PODIUM ALLUDES FPR IN BATHURST'S FINAL LAPS Ford Performance Racing looked certain for its first Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 podium today, remaining in strong contention for the entire 161-lap race. It was not to be, however, as a fierce...
PODIUM ALLUDES FPR IN BATHURST'S FINAL LAPS
Ford Performance Racing looked certain for its first Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 podium today, remaining in strong contention for the entire 161-lap race.
It was not to be, however, as a fierce last stint saw the Castrol FPR Falcon, piloted by Steve Richards, drop two places in the final three laps finishing fourth with the Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon crossing the line in seventh.
The result was a disappointment for the passionate team, which had set its heart on a win after the drama of last year when Mark Winterbottom lost the lead with 14 laps to go.
In Championship terms, however, the result is a great positive as Frosty's title rival Jamie Whincup only pulled out a marginal 33-point lead whilst Garth Tander finished way down the order in 12th. FPR also extended its lead in the teams' championship after HRT and 888's second cars scored few points.
Castrol FPR Falcon
"I'm disappointed not to be on the podium but you can only deal with what you've got and the car just wasn't making sense today; I'm sure when we get it back to the workshop there'll be a problem.
"Richo was fighting hard out there and it was a tough last couple of laps. I was nervous but you put your faith in his hands; you're just another fan hoping he'll get on the podium! But fourth is nothing to be disappointed with at Bathurst."
Castrol FPR Falcon
"The car today just wasn't in the window compared to last year; there's got to be something broken or bent because it just under-steered all day long. We couldn't get runs on people; I couldn't pass anyone down the straight. The rear tyres got too hot and then you'd come into The Chase, where you've got to push the brake harder to stop the car, and the rear tyres were just too hot and locked up. It was all fine up until the last safety car but the tyres were ruined after that.
"Given all that, I'm pretty relieved but unbelievably disappointed at the same time. The guys actually did a great job all day just to keep us in the game. In the last stint the car looked and felt like it was capable of finishing second but then five laps from the end the tyres just went."
"We were two laps from a podium finish; obviously I'm disappointed but pleased that we had two cars in fourth and seventh, which is still a great result. In terms of the championships, we came here with the objective of finishing in the top five and we achieved that.
"It would have been nice if we didn't have so many safety cars in that last stint, but that's the race and there's no point being upset about it. We just weren't quick enough today but it was a fantastic effort from the whole team and they should be pleased with what they achieved."
Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon
"I'm happy with where we ended up considering the cars' performance wasn't as strong as last year; even Mark and Steve struggled a little bit. After warm up we thought it was going to be a really fast race car but I immediately knew we were going to be in trouble. The boys did well to recover and find the right set-up. They're a great bunch of guys to work with."
Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon
"I had no idea where we were most of the time! My engineer said I was effectively in P2 at one point and I just kept pushing. I knew it was probably slightly artificial.
"We effectively came from the back of the grid twice so I'm pretty happy to get seventh. For me it's been a weekend of new experiences: first time I've qualified the car, first time I've done three stints; it's been good and I've really enjoyed it."
THE GREAT RACE: RUN-DOWN
Castrol FPR Falcon, RICHO, Laps 1-27
Steve Richards started the race from second but snatched the lead from championship rival Garth Tander after he stalled from pole position. The Castrol FPR Falcon suffered handling difficulties, however, and Richo was sixth by the time he pitted on lap 27.
Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon, CANTO, Laps 1-18
Starting from grid 16, Canto lost track position on a hectic first lap. He recovered to 17th by the time he pitted early on lap 18 with under-steer.
Castrol FPR Falcon, FROSTY, Laps 27-56
Adjustments to the roll centre and front gurney saw Mark Winterbottom comfortably lapping in the 2:10s and he was soon running second behind Jamie Whincup. On lap 56 he felt a problem after riding the ripple strip at turn two. He came in just in time as the tyre began to delaminate.
Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon, YOULDEN, Laps 18-52
A roll centre change improved the under-steer and Luke Youlden progressed to tenth before handing the car back to Canto.
Castrol FPR Falcon, RICHO, Lap 56--93
Lap 74 saw the first safety car of the race, swiftly followed by a second and third on laps 91 and 93 respectively. On the last, both Richo and Craig Lowndes pitted for a straight fight between the FPR and 888 pit crews. Onlookers held their breath as the Castrol FPR Falcon's bonnet was raised, but the additional engine cooling did not affect the stop and Frosty rejoined ahead of Jamie Whincup in the 888.
Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon, CANTO, Laps 52 - 75
More roll centre adjustments saw Canto lapping comfortably in touch with the leaders.
Castrol FPR Falcon, FROSTY, Lap 93 -129
After yet another safety car on lap 106 Frosty found himself fourth but was soon hunting down Whincup after passing Glen Seton and Adam Macrow. By the time the safety car came out again on lap 128 he was just a few seconds behind the 888 driver as both came in for another battle of the pit crews, this time Lowndes emerging ahead of Richo.
Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon, YOULDEN, Laps 75 - 107
Youlden made great use of the safety car periods to emerge second as he pitted on lap 107, comfortably lapping in the 2m10s.
Castrol FPR Falcon, RICHO, Lap 129 --161
The final stint saw a fragmented race as the safety car intervened time after time. Sandwiched between Lowndes and an ever persistent Greg Murphy, each re-start was a traumatic affair for the garage crew. After an agonizing 30 laps of Murphy snapping at Richo's bumper the Holden finally got through with two laps to go. Struggling with rear grip and under-steer Richo soon fell prey to James Courtney as well, narrowly missing out on a podium.
Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon, CANTO, Laps 107 - 129
After the next round of stops Canto emerged tenth after losing a few places due to power loss from engine temperature.
Orrcon Steel Ford Credit FPR Falcon, YOULDEN, Laps 129 -161
During the pitstop on lap 129 the crew tried to remove debris from the radiator, which proved impossible. The engine temperature was in the danger zone resulting in an unscheduled pit stop to clear the rubbish and Youlden rejoined in 16th. After a couple of passes and incidents, Youlden brought the car home in seventh.