STRATEGIC flexibility is the rationale behind two outright contenders adding a third driver to their respective squads ahead of qualifying for tomorrow’s Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour.
Garth Walden Racing has confirmed Bathurst driver Brad Shields will join Garth Walden and Craig Baird in the No. 45 Mercedes-AMG A45, while experienced Kiwi GT ace Daniel Gaunt will join the Kavich brothers in the No. 15 Race for a Cure Mitsubishi.
Walden’s other two entries already featured three driver line ups.
Event regulations stipulate a maximum driver time of three and a half hours for each driver in the race, with no more than three hours in any one driving stint. A minimum period of one hour out of the seat is enforced once drivers jump from the car.
This makes aligning driver time with pit stop and fuel strategy a challenge for two-driver combinations; hence GWR’s move to bolster their squad.
“It’s all about driver time and giving us the flexibility,” Walden explained.
“There’s no minimum time so they don’t have to drive, but it’s nice to have them just in case.
“With the one-hour rest period and the maximum time it’s much easier and smarter to have three drivers and it allows you to be more flexible working your strategy around Safety Cars and your fuel load.”
Walden said while Gaunt was a certain starter in the Mitsubishi, Shields would be on ‘stand by’ for the AMG.
“Dan will probably do a reasonable amount of time because he’ll help get that car towards the front of the field for the Kavich boys,” he said.
The No. 15 car finished practice in 20th position, with a best lap of 2m31.4 seconds, while Walden hustled the AMG to sixth place on combined practice times at a 2m27.32.
“Brad may drive but will be more on the circumstances of the race and how it plays out,” he added.
“He did three laps in practice this (Saturday) morning and did a low 2m29 on old tyres so we know he’s capable and up to the job but it will be a case of seeing how the race plays out.
“But there’s a good chance he’ll do a stint and that will help us out.”
GWR has four cars in the race this year, including the twice-defending class B2 champion Holden Commodore driven by Brian Walden, Richard Bloomfield and Michael Auld.
The second AMG A45 has Rob Woods, Marcel Zalloua and Steven Johnson sharing the driving duties; that car 11th outright on combined times heading into qualifying this afternoon.
Qualifying for the Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst 6 Hour starts at 2:25pm local time with 30-minurs for the bottom 50% of the field, to be followed by a further half-hour dash for the top half.
Live Audio commentary of commentary will be avaialble via the Bathurst 6 Hour website.