IndyCar stars locked in for WAU Bathurst wildcard

IndyCar Series aces Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe will tackle Mount Panorama in an all-star Walkinshaw Andretti United wildcard entry.

The duo will race a #27 Holden ZB Commodore, in line with Andretti Autosport’s usual number that Rossi currently carries in the IndyCar Series.

The wildcard will be run in collaboration with Andretti Autosport and United Autosports, with engineering and mechanical staff from each organisation to join local WAU team members on the ground for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 on October 10-13.

A naming rights partner and livery is yet to be announced but it is known that U.S. Concrete chairman and CEO William Sandbrook will personally support the car, promoting his company’s international products WheresMyConcrete and Polaris Materials’ Orca High Performance Concrete Aggregates.

Virgin Australia will fly both drivers, who consider The Great Race a major bucketlist item, from Los Angeles to Sydney for the event.

California-born Rossi rose through the European open-wheeler pathway to make five Formula One starts for Marussia in 2015.

He made a hefty impression upon returning to the States, winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 on debut for Andretti Autosport.

The 27-year-old was IndyCar Series runner-up overall last year and again holds second in the standings this season.

For Hinchcliffe, 32, this will be his second foray into Supercars racing, having partnered Michael Caruso in a Garry Rogers Motorsport VE Commodore at the 2012 Gold Coast 600.

The Canadian drove for Andretti Autosport from 2012 to 2014 and now races for Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, for whom he is 10th in the ongoing season’s championship.

Before taking on the Mountain, Rossi and Hinchcliffe will be granted valuable time in the Commodore in a three-day test at Winton Motor Raceway on October 1-3.

Rossi nonetheless will brace for whatever the famed Bathurst circuit throws at him in both his first visit there and his maiden Supercars outing.

“It’s going to be a steep learning curve and I’m very aware of that,” he said.

“I’ve got a few friends who are Supercars drivers, so I know how talented the competition is, and how challenging this specific racetrack is, but at the same time it’s a really exciting challenge and something that has been on my target list for a long time.

“Excited and scared, I think those are two good words, excited and scared go hand in hand with Mt Panorama. It’s a really high-speed and high-commitment track with a lot of blind corners, circuit knowledge is really key there, so the fact that I don’t have any will make it really interesting.”

Rossi said he will lean on Hinchcliffe’s 2012 experience at Surfers Paradise.

“Having done an event with them some years ago, I think I’ll maybe get a little bit more comfortable shifting with my left hand a little bit quicker than Alex maybe, but it was quite some time ago and I think a lot has changed with the cars since then,” Hinchcliffe said.

“It will be a learning curve for both of us but the test days will give us enough time to get a little bit comfortable with the cars before we have to go learn one of the most daunting tracks in motorsport.”

The #27 wildcard will run alongside WAU’s regular entries, Scott Pye and Warren Luff, plus James Courtney and Jack Perkins.

The Pye-Luff combination have scored podium finishes in the past two Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 races.

IndyCar stars locked in for WAU Bathurst wildcard

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