Pukekohe: FPR race report

Challenging New Zealand Round for FPR May 2, 2004 - The New Zealand round of the 2004 V8 Supercar Championship proved to be highly challenging for Ford Performance Racing (FPR). The event included a number of dry and wet circuit set-up ...

Challenging New Zealand Round for FPR

May 2, 2004 - The New Zealand round of the 2004 V8 Supercar Championship proved to be highly challenging for Ford Performance Racing (FPR).

The event included a number of dry and wet circuit set-up challenges along with the introduction of three relatively short V8 Supercar sprint races on the Sunday, due to an inclement weather race cancellation on the Saturday.

CAT FPR Falcon driver Craig Lowndes finished 8th, 29th and a DNF in the three New Zealand races. Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver Glenn Seton finished 29th, 21st and 22nd in today's three 36 lap races.

A highly disappointing weekend overall, with the team now concentrating their efforts on preparing the two FPR Falcons for the V8 Supercar Series' 4th round in Darwin from May 21-23. In order to spend as much time as possible on the team's continuing development work, both FPR Falcons will be air freighted to Melbourne on Monday.

#5 Glenn Seton - "It was a hard day on the track, we haven't got the pace we need and our finishing positions show that. When you start the weekend off with an incident that drops you to the back of the field, it is very difficult to come back from it. We continue to learn more from every round, but this was a very disappointing overall result and I hope we can do much better at Hidden Valley."

#6 Craig Lowndes - "I had a great first race as our car works very well in the wet conditions and this also eliminates the engine side of it. We managed to stay out of trouble and get up from 21st to 8th - a much more comfortable starting position for the second race. An alternator belt failed in the second race and we brought the car into the pits to save the engine, but I believe that the engine must have suffered because we lacked significant horsepower from the second to the third race. Five laps before I came into the pits the power steering pump failed and a few laps later the cockpit filled up with smoke, we later found out that it wasn't an engine fire, but this was our concern. It is really disappointing as we worked hard on the car all weekend for precious little reward."

FPR Chief Engineer, John Russell - "A disappointing weekend for the team, Glenn drove solidly and improved the car throughout, but the dice would not roll for him in each of the races. Craig endured a number of mechanical issues, culminating in a power steering connector failure half way through the last race and we brought him in when smoke appeared in the cockpit to not take any risks. The cars will be back with us on Wednesday and we have some serious preparation work to do before the next round in Darwin."

New Zealand Race Summaries.

RACE ONE

After cancelling Saturday's opening 36 lap race, Avesco announced that instead of two Sunday 56 lap races, three 36 lap events would be held at Auckland's Pukekohe Park Raceway.

After a heavy downpour of rain overnight and early in the morning, the first New Zealand V8 Supercar race for 2004 started at 10:00am on a wet circuit with light rain. The rain did stop within the first fifteen laps and the circuit rapidly dried during the closing stages of the race

CAT FPR Falcon driver Craig Lowndes raced from 21st on the starting grid to 8th in Sunday's first of three 36 lap races at Auckland's Pukekohe Park Raceway.

In a superb effort on the wet but rapidy drying circuit using intermediate tyres, Lowndes' drive saw the 29 year old force his way past several competitors while avoding of a number competitor accidents directly ahead of him.

Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver Glenn Seton finished the race in 29th place after he was hit by Holden driver Paul Morris at the hairpin on the second lap. Seton was one of a handful of drivers who changed to slick / dry weather tyres during the race and he set the second fastest lap of the race after the change.

RACE TWO

Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton endured a tough second race in New Zealand, which was held in warm and partly cloudy weather conditions.

The promise of a top ten starting position (8th) for the CAT FPR Falcon in this race turned to despair when in the race's closing stages and with Lowndes in 11th position, the engine began to run hot due to debris collecting in the radiator duct. This led to the failure of an auxilliary drive belt, forcing an unscheduled pit stop on lap 28, the team replacing the belt and sending the 29 year old back to the track with one lap remaining. Lowndes was classified 29th.

Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver Glenn Seton started the race from 29th on the grid and had raced his way to to 22nd until the 12th lap, when he took evasive action to avoid an impact with the hard braking Mark Winterbottom at turn 6. This saw him briefly off the circuit with four flat-spotted tyres. Seton pitted immediately for new tyres and drove a solid race from the rear of the field to finish 21st.

The second race was won by Holden driver Jason Bright, followed by Greg Murphy and Rick Kelly.

The third and final New Zealand V8 Supercar race is scheduled to start at 3:40pm local time (1:40pm EST). The most difficult thing to predict will be the weather, with ever threatening rain clouds present at Pukekohe Park.

RACE THREE

Starting from 21st (Seton) and 29th (Lowndes) on the grid for the third and final 36 lap race of the New Zealand round, the two FPR drivers raced at a consistent pace, but it was clearly evident that problems were developing, with both drivers struggling to progress through the field.

By lap 15 Seton had raced to 15th position, but by the same time his team mate was 28th and soldiering without power steering, which was followed by decreasing engine performance until his retirement from the race in the pits with two laps remaining.

Seton defended position well during a number of mid field battles, finishing the race in 22nd position.

While the threat of rain persisted, the third and final Pukekohe race remained dry throughout.

-fpr-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Jason Bright , Rick Kelly , Craig Lowndes , Paul Morris , Glenn Seton , Mark Winterbottom