McLean tapping into Blanchard experience

Matt McLean. Picture: Christian Hartung

Leading Dunlop Super2 Series rookie Matt McLean is tapping into the experience of Tim Blanchard yet again at this week’s Repco Bathurst 1000.

Blanchard is a somewhat surprising presence in the Eggleston Motorsport line-up for the fifth and final round of the season, having previously been slated to undertake just the two events with the team as preparation for the Great Race.

However, the 2007 Australian Formula Ford champion will once again drive Eggleston’s #88 VF Commodore, meaning he is team-mate to McLean for a third event.

“Having Tim Blanchard in the team is really beneficial to me because he’s a driver that’s had so much success in anything he’s ever driven,” McLean told Speedcafe.com.

“He’s got plenty of years of driving these cars and just knowledge that is really big for me to draw on as a rookie.

“It’s something that we didn’t really have the opportunity to do at the start of the year, so now, being able to get that opportunity just gives me exponential growth in my career.”

In addition to Blanchard being around again, McLean counts Rob Starr, who boasts decades of experience with the Holden Racing Team/Walkinshaw Racing, as his engineer for the week.

Starr was with Eggleston Motorsport last time out at Sydney Motorsport Park, when he worked on the car in which Tony D’Alberto got in a pre-Bathurst 1000 cameo, but has now moved across to the #54 VF Commodore.

“We had Tim in at Townsville as well as SMP, and at Townsville it was one round that I really learnt a lot off him, just talking about the way the car handled and what we needed to do,” explained McLean.

“In doing so together, we managed to achieve a good set-up for us both, which was really handy.

“I’d usually handle the engineering myself and do a little bit with Ben [Eggleston, team owner], but this weekend we’ve got Rob Starr engineering us.

“He’s a very famous name up and down pit lane and he’s worked with a lot of awesome drivers, so for me this weekend, having him onboard’s going to be really good.

“I think we’re going to be able to develop myself and the car a lot, and I really hope to bring home this rookie championship.”

The 25-year-old only clocked up his 400th lap in a Supercar when Bathurst hosted Round 1 of the season, but has been the leading rookie in Super2 all season.

Currently sixth in the standings, he is hoping to clinch honours among the first-year steerers although MW Motorsport’s Declan Fraser is nipping at his heels.

“The intention is still to win the rookie of the year because you only get the chance to do that once in your life and this is it,” said McLean.

“So, we’ve got to make that happen, hence having Rob Starr onboard to help me get the job done.

“We won the first three rookies of the round, which is really good, and then unfortunately at SMP we only got to do one of the two races and in that first race I took a solid hit, so what was a very big lead diminished to quite a minuscule one now.

“It’s 30 points, which is still alright, but if we just go how we’ve been going for the rest of the year, we should be right to sew it up.”

McLean and Blanchard are joined in the Eggleston Super2 line-up this week by now former MWM driver Josh Fife, as revealed by Speedcafe.com.

Super2 Practice 1 at Mount Panorama starts at 10:15 local time/AEDT, while Blanchard will also drive in the Repco Bathurst 1000 with Tim Slade, in his own CoolDrive Racing team.

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