All Posts by Amped Hard Case Admin

Bathurst 12 Hour 2017 with Skaife & Longhurst

Who would have ever thought Myself and Mark Skaife would be sharing a car together.  It’s official, in 2017, myself, Mark and Tony Longhurst will team up with SRMotorsport and the backing of BMW Australia, Vodafone and Castrol Racing Australia.  See this video from the official launch in Melbourne on 14 October 2016.

BT50 Ride at Norwell

Looks like I have got a bit of a challenge going now with Shane Van Gisbergen.  Stay tuned over the next few weeks to see where it is going to head. And by the way, this was done at the Norwell Motorplex in Queensland on a controlled skid pan, just to pacify the keyboard warrior, Eddie the expert, safety police!

Ingall Signs With Nissan for 2016 Endurance Cup

Very excited to be returning to the Driver’s Seat alongside Rick Kelly at this year’s Pirtek Endurance Cup. See below story as announced via Fox Sports website:-

LOOK out, Bathurst 1000: The Enforcer is back. Russell Ingall will trade commentary duties for a plum co-driver gig as he pursues a third
Bathurst career win.

Russell Ingall will once again trade his FOX SPORTS microphone for his race helmet for the Pirtek Enduro Cup, joining Rick Kelly at Nissan Motorsport. Ingall will co-drive Kelly’s No. 15 Sengled Nissan Altima at the Sandown 500, Bathurst 1000 and Gold Coast 600. After spending many years racing against each other, the pair will join forces in the pursuit of a third win each in the iconic Mount Panorama enduro.

“We’ve known each other and raced against each other for a number of years, I think we’ve got mutual respect for each other inside and outside the car,” Ingall said.

“It’s great to be able to join forces in the three biggest events in the year and with a genuine chance at coming out with getting a result as well.”

Ingall had his first proper hitout behind the wheel of the Altima at Nissan’s test day at Winton on April 26, the 52-year-old impressing Kelly with how quickly he got up to speed in the unfamiliar car.

“The endurance season is a critical time in the championship,” Kelly said.

“You need to have someone is your car that’s rock solid, someone where you can sit back and know that they’re going to do a great job.

“Coming away from the most recent test day his ability was out there for everyone to see.

“His capability to adapt to the car and gel with the guys was quite remarkable, so from that point of view it leaves us very excited for the endurance races to come.”

Ingall logged his first laps in a Nissan at Winton last week.
HANDSHAKE DEAL
It took Ingall just two runs in Kelly’s car to make up his mind about an Enduro comeback.

“It was half way through the day after the second run that it was confirmed in everyone’s mind that let’s do a deal,” he said.

“Rick came up to me and said ‘What do you think?’ I liked the car and felt comfortable in it; I got up to speed relatively easily without hanging the thing off the wall, and that was basically it.

“It was a handshake then and there, as easy as that.”

The Nissan Altima that Russell Ingall and Rick Kelly will drive in this year’s Supercars endurance events.
FACTORY RACER
The move sees Ingall join an elite club of drivers to race for three or more different factory race teams in modern Supercars history.But unlike Jim Richards (BMW, Nissan, Ford and Holden), Glenn Seton (Nissan, Ford, Holden), Neil Crompton (BMW, Holden, Nissan and Ford) and James Moffat (Ford, Nissan and Volvo) before him, Ingall will have driven for his three different factories in the space of three straight race weekends.

Ingall was drafted into the Holden Racing Team line-up for last year’s Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000 in the place of the injured James Courtney, then crossed the floor to Prodrive for the Gold Coast 600, substituting for the injured Chaz Mostert.

He will also extend his Supercars career statistics to 254 event starts and 587 race starts, records only surpassed this year by Craig Lowndes.

Ingall will have his first race for Nissan at the Wilson Security Sandown 500 on September 16-18 as well as participating in the co-driver session at Winton on Friday May 20

The Enforcers Championship Contenders for 2016 – DJR Team Penske

Final team in a series of interviews I did for V8 Supercars earlier in the year highlighting who I think will be the teams to watch in this years V8 Supercar Championship. It was a tough call to name the final team in my top five – but I think the new kids on the block at DJR Team Penske can succeed this year. Here’s what I had to say:-

Russell Ingall found it tough to name his final team in his top five contenders, but settled on new kids on the block DJR Team Penske.
Amalgamating last year and expanding to two cars for 2016, performance improved dramatically as last year went on, with Scott Pye behind the wheel and taking his first V8 Supercars podium in New Zealand.
Two-time Bathurst winner and 2005 champion Russell Ingall believes DJR Team Penske will be one to watch this season and rates new pick-up Fabian Coulthard an excellent choice. Though his old team Brad Jones Racing, was not far away from getting Ingall’s fifth choice for contenders, behind Triple Eight, Prodrive, Holden Racing Team and Garry Rogers Motorsport.
“It has been a tough call picking number five – the other four have been picked on team performance, car performance and drivers, so the fifth was the hardest one of the whole lot because quite a few are level pegging,” Ingall said, mentioning BJR and Nissan as well.
“But my decision for the five is DJR Team Penske for three reasons.
“I think they’ve got a very, very strong driver line-up – this should be Pye’s best year. He’s starting to get in the groove and get some experience – and Fabian Coulthard is probably the hungriest he’s ever been because he knows time is ticking. He’s got to perform.
“The second reason is the resources Penske brings along with the deal … and the third is cubic dollars. Let’s not beat around the bush – there’s plenty on tap if need be. Plenty. Forget everything else – money buys speed.”

