Based in the Newcastle suburb of Broadmeadow within the Go Karts Go entertainment precinct, Novocastrian Motorsport prepares 2 Ford Falcon BFs for Drew Russell (#58) and Aaren Russell (#59) for the Fujitsu V8Supercar Series. Originally constructed by BJR, the Falcons are developed & tuned in-house by the Novocastrian Motorsport team, powered by Stone Brothers Racing engines.
Novocastrian Motorsport welcomes Carrington Equipment Group (CEG) together with CEG Rentals to the team sponsor family, as naming rights partners for the Bathurst round.
There was much anticipation in the Novocastrian Motorsport camp, with Bathurst the favourite round of the team. Team Principal Wayne Russell has started the Bathurst 1000 on 4 occasions himself (1994-1997), and knows only too well the intensity & challenge of racing around the big hill.
P1 Thu 6/10:
A very wet & greasy track greeted Drew & Aaren Russell in their first session of the weekend. The CEG-sponsored Fords were nicely balanced, soaking up the water well, but with painted lines & kerbs on the usually public road, it made for sometimes slippery going.
Both Drew and Aaren set their quickest times of the session half way through their runs. The onset of heavier rain, combined with inconsistent standing water, compromised the Novocastrian Motorsport drivers from improving their pace during this session.
Fastest (#10): C.Mostert 2:33.5741
Drew (#58): 2:41.6036 (11th Quickest, 11 laps)
Aaren (#59): 2:45.9775 (18th Quickest, 10 laps)
After the session, during the driver debrief the team identified key areas of setup to improve pace and consistency in the wet conditions. Changes were made to both cars in anticipation of the afternoon session, where both Drew & Aaren believed they could further demonstrate their speed.
P2 Thu 6/10:
Practice session abandoned due to fog on track, no times recorded.
An easy afternoon for the hard working crew, but both Drew and Aaren would much rather have more running time around Mt Panorama.
Q1 Fri 7/10:
Qualifying day dawned dry, the circuit dirty from the previous day’s rain. At this point, none of the Fujitsu series cars had any dry running to help hone their setups. This is the stage where experience plays a huge role. Running a ‘dry’ setup from previous years’ knowledge on the Mountain, Drew & Aaren went out to qualify.
Despite a long 6.213km lap, traffic was a major concern. With 28 Fujitsu V8 Supercar series cars on track, with drivers of varying experience of racing at Mt Panorama, getting the free space on the road to set a quick time was a challenge.
As the session went on, the surface of the track ‘rubbered up’ improving the tyres’ purchase on the road surface, increasing both car speed & driver confidence. It was variable lap to lap, and racing line to racing line, with competitors learning where they could run safely.
On his 3rd lap, Drew scraped the wall at Reid Park, coming to a full stop. Unable to refire the car, the incident brought out a red flag, stopping the session until the car was retrieved. As per the rules, Drew’s fastest time for the session was cancelled, and it would be up to the stewards of the meeting as to whether Drew would be allowed to start R1 as he hadn’t completed another qualifying lap.
Aaren continued his Qualifying run after the restart of the session, managing times in line with his previous race positions in the category. Consistent, within himself, comfortable.
Fastest (#80): A.Thompson 2:09.8488
Drew (#58): *:**.**** (**th Quickest, 3 laps)
Aaren (#59): 2:15.0960 (18th Quickest, 8 laps)
The session was soon over. Drew came back to the team paddock bunker, apologetic for scratching the #58 car’s new signage work, and giving the crew some repair work to do. Drew stated:
“I started to feel a front end vibration coming out of the Cutting. I pressed on, conscious
of the short qualifying session. Coming through Reid Park the Carrington Equipment Group
Falcon just wouldn’t respond to my steering input & glanced the wall front and rear.
I was in the groove at that point, up to 12th quickest and looking for more. A top 10 was
certainly on the cards.
I feel fine. The car will be back here shortly, time to get stuck in and get her ready for R1”
The Novocastrian Motorsport team quickly collected the damaged car #58 from Parc Ferme. The experienced team checked out the front suspension, finding that a steering bolt had sheared at the mounting point. Mechanical failure had caused the crash.
With less than two hours between Qualifying and R1, a broken steering rack, front upright, watts linkage, front & rear chassis rails, plus scraped bodywork were among the damage found to require correction.
Meantime, team principal Wayne applied to the event officials to allow Drew to start R1, despite not having set a time within 107% of the fastest lap in Qualifying. This request was granted, Drew’s speed in the previous sessions at the mountain working in his favour.
