Erebus Motorsport V8 has confirmed the surprise signing of Aaren Russell for the 2016 V8 Supercars Championship season as a replacement to the struggling Ash Walsh.

While Walsh’s departure had been mooted for some time, the team’s decision to replace him with a driver with a less-than-stellar CV has raised plenty of eyebrows.

Russell made his touring car debut as an 18-year-old, driving in the V8 Development feeder series in his family’s privately-owned Novocastrian Motorsport team. Across six years of racing in the second-tier category, his best championship finishes have been seventh overall in 2014.

This year, Russell and his older brother Drew made their V8 Supercars Championship debut in a wildcard entry at the Bathurst 1000 (pictured above). The pair didn’t qualify well, but drove a mature and measured race to finish the 161-lap race seventeenth overall and on the lead lap.

“Having Aaren join us this year will be fantastic. He comes from a family-based motorsport business and it’s wonderful to see his whole family involved. Supercars is about family, fun, and of course, racing to win! We look forward to helping Aaren achieve his goals,” Erebus Motorsport V8 team owner Betty Klimenko said of Russell, who will partner the highly rated David Reynolds in 2016.

The Erebus Motorsport V8 team is still yet to publicly confirm what package it will run in 2016. The team has campaigned privately-run customer Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs since 2013, netting just two race wins in cars that have had little in the way of development support from the German carmaker. It is widely expected that the team will shortly confirm a switch to Holden power, where it is expected to field a pair of Commodores built by the Walkinshaw Racing stable.

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Geoff Burke

Journalist at MotorsportM8
Site co-founder. Social Media guru. All-round trouble-maker.