Feature Mark Walker March 2, 2024 (Comments off) (751)

Kostecki & Erebus: The Media Timeline

A lot has played out in a short space of time in the saga of Brodie Kostecki and Erebus Motorsport.

Before we lose track, here is the day-by-day sequence of events involving the key players in the media and via social media.

We have endeavoured to source all of the correct outlets that broke the individual news pieces – please get in contact if the record needs to be set straight in any of these instances.


Background

On December 1st, it was noted that Kostecki would undergo surgery after battling tonsillitis during the season. On December 5th, Speedcafe also reported that ‘Newly crowned Supercars champion Brodie Kostecki is in no rush to leave the category despite the probability of an increased NASCAR programme in 2024’, while three days later, the same outlet noted that ‘Erebus wants to help Brodie Kostecki get to NASCAR full-time, rather than see him defect to a rival Supercars team’.

A Speedcafe article on December 27th stated that Kostecki would be a key player in the 2025 silly season, noting that 2024 would be the final year of his agreement with Erebus, with a number of options tabled.

On January 6th, Supercars.com reported on Kostecki’s appearance at Toowoomba Speedway:

I was over in the States for the Christmas and New Year’s period, it was good to have a break away from life in Aus. It was good to have a reset and make sure I’m ready to start the new season, I’m really looking forward to getting to Bathurst. I’m going to try and fill up my calendar with as much racing as I can and hopefully go back-to-back, that’s the dream.

Brodie Kostecki

On January 13th, Erebus Motorsport made its second last social media post relating to Kostecki, with a call for pre-orders of championship celebration merchandise, followed on January 20th by a reel of Kostecki dating back to Bathurst. On January 25th, the team announced that Brad Tremain had been appointed Team Principal, with the team noting that it will continue to be led by CEO Barry Ryan, Team Owners Betty and Daniel Klimenko and Managing Director Shannen Kiely.

On January 28th, Kostecki’s prospective NASCAR Cup Series RCR Chevrolet Camaro was revealed:


January 30

Speedcafe revealed the shock split, with Kostecki deciding to leave the team, and is likely to be on the sidelines for at least the start of the 2024 Supercars season – if not the entire year.

Kostecki’s personal backer Peter Adderton essentially confirmed the news on social media:

This is a Huge loss for Supercars and those supporting partners and most importantly the fans it’s clear there are issues across the Board from Teams, to drivers…no Brodie, No SVG, what a huge loss. Boost and MobileX will continue to support Brodie as we always have.

Peter Adderton

January 31

Both Erebus Motorsport and Supercars CEO Shane Howard issued separate statements.

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’ ability to adapt and continue their pursuit of success on the track.

Supercars

For Hazelwood, it was a significant lifeline after being cast aside by the Blanchard Racing Team at the end of last year before being in line for an endurance co-drive at Erebus.

Meanwhile, the prepared statements came under fire from many quarters, including Andrew van Leeuwen, who broke the story the day before.


February 1

Adderton addressed questions regarding a possible full-time move to NASCAR for Kostecki:

Shane van Gisbergen, who has departed these shores to take on NASCAR, noted his support for Kostecki:

Auto Action meanwhile ran a story depicting Todd Hazelwood and Jack Le Brocq in front of a Coke fridge at Erebus HQ:


February 2

Speedcafe reported that one of the team’s biggest backers, Shaw and Partners, had left Erebus after four years, and released a statement:

We have just decided to go our separate ways and wish them all the best for the future. We have had a great four-year association with them and we wish them all the best.

Shaw and Partners

Code Sports meanwhile received the following statement from the team:

We deeply value all of our partners, both past and present. Erebus Motorsport has announcements on our 2024 partnership program planned for the coming weeks.

Erebus Motorsport

Speedcafe also ran comment from James Courtney, who was the last champion to depart their winning squad after sealing the title:

Look, it’s tough. He’d been through a little tough period. I’ve been in this game a long time – I’ve been through a similar situation to what Brodie is going through – so I just said to him, he’s got to make the right decision for him because he’s the only one that has to live with that decision. So, everyone around him is going to have their own agenda, so it’s only down to him so I’m sure he’ll make the right choice for himself. Look, it’s going to be a tough call, but I’m sure he will come out a better person out of it.

