FPR CONFIRMS 2006 ENDURO DRIVER PAIRINGS
August 25, 2006 - Following a detailed test earlier this week that included all members of the FPR endurance race driver team, FPR confirms that Jason Bright and Mark Winterbottom will join forces in the CAT FPR Falcon for the first time at next weekend's Sandown 500. The combined experience and proven speed of these front running FPR V8 Supercar drivers forms one of the strongest driver combinations of this year's field.
The Ford Credit BroadIP Falcon will be driven at Sandown by 26-year-old New Zealand racer Matt Halliday making his FPR debut. The experienced driver competed with Ford team Larkham Motor Sport in both 2004 and 2005 at Sandown and Bathurst, serving him well for his new enduro role at FPR. He is also New Zealand's driver in the country's successful A1 World Cup of Motorsport team, finishing 4th overall last season after a series of remarkable performances. Halliday was also the recipient of this year's Jim Clark Trophy, New Zealand motor racing's highest accolade.
The highly experienced Australian V8 Supercar driver Cameron McLean returns to FPR once again this season, the 1997 and 1998 Australian Super Tourer Privateer Champion and a five-time Bathurst 1000 top ten finisher will partner Halliday at Sandown.
International Sportscar star driver David Brabham will return to his homeland to drive with Halliday at Bathurst.
Due to David Brabham's international Sportscar racing commitments, he will only contest the Bathurst enduro. Brabham returns for his second consecutive Bathurst 1000 with FPR this season, following another successful season spent racing World Sportscars. The 1997 Bathurst 1000 winner is ready to help FPR mount its most promising Bathurst challenge yet in 2006.
According to FPR Motorsport Director Tim Edwards, the Prodrive team has assembled the best possible driver combinations to place both FPR Falcons in a position to win in the endurance races.
"Our endurance driver pairings ensure that we head to the 2006 endurance races with the goal of winning. Equally importantly is our goal of ensuring that both FPR Falcons are very strong at both of these important races. To ensure this, we welcome the return of last year's experienced FPR enduro drivers in David Brabham and Cameron McLean with the exciting new addition of talented young Kiwi driver Matt Halliday." Tim said.
Regular FPR Falcon drivers Jason Bright and Mark Winterbottom assisted the team in deciding upon their 2006 endurance race drivers and according to Bright, these drivers are more than capable of ensuring the team's chances of success at Sandown and Bathurst.
"The team has selected three highly experienced and determined drivers to join us at Sandown and Bathurst. Experience really does make the difference - particularly at Bathurst, and between the five of us there is an abundance of that. Our goal is to deliver all Ford fans a long awaited win at Bathurst and to continue the blue oval's consistently strong form at Sandown. The addition of David Brabham, Matt Halliday and Cameron McLean will help us to try and achieve this," Bright said.
ABOUT THE FPR CO-DRIVERS:
Matt Halliday is New Zealand's driver in the country's successful A1 World Cup of Motorsport team, finishing 4th overall last season after a series of remarkable performances. After a stellar karting and Formula Ford career on his home turf, the talented driver crossed the Tasman to finish 3rd in both the 1999 and 2000 Australian Drivers' Championships (Formula Holden). He ventured to the United States based Indy Lights Championship in 2001, racing to 6th overall. Halliday's international career has also included podium performances in the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup Series of 2003 and a top six race finish in the Indy Racing League's Infiniti-Pro Series.
The new FPR endurance race driver made his Bathurst V8 Supercar debut with Ford team Larkham Motor Sport (LMS) in 2004, partnering Mark Larkham to finish 11th. Halliday returned to Bathurst and LMS last season, partnering Swiss driver Alain Menu.
According to Halliday, joining FPR at this year's endurance races represents the next major step in his V8 Supercar career.
"It is great to be joining FPR at Sandown and Bathurst this season. While I am enjoying competing in the A1GP series and international open wheeler racing remains my goal, the V8 Supercar Championship is also very important to me as it has grown so much over the years. Joining FPR represents a major progression in my V8 Supercar career and I am looking forward to competing at these classic races in a car that clearly has the potential to win them."
Brabham returns for his second consecutive Bathurst 1000 with FPR this season, following another successful season racing World Sportscars. Brabham also competed impressively in the final two Championship rounds of the 2005 season with FPR, so the 1997 Bathurst 1000 winner is better prepared than ever for this year's Mount Panorama classic.
"I am really looking forward to driving with FPR again at the Bathurst 1000 this year, as we have a great relationship and the team's current success is showing that all of the hard work over the last few years by everyone is paying off. This can only mean a very strong showing at Bathurst. I still have a burning desire to win Bathurst again - but in a V8. The team's selection of Matt Halliday is a good one as he has shown what a talented driver he is in the A1GP series - I can't wait," he said.
Cameron McLean has forged a reputation for consistency and competitiveness in V8 Supercars following a career which has included major Championship success in Super Tourers. He partnered Russell Ingall at Ford team Stone Brothers Racing to finish 6th at Bathurst in 2004 and has gained five top ten finishes at Mount Panorama during his career. McLean has kept his racing talents sharp this season by racing a BA Falcon in the New Zealand Touring Car Championship, gaining two 3rd place finishes and finishing 8th in the points standings.
"It is very good to be returning to V8 Supercars with FPR at Sandown as FPR are showing genuine race winning pace at the moment. Both FPR Falcons will be competing at the Sandown 500 with a real chance of winning it so I am eager to play a major part," McLean said.