Grove names Porsche WEC driver in Supercars enduro line-up

A Grove Racing Gen3 Ford Mustang

A Grove Racing Gen3 Ford Mustang in testing at Winton. Picture: Shaun Tanner

Grove Racing has announced the addition of factory Porsche driver Kevin Estre to its line-up for the 2023 Penrite Oil Sandown and Repco Bathurst 1000.

The Frenchman joins Garth Tander as a co-driver for the Braeside-based squad, although whether he drives David Reynolds’ or Matt Payne’s Penrite Ford Mustang in September and October is yet to be confirmed.

Kevin Estre

Kevin Estre

Estre’s main programme this year is with Porsche Penske Motorsport, piloting one of its new 963 prototypes in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

In that regard, he is something of a like-for-like replacement for Matt Campbell, who drove the #26 Grove entry last year but is unavailable due to IMSA commitments with Porsche Penske Motorsport.

“Really glad to join the Penrite Racing team for this year for the enduros as a co-driver,” said Estre, who has Mount Panorama experience courtesy of the Bathurst 12 Hour.

“It is a championship I always loved, and I remember watching races with my Grandpa on the sofa being a really young kid in France.

“I can’t wait to be in Sandown and Bathurst and drive this awesome car.”

Team Owner Stephen Grove hailed the credentials of the man who has won the Spa 24 Hours, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Nürburgring 24 Hour, and 2018-19 FIA WEC GTE Driver’s Championship.

“When the IMSA calendar came out and it was evident there would be a clash with Matt Campbell, it was vital that we signed the best possible endurance driver we could find,” he explained.

“Kévin is an incredible talent and someone who’s had great success at the highest level for a long period of time.

“His raw speed was our first attraction to him, however his experience in long-distance races meant that he was the perfect fit.

“He’s used to working with some of the most accomplished racing teams in the world and we can’t wait to see what he brings to Penrite Racing.

“Having driven at Bathurst before and being a big fan of Supercars, we were confident that there would be a relatively short learning curve for someone of his stature and professionalism.”

Team Principal David Cauchi added, “Penrite Racing are privileged to have a driver of Kévin’s calibre join our endurance line-up this year.

“With the return of the Penrite Oil Sandown 500 and the amount of points on offer at both endurance events, it is extremely important to our Championship to have Kévin onboard alongside Garth.

“We couldn’t be happier with our endurance driver line-up in 2023.”

Reynolds and Payne welcomed the signing, although it is unclear with whom Estre will be driving.

“Can’t wait to be joined by Kévin this year,” said Reynolds, the 2017 Bathurst 1000 winner.

“It’s always exciting to work with drivers at the top of their game and Kévin is certainly one of those.

“There is so much to learn, and I have no doubt he will contribute big things to the team.”

Championship rookie Payne remarked, “It’s going to be awesome having Kévin Estre join myself, Dave and Garth this year.

“The team have taken some great steps to bring on board the best possible drivers and I know there will be lots we can learn from him.”

Tander has already been closely integrated with the Grove team since the announcement late last year of his defection from Triple Eight Race Engineering.

The five-time Great Race winner has been heavily involved in shakedown running and pre-season testing of the #19 and #26 Mustangs, with Cauchi hailing how what had been a Grove Racing trio had been working together.

Reynolds and Payne are in action from Friday at the Thrifty Newcastle 500, with the Sandown 500 scheduled for September 15-17 and the Bathurst 1000 on October 5-8.

Join the discussion below in the comments section

Please note: reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]