Talented young Ford driver Paul Weel has been signed by Stone Brothers Racing to partner Marcos Ambrose in his Pirtek Falcon for the major endurance races of this year’s V8 Supercar Championship Series.
Today’s announcement completes co-driver line-ups for most the major teams which will be competing at the VIP Petfoods Queensland 500 on September 13-15 and the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 at Bathurst on October 7-10.
Weel is a full-time competitor in the V8 Supercar Championship Series in his own K&J Radiators Falcon, which is prepared from his own team base at Currumbin on Queensland’s Gold Coast.
The 21 year-old is regarded as one of the most underrated drivers in the V8 Supercar ranks and impressed SBR owners Ross and Jim Stone during a recent test at the Queensland Raceway in Ambrose’s Pirtek Ford.
"Paul has done the hard yards in the V8 ranks with his own team in the last couple of seasons and has really developed into a competitive and confident competitor," said Ross Stone.
"We had a few options for the co-driver seat, but at the end of the day it was hard to go past a quick young driver who is living and breathing these cars every day.
"I think the days of hiring big-name European drivers for the endurance races are gone. I think it makes sense to employ drivers who know their way around these cars."
Weel, 21, will be entering his own regular K&J Radiators-backed Falcon in the endurance events to be driven by Tim Leahey and a co-driver set to be announced in the next couple of weeks.
"This is certainly the best opportunity I have had since I started in the V8 Supercar category," said Weel.
"SBR is the front-running Ford team in this year’s series and Marcos (Ambrose) is the leading Ford driver.
"I think together we will form a very good combination and have a great opportunity to win both the 500 and at Bathurst."
The other Stone Brothers Racing entry in the endurance races with the Caltex Havoline-backed Falcon of David Besnard and Wayne Gardner.
Ambrose, who took pole at Bathurst last year in his first attempt, welcomed the signing of Weel and the opportunities the move presents.
"It is difficult for any driver to jump into one of these cars for a one-off race and expect to be competitive," said Ambrose.
"I think the signing of Paul (Weel) is a great move and sees us heading to the Queensland 500 and Bathurst with a very good, competitive combination.
"Paul has been quick this season and will continue to have his backside is a V8 Supercar week in and week out before we get to the endurance events and that can only be an advantage."
Weel finished seventh in last year’s Queensland 500 and then had problems at Bathurst when a plastic bag got stuck over the front of his car’s radiator.
Prior to that Weel had finished ninth, eighth and 14th in his first three attempts at Bathurst with what was basically a privateer effort on a low budget.
"I remember watching Bathurst on the couch at home with dad (Kees) when I was nine or 10 years-old," said Weel.
"I did not even dream of driving at Mt Panorama until I decided to go V8 Supercar racing, let alone being with a team that had a chance of winning.
"I went to Bathurst as a spectator the year before I had my first drive there and just thought ‘this is unbelievable’."
Weel joined the V8 Supercars ranks at just 18 years old and, like Ambrose, was named AVESCO "Rookie of the Year" in his maiden season in 1998.
He joined the V8 Supercar Championship Series after a successful career in motocross and off-road stadium trucks.
Weel heads to the VIP Petfoods Queensland 500 and the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 with the support of his regular sponsors Dupont and Hog’s Breath Café – both of whom will have signage on the Pirtek Falcon.