Hazelwood's unfinished business with MSR

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 22/10/2021
  • By Charlie Bullis

Todd Hazelwood is relishing the prospect of returning to the team which helped to launch his Supercars career.

Matt Stone Racing confirmed Hazelwood will return to the team for the 2022 season.

The announcement came after months of uncertainty over Hazelwood's future, with Brad Jones Racing coy on its plans with the driver.

Hazelwood won the 2017 Super2 crown with MSR, and made his main game debut with the team as a wildcard in the same year.

The 26-year-old has signed a multi-year deal with the Yatala-based team.

The Hazelwood announcement came just days after both Jake Kostecki and Zane Goddard confirmed their MSR exits, with the former already confirmed at Tickford Racing for 2022.

"I’m really excited to be moving to Matt Stone Racing and reuniting with the whole team there for 2022 and on a multi-year deal," Hazelwood told Supercars.com.

"Having some stability moving into the future is a really important prospect for me and seeing what's been going on behind the scenes for the team at Matt Stone Racing since I departed is really impressive, so there is lots to be excited about.

"Obviously, I’ve got some racing to do for the remainder of the year, and I'll be certainly putting my best foot forward to make sure I finish my stint with Brad Jones Racing on a high, but bring on next year, I can't wait."

Hazelwood made his full-time debut with MSR in 2018, and sealed a move to BJR for the 2020 season.

He scored his maiden podium and pole in 2020, and was retained by the Albury team for 2021.

Hazelwood won the 2017 Super2 title with MSR

The South Australian celebrated his season-best result of fourth in the WD-40 Townsville SuperSprint finale.

Two years after he left MSR, Hazelwood believes his return will shorten the learning curve of adapting to a new team.

"I’m going into a team that I know really well and understand," he explained.

"From the operations point of view to the mechanics at the workshop, there's a lot of friends and relationships and people that I bonded well with over that six-year period when I was there.

"There are also some new and exciting faces that I'm looking forward to working with too.

Hazelwood scored a podium with BJR in Sydney last year

"The capability of the team and the growth in the last 24 months since I've been absent, I think is really impressive.

"It's great to see MSR really step up their capabilities since I've been gone and that's one of the main attractions to joining the team for the years to come.

"It's not just a one-hit-wonder; it's putting my future in their hands for the next two years and looking forward to taking that next step together."

Hazelwood endured several challenges in his 2018 season with MSR; he placed 26th in the standings after a mid-year switch from an ex-DJR Team Penske Falcon to a Triple Eight-built Commodore.

Driver and team took big steps forward in 2019, headlined by qualifying fourth at Townsville and finishing fifth at Pukekohe.

Hazelwood will reunite with MSR in 2022

MSR has shown top 10 potential throughout 2021; Goddard finished seventh in Tasmania, just hours after he qualified a standout fourth for the race.

Kostecki finished a career-best fifth in Darwin after matching his season-best qualifying result of 11th. 

Hazelwood firmly believes his return to MSR marks a progression in his career.

"If people believe it's a step backwards and I look forward to proving him wrong," he said.

"I think what we achieved even back in 2019 saying that was a very first year of the team utilising the Triple Eight equipment and the ZB Commodore.

"They've had two years now, as I've mentioned, to step up that capability, they’ve grown to a two-car team, they've hired new staff and the team is very different.

Hazelwood scored his maiden pole with BJR last year

"I think what they've got in place for the next two years, there's no question the team is going to be continuing to improve and keep moving towards tasting success so that's part of the reason why I'm signing up.

"I wouldn't do a deal for two years if I didn't think that capability wasn't there.

"I look forward to proving those haters wrong and in the meantime, I'll be doing my very best for the team."

The 2021 Repco Supercars Championship will continue at next weekend’s Bunnings Trade Sydney SuperNight. Tickets for all four upcoming Sydney events are on sale now.

All sessions will be broadcast live on Fox Sports and streamed via Kayo. The Seven Network will broadcast live from 3:30pm AEDT on Saturday and 12:30pm AEDT on Sunday.

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