June 28, 2003 - The Ford Performance Racing (FPR) V8 Supercar Team's first race in Darwin proved to be a roller coaster of highs and lows for all three team drivers within today's first short but eventful 17 lap sprint. After his superb last...
June 28, 2003 - The Ford Performance Racing (FPR) V8 Supercar Team's first race in Darwin proved to be a roller coaster of highs and lows for all three team drivers within today's first short but eventful 17 lap sprint. After his superb last minute top ten qualifying effort, CAT FPR BA Falcon driver Craig Lowndes finished 28th, Ford Credit FPR BA Falcon driver Glenn Seton suffered his first DNF of the season with an engine belt failure and David Besnard's race was also hampered by clutch woes, making it to 24th place.
A startline crash by SBR driver Russell Ingall saw the race get off to a dramatic start, Ingall narrowly missing several competitors as he spun directly across the field after trying to pass Holden driver Greg Murphy. CAT FPR BA Falcon driver Craig Lowndes, who started directly behind Ingall, managed to avoid the accident and power into 5th as the field completed the first lap.
The Safety Car emerged on the second lap, not long after the re-start on lap 4, Lowndes was hit from behind by DJR Falcon driver Paul Radisich, the impact forcing his right rear guard into the tyre, creating plumes of thick smoke as he continued the race. After persisting with this damage for another lap, the triple Champion pitted for a tyre change and panel repair. Officials inspecting the car further delayed the stop, forcing Lowndes to re-join the race one lap down and in 28th position, where he finished.
Ford Credit FPR BA Falcon driver Glenn Seton had a fantastic start to the opening Darwin race, overtaking six cars on the first lap and powering past another two to12th position by the mid way point of the race. The double Champion was heading for a top ten finish when Seton's engineers noticed a major fluctuation in engine temperature from their data systems. After maintaining a watching brief for a further two laps, the decision was made to bring him into the pits. Once the bonnet was raised, a broken engine belt was found to be the culprit, which rendered the water pump and alternator useless, causing Seton's first DNF of the season.
FPV FPR AU Falcon driver David Besnard expected a stronger performance than 24th today after qualifying the oldest car in the FPR fleet within the top 20 at 18th. A clutch problem after the start was the 26 year old's major problem, along with a panel bending incident courtesy of Anthony Tratt during the 17 lap race.
#6 Craig Lowndes - "The car was handling well during the early stages of the race and I was glad to have avoided the crash in front of me at the start. I was hit by Radisich after the re-start and lost a lap with the subsequent pit stop to repair the damage. The guys did a great job to repair the car as quick as they did, but then we had to wait for the stewards to check the car which held us up longer. This was just one of those disappointing races, now we have to focus on the hard work ahead tomorrow."
#5 Glenn Seton - "A disappointing way to end the race, but it was completely out of my hands. I am happy with the start I got and my driving during the race, although we still have an understeering problem - we'll work on that overnight as the car has definitely been getting better as the weekend progresses, hopefully the car can be even better tomorrow."
#19 - David Besnard - "The race should have gone a lot better for us, but what could go wrong did go wrong from the start. I fried the clutch at the green light, so I was forced to slow up immediately to cool it down. I was lucky with the yellow flag period to cool the clutch properly, but the car was difficult to drive after the re-start, particularly during down-changes. From then on it was a matter of bringing the car home in 24th."
FPR Chief Engineer John Russell - "One of those afternoons that you'd rather forget except of course for the weather! A belt failure ended a great race for Glenn, Craig got tapped and the stop for repairs set him back a lap, David had to back off after a good start and that basically summarises our first race in Darwin. We now solely focussed on some strong fightback performances in the two races tomorrow."
FPR embarks on recovering some valuable Championship points at Darwin's Hidden Valley Raceway tomorrow with the second and third 35 lap races of the round being held at 11:45am and 2:30pm (local time).