‘The Enforcer’ Russell Ingall has hit back at those doubting his reasons for returning to a V8 Supercar for this year’s Pirtek Enduro Cup.
The 2005 Champion and two-time Bathurst winner will suit up at Nissan with Rick Kelly for 2016, after unexpectedly driving for two different teams across the four endurances races last year, both covering for injured drivers.
The racer-turned-commentator insisted tonight on Inside Supercars he had taken the drive with Kelly for the right reasons and has no doubt the Altimas can perform.
His comments come after Nissan’s win in Darwin, three years on from the manufacturer’s first win in the new gen in 2013.
“I wouldn’t be doing it if I thought it was limited,” Ingall said.
“I’m actually doing this, and … it’s got nothing to do with the financial side. I wanted to do this for me. Because I want to go out in a good team, a good car, have a steer and actually enjoy it.
“The car is capable and I think I am capable of getting on the podium. It’s as simple as that.”
Nissan team manager Scott Sinclair also sat on the Inside Supercars panel and reiterated the team’s reasoning for selecting Ingall to steer with former champ and team owner Kelly.
“We’ve got a good balance of old and young this year, I’m pretty happy with where we’ve ended up,” Sinclair said, alluding to young up-and-comer youngster Matt Campbell, who pairs with Todd Kelly.
“[Ingall] is a proven campaigner – I worked with Russell at Walkinshaw for two years, and I saw what he brought to the table … we wanted someone who could slot in with Rick and do the job.”
The good thing about Ingall – he’s not scared to rough up his competitors but knows just where the line is.
“With co-drivers … everyone analyses their speed but when you’re on track, Russell’s got the credentials to be able to race hard and fair and that’s what you need in the middle of the day at Bathurst,” Sinclair said.
Ingall will have more preparation time than last year as a super sub for James Courtney and then Chaz Mostert.
The Holden Racing Team signed Ingall to pair Jack Perkins at the last minute after Courtney’s freak helicopter accident, though the Enforcer was able to take part in one full test day before Sandown. With Prodrive, it was straight behind the wheel with young gun Cameron Waters.
Ingall has already had a test day with Nissan, and has plenty more opportunity to steer the Altima before the first September enduro at Sandown.
The 52-year old believes he’s up to the job.
“Last year was different because that was an opportunity that came up, and it was a good opportunity,” Ingall said.
“I think both myself and Jack as far as HRT was concerned, and Cam Waters with Prodrive, handled ourselves pretty well considering there was no testing and no practice, [it was] ‘there’s the car you go out and drive the damn thing’. You go ok, and we did a good job.
“We finished ninth at Sandown and just outside the 10 at Bathurst – so considering that, we did a good job.”