RICHIE STANAWAY MAKING THE MOST OF HIS OPPORTUNITIES
New Zealander Richie Stanaway is another of our highly talented drivers who’s building a reputation in sports-car racing.
The 23-year-old was making waves in single seaters until a major shunt in 2012 resulted in a badly damaged back.
After extensive rehab, Stanaway returned to racing in Formula Renault 3.5 litre, Porsche Supercup and most recently the 2014 GP3 championship.
At the beginning of last year he was also rostered on as an Aston Martin Racing driver for several endurance events, but not a full season.
His 2015 year has been pretty busy so far, and he’s just finished his second three-day test session in Bahrain for GP2 team Status Grand Prix, where he was consistently among the quickest drivers. On some occasions Stanaway set the fastest times of the day.
“I’m not too sure if I’ll be in [GP2] for the season and I’m taking it one day at a time at the moment,” said Stanaway after testing.
“People want to see some potential but it’s not the sort of championship you go straight into and show everyone how it’s done. There’s a lot of talent in the field. “I had a good day in Abu Dhabi [set fastest lap] but you can have days like that when you’re a rookie. The car has to be just right with a good set of tyres on it, otherwise it doesn’t work.
“If you don’t have the car perfect you’re not going to be at the front. In Abu Dhabi we were trying things and got nowhere in the first two days. When it all came together the car was really fast.”
If money was no option Stanaway would no doubt be happy to race GP2.
However, the reality is trying to get a truckload of cash together to seal a seat in GP2, let alone Formula One, is one of the hardest things to do in motorsport.
Very much on the plus side for the young man from Tauranga is that he’s been confirmed as an Aston Martin Racing full-time driver. He’s been slotted in alongside co-drivers Alex MacDowall and Fernando Rees for a full season’s tilt at the World Endurance Championship.
If Stanaway is also offered a GP2 driver place it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem as there is only one date clash.
“The main thing for me at the moment is the WEC season, which I’m looking forward to as that’s all set in stone.
‘‘I had a three/four day test with Aston Martin earlier in the year and it was good to get back in a GT car.
“We’ll be doing the full season and I’ve got two good teammates so we’ll be able to fight for the championship [GT class].
“You can’t bet being in an environment where there are manufacturers in the field and everything is well funded.
“Things have changed a lot [in endurance racing] just recently. I can remember when I did my first race in 2013 the field was full of older, experienced drivers. Now it’s attracting a lot of younger drivers and I’m really grateful for Aston Martin for giving me the chance to race for a manufacturer.”
The first race on the eight-round WEC calendar is at one of the most iconic venues in the UK. The opening gambit in the season is a six-hour race followed by another six-hour event at Spa Francorchamps before the big one in June — the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“Silverstone is the first race and I can’t wait to get back there as I did a day’s testing there in an Aston back in February. It’s a cool track,’’ he said.
“We want to get the season off to a good start and score as many points as we can at the start of the world championship .Obviously Le Mans is double points so that race is even more important, so I hope we can start well at Silverstone.”