German racer Maro Engel will become a full-time V8 Supercars driver after signing a multi-year deal to drive for the Erebus Motorsport AMG team.
The 27-year-old will pilot the team’s #9 SP Tools entry that was vacated by Shane van Gisbergen at the end of the 2012 season when the team was then known as Stone Brothers Racing.
Engel will partner incumbent drivers Tim Slade and Lee Holdsworth in the three-car outfit, which will field all-new Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs under the championship’s new ‘Car of the Future’ regulations.
Engel’s motorsport career began in Europe, where he finished as the runner-up in the British Formula 3 championship in 2007.
An offer from Mercedes-Benz to join its DTM programme the following year was too good to turn down, and he ploughed his trade with the carmaker for four years – always in older-spec machinery – and achieved a best race finish of sixth place.
In 2012, Engel concentrated on GT racing, piloting Erebus’ SLS AMG GT3 in a one-off appearance at Phillip Island, which he won.
After impressing the team, he was invited to participate in a V8 Supercars test in December, and that ultimately led to the job offer to join the category full-time.
“[The test] was a great experience. The car was really fun to drive; I had great feedback out on track and heightened my desire to be part of this category,” Engel said in today’s announcement.
“This year will be a steep learning curve for me, that’s for sure, but I’m really looking forward to learning from my team and team mates. I’m definitely coming over to be successful however I think we have to appreciate that this will take some time.”
“Maro has four years of experience as a Mercedes-Benz factory driver in the DTM series and has produced a number of standout performances including his win with Erebus Motorsport at Phillip Island last year,” Erebus Motorsport V8 CEO Ryan Maddison added.
“We believe that Maro’s desire to learn the V8 category, his professionalism and his motivation will strengthen our 2013 driver line-up which includes Lee Holdsworth and Tim Slade.”
Engel will be the second full-time European driver on the V8 Supercars grid. He joins fellow former DTM pilot Alexandre Prémat in the field, with the Frenchman entering his sophomore season with Garry Rogers Motorsport.