Tim Blanchard will become a Supercars owner/driver next season, having completed the purchase of a Racing Entitlements Contract from Super Black Racing.
The move is the latest in the musical chairs between Prodrive Racing Australia and Brad Jones Racing, with Blanchard set to run under the Tim Blanchard Racing banner as a third car.
That effectively confirms that outgoing BJR driver Jason Bright will shift his REC – which was used for Blanchard’s Commodore this season – out of BJR and on to Prodrive Racing Australia, which ran the Super Black REC this year.
It also spells the end of Super Black Racing’s current involvement in Supercars, the New Zealand-themed team having lost its owner Tony Lentino to cancer earlier this year, just days after Chris Pither scored the team’s first pole position at Queensland Raceway.
Look to the future for Blanchard
According to Blanchard, purchasing the REC is more about securing his long-term future within the sport, rather than his short-term future as a driver.
“Long term, we would like to have an ongoing involvement in Supercars and saw the REC as an opportunity to do so,” said Blanchard, a former Australian Formula Ford champion and British Formula Ford runner-up.
“From a personal point of view, I am quite interested in the management side of Supercars and this was an opportunity for me to start preparing for a continued involvement in Supercars past my driving career.
“I can confirm I’ll be driving the CoolDrive Commodore again in 2017 but beyond that, I don’t know yet.”
French deal falls through
Blanchard’s purchase of the Super Black REC is a departure from the original plan for Prodrive co-owner and long-time friend of Lentino Rusty French to buy the licence.
According to a statement from SBR, there wasn’t the support available from New Zealand for the entry to continue.
“We must thank Rusty French for supporting our plan and honouring the commitments of his friend, the late Tony Lentino, with his commitments,” said team manager Greg Hahn.
“Unfortunately though, we just didn’t get the support we needed from New Zealand to continue given the time frame we had.
“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.”