Sandown: FPR race report

STEVE RICHARDS & OWEN KELLY RACE TO THIRD AT SANDOWN Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Steve Richards and Owen Kelly have raced their Castrol FPR Falcon to third place in today's closely contested Sandown 500, the ninth round of the ...

STEVE RICHARDS & OWEN KELLY RACE TO THIRD AT SANDOWN

Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Steve Richards and Owen Kelly have raced their Castrol FPR Falcon to third place in today's closely contested Sandown 500, the ninth round of the 2007 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series. This result has secured FPR back to back podium results in this classic Melbourne endurance race.

Richards and Kelly set a consistently fast pace throughout today's demanding 161 lap race, which was held in mild and overcast conditions. Kelly started the race strongly, with Richards taking over the driving duties from lap 59, remaining in touch with the race leaders and building a major gap to the rest of the field during his double stint to the finish. This result was Richards' career best at Sandown and it also marked his second consecutive podium finish of the season. This result was also Kelly's best main V8 Supercar Series finish.

Mark Winterbottom and Matt Halliday finished 8th in the 161 lap race after leading the early stages. After handing the Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon to Halliday in the lead at quarter race distance, the New Zealander skillfully defended position against a hard charging Rick Kelly for 48 laps, a mistake with his late braking for turn one, which allowed Kelly past and dropped the FPR Falcon to 11th position. Once returning to track , Winterbottom raced his way back into the top ten, finishing the race in 8th place. He also maintained his 100 per cent finishing record in this demanding race. The 26 year old Sandown polesetter led the first 45 laps of the race.

This result continues FPR's formidable record in single-race V8 Supercar rounds. The team has now finished third or better on eight occasions in the long distance races. FPR was also the only Ford team to have both of its cars finish the Sandown 500 within the top eight runners.

This year's race was won by Ford drivers Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup, ahead of Holden drivers Rick Kelly and Paul Radisich.

#6 Steve Richards - "Our car was fantastic today. We were setting very similar lap times to the leaders and at one stage started to catch Rick (Kelly) by a few tenths each lap. We just had massive problems with traffic. There were no blue flags and we got stuck behind a number of cars that really affected us. In the end it was a case of maintaining position to secure our podium finish. Owen's pace was impressive, he drove with a level head and we had no hesitation in letting him start the race. We made a change after the warm up this morning that made my car the best FPR Falcon that I have ever driven, it was absolutely beautiful to drive and extremely good on its tyres."

#6 Owen Kelly - "Its great for the team to have gained such a strong result at Sandown. Full credit goes to FPR for giving me heaps of laps in testing during the season, which made me very comfortable in the car for this race. I really had the easy part today as Steve did most of the hard work during his fantastic double stint. It was an honour to drive with Steve today - all I had to do was drive consistently and ensure that I handed back the keys to Richo for him to complete the job."

#5 Mark Winterbottom - "I can't hide my disappointment with finishing 8th today after setting the pace to beat in qualifying and clearly having the speed in the race to win or make the podium. Matt did a great job defending position and got caught out by a mistake which dropped us back - but later in the race we lost a lap due to the Safety Car and that pretty much dictated where we finished. We had two fantastic cars today and its great that Steve and Owen finished third. We plan to have two FPR Falcons right up there at Bathurst."

#5 Matt Halliday -- "It was great to experience leading a V8 Supercar race for the first time. I had a good battle with Rick, I defended my position but went in a bit too deep at turn one, forcing me to drive straight-on and off the circuit. This allowed a train of cars past and I held position until I handed the car back to Mark. We had great speed today and I am looking forward to our chances at Bathurst."

FPR Team Principal, Tim Edwards -- "A great result for the team today. All four drivers did an outstanding job and our pit stops were also impressive. Both FPR Falcons had great car pace, but we were unfortunate that the Safety Car came out at the wrong time, costing us a lap. All in all it was a great to gain back to back podiums here at Sandown and it proves that FPR is in great shape for Bathurst."

FPR next hits the track for the race of the year, the Super Cheap Auto Bathurst 1000, being held at the majestic Mount Panorama road circuit from October 4 to 7.

-credit: fpr.com.au

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Rick Kelly , Craig Lowndes , Paul Radisich , Mark Winterbottom , Owen Kelly , Steve Richards , Tim Edwards , Matt Halliday