Novocastrian Motorsport's Drew Russell has finished the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series with one of his best ever finishes in the category, fighting hard for a top ten finish in the final race of the 2008 season and finishing the weekend in 12th place...
Novocastrian Motorsport's Drew Russell has finished the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series with one of his best ever finishes in the category, fighting hard for a top ten finish in the final race of the 2008 season and finishing the weekend in 12th place overall.
The round was run at the NRMA Motoring & Services Grand Finale, the final time the V8 Supercar's will ever visit Oran Park.
The NSW circuit, located near Campbelltown in Sydney, delivered a mixed bag of weather with much of the weekend being run in hot and humid conditions. Sunday's final race however saw big black clouds close in and dump heavy rain on the track as the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series lined up on the grid.
Drew qualified in 19th in Friday's qualifying session.
Race one was run in incredibly hot conditions with an ambient temperature well into the 30's and high humidity. An indication of just how hot it was in the cabin, the ECU, located on the floor of the passenger side of the car recorded an in cabin temperature of 77 degrees. Due to budget constraints, Drew is one of few drivers not to be running a cool suit this weekend making the race even tougher for him.
Drew jumped a place off the line to be running in 18th place where he stayed for much of the race before climbing a place to finish in 17th position. A flat spotted tyre added to the already uncomfortable conditions during the race.
In stark contrast to race one, the biggest issue Drew faced in race two was a windscreen that kept fogging up due to the wet conditions making visibility minimal.
As the cars lined up to enter the track the clouds became darker and the wind picked up. As the field was released on their warm up lap, the rain began to fall.
With heavy rain started fall just as the cars lined up on the grid race control aborted the start. It was decided that given the safety ramifications of having 29 Fujitsu V8 Supercars fighting for positions on slick tyres with torrential rain falling were too great.
The cars returned to the pits to fit wet tyres before returning to the grid and finally the race, shortened to 20 laps, was underway.
In anticipation of a wet day, the team made the correct call to switch to softer springs over night.
Due to a race penalty given to another competitor in race one, Drew started the second race in 16th position and made a great start to jump up into 14th place off the line.
Drew dropped a place a few corners later and then, with less than half a lap complete, the first of three safety cars periods began.
Drew fought hard throughout the race, fighting his way past a number of drivers. Given the wet and slippery conditions, the performance differential between Drew's Holden and the cars of his competitors was lessened meaning it was more about the talent of the driver rather than the performance of the car.
The 20-lap race saw less than 10 laps of actual racing, but that did not hamper Drew's charge, bringing his car home in 10th position, finishing the season off in the best possible way.
"I thought the conditions for Saturday's race were bad with the heat, but in today's race I spent most of the race not being able to see out the windscreen because of the rain!" said Drew after the race.
"I was forced to stick close to the guy in front of me and follow his break light in the early part of the race.
"I am so pleased to bring the car home in 10th place today -- the team have worked so hard this year and they deserve this result.
"We are by no means a big team, but the support and dedication I receive is second to none.
"The commitment they give us, often for nothing more than a free lunch is just amazing. I really am blessed to have these guys working with me.
"What we have been able to achieve in this car compared to the equipment and resources those around us have is a credit to the effort they put in.
"I also have to offer Mary and Geoff from Good Vibrations, Adult Erotica; without their support we would not have been able to see this season out.
"We got Geoff hooked in Adelaide at the Clipsal 500 and he has not been able to walk away. I think we made his day today, not by finishing in 10th place, but by finally using his wet tyres!
"Of course none of this would have ever been possible without the support of my family. From Mandy who makes sure we are completely organised and that the team is fed over the weekend, to Aaren, my younger brother who stays home to look after the Go Karts Go centre in Newcastle, ensuring the business continues to operate while we are away.
"And to my dad, who has supported me throughout my career; him and Mandy have given up a lot to get me here, bringing the car home in 10th is only a small reward for all they have given me.
"10th place is a fantastic way to finish the season; I really hope we can be out again next year for bigger and better things!"
Drew isn't the only Russell who has tasted success recently, his younger brother Aaren finished a successful first season racing cars by taking out the Rookie of the Year award in the NSW Formula Vee series last weekend.
Novocastrian Motorsport are working on a package for next year and currently have a few options on the table, subject to sponsorship.