November 29, 2003 - All three Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers got off to strong top ten starts in today's opening V8 Supercar race after having played starring roles in the morning's full field single lap shoot-out.
CAT FPR Falcon driver Craig Lowndes was the team's highest finisher today in 7th. All three FPR drivers experienced some unduly rough driving today's 150 kilometre opening race which was held in fine and hot conditions.
Lowndes was hit by Steven Richards early in the race causing significant steering damage. Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Glenn Seton finished 20th after being spun by Holden driver Greg Murphy, and FPV FPR Falcon driver David Besnard was hit on more than one occasion by Holden driver Rick Kelly, the damage causing an extra pit stop. Besnard subsequently finished 29th.
Lowndes' result finds him 6th in the standings with tomorrow's 250 kilometre race remaining for the 29 year old to bridge the gap of 11 points to Bright to re-gain 5th. Following the first race, Steven Richards is now just 11 points behind Lowndes as the three way fight for 5th and 6th in the Championship prepares to be fought.
The race as won by SBR Ford driver and Championship leader Marcos Ambrose, who finished a dominating 15.8 seconds ahead of Holden drivers Jason Bright and Todd Kelly.
#6 Craig Lowndes - "I had some issues with understeer from the start of the race but getting hit by Steven Richards on the first lap as we entered the hairpin damaged my steering and didn't help. These were the first long consecutive laps that we have done with the car and we have improved it greatly from the start of the weekend. Unfortunately I have dropped to 6th in the Championship and our goal tomorrow is to bridge the 11 point gap to Jason Bright and to try and keep Richards behind me to secure 5th overall."
#5 Glenn Seton - "Murphy tried to get past down the inside of turn five, clipping me on the rear bumper and spinning me around which ruined my race. It was shaping up to be a good race until then. Rear tyre wear was a problem for me today, but otherwise the car and new engine ran well. We need to improve a few minor things with the car for tomorrow."
#7 David Besnard - "I got off to a good start and kept it clean, I was having a good run during the opening laps in the top ten until the first stop. I lost a little bit of time during the stop and when I rejoined the race I had Craig behind me. When I moved to let him through, Rick Kelly decided to keep hitting me until he virtually finished me off. I had to pit again to repair the damage and that spelled the end of any chances of a competitive finish to the race."
FPR Chief Engineer John Russell - "Congratulations go to Marcos Ambrose and Ford for an excellent win under pressure. Our race with all three cars was somewhat affected by other competitors. Craig was tagged fairly early on and damaged his steering, which affected his performance for the remainder of the race. Both Glenn and David were tapped and turned around, Glenn having to work his way back into the race and David being forced to return to the pits for repairs. The damage to our cars is relatively minor so we'll be looking forward to stronger results in tomorrow's final race of the season".
FPR returns to the track for the final 250 kilometre race of the 2003 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series at 2:30pm tomorrow.