Andy Priaulx is targeting a factory Holden drive at this year's Bathurst 1000 after being confirmed as part of Walkinshaw Racing's lineup for the two V8 Supercar endurance races later this year.
The works Holden Racing Team is run out of Walkinshaw's workshop along with two other cars. While the team has not yet decided how its drivers will pair up, early speculation suggests that Priaulx will join Craig Baird in the second of the HRT cars, with the squad's regular drivers Garth Tander and Will Davison sharing the lead car.
Walkinshaw Racing CEO Craig Wilson told Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun
that Priaulx figured heavily in the team's plans.
"You go to Bathurst to win," he said. "This gives us the flexibility to ensure we have the right pairings. Andy is right up there. We need to win Bathurst and we cannot afford to go there with only one option."
Triple world touring car champion Priaulx has competed at Bathurst twice before, but the deal with Walkinshaw could represent his first opportunity in a potential race-winner.
"I don't know whether I'm in the HRT car or the other team, so I'll just have to wait to find out," Priaulx told AUTOSPORT. "So I don't know who I will be driving with, either - I think they've got to let the championship unfold a bit before they decide who is going to be in what.
"I must admit, I would like to be in a HRT car, and I think there's a possibility of that. I don't want to go there and just drive a car around. I want to go there and have a chance to do as well as I can."
Priaulx will be joined by fellow enduro signings Baird, Steve Owen and Shane Price at Walkinshaw for the Phillip Island 500 and Bathurst, with the four Commodores to be split between the two HRT entries, the Team Autobarn car of regular driver Paul Dumbrell, and the Bundaberg Red car of rookie David Reynolds.
While Priaulx is excited by the prospect of getting back into a V8 Supercar for the first time since 2003, he admits that the lack of seat time could be a concern. The severe testing limits in the championship, coupled with Priaulx's already crowded schedule, means that he is unlikely to get any seat time prior to the Phillip Island race in September.
"I am really chuffed about the enduros because I have always liked them, and I must thank BMW for letting me do them as a one-off," he said. "But there's not a lot of opportunity for testing, which is a shame. It is a concern. I would love to try to do something with the passenger ride car, but I've got to fly to the other side of the world and I've got a really busy year, so I don't know whether it will be possible to do that.
"I'd like to try to get a result at Phillip Island, but that's going to be more about getting used to the car. I hope I can get up to speed really quickly – I generally can in new cars – but getting that last little bit is all about time in the seat, and that's the area where I have to work on it."