CALTEX TRIO MAKE TOP FIVE AS COURTNEY CLAIMS CLIPSAL PODIUM Caltex drivers have made a positive start to the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series with three Caltex-backed Ford Falcons in the top five of the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide...
CALTEX TRIO MAKE TOP FIVE AS COURTNEY CLAIMS CLIPSAL PODIUM
Caltex drivers have made a positive start to the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series with three Caltex-backed Ford Falcons in the top five of the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide today.
James Courtney was again the leader of the Caltex pack, finishing third in today's race to take his third V8 Supercar podium on a weekend that also saw him gain his maiden V8 Supercar pole position.
Courtney started from second by virtue of his runner-up finish yesterday, but yet again he had a terrible start due to an engine mapping issue and he dropped to 10th by the first corner.
Courtney then regained lost ground, again resetting the V8 Supercar lap record around the Adelaide street circuit, coincidentally setting the fast time on lap 32, the same lap Courtney broke the lap record in Saturday's race.
The Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon was unable to overhaul Rick and Todd Kelly in the final 11 laps of the race after a Safety Car period brought about a final dash to the finish, Courtney keeping team-mate Russell Ingall at bay over the final laps to take the final step on the podium.
Caltex Racing pilot Ingall had a strong car in today's race and gradually worked his way towards the front over the course of the 78-lap race.
The #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon was in fourth position and right on the tail of team-mate Courtney in the closing stages. Despite a look up the inside heading into the Turn Nine hairpin on the final lap the 2005 V8 Supercar Champion came home in fourth and leaves the Clipsal 500 fifth in the championship standings.
Defending Clipsal 500 Champion Jamie Whincup came on strong over the final stages of the race to be fifth in the Caltex-backed #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon.
Whincup passed Steven Johnson at the Turn Nine hairpin with eight laps to go to take his second top five finish of the weekend and grab fourth overall for the round.
Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes had another forgettable race in Adelaide today. Lowndes overshot Turn Four on the 23rd lap of the race, dropping him down from 12th to 23rd position.
Lowndes gradually regathered ground and just as he did yesterday, the former Clipsal 500 winner salvaged a points scoring result to finish 11th and leave Adelaide 13th in the championship standings.
Rick Kelly won today's Clipsal 500 ahead of his brother Todd, who now leads the V8 Supercar Championship after one round.
Round 2 of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series will be held on March 23-25 at Barbagallo Raceway near Perth, Western Australia.
Russell Ingall -- #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon
"It's good to be back and out of the wilderness," said Ingall.
"It is where we should be.
"The all changes the team has made in the off-season have certainly had a positive impact.
"The vibe in the team this weekend was what it felt like when we won those three consecutive championships.
"James looks as though he is the Marcos replacement we hoped he would be and there is no doubt that we will be pushing each other all season.
"We had a few problems that we need to sort from yesterday's first race and the boys managed to achieve all that.
"The pit stops were better and we only lost one spot and that was to James.
"I flat spotted a tyre early in the race and then had a major lock up coming in for my stop, but apart from that we had a relatively incident-free race.
"After this weekend I feel there is no reason why either of us cannot win the championship."
Craig Lowndes -- #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon
"We had a better car today after we fixed our issues with the rear sway bar," said Lowndes.
"However, I made a mistake going into Turn 4 and decided to run up the escape road rather than destroy the front right tyre but unfortunately that put which put me back in 23rd."
"From then on our car worked really well car speed was quite good through the middle section of the race.
"After our compulsory fuel stop we struggled with rear support and later in the race our tyre grip started to go away.
"All in all it was a weekend for recovery and with the new points system it was crucial to come with away in the points and finish in the top fifteen in both races."
Jamie Whincup -- #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon
"Overall I am very pleased to finish the weekend with a straight and competitive car," said Whincup.
"Although today didn't run as well as we had planned I have got great confidence heading into the rest of the championship.
"Fourth overall is a good first up result and is on plan with my personal goals of being consistent this year."
James Courtney -- #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon
"We had a drama with the mapping of the engine getting off the line and it was also a problem coming out of the pits," said Courtney.
"The Jeld-Wen Falcon wasn't happy leaving the mark.
"We lost a heap of time coming off the start and also in the stops. It's something that we will have to go away and work out and knock on the head.
"I was pushing eleven-tenths in the race because I lost so much time at the start and I locked the front right badly into turn nine and also into 14. It was like having a 50-cent piece on the front right corner for most of the race.
"I had to nurse it but continue to push hard so it was quite a tough race mentally.
"There really wasn't much left at the end there, I had been pushing so hard.
"I had Russell behind me and I wasn't sure whether he was friend or enemy! There are no team orders at SBR so they were happy for us to battle it out as long as we didn't take each other out.
"To come away with third today and third in the championship, I really can't complain. It's a great start compared to 12 months ago and a great result for the team.
"If this is the results for a weekend where we have a few issues, I can't wait to see the results when we have a really good one!"