LOWNDES GIVES CALTEX FRONT ROW START FOR SANDOWN 500 Caltex ambassador Craig Lowndes will start tomorrow's Betta Electrical Sandown 500 from the front row of the grid after a great qualifying performance in Melbourne today. The defending race...
LOWNDES GIVES CALTEX FRONT ROW START FOR SANDOWN 500
Caltex ambassador Craig Lowndes will start tomorrow's Betta Electrical Sandown 500 from the front row of the grid after a great qualifying performance in Melbourne today.
The defending race winner will start from second position in the Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon, converting fifth place in qualifying to second fastest behind Garth Tander in the Top 10 Shootout.
Lowndes and team-mate Jamie Whincup will both be looking for a second-consecutive Sandown podium, Lowndes winning last year's race and Whincup finishing third. Both drivers, now team-mates at Team Betta Electrical, have already won rounds this season, making them one of the favourties for tomorrow's race.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall will start tomorrow's race from 15th on the grid. The speed shown in Friday's practice did not translate to qualifying today, but the defending V8 Supercar Champion will still be pushing for a podium finish in tomorrow's first endurance event of the year.
Ingall and co-driver Luke Youlden are confident in the race speed of the #1 Caltex Falcon, realising that tomorrow's 161-lap race, the first endurance race of the year, will be require a consistent approach, with anything possible over such a long race distance.
The second Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon of internationals Richard Lyons and Allan Simonsen had a great day at Sandown. Irishman Lyons qualified the #88 car in 17th position on his V8 Supercar debut, ahead of many full-time drivers. The entry remains one of the dark horses for a good result this weekend.
James Courtney will start from sixth place in the Jeld Wen Motorsport Falcon. The V8 Supercar rookie qualified ninth and moved up three spots onto the third row of the grid, continuing his recent momentum from a podium result at the previous round at Oran Park.
Paired with the experienced Glenn Seton, who is a former Sandown 500 winner, the combination is confident of a good showing in tomorrow's race.
Cars will complete a 20-minute warm up tomorrow at 9.30am, with the start of the 161-lap, 500-kilometre race scheduled for 1.00pm.
Tander and Mark Skaife will start tomorrow's race from pole, with Lowndes and Whincup second and the Falcon of Jason Bright and Mark Winterbottom third on the grid.
Russell Ingall - #1 Caltex Racing Falcon
"Overall it was a pretty ordinary day," said Ingall.
"We never really got a handle on it, which was a real shame, as yesterday we had a car that potentially could have qualified in the top four. Track conditions changed, we lost the balance and basically it was backwards from there.
"We've got a tough day ahead of us tomorrow but conditions are always unpredictable here, so we will see what that throws at us.
"We just need to be patient and do the job to ensure we get enough points to keep us in the championship hunt."
Luke Youlden - #1 Caltex Racing Falcon
"It was a battle with traffic really trying to get a clear lap in the co-driver session," said Youlden.
"The first little session I had I really struggled to get a clear lap.
"We made a little set up change in the middle trying to solve a few issues we had.
"I felt reasonably comfortable; the track changed a fair bit from the day before so I wasn't as comfortable as I was yesterday. We saw with Russell that the track conditions changed the car a fair bit so I may have been struggling with that.
"I still managed a reasonable time, a twelve-zero is pretty quick and if I can reel those off in the race we should be okay."
Craig Lowndes - #888 Team Betta Electrical Falcon
"Second place on the grid is a great place to be, I didn't quite get the best from the car in the Shootout, and slid a little through turn one as I tried to determine whether the tyres were up to the job," said Lowndes.
"I lost a little bit of momentum around half-way through the lap but managed to gather it up for the run home, the car is simply spot on through the last few corners.
"We know the Betta Electrical Falcon is fantastic over a race distance, and the team has a great handle on what it takes to do very well here.
"We really wanted to be in the front few rows in order to get away to a clean start and build our race from there, the car is very good on tyres and great over these long distances with a large fuel load on board."
Jamie Whincup - #888 Team Betta Electrical Falcon
"Well that certainly was an easy front row start, I didn't really raise a sweat," said Whincup.
"I worked quite a bit on the car this morning with the team, it certainly is looking like a solid race package and has everything it takes to go the distance tomorrow.
"We're not certain at this stage how we'll structure driver changes and stints, there are a lot of factors that will determine this throughout the race, but I've got a very good idea on what I'm here to do and that's lap quickly and consistently for my time in the car.
"Five hundred kilometres is a very long way, and I'm confident of being both physically and mentally up to the challenge."
James Courtney - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon
"Qualifying didn't exactly go to plan but we still came away with a good result," said Courtney.
"To be sixth; we weren't really thinking we would be that far up.
"We struggled for front end grip throughout the whole session and we never really fixed it.
"Today we misjudged the track grip levels and really struggled but it's good that even though we were struggling we still managed to come away with sixth position. It sets us up well for tomorrow.
"It's wasn't the best lap in the shoot out, the first two sectors were okay; the last one I hit the tyres in turn eight on the inside. It bounced me off and I lost, not seven-tenths or whatever it was that I needed to be up with Tander, but probably two-tenths.
"In the end it's a long race so it will be fine."
Glenn Seton - #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon
"The co-driver session this morning wasn't too bad. We didn't run any tyres on the car or anything," said Seton.
"We just rolled around and tried a few different things in the session, trying to make it a bit better traction wise; we were struggling a bit with traction.
"It's going to be good to get out there and keep going round and round and round and do some miles so I'm looking forward to that side of it.
"Naturally I would like to see it dry but if its wet we are all in the same boat and we'll get on with it.
"We have a good starting position, sixth is definitely better than seventh that's for sure!"
--credit: caltex racing