O’Keeffe set for AEC return with BMW Team SRM in NZ

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Dylan O’Keeffe will join BMW Team SRM for the final two rounds of the Australian Endurance Championship in New Zealand.

The Porsche Carrera Cup Australia ace will race alongside Steven Richards in Team SRM’s M6 GT3 for the Hampton Downs 500 on October 27-29 and the Highlands 501 from November 10-12.

O’Keeffe will replace James Bergmuller who has partnered Richards for the previous two AEC rounds at Phillip Island and Sydney Motorsport Park, but is unable to attend the New Zealand rounds due to business commitments.

An impressive 2017 campaign sees the Melbourne based driver hold fifth in the Carrera Cup Australia standings, taking a trip to Europe last month to participate in the International Carrera Cup Shootout, as a result of his performances this season.

O’Keefe, who runs out of the SRM stable in Carrera Cup, is eagerly anticipating an opportunity to shine in GT3 machinery.

“I’d just got back from doing some driving in Germany, and that day Steve called me and asked me to do a seat fitting for the BMW,” said O’Keeffe.

“I was caught a bit off guard, but I’m really excited. It’s a great way to finish a busy year.

“Richo has been a mentor of mine for the last three years, so it’s pretty cool to actually race alongside him.

“I’ve been watching the BMW M6 GT3 being prepared on the other side of the workshop all year, and I’ve always joked with Richo and asked him when he’s going to give me a drive.

“So it’s incredible to finally put something together and turn it into a reality.”

The 19-year old has already participated in a test day aboard the car to assist his preparations for the upcoming races.

“It was a day of learning, figuring out how to adjust my driving technique to work with the car,” he said.

“I felt really comfortable by the end of the test, and I think the pace was good.

“But by the end of the day I felt great, the pace was good, and I think I gave the right feedback.

“We should be in good stead heading to New Zealand. Hopefully we can be in the mix for the podium.”

The New Zealand rounds with SRM will not be O’Keeffe’s first outing in GT3 machinery, having raced an Audi for the Sydney Motorsport Park 501 in August with co-driver Daniel Gaunt.

Richards feels his new ‘young gun’ recruit will mould into the new role without an issue.

“Unfortunately James has got some business commitments that he can’t miss, but fortunately it also means that there is an opportunity for someone like Dylan,” said Richards.

“Based on his results and the fact that he’s effectively part of our set-up as well, it made perfect sense. We tested him in the car and he went really well.

“He raced a different GT car at the Sydney Motorsport Park round and he did a great job.

“It’s not like we’re going into these rounds with an unknown quantity. I was very impressed with the way he handled himself in Sydney.

“He has a vision of driving GT cars and doing long-distance racing, so we’re providing a platform for him to do exactly that.

“It’s also a great was for us to evaluate him for things that we’re doing moving forward.”