CHALLENGING WEEKEND FOR CALTEX DRIVERS AT BARBAGALLO A series of mechanical issues plagued the Caltex supported drivers during the BigPond 400, round two of the V8 Supercar Championship Series, at Perth's Barbagallo Raceway in Western Australia...
CHALLENGING WEEKEND FOR CALTEX DRIVERS AT BARBAGALLO
A series of mechanical issues plagued the Caltex supported drivers during the BigPond 400, round two of the V8 Supercar Championship Series, at Perth's Barbagallo Raceway in Western Australia this weekend.
After finishing fourth in yesterday's opening race Caltex Ambassador Craig Lowndes pushed around the tight 2.41km circuit during this morning's opening race. Unfortunately though, his efforts were masked by a broken front sway bar which affected the handling of his Caltex-backed TeamVodafone Falcon and he dropped to eighth at the finish.
Lowndes maintained eighth position during the final race and finished sixth overall for the round, the multiple Champion commented he was relieved to salvage some points out of a relatively lackluster weekend.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall also endured a tough weekend at Barbagallo Raceway. After being handed a post-race penalty overnight Ingall started today's opening 50-lap encounter from 24th position. Throughout the race he moved up ten spots to cross the line 14th.
Ingall continued his movement up the order by securing a top ten finish in the final encounter. He was classified 12th overall for the round.
Jamie Whincup finished seventh in yesterday's opening race of the round aboard his Caltex-backed TeamVodafone Falcon. Unfortunately he incurred a drive-through penalty for a pit lane infringement during this morning's race dropping him to 23rd place at the finish.
From the start of race three through to the compulsory pitstop Whincup was unable to move forward due to severe rear oversteer. Changes made during his stop enabled him to bring his car back to 18th and 13th overall for the round.
James Courtney has left Barbagallo in search of the black cat which he believes he must have hit in the lead up to the weekend following a disastrous run of events over the three days.
Following a high-speed accident on Friday, Courtney was classified 11th in yesterday's opening race, however an engine problem forced him out of this morning's race.
Courtney's problems went from bad to worse during race three when he had a left front tyre deflate, causing him to make heavy contact with the concrete wall on lap 29 of the race. The impact caused severe damage to his Jeld-Wen Falcon, Courtney emerged uninjured.
Garth Tander dominated the round by taking pole position and claiming the victory in all three races. Tander's team-mate, Rick Kelly, finished second for the round ahead of Mark Skaife and Steven Johnson.
After two rounds Kelly leads the championship ahead of Tander and Todd Kelly.
The next round of the championship will be held at Pukekohe Park Raceway in New Zealand on April 20 -- 22.
Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon
"We had a good bit of speed at the end there but no result," said Ingall.
"It's all about track position; without track position there are no results.
"We managed to claw back a bit at the end and make the best of a bad round.
"We are certainly not where we want to be but to pick up those 10 or 12 positions in race two and get into the points in the final two races was a positive.
"It's a long season and every team is going to have a bad round at some stage. It seems that this was ours. It's just a shame that it has happened so early in the season.
"We need a good result at Pukekohe, we need to make that stick.
"We can't dwell on this one; we learnt a lot about what not to do this weekend. You always take something out of a meeting."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon
"The first race today was really disappointing as our car pace was excellent in the opening laps," said Lowndes.
"We were putting pressure on Rick but then the sway bar broke which upset the balance and gave me too much oversteer, all I could do was circulate and try to maintain a top ten position.
"The team fixed the problem for the final race but we still struggled with balance so I just focused on maintaining pace and not losing positions. We have come away from this weekend with some good points and we will work out a plan to go forward from here."
Jamie Whincup - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon
"It was a disappointing weekend all round," said Whincup.
"After successful qualifying and Race 1 we were then haunted with a few mechanical and setup issues for the remaining two races.
"We know we have a good car and the resources to make it work, we will really need to make the most of our pre New Zealand test day to get a good balance back in the car."
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon
"WA hasn't really been too kind to me, not much luck went our way this weekend," said Courtney.
Last year we had an engine let go in race three and this year we have suffered quite a bit of damage.
We had a good weekend in terms of the performance of the Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon but we just suffered with some mechanical and pit stop issues.
"In race two today we got a great start and we were running really strongly behind Lowndes. We were ready to attack but we had a problem with the engine loosing power which forced us to retire.
"Race three we made great progress through the field, picking up 12 spots. Then the car just didn't feel right for a few laps and I went to turn into the corner and something broke and it threw me back the other way into the wall.
"It was clear all weekend that we had plenty of speed on board and we were able to attack when things were going well so there are positives to come out of this round."