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Gracie signs triple Gold Star-winning co-driver

RENEE Gracie has secured a veteran co-driver for her step up into the Pro-Am class of the 2024 GT World Challenge Australia series.

Sharing the #181 OnlyFans Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo2 with Gracie will be Paul Stokell, a three-time winner of the prestigious Gold Star.

Following a Mark Skaife three-peat in 1991-93, Stokell won the Australian Drivers’ Championship in 1994, ’95 and ’96 in Formula Brabham/Formula Holden competition.

Further helping Gracie’s campaign is the appointment of Ryan Millier as engineer, after his involvement in Liam Talbot’s successful Pro-Am title campaign last year.

“I’m very grateful to have Paul this season,” said Gracie, a two-time Bathurst 1000 starter.

“Once I knew I was going to be a Silver my biggest concern was, who would want to drive alongside me?

“I did have a few people reach out, but for me the best thing Paul has is he has plenty of driver training and education side behind him. I can really lean on him for his experience and how fast he is, while teaching and coaching me in these cars.

“Paul has a real knack and ability to coach, so I’m really looking forward to that because obviously I’m still new in my GT career. I feel he can provide that extra level of coaching, support and knowledge I can lean on as well as use, which I probably can’t get from anyone else.

“I feel like it’s a great pairing and will accelerate my learning in the early stages of my GT career.”

Stokell is looking forward to the challenge: “I’ve raced in Am for the last three years with Gary (Higgon) and Matt (Stoupas), but they elected to not continue leaving me on the fence, so when I heard Renee was searching for an Am driver I thought there was an opportunity.

Paul Stokell (right). Pic: Supplied

“I guess my role in the past was to coach and use my experience, which will carry on with Renee as well.

“When she raced in the newer specification Audi in Adelaide she showed a good turn of speed. We’ve known each other for years working together on driver training and drive days, plus I’ve seen the improvement last year, so we’ll work together to continue this in Pro-Am.

“Renee conducts herself professionally and is really keen to improve, so I think ultimately our goal is to win races and I think we can if we play our cards right.

“She’s returned to the track in a levelheaded fashion, she hasn’t set the world on fire and improved gradually every time she’s been on track to end last season strong.

“I missed out on driving for a few years when I was setting up my business in Queensland, but I’ve never lost the feel or the love for it, it’s always been my passion.”

The GT World Challenge Australia season will kick off at Phillip Island on April 12-14.

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