GREG Murphy says he’d advise Richie Stanaway not to return to Supercars full-time, unless a team can guarantee key elements missing from his previous campaigns.
Stanaway was the standout of Friday’s wet running at Bathurst, putting the wildcard Boost Commodore he shares with Murphy fifth in qualifying.
That came in Stanaway’s first Supercars outing since the end of 2019, when he walked away from motorsport entirely after two troubled full-time seasons in the category.
Stanaway, 30, has spent recent years working on a property development with his father, Neville, in their native New Zealand before being thrust back into the spotlight at Bathurst.
Murphy was among those unsurprised by Stanaway’s display and believes he could have shone in dry conditions too, had practice run more smoothly.
“I’m not surprised that happened, at all,” Murphy told V8 Sleuth.
“It wasn’t because it was wet. If he’d had a good, positive, clean run in the dry (practice), I think it was possible the same result could have happened (in dry conditions).
“But I’m glad it was wet because it’s a leveller. It gave him an opportunity to be more comfortable in that situation than if it’d been dry.”
It’s that belief in Stanaway’s ability – and strong encouragement from Boost boss Peter Adderton – that dragged Murphy out of his own eight-year retirement for Bathurst.
Stanaway’s story is well told – a Kiwi who climbed the open-wheel ladder in Europe, but lost career momentum when he broke his back in a Formula Renault 3.5 crash.
Amid a stint in sportscars he was outstanding as a co-driver at Tickford in 2016 and ’17, but then endured a disastrous full-time season in the team’s fourth car in ’18.
Boost Mobile backed Stanaway into another full-time chance with Garry Rogers Motorsport in 2019, but results were again lacking and the team exited the category at year’s end.
Asked about those tough seasons, Murphy said: “You’ve got to be supported as a professional race car driver. He never got that in the years he was full-time in the category.
“Tickford didn’t give it to him, they didn’t support him the way he needed to be supported. He didn’t have the tools, the focus, everything he needed to showcase his skills.
“Garry maybe wanted to but GRM didn’t allow him to showcase his ability either. You’ve still got to have all the good gear, all the things around you to be at the front.
“He showed that to Tickford in 2017 with Cam (Waters in the endurance races). But when it came to being in a car on his own, he didn’t have it.”
Stanaway’s full-time seasons also included some unusual indiscretions.
He was lambasted by Tickford for drifting his Falcon in frustration over a tyre mix-up in Townsville in 2018 and benched at the Gold Coast in ’19 for missing an autograph session.
“He’s admitted there were things he could have done better,” Murphy reasons. “But there’s a lot to his story. It needed a proper relationship from both sides to allow it to deliver.
“He’s a professional race car driver and if he had been given the support that he needed, things would have been very, very different.
“He would have adjusted and moulded and adapted to that better. But it just didn’t work out that way.
“Over the last 12 months (preparing for the wildcard) I’ve seen him so evolved from what he was in those two seasons.”
Murphy insists Stanaway’s record in other categories meant he had nothing to prove at Bathurst this weekend, except maybe to himself.
“The best thing that happened was he got out of the car with a smile on his face,” said Murphy.
“He was ecstatic and aware of what he’d done, and he was proud of what he’d done.
“To be honest, that would almost be enough for him, just proving to himself – he didn’t have to prove anything to anyone else – but to prove to himself, that’s all he needed to do.
“He’s already proved (himself) on many, many occasions. His achievements have bettered just about everybody’s in this pitlane.”
Whether Stanaway will get the chance – or has the desire – to return to Supercars full-time is currently unclear.
Few opportunities remain for 2023 and Murphy says Stanaway should approach any offers with caution.
“It’s up to him and it’s up to someone that wants to provide him with a professionally run car with all the fruit that you need to be competitive,” he said.
“If you’re only going to get 80 percent of that then I’d advise him he’s wasting his time.”