V8 Supercars – Indy 500 Winner Dan Wheldon Joins HRT For Gold Coast 600

August 5, 2011

V8 Supercars

Two-time and reigning Indy 500 Champion Dan Wheldon has signed to drive for the Toll Holden Racing Team at this year’s Armor All Gold Coast 600, a star-studded event that pairs 28 international drivers with V8 Supercar’s fulltime local heroes.

Winner of this year’s Centenary Indy 500, Wheldon will partner long-time friend and reigning V8 Supercar Champion James Courtney in the #1 Toll HRT Commodore.

His signing completes the Toll HRT’s Gold Coast line-up with Australian Indycar star Ryan Briscoe co-driving the #2 factory Holden with 2007 V8 Supercar Champion Garth Tander.

Wheldon has made an impressive career since making the move from England to America in 1999.

The 33 year old’s record includes the 2003 Indy Racing League Rookie of the Year title, the 2005 IRL Championship, 16 IRL/Indycar race wins and victory in the 2006 Daytona 24 Hour. He tied Sam Hornish Jr for the 2006 Indycar Championship, but lost the title on a count back.

Wheldon won the Indy 500 for the first time in 2005 driving for Andretti Green Racing, while his second and perhaps most famous victory came in this year’s event when, in his only scheduled Indycar drive of the year driving for Bryan Herta Racing, Wheldon snatched victory on the last lap from rookie JR Hildlebrand when the then-race leader crashed in the final turn.

Wheldon said Toll HRT’s winning reputation was widely known around the world and he was keen to join the team for the international enduro.

“A few of my friends raced V8 Supercars in last year’s Gold Coast event and all have great memories. It seemed that with some of the names included in this year’s race that it was going to be even bigger and better and I just had to be part of it,” Wheldon said.

“I’m delighted to be driving for the Toll Holden Racing Team, it’s the most successful and famous team in V8 Supercars.

“I know that HRT has an extremely large and passionate supporter base at home, but people would be surprised at how well the team is known internationally. Most importantly, it’s a team that has an ethos in winning, something I’m really passionate about.

“Partnering James is also a thrill for me, he’s a guy I have known for many years and know well. We have pretty similar personalities and I know we will form a strong partnership.”

It will not be the first time Wheldon has raced on the Gold Coast having driven for Panther Racing in the event’s final Indycar race in 2008, finishing 11th – the street circuit since having been shortened 1.5 kilometres to 2.96km for the headlining V8s.

“I hope the shortening of the track won’t hamper my speed, however by all accounts it seems like the new layout remains a challenging track, so it will be a great event amongst some pretty exceptional talent,” he said.

Courtney said he is looking forward to Wheldon joining Holden’s official factory team.

“I’m really excited about Dan joining us, he and I first met when I moved to Europe in karting in the mid-90s so we have known each other a long time – he is a quality driver, a two-time Indy 500 winner and IRL Champion with a record second-to-none,” Courtney said.

“Most importantly, he comes from a road course background which will give him an edge over some of the other US-based drivers who come mainly from the ovals.”

The 21st annual Armor All Gold Coast 600 takes place on the streets of Surfer’s Paradise on October 21-23. The event is the third of three endurance races on the 2011 V8 Supercar Championship calendar and comprises two 300km, two driver races.

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    […] V8 Supercars – Indy 500 Winner Dan Wheldon Joins HRT For Gold Coast 600 (beyondtheredline.org) […]

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