FOURTH IN BAHRAIN SETS UP CHAMPIONSHIP SHOWDOWN FOR LOWNDES AND CALTEX Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes has set-up a thrilling championship showdown by finishing fourth overall in the Desert 400 in Bahrain today. Lowndes was fifth and third in...
FOURTH IN BAHRAIN SETS UP CHAMPIONSHIP SHOWDOWN FOR LOWNDES AND CALTEX
Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes has set-up a thrilling championship showdown by finishing fourth overall in the Desert 400 in Bahrain today.
Lowndes was fifth and third in today's races at the Bahrain International Circuit in his #888 Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon.
The result closed this year's Bathurst winner to within seven points of championship leader Rick Kelly with just one round remaining at Phillip Island in December.
A good start set Lowndes up for a strong fifth place finish in Race 2, while problems for Mark Winterbottom and Garth Tander in the final race elevated Lowndes to third in the final race of the weekend, Round 12 of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall was set for a top 10 finish in Race 2 today before being served with a drive through penalty for contact with another car when exiting his pit box. The penalty put Ingall a lap down and he finished in 21st position.
The defending V8 Supercar Champion fought back strongly in the third and final race for the weekend, climbing up the order to finish in 10th in Race 3 to be 13th overall for the round. Ingall drops one spot to fifth in the championship standings with one round remaining.
Jamie Whincup was on course for a top five result in the #88 Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon until an engine failure ended his run in Race 3 on lap 14.
Whincup earlier finished sixth in the second race of the weekend, following home his Triple Eight Race Engineering team-mate Lowndes. Whincup slips out of the top 10 to 12th in the championship as a result of the retirement.
James Courtney joined Lowndes in the top 10 for the round to finish on a high after his chances of a podium result were ruined at the first corner of Race 2 today.
Contact with Kelly resulted in a spin and damage for Courtney at the start of Race 2, the Jeld-Wen Falcon finishing two laps down in 24th.
Courtney made a sensational start to Race 3, the former karting world champion in 16th at the end of the first lap. Courtney continued his progress up the order, in the top 10 in the first 20 laps and eventually finishing seventh.
Courtney's performance this weekend elevates him into the top 10 in the championship standings for the first time this season, his first in the V8 Supercar Championship Series.
Jason Bright won this weekend's Desert 400 ahead of Todd Kelly and Garth Tander.
Russell Ingall -- #1 Caltex Racing Falcon
"It's been a tough weekend all round," said Ingall.
"The pit lane penalty in race two really hurt us and put us in a tough position for race three.
"We finally showed a bit of pace to race from 21st to tenth but we just weren't really on it."
Craig Lowndes -- #888 Team Betta Electrical Falcon
"We achieved what we set out to do this weekend and that was close to gap to Rick Kelly," said Lowndes.
"The car was at its best today after some minor adjustments overnight, there was little to change between Races 2 and 3 which was very positive considering the unknowns surrounding the circuit.
"We'll go away with some great data from Bahrain which will no doubt be of very good use in the future.
"For once, luck was on our side, everyone has worked extremely hard for this result and its great to be right back in contention as we go home now and prepare for Phillip Island."
Jamie Whincup -- #88 Team Betta Electrical Falcon
"The car was good yesterday and much better again when we came out today," said Whincup.
"I finished in sixth for the Race 2 and was definitely looking good for a top 5 finish before the engine let go, putting pay to a really good weekend for myself for a first time visit here.
"It's very disappointing as I feel we had very good pace in that final race, reflected by Craig's good speed and top result."
James Courtney -- #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon
"It was a pretty satisfying drive in race three," said Courtney.
"We had a bent butterfly throughout the race so in the slower corners the Jeld-Wen car was driving on a bit and it caused some understeer and grief for us.
"We could have had a bit more pace out of the car but considering how race two turned out, ninth was a pretty good result in the end.
"I can't really complain coming from 24th to seventh. We got a good bag of points and that has put us up to tenth in the championship which is what we have been aiming for.
"It's been great to come to Bahrain and experience a new circuit and now I can't wait to get to Phillip Island and have a really good go there."
-credit: caltex racing