ALL CALTEX DRIVERS IN TOP TEN AT BAHRAIN PRACTICE All four of the Caltex-backed entries in the Desert 400 at Bahrain International Raceway have timed within the top ten quickest during today's opening practice session. Current championship ...
ALL CALTEX DRIVERS IN TOP TEN AT BAHRAIN PRACTICE
All four of the Caltex-backed entries in the Desert 400 at Bahrain International Raceway have timed within the top ten quickest during today's opening practice session.
Current championship leader Jamie Whincup and his Caltex-backed Team Vodafone Falcon have set the second quickest practice time for round 12 of the V8 Supercar Championship Series as he seeks to cement his lead in the point standings.
Whincup powered through the entirety of the session, consistently amongst the front-runners before a flying lap in the closing stages pushed him to the top of the time-sheets with a 1.25.3268.
Only a blistering 1m25.3225s by Mark Winterbottom in the final two minutes of the session could dislodge him, with the fastest qualifier at the past two rounds seeing Whincup cross the line second fastest ahead of tomorrow's qualifying and first race in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Not far behind was fellow dual Bathurst winner and Whincup's team-mate Craig Lowndes and his #888 Team Vodafone Falcon.
Like Whincup, Lowndes powered through the session to remain in the top, placed third as the field headed into the dying minutes before Winterbottom jumped the field.
Playing with set-up while searching for increased grip over the duration of the session, Lowndes eventually finished fourth fastest.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall was strong early in the session, sitting within the top half of the timesheets. He jumped to seventh fastest after fitting new tyres late in the 2-hour, limited lap, practice.
With the Bahrain circuit notoriously hard on tyres, the former V8 Supercar Champion is focusing on finding the best set-up to last the distance over the three 31 lap sprints on the coarse surface.
After working with his engineers throughout today, Ingall is confident of finding the combination that will pay-off come race day.
Ingall ultimately finished as the eighth fastest driver ahead of team-mate James Courtney.
Like Ingall, Courtney also showed strong form over the session, standing atop the time sheets from the opening lap. Only a flurry of fast times by drivers on new tyres over the final 15 minutes saw him slip down the order slightly to finish with the ninth fastest time.
Tomorrow's race action kicks off with qualifying at 11.00am followed by the first of three 31 lap sprint races at 3.00pm local Bahrain time.
Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "The Caltex Racing Falcon is a lot better here this year; however the track seems to have a lot less grip, maybe because of lack of use," said Ingall.
"With the tyres going off so quickly, we concentrated on getting some pace out of the first set of tyres today.
"We may not be the speediest but if we have a set-up that looks after our tyres we will be able to maintain a good race pace.
"There will be a lot of sad cars here 10 laps into the race; a smarter set up will win the day."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "The track temperature is a lot hotter than last year so the cars are moving around a lot more on-track," said Lowndes.
"This track is completely different to any other in terms of tyre gain, at most circuits you can chip away and make gains but here you can only get a couple of timed laps out of the tryes.
"We spent most of the session just playing with the setup as I lacked a little all-over grip but it is a much better start than last year."
Jamie Whincup - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "We couldn't have a bigger change from Indy to Bahrain as far as the circuit goes," said Whincup.
"I am very happy with the car, it is good to see we are starting to find some outright speed.
"With tyre degradation due to the coarse surface it is an engineers nightmare to adjust the car from qualifying to a race setup but I am confident Mark (Dutton) will do a good job."
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "We had a great start to the session today," said Courtney.
"As predicted, the Bahrain circuit burns up the tyres quickly. It's difficult to put together a good set-up when the car is deteriorating so much each lap.
"I was a bit cautious on our second set of tyres late in the session and didn't get the most out of them.
"We'll review it all tonight; there is no reason why we can't squeeze a few extra tenths out of the Jeld-Wen Falcon for qualifying tomorrow."