O’Keeffe’s round-the-world Bathurst preparation

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 01/10/2020
  • By Connor O'Brien

When the Melbourne lockdown was looming, Dylan O’Keeffe acted fast.

Through a European motorsport contact, he soon enough was making his WTCR debut aboard a Renault in Belgium.

That’s not to mention a test day in Austria, a catch-up with mates in Switzerland and a visit to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.

“Over in Europe it was quite good actually, they’re living as normal,” he told Supercars.com.

“Like when I first arrived, everything was fine, you wouldn’t even know COVID was a thing.

“It was quite nice, did a few tourist things, looking around – not too far, I was a bit scared to go too far out just in case – but at the same time I wasn’t going to just stay in my hotel room because I knew when I got back home I would be in two-week quarantine.”

He’s now a few days into that process back in Australia, restricted to a Sydney apartment – where he is getting a borrowed simulator delivered to, in order to prepare for his maiden Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 this month.

O’Keeffe was signed by Kelly Racing while abroad to partner Andre Heimgartner in the NED #7 Mustang that has already scored two podiums this year.

The team actually was pivotal in getting him back to Australia in time, with his release from quarantine set for October 12 – the Monday of race week.

“I was actually struggling to get a flight home and when I did the deal with Todd [Kelly] and the Kellys for the enduro, that was on the weekend that I was racing over there,” said O’Keeffe.

“I couldn’t be too excited about the deal because I knew I had been struggling to get a flight home. Thankfully the Kellys’ travel agent got me a flight.”

As it turns out, the link-up with Kelly Racing had been long in the making.

“I originally tried to do a deal with them to race Super2 at the end of last year but it never came through [as the team had to funnel full focus into their new Mustang Supercars].

“I just kept in contact with Todd every couple of months… I told him that I was in Europe racing and I’d have to come home and do my two-week quarantine and he said ‘yep, we should be able to make it work’.

“He was quite happy because I was doing some racing as well.”

Despite his recent international opportunity, O’Keeffe is clear on Supercars being his desired landing point.

“It’s the biggest race of my career; I’ve managed to get this deal done and now I have kept the Supercars dream alive I think by doing this,” said O’Keeffe, who placed fifth in the 2019 Super2 standings.

“Just extremely happy that I can get there in a good car, we’ll have a strong run-in, everything is just extremely positive.

“I definitely dreamt of doing Supercars for a long time and that’s what I want to do.

“Now I have got that initial start, who knows what it could lead to in the future. Hopefully it won’t be my last Bathurst start, that’s for sure.”

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