McElrea Racing’s Jimmy Vernon will compete in the remaining two rounds of the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia thanks to new sponsorship partnerships.
After taking part in the first three rounds of the season, Vernon was forced to retire from the series due to a lack of funding and sponsorship, but was handed a one round lifeline ahead of the Shannons Nationals at Queensland Raceway.
Following what he thought was his last appearance at the Shannons Nationals for the year, he was able to secure a new deal to continue competing in the series.
“I was lost for words to be honest,” Vernon said.
“It is really awesome because I’ve had a lot of people put money into me this year as both silent and sponsorship partners, so to be able to give them what they deserve in a full series feels really good.
“Pulling out of Queensland was really devastating and even when I got the some funding to get me on the grid in Ipswich, I still thought it was over after that round.
“I just couldn’t see how we could physically get the money get to go on.”
With the year spent trying to continually source funding to keep his season alive, Vernon believed that the pressure was affecting his driving on track as well as his stress levels off track.
However, now that he has been given the new opportunity to take part in both the Nationals at Winton and Sydney Motorsport Park, it’s a big load off the 21-year-old’s back.
“Gaining the funds for the rest of the season really takes the pressure off me now,” Vernon explained.
“Every single round I have gone into this year, there has been that doubt of whether I can continue or not and it plays on your mind as a driver.
“It affected my driving in a sense that I was trying to overdrive and overcompensate to get better results than what we actually deserved, which plays a part in going into the mindset of your weekend.
“Now that I have the reassurance that I will be competing until the end of the season, I’ll be more comfortable and relaxed than I have been all season.
“It‘s been a challenging year where I have had to grow up and mature a lot more than I was.”
Despite being only able to finish the Phillip Island round on the podium and the outright championship out of reach, Vernon still remains a mathematical chance to break into the top three by the end of the season.
Sitting in fourth spot just 60 points behind Max Vidau, Vernon has impressed in his first year part of the series which is also acted as a learning year for him.
Fittingly, the Sydney based driver’s season resurrection will take place at Winton, with the Victorian track the same track where he made his racing debut seven years ago.
“I have been to Winton a couple of times including the first year of the CAMS PAYCE Australian F4 Championship,” Vernon added.
“This track has been both good and bad to me in the sense that I did my first ever race meeting there when I was 14, but broke my neck and my back there two years later.
“I have a lot of respect for this track because it basically was a turning point for my career.”
The two new sponsors to come on board with Vernon are Bold Living and The Triffid Bar and Venue, while Platinum Club Broadbeach, Bondi Carpet, Commercial Inferior Projects and re-signed for the two final rounds.
The Shannons Nationals at Winton Motor Raceway will take place on 1 -2 September with live coverage of Sunday’s sessions available live and free at motorsportaustraliachampionships.com.au.
An extensive library of races from 2018 is also available on-demand on the TV tab of motorsportaustraliachampionships.com.au.