Russell Ingall has recorded yet another season’s best in Race 19 for the 2012 V8 Supercar Championship, the #66 Supercheap Auto Commodore fourth across the line in yesterday’s final race for the Sydney Motorsport Park 360.
Carrying momentum from Saturday’s fifth placed finish, Ingall started Sunday’s longer 56-lap race – two places better than the day before – in the afternoon’s vital 20 minute qualifying session.
With a set of ‘green’ (new) hard tyres up its sleeve for the race, the team elected to repeat its strategy of running the quicker soft tyres first to gain track position before two stints on the hard option.
One of just seven cars on softs at the start, Ingall had a blinding starting and jumped to fourth on the opening lap, before moving into the lead on lap five.
He held the lead before switching to the hard compound control tyre at the first stop on Lap 19, Holden drivers Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes making two positions early in their second stint to push the #66 SCAR Commodore back to third after the stop.
Ingall held position through to the second and final stop on L37, the Ford of Mark Winterbottom capitalising on its soft tyres to push Ingall back to fourth after the round of stops.
Ingall came under intense pressure in the final stint from Will Davison, the factory FPR Falcon on faster softs but the veteran drove superbly to fend off Davison and ultimately gap the Ford before the chequered flag fell.
Whincup won the race from team-mate Lowndes, with Winterbottom third, Ingall’s Walkinshaw Racing team-mates, the Holden Racing Team’s Garth Tander and James Courtney ninth and tenth to give Walkinshaw Racing six top 10 results for the weekend.
After the disappointments of Darwin and Townsville dropped Ingall down the points table, the past two events results have had a telling influence on Ingall’s championship, moving him seven places from 20th to 13th with six events remaining.
Teams now switch to enduro mode for the next three races – the Dick Smith Sandown 500, Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and Armor All Gold Coast 600.
Former F1 driver, Christian Klien joins Ingall in the Supercheap Auto Commodore for the first two races, the Austrian having tested with the team a number of times already this season.
Klien flies to New Zealand Friday to co-drive with Geoff Emery for NZ’s Supercheap Auto Racing V8 SuperTourer team in next weekend’s enduro race at Taupo – the additional track time will be a very valuable part of Christian’s endurance preparations.
Supercheap Auto Racing will have a final pre-enduro test next week at Winton Motor Raceway.