Australian TCR race winner Dylan O’Keeffe will join the grid for this weekend’s FIA World Touring Car Cup season opener at Zolder, racing a Renault Mégane RS for Vuković Motorsport.
O’Keeffe, a four-time race winner in TCR Australia last year, becomes the first Australian to compete in a World Touring Car race since 1987.
The 22-year-old has been in Europe for several weeks, having recently tested the Swiss team’s Renault at the Salzburgring last month and based himself near to Vuković Motorsport’s headquarters.
O’Keeffe, a Garry Rogers Motorsport driver in his native Australia, was grateful for the opportunity to race internationally in the current coronavirus climate.
“My first race meeting outside Australia was the 2017 Carrera Cup round I did in Malaysia, which was my first podium finish in the category,” said O’Keeffe.
“I participated in the Porsche Junior Programme Shootout a couple of times but didn’t have any more chances to race overseas.
“For this WTCR drive to have come to fruition is quite incredible, considering the circumstances we’re all facing with COVID-19 and I’m extremely grateful to the team at Vuković Motorsport for giving me the opportunity to race their car.
“While I’m still very much focused on my TCR Australia drive with Garry Rogers Motorsport, the season is suspended until at least October, which has created the window for me to travel overseas and be able to follow the necessary quarantine protocols when I return.”
Having tested the car at the Salzburgring, originally set to be the venue for the WTCR season opener before it made a last-minute switch to Zolder, O’Keeffe is confident of arriving with a strong setup.
“We achieved our main objective from the test day, which was to improve the handling balance of the car.
“It was quite wet in the morning, but it dried out in the afternoon, which was useful because it enabled me to get a feel for the car and circuit in different types of conditions.
“The crew at Vuković Motorsport have been enjoyable to work with and I’m confident we’ll arrive for the WTCR round with a solid baseline setup.”
Team Owner Milenko Vuković is looking forward to working with O’Keeffe, who will partner Brit Jack Young in the team this weekend.
“We’re thrilled to have Dylan in one of our cars for the first round of our WTCR campaign,” said Vuković.
“As we expected, Dylan did a fine job in our Renault at the test day and provided us with some valuable feedback – we can’t wait to see him racing wheel-to-wheel with the other WTCR drivers.”