Alex Rullo was cool, calm and collected in the Dunlop Series paddock this afternoon, despite his car catching on fire in the second practice session at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide.
The 15-year old from Western Australia – who is not even old enough to get his learner’s permit to drive on the road – pulled up at turn seven with flames flickering in the rear of his Holden Commodore.
There was smoke in the cabin and he could see fire in his mirror, but the young driver kept a cool head. He wasn’t shaken and said simply, ‘it would have been worse if I’d crashed’.
Now, the Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport team is assessing his new generation Castrol-backed Commodore. Rullo is confident he will be out on-track tomorrow – though it will be a big night for his crew, with the wiring loom needing to be replaced.
“As soon as I went out the rear was really unstable in the middle of the corners, so we think it was something to do with the fuel in the rear, and it was putting fuel on the tyres, because it was slippery as well,” Rullo told v8supercars.com.
“I don’t think it was too much damage, a bit scary, but I’m all good.”
Rullo was completing his first full lap when the fire started.
More than anything, he’s concerned about the lack of track time before tomorrow’s qualifying session. The fire occurred around 10 minutes into the 25-minute session, topped by BJR’s Andrew Jones.
Qualifying is first thing tomorrow at 9.55 local Adelaide time.
“Obviously a bit of track time then would’ve helped, but we’ll see how we go in qualifying tomorrow. It’ll be a bit more of a challenge than it already is,” Rullo said.
The following races at the Clipsal 500 will be Rullo’s V8 Supercars races, after graduating from the V8 Touring Cars Series. He won his first race in the category – the third tier V8 Supercars series – at 14 years of age.
He finished today’s first practice session 19th of 26 competitors.
“I was a little bit anxious but once I got out there, I started to get used to the car and used to the track again,” he said of steering his Commodore around the concrete-lined Adelaide circuit for the first time this morning.
“We were doing pretty good in practice one, I got my confidence up a lot.”