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Goddard inks Triple Eight wildcard deal

ZANE Goddard has scored a golden opportunity to relaunch his Supercars career after signing a wildcard deal with Triple Eight Race Engineering.

Goddard will share a Gen3 Chevrolet Camaro with seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner Craig Lowndes in an extension of the Supercheap Auto-backed program that has helped propel Broc Feeney and Declan Fraser into the main game.

Upon returning from Europe, Goddard embarked down the Supercars pathway with a move into the 2018 Super2 Series.

By 2020 he was in the Supercars Championship, appearing in Matt Stone Racing’s SuperLite system before having a seat of his own the following season.

But things went awry last year, having to settle for a co-drive (albeit at Tickford Racing) and then blotting his copybook with an early error that put three cars out of the Great Race in October.

The 23-year-old now has an enviable lifeline, Triple Eight having seen enough to elect him as the driver to replace Tickford-bound Fraser.

“Zane is an amazingly talented driver, and the entire team are so excited to have him join us in 2023, partnering with Lowndesy,” said Triple Eight managing director Jamie Whincup.

“His racing resume for such a young age is quite impressive; two years in Super2, two years in the main game and a handful of Bathurst 1000 appearances – he’s going to be an incredible asset to our program.

“It’s now up to us give him all the support he needs to grab this opportunity with both hands.”

Zane Goddard. Pic: Australian Racing Group

Although specific events have not yet been announced for Goddard/Lowndes, the news all but certainly confirms Whincup will continue co-driving the #88 Red Bull Ampol entry alongside Feeney.

Richie Stanaway was earlier this month recruited to partner Shane van Gisbergen.

The 2023 calendar features a return to multiple two-driver rounds: the Sandown 500 in mid-September and the Repco Bathurst 1000 three weeks later.

“I’m super excited to be joining the team this year,” said Goddard.

“The Supercheap Auto wildcard program has been so successful for the past two years, and to join a team that have been so dominant in both the drivers’ and teams’ championships is amazing.

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“Having Craig to learn off, not just on the track but also off the track is going to be a great experience… when I was younger, I loved watching Lowndesy winning races, and to now be partnering up with him for the enduro season is amazing – hopefully we can win some races together.

“To learn off him is going to be the most valuable part; the way he is with sponsors, TV, the way he drives, the way he conducts himself – there’s a lot to learn off him.

“There’s no one better to learn off especially leading into Bathurst because he’s won so many times.

“It’s not very often you get a new car either, so that’s going to be special as a race car driver.

Goddard and Lowndes in Supercheap Auto colours. Pic: Supplied

“The Camaros look awesome and they’re going to look even better on the track. I had a little bit of an involvement in the Gen3 program last year as a test driver, so hopefully I have an upper hand there.

“They’re awesome cars and a lot of fun to drive – I think it’s exactly what the category needs.”

Lowndes is determined to improve on his and Fraser’s eighth place last year at Bathurst, which would no doubt aid Goddard’s dream of a full-time comeback.

“I’ve been working alongside Zane for the last couple of years. We’ve been doing some demonstrations together with the Gen3 car, so I got to know Zane pretty well over this time, as well as his stint in the main game,” said the 48-year-old.

“He’s a great young kid with great speed, and a great head on his shoulders. For me, I’m really looking forward to going to Bathurst this year in the wildcard and share the load both on and off the track.

“I really enjoyed the mentoring side of things last year with Declan.

“I think that Zane is a bit further down the path then what Declan was or is now, so for me I don’t think it’ll be as intense but off the track, hopefully we can share the knowledge and experience we have, especially when you go to Bathurst because it’s such a long week.”

As a free agent for 2023, Goddard was often called up to complete Gen3 prototype testing or demonstration laps last year.

Goddard’s best Supercars Championship qualifying and race results to date came at the 2021 Tasmania SuperSprint, when he sprung a surprise to nab fourth on the grid and hung on for seventh at the chequered flag.

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