CALTEX QUINELLA IN CLIPSAL 500 QUALIFYING
Caltex-backed cars will fill the front row for tomorrow's opening leg of the Clipsal 500 after young guns James Courtney and Jamie Whincup topped qualifying at the Adelaide Street Circuit in South Australia today.
Courtney secured his first V8 Supercar pole position in only his 16th start to put the Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon at the front of the pack for tomorrow's first 250-kilometre, 78-lap race.
Courtney will be joined on the front row by defending Clipsal 500 winner Jamie Whincup in the Caltex-backed #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon.
Today saw the first time that the new V8 Supercar qualifying system with the session divided into three segments, with only the fastest 20 drivers from the first segment making the second session and the top 10 drivers from the second segment making the final run for pole.
All four Caltex-backed cars made the final 'Top 10' segment of qualifying today, with Caltex Ambassadors Craig Lowndes and Russell Ingall qualifying sixth and eighth respectively.
Ingall showed strong qualifying pace in the #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon, the 2005 V8 Supercar Champion posting times that saw him progress through each stage of the new-look session.
Lowndes had a strong run in the Caltex-backed #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon, cementing a solid starting position for tomorrow's opening race of the season, the debut event of the revamped Ford Falcon BF.
Leg One of the 2007 Clipsal 500 will be run tomorrow, with a second 250-kilometre, 78-lap race held on Sunday.
Russell Ingall -- #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon
"It was pretty hot out there today," said Ingall.
"It was a bit of a build up to the new qualifying format, because no one really knew how it was going to work.
"While the first experiment with the three 10-minute runs worked well on the longer Clipsal layout, there is no doubt that it is going to be very interesting on some of the smaller circuits we visit.
"The pit lane also seemed incredibly busy with the majority of teams making at least one stop for tyres through each run.
"It was amazingly busy among 31 cars in the first 10 minutes, but we managed to get through and eventually qualified eighth despite losing a bit of time.
"I think the Caltex Falcon should have some reasonable car speed for tomorrow's first race.
"I think we are in reasonable shape and hopefully it won't be as hot tomorrow."
Craig Lowndes -- #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon
"This was the first time qualifying under the new system and I think it will take a little while for everyone to get on top of strategy," said Lowndes.
"The car was quite good but still needed a little more turn on cold tyres.
"For us the focus is now on getting out of qualifying mode and concentrating on finding a good race set-up."
Jamie Whincup -- #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon
"We are very happy to be starting on the front row of the grid tomorrow," said Whincup.
"While I felt I struggled a little bit early on in the session the car really came good in the final session.
"Personally I was getting a little anxious in the second session but my engineer Ludo (Lacroix) kept telling me the track would come to us and he was dead right."
"I have to say I quite like the new qualifying system, it really seems to suit my style of driving. I was never great at the one lap shootout.
"It will be really important to get a good start tomorrow and avoid any Turn 1 mayhem. My goal is to try and settle into a race rhythm early as it is will be a long hot race."
James Courtney -- #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon
"The guys were a little bit nervous about coming back here," said Courtney.
"It was good to pay back the team; they've been working some crazy hours over the break getting the cars ready. It was also good to give Ross and Jimmy (Stone - team owners) something back to repay their faith in me.
"We definitely had good speed on our test day last week. We didn't run new tyres on the Jeld-Wen Falcon whereas my team mate did and we did a good time for the tyres we had. We knew that we had quite good pace and we would be somewhere near the front.
"We've been pushing really hard for this. I'm not going to lie and say that we knew we were going to take pole. It's a nice surprise, a great result and I'm super happy.
"There was a lot of soul searching after this round last year but the turning point was really at Queensland when I ran with Garth for most of the event and just missed the podium.
"It was probably the turning point for my V8 Supercar career and it's just got stronger and stronger.
"I had a strong finish to the year; I made a small mistake at Phillip Island that cost me ninth in the Championship.
"I knew what I had done wrong and knew what I had to do to fix it. I was confident in SBR that the car would have the speed this year and it's all come together nicely. I'm looking to carry that on for the rest of the year now."