It probably comes as no surprise that the extinct Commodore Cup category would provide a source of material for the Undiscovered Talent column, given my former involvement with the series. And indeed, there are probably several Commodore Cup drivers worthy of write-ups in these posts, but there was one in particular who took the category by storm, only to suddenly disappear from the national motorsport scene altogether.
Like many aspiring young drivers of the era, Daniel Richert enjoyed a successful career in go-karts during the late 1990s, including representing Australia at Japan’s marquee Suzuka World Cup event.
With his sights set on forging a professional motorsport career, Richert stepped up to Commodore Cup, initially in the Victorian State Championship before progressing to the national series.
Despite not having the funding of some of the front-runners in the category, Richert was immediately competitive, scoring a number of race wins and podium finishes in his older VH Commodore, against the newer VS machines.
An upgrade to a VS in 2006 provided Richert with the equipment he needed to become a more consistent front-runner, and he delivered, scoring a round win and leading the series for a number of rounds before some mechanical problems checked his momentum late in the season.
Richert’s rivals knew just how good he was, including five-time Commodore Cup Champion Geoff Emery, who rated him as one of the most naturally gifted drivers he had raced against.
Another to notice Richert’s talent was Geoff Fontaine, owner of the professional two-car Axent Racing outfit, and he rewarded Richert’s efforts by signing the Geelong driver for an assault on the 2007 series.
With such a talented steerer in one of the best-prepared cars on the grid, it looked like a lethal combination and when Richert chased Emery all the way to the chequered flag in the opening round at Oran Park, all the signs were pointing towards an enthralling championship contest.
Richert won Round 2 at Phillip Island to move into the series lead, and kept the pressure on with podium finishes in Rounds 3 and 4 at Mallala and Sydney Motorsport Park. He won again in Round 5, in the series’ second visit to Phillip Island, to seize the points lead back away from Emery.
Unfortunately, just as Richert looked like he was going to charge to the national title he so richly deserved, his campaign fell off the rails as the Commodore Cup series headed into a period of turmoil which resulted in Fontaine and the Axent team withdrawing from the remainder of the series.
The details of the messy affair are too complicated to be explained here (although you can read my previous blog post on the demise of Commodore Cup here) but the upshot was that the series leader was not on the grid for Round 6 of the series at Symmons Plains.
In fact, after that Phillip Island Commodore Cup meeting, Richert would never race in any form of national or even state-level circuit racing again (a couple of guest co-driver appearances in the 2012 Radical Cup notwithstanding).
Nevertheless, Richert returned to the go-karting scene where he repeated his success, winning the DD2 Masters category in the Rotax Pro Tour and again travelling overseas to represent the country. But he deserved so much more, and his failure to progress further up the motorsport ladder seems almost unjust.
He may have faded from a lot of people’s memories but those who raced against Daniel Richert certainly haven’t forgotten him, and he’s a well-deserved inductee to the Undiscovered Talent Hall of Fame.