The team
Given the way DJR Team Penske came on at the end of last year, Ingall believes placing it as the fifth contender may not be giving it enough credit – but all he has to go on is previous results.
“Their potential could be well higher,” he said.
“The people in the team are established, the facilities they’re working out of … rank up there with the best in the country.
“I think it’s got all the ingredients to do it, and is building fast.”
The speed of the team’s improvement has really impressed Ingall, too.
“That’s one of the things that shocked me – how quickly they’ve moved to bring the standard of the presentation, the team itself and the mechanic base, the whole deal,” he said.
“It shouldn’t surprise me though, because we are talking about someone who’s been heavily involved in a lot of categories over a lot of years … they know how to do it right, and make no mistake, someone like Roger Penske doesn’t like finishing second.”
Ingall believes the team will feel the pressure representing a name synonymous with success.
“It’s strange because you’re not looking at pressure because of sponsors – at the end of the day money’s not going to be the problem. Their pressure is different – it’s not pressure to perform to keep the team running and keep the sponsorship – their pressure will be to perform to keep the owner happy.”
Friend and former teammate of Marcos Ambrose, Ingall said there was no point revisiting that piece of history and ultimately supported Ambrose’s decision to step back.
“I’ve spoken to Marcos about that – and Marcos did the right thing, the best for the team and for Scott it worked out well. “
DJR Team Penske topped the times at the Queensland test day last week, which Ingall sees as a sign of things to come. He said he would have been disappointed if the team hadn’t expanded to two cars this year.
“From what I’ve seen testing wise, the cars are very quick – at that Ipswich test that was a very quick time considering it was super hot conditions. So they’re on the money – absolutely on the money.
“So watch this space on that one. At the end of the day they’re in fifth spot, they’re going to be dark horses.”

Scott Pye
Ingall could tell the podium result in New Zealand last year was a big relief for Pye, who held a trophy for the first time in three years in the category.
From here on in, he has to aim for results.
“They had to use last year as a testing year, as well as Scott finding his feet – but I think now he’s had those races under his belt, he knows what he wants to do.”
Having seen the 26-year old’s data, Ingall is impressed with Pye’s driving style and his Triple Eight pedigree, managed by pit lane heavyweight Roland Dane.
“He has a unique style the way he drives the car – once they’ve moulded the car to him it will work. He does everything right in the car,” Ingall said.
“Remember, he’s had tuition from Triple Eight … he’s got a very good background on how to pedal the thing. I like what I see with the data.”
Ingall would like to see Pye stay out of trouble this year and use his judgement on when to go for the big moves.
“I think he gets tangled up in a lot of things, he needs to sort his racing out a little as well.
“Sometimes he gets a little bit anxious and probably dives in holes he shouldn’t and all of a sudden there’s bits hanging off the car.
“But again, that’s just racing experience and miles. Once you start getting that under control, I think he’ll be good.”
It will be a big internal battle though, in Ingall’s opinion.
“Scott is going to have his hands full with his teammate – no doubt about that – but that’s good.
“It means he’s got someone who’s going to be super fast, he can lean on his data, find out what he does to go quicker. Fabian’s a good qualifier – Scott’s a bit inconsistent in qualifying – so he can lean on that.
“I think Fabian will be on top of him a bit overall, but once he picks up a little bit I think from half season onwards it could be neck and neck.”
There’s plenty of promise for the driver, who finished second in the Dunlop Series in 2012.
“I think Scotty will have his best year in V8 Supercars, definitely. Will he be a championship contender – no I think he’s a little bit away. But he’ll be very competitive. He’ll be a top five finisher.”

Fabian Coulthard
“Big expectations,” was Ingall’s first thought.
Though he has won races and racked up pole positions, Coulthard has fallen short in final championship stakes in recent years. But that could change, according to The Enforcer.
“Fabian did a really good job in the BJR car last year and again there were inconsistencies that cost him from challenging for the championship. But I don’t think those inconsistencies were all him … that’s why I didn’t put BJR in fifth place over Penske.”
Coulthard achieved his first V8 Supercars podium in a Falcon with Paul Cruikshank Racing back in 2009, which bodes well for his Ford switch this year.
“He knows the Falcon and people forget he was actually quite quick in that Falcon. He knows how to drive it. From the test results he was right on the mark for the first test day,” Ingall said.
“Then you’ve got the fact – this is it. He’s got to do something.
“There’s no more excuses now, got a good car, got a good team, he made the jump – he could’ve made himself a good home at BJR but … I think his choices were spot on.
“The team can build around him but he can’t afford to hang around anymore because this is it – he’s got to nail it.”
Ingall believes Coulthard’s racing has improved a lot over the years and he was measured about taking risks.
“A risky crash win compared to ‘I’ll settle for a podium’ – he knows how to do that now and that’s how you win championships. So I think he’s going to be really strong.”
Is he a title contender?
“I wouldn’t count him out for a championship win – the only thing holding back is the team making mistakes. But you’ve got to remember it’s only their second year as an amalgamated team….
“It could be the year of the Fabs. So let’s wait and see.
“Again, another Kiwi… he’s been on the shores long enough, so we can claim him as a part Aussie – he has less of an accent than Murph!”

