Veteran V8 Supercars driver Russell Ingall believes there is no reason he can’t be a top five contender come the PIRTEK Enduro Cup.
Ingall feels his experience gives him strong knowledge of what to focus on and in today’s test session – which has so far run smoothly – he will take a different approach to that of a regular test day.
“For a test day leading into the endurance season – which I’ve done so many times – I take a bit of a different approach. Forget outright speed, it’s about making the car comfortable to drive and consistent,” Ingall told v8supercars.com.au.
“I can set a car up and know what I want to be consistent over a full stint.”
The Walkinshaw Racing stable and customer team Tony D’Alberto Racing test at Winton Motor Raceway today, along with Fujitsu Garry Rogers Motorsport. This follows a flurry of testing this week after Brad Jones Racing and Ford Performance Racing ran Monday and Queensland-based teams yesterday.
Supercheap Auto Holden Commodore driver Ingall felt his 2013 results reflected strong showings in the longer races.
“If you look at the stats from the longer races this year, Adelaide and Townsville, we were top five straight up. So there’s no reason to not be a top five car in the endurance races.
“It’s about consistency and reliability as well – making sure everything is functioning in the car.
“It’s the little things that park a car.”
While Ingall will not be joined by co-driver Ryan Briscoe for the test, he is positive the US-based Australian racer is more than capable of performing well.
In fact, given Briscoe’s past efforts in V8 Supercars, Ingall laughed he’d hand the car to him to qualify.
“Ryan’s a very accomplished driver and one of our most underrated international drivers. I think a lot of people think of F1 and Mark Webber – who gets a lot of publicity, and rightly so – but IndyCar is a pretty big stage as well.
“He’s forged a good career in open wheel racing ... has achieved a great deal, and to survive that long in the States, in one of the highest profile categories, is a pretty big deal.”
Briscoe has driven with WR as a co-driver over the last three seasons (Gold Coast, and Bathurst 2010), as well as in 2006 for the 500km and 1000km races. At Sandown that year, Briscoe steered the Holden Commodore VZ he shared with Jim Richards to provisional ARMOR ALL Pole Position.
His best result in a V8 Supercar was fourth at the Gold Coast with Garth Tander last year, backed up by a fifth placing the following day.
“I was excited about it,” Ingall said of the pairing’s announcement.
“He’s driven Sandown and Bathurst before and stuck the thing on (provisional) pole. He can go and qualify the damn thing, if he stuck it on the front row I’d be happy!
“He’s the strongest co-driver I’ve had in years – and you need that. You can’t have someone dragging their heels.
“The days of having a co-driver getting in and maintaining position is out. They still have to press on and go forward.”
This is the time of year Ingall feels at home. He describes moving into endurance season as slipping on a comfortable pair of shoes that suit him.
“I really like the endurance style and the longer races, which is probably why I shine.
“I don’t like some of the shorter races, and that’s probably shown in the results.
“All the longer races we’ve come out with a result, so for sure I’m a lot more comfortable with them.
“A lot of people get nervous, but I get more confident and at home. I’ve done so many, I know what to do and expect. This is where my year kicks into gear – I’m looking to do things right.”
The Supercheap Auto Racing pilot sits 19th in the Championship points.
The Wilson Security Sandown 500 kicks off the PIRTEK Enduro Cup next Friday – tickets are available through Ticketek.