Talented young V8 Supercar "refugee" Simon Wills will replace Wayne Gardner in the Caltex Havoline Falcon at next month's VIP Petfoods Queensland 500 at the Queensland Raceway near Ipswich. Gardner's commitment to winning the GT 500 series in ...
Talented young V8 Supercar "refugee" Simon Wills will replace Wayne Gardner in the Caltex Havoline Falcon at next month's VIP Petfoods Queensland 500 at the Queensland Raceway near Ipswich.
Gardner's commitment to winning the GT 500 series in Japan means that his seat has become vacant for Wills who decided to end his 10-month relationship with the CAT Racing team last week.
Gardner, who has driven three races and attended several testing sessions for Stone Brothers Racing this year, will remain as co-driver for David Besnard at the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 at Bathurst on October 10-13.
"Obviously Stone Brothers Racing have been the in-form Ford team all season and I think we will go into the Queensland 500 with a real chance of winning," said Wills.
"David (Besnard) has been one of the standouts in this year's championship and is aggressive and fast.
"It is pleasing to know I am heading to the Queensland 500 with a solid ride as I work out my future direction in the category."
Wills, 26, was born in New Zealand and currently lives in Brisbane, where he set-up a base to be close to his former employers.
He won the Konica V8 Supercar Series last season before going on to the endurance races as a co-driver for John Bowe. Wills actually set a new lap record of 2:10.2011 at Bathurst.
SBR team boss Ross Stone believes Wills will be a terrific asset for his team at Queensland Raceway.
"We are obviously disappointed that Wayne (Gardner) could not join us for the Queensland race, but we think Simon (Wills) will do the job for us," said Stone.
"It is amazing how some things fall in to your lap in this business and obviously Simon's departure from his former employer was great timing for us.
"He has spent plenty of time behind the wheel of a V8 Supercar in the last couple of years and that is always a bonus when looking for a co-driver for the endurance events."
Besnard says the signing of Wills will be big plus for the first enduro of the season.
"Ross and Jimmy (Stone) were obviously looking at a few options for the 500, but Simon becoming available virtually made up their minds for them," said Besnard.
"Simon has proven to be quick in the past and I think he will be a solid co-driver for the Caltex Havoline team."
Gardner was obviously disappointed at missing out on his Queensland appearance, but is looking forward to driving at Bathurst.
"I signed my deal before the GT schedule was released in Japan, so we had a clause which basically meant that I had to race in Japan if races clashed and I was still a mathematical chance of winning the championship," said Gardner.
"I am disappointed that I cannot be a part of the Caltex Havoline team at the Queensland 500, but hopefully I can make up for that by producing a big result at Bathurst.
"I am sure there will be plenty of phone calls from Japan to Ipswich over the race weekend."
The VIP Petfoods Queensland 500 will be the next round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series on September 13-15.