Hidden Valley: Caltex Racing preview

INGALL RETURNING TO A HAPPY HUNTING GROUND IN DARWIN Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall will return to one of his 'happy hunting grounds' when he heads to the Hidden Valley Raceway for the SKYCITY Triple Crown, Round Six of the 2007 V8 Supercar ...

INGALL RETURNING TO A HAPPY HUNTING GROUND IN DARWIN

Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall will return to one of his 'happy hunting grounds' when he heads to the Hidden Valley Raceway for the SKYCITY Triple Crown, Round Six of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series, in Darwin, Northern Territory this weekend.

When the series first headed to the 'Top End' in 1998 it was Ingall who was victorious. During his nine visits to the Hidden Valley circuit he has recorded six race victories and finished on the podium three times.

Ingall's Caltex-backed Stone Brothers Racing outfit has won three times at Hidden Valley with Jason Bright in 1999 and Marcos Ambrose (2001 and 2003). Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes became the first non-SBR Ford driver to win a round for the manufacturer when he took out the corresponding round last year.

Lowndes comes into the weekend with confidence following his second place in the final race of the previous round at Eastern Creek two weeks ago. He and team-mate Jamie Whincup have taken the challenge to the championship leaders over the past two rounds and as a consequence have moved into sixth and third respectively in the standings.

Whincup, who is the only Ford driver to have won a round in 2007, has contested three rounds at the Hidden Valley circuit. His best performance coming last year when he finished 12th overall aboard the #88 Caltex-backed Falcon.

James Courtney made his Darwin debut last year finishing just outside the Top Ten. Given the previous success of his SBR team at the venue the ex-Formula One Test driver is confident of another good performance on the 2.9km circuit this weekend.

Practice begins on Friday afternoon followed by the three-segment qualifying session on Saturday morning. The first of three 42-lap races will be contested on Saturday afternoon. The round will be highlighted by a two races on Sunday.

CALTEX QUOTEBOARD

Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "This one is an event that I really enjoy and I think that's the case for many of the drivers and teams," said Ingall.

"It's a well run event and the atmosphere is pretty laid back; it feels a bit like mid-year break.

"In saying that, the pressure is on for us to come up with some results in the Caltex Racing Falcon. We've consistently had pace but haven't been able to produce the goods so far.

"I've had some success at this circuit so now's the time to do it."

Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "It would be great to have a double celebration this Sunday night, one for the round and one for my birthday!" said Lowndes.

"There's no doubt this will be a tough weekend in terms of the heat, but its something we'll all be battling and I'm pretty confident I've got the race fitness to handle it.

"My first Hidden Valley win was 2006, so I'll be looking to go back-to-back and notch up my first round win for 2007 here - there's always a fun atmosphere and the crowd is great."

Jamie Whincup - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "Everyone looks forward to the Darwin round, for its nice warm weather and the enthusiastic crowds, and I'm excited about getting underway and scoring some good results here," said Whincup.

"I'm happy to have such a short turnaround between races, it allows you to maintain a race focus and I've been working very hard in training since we got back from Eastern Creek.

"With the increased car pace we are showing I'm quietly confident that we can erase the disappointment of last round and have a really good showing here.

"Since the heat of Adelaide at the start of the year the team has come up with a few good techniques which should keep things nice and cool in the cabin."

James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "I'm excited about going back to Hidden Valley as it was a real turning point for us last year, more in terms of the team as opposed to results," said Courtney.

"The JELD-WEN guys and myself all started talking on the same page at Darwin. That led on to Queensland Raceway where we got on the podium in a couple of the races.

"Hidden Valley has a good long straight which will be good for us. We are just starting to really get the new engine online and this will give it a chance to stretch its legs. The D3 engine has come a long way in a year so we will definitely have a gain there.

"Darwin is a great event. We all love going up there; it's a great place to visit and its always enjoyable.

"My wife Carys and I both have our birthdays next week so we are going to stay on for a bit of a holiday. It will be a good chance to relax."

-credit: cr

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers James Courtney , Marcos Ambrose , Jason Bright , Russell Ingall , Craig Lowndes , Jamie Whincup