Shane van Gisbergen will spearhead Triple Eight’s GT World Challenge Australia entry at five of six rounds this year.
As first revealed by Motorsport.com, the Supercars powerhouse will field a Pro-Am Mercedes in the new-look Australian GT series this year.
Like in GT World Challenge Asia in 2019, there will be a tie-up with Johor Motorsports Racing.
Prince Jefri Ibrahim, who has relocated from Malaysia to Australia, will race the car at all six rounds, with van Gisbergen set to partner him for five of them.
“GT is one of my favourite categories to race in, and I’m really excited that we’ve been able to continue racing these cars in Australia this year,” said van Gisbergen.
“It’s cool that Prince Jefri has made Australia his temporary home for the next year, which will allow me to help with his training programme and make sure he’s as competitive as possible after being out of the car and not competing for over a year.
“It will be awesome to work with him and get him back up to speed and continue to build on what we achieved in 2019.”
The only round van Gisbergen will miss is GT World Challenge Australia’s appearance on the Supercars undercard at The Bend, the Kiwi opting to focus on his primary programme.
It’s yet to be determined who will sub for van Gisbergen at The Bend.
T8 boss Roland Dane, meanwhile, welcomed the outfit’s expanded presence on Australian soil after a lean 2020 in terms of GT action.
“Unfortunately, we were only able to compete at the Bathurst 12 Hour for our GT programme last year – a year which should have been much more extensive but given the travel restrictions that we faced, we couldn’t do anything further,” he said.
“We looked at what we could do this year, and with the Australian GT Championship being revitalised under the umbrella of SRO, it gave us the opportunity to compete here.
“We brought the car back from Asia and Prince Jefri has come down for the year to undertake an extensive driver training programme as well as compete with us in the championship.
“We’ll be testing extensively with His Highness, and Shane will be a big part of that programme. We’ll be ensuring that we expose His Highness to as many tracks and environments in Australia as possible to ensure he’s well equipped.”
Prince Jefri added that he’s heading into the campaign eyeing a proper title tilt.
“I’ve had a whole year without racing, so I’m really looking forward to jumping in the car again,” he said.
“I’ve been training quite a bit and working on things I need to work on, but I’ve also tried to stay focused – the last year has been hard not knowing if we’d be racing or not, so I tried to be on point and ready to go at all times.
“Shane and I have been in touch quite a bit as well. Seeing him race last year made me quite jealous, but I’m really looking forward to racing with him this year.
“Two years ago was a learning curve for myself and the team and we created quite a good bond, and our aim is to clinch the championship this year. It’s going to be tough, but that’s our aim.”
The 2021 GT World Challenge Australia season kicks off at Phillip Island on February 19-21.
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