Juniors waiting eagerly in the wings for Supercars teams

Richie Stanaway on track at the Townsville 500
Richie Stanaway joined Grove Racing full-time in 2024. Image: Rhys Vandersyde/InSyde Media

Grove Racing’s Matt Payne rose quickly from his team’s junior program to go full-time in Supercars after a standout season-and-a-half in the Super2 Series across 2022 and 2023.

Owner Stephen Grove was vindicated in promoting Payne to Supercars when the Kiwi won at the season-ending Adelaide 500.

Now the team has another young gun waiting in the wings who could be a future Supercars talent.

Grove Racing Junior Team driver Oscar Targett is in his second season of Porsche Sprint Challenge with Earl Bamber Motorsport. He leads that series ahead of teammate Brock Gilchrist.

The Groves also have Garth Tander’s son Sebastian in its junior team ranks as well as another karting up-and-comer Mika LeMasurier.

“For us, we want to bring people through the racing – different categories,” Grove said in Sunday’s post-race press conference at the Townsville 500.

“We’re pretty close with Oscar, he’s one of our junior drivers. He did a great job with two wins and a second.

“He’s leading the championship and progressing well. It was really good for us.”

Oscar Targett on track at the Townsville 500 for Earl Bamber Motorsport in Porsche Sprint Challenge.
Oscar Targett on track at the Townsville 500 for Earl Bamber Motorsport in Porsche Sprint Challenge. Image: Rhys Vandersyde/InSyde Media

Walkinshaw Andretti United is one of the most prolific and high-profile Supercars teams with its Foundation Academy.

In the Super2 Series it has Zach Bates and Campbell Logan and in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia GR Cup it has Matthew Hillyer.

Bates has already won a race this year in Perth and Logan scored a season-best fourth in Townsville.

Hillyer enjoyed a strong showing in Townsville too, scoring a second place finish to go with two fourth place finishes.

Like Grove Racing did with Payne, fellow Ford team Walkinshaw Andretti United promoted Ryan Wood from its Super2 Series program to Supercars this year.

In his rookie season, the young Kiwi has come close to the podium with two season-best finishes of fourth in Taupo and Perth.

“A really, really successful day,” said team co-owner Ryan Walkinshaw.

Zach Bates on track in the Walkinshaw Andretti United #25 Holden ZB Commodore.
Zach Bates is in his second Super2 Series campaign with Walkinshaw Andretti United. Image: Rhys Vandersyde/InSyde Media

“I think we got three trophies in three different categories. The lowest position we had out of any of the WAU cars was sixth, so that’s really, really special.

“I’m proud of the guys who put a lot of time and effort into those programs. To see it paying dividends is really important.

“For us, we want to have a ladder system in our race team to blood drivers, to blood engineers and mechanics as well.

“So having that stepping stone and being successful in each of those categories is critically important for us.”

Tickford Racing has three entries this year by way of its Tickford Autosport outfit with Brad Vaughan, Lachlan Dalton, and Rylan Gray.

Vaughan has been a bona fide front-runner but had his title bid dogged by a horror weekend in Townsville.

Brad Vaughan on track at the Townsville 500.
Brad Vaughan scored a podium and pole position inside the first three Super2 Series rounds in 2024 for Tickford Autosport. Image: Rhys Vandersyde/InSyde Media

Dalton has been a consistent top 10 finisher with a season-best fifth at Bathurst while Gray has been hot and cold. Two top five finishes highlight an otherwise tough rookie campaign.

“Tough weekend, to be fair, in the DVS,” said Tickford Racing CEO Simon Brookhouse.

“We had a little bit of bad luck and then a couple of cars got damaged. We had Brad Vaughan get damaged on Saturday, so it was a tough weekend from that point of view.

“The good thing is the guys are getting miles in their legs and what not. At least they’re enjoying being out there driving.

“For us, it’s setting up and trying to encourage them to finish as many races as they can and get as many points as they can. The wins will look after themselves in time.”

The Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia GR Cup at Townsville 500.
Matthew Hillyer (far left) drives in the GR Cup with support from Walkinshaw Andretti United.

Tickford also has a young gun in the GR Cup in Charlie Nash, who finished 11th, ninth, and 12th across the three races.

“Charlie is only just stepping out so it’s all very new to him,” said Brookhouse.

“He had a top 10, which he was very pleased with and he improved time after time after every practice session.

“It’s just looking for those next drivers – And like the boys said, it’s about developing young drivers who can step up to the next level.”

The aforementioned trio aren’t the only Supercars teams with development programs.

Erebus Motorsport via its Erebus Academy is supporting Jarrod Hughes and Jobe Stewart in the Super2 Series via Image Racing.

Although not stricting labelled a junior team, Brad Jones Racing has Cody Gillis and Elliott Cleary in the Super2 Series.

The Super2 Series continues at Sandown Raceway on September 13-15 in support of Supercars and the Sandown 500.

This article was originally published by a speedcafe.com . Read the Original article here. .