ONE, TWO, FIVE FOR CALTEX AT BATHURST 1000 Caltex-backed duo Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup have taken back-to-back Bathurst 1000 victories by standing on the top step of the podium today, followed across the line by the Caltex-backed entry of...
ONE, TWO, FIVE FOR CALTEX AT BATHURST 1000
Caltex-backed duo Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup have taken back-to-back Bathurst 1000 victories by standing on the top step of the podium today, followed across the line by the Caltex-backed entry of James Courtney and David Besnard at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama.
While Lowndes powered towards the chequered flag with Whincup watching nervously as greasy conditions threatened to spoil their fairytale ending, Courtney was defending against a challenging Steve Johnson, with Greg Murphy just behind and just ahead of Caltex's Allan Simonsen aboard the #88 TeamVodafone Falcon.
The top five finish for part-time driver duo Simonsen and Richard Lyons pays testament to the solid and consistent performance they put in today after starting from 16th on the grid, running in the top five consistently over the 161 lap endurance event and even assuming the race lead on lap 87.
Overall, today's result saw three out of the four Caltex-backed driver combinations to head to the mountain this weekend place within the top five, with Lowndes and Whincup's Sandown/Bathurst double the first to be had since Lowndes took the same with Greg Murphy in 1996.
On their way to the win, Whincup broke the standing race lap record - set by Mark Skaife in October of 2005 -- by setting a flying lap of 2.08.4651 while leading on lap 128.
The Bathurst win is Lowndes' third, and Whincup's second while at the same time it is his third consecutive Bathurst podium finish. The results now have Whincup leading the race for the championship for the first time this year with only four rounds remaining, with Lowndes second and only 16 points adrift of his TeamVodafone team-mate.
For Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall and co-driver Luke Youlden, as happened in the top ten shootout yesterday, it was a case of what could have been with the pair running as high as fifth before a lap 149 incident saw them forced to retire.
When rain started to sprinkle the circuit with 40 laps remaining, the race surface became increasingly greasy -- signalling impending havoc for the field which were pushing hard as they sighted the final quarter of the endurance event.
Nine laps later it would all come crashing down for Ingall, after he became involved in a three car incident at Sulman Park which ended with Ingall coming into heavy contact with the concrete wall.
The crash also ended the races of Jason Bright and Mark Skaife.
The subsequent car damage saw Ingall forced to continue around the circuit to park his #9 Caltex Racing Falcon in the pit garage while a safety car was sent out to retrieve the remaining cars.
The next time the V8 Supercars will hit the mountain will be in less than two weeks time, with the category heading back up the coast to Surfers Paradise, Queensland, for the Gillette V8 Supercar Challenge at the Lexmark Indy 300, October 18-21.
CALTEX QUOTEBOARD Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "It was ordinary end to a reasonably tough day," said Ingall.
"We could have been right there in the end, but I got on the patch of wet stuff on top of the mountain as the rain started to fall and that was that.
"I have been quicker than James in the wet all year and he was second, so who knows what could have been.
"That's our first DNF at Bathurst ever and that really annoys me.
"We had drama in the first stop when both cars were pitted at the same time and that cost us plenty of track position.
"From then on we were right amongst the fight instead of leading it.
"Luke (Youlden) did a solid job all day, but I guess we have to sit back and think of 'what could have been' and that is frustrating.
"Now we head to Indy and will be giving it everything we have got to get back into the top 10 in the championship hunt."
Luke Youlden - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "We had some electrical problems with the dash in the second stint. We had no RPM readings or lights and we think it also affected engine speed," said Youlden.
"We just had to do what we could and make it up across the top where the car was strong.
"We spent a lot of time in traffic and had to fight our way though.
"Despite this I had a great second stint. I got caught up in a bit of a train, but then a few guys went off and I got a clear run. After the safety car period the car felt pretty strong. I was able to pull high two-minute nines when the tyres were not great.
"I'm really disappointed with the result but personally satisfied with how I drove. If we could have hung on during those laps in the wet anything could have happened, Russell is very good in those conditions.
"Unfortunately that's not how it panned out but that's life."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "There is no other race in the world which comes close to the feeling you experience when standing on the podium at Bathurst," said Lowndes whilst holding the Peter Brock Memorial Trophy for the second year in succession.
"The strategy we employed yesterday where I focused on the shootout and Jamie [Whincup] on the race-car setup worked well and I couldn't have asked for a better race car package today.
"It may have been eleven years in the making but to claim the Sandown-Bathurst double is really something else and it is a testament to the cars being produced by TeamVodafone with the chassis winning on debut."
Jamie Whincup - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "I know it sounds cliched but words just cannot express how I am feeling right now," said Whincup.
"Winning Bathurst alone is a huge achievement but to win it and take the championship lead in the one day is really something else.
"As a kid you dream of racing at Bathurst but to get back-to-back victories really is something special -- it is great to know that our names will appear twice on the Peter Brock Memorial trophy.
"There won't be much time to celebrate the race victory with us lining up for Indy in two weeks time -- there are still three/four rounds left in the championship and I'll be doing my best to hold the lead at the end of the year."
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "It turned into a pretty crazy day. We stayed out of trouble early and cruised around and kept in contact," said Courtney.
"We didn't have the pace of the front guys. They were putting in some pretty impressive lap times
"We were staying consistent, on the lead lap and in contention. We got to that last pit stop and then pushed 100 per cent from there for 35 laps.
"I was happy to see specks of rain on the windscreen because I enjoy the conditions like that and I could pick a few off.
"The SBR guys have been working so hard. We have had a tough year. We have had plenty of speed at times but things have gone wrong and it's great to give the guys a boost with a great result like this and we can now finish the year off strongly."
David Besnard - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "This Bathurst podium has been a long time coming. I've had a shot a few times and been let down," said Besnard.
"Today it was tricky for me to just do my job. It's easy to be a co-driver to an extent and just cruise around and let James do all the hard work but sometimes you just want to go hard and it wasn't up to me to do that today.
"It was up to James to have a crack at it and he did an awesome job and that's why we we're on the podium today.
"We didn't really have the pace but the conditions helped and just by plugging away and the team doing an amazing job we got there in the end.
"I really have to thank the Stone brothers for having faith in me and giving me this opportunity."
Richard Lyons - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "I was really disappointed with where we finished in qualifying however it just shows you that at the end of the day anything can happen at this place," said Lyons.
"We've had a really good car during practice and I knew we would be able to run with the top ten so to finish in the top five really is something I will not forget in a hurry."
Alan Simonsen - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "During practice we showed great speed and the car had fantastic balance, which makes racing at Bathurst all that much easier," said Simonsen.
"Finishing in the top ten at Sandown was great but today's top five finish caps off a successful endurance season for me in 2007."