V8 Supercar Endurance Season Starts This Weekend September 6, 2004 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) takes the short trip to suburban Melbourne's Sandown Raceway this weekend for the first of two major endurance races of the 2004 V8 Supercar ...
V8 Supercar Endurance Season Starts This Weekend
September 6, 2004 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) takes the short trip to suburban Melbourne's Sandown Raceway this weekend for the first of two major endurance races of the 2004 V8 Supercar Championship Series.
This Sunday's Betta Electrical Sandown 500 is shaping up to be the most competitive ever in the 40 year history of this Victorian racing circuit and FPR arrives well prepared following two detailed test days held during the last fortnight involving all four team drivers.
One of the most formidable endurance race driver combinations in V8 Supercars, the CAT FPR Falcon duo of double Sandown 500 winners Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton, are confident of an aggressive performance at this traditional warm up event before Bathurst.
The Ford Credit FPV Falcon combination of double British Touring Car Champion from Switzerland, Alain Menu, and 25 year old former Formula Ford Champion and experienced V8 Supercar endurance racer Adam Macrow, take on the Sandown 500 challenge armed with the benefit of two days of pre-event testing.
While unreliability problems have quashed the team's chances of a strong Championship result in 2004, FPR remains focussed on ensuring that the team's endurance race performances are consistent with the strongest teams in the series.
With strategy playing such a crucial role in these long distance, two-driver events, everyone's eyes will heading skyward throughout Sunday's race as Melbourne's unpredictable weather could be playing a major part. Last year's race saw a fierce hailstorm take most of the field off the circuit during the closing stages.
#6 Craig Lowndes - "Sandown has been a good track for me in the past and it will be great getting back behind the wheel with Glenn after our Bathurst effort last year. We were fairly ordinary at Sandown last year and we want to make amends for that. Considering the amount of reliable testing the team has done since Oran Park, we are expecting a strong result here."
#6 Glenn Seton - "I am looking forward to the endurance races as I have a great opportunity for success by racing with Craig - we worked very well together last year and for both of us the goal is to do much better than we did at Sandown last year. The biggest single factor to worry about at Sandown is the weather - anything can happen and we will need to be ready for it."
#5 Alain Menu - "I'm not sure what to expect because I don't know the circuit, but I certainly look forward to the challenge of being a part of this great Championship again. I think Adam and I will make a good combination - Sandown will be an excellent event for us to ensure that everything is right for Bathurst, and if we have the formula right, Sandown should be a fun and exciting race for us."
#5 Adam Macrow - "The team has given me some strong preparation ahead of this race and I can't wait to get stuck into it again. I have always liked Sandown and I have already raced there once this year so I am as prepared as I can possibly be for this event. It is excellent to have someone of Alain's experience alongside me for the enduros, and together I'm sure that we will be a strong combination."
FPR Chief Engineer, John Russell - "After two days of testing since Oran Park, FPR goes to Sandown with good preparation and experience with its driver pairings. We look forward to competing in this interesting phase of the Championship."
FPR takes to the Sandown circuit on Friday for the opening one hour practice session at 10:35am, followed by co-driver practice at 2:15pm. Qualifying and the top ten shoot out are scheduled for Saturday with the 161 lap race starting at 1:00pm Sunday.
FPR SANDOWN 500 FACT FILE
2004 is the 40th anniversary of the running of the first Sandown touring car endurance classic in 1964. 2004 is also the 20th anniversary of the event becoming a 500 kilometre race. The race was held over varying distances prior to becoming the "Castrol 500" in 1984. This year's Sandown classic is the 35th Championship round at the Melbourne circuit, which now also becomes the longest serving venue in the series.
The 2004 Betta Electrical Sandown 500 will be the 10th anniversary of Craig Lowndes' debut in Australia's premier touring car racing category. Lowndes is one of only seven drivers to win the Sandown 500 / Bathurst 1000 double in the same year.
Both Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton are dual Sandown 500 winners. Seton won the traditional Bathurst curtain-raiser in 1986 and 1990, while Lowndes scored back to back victories in 1996 & 1997.
Both Lowndes (96 & '98) and Seton ('97) have scored Sandown sprint round victories. On all three occasions, the wins came in years when they won the V8 Championship.
The CAT FPR Falcon is one of two cars in the race piloted by two former Sandown race winners, Lowndes and Seton. The other being Mark Skaife and Todd Kelly.
Adam Macrow has had two previous starts in the Sandown 500, with a best result last year of 17th with FPR. But it was in last year's Bathurst classic that Macrow starred, prompting FPR to secure his services for this year's enduros. Macrow had the car well positioned inside the top 10, before handing the car to his then team mate (Darren Hossack) who ended the pair's chances with a crash on the Mountain.
Macrow is the 1998 Australian Formula Ford Champion, winning the Sandown round on the run to his national title.
Alain Menu, the 1997 and 2000 British Touring Car Champion, will make his Sandown 500 debut this year. (He last drove in the V8 Supercar endurance races in 2000 with Mark Larkham, that year the Queensland 500 replaced this event).