James Courtney

February 3

Scott McLaughlin took to social media to slam the Supercars response to the matter, and voice his support for Kostecki:

Peter Adderton noted the following on social media:

Will Brown added his support for his former teammate from the Red Bull Ampol Racing launch on 7NEWS:


February 5

After dropping off the Erebus website, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners provided a statement to Speedcafe that they were splitting with the team:

We wish Erebus Motorsport and the drivers every success for the 2024 season and beyond. This decision relates only to our partnership with Erebus Motorsport and does not affect other existing agreements we have with the Australian Supercars Championship and Australian motorsport more broadly. We have a long and proud history of supporting Australian motorsport spanning more than 50 years and look forward to building on this through our existing and future partnerships in the sport.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners

Earlier in the day, Southern Cross Truck Rentals revealed to Speedcafe that they had split with the team, in a somewhat more scathing fashion:

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 coordinated. 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.

Stephen Blackmore, SCTR

Furthermore, Speedcafe reported that Erebus was offering refunds to their fan membership program:

Dear Members,

Firstly we would like to thank you for your support, and we understand that the current news may be upsetting and disappointing for some of you.

In light of this, we are offering the option to cancel your membership for a full refund for those members who wish to discontinue their support.

While it would be disappointing to see you leave, we respect your decision.

Should you decide to cancel your membership, please email [email protected] with the first and last name registered to the membership.

Again, we thank you for your ongoing support and we still hope to see many of you at the track.

Kind Regards,

Erebus Motorsport

Anton de Pasquale told 7NEWS in Brisbane that he has been in touch with Kostecki:

I’m really good mates with Brodie so been in touch with him a bit, had a bite to eat with him. You always want the champion on the grid and especially a hard racer like Brodie. But I’m pretty sure with time they’ll work it out.

Anton De Pasquale

February 6

Supercars released an open letter to the motorsport community:

Dear Supercars Community,

I want to address the recent developments between Brodie Kostecki and Erebus Motorsport that resulted in Brodie not racing for the Erebus team at the upcoming Thrifty Bathurst 500.  The situation has garnered significant attention and speculation, and I feel it’s crucial from a Supercars perspective to provide clarity and context.

I’ve personally been in confidential dialogue with Brodie both leading into and following the announcement.  I’ve also had extensive discussions about the matter over recent weeks with Erebus Motorsport management, including Barry Ryan and Betty Klimenko.  There have been suggestions that Supercars hasn’t engaged in these conversations or has taken sides.  This is simply incorrect and misleading.

The ongoing nature of this situation, between Brodie Kostecki and Erebus Motorsport which is yet to be resolved, is why none of the parties involved will comment on the matter at this time.  We respect the rights of all individual parties, including their discretion to resolve matters in a confidential manner.  Efforts are continuing to be made to facilitate and encourage the parties to find a practical and workable solution in the best interests of all stakeholders.

There has been considerable commentary on this matter, and some of it has been disappointing.  We urge everyone to approach this situation with understanding, empathy and patience it deserves.

The circumstances at hand are ultimately a matter between the owners and management of Erebus Motorsport and their contracted driver, Brodie Kostecki.  Supercars has offered our full support to all parties and will continue to do so.

Racing is a passion that should be enjoyed by everyone, be it as a spectator, volunteer, sponsor, team owner, employee, or driver.

Yours faithfully,

Shane Howard

Chief Executive Officer


Roland Dane, in his weekly column at Speedcafe dropped a bomb on the Kostecki-Erebus feud, taking aim at the Erebus management. The op-ed read in part:

I will be as clear as I can be. This is not an issue of mental health, as alluded to by Supercars, at least not on the part of Brodie. This is a case of what appears to be a toxic workplace. Other teams and Supercars have seen evidence of this in the past. For instance, some 18 months ago an email (addressed to pretty much everyone involved in Gen3 development) emanated from the team in question that was so venomous that the CEO of Supercars was obliged to step in and attempt to smooth the waters. But long-term damage was done. That’s just one example. There are others. If a mental health issue is defined as someone being unable to cope with a noxious workplace then maybe I’m wrong. But in my judgement the probability is that any mental health issues lie with those that create such a workplace, not those who find it hard to be a part of it.

