Bathurst: Ford Performance Racing preview

FPR HEADS TO THE BIGGEST RACE OF THEM ALL September 29, 2006 - Sandown 500 Champions and two-time Bathurst 1000 runners-up Ford Performance Racing (FPR) return to Bathurst's world famous Mount Panorama road circuit for next Sunday's Super Cheap...


September 29, 2006 - Sandown 500 Champions and two-time Bathurst 1000 runners-up Ford Performance Racing (FPR) return to Bathurst's world famous Mount Panorama road circuit for next Sunday's Super Cheap Auto 1000, the 47th running of Australia's premier endurance race.

The Prodrive team is seeking to be the first V8 Supercar team in ten years to claim both the Sandown 500 & Bathurst 1000 titles. FPR also seeks to be the first Ford team in eight years to win the prestigious Bathurst classic. Ironically, the last Ford driver to win the great race was CAT FPR Falcon driver Jason Bright who gained his first V8 Supercar victory with Ford at Bathurst back in 1998.

In line with FPR's now well established tradition of returning the legendary Ford GT to the Bathurst 1000, the Ford Credit FPR Falcon will carry retro-styled GT signage at Bathurst, along with authentic GT badges appearing on the front and rear of both FPR Falcons. This also marks the 35th anniversary of Ford legend Allan Moffat's triumph at Bathurst in his XY Falcon GTHO Phase III.

CAT FPR Falcon drivers Jason Bright and team mate Mark Winterbottom delivered on their promise to be the most formidable Ford endurance driver pairing this season after winning the Sandown 500. The super-fast combination are planning to do all in their power to deliver Ford a long awaited Bathurst triumph, while also boosting their standings in the Championship. Winterbottom and Bright are currently 3rd and 6th (corrected) heading into the most famous Touring Car race in the world.

Returning FPR endurance racer David Brabham will be joining talented New Zealand racer Matt Halliday in the Ford Credit FPR Falcon at Bathurst. Brabham's hectic international Sportscar racing commitments finds the Australian competing in his third race on a third different continent in three weeks at Bathurst next weekend. Halliday will also be well trained for Bathurst, as he returns to Australia after representing New Zealand in the new season opening A1 Grand Prix of Nations round at Zandvoort in Holland.

Brabham also returns to Australia after competing at the Petit Le Mans 1000 mile race in the United States - the best possible preparation for the 1000 kilometres that await him and Halliday next Sunday. Before heading overseas, both Brabham and Halliday took part in a successful FPR test day to ensure that they are both comfortable with their FPR Falcon for next Sunday's challenging six and a half hours of V8 Supercar racing.

Aside from being the last start winner, FPR also has a challenging record in long distance, single race rounds. The team has finished second or better on seven occasions in single race format or long distance events since its formation in 2003. This statistic is a reflection of the team's proficiency in developing strong race strategies and actioning technical efficiencies which are crucial for success at Bathurst.

FPR's drivers are ready to mount the strongest Ford challenge yet at Mount Panorama and with three previous Bathurst race winners within their driving team, experience is definitely on their side. Bright has stood on all three steps of the Bathurst 1000 podium, winning the great race in 1998, finishing second in 2000 and third in 2002. Winterbottom has also enjoyed success at Mount Panorama, winning the Konica V8 Supercar Challenge race at Bathurst in 2003, the year he was crowned the V8 Supercar Development Series Champion. Winterbottom's best Bathurst 1000 main V8 Supercar series result was his fifth place that he gained in 2004.

Brabham won the 1997 AMP Bathurst 1000 aboard a BMW Super Tourer and FPR partner Halliday will be making the third Bathurst V8 Supercar start of his career following his 11th and 12th placings in the last two Bathurst 1000's with Ford.

The Great Race, now in its 47th year, had its origins at Victoria's Phillip Island in 1960, before the event moved to Bathurst for 1963. The Super Cheap Auto Bathurst 1000 is the 12th different name for this world famous touring car endurance classic. This year's winners will be the first to have their names engraved on the Peter Brock Perpetual Trophy, the Bathurst 1000 accolade named after the recently passed nine-time Mount Panorama Champion and Australia's most famous motor racing identity.

#6 Jason Bright - "Bathurst is the race of the year. It is one of those very special places that means a lot more to every driver. We are putting every effort into winning this race, every single area of our team is working to ensure that everything is in place to give FPR the best shot at taking a Mount Panorama victory. The hard part is that it is a single race with big Championship points, so we could potentially sacrifice a lot, or we could gain a very big reward. There will be a bit of conservatism there in line with the team being in the running for the Championship, but if we are in with a shot during the final hour, we will be going all out to win it - just like we did at Sandown. Nothing could please me more than to be both the last and the next driver to win the Bathurst 1000 for Ford."

#6 Mark Winterbottom - "My first memory of a motor race was watching the Bathurst 1000 on television. It was that race that inspired me to become a racing driver and to win the great race would mean absolutely everything to me. It is great to be heading to Mount Panorama with a well prepared team who are ranked as favourites, rather than going to the biggest race of the year relying on luck and circumstances to possibly gain a strong result. This is without a doubt my best chance to gain a Bathurst title and even though I am in the running for the Championship, this won't be stopping Jason and I from fighting all the way to the finish line."

#5 David Brabham - "After testing the FPR Falcons last month, I can say that the team is in great shape heading to Bathurst. While the goal of every driver is to win it, it is a very good feeling to be racing there in a car that you know can get the job done. To win Bathurst in a V8 Supercar would be better than winning the Le Mans 24 Hour race in my opinion. The team definitely has it all together this season and after their thrilling Sandown 500 victory, FPR has gained a taste for winning at the highest level."

#5 Matt Halliday - "I was comfortable with the car at Sandown and made some further gains after our last test day. I am confident of our ability to compete strongly at Bathurst and it is very pleasing to be heading to the world's most notorious touring car race with a car and team that are proven front runners. While I know and respect just how demanding this race can be - David and I are planning to give Bathurst a real shake this year as we don't have any Championship concerns, we are just seeking the best possible result."

FPR Motorsport Director Tim Edwards - "We head to Bathurst with high hopes after our successful season and our victory at Sandown. It is great for the team to be one of the favourites for one of the biggest Touring Car races in the world. With any race of this distance luck will no doubt play a part, but we remain very optimistic."

V8 Supercar action starts at Bathurst's majestic Mount Panorama circuit with opening practice starting at 10:40am on Thursday October 5 and resuming on Friday from 9:20am. Qualifying takes place from 2:00pm Friday with the Top Ten Shoot-Out scheduled for 3:40pm Saturday. The 2006 Super Cheap Auto Bathurst 1000 will start at 10:00am on Sunday October 8.

-credit: fpr

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Series Supercars
Drivers David Brabham , Matthew Halliday , Jason Bright , Mark Winterbottom , Peter Brock , Allan Moffat , Tim Edwards