Team 18’s Bathurst 1000 co-drivers James Golding and Dean Fiore have confirmed their plans to join the team a week prior to the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on October 15-18.
Following the double-header at The Bend in South Australia, the Victorian-based team will return to their temporary home at Ross Stone Racing on the Gold Coast to prepare for the grand finale of the 2020 season.
Golding, who will team up with Mark Winterbottom in the IRWIN Racing Commodore, yesterday flew to Darwin to start two weeks of quarantine before joining the team on the Gold Coast the week prior to Bathurst.
Fiore, who will partner Scott Pye in the DEWALT Racing Commodore, will fly direct to the Gold Coast from his home in Perth, West Australia and join up with the team as Golding emerges from quarantine.
Golding will compete in his fifth Bathurst 1000 after spending two years in the Supercars Championship as a full-time driver with Garry Rogers Motorsport.
The Victorian was set to compete in the S5000 Australian Drivers’ Championship alongside his enduro campaign with Winterbottom, however those plans were paused in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the meantime, he has been keeping race fit with laps in his go-kart when restrictions permitted, as well as many hours on his simulator.
Golding will continue a relationship with his former race engineer in Manuel Sanchez, who moved to Team 18 from GRM to engineer Winterbottom.
Fiore will make his 12th Bathurst 1000 start after three years with his family-run Triple F Racing from 2009-2011, one with Dick Johnson Racing in 2012, one start with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport and the last six years as an endurance driver with Kelly Racing.
In his 2013 season with LDM, Fiore was team-mate to Scott Pye in a pair of ex-Triple Eight Commodores, but this will be the first time the pair has teamed up for The Great Race.
Fiore has already found track time at Bathurst this year, finishing third in the Pro-Am class of the Bathurst 12 Hour in an Audi R8 alongside Marc Cini and Lee Holdsworth.
Golding and Fiore have been in regular contact with team owner Charlie Schwerkolt and team manager Steve Henderson during this time to ensure they are up to speed with the progression of the team.
They will spend a valuable week with the drivers, engineers and crew on the Gold Coast to ensure they are settled and prepared as best as possible before travelling down with the team to Bathurst for race week.
Team 18 is currently preparing for this weekend’s OTR SuperSprint, before the final race of the 2020 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on 15-18 October.
Dean Fiore, co-driver #20 DEWALT Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“I’m looking forward to landing on the Gold Coast the week before Bathurst and spending some good time with everyone in the team to get our preparation underway for our biggest race of the year,” said Fiore.
“For me it’s been business as usual in Perth and I’ve been keeping busy with work, training and spending time with my family.
“I did some laps a couple of weeks ago in a mates Porsche Cup Car at Barbagallo which I was very grateful for.
“I have kept in contact with Scott and Phil Keed and they have been keeping me across things as much as I need to be and I’ve been doing everything I can on my end to keep fit and prepare for what is going to be a very quick endurance campaign.
“The week on the Gold Coast will be critical to get everything sorted from an ergonomic point of view and practicing driver changes and all the one-percenters that need to be done before Bathurst.
“The races have been great viewing this year, especially for Scott. They have found a sweet spot in that car at the moment which fills me with confidence heading to Bathurst.
“You never know what you are going to get with a new driver and engineer combo, but it looks like Phil and Scott are gelling quite well and it shows straight away on the track in terms of the results, It’s good to be walking into an environment like that.
“This will be my 12th Bathurst 1000, but I’d welcome any extra track time around there, I think there should be half a day for co-drivers only! But the quality of the co-drivers these days is such that once you get to a certain level you should be up to speed fairly quickly so that shouldn’t be an issue.”