Team Kiwi Racing calls off Bathurst wildcard plan

The Team Kiwi Racing Commodore during the 2004 V8 Supercars Championship

Team Kiwi Racing has called off a plan to enter this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 but is still aiming to be on the Supercars Championship grid in 2020.

TKR announced last week that it was plotting a comeback to the championship initially by way of a wildcard entry for the Great Race.

It had already sourced a Triple Eight-built ZB Commodore and lined up New Zealanders Jaxon Evans and Chris van der Drift as drivers, but was still chasing the final 20 percent of its budget and an engineer.

Team owner David John says that although he was able to accomplish the latter two tasks, he has made the difficult decision to put the project on hold due to the tight timeframe between now and the Bathurst 1000 event, which begins on October 10.

“Bathurst is a special place for TKR and the very place TKR debuted at with the late Jason Richards in 2000 and as the first ever Kiwi team to have ever competed in the Supercars Championship,” noted John.

“But today I have made a decision in conjunction with our sponsors and with the support of Supercars that time is against us in the preparation to get the Team Kiwi Racing entry onto the grid at the level we require, in time for the 2019 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, which is due to commence in a little over two weeks.

“I have been overwhelmed with support throughout this process from both sides of the Tasman and also from Supercars.

“We achieved our financial targets in a little over 72 hours from the time of our last press release and we also sourced very talented staff to lead the engineering and mechanical side of the project.

“We had even organised a test date and our sign-writers to sign-write the TKR All Black Machine later this week, not to mention flights, accommodation, rental cars, uniforms, overalls and so much more already booked and paid for.

“Despite the fantastic effort from all involved, we have simply run out of time to have all aspects of this campaign to a point that we were not rushing things to see Team Kiwi Racing on the grid in the manner that was fitting of our brand and of the Championship.

“It has been a tough call, but the right one nonetheless.”

TKR will nevertheless continue its push to race in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship again in 2020, with the support of its existing sponsors.

It will still have a presence of over 100 supporters at Mount Panorama next month, where John intends to meet with Supercars management to discuss his plans.

“I have already spoken with our major sponsors, many supporters and crew to announce this decision and of our focus to not only be on the grid at the opening round of the Supercars Championship in 2020 but at a number of Supercar events throughout the 2020 season which is also TKR’s 20th Anniversary season,” added John.

“I was heartened by the full support we received from all our sponsors, the entire tour party group and of their commitment to see TKR back on the Supercar grid in 2020, which marks the 20th anniversary season for Team Kiwi Racing since they debuted at Bathurst in October 2000.”

In what capacity TKR would compete in 2020 has not been decided, with options ranging from a series of wildcards to purchase of a Racing Entitlements Contract for the full season.

“We fully intend to be on the grid at Adelaide for the opening round of the 2020 Virgin Australia Supercar Championship as a Wildcard entry or with our own REC,” said John.

“What we can say without hesitation is that the TKR brand is 100 percent committed for a return to the Australian Supercar landscape in 2020 which is great news for Kiwi drivers and motorsport fans on both sides of the Tasman.”

TKR last competed in the Supercars Championship in early 2009, although it has since briefly appeared as a customer in the Dunlop Super2 Series.

As it stands, the entry list for next month’s showpiece race stands at 26 cars, bolstered by an entry from Walkinshaw Andretti United for IndyCar stars Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe and another from Super2 outfit Kostecki Brothers Racing.

The 2019 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 takes place from October 10-13.

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