GREG Murphy and Richie Stanaway will not race in this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000 after the cancellation of their planned wildcard entry.
The drivers have been unable to secure the necessary managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) placement to facilitate their return to New Zealand after the race.
Boost Mobile boss Peter Adderton, who backed the wildcard program that would have seen the Kiwi pair drive a third Erebus Motorsport-prepared Holden Commodore, set a deadline of close of business on Friday for either placements to be secured or alternative exemptions to be granted.
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“The drivers, Boost Mobile, Erebus Motorsport and Supercars all worked tirelessly in trying to obtain a place for both drivers and secure their return to New Zealand following the race, not just through the NZ MIQ Quarantine system but other exemptions that have not been successful,” read a statement.
“The deadline of today was placed to ensure the practical, safe and responsible running of the specially developed Boost Mobile Racing car, such that both drivers would need to travel to Australia this weekend to participate in seat preparation and testing on track at Sydney Motorsport Park on Tuesday.”
While the program has been called off for the 2021 race, all parties are now shifting their focus to running a wildcard entry in next year’s Repco Bathurst 1000 which will be the last for the current generation Holden Commodore ZB and Ford Mustang GT.
“I can’t explain how frustrating it has been not being able to put our plan into action,” Greg Murphy said.
“I know it’s not the most important thing in the world and COVID has impacted so many people in far more serious ways, but Richie and I were really looking forward to doing this and the effort that has gone into the prep of the car and behind the scenes has been enormous.
“We have played by the same rules as every other person trying to get a spot in MIQ and most have better reasons than we do for getting a spot and that is the way it is. It’s a lottery and our numbers haven’t come up.
“Boost Mobile Racing has been remarkable throughout. Peter’s vision and the investment in this idea, the car and everything that goes into entering a car in Bathurst is significant, and I hope that we can repay the faith and the support of racing fans by looking ahead to 2022.”
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The idea of a Murphy/Stanaway wildcard was first floated by Adderton on social media in April in the wake of Triple Eight’s announcement that it will field a wildcard entry for Russell Ingall and Broc Feeney in the race.
While the original post had a light-hearted tone Adderton subsequently confirmed that he was actually quite serious, announcing that the plan had become a reality in June.
Ongoing lockdowns and border closures due to the onset of the second wave of COVID-19 in both Australia and New Zealand had hampered the duo’s preparation, preventing them from crossing the Tasman to conduct scheduled test days in the months leading up to Bathurst.
The final hurdle for the plan came in the form of New Zealand’s system for quarantining overseas arrivals, with demand significantly outstripping available places in the government-run MIQ program.
“I want to thank everyone who has been involved behind the scenes for several months now in our attempt to be able to not just bring Greg and Richie over to Australia, but ensure they can then safely return home,” Adderton said.
“We are a people-driven company and we ultimately could not ask Greg and Richie to come over here in good conscience knowing we had no clear timeline for their return to New Zealand.
“We did everything within our means to make this happen and I am so bitterly disappointed that it is not to be.
“I also want to thank the many fans who have reached out both publicly and privately not just to express their support but also to see how they could help.
“It shows just how special this would have been, which is why we will do everything possible to make this happen in 2022 instead.”