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GRM and the SuperLicence Debate

So who is Nathan Herne and what’s all the hoo-ha?

Herne is at the centre of a debate around Garry Rogers Motorsport entering a wildcard at Bathurst. The 18-year old racer doesn’t qualify for a Superlicense, required to compete in Supercars, not having collected enough points in other championships as determined by Motorsport Australia.

Motorsport Australia and Supercars have the ability to grant a dispensation, but should they?

The Superlicense points list is an interesting read, but quite rightly Supercars and Super2 earn the most points. However, it includes categories like F4 and others that should perhaps be shuffled around in terms of their weight and the points that contribute to earn endorsement.

What’s not on the 2020 list? TA2. Why? Well it’s a relatively new series, and prior to Aaron, son of Glenn, winning the championship last year, it was considered a grassroots category despite the cars being a great audible and visual spectacle. Oh, and also the AASA is the sanctioning body, not Motorsport Australia.

Back to young Herne. He races in TA2 and doesn’t have enough points for a Superlicense. Pretty simple. He hasn’t competed in Super2 or Super3, but has been a young karter as well as competing in the evergreen Formula Ford series. He has recently competed in the incredibly successful Nathan Cayzer-run Tin Top support categories we’ve been treated to in Townsville and The Bend over the past month in his TA2 car, which would have put him on the radar of all the key people being on the support card of the main game.

By comparison, young Broc Feeney – son of Paul who is better known for his two wheeled exploits – is another talented youngster moulded in the driver factory and fun farm that is Paul Morris’ Norwell Motorplex. Feeney has tested for leading Supercars teams DJR Team Penske, Tickford and Erebus. He won last year’s Super3 championship and now competes in Super2 with Tickford. He followed the pathway, the trajectory that leads to the majors. Should Feeney line up as a co-driver at Bathurst? Absolutely.

So why all the politics? Garry and Barry Rogers are successful and savvy racers. They announced their Bathurst wildcard before it was approved. Announced a driver line up with a young steerer ineligible, without holding a Superlicence. A clever PR play to put pressure on the powers that be.

Supercars put out a statement after the Motorsport Australia ruling on Superlicence-gate that GRM were more than welcome to enter a wildcard at Bathurst. Just with two eligible drivers. Once again, seems pretty simple on the face of it. It read, “Supercars welcome Garry Rogers Motorsport’s intended return to Supercars and fully support GRM entering a wildcard into this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000.”

“We also support the position that drivers must hold a Superlicence, which is issued by Motorsport Australia.”

Auto Action report today that the legal battle has begun. Heels have been dug in. And Garry and Barry, with close links to their friend, legal mastermind and media guru Jeff Browne, aren’t short of a stunt or two and shrewd political gamesmanship.

But back to the facts. Nathan Herne may well deserve a chance to race at the highest level in Australian motorsport, but not at the expense of others who do the hard yards and take the steps through the support categories like Porsche Carrera Cup, Super2 and Super3. Any dispensation makes a mockery of the system and furthermore, how do other categories remain relevant if anyone can simply pole vault over them to compete in the Great Race?

Herne is a young kid with great potential. Let’s see him in Super2 and earn his stripes before he’s on the competitor’s list at the Bathurst 1000. Or maybe the courts will make that decision for him.

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