The man who played a key role in instigating Russell Ingall’s shock return to the Repco Bathurst 1000, Paul Morris, believes the 57-year-old is a chance of taking home a third Great Race victory.
Ingall’s extraordinary comeback was yesterday confirmed as part of a Triple Eight-run wildcard led by the team’s 18-year-old Super2 Series rising star Broc Feeney, who is a protégé of Morris.
A friend of both Ingall and Triple Eight boss Roland Dane, Morris put Ingall’s name forward as a candidate for the entry when the plan was being hatched.
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There is natural scepticism over Ingall’s inclusion, given that he’s not raced a Supercar in five years and has only made occasional cameo appearances in other categories.
He brings instant fan attention and media value though; two big ticks for a Supercheap Auto-backed entry intended to shakeup the now Repco sponsored race.
But Morris, who won the Bathurst 1000 in 2014 and is now a self-styled ‘driver whisperer’ through his Norwell Motorplex training centre, is tipping Ingall and Feeney to surprise.
“I’m pretty confident he’ll do a good job,” Morris told V8 Sleuth of Ingall, who drove for Morris’ Supercheap Auto-backed team during his Supercars career.
“One place that rewards experience is Bathurst, you’ve got to know what fight to get into and understand fuel burn and tyre [degradation], who to get into a fist fight with.
“You don’t see a lot of that when the race is going on, but an experienced co-driver will get you out of the shit 10 times more than he’ll get you in it.
“That’s the thing that you don’t really see on TV. He’ll come across one hundred things at that race meeting that he’ll avoid that someone else would have run over.
“You need an anchorman, someone in your team who has been there and done it, and at the end of the day you need a fast, young driver that can drop the hammer and get the job done.
“The ingredients are all there… they’ve got a chance of winning the race, for sure.
“I’ve got confidence in Broc that, given an opportunity to take it to the guys at the end of the race, he’ll do it, and I know Russell will do his job.”
While Ingall will naturally commanded the majority of the limelight in the build-up to the event, the driver with the most at stake is actually Feeney.
The teen is among the candidates to replace Jamie Whincup in Triple Eight’s Repco Supercars Championship lineup next year and will be the primary driver in the Bathurst wildcard.
“It’s certainly going to be another test he has to pass,” said Morris. “We’ve only had one round of Super2 this year, so they’ll need to look at all that.
“They’ll need to look at how he conducts himself in this program for sure, the pressure is on him and if he can perform, he might just wedge himself in there [Whincup’s seat].”
Morris admits Feeney is already under plenty of pressure carrying the backing of Red Bull and Boost Mobile in Super2, as well as the famed #888 number.
“He’s got the blowtorch on his arse, but he’s an extraordinary young man, the way he handles himself,” added Morris, who is long-time friends with Broc’s father and former motorcycle racer Paul Feeney.
“I think Broc’s biggest attribute is he comes from a racing family, so he’s always two or three steps ahead of what’s going to happen because he’s grown up around racing and at a very high level.
“He just understands what’s got to be done, he doesn’t get emotional about stuff, he just thinks logically and gets his way through it.”
Feeney scored his first Super2 Series race win on debut with Triple Eight at Bathurst in February and sits second in the standings, 18 points behind Tickford Racing’s Zak Best.