The Enforcer’s Contenders:
1. Triple Eight Race Engineering
2. Prodrive Racing Australia
3. Holden Racing Team
4. Wilson Security GRM
5. DJR Team Penske

The Enforcers Championship Contenders for 2016 – GRM

Part 4 in the series of interviews with V8 Supercars outlining who I think will be strong in 2016. GRM should win races but needs to knuckle down to challenge for the championship.

Former V8 Supercars champion and two-time Bathurst winner Russell Ingall places Wilson Security GRM as the team to challenge the ‘big three’ this season.
With Triple Eight, Prodrive and HRT his top contenders, the FOX Sports expert commentator lists the factory Volvo outfit next on the scale of threats this season.
Ingall believes it will take something special for the team to take the title this year, but has no doubt the squad – with young but established star Scott McLaughlin and new recruit and mate James Moffat – will ruffle some feathers.
The Enforcer spoke to v8supercars.com.au for part four of his contenders series this week.

The team
Team boss Garry Rogers is known for injecting some fun into pit lane and last year was inducted into the V8 Supercars Hall of Fame for his contribution to the sport over the years.
Acknowledged for unearthing some of motorsport’s best young talent – including current Kiwi star Scott McLaughlin – Ingall also congratulated the veteran on bringing a new sponsor into the sport with Volvo, earning sensational results in the first year in the championship.
The funny thing was though, the second year was not as fruitful.
“Going on that 2014 performance, everyone was going, ‘man, they’re going to be the team to beat’,” Ingall said.
“Everyone was talking about GRM and Volvo leading into the 2015 year as potential championship winners. Then we go to Adelaide in the first round for 2015 and literally the wheels fell off! Mechanical dramas engine dramas, you name it, all the way through … the reliability really cost them last year and that was a bit of a shock.”
The team managed to shake the issues in the second half of the year, with McLaughlin earning pole positions nad podium finishes – New Zealand particularly impressed Ingall, where the local driver earned a pole position and podium finish across the three races.
“I think the issue for them … I think they were concentrating so heavily last year on getting the car’s reliability sorted out they probably didn’t have enough time to dedicate to finding more speed, when other teams were.
“It’s very hard to sort reliability out and find speed with the car. One comes with the other – if the car’s not going around the track, you’re not going to find speed!”
Ingall warns that being caught up solving problems means less time developing with the front-runners.
“What concerns me a little bit this year is if they roll out with the same speed they did towards the end of last year, I don’t think it’s going to be quick enough,” he said.
“No doubt they’ve cured a lot of their mechanical issues – but have they got enough speed to actually be a challenger for the title? I don’t think so out the gate. I think they’ll do the same as last year, they’ll come on stronger, because they’ll probably start developing now they’ve got the mechanical woes out the way, they’ll start developing as the year goes on.
“So if they get through Adelaide with a reasonable result – unlike last year – and stay around the top five and stay in the hunt then they’ll start working on finding speed in their car.”
A positive start at the gruelling Clipsal 500 is the key.
“As a team, I think if they can just hang in at the start, they’ll be there or thereabouts at the end.
“Will they be up for the championship? The other teams we’ve already covered are strong, they’re going to have to really come up with something special. “They’ll win races, will they win a championship? I’m not so sure. Not this year is my thoughts.”

Scott McLaughlin
Ingall knows 22-year old McLaughlin is quick – and always recognises a driver who can qualify well – but questions whether his three seasons in V8 Supercars is enough experience to fight consistently for the title.
“Scotty McLaughlin is like Shane van Gisbergen – he’s definitely come out with the same sort of zest. They’re definitely very talented drivers – I don’t know what they’ve put in the water in New Zealand but they’re producing a lot of reasonable drivers at the moment and he’s definitely one of them,” the FOX Sports expert said.
“The thing Scotty is very good at is one lap. We’ve seen him pull out some one lap qualifying performances that were probably above what the car has been capable of. So he’s probably been driving the car faster than what the car should because when you see it at race pace it tends to drop back a little bit.”
Qualifying up the frnt – which McLaughlin is often able to do – means staying out of trouble. But consistency is the other attribute Ingall is looking for.
“I think as a race driver, he’s still learning … we forget he’s still very young, he still hasn’t got that many race miles up in the category compared to many other drivers he’s got to be going up against,” he said.
“I think he still needs some race miles under him and to learn – I went up to my last year [in V8 Supercars] and was still learning stuff.
“I think he’s still got to learn a little bit more and as far as consistency, where to go and where not to go. So that part of it, if you take the whole picture – yes he’ll be a top five contender, but he’s got to have something special to happen to win the championship though.”
While many top teams have now locked away their co-drivers for 2016, there is a question mark surrounding one seat at GRM. David Wall is set to return for the team and while GRM’s Dunlop Series driver James Golding is an obvious option, Ingall thinks the team needs an all-out assault on the enduros this year.
“I think the endurance races are going to tell a lot for Scotty. That’s been the area they’ve been let down in the last couple of years, the endurance races.
“That’s where Garry has to think very carefully about who they select … because I know he goes on the youth aspect but at the end of the day it’s no good taking a punt if the car is going to come back with bits hanging off it all of the time. No matter how good a driver Scotty is, if it comes to those enduros and he keeps coming back with parts hanging off it, Scotty’s not going to be able to show what he can do … maybe youth won’t be the right call up in those circumstances if they’re going to be serious about winning and finishing top 5 in the championship.”
Is there an experienced co-driver out there, though? Is there a proven winner who has driven all three races recently available?
“Well there you go – funny you say that! I don’t know, I might be too old for Garry. Or I might blow his youth theory out the water!”

