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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Paul Stokell to co-drive with Renee Gracie in GT World Challenge

Three-time Australian Drivers’ Champion Paul Stokell will co-drive with Renee Gracie in GTs this year. Image: Supplied

They will contest the Pro-Am Class in the OnlyFans Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo 2, a step up for both from last season. OnlyFans has supported Gracie since her return to motorsport last year and will continue again as she makes her progression to the top class.

She wrapped up the GT Trophy title with a round to spare and took on the Adelaide finale in the latest specification Audi to gain experience. Classified as a Silver required Gracie to enter Pro-Am with an Am driver.

“Once I knew I was going to be a Silver, my biggest concern was who would want to drive alongside me,” Gracie pondered.

“I did have a few people reach out, but for me the best thing Paul has, is he has plenty of driver training and education side behind him. I can really lean on him for his experience and how fast he is, while teaching and coaching me in these cars.

“I feel like it’s a great pairing and will accelerate my learning in the early stages of my GT career.”

A three-time winner of the Australian Drivers’ Championship, Stokell has had recent success in the Am Class where he teamed with Gary Higgon to secure the title in 2022. Then he partnered with Matt Stoupas to finish second last year.

Stokell also has two Australian Nations Cup titles, the Mini Challenge and national tarmac championships among his other achievements.

“When I heard Renee was searching for an Am driver, I thought there was an opportunity,” Stokell explained with Higgon and Stoupas not competing.

“When she raced in the newer specification Audi in Adelaide she showed a good turn of speed. We’ve known each other for years, working together on driver training and drive days, plus I’ve seen the improvement last year, so we’ll work together to continue this in Pro-Am.

“Renee conducts herself professionally and is really keen to improve, so I think ultimately our goal is to win races and I think we can if we play our cards right. She’s returned to the track in a level headed fashion, she hasn’t set the world on fire and improved gradually every time she’s been on track to end last season strong.

“I missed out on driving for a few years when I was setting up my business in Queensland, but I’ve never lost the feel or the love for it, it’s always been my passion.”

Not only will Gracie have a series winning co-driver, but her engineer for 2024 is Ryan Millier who is a race mechanic, driver and engineer. Millier is one of the most knowledgeable team personnel in the category as his experience guided Liam Talbot to last year’s title.

Gracie and Stokell will team for the first time for the opening round at Phillip Island in April 12-14.

Renee Gracie will have Paul Stokell as co-driver in the OnlyFans Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo 2. Image: Suppled

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