Stone Brothers Racing will launch the V8 career of one of Australia's young motor racing stars this season when 21 year-old Gold Coast resident Mark Winterbottom makes his debut in the Konica V8 Supercar Series.
Winterbottom will take charge of an SBR Ford Falcon AU, formerly the brand new Caltex Havoline Falcon, which David Besnard drove successfully in the final rounds of last year's V8 Supercar Championship Series.
The campaign has been made possible with naming-rights support from Milligan's Food Group, which joined SBR as a support sponsor in 2002. The Falcon will also have major support from Bosch Spark Plugs and Caltex Havoline.
His car has been painted in striking black and red colours and is currently being prepared at SBR's headquarters - along with two new brand new BA Falcons which will be campaigned in the V8 Supercar Championship Series by Marcos Ambrose and Russell Ingall.
This year will signal Winterbottom's first foray into V8 Supercar racing after a successful career progressing through Karts and Formula Fords.
SBR signed Winterbottom to a five-year contract in 2002 as part of its junior development program and backed him through last year's Australian Formula Ford Championship.
The former Sydneysider, who is now based on the Gold Coast, made every post a winner finishing an astonishing second in the Championship including round wins at Mallala in South Australia and Sandown in Victoria.
He was awarded the 2002 Rookie of the Year trophy for his efforts, to the delight of SBR team owners Ross and Jimmy Stone.
"Mark is certainly a class act and his 2002 performances had a large bearing on our decision to bring him into the Konica Series this year," said Ross Stone.
"We have the utmost confidence in Mark's driving abilities after witnessing his season in Formula Fords and a very impressive informal test session in a V8 Ford Falcon AU at Queensland Raceway before Christmas.
"This is part of our progression for Mark that has seen him cut his teeth in Karts and Formula Fords and now embark on the Konica V8 Supercar Series which is the traditional stepping stone into the big time of V8 Supercar racing.
"The Konica Series is a two-year deal for Mark. Unfortunately he will go into the season a little 'underdone' with only one test session before the opening Konica round because of our commitments to the new BA Falcons, which are still being built at this stage."
Winterbottom was ecstatic upon the announcement of his entry into the Konica V8 Supercar Series.
"I can't wait to get behind the wheel of a V8 in the Konica Series," said Winterbottom.
"It felt great in testing before Christmas and I was happy with how well it went in my first V8 drive. I still have a lot of learning to do in so many areas, but that will come with experience.
"Stone Brothers Racing, Milligans Food Group, Bosch Spark Plugs and Ford have given me a great opportunity and I want to repay them for the faith they have shown me."
Prior to his season in Formula Fords, Winterbottom was a dominant force in Karts, setting numerous records along the way. Across eight years of karting, Winterbottom won nine National Championships, 19 State Championships and the 2001 Ford Kart Stars series.
Winterbottom will make his Konica debut in round one at Wakefield Park new Goulburn on February 22-23.