James Moffat
Ingall believes Moffat will be able to push McLaughlin and help develop the Volvo S60 further.
“I think James is a great addition, I think he’s got enough experience now, he’s done enough race miles,” Ingall said.
“He’s done a lot of racing – when you look at it, he’s done a lot more racing than Scotty has. And that’s what the teams needs – someone to not only push Scotty along but that they can compare notes and shortcut the process of finding car speed at each individual meeting. That’s the key to getting on top of it at a race meeting.”
Moffat boasts one race win in his Supercars career in a Nissan, but is considered a talented driver by many in pit lane.
“I’m a bit of a closet fan of James, I think this is his time to shine.
“He’s definitely got the speed and he’s got a bit of aggression in him too, which I like. He’s got a bit of his old man in him [the great Allan Moffat], which I like – he won’t get pushed around, he’ll push back again if he does.”
Ingall believes the Volvo will respond to Moffat’s driving style and believes this is the 31-year old’s chance to really make his mark in the category.
“He has to make this year work. He’s going to have the equipment to do it – I think the car will suit him too,” the FOX Sports commentator said.
“I think the whole package will be very, very good, so I’m really hoping James lifts and pushes hard and if he does, he could almost come out as being the lead driver there if it gets it right … I know everyone’s looking at Scotty to be the shining light there but make no mistake, when James starts getting on top of it, gets a bit of confidence he could very well come out with just as good if not better results – so look out on that one.”
Moffat’s previous opportunities have been with developing teams – “the Nissan thing, as good as it was, they were still developing”.
“Now he’s in a car that is developed and very quick – he can actually concentrate.
“In that situation where the equipment is 95 per cent there, he can concentrate on driving techniques and fine tuning all the time. That’s what Triple Eight always has the advantage in and it’s a pleasure for the drivers – they know the car is there or thereabouts and they can concentrate on finding that little bit of speed.
“I think he’s going to be in for a great year – I certainly hope so.”

The Enforcers Championship Contenders for 2016 – HRT

Part 3 in the series of interviews I did for V8 Supercars outlining how I think the main contenders will fair in this year’s V8 Championship Series:-

Russell Ingall raced two of the V8 Supercars’ biggest races with one of pit lane’s most recognised teams last year and believes the Holden Racing Team is on track for more results as it downsizes for the 2016 season.

Before that, he spent two seasons racing in the Walkinshaw group alongside current stars and former champions James Courtney and Garth Tander and believes both are brilliant racers – capable of more than we have seen in recent years.

In part three of his series with v8supercars.com.au, two-time Bathurst winner, 2005 champion and FOX Sports expert commentator Russell Ingall explains why HRT could be the ones to take it to Triple Eight this year, if they play their cards right.

The team

It’s a make or break year for the factory Holden squad, in need of an improvement in results as it reduces to two cars.

Ingall points out the team is shrinking while competitor Triple Eight grows to a third car, and emphasised the significance of a downsize of this scale.

“After having spent some time there, I personally think it is the right move,” Ingall told v8supercars.com.au.

“I know there’s always financial reasons … but that aside, if you look at team structure, I think going back to those two cars is the right thing to do.

“It’s tidier, you have a lot more focus with the cars and drivers. I don’t think there are any downsides.”

One thing that surprised Ingall racing for HRT last year was the magnitude of support for the team.

“The supporter base is massive – It actually blew me away when I was driving those two races, how big and loyal their support base is.

“I think from a fan perspective as well, focusing on those two cars they can build on that … commercially, as well as being competitive, I think it’s the right thing to do – and at the right time.

“I think the pace of the cars is better, I think they’re starting to understand the cars more. Now’s a big opportunity – and they have to perform.”

Never shy to tell it how it is, Ingall commended HRT’s ‘no excuses’ approach moving forward. Courtney’s accident sidelined him for three races and put him out of contention for the title last year, but Ingall doesn’t believe that made a difference overall.

