FPR LEADS CHAMPIONSHIP FOR FIRST TIME

Ford Performance Racing is on top of the V8 Supercar Championship Series team points after a determined performance from drivers and crew in Hamilton, New Zealand this weekend.

Steve Richards led the point scoring with two second places in today's racing. He had to fight for both results after starting from third in this morning's first race and losing a spot to James Courtney off the grid in the day's second.

Pit strategy played a crucial part, with Rick Kelly's team gifting the FPR driver second place in race two by dropping a wheel during his stop. Race three was not so straightforward, however, as Richo emerged from the pit lane wheel to wheel with Courtney on lap 12. Richo won the ensuing drag race to take his third podium of the weekend and finish the round second overall.

Mark Winterbottom continued his steady progress up the order after some bad luck in qualifying saw him start from 13th. In today's first race he made short work of Will Davison off the grid after getting caught behind him yesterday. He and Fabian Coulthard were then dueling for much of the race before Frosty made the decisive move three laps from the chequered flag to finish seventh. In race three he again put in a tenacious drive to rise up to fifth.

The next V8 Supercar Championship Series round is at Perth on 11 May.

Steve Richards #6 Castrol FPR Falcon

"We made a change for the last race and it definitely hurt the car a little bit. Our race pace was as good as Garth's in the late stages but early on the car was bouncing about on the bumps a little bit and I was struggling to keep up.

"I'm absolutely rapped for the team; we've taken a big step forward in terms of our championship chase. We've survived a pretty fraught start to the year so that's a great result and all the accolades should go to the crew.

"In terms of myself, expectations were that I would actually be a bit further up the championship ladder by now but we're definitely getting on top of the little issues we've had and it's getting better and better and I'm getting more and more confident."

Mark Winterbottom #5 Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon

"We had a bit of bad luck this weekend with the qualifying but we raced hard; that's what you do! We're now only 100 points off the drivers' championship lead as opposed to 150 and Richo has jumped to sixth overall so, all in all, you can't really complain too much.

"It's a shame we didn't qualify at the front because we could have come away second in the points but you don't always have great weekends. Some other teams have had a disastrous time here so 190 points isn't that bad really!"

-credit: fpr