Up for the Challenge

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 02/09/2015
  • By Kassie Gadeke

To some, 51-year old Russell Ingall seemed an obvious choice for the Holden Racing Team as it needed to replace injured James Courtney on short notice.

But even after his two years with the Walkinshaw group from 2012-13 and recent retirement, 'The Enforcer' says a lot has changed since he was driving with the squad.

The cars are different inside and out, and the team behind the scenes has been through an overhaul, with managing director Adrian Burgess and technical director Mathew Nilsson coming on after Ingall's departure.

Ingall spoke to Inside Supercars direct from the Walkinshaw Racing workshop yesterday and explained the extensive preparation required before he gets behind the wheel to share the #22 HRT Commodore with Jack Perkins.

Perkins will take on the role as main driver, taking ontwo-thirds of the laps at Sandown, though Ingall joked:"It's definitely going to go on age - the oldest does the driving, alright. Jack you're the young one here you just do what I tell you to do!"

The pair will test alongside the group's other three cars on Thursday at Winton - and Ingall can't wait to jump in the driver's seat.

"I've had a look around here and the team's changed a lot since I was last within these four walls.

"These guys are switched on, they know what they're doing, so we'll sort it out over the weekend and whatever's best ... for #22."

Ingall has been spending plenty of time at the Clayton workshop and explained all the bits and pieces, like seat position and belts, can take quite some time.

"That's what we've been and will be doing over the next two days - and that's how long it takes really to get yourself comfortable," Ingall said.

"The layout has changed inside the cars as well since last time I drove a Walkinshaw car, so I'm getting to know all the switch positions, where everything is, the brake bias and everything else that goes with it.

"It's important because you don't want to be second guessing those sorts of things in the heat of the battle. You've got to know what you're doing and where everything's located, so we'll be going through that.

"Of course [there's] seat inserts as well because JC sits very different, he sits almost on the floor - I think it's a bit of that single seater coming out in him where he sits very low in the car. I like to sit high so I can see over the dash, so we're going to do seat inserts.

"So it's a two-day deal to actually get back in the rhythm, find your way in the car and make sure you're absolutely comfortable because you're in these cars a long time in these enduro races, so you want to make sure you're absolutely spot on and there's nothing out of place, really."

He and Perkins will be working on driver changes as the race comes closer, and Ingall wants to be as competitive as possible for the big race: "I know you'll be fast Jack, so I think I'm going to have to pull my finger out."

Soon-to-be HRT teammate Garth Tander wasn't shy to poke fun on Twitter - but Ingall laughed about it.

https://twitter.com/GarthTander/status/637056432823648256

"I was really hoping Garth would be here to see me wearing the red shirt because I remember Garth said to me once - he said, 'you will never, ever get in a red HRT car, ever'. Guess what Garth, guess where I'm standing and look what I'm wearing!"

Jokes aside, Ingall is dedicated to doing the best job he can for former teammate and old friend Courtney.

"It was a surprise, and not the way you want to do it," Ingall said of the opportunity to drive the HRT Commodore.

"The guy's still in a lot of pain. I know how much it hurts him - not only the ribs, but not to be in this #22 car for Sandown - so I just hope we can rise to the challenge and I'm really happy to be back with Jack as well.

"We've had history before in the cars, we get along really well and the family history as well, so it's a good story."

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