DOUBLE PODIUM FOR CALTEX IN CLIPSAL OPENER Caltex drivers James Courtney and Jamie Whincup have both earned podium finishes in the opening race of the season at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide today. Courtney and defending Clipsal 500 winner ...
DOUBLE PODIUM FOR CALTEX IN CLIPSAL OPENER
Caltex drivers James Courtney and Jamie Whincup have both earned podium finishes in the opening race of the season at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide today.
Courtney and defending Clipsal 500 winner Whincup were second and third respectively on a day when all Caltex-supported cars finished in the points. The 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series only awards points to the top 15 finishers in a new-look points system.
Courtney started from pole in the #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon but a poor start saw him drop back to fourth place. Courtney then worked his way back through the field, setting the two fastest laps of the race and resetting the V8 Supercar lap record for the Adelaide street circuit.
A slow pit stop as a result of being blocked by another car allowed Holden's Todd Kelly to edge ahead, Courtney forced to settle for second in the closing stages.
Whincup took the lead at the start in the Caltex-backed #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon, only to overshoot Turn 4 under brakes some laps later and drop down the order.
Whincup then put on a charge to progress back through the field, passing Rick Kelly in the final two laps to make it two Caltex-backed Ford Falcons on the podium for Race One.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall again turned in a solid performance to kick his 2007 season off with a strong result, finishing eighth in the opening race of the weekend.
Ingall finished in the same position that he started in the #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon, netting 15 crucial points towards his championship campaign.
The 2005 V8 Supercar Champion was slowed during his first pit stop when he was blocked on exit by another car.
Fellow Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes was looking towards for a strong top 10 finish before contact with Max Wilson at Turn Four mid-race resulted in Lowndes being served with a drive-through penalty.
Lowndes managed to salvage a points scoring result out of the mishap, rising to 13th in the Caltex-backed Team Vodafone Ford Falcon.
Tomorrow's second 78-lap, 250-kilometre race will decide the 2007 Clipsal 500 champion and the winner of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series.
Russell Ingall -- #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon
"I went into the race today with a strategy to go easy in the first quarter of the race because we only wanted to change two tyres," said Ingall.
"We have the option of changing four or two in the pit stop and obviously four takes twice as long.
"We wanted to conserve the front tyres so we just played it cool, got past Lowndes early and hung in behind the bunch.
"With a couple of guys spearing off on some oil we were able to climb to fourth place so it was all looking alright.
"We ended up changing four tyres in the stop which cost us a bit of time and we also got a bit jammed in with Triple Eight pitting in front of us at the same time.
"We felt that we could have finished on the podium so it really cost us a good result. It was a bit of a hero to zero situation.
"Conditions in the car were pretty bad, we had a cool suit failure so it was hard work.
"The pace was extremely quick this year and that makes it hard work, running on the limit all the time.
"We need to improve our strategy tomorrow and make sure we use our stops to the best advantage.
"I think we will be able to find the car speed and be a bit more competitive tomorrow."
Craig Lowndes -- #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon
"We had a difficult day today for a number of reasons," said Lowndes.
"We had an issue with the rear of the car before the start of the race which we believed we had fixed but it came back to haunt us and I ended up with too much understeer.
"We decided to get our pit stops out of the way early but then I got stuck behind Max (Wilson) who was still to complete a second stop and holding me up by about two seconds per lap. Unfortunately there was contact, which resulted in a drive through penalty and the goal from there was just to stay in the points."
"We will fix our mechanical issues for tomorrow's race and knowing the speed that Jamie had, I am looking forward to tomorrow's race."
Jamie Whincup -- #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon
"I am really happy with my performance today," said Whincup.
"As the heat and being first race of the season brings its own individual pressures."
"With only five laps to go and feeling the worst for wear I decided to give it one red hot go and try and catch up to the leaders.
"To pass both Frosty (Winterbottom) and Rick Kelly shows the car has got great pace and if I dig deep I can match it with the best of them in the championship.
"However, I am feeling pretty ordinary right now but I am sure after some treatment and a solid meal I will back ready and rearing to go for tomorrow's race."
James Courtney -- #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon
"I got a pretty good jump at the start of the race but probably got a little bit excited on the gas and got into it a bit too hard," said Courtney.
"It wasn't the best start but I knuckled down and was pushing on hard.
"In the pit stop I got held up a little bit by Craig's (Lowndes) car and couldn't get out so we lost a bit of time there.
"In the end I couldn't have asked for a better start to the Championship considering where we started last year.
"This time last year we had a car in a million pieces and some of it still in the wall at turn eight so second position this year is fantastic.
"We were really smoking along at one stage in the race and the pace of the Jeld-Wen car was great.
"To have two fastest laps is great. I was pushing really hard to try and get past Todd (Kelly). He said he was doing eight-tenths; I think I was doing ten-and-a-half tenths, there wasn't one bit left in it.
"It was a great race and my hat goes off to Todd, he didn't make one mistake the whole time I was behind him and I was pushing him really hard. It just shows the level of drivers in this championship, that they can sustain that sort of pressure over this amount of laps in the heat.
"We will make a few little adjustments overnight, and see how it goes in the warm up tomorrow, see if we can turn this thing into a rocket ship. We will try and make it a bit more of a 'passing car' and get those pit stops sorted out for tomorrow."