DRAMATIC SURFERS PARADISE OPENING RACE FOR FPR Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has endured a dramatic start to its Round 11 challenge at Surfers Paradise today. It was always going to be a tough day behind the wheel for FPR Falcon driver ...
DRAMATIC SURFERS PARADISE OPENING RACE FOR FPR
Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has endured a dramatic start to its Round 11 challenge at Surfers Paradise today. It was always going to be a tough day behind the wheel for FPR Falcon driver Mark Winterbottom after being penalised for a technical infringement during qualifying that relegated him from Pole position to 31st and last on the starting grid for today's first 27 lap race on the Surfers Paradise street circuit.
Winterbottom raced his Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon from 31st to 20th by lap five and by lap 19 he was up to 15th, powering his way to 13th by the final lap (lap 27), when with just two corners remaining, disaster struck. While following Mark Skaife, the HRT driver crashed into a barrier, bounced off and heavily impacted Winterbottom's FPR Falcon causing major damage and relegating the young driver to 20th in the final results. Winterbottom was clearly the fastest in the field and his performance behind the wheel along with a superb race and pit stop strategy combined to form his impressive progression past 18 cars to be just outside the top ten before the accident with Skaife.
Castrol FPR Falcon driver Steve Richards raced strongly from 5th position on the starting grid until coming into the pits for his compulsory tyre stop on lap 11, when the pit stop sequence placed him into the lead of the race. Richards entered the pits too fast, locked the brakes and impacted the pit wall armco, causing damage to the right front of the car that required a lengthy stop for panel straightening to enable tyres to be changed. Later in the race, while fighting his way through the field to 18th position and in close pursuit of Jason Bright, Richards collided with Bright when the Britek driver crashed heavily at the chicane section of the circuit, causing terminal suspension damage that saw the FPR driver retire from the race in the pits on lap 25. Richards, who qualified 6th, displayed excellent car speed throughout the race setting the third fastest lap of this opening Surfers Paradise heat. The opening race of the round was won by Garth Tander ahead of Ford drivers Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes.
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "What a disappointing end to the race. I raced with all those guys from 31st to 13th without a scratch and then I get to one of the most experienced drivers in the field and I don't know what he was thinking or if something broke on his car as it simply isn't that hard to take that corner. With only two corners to go for the race, he didn't make the turn and hit the wall, bounced off and hit me in the rear. After making up so much ground to set us up for tomorrow's races, bringing the car back with so much damage and no points means that the team is going to have a very hard night ahead for no reward - and we will once again be racing from the rear of the field tomorrow."
#6 Steve Richards - "I compromised my race when I came into the pit lane too hot, locked the brakes and got the car sideways and then hit the armco. That dropped me down the order after a long stop due to the damage and later in the race I was an innocent bystander behind Jason Bright who hit a chicane tyrewall and I was left with no where to go. A disappointing end to the race, we'll certainly be working hard from the rear of the field tomorrow."
FPR Team Principal, Tim Edwards - "What can you say after a race like that? Very disappointing for Steve to be caught up in somebody else's mistake which took him out of the race, and then with just two corners to go, for Mark to be taken out by one of the most experienced drivers in the field. Mark had nowhere to go and had no intention of passing with two corners to go to the chequered flag. Somebody of Skaife's experience should know better than to make a error like that."
FPR returns to the Lexmark Indy 300 for the second and third Surfers Paradise street races which are scheduled to start at 11:05am and 4:10pm.