Russell Ingall will make a surprise return to the V8 Supercars Championship at Sandown, replacing injured star James Courtney at the Holden Racing Team.
The 51-year-old, who retired at the end of last year, has accepted the drive alongside Jack Perkins while Courtney recovers from the fractured ribs and punctured lung he suffered at the weekend.
Ingall will combine his regular Fox Sports co-hosting duties, which don’t ordinarily include any in-race commentary, with the drive for the HRT.
The veteran is set to get his first taste of the #22 VF Commodore at Winton Motor Raceway next Thursday during the squad’s four-car, pre-Sandown test.
“I’ve been very happy and comfortable working with Fox Sports on its V8 coverage, but when the call came to help out a mate I didn’t hesitate,” Ingall said.
“Jack’s also a mate and while he’s disappointed not to be driving with James as planned, we’ve driven together in the past and he understands the need for an experienced replacement.
“I know the guys on the team, they know me well, so at least there’s some hope of getting a result.”
The deal reunites Ingall with Walkinshaw Racing, for which he drove full-time in 2012 and 2013, and Perkins, who he teamed with at Paul Morris Motorsport for the 2011 endurance races.
Sandown meanwhile marks Ingall’s first time in HRT colours, having raced under the Supercheap banner during his previous stint at the team.
Ingall is already the most capped driver in V8 Supercars history and will extend his marker to 248 event starts with the September 11-13 meeting.
Whether Ingall lines up for a 24th Bathurst 1000 start in October will meanwhile depend on the speed of Courtney’s recovery.
The 34-year-old, who is a previous team-mate of Ingall at both Walkinshaw Racing and Stone Brothers Racing, returned home to the Gold Coast this week to continue his rehabilitation.
“It’s a tough situation – I’m not happy about missing the race, but if I have to then we need someone familiar with HRT and our cars, and Russell fits the bill,” Courtney said.
“He’s the logical choice because he’s a mate fresh from fulltime driving. The team know him well and he and Jack have a lot of history together.”