Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 winner Paul Morris has labelled Anton De Pasquale as ‘the best race driver’ he’s ever seen.
The revelation comes in the first episode of the newly released Supercars docuseries Inside Line – A Season With Erebus Motorsport.
Supported by former Supercars team owner Mark Larkham, De Pasquale’s early career began with karting success before winning the Australian Formula Ford title and then the Formula Renault 1.6 Northern European Championship crown.
On his racing return to Australia, De Pasquale was given guidance by Paul Morris and was soon racing for him in the Dunlop Super2 Series.
“Mark Larham sent him to me to learn how to drive a car with a roof on it,” Morris recalled of his early encounter with De Pasquale.
“I spent a couple of hours with him in the car and right then I realised (he) is the best racing driver I’ve ever seen in my life.”
De Pasquale contested two seasons in the Supercars feeder series under the Paul Morris Motorsport banner.
In 2016 he claimed a podium finish in his first Bathurst 250. A year later he won his first Super2 Series race at Phillip Island and scored another win at Sydney Motorsport Park.
De Pasquale recorded finishes of 11th and fourth in the standings across his two campaigns.
It was then that Morris began to push Erebus Motorsport team owner Barry Ryan to take the young driver on-board and into its Supercars program.
“Barry Ryan started talking to me about him and could see what we were doing,” said Morris.
Ryan added, “Paul Morris started nudging me saying ‘you know, we’ve got to look at this kid’.
“I thought, this kid has got something. At that point, we thought we had to get this kid somehow into the team.”
However, Morris and Ryan were faced with opposition from team owner Betty Klimenko who at the time had David Reynolds paired with Dale Wood.
The episode goes on to detail how the team had to buy Klimenko a beer for every time De Pasquale was outscored by her prefered driver.
“Betty was against it because Betty was really passionate about our team’s points,” said Ryan.
“We convinced Betty that we could do that. Anton didn’t outscore him, but Betty still saw the potential he had.”
De Pasquale joined the team full-time in 2018. Now 24 years old, De Pasquale is into his third season with Erebus Motorsport.