Eastern Creek: FPR Sunday races report

RICHARDS & WINTERBOTTOM RACE TO 6TH & 7TH AT THE CREEK June 11, 2007 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) V8 Supercar drivers Steve Richards and Mark Winterbottom have raced to sixth and seventh place overall finishes in Round 5 of the 2007...


June 11, 2007 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) V8 Supercar drivers Steve Richards and Mark Winterbottom have raced to sixth and seventh place overall finishes in Round 5 of the 2007 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series held at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway over the Queen's Birthday long weekend.

Castrol FPR Falcon driver Richards' Eastern Creek race results of two 6th places and one 8th place earned the FPR Falcon driver 34 points and has elevated him to 11th in the Championship standings. Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Winterbottom's Eastern Creek race results of 11th and two 7th places earned the 26 year old driver 28 Championship points, placing him 10th in the points chase with nine rounds remaining in the 2007 Series.

After finishing in 6th (Richards) and 11th (Winterbottom) places in Sunday's opening Eastern Creek race, a number of set-up changes were made to both FPR Falcons overnight to improve the cars for today's two races on a fast and dry Eastern Creek circuit.

Fine weather conditions greeted the 30 car field in Sydney today for the second and third V8 Supercar races of Round 5, held for the first time on a (public holiday) Monday in the history of V8 Supercar racing. Castrol FPR Falcon driver Steve Richards gained a strong start to race two, firmly racing within reach of the top five during the early stages. He made his compulsory pit stop on lap 8 while in 4th position, emerging to set a number of consistently fast lap times in his pursuit of the leaders from 7th position.

Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Mark Winterbottom also made a fast start to the round's second heat, out-pacing rivals Jason Bright and Greg Murphy to move into the top ten at 9th by the first of 31 laps. The hometown racer made up another place to 8th by the time the team called him in for an early tyre change pit stop on lap 7. Fast pit work ensured that this strategy worked well for the FPR Falcon driver, who leap frogged two positions to 6th as a result.

The closing stages of the race saw both FPR Falcon drivers in close pursuit of the top five, Winterbottom one second behind 5th placed Craig Lowndes by lap 25 and Richards less than one second behind his team mate, running in 6th and 7th positions. Richards powered past his team mate four laps later, changing the finishing order of the FPR Falcons to Richards in 6th and Winterbottom in 7th. Both FPR drivers finished the race 3.4 seconds behind the winner, Mark Skaife.

Richards' third race commenced well, maintaining 6th position throughout the opening 8 laps before heading to the pits for his compulsory tyre stop. Returning to the race in 16th position after a swift stop, the 34 year old FPR Falcon driver started his charge towards the top five, racing up to 12th (6th corrected) by the 11th lap. After a bad start caused by excessive wheel-spin, Winterbottom dropped four spots from 7th to 11th on the opening lap and was forced to the outside line in the frantic rush through turn two.

Winterbottom made a fast pit stop for tyres on the 7th lap and re-joined the race in 19th position. The young driver set consistently speedy laps to progress to 13th (7th corrected), finding himself right behind his FPR team mate by one third race distance. He found his way around Richards soon after, moving into the 6th spot, but the hard charging Garth Tander had managed to make his way past both FPR Falcon drivers, relegating them to 7th and 8th by the 23rd lap. By this stage Winterbottom and Richards were matching lap times with the race leaders as they raced to the finish in 7th and 8th places respectively. The race saw just one Safety Car caution period due to a mid-field three car accident early in the race. Despite the ominous presence of dark rainclouds throughout the third race, the event remained dry throughout.

The third and final race of the round was won by HRT driver Todd Kelly ahead of Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife - who won the round, the 38th overall round victory of his career which sets a new all time record previously held by the late Peter Brock.

#6 Steve Richards - " I've equaled my best round result of the year but the most pleasing fact was that we were more consistent this weekend. We gained a lot more points this weekend than we have at any other round and we improved the car throughout the weekend, but not quite enough to be competitive with the front runners. We've definitely got something to build on for the coming rounds. The team has done a good job this weekend, especially considering the wet practice session on Friday then the dry qualifying which meant that we were chasing the perfect car setup for the majority of the weekend."

#5 Mark Winterbottom - "The car didn't grip-up off the line in the final race which cost me several positions early which really hurts you, but our car speed was strong throughout the race. We changed the set-up for today's two races and got very close to the times of the leaders. We were probably two days late to find the right set-up but at least we've got a good base from this round. It was a good overall result to move up the order during the races. We finished the weekend on a positive note by doing the one of our fastest lap times in the last race, meaning that we continually moved forward throughout the weekend."

FPR Motorsport Director, Tim Edwards - "We had to work hard this weekend as the track didn't suit our cars all that well. It is always our objective to have both cars in the top ten and we achieved that. The main positives from the weekend were our great pit stops and our very reliable cars throughout. We are now focusing on the challenges ahead of us at Darwin."

The sixth round of the 2007 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series will be held at Darwin's Hidden Valley Raceway from June 22 to 24.

-credit: fpr

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Series Supercars
Drivers Garth Tander , Jason Bright , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Todd Kelly , Mark Winterbottom , Peter Brock , Steve Richards , Tim Edwards