COURTNEY FIFTH AS ALL CALTEX DRIVERS FINISH TOP 15 IN BAHRAIN OPENER James Courtney has delivered Caltex a top five finish in the opening race of the Desert 400 at the Bahrain International Circuit today as all Caltex drives came home in the top...
COURTNEY FIFTH AS ALL CALTEX DRIVERS FINISH TOP 15 IN BAHRAIN OPENER
James Courtney has delivered Caltex a top five finish in the opening race of the Desert 400 at the Bahrain International Circuit today as all Caltex drives came home in the top 15.
Courtney brought the Jeld-Wen Falcon home in fifth position in the first of three races for this weekend's landmark event, capping a strong day for the V8 rookie after he qualified seventh and then drove to fifth in the Top 10 Shootout.
Courtney ran with the front-runners in the 27-lap event and a fast pit stop from his crew put the former karting world champion in fourth heading into the final laps.
Championship leader Rick Kelly found a way past Courtney in the late stages, giving the Jeld-Wen Falcon fifth for Race 1 and a strong start for the weekend.
Triple Eight Race Engineering drivers Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup both netted top 10 results in today's race.
Lowndes was ninth in his Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon after a mistake in the Top 10 Shootout left him eighth for the start of the race after earlier qualifying sixth.
Whincup qualified eighth in qualifying and then seventh in the Top 10 Shootout in the #88 Team Betta Electrical Falcon. The young gun was 10th in the race after a solid run at the 3.6-kilometre circuit, highlighted by a long battle with Greg Murphy in the closing laps.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall had a torrid time in qualifying, only managing 19th.
The defending V8 Supercar Champion had the Caltex Falcon back on the pace in the race and climbed up the order to finish 13th, putting him well within striking distance of a top 10 result for tomorrow's races.
Jason Bright won today's opening race from Garth Tander and Todd and Rick Kelly.
Russell Ingall -- #1 Caltex Racing Falcon
"The surface on the track is so course -- it's kind of like Wanneroo before the resurfacing," said Ingall.
"After a few laps there is practically no grip. It's almost like driving in the wet out there.
"It's a very fine line with set-up and we are still working on that. It's important to have the car right because you don't have to do much to get off line around here.
"The problem we're having is that we are robbing one end of the car for the other and can't get both ends to work.
"But it doesn't take much. One tweak and it could be just right and if you can get the set-up right around here it can be really good, because it is just so wide around here that it is fairly easy to pass if you get the car right."
Craig Lowndes -- #888 Team Betta Electrical Falcon
"The start was unusual," said Lowndes.
"The lights caught quite a few of us by surprise.
"I lost any gains I had made when I stalled in the pits and by the time things settled down I was in no mans land with limited laps to go and a four second gap to Mark Winterbottom.
"There are a few areas we need to work on overnight but one key thing for tomorrow will be looking after our rear tyres more for the longer races."
Jamie Whincup -- #88 Team Betta Electrical Falcon
"I was happy with that race," said Whincup.
"I got a solid start and settled into the race quite quickly.
"Unfortunately we had a wheel nut issue which dropped me down the order but I was still happy with the progress I was able to make due to excellent race pace
"Tomorrow's longer races should suit our set-up much better."
James Courtney -- #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon
"The guys did a fantastic stop in the pits and as usual did a top job," said Courtney.
"Before I knew it the car was on the ground and it was time to go. The stop really helped us so they did a really great job.
"I was pushing really hard out there and was close to the front cars, so it was good to have a chance to run with them.
"We'll work on the car now and get it right for the next race. We were taking care of the tyres a little in that race because it's a long weekend."
-credit: caltex racing