Stone Brothers Racing co-founders Ross and Jim Stone have responded to a mixed reaction from fans following yesterday's announcement that the team will ends its 15-year allegiance with Ford at the conclusion of this season.
The news was met with a barrage of traffic on the team's page on social media website Facebook, which today responded with a request that fans refrain from posting “abusive or offensive” comments.
A message from the two brothers directly addressing the team's fans has subsequently been added.
“Now, the Australian car market has really taken a dive in the large car segment and we when saw the opportunity to take on a new challenge in V8 Supercar racing, we decided to take it. Hopefully in the coming years we can really take it to FPR and Triple 8, and put SBR in the running to win another championship title.
“We'd like to thank all of our supporters for their ongoing backing over the last 15 years. We understand that yesterday's announcement means many of you may choose to no longer follow SBR but thank you, we really have appreciated your support. For those who do continue to stick with us, the next few years will be one very exciting ride. We look forward to seeing you all on track at Bathurst.”
Ross Stone had told Speedcafe.com at the announcement yesterday that he hopes fans will “analyse what we've said and why we've done it” before deciding whether or not to continue supporting the team.
Ford's motorsport manager Graham Barrie confirmed to Speedcafe.com that the Blue Oval did make SBR a sponsorship offer for next year. It is understood, however, that the deal was worth considerably less money than their current arrangement.
“We're understanding of the situation for the Stones,” said Barrie in response to the Erebus-SBR news.
“We made them an offer for next year but they didn't take that up.
“We've had a relationship with them since 1998, winning a Bathurst as well as three championships.
“We wish them all the best for the future and look forward to competing against the Stones, which will be a unique experience for Ford.”
Barrie also confirmed that Ford, which has one more year to run on its current sponsorship agreement with its factory outfit Ford Performance Racing, is still in discussions with Dick Johnson Racing over the possibility of a new deal.
Meanwhile, Nissan reacted to the announcement of the Erebus-SBR deal by issuing a statement from its managing director and CEO William F Peffer Jr, who said that “a fourth manufacturer can only add further excitement to the sport.”
Holden's motorsport and sponsorship manager, Simon McNamara, congratulated SBR on its deal via social media website Twitter, adding: “Looks like sushi, pretzels and pidgeon on the menu for the Lion in Adelaide 2013.”