THREE CALTEX DRIVERS IN TOP TEN AT SANDOWN Three Caltex-backed drivers have qualified inside the top ten during qualifying for the Just Car Insurance 500, round nine of the V8 Supercar Championship Series, at Sandown International Raceway ...
THREE CALTEX DRIVERS IN TOP TEN AT SANDOWN
Three Caltex-backed drivers have qualified inside the top ten during qualifying for the Just Car Insurance 500, round nine of the V8 Supercar Championship Series, at Sandown International Raceway today.
James Courtney triumphed over yesterday's brake problems to qualify on the front row and he is joined inside the top ten by team-mate Russell Ingall and Jamie Whincup.
Although Courtney believes he could have been on pole, he and Besnard are happy to be on the front row and are confident their driver pairing will prove advantageous over tomorrow's 500 kilometres.
Whincup was the next of the Caltex drivers on the time sheets, qualifying the fifth fastest today.
Whincup was fast early after setting a new lap record in practice, and showed that that Caltex-backed #888 Team Vodafone Falcon was on the money after a few issues in the dry laps of yesterday's sessions failed to show their potential.
Rounding out the top ten for Caltex Racing was Russell Ingall, who had an impressive run right up until the shootout which saw an unfortunate off pitch him off the track and out of the running for top honours to settle into tenth.
Until that point Ingall had the fastest time across the opening sectors of the 3.1 kilometre circuit, and he is confident of a good showing tomorrow.
Ingall and co-driver Luke Youlden should once again feature prominently in the opening endurance race of 2007 tomorrow with both drivers posting competitive times during the two practice sessions held earlier today.
Caltex-backed Team Vodafone driver Richard Lyons narrowly missed out on a start in the top ten shootout, and will begin the race tomorrow from the outside of the seventh row after posting the fourteenth fastest time during qualifying.
Tomorrow's racing action will begin with a 20 minute warm-up at 9.55am, followed by the 161 lap race kicking off at 1.30pm.
Russell Ingall - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "We had a really strong qualifying session today. The Caltex Falcon was strong in the first two sectors, particularly in the second sector where we have been weak," said Ingall.
"Our strongest sector was our last sector so it was a bit frustrating to come undone there in the shoot out lap.
"The time we were doing probably would have given Winterbottom a run for his money. It is a little disappointing but in an endurance race, tenth can be as good as pole, you can follow the pack a bit.
"If it was a sprint race tomorrow I'd be a bit worried. Knowing it is an endurance race, I was prepared to have a bit more of a go."
Luke Youlden - #9 Caltex Racing Ford Falcon "I had dry running in the co-driver session today which was what I needed after doing my laps in the wet yesterday," said Youlden.
"The Caltex Falcon feels strong in both conditions and we made a few changes to the car which put us in the right direction.
"I'm comfortable in the car and Russell's got it up the pointy end so I'm just looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully bringing it home up the front."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "That was a great result, Jamie did a good job throughout qualifying today," said Lowndes.
"In my session this morning I drove the car on race trim and it was well balanced and had very good car speed.
"We will have to wait for the weather to present itself tomorrow before we finalise our setup but I am confident we will have a very good race car."
Jamie Whincup - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "I am very happy with the result, we are still in a good position for the start of tomorrow's race," said Whincup.
"The reason we are not on pole is because I slightly under-drove the car as there is a very fine line between being on pole and ending up in the sand trap.
"I couldn't be more confident going into the 500km's tomorrow. We are not on pole but we are on track for what we want to achieve."
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "It was a really great job from the guys today with the car how it was yesterday," said Courtney.
"We basically wasted yesterday with the brake problems, but today the car was absolutely fabulous out there and was quick, but just when it got to the end it wasn't enough.
"I was pretty disappointed with yesterday as it was a problem we had at Oran Park and then the test day and we thought we had it under control.
"But I am happy we caught it yesterday and have been able to get on top it, as you don't want to do 500 kilometres with the brakes like they were.
"We were pretty happy with the result today, I feel we could have been quicker and Mark was lucky to get away with it but Mark did a great job today and I am not going to try and take that away from him.
"He can bathe in his glory today as hopefully he won't have it there tomorrow."
David Besnard - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Ford Falcon "It is good to be back with Stone Brothers Racing and in a decent car," said Besnard.
"It is easy to forget how much easier things are in a good car to get good times.
"Not that its ever easy, finding tenths is always hard but you can work your butt off in a bad car to be half a second off the pace, so yeah its great to be in a good car this year and be only just off James' times.
"Today was great, James and I have known each other since we were little kids, although I am a bit older, and it shows that the team as a whole is capable of after yesterday to come and just be a bit off it.
"I haven't done a lot of laps in the car yet I'm right up there and just off James' times, my job is to go out there and bring it home to James somewhere near the front and let him bring it home and be the hero.
"I think there will be some driver pairings out there not as strong as us."
Richard Lyons - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "The car performance was good and the Team did a great job today, it was just unfortunate that this Championship is so close and we missed out on a top ten shootout spot by one tenth of a second," said Lyons.
"Allan and I are a lot more in tune this year and we have a great race car so bring on tomorrow."
Alan Simonsen - #88 Team Vodafone Ford Falcon "I was pretty happy with our performance today. The car setup was much better and we really made some progress," said Simonsen.
"I am really looking forward to the race, we have a strong package and I think the fact that Richard and I drove here together last year will put us in good stead for a top ten result."