MARK WINTERBOTTOM QUALIFIES 4TH FOR OPENING CLIPSAL 500 RACE March 2, 2007 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) driver Mark Winterbottom has led the blue oval team's Clipsal 500 challenge by qualifying 4th with a lap time of 1:22.59s after today's...
MARK WINTERBOTTOM QUALIFIES 4TH FOR OPENING CLIPSAL 500 RACE
March 2, 2007 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) driver Mark Winterbottom has led the blue oval team's Clipsal 500 challenge by qualifying 4th with a lap time of 1:22.59s after today's new format one hour qualifying session at the Adelaide Parklands Street Circuit.
Castrol FPR Falcon driver Steve Richards has qualified 16th for tomorrow's opening leg of the Clipsal 500. The new FPR driver was disappointed with his best lap time of 1:23.07s, citing brake problem induced understeer problems that hampered his progress. Richards' car also suffered some rear panel damage during qualifying.
The two FPR Falcon drivers displayed strong early speed in the morning's practice session where Winterbottom topped the timesheets while Richards comfortably set a top ten pace at 8th.
Ford driver James Courtney gained Pole position ahead of Jamie Whincup and Garth Tander. Winterbottom's best lap was 0.23s behind Courtney's Pole position time. The extremely hot conditions today in Adelaide added to the challenge presented by a new qualifying format that saw ten cars eliminated after each 15 minutes, with the battle for Pole position fought out by the final ten cars remaining on the track.
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "The car was quite good but a little bit nervous into turn 8. We made some very good improvements throughout the day, took care of our tyres and stayed off the walls. After leading practice and getting the fourth spot in qualifying - a second row start for tomorrow, I am happy with this start to the weekend."
About the new qualifying format - "The new format is definitely a better system. You get to do more than one lap and it has made qualifying a much more physical event. When things are going right you are in the car for 50 minutes giving it all that you have got. It gives you a chance to get the most out of your car. I'm all for it, it has made qualifying a highlight again."
#6 Steve Richards - "Being this far back is not what what you ever want from qualifying so I am very disappointed. I struggled with turn in (understeer) throughout qualifying and had an off at turn four that caused some panel damage. It isn't a good result and we will have our work cut out for us tomorrow."
About the new qualifying format - " While I wasn't out there for the whole session, I think it worked well. It is exciting for the fans and brings some interesting strategies into it for the teams - it forces you to get the most out of your car quickly. I think it will work well this season."
FPR Motorsport Director, Tim Edwards - " While our results today were not what we are looking for, it was still a steady start to the year. Steve has his work cut out for him tomorrow from 16th and we are confident that we will have two very good race cars for tomorrow. The new qualifying format is tough - tougher than what we thought, but there is no doubt that it achieved its objectives."
FPR returns to the Adelaide Parklands Street Circuit tomorrow morning for a 20 minute warm-up followed by the first 250 kilometre leg of the Clipsal 500 which starts at 2:30pm local (3:00pm EST).