Barbagallo: FPR Sunday race notes

Triple Disappointment for FPR in Perth June 13, 2004 - The fifth round of the 2004 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series proved to be the most disappointing yet for Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton. Both...

Triple Disappointment for FPR in Perth

June 13, 2004 - The fifth round of the 2004 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series proved to be the most disappointing yet for Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton. Both Champion drivers have emerged from this round with only 24 points each following a weekend of engine failures.

The round started with great promise, as Seton and Lowndes qualified the CAT FPR Falcon and the Ford Credit FPV Falcon within the highly competitive Perth top ten. This made FPR the only team to have both of their cars in Saturday's top ten shoot out. After a consistent performance in the top ten shoot out and warm up sessions, the problems started in Saturday's first race when Seton's engine expired after the opening lap of the race. Lowndes finished 21st in that race due to a number of on track incidents.

After a full overnight effort to re-build and replace Seton's engine, the Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver finished 21st in Sunday's second 42 lap race following a late race accident with Brad Jones. For Lowndes the race would prove to be a short one when an engine failure on lap 19 forced the triple Champion into the pits and out of not just the second race, but upon later inspection, the third race as well.

With just one car remaining to take to the track for the third and final race of the Perth round, the full disappointment of the weekend set in for FPR when Seton retired with another engine failure on the 27th lap.

The round was won by Holden driver Jason Bright with Ford's Marcos Ambrose second and Holden driver Rick Kelly third.

Ford driver Marcos Ambrose returns to the lead of the Championship after this round with 872 points ahead of Holden drivers Rick Kelly (822) and Steven Richards (820).

FPR will now be concentrating the team's efforts on their first test days of the season coming up on June 21 and 22 at Victoria's Winton Raceway, where the focus will remain on engine reliability and power delivery.

#6 Craig Lowndes - "It is very disappointing - most of our problems have been engine related this season and now these problems have stopped me from starting a race. I can only look at the brighter side with our extensive test coming up and hopefully we can look forward to improvements in this area for the rest of the season."

#5 Glenn Seton - "There is no doubt that we have got some pretty major engine problems and this is a great shame as the chassis was great all weekend - I was very happy with the balance of the car, but we were lacking a lot of power and reliability this weekend. We can only look towards our test and gaining some stronger results in Queensland."

FPR Chief Engineer John Russell - "Sadly, races two and three brought a premature end to a dismal weekend - onward and upward."

RACE TWO (Sunday)

Perth's second V8 Supercar race of the round, another 42 lapper (with one compulsory tyre stop) started at 10:30am local time with CAT FPR Falcon driver Craig Lowndes starting from 21st on then grid and Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver Glenn Seton started from 32nd on the grid following his first lap engine failure on Saturday.

Both FPR drivers planned to make up as many positions as possible in order for the strongest possible run home to the chequered flag. For the second time this weekend, the team was beset with an engine failure, this time ending Lowndes' race on lap 19. Upon closer inspection the engine damage was terminal, ending the triple Champion's round.

Seton and Lowndes set out on a strong charge through the field after their early pit stops on the third lap. Seton had made his way up to 23rd position in a consistent drive until lap 32, while dicing for position with Brad Jones, the two Ford drivers contacted, spearing the Ford Credit FPV Falcon off the circuit. Seton re-joined the race to finish 21st.

Race two was won by Holden driver Jason Bright with Rick Kelly second (Holden) and Greg Murphy (Holden) third.

RACE THREE (Sunday)

Seton's Ford Credit FPV Falcon was the only FPR car in this final 42 lap race starting from 21st on the grid. The 39 year old driver set out to establish a fast race pace and with the help of competitor pit stops, Seton was up to 12th by the time he pitted for tyres on the sixth lap.

After re-joining the race in 29th position, Seton made up a further four positions to 25th by the 27th lap, when his engine expired, forcing his retirement and ending a very disappointing weekend for him and the team.

The race was won by Holden driver Jason Bright, with Steven Richards (Holden) second with Ford driver Marcos Ambrose third.

(CAT FPR Falcon driver Craig Lowndes did not start race three)

RACE ONE - (Saturday)

Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton endured a tough start to Round 5 of the 2004 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series at Perth's Barbagallo Raceway.

For Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver Glenn Seton, the 8th fastest Perth qualifier, the event lasted less than a single lap when an engine failure brought him straight into the pits and out of the race. This was a particularly bitter pill to swallow for the double Champion, who had set the 7th fastest lap time of the top ten shoot out earlier in the day.

CAT FPR Falcon driver and four time Perth winner Craig Lowndes started the race from 9th on the grid and dropped to 13th on the first lap after being forced to the outside of turn one shortly after the green light. The next laps would prove worse, when Lowndes went wide at turn 6, then becoming involved in altercations with Todd Kelly and Max Wilson. These incidents resulted in a bent steering and spoiler damage that made it virtually impossible for Lowndes to make any significant progress for the remainder of the 42 lap race. He finished 21st.

The opening Perth race was won by Holden driver Mark Skaife followed by Jason Bright (Holden) and Ford's Marcos Ambrose after an exciting charge through the field.

#6 Craig Lowndes - "I got off to a strong start but John Bowe in front of me didn't, that held me up going into turn one, I slipped off the track coming into turn six which dropped me back and then I was then caught up in incidents with Todd Kelly and Max Wilson that dragged me back further. It wasn't a good race for us, we'll concentrate on doing better tomorrow."

#5 Glenn Seton - "Obviously it is disappointing to loose an engine when I was in the potential situation of gaining my strongest result of the season. There's no point worrying over things like this - that's motor racing, we have to focus our minds on fixing our problems to make the car more reliable and consistently quick."

FPR Chief Engineer John Russell - "The luck fairy certainly deserted us this afternoon. Glenn retired early with an engine problem - a massive disappointment for him as he had been driving very well all weekend with a good car. Craig was unfortunate with some poor opening laps, eventually becoming involved in an incident which dropped him to the rear of the field and he drove it home from there."

-fpr-

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Series Supercars
Drivers Max Wilson , Marcos Ambrose , Jason Bright , Greg Murphy , Rick Kelly , Brad Jones , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , John Bowe , Glenn Seton , Todd Kelly , Steven Richards