November 30, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) driver Craig Lowndes drove an attacking and strategic final V8 Supercar race of the season at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway today to end the season sixth in the final Championship standings.
The CAT FPR Falcon driver finished today's shortened 57 lap race in fourth position under Safety Car conditions, when the fine and hot weather of the day eventually became a torrential rain and thunder storm that caused the race to be shortened by seven laps.
FPV FPR Falcon driver David Besnard performed strongly in his final drive for FPR, racing from 29th on the starting grid to 11th in the trying conditions.
Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Glenn Seton endured a tough day behind the wheel with a troublesome engine misfire that persisted throughout the race, bringing him into the pits on three occasions before finally retiring from the race after completing 36 laps.
Such was the ferocity of the storm that the entire Eastern Creek Raceway area was blacked-out during the closing stages of the race, leaving team crews and race engineers literally in the dark in relation to telemetry and race timing systems.
It was a brilliant day for Ford with the marque winning its first Australian V8 Supercar Championship in six years thanks to the superb performance of SBR Falcon driver and new Champion Marcos Ambrose who won the race ahead of Holden's Jason Bright and Ford's Max Wilson.
As a result of finishing behind Holden rival Jason Bright today, Craig Lowndes has secured 6th in the 2003 Australian V8 Supercar Championship standings, 50 points clear of Steven Richards.
#6 Craig Lowndes - "I struggled a bit in the race today. We had good car speed after the changes we made to the car overnight and could hold onto the leaders fairly well. After about 15 laps, I started to lose rear traction and the car became slower and slower with each lap. We lost a little bit of time in the pits as we made a suspension adjustment to deal with this. I had some battles with Steven Richards and John Bowe that held me up a bit, but we lucked out with Safety Car periods for our second stop and the rest of the race. I agree totally with the stewards decision to stop the race as I was aquaplaning at 60-70kph into turn one. There was no way we could return to racing speeds in the conditions."
#7 David Besnard - "I kept out of trouble as there was a fair bit of carnage going on ahead of me as I was making my way through the field. We also passed a few, so it was a good effort from the team with the car. Our race strategy was reasonable with most of the hard work done on the track today. The car was good but I stuggled with my first set of tyres. The second set were much better and from there it was a case of keeping the car on the track as the rain poured down."
#5 Glenn Seton - "We found a problem with the engine yesterday and changed it overnight, but we had a misfire from the very start of the race. We stopped several times to try and fix the problem but we couldn't. It was just one of those days - but you have to expect these things when you race a brand new engine.We have learned a lot about the new engine this weekend and this will serve us well for next season."
FPR Chief Engineer, John Russell - "A tough weekend for the team, Craig did a creditable job to finish 4th in the race but otherwise we probably didn't perform at our best. Congratulations go to Marcos Ambrose and SBR for their fantastic effort today and all season."
FPR Managing Director David Flint - "Today marked the end of a long journey for FPR, the completion of a busy season of learning and foundation building for the future. My thanks go to the team for all of their hard work and dedication and I'd like to congratulate Marcos Ambrose and SBR on defeating the lions so well this season."