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The Team Penske link is gone. Three-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin is now an IndyCar Series driver. Fabian Coulthard has moved to Team Sydney. But a winning mentality, high expectations, key team personnel and the continued support of Shell V-Power remain at what is now once again Dick Johnson Racing.
Rising star Anton De Pasquale and the highly-regarded Will Davison headline the Dick Johnson Racing changes in an all-new driving pairing, as part of a restructured team for the Stapylton squad. McLaughlin’s race engineer Ludo Lacroix will now work with De Pasquale, while Richard Harris will step up to race engineer Davison. Ben Croke takes on the team principal role with Ryan Story the chairman, CEO and part-owner, alongside Dick Johnson.
Former Erebus Motorsport driver De Pasquale is full of praise for the achievements of McLaughlin in recent seasons, as he settles in with his new Queensland-based team.
“In terms of filling his shoes, he’s made very big shoes and has done amazing things” says De Pasquale.
“So I don’t think anyone can naturally replace him. I’m not looking to replace him as such; I’ve got my own shoes to make and my own thing to do. And, if I can emulate anything he has done within the category, I’ll be very happy.
“There’s a lot of hard work to do. Being with the team he has been part of, you can obviously see how the success has come. I’m looking forward to learning that and getting the most out of it.
“I’m super excited. Getting a chance to step into a team that has won the last few championships is obviously something most drivers in the field would want. I’m one of the lucky two.
“I’ve had a good few years with Erebus and really enjoyed my time there. I’m thankful to them for giving me that chance in the main game. I’ve gone up and down, a few podiums, had that first win, and so now is my turn to step up into that top-line team and step up myself and try and get some good results on the board.”
The 25-year-old says he was lucky to do his main game learning at a competitive team, which saw him qualify third for his first Bathurst 1000, build up to his first win in Darwin last year and finish an impressive eighth in the championship in his final year with Erebus Motorsport.
“I was pretty fortunate to get into a team that was on the rise at the time in my first year” he says.
“Dave [Reynolds] was obviously winning a couple of races here and there, so I was able to be a part of that and grow into that.
“Obviously, they have heaps of changes now and they are probably in a bit of a rebuild stage with everything going on. So it probably worked out as a pretty good time for me to move up and get an opportunity. I’m fortunate enough to get an opportunity in one of the best teams.”
While De Pasquale steps into a championship-winning team for his fourth full-time season, he will benefit from being joined by another experienced teammate in Davison.
“This is a big team sport now; you need both cars fighting the top guys and working together to get the most out of it because it is so close and competitive” says De Pasquale.
“I’ve been fortunate enough so far in my career to have good teammates. I had Dave as a rookie and that was a big learning curve, having a top-line driver straight away to compare to. It kind of sped up my process.
“Now, being with Will, another really experienced race winner, it’s awesome. You always want a bit of everything. I get along with Will really well, so I’m looking forward to learning things off him and working together. Hopefully we can both push each other up the ranks and get some good results.”
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