Mounting doubt over Muller’s enduro drive
There is mounting doubt over Yvan Muller’s participation in this year’s V8 Supercars endurance races with Castrol EDGE Racing.
Muller, a factory Chevrolet driver in the World Touring Car Championship, will team up with Greg Murphy in the Armor All Gold Coast 600, and has been penciled in to drive the Castrol car at Phillip Island and Bathurst, however, a WTCC date change and some uncertainty from his Chevrolet team could see Castrol Racing search for a new partner for Murphy.
While there is no direct date clash, a WTCC calendar change has seen a round placed either side of Phillip Island’s race date (September 10-12).
This weekend at Winton, standout Fujitsu V8 Series rookie Tim Blanchard will get his first run in an official Championship Series session, driving Murphy’s #51 Commodore in Friday morning’s endurance driver practice session.
Team owner Paul Morris told Speedcafe.com.au that Muller’s appearance at Phillip Island and Bathurst is yet to be confirmed.
“It could potentially be a problem, because of the volcanoes and all that, Chevrolet is a bit worried him getting back in time,” Morris said.
“We still haven’t sorted it out finally with him. That’s where it all is at the moment.”
Morris said that Blanchard’s test is due to his outstanding efforts in the first two rounds of the Fujitsu V8 Series. Driving for Sonic Motor Racing, Blanchard currently sits in second place, only being beaten at this stage by former class champion Steve Owen.
“For the first two rounds, Tim’s done an amazing job,” Morris said.
“He’s racing against blokes who have been doing it twice as long as he has and he’s showing some of them how it’s done.
“I said after Queensland Raceway I’d give him a test anyway so we can get a chance to see what he can do. I’ve had a fair bit to do with him over the years. I’ve known him since he was a little kid. He’s a good sensible young guy.”
Morris and Blanchard’s father John were former rivals in Formula Ford before being team-mates in the early 90s in BMWs, competing in the Australian Touring Car Championship.
Morris said that giving Blanchard a run this weekend was not a direct pointer towards him being considered as a potential Muller replacement.
“At this stage, there’s nothing sorted,” he said.
“There’s a test session available for him to have a go, a good opportunity for him to drive around and for us to see how sensible he is.”
As reported by Speedcafe.com.au last Monday, Blanchard will also test Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport’s Gulf Western Oils Commodore VE at Winton after this weekend’s V8 round at the rural track.