V8 Supercars organisers have announced that British driver Darren Turner will be competing in this weekend's Gold Coast 600 event in the #1 Toll Holden Racing Team Commodore.
That's the seat that should have been taken by Dan Wheldon, before the tragic events of the weekend in which the Indianapolis 500 winner lost his life. Wheldon was said to be excited about his début in the Gold Coast event and the prospect of racing alongside his good friend James Courtney.
37-year-old Turner is a current FIA GT competitor and former McLaren F1 test driver, as well as a two-time GT1 class winner in the Le Mans 24 Hour race with David Brabham in the Aston Martin in 2007 and 2008. He has also raced in the BTCC and DTM series.
Organisers went on to to confirm that replacements have also been arranged for Will Power and Tony Kanaan, who withdrew from the V8 event after the crash in Las Vegas. Will Power suffered some neck and back trauma in the accident, while Kanaan was one of Wheldon's closest friends in the motor racing world and V8 organisers said that they "fully support his decision" in the circumstances.
Kanaan is to be replaced in Jason Bargwanna's Jana Living/BJR Commodore by Denmark's Allan Simonsen - who recently placed third in the Bathurst 1000 with Greg Murphy. Northern Ireland's Richard Lyons fills in for Power in Mark Winterbottom's Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon.
Three other drivers from Sunday's ill-fated IndyCar race - Ryan Briscoe, Alex Tagliani and Helio Castroneves - have all decided to continue to compete in the Gold Coast this weekend.
"Ryan Briscoe said it would be best to come here and race in honour of Dan," V8 Supercars chairman Tony Cochrane said on Tuesday. "We want to run a good event on the weekend as a true testament to a true champion in Dan Wheldon."
"People deal with things differently," pointed out five-time V8 series champion Mark Skaife. "There is not a driver who does it for a living not affected," he said, adding that he had never seen such a big accident as Sunday's in 25 years of motor racing. "However, there are a lot of friends of Dan's who have chosen to drive again ... To get back in the car and race is probably what Dan would have wanted."
"It was a very sad situation for everyone after Dan's death yesterday," said V8 Supercars acting CEO Shane Howard. "Obviously we were looking forward to having Dan, Will and Tony with us, but our thoughts are with them and their families at this time.