Drew Ridge will join the Performax TA2 Muscle Car Series for the final round of the championship this weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park, partnering with experienced Central Coast rally driver and team manager Ron Cremen in a newly-launched TA2 arrive-and-drive race team.
The 19-year old will team up with the former Citroen Rally Australia Team Principal and Abu Dhabi Racing manager in the #3 ikon Signs Ford Mustang prepared by Cremen’s Racehire outfit, with plans to race the full season in 2019.
The Central Coast racer is a former junior national karting champion, and took a breakthrough victory at the Formula BMW Asia Cup Super Six event at Sepang in 2015. Ridge progressed to do three events in the inaugural Australian Formula 4 Championship that year, before stepping up to the Toyota 86 Racing Series in 2016.
Ridge moved to Europe to compete in the one-make Audi TT Cup Series last year supporting the DTM, before university commitments have seen him return to Australia with the aim to build a racing career close to home.
The 2018 season to date has seen him place third in the invitational class alongside Zane Goddard and Rob Thomson at the Bathurst 12 Hour with MARC Cars Australia, and raced a MARC-prepared BMW M1 alongside Brad Woods in the Australian Production Car Series at Sandown.
Ridge took part in a shakedown of Cremen’s Mustang at Queensland Raceway last month.
“We were up at Queensland Raceway to shake down Ron [Cremen]’s new car and to get a feel for the series. We decided together after that to do the final round of this year’s championship and look into doing the full season next year,” said Ridge.
“The car itself has a lot of mechanical grip, being a Hoosier rag tyre it likes to slide around on top of the surface but it’s still pretty stable.
“It naturally has a lot of oversteer but at the same time it’s very controllable. It’s a weird sensation to get used to because it’s not as sharp and pointy, not as direct as some of the other cars i’ve driven especially coming from the front-wheel drive Audi TT last year.”
Ridge is using the final round of the season as an introduction to the car and the series, with the aim to commit to a full season in 2019.
“The main reason for doing this last round is to get an understanding of what the championship offers and it’s a series that’s growing very quickly so it’s really exciting to be a part of it.”
“I’ve raced Aaron [Seton] since Go Karts and we’ve had similar career paths up until now.
“It’s going to be a great challenge, he [Seton]’s had far more experience than me in these cars and he’s the benchmark in the series so the goal is to be competitive and learn off him as quick as I can and hopefully challenge for race wins.”
For Cremen this marks a transition from rally to circuit racing and the launch of Racehire, an arrive-and-drive program for the TA2 Muscle Car Series.
“It’s a big step into the unknown after all the years spent in rallying to now come to circuit racing, but it’s a task we’re really looking forward to in a very exciting category,” said Cremen.
“I’ve spent the last decade overseas running junior rally programs for the Abu Dhabi government. There’s been a wide variety of drivers that i’ve worked with in the training process and it’s really nice to work with another young guy in Drew Ridge, i’m really looking forward to that prospect.”
“Realistically it’s great to have a driver in one car for the whole season, but i’ll work with the TA2 Muscle Car Series to promote the opportunity for other drivers to come and experience it, for a full season, a one-off race or a test day.”
Ridge joins a host of new cars and drivers with a record grid set for the series finale, with further details including a full entry list to be revealed on Wednesday.
Lighthouse Electrical Chevrolet Camaro driver Ashley Jarvis holds a 17-point lead in the Performax Cup standings from the RoadBees Transport Mustang of Russell Wright, with the McAlister Motors/Performax Mustang of Hugh McAlister a further 19 points adrift with one round remaining.
The final round of the Performax TA2 Muscle Car Series will be held at Sydney Motorsport Park on October 26-28, featuring at the penultimate event of the Australian Motor Racing Series.