Long-time V8 Supercar team Stone Brothers Racing will merge with Erebus Motorsport to run three AMG E Class V8 Supercars in the V8 Supercars Championship from 2013.
The agreement, which has been almost a year in the making since its initial concept in early 2011, is a reality with the newly formed team operating under a Customer Sports Program of AMG.
The announcement was made in Melbourne today by Stone Brothers Racing owner Ross Stone (pictured), Erebus Motorsport owner Betty Klimenko, Erebus Motorsport CEO Ryan Maddison and V8 Supercar Chairman Tony Cochrane.
Erebus Motorsport has been dominant in the Australian GT category with Mercedes-AMG’s SLS AMG GT3 racecar.
Stone Brothers Racing this morning announced it will be ending its partnership with Ford after a relationship that began when the team was first formed in 1998 and won three V8 Supercar Championships with Marcos Ambrose and Russell Ingall.
The amicable split paved the way for the Erebus merger.
“Since SBR’s inception in 1998 Ford has backed the team and together we have enjoyed many successes including three Championship wins - two with Marcos Ambrose in 2003 and 2004, and again with Russell Ingall in 2005. We also won Bathurst with Jason Bright and Steven Richards in 1998,” said Ross Stone.
“Leaving Ford was not an easy thing to do, but as car markets change here in Australia I felt the time was right for a new challenge and with Ford’s mutual agreement we have decided to part ways.
“We will be racing a Ford Falcon for the last time at Olympic Park in December and will see out our contract which ends this year.
“I’d like to thank Ford and all our supporters for their backing and we now look forward to entering a new era of racing with Erebus Motorsport.”
Erebus Motorsport is fronted by Maddison, who has a long association with the AMG brand and V8 Supercars. Maddison and Klimenko see great opportunities with the marque in the sport.
“There has been much speculation over what Erebus Motorsport, AMG and Mercedes-Benz were doing in relation to the Car of the Future - and we haven’t been in a position to say anything about this until right now,” said Erebus Motorsport CEO, Ryan Maddison.
“Our entry into V8 Supercars is an entirely Erebus Motorsport-funded initiative as a private race team that is accessing the Customer Sports program of AMG.
“There is a lot of work required between now and the first event next year; by no means will it be an easy road with V8 Supercars being such a highly competitive environment.
“We do not underestimate the task ahead as a new team in V8 Supercars, but we have the expertise and experience of SBR which is considered to be one of the best teams in V8 Supercars. They are a professional outfit and know how to win races and championships; we see a perfect fit for Erebus Motorsport.
"We have been assessing our options for access over an extended period, as the category is so competitive it has been a move with very specific requirements on our behalf. SBR have for a long time been a strong and consistent performing team with their engineering also being a benchmark in the categories evolution and parity based success.
“I have absolutely no doubt that the hard work that everyone here, in Germany and at SBR have put into this so far will be rewarding. The entire Erebus Motorsport team is proud that today we can make this announcement.”
The Erebus Motorsport-SBR alliance was made possible under the Car of the Future program. The three entries will run five-litre engines with the AMG bodywork over the COTF chassis that is almost complete at SBR headquarters and due to be tested as a Ford in the coming weeks.
SBR will continue its testing program with Ford until the completion of their contract at the end of the year.
There has already been significant work on engine development and a team of engineers has been tasked with the project of developing a V8 Supercar specification five-litre engine and the bodywork of the 2013 cars.
The very first engine was unveiled at today’s announcement.
With most V8 Supercar teams either already on track or about to be on track with the 2013 Car of the Future models, V8 Supercars Chairman Tony Cochrane said the sport was never in better shape to maintain its high growth curves domestically and internationally.
The Car of the Future program aims to cut running costs and encourage other marques to compete, in turn broadening fan and sponsor appeal. The sport intends to grow to 18 events worldwide across 40 weeks in the coming years.
“Having Erebus Motorsport combined with SBR on the grid says much for the evolution of V8 Supercars to an internationally recognised brand,” Cochrane said.
“With the customer sports support of AMG, the marque joins another worldwide giant in Nissan in our championship under the Erebus Motorsport and SBR partnership, further demonstrating that our sport is truly on the international stage.
“We are an extremely popular sport worldwide and arguably one of the most respected motorsport categories internationally. This is largely due to our professionalism, safety first approach, fantastic events, technological prowess, spectacular racing and our hugely respected teams and drivers.”
The three-year Car of the Future project, led by Mark Skaife and a key team of engineers, designers, car builders, V8 Supercar team personnel and drivers, was completed at the end of last year with 2013-spec Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon fully tested and on the showroom floor.
The cars, developed with the sponsorship support of Dunlop, represents the next generation V8 Supercars, paving the way for new marques.
David McCarthy, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Mercedes-Benz Australia Pacific, said of today’s announcement: “Our position on entering V8 Supercars has not changed, we have jointly with AMG approved to offer Erebus Motorsport the opportunity to purchase the requested technology and support via the Customer Sports program.
“Erebus is a highly valued customer and they have an existing relationship with AMG via the Customer Sports program. The Erebus Motorsport-SBR entry into V8 Supercars is an extension of that relationship.
“We are not directly involved and we have no plans to undertake any sales or marketing activities in conjunction with this effort. There is no Mercedes-Benz or AMG money inherent in this new entry, the entire project is funded by Erebus Motorsport.”