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Caltex wildcard channels Enforcer at Bathurst

THE Caltex Young Stars wildcard drivers have enjoyed a throwback to the past ahead of their debut in the Repco Bathurst 1000 this weekend.

Matt Chahda and Jaylyn Robotham checked out one of the most infamous machines in Supercars history, Russell Ingall’s Caltex Falcon of 2003, in the Mount Panorama pitlane.

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Caltex returns to the sport this weekend with its backing of the Matt Chahda Motorsport wildcard, which fields a Commodore leased from Walkinshaw Andretti United.

The brand’s past involvement included its stint backing Stone Brothers Racing from 2000-2007, during which Ingall won the 2005 V8 Supercars Championship title.

But it’s the 2003 car that’s arguably best remembered, thanks to Ingall’s clash with Mark Skaife in that year’s season finale at Eastern Creek.

Russell Ingall swerves towards Mark Skaife at Eastern Creek in 2003. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

“I was only 10 years old when it happened, but like everyone I’ve seen the footage and know about what happened,” Chahda told V8 Sleuth.

“The car is iconic, realistically that was one of the glory eras of Supercars and it’s pretty cool to be bringing back the brand Russell promoted so heavily.

“It shows how serious they are about Supercars to have the old car here as well.

“The sponsorship deal came together pretty late, but we still managed to put all the presentation of the team together really well.”

While Ingall was nicknamed ‘the Enforcer’ due to his trademark aggression, Chahda and Robotham aim to take a steady approach to Sunday’s race.

The Caltex cars face the media. Pic: an1images.com

“Staying on the lead lap is going to be massive. Even if you do that, you’re likely to be in the top 15 or top 10 if you can do something good,” Chahda said of Sunday’s race.

“We know we’ve got a good car. It’s an identical car to what dominated here last year.”

Chahda’s team will operate the car independently of WAU, which will concentrate on defending its race win with its two full-time entries.

“We’re pretty well on our own,” explained Chahda. “The car has been put together and setup by them, but other than that we’re working on it on our own.”

Chahda’s squad is paired with the single-car Blanchard Racing Team in the Bathurst pitlane, with the two crews joining forces for pitstops.

The teams had their first chance to work together during a recent test at Winton under the eye of ex-Brad Jones Racing pitstop guru Wally Storey, who will manage MCM at Bathurst.

Commodore and Falcon together at Bathurst. Pic: an1images.com

“It would have been much more difficult if we had to do it ourselves just because of the amount of good people that you need, they’re not easy to find,” says Chahda.

“Even when we thought we’d done a good pit stop on the test day it wasn’t good enough for Wally though! That’s a good thing, he’s all over it!”

The MCM Commodore is one of three wildcards in the race, alongside the Declan Fraser/Craig Lowndes and Richie Stanaway/Greg Murphy Commodores.

Chahda, 29, has been entered as the primary driver for the Caltex car, but says he’ll let Robotham, 19, qualify if the co-driver proves quicker in practice.

“I think we’re already pretty secure that I’ll start the race, I’ve done a lot more starts and I’ve always been pretty good at them,” he said.

“When it comes to qualifying, if he’s a lot faster than me I’ll let him do it, but with the mixed conditions it puts another element on making that decision.

“But we’re not too stressed, we can decide right up until qualifying.”

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