Bathurst: Caltex Racing Thursday report

CALTEX TRIO IN TOP 10 ON THURSDAY AT BATHURST A trio of Caltex-backed Falcons have enjoyed a solid start to this weekend's Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with top 10 positions in opening practice at the Mount Panorama circuit in New South ...


A trio of Caltex-backed Falcons have enjoyed a solid start to this weekend's Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with top 10 positions in opening practice at the Mount Panorama circuit in New South Wales.

The Caltex-backed #888 Team Betta Electrical Falcon of Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup was sixth fastest in today's 135-minute practice session.

The Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon of James Courtney and Glenn Seton was next in seventh place, one spot ahead of the #1 Caltex Racing Falcon of reigning V8 Supercar Champion Russell Ingall, who is again partnered with Luke Youlden.

Lowndes, Ingall and Courtney were all pleased with the pace of their cars straight out of the truck and occupied spots at the top of the timesheets for the duration of the session. The early pace is a positive sign heading into tomorrow, where two practice sessions and qualifying will be held.

The international entry of Allan Simonsen and Richard Lyons also enjoyed strong pace. The Caltex-backed #88 Team Betta Electrical Falcon showed good form today and despite a slight touch with one of Bathurst's unforgiving concrete walls, will be one to watch in qualifying tomorrow.

Today's opening practice was topped by Mark Skaife and Garth Tander, ahead of the Falcon of Jason Bright and Mark Winterbottom and brothers Rick and Todd Kelly.


Russell Ingall -- #1 Caltex Racing Falcon

"Today was a pretty good day, we were probably one of the only teams in pit lane not to put new tyres," said Ingall.

"We ended up P8 only using one set of practice tyres, so the outlook at this stage is pretty positive. We had a small problem towards the end of the session so we just stayed in and watched everyone bolt on new tyres the last few laps to set a time.

"The car was fast all session, so I'm confident that with new tyres tomorrow we will be right up there. The car felt quick right from the start, which is a good sign for the weekend.

"It always takes a little while for you to get your eye back in around this place, but right from our second lap we started to set some decent times. We are certainly quick and the track doesn't seem to have dropped any pace at all from last year.

"Everyone picked up a fair bit on new tyres, so we are definitely not far away considering we set our time on practice tyres.

"I feel we have a pretty good race package and we also have good fuel economy. A lot of cars out there have a lot of power but with that you burn more fuel, so it will be interesting to see how the stops play out in the race."

Craig Lowndes -- #888 Team Betta Electrical Falcon

"The car rolled out of the transporter reasonably well however we did work on set-up over the course of the 30 laps," said Lowndes

"Whilst the car is responding to all of the changes we made we will still have a good look at data before we finalise our set-up.

"There is definitely more time left in the car but we need to make sure we have a reliable race package for Sunday."

Jamie Whincup -- #888 Team Betta Electrical Falcon

"I did five laps today and the car was a little bit slippery to start with," said Whincup.

"But overall I am comfortable with the changes Craig made and I am confident we will have the best possible setup ready for Sunday's race.

"It is nice to be back at arguably the best drivers track in Australia."

Allan Simonsen -- #88 Team Betta Electrical Falcon

"The car pace was good but I kissed the wall coming into turn three and broke a Watts link and steering arm, which unfortunately shortened our session by 14 laps," said Simonsen.

"Whilst we didn't get our full session in it was good to get the carnage out of they way early in the weekend."

Richard Lyons -- #88 Team Betta Electrical Falcon

"This is the first time I have ever driven on this track and its reputation is certainly warranted," said Lyons

"The degree of incline has to be seen to be experienced and I can appreciate the technical skill needed to be competitive here.

"Already I would have to put it in my top three tracks in the world and I have only done five laps so far."

James Courtney -- #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon

"We had really good car speed out of the box today," said Courtney.

"I haven't done too many laps around this place so I am still learning the circuit.

"The car was good straight out of the truck this weekend and that is something we haven't had this year. We always had to work hard to get on the money but today we rolled out and were good right away.

"Tomorrow we will get Glenn to roll around and get up to speed and do some miles, then we will throw another set of tyres at it and get a time in final practice before qualifying."

-credit: cr

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Series Supercars
Drivers James Courtney , Richard Lyons , Jason Bright , Russell Ingall , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Jamie Whincup , Todd Kelly , Luke Youlden , Allan Simonsen