Chris Pither scores TCR Australia drive with Garry Rogers Motorsport
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One of New Zealand's most underrated racers is about to hop off the sidelines.
After winning last year's Dunlop Super2 Development Series title, some were surprised to see Chris Pither not return to the series — or indeed any of the other regular-roster Australian categories — for 2019. But, it's been confirmed today that the 32-year-old has finally slotted into a racing seat for the year.
It's been confirmed that the former Super Black Racing pilot will race in one of Garry Rogers Racing's two Renault Megane RS TCR touring cars in this year's inaugural TCR Australia Series. The move continues Pither's relationship with the popular team.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to drive for and represent GRM in TCR Series Australia,” said Pither. “It’s a great feeling to continue our successful relationship since winning the Dunlop Super2 Series together last year. GRM is a fantastic team and very supportive of its drivers and staff. I’m very pleased to continue to drive with them.
“TCR is growing internationally so to be competing in the series from its initiation in Australia will be exciting. It will be a new challenge adapting my driving style and understanding the set up characteristics. Now I have some positive direction, I look forward to driving the Renault Megane RS TCR and working hard towards another successful season.”
“Chris is a genuine talent. He is fast, smart and very dedicated. He is everything you want in a race driver," added GRM co-owner Barry Rogers.
“We are expecting to receive our four TCR cars, including the Renault that Chris will drive, very soon. We really can not wait to get hold of them and get them out on track.”
It's an announcement that comes a week after MotorSport New Zealand confirmed that the rights have been secured for New Zealand to host a TCR series in 2020. A few days later, Hayden Paddon's race team — Paddon Rallysport — confirmed that they had acquired a car (though they stopped short of committing to running in the series).
GRM's two Renault entries are supported by two Alfa Romeo Giuliettas that the squad are running. They're one of two Supercars Championship teams to commit so far to the series, with Kelly Racing announcing last week that they would campaign four cars too — a pair of Subaru Imprezas, and a pair of Opel Astras.
The series is scheduled to kick off on May 17–19, with the aforementioned Renaults, Opels, Subarus, and Alfa Romeos supported by cars from Honda, Volkswagen, Audi, and Hyundai. Just two drivers have so far been announced; Pither and GRM teammate Jimmy Vernon — a former Toyota 86 Series title winner.
Round one of seven will take place at Sydney Motorsport Park, with the category visiting Phillip Island, The Bend, Queensland Raceway, Winton Motor Raceway, Sandown, and The Bend once again between May and November.