MARK WINTERBOTTOM WINS FINAL 2006 RACE & FPR TAKES SECOND IN THE TEAMS' CHAMPIONSHIP
December 10, 2006 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) ended its most successful season in four years at Victoria's Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit when Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Mark Winterbottom raced to a spirited victory in the final V8 Supercar race of the season. Winterbottom's results of 7th in race one, 2nd in race two and 1st in race three earned the 25 year old second place overall for the round and consolidated his third place in the 2006 V8 Supercar Drivers' Championship.
CAT FPR Falcon driver Jason Bright completed his two year tenure at FPR by finishing 5th overall for the round after being involved in several exciting race battles during the weekend. Bright displayed strong race pace throughout this final round, but lucked out with a spin in race one, the experienced driver making it up to 4th by the third and final heat of the round.
The weekend saw determined drives by both FPR Falcon drivers, the most exciting of which saw Winterbottom hold off the advances of Holden's Garth Tander in the final two laps of race three, while Bright held off the fast pursuing Ford rival Jamie Whincup while racing with two flat-spotted tyres during the final laps of the second heat. Winterbottom and Bright's efforts were supported by some of the fastest FPR crew pit-stops of the season at Phillip Island, with today's 2.87 second stop (Winterbottom, Race 2) being the best yet for the Prodrive team, setting a new benchmark ahead of the 2007 season.
FPR's 2006 season results also secured the Prodrive team its first two car finish in the V8 Supercar Championship top five, with Rick Kelly taking the Championship victory (3308pts) from Craig Lowndes (3271pts) and Winterbottom (3089pts), with Garth Tander (2965pts) taking fourth ahead of Bright (2868pts).
Further to this outstanding season result, FPR has also finished second in the V8 Supercar Teams' Championship, reflecting the team's consistency and outright speed this season.
This momentous final V8 Supercar round of the 2006 season saw the battle for the Championship go down to the final race, with a race three impact between Rick Kelly, Craig Lowndes and Todd Kelly proving to be pivotal to the final result.
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "It's a great feeling to finally win my first V8 Supercar sprint race. I think back to watching these races on television when I was younger and wanting to one day win, and then to cross the finish line and take the chequered flag on your own is a pretty awesome experience. We had a great car and the most fantastic pit stops, one was under three seconds and the other 3.1 seconds today. We passed everyone except for Todd Kelly in the pits and it's a tribute to the crew and all of the very hard work that they have done to make us the fastest in pit lane. We achieved our goals of securing third in the Championship and finishing second in the Teams' Championship and this is a great way to head into the new season."
#6 Jason Bright - "We had some tyre problems this weekend and I destroyed the right front twice this weekend - making it hard work to get back into the top five. We had great car speed this weekend and a podium may have been possible and a very fitting way to say good bye to FPR. It has been a great couple of years, in fact today is a bit of a sad day for me because everything has been working so well together. I can see the team achieving much bigger and better things in the future and I wish all at FPR the very best."
FPR Motorsport Director, Tim Edwards - "An absolutely awesome end to the season, what a fantastic weekend and what a fantastic year. Our pit stops were sensational, we did several stops which were bordering on two seconds and our drivers put in great performances all season. I'd like to thank Jason for all of the work that he has done over the past two years to develop our cars to where they are now. To finish the last race on top bodes well for the new season - bring on the Clipsal 500! "