Boost Mobile Racing is now “very confident” Richie Stanaway will return from injury at next month’s OTR SuperSprint, and is planning a pre-event track test for the driver.
Stanaway has been out of action since withdrawing midway through the Winton event in May, due to pain from a nerve impingement in his neck.
He’ll be absent for a third consecutive event when the Century Batteries Ipswich SuperSprint takes place this weekend, with Michael Caruso taking his place in the #33 Holden.
Stanaway took to social media on Wednesday to declare himself “back to normal”, posting an image of himself using a neck-strengthening band.
“After 3 scans, MRI, X-Ray, CT, 10 weeks of waiting around, an injection into my spine, 2x hospital visits, enough pain killers and drugs to kill 4 whales & I’m finally back to normal,” he wrote in an Instagram story.
Stanaway’s update comes six weeks after having the key injection, which was forecast to take approximately that time to take effect, and follows continued physiotherapy.
Team director Barry Rogers met with Stanaway on Wednesday evening and is now confident his progress will result in a return next month.
Caruso continues in the car this weekend
“From a physical perspective just looking at him and talking to him, he’s a totally different person,” Rogers told Supercars.com.
“He looks fit, looks well, doesn’t have that stiff-neck awkwardness. He’s really keen and positive to get back going.
“We certainly hope to have him back in the car [for Tailem Bend] and I’m very, very confident it’ll be the case.
“The last few rounds we were hoping [he’d be fit to race] but weren’t sure, but we’re feeling confident he’s gotten over that hurdle now.”
Rogers says the team will organise a track test for Stanaway, most likely the week before Tailem Bend, before committing to running him at the event.
Stanaway had crashed in practice at Winton while battling the neck issue and the team is determined to avoid a situation where it may have to change drivers mid-event.
“We’ll give him some sort of track activity,” Rogers confirmed, adding he’ll first need to be signed off by doctors before returning to the car.
“It won’t be in a Supercar [due to testing restrictions], but whether it’s a shifter-kart, or an S5000, we might stick him into one of those for a few laps to see how we copes with that.
“There’ll be something he needs to do to actually show that, under race-type conditions, it doesn’t revert back to how it was.
“He said to me he feels like he could get back into the car tomorrow, but he also understands doing day-to-day things is a lot different to the forces you experience when you race a car.
“To Richie’s credit, if he’s not feeling right, he’ll put his hand up and say he’s not feeling right. He’s not going to hide it.
“So if the doctors are satisfied and we put him in the car and physically he feels alright, he doesn’t feel pain, he’ll be in [for The Bend].
“But we want to make a decision two weeks out. It won’t be in the week of Tailem Bend.”
The OTR SuperSprint will take place on August 23-25.