Trans Am champion forging new path to Supercars

Trans Am champion forging new path to Supercars

The 20-year-old talent has become the benchmark of the burgeoning Trans Am scene in Australia over the past few years.

Last weekend he sealed a second consecutive national Trans Am crown, winning out in a last-round shootout at Sandown with Garry Rogers Motorsport teammate Owen Kelly.

However his impressive CV is currently lacking experience in the Supercars system.

He did attempt to make his Bathurst 1000 debut in 2020 with GRM, only for Motorsport Australia to refuse him a Superlicence exemption, while financial constraints have prevented Herne from making the jump into Super2.

According to Herne that is unlikely to change next year, his plans currently to continue working as a mechanic at GRM as he shoots for a third Trans Am title.

But that doesn’t mean he’s given up on his Supercars dream, Herne hoping to use Trans Am as an alternative pathway to the top category in Australia.

That’s despite Trans Am being poorly represented on the Superlicence points table, the winner only getting seven of the 13 required points.

In comparison the Super3 winner earns 10 points as does the winner of TCR Australia and even the now-defunct Australian Formula 4 Championship.

The Super2 winner earns 12 points along with the S5000 and Carrera Cup champions.

“I’m pretty happy with GRM, they’ve given me a lifeline with racing,” Herne told the Castrol Motorsport News podcast.

“In 2020 I was at a crossroad where I thought, do I keep racing bitumen and fork out all this money or do I go and race speedway where I can race for longer?

“It was only our first year with [GRM], and yes I’ve been in Trans Am for a long time, but I think for next year it will be much the same. I’ll be doing Trans Am and try and do as much S5000 as I can.

“For me to move forward, I don’t have the budget to go to Super2, so I either have to fall over the winning lotto ticket, or I need to get to a [Shane van Gisbergen] type driver into Trans Am so I can compare myself to the big names.

“I think it’s come far enough along that it’s respected as a pathway. I’m the one who has to sort of break the water for everyone else to show that this pathway can be done.”

Herne almost had the chance to benchmark himself against van Gisbergen earlier this year, only for Triple Eight to block the Kiwi’s planned Trans Am start at Queensland Raceway.

Brodie Kostecki ended up taking over van Gisbergen’s seat, the Erebus driver running in the lead pack but unable to snare a win.

According to Herne, having those name drivers make Trans Am cameos is important as he looks to convince onlookers that he is good enough to race in Supercars.

“At the end of the day, all of these Supercars drivers are the most race fit, they are the best drivers in the country,” he said.

“But being in Trans Am, we know the cars inside out. The talent at the front of the field is as deep as any other category.

“It showed at QR when Brodie came in and he was at the front, which is what you would expect, but he didn’t sweep the floor with us.

“It would be good to have more Supercars drivers come in, just as a reference for the crowd. I know within myself where I sit, but for either people looking in, it would be good to have the reference of some big names. If SVG came in, it would be interesting to see where we sat.”

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