TOP TEN START TO PHILLIP ISLAND OPENER
December 9, 2006 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Mark Winterbottom and Jason Bright have raced to seventh and tenth places in the first of three sprint races at the Caterpillar Grand Finale, the final round of the 2006 V8 Supercar Championship.
After qualifying second and setting the fourth fastest lap of the top ten shoot-out, Bright did not get off to a good start to the 23 lap race, losing two positions to sixth by the first turn, while Winterbottom held position in eighth from the start. After a fast pit stop (3.2 seconds) Bright engaged in a battle with Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes over fifth position during the mid stages of the race, the CAT FPR Falcon driver locking brakes and spinning when attempting to pass Skaife on lap sixteen. This cost the FPR Falcon driver five positions, racing on to finish tenth. Winterbottom experienced a far less dramatic race, but his car speed was compromised by problems caused by excessive rear traction which made overtaking difficult on this fast circuit. He also enjoyed a fast 3.3 second visit to the pits on lap six.
#6 Jason Bright - "I made a mess of the start and lost some positions and this was a shame as we had the early pace. The pit stop sequence placed us in front of Craig and I was having a battle with Skaife during the mid stages. He seemed to be struggling and was defending heavily, then I locked the brakes and spun. After the spin my aim was to finish in front of Russell Ingall as he is my rival for 5th place in the Championship. We had a fast car today so I am sure that we will have some better results tomorrow."
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "We chased our set-up to make the rear tyres last longer for that race and we went a bit too far, making the car difficult to turn and particularly hard to pass. This restricted what I could do and compromised our car pace as well. We will improve the car overnight and I look forward to gaining some stronger results tomorrow."
The race was won by Todd Kelly ahead of Garth Tander and Mark Skaife and was held in fine and hot conditions. FPR returns to the track tomorrow for the final two 32 lap races of the season at 11:20am and 3:30pm.