Roland Dane

Speedcafe reported that Todd Hazelwood was shaking down his freshly built car at Winton Raceway with the number 1 on the side of the car.

V8 Sleuth reported that Jayden Ojeda is in line for an enduro drive with the Erebus squad.

Wide World of Sports reported that: Kostecki and Erebus CEO Barry Ryan have been at loggerheads since midway through 2023. It is believed Kostecki wants out of his contract with the team, which has one year remaining on it, and legal proceedings have begun to negotiate an exit.


February 7

V8 Sleuth reported from Winton testing that it was ‘business as usual’ for the Erebus squad, with Barry Ryan quoted:

We have got the same pit crew – we had one guy leave just because he wanted to spend more time with his young family – and we had another guy return who’d left at the start of last year. The rest of the team is stable and has been for a few years now. We’re just supporting each other because we know the truth and we know some of the stuff in the background is just so out of proportion.

Barry Ryan

Former HRT team boss Jeff Grech gave his viewpoint of the situation to the Wide World of Sports:

I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Throughout my years in motorsport, I’ve seen disagreements and drivers move on, but this is bizarre.  I feel for the sport, I certainly feel for Brodie and I feel for the fan base. It’s a sad state of affairs … I’m just really gutted for Brodie. Absolutely gutted. I’ve had dealings with drivers and contracts and it’s a bit of a two-way street. Sometimes the drivers expectations aren’t what the teams are, but you work it out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it get to the point where it’s been on-show this bad. When we were a factory team at HRT, we always kept Holden, and for that matter the rest of the sponsor group, up to speed on everything. We had to. Not only because it’s polite to do so, but they’re your major sponsors, you always let them know before anything got out the door. You work with them so they can get well ahead of it. Generally, if you do that, they respect it and then look to the team to sort the issue out. You keep them abreast of it.  But my mail is the sponsor group wasn’t told until the last minute about a dispute that had been going on for a while, and it caught them out.

Anton De Pasquale provided another update on Kostecki on the Today program:

“Yeah, he’s good. From that side of things – obviously a really good mate of mine. We co-drove a couple of years ago – or a few years ago now – so yeah, just a bit of a mates check-in more than anything.  I don’t really understand what’s happening. I don’t think I want to because it’s obviously pretty layered and there’s a lot going on… but yeah, he’s alright. Obviously it’s a shame not to have the champ on the grid at the first race back, so hopefully he’s back as soon as possible because you want him out there. He’s a fierce competitor.

Anton De Pasquale

While his teammate Will Davison noted:

Elite sport, it’s full of emotion. It’s full of fiery competitors and sometimes politics. It’s tough. I think that he’s been able to win the championship in such a short space says a fair bit. He’s the benchmark driver. We want the benchmark driver and the champion on the grid. He’s also the champion. He’s got the number one sitting in his lounge room, so he’s happy on that front.  Obviously the messy situation we don’t know anything about. It’s not new to this sport, but it’s certainly very unfortunate and being talked about quite a lot at the moment.


February 8

Kostecki was nominated in the Sports Gold Coast Awards:

Erebus team principal Brad Tramain noted to Speedcafe that sprits in the camp remain high:

It’s all good. Yeah, it’s as if nothing’s changed for us in there. We are real close-knit team and, with everything going on, everything thinks it’s all falling apart, but it’s not. We’re all laughing and having fun and we’re all working well together and having a great time.

Brad Tremain

V8 Sleuth broke down ‘What’s next for Brodie Kostecki’, noting that rumours had connected the driver to a seat at PremiAir Racing or Dick Johnson Racing, plus:

The early indications are that Richard Childress Racing’s allegiances remain with Erebus, despite Kostecki impressing in his cup Series debut last year. Kostecki’s chances of racing a Supercars this year hinge on a contract release being negotiated between his camp and Erebus.

V8 Sleuth

Peter Adderton added his two cents to the growing war of words in the media over the handling of the situation:


February 10

Here on The Race Torque, we covered the ongoing evolving situation regarding the Erebus/Kostecki situation in the media.


