“Surprise!,” Russell Ingall joked when he fronted media at Holden Racing Team’s Bathurst 1000 garage.
As expected, two-time Bathurst winner Ingall has been confirmed as injured V8 Supercars star James Courtney’s replacement by HRT for Sunday’s Great Race.
But Ingall admits he could not have predicted the amazing “movie script story” that will be written if he again emerges triumphant in the 161-lap epic enduro.
In 1995, Ingall won his first Bathurst 1000 as fellow great Larry Perkins’ co-driver in a classic last-to-first effort.
Twenty years later he is ready to conquer Mount Panorama again – this time with Perkins’ son Jack.
“There is so much history with Jack. I look at the 1995 vision and Jack was a bit higher than my knees crying when his father and I won it,” Ingall said.
“Now there’s the Ingall and Perkins’ names on the side of the car again.
“It would be a movie script story if we got on the podium – imagine if we won it!”
The early signs are good.
Ingall, 51, came out of an eight month retirement to replace the injured Courtney and partner Perkins junior at last month’s Sandown 500, nabbing a shock top 10 placing.
“We had genuine speed. We didn’t fluke it (at Sandown),” Ingall said.
“We are not here to mess around or fill a gap.
“We will have a big stab at it.
“There is no reason why we can’t stand on the podium this weekend.”
Former 2005 V8 champ Ingall also conquered the mountain in 1997 with the legendary Larry Perkins.
Courtney has still not recovered from five broken ribs and a punctured lung sustained when struck by pitlane signage propelled by a hovering Navy helicopter at August’s Sydney round.
“It was such a bizarre accident that took him out,” Ingall said.
“He is trying to put on a brave face but he would be absolutely fuming.
“James would have been a genuine contender to win this race.
“With everything that has happened, one thing that will put a smile on James’ face is seeing that car on the podium.”
It would also be a fitting tribute to HRT who celebrate their 25th anniversary on the mountain.
Ingall had to be cleared from commentary duties for Fox Sports TV to again fill Courtney’s seat.
But he reckoned the hardest part was getting off the wine and ripping into training in case of a Great Race call-up.
“I had to leave Skaifey’s School of Wine Tasting,” Ingall said in a crack at fellow TV commentator and ex-V8 arch rival Mark Skaife.