Tim Blanchard’s uncertain future in the Australian Supercars Championship looks to have been resolved after his family purchased the Racing Entitlements Contract owned by Super Black Racing, which has opted to shut its doors.
While the youngster has an ongoing deal to drive with Brad Jones Racing, his position at the team was under a major cloud in the wake of outgoing driver Jason Bright’s decision to move his #21 REC to rival outfit Prodrive Racing Australia. PRA ran a four-car operation, with one of its garage slots occupied by the sole Super Black Racing entry.
Super Black Racing has struggled to maintain the required level of funding the keep the team in operation beyond the end of the 2016 season in the wake of the death of team founder Tony Lentino to cancer.
The deal to sell its #111 REC to the Blanchard family was rubber stamped by the Supercars Board yesterday.
Conceived in 2014 by former touring car driver Paul Radisich as a means of returning a fully New Zealand-run team into the championship, the outfit was formed with the backing of Lentino and Andrew Hiskens.
It made its debut that year with a wildcard entry at the Bathurst 1000, with rookie drivers Andre Heimgartner and Ant Pedersen finishing an impressive eleventh overall in a Ford Falcon FG leased from and prepared by Prodrive Racing.
It made its full-time debut in 2015 with a Prodrive-prepared FG with a Racing Entitlements Contract leased by Dick Johnson Racing. Heimgartner’s form faded over the course of the season and he was dropped in favour of Chris Pither before the year was out.
For 2016, Pither remained on board, but the team purchased its own REC from Walkinshaw Racing after DJR took back its REC to expand to a two-car operation. Pither scored a shock pole position at Queensland Raceway shortly after Lentino’s death to mark a rare highlight in a bleak sophomore season for the team.
Super Black Racing team manager Greg Hahn has expressed hope that the team’s Supercars Championship may be reignited in future years.
“It’s disappointing for the team and for our driver Chris Pither, but hopefully it won’t be the last time you see Super Black Racing on the grid line up.
“You could say we are taking a sabbatical and we will reset and look toward a more sustainable New Zealand campaign in the near future.
“These things take time and we would like to think we can get back into the main game at a later date and that we have showed on numerous occasions what the team and Chris have been capable of.”
Images via Motorsport.com
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