Bathurst: FPR race report

DOMINANT FPR BATHURST CHALLENGE IN 2007 Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has endured a weekend of highs and lows at the 2007 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. After setting top three lap times in every practice session, dominating ...


Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has endured a weekend of highs and lows at the 2007 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000. After setting top three lap times in every practice session, dominating qualifying, consolidating this with the coveted Bathurst 1000 Pole position and leading more laps than any other team in Australia's great race, the effect of late race showers played a decisive hand in ending the team's challenge for its first Bathurst victory with just 14 laps remaining.

After starting the race from Pole position, double Bathurst champion Steve Richards drove the Castrol FPR Falcon superbly to hold off the early race advances from rivals Mark Skaife and Rick Kelly to set the fastest laps of the race on his way to his first stop and driver change on lap 33. From that point Richards and Winterbottom set a scorching pace throughout the majority of the race, remaining within the top three with a superb fuel and pit stop strategy supporting their efforts behind the wheel. Even a spectacular tyre delamination did not stop the FPR duo from taking the mid race lead over rivals Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.

Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Owen Kelly started the race from 24th on the grid with an overnight re-liveried GT Cobra design livery to celebrate the world reveal of the new Ford Performance Vehicles GT Cobra range. After a blinder of a start Kelly was 19th by the completion of the opening lap. The 30 year old Tasmanian driver handed the car to co-driver Matt Halliday on lap 55 and the two continued a race long chase within the top ten that despite some on track incidents, saw them finish on the lead lap in 13th place. While this was not the result that they wanted, this result was among the strongest for the non-full time V8 Supercar drivers in the field.

The race was won by Ford drivers Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes for the second year in succession and marking a great day for the blue oval marque, second place went to Ford's David Besnard and James Courtney with Steve Johnson and Will Davison completing the first all Ford podium since 1988.

#6 Mark Winterbottom - "It is so disappointing because we worked so hard to place ourselves in the position to win this race as this is the one that everyone wants to win. My error into the Chase cost us the weekend. I thought that I entered the turn quite easy but I hit the bump and as the car landed it gripped up and turned hard left, spun around and became half airborne. I thought I had backed off enough, but I clearly hadn't. I can't feel good about the weekend because I feel that I have let the team down. We had a great car and perfect pit work and Steve did a superb job."

#6 Steve Richards - "You can have these kind of things happen at any race that we compete at, but this place always throws something different at you. We are not the first team to be attacked by the conditions and it never makes you feel any better because of that. We have to look at what the weekend was for us and it really was very impressive. We were at the top of every session, won the Pole and led the most laps, it just doesn't get any better than that, just our end result was gut-wrenching. We have four more rounds to continue showing how strong our team is."

#5 Owen Kelly - "We had a fast and reliable car today and the goal was to stay on the lead lap while also helping our team mates as much as we could and in the process gain ourselves a strong result. For most of the race we were quite strong but as we progressed we found ourselves in major traffic and in the closing stages the conditions made it very difficult to move ahead. FPR mounted a fantastic challenge at Bathurst this year and while we wanted a better result, it has been very rewarding to be a part of it."

#5 Matt Halliday - "We spent most of the day in the top ten and followed our race plan to stay on the lead lap. I was hit off the track at the Chase during my second stint which set us back, but we kept coming back at the top six and the top ten. In past years, just staying on the lead lap would place you in the top six or eight by the final stages, but this year was a very different story as so many drivers were on the pace. Owen and I dealt with some small issues during the race and we believed that we could get a better finish than 13th, but the fact that we ran competitively throughout the day was a great effort."

FPR Team Principal, Tim Edwards - "I'd just like to thank everybody, the four drivers and the entire team for dominating the weekend. We led the field from the first time we hit the track on Thursday to 14 laps before the finish. We lost a ten second lead due to the Safety Car and then some light showers led to a small mistake by Mark who was venturing on new ground every time he completed a lap in the lead of the pack in very difficult conditions. I can't thank everyone in the team enough for the effort that they have put in this weekend and every member of the team should be very proud of what we have achieved this weekend."


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Series Supercars
Drivers James Courtney , Matthew Halliday , David Besnard , Will Davison , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Jamie Whincup , Mark Winterbottom , Owen Kelly , Steve Johnson , Steve Richards , Tim Edwards