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David Besnard's position at Stone Brothers Racing is safe, insists Team Manager Ross Stone, despite an inauspicious start to his V8 Supercar career.

Stone took the unusual step of releasing a press statement to that effect over the weekend to dispel speculation regarding Besnard's future.

Stone said it had been a "year of education" with two rookie drivers at the wheel, but both Besnard and Pirtek stable-mate Marcos Ambrose had performed admirably under the circumstances.

"In 2000 we went for a more established driver, but when Marcos (Ambrose) and Bezzy (Besnard) expressed interest in driving, a long-term program of youth development made a lot of sense," he said.

"When we decided to run two rookies...we knew we had a hard task ahead of us. We stocked the panel shop up and bought a bit of extra paint and embarked on a year of education."

Besnard lies 24th in the Shell Championship after an indifferent debut season.

Though, he demonstrated his capabilities at Oran Park earlier this year, finishing on the podium after a tense battle with Mark Skaife for the win.

His endurance campaign with co-driver Matthew White was futile, but Stone has seen enough of the tenacious 24-year-old to offer him the seat next season.

Marcos Ambrose has already committed to the team until the end of 2003.

Stone said his young squad was "extremely talented" and would be hungry for success next season.

"I'm sure they will both be top-five finishers in the 2002 championship," he said.

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