Triple Eight and Johor Motorsports Racing launch full GT program in Australia
After being forced to the sidelines in 2020 due to the global pandemic, Triple Eight Race Engineering and Johor Motorsports Racing (JMR), will recommence their full-time GT program, this time on home shores, competing in the inaugural year of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS series.
Campaigning a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, the team will field a Pro-Am entry across the six events, headed by His Highness Prince Jefri Ibrahim of the Johor Royal Family as the amateur driver. Joining as the professional co-pilot for five of the season’s scheduled events will be Triple Eight’s own Shane van Gisbergen, a championship-winning GT driver as well as former Supercars champion and 2020 Bathurst 1000 winner. It is yet to be decided who will take van Gisbergen’s spot for The Bend, which sees GT World Challenge Australia competing on the Supercars Championship card, the latter taking precedence for the Kiwi driver.
Best known for their success in the Supercars Championship, Triple Eight has gradually increased its racing activities outside of touring cars, having successfully run campaigns in the world-renowned Bathurst 12 Hour on three occasions, winning the race outright in 2017 and taking a closely-fought third-place finish in 2020. The team’s other result was fourth-place in 2019.
The Brisbane-based squad joined forces with JMR in 2019 for a full season assault on Asia’s premier GT racing category, GT World Challenge Asia. Prince Jefri and van Gisbergen claimed their first overall win at the category’s penultimate round in Yeongam, South Korea. The Triple Eight/JMR team finished the season with a total of four class podiums.
This year’s crew will comprise Triple Eight personnel based at the Brisbane factory, the same crew who run the team’s Dunlop Super2 campaign, spearheaded by Andrew Simpson as Team Manager and Martin Short as Race Engineer.
Fans in Australia and New Zealand will be able to watch the GT World Challenge Australia action via the Seven Network. The live stream will be linked to the global SRO GT World streaming and YouTube networks.
The opening round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS will be held at Phillip Island on February 19-21.
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Managing Director, Triple Eight Race Engineering
“It is fantastic to welcome Johor Motorsport Racing to Australia. Unfortunately, we were only able to compete at the Bathurst 12 Hour for our GT program last year – a year which should have been much more extensive but given the travel restrictions that we faced, we couldn’t do anything further. We looked at what we could do this year, and with the Australian GT Championship being revitalised under the umbrella of SRO, it gave us the opportunity to compete here. We brought the car back from Asia and Prince Jefri has come down for the year to undertake an extensive driver training program as well as compete with us in the Championship. We’ll be testing extensively with His Highness, and Shane will be a big part of that program. We’ll be ensuring that we expose His Highness to as many tracks and environments in Australia as possible to ensure he’s well equipped.”
His Highness Prince Jefri Ibrahim
Driver, Triple Eight Race Engineering
“I’m really looking forward to the year ahead. It’s a blessing in disguise for me as a driver to be able to learn so much and improve, and I’m also really looking forward to working closely with the team again. I’ve had a whole year without racing, so I’m really looking forward to jumping in the car again. I’ve been training quite a bit and working on things I need to work on, but I’ve also tried to stay focused – the last year has been hard not knowing if we’d be racing or not, so I tried to be on point and ready to go at all times. Shane and I have been in touch quite a bit as well. Seeing him race last year made me quite jealous, but I’m really looking forward to racing with him this year. Two years ago was a learning curve for myself and the team and we created quite a good bond, and our aim is to clinch the championship this year. It’s going to be tough, but that’s our aim.”
Shane van Gisbergen
Driver, Triple Eight Race Engineering
“GT is one of my favourite categories to race in, and I’m really excited that we’ve been able to continue racing these cars in Australia this year. It’s cool that Prince Jefri has made Australia his temporary home for the next year, which will allow me to help with his training programme and make sure he’s as competitive as possible after being out of the car and not competing for over a year. It will be awesome to work with him and get him back up to speed and continue to build on what we achieved in 2019.”