The fallout over reigning Supercars champion Brodie Kostecki’s looming exit from Erebus Motorsport continues to spread, with a number of sponsors pulling out of the team amid widespread criticism of Supercars’ handling of the situation.
Erebus announced that Todd Hazlewood will drive the #99 Camaro for the opening round of the 2024 season at the Bathurst 500, but it is believed a permanent split between first-time champion Kostecki and the team is currently being negotiated.
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Naming right sponsor Coca-Cola confirmed they have ended their partnership with Erebus, after financial services firm Shaw and Partners pulled their sponsorship after four years with the team, while Southern Cross Truck Rentals (SCTR) have also withdrawn.
Meanwhile Boost Mobile, who have previously sponsored Kostecki in Supercars and are also set to sponsor his NASCAR appearances this year through USA sister company MobileX, have withdrawn from talks with Supercars over extending their naming rights deal with the Gold Coast 500.
Kostecki is yet to publicly speak amid the ongoing drama.
But SCTR owner Steve Blackmore slammed the “co-ordinated” and “misleading” statements from Erebus and Supercars that were released together last week.
The Erebus statement read: “Contrary to media reports, Brodie Kostecki remains part of the Erebus Motorsport family and is a valued member of our team.
“Brodie has indicated he’s not in a position to take part in the opening round of the 2024 Supercars Championship.
“Todd Hazelwood will stand in for Brodie at the Bathurst 500 from February 23-25.”
In an official statement, Supercars CEO Shane Howard said: “We understand the gravity of Brodie’s decision and the challenges he may be facing at this time.
“On behalf of everyone at Supercars, we wish Brodie all the best, and we sincerely hope to witness his return to the Repco Supercars Championship in the future.
“In the meantime, we extend our support to Erebus as they navigate the start of the 2024 Repco Supercars Championship with Todd Hazelwood and Jack Le Brocq driving for the team.
“Defending a Championship title is never an easy task, but we are confident in Erebus’s ability to adapt and continue their pursuit of success on the track.”
SCTR owner Steve Blackmore told Speedcafe: “They release a press release saying Brodie is still part of the team, which in my mind was to try and buy some time over the situation.
“But in reality, as a partner and as somebody who is friends with both sides of the party, it’s like two friends and you know they’ve separated, they’re living in separate houses and they’re not talking, but technically they are still married.
“The contract is still binding. But the truth of the matter is, you know that they’re not together. So it puts people into a hard situation.
“It was disingenuous. It was also disingenuous from Supercars, because their press release was already on their website combined with Erebus’ press release, so it was co-ordinated. And it’s misleading.
“It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, because at the end of the day we’re trying to make commercial decisions, and it makes us look really bad … like we’re jumping ship at the first sign of troubled waters. And that’s not the case.
“People are making commercial decisions because we’re fully aware that there’s a lot more to the story, and if things do come out, they are potentially damaging to other people’s brands.”
The Supercars statement was slammed by three-time champion Scott McLaughlin, who took to X (formerly Twitter) to write: “‘We understand the gravity of Brodie’s decision and the challenges he may be facing at this time.’ In an official Supercars statement.
“The sport should be ashamed. They know the full story and as per usual side step around everything and don’t say anything hoping the storm will settle like they always have. No protection for drivers ever.
“Full support for Brodie Kostecki.”
Another former champion in Shane van Gisbergen, who now competes in NASCAR, also voiced his support for Kostecki.
In 2013, van Gisbergen was caught in a situation reminiscent of Kostecki’s. Stone Brothers Racing had just been purchased by Erebus, and van Gisbergen briefly retired before having his Erebus contract torn up, before eventually ending up at Tekno Autosports.
“What a sad situation to read about in Australia right now with Brodie Kostecki,” van Gisbergen wrote on social media.
“I went through a similar situation 10 or so years ago – not being able to say much, plus the team and media setting the narrative out of your control, is not fun.
“Full support here and hope that it works out the correct way, with Brodie enjoying driving race cars in 2024.”
Kostecki made his NASCAR debut last year and was expected to compete in a number of NASCAR Cup races this year around his Supercars schedule.
Since his contract drama with Erebus blew up, there have been some rumours that Kostecki was leaving Erebus to race full-time in NASCAR in 2024.
It’s a suggestion that a long-time Kostecki backer, Boost Mobile’s Peter Adderton, firmly refutes.
In a public statement on social media, Adderton hit out at Erebus and Supercars over their handling of the situation.
“I will not go into why Brodie will not race in 2024 with Erebus,” he wrote.
“That is his personal decision and I am sure when he is ready to explain why he will. But the release yesterday did nothing than show me how Supercars and Erebus are looking out for their own self interests ahead of a young driver.
“They know full well what is taking place and this statement by the Supercars CEO was so disappointing to me and not helpful.”
Originally published as Sponsors flee as Supercars slammed over handling of champ’s looming exit