Kiwi supremacy good for Supercars

Jawad Yaqub Roar Guru

By , Jawad Yaqub is a Roar Guru

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    Of the fourteen races contested so far in the 2017 Supercars championship, only two have been won by drivers with Australian origin – with the rest having been claimed by our neighbours across the Ditch.

    An interesting statistic this is, considering Supercars is the premier Australian touring car category, which had not seen a foreign champion since Jim Richards in 1990 until last year, when Shane van Gisbergen flew the flag for New Zealand.

    Young Kiwi Scott McLaughlin leads the championship after seven rounds, with his compatriots in Fabian Coulthard and Van Gisbergen also sharing berths in the top five.

    Much has been made of this Kiwi supremacy in Supercars, including the attention given by five-time Australian touring car champion Mark Skaife, whom in his commentary has raised this statistic as if it is an issue.

    If anything, it should be seen as a positive, especially showing how strong the current crop of drivers from New Zealand are – who are beating the best of the locals in Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes.

    It also showcases the diversity of the category also, which continues to attract attention internationally, including world-renowned drivers who target marquee events such as the Bathurst 1000.

    Long has Supercars had that stigma of being overtly ‘Aussie’ and while it should maintain that heritage that the category was built upon, it is warming to see the global exposure it is receiving.

    Another esteemed Kiwi young-gun has put his hand up and declared his interest to race in Supercars in 2018, with Richie Stanaway relinquishing his European career in which he races for Aston Martin in the World Endurance Championship.

    “The only thing that interests me is V8 Supercars so that is the only thing on the radar,” stated the 25-year-old in an interview with the New Zealand Herald.

    New Zealand currently is witnessing a purple patch as far as its international motorsport is concerned, with success in Supercars and of course the Endurance Championship where Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley recently won the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans – which was a second victory for Bamber.

    While Australia is not slouching off, with Daniel Ricciardo moving and shaking the Formula One world championship and Will Power still a force on the IndyCar scene – the success of the Kiwis ought to be a motivator to strive towards having more Aussies racing internationally.

    For Supercars itself, there is no shortage of popularity for the current Kiwi trio and with their championship credentials, it shows that the category is truly open to anyone that is competitive.

    Rivalries are always an integral facet of any sport and when many other codes share a rivalry between Australia and New Zealand, such as in both rugby codes and of course cricket, it is fascinating to finally see it present in motorsport as well.

    In the end, Supercars should attract the best drivers in the world. Of course, it’ll always have its Australian base, but the more it can raise its international profile, the better – hence the current Kiwi supremacy being good for the category.