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INTERNATIONAL STAR IN LINE FOR BATHURST 1000 DEBUT

BRAD Jones Racing is set to spring a surprise for the final place on its Repco Bathurst 1000 roster, with the team investigating fielding international Porsche ace Jaxon Evans.

The Kiwi has been based abroad since winning the 2018 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia crown, winning the equivalent French title in 2020 and finishing runner-up in Porsche Supercup last year.

Now, a Bathurst 1000 debut is on the cards sharing the #4 SCT Logistics ZB Commodore with Jack Smith.

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A final decision though will only be made after an evaluation day on September 19 at Winton Motor Raceway.

The prospect of Evans contesting the Great Race comes unexpectedly, given incumbent David Wall was tipped to retain his co-drive.

SCT Logistics head of motorsport programs Andrew Jones admitted continuity in the form of Wall was their first choice but the latter ultimately decided to focus on what will be a crucial round for his Carrera Cup championship hopes.

Wall, who runs his own team, holds second in the standings, 68 points adrift of leader Harri Jones.

A global search thereafter led BJR/SCT to Evans, who has sought clearance from Porsche AG to try his hand at Supercars.

Jack Smith aboard the #4 Holden at Sandown. Pic: Nathan Wong

“Where we landed was, let’s do an evaluation day, which we can do,” Jones told selected media including V8 Sleuth.

“So at the moment we still don’t have anything locked in but our plan is to hold an evaluation day where we’re able to run Jaxon Evans in the car, and if everything goes okay on that evaluation day, then it will give us some scope to either make a decision or look at our other options that are available.”

The Mount Panorama forays of Evans’ Porsche colleague Matt Campbell, who won the Carrera Cup Australia series in 2016, provided reassurance that the transition would be manageable.

Campbell is this year making his fourth Bathurst 1000 start, partnering Grove Racing’s David Reynolds. His prior appearances came alongside Todd Kelly in 2016, Shane van Gisbergen in 2017 and Andre Heimgartner last year.

“For me, the thing we needed to be conscious of was we needed to go back and have a look at what Matt Campbell did in that first year that he drove here,” said Jones.

“There’s no point in looking at what he did last year because he’d had a couple of seasons under his belt of doing co-driving and with a few different teams.

“So it was more around looking at what he had done in that initial endurance program when he joined Kelly Racing off the back of being out of Australia for 12 months almost and driving predominantly Porsche race cars on European tracks, so yeah, there’s some reassurance there.

Jaxon Evans and Abbie Eaton at an evaluation day in 2018. Pic: Walkinshaw Andretti United

“There’ll be some comparisons between Jaxon and Matt and that has probably been Jaxon’s deal throughout the past five years of his motor racing career because he really was 12 months, two years behind Matt Campbell and he has emulated a lot of his success.

“I think anybody that is able to continue through that Porsche junior program and continue to beat world-class drivers from all around the world is a good talent and I think him and Jack Smith are going to team up incredibly well.

“They were, funnily enough, teammates many, many years ago when they were both karting, I think when they were in the Birel go-karting team, so they’re not unfamiliar to each other and I think it will be a good mix.

“And I think we’re at a point in our team too and where Jack is at in his driving to have two young guys in there.

“Certainly our philosophy for our endurance campaign this year is very different to what it has been in years gone past.”

Smith’s previous two visits to The Mountain came alongside Jack Perkins (2020) and Wall (2021).

The Winton evaluation day will not be Evans’ first time in a Supercar, the now 25-year-old having tested a Super2-specification VF Commodore with Walkinshaw Andretti United back in 2018.

The #4 co-drive is the only Bathurst 1000 seat yet to be officially confirmed for the October 6-9 event.

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