MR CONSISTENT INGALL AIMING HIGH AT MOUNT PANORAMA Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall has maintained a reasonably low-profile this season as he has battled to continually extract car speed from his Falcon round after round of the V8 Supercar ...
MR CONSISTENT INGALL AIMING HIGH AT MOUNT PANORAMA
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall has maintained a reasonably low-profile this season as he has battled to continually extract car speed from his Falcon round after round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series -- at this weekend's Supercheap Auto 1000 at Bathurst he intends to change all that.
Ingall is the most consistent driver to ever race at Mt Panorama in its 45-year history and if there is anyone that can wring the neck of a car and extract the most of it at one of the world's toughest tracks, then Ingall is the man.
Ingall will not only be out to add to his record of 13 consecutive finishes and maintain a 100% finishing rate, he desperately wants to add another winner's trophy to the two which already take pride of place in his home office.
Ingall arrived into Bathurst today after a motor home road trip from the Gold Coast on which he stopped at several regional NSW towns for hospital visits, public appearances and even a go-karting coaching clinic for selected young drivers at Orange.
On Sunday he will share his ride with talented young Melbourne driver Luke Youlden, who helped him achieve his 2005 championship with consistent co-driver performances at both Sandown and Bathurst. Last year the pair finished fourth by less than 0.1 of a second to their Stone Brothers Racing teammates James Courtney and Glenn Seton.
Ingall had his first Bathurst start with Kevin Bartlett back in 1990 and the pair finished 17th. He had his next start with Wayne Gardner in 1994 and the following year he came back from Europe and he won the race in a Holden with Larry Perkins. The result was good enough for Perkins to offer Ingall a full-time ride in 1996 and one year later the pair teamed up to win the race again.
Since 1994 he has started 13 consecutive races and finished all of them in the top 11. Over that period his finishing average is an amazing 4.9.
His 13 consecutive finishes is a record and ironically Perkins is second in line with 12.
Ingall has 14 V8 Supercar starts at Bathurst for 14 finishes and the closest driver to him in regards to percentages is Ray Gulson who had 21 starts for 19 finishes for a rate of 90.4%. Ingall's only non-finish at Bathurst came in a 2-litre race when he crashed his Vectra after a car in front dumped oil all over the track.
In fact, Ingall's Australian endurance record is pretty impressive when you consider he also won the Sandown 500 with Perkins in 1998 and the inaugural Queensland 500 the following year. He also won his first championship event for Ford at the single-driver Queensland 300 in 2003.
Ingall's consistency is not something just confined to endurance events. He is also the only driver to have finished in the top 10 every year of the V8 Supercar championship and has an amazing championship average of 4.6 -- including wins in 2005 and runner-up efforts in 1998, 99, 01 and 04.
He currently sits ninth in this year's championship and knows a big result this Sunday will help maintain his impressive Bathurst and championship records.
Caltex-backed pair Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup are the defending Bathurst Champions and will debut a brand new TeamVodafone Falcon this weekend. On the strength of their more recent Just Car Insurance 500 win at Sandown they'll be looking to snare an elusive endurance race double.
If successful the duo will also become the first drivers to have successfully defended their Bathurst title since Greg Murphy and Rick Kelly won back-to-back races in 2003 and 2004.
The second of the Caltex-backed TeamVodafone Falcons will be driven by International pair Allan Simonsen and Richard Lyons.
For James Courtney and his co-driver David Besnard, a strong performance at Sandown, marred by pit stop delays and fumes in the cabin, proved that they have the right ingredients to make it to the top step.
The pair, who have been friends for 20 years, showed good pace to qualify on the front row at Sandown and are confident that they can run at the front during this weekend's race.
The V8 Supercars will take to the Mount Panorama circuit for the first time on Thursday October 4 at 10:40am for a two-and-a-half hour practice session, followed by practice and qualifying on Friday, the Top Ten Shootout on Saturday and the 161-lap race on Sunday.
Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "There is no doubt that Bathurst is the highlight of the year for our category," said Ingall.
"The hairs on the back of my neck still stand up every time I drive into town and look across to see the big Mt Panorama sign.
"It is no secret that we have not had the greatest year, but we are still punching away in the top 10 of the championship and have a great chance to prove a few things this weekend.
"There is absolutely no reason we cannot win it. Mt Panorama is a place where dreams can come true and they have for me a couple of times. Another win this weekend would be something pretty special."
Luke Youlden - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "The Mount Panorama circuit is just an amazing piece of road," said Youlden.
"When you first arrive, it always seems narrower that you remember. The first couple of laps out, you feel like you are flying and then you realize that you still have a couple of seconds to find.
"It's definitely a track where the more times you race there, the more laps you do, the quicker you can be on the ball.
"Racing in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series gives me twice the miles so I can hit the ground running when I jump in the Caltex Falcon. Doing the two categories definitely gets your confidence up.
"The Caltex Falcon has improved a lot since last year so we are looking forward to going better than our fourth last year."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "I am looking forward to hitting the Mount Panorama circuit for practice tomorrow and it is sure to bring back some great memories of our victory last year," said Lowndes while traveling to Bathurst today.
"I was the last person to win the Sandown- Bathurst double in 96 and it would be great to repeat the feat 11 years on.
"I am excited to be debuting the new car at Bathurst, both of our current chassis have been reliable all year and this one will be no different - just more refined to provide us with every shot of taking victory on Sunday."
Jamie Whincup - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "We have done our homework and we are heading into the biggest race of the year with great confidence," said Whincup.
"What is most critical if we are to stand on the top step again is that the team performs flawlessly and exceeds their own expectations."
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "It always seems that there is a bit of hang time before getting to Bathurst and getting onto the circuit," said Courtney.
"There is a big build up and everyone looks forward to this event all year.
"The key to Bathurst is to have a fast consistent car that is easy to drive. The work that the SBR guys put in early in the week is so important to getting that right.
"The JELD-WEN Falcon showed really good speed at Sandown so David (Besnard) and I are in with a great shot if we can take that with us to Bathurst.
"We know we have the right ingredients, we just have to get all the little bits right to get on to that top step."
David Besnard - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "Mount Panorama is one of the best tracks in the world," said Besnard.
"Unlike America where just about every track has a long history and lots of famous moments associated with it, Australian circuits generally haven't been around long enough to have that.
"Bathurst is the exception. It's got history and it's got atmosphere; you can feel it when you cruise into town.
"Based on our performance at Sandown, James (Courtney) and I should be up in the top four or five at Bathurst. We're a good driver combination, very even and we like the same set up in the JELD-WEN Falcon.
"Without the dramas we had at Sandown, we have every chance of a podium finish, and a good shot at winning."
Richard Lyons - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "I can't wait to get the Bathurst weekend underway," said Lyons.
"Allan and myself are very well prepared for the race and have certainly benefited by being paired up again.
"The top 10 finish at Sandown was definitely an indication of what we are capable of, and I think we'll be able to push for a top 5 position if we drive a smart race and are in the mix in the final stages."
Alan Simonsen - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "It's a privilege to be aboard the TeamVodafone Falcon for Bathurst, I've raced here a number of times now and feel this is my best shot yet for a good result," said Simonsen.
"We plan to keep the regular drivers on their toes and use our combined racing experience to our advantage."