CALTEX AND WHINCUP TOP OPENING DAY AT ORAN PARK Jamie Whincup has put his Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon on top of the timesheets in today's practice for this weekend's Round 7 of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Oran Park in...
CALTEX AND WHINCUP TOP OPENING DAY AT ORAN PARK
Jamie Whincup has put his Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon on top of the timesheets in today's practice for this weekend's Round 7 of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Oran Park in Sydney.
The 2006 Clipsal 500 winner kicked his weekend off in the best possible way by clocking the fastest time in practice around the technical western Sydney circuit, leading the charge of Caltex drivers as they aim at making it four straight Oran Park round victories for Caltex-backed Falcons.
Whincup's Team Betta Electrical team-mate Craig Lowndes was the next best Caltex-backed driver in today's session, setting the 11th best time. The Caltex Ambassador, who is the only driver to win multiple rounds this season, is confident of a better showing in tomorrow's qualifying session.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall could only manage the 17th fastest time in today's practice. The defending V8 Supercar Champion's Caltex Racing Falcon was among the fastest in the first half of the extended practice session, but dropped into the lower half of the field as the session drew to a close.
Ingall's team-mate James Courtney faired slightly better in the Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon, placing 13th in today's practice session. This weekend is Courtney's first race in his home-town since racing karts in Sydney as a youngster.
Whincup headed fellow 2006 round winners Mark Skaife and Steven Richards in today's practice session. Qualifying, the top 10 Shootout and Race 1 will be held tomorrow.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --
RUSSELL INGALL -- CALTEX RACING
"We're just not there right now -- it's as simple as that," said Ingall.
"The difference last year was that each time we dragged the car out we would be in the top five. This year we bring it out and it's a struggle from start to finish. Realistically, we are not going to get results easily like that this year.
"It was incredibly slippery out there today; the first few laps were like going out in the wet. They race a lot of different stuff here, anything on two wheels or four wheels, and it's really torn up the bitumen.
"We have been in this position a few times this year and we've managed to turn the weekend around so we'll keep working on it."
JAMIE WHINCUP -- TEAM BETTA ELECTRICAL
"It's fantastic, I was really pleased to learn I'd set the fastest time and really felt like we had an excellent handle on the car late into the practice session," said Whincup.
"The initial stages gave me a feel for what the track was like but it was obviously going to change significantly as we strapped on the new tyres, and our set-up was perfect as I went back out.
"It's been a trying few rounds for us and Ludo (Lacroix, Whincup's engineer) and I were both very happy with today's results.
"My goal tomorrow is to take a place in the Top Ten Shootout and aim for a really good grid position for the opening race. It's so important to get a good start to the weekend in race one; it really sets you up for a strong run home.
"I've got no doubt the reverse grid race will be a challenge, especially in the first few corners. It's all about conservation for the final race and picking off as many of the slower cars as possible."
CRAIG LOWNDES -- TEAM BETTA ELECTRICAL
"We were making pretty good ground there in the first half of the session and were constantly improving on the worn set of tyres," said Lowndes.
"The change however didn't respond as well as I'd have hoped and left us with a little bit of work to do to find a more suitable set-up
"I'm very confident we'll find the answers overnight and be ready for the top 50% qualifying tomorrow. We had really good speed here last year and the track hasn't changed all that much.
"The guys will take a look at the data from Jamie's car and compare them. He put in a magnificent effort to finish fastest so we'll try to find out where he is making up most of his time from.
"It should be a great day tomorrow and I'm hoping for a strong finish and a clean race to the flag."
JAMES COURTNEY -- JELD-WEN MOTORSPORT
"I got a grasp on the circuit quite quickly today although there are still two corners where I am loosing a bit of time," said Courtney.
"Today's session was pretty promising but there is still some work to do.
"I didn't have the best of runs on new tyres. We got caught in a bit of traffic and I was still learning the track too so we didn't get the most out of them.
"The biggest gain tomorrow will come from more track time. We had a good look at the data tonight and I just have to get my head around it and have crack." -credit: caltex racing