Former V8 Supercars champion Russell Ingall will come out of retirement to replace the injured James Courtney in the #22 Holden Racing Team VF Commodore at September’s Sandown 500.

“Racing a red Commodore for Holden’s factory team is at the top of every driver’s wish list, including mine, and I thought my chance had passed,” Ingall said of his call-up.

“To add my name to the list of the sport’s greats who have driven for HRT will be very special.”

Courtney was ruled out of the opening round of the Pirtek Enduro Cup leg of the championship following injuries he sustained in a freak pit lane accident at last weekend’s SuperSprint round at Sydney Motorsport Park.

The former Jaguar F1 test driver suffered fractured ribs and a punctured lung when he was struck by pit lane equipment that was dislodged by the downdraft of a military helicopter conducting a low flyover demonstration at the western Sydney circuit.

His position in the cockpit was taken over by his Enduro Cup co-driver Jack Perkins, who claimed a best finish of eleventh in Sunday’s 200-kilometre final race.

Perkins, the son of former champion Larry Perkins, will serve as Ingall’s co-driver at the Sandown 500, bringing back the famous Ingall/Perkins surnames to the championship.

The two surnames have had an iconic history in Australian touring cars, coming together for the first time in 1995 when owner/driver Larry Perkins hired Ingall as his co-driver for the endurance races in 1995. The pair scored a famous last-to-first victory at that year’s Bathurst 1000.

Their success saw Ingall given a full-time drive with the Perkins Motorsport team, and he remained there until 2002 before moving on to Stone Brothers Racing, with whom he won the Drivers’ Championship title in 2005 in their Ford Falcon.

In 2008, Ingall moved to Paul Morris Motorsport and stayed there for four seasons before joining HRT’s stablemate outfit, Walkinshaw Performance Racing, driving a SuperCheap Auto sponsored Holden Commodore. He raced there for two years before announcing his retirement, only to reverse the decision when an offer from the small Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport outfit came up. He retired for good at the end of a disappointing 2014 campaign and moved into a broadcasting role with V8 Supercars and Fox Sports alongside Mark Skaife, the five-time series champion and Ingall’s long-time on-track rival.

“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 added.

“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 [in 2008 at Paul Morris Motorsport] and he understands the need for an experienced replacement.”

As for Courtney, he will continue his recovery at home after being discharged from hospital earlier in the week. It is not yet known if he will be back behind the wheel in time for the following Pirtek Enduro Cup rounds at Bathurst and Surfers Paradise, which take place in October.

Images via Edge Photographics

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Geoff Burke

Journalist at MotorsportM8
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