Rowan Shepherd is set to tackle the upcoming South Island Endurance Series in one of some 12 TCR cars in New Zealand, but admits he will likely have to sacrifice his international campaigns as the global pandemic has forced the kiwi to be sat grounded at home.
The 28-year-old contested in last year’s European TCR 24 Hour series season-finale at Barcelona and the inaugural TCR 500 event from Spa-Francorchamps.
2020 was set to have Shepherd return to Europe with Danish outfit Holmgaard Motorsport in the new Volkswagen Golf GTI to run the entire 24 Hour series.
However, the global pandemic has since kept the Canterbury-based racer at home despite the series already underway.
“The TCR endurance series is still going ahead,” Shepherd told Velocity News. “But obviously we have missed rounds in Portugal and Italy.
“We are still tossing up whether to go to Barcelona. But we are now waiting to see as it is not just a matter of going over there and racing. With the two weeks lockdown when coming home and because I still have my day job there is also that cost element to consider.”
Nonetheless, Shepherd remains firm in his intentions and says there is now the strong chance of him competing in the full South Island Endurance Series in a yet-to-be-confirmed TCR with an opportunity to potentially also contest the North Island series.
2019 saw Shepherd secure a SIERDC drive at the season-finale in Ruapuna with Track Tec Racing in an Audi RS TCR where he snared fourth in class after suffering suspension dramas in the race’s early stages.
But with his overseas plans now on the back burner, Shepherd will finally have the opportunity to contest a fully-fledged South Island campaign.
“We are exploring options to contest the South Island Endurance Series in a TCR car and we are finalising details with a team to run that.
“I did think about jumping in a [non-TCR] car but it just didn’t make any sense. I want to drive a TCR car and keep my skills up. But an announcement for the series could be about a week to two weeks away.
“The North Island series would also be really cool but obviously there is that added cost that needs to be considered. But the South Island Series looks very likely to go ahead.”
Shepherd is also one of four kiwi TCR drivers to be a part of the inaugural TCR Australia sim-racing championship which kicked off its opening round around a virtual Albert Park last week.
Using the popular Assetto Corsa software, Shepherd says the sim platform is the most realistic driving experience to a real TCR though nothing can match the real thing.
“I’ve found the Asseto Corsa software the series uses to be the most realistic sim to the real drive,” he said. “I found the iRacing TCR car was just too ‘understeery’.
“I’ve also only got a $500 sim so it is not the best piece of equipment out there, but it is a lot of fun racing against some top guys.
“I am committed with Track Tec Racing to run all of the rounds so hopefully we can pick up some good results.”
Kiwi rally ace Hayden Paddon has also hinted his interest to contest the South Island Endurance Series as a co-driver in his own Hyundai TCR machine though nothing concrete had been confirmed. It is expected that several other South Island based TCR car’s, will also compete in the upcoming SIERDC Series.
The opening round of the 2020 South Island Endurance Series will be at Teretonga Park on September 12.
2020 SIERDC calendar:
|1||Teretonga Park||Sept 12|
|2||Mike Pero Motorsport Park||Oct 3|
|3||Levels Raceway||Oct 17|
Main Image: Tayler Burke