Powered by pet food
A young champion is raring to go after being elevated to the top tier, writes Craig Duff
STEVE Owen is still scratching himself after an early Christmas present has given the Fujitsu V8 Supercar champ a seat in the main game.
He has been named as the driver of the VIP Petfoods-backed Paul Morris Motorsports Commodore for the 2011 V8 Supercar Championship Series.
Owen is the newly crowned Fujitsu V8 Supercar series champion and partnered TeamVodafone star Jamie Whincup in the three endurance events this year, finishing second in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, before winning the Armor All Gold Coast 600.
‘‘This is my biggest opportunity to forge a career at the top level so I’m going to grasp it with both hands and give it a damn good shake,’’ Owen says.
‘‘They have good equipment and good people so I’m really looking forward to working with them. I can’t thank Paul Morris, Tony Quinn and the people at VIP Petfoods enough.’’
VIP Petfoods managing director Tony Quinn says the timing is right for his company to return to the top level of Australian motorsport.
‘‘We’ve known Paul for a long time. He’s a good operator and VIP Petfoods is very proud to be sponsoring one of his cars,’’ Quinn says.
Paul Morris expects Owen to be competitive from the pre-season test day at Eastern Creek Raceway on January 29, especially with technical assistance from Triple Eight Engineering and having former Team Vodafone crew chief Steve Robertson in pit lane.
‘‘We looked at a number of drivers but having recent experience with a top-level team definitely helped Steve’s case,’’ Morris says. ‘‘ We expect him to be up front and fighting for race wins when we get stuck into the 2011 season.’’
Owen will replace Greg Murphy in the Morris camp next year, with Murphy and Jason Bargwanna talking to Kelly Racing and Brad Jones Racing respectively for a slot behind the wheel.
BJR needs to find a replacement for Jason Richards, who will miss the start of the 2011 series as he continues his treatment for cancer.
Steve Richards is without a full-time drive in the V8 Supercars next year after Ford Performance Racing didn’t renew his contract.
Richards isn’t retiring, though, and hopes to drive in the endurance events.
‘‘Clearly there are many very good options in relation to driving at the L&H 500 at Phillip Island and the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 endurance races and a final decision on driving at those events will become clearer to me in the coming days and weeks,’’ he says.
The Irwin Racing outfit also unveiled its 2011 livery this week (below) and driver Alex Davison hopes the minimalist new design will put the team back at the front of the grid.
The V8 Supercar season launches in Abu Dhabi on February 10-12.
VIP on the racetrack: Steve Owen is thrilled with his Supercars role in a Commodore next year.