Clipsal: Caltex Racing Saturday report

INGALL RECOVERS FOR NINTH - LOWNDES WINS Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall has avoided an opening-lap disaster and produced an impressive ninth place in the opening 250km leg of the Clipsal 500 on the streets of Adelaide today. Ingall's Caltex...

INGALL RECOVERS FOR NINTH - LOWNDES WINS

Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall has avoided an opening-lap disaster and produced an impressive ninth place in the opening 250km leg of the Clipsal 500 on the streets of Adelaide today.

Ingall's Caltex Falcon was "like a ball in a pinball machine" at the first corner and was forced to the back of the 31-car field and then into the pits for an unscheduled pit stop for some panel repair and replacement of a flat front left tyre.

He managed to stay on the lead lap and then set about driving his way back through the field with a less than perfect car.

When the first safety car came out on lap 35 Ingall was back to 19th place and he then did back-to-back pits tops for tyres and fuel. On the re-start he was 17th.

On lap 43 he picked up one more spot after his Stone Brothers Racing teammate James Courtney had a massive shunt at turn eight.

Over the remaining 30 laps he managed to pick up another seven places. His fastest lap of the race was just 0.0448 of a second off that of race winner Craig Lowndes in his Havoline-lubricated Team Betta Electrical Falcon.

Ingall scored 120 championship points for his efforts, 40 less than Lowndes who won the race from Rick Kelly and his Team Betta Electrical teammate Jamie Whincup.

Several drivers did not score any points in the race including Brad Jones, Steve Owen, Jason Bargwanna, Courtney, Mark Skaife and Jason Richards.

There will be another 250km race tomorrow.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY

RUSSELL INGALL

"It was like a pinball machine at the first corner," said Ingall.

"I copped a couple of hits and I was gone for all money. Then I was hit again and that straightened me up and I grabbed first gear and got going again.

"The impacts did a bit of damage to the steering rack and I was so paranoid that something was going to give. Especially through turn eight.

"The way it turned out it could have been a lot worse.

"That was certainly the toughest race I have ever driven. My water bottle actually ran out mid-way though the race, which is never handy when it is somewhere between 50 and 60 degrees in the car.

"I will also need to make some modifications to my suit and things like the ventilation system.

"I think that will make things a lot easier tomorrow.

"It was pleasing to finish ninth after being last and in the pits after the opening lap, but I certainly had to work hard for it."

CRAIG LOWNDES.

"We did not know what to expect after the morning warm-up," said Lowndes.

"I had to get away to a clean start, which we managed to do.

"I sat back had a quick look at what going on and early stops gave us a bit of freedom.

"It was a great result for us and Jamie (Whincup).

"He is pushing me to a newer level and that's what we want.

"We were little concerned going into this weekend about car speed, but we have been able to be up there all race.

"It would be great to have the Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon back up there tomorrow."

JAMES COURTNEY

"The first lap I just tried to stay out of trouble and I think I picked up one spot," said Courtney.

"We pitted quite early and we were looking ok.

"The set-up was not fantastic and I started to develop a big oversteer.

"I tried to manage it, but I did not manage it well enough.

"I just got into a big slide at turn eight and hit the wall. If I had of had a foot more of track space I would have been right.

"I guess now we have to try and gather things back up tomorrow and get some points."

JAMIE WHINCUP

"I am very happy with that result," said Whincup.

"It is the first time I have raced a Triple Eight car and a Ford. I was in a bit of unfamiliar territory.

"I took it a little easy early on, but the car just got quicker and quicker as the race went on

"I have exactly the same car and equipment as Craig (Lowndes) and he was able to drive away, so I have some homework to do."

"I gave it my best for a 1-2 for the team and I had a couple of goes at Rick (Kelly), but I could get past him."

-cr-

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Series Supercars
Drivers James Courtney , Russell Ingall , Rick Kelly , Brad Jones , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Jason Bargwanna , Jason Richards , Jamie Whincup , Steve Owen