Slade replaces Premat in DJRTP co-driver line-up
By Tom Howard
Wednesday 4th December, 2019 - 7:00am
Tim Slade will replace reigning Bathurst 1000 winner Alex Premat as Scott McLaughlin’s co-driver at Shell V-Power Racing for next year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup.
The team has confirmed the former Brad Jones Racing driver will join McLaughlin in the #17 Mustang for the three endurance events in a move that will break up this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000-winning partnership.
Premat has teamed up with McLaughlin at the championship winning Ford squad since 2017, resulting in two Mount Panorama podiums headlined by this year’s victory.
They also shared a car for the enduros in 2014 and 2015 at Garry Rogers Motorsport, before Premat spent a year as a co-driver at the Red Bull Holden Racing Team.
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Slade joins DJR Team Penske following an 11-year run as a full-time Supercars driver that has seen the South Australian score two race wins.
The 34-year-old’s future in the series had been up in the air after announcing his departure from BJR at the Coates Hire Newcastle 500 last month.
Gold Coast-based Slade will join fellow co-driver Tony D’Alberto, who has been retained by the team as Fabian Coulthard’s partner for next year’s enduros.
“I couldn’t be happier to be joining the Shell V-Power Racing Team for the 2020 season,” said Slade.
“This is the best team in the sport, and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of one of these Mustangs. Driving for names like Penske and Johnson is not something I take lightly, and I’m very much looking forward to working with the team next year.”
DJR Team Penske managing director Ryan Story admitted it was a difficult decision to replace talented Frenchman Premat.
Based in the US, the 37-year-old former Supercars full-timer has often missed additional driver sessions due to other work commitments, but has starred in this year’s campaign.
“Firstly, I’d like to thank Alex Premat for his time here at the team and for his contribution over the last three years. In our sport, sometimes difficult decisions must be made, and this was one of those decisions,” said Story.
“With his recent history as a full-time driver, we know that Tim will be able to deliver great things in a Shell V-Power Racing Team Mustang. And Tony has been a big part of our team for many years, so we are excited to have him for another season.
“With both drivers being based in Australia, we intend to have them compete in all additional driver sessions next year, and attend all of our team test days so they are fully integrated into our program. We look forward to the 2020 season.”
Meanwhile, D’Alberto is set for a fifth enduro campaign at DJRTP and his fourth alongside Coulthard.
The pair’s best Bathurst result remains a third scored at the 2017 edition of the Great Race.
“I’ve driven for this team for many years, and they genuinely feel like family now,” said D’Alberto.
“I get on well with everyone, the team works hard, the cars are fast and both Scott and Fabian are great guys to work with.
“Having Sladey join the team is exciting, and I’m looking forward to more Supercars racing next year.”
The 2020 Pirtek Enduro Cup begins with the new 500km race at The Bend Motorsport Park from September 18-20.