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Posted: Fri Oct 07, 2005 6:06 pm 
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Craig Lowndes (Team Betta Electrical) has continued his hot form from practice to grab provisional pole position for the Super Cheap Auto 1000 at Bathurst.

Lowndes who will combine with Frenchman Yvan Muller set a time of 2:07.1322 to be 0.4011 of a second faster than Mark Skaife. Defending two-time Series champion Marcos Ambrose (Pirtek Racing) was third.

Due to impeding wet weather, the qualifying session was combined with all 34 cars on the track at the same time. This meant finding a clear lap very difficult for all the drivers.

Lowndes had at least three laps interrupted by back-markers. Once in the clear the Team Betta Electrical Falcon showed it will be the car to beat this weekend.

"Great to be the fastest, now we can really look forward to the weekend," said Lowndes.

"We had a good look at the data from yesterday and made some improvements. There's still a lot more to come.

"The session was tough, the weather was coming and it was very hard to get a clean lap. At one stage I nearly hit a wall after another car brought gravel onto the track.

"It's a good gap in qualifying, but we had a clean run. Tomorrow is another story – I expect it to be a lot closer in the shootout.

"We think the car can go quicker – but the conditions s must be right. As today's weather showed, it's still unpredictable.

"This is an important race for me, the team and I know Ford wants to get its first win since 1998. We are totally focused on achieving that."

For Muller tomorrow's one-hour practice session will be important to get more experience of the car.

"Today I had some laps, but I was very much concentrating on learning the car and track," said Muller.

"I was happy to let Craig concentrate on the qualifying speed. I'm very pleased to see Craig qualify fastest and I'm sure for the race I will be closer to his lap times.

"This is a very special race. A win here for me would be a very big highlight in my career. It will be tough, but I'm ready."

Finding a clear lap proved a challenge for Marcos Ambrose.

"Craig did a great job, but I would have liked another crack at being closer to his time," said Ambrose.

"It's very hard at this track with drivers who don't race with us all year. I'm not making excuses as we are happy with our race package.

"I'm sure Craig has a little more qualifying speed, but I'll be happy to be on the first few rows and have a car that will be fast for the entire race.

"I've been on pole here before and not turned that into a race result. We've also had some tyre issues over the last few years. We have made great efforts to make sure none of those things will hurt our race chances this weekend.

"Craig is clearly the man to catch, which is good news for Ford fans. We're going to give it everything, believe me this will be a great race."

Ambrose co-driver Warren Luff has only had limited time in the car, but his V8 Supercar and Development Series experience will be crucial for Sunday.

"I've had plenty of laps over the weekend in the Development Series car, as some limited laps behind the wheel of Pirtek Falcon.

"I'm fully aware of my role this weekend and I'm looking forward to being part of the challenge for victory."

Ford finished with four cars in the top-10 with Caltex Racing's Russell Ingall and Luke Youlden qualifying eighth and sentimental favourite Glenn Seton (Westpoint Racing) and co-driver Dean Canto in ninth.

Tomorrow's program includes a one-hour practice session and the top-10 shootout.

Sandown – Top-10 Practice #1 - Bathurst

1. Lowndes / Muller Team Betta Electrical Ford Falcon BA 2:07.1322

2. T. Kelly / Skaife Holden Racing Team Holden Commodore Æ®.4011

3. Ambrose / Luff Pirtek Racing Ford Falcon BA Æ®.6035

4. R. Kelly / Tander HSV Dealer Team Holden Commodore Æ®.6300

5. Murphy / Weel Super Cheap Auto Holden Commodore Æ®.7387

6. S. Richards / Dumbrell Castrol Racing Holden Commodore Æ®.7969

7. Jason Richards / Whincup Dodo Racing Holden Commodore Ư.0003

8. Ingall / Youlden Caltex Racing Ford Falcon BA Ư.1321

9. Seton / Canto Westpoint Racing Ford Falcon BA Ư.2004

10. Jim Richards / Courtney Holden Racing Team Holden Commodore Ư.2939



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