Penrite Racing veteran Luke Youlden has called time on his Supercars career.
Youlden has had a unique career, undertaking 20 Bathurst 1000s as a co-driver without ever having a full-time drive.
That included stints with Perkins Engineering, Steven Ellery Racing, Stone Brothers Racing, Tickford Racing, Brad Jones Racing and DJR Team Penske, before he broke through for a Bathurst win with Penrite Racing in 2017.
That was his first PIRTEK Enduro Cup campaign alongside David Reynolds, which also included a win in the Sandown co-driver race to clinch pole for that year’s 500.
After a solid 2018 that netted two top five results, the partnership would score one last podium at the Vodafone Gold Coast 600 this year.
It was otherwise a difficult three rounds this season for Youlden, who was involved in costly incidents at Bathurst, the Gold Coast and Sandown.
The 41-year-old has mixed part-time Supercars racing with other exploits including driver training and journalism but felt the time is now right for a change.
“After 20 years I have decided to step away from Supercars as a driver,” he said.
“It’s getting increasingly difficult to turn up off the couch and race at the top level and then not race one of these cars for another eight months.
“I’ve done that for 20 years and I think I’ve done a good job, and I’m proud of the fact I have managed to hang around for so long.
“I have the most Bathursts under my belts without having done any sprint rounds so to be able to match the other guys is my badge of honour.”
All up, Youlden contested 57 races for a victory, eight podiums and 29 top 10 finishes.
“From day one I knew I had found a home at Erebus and I was never going to drive with anyone else, I’m just stoked I can continue to be a big part of the family and the business moving forward,” he said.
“I want to thank Betty and Barry and the entire team for the last three years and obviously ticking that Bathurst box; I’d like to think I was a big part of that win.”
Youlden will continue in the Erebus Motorsport family in GT racing and driver training, taking part in the Erebus Academy Creating Pathways program that will launch at Norwell on December 4.
Penrite Racing is yet to announce its 2020 co-driver line-up, but is expected to retain Will Brown, who appears to have missed out on a full-time Supercars seat.
Brodie Kostecki, who impressed in this year’s enduros as a wildcard, has also been linked to the squad.
“What Luke has done for us is incredible, and we all have so much respect for him as a driver and as a person,” team CEO Barry Ryan said.
“We’ve always said he is the ‘baseline’ for who we want all of our drivers to be; he’s always organised, respectful, fast, great with fans and media, and most of all a top bloke.
"What guys like Luke bring to an organisation is invaluable and the entire team love having him around.
“He is a great support to Dave and Anton and our young drivers as he has walked in their shoes and with the Erebus Academy as well as other initiatives moving forward, Luke will be an integral part of that.”