One-off wonders: main game wildcard history

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 7 Days ago
  • By James Pavey

This weekend’s OTR SuperSprint marks the return of solo-driver wildcards, with Thomas Randle and Kurt Kostecki taking the grid to 26 cars.

Wildcards are no stranger to the main game; the 2017 and 2019 seasons saw five wildcard entries at select events.

Since 2011, there have been 21 wildcard entries across single-driver and endurance events.

WATCH: CHAOTIC TAILEM BEND MOMENTS

Current Tickford Racing driver Cameron Waters made his main game debut as a teenager aboard a Kelly Racing-prepared entry in the 2011 Bathurst 1000.

Driving alongside Grant Denyer, Waters crashed the Shannons-backed Commodore at Forrest’s Elbow, consigning the car to a DNF.

12 months later, he returned to the mountain alongside Jesse Dixon, with the duo driving to 20th.

Perhaps the most impressive wildcard performance of the decade came from the decorated international duo of Mattias Ekstrom and Andy Priaulx.

DTM champion Swede Ekstrom and WTCC veteran Brit Priaulx led the 2013 Bathurst 1000 midway through the race in their Xbox-backed Triple Eight entry. They would go on to finish an impressive 10th.

Andre Heimgartner just missed the top 10 at Mount Panorama alongside countryman Ant Pedersen in 2014, with the current Kelly Grove Racing ace helping his Super Black Falcon to 11th.

The end of the 2014 season came with the news Roger Penske was buying into Dick Johnson Racing. To mark the news, two-time series champion Marcos Ambrose competed in an Xbox Falcon at the Homebush season finale, scoring finishes of 20th, 21st and 16th.

In 2015 and 2016, Simona De Silvestro began her main game career with wildcard Bathurst starts alongside Renee Gracie, scoring finishes of 21st and 14th. They finished behind Russell brothers Drew and Aaren, who ended up 17th.

The 2017 season saw the return of single-driver wildcard starts; Macauley Jones, Shae Davies, Jack Le Brocq, James Golding and Todd Hazelwood each completed two events.

Of the five drivers, the best result came from current Team 18 driver Golding, who clinched a finish of 16th at Winton for Garry Rogers Motorsport.

Jones returned in 2018 for his father’s team and competed at the Darwin and Tailem Bend events, with Kostecki driving at Queensland Raceway and Tailem Bend.

In 2019, Randle was impressive at his only wildcard start at The Bend, hitting the top 10 on Friday before recording two finishes of 17th.

Jack Smith, who currently holds a full-time Brad Jones Racing seat, competed at Symmons Plains, Winton, Darwin and The Bend, scoring his best finish of 20th at Hidden Valley.

Tim Blanchard, who began operating a standalone team in 2021, returned for a one-off appearance with Petronas backing at Wanneroo Raceway.

WAU entered a NAPA Auto Parts-backed entry for American IndyCar aces Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe for the Great Race, finishing 18th.

After an early-weekend crash, Rossi spun late on, triggering the infamous Safety Car period. The duo were classified 18th.

Kostecki cousins Brodie and Jack also featured on the mountain in 2019, with the latter crashing out of the race.

However, after finishes of 18th and 16th at Surfers Paradise, the duo impressed at Sandown, current Erebus driver Brodie finishing eighth in the primary driver sprint race. The cousins finished the 500km enduro 16th.

The most recent wildcard entry, prior to this weekend, was for young driver Tyler Everingham and Jayden Ojeda, who steered their GRM Commodore to 19th in last October’s Bathurst 1000.

Both drivers are favourites to take out this year’s Super2 title, Everingham inheriting the Race 2 win following the penalty for Jordan Boys. Ojeda, meanwhile, scored his maiden pole on the same weekend.

Randle will be one to watch, considering Tickford Racing’s recent form at The Bend.

However, WAU will also provide Kostecki with a strong package; last year, Chaz Mostert scored pole at the South Australian circuit.

“Last year, they showed they were quite strong at Tailem Bend,” Randle said of Tickford.

“Cam [Waters] got a win, and Jack [Le Brocq] was on the podium as well.

“They’ve got strong cars there, and tyre deg should suit the team better than it did at Symmons Plains.

“And I felt quick there in the wildcard car a year and a half ago.

WATCH: RANDLE TESTS WILDCARD MUSTANG

“I’m looking forward to hopping in a Mustang there, and doing the team, Ford fans, my sponsors and family proud."

Can Randle or Kostecki become the latest wildcard drivers to rock the established stars?

Find out when the Repco Supercars Championship field returns to The Bend Motorsport Park this weekend for the OTR SuperSprint. Tickets are on sale now.

The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo with highlights on 7 and 7 Plus.

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