STEVE RICHARDS 8TH IN SECOND CLIPSAL 500 RACE March 4, 2007 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has gained another top ten finish in today's second Clipsal 500 race, with Castrol FPR Falcon driver Steve Richards racing to his 18th consecutive...
STEVE RICHARDS 8TH IN SECOND CLIPSAL 500 RACE
March 4, 2007 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has gained another top ten finish in today's second Clipsal 500 race, with Castrol FPR Falcon driver Steve Richards racing to his 18th consecutive Clipsal 500 race finish in 8th place. Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Mark Winterbottom's race ended abruptly while in contention for a podium finish due to an engine failure at three quarter race distance.
Richards started his race impressively, climbing from 11th on the grid to 9th almost instantly and managing to avoid the opening lap chaos to begin his race long charge. By lap 13, Richards was in 8th position and reported a well balanced car. He pitted for two rear tyres on lap 28 and returned for a top-up of fuel on lap 37. Emerging in 16th position, Richards set about making his way through the field, racing into the top ten by lap 45, and up to 8th by lap 52. This is the position in which he remained for the remaining 26 laps of the 250 kilometre race.
Winterbottom made the most from another fantastic start to power his way into third position from 5th on the starting grid into the first chicane, chasing early leaders Todd and Rick Kelly. After slipping back two places following the two early race safety car periods, Winterbottom engaged in a close battle with both SBR Falcon drivers, with Russell Ingall in front and James Courtney behind by the 20th lap. All of the top ten drivers shared identical car pace ahead of the first round of pit stops. Winterbottom pitted for two rear tyres on lap 30, running consistently fast lap times to keep within the hard charging top four, led by Rick and Todd Kelly, with Ford driver James Courtney ahead of Winterbottom. The FPR Falcon driver's fate for the race was decided on lap 44, when he reported a sudden loss of power due to an engine failure.
The race was won by Toll Racing's Rick Kelly ahead of his brother Todd, with Ford driver James Courtney third. The overall Round one victory went to Todd Kelly ahead of Rick Kelly and Courtney.
After a full 78 laps in yesterday's first 250 kilometre race without a single Safety Car period, today's Clipsal 500 second leg had barely half a lap completed before two separate major accidents took place.
The race was held in front of a record Sunday crowd of 86,600 spectators in perfect weather conditions. (The total attendance over the four day event was 276,900).
#6 Steve Richards - "The car was much better today from the start, I got off to a good start and made up a couple of spots. The car was consistent throughout the race but ultimately didn't quite have the pace we needed. I also flat spotted a tyre trying to pass a slower car and in nursing that I had to work the rear tyres harder, which made them wear excessively, costing some pace. The Safety Car period close to the end of the race helped to bring some grip back."
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "A very disappointing end to a very promising race. The car was the opposite to yesterday - it was fairly average early and as the race progressed it was getting much stronger and I was looking forward to a good race to the chequered flag. That was another race that could have been - the story of our weekend unfortunately. We had the speed, but when you don't finish it doesn't mean much."
FPR Motorsport Director, Tim Edwards - "A disappointing start to the season but sometimes a bit of disappointment can help in eradicating any complacency we may have. We leave Adelaide needing to do more homework to find more pace for our cars and to ensure 100% reliability for the remainder of the season. Having said this, we have two straight cars and our drivers are 8th and 10th in the Championship after this opening round."
FPR now focuses the team's efforts on preparing for the Round 2 of the 2007 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series to be held at Perth's Barbagallo Raceway from March 23 -25.