“As they’ve quite publicly said, excuse time is over. We’ve gone through that rebuilding phase and all the rest of it – they had to perform and last year the performance still wasn’t good enough, they didn’t have enough car speed.

“Even barring the accident, they weren’t going to win the championship and that’s what they need to do – they need to win the championship.”

The Enforcer emphasised the team must be a consistent performer across the whole season – but his words weren’t all critical.

“There are a lot of good aspects there and a lot of good people there,” he said.

“I think there’s just – each year something lacks.

“I felt the cars last year – at certain stages, they are very, very quick. But it’s understanding how you get that speed and repeating it.

“I think the biggest thing with any race team is the ability to repeat that speed not only at the track you’re at, but every other track as well. That’s easier said than done, mind you – that’s the secret of motor racing.”

This year is their best shot, Ingall says, offering a small piece of advice.

“Come out hard, come out fast and keep that momentum going. As they’ve said, don’t just be a street circuit team, they’ve got to be good everywhere.”

James Courtney

Given Courtney’s efforts overseas as well as in V8 Supercars, Ingall easily rates him as one of the best in the category and believes the 2010 champ is the driver most likely to take it to Triple Eight this year.

“He’s won the championship [and with his] goals and results overseas, in my books he’s definitely talented,” he said.

“A lot of people forget he did make it all the way to Formula One testing … you don’t get to those sort of positions by fluke, and you don’t do it by money, he did it purely on talent. That’s why I tend to put James around the top three drivers, talent-wise.”

His downside?

“Sometimes I question his focus because he likes having a good time with his racing. There’s nothing wrong with that, you’ve got to enjoy what you do as well, but sometimes he needs to knuckle down a bit more,” the FOX Sports commentator said.

“[He needs to] really concentrate in the lead up to every event, because I think he’s going have the car to perform this year – where I don’t think they had before.

“I don’t believe it’s been all James’ fault the results haven’t come over the years. You can be the best driver in the world, if you haven’t got the car under you, in the current climate of V8 Supercars, you’re not going to win.

“I think once they give him what he needs and they focus on that, he’s definitely going to be a strong challenger – so I still put him down as a championship contender.”

Given the high-pressure circumstances of Courtney’s championship win with DJR in 2010, battling head to head with Triple Eight at Homebush, Ingall knows Courtney has it in him.

“Everyone would remember that last round – it was a nail-biter right up to the end. He came out on top of that one and I think he’s got that mindset of knowing how to win a championship … all he needs now is the car under him.”

Ingall has a lot of faith in Courtney and believes he could upset Roland Dane’s squad this year.

“He will probably be one of the more consistent ones, I believe, to take it to the three Triple Eight drivers … but he has to focus, he has to keep the focus on the job from Adelaide right through to the end. If he does that I think he might see his name again on the trophy.”

Garth Tander

The 2007 champion can’t be accused of failing to focus on the job.

“He doesn’t worry about who he upsets, both on and off the track, and is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, racer in the field,” The Enforcer said.

“Last year, through pretty average qualifying, he easily passed more cars than any other driver on the grid – easily. Mostly on the first two laps.”

But, as Ingall noted with Craig Lowndes, Tander needs to improve his qualifying so the pressure isn’t on to pass so many cars on track.

“When we used to have shootouts at most rounds, he was a one lapper, he could always put it in. For some reason, that seems to have disappeared.

“I think it’s one of those things that when you get a bad run like that, it starts getting in your head. You start focusing too much on it instead of it just coming naturally, and it doesn’t get any better.

“Unless that comes back, it’s going to hurt him again in the championship, because you can’t qualify in 15th, 13th and down there – because no matter how good a racer you are, by the time you get through the field on a good day, you may get fifth.”

Ingall offered some insight into the Tander he has seen at the circuit over the years.

“He’s got to stop racing his teammates. Garth’s biggest thing is, ‘you’ve got to finish in front of your teammates’. Don’t worry about your teammates – start concentrating on finishing in front of everyone else as well.

“I know motor racing is about psyching out drivers and the psychological side of it, but sometimes eventually you’ve got to go, ‘I’m going to go fast and win races, and that will get me the results’.”

While he places Tander slightly below Courtney on the list of contenders, Ingall could not fault the #2 driver’s aggressive racing.

“There’s a little bit of work I think for the boy – but make no mistake, I’m taking nothing away from his racing.

“Like I said, he’s probably one of the best racers in the field – if we had reverse grid races, he’d probably win the championship. But unfortunately she’s a qualifying championship, so he’s got to get that sorted.”

The Enforcer’s Championship Contenders for 2016 – ProDrive

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Bringing you Part 2 in the series of interviews I did for V8 Supercars outlining how I think the main contenders will fair in this years V8 Championship Series:-

The Enforcer’s Contenders: Prodrive
Russell Ingall looks at Triple Eight’s main rival in part two of his 2016 contenders series.

