Perth: FPR Sunday report

FPR ENDS PERTH ROUND WITH TOP FIVE RACE FINISH March 25, 2007 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards have endured a roller coaster ride of highs and lows at the second round of the 2007 V8 Supercar ...

FPR ENDS PERTH ROUND WITH TOP FIVE RACE FINISH

March 25, 2007 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards have endured a roller coaster ride of highs and lows at the second round of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series held at Perth's Barbagallo Raceway this weekend.

Strong performances by both FPR Falcon drivers in Saturday's first race went some way towards relieving the disappointment of qualifying when traction issues saw Richards qualify 13th and electrical problems held Winterbottom back at 15th.

The FPR drivers made up seven positions between them in the opening 50 lap race, Richards finishing 9th and Winterbottom 12th. It was a short lived stay in the top ten for the Castrol FPR Falcon driver, who was issued with a 23 second post-race penalty for a pit lane infringement that relegated him to 22nd for the start of race two.

The second race saw Winterbottom make the most of the fastest laps in the field along with very swift FPR crew pit work to climb from 11th to 6th by the chequered flag, positioning the Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon well for the third and final Perth race. Equally impressive was the effort of Castrol FPR Falcon driver Richards, who channelled his frustration at being relegated to 22nd for the race start into perfectly controlled aggression. The experienced driver passed nine cars on the tight 2.4 kilometre Barbagallo circuit to finish just outside the top ten (and in the points) at 13th.

The ambient temperature was at its warmest for the third and final race of the round at 31C. After strong starts by both FPR drivers, Winterbottom found himself in pursuit of Ford driver Will Davison with Todd Kelly close behind in a multi-lap bumper to bumper battle. The 25 year old FPR driver handled the pressure well before both FPR Falcon drivers pitted on the 19th and 20th laps. Excellent pit work saw Winterbottom rejoin the race ahead of Davison in 5th position, with Richards continuing the blitzing catch-up form that made him clearly the fastest Ford driver of the race as he worked his way into the top ten at 9th. Despite constant pressure from the closely packed top ten drivers, Winterbottom and Richards raced strongly to finish 5th and 9th respectively.

At the completion of the round Winterbottom was 7th overall, adding 33 points to his 2007 Championship tally. Richards gained 13 points to finish 11th overall after a determined and pacey drive. The overall round winner was Garth Tander who made a clean sweep of all three Perth races ahead of his team mate Rick Kelly and Mark Skaife.

Winterbottom retains 8th place in the 2007 V8 Supercar Drivers' Championship standings with 53 points, while Richards is 13th with 37 points and 12 rounds remaining.

#5 Mark Winterbottom - "Given where we came from in qualifying, 7th overall was not a bad result, but considering the pace that we had in the races, we should have been racing at the front all weekend. We need to work on ensuring that we maximise the potential of our cars for every session. When you start so far back you burn everything up trying to get to the front. We earned 33 points and it could have been a lot worse given where we came from."

#6 Steve Richards - "A tough weekend at the office for us but we kept making positive steps throughout, which saw us constantly improve. The team played its cards perfectly in terms of our tyre management at this round and by the third race we had improved the car so much that I was able to make up quite a lot of ground and engage in some close racing and passing."

FPR Motorsport Director, Tim Edwards - "Our pace in all of the races this weekend certainly proved that if we had qualified better, we had the potential to gain very strong results here. We raced to 7th and 11th despite our considerable set backs and have also earned points for both drivers towards the Championship. We learned a great deal about our cars that we will be putting to good use in New Zealand."

FPR now prepares for the first of two fly-away rounds this season, the Placemakers V8 Supercars, being held at Pukekohe Park Raceway in New Zealand for the last time from April 20 to 22.

-credit: fpr

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Garth Tander , Will Davison , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Todd Kelly , Mark Winterbottom , Steve Richards , Tim Edwards