Russell Ingall has taken the box seat for the Gillette V8 Supercar Challenge on the Gold Coast, winning the first of two races for the weekend after the front row starting HRT cars of Todd Kelly and Mark Skaife stumbled. Ingall ended up a ...
Russell Ingall has taken the box seat for the Gillette V8 Supercar Challenge on the Gold Coast, winning the first of two races for the weekend after the front row starting HRT cars of Todd Kelly and Mark Skaife stumbled. Ingall ended up a comfortable winner from Greg Murphy, with Skaife filling the remaining spot on the podium.
Ingall's win was set-up when he passed Skaife off the grid, a troubled pitstop for Todd Kelly later costing him 13 spots and any chance of victory. Kelly eventually finished the day in 10th.
"That was the plan for this weekend," Ingall said after the win which has kept him Championship contention. "We are not counting ourselves out of it (the Championship), there's some pretty critical races to come. But we are not out points hunting, we are out there to win.
"Today we had to qualify up the front, which we haven't been doing for most of the year, because this is not an easy place to pass. It all worked out well."
Ingall praised his pit crew for turning him around quickly, saying the SBR crew is now one of the best on pitlane. "It is a battle with pitstops at the moment, and our crew are one of the quickest in pitlane. They did a fantastic job today, the easiest way to pass a car is in pitlane, and that is what we did today."
But it almost came unstuck for Ingall after contact with Murphy as he exited his pitbay. Murphy claimed Ingall hit him, while Ingall says he felt nothing, and the stewards did not penalise either driver for the incident.
"He drove a great race, no doubt," Murphy said, "and if he hadn't hit me I'd say he deserved the win. But he did hit me, and there have been penalties for that before."
Murphy said he radioed his pit crew to tell them of the contact, and added he wouldn't surprised if the incident comes under further scrutiny tonight. For now he said, he'll just concentrate on winning tomorrow's race while keeping on eye his Championship challenge.
"It is hard enough to pass anyone here, even when you don't have a Championship to win. But at the end of the day, we are going to have to win races if we are going to win it, and that is what we'll be out to do tomorrow."
Mark Skaife said he had the race strategy taken out of his hands when teammate Todd Kelly pitted early to replace a flat spotted tyre.
"There was no thinking on it, we just didn't want to queue up," Skaife said of not pitting while the Safety Car was on the track early in the race. "When I came out I was making ground on Greg but it was working the car pretty hard, so we had to back off and conserve the car."
Fourth home was a rejuvenated Jason Bright who says two-days of testing recently has helped him recover from a mid-season slump. Rick Kelly was fifth on the old Kmart Commodore, with Marcos Ambrose in next ahead of former teammate David Besnard.
Ambrose was pleased with his run into sixth spot from 15th on the grid, which at the absolute minimum is all he has to do to win his first V8 Supercar Championship. A slight hiccup on lap 13 cost him two spots, but other than that Ambrose's race was superb and could prove critical as the Championship winds down.
The hard luck story of the weekend so far goes to Steve Ellery, whose Super Cheap Falcon ground to a halt four laps from home while running on fourth.
Earlier in the day, Todd Kelly won his first ever V8 Supercar pole position, jumping from 10 in qualifying after a stunning drive in the Shootout eclipsed his rivals.
Race 1 Results - Round 11 1. Russell Ingall - Caltex Havoline Falcon BA 2. Greg Murphy - Kmart Commodore VY 3. Mark Skaife - HRT Commodore VY 4. Jason Bright - Betta Electrical Commodore BX 5. Rick Kelly - Kmart Commodore VX 6. Marcos Ambrose - Pirtek Falcon BA 7. David Besnard - FPR Falcon BA 8. Steve Johnson - Shell Helix Falcon BA 9. Max Wilson - Shell Helix Falcon BA 10. Todd Kelly - HRT Commodore VY
Top 10 Shootout Results 1. Todd Kelly - HRT Commodore VY 2. Mark Skaife - HRT Commodore VY 3. Russell Ingall - Caltex Havoline Falcon BA 4. Jason Bright - Betta Electrical Commodore BX 5. Greg Murphy - Kmart Commodore VY 6. Jason Richards - Team Dynamik Commodore VY 7. Steve Ellery - Super Cheap Falcon BA 8. Max Wilson - Shell Helix Falcon BA 9. Steve Richards - Castrol Perkins Commodore VY 10. Rick Kelly - Kmart Commodore VX