Erebus Motorsport has confirmed that its foundation driver Lee Holdsworth will leave the team at the end of the season.
Erebus said that after agreeing to a verbal agreement in August for a contract extension, it was unable to come to a mutual agreement with Holdsworth over the terms of the contract.
Speedcafe.com understands that Ash Walsh will replace Holdsworth at Erebus, however the team would only say it will now further explore its options to fill the #4 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG seat for next year alongside Will Davison.
“Lee has been a significant part of the Erebus Motorsport team since day one and our intent was for him to remain with us for next year and beyond,’’ Erebus chief executive Ryan Maddison said.
“He won this team’s first ever V8 Supercars race earlier this year and has been a consistent performer right throughout the development phase of Erebus Motorsport over the past two years.
“However, unfortunately we haven’t been able to come to a formal agreement and it’s now reached a stage where both parties need to look at their respective further options for next year.
“It has been a difficult situation but the reality is that Lee needs to do what he feels is best for he and his family and we need to do the best thing for the long-term future and sustainability of Erebus Motorsport. Unfortunately those two things weren’t able to align on this occasion and so we have decided to go our separate ways.
“We wish Lee all the best in securing a drive with one of the other V8 Supercars teams and will now extend our own search for a replacement in the #4 car heading into 2015.
“Importantly the focus is now on Lee and the team finishing the year on a high at Phillip Island this weekend and the Sydney 500 in December, where he will celebrate his 300th V8 Supercars start.’’
Holdsworth said it was a tough decision to leave Erebus Motorsport after helping the rising team develop its Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs for the past two years since the transition from Stone Brothers Racing at the end of the 2012 Championship season.
“My preference initially was to stay at Erebus but unfortunately we haven’t been able to finalise the contract so I’ve had to start looking at other options for next year,’’ said Holdsworth.
“Erebus has a fantastic group of people that I’ve built strong relationships with over the past three years, making it a difficult decision to leave. I’ve enjoyed my time here and will leave on good terms.”
“I’ve got an obligation to look after my future, as does Erebus from a team point of view. It’s not an ideal situation but I am happy with where my future lies in V8 Supercars and am firmly focussed on finishing the year in the best possible fashion with Erebus.”
Schwerkolt is expected to confirm Holdsworth as his driver for 2015 shortly.