SBR launches youth program & signs Mark Winterbottom for 5 years. Stone Brothers Racing has launched a new junior development program for the V8 Supercar Championship Series and has signed 2001 Ford KartStars winner and current Formula Ford...
SBR launches youth program & signs Mark Winterbottom for 5 years.
Stone Brothers Racing has launched a new junior development program for the V8 Supercar Championship Series and has signed 2001 Ford KartStars winner and current Formula Ford driver Mark Winterbottom to a five-year contract.
SBR will financially support Winterbottom through the remainder of this year's national Formula Ford Championship before weighing up options for 2003 and beyond.
The main two options at this stage involve SBR creating its own Formula Ford program for Winterbottom next season or to elevate the youngster straight into the Konica V8 Supercar Series if he manages to win this year's crown.
There will also be the opportunity to provide Winterbottom on "loan" to other V8 Supercar teams if the need arises.
SBR currently prepares Caltex Havoline Falcons for David Besnard and Wayne Gardner and a Pirtek-backed Ford for Marcos Ambrose in the V8 Supercar Championship series, which continues at Eastern Creek Raceway today.
Winterbottom's win in the Ford KartStars program last year earned him a fully-funded ride in Formula Ford this season, thanks to Ford Racing Australia.
He made his Formula Ford debut at State level last year and is currently second in the 2002 national series after the opening round at Wakefield Park.
It is planned that Winterbottom will get to drive an SBR Ford for the first time at the end of the year and be involved in regular testing through 2003 before possibly looking at co-drives in the Queensland 500 and at Bathurst.
"Mark is obviously one of the bright young talents in this country and we are delighted to welcome him as part of SBR," said Ross Stone. "We have had our eye on him for sometime and have been impressed with his progression during the last couple of years. "We have always had a youth policy of sorts at SBR and this just strengthens our commitment to the young driving talent in this country. "I think this is also an indication of the thought that needs to go into a team's future with the sport at such a competitive level. "Today's announcement comes with the endorsement of Ford, who are obviously fantastic supporters of our team and the V8 Supercar Series."
Winterbottom, 21, cannot not wait to be taken under the wing of one of V8 Supercar racing's most professional and competitive teams.
"I guess this is a dream come true," said Winterbottom, who lives in Doonside, in Western Sydney. "My dream has been to race V8 Supercars at the highest level and this new program with Stone Brothers Racing will give me every opportunity. "I have to thank Ross and Jimmy Stone for the opportunity and Mark Roworth (SBR Business Manager) for looking after the contract details. "If everything goes to plan, this will give me a great opportunity to continue my career with Ford and with one of the most professional teams in the business."
Ford Racing Australia's General Manager, Howard Marsden, was delighted with today's announcement, which has further underlined Ford's commitment to unearthing young Australian drivers.
"I think Ross and Jim Stone and their team must be applauded for their continued commitment to giving young drivers a chance in this country," said Marsden. "Mark (Winterbottom) is a fine young talent and it is terrific that his results in KartStars have helped open a door into the V8 Supercar ranks in such a short period of time."