LOWNDES FASTEST, INGALL FOURTH IN FRIDAY PRACTICE FOR CALTEX
Caltex ambassadors Craig Lowndes and Russell Ingall have put there Caltex-backed Falcons among the fastest in today's practice session for the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 in Melbourne today.
Lowndes put the Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon on the top of the time sheets, giving he and co-driver Jamie Whincup first bragging rights for Round 8 of the V8 Supercar Championship Series. Lowndes was the only driver to set a time under the 1 minute 11 second mark, punching out a 1:10.9708 lap time on the car's 44th and final lap of the session.
Caltex Racing's Ingall was also in the top five for the day, setting the fourth fastest time in the Caltex Racing Falcon. The defending V8 Supercar Champion completed 50 laps at the Melbourne circuit, setting a time of 1:11.2221 seconds.
Caltex Racing drivers Ingall and Luke Youlden were both pleased with the pace and handling of the #1 Caltex Falcon in today's session. The two drivers picked up right where they left off from last year's endurance races, working well together on a set-up that suits both drivers.
The second Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon of Richard Lyons and Allan Simonsen, the only non-Australasian driver combination in this year's V8 Supercar endurance races, completed 47 laps today. For Lyons, it was his first day in V8 Supercar competition while Simonsen took the opportunity to reacclimatise to a V8 Supercar. The #88 Falcon finished 29th fastest at the end of today's session and will continue a consistent approach tomorrow.
The Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon of James Courtney and Glenn Seton finished proceedings in 11th position. Courtney was pleased with his car in today's practice and is aiming to carry on the form that saw him earn his debut podium at the last round at Oran Park. Seton and Youlden will get another opportunity for vital track time tomorrow in the 30 minute Co-Driver practice session.
Russell Ingall - #1 Caltex Racing Falcon
"We had a very good car out of the box today so that gave us a solid base to work from," said Ingall.
"The Caltex Falcon improved throughout the session with the introduction of some things we worked on at our recent test day. It gave us the car balance that we have been shooting for.
"We also picked up good time on green tyres, something that we have been lacking at recent race meetings.
"We've got a good platform to qualifying tomorrow."
Luke Youlden - #1 Caltex Racing Falcon
"I probably only did three timed laps so there wasn't a lot of time to get into it but I feel that there is still a bit of improvement in myself," said Youlden.
"I'm still wobbling around a bit. But we were quick from the word go.
"We made fairly big headway after I got out of the car so I'm looking forward to feeling the car with the changes in a couple of areas where we weren't happy with it.
"The car is obviously on the money, I think we have a really good race car at the moment and looking forward to getting more laps in tomorrow.
"I'm just hoping for a dry session so that we can press on and get the good 30 minutes value out of it."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Betta Electrical Falcon
"The car was just fantastic today, we already had a solid knowledge of the base set-up here at Sandown and the car had great drive out of the corners," said Lowndes.
"We made quite a few adjustments across the course of the session and these allowed us to make some really good progress, it was then a matter of finding a good gap in the traffic towards the end and just going for it.
"It's great to close out the day on a high note, this really sets the team up well for tomorrow. Jamie only did a few laps today so he will take the wheel for the session tomorrow and no doubt make more inroads in finding a qualifying setup -- it is certainly a big advantage to us that we both race with similar settings."
Jamie Whincup - #888 Team Betta Electrical Falcon
"I'm pretty happy with the way everything's going, the car is fast and the team is on top of things so it's all going very well, I didn't really raise a sweat today but I'll get a more thorough run aboard the car tomorrow ahead of qualifying," said Whincup.
"Consistency is the key at the endurance events and I know what I need to do to bring the car home in a strong position.
"All signs are pointing to the team recording a quick qualifying time tomorrow and I'm confident the car will be a contender in the Shootout and equally quick in race trim.
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon
"The car was quite good to start with and we put Glenn in straight away to give him some laps early in the session," said Courtney.
"He did some quite good times and the car was very competitive. We worked on it for the first part of the session then we made a change to the front and wanted to test it with new tyres so we put them on straight away. We made a few more changes and went faster again on the same tyres.
"We slowly improved the car over the whole session and made some more gains.
"It's looking quite good for us, I think we can easily be in the top ten tomorrow if the conditions are the same and I think we are on for a good showing. We definitely have good pace and Glenn knows what he has to do. So just looking forward to it."
Glenn Seton - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon
"I'm not sure how many laps I did, maybe five or six," said Seton.
"I feel reasonably comfortable. We made some pretty big headway with the car after I got out with James in there.
"Naturally Luke and I have to wait for tomorrow to have our 30 minutes in the car and I pray that it's dry because it's the only session that we will have between now and the race to get a feel for the cars and do some miles in the dry.
"Both cars are up there with speed so at the end of the day you would have to be reasonably happy at the moment. But Sunday is a different day and if all four drivers can do a good job we'll come home with a good result."