CALTEX AND LOWNDES GRAB ROUND WIN AND CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes has steered his Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon to victory in Round 7 of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Oran Park in Sydney ...
CALTEX AND LOWNDES GRAB ROUND WIN AND CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes has steered his Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon to victory in Round 7 of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Oran Park in Sydney today.
Victory in the third and final race of the weekend was enough for Lowndes to take the overall round win in his Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon over Rick Kelly, as well as cementing the championship lead that he grabbed after claiming second in yesterday's first race.
Lowndes continues a streak of four-straight round wins at Oran Park for Caltex-backed Falcons and also puts Lowndes in an interesting position: for the past six seasons the driver who has gone on to win the Oran Park round has won the championship. Lowndes also remains the only multiple round winner for the season, after victories at Hidden Valley and Winton.
Lowndes's team-mate Jamie Whincup had an unfortunate final race for the weekend in his Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon. The Clipsal 500 winner was the leader of the early stages of the race before an engine problem ended his run.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall continued his recovery from a poor qualifying performance to be in a podium position in the mid stages of the final race.
The defending V8 Supercar Champion and Oran Park round winner was fifth in the reverse grid Race 2 and made a good start to the final race. Ingall was running in third in Race 3 and for the round overall when hit from behind by Garth Tander at Turn 7.
The resulting spin sent Ingall down the order to 11th and the Caltex Racing Falcon was further impeded when forced to serve a drive-through penalty after contact with Warren Luff as a result of missing a gear under braking.
Ingall recovered to finish the race in 21st and be ninth for the round, leaving the Caltex driver in fifth place in the championship, one point behind fourth placed Mark Winterbottom.
Ingall's team-mate James Courtney further established himself as the coming man of V8 Supercars with a third place in the final race and overall for the round in the Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon.
Courtney was eighth in today's reverse grid race before coming home in third in Race 3, elevating him to 16th in the championship.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --
RUSSELL INGALL -- CALTEX RACING
"It wasn't one of our better rounds today," said Ingall.
"There were times in race three when we looked like we were on track for a podium or top five. We made some huge progress with the car in race three and were happy with the set-up. The boys put in a blinder of a pit stop and we picked up some places.
"But then I was tagged by Tander and it was downhill from there. I missed a gear and tagged Luff and the drive through put an end to it."
CRAIG LOWNDES -- TEAM BETTA ELECTRICAL
"All the hard work the team has been putting into perfecting our pit stops really paid off this weekend," said Lowndes.
"It was great racing today, Rick had good car pace in some parts of the track and I had it in others.
"We worked hard early in the weekend to maintain tyre life and that paid dividends in the last half of Race 3 with the car well balanced and very comfortable which allowed me to drive consistently."
"It is great for the team to be leading the championship but we can't get ahead of ourselves and it is now time for us to refocus on the endurance races. Jamie and I will be testing later this month and we both are looking forward to the longer events.
"We are now in a good position for the championship and will keep attacking each round in the same way we have done this year."
JAMIE WHINCUP -- TEAM BETTA ELECTRICAL
"There is no use crying over a lost opportunity, we had a great weekend up until the engine let go," said Whincup.
"The car was the best it's been all weekend and I had six brand new tyres so we were all set up for the final race.
"While it is disappointing it is also encouraging to know I can confidently mix with the top 10.
"I would have really loved to have finished on a high this weekend for not only my own confidence but also to recognise the efforts that the team has put in to get me to this level so quickly."
JAMES COURTNEY -- JELD-WEN MOTORSPORT
"It's good to be here at the end of the weekend," said Courtney.
"We were pretty comfortable last round and thought we were up for a podium there but it was taken away from us.
"The result is good for the guys. They have worked really hard and it's been a pretty tough start to the year for myself and for them, working hard repairing things.
"I think we have come on quite strong, we don't have the car speed that some other guys have but we have been working hard and keeping the elbows out.
"I thought I had a chance to come out and do well this weekend. I came out here on Monday about five o'clock and did an hours testing in an automatic Ford Focus just to try and get the car placement.
"It is a very technical track and I still don't think we had it right, definitely not in the set-up for sure. We didn't have the speed these guys had but we just plugged away and kept our nose clean and raced hard.
"All these guys are high level drivers and very good to race with. They race hard but very fair and I'm enjoying it. I'm enjoying it a lot more being at the front where I am so I hope to stay near the front for the rest of the year.
"I'm really looking forward to running at Sandown and Bathurst with Glenn; we just have to get him a bit more time in the car in the next two weeks at our test."
-credit: caltex racing