DREW RUSSELL FIGHTS TO 18TH IN FUJITSU SERIES DEBUT Despite a series of mechanical problems at Wakefield Park, Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series debutants Drew Russell and Novocastrian Racing proved they aren't out of their depth in the competitive V8...
DREW RUSSELL FIGHTS TO 18TH IN FUJITSU SERIES DEBUT
Despite a series of mechanical problems at Wakefield Park, Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series debutants Drew Russell and Novocastrian Racing proved they aren't out of their depth in the competitive V8 Supercar feeder class.
Stepping up after spending recent years in production cars, 18 year-old Russell kept his cool all weekend in an older model car, putting limited track time behind him to finish the final race in 18th place, just outside the points.
The Newcastle team's series debut started on a trying note. In the opening practice session, engine management issues plagued the #58 Go Karts Go VX Commodore.
Robbing him of valuable track time, it limited Russell to a handful of slow laps and kept him out of the second session completely.
"It's a really strange problem that we're having," Russell explained.
"We didn't have a chance to test the car after we had the Motec [engine control unit] installed, and the car was running smoothly when we fired it up at the workshop, but out on the track it's misfiring badly and not running properly at all."
After frenetic work by the crew attempting to trace and rectify the problem, Russell took to the track for qualifying.
Without any proper running under his belt, he quickly secured his place on the grid eventually taking 30th place in the 35-car field with a time of 62.6625 seconds.
"We changed pretty much everything under the bonnet before qualifying," said Russell.
"When I got out there the car was good for about three laps, but then the misfire and computer issues returned.
"It meant I couldn't improve on the laptime, there was easily another half a second in the car, but at least we got a time on the board."
With the electrical problems behind him, Russell progressed up the order to 25th place in the opening race, before plans for similar progress in race two were quashed by a blown differential on the opening lap.
"It was good to get out there in the first race and finally get some laps," said a relieved Russell.
"We cured the engine problems, but the car setup was nowhere because of all the time we lost on Saturday; it was understeering on corner entry and oversteering on the exit.
"I got a good start and passed a few cars at the first corner, but then got forced off the road coming down to the fishhook and dropped back down to 30th.
"After that I was able to pass some cars and gain some extra places when cars ahead of us had problems.
"So I was really looking forward to the second race, but unfortunately the diff let go on the start-line and that was that."
With a replacement differential fitted, Russell lined up at the rear of grid for the 30-lap final. He fought hard and made steady ground, finding further time in the car and picking his way up the order on his way to 18th place, the third of the older generation, AU Falcon/VX Commodore, cars home.
"I'm still working on my starts, so I lost a little bit of time early, but I just got stuck in and as the laps went on was catching and passing cars which was satisfying," beamed Russell.
"We made a lot of changes to the setup after race one and the car was significantly better for the last race - my fastest lap was quicker than the time I did in qualifying and just over a second off the fastest of the race.
"Everything considered, I'm stoked with how the weekend went. We didn't quite make it into the points, but we punched above our weight and gained a lot of confidence that we compete at this level."
Round three of the 2007 Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series will be held at Winton Motor Raceway on May 18-20, supporting the V8 Supercar Championship Series.