SHARING A SEAT: Steve Owen is no longer a full-time driver in the Development Series, but will return for the Bathurst round to pair teenager Andre Heimgartner in the new format, 250 kilometres race. Photo: ZENIO LAPKA 101213zowen1THREE Development Series entrants have named co-drivers for the 250-kilometre feature race at the Bathurst 1000 next month.
Two of those three nominated co-drivers will be on double duty for the weekend, also contesting the 1000km Great Race on Sunday as they co-drive with V8 Supercars Championship drivers.
Steve Owen, who will drive the 1000km with defending winner Mark Winterbottom, will assist MW Motorsport’s Andre Heimgartner with his Ford Falcon FG over the weekend.
Owen has been a standout in the Dunlop Series in past years, and 19-year- old Heimgartner believes having the former championship driver in the car will be a huge help at Australia’s toughest track.
“As everyone knows, Steve’s a very good driver and he and [team boss] Matt White get on really well, so when it was announced we were allowed to have co-drivers he was the first to spring to mind,” Heimgartner told v8supercars南京夜网.au.
“Last year he qualified on pole at Bathurst by six-tenths [of a second], so I think he will definitely be teaching me a lot and hopefully improve our results.”
Both Heimgartner and Owen will feature in Sunday’s 1000km, the young Kiwi driving the wild card Super Black Racing entry being run by Ford Performance Racing (FPR).
Having Owen jump in the car will help balance the miles Heimgartner will complete over the event, as he crosses between the different spec Dunlop Series racer and new generation V8 Supercar.
“That’s another factor I had to consider to do the best I can – obviously I don’t want to be stuffed by Saturday night, I still want to be fresh to go on Sunday. So doing half that race is still a long way, but it’s part of it, to give Super Black and me the best opportunity on Sunday.”
It’s a nice tie-up, with Owen driving for FPR in the main race: “Yeah, exactly. And I work with Steve, so this was sort of a deal in the lunchroom! We work at the Performance Driving Centre together so I know him really well and it will be good fun”.
There’s plenty on the horizon for Heimgartner, who is testing the FPR prepared Super Black Falcon with Ant Pedersen at Winton today, ahead of the Bathurst 1000.
Meanwhile, after mentoring young driver Josh Kean this season, Tony D’Alberto has been listed as a co-driver for Team Kean Racing.
D’Alberto and Kean formed a relationship earlier this year when D’Alberto assisted in a handover of the Walkinshaw Racing chassis Kean races in the Dunlop Series. Now D’Alberto is set to be behind the wheel of that Commodore once again, after testing with the team last week.
Kean commended D’Alberto’s experience and said the drive worked for both parties, with the former full-timer getting some additional miles at the Mountain in the Dunlop Series Commodore.
“He has the main race on Sunday, so it was a good opportunity to see if he wanted to do it with us,” Kean said.
“He was pretty keen, he’s got the main race on the Sunday as well, so a good way for him to get some miles as well. With him on our side, it’s great to get someone like that to help you set up the car.
“At a place like Bathurst, it gives you that benefit of the doubt, if you know what I mean. So looking forward to having him on board, it’s a big help to us and a help to him if anything as well, so it’s a bit of a 50/50.”
D’Alberto will drive with Tim Slade in the Supercheap Auto Racing Commodore.
Aaren Russell’s brother Drew has also been listed as a co-driver for Novocastrian Motorsport, after driving in the Dunlop Series last year.
The preliminary entry list shows 28 Dunlop Series entrants for the Bathurst 1000 weekend; teams can continue to elect co-drivers until 5pm on Thursday of the race meeting.
While they may be listed, it is not compulsory teams use the co-drivers during the Development Series race – so if their main driver is managing well, they can elect to leave him in the car to complete the 250km run.
Top two championship contenders Paul Dumbrell and Ash Walsh will not be using co-drivers at Mount Panorama, determined to keep their title battle in their own hands.
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