Hidden Valley: Caltex Racing Sunday race report

LOWNDES MAKES IT BACK TO BACK FOR CALTEX Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes made it two wins on the trot when he captured the Sky City Triple Crown, round five of the 2006 V8 Supercar Championship, at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin this ...

LOWNDES MAKES IT BACK TO BACK FOR CALTEX

Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes made it two wins on the trot when he captured the Sky City Triple Crown, round five of the 2006 V8 Supercar Championship, at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin this weekend.

Courtesy of a fourth and third placing in the opening two races Lowndes started today's final 48-lap encounter from pole position before dropping to third position during the early laps.

The three-time series champion showed tremendous pace aboard his Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon to be the fastest driver on the circuit mid race and moving into the race lead for the first time on lap 25.

As Lowndes was battling for the lead, Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall was fighting for positions just outside the top five.

The defending champion was making progress aboard his Caltex Racing Falcon but unfortunately lacked the fast pace at the beginning of the race to really make an impact.

Lowndes went on to claim the victory in the final race, and the round, with Ingall crossing the line ninth in the final encounter to finish seventh for the round.

After recording his best race result of his V8 career, sixth in race two, James Courtney finished a creditable 13th to seal tenth overall for the round aboard his Jeld-Wen Falcon -- lubricated by Caltex Havoline.

Lowndes' Team Betta Electrical team-mate Jamie Whincup was on track for another solid points haul before a flat-spotted left-front tyre in the final race put an end to his chances of a finish inside the top ten. Whincup was forced into the pit area for an unscheduled stop and finished the round 13th.

Lowndes' two round wins in a row have elevated him to second position in the championship, a mere eight points behind Garth Tander. Ingall is in fourth position with Whincup ninth and Courtney 23rd.

The next round of the championship will be contested at Queensland raceway on July 21-23.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY--.. Russell Ingall, Caltex Racing

"We made some progress in some areas today but we just haven't got the outright speed at the moment," said Ingall

"We are still qualifying too far back and with the way the race formats are this year you need to get good points from the first race to give yourself a chance for the weekend.

"We had pretty good race speed with the Caltex Falcon but just lacked the few laps of fast pace at the beginning to really make an impact.

"We will be testing before Queensland Raceway. It will be a vital test after the loss of the last test to rain. The main priority will be to find car speed to take into the next round with us."

Craig Lowndes -- Team Betta Electrical

"I was pretty happy to be called in to pit early as the tyres we had on at the start did not have any grip," said Lowndes.

"After my pitstop the car had great drive and felt very balanced giving me every confidence it could go the distance. As a total package the car is brilliant and I congratulate Campbell and the other engineers on their consistency and preparation.

"Our focus is now to improve on qualifying speed ahead of our home race at Queensland Raceway in three weeks time."

James Courtney, Jeld-Wen Motorsport

"The JELD-WEN Falcon was really good in the second race today. We drove from 16th to sixth, my best result so far, so that was satisfying," said Courtney.

"I got a great start in race three, passing Skaife and Richards but was on the outside and couldn't get back in. I got a tap from Skaife and was out in the marbles and we lost some places.

"We also damaged the rear when Owen drilled me from behind after Bowe was stopped across the track so we lost time in the pit stop ripping the bar off.

"We were pushing pretty hard to make up time until a got a flat spot. I dragged the left front for about 100 metres. It cost us some time in the final 25 laps.

"It was good to come away with a top 10 finish this weekend. It wasn't looking so shiny on Friday morning so we are pretty happy considering. It was one of those up and down weekends."

Jamie Whincup -- Team Betta Electrical

"I had a great pit stop and was settling into the race when I locked the front brakes coming into Turn 1 and ran off track. As a result I flat spotted the tyre causing me to lose a couple more spots and creating the puncture I encountered later in the race," said Whincup

"It was very disappointing especially as I had excellent race speed.

"I am yet to string three good races together in this sprint format that reflects the amount of effort both myself and the team are putting in," Whincup concluded.

-cr-

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