SEASON 2007 STARTS IN ADELAIDE THIS WEEKEND
February 27, 2007 - After setting some of the fastest lap times in pre-season testing last week, the Ford Performance Racing (FPR) V8 Supercar team is looking forward to the start of the new V8 Supercar Championship season this weekend at the Adelaide Parklands Street Circuit for one of the most spectacular events on the V8 Supercar Championship calendar, the Clipsal 500.
The Prodrive team is eager to continue where it left off at the end of last season, with Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Mark Winterbottom racing to the final victory of the season on his way to third in the 2006 Drivers' Championship. The 25 year old sensation is determined to once again be a major title contender in 2007, starting his second season with Ford's major V8 Supercar team with great confidence following his dominant pre-season testing form.
Making his debut with FPR this weekend is double Bathurst Champion V8 Supercar front runner Steve Richards. Saturday's opening leg of the Clipsal 500 will be the 34 year old's first V8 Supercar race in a Ford since 2001. The new FPR driver has taken little to no time in becoming accustomed to his brand new Castrol FPR Falcon, his speed during pre-season testing ensuring that 2007 is set to become the experienced driver's most competitive season in a decade of racing in Australia's premier motor racing category.
Richards has an oustanding record of success at the Adelaide Parklands Street Circuit. He has stood on the event's podium on three occasions in eight attempts, and has finished in the top five overall a remarkable five times. He also has a 100 per cent finishing record in this most gruelling of V8 Supercar events. Of the seven drivers in this year's V8 Supercar field to compete in every Adelaide 500 since the event's inception, Richards is only driver to finish each of the sixteen 250 kilometre legs. Of note also is Richards' twelve top ten race finishes in Adelaide to date.
Winterbottom last tasted the victory champagne at the Adelaide Parklands Street Circuit in 2003, when he dominated the V8 Supercar Development Series round at the concrete walled track. This circuit was also the venue where the impressive young Ford driver made his main V8 Supercar Championship debut in 2004.
#6 Steve Richards - "My preparation for the big one at the Clipsal 500 this weekend could not be any better. The team have made my transition easy, our first test went like clockwork, we have two very strong cars in both the Castrol and Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcons and I am particularly looking forward to working alongside Frosty to try and secure success this weekend for the team. This weekend is so tough from a driver's perspective physically and to come away with a podium would be a huge notch on the 2007 Championship belt."
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "The Clipsal 500 is a great event to kick start our new season and we head into it with two very strong and reliable FPR Falcons. I am physically ready for the two long Adelaide street races and our form in pre-season testing was very encouraging. Getting off to a strong start in the new season is vital for the Championship and we have the car and the team to contunue from where we left off last season."
FPR Motorsport Director, Tim Edwards - "We head to the opening round of the season with confidence after our speed in testing last week and we are under no illusions as to how challenging this opening round is going to be. Steve and Mark are fit and ready for the physical demands of this race and the cars are in great shape, so we are keen to get back on the track and gain a strong start to the 2007 Championship."
Without a doubt the jewel in the crown of V8 Supercar racing events, this is the ninth Adelaide 500 event and the weekend's round marks the fifth occasion that this massive motor racing carnival has been the Championship opener. More than 270,000 fans attended the event last year with that record set to be broken as this superb motor racing event continues to grow each year.
Interestingly, the two-250 kilometre enduro race format of this event, with one race on both Saturday and Sunday, makes the Clipsal 500 the only two-race formatted Championship round of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series.