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HomeNewsHazelwood opens up on sudden Erebus chance

Hazelwood opens up on sudden Erebus chance

TODD Hazelwood is ready to make the most of a “unique scenario” that has seen him parachuted into last year’s Supercars championship-winning entry.

Hazelwood will drive Erebus Motorsport’s #99 Camaro at this month’s Thrifty Bathurst 500, after confirmation came that Brodie Kostecki will miss at least the first round of the season.

His on-track debut for Erebus will come on Tuesday February 6 for a shakedown of his brand-new chassis at Winton, before embarking on a full pre-season test the following day.

Hazelwood was already set to co-drive with Erebus recruit Jack Le Brocq in the 2024 Sandown 500 and Repco Bathurst 1000, but now will be thrown straight in the deep end.

And that’s fine by him, declaring his preparation as good as ever.

“I guess the plan was to always be part of the framework here at Erebus Motorsport for this season,” the 28-year-old told V8 Sleuth.

“I was pretty motivated to jump in behind the wheel as a co-driver, which was the initial plan, but to get the call-up now to fill in for Brodie for Bathurst, keen as mustard for the opportunity.

“Obviously we want to try to aim to continue those winning ways for the team here as well.

“It’s a huge opportunity but a huge task ahead, but fortunately I have been keeping myself busy over the off-season and really, my preparation hasn’t been compromised in any way.

“I still did as many races as anyone last season and I have done a couple of test days in a Trans Am car in the interim, and now jumping in for pre-season testing before Bathurst.

“So I am certainly not compromised by laps or anything like that and I’m ready to embrace what is a huge opportunity.”

It’s not a totally unfamiliar environment that he is stepping into, with Hazelwood having prior working relationships with both Le Brocq (his 2022 teammate at Matt Stone Racing) and CEO Barry Ryan (his 2012 Victorian Formula Ford engineer at Minda Motorsport).

“Jack and I get on like a house on fire and we’re pretty good mates outside of the race car, which I think is really cool and really special,” said Hazelwood, who’ll have championship-winning engineer George Commins by his side.

“Obviously the plan was to team up with Jack with this year. We’re highly motivated between us both to step into a race-winning environment.

“And rewinding the clock back 12 years ago, Barry was actually my race engineer in Formula Ford, so it is somewhat a reunion for all of us, which is cool.

“The motorsport industry and particularly Supercars is a very tightknit community and everyone sort of knows everyone, so although it is a new team and a new environment, there is a few key familiar faces which will help that transition.”

Eager to add to his one career main game podium, Hazelwood is viewing the associated pressure of his sudden opportunity as a positive.

Todd Hazelwood. Pic: Ross Gibb

“That’s what I am wired to do: it’s to put myself in a vulnerable position and high-pressure environment because ultimately there’s high pressure there’s big things at stake which means you are on the brink of tasting success, which is what I want,” he said.

“The whole motivation for me to step away from racing full-time was to align myself with a team that had that capability, had that burning desire to win races, so I guess there’s some level of preparation that has already gone into that, changing the mindset of what it’s like to be part of a race-winning environment.

“That for me is something I’m looking forward to, it’s something that I have been desperately trying to surround myself with, in the last five or six years in the motorsport fraternity.

“You have just got to embrace it… as long as I do the right job by myself, the results will take care of themselves. That’s always the key thing.

“There is that extra expectation I guess because Erebus had a successful season last year, but that’s something I am looking forward to being a part of.

“Rather than seeing it as a negative thing, I see it as quite a positive and exciting prospect.”

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