TICKFORD Racing has been forced to re-shuffle its Repco Bathurst 1000 plans in the wake of the confirmation that 2019 race winner Alex Prémat will again be unable to attend the Mount Panorama classic.
The Frenchman, who won the race in 2019 alongside Scott McLaughlin for DJR Team Penske, signed for Tickford last year and was forced to miss Bathurst due to COVID restrictions and issues.
He’ll miss the race for a second year in a row, the team citing the sheer unpredictability of international travel as too big a hurdle to climb, even despite American-based Prémat having the required visa and satisfied all requirements to come to Australia.
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“I was really looking forward to coming back to Bathurst this year, so I am sad to say I won’t be making the trip to race with Tickford in 2021,” Prémat said.
“Unfortunately between commitments I have in the US and difficulties with travelling into Australia we couldn’t put things together and make it work, which is a shame, but I’ll be cheering on the team from home and hopefully next year I can finally come back to Bathurst!”
His place in the Tickford Racing line-up for Bathurst will be taken by the team’s Super2 driver Zak Best, who will be making his Repco Bathurst 1000 debut.
The young Victorian will join Jack Le Brocq in the #5 Truck Assist Mustang, while James Moffat will pair with Cam Waters in the #6 Monster Energy car and Thomas Randle will co-drive with James Courtney in the #44 Boost Mobile entry.
“It’s of course very disappointing that we’ve had to park Alex again this year,” Tickford Racing CEO and team principal Tim Edwards said.
“We only came to that decision recently, and even with the prospect of changes to international travel into New South Wales, organising flights is very challenging, so we’ve decided to remain committed to the path and give Zak the opportunity to step up into that seat.
“He’s done an excellent job for us in Super2 and obviously knows the team and the cars pretty well so he’s certainly earned the opportunity, and we think he’ll do a great job for us.
“Having Moff and Randle is really positive as well; Moff is incredibly quick at Bathurst and has obviously driven for us for several years now, then Thomas is of course on his way to a full-time seat and has been very strong this year himself, so we’re very happy with our driver pairings and the teams we’ve put together for Bathurst.
“I’ve said it before, these days at Bathurst you need drivers who are both fast and reliable, and I think all three of our cars are very well balanced for this year’s race.”