Supercars: 16-year-old Alex Rullo to race full-time in 2017 championship
February 8, 2017 6:02am
WILL DALE FOX SPORTS
The Year 12 student has been signed to make his main game race debut with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport in 2017.
Born on June 15, 2000, Rullo will be just 16 years, 8 months and 17 days when he lines up on the grid for the opening race at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide. That is 79 days younger than current record holder Paul Dumbrell’s age when he debuted at the Symmons Plains round in 1999.
“Being the youngest driver in the field is going to give me such a great opportunity and enable me to learn as much as possible at a young age, which is something that I am extremely grateful for,” Rullo said.
“I’m honoured to be sharing the stage with some of the best drivers in the most competitive touring car championship in the world. I have massive respect for all them and look forward to using them as a benchmark.”
Rullo’s career so far has seen him juggling high school while shattering age barriers in Supercars’ lower tiers.
The Perth teenager became the first 14-year-old to win a circuit race in Australia back in 2015, taking victory at the Winton round of the Kumho Tyres V8 Touring Car Series, winning another round on his way to second in the championship.
Last year saw him become the youngest driver to take part in the second-tier Dunlop Series for LDM, his best results a pair of sixth places on home soil at Barbagallo and at Sandown.
Rullo’s rapid rise to the main championship is unlikely to come without some controversy.
2017 marks the first season where CAMS, motorsport’s governing body in Australia, installed a Superlicence along with minimum age cut-offs for all our domestic championships.
Currently, Rullo doesn’t actually qualify on either minimum standard for the Supercars championship. CAMS stipulates a driver must be 17 years old or more to race in the Supercars Championship.
The CAMS Superlicence is earnt by points accrued based on a driver’s past results in junior series in the past five years, much like a Formula 1 Superlicence.
The minimum number of points to earn one is 13; Rullo has a combined total of six from his seasons in the Dunlop and Kumho Series.
However, CAMS will allow Rullo to make his Supercars debut despite this.
As explained to speedcafe.com, Rullo applied for a special dispensation and CAMS granted him a provisional Superlicence, with officials to keep a close eye on his every move in the first half of the season.
LDM team owner Lucas Dumbrell hailed Rullo’s maturity behind the wheel, impressed with his progress behind the wheel of the team’s Dunlop Series car last year.
“It’s really great to have Alex stay on with us this year and step up into the main series. He did a really good job last year in the development series and it is evident he has a lot of potential,” Dumbrell said.
“For a 16 year old, Alex shows a level of maturity beyond his years and applies this to all areas of racing.
“We look forward to watching Alex continue to grow and develop his skills as a driver throughout the year.
“With the brand new Dunlop tyre compound in 2017, all drivers will have the task of altering their driving style. This will be an advantage to Alex as all drivers will be virgins to the new compound.”
Like fellow Supercars full-championship rookie Simona de Silvestro, Rullo will also get three extra test days throughout the season in addition to the usual three.
He will make use of two of them before his Clipsal debut.
He will get behind the wheel of his new car at Winton on February 16, before joining in the all-in Supercars test at Sydney Motorsport Park on February 21.
The sponsorship package of Rullo’s No. 62 Holden Commodore is yet to be confirmed, as is the identity of his LDM teammate for 2017.