HOMETOWN ENDURO CHALLENGE THIS WEEKEND September 3, 2005 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) welcomes the V8 Supercar Championship's return to Melbourne's Sandown International Raceway for this Sunday's Betta Electrical Sandown 500. This will be...
HOMETOWN ENDURO CHALLENGE THIS WEEKEND
September 3, 2005 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) welcomes the V8 Supercar Championship's return to Melbourne's Sandown International Raceway for this Sunday's Betta Electrical Sandown 500.
This will be the debut race of the team's brand new CAT FPR Falcon. Driven by the highly experienced combination of regular driver Jason Bright and international Sportscar racer David Brabham, the team is looking forward to this event following the new car's promising performance in recent testing.
FPR also features one of the strongest Sandown 500 driver combinations behind the wheel of the Ford Credit FPV Falcon with last year's winning co-driver Greg Ritter paired with last year's Sandown 500 runner-up co-driver Cameron McLean. These two fast paced drivers will be seeking one major goal above all else at this important round - to bring home a major points haul with a strong finish.
The importance of team pit stops, which at Sandown will include re-fueling, brake, tyre and driver changes, will test the abilities of every team in pit lane. The new combination of FPR drivers looks forward to working together for the first time at Sandown, following an exhaustive two day test last week to customise the team's endurance racers with the two 2005 specification FPR Falcons.
#6 Jason Bright - "We will be racing our new CAT FPR Falcon for the first time at Sandown and after our recent test I am really looking forward to it - not only do we compete with a more competitive car, but the team has improved in so many areas.The first time I raced in the Sandown 500 was back in 1997 and that was the last time I saw the Sandown 500 podium - it has been too long."
#6 David Brabham - "I am looking forward to my first race start with FPR and Jason. The team is completely focussed on gaining strong results in the endurance races and after having competed at the Sandown 500 over the past two seasons, its time I gained a strong result in this classic enduro."
#5 Greg Ritter - "After winning this race last year, it would only be natural to want to make it back to back wins. Due to my points situation and in order to guarantee a start at Indy, Cameron and I will be taking a slightly more conservative approach to this enduro as it is absolutely imperative that we finish. We intend to be where it counts by the end of the 500 kilometres."
#5 Cameron McLean - "Both Greg and I had a great race here at Sandown last year by staying out of trouble. Greg and I have had good experiences as co-drivers in the past, making our combination at FPR a natural fit. We both visited the Sandown podium last year, and we both want nothing more than to get back up there again."
FPR Motorsport Director Tim Edwards - "We head to Sandown encouraged by our recent test and with two strong cars. We have put as much work as possible into our preparation for this long and challenging race. Success at the Sandown 500 is a very important step towards achieving our goal of a top five finish in the Championship."
FPR SANDOWN 500 FACT FILE
Ford Performance Racing has a formidable record in single-race rounds. The Prodrive owned team has finished second or better on six occasions in the longer-distance format events since its formation in 2003.
Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver Greg Ritter is the reigning Sandown 500 Champion, last year partnering Ford powered Champion driver Marcos Ambrose to victory. Ritter's stellar performance was a contributing factor in his signing with Ford Performance Racing for 2005.
The Ford Credit FPV Falcon will be raced at the Sandown 500 this year by the co-drivers that finished first and second at this race last year, FPR endurance race driver Cameron McLean partnered Russell Ingall to second last year.
Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver Greg Ritter made his Sandown 500 debut in 2003 for Team Brock, pairing with current Team Australia Champ Car (Indy) driver Marcus Marshall to finish 22nd. By coincidence, another one of Ritter's endurance race team mates that year was current FPR team partner Jason Bright.
Friday practice will be held on the 21st anniversary of the first running of the Sandown 500 on September 9, 1984. Prior to that year, the Sandown event was contested over various distances and lengths: 6 hours, 3 hours, 250 miles and 400 kilometres.
CAT FPR Falcon driver Jason Bright's best finish in the Sandown 500 was third. This podium finish was gained upon his stellar V8 Supercar debut in 1997 when he shared a Falcon with Alan Jones. That Bright was paired with the 1980 F1 World Champion is a statement of the esteem the then 24-year-old was held in. Sandown was a happy hunting ground for Bright that year, as he also won both Formula Holden races held at the Melbourne circuit, en-route to winning the coveted CAMS Gold Star / Australian Drivers' Championship.
All up, Jason Bright has competed in four Sandown 500s, finishing in the top ten on three occasions. Interestingly, both FPR Falcon drivers (Bright and Ritter) have been paired with Alan Jones in a two-driver 500km enduro - Bright at Sandown in 1997, Ritter at Queenland Raceway in 2002.
Jason Bright also won the Sandown Formula Ford round during his national Championship year of 1995.
CAT FPR Falcon driver David Brabham is Australia's leading endurance race driver having contested 12 Le Mans 24 Hour classics, more than any other Australian. His best Le Mans finish was second in 2003. Brabham finished ninth at Le Mans this year in the Prodrive-run Aston Martin DBR9.
David Brabham is making his third consecutive start in the Sandown 500 this year. Brabham will be hoping to emulate his brother Geoff's win in a Falcon in the 1993 event.
Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver Cameron McLean joins FPR after racing to runner-up honours in last year's Sandown 500 with Russell Ingall. McLean makes his fourth start in the Melbourne endurance race this weekend.
The FPR driving combination of Greg Ritter and Cameron McLean last raced together with Ford team DJR at Bathurst in 2001, when they finished 4th in Australia's most famous motor race.
Cameron McLean was the 1999 V8 Supercar Privateers Cup winner. He was also the 1995 Australian Sports Sedan Champion. The 2005 Betta Electrical Sandown 500 is the 38th Touring Car endurance classic held at the Melbourne circuit since 1964. (Note that this venue has held stand alone Touring Car races and Championship rounds separately).
This year's Sandown classic is the 36th Championship Round to be held at the Melbourne circuit since 1965, making it the longest serving venue in the series.