Dunlop Super2 Series winners Todd Hazelwood and Matt Stone Racing have struck a deal to step up to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship next season.
The team has secured the use of Jason Bright's Racing Entitlements Contract for 2018 and '19, locking in their place on the main series grid.
Bright's REC became available following a shuffle at Prodrive Racing Australia that has led to it buying Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport's second licence, which it will run for Richie Stanaway.
MSR will field a single Ford Falcon FG X purchased from Shell V-Power Racing by South Australian businessman James Rosenberg.
Brisbane-based IT entrepreneur Jason Gomersall has helped source sponsorship for the program, continuing his partnership with MSR and Hazelwood.
The combination secured the Super2 title at last weekend’s Coates Hire Newcastle 500, marking a successful end to Hazelwood’s fourth campaign in the second-tier.
Having run a SuperSprint wildcard with MSR and made his PIRTEK Enduro Cup debut with Brad Jones Racing this year, Hazelwood says he’s ready to make the step up.
"There is no better time to make this transition and start an exciting new chapter of my career,” he said.
“I am more than ready for this and I'm so fortunate that we have been able to achieve this deal.
“I am so grateful to have such incredible people in my corner like Matt, Jason and James and cannot wait to see what we will achieve in 2018."
Stone is the son of Supercars Hall of Famer Jim, who formed half of the three-time championship winning Stone Brothers Racing team from 1998-2012.
Matt worked as a mechanic at SBR before starting his own operation in 2011, methodically building his team waiting for the right moment to progress.
“The success we achieved with Todd and the team in 2017 demonstrates we are more than ready to make this exciting transition,” Stone added.
“The Matt Stone Racing team have tasted success in each category we have competed in and it is very special to see our team on the main series grid next year.
“We are prepared and have the key ingredients to be successful when we arrive in Adelaide in 2018."
Rosenberg’s deal to buy the car that Hazelwood will drive comes nine years after he made a similar move to facilitate Tim Slade’s leap into the main game with Paul Morris.
A REC holder from 2010-14, Rosenberg spent four of those years with his entry placed at SBR and remains close friends with the family.
"Having known Todd since his F3 days, I know that he is ready — everyone knows that he is,” said Rosenberg, who has a long history of backing young talent in motorsport.
“What's amazing about Todd is his on-and-off track presence and he's the best person I've ever seen in all aspects.
“I think Jason's continued support in both Todd and the team should be recognised, he's played such a strong part in this.
“Lastly, one of the best things about this is seeing the Stone name back in main game... it's going to be a great season."
Gomersall meanwhile owns the two ex-Triple Eight Holdens currently run by MSR in Super2 and has been a major player in the growth of the team and Hazelwood.
"I've been on this journey for four years and it has been a brilliant partnership,” said Gomersall, who races an MSR-built and run Holden Torana in the Touring Car Masters.
“I've enjoyed every moment and there's no way I'm jumping off now. I cannot wait to be part of the next phase."
Hazelwood’s entry will be engineered by Wes McDougall, with the former SBR stalwart having formed a strong bond with the youngster during recent Super2 seasons.
The graduation of Hazelwood and MSR is one of a number of pieces of the silly season puzzle expected to be confirmed following a busy fortnight leading into the 2017 finale.
How the 2018 grid is shaping up
|Jamie Whincup||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Holden|
|Shane van Gisbergen||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Holden|
|Craig Lowndes||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Holden|
|Jack Le Brocq*||Tekno Autosports||Holden|
|Scott Pye||Walkinshaw Andretti United||Holden|
|James Courtney||Walkinshaw Andretti United||Holden|
|Garth Tander||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Holden|
|James Golding||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Holden|
|Mark Winterbottom||Prodrive Racing Australia||Ford|
|Cameron Waters||Prodrive Racing Australia||Ford|
|Chaz Mostert||Prodrive Racing Australia||Ford|
|Richie Stanaway*||Prodrive Racing Australia||Ford|
|Fabian Coulthard||DJR Team Penske||Ford|
|Scott McLaughlin||DJR Team Penske||Ford|
|Nick Percat||Brad Jones Racing||Holden|
|Tim Slade||Brad Jones Racing||Holden|
|Tim Blanchard||Brad Jones Racing||Holden|
|Lee Holdsworth||Team 18||Holden|
|Andre Heimgartner*||Nissan Motorsport||Nissan|
|Rick Kelly||Nissan Motorsport||Nissan|
|Michael Caruso||Nissan Motorsport||Nissan|
|Simona De Silvestro||Nissan Motorsport||Nissan|
|David Reynolds||Erebus Motorsport||Holden|
|Anton De Pasquale||Erebus Motorsport||Holden|
|Will Davison*||23Red Racing||Ford|
|Todd Hazelwood||Matt Stone Racing||Ford|
*Yet to be confirmed