It is Darren Turner’s sad duty to take Dan Wheldon’s place in the race. This from the event organisers:
Englishman Darren Turner to replace Dan Wheldon
The field for this weekend’s Armor All Gold Coast 600 has been finalised with the signing of English driver Darren Turner as a replacement for Dan Wheldon in the #1 Toll Holden Racing Team Commodore.
Wheldon was tragically killed in the final round of the IndyCar Series in Las Vegas on Monday morning in a 15-car accident and Turner will now fill the co-driver’s seat beside current V8 Supercars champion James Courtney.
Turner, 37, is a current FIA GT driver and a former F1 test driver for McLaren and is currently on a plane to Australia from the UK.
Australian Will Power also injured his back in the Las Vegas crash and has been replaced in Mark Winterbottom’s Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon by Northern Ireland’s Richard Lyons.
Brazilian Tony Kanaan has decided not to make the trip to Australia after the accident and will be replaced in Jason Bargwanna’s Jana Living/BJR Commodore by Danish driver Allan Simonsen, who is fresh from a recent podium at Bathurst.
The other three drivers who were involved in the Las Vegas race – Ryan Briscoe (#2 Toll HRT Commodore with Garth Tander); Alex Tagliani (#16 Stratco/Kelly Racing Commodore with David Reynolds) and Helio Castroneves (#47 Lucky Seven/SBR Falcon with Tim Slade) have all been confirmed as making the trip to the Gold Coast.
All 28 drivers are expected to be at Queensland Raceway near Ipswich tomorrow for a co-driver test day.
Turner is a former British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) Young Driver of the Year winner and is a two-time GT1 class winner in the Le Mans 24 Hour – taking victory with Australian, David Brabham for Aston Martin in 2007 and 2008.
More recently, he has been competing in the FIA GT1 World Championship for the Aston Martin Racing team – winning the most recent round held in China to take second spot in the championship.
It will be with a heavy heart that Turner joins the V8 Supercars fraternity after the loss of his fellow countryman.
V8 Supercars acting CEO, Shane Howard, said the reaction from the motorsport community internationally after yesterday’s tragedy had been remarkable.
“It was a very sad situation for everyone after Dan’s death yesterday,” said Howard.
“The offers of support from all levels of the international motorsport community have been amazing and really makes you proud to be a part of this business.
“Obviously we were looking forward to having Dan (Wheldon), Will (Power) and Tony (Kanaan) with us, but our thoughts are with them and their families at this time.
“We are grateful that Richard (Lyons), Allan (Simonsen) and Darren (Turner) could make themselves available at such short notice and we look forward to having them here.
“We also appreciate what Ryan (Briscoe), Alex (Tagliani) and Helio (Castroneves) have been through in the last couple of days and will ensure they are accommodated with what they need over the next week.
“We are looking forward to paying tribute to Dan with a terrific event – one he was very much looking forward to being a part of.”
The field now includes eight drivers with Formula 1 race experience and current Formula 1 driver Tonio Liuzzi, five times Le Mans Champion Emanuele Pirro and former Indianapolis 500 Champions in Castroneves and Gil de Ferran.