James Moffat will partner defending Pirtek Enduro Cup winner Chaz Mostert as part of Tickford Racing’s new look driver line-up for the endurance season.
The Ford squad announced its co-driver quartet earlier this year but has now officially revealed its pairings for the enduros, with only one duo carrying over from last season.
Tickford has enlisted two new drivers into the squad for the enduros in former Supercars full-timer at Garry Rogers Motorsport, Moffat, and long-time Nissan Supercars co-driver David Russell.
Moffat has been selected to join Mostert in the Supercheap Auto Falcon, replacing the experienced Steve Owen, who will now slot in alongside Richie Stanaway in the #56 entry.
Russell will team up with Cameron Waters in place of Stanaway following his graduation to the main game with the outfit, while Dean Canto will continue to partner Mark Winterbottom in the The Bottle-O backed Ford.
Moffat had been tipped to join Mostert for the enduros and has already driven the Supercheap Auto Falcon during the pre-season test at Sydney Motorsport Park in February.
Now racing in Porsche Carrera Cup, the 33-year-old admits he has ‘big shoes to fill’ given last season’s Pirtek Enduro Cup triumph.
“To be driving alongside Chaz in the Enduro Cup is something I’m really looking forward to,” said Moffat.
“Together I’m sure we’ll make a pretty strong combination, and I’m just really looking forward to working with everybody on the team and hopefully achieving some great results.
“I bring some fairly relevant experience in Supercars, and I’ve been keeping sharp in Carrera Cup this season, so I hope Chaz gets some comfort in that.
“With he and Steve winning the Enduro Cup last year, I have pretty big shoes to fill, but I’m looking forward to the opportunity, and hopefully some similar results by the time we get to the end of it.”
The experienced Owen is hoped to be put to good use alongside Stanaway, who is preparing for his maiden enduro campaign as a primary driver.
“Richie’s a huge talent. The first year’s always tricky for a driver, but hopefully it’s a good mix of youth and experience for us,” said Owen.
“Obviously it will be my 20th Bathurst 1000 and sixth here with Tickford Racing, so hopefully we’ll mesh well and have a good run.
“Having an older driver with a young guy helps mostly with set-up, and for me, I know the team’s cars pretty well.
“I’ve raced the car we’ll run before, so I should be able help him read the set-up.
“Usually a pairing like ours will translate more to adjusting the car than outright lap speed, so I’ll do my best to help shape the car to his liking.
“He’s had a tough start to the year, so we won’t really have any pressure in the championship to worry about, which I actually don’t mind.
“Every other year I’ve raced here I’ve been with a driver in the championship hunt, so it will be kind of nice to just focus the race itself. I’m looking forward to it.”
Meanwhile, Russell is confident he will seamlessly slot into the position vacated by Stanaway in Waters’ Monster-backed entry.
Waters and Stanaway scored a breakthrough victory in the Sandown 500 last season.
“Obviously he and Richie won Sandown and were great at Bathurst, and I think we’ll work well together, so hopefully we can have just as strong an effort for Monster Energy,” said Russell.
“I’m certainly looking forward to joining an overall young team. I’m sure I can make my contributions and be a good member of the team.”
Being the only pairing retained for the 2018 campaign, Canto is hoping the continuity of the same co-driver, car and engineer will prove advantageous.
“We’ve both worked well together the past couple years, so there’s not much we need to learn about each other,” said Canto.
“We both like the same car set-up, which is obviously quite important over an endurance race.
“We don’t have to muck around with the seat or anything, we know our driver change routine, so we can save a few seconds getting in and getting comfortable.”
Tickford Racing boss Tim Edwards believes his new look line-up will be in the mix for trophies when the Pirtek Enduro Cup begins at the Sandown 500 from September 14-16.
“We’re very excited about the co-drivers we have and we think we’ve got four great pairings for later this year,” said Edwards.
“Obviously we won the Enduro Cup last year and fully intend to fight to keep it, and we have a good mix of youth and experience to go out and do that.
“The enduros are still a way ahead and there’s still plenty of work to do before we get to them, but it’s comforting to know that we’ll have a strong line up when we get there.”
Matt Stone Racing and Tekno Autosports are the only Supercars teams yet to confirm their driver line-ups for this year’s enduros.
Garry Rogers Motorsport has announced Chris Pither and Richard Muscat as its co-drivers but the pairings are yet to be revealed.
Pirtek Enduro Cup 2018 teams and drivers
|1||Red Bull HRT (Triple Eight)||Holden Commodore ZB||Jamie Whincup||Paul Dumbrell|
|97||Red Bull HRT (Triple Eight)||Holden Commodore ZB||Shane van Gisbergen||Earl Bamber|
|888||Autobarn Lowndes Racing (Triple Eight)||Holden Commodore ZB||Craig Lowndes||Steve Richards|
|2||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing (WAU)||Holden Commodore ZB||Scott Pye||Warren Luff|
|25||Mobil 1 Boost Mobile Racing (WAU)||Holden Commodore ZB||James Courtney||Jack Perkins|
|5||The Bottle-O Racing (Tickford)||Ford Falcon FGX||Mark Winterbottom||Dean Canto|
|6||Monster Energy Racing (Tickford)||Ford Falcon FGX||Cameron Waters||David Russell|
|55||Supercheap Auto Racing (Tickford)||Ford Falcon FGX||Chaz Mostert||James Moffat|
|56||Tickford Racing||Ford Falcon FGX||Richie Stanaway||Steve Owen|
|7||Plus Fitness Racing (Nissan)||Nissan Altima||Andre Heimgartner||Aaren Russell|
|15||Castrol Racing (Nissan)||Nissan Altima||Rick Kelly||Garry Jacobson|
|23||Drive Racing (Nissan)||Nissan Altima||Michael Caruso||Dean Fiore|
|78||Team Harvey Norman (Nissan)||Nissan Altima||Simona de Silvestro||Alex Rullo|
|8||Brad Jones Racing||Holden Commodore ZB||Nick Percat||Macauley Jones|
|14||Freightliner Racing (BJR)||Holden Commodore ZB||Tim Slade||Ash Walsh|
|21||Team CoolDrive (BJR)||Holden Commodore ZB||Tim Blanchard||Dale Wood|
|9||Erebus Penrite Racing||Holden Commodore ZB||David Reynolds||Luke Youlden|
|99||Erebus Thermosphere Racing||Holden Commodore ZB||Anton De Pasquale||Will Brown|
|12||Shell V-Power Racing (DJRTP)||Ford Falcon FGX||Fabian Coulthard||Tony D’Alberto|
|17||Shell V-Power Racing (DJRTP)||Ford Falcon FGX||Scott McLaughlin||Alexandre Premat|
|18||Preston Hire Racing (Team 18)||Holden Commodore ZB||Lee Holdsworth||Matthew Brabham|
|19||Tekno Autosports||Holden Commodore ZB||Jack Le Brocq||TBA|
|33||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Holden Commodore ZB||Garth Tander||Richard Muscat*
|34||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Holden Commodore ZB||James Golding|
|35||Bigmate Racing (MSR)||Ford Falcon FGX||Todd Hazelwood||TBA|
|230||Milwaukee Racing (23Red)||Ford Falcon FGX||Will Davison||Alex Davison|
* Final pairings yet to be announced