Stone Brothers Racing driver Lee Holdsworth has angrily rejected unsubstantiated reports in today’s Australian press which claim that he is seeking to exit the team, which will switch to AMG Mercedes cars ahead of the 2013 V8 Supercars season.
According to the reports in today’s newspapers, two of the team’s three drivers – Holdsworth and Shane van Gisbergen – were set to exercise exit clauses in their multi-year contracts with the team to jump ship to rival outfits.
The team recently announced that it would merge with Erebus Racing during the off-season. The announcement will lead to the outfit splitting with long-term partner Ford and taking on Mercedes’ E-Class chassis’ and engines as the German carmaker – albeit in an unofficial capacity – becomes the second new manufacturer to join the championship.
Erebus Racing, owned by millionaire tycoon Betty Klimenko, currently races in the Australian GT Championship.
Holdsworth, who drives SBR’s #4 IRWIN Tools-sponsored entry, was furious at the reports, which he believes could damage relationships with the team’s sponsors and staff.
“It’s disappointing for this to come out,” he told the Speed Café website.
“I can honestly say that I’m really excited about next year, switching from Ford to AMG and having Betty and Erebus on board. She is investing a lot in the team, and there’s a lot of really exciting things on the go.
“It’s disappointing for everyone, all our sponsors, the boys at the work shop, and especially [team owners] Ross, Jimmy (Stone) and Betty. This is the last thing they want to hear, and I just want to clear up that I’ll be with SBR/Erebus in an AMG next year.”
The team has had a competitive 2012 championship season, a year dominated by the Triple 8 Engineering and Ford Performance Racing teams.
Between them, drivers Holdsworth, van Gisbergen and Tim Slade have netted six podium, with the main highlight being wins for van Gisbergen and co-driver Luke Youlden in the warm-up sprint ‘qualifying’ races that determined the starting grid for the Sandown 500. All three lead drivers are currently placed in the top-eight in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
Van Gisbergen – who has had a longstanding relationship with Ford since he made his V8s debut in 2007 – could not be reached for comment.
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