TOP SEVEN FINISH IN OPENING ISLAND RACE
Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards have finished 7th and 27th in today's first 27 lap V8 Supercar race at Victoria's Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
The race followed the final qualifying session of the season which saw 26 year old Winterbottom presented with the 2007 Armor All V8 Supercar Pole Position Award after neither of his challengers, Holden drivers Garth Tander and Todd Kelly, were able to get the top qualifying spot at Phillip Island. It wasn't the most successful of qualifying sessions for FPR either, with Winterbottom 8th and Richards 12th on the starting grid for today's race.
After a great start, the race hadn't reached the fourth corner before Richards' Castrol FPR Falcon was hit from behind, loosening some rear bodywork and forcing the talented Victorian driver into the pits under the order of a mechanical black flag on the fourth lap. This effectively ended any hope of a points earning finish for Richards in the race. Winterbottom didn't get the start to the race that he wanted, running side by side with his team mate on the first lap before slotting into 9th position when he made his compulsory pit stop on the sixth lap. Consistent lap times kept the Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver in the hunt, passing Russell Ingall after a number of laps and then engaging in a close race for position with Todd Kelly over 6th position. By the end of the 27 lap race Winterbottom crossed the finish line in 7th place. The need for a second pit stop to complete his compulsory tyre stop relegated Richards to 27th place by the chequered flag.
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "The tyre life was too good, which is quite an odd complaint for our cars but when you get behind another car and you lose aerodynamics you can't pass and when the car is on the balance of understeer you tend to struggle. I bent the steering trying to pass Russell Ingall and that put us out as well. We had a quick car today and we should have had the pace that we had at the end of the race at the start of it. It is difficult to keep on top of the changing circuit grip conditions that are caused by the cars on the circuit before us. I am sure that we can improve the car for tomorrow."
#6 Steve Richards - "I was hit in the rear at the fourth corner hairpin on the first lap - I don't know who by, but it is very disappointing to miss out on a result once again due to someone else's mistake. The car was very good in the race, we cured some of our practice and qualifying issues and I am sure that we can progress from here in the remaining two races."
FPR Team Principal, Tim Edwards - "It was great to seal the Pole position award today, but ultimately our disappointing qualifying had knock on results in race one, as we shouldn't have been back there dicing in those positions. We seemed to have very good race pace and that is encouraging for tomorrow, but we need to learn from today to ensure that we qualify well so better end results come much easier."
FPR will be back on the magnificent Phillip Island circuit for two final V8 Supercar races of the season at 11:25am and 4:00pm tomorrow.