Stephen Grove will enter this month’s Porsche Pro-Am round as one of the outright favourites after securing Supercars Championship ace Tim Slade for the two-driver event.
Slade is no stranger to Carrera Cup racing having partnered Adrian Mastronardo for the past two Porsche Pro-Am events.
Slade replaces Scott McLaughlin in the #4 Porsche, the Kiwi’s commitments with DJR Team Penske keeping him out of his regular Carrera Cup seat this year.
Grove and McLaughlin proved to be one of the most effective Pro-Am combinations at the flowing 4.46km circuit in Victoria, their four races together at the venue netting finishes of third, second, second and sixth respectively.
Grove, the 2014 TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge class champion, scored his maiden outright Carrera Cup round victory alongside his old co-driver at the venue in 2014.
Slade said he was keen to continue Grove’s strong form in the unique pair of one-hour, two-driver races.
“It’s always great any time you get the chance to jump in a Porsche Carrera Cup car. The cars are sensational to drive, especially at Phillip Island, on a really good tyre and the result is that the racing is always very competitive,” Slade said.
“The Pro-Am events are always really enjoyable so I’m happy to be jumping in alongside Steve at Phillip Island. Adrian [Mastronardo] and I have had a great time the last few years and we’ve always been quick, so hopefully that can continue.
“Grove Racing has a really strong record at these events and hopefully we can continue that this year. There are a lot of points up for grabs so it’s an important weekend for the Challenge championship, so we’ll be working hard to get two strong results and a good points haul for Steve.”
Grove, who stands on a seven-race winning streak in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge heading into the third round of the season, will enter the Pro-Am ready to go thanks to a trip to Belgium to race earlier this month.
Grove tackled the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit during a joint round of Porsche Carrera Cup France/Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux, finishing 9th in class in the second race.
“I’m really looking forward to the Pro-Am this year; you have twice the number of drivers so there are a whole lot of people to compete with. It’s also a great learning experience, so I can’t wait,” Grove said.
“Racing at Spa recently was great preparation for the Pro-Am; both Phillip Island and Spa are fast, free-flowing race tracks.
“The Pro-Am will be the only occasion this year, outside the joint Challenge race at Sepang, that I can get an outright win. I’ve had the pleasure to start from the front row at Phillip Island before, which is incredible because you don’t usually get that opportunity. Let’s hope we can be at the front again this year and hopefully compete for another outright Pro-Am win.”
Grove Racing will enter two cars at the Phillip Island Shannons Nationals event, with Stephen’s son Brenton to tackle the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia round to be held on the same weekend.
The 2017 Porsche Pro-Am event doubles as the third round of Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, the series returning to the Shannons Nationals program to stage the pair of one-hour races across the 26-28 May.