Vernon steps up

Reigning Toyota 86 Series winner Jimmy Vernon has joined the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia Series, signing with McElrea Racing.

Motivated by former graduates of McElrea Racing, Matt Campbell and Jaxon Evans, the 20-year-old will look to follow the same path with the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car driven by both drivers.

Vernon, a 2015 CAMS Jayco Australian Formula 4 Championship graduate, will make his debut in the Series at The Bend Motorsport Park in the first Shannons Nationals event of 2018.

Both Campbell and Evans are quite the role-models, with the former winning the 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Championship and the latter managing to secure to round victories in 2017.

Both drivers graduated to the Carrera Cup after beginning their Porsche careers in the GT3 Cup Challenge for McElrea Racing, and Vernon is looking to replicate their success after a successful 2017 which saw him claim the Toyota 86 Series title.

“After a successful season last year, we sat down and did research on all the pathways in the sport we could think of – and it was the Porsche pathway that spoke to me the most,” Vernon said.

“It has been proven to get drivers not only to the point of succeeding in Supercars, but kick-started overseas careers as well. It was at that point I started speaking to Andy (McElrea) because I saw them as a proven team that had already helped guys like Matt and Jaxon.

“They’re switched on and the one day I have had in the car was fantastic – they’re a team with so much experience that any question you have, they have an answer for.

“It has been great to put this together with the backing of an awesome support crew behind me and people who are helping me out for the year. We’re still searching for people to jump on board and get involved but the support has already been fantastic.”

Team owner Andy McElrea was thrilled to bring on Vernon hoping he would build on their experience with the already successful ‘Porsche Motorsport Pyramid’.

“We’re looking forward to working with Jimmy this year in the Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge,” McElrea said.

“In Matt and now Jaxon we have shown a solid three-year program of progression through GT3 Cup Challenge and into Carrera Cup and we are following that same model with Jimmy.

“He comes to us with a strong level of experience for someone his age, so we’re looking forward to building on that as he starts his Porsche career and working with him to develop him into a Carrera Cup champion.”

Through the program, Campbell became a Porsche Young Professional driver, competing in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship while Evans is leading the current Australian Carrera Cup series.

The Porsche Michelin GT3 Cup Challenge Australia will open its season as one of the first categories to race at the venue as part of the Shannons Nationals event at The Bend Motorsport Park in South Australia on 13-15 April.