Motorsport: Enforcer Ingall tops Ipswich timesheet

Russell Ingall was the fastest at yesterday's practice at the Ipswich, Queensland round of the V8 Supercars. Photo / Getty Images
Russell Ingall was the fastest at yesterday's practice at the Ipswich, Queensland round of the V8 Supercars. Photo / Getty Images

Stealth is not usually Russell Ingall's strength. What do you expect from a V8 Supercars driver dubbed 'The Enforcer''?

But Ingall reckoned spying on Holden star Craig Lowndes' recent test session gave him valuable data before topping the Ipswich round's practice time sheets on Friday.

Ingall, 48, wound back the years to finish fastest overall, clocking 1min 9.68sec ahead of championship contender Lowndes (1:09.87) and Ford's Lee Holdsworth (1:09.98).

Series leader Jamie Whincup of Holden (1:10.04) topped the first 20 minute session and was fifth in the final period in an ominous sign ahead of the two-race weekend.

It is hard to ignore the affable Ingall but the wily Holden driver reckoned he "snooped around'' at Lowndes' test session at Queensland Raceway last week to get a heads up on what was required to be an Ipswich contender.

"I had the timer out and he was down to some pretty good numbers - that will be the mark I reckon,'' said Ingall of Lowndes, who swept the Ipswich round last year.

But Ingall may well be the benchmark this time.

The 2005 series champion has finished in the top three in 18 of 29 races at Queensland Raceway and in the top ten 23 times.

One of only three current drivers to have contested every Ipswich round since its 1999 inception, Ingall will be full of confidence ahead of his 212nd V8 race start - placing him equal third on the all-time list alongside the late Peter Brock.

But Ingall - in his 17th consecutive season - reckoned he had higher priorities in his twilight years.

"It's just nice to still be breathing,'' he laughed.

"I think these sorts of days become more special because it's nice to know you can still pull a lap time and be competitive.''

But podiums have been rare of late for Ingall, ranked 20th on the championship.

He couldn't help but take the mickey out of his recent form - or lack thereof - when he fronted the media after his surprise success on Friday.

"Is this a press conference?'' Ingall laughed as he lapped up the limelight.

But Ingall sounded a warning to drivers hoping for a dramatic change after the notoriously bumpy Queensland Raceway's resurfacing, saying he was surprised by the lack of improvement in grip.

"After 10 laps you are going to be hanging onto the big girl,'' Ingall said.

Ingall's joy was in complete contrast to Ford championship rivals Mark Winterbottom and Will Davison.

Twelve months after their disastrous Ipswich round, No.2 ranked driver Winterbottom - just 100 points behind Whincup - and No.3 Davison appear to be back to square one.

Winterbottom failed to finish in the top 15 times at practice on Friday and Davison never cracked the top 10.

The round starts with a 140km race later today and concludes with a 200km event on Sunday.

-AAP

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