FPR RACES TO CONSECUTIVE DOUBLE PODIUM RESULTS IN TASMANIA
Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Steve Richards and Mark Winterbottom have raced to the team's second consecutive double podium finish at a fast and furious 13th round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series held at Tasmania's Symmons Plains Raceway over the weekend.
After Winterbottom gained the team's fifth front row start in qualifying (second) and raced to third place in Saturday's opening race -- and with team mate Richards qualifying 6th and racing to fourth place, the team was confident of further strong results in the remaining two races at this challenging 2.4 kilometre circuit.
Sunday's second race of the round saw further car pace improvements, with Richards racing his Castrol FPR Falcon to a strong second place with Winterbottom's Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon finishing third, amassing strong points ahead of the final 50 lap challenge in the afternoon.
The third and final race of the round proved to be the most thrilling, with a number of incidents taking place that would ultimately prove to fall into FPR's favour. For Richards, who has finished twice on the Symmons Plains podium before, it was a superb race, chasing early race leader Garth Tander until making his compulsory pit stop on the tenth lap. A strategy mistake by the team cost Winterbottom several track positions (from 3rd to 8th) during the race.
A perfect drive by Richards saw him chase the race leader Jamie Whincup relentlessly, the nature of the circuit and its effects on braking systems making it virtually impossible to pass. Holden rival and Championship contender Garth Tander followed Richards and with just ten laps remaining he collided with the FPR Falcon driver at the hairpin corner. Richards recovered from the impact well, but Tander continued along the back straight with a broken steering. This caused him to exit the circuit spectacularly at over 250 kph, narrowly avoiding Winterbottom when crossing the circuit while out of control. Tander's exit from the race (and the lead of the Championship) handed Winterbottom the points he needed to move back into third overall for the round, the young driver finishing the eventful race in 7th place.
Richards' constant pace and smooth driving throughout the round resulted in the 35 year old driver racing to second place for the round, with Ford driver Jamie Whincup taking the overall honours. Winterbottom's third place finish rounded off an all Ford podium.
This podium finish is FPR's second consecutive podium result following the team's first round victory of the season at the Desert 400 in the Kingdom of Bahrain a fortnight ago.
#6 Steve Richards - "Since Sandown the team has really got on top of it and it is a testament to the team to have two cars on the podium here today. There is absolutely no doubt that five one-hundredths of second in qualifying cost us the round victory as the car was fast enough to win and it is so hard to find a way past at this circuit. Once you get behind a car the brakes are affected a lot and unless you are right up behind the car in front you're never close enough to challenge for the pass. I'm a bit staggered by Garth's move in the hairpin. Maybe he went too deep and had no option - if the move was successful he could have jumped us for the round, but we're not a championship contender so I'm not sure what he was doing. I'm confident we'll be competitive at Phillip Island where we'll be looking to stay well ahead of the battle for the Championship and take the round win."
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "A great result for the team to have both cars finish on the podium, just after winning the round in Bahrain. Now we need to carry this speed to Phillip Island and into next season. The pit stop mistake cost me quite a bit of time but the team handled the pressure perfectly and we both still ended up on the podium - for once some luck came my way. After coming together with Richo, Garth Tander tried to block me at 260 km/h on the back straight with some major steering damage and then speared off the circuit only to come straight across in front of me. It was a very close call. I asked the guys in the team if he got more air than I did at Bathurst but they told me I am still the winner of that particular award!"
FPR Team Principal Tim Edwards - "A fantastic result to have both drivers finish on the podium at this competitive round. We are finishing the season strongly as we did last year, but we were lucky today. We made a mistake with our pit stop and fortunately we were able to escape from that due to our strong results in the first two races. Ultimately we will learn from this. A fantastic job by everyone in the team."
The weekend's results' have elevated Steve Richards to 6th in the Championship standings behind his team mate who remains 5th in the standings. FPR now placed third in the Teams' Championship with one round remaining at Victoria's Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit to be held from November 30 to December 2.