The 2017 Australian Supercars Championship grid is seemingly complete, with backmarker outfit LD Motorsport making the shock announcement that it has signed youngsters Matt Chahda and Alex Rullo to drive its two Holden VF Commodores this year.
Chahda (pictured above left) and Rullo (above right) will, however, find their appointments subject to the approval of Australia’s governing body of motorsport, CAMS, as neither driver meets the recently introduced Supercars Superlicense requirements that come into force this year.
Under the Superlicense criteria, new drivers must be aged over 17 and have a minimum of 13 Superlicense points – earned on the basis of overall championship results – over the previous five years of competition.
While Dunlop Series regular Chahda, 23, comfortably meets the minimum age criteria, he has failed to accrue the requisite points – he has just five in total thanks to finishing third overall in state-level Formula Ford and fourth in the third-tier Kumho V8 Touring Car Series in 2014.
He graduated to the feeder Dunlop Series in late 2015 before launching a full-time campaign in 2016, but failed to achieve a single top-ten finish and earned criticism from his fellow drivers for his frequently erratic driving.
He was disqualified from the Sandown Raceway round for causing a spectacular opening-lap accident that took out four other cars, including those of the championship contenders, Jack Le Brocq and Todd Hazlewood.
At just 16 years of age, Rullo will become the youngest Supercars driver in history. The Perth driver shot to prominence by becoming, at age 14, the youngest driver to ever win a touring car race with victory in the Kumho V8s round at Winton in 2015. He graduated to the Dunlop Series last year, finishing seventeenth overall.
Unlikely Chahda, however, Rullo’s Superlicense has been provisionally issued by CAMS on a special dispensation basis, although the sport’s governing body has indicated that it will revoke his license should he fail to meet the standards it sets out.
“The status of Alex’s Superlicence will be reviewed after each round of the [Supercars] championship during the provisional period. This review will determine whether Alex qualifies for his Superlicence to be continued on a provisional basis for the next round of the championship,” the CAMS statement reads.
|2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship – Provisional Driver Entry List|
|2.||Walkinshaw Racing||Mobil 1 HSV Racing||Scott Pye|
|22.||Walkinshaw Racing||Mobil 1 HSV Racing||James Courtney|
|5.||Prodrive Racing Australia||The Bottle-O Racing Team||Mark Winterbottom|
|6.||Prodrive Racing Australia||Monster Energy Racing||Cameron Waters|
|55.||Rod Nash Racing (PRA)||SuperCheap Auto Racing||Chaz Mostert|
|56.||Britek Motorsport (PRA)||MEGA Racing||Jason Bright|
|9.||Erebus Motorsport||Penrite Racing||David Reynolds|
|99.||Erebus Motorsport||GB Galvanising||Dale Wood|
|7.||Nissan Motorsport||Carsales Racing||Todd Kelly|
|15.||Nissan Motorsport||Sengled Racing||Rick Kelly|
|23.||Nissan Motorsport||NISMO||Michael Caruso|
|78.||Nissan Motorsport||Team Harvey Norman||Dale Wood|
|8.||Brad Jones Racing||Team Clipsal||Nick Percat|
|14.||Brad Jones Racing||Freightliner Racing||Tim Slade|
|21.||Tim Blanchard Racing (BJR)||Team CoolDrive||Tim Blanchard|
|12.||DJR Team Penske||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Fabian Coulthard|
|17.||DJR Team Penske||Shell V-Power Racing Team||Scott McLaughlin|
|18.||Charlie Schwerkolt Racing||Preston Hire Racing||Lee Holdsworth|
|19.||TEKNO Autosports||Woodstock Racing||Will Davison|
|33.||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Wilson Security Racing GRM||Garth Tander|
|34.||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Wilson Security Racing GRM||James Moffat|
|88.||Triple Eight Engineering||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Jamie Whincup|
|97.||Triple Eight Engineering||Red Bull Holden Racing Team||Shane van Gisbergen|
|888.||Triple Eight Engineering||TeamVortex||Craig Lowndes|
|62.||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||TBA||Alex Rullo|
|TBA.||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||TBA||Matt Chahda*|
* Entry subject to CAMS Superlicense approval
Image via LD Motorsport