GOLD Coast motorsport identity Paul Morris has declared Anton De Pasquale the best talent he has seen as the 22-year-old firms to join the 2018 Supercars grid.
De Pasquale is widely expected to be signed by Erebus Motorsport to drive full-time alongside Bathurst 1000 champion David Reynolds next year, replacing Dale Wood.
Erebus on Friday confirmed perennial struggler Wood will leave the team at the end of the season, drawing more attention to rising star De Pasquale.
Having won the 2013 Australian Formula Ford championship, he headed to Europe with instant success in the form of a Formula Renault 1.6 title.
That led him to make the jump into the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 series but his 2015 campaign was cut short by financial shortfalls.
He returned Down Under with the desire to transition from open-wheel racing and contacted driver coach Morris to get him up to speed in a Supercar.
Half a day was all Morris needed to be convinced he should hire De Pasquale for his own second-tier Dunlop Series team.
“I said hey we have got to put this kid in our car. He is the best I’ve ever seen,” Morris told the Bulletin.
De Pasquale now splits his time between family in Melbourne and working with Morris on the Gold Coast and credits the 2014 Bathurst winner for maximising his potential.
“I guess I was pretty comfortable early on but to get the last bit out of the car and out of myself was a lot of work between myself and Paul,” he said.
“It is quite a unique car.”
Anton De Pasquale is odds-on to win a Supercars contract for 2018. Picture: Jerad Williams
In only his second season – four years is considered the standard development period for a driver in the Dunlop Series – he has already won two races and feels ready to make the next step.
“I have always dreamt of racing Supercars,” De Pasquale said.
“It’s one of those steps you have to take sooner or later if you want to make it. I think I’m ready.”
Since Reynolds joined Erebus in 2016, the renowned larrikin has made light work of his teammates.
Morris rates Reynolds highly but added De Pasquale could be the kind of young gun the team builds around long-term