Last year, two-time Bathurst winner and 2005 Champion Russell Ingall didn’t just watch on as an expert FOX SPORT commentator – he had the opportunity to get behind the wheel at the year’s biggest races with two of the top teams in pit lane.
With v8supercars.com.au, Ingall has named his top contending teams for the 2016 championship, and this week looks at Prodrive Racing Australia, for part two in his series.
The fan favourite, who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, labelled Prodrive “almost equal” with Triple Eight, who he reviewed here last week.
But he gives current champion Mark Winterbottom the edge over Chaz Mostert in 2016, after filling in for the young gun last season.
Ingall talks through the team’s strengths – as witnessed first hand at the Gold Coast when he drove with young gun Cameron Waters – and why they’ll push Triple Eight’s three stars right to the wire.

The team
Ingall admits that before he drove for Prodrive last year he never had much to do with team boss Tim Edwards. But after spending time within the team, at both the track and workshop, he was impressed by the feeling amongst the group and the calm of Mark Winterbottom behind the scenes.
He doesn’t mind Edwards’ explosive comments, either.
“Reflecting on the 2015 series, I think both team and driver were both deserved winners,” Ingall said.
“I think Mark’s copped a lot of criticism in the past for being the ‘nearly’ man – I only know too well about that after finishing four times runner up. I was seen as getting a bit edgy, but his stats of finishing in the top five in his career are pretty impressive.
“Ok, everyone counts the winners and forgets the rest, but his consistency over the years has been pretty remarkable – probably the highest of any other driver. It was probably only a matter of time before he actually got a championship.”
The FOX SPORTS expert believes both Winterbottom and the team lifted, and dispelled some of the negative reputation it gained over the years.
“I think as a team they were definitely the strongest team as a whole with car speed – because that’s the team, they extracted a lot of speed from the new Falcon … they did a great job with the car, they made very few mistakes, they made good pit strategy calls, all the things they were branded with in previous years, they’ve definitely fixed.”
Ingall was impressed with the team and felt a definite harmony within the group.
“Every single team up and down pit lane has got issues internally – any team that says they don’t, they’re just lies. Every team has issues, it’s just the extent of those issues. It’s a tough gig – you’ve got a lot of individuals living in each other’s back pocket every other weekend and it’s a hard sport, there’s a lot of finger pointing that goes on. I think they seem to manage that the best of what I’ve experienced in the past.
“I think the team dynamics were very good – good engineering base, good mechanic base, the way they engage their sponsors is very good – which is important.
“As a whole, it was a good vibe, so I give them a good tick for that and make no mistake, it’s as big a part of it as anything. Because, unless that’s right, you’re not going to win the championship. You’ve got to have the whole deal running.”
While Ingall says Prodrive will need to find some speed before Clipsal, he’s confidence there are improvements to be made.
“There’s no doubt Red Bull picked it up so they have to find a bit of pace.
“I think after driving the car there are bits and pieces there that could make it quicker – there’s pace in the car.
“All in all … I still believe Red Bull have the strongest overall challengers in the drivers, but Prodrive with Winterbottom isn’t that far away. So I think he’ll definitely be on the list of top threes for sure.”

Mark Winterbottom
Ingall puts ‘Frosty’ up there as “equal first” with the Red Bull drivers after his performance last year.
‘The Enforcer’ is the first to admit he had doubts about Winterbottom holding on for his first championship victory, once Triple Eight came on strong in the second half of the year.
“Everyone was waiting for him to fall over at the last hurdle and he didn’t,” he said.
“Even I thought that … but after I spent that Gold Coast race with them, I think he played along with the media a little bit as far as that bit of presuming he wouldn’t win.
“Behind the scenes, he was the most relaxed I’ve seen a race driver considering he was going for the win. I think he had it under control. He knew what he had to do, where he had to finish, he had enough confidence in himself that even though Red Bull had picked up their pace, he could still finish it off and still be competitive, which he was.”
Many current drivers commended ‘Frosty’ on earning ARMOR ALL Pole Position on Saturday in Sydney when he had to deliver, and Ingall was equally impressed.
“I changed my view from the Gold Coast race … to be quite honest unless the car broke he was going to win it so there were no problems with that at all.
“That’s not only a team turnaround as far as the mistake side of things, but I think Mark’s found a bit of inner strength as well in keeping it together.
“It’s a tough gig when it’s coming down to the crunch [when you’re] at the last round and then you’ve got to finish the deal. It’s pretty nerve wracking stuff – this is the thing a lot of these drivers have worked for, for years, it doesn’t happen too often, not too many people get it across the line and now he’s got his name on the cup. I think he did a remarkable job.”
A consistent top five finisher, and a Bathurst winner from 2013, Ingall says Winterbottom isn’t just a flash in the pan, and will be more threatening now he has one title under his belt.
“All of a sudden the weight’s off the shoulders and you know how to do it, the pressure’s off to do it because you have already done it once – let’s go again.
“So I think he’ll still be very strong in the season of 2016 and I still think he’ll be a championship contender.”

