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Erebus battling to keep Bathurst wildcard plans on track

The Erebus Motorsport squad faces a fight to keep its planned wildcard entry into the Bathurst 1000 on track after Will Brown was caught up in a huge accident during the second race of the weekend at Pukekohe.

Contact with Mark Winterbottom saw Brown go off into the wall at pit entry on the opening lap, with a 56g impact causing extensive damage to his Holden Commodore.

That led to immediate concerns about the planned wildcard entry for Greg Murphy and Richie Stanaway at Bathurst, with the pair set to race in what was previously the spare Erebus chassis.

Team boss Barry Ryan insisted that he wanted to keep the wildcard programme on track but admitted that it wouldn’t be possible to make a final call on what happens next until the team returns to base.

“We are committed to doing that wildcard for Boost and Murph and Richie,” he told the official Supercars website. “We don’t want to do it half-arsed… we’ll wait until we get back to the shop before we say yes or no.

“At the moment, I haven’t seen any worse cars than that for a while, so that’s a big repair, and we’re still going to prep cars for Bathurst. We don’t have a massive crew, we’ve got a very small group of people on board right now to do the wildcard programme.

“We haven’t got full time wildcard staff that can come and help us fix a car. We need to get it back and get our fabricator, he’s not here for the first time in a lot of years to see if we can actually fix it.

“We won’t be able to make a call till mid-next week.”

Ryan had earlier been involved in heated discussions with Winterbottom when he headed to the Erebus garage to discuss the incident, telling the Team 18 driver – who had earlier announced a new deal to continue into the Gen3 era – to ‘F*** off’ after an incident he felt was intentional.

That was a view shared by Brown, who accused his rival of turning into him following contact earlier in the lap

“Winterbottom wasn’t happy from the corner before and put me off,” he said. “That was the biggest hit I’ve ever had.

“Some of them, you’re not too bothered about, but that was a pretty big hit. Going in at that speed, I knew I was screwed and going to hit the side of wall.

“I got out of the car, I was pretty badly winded. but I’m feeling alright now. Just a bit sore on my left side.”

Winterbottom however insisted that what had happened was a pure accident, and that the footage hadn’t told the full story.

“It looks bad – it always looks bad when someone ends up like that,” he said, “but the footage doesn’t show the concertina going on to get there.

“We were going two wide, obviously you feel like there’s more room there. His front wheel hit my back and lifted… it’s a bad visual to watch.

“I can see why he’d be angry and disappointed but nothing’s intentional in this sport.

“[The footage] doesn’t show getting drilled by him at the hairpin or turn six, it shows the aftermath, that’s what looks bad.”