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HomeNewsThe quirk to Stanaway’s stellar start

The quirk to Stanaway’s stellar start

THE numbers tell two very different tales when it comes to Richie Stanaway’s first three rounds at Grove Racing.

On the one hand, the Kiwi is perched fourth in the championship, behind only Will Brown, Broc Feeney and Chaz Mostert.

Not bad for a driver who sat out the previous four full Supercars seasons (besides the 2022 and ’23 enduros).

On the flipside, Stanaway has now been outqualified on seven straight occasions by his teammate Matt Payne. The one outlier is when the #26 pilot grabbed fifth on the grid for Race 1 of the Bathurst 500 – his first solo encounter since 2019.

Payne has qualified sixth on average in 2024 while Stanaway’s average sits at 12.25.

And yet the latter is slightly ahead in the overall points, thanks in part to some sterling race charges as well as a fair dose of misfortune on Payne’s side.

Stanaway pointed to tyre phasing as being a shortcoming thus far and says it’s particularly important to rectify any qualifying deficits promptly given the upcoming rounds are largely shorter-distance formats.

Three of the next five events – Perth, Darwin and Tasmania – feature sub-150km race distances, meaning there’ll be less time to recover from a lowly grid slot.

“I feel like when I drive the car in the race, I drive it a lot better and I think that’s just a bit of my recent lack of experience,” Stanaway said in a Penrite Racing video.

Stanaway charged from 23rd to sixth in a wet Race 1 in Taupō. Pic: Tayler Burke

“So I’m hoping the further we get into the season, the better I will drive the car in qualifying.

“I feel like once we get that tyre phasing nailed and then I improve my technique slightly in qualifying trim, we should hopefully move forward in the qualifying sessions, which is going to be very important through the middle part of the year.

“Because apart from the Melbourne Grand Prix, we’ve had longer races to have the opportunity to move forward in races – but through the middle of the year, we’re going to have a lot less opportunity to move forward in races, so we really need to work on the qualifying speed.

“I have a pretty good idea of where that’s going to come from, so hopefully I can implement that from Perth onwards.”

A winner of the Sandown 500 (with Cam Waters, 2017) and Bathurst 1000 (with Shane van Gisbergen, 2023), Stanaway is hunting a maiden solo Supercars Championship podium.

Wanneroo Raceway hosts the Bosch Power Tools Perth SuperSprint across May 17-19.

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