Chaz Mostert
While Winterbottom’s win was a big story from 2015, his teammate’s was colossal. Ingall’s assessment of Mostert may surprise some people, though.
“I think there’s a question mark on whether he’s actually a championship winner,” he said.
“I’m just not too sure. It’s a fifty-fifty in my head at the moment – but make no mistake, out of the top five drivers in the category he’s definitely amongst that.”
There were some costly errors during Mostert’s season, which gives Ingall the impression he may need a bit more time before challenging the likes of six-time champ Whincup and centurion Lowndes.
“I still think he’s a year or so away from it. I still think he’s got a little bit of learning to do and there were a few crashes and shunts and a few mistakes. I think there’s still another season there to get it absolutely refined.
“Mark, I suppose it took a lot of seasons before he actually got it down pat to string a full season together, and I still believe there’s another year as there’s going to be some pretty tough competition from Triple Eight.
“It’s not going to be an easy run – overall I’d still be thinking Mark would be a little bit stronger, especially out the gate. But if Mostert can hang in there in the top five until mid way through the year, I think he’ll be strong at the end.”
Ingall does acknowledge he would have been Winterbottom’s nearest rival last year without the accident.
“What happened was just so freakish and so bizarre,” Ingall said.
“The injuries he sustained that put him out for the rest of the year – otherwise at the end of the day, he was probably going to be Mark’s ultimate challenger. We would’ve been talking about Mostert in Sydney, not about Lowndes as far as who’s going to win the championship.”
Acknowledging how amazing it was for Mostert to be in contention so soon after joining the championship mid-2013, Ingall credits his qualifying ability as his biggest asset.
“That’s what’s going to put him in a strong position – that ability alone to pull that one lap out because qualifying is everything … ultimately that’s what Lowndes’ downfall was, average qualifying.
“Chaz has got that in spades and up to a point even better than what Mark was, so if he can maintain that this year there’s no reason at all – but barring no injuries affect him at all he can be hot on the list of contenders.”
Heading to the hardest race of the year at the Clipsal 500, Ingall says Mostert will need to keep a cool head and ease into the season, coming back from his broken leg, wrist and knee issues.
“There’s no doubt it messes with your confidence a bit – that was one of the biggest shunts we’ve ever seen in V8 Supercars, and it would knock you around … play on the mind a little bit and make you more cautious.
“But that’s just a matter of blending into it for a couple of rounds, getting the fitness back up and then pressing on with it. So that’s why I’m sort of saying, maybe, it’ll be tough for him to be an outright contender.”

What do you think of Ingall’s analysis of Prodrive? Comment below and head back to v8supercars.com.au for next week’s analysis from the FOX SPORTS expert and former champion.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

The Enforcer’s Contenders in 2016 V8 Championship

In case you missed it, here’s the first of a series of stories I did for V8 Supercars outlining who I think the contenders for this years V8 Supercar Championship will be:-

Enforcer’s Contenders
Russell Ingall analyses the teams he believes will be pushing for the title this year – starting with the three-pronged attack from Triple Eight.

Two-time Bathurst winner and 2005 V8 Supercars Champion Russell Ingall is gearing up for a big year in V8 Supercars, after a flurry of driver movements, car changes and a new driver with the #1 on the windscreen.
Having raced with two top teams in the Pirtek Enduro Cup last year, Ingall has an insight behind the scenes, as well as watching on as an export commentator during the races.
Speaking to v8supercars.com.au ‘The Enforcer’ outlines the teams he believes will be contenders for this year’s title, starting with the newly expanded Triple Eight Race Engineering.

The team
Ingall identified Triple Eight as the key contending team this season, with six-time champ Jamie Whincup, six-time Bathurst winner Craig Lowndes and one of the most exciting racers in Shane van Gisbergen within the fold.
Taking the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 last year and the teams championship, Roland Dane’s operation strengthened in the second half of the year and took the fight to Sydney.
The battle for the year’s last win was between Whincup and van Gisbergen in a show of what to expect this time around.
For Ingall, the choice to expand to three – and then manage those personalities – is what is fascinating about 2016.
“Their biggest story is Roland going against everything he’s always said he’d never do and run more than two cars,” The Enforcer told v8supercars.com.au.
“He’s gone against his concept of team dynamics … and I think the reason why he’s changed that is the van Gisbergen factor. He wanted to find a home for him and putting on a third car was the only way to do it.”
Three solid shots at the championship is something Dane would have considered, according to Ingall, and this covers him in the future if Lowndes or Whincup choose to move on from the series, possibly for overseas opportunities, as both have hinted in the past.
“All of a sudden, he’s got a replacement there straight away if one of those guys decides they want to do something else – so he’s covering himself,” Ingall said.
“With the strongest driver in the field at the moment and one of the hottest properties, he’s covered himself down the road – so I think h’s looking bit further down the hill than just next year.
“I’m sure there’s other reasons … you have a third car there to win a championship, which is always good, but I think there’s more to the picture than just that.
“Roland’s pretty astute, he always looks long term – he doesn’t look at the end of the street, he looks in the next state.”
While there’s no question all three will be key contenders this year, the interesting part is how the team will manage it.
“You venture into 2016 and you’ve got three of them in the top five of the championship, all the way through to the end – tell me there’s not going to be something going down?” Ingall said.
“There’s going to be some issues somewhere along the line – it’ll be just a matter of when, not if, it comes down to the pointy end of the championship and those three are in contention.
“Man, I’ll tell you what – you’ll have to be more diplomatic than a politician to sort that out! To think everything’s going to go smooth and rosy and everyone’s going to get along and play nicely – good luck, there’s no hope in hell.”

