the enduros in 2003 and returned to the team for 2004, joining the team’s lead Super2 driver Owen Kelly aboard its #18 Falcon.
With Kelly focused on his responsibilities in the ‘main game’ – and with Super2’s 2004 visit to Mount Panorama not a points-paying affair – Brabham was drafted into DJR’s #71 Fujitsu Ford for the Saturday afternoon sprint race.
“Last year David didn’t even lay eyes on the Shell Ford until he got to Sandown, it was important that this didn’t happen again,” then-DJR managing director Steve Chalker said.
“David will get to do the set-up on the Fujitsu car, qualify on his own and race it. The team did this last year with Warren Luff and it significantly brought down his lap times.”
Brabham qualified on the second row and ran in third place until his Falcon’s engine went to lunch mid-race.
“Four years ago I was doing pretty competitive times in the main race,” Brabham told Motorsport News.
“But now, if you’re not right up to speed, you’re dog’s meat.”
Alex Yoong – 2004 Eastern Creek, Queensland Raceway
Mark Webber’s former Minardi F1 teammate was a surprise addition to the Super2 grid in mid-2004, the Malaysian racer looking to Supercars for the next step in his motorsport career.
“Alex intends to use the Konica Minolta Series to gain V8 Supercar experience, and become familiar with the machinery and set-up, in order to secure a V8 Supercar Championship Series endurance drive later in 2004,” Yoong’s Australian manager Ross Cadell said at the time.
“We are currently negotiating an endurance package for Alex, and decided it was best for him to gain some track time in the Konica Minolta Series with help from his Malaysian backer, Pan Global.
“Shane Beikoff Racing appeared as the ideal platform to take this step, with a good team balance of machinery, experience & budget for Alex to learn the craft of racing V8 Supercars.”
Yoong had already sampled a Supercar, testing with Lansvale Racing the previous year, and had a single shakedown day at Queensland Raceway before making his Super2 debut at the Eastern Creek round.
“These are very different cars to drive,” Yoong said. “Nothing like Formula 1 or Champ Cars, but you definitely require the same level of physical fitness and concentration to get a lap time, that’s for sure.”
He enjoyed a steady run to 15th in the opening race and ran as high as eighth in the reverse-grid second, until he was tapped into a spin and collected by another car, ending his weekend.
Yoong’s cameo extended to a second round at Queensland Raceway, where he qualified an impressive ninth. A gearbox that kept jamming in fourth dropped him to 25th in the opening sprint, but earnt a top-10 finish in the reverse grid race on his way to 18th overall for the weekend.
It was his last Super2 start. Yoong was soon recruited by WPS Racing to replace the departing Mark Noske in their second ‘main game’ car, racing in the Sandown and Bathurst enduros and at Surfers Paradise.
Greg Ritter – 2004 Mallala
It was a weekend that culminated in the closest points finish in Super2 Series history, with Andrew Jones clinching the 2004 title over Luke Youlden on a countback.
But both drivers were overshadowed by Greg Ritter in what proved to be his sole Super2 Series start.
Ritter had secured a high-profile co-drive on the grid for the 2004 endurance races, joining either Marcos Ambrose or Russell Ingall at Stone Brothers Racing. However, with Sandown looming, he had a distinct lack of race miles under his belt: Ritter hadn’t raced a Supercar since the previous year’s Bathurst 1000.
To gain seat time, he hopped aboard Jim Morton’s Decina-backed Speed FX Ford for the series’ finale at Mallala – and dominated the weekend.
Ritter pipped the title contenders for pole position, won the first and last races of the weekend and charged from last to fifth in the reverse-grid second race to secure the overall round victory.
As he sat down for the post-event press conference, his phone rang.
“Hey Marcos, I won!” he told the caller…
Ritter was confirmed as Ambrose’s co-driver the following week, the pair going on to win the Sandown 500 and finish fourth in the Bathurst 1000. That same weekend, Ritter made his final Super2 appearance in Mount Panorama’s non-championship race.
David Reynolds – 2010 Townsville
Reynolds already had a season of Super2 under his belt when he made a cameo return.
He finished fourth with Tony D’Alberto Racing in the 2008 series before graduating to the Supercars Championship with Walkinshaw Racing. It was a short debut; Walkinshaw Racing dropped Reynolds from its main game roster at the end of a tough rookie season.
However, with 2010 marking the first year where teams were prevented from pairing their regular drivers in one car, the team kept him on as a co-driver for the endurance races.
To give him seat time, the team partnered with Eggleston Motorsport to run Reynolds in the Super2 round at the Townsville 400 under the Bundaberg Red Racing banner.
“I’m really thrilled to have the opportunity to get back into a Walkinshaw Racing Commodore,” Reynolds said at the time.
“To line up as an endurance driver in one of these cars you really need to be on top of your game and nothing compares to actual racing miles in the car.
“I know the guys at Walkinshaw Racing really well so it should be like stepping back into familiar territory.”
Although he hadn’t raced a Supercars since the championship finale at Sydney Olympic Park the previous December – and hadn’t race any kind of car in four months – Reynolds didn’t take long to get up to speed, topping Friday practice.
“I was a bit rusty in the first session, but the second practice session gave me a chance to have a think about it all and have another crack at it,” Reynolds said.
“I forgot my cool suit this weekend, so it was really hot out there, but the races are short enough that you don’t need one. Besides, you can’t use cool suits in the endurance races anyway, so I guess that prepares me better.”
Reynolds qualified third and ran in that spot in the opening race until an engine problem forced him out. An impressive pair of recovery drives followed, charging from 21st to seventh in the second race, before converting 18th on the grid to second place in the finale – his final Super2 Series race start.
Richie Stanaway – 2017 Sydney Motorsport Park
Like Bamber, Brabham, Ritter and Reynolds before him, the young Kiwi was parachuted into the Super2 Series field in order to get Supercar race miles under his belt ahead of the 2017 enduros.
Stanaway had seriously impressive international credentials – he’d won the German F3 title and a pair of races in the GP2 Series – and had impressed in his Supercars co-drives with Super Black Racing the previous year, but he was under no illusions about arriving and dominating.
“I don’t really know how I’ll go, it’s a hard thing to predict. There’s a lot of fast guys in Super2 and I’m going to be the least experienced one,” he told Supercars.com.
“I’m not going to get too ahead of myself … I don’t have any crazy expectations. Either way it’ll be the best benchmark possible I think.”
He qualified fourth and claimed third in the opening race of the weekend, adding a fourth and a third in the next two sprints to secure third on the grid for the fourth and final race of the weekend.
Stanaway made a lightning start to arrive at Turn 1 three-wide with front row starters Anton De Pasquale and Todd Hazelwood.
A crash behind for Jack Le Brocq diverted most of the attention from the move Stanaway pulled to snatch the lead: he held his nerve to the inside of the #67 Falcon, almost putting all four wheels on the grass to get the job done.
While De Pasquale mugged him on the restart, Stanaway soon took the lead back and held it to the flag, securing a race win and a podium finish in his sole Super2 Series start.
The extra miles appeared to pay off: Stanaway paired with Cameron Waters to win the Sandown 500, before the Kiwi starred in the wet at the Bathurst 1000 in drives that secured him a graduation to the main game with Tickford for 2018.