Title honours were put out of Mark Winterbottom's reach today at Oran Park after a magnificent year for the Ford Performance Racing driver.

2008 has been the team's best-ever season, with its inaugural 1-2 finish in Darwin, three round wins and seven round podiums.

In the end Winterbottom was unable to take the fight to V8 Supercar Championship Series rival Jamie Whincup after the Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon was given a penalty for unsafe release and engaging reverse as he exited the pits in today's race. He went on to finish 23rd.

Whincup scored enough points to secure his first title with Frosty looking good for the runner-up spot, subject to tomorrow's final two races at the NSW circuit.

Team-mate Steve Richards rocketed off the grid from sixth to fourth and then muscled his way past Russell Ingall for another spot in the early stages, finishing fourth for his 22nd top ten finish of the year.

Tomorrow's first race starts at 11:10.

Mark Winterbottom

Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon

"Everyone's lifted their game this year; the championship's been really close. At Bathurst we still had a chance but each round 888 just gradually got away from us. Before that we had the run and before that HRT had the run. Everyone's had a crack but 888 did it at the time that counts.

"This is the first year I've really felt in contention and it gives you confidence to be a genuine front runner. You feel like you're driving it to its limits. We've got to work on everything as a whole to make sure we get everything right next year.

"For tomorrow from the back I want to go back to the front. I've done it a few times lately so I'm relatively experienced at it."

Steve Richards

Castrol FPR Falcon

"From a team perspective, I believe we've been the hardest working all year. We've had a new car to develop, had to rebuild wrecked cars; there's been a lot going on. It's been huge and you can't dismiss how tough it is to win a championship when you've got that work load.

"My personal highlights have been race wins and a pole position; I couldn't do that without a good team and I reckon we've got the best in the pit lane."

Tim Edwards

Team Principal

"All credit to Ford and 888 on a great victory. Looking back on our year, by mid-season we had performed really well at circuits that had typically been our bogies. We went into the back of the year optimistic that our good form from the end of 2007 would continue; our speed was similar but, all credit to 888, they've really upped their game. They've improved their qualifying pace, which makes life in the race much easier.

"We still need to take a lot of positives out of the year; this is the closest we've ever come and we'll learn and come back stronger."

-credit: fpr