MARK WINTERBOTTOM ON TOP IN BATHURST QUALIFYING Ford Performance Racing (FPR) continues to set a scorching pace at Bathurst's Mount Panorama with 26 year old Mark Winterbottom racing to provisional Pole position with a field beating fastest lap...
MARK WINTERBOTTOM ON TOP IN BATHURST QUALIFYING
Ford Performance Racing (FPR) continues to set a scorching pace at Bathurst's Mount Panorama with 26 year old Mark Winterbottom racing to provisional Pole position with a field beating fastest lap time of 2:07.1481s around the legendary 6.2 kilometre circuit.
Winterbottom's best lap time was set within the final two minutes of the highly competitive top twenty second qualifying session. Castrol FPR Falcon driving partner Steve Richards spent the session providing valuable input to FPR's race engineers and to his driving partner, after having topped the timesheets himself in practice earlier in the day.
While it was an impressive run to the top spot by Winterbottom, it was a hard day for Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon drivers Matt Halliday and Owen Kelly, with Halliday suffering engine problems early in the first qualifying session which required further attention in the pits. Once the problem was rectified, the session was promptly red-flagged due to a major accident by driver Damien White at the McPhillamy Park section of the circuit. After a significant delay to repair the circuit retaining wall and to remove the damaged car, five minutes was added to the session, enabling Halliday and the remainder of the field beyond 20th position to try make the cut for the second qualifying session. In just two flying laps, Halliday powered his way from 31st to 24th in the standings, fractionally missing out. This result means that he and Kelly will be starting Sunday's 161 lap race from 24th on the grid.
#6 Mark Winterbottom - "The car is very good and easy to drive. Around here you really need a car to be stable and settled which is exactly what we have right now, so we are in very good shape for the race. As proven by Richo setting the fastest time during practice this morning, we are both right on the pace and I am sure that if he was driving he would have done the same lap time. It's great to be on top of qualifying today, particularly after making a driving mistake on my fastest lap, but there is a long way to go yet. There isn't much in it at the top of the time sheets, so if we can get another good day under our belts tomorrow, I'm sure that we head into Sunday's race absolutely full of confidence."
#6 Steve Richards - "That was the easiest qualifying session that I've ever been involved in. We can walk away from today and tick Bathurst's Friday box and we couldn't have asked for a better start to our weekend. The car continues to be the best car that I have driven around here by a long way and I'm really looking forward to the next couple of days."
#5 Matt Halliday - "It was unfortunate that we encountered problems early on, as this was my first attempt at qualifying a V8 Supercar here at Bathurst. After the improvements that we made in practice today, I was looking forward to a strong run in qualifying. Due to the red flag delay I only had two flying laps and did the best that I could, but the car is clearly better than where we qualified. We will now focus on our strategy for the race."
#5 Owen Kelly - "We were definitely able to improve the car from yesterday and I believe that we weren't too far away from being a starter in tomorrow's top ten shoot out. Unfortunately we got caught out during qualifying and will start further back than what we would have liked to, however, there is still a long way to go - I have started last and finished 6th here before, so our focus is on ensuring that we have a consistent race car for Sunday.
FPR Team Principal, Tim Edwards - "A great result from car 6 today and an outstanding effort by Mark. On the other hand a disappointing result for car 5, the result of a mistake by us and the ensuing red flag made it very difficult to progress further up the field. It was a great effort by Matt to set a time after the issues that we encountered. Roll on Mark breaking Murph's magical time tomorrow!"
FPR returns to Mount Panorama for a final practice session at 10:00am tomorrow, ahead of the top ten shoot out to determine the final starting grid positions at 3:40pm.