LOWNDES TAKES THIRD AT ORAN PARK Craig Lowndes and his Caltex-backed Team Vodafone ...
LOWNDES TAKES THIRD AT ORAN PARK
Craig Lowndes and his Caltex-backed Team Vodafone #888 Falcon have powered hard to secure a hard-fought podium finish for the Jim Beam 400, round eight of the V8 Supercar Championship Series, at Oran Park today.
After three days in which he experienced all the possible ups and downs of a race event, Lowndes exhibited blistering pace in the first of today's final two races to take the win, which was followed up by a credible 14th in an incident-fraught final race this afternoon -- enough to secure him the third step on the round podium.
Lowndes' Caltex-backed Team Vodafone teammate, Jamie Whincup, had the grid position of third this morning placed him in the perfect position for success, however after leading the first half of the race an incident with Jason Richards saw him exit the race with front right suspension damage.
Returning for race three at the rear of the grid, Whincup impressed everyone by again moving up through the field, surviving some close calls along the way in what was an incident and safety car-laden run. Holding onto third until the closing lap when he yielded to Russell Ingall's continuous advances, Whincup came to cross the line in fourth for the race and for the round overall.
A broken Watts Linkage on his Caltex Falcon yesterday forced Ingall to start from the back of the grid for race two, from where he battled constant rain without a windscreen wiper to finish an incredible ninth.
From there, Ingall held his own during the confusing race three start - which saw half the field start from the pits after returning to bolt on wet tyres after the warm-up - advancing further up the field and later needing to take to the infield karting track when a number of lapped cars came together before taking third from Whincup on the last lap to place eighth for the round.
Ingall's Stone Brothers Racing team-mate James Courtney also experienced the highs and lows today, with a high of seventh in race two after overcoming the difficulties which plagued him yesterday and placed him 19th on the grid for today's opening tilt.
Unfortunately, those results did not translate to his run in the closing race, with Courtney rolling his #4 Caltex-backed Jeld-Wen Falcon into the pit garage for the last time of the race on lap 21 with terminal brake problems.
Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "I guess when you look at what happened to us yesterday and then consider today, it was certainly a case of 'what could have been'," said Ingall.
"To finish eighth outright after being the first car out of the race yesterday with a mechanical problem is really pleasing.
"The conditions were tough, especially in race one today when I did not have a windscreen wiper for the entire race.
"The final race was a little confusing at the start, but we made the right decision to come in and change to wets after the warm-up.
"We had to battle our way through the field, but I really enjoyed being out there.
"The car was good in today's first race, but we identified a few areas where we could improve and the boys did a great job to get everything spot on.
"We could have finished second in the second race if not for all that drama on one of the re-starts.
"At one stage I was out on the go-kart track -- I had not been out there since I was a teenager.
"It is great to still be in the top 10 and to have closed the gap on a couple of blokes in front of us.
"If we can have similar car speed at Sandown and Bathurst I think the Caltex Falcon is going to be competitive.
"I have to congratulate young Lee Holdsworth on his win today, he obviously did a very good job. There are a few of the young blokes out there who could probably learn a lesson or two from him.
"I remember my first V8 Supercar win at Calder in 1996 and I hope he enjoys it as much as I did."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "After such an up and down weekend I was pretty happy to salvage third for the round," said Lowndes.
"We made the decision on the grid to go out on slicks for the final race, and ultimately that was shown as the wrong choice -- requiring us to come in and change to wets and then a problem with our wheel nut saw us go a lap down.
"From there we did our best with what we had and that meant we were able to take home third for the round so in that respect I am happy, and we have also been able to show the car is really up to speed so I am looking forward to heading to the next round."
Jamie Whincup - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "I am pretty shattered with this weekend basically," said Whincup.
"In so many ways Craig and I could have and should have been 'one-two' -- but things transpired to make that not possible and in both instances where I was put out it was through no fault of my own.
"To take a positive note out of it we did make up some good ground and with both of our race cars in such great form Craig and I have been able to show this weekend that we will be very competitive come the endurance races -- so let's bring them on!"
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "We weren't going too bad in the first part of the third race but as we kept going I lost all brake pressure and had to keep pumping the pedal all the way around," said Courtney.
"I had a long stop trying to find out what the problem was and headed back out but it was no better so we decided to stop rather than risk binning the new car.
"We had a pretty good race earlier today coming from 19th to seventh but that's not what we want to be doing.
"We need to work on it so we can get out in front and make things a bit easier on ourselves and then the results will come."