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O’KEEFFE IMPRESSES IN HIS SURPRISE SUPERCARS DEBUT

MEDIA RELEASE/Dylan O’Keeffe – Photo: Velocity Magazine

He arrived at the Vodafone Gold Coast 600 expecting to be a pit crew member for the Ashley Seward Motorsport Porsche Carrera Cup team, but Dylan O’Keeffe left the Surfers Paradise street circuit as the latest driver to debut in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

The 21-year-old, who is currently the highest-placed rookie driver in the Dunlop Super2 Series, earned a surprise call-up to join the Garry Rogers Motorsport team for today’s 300km race, sharing the #33 Boost Mobile ZB Commodore with Chris Pither.

O’Keeffe’s main-game debut has parallels with that of reigning Supercars Champion and Bathurst 1000 winner Scott McLaughlin, who also made his first Supercars appearance after a late call-up to drive a Garry Rogers Motorsport Commodore at Homebush in 2012.

The first time O’Keeffe drove the ZB Commodore was in this morning’s qualifying session, providing him his one and only opportunity to learn the car prior to the race.

“I only found out about 45 minutes before qualifying that I was going to be doing this afternoon’s race, so I didn’t have time to overthink it, I just had to get in the car and concentrate on learning as quickly as I could,” O’Keeffe said.

“Fortunately, I had driven around the track in a Carrera Cup car, so I had an idea of how to attack the circuit.”

O’Keeffe was also given the responsibility of starting the race; from 24th on the grid, he was able to avoid some carnage on the opening lap, and moved up to 17th position – a spot he maintained until handing the car over to Pither for the run home on lap 34. Pither eventually brought the car home in 18th position.

“There was some drama at Turn 11 on the first lap, but I managed to steer clear of it and it helped me make up some spots,” O’Keeffe said.

“It was a tough, physical stint but I settled into a rhythm, and my lap times were gradually improving until the tyres started to go off towards the end.”

O’Keeffe said his taste of racing in the main game has made him determined to crack the top level on a full-time basis.

“We didn’t have time to work on any setup stuff because of the late notice, but I had a lot of fun today and it made me appreciate the level of the drivers who run at the front of the field,” O’Keeffe said.

“It’s made me really motivated to get myself onto the grid full-time in the future.”


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