Mercedes GT racing team Erebus Motorsport has announced today that it has formed an alliance with the Stone Brothers Racing outfit to take the three-pointed-star into the local touring car championship.
Erebus, which races the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 in Australian GT racing, has taken advantage of V8 Supercars’ new Car of the Future rules, which have been specifically created to broaden the number of participating brands beyond the long-established Ford and Holden.
“This is purely and totally a privately funded effort,” said Mercedes-Benz spokesman David McCarthy. “There is no official backing from AMG or Mercedes-Benz Australia.
“There will be no Mercedes-Benz sales or marketing activities based around [the V8 Supercar entry]."
There have been long-standing rumours that Mercedes-Benz would become one of the new brands to expand the V8 Supercar series but the company has continually denied any intention to become involved.
Mercedes maintains the series is not yet right for the brand, though says it has given Erebus its blessing to enter with its cars owing to a long-standing relationship.
“Erebus is a good and loyal customer. That relationship is important to us and that’s why AMG and Mercedes-Benz Australia has agreed to what they are doing and giving them our blessing.”
The Mercedes touring cars will be powered by a modified, 5.0-litre version of the 6.3-litre V8 currently used in the SLS AMG GT3 race cars. Erebus is paying AMG to develop the engine and other parts of the car.
Insiders familiar with the Mercedes project claim the E-Class V8 Supercars contender will set a new benchmark in terms of engineering and safety within the rules, and be highly competitive.
“This will probably be the best-funded team [on the grid],” a source told CarAdvice. “Erebus is investing significant amounts of money [into the V8 Supercars project].
“Erebus, SBR [Stone Brothers Racing] and AMG have lots of [motor racing] experience and knowledge, and that’s all going to be brought to bear [in 2013] to be competitive within the rules.
Stone Brothers Racing is currently running Ford Falcons in the 2012 V8 Supercars championship, with drivers Lee Holdsworth, Shane Van Gisbergen and Tim Slade.
Nissan announced earlier this year that it would return to V8 Supercars in 2013, teaming up with Kelly Racing. Its contender will be based on the new mid-sized Nissan Altima due to be released into showrooms in the second half of 2013.
Nissan recently unveiled its V8 race engine for the 2013 championship.
Will it be good to see Mercedes-Benz cars in the V8 Supercars series next year even if not an official manufacturer entry? Share your views in the comment thread below.