Five-time Bathurst winner Steven Richards has announced his retirement from Supercars, and has announced plans to take up a managerial role at Team 18.
The 47-year-old confirmed his decision on Friday, bringing an end to a long career in the championship which boasts 460 race starts and 10 wins – five of which came at Mount Panorama.
Son of seven-time Bathurst winner Jim, Richards junior made his debut in the Australian Touring Car Championship in 1996 for Garry Rogers Motorsport, and claimed his maiden Bathurst win two years later alongside Jason Bright with Stone Brothers Racing.
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Richards went back-to-back when he combined with Greg Murphy and Gibson Motorsport to win the Great Race in 1999.
His final full-time season in Supercars came in 2010 after a four-year stint at Tickford, and undertook co-driving duties for the team before defecting to Triple Eight from 2014, having won Bathurst with Mark Winterbottom in 2013.
In five years with Craig Lowndes, Richards won Bathurst twice (2015 and 2018) and claimed the PIRTEK Enduro Cup in 2018.
He reunited with Winterbottom at Team 18 for the 2019 enduros, and will remain with the expanding Holden squad as a full-time relationship manager role.
However, despite leaving the Supercars racing fold, Richards revealed his intention to race on in other categories.
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Richards will leave behind his co-drive with Winterbottom, with several names – including defending Bathurst winner Alex Premat – to be linked to the seat for the 2020 enduros.
Team 18 will be after two additional drivers, with Scott Pye’s second entry yet to have a confirmed major sponsor or co-driver.
Richards joins fellow Bathurst winner Luke Youlden as Supercars retirees following the 2019 season.
“I’ve been in discussion with Charlie [Schwerkolt, team owner] and the team regarding an active role for some time,” said Richards.
“It’s an exciting time at Team 18 and now is the right time to make this decision.
“I’ll be able to utilise my experience to assist Charlie and the team drive success both on and off the track and work closely with the incredible team partnerships that have been established.
“I’ve had a fantastic career in Supercars, winning races, competing for championships, and driving with the best teams and drivers in the most competitive touring car championship in the world.
“While I close the door on Supercars I’ll still have some flexibility to continue driving in other categories.”
Schwerkolt was “sad” to see Richards hang up the helmet, but was excited to have the decorated driver remain with his growing team.
“Really sad day for us to announce Richo is hanging up the helmet on his Supercars career, but his move into the management and commercial side of Team 18 will be great future proofing for the team,” said Schwerkolt.
“We have been chatting about this for a while when Richo first joined the team at the start of the year, but now with the expansion to a two-car operation, the role has really progressed into a full time role.
“Richo has extensive motorsport knowledge and is a massive get for our team to have someone of his calibre that can guide and assist all Team 18 properties. Really really proud to have him on board.”