Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has linked with the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia series to offer a test in one of the team's FPR Falcon FG V8 Supercars to the highest-placed driver under 30 years of age in the 2012 Porsche championship.
The test has come about thanks to FPR endurance driver Steve Richards who will not only co-drive alongside Mark Winterbottom at Sandown and Bathurst this year, but also compete full-time in the Porsche series.
Richards announced the initiative at his team's 2012 season launch and is proud to use his links to the factory Ford team to benefit an up and coming driver.
"It is great that my long-term association with FPR has enabled this to happen," Richards said. "I applaud them for again providing support to drivers coming through the categories below V8 Supercars.
"FPR has a Dunlop (development) Series team and obviously as the factory Ford team they have a link through to Formula Ford so the chance for the top placed Carrera Cup driver under 30 to test a factory car is pretty special."
Richards will also give this year's Formula Ford Champion a test in his Carrera Cup car.
FPR Team Principal Tim Edwards praised Richards and Porsche for being able to work so closely with another manufacturer.
"Motorsport is such a hard industry to break into so the fact we as the factory Ford team can work closely with the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship to offer a young driver a chance at furthering their career is a very good thing as far as I am concerned," Edwards said.
"The top-placed Carrera Cup driver under the age of 30 at the end of the 2012 season will get to drive one of our cars during our evaluation day in early 2013.
"Carrera Cup is a proven stepping stone to V8 Supercars. Our driver David Reynolds is a former champion in that series so young drivers should really see it, along with Formula Ford, as a good pathway to V8 Supercars."
Porsche Cars Australia Motorsport Manager Jamey Blaikie believes the prizes will be a great boost for young drivers.
"We have seen many drivers come through the Formula Ford ranks into Carrera Cup and then eventually onto a full-time V8 Supercar career," Blaikie said.
"Hopefully many more young drivers can follow the path travelled by David Reynolds, a great example of a former Formula Ford Champion who has gone onto Carrera Cup success before stepping into one of Australia's most renowned race teams, Ford Performance Racing."
"The V8 Supercar test will also provide young Carrera Cup drivers who have aspirations for a V8 Supercar career some crucial experience behind the wheel of a V8 Supercar while showcasing their talents in front of one of Australia's leading race teams, Ford Performance Racing.
"I'd like to thank Steven Richards for creating this initiative, generously using his ties with all three categories to aid in the progression of young racing drivers."
The V8 Supercars Championship and Porsche Carrera Cup Australia series both kick-off next week in Adelaide at the Clipsal 500 from 1-4 March.