A new look Konica Minolta V8 Supercar Series kicks off at Wakefield Park, Goulburn this weekend in what is expected to be an exciting clash of new talent against the more experienced of competitors.

The 2004 season starts with a new Konica Minolta V8 Supercar Series logo after the two Japanese photography giants merged companies late last year, resulting in the name change to incorporate Minolta.
Konica Minolta Sales Director Richard Gurr said he will be looking forward to another successful year of the Konica Minolta V8 Supercar Series.

"With the companies Konica and Minolta now non-existent, it is very important for us to get the series recognised as the Konica Minolta V8 Supercar Series," Mr Gurr said.

"The first three years of the series has given the former company Konica excellent exposure across the country and that is what has led us to renew our contract for another three years. It is testimony to how successful the series has been."

The fight for the first round of the Championship is expected to be bigger and better than ever before with a number of new competitors throwing their hand up to be 2004 title contenders.
With 2003 Konica V8 Supercar Series Champion Mark Winterbottom being snapped up by V8 Supercar Championship Series team Larkham Motor Sport for the next two years, the chance for a new rising star has increased.

Speed FX Racing's Brad Tilley will drive the Ford Falcon AU that Winterbottom and Stone Brothers Racing won the 2003 championship with, already impressing team members after matching the same pole position time at Wakefield Park that Winterbottom set last year.
The outing was the first test day for Speed FX Racing and the first drive in a V8 Supercar for Tilley who successfully competed in the National Historic Touring Car Series in 2002 and 2003, winning the title in both years.

Paul Cruickshank Racing has confirmed that they will be running two cars this year with Kevin Mundy returning in 2004 to drive the number 56 Ford Falcon and new recruit Marcus Zukanovic stepping up into the number 65 Falcon, after competing in the Commodore Cup series for the past two years.

Dick Johnson Racing has also expanded to a two car team for 2004, making it the first Level One team operation to include two cars in the Konica Minolta V8 Supercar Series since its inception in 2000.
The DJR backed team will operate under the name of Team Fujitsu this year and will have experienced V8 Supercar driver Owen Kelly and 2003 Konica Series debutant Jose Fernandez behind the wheel.
Kelly occupied the co-driving position for Ford Performance Racing for the two endurance events last year and will be looking to improve on his 7th position overall in the 2003 Konica V8 Supercar Series championship.

"I want to win the Konica Minolta Championship and I think that I can with DJR," said Kelly. "Warren Luff did well at Mallala, and the Bathurst support event last year so it's obvious the Falcon is competitive and I know the team has done a lot to improve it for this year, so the possibilities are very exciting."

Another team looking to make an impact on the series this year will be Holden Young Lions. The team will start the season with a brand new look, including the new driver line-up of Michael Caruso and Kurt Wimmer.

Caruso, who comes to the Holden Young Lions team straight from a 2003 Australian Formula 3 Championship and F3000 testing in Europe, will campaign the team's number 46 car, while Wimmer will drove the number 96 car.
"Coming from open wheelers to the V8's is going to require some adjustments and a few more laps to get the best out of both me and the car, but I think we can give the championship a good shake in the end," Caruso said.

Ex Holden Young Lion youngster Tony D'Alberto will team up with Independent Race Cars this year, replacing Mark Porter in the number 64 Holden Commodore that secured third position in the 2003 championship.

Team Kiwi Racing has thrown their support behind Porter for the 2004 season, fielding a
car in addition to their V8 Supercar Championship Series campaign, utilising the same Holden Commodore that was driven by TKR driver Craig Baird in the 2003 Championship.

Amongst the newcomers will be Konica Minolta V8 Supercar Series regulars Super Cheap Auto Racing's Luke Youlden, Matthew White Racing's Matthew White and Brad Jones Racing's Andrew Jones.

Youlden will be coming off his successful podium positions at the two endurance events last year, the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 and Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 and will be looking to use that experience to improve on his fifth placing in the 2003 Konica V8 Supercar Series.