LOWNDES/WHINCUP WIN JUST CAR INSURANCE 500 AT SANDOWN Caltex-backed drivers Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup have hoisted the Just Car Insurance 500 trophy high at Sandown International Raceway today. Whincup took the lead on lap 63 from Matt...
LOWNDES/WHINCUP WIN JUST CAR INSURANCE 500 AT SANDOWN
Caltex-backed drivers Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup have hoisted the Just Car Insurance 500 trophy high at Sandown International Raceway today.
Whincup took the lead on lap 63 from Matt Halliday to gather a 16 second lead ahead of handing the reigns to Lowndes.
In pure form from start to finish the Team Vodafone pair were always comfortable, never surrending the front position and only experiencing slight problems when forced to pass lapped cars.
Greg Murphy and Craig Lowndes came to blows as he tried to do just that, an incident Murphy would be penalised for with a drive through penalty for disobeying the blue flag.
Luckily for Lowndes an 'off' caused by a rub between the two did not seriously affect his run as he was able to recover and maintain his lead of six seconds ahead of Rick Kelly until the final laps.
The 2007 Just Car Insurance 500 win is the fourth win at Sandown International Raceway for Lowndes with the latest coming in 2005 aboard a Caltex-backed Ford Falcon with Yvan Muller. It is the first for his Team Vodafone team-mate Jamie Whincup, and sees the pair remain as the only Ford drivers to win a round this year.
Russell Ingall and Luke Youlden were showing speed today, running as high as fourth over the 161 laps before eventually crossing the line in eighth position.
The earlier stages of the race saw Youlden bring the #9 Caltex Racing Falcon to ninth position after starting tenth on the grid, before handing over to Ingall under a safety car brought out by Jason Bright's high-speed spin which put him out of the race.
From the restart Ingall charged up the field, tagging onto the back of team-mate James Courtney and following him through on a number of passes on the front-runners before passing the Caltex-backed Jeld-Wen Falcon pilot to head further up the field.
Soon after, race contact with Lee Holdsworth temporarily seemed to threaten Ingall's charge with smoke pouring from the left rear of his Caltex-backed #9 Falcon.
Luckily the smoke proved not to be a sign of terminal issues, dissipating quickly to allow Ingall to continue his charge in fourth position.
After a tyre change Ingall moved back down the order to tenth, and spent the remaining laps working his way back through the competitive field to finish eighth at the chequered flag.
The combinations of Lowndes/Whincup and Ingall/Youlden were not the only Caltex-backed combinations in the top ten -- with the #88 Team Vodafone entry of Richard Lyons and Allan Simonsen placing 10th at the line this afternoon.
Moving into the top ten after a safety car restart on lap 115, Simonsen held his ground for the remaining laps to hold off challengers such as Steve Owen, John Bowe and Glenn Seton.
Meanwhile, Ingall's team-mate James Courtney and David Besnard were experiencing a downturn of luck after the Caltex-backed #4 Jeld-Wen Falcon showed convincing speed.
David Besnard took the first stint starting from the first row, before handing over to Courtney under the first safety car. Courtney was immediately on the pace, charging through the field from 16th to be sixth and defending against Jason Bargwanna when disaster struck.
Courtney had been experiencing a number of out-of-character lock-ups over the previous laps, and as Bargwanna tried the outside line on turn two Courtney's tyres again began to smoke with the front left tyre blowing as a result.
With the car unsteady as Courtney endeavoured to keep it under control, the two cars touched to put both off momentarily, before Courtney rejoined to bring it back to the pits and returned to the track in 19th position.
Besnard later took over to put in a brave effort to bring the car home just outside the top 15.
After today's running of the Just Car Insurance 500 at Sandown International Raceway the championship standings for the regular combatants of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series see Jamie Whincup in third, Craig Lowndes in fourth, Russell Ingall in ninth and James Courtney in 11th.
The Just Car Insurance 500 at Sandown International Raceway was round nine of the V8 Supercar Championship Series, with the Caltex-backed pair of Lowndes and Whincup the only Ford pair to win rounds so far this year. The next round of the championship will be held at the Lexmark Indy 300, October 18-21.
Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "It was a pretty hard double stint today. Doing a double stint gives you more options but there were very few safety cars today which makes it hard work," said Ingall.
"We didn't have (Craig) Lowndes' pace, and probably didn't have Rick Kelly's pace but I think the Caltex Falcon was good enough for third on the day. That's probably where we would have finished without the pit drama and puncture.
"I suppose we can take something away from the day but we have to pick it up a bit for Bathurst.
"We need to deal with a few handling issues and hone our pit stops. Sandown is always a tester for Bathurst. You find your mistakes here and then you don't make them at Bathurst.
"That's what we will do."
Luke Youlden - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "I got a pretty good start in the race and had to muscle a few guys out of the way in the first few laps," said Youlden.
"The Caltex Falcon was a jet at the start. I was pretty comfortable for a while and then the car started to change balance.
"We lost a bit of pace but we were still lapping on the leaders pace. I managed to drag it in to Russell (Ingall) in about eight position and that was my duty done.
"We were disappointed to have the puncture towards the end. Without that, at worst we probably would have finished fourth. It's a bit gut wrenching to be that close but seventh is a good result.
"We are in pretty good shape for Bathurst."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "It has been a great weekend for us; once Jamie stepped up to the plate he did a fantastic job for us after doing a stellar job in qualifying," said Lowndes.
"To all the fans thanks for all your support, the Triple Eight guys - thanks to you as it's a team effort, and to the team Vodafone guys thanks for everything.
"We are going to look forward to going to Bathurst to put our best foot forward, but there is 32 cars out there trying to do the same so we will just have to wait and see."
Jamie Whincup - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "What can I say; it has just been a great team effort!" said Whincup.
"Craig did great in the car and everything just ran like clockwork.
"Everyone did their job and Craig brought it home really nicely at the end, and I would like to thank the team for a really great car.
"My first Sandown 500 is just phenomenal; this has certainly ticked another box for me ahead of heading to Bathurst."
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "David had a great first stint in the race today. Then it pretty much went pear-shaped for us from the first pit stop when we had a delay changing the brake pads," said Courtney.
"I was able to pull back some positions after the stop but we started to have a problem with the brakes grabbing at the front.
"It was pretty frustrating considering it all went so well yesterday. There are a few things that we will have to look at before we get to Bathurst."
David Besnard - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "I was a bit surprised to do a few more laps than we originally intended today," said Besnard.
"The first stint was great and we were in the position we wanted to be in when we got to the pit stop.
"A little way into his stint James started to have some issues with the brakes grabbing and then some health issues with fumes in the car. We made the decision to put me back in the car for the last stint.
"My main concern was to bring the JELD-WEN Falcon in good shape from my stint so it was frustrating to watch the problems with our pit stop.
"I guess these things happen. It was great to be back working with SBR again and I'm just looking forward to getting to Bathurst."
Richard Lyons - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "Overall it was a pretty good day and a good start to our endurance campaign," said Simonsen.
"If we had not been held up in that first pitstop we could possibly have been in the top six.
"Catching back up to tenth position gives both Allan and I, a real confidence boost."
Alan Simonsen - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "Whilst it was a positive outcome I was a little disappointed we didn't get into the top six given we had good race pace," said Simonsen.