DAVID BRABHAM RETURNS TO AUSTRALIA FOR FPR TEST DAY
September 11, 2006 - International Sportscar Champion driver and Ford Performance Racing (FPR) Falcon endurance race driver David Brabham has returned to Australia for a comprehensive team test day in perfect weather conditions at Victoria's Winton Motor Raceway.
He joined FPR drivers Jason Bright, Mark Winterbottom, fellow endurance racer Matt Halliday and FPR's test and development driver David Sieders to run through an exhaustive test programme prior to next month's Super Cheap Auto Bathurst 1000.
Brabham felt immediately at ease with his FPR Falcon at Winton today, remarking on the major improvements that have been made by the team since he last drove with the team during the final two rounds of 2005.
"I took it step by step at first, becoming re-acquainted with the car and its gearbox, brakes and the other things that set it aside from the Sportscars I have been racing this season. It is very good to see the major progression that has been made with the car over the past year. Improvements have been made in many areas that all help to give the driver complete confidence almost immediately. The car is much more balanced and is great to drive, which helped a lot, as I hadn't turned a wheel at Winton Raceway since 1999," He said.
Due to his international racing commitments and a date change for the Sandown 500, Brabham could not be a part of FPR's Sandown 500 line up and is eager to return to V8 Supercar racing at Bathurst.
"I was very happy to see the team take a well deserved victory at Sandown as I know how much work went into making the team a consistent front runner this season. Today's successful test just re-iterates how much of a fighting chance both FPR Falcons will have at Mount Panorama and I am looking forward to having a real shot at it this year," Brabham said.
After returning from competing at Mosport Raceway in Canada for this test, Brabham will return to Europe on Wednesday before returning to his Team Modena Aston Martin at the Petit Le Mans 1000 Mile Sportscar race at Road Atlanta the following week, preparing him well for his FPR Falcon drive at Bathurst with FPR from October 5 to 8.
After having gained runner-up honours twice at Mount Panorama in both 2003 and 2004, and following the team's Sandown 500 winning form, FPR heads to Mount Panorama carrying the hopes of all Ford fans to bring the blue oval its first Bathurst victory since Jason Bright last crossed the finish line in first place back in 1998.
According to FPR's Motorsport Director, Tim Edwards, "Our Sandown 500 success has not made any of us complacent about the major challenge that is ahead of us at Bathurst this year. We spent the day checking and double checking that all is in readiness, that our components and equipment are up to the mark and that all four of our drivers are comfortable with the cars. We leave this test day having ticked all of the boxes and we welcome David Brabham back on board for the biggest race of the year. "
Halliday, who will be driving with Brabham at Bathurst, enjoyed a strong and painless day behind the wheel today, after having returned to New Zealand for specialist treatment of the shoulder injury that he experienced during the Sandown 500 weekend. The Ford Credit Broad IP Falcon completed 120 laps at Winton today.
"It was great to meet David and to get his thoughts on the car's set-up and performance today. I am perfectly comfortable with the car following Sandown and the main focus of the day was to give David as much time in the car as possible. It is good to be in a position where I was able to focus on smaller things during my laps in the car today. It is all shaping up very well for Bathurst," Halliday said.
"My shoulder has been much better this week and while it will still take some time for it to get back to normal, the treatment I have received back home since Sandown and from FPR's Physio here in Australia has helped enormously," Halliday added.
Jason Bright and Mark Winterbottom completed 134 laps in the CAT FPR Falcon today, the Sandown 500 winning duo pleased with the results from this detailed test day, the second last test of the season for the team.
Jason Bright - "Today went very well, we used the test mainly to concentrate on changes that we will be making to the car at Bathurst and to ensure that Mark and I are both comfortable with those set-up changes. Bathurst is a circuit that requires some very specifics with set-up and it was good to get a better understanding of the effect of these changes during testing today. I am very confident that we have a good grip on things heading to Bathurst."
Mark Winterbottom - "All went very well today, and the set up changes that we made to prepare for Bathurst all took place smoothly. We used the day to ensure that we are on top of the way the car will respond to the changes that we will be making for Bathurst and all progressed well. This test has been great as a boost to our confidence following our success at Sandown and Bathurst can't come soon enough."