Bathurst: Ford Performance Racing race report

DOUBLE RETIREMENT PREMATURELY ENDS FPR ASSAULT ON THE BATHURST 1000 October 8, 2006 - After leading the Great Race for the first 12 laps and demonstrating significantly better car speed than any of their rivals, the CAT FPR Falcon of Jason...

DOUBLE RETIREMENT PREMATURELY ENDS FPR ASSAULT ON THE BATHURST 1000

October 8, 2006 - After leading the Great Race for the first 12 laps and demonstrating significantly better car speed than any of their rivals, the CAT FPR Falcon of Jason Bright and Mark Winterbottom succumbed to an engine component failure and was retired on Lap 28 of a the 161-lap Bathurst 1000.

In a disappointing day for the team, they were later joined in the garage by FPR teammates David Brabham and Matt Halliday after the Ford Credit FPR Falcon hit a wall and broke its steering across the top of the mountain on Lap 56, ending up in the sand and being unable to continue in the race.

"We're thoroughly disappointed," said FPR Motorsport Director Tim Edwards. "Having watched the car speed of others out there and their pit stop times, we were looking great. It is easy to say that in the aftermath but we really did have a great race car, great fuel economy and great pitstops. And our disappointment is double-edged because we lost both cars."

The race was won by Ford drivers Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup ahead of brothers Todd and Rick Kelly and the Ford of James Courtney and Glenn Seton.

Bright started from the front row of the grid alongside Mark Skaife and led the field into the first turn after Skaife suffered clutch problems off the line. Jason had pulled out a seven-second lead by Lap 12, when his left-rear tyre de-laminated after running over a piece of debris.

Bright pitted for tyres and fuel and then rejoined the race with a new five-stop strategy and plenty of confidence in his car's speed, but on Lap 23 he reported an engine misfire. Pitting on Lap 27 under a Safety Car, Jason handed the car over to Winterbottom while the team attempted to diagnose the problem, but one lap later Mark returned to the garage and the car was retired.

"The car was great, it looked like a race winner," Bright said. "It's definitely the one that got away, it was my best chance to win here since 1998. To have come here with the pace we did, and with Mark being certainly up for it, it was certainly a good shot for us."

Winterbottom said the team's hopes had soared after Jason made a good start. "There were two cars out there that were probably the quickest - and one of them went out on the first corner and we were looking really good after that."

"It certainly boosted our confidence when we were driving away in front and the car was good. After that sort of a start, it is very disappointing to end it like that," he added.

The Ford Credit FPR Falcon was retired on Lap 52 when Brabham glanced a wall and broke the steering, driving into the sand at McPhillamy Park. David started the race and was racing competitively when he locked a wheel into the Chase on Lap 11, requiring a pitstop for a tyre change where he handed the car over to Halliday.

Halliday had raced the car into 8th position when on Lap 43 he had a fuel pressure problem which resulted in a spin across the top of the mountain, damaging the car's rear wing. The car was brought into the pits for repairs with Brabham resuming the race before his eventual retirement.

"It hasn't been a good way to finish what started out as a very promising day. The car was fast and very comfortable and I know we would have been up there if we could have made it to the finish," Brabham said.

Halliday agreed. "It's very disappointing, things were looking good, the whole week had been really strong. It was a shame to end it like that, but that's motor racing."

Winterbottom said that his Championship hopes had been dented, but not dashed. "In terms of my Championship I will definitely be dropping this round," he said. "I think I'll still be in third placing but with some ground to make up."

#6 Jason Bright: "It's definitely the one that got away, it was my best chance to win here since 1998. To have come here with the pace we did, and with Mark being certainly up for it, it was certainly a good shot for us. The car was great, it looked like a race winner."

#6 Mark Winterbottom: "It was pretty disappointing. There were two cars out there that were probably the quickest - and one of them went out on the first corner and we were looking really good after that. It certainly boosted our confidence when we were driving away in front and the car was good. After that sort of a start, it was disappointing to end it like that. In terms of my championship I will definitely be dropping this round, and I think I'll still be in third placing but with some ground to make up."

#5 David Brabham: "It hasn't been a good way to finish what started out as a very promising day. The car was fast and very comfortable and I know we would have been up there if we could have made it to the finish."

#5 Matt Halliday: "It's very disappointing, things were looking good, the whole week had been really strong. It was a shame to end it like that, but that's motor racing. We had a fuel pressure problem that caused me to have a spin coming down the hill, and then David had a suspension drama. It was a tough day for the whole team but the guys have done a great job all week."

FPR Motorsport Director, Tim Edwards: "We're thoroughly disappointed. Having watched the car speed of others out there and their pit stop times, we were looking great. It' is easy to say that in the aftermath but we really did have a great race car, great fuel economy and great pitstops. And it's double-edged disappointment because we lost both cars."

-credit: fpr

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers James Courtney , David Brabham , Matthew Halliday , Jason Bright , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Jamie Whincup , Glenn Seton , Mark Winterbottom , Tim Edwards