The first driver for the new TCR Australia Series has been announced with New South Wales based Jimmy Vernon signing on with Garry Rogers Motorsport (GRM).
The announcement comes fresh off the news of GRM’s purchase of two 2019-specification Alfa Romeos, with Vernon set to drive one of the Giulietta Veloces.
It’s a big move for the CAMS PAYCE Australian Formula 4 graduate, who will become one of the first drivers in the world to race the latest-generation of Alfa TCR vehicles when the series kicks off in May.
Despite having a mixed year in the 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, which ended with 21-year-old securing a round victory in Sydney, GRM saw enough in Vernon to offer him a spot in the team.
With GRM having the longstanding tradition of helping talented young drivers break their way into the top-level motor sport careers, the 2017 Toyota 86 Racing Series champion was thrilled to be joining the list of decorated GRM drivers such as Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin.
“To have been offered the opportunity to link with Garry Roger's Motorsport is a great honour,” Vernon said.
“Seeing the way GRM has nurtured some of the best Australian drivers over many years, it was an easy decision to make that this was the direction I needed to go.
“I have a very strong group of supporters helping my career take flight, although we still have some work to do to find more backing to ensure we have everything in place to have a serious crack at this inaugural championship.
"I can't wait to cast my eyes over the brand new 2019 specification Alfa Romeo TCR car. I believe we will be bringing a really strong package to the category.
"I want to thank Garry and Barry for believing in me and giving me a chance to join their highly credentialed team."
While Vernon’s decorated resume was one of the major factors behind GRM’s offer, including a string of solid results in both the Bathurst 6 and 12 hour, the Victorian team were more impressed with Vernon’s passion for the sport.
GRM owner Barry Rogers revealed Vernon’s attitude and presence during the TCR Australia test day last year helped with the decision.
“Garry and I have always been keen on giving young guys a go, and with the promise that Jimmy has shown over the past few years, we feel he is the perfect choice for our new Alfa Romeo TCR team,” Rogers said.
“We chanced on our first meeting with Jimmy at the TCR launch day at Sydney Motorsport Park, and he struck us as a really enthusiastic kid with lots of potential.
“Looking at his CV, he clearly knows how to drive, and we are confident that he will be competitive.
“Anyone who wins the Toyota 86 Racing Series obviously knows what they are doing. It’s a one-make class that means the driver is the difference.
“Like the other young talent that we’ve had come through the doors at GRM, we can’t wait to get Jimmy immersed in our racing business.”
The first round of the 2019 TCR Australia season takes place at Sydney Motorsport Park as part of the Shannons Nationals on 17-19 May.