Philip Island: FPR preview

CHAMPIONSHIP PRESSURE BUILDS Ford Performance Racing's preparation for the year's first V8 Supercar Championship Series endurance race has been 'unbelievable' according to Steve Richards. The team is currently leading the championship, with...

CHAMPIONSHIP PRESSURE BUILDS

Ford Performance Racing's preparation for the year's first V8 Supercar Championship Series endurance race has been 'unbelievable' according to Steve Richards.

The team is currently leading the championship, with Mark Winterbottom second in the driver standings, but the 200-point maximum for this Sunday's L&H 500 could see huge shifts in the title battle.

In its bid to stay one step ahead, FPR has tested twice since last month's round eight at Winton and engineers have spent days considering tactics for the new qualifying format, which will see two mini races, worth 50 points each, determine the starting order for Sunday's feature race.

The team will run Richo and Frosty together in the Castrol FPR Falcon to give them the best possible chance over the 113-lap race. Results from Dean Canto and Luke Youlden in the Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon meanwhile will be just as crucial as FPR works to guard its lead in the team competition.

Practice for the L&H 500 at Phillip Island will start this Friday (12 September) at 12:45.

Steve Richards

#6 Castrol FPR Falcon

"These next two races are probably the most important in our championship with 300 points up for grabs at each. Two solid results could move us into first and second in the championship; one bad result could put us out of contention.

"Our preparation has been unbelievable though; we've had a good couple of tests and we're working together really well. We went through a regimented process whereas the other guys on track seemed more bothered about doing quick times.

"I think the new qualifying format is going to be really challenging and pretty exciting. It will keep everyone on their toes and gets us out of the usual rut, which is good for the category."

Mark Winterbottom

#6 Castrol FPR Falcon

"Winton wasn't a great result for me; I lost the lead of the championship but in retrospect it probably wasn't such a bad thing. These next two races are the most important in the season and the worst approach would have been complacency. I'm certainly not that now!

"We've put all our eggs in one basket with me and Richo being in the one car so we've got to get a good result or both our championships suffer. We could have teamed up with our other drivers and split the odds, but we want to win."

Dean Canto

#5 Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon

"I think there'll be around 14 cars with both full time drivers in them, but you can probably comfortably say we're going to finish in front of six to eight of those. I'm sure Luke and I will be knocking on the door of a podium all weekend. We won't be as fine-tuned as the guys who have been in the car all year but we won't be far off.

"It's definitely exciting to be back in the main game and in a front-running car and team to see how I compare to the full-time guys. Obviously the equipment I was in last year wasn't as well resourced. This year I've got no concerns. "

Luke Youlden

#5 Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon

"Phillip Island is one of Australia's best tracks but I think it will be a bit tougher than the enduro at Sandown last year; a lot harder on the car, particularly the tyres, and race strategy will be much more important. We won't know until we get there but perhaps we won't be able to drive the car flat-out because the long, fast, radius corners really stress the tyres. It's definitely going to create some new challenges for the engineers.

"The height difference between myself (183cm) and Dean (164cm) will cause a few issues, but nothing we haven't had before; Dean's team-mates have always been taller than him and my team-mates have always been shorter! It's part of enduro driving."

-credit: fpr

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Dean Canto , Mark Winterbottom , Luke Youlden , Steve Richards , Phillip Island