Russell impresses at Bathurst again
Hydraulink Australia ambassador David Russell proved once again his outright speed and versatility at this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 both with the Nissan Motorsport V8 Supercar Team and as a last minute replacement driver in the three Porsche Carrera Cup races held at Australia’s largest motor racing event.
Drafted in to replace regular Porsche Carrera Cup driver Roger Lago in the JBS Australia Porsche 911 GT Cup Car for the Bathurst round of the national championship, Russell immediately asserted his speed by setting a sub-lap record time to top the field in the second practice session.
After qualifying third, behind the two championship leaders, Russell provided an outstanding display of his racecraft at the challenging 6.2 kilometre Mount Panorama circuit. Russell set the fastest lap and finished third in Friday’s shortened opening race after a thrilling dice with Carrera Cup Championship leader and Holden Racing Team V8 Supercar enduro driver Warren Luff.
Saturday’s race saw Russell clearly out-pace and out-race championship leader (Warren Luff) and while challenging for the lead on the final lap, he contacted the race leader (Steven Richards) to win the race, but was later relegated to fifth by the stewards. In Sunday’s third and final Carrera Cup race at Bathurst, Russell performed a number of thrilling high speed overtaking moves on his rivals to be second on track and challenging for the lead when a driving error from competitor Nick Foster saw the top three of Richards, Russell and Luff involved. Russell left his mark on the event by setting the fastest lap of the final race.
Russell’s performances in his return to the Carrera Cup after a five year absence provided race highlights in all three of the Bathurst races, easily gaining the most television coverage throughout the three races for his JBS Australia, Lago Coldstores and Hydraulink sponsored Porsche 911.
Returning to Kelly Racing / Nissan Motorsport for a fourth consecutive season as V8 Supercar endurance race co-driver, Russell was once again on the pace in each of his practice sessions and during the great race itself. Partnering double Bathurst 1000 winner Rick Kelly this year in one of the two Jack Daniel’s Racing Nissan Altima V8 Supercars that has Hydraulink signage for the season, the scene was set for a strong performance.
A highlight this year was the different strategy that the team deployed that saw Rick Kelly race from 14th on the starting grid to 6th by the first tyre, fuel and driver change pit stop. From there Russell set consistently fast lap times that saw him in the lead of the great race when it was suspended due to problems with the new Mount Panorama track surface on lap 60. After a one hour delay to rectify the circuit issues, Russell led the field for the re-start, pitting again to hand the car back to Kelly.
The duo’s consistent speed was very promising but a persistent engine misfire hampered their top speed, compromising their ability to remain in the top six. Nonetheless Kelly and Russell continued their challenge, Russell returning for a second short stint and Kelly bringing the car to the chequered flag after almost 8 hours and 161 laps in 8th place, one place behind their sister car of Todd Kelly and UK driver Alex Buncombe. Given the fact that another Nissan Motorsport car driven by James Moffat and Taz Douglas finished second after two accidents, coupled with the fact that Russell and Kelly’s pace was consistently faster, the duo were left to ponder about the podium finish that they realistically may have been able to achieve.
This year’s Bathurst 1000 garnered another top ten result to add to Russell’s tally of superb results at Bathurst, which includes two pole positions and two race wins at Mount Panorama in the Dunlop V8 Supercar Series (2010) along with victories in the 6, 12 and 24 Hour Production Car / GT Sportscar races held there in the past.
Russell will be returning to the Carrera Cup championship and the V8 Supercar Championship when he performs double duties once again at the Gold Coast 600 to be held on the streets of Surfers Paradise from October 24 to 26.
The Brisbane based driver was very pleased with his top level Carrera Cup performances at Bathurst. “It was a great weekend, we had the speed to definitely land a podium result in the Porsche until all of us in the top three were wiped out in the final race. It was very satisfying to get into Roger’s car and immediately shake up the championship leaders from the moment practice started and during each of the races, setting fastest laps and challenging to win at such a high profile event. It seems that I may have upset some of the regulars - they need to remember that I was employed to win races, not to make up the numbers. Any doubt about that has certainly disappeared now. I can’t wait to get back into the Porsche at the Gold Coast 600 and can’t thank team owner Roger Lago enough for giving me this opportunity to compete in a car that is more than capable of winning.”
Russell’s goal of landing the only Bathurst podium result that he is yet to achieve, a top three finish in Australia’s greatest motor race was narrowly missed this year.
“Rick and I had an amazing car at Bathurst. It was set-up brilliantly and we were both setting consistently fast lap times comfortably until the engine misfire set in. We did all we could to rectify it, but the problem persisted throughout the day. It is a credit to the team and to our consistency that we brought the car home in the top ten at 8th, driving around our issues and staying out of trouble all day, unlike many of our rivals.
“It was an awesome experience to lead and break away from the field at the re-start and considering our pace at Bathurst, we should be very quick at the Gold Coast 600. “
Russell extends his thanks to long term personal sponsor Hydraulink for being integral to his racing program for 2014 and is looking forward to continuing these successful partnerships well into the future.