Cracks in the relationship between Russell and Erebus emerged over the Townsville Supercars event when Betty Klimenko made an unusual release distancing her team from Plus Fitness.
That followed media suggestions Plus Fitness had pulled its sponsorship of Russell in favour of a move to Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport - which was having its own sponsorship issues.
John Fuller, CEO of Plus Fitness, denied the reports, reaffirming his support of Russell.
However it seems the kerfuffle in Townsville was symptomatic of more deeply seeded problems, with a media release announcing Plus Fitness and AR Racing had elected to withdraw from Supercars.
According to the release contractual issues between Russell and Erebus forced the Novacastrian driver’s hand, thereby ending his rookie season at the halfway mark.
The release states that a lack of sponsorship activation opportunities were at the heart of the problem, with Plus Fitness currently reviewing it’s sponsorship of David Reynolds’ car.
Though run under the second Erebus Racing Entitlements Contract (REC), the team had little to do with the car beyond housing it at it’s Moorabbin workshop.
Russell had relocated from Newcastle to Melbourne to be around the team, with Walkinshaw understood to have provided support for the car, which is owned by the Russell’s.
However under the contract with Erebus it’s understood the team is able to continue using the car for the remainder of 2016.
Compelled to run a second car due to its REC commitments, it’s likely Shae Davies will slot into the #4 entry in Russell’s place.