Michael Sheargold and Ollie Shannon are aiming to defend their Hi-Tec Oils Bathurst Class A1 win aboard the RAM Motorsport/GWR Australia Mercedes A45 AMG, and they have recruited a star team-mate to maximise their chances.
Off the back of his recently-announced Porsche Carrera Cup campaign with the RAM/GWR squad, Dylan O’Keeffe has been engaged by the team to drive at Australia’s pinnacle of production car racing.
Last year, Sheargold and Shannon, along with Brett Hobson, finished an impressive seventh overall and completed the same number of laps as the outright (Class X) winner, but Sheargold is expecting the competition to step up a notch in 2022.
“In last year’s race, we had a tyre failure early on that saw us dropping two laps, but thanks to some brilliant strategic decisions from the GWR team, we were able to not only get back onto the lead lap but fight our way right to the front of our class,” Sheargold said.
“However, the competition is going to be tougher this year – the field is larger, there are more cars in the fastest (X) class and there has also been an increase in the number of top-flight, professional drivers, so we won’t be able to afford any more mishaps.
“Its a real shame Brett was unavailable for the title defence but we are working on some other opportunities to drive together in the near future.
“Fortunately, we have Dylan O’Keeffe on board and he’s proven himself to be an exceptionally talented driver in all sorts of cars. He’s never actually raced a production car before but with his experience, it won’t take long for him to come up to speed.
“It’s great to welcome Ollie back to the team as well. Ollie is a very under-rated driver and his efforts last year were an integral part of our recovery effort; at one stage during his stint, he was right in front of the outright leaders but his times were fast enough to keep us on the lead lap.
“For myself, I’ll be looking to step up my involvement this year by driving multiple stints, which I feel well prepared for after my recent experience at Bathurst in the bigger AMG GT3 from our stable.”
O’Keeffe, who will be on double-duty over the 6 Hour weekend also competing in the TCR Australia Series, said he’s looking forward to racing a production car for the first time.
“The Mercedes will be different to anything I’ve raced before – it’s all-wheel-drive, and running treaded tyres, but it shouldn’t take me too long to adapt,” O’Keeffe said.
“I know Ollie is a good driver but I’m also excited to be working with Mike and helping him get the most out of the car – we haven’t known each other long, but we’re already getting on really well.”
Shannon is enthusiastic about his return to the RAM/GWR fold.
“Last year there were a lot of unknowns, but we still managed to achieve a great result,” Shannon said.
“I’m much more familiar with the car now, and I’ve also been spending plenty of time on the simulator to ensure I’m personally as well prepared as I can be.” The Bathurst 6 Hour will be held on the Easter long weekend, 15-17 April.