COURTNEY HEADS CALTEX CHARGE IN TASMANIA James Courtney led the way for the Caltex supported drivers during the opening race in the Ferodo Tasmania Challenge, Round 11 of the 2006 V8 Supercar Championship, at Symmons Plains today. Courtney...
COURTNEY HEADS CALTEX CHARGE IN TASMANIA
James Courtney led the way for the Caltex supported drivers during the opening race in the Ferodo Tasmania Challenge, Round 11 of the 2006 V8 Supercar Championship, at Symmons Plains today.
Courtney came home fifth in today's event, the first of three races this weekend. The Jeld-Wen Motorsport driver had a solid day in his race debut at the Tasmanian circuit, having qualified fourth in the Top 10 Shootout earlier in the day.
Craig Lowndes was out of luck at the start of today's race and as a result lost his championship lead in the Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon.
Lowndes was caught up in an incident on the opening lap between his Triple Eight Race Engineering team-mate Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell, damaging his new Caltex-backed Falcon. Lowndes lost three laps while pitting for repairs, salvaging some points by bringing his Falcon home in 27th.
Whincup, who joined Courtney in the Top 10 Shootout earlier in the day, started from 10th but the Bathurst winner's race and weekend ended after only a few corners with heavy damage inflicted to his Caltex-backed Team Betta Electrical Falcon on the approach to the hairpin.
Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall had a tough time in qualifying, taking 17th on the grid from the slower qualifying session.
Ingall led several laps by pitting later than most in the first race and stood to gain track position from the strategy until a problem with the left rear wheel change during his stop cost the defending V8 Supercar Champion time. Ingall pushed on to finish in 14th position.
Russell Ingall -- #1 Caltex Racing Falcon
"Qualifying this morning showed how important it is to get into that top 50 percent session," said Ingall.
"With a few cars going off and dragging dirt onto the track, it's hard to punch in a good time.
"We were lucky not to get caught up in the carnage on lap one and gained about five spots because of it. But we had one of the rear wheels stick in our stop and that cost us the advantage we had.
"The forecast is for showers tomorrow so a wet race could mix things up a bit."
Craig Lowndes -- #888 Team Betta Electrical Falcon
"It was just one of those incidents that was unavoidable," said Lowndes.
"Both Murph (Greg Murphy) and I moved left to try and keep out of Jamie's path and I put a wheel out on the dirt and spun creating another dust cloud.
"I was very lucky no one gave me a good whack, once I stopped I found myself in a precarious position but thankfully the other drivers realised what had happened and backed off.
"It was disappointing to concede so many points but we are not out of it yet and with 854 points still up for grabs anything can happen."
Jamie Whincup -- #88 Team Betta Electrical Falcon
"I am very disappointed," said Whincup.
"The car has some substantial structural damage and we won't be able to fix it in time for tomorrow's races.
"I pride myself on looking after any car that I race so I am shattered at the state of our Bathurst winning car.
"That was without a doubt the biggest hit of my career."
James Courtney -- #4 Jeld-Wen Motorsport Falcon
"Over the weekend we have been chipping away and things have been getting better and better," said Courtney.
"To qualify sixth and jump to fourth in the shoot out was a great result for us.
"We probably didn't have anything left in the car so it's satisfying to wring the most out of it.
"I got caught out a bit at the start as the procedure all happened very quickly. I made a bit of a silly mistake into turn five, I understeered a bit and got a wheel off into the dirt and it just sucks you off the track then. I lost quite a bit of time.
"Then I stalled on the exit of my pit stop and it was just mayhem. I had to calm myself down and get on with it.
"I did that and we got some good times going towards the end of the race and started to catch the leaders. We had the pace we've been searching for all year."