Erebus Motorsport has revealed former DTM driver Maro Engel will drive the #9 SP Tools Racing entry in the 2013 V8 Supercars Championship Series.
German born Engel has signed a multi-year contract and joins Lee Holdsworth (IRWIN Racing) and Tim Slade (HHA Racing) in the three-car Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG team.
The former Mercedes-AMG brand ambassador is no stranger to the Erebus Motorsport team after a debut win in the 2012 Australian GT Championship round at Phillip Island piloting an Erebus Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. He also completed a successful V8 Supercar test with the team in December, but knows his first year in Australia’s premier motorsport category will be a learning curve.
“V8 Supercars gets quite a lot of coverage in Europe so I was well aware of the category and I followed it,” said Engel.
“It’s always been known for very close racing and that is something we look at from Europe in a little bit of an envious way because our touring car racing sometimes lacks those overtaking mauvers. It is impressive to see how closely the cars follow each other.
“In December I tested the 2012 car and it was a great experience. The car was really fun to drive; I had great feedback out on track and heightened my desire to be part of this category.
“We had a really successful and positive test and it was great to work with the engineers. They are a really professional team and it gave me a really good insight into what the V8 Supercars have been like and I think with the changes for this year it’s going to make them even better.
“This year will be a steep learning curve for me, that’s for sure, but I’m really looking forward to learning from my team and team mates. I’m definitely coming over to be successful however I think we have to appreciate that this will take some time.
“This year is an unknown for everybody with new cars and new Car of the Future regulations, so I think we will have to wait and see how things go in the first race to see where we are all positioned. Obviously I would like to be as close as possible to my team mates, so that will be the first goal.”
The signing makes Engel the second full-time European driver in the series after it was confirmed in January that Frenchman Alexandre Prémat will remain with Garry Rogers Motorsport for a second season.
Erebus Motorsport V8 CEO Ryan Maddison said the process of filling the car #9 seat was one that was carefully considered.
“Erebus Motorsport V8 has a huge response with offers to drive both full time in car #9 and endurance events, and we are still fielding highly creditable applicants both domestically and internationally,” said Maddison.
“Maro has four years of experience as a Mercedes-Benz factory driver in the DTM series and has produced a number of standout performances including his win with Erebus Motorsport at Phillip Island last year.
“We undertook extensive due diligence on all levels and we believe that Maro’s desire to learn the V8 category, his professionalism and his motivation will strengthen our 2013 driver line-up which includes Lee Holdsworth and Tim Slade.
“The result is that we are entering this year’s V8 Supercars Championship with three drivers who we are not only very experienced, but that are excellent team ambassadors.”
Erebus Motorsport v8 General Manager Ross Stone added: “Maro tested our 2012 spec V8 Supercar back in December and exceeded our expectations, given that a V8 Supercar is so unique to learn to drive in terms of the control tyre and brake package against engine power.
“He adapted to the car very quickly and showed that he had the determination and skill to race in the category. Of course he will have a lot to learn this year, as will every driver getting into a new car of the future.”
Maro will participate in his first official V8 Supercars test day on 16 February at Sydney Motorsport Park.