Rising star scores Bathurst 1000 call-up
DUNLOP Super2 Series driver Todd Hazelwood will join the Brad Jones Racing team as a co-driver for its enduro season, which includes this year's Bathurst 1000.
The South Australian, 21, will team with BJR's Supercars driver Tim Blanchard for the three Pirtek Enduro Cup events at Sandown, Bathurst and Gold Coast, after a successful trial with the team at Winton in May.
His promotion to the main game follows a successful start to the year in the second-tier Supercars category, with Matt Stone Racing, in which he has won two races, including his first-ever race win at the Clipsal 500 in March.
Hazelwood said he had not had a good opportunity at his Winton trial to showcase his skills or get a reading of Blanchard's Holden Commodore, as wet weather had affected the session.
But he impressed team co-owner Brad Jones enough to do a handshake deal, which was then formally announced this week.
"I've raced plenty of laps at Bathurst (in the Dunlop Super2 Series) but looking forward to having my first shot at the Bathurst 1000, following my dream," he said.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet.
"I've never raced at Gold Coast - that's going to be a bit of a challenge, it's renowned as being a bit of a concrete jungle."
However, Hazelwood will get his first taste of racing alongside Supercars drivers as a wildcard entry into July's Ipswich SuperSprint event.
Supercars this year provided several wildcard entries into the top category for Super2 racers, to help them get a feel for the level of skill and pace required to take the next step in their careers.
"There's a lot of work going on behind the scenes to get ourselves up to spec with what we need to do with pit stop practice and doing live telemetry, that's new for us," Hazelwood said.
"For me, it's all about experience and getting my name out there in the Supercars paddock and getting some respect from touring car drivers in Australia.
"Hopefully we'll raise a few eyebrows with a few performances.
"To get inside the top 15 would be a good result.
"We don't want to get walked all over by the main drivers - you've got to stamp your authority - but we don't want to make the headlines for the wrong reasons."
His appointment means all three Brad Jones Racing cars will have a South Australian in the driver's seat for the enduros, as he joins lead drivers Tim Slade and Nick Percat.
"It seems almost every South Australian in the field is signed up with Brad Jones Racing, it's pretty cool to be a part of that," Hazelwood said.
"It makes it a nice transition going into the team."
He is also the fifth SA-born, bred or resident driver to be confirmed for the iconic Bathurst race, with Scott Pye a top-tier driver, and Dean Canto confirmed to again join Mark Winterbottom.