The team thought they could get the repair job done in time, removing the damaged bolt on components, with new replacements coming from inventory carried in the transporter. The challenge was in the damaged chassis rails, each needing to be pulled straight, remeasured on a jig,
and the new components then bolted back into the car.
Try as they might, and with the crews from both car #58 and #59 on the job, and with the guys from new sponsor Carrington Equipment Group looking on, the team simply ran out of time to get the work done safely. Drew was a non-starter in R1.
R1 Fri 7/10:
Aaren starts R1 under ominous skies, dark and gloomy, but the track is dry, as Drew looks on from the pit lane. It might rain, it might not.
It is very competitive at the race start, jockeying for positions up and down the field. Aaren finds his niche, fighting with Robert Cregan and James Brock for position, moving up the field as those ahead of him find the going too tough. Aaren finishes the race in P13 after starting P18, and knocking out a much quicker time than he had qualified at. Top job Aaren!
Fastest (#80): A.Thompson 2:10.2706
Drew (#58): *:**.**** (**th Place)
Aaren (#59): 2:12.9915 (13th Place)
The #59 car arrives back at the Novocastrian Motorsport paddock facility needing a wash, a refuel, and is ready to go again tomorrow. The driver is stoked too, with an infectious smile that comes from giving as good as you have got and having a good run.
The crew have been flat chat on #58, it will be ready for R2. Well done team!
R2 Sat 8/10:
The weather cannot make up its mind, it’s cloudy and gloomy, but the blue sky is just beyond the track. Wet or dry? The team thinks it will stay dry, so they put the ‘dry’ set up into each of the #58 and #59 cars for the race.
Drew is set for his first race start of the weekend. Yesterday is soon forgotten. He knows his crew have done a great job of resetting his #58 Falcon, it looks picture perfect on the grid in the Carrington Equipment Group colours. He knows the job ahead, a rear of field start is his afternoon’s delight, knowing that he has to race hard, and smart, in a car not yet run in the dry. But Drew is quietly confident he can get to midfield, and maybe trouble that top 10 again!
Aaren is ready to go too. A 13th place finish yesterday was a great result, and is his starting position for R2. The #59 car is ready to go. A small tweak made overnight as a result of driver input should also help maintain his pace today.
25 cars come under starters orders for R2. Drew doesn’t hold back at the start, by the end of the first lap, the #58 CEG Falcon has made up 8 places! Aaren is fighting for position again, the likes of Nick Percat and Daniel Jilesen trying to occupy the place owned by the #59 CEG Rentals Falcon. The car is better than yesterday, even if the laptimes aren’t showing it. The track is slower this race.
Drew carefully picks off the cars in front of him, the same competitors that have also been fighting Aaren. Drew’s set up isn’t quite right for the race, the lack of running yesterday hurting some outright speed, but didn’t dampen the racecraft! By lap 9, Drew is sitting on Aaren’s tail.
A great fightback from the rear of field! And that’s how the race finished. Aaren in 11th, Drew in 12th, only 1.9s apart! Well done Drew & Aaren!
Fastest (#80): A.Thompson 2:10.6467
Drew (#58): 2:13.7008 (12th Place)
Aaren (#59): 2:13.1981 (11th Place)ib
Drew (#58): “A character building weekend. I was very happy with my speed in qualifying, and of my R2 race pace aboard the Carrington Equipment Group #58 Falcon. Mechanical failures are a fact of life sometimes. I learned a lot about racing at the Mountain, about where and how you can pass other cars. I am looking to be selected for an endurance drive in the main game in 2012, and this experience has been invaluable to help achieve that goal”
Aaren (#59): “What a weekend! I think I did a good job the whole meeting. The car felt better and better as the meeting went on. Can we run here tomorrow? It should be even better still. Thank you very much to CEG Rentals for coming on board the team this weekend, and to my hard working crew who gave me a great car to drive!”
Wayne (Team Principal): “What can I say? There is nothing like the Mountain to show a team’s true colours. We have 2 straight cars and I am very proud of both drivers, they showed great spirit and race pace, while the crew worked their absolute hardest to keep the cars on track. Thank you too to Carrington Equipment Group for joining our team at the right time”
Michael Hector (Team Sponsor, CEG): “This was our first weekend as a sponsor of Novocastrian Motorsport. I have to say I am very impressed with what I have seen. This team is a genuine team, working together towards a common goal with no fuss or complaints. The kinds of people our company likes to do business with.
When you look at the efforts across the weekend, it’s hard not to be impressed by the driving line up. Drew was quick straight out of the box, and given the right opportunity, can definitely run with the level 1 guys in the main game. I mean, just look at how he carved up the field with a run from the back to the front with no running. Great stuff! Aaren is also doing a solid job, with more miles he too will improve”