Seven-time Supercars champion Jamie Whincup will make his Australian GT debut at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in early June during the opening round of the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship [AEC], the Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver joining Yasser Shahin in the South Australian’s Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Shahin make his return to the AEC after cameo appearances in 2018 in his #777 ‘The Bend Motorsport Park’ Mercedes-AMG GT3. The event will see his first run in the car for the first time since this year’s Liqui Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in an entry prepared by Scott Taylor Motorsport.
Like Shahin, Whincup is no stranger to the Mercedes-AMG GT3 having competed alongside his Red Bull Holden Racing Team team-mates Craig Lowndes and Shane van Gisbergen also at the Bathurst 12 Hour this year in a Vodafone-liveried Scott Taylor Motorsport [STM] entry – he also drove an AMG GT3 to second at the 12 Hour in 2018, however this will be the first time Whincup and Shahin have driven alongside one another.
“While Supercars is my focus, I really enjoy the challenge GT racing presents,” Whincup admitted. “I equally enjoy the professionalism of Scott Taylor Motorsport and the way Yasser brings his business mastermind to the race track. Both he and STM are extremely capable of running at the front of the pack and I look forward to complementing that by playing my role to the best of my ability.”
Shahin is enjoying a strong start to his 2019 campaign – Bathurst apart – the passionate GT competitor having been on the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup podium twice at the Adelaide 500 event before taking an Audi R8 to victory at Bathurst over Easter. He then rejoined the one-make Audi field for the second event at Zhuhai in China just last weekend, winning on debut at that circuit, but whilst he has enjoyed his time in the Audi, he’s excited to join Whincup in the AMG GT3.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back into the Australian GT action,” Shahin admitted. “I love the endurance format and driving alongside and learning from a world class driver like Jamie can only help my development as a driver.”
Last year at Phillip Island Shahin drove alongside regular co-driver Luke Youlden, but a late deal with STM will see the four-time Bathurst 1000 winner take the helm of the #777 entry, and Shahin feels that could be just the tonic to elevate him to the top step of the podium.
“We [Youlden-Shahin] ran at The Bend and Phillip Island last year, which was an event where I did double duty with Radical Australia – I had a double victory in the Radical, but wasn’t as fortunate with the Mercedes, although we managed to claim a tenth placed finish before I ran the three Sprint races at Sydney Motorsport Park alone to finish off my AGT season.
“I enjoy the endurance format as it gives me a chance to learn more from the Pro drivers, something which I think has helped me fast-track my ability to extract more out of the car. I’ve known Jamie for a while, and obviously am aware of his ability behind the wheel, so I’m really looking forward to sharing the drive and taking the fight to the leading teams.”
There’s no doubt that the form team coming into the three-round CAMS Australian Endurance Championship is Mercedes-AMG, with the last two seasons won by the German marque – Max Twigg and Tony D’Alberto in 2018, and Peter Hackett with Dom Storey in 2017, so the Shahin-Whincup combination will be a sure contender once Phillip Island comes around on June 7.
2019 CAMS Australian Endurance Championship
Rnd#1 – 7-9 June, Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, Victoria
Rnd#2 – 12-14 July, The Bend Motorsport Park, South Australia
Rnd#3 – 20-22 September, Sandown Raceway, Melbourne, Victoria