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Friday, March 1, 2024

Supercars news 2024 | Erebus Motorsport’s ‘personal’ stance against Brodie Kostecki blasted by Peter Adderton

Supercars sponsor Peter Adderton has questioned Erebus Motorsport’s motives amid an unwillingness to let its champion Brodie Kostecki cut ties.

Mystery surrounds the saga that led Kostecki to pull out of the Supercars season opener at Mount Panorama on February 23-25.

It’s widely believed Kostecki has taken issue with the team’s CEO Barry Ryan. It’s understood Ryan was briefly let go by the team only to be rehired by the squad’s owner Betty Klimenko a week or so later.

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Wide World of Sports understands Kostecki has been at odds with Ryan since the middle of 2023. The exact details of the fracas have not been outlined by either party with neither willing to comment on the matter as yet.

Suggestions of a toxic environment have permeated throughout the Supercars paddock and teammate Will Brown’s exit to Triple Eight Race Engineering is largely thought to have been motivated by his own issues with the team.

Adderton, the founder of telco Boost Mobile and personal sponsor of Kostecki, said the relationship between the star driver and the team is irreparable and the two parties should split. It’s understood legal intervention is underway to negotiate a resolution.

Exactly what that looks like remains unclear. Wide World of Sports understands Kostecki does not have a drive lined up at a rival Supercars team. However, there are rumours of teams taking an interest in Kostecki’s services should he be made available.

“I think what you see right now is a relationship that has broken down. I think it’s broken down over time. I don’t think it happened over Christmas,” said Adderton on the latest Rusty’s Garage podcast.

“I think this is a relationship that has broken down for a while, and you only have to look at the personality of the guys who run the team and own the team to understand it takes a very special person to work with someone who has that approach in life.”

What’s left Adderton most puzzled of all is the team’s change in philosophy concerning driver contract policy.

Since its inception, Erebus Motorsport has maintained a view that if a driver wishes to leave then the team would not stand in their way.

For the first time, the team has seemingly put up a roadblock in front of Kostecki. Notably, Kostecki is the team’s first champion.

The squad famously let Bathurst 1000 winner David Reynolds cut a 10-year deal short after just one season. His then-teammate Anton De Pasquale was also allowed to leave to join Dick Johnson Racing where he replaced Scott McLaughlin.

Late last year, Brown departed Erebus Motorsport to join rival team Triple Eight in a move that was reportedly orchestrated in part by Klimenko.

“The shame of this whole thing is this could have been fixed so fast,” said Adderton.

“Barry (Ryan) and Betty (Klimenko) spend their whole lives telling everybody ‘If you’re not happy, we’ll let you go. Davey, you’re not happy? We’ll let you go’, but suddenly, when Brodie says I want to go, then suddenly there’s a handbrake that comes on. 

“To me, it seems more personal because if you’re going to do it for everyone else then why wouldn’t you let Brodie go? I think Betty and Barry are smart enough to know how to fix this, I just don’t know if they’re smart enough to actually do it.

“To me, it’s a really simple situation; the relationship has broken down, let each party go on their separate ways, and if it’s all about the team and how great the team is and how great they built the car, the other two drivers should make it a championship-winning car.

“If it’s not about Brodie and Brodie’s skillset, then Brodie can go to another team and quickly prove Betty and Barry right. I think it could be fixed very, very quickly, but no one seems to want to do that from the team’s side.”

Adderton said a rift within the team should not have been left to fester and suggested no other team in the pit lane would have let that happen either.

“I would never get to the point where all of the sponsors were leaving,” he said.

“The job of a race team owner and CEO, their business model is to win races and to get sponsors and to get fans to follow them and sell merchandise. That’s the business model of a team. They have lost sponsors and they are losing fans. As a business, as a CEO, it’s considered a failure.

“To sit there and smile and say ‘Everything is okay, we’re going to power on’ when the business model of the team is to get commercial sponsors to support you and get fans to support you – when you lose those, it doesn’t matter when you win or lose on the race track, your business model of why you set that up has failed. Yet, no one seems to get fired. 

“Everyone just seems to go on and say, ‘Don’t worry, it’s all good’. It’s not all good. That’s where I think we’ve got to start focusing in on the core issue. I don’t think any team manager up and down pit lane or owner would ever let the relationship get this bad.”

Erebus Motorsport will field two new drivers at the season-opening Bathurst 500, led by Jack Le Brocq and Kostecki’s interim replacement Todd Hazelwood.

Although the team has not confirmed Hazelwood’s place beyond the first round, it’s widely believed he will contest the season in full.

David Russell will co-driver with Le Brocq while Jayden Ojeda has been signed to join Hazelwood.

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