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Making sense of the Kostecki/Erebus situation

IT’S the news which has rocked the Supercars world: 2023 champion Brodie Kostecki will not be on the grid for Round 1 next month.

The matter is ultra-complex and has thus far been shrouded in secrecy, much to the frustration of fans. 

While there is a lot still to play out, V8 Sleuth looks to delve a little deeper in unpacking the situation.

What has happened?

There are two sides to every story and plenty going on in the background, but the Kostecki and Erebus camps appear to have drifted apart in recent months.

Brodie Kostecki celebrates winning the 2023 championship. Pic: Supplied/Race Project

This season was due to be Kostecki’s last before becoming a free agent, having signed a two-year contract extension with Erebus in mid-2022.

That had also been the case for Will Brown, who was granted an early release to join Triple Eight in the off-season.

It’s worth noting Kostecki has kept a low profile since sealing the title last November in Adelaide, besides giving an upbeat interview with Supercars.com at Toowoomba Speedway.

“I was over in the States for the Christmas and New Year’s period, it was good to have a break away from life in Aus,” the 26-year-old said in a story published on January 6.

“It was good to have a reset and make sure I’m ready to start the new season, I’m really looking forward to getting to Bathurst.

“I’m going to try and fill up my calendar with as much racing as I can and hopefully go back-to-back, that’s the dream.”

What will happen?

The one certainty is that Kostecki won’t be on the grid for this month’s Thrifty Bathurst 500 (February 23-25).

Instead, his #1 Camaro will revert to running the #99, with Todd Hazelwood at the wheel on a round-by-round basis.

Erebus remains committed to Kostecki for the duration of 2024, but there is no guarantee that the all-conquering Gen3 combination will reunite at all.

EMH05, otherwise known as Brodie Kostecki’s championship-winning car, has been retired. Pic: an1images.com

What role does NASCAR have in all this?

Kostecki is sure to be on the radar of a couple of NASCAR teams, if not Richard Childress Racing, after his Cup Series debut last year – and the fact that he just dethroned Trackhouse Racing sensation Shane van Gisbergen in Supercars.

Accordingly, plans had been mooted for Kostecki to make more cameo appearances Stateside in 2024.

But… V8 Sleuth understands Australia and Supercars is where Kostecki wants to be based for the foreseeable future, including but not limited to 2025.

When will more come to light?

Time was ticking with the Winton pre-season test scheduled for February 7, and Round 1 little more than a fortnight later.

The timeline regarding more information being released is murky, besides there needing to at least be an update in time for Round 2 at Albert Park on March 21-24.

Todd Hazelwood. Pic: Supplied/Daniel Kalisz

The flipside

Todd Hazelwood suddenly has the ultimate opportunity.

The 2017 Super2 champion has bounced around in six years since graduating to the main game, and fell off the grid altogether at the end of last season after a frustrating campaign with the Blanchard Racing Team.

Hazelwood had been in line to co-drive with Erebus recruit Jack Le Brocq in the 2024 Sandown 500 and Repco Bathurst 1000; now he does not have to wait until the enduros for a chance to remind people of his ability.

The pressure will be all-time, though, armed with a brand-new Gen3 Camaro and a championship-winning crew led by race engineer George Commins.

More broadly, Kostecki’s impending absence from Bathurst leaves the 2024 title race very much wide open…

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