GT racers in Asia are about to feel the heat from Australia’s best Supercars team.
After dominating Supercars racing for more than a decade, including eight championship wins and seven Bathurst 1000 victories, Triple Eight Race Engineering will be competing in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia series from April.
The full-time expansion into GT3 racing comes with a Mercedes-AMG GT, professional drivers Shane van Gisbergen and Jazmeman Jaafar, eight staff from the Triple Eight squad in Brisbane, and amateur driver Prince Jefri Ibrahim of the Johor Royal Family.
Mick Doohan is also involved, as a sponsor through his Jetcraft aircraft business.
The new move was announced in Malaysia and follows toe-in-the-water efforts in Australia’s premier GT3 event, the Bathurst 12-Hour, which netted victory with a Ferrari in 2017 and fourth place this year with a Mercedes-AMG GT.
Triple Eight boss Roland Dane, who has been doing business in Asia for more than 20 years, says he sees a big opportunity as GT3 racing gets stronger through the region.
“GT racing is something I’ve been looking at for a few years now and our two campaigns in the Bathurst 12 Hour have cemented in my mind that it’s something I want Triple Eight to be involved in on a longer-term basis,” says Dane.
“I’ve kept an eye on Asia’s Blancpain GT championship since its inception in 2017. There’s no doubt the category is going from strength to strength and it presents an opportunity for Triple Eight to broaden our portfolio and give the staff here a chance to build their own motorsport experience.”
Andrew Simpson has been named as team manager under Dane, and the GT3 crew are the same group who are responsible for T8s return to the Dunlop Super2 series this year.
The Blancpain series runs over several events – Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Korea and China – from April 7 until September 28, which means a minimal impact on T8’s other operations.
On the driving side, van Gisbergen and Jaafar will each race in three events as Prince Jefri does the whole program.
“I feel very proud and honoured to be part of Triple Eight and their project to expand into Asia. It will be an interesting journey for us,” he says.
Van Gisbergen has the most GT3 experience of the T8 driver roster and it’s no surprise that he, and not Jamie Whincup, will be in the Benz racer.
“Racing as much as possible seems to be the best form of training for me. I feel like I’m at my best when I’m always in the car, so it’s a great opportunity for me to expand my racing in 2019 and have a lot of fun doing it,” says van Gisbergen.