Russell Ingall will race on in the V8 Supercars Championship after announcing he has joined Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport.
The two-time Bathurst 1000 and 2005 Championship winner spent 2013 with Walkinshaw Racing backed by long-time sponsor Supercheap Auto, in what was billed as his last full-time V8 Supercar season, but the deal with Lucas Dumbrell puts him back on the grid for a 19th consecutive season.
Corporate smash repair group Repair Management Australia was also confirmed as naming rights backer of Ingall’s #23 Commodore with major support from Castrol and Holden.
Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport struggled to extract pace from its Triple Eight Race Engineering-built Commodores in 2013, but Ingall believes the team which has scaled back to single car operation for 2014 can move forward.
“Plenty of people will be asking why would I come to a small team that has been going through some growing pains,” Ingall said of the deal.
“But I see it as a challenge to help build the team, move it forward and keep it on the grid.
“There are plenty of hero drivers out there that would never ‘lower’ themselves to drive for a small team but I see it as an opportunity to be involved in something from the ground floor.”
Ingall, who turns 50 later this month was also keen to emphasise he never confirmed he was retiring and that he’d always said he would continue racing in the category if the right opportunity presented itself.
“I wasn’t comfortable last year with how things were presented by some parties about my so-called retirement. I always maintained that if there was a suitable full-time opportunity for this season that I would take it.
“I haven’t changed my mind and made a ‘comeback’. I never left the sport or intended to leave the sport. There were some good offers to join some well-credentialed teams for the endurance races, but a full- time opportunity was always my main focus.
“At the end of the day, my love for the sport and racing cars is undiminished. I love the racing community, it’s given me a lot and I want to stay involved with it.
“’I think the man on the street will understand my situation. Anyone that loves their job or the industry they work in doesn’t want to get pushed out of it before they’re ready.”
Team Principal Lucas Dumbrell believes Ingall brings with him a level attention that only comes from spending almost two decades racing at the top order.
“Holden has been instrumental in getting Russell on board and he brings a lot to our team with nearly 20 years of full-time experience at the top level of V8 Supercar racing,” Dumbrell said.
“He’s far from being a spent force in the sport. He brings an eye for detail that our team needs that comes from driving for some of the top teams in pit lane.
“We have a revitalised team and approach this year. While we are moving back to a single car program we have the intent and desire to return to a two-car program in the future.”
Simon McNamara, GM Holden Ltd Motorsport and Sponsorship Manager, said the addition of the most experienced V8 Supercar driver in history was the first step in LDM’s redevelopment.
“It’s also an opportunity for Russell to give back to the sport that has given him so much and to help this team grow in all areas,” McNamara said.
“Russell has been a great ambassador for Holden for the lion’s share of his time in V8 Supercars. We’re very happy to see him back on the grid in a Commodore in 2014.
“Importantly, it’s also a way of ensuring the team doesn’t fall by the wayside like others have during the recent off-season period.
“Lucas is a young, ambitious guy and we’d like to see this team succeed this season and move forward on the grid. He’s been working very hard and we support him in this quest to develop his team.”
Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport will be Ingall’s fifth V8 Supercars team having had spells at Perkins Engineering (1996-2002), Stone Brothers Racing (2003-2007) and Paul Morris Motorsport (2008-2010) prior to joining Walkinshaw Racing in 2012.