The CAMS Australian Endurance Championship will welcome another Virgin Australian Supercars Championship figure for this weekend’s season opener with Tim Blanchard to make his debut.
The Supercars team-owner and endurance co-driver will compete alongside GT Trophy Series regular Joseph Ensabella in the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 for Trofeo Motorsport.
The announcement comes not long after 2017 Supercars champion and Blanchard’s former rival Jamie Whincup confirmed his entry alongside South Australian Sam Shahin.
Blanchard enters the frame with a vast amount of experience in Australian motor sport, as well as spending a number of hours behind the wheel of an Audi and Porsche in recent testing but will race in a GT3 car for the first time in Phillip Island.
Despite being out the main Supercars game since the end of last year to focus on business, the still-fit Blanchard is signed on to compete in Supercars’ endurance rounds, as he looks to gain some experience outside the category.
“I’ve enjoyed my time in Supercars, and obviously still have my commitments as a co-driver in the endurance events, but I was keen to look at options beyond that,” Blanchard said.
“This weekend’s opportunity to jump behind the wheel of the Trofeo Motorsport Huracan provides me the chance to see what it’s like first hand.
“I’ve been keeping a keen eye on Australian GT for a while.
“I’ve also watched Shane Van Gisbergen, Tim Slade, Garth Tander and a few of the other Supercars guys come in and out with pretty good success, so I’m keen to see what it’s like.”
With the Victorian to gain valuable experience at what is his effectively his home round, Blanchard was excited to make his debut on the famous circuit.
“I love Phillip Island, so it was the prefect place to kick off this leg of my career, and whilst I haven’t driven the Huracan yet, I’m not expecting us to be challenging the experienced guys for the win.” Blanchard explained.
“It’s all about learning the car and getting used to how it works, and working with a new team and co-driver, but I expect if the weather stays nice, it will be a great experience so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Blanchard’s teammate in Ensabella was also keen to get experience in a different car after competing on a regular basis in the Trophy Series behind the wheel of the Type 997 Porsche Cup Car.
“I’ve been looking at a variety of options to step up from the Porsche, but like anything, it’s nice to make a decision based on experience, so this is the prime opportunity to see what the other side is like,” Ensabella added.
“It also doesn’t hurt to have a co-driver the calibre of Tim Blanchard who is also on a steep learning curve, so between the two of us we will have a lot to go through and a lot to share notes about, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”
The CAMS Australian Endurance Championship will have optional testing on Friday morning before an official practice and qualifying on Saturday sets up Sunday morning’s three hour race.
Tickets for the Shannons Nationals’ visit to Phillip Island are now on sale and can be purchased here, while fans can watch all the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship action live and free through the live stream on thenationals.com.au.
The Shannons Nationals’ second round for 2019 takes place at Phillip Island on 7-9 June.