Hidden Valley: Caltex Racing Friday report

INGALL INSIDE THE TOP FIVE IN DARWIN Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall has begun to avenge his disastrous round at Darwin's Hidden Valley circuit last year by setting the fifth fastest time during practice for the Skycity Triple Crown, round 5 of...

INGALL INSIDE THE TOP FIVE IN DARWIN

Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall has begun to avenge his disastrous round at Darwin's Hidden Valley circuit last year by setting the fifth fastest time during practice for the Skycity Triple Crown, round 5 of the V8 Supercar Championship Series today.

In the corresponding round last year Ingall started from dead last on the grid in the first race after failing to stop at the weigh scales late in qualifying. Despite a terrific effort to finish 14th and then fourth in the first two races, he did not start race three because of an electrical problem.

Ingall, who lofted the winner's trophy at Hidden Valley in 1998 and has finished on the podium on two other occasions, is out to regain the championship lead this weekend and his speed today proved he will be one of the drivers to beat.

Throughout today's two and a half hour session Ingall continually improved the set up on his Caltex Racing Falcon and is confident he will again be competitive for tomorrow's qualifying session.

After topping the charts in the middle of the session Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes found his practice tyres were past their best to set the 11th fastest time with his team-mate Jamie Whincup two spots higher up in 9th in his Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon.

Ingall's young team-mate James Courtney set the 17th fastest time in his first visit to the 2.9km circuit aboard his Jeld-Wen Falcon -- lubricated by Caltex Havoline.

Ingall's fifth fastest time was a mere three-tenths of a second behind second placed Rick Kelly with Mark Skaife setting the fastest time.

Qualifying will be contested tomorrow morning, followed by the top-ten shootout and the opening race of the round in the afternoon. The round will be highlighted with a pair of 48-lap races, the first of which will be contested in a reverse-grid format. .

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY--.

Russell Ingall -- Caltex Racing

"All the things we have been working on since Winton improved the Caltex Falcon today," said Ingall.

"The test at Queensland Raceway last week helped us with direction. We were able to get out there on the front foot and we had some pace so it was feeling pretty good.

"We still have a bit more to do to get a real handle on it but we are shooting in the right direction."

Jamie Whincup -- Team Betta Electrical

"My car was very well balanced and improved with the extra grip on track but 9th today didn't reflect what we were capable of," said Whincup.

"After flat spotting early on my second set I wasn't able to take advantage of the better tyres at all.

"We are in the right qualifying session for tomorrow and we have every confidence of improving our position ready for the start of the race."

Craig Lowndes -- Team Betta Electrical

"Our first set of practice tyres didn't help us today," Lowndes said. "They were not as good as expected so we ended up using our P2 tyres earlier than we wanted to," said Lowndes.

"We are very confident that when we get on the new rubber tomorrow the car will respond accordingly."

James Courtney -- Jeld-Wen Motorsport

"We had a pretty productive day today. We made a number of changes which improved the JELD-WEN Falcon which was great," said Courtney.

"Unfortunately we didn't get a clear track to get the most from our new tyres at the end of the session but it all felt good. There was a bit more there.

"We're heading in the right direction and looking good for tomorrow."

-cr-

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Series Supercars
Drivers James Courtney , Russell Ingall , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Jamie Whincup