Dylan O’Keeffe will make his Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 debut next month, having been signed by Kelly Racing to team up with Andre Heimgartner.
O’Keeffe had a strong rookie season in the Dunlop Super2 Series last year, placing fifth overall including a podium at Sandown.
That result came just weeks after making an unexpected Supercars debut for Garry Rogers Motorsport, subbing in for a sidelined Richie Stanaway at the Gold Coast.
He didn’t return to Super2 in 2020, focusing on other racing exploits. Among them was the opportunity earlier this month to become the first Australian to compete in the WTCR World Touring Car Cup, racing in Belgium.
That means O’Keeffe, 22, will enter with crucial race fitness, even if not in a Supercar.
“I’m extremely excited to be joining Kelly Racing for my first Bathurst 1000,” said O’Keeffe.
“As a racing driver, you grow up dreaming of being able to race in the Bathurst 1000, so I’m extremely grateful to have been given that opportunity and looking forward to joining the team, getting used to the car and going through the whole process.
“I’m looking forward to driving the Ford Mustang, it’s been a little while since I’ve driven a Supercar however I’m confident I’ll adapt to it quickly and be able to be competitive with the other co-drivers.
“We’ll have a few practice sessions before the big race which will give me plenty of time to acclimatise, get to know everyone and learn the car.
“One of the big challenges will probably just be getting used to the pit stops and driver changes as that’s not something that I’ve done a lot of. We’re probably quite lucky that André and myself are similar in size so it shouldn’t be too complicated.
“Overall, I can’t wait to meet the dedicated team who have been working tirelessly over the last couple of months.
“They’ve had some great results recently so I’m looking forward to working with them and hopefully having a good result at Bathurst.”
Heimgartner, whose 2019 co-driver Bryce Fullwood now has a full-time seat at Walkinshaw Andretti United, welcomed O’Keeffe’s signing.
“It’s awesome to have Dylan join us for the Bathurst 1000,” said the NED Mustang driver.
“It’s great to give a young rising star the co-driver role, it wasn’t that long ago that I was in a similar position myself, I got a co-drive and now here we are a few years later and I’m in my third full-time season in Supercars.
“It’s rewarding for myself and the whole team to be able to give a young driver the opportunity to show what they can do.”
“We saw Dylan at the Gold Coast 600 last year where he was able stay out of trouble and hold his own against some of the more experienced guys in a fairly chaotic race so no doubt he has the skill and experience to put us in a good position for Bathurst.”
O’Keeffe’s announcement leaves just one co-drive of the 24 regular cars – that of Macauley Jones – to be confirmed.
The Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 will be held on October 15-18.