Lee Holdsworth has announced a shock split with Erebus Motorsport, backtracking on a decision made just a few months prior to re-sign a new deal with the Queensland-based outfit.
The 31-year-old – who claimed the team’s maiden race win earlier in the year at Winton Raceway – has confirmed he will join the Ford satellite team, Charlie Schwerkolt Racing, replacing the struggling Jack Perkins.
While his second season in Erebus’ AMG E63 Mercedes’ has delivered rather more success for Holdsworth, he has continued to endure the brunt of the team’s bad luck and suffered a number of retirements not of his own making.
Despite that, both driver and team had achieved a verbal agreement to remain together in August, but have been unable to finalise detailed terms of the contract extension – it is understood that Holdsworth never signed the final contract presented to him.
“Lee has been a significant part of the Erebus Motorsport team since day one and our intent was for him to remain with us for next year and beyond,” Erebus CEO Ryan Maddison said, in a statement announcing the split.
“Unfortunately we haven’t been able to come to a formal agreement and it’s now reached a stage where both parties need to look at their respective further options for next year. It has been a difficult situation but the reality is that Lee needs to do what he feels is best for he and his family and we need to do the best thing for the long-term future and sustainability of Erebus Motorsport. Unfortunately those two things weren’t able to align on this occasion and so we have decided to go our separate ways.”
Erebus’ loss proved to be CSR’s gain, with the one-car outfit – which runs as a sister team of the works Ford Performance Racing stable – announcing it had signed a multi-year deal with the Melbourne-born driver.
“Lee has always been seen as one of the top drivers in the V8 Supercars field and his consistency and attitude has always impressed me,” team owner Charlie Schwerkolt said.
“Lee is one of those guys that you know, given the right equipment and the right environment, will be at front of the pack. I’m incredibly excited to have been able to secure his services, and I know that we’ll be able to do great things together.”
The shuffling is bad news for Jack Perkins, whose comeback to full-time driving in the V8 Supercars Championship has been more whimper than bang. The second-generation racer – son of former touring car ace and ex-F1 driver Larry Parkins – has struggled all season long, claiming a solitary top-ten finish all season to-date.
Image via Christian Hartung