Eastern Creek: Caltex Racing preview

CALTEX DRIVERS AIMING TO CONTINUE THEIR SUCCESS AT EASTERN CREEK Caltex-backed V8 Supercar drivers have enjoyed enormous success at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway in the past by winning four of the past five rounds held at the venue. Without...

CALTEX DRIVERS AIMING TO CONTINUE THEIR SUCCESS AT EASTERN CREEK

Caltex-backed V8 Supercar drivers have enjoyed enormous success at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway in the past by winning four of the past five rounds held at the venue.

Without round of the series contested at the facility during 2006 Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes is the defending round champion. Lowndes won the corresponding round in 2005 to secure the first victory for the Triple Eight Race Engineering outfit.

Prior to Lowndes' success Marcos Ambrose won both rounds held at the 3.93km circuit during 2003 and also the final round of the 2004 championship to secure back-to-back titles aboard his Caltex-backed Falcon.

Eastern Creek is a venue which holds a lot of memories for Caltex Ambassador Russell Ingall. It was the scene where he and his team-mate Ambrose secured a one-two finish in the championship in 2004. It was also the scene of the infamous Ingall-Skaife incident during the final round of the 2003 Series.

The former Series Champion is currently ninth in the championship standings following another solid performance at Winton in the #9 Caltex Racing Falcon.

After steering his Caltex-backed TeamVodafone Falcon to the winner's circle at Winton Jamie Whincup is aiming for much of the same when he takes to the circuit this weekend. He is confident that the car is capable of taking the fight to Holden's pacesetters, who currently hold the top two spots in the championship, once again.

James Courtney grew up in the nearby suburb of Penrith but given he left Australia during his teenage years to race karts in Europe and further his career the ex-Formula One test driver has never previously raced at Eastern Creek.

Courtney's only laps at the circuit have come during a ride day last year in wet conditions, however, given the success of his Stone Brothers racing team at Eastern Creek in the past he is up-beat about his chances this weekend.

In a first for the championship this weekend's round will begin on Saturday with practice followed by qualifying and the opening 31-lap race on Sunday. A pair of 31-lap journeys will be the highlight of the round contested on the holiday Monday.

Defending Champion Rick Kelly enters this weekend's fifth round of the series holding a slender one-point lead in the championship standings over his team-mate Garth Tander who is followed by Whincup.

CALTEX QUOTEBOARD

Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "We've had some reasonable results at Eastern Creek in the past and hopefully we can enjoy another good round this weekend," said Ingall.

"It's a decent track. It probably doesn't lend itself to the most exciting racing as the field tends to spread out a bit but there is always a chance of rain there and some of the best racing has been in the wet.

"It could be a bit like Winton, if there is a bit of rain kicking around it might spice things up.

"We're inside the top ten in the Championship now. We push hard every meeting but we have to push even harder to close the gap to the front runners now.

"If we can get everything in sync on the day then we will be in front and we can climb the Championship ladder. There is no cruise mode from here until the end of the season."

Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "It is always nice to go back to a circuit where you have had a breakthrough victory, I love the track - it has great character and at our last outing at Eastern Creek we had a fantastic result," said Lowndes.

"It will be a unique experience to race on Sunday and Monday instead of Saturday and Sunday, and we will be aiming to back up Jamie's result from Winton with another strong podium finish."

Jamie Whincup - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "Eastern Creek is a special place for Triple Eight, it's where Craig won the first round for the team in 2005 so they have a good handle on the track," said Whincup.

"I really enjoy the challenges it offers a driver -- being on the rev limiter in top gear in the run into Turn 1 really gets your attention."

"Personally, another consistent result to keep the momentum rolling is my focus. We are coming off our first round win of the year and are going through an exciting time, but it's important for us to keep our cool and stay focused on the big picture."

James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "Eastern Creek should be my 'home' track considering I grew up a couple of exits down the freeway, but I was overseas for a long time so I've never raced there," said Courtney.

"The ride day at Eastern Creek in December last year was wet, but even in those conditions turn one was an eye opener; it's going to be exciting in the dry.

"I got pretty used to learning tracks in a short time last year. It's not too bad if the car set-up is close to the mark straight away. But I'm up-beat about racing at Eastern Creek. All tracks go left and right so it's just a question of working out which kerbs you can or can't use, and where the bumps are."

"We've been competitive all year so far; things just haven't gone our way in a few instances. We'll be out there to win again this weekend. Some of the Holden teams are strong, but no one is unbeatable."

-credit: cr

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers James Courtney , Garth Tander , Marcos Ambrose , Russell Ingall , Rick Kelly , Craig Lowndes , Jamie Whincup