MARK WINTERBOTTOM ON POLE, STEVE RICHARDS THIRD FOR FIRST NZ RACE April 21, 2007 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) V8 Supercar team drivers Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards have made their blue oval intentions clear for Round 3 of the ...
MARK WINTERBOTTOM ON POLE, STEVE RICHARDS THIRD FOR FIRST NZ RACE
April 21, 2007 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) V8 Supercar team drivers Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards have made their blue oval intentions clear for Round 3 of the Championship by setting a blistering pace in qualifying ahead of the weekend's first of three sprint races to be held at Auckland's Pukekohe Raceway today.
Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Winterbottom has blitzed to his first V8 Supercar Championship Pole position after consistently fighting for a top three berth throughout the grueling 50 minute-sudden death formatted qualifying session. Frosty's fastest lap time of 55.6704s was 7/100ths of a second ahead of Garth Tander, with Castrol FPR Falcon driver Richards 1/10th of a second behind in third. Rick Kelly and Jamie Whincup made up the top five starters for today's opening 43 lap race.
During each of the three 15 minute sectors, both FPR Falcon drivers remained in close contention, with the team's car speed and strategy working perfectly and very nearly resulting in a complete Team FPR front row until rival Holden driver Garth Tander split the top two Ford drivers with less than two minutes remaining.
Pukekohe Park Raceway, which is staging its final V8 Supercar round this weekend has become a very special place for Winterbottom. This was the venue where he started his meteoric rise from 23rd in the Championship that ultimately saw him take third in the standings. Now it has become the venue of his first Pole position along with it also being the venue where he gained his first V8 Supercar podium finish (2nd last season). Nothing would please the 25 year old FPR Falcon driver more than to take the next step up on the podium this weekend to claim his first "solo" V8 Supercar victory. The vast improvement for Richards in qualifying was just reward for the team's determined efforts to overcome the handling problems experienced during practice.
The team entered qualifying with confidence following the team's promising form in practice yesterday. Today's top 21 drivers were separated by less than one second, further emphasising how competitive this round and series has become. The short and fast 2.8 kilometre Pukekohe Park circuit has once again seen a competitor come to grief with a red flag stoppage affecting the closing stages of the second qualifying sector when Paul Dumbrell crashed heavily at turn 4.
Race one starts at 2:25pm EST and will be televised live across Australia on the Seven Network.