Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
Bathurst 12 hour
By Stefan Bartholomaeus
Anton De Pasquale is enjoying the chance to drive for Triple Eight at the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, while downplaying any link to his Supercars future.
The 24-year-old is expected to be the hottest property in the 2021 Supercars silly season, with DJR Team Penske and Triple Eight both possible suitors of the current Penrite Racing driver.
De Pasquale is sharing Triple Eight’s Pro-Am entry at the 12 Hour with gentleman drivers Sam and Yasser Shahin and GT ace Nick Foster.
The opportunity came through manager Paul Morris’ friendship with Triple Eight boss Roland Dane, following Erebus’ decision not to contest the event.
“I was revving Barry [Ryan, Penrite Racing CEO] up for a while to get something going, but it’s a big step, you have to use a lot of crew who are building cars and stuff,” De Pasquale told Supercars.com.
“It’s good of Baz and Betty to let Dave [Reynolds] and I go and race for other teams, they’re not too worried which is good, because it obviously helps us get ready for the season.
“Through Roland, Paul, myself, Norwell [Motorplex, Morris’ driver training facility], the whole thing, I fitted into the program well with Yasser and Sam to help them along.
“Obviously Paul and RD have a good relationship and they needed a guy to do it, so that’s why I’m here.”
De Pasquale impressed in Friday practice, narrowly edged for the top spot at the end of Practice 4 by Shane van Gisbergen in the Pro Class Triple Eight entry the Kiwi shares with Jamie Whincup and Maxi Götz.
“It’s cool to work with a team we’re usually racing against, it’s nice of them to have me along because we’ll be enemies come Sunday night again,” De Pasquale added.
“They’ve got their crew here, their engineering staff and we’re working together well… they’re just a heap of people wanting to go fast and win.
“It’s always good working with other people, we’ve got [David] Cauchi and Phil Keed on our car. It’s a big operation, but everyone is very welcoming and putting in a lot of effort.”
Cauchi is the long-time Supercars engineer to Whincup, who is yet to confirm whether he will race on in 2021, fuelling speculation that the squad may pursue De Pasquale.
Penrite Racing has meanwhile been on the front foot, announcing a full-time deal with another young gun Will Brown for 2021, while Reynolds is locked in on a 10-year contract.
Ryan has suggested Penrite Racing would run three cars if De Pasquale wants to stay, but has been open about the possibility of losing him to one of the two powerhouse squads.
Asked if the 12 Hour is a hint towards his Supercars future, De Pasquale said: “No. At the moment I’m just going to do this weekend, then focus on Adelaide and so on and so on.
“The first goal is to go well in the Supercar this year, win some races, get some podiums and try and perform for the whole team.
“Once we get to the point where we have that chat [about 2021] we’ll have it and see where it all ends up. At the moment we haven’t sat down and looked beyond the first couple of races.”