Stone Brothers Racing has confirmed that Luke Youlden will drive with Shane van Gisbergen in the #9 SP Tools Ford Falcon in the endurance races this year.
Youlden is the first of the SBR co-drivers to be confirmed, with Lee Holdsworth and Tim Slade’s co-drivers (expected to be Craig Baird and Andrew Thompson respectively) to be announced soon.
Youlden’s drive at SBR is a homecoming of sorts. After spending the past four years with Ford Performance Racing, Youlden returns to SBR having driven for the Queensland-based team on three occasions (2005-2007). He scored a best result of fourth with Russell Ingall in 2006.
Youlden says that he is pleased to confirm his ride with the Stone Brothers.
“I couldn’t be happier coming back, they have a very good car, a very good driver and I think SBR are on the brink of achieving awesome things,” Youlden said.
“I think we are definitely contenders for the endurance races, that’s for sure.
“Obviously Shane is coming off a great finish from 2011, I think he is going to have a good year and I’m hoping I have jumped on board at the right time. Having the co-driver locked away early will give us plenty of time to prepare and get everything in the car just right.”
Lead driver van Gisbergen says that one of the big advantages will be the height similarities between the pair.
“It works out great that we are similar in height so we won’t need to make too many changes to the car like we have done in the past,” the Kiwi said.
“In the last few years I’ve watched him co-drive for other teams and he has always been up there pushing the main driver on.
“His focus is not only on doing the best he can for the team but also on finishing and finishing well. That’s what you need in a co-driver – someone who is out there to do a good job but who won’t do anything stupid with the car.”
The endurance races will be held at Sandown and Bathurst this year.