Back from the dead: Team Kiwi confirms plan to race at Bathurst 1000
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This year's Supercheap Auto was already shaping up to be quite the event. You have teams who haven't had a chance to 'prime' their co-drivers with a curtain-raiser 500km enduro. Then there's all the drama around Holden's continual parity updates, compounded by the incredible success of DJR Team Penske and Scott McLaughlin.
Now add this to the mix; Team Kiwi Racing are aiming to have a Holden ZB Commodore on the grid.
It's been speculated for a while now that the battling little team in black was making a charge at returning to the grid in the form of a Bathurst 1000 wildcard. Initially it was thought to have been via a car operated out of the Walkinshaw Andretti United stable, only for the team to confirm that their wildcard would be American flavoured; Alexander Rossi and Josef Newgarden of IndyCar fame at the helm.
But according to velocitynews.co.nz, over the ITM Auckland SuperSprint weekend TKR's intentions were formalised at a presentation trackside — which included a proposed render of the car, race suits, and more. A statement has now been issued, confirming many of the speculated elements.
"An agreement has been reached" to purchased a Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden ZB Commodore Supercar, and Kiwis Jaxon Evans and Chris van der Drift will be the drivers. It's set to be Evans' first start at the 1000km Mount Panorama race, while it's a return for van der Drift after making his debut with Erebus Motorsport in 2016.
What's more, TKR has stated that it hopes to be on the Supercars Championship grid on a full-time basis next year.
“Our focus will turn to have the TKR All Black machine on the grid at the opening round of the Supercars Championship in Adelaide for 2020,” says team owner David John. “It will also be TKR’s 20th anniversary season since debuting in the Supercars Championship as the first ever Kiwi team to do so in 2000.”
But, there are clear barriers for the plucky team. Namely, it appears from the release that not everything is locked into place. The release says that John and his sponsors "are working tirelessly to see if they can help provide Chris van der Drift and Jaxon Evans with the opportunity to drive at Bathurst [...] or not race at all", before diving into a plea to raise funds for the campaign to make it happen.
It's also noted that a race engineer has not yet been sought for the campaign, which is admittedly kicking off awfully late. The Bathurst 1000 takes place on October 10–13 — just over three weeks from now. The wildcard entry of the Kostecki brothers, meanwhile, performed its first vehicle test at the beginning of this month after being announced way back in June.
Team Kiwi Racing expanded from local categories to Supercars in 2000, where Jason Richards and Angus Fogg impressed in the wet conditions. From there a full championship campaign followed between 2001 and 2010. Through the team's Holden-era giant-killing results — like Craig Baird's Winton Raceway pole in 2004 and Paul Radisich's podium in China in 2005 — were reasonably frequent, but eventually countered by a messy exit from the series across its last two seasons.