September 8, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) welcomes the start of the V8 Supercar enduro season this weekend with six drivers taking to the track in three FPR BA Falcons at Melbourne's Sandown Raceway. After an absence from the calendar...
September 8, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) welcomes the start of the V8 Supercar enduro season this weekend with six drivers taking to the track in three FPR BA Falcons at Melbourne's Sandown Raceway.
After an absence from the calendar for four years as a 500 kilometre race, the V8 Supercars return to their traditional Melbourne home this weekend for the first of two major endurance races in the 2003 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series.
This Sunday's Betta Electrical 500 marks the return of the lead up race to one of the nation's most popular sporting events, the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 at Bathurst's Mount Panorama in October.
This will be FPR's first race at Sandown, the team competing at this home race armed with three podium finishes so far this season. This three car blue oval team is well on track to becoming one of the most successful V8 Supercar debut teams in the history of this highly competitive Australian motor racing category.
On the top of the list of FPR's endurance race driver pairings and a combination that has generated an unprecedented response from Ford fans nationwide is the pairing of Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton. The multiple champions will be making their endurance racing debut in the CAT FPR Falcon at Sandown this Sunday.
Lowndes, holder of the current Sandown V8 Supercar race lap and qualifying records, won the Sandown 500 in 1996 and 1998. Seton tasted the victory champagne at Sandown in 1990 and 1997. (Three Sandown sprint race victories).
Reigning 500 kilometre V8 Supercar endurance race champion David Besnard teams up with fast and experienced Tasmanian V8 Supercar driver Owen Kelly this weekend, the two young drivers planning to be strong contenders in the Ford Credit FPR Falcon. Besnard was one of the fastest Ford drivers at the Sandown round last year, qualifying 3rd and racing to 3rd and 4th place race finishes.
Two new drivers making their debut with FPR this weekend are fast chargers Adam Macrow and Darren Hossack. The two talented Victorian drivers have gained the most high profile endurance race drive of their careers, teaming up in the team's FPV FPR Falcon. Being responsible for the set up of their own car rather than having to compete within a preferred car set-up for a team's regular driver, will make this experience even more challenging and rewarding for this Australian duo.
#6 Craig Lowndes - "I really enjoy the Sandown circuit layout and I couldn't be happier with the race returning to its original format as a 500 kilometre enduro. I am looking forward to combining car set up ideas with Glenn to make sure everything is right heading into Bathurst, as this event is the perfect lead up to our biggest race of the year. The CAT FPR Falcon is constantly improving, as is our understanding of it, as I think we displayed well at Oran Park. Our first major endurance race should be a very exciting experience for FPR and it will be great to race in my hometown again."
#6 Glenn Seton - "I m looking forward to Sandown and getting back to the true tradition of this race. I believe that we are both in a great position to win this race. We both want to win at Sandown and Bathurst more than anything. Sandown has been a happy hunting ground for both of us in the past, so while making sure we have everything right for Bathurst, we will be racing to win this weekend."
#5 David Besnard - "Sandown is a fantastic track, its a real driver's track and I enjoyed a heap of speed there last year but also had some bad luck. Having tested the new car for the first time and with the progress we have made since, I am confident that Owen and I will put on a good show for our fans. It will be a very competitive race this year and the team is in great form leading up to it."
#5 Owen Kelly - "After our successful test day, I am confident that David and I can have a great shot at this race - particularly given his success at Sandown last year and in last year's 500km enduro. It is our plan to make it to the podium, so we will be doing everything we can to achieve this goal."
#19 Adam Macrow - "I am eager to get back into the car to get properly race acquainted with it. I know the circuit very well and with some early practice in setting up the car, my aim is to make the top ten with Darren as we know that the team is definitely capable of it. It will be a case of preparing ourselves as best we can on and off the track with our engineers to set up a comfortable race car for the long haul ahead, while gaining valuable mileage for Bathurst."
#19 Darren Hossack - "I am feeling confident heading into Sandown with a good team mate in Adam and I am as fit as I have ever been. We will we work on being consistent throughout the race and to stay out of trouble, as it will be a very competitive race due to the fact that there are many drivers who need to gain points from this event. We will aim to gain a strong result, while also using this race to get used to the team and car ahead of Bathurst."
FPR Chief Engineer John Russell - "This race presents FPR with another great challenge and opportunity. Our race pace has been getting stronger and has benefited from some excellent pitwork in recent rounds. The three pairings of Craig/Glenn, David/Owen, and Adam/Darren provide us with an enviable blend of speed, experience and maturity, and it's a pleasure to work with our "extended family". The team has been busy during the period since Oran Park with a solid and productive test day and the detailed preparation necessary for the upcoming endurance races in which reliability will play a significant hand."
Practice starts on Friday (September 12) with all six FPR drivers taking to the track to set up their FPR Falcons before Saturday's important qualifying sessions and the single lap top ten shoot-out. Sunday's challenging 161 lap race is scheduled to start at 1:00pm.
FPR drivers describe sections of the Sandown circuit.
Glenn Seton - "Turn six is the exit from the back straight, the highest speed corner on the circuit and a reasonably important corner, because if you make a mistake there's a hungry armco ready to make metal contact."
Craig Lowndes - "Turn seven represents a great passing opportunity under brakes, back in 2001 in the wet this is where I made all my passing moves and went on to win the second sprint race."
David Besnard - Turn nine is the final corner on the track, it is notoriously hard to get the power down on exit because of the bumps. You have to be easy on the throttle during the race or you will overheat the rear tyres."