www.shellseries.com.au Round 10 Â Winton Raceway, VIC 7-9 September, 2001 Qualifying Report Ingall Grabs First Ever Pole In Winton Scramble Saturday, 6pm: After six years and 66 starts, Russell ^ÃŒthe Enforcer' Ingall finally broke through...
Round 10 Winton Raceway, VIC
7-9 September, 2001
Ingall Grabs First Ever Pole In Winton Scramble
Saturday, 6pm: After six years and 66 starts, Russell ^Ìthe Enforcer' Ingall finally broke through for his first ever Shell Series pole position after a wet and chaotic qualifying session which jumbled the V8 Supercar pack at Victoria's Winton Raceway.
While he had scored pole positions at V8 support races at the F1 Grand Prix and the Gold Coast Indy, he had never managed it in a championship round.
"I am just delighted to finally crack it," said Ingall. "It was a bloody hard day out there. It is just so important at this tight track to qualify up near the front so you can try to stay out of trouble and build a lead at the front."
Ingall lies fourth in the title chase and was doubly delighted to see the three men he is fighting for the 2001 crown, Mark Skaife, Jason Bright and Steven Johnson, make blunders which have them lining up well behind him in tomorrow's two 100km races.
"That situation makes the pole all the more valuable. I am still going to have to push pretty hard because I am 260 points down and that means taking a few risks, but you never know this round could help determine the championship."
Torrential rain, a vicious hailstorm and spinning cars saw the 60 minute provisional qualifying session halted no less than four times. The job of earning a place in the top ten shootout for a shot at pole position boiled down to what time the drivers could set in the frantic, final minutes when hasty pitstops to change to slick tyres allowed them to take advantage of the drying racing line. Those who made the top ten all set their fastest time in the last three minutes of the session on slicks.
In the shootout the Castrol Commodore driver was a clear winner, six tenths of a second faster than Paul Morris in the Big Kev Commodore. Morris relegated Paul Radisich's Shell Helix Falcon to third on the grid by the barest of margins.
"Conditions got a little better as the shootout went on, favouring the guys who went out after me a little, but I had a good tidy lap and I am very pleased with my end result after what has been a very trying day for all the drivers," said Radisich.
Valvoline Cummins Holden driver Garth Tander made good his vow to stage a resurgence from his dismal year, coming from nowhere to set the fastest provisional time with the last completed lap of the session and finishing fourth in the shootout.
"It was all part of the grand plan, leaving that fast lap until the last minute," he joked. "I had very little time to get the slicks up to temperature so I just went for it."
Cameron McLean performed a resurrection of his own, putting his Greenfield Mowers falcon on the fifth grid spot just two weeks after the sponsor had placed a Supreme Court injunction on him to stop him participating in the last round, the Queensland 500.
"I didn't even know if I would be here three days ago, so to end up with our best qualifying effort since 1999 is just fantastic," he said. "We only have enough funds for this meeting at the moment and then we will have to sit down with the lawyers and sort this situation out to see if we still have a team."
The first man on to slicks in provisional qualifying, Tony Longhurst, finished a surprising sixth in the Rod Nash Holden ahead of Steve Ellery in his brand new Super Cheap Falcon. Greg Murphy finished eighth in his Kmart Holden.
Bright's spin on his shootout lap cost him any chance of finishing higher than tenth and then Johnson ran wide and into the dirt soon after, losing precious seconds and finishing ninth.
The top ten shootout was strange in its absence of championship leader Mark Skaife who finished in 15th place after a rare pit call blunder from his HRT crew. Having been at or near the top of the timesheets throughout provisional qualifying, he did not come in for slicks in the dying minutes when the rest of the field did, and he was shuffled down the order while circulating helplessly and slowly.
"Maybe the radio was broken or something because you couldn't imagine why he wouldn't have made the change. It was pretty obvious that it was drying out," said Paul Morris.
"It was a pretty strange decision, if that's what it was," said Ingall. "A big risk."
It is the first shootout Skaife has missed this year and makes his championship lead look all the more precarious and the blunder prompted a question to Ingall as to whether he thought the HRT outfit was feeling the heat from the growing challenge from himself and Johnson.
"They'd be pretty cocky if they weren't. Our team and Steve's (Johnson's) are pulling them in. But saying that, you can't underestimate that - they could just as easily open that gap again next round," he said.
Crowd favourite, Craig Lowndes did make the choice to go to slicks, but a nudge from Greg Murphy on his first dry flier left him doing doughnuts in the mud in the infield for the end of the session, unable to get out and post a competitive time and relegated to 27th on the grid.
Tomorrow's first 32-lap race is scheduled to commence at 11.30am with the second at 3pm. With more varied weather expected, there is likely to be plenty more excitement before the weekend is out. <pre> Top Ten Shootout Results: (** NB: Provisional qualifying position shown in brackets)
Pos. Driver Team Car Time 1. (3) RUSSELL INGALL Castrol Perkins Racing Holden VX 1:24.3328 2. (4) PAUL MORRIS Big Kev Racing Holden VT 1:24.9150 3. (7) PAUL RADISICH Shell Helix Racing Ford AU 1:24.9154 4. (1) GARTH TANDER Valvoline Cummins Race Team Holden VX 1:25.0289 5. (2) CAMERON McLEAN Greenfield Mowers/Ford Ford AU 1:25.4027 6. (6) TONY LONGHURST Rod Nash Racing Holden VX 1:25.5214 7. (8) STEVE ELLERY Supercheap Auto Racing Racing Ford AU 1:25.6025 8. (10) GREG MURPHY Kmart Racing Holden VX 1:26.0698 9. (5) STEVEN JOHNSON Shell Helix Racing Ford AU 1:27.1293 10. (9) JASON BRIGHT Holden Racing Team Holden VX 1:31.8195