LOWNDES LOOKING TO CONTINUE STRONG FORM AT ORAN PARK Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes is aiming to continue his strong mid-season form when he contests the Jim Beam 400, round eight of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series, at Sydney's Oran...
LOWNDES LOOKING TO CONTINUE STRONG FORM AT ORAN PARK
Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes is aiming to continue his strong mid-season form when he contests the Jim Beam 400, round eight of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series, at Sydney's Oran Park Raceway this weekend.
Lowndes, who won the corresponding round last year, has finished on the podium during the two most recent rounds in Darwin and at Queensland Raceway to propel him into fourth overall in the championship standings aboard his Caltex-backed TeamVodafone Falcon.
The multiple series champion now sits just one spot behind his team-mate Jamie Whincup, who will be out for retribution this weekend after leading the round last year until he suffered a rare engine failure in the final race.
Joining the Caltex-backed TeamVodafone pair in the chase for the victory this weekend will be Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall. The 2005 series champion was victorious at Oran Park in his championship year to secure his place in V8 Supercar history by winning in a race or round at every venue which has hosted a round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.
After proving he still has what it takes to be a leading contender in the championship with another top ten finish last round, and a successful test day earlier in the week, Ingall is again aiming for the podium this weekend aboard the #9 Caltex Racing Falcon.
For Ingall's team-mate James Courtney the Oran Park venue holds some special memories for him. Not only did he grow up close to the Oran Park circuit in the nearby suburb of Penrith and cut his teeth on the adjacent go-kart circuit but it was also the scene of his first V8 Supercar podium finish in 2006.
Courtney will this weekend debut a new car from the Stone Brothers Racing workshop, which was tested for the first time in the team's test day at Queensland Raceway yesterday.
Practice begins on Friday afternoon followed by qualifying on Saturday morning and the opening 46-lap race in the afternoon. The round will be highlighted with a pair of 46-lap races on Sunday at 10:40am and 1:40pm respectively.
After seven rounds in the championship Garth Tander leads the way ahead of Rick Kelly and Whincup. Lowndes is in fourth place with Courtney ninth and Ingall 10th.
Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "We did a lot of preparation work for the endurance races in the Caltex Falcon at yesterday's test. Luke Youlden, who will partner me in the endurance events, had a good run and he is right on the pace," said Ingall.
"We'll get the benefit from the new specifications that were run on James' new car yesterday, and quite a few of those things will come online for Oran Park.
"Oran Park is not a bad circuit; it's a bit unique with its undulation and makes for a good change.
"We didn't have a great round there last year after winning in 2005. Hopefully we will have made some gains from the test and we will reap the rewards this weekend."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "Oran Park is without a doubt one of the top three or four circuits that we race on, it is a fantastic drivers track, has a great layout, a good variety of corners and the unique under and over bridge makes for a very challenging drive," said Lowndes.
"It is track that throws up quite a few challenges," he continued. "It is a bumpy track which can make it difficult to set the car up and the pit lane is on a decline which can make it tricky to keep under the pitlane speed limit and stop on the markers.
"As a team we feel like we are on a bit of a roll now, and Oran Park has always been kind to us so we are looking forward to continuing our present form and hopefully coming away with another dual podium.
"This is a very important race meeting as it is our last hitout before the endurance events."
Jamie Whincup - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "I led Oran Park last year before my engine let go so you could say I am looking for retribution this year," said Whincup.
"Oran Park is a great driver's circuit that may not be around much longer, so I am looking to make the most of it and enjoying our time there."
"The track offers some of the better sections of road that we drive on and although we dominated there last year I know the Toll guys will be much more competitive and I think the fans are in for a real battle between the two teams."
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "We had a very productive day testing yesterday. We ran the new car and we had no dramas all day which is a great result. The new JELD-WEN Falcon feels like it is an improvement on the old car so the guys have done a good job," said Courtney.
"My co-driver for the endurance events, David Besnard got in quite a few laps and he was pretty much on the pace right away.
"Oran Park is quite a good circuit; there is a lot of undulation and you are climbing over the kerbs and running close to the wall coming onto the straight. It's exciting and has a bit of everything.
"We will head into this round quietly confident; we had a good result at Oran Park last year and we hope to do that this weekend and finish the year off strong."