LOWNDES LEADS THE CHARGE FOR CALTEX DRIVERS IN PERTH Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes has led the charge for the Caltex drivers during practice for the BigPond 400, round two of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship, at Perth's Barbagallo Raceway ...
LOWNDES LEADS THE CHARGE FOR CALTEX DRIVERS IN PERTH
Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes has led the charge for the Caltex drivers during practice for the BigPond 400, round two of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship, at Perth's Barbagallo Raceway today.
Lowndes steered the #888 TeamVodafone Falcon to fifth place on the timesheets at the end of the two and a half hour limited lap practice session. His lap of 56.8686 seconds was a mere 0.33 seconds behind the fastest time set by local driver Garth Tander.
Lowndes has a good record at this circuit with four victories from five years between 1996 and 2000.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall, who enters this round fifth in the championship standings, has continued his good start to the 2007 season by setting the eighth fastest time during today's session.
Despite finishing the day tenth-fastest Ingall's team-mate, James Courtney, wasn't so fortunate. The ex-Formula One test driver was amongst the top five fastest drivers for the majority of the session before enduring a brake issue entering the final turn on the 2.41km circuit.
Courtney hit the tyre barrier at high-speed causing major damage to the Jeld-Wen Falcon. His team will asses the damage tonight and are aiming to repair the car before qualifying tomorrow.
Jamie Whincup set the 15th fastest time during today's practice session aboard his Caltex-backed TeamVodafone Falcon.
The practice session was plagued by seven red flag stoppages, six to retrive stricken cars and one for a grass fire. The most significant incident involved Jason Richards and Jason Bright, both cars received major damage in the incident.
Qualifying will be contested tomorrow morning followed by the opening 50-lap race in the afternoon. Sunday will feature a pair of 50-lap races.
Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon
"Eighth in practice wasn't really indicative of where we should have been," said Ingall.
"Most top teams ran their second set of practice tyres today. Unfortunately we didn't get a good run on ours, we just ran out of time with so many red flags in the session.
"We never really dropped out of the top five over the two-and-a-half hours. We put that time in pretty early in the session so the car was good out of the truck, which is always promising.
"We are confident of making it into the final ten in qualifying which is a battle in itself in this field.
"Around Barbagallo Raceway the fastest car has not always won here. Because of the nature of the circuit and the high wear on the tyres, if you have a good race car that looks after it's tyres you can pull in a result.
"We're concentrating on that and we think that strategy is going to work out for us."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon
"We made numerous changes to the car to give us a direction but in the end it was the move to our second set of tyres that made the biggest difference," said Lowndes.
"The newer tyres not only gave us a second in time, but also completely changed the feel of the car.
"The team made some more minor adjustments but due to the red flags, we ran out of time to finalise our set-up.
"I am very happy with what we achieved today, we now have good direction for tomorrows qualifying."
Jamie Whincup - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon
"We had a really poor set of P1 tyres so we were forced onto our second set a lot earlier than we would have liked," said Whincup.
"The team made a series of changes that really improved the car and it is nowhere near as bad as it looks on paper.
"While we still need to find a little bit more balance most of my deficit is tyre related and the car is a lot better than what we had last year."
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon
"We were really smoking along nicely today; the Jeld-Wen Falcon was going really well and I felt like we were in for a good showing.
"We had a brake issue into the final turn and it just didn't pull up. It was a pretty big hit and the car is not looking that flash.
"It's just disappointing to have something like this happen when things were travelling along so well; a really good result in the first round and some speed out of the truck here.
"There's a lot of work to do before tomorrow."