Pukekohe: Caltex Racing preview

INGALL HAS EXTRA MOTIVATION THIS WEEKEND Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall has more than enough incentive to try and win this weekend's second round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at New Zealand's Pukekohe International Raceway. The ...

INGALL HAS EXTRA MOTIVATION THIS WEEKEND

Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall has more than enough incentive to try and win this weekend's second round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at New Zealand's Pukekohe International Raceway.

The reigning V8 Supercar champion has never won a V8 Supercar race at the legendary NZ circuit and neither has his famous Kiwi team owners Ross and Jimmy Stone.

Stone Brothers Racing, which prepares Ingall's Caltex Falcon, has won the last three V8 Supercar titles with the help of Marcos Ambrose (2003, 2004) and Ingall (2005), but it has not managed an outright victory at the NZ venue.

The Stones grew up in a small town called Onewhero which is just 20kms from the Pukekohe circuit.

Ironically, the first motor race Ross ever went to was when Pukekohe hosted the New Zealand Grand Prix for the first time on January 5 1963.

Ingall currently sits sixth in this year's championship after the opening round in Adelaide last month and knows that strong results in every round are required if he is claim back-to-back titles.

But a second title shot is not the major motivational factor this weekend.

Pukekohe was originally to be replaced by an Auckland street race before negotiations came to a halt. It is now planned for Hamilton to take over as the New Zealand host in 2008.

James Courtney will make his New Zealand debut this weekend in the SBR-prepared Jeld-Wen Falcon, which is also supported by Caltex.

Courtney had an opening round he would rather forget in Adelaide and is looking forward to opening his points account.

The Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical outfit is fully charged and ready to continue it's positive start to the season this weekend.

Youngster Jamie Whincup sits on top the points table after his spectacular maiden victory on the streets of Adelaide in round one.

His experienced team mate Craig Lowndes won the opening leg in Adelaide and then got caught up in someone else's accident in race two and notched an unfortunate DNF.

Lowndes, who took pole at Pukekohe last year, currently sits 14th in the points standings.

Whincup and Lowndes returned their Team Betta Electrical Falcons to their Brisbane workshop in near perfect condition after the recent Australian Grand Prix support races, giving the team the ideal lead up to New Zealand event.

WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY--..

RUSSELL INGALL -- CALTEX RACING

"There is no doubt that an outright win at Pukekohe is one box that Ross and Jimmy (Stone) have not ticked yet and I desperately want to help them achieve that," said Ingall.

"I finished second in every race last year, but still couldn't knock off Murph (Greg Murphy).

"I thought we had lost the chance to collect a win here when there was talk of running an Auckland street race, but I guess we have just a couple of more chances.

"I would rather get the job done this weekend, than having to wait until next year."

JAMES COURTNEY -- JELD-WEN RACING

"I know Pukekohe is in New Zealand and that's about it," said Courtney when quizzed about the weekend.

"I have been driving the circuit on the V8 Supercars 3 game, so I know when to turn left and right, but that's about it.

"I am looking forward to a good result this weekend because we did not get off to the best of starts in Adelaide.

"We had a very positive test last week and I am looking forward to putting some of the gains we made into practice on the race track.

"Obviously it will be important to get as much track time as possible in the practice and qualifying sessions so I can become comfortable with the place."

CRAIG LOWNDES -- TEAM BETTA ELECTRICAL

"Pukekohe is the last of the bumpy tracks so car setup is crucial for a fast lap time," said Lowndes.

"This round marked a new beginning for Team Betta Electrical in 2005 and we will be aiming to reproduce that qualifying performance this weekend.

"We are confident we can do a good job, passing is awkward so the reverse grids will be interesting and I think we will see two groups emerge, one that attacks and another that consolidates.

"Championship wise, we need to focus on points."

JAMIE WHINCUP -- TEAM BETTA ELECTRICAL

"I'm very confident in the ability of the car and the team's handle on the track, after all Craig (Lowndes) did have pole here last year," said Whincup.

"The main thing is to score consistent results and come away with a straight car; hopefully this will help me to maintain my championship lead.

"I'll be looking for a mix of aggression and patience in the reverse grid race, it's obviously good to finish well but race 1 and 3 are most important.

"There will be a lot of variables this weekend, in terms of weather and car handling, and the driver who can manage all of these most effectively is going to come out on top."

There will be an opening race on Saturday and then two races on Sunday, including a reverse grid race which will open up the day's proceedings.

-cr-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers James Courtney , Marcos Ambrose , Greg Murphy , Russell Ingall , Craig Lowndes , Jamie Whincup