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Fraser builds 2023 case with fine Bathurst debut

DECLAN Fraser’s stocks have risen further following a strong maiden outing in the Repco Bathurst 1000.

The Triple Eight Race Engineering protege is hunting for one of the last remaining 2023 Repco Supercars Championship seats, with Matt Stone Racing possessing the most obvious vacancy and having already flagged its interest in blooding a rookie.

Fraser fits the bill nicely, leading the Super2 Series and coming off an eighth-place finish on Great Race debut alongside Craig Lowndes.

“It’s pretty crazy,” the 22-year-old reflected to V8 Sleuth of his Bathurst experience.

“The whole lead-up to the event was so massive and all the test days and the media and the promotion of Supercheap Auto and everything; then it was all over in the blink of an eye on Sunday and we ended setting history with a really good result.

“I came out of it and learnt a lot which is the main thing so hopefully we can continue the momentum.”

The historic result Fraser mentions is the best ever Bathurst 1000 finish for a wildcard entry.

Fraser further showed well under the spotlight of leading in his first time in the main game.

That came during his opening stint in the #888 Holden on Sunday, heading the field at the Safety Car restart following Alex Davison’s Lap 30 off at The Chase.

Fraser remained first for the best part of four laps before a slight error at Murray’s Corner allowed Cam Waters past. He stayed second for several more laps before pitting.

“The best thing is we had all of the procedures in place to make sure that I was fully prepped for that with Romy (Mayer, engineer) on the cans and Roland (Dane, team manager) as well guiding me through it,” he said.

“So when I got there, I wasn’t too nervous I guess you could say about the restart, I was sort of up for the challenge.

“It was pretty cool to be leading my first ever Bathurst 1000. We got a pretty good restart, we ended up pulling a gap of just over a second and then I made a slight mistake and dropped back behind Cam and just sat there for the rest of the stint.

Car #888 during the race. Pic: Nathan Wong

“To be able to mix it with him and sit that one second behind him for the whole stint, it was a good experience for me as well just being able to see what they do and following cars across the top.”

Fraser hopes that particular stint will make Supercars team owners take notice.

“I think the way that Bathurst ran and everything, it was good to be able to showcase my skills up against those top guys in that first stint for me,” he said.

“To be able to go out there first stint at Bathurst and be able to mix it with those guys, I hope it really does show what I can offer.

“I had so much fun as well outside of the car, not only just in the driving but having fun with the commercial side of things with Supercheap Auto and Triple Eight.

MORE: Whincup reflects on first win as Triple Eight boss

“The whole event was a massive learning experience and I think it’s all going to benefit me for next year.”

Of his chances of a promotion amid an ultra-competitive driver market, Fraser described himself as “definitely hopeful”.

“I’m in this game to make a career out of it,” he continued.

“The next step for me is to move up to main game, so hopefully what we have been showing in Super2 and also the debut at the Bathurst 1000 can show what I have to offer.

“I’m still very hopeful that we can make the step up next year.”

Fraser will look to seal the Super2 title at the Adelaide 500 in early December. He will carry a 75-point advantage over Tickford Racing’s Zak Best into the event.

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