By Matthew Agius.

Ford Performance Racing will be searching for a new lead driver for 2007 following confirmation that current Caterpillar Falcon driver Jason Bright will not drive for the Prodrive-backed outfit in next year's V8 Supercar Championship.

Bright has assisted in the resurgence of FPR witnessed by many V8 Supercar fans during 2006. After running consistently in the top ten for most of last year, Bright has this year collected some very solid results in the top five in the Caterpillar Falcon, yet despite this has decided to part from Prodrive's sole Australian operation at the conclusion of the Phillip Island Grand Finale.

A statement released by the team today read as follows:

Ford Performance Racing (FPR) today confirms that 2005 and 2006 CAT FPR Falcon driver, Jason Bright, will not be driving for the team beyond December 31, 2006.

FPR is currently negotiating with several appropriately credentialed local and international drivers to fill one of the Prodrive team's driver's positions alongside Mark Winterbottom for the 2007 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series and beyond

In addition to this statement from the team, FPR's Commercial Director Rod Barrett affirmed that the focus of both Bright and the team will be on securing results for the remainder of the 2006 championship.

"We wish Jason every success with his plans for the future and thank him for his efforts in helping to develop our cars to being amongst the fastest on the track. We expect to make an announcement about his replacement in the coming months," said Barrett.

"Jason and the team still have nine rounds to contest this season. One of the main aims is to gain Ford's first Bathurst victory since 1998. Overall, winning races is where the team's focus is set for the remainder of the season."

Whilst Ford Performance Racing negotiate with the big names of V8 Supercars and overseas interests in hope of gaining a suitable team leader at Broadmeadows, the focus of the V8 circus will be on Bright's career move.

It seems increasingly likely that Bright will head to Fujitsu Racing - the team headed by his Britek Motorsport operation - and will probably displace Jose Fernandez from the second seat for the team. This would appear to be an almost suicidal career move, with Fujitsu Racing not likely to be a championship contender for some time, and the absence of Prodrive-association dashing the Bathurst winner's hopes of Le Mans endurance racing.

Future announcements from Ford Performance Racing and Jason Bright are expected in coming months.