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Supercars Townsville

DJR explains Bathurst 1000 Supercars wildcard plan

Talent development is at the heart of Dick Johnson Racing's maiden Bathurst 1000 wildcard programme, according to CEO David Noble.

Anton De Pasquale, Dick Johnson Racing Ford Mustang GT

DJR is one of two teams to have had a wildcard application for the two Supercars endurance races, the Sandown 500 and the Bathurst 1000, approved by the Supercars Commission.

While the applications still technically need to be approved by the Supercars Board, the Commission's decision to tweak the superlicence rules to facilitate the entries is a solid sign that both DJR and Blanchard Racing Team will be able to field additional entries if they want.

The DJR wildcard is understood to be centred on young gun Kai Allen, who was second in Super3 last year and took a career-first Super2 win in Townsville last weekend.

DJR has both of its regular drivers locked in until the end of the 2024 season, however, a forward-thinking approach is understandable given that will be Will Davison's 19th season in Supercars.

According to ex-Australian Football League coach Noble, the potential wildcard is undoubtedly an opportunity to assess young driving talent.

He also sees it as a valuable succession planning tool outside of the cockpit.

"Look, right back from when I chatted to [DJR co-owners] Ryan [Story] and Brett [Ralph] about coming into the sport, I was a big advocate for succession planning and talent development," he told Autosport.

Anton De Pasquale, Dick Johnson Racing Ford Mustang GT

Anton De Pasquale, Dick Johnson Racing Ford Mustang GT

Photo by: Edge Photographics

"That was one of my strengths in my previous sport. Succession planning is an interesting one because it allows you to have fresh engineers and fresh staff that can be trained into the methodology that you want. So I think that rounded approach is good for us in that succession planning."

Noble added that a firm decision on the wildcard is expected by the end of next week, with the initial assessment around funding before looking at signing drivers.

"We've applied. Now we've got to assess it this week," he said.

"The first thing is, can we fund it? Can we do it properly, to the standard that we want to do it? Can we deliver what our sponsors want as a product?

"First of all, it's whether we can afford to do it at the level that we want. That's the first thing. Then it's about what you look at as far as drivers go."

Noble wouldn't be drawn on the specifics of the Allen links or speculation that an international driver will be paired with the teenager.

"There's a bunch of young drivers coming through in Super2 that are doing well, so that creates an opportunity," said Noble.

Super2 is the main proving ground for aspiring Supercars talent

Super2 is the main proving ground for aspiring Supercars talent

"Is there someone else we can look at to provide a pairing with that? Who knows.

"I think within the next week we'll look at funding and get that right. In two weeks time we'll probably know where we're at in terms of drivers.

"But we're keen, we're certainly very keen."

Hardware is another question mark given the shift to the Gen3 cars for this year, although Noble is confident the spare DJR Mustang could be prepared in time.

"We've got a spare so we're probably 70% down the way with that," he said.

"But also your spare is your spare and there are a couple of races beyond Bathurst. Still, we think we've got enough internal grunt to do it.

"There's enough equipment, there's enough infrastructure. There are a few more pieces around that, but we're close.

"We're excited if we can make it work. We haven't done it before and we want to deliver a good product."

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