Racing Entitlements Contract holder James Rosenberg will switch allegiances in the V8 Supercars off-season, moving his license lease from Erebus Motorsport to Walkinshaw Racing.
The news means that the latter will become a four-car team, promoting promising youngster Nick Percat into its full-time race line-up for the 2014 season.
Erebus Motorsport, meanwhile, confirmed it would scale back its team from three AMG Mercedes entries to two ahead of its second full year of competition in the championship.
As we speculated earlier this week, Percat will drive for Walkinshaw Racing under the REC owned by Adelaide businessman James Rosenberg, who switched his lease to the Victorian team after a four-year stint with Erebus, and its previous owners, Stone Brothers Racing.
Rosenberg’s move follows that of his star driver Tim Slade, who confirmed earlier this year that he would take over Russell Ingall’s drive in the TWR-run SuperCheap Auto Racing Holden next year when the veteran driver retires.
“There’s a lot of personal satisfaction in helping young drivers – being part of Tim’s career has given me great pleasure and I look forward to more of the same with a talented driver in Nick Percat,” Rosenberg said.
Neither Walkinshaw Racing nor Rosenberg announced what sponsorship has been secured for Percat’s 2014 entry – Percat’s long-time backer, Coates Hire, would considered a likely candidate.
The youngster will make his solo championship debut at next weekend’s season-ending Sydney 500, driving #22 Walkinshaw Racing Holden in place of James Courtney, who is recovering from a fractured right leg sustained in a crash at the preceding round at Phillip Island.
The outing will serve as a great warm-up even ahead of his full-time appearance on the grid next year.
“To know that I will finally be on the V8 Supercars main series grid next year is a dream come true, something I’ve been working towards since I was five years old,” said Percat, who won the 2011 Bathurst 1000 with Garth Tander in the sister #2 Holden.
“The opportunity also couldn’t come at a better time as the trend at WR is encouraging – the cars are showing great speed, and some very talented, experienced and successful new staff are coming on board next year, who will only add strength to the organisation.”
The news, in turn, triggered confirmation from Erebus Motorsport that it would scale back to a two-car operation following the departure of the Rosenberg-owned REC.
The team inherited a three-car structure when it purchased long-time Ford team Stone Brothers Racing at the end of the 2012 season.
The loss of the Rosenberg-owned REC still leaves the team with its own two licenses, and the team confirmed it would not seek to replace it with another REC, or expand to a four-car set-up, as had previously been rumoured.
The move to scale back follows just over a year of unprecedented investment in the team by billionaire heiress and team owner Betty Klimenko, who bankrolled the team’s switch to Mercedes C63 AMG challengers in the space of a few short months.
Despite the investment, the cars have not proven to be consistently competitive, with a pair of top-five finishes being the outfit’s best results in a tough first season running its news cars.
“Whilst there are a number of REC options out there, it is Erebus’ intention to compete with two cars in the 2014 V8 Supercar Championship and we look forward to announcing all our plans for the V8, GT3 and V8 Ute programs in the near future,” Erebus Motorsport CEO Ryan Maddison said in a written statement.
With current driver Lee Holdsworth already under contract and with Will Davison set to join the team from Ford Performance Racing in the off-season, the news means that Maro Engel (pictured top) is without a full-time drive at the team.
The former British F3 champion and DTM racer has struggled for competitiveness in his first year of V8 Supercars competition, sitting last of the full-time drivers in the championship standings.