FINALE TOP TEN SETTLES RUSSELL’S BEST CHAMPIONSHIP FINISHES AS DREW MAKES AN EXIT
Another year of the Dunlop V8 Supercar Series racing has come to a close on the streets of Sydney as Newcastle’s Russell brothers round out a fourth dual top ten finish for the Novocastrian Motorsport team this season, cementing the Go-Karts-Go/Big Wheel and CEG Rentals entries inside the championship’s outright top ten as Drew fought to take his #58 Falcon to seventh in his final season of V8 Supercar competition, while Aaren’s #59 Ford showed consistency to take ninth for the season, the team’s best ever championship finishes.
Taking to the Sydney concrete canyon for Aaren’s fourth and Drew’s sixth and final visit, the Novocastrian Motorsport Falcons had welcomed local support with major partner Big Wheels Tyre & Auto adorning the #58, while also introducing team partnerships with Rentfleet and Workible. Opening the pressure laps in Saturday’s qualifying, the new look Big Wheel Ford was sitting strong in the top three at the half way point of the session before the red flags began to fall. The interrupted session saw Drew contest with a loose sway bar and cracked head, while Aaren’s hot laps were broken by the flags and included a graze of the wall into the final turn while pushing hard, the session setting Aaren’s CEG Rentals entry in tenth, while Drew would start the opening race from 12th.
Gridding up for race one in the canyon, there was sure to be drama and it started early, Aaren squeezed off the line as Drew took the wide berth, the brothers forced close to team contact as the run through the opening turns unfolded. Making their presence known on the verge of the top ten, it would be a repeat of last round’s challenges after an extended safety car session, Drew again holding off the Stoner charge for the final ten laps to come home 11th. For Aaren, each turn brought a new challenge, the young gun grazing the wall as he pushed to move further to the front, his race craft on show as he took the #59 FG across the line for a clean eighth place finish.
Having completed the performance checklists on the Novocastrian machines, and completed a spot repair on the #58’s head, the team could sit back and enjoy the atmosphere and camaraderie of their team family, the series, the event and the season before sending the Russell brothers to grid up for the final time this season, the occasion marking the final time elder brother Drew would grid up with the Dunlop V8 Supercar series, having chosen to close the door on his seven year national racing career.
In the heat of the afternoon, the CEG Rentals Falcon pulled into eighth, the Big Wheel Ford took its place in 11th, and the final 17 laps of season 2014 were away as Drew moved to the centre for track gain and the brothers were locked in a three way side by side through turn one, the action at its peak from the green before an immediate safety car was called, Aaren placed sixth and Drew ninth, the brothers back in the top ten and wanting to push on. As they raced again, the CEG Rentals #59 was knocked wide, Aaren wrestling his supercar to avoid a major spin, losing position as brother Drew took to his slipstream. As the duo were split in the final laps, both Fords held strong for their drivers as the second generation racers completed the race, eighth for Aaren’s CEG Rentals Falcon, tenth for Drew’s final outing with a vehicle that has certainly seen heartbreak and success in its lone season with the team.
Ending the 2013 championship year with a fourth dual top ten weekend, the Russell brothers’ consistency and craft, the determination and drive of their Novocastrian Motorsport crew, and a passion that drives their commitment to always make it the best race weekend it can be, had been enough to take Drew to an impressive seventh, with younger brother Aaren ninth outright in the 2013 Dunlop V8 Supercar Series Championship, the younger Novocastrian explaining,
“I’m very happy given where we were a couple of rounds ago. There’s been two rounds that were really tough, so to have five good outings and end up in the top nine for the championship is pretty awesome.
“This weekend we’ve held it together, stuck to our guns and put in the effort to be challenging where it counts again, so to finish the round eighth out of more than 30 great cars with the limited resources that we have is a pretty incredible effort from our team.
“I’m very proud of our family, everyone who makes the team what it is, all the support that we have from sponsors and followers, and it’s great to see that new people can still come into our part of this sport’s world and be impressed.
“We’re done with this year now and it’s been a big year. A challenging but memorable year and while it’s going to be very different not racing alongside my big brother anymore, our #59 crew will remain determined to come back next year bigger, better, and stronger.”
For Drew, his racing career had taken him from karting, to open wheelers, then production and performance arenas before a strong seven years in V8 Supercars, the elder brother already looking fondly back at all he has experienced and achieved, saying,
“This final time, the car rolled out in a really good place, but the track evolution and all the red flags had hurt our start.
“We knew that we had pace, but couldn’t use it to its best as it was important to be staying out of trouble, and I was happy to bring it home clean with some more top ten results.
“The series’ top 20 is so competitive, and for us to have both cars up there across the season, with the resources we have compared to what more is out there, that’s impressive and that means it’s been a very good year for us, and I can move on pretty happily.”
Novocastrian Motorsport is proudly supported by Big Wheel Tyre & Auto, CEG Rentals, Hunter Kitchen King, Rentfleet Australia, Carrington Equipment Group, Steve Koulis Smash Repairs, Workible, PRTS, Valvoline, Dutts Cutts, and Century Batteries.