February 11

Kostecki made his first public appearance since the news broke, with his appearance at the Motorsport Australia Nationals Awards Gala Dinner, where he was recognised for his Supercars Championship win, plus the prestigious Peter Brock Medal. Kostecki said on stage:

It is no secret that I have come to a crossroads with my 2023 Supercars team and ongoing discussions mean that I cannot say any more on that matter at this time – and I thank you for appreciating my position. What I can say is that I have been overwhelmed by the support from some quality individuals and sponsors in the industry who have offered their unwavering support. I also have to say a massive thankyou to the thousands of fans, from both sides of the fence, who have sent me personal messages of support, checked on my wellbeing, or just given me another thumbs up on my title and wished me all the best.

To say that 2023 was an interesting year would be an understatement. We had a brand-new Gen3 car to work with and I lived and breathed it in an effort to understand what made it work and how we could make our cars faster than anyone else. In the end, the hard work and more than a decade of personal commitment to learning my craft paid off and I came away with the drivers’ championship and I helped contribute to a Supercars teams’ championship with my good friend and teammate Will Brown. It is great to share this trophy with all the mechanics and crew and the other hard-working members of our team at track or back at the shop.

Brodie Kostecki

February 12

Peter Adderton’s next comment on the situation came on the Rusty’s Garage podcast, where he, Simon Chapman and Greg Rust delved into the story:

To sit back and say everything’s normal and everything’s going gangbusters when the driver who delivered you the Supercars championship is not there and is suffering at home is a little disingenuous, in my opinion. When everything’s so emotional and raw right now, that’s the worst thing you can possibly do. When somebody’s going through a lot, who’s obviously had a really bad experience internally inside the team, and then the very team comes out and they’re laughing and carrying on like everything is okay, I just think it’s a matter of timing. To go out of the way and say everything’s fantastic, it was bizarre.

I think it’s broken down over time. I don’t think it happened over Christmas. I think this is a relationship that has broken down for a while. You only have to look at the personality of the guys who run the team and own the team to understand that it takes a very special person, in my opinion, to be able to work with someone who has that approach in life. If you’re in a relationship — I don’t care if it’s personal or professional — and it’s a toxic relationship, that takes a mental strain on you. The only way to get out of that toxic environment is to remove yourself from the environment.

Peter Adderton

Further reporting on the Wide World of Sports.


February 15

Fox Sports News reported that Peter Xibberas has put his hand up to provide Kostecki with a seat.

Meanwhile, Speedcafe ran a story regarding Tony Quinn’s not-so-cryptic message that Kostecki could be behind the wheel of a Supercar at that weekend’s New Zealand Grand Prix at Highlands Motorsport Park.

Coca-Cola meanwhile popped up on the Tickford Racing Mustang of Thomas Randle.


February 16

Erebus Motorsport unveiled its new state-of-the-art laser scanning tool.


February 19

Erebus teased their new season livery.


February 20

Kai Allen revealed his new paint scheme for 2024, with prominent sponsorship from former Erebus sponsors Coca-Cola and SCTR, while Cameron McLeod’s new Super2 machine is supported by Coke.

V8 Sleuth reported that Todd Hazelwood would run car number 99, rather than 199 as had been suggested.


February 22

Erebus unveiled its new livery, with a charitable act by Todd Hazelwood seeing the cars pick up backing from TFH Hire, as reported by Speedcafe and V8 Sleuth.


February 23

Erebus broke its silence, with Jess Yates interviewing Barry Ryan and Betty Klimenko for the Supercars telecast.

Key in the interview was an emotional Ryan, who had been supporting close friend Terry Wyhoon through his late wife Dana’s illness:

At the end of last year we were on top of the world. Everybody believed in us. To have people decide that they didn’t believe in us anymore, that hurts. I’ve got to have the energy to make sure we can rebuild this and do it again, which I have, but yeah it hurts, it definitely hurts. We just want to get back and worry about racing. The biggest thing for me is my wife and daughter making sure I’m not going to hurt myself or do something silly. There’s been so much hate and I’m not that sort of person. I’m not a bully. I don’t do anything but care for people. In the whole process of this I’ve had one of my best mate’s wife pass away. I’ve been in intensive care hospitals with him and trying to support him. It’s just been hard.

Barry Ryan

It was noted by V8 Sleuth that Erebus displayed the Supercars Championship trophy that was awarded to Kostecki on the podium in Adelaide.

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