CALTEX TRIO INSIDE THE TOP TEN DURING PUKEKOHE RACE ONE A trio of Caltex drivers filled positions inside the top ten during race one of the PlaceMakers V8 Supercar event, round three of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship, at Pukekohe...
CALTEX TRIO INSIDE THE TOP TEN DURING PUKEKOHE RACE ONE
A trio of Caltex drivers filled positions inside the top ten during race one of the PlaceMakers V8 Supercar event, round three of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship, at Pukekohe Park Raceway in New Zealand today.
Jamie Whincup was the highest placed Caltex-backed driver during the opening 43-lap encounter around the 2.8km circuit when he crossed the line in fourth position.
Whincup started the race from position five on the grid aboard his Caltex-backed TeamVodafone Falcon maintained his position throughout the race. The TeamVodafone driver capitalized on a battle between fellow Ford driver Steven Richards and reigning Champion Rick Kelly, moving into fourth place on Lap 37.
After setting himself the goal of finishing inside the top six Whincup said he was delighted with his result.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall enjoyed a solid day behind the wheel by qualifying inside the top ten before going on to cross the line in ninth position. His result added a further 10 points to his championship tally and elevated him to ninth spot in the standings.
Ingall's team-mate James Courtney made a strong start in race one from seventh on the grid, passing Mark Skaife on the opening lap to claim sixth position.
Courtney entered the pits on lap 17 for his compulsory pit stop, his recent bad luck during stops continuing when he was delayed due to a problem with the right rear wheel nut.
The ex-Formula One test driver moved into tenth place when he passed Greg Murphy at the hairpin on lap 23, and claimed another position due to Craig Lowndes running wide, ultimately finishing ninth behind team-mate Ingall.
For Lowndes the day turned sour on lap 28, the TeamVodafone driver commenting that while he thought he braked normally coming into the hairpin the pedal stayed down longer than anticipated locking his front brakes.
Today's opening race was won by Garth Tander ahead of Mark Winterbottom and Rick Kelly.
A pair of 43-lap races will be held tomorrow to complete the round.
Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon
"It never ceases to amaze me in this category how the slightest change in the car that affects it by a tenth of a second over a lap can be the difference between winning and losing," said Ingall.
"That's how fine the line has become in V8 Supercar racing. That's the current climate and all the teams are finding it the same.
"We need to put that tenth back in the car to get back up with the front runners.
"At the moment, the first three rounds have come down to whoever has been able to click on to that little bit extra.
"We will get there; it's just a matter of when, not if."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "We struggled early in the race with rear grip," said Lowndes. "I altered the rear bar but went the wrong way and it didn't give me what I was looking for," said Lowndes.
"The boys did a fantastic pitstop and we gained two positions but unfortunately we couldn't capitalise on these gains as I went off at the hairpin and back to 15th. From there I was only able to gain one position.
"The car definitely felt better towards the end of the race through a combination of bar and brake adjustments but we will need to improve it a bit more for tomorrow's two races."
Jamie Whincup - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "Today's race went better than we had planned," said Whincup. "We had originally set ourselves a goal of finishing in the top six so to come away with fourth is fantastic," said Whincup.
"We had good overall car speed especially towards the end of the race which allowed me to pass Steven Richards with eight laps to go.
"Tonight we will work on finding a bit more front grip to give me some assistance in exiting the hairpin.
"We have a good starting position for tomorrow and if I can maintain top five finishes in both races I have a good chance of making up some championship places."
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon
"We had a reasonable run in qualifying today to end up seventh fastest," said Courtney.
"Unfortunately we had a vibration with our second set of tyres which left us with only two sets that were usable. We just didn't have the rubber to improve in the last leg.
"I got a good start off the line in the race and got (Mark) Skaife. The JELD-WEN Falcon had good speed and I was mixing it with Jamie (Whincup) until the pit stops started.
"We had a slow stop due to a problem with the wheel nut on the right rear and when we exited the pits we were right in the middle of a bunch of cars and couldn't really use the new tyres to our advantage.
"We clawed back some positions late in the race to stay inside the top ten so we are confident that we can continue to improve on that tomorrow."