The drivers – Jamie Whincup
Ingall described Whincup as a “complex character” and who reminds him of a former championship-winning teammate.
“He’s complex in the way that, when he’s away from the race track you never hear much from him. He reminds me very much of a more polished Marcos Ambrose,” Ingall said.
“Marcos is a bit of a farm boy, he never used to worry about wearing Gucci or Prada shoes … Whincup reminds me of him in the way he goes racing, how they analyse things at the track, but then when he leaves the track he’s gone.
“He seems to be able to switch on and off for race weekends. Marcos was like that too – he’d have gone up to the hinterland in Queensland, we never saw him until the next race meeting.”
The challenge is what he thrives on, Ingall says.
“The goal is to win championships and win races – he’s done a lot of that, like Marcos did, they’ve won a lot of championships, and a hell of a lot of races. When you’ve completed your goals, you go, well, where to from now? ‘All I’m doing is repeating the same things’.
“I think the challenge last year of getting the car competitive again sparked him up, the challenge of ‘rightio, I haven’t got a car advantage, I have to lift if I’m going to win races again’.
“You get a bonus because the team did get the car going again, he lifted as well and towards the end of 2015 he was seriously fast again. I think that perked him up because there was a challenge there.”
Now the challenge will be competing against ‘SVG’.
“Not to say by any means that Lowndes is a slouch – but I think having Shane knocking on the door there and we saw in the latter part of the year, especially at Homebush, how easily matched those two were.
“That could spark him up as well, and it’ll be the fight that’ll intrigue him more than anything.
“I think a lot of punters would say Shane’s going to dominate now, he’s going to have a better car. He beat Whincup at some races with what might be seen as not the latest and greatest Triple Eight equipment [with Tekno]. So that might spark Jamie on again and reinvigorate him to carry on…
“I think this will energise him – he’s got a serious challenger within his own team, and he’ll want to prove he’s still number one. I think it’s going to be a really intriguing battle between those two.”

Shane van Gisbergen
Ingall considers himself a fan of the quick Kiwi, who boasts a best championship finish of second in 2014.
“I like Shane … he showed me a lot of respect when I was racing – a lot of other drivers didn’t, but he did and from a newbie I really appreciated that.
“I think he is naturally gifted – he is very much like Lowndes, he just gets in a car and goes fast. Probably half the time they don’t know why they do, they just do.”
The Enforcer also loves van Gisbergen’s hunger to drive anything and everything – something he thinks not enough drivers take advantage of.
“Drivers that get true street cred are the ones who are multi-talented as far as jumping in anything, going good and competing against other drivers around the world – I think that’s really where you make your mark in motorsport and I like Shane because of that.
“He’s not afraid to have a stab at anything or anyone, and have a good run at it.”
No question, Ingall says, SVG will win the title in the coming years.
“He’ll win the championship, there’s no doubt about it, and this is his best opportunity to do it.
“He’s calmed down a little bit – well, while I say calmed down, he was still pretty loose last year! But that’s all part of it, it’s good.
“He’s got a psychological advantage because when he turns a wheel in 2016 some of the people still remember some of the antics and think, ‘this guy plays for keeps’. He makes them a bit nervous before you even get on the track – so I think he’s got an advantage all round.”

Craig Lowndes
While Ingall believes in Whincup and van Gisbergen, there’s no way he’s writing off Lowndes.
A competitor he’s raced against for years, Ingall understands the one element of Lowndes racing that could be improved.
“The only chink in Craig’s armour – and not that I can talk because I had the same kind of issues – is qualifying.
“His qualifying was very hit and miss. He’s one of the best racers in the field and up to a point I think in the field races better than Whincup – when he’s buried in the field he’ll move to the front better than what Whincup would.
“But because of his qualifying performances, that’s what’s what cost him the championship and that’s the part of his racing style that he’s going to have to shine up – doesn’t have to worry about the speed, doesn’t have to worry about passing, just has to worry about qualifying better.”
Some may see the separation as TeamVortex to be a disadvantage but Ingall believes it will play into Lowndes’ hands.
“I think he’s always flourished a little as the solo runner. He’ll be debriefing with them all, but the perception of being individual I think will do him good – I think he’ll like that, the focus is on him and the one sponsor.”
Ingall has no doubt the #888 racer will be competitive and a title threat.
“Some of his performances these last few rounds – especially in New Zealand after that tyre failure, coming back again and getting points was just phenomenal.
“He still took the fight to Frosty right up to Sydney – that was a bloody good effort, it was just the consistency that let him down.
“There’s no doubt about it, he’s still in with a shot for another championship.”

Do you agree with the Enforcer? Is Triple Eight the team to beat this year? Stay tuned for Ingall’s analysis of those he believes are the 2016 contenders.

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