The reunion in Hazelwood's Blanchard deal

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 4 Days ago
  • By James Pavey

In a six-year period, Tim Blanchard has gone from co-driver to team boss for Todd Hazelwood, who will race the #3 CoolDrive Ford in 2023.

Hazelwood has traded Matt Stone Racing colours for CoolDrive blue for the 2023 season.

It reunites the former Super2 champion with Blanchard, who recruited a young Hazelwood for the 2017 enduros.

Blanchard was running a satellite BJR Commodore when he signed Hazelwood for the longer races.

By the time Hazelwood saddled up for his first main game start at Sandown, he was fighting for the Super2 title.

A 22-year-old Hazelwood was infamously sent spinning into the air after a clash with Jonathon Webb in the co-driver race.

With the car too damaged to start on Sunday, the Blanchard/Hazelwood combo had to wait until Bathurst, where they finished 12th.

Finishes of 15th and 20th on the Gold Coast followed, before Hazelwood wrapped up the Super2 crown in Newcastle.

Come 2023, and Hazelwood is now racing for Blanchard, who is leading the family-owned, fully-fledged team.

Should Blanchard opt to race in the 2023 enduros, it would bring the 2017 pairing back together.

“It’s funny — Tim gave me my first opportunity in the main game,” Hazelwood told Supercars.com.

“To reunite in a way is pretty special; that was an important step in my career.

“Hopefully we can turn it into something big this year.

“He is part of a successful family business, and a strong race team runs off it.

“There’s great potential for this team to keep growing in the future.

“That’s one of the key reasons why I wanted to align myself with this team.”

The Hazelwood family, Bathurst 2017

Hazelwood debuted in the main game in an MSR wildcard at Queensland Raceway midway through 2017.

He then raced for Stone's team in 2018 and 2019 before moving to Brad Jones Racing.

The South Australian returned to MSR last year, but that reunion only lasted a season before he signed on with BRT.

The 2023 season marks a first for both Hazelwood and BRT — a brand new Supercar.

“It’s the first time I’ve had a new chassis at my disposal as well,” said Hazelwood, whose new team recently revealed its advanced progress on its new Gen3 Mustang

“It’s an exciting time for everyone. Everyone here is proud of what they’ve achieved with the new car.

“They’re doing everything they can to give ourselves the best chance to start the year well.

“We need to maximise our test programme and what we can control so we can maximise the opportunity of a new car.

'It’s the first time I’ve had a new chassis'

“Hopefully the work will be rewarded in the early rounds so we then perform with confidence.”

BRT will also run a Mustang for Aaron Love in Super2 this year, with plans centred on expanding the main game squad to two cars.

Hazelwood, for the first time since 2019, will run out of a single-car team — but is undaunted by the challenge given BRT’s Gen3 progress.

“There are pros and cons of being in a single-car team,” Hazelwood said.

“I’m one of very few drivers on the grid who have been in a single-car team before, and later having a teammate.

“In this case, you have the best guys working on one car, one programme, giving it everything they’ve got.

“That’s the mindset we’ve got at the moment, and it’s very promising."

The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship will commence in Newcastle on March 10-12.

Tickets are on sale on Supercars.com and Ticketek.com.

Stay In The Know
Sign up to the Repco Supercars Championship Newsletter