FPR annouces staff changes

FPR appoints new Team Manager and Race Engine Team Leader July 29, 2004 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) Managing Director David Flint announces two new senior appointments to this blue oval V8 Supercar team. Dave Ward has been appointed to the...

FPR appoints new Team Manager and Race Engine Team Leader

July 29, 2004 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) Managing Director David Flint announces two new senior appointments to this blue oval V8 Supercar team.

Dave Ward has been appointed to the role of Team Manager effective from the Sandown round of the 2004 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series (early September). This role covers all operational aspects of the team. John Russell as Chief Engineer, will be responsible for all design, development, test and race engineering.

Ward joins FPR from his most recent position as Team Manager of the highly successful international Sportscar racing team, Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx.

Ward's career has seen the 35 year old work his way up from race team mechanic and workshop manager roles to take on number one mechanic, chief mechanic, crew chief and team manager positions with several highly successful international racing teams including Peugeot Sport UK, Audi Sport UK, Apex Motorsport and Team Bentley.

According to David Flint, this appointment concludes a long running global search for the right candidate. "I am delighted to announce this appointment. After spending some time with Dave in Australia a few weeks ago, we concluded that he was the right fit. He is a very experienced and highly professional team manager and we are all looking forward to working with him."

FPR also announces the appointment of Rob Benson as Race Engine Team Leader. Benson joins the team from Brad Jones Racing and is expected to begin his role with FPR soon after the Oran Park round in mid August. This timeframe has been allowed to ensure the changeover from his current team is carried out with the least possible disturbance.

Originally from New Zealand, Benson made a name for himself with Tom Walkingshaw Racing, building the dominating Le Mans Jaguar engines and European Touring Car Championship engines. He joined the Holden Racing Team in 1990 and headed the team's engine engineering division for HRT's first Bathurst victory in 1990 and one of Craig Lowndes Championship years (1996) before establishing his own engine building company, Race Engine Developments in 1997. During this time Benson built a number of successful customer V8 Supercar engines while also overseeing the highly successful Audi 2.0 Litre Super Touring engine development programme for Audi Sport Australia.

Benson was then offered to join US Nascar team Hendrick Motorsport and was based in Charlotte for four years, heading the dynamometer testing division of the team. This saw the engine development expert working on hundreds of Nascar engines each season. He returned to Australia with his wife Jo-Ann earlier this year to be closer to family and worked exclusively in engine preparation and development for the Brad Jones Racing V8 Supercar team.

According to Flint, "We will be continuing the development of the Prodrive engine in Australia and the appointment of a senior engine development engineer is crucial to the success of that programme. We are confident that Rob's experience with highly successful race engines in Australia and North America will add an extra dimension to the team who are determined to make significant advances in the shortest possible timeframe."

These major FPR appointments reflect the team's total commitment to achieving their goal of becoming a major force in V8 Supercar racing.


David Ward's motor racing career started with the John Watson Performance Driving Centre at Silverstone (UK) where he worked his way from a junior position to workshop manager from 1989 to 1992. He then joined Agusta Racing and worked as a mechanic on the team's two Callaway Corvettes competing in the BPR Global Endurance Championship.

>From there he joined Peugeot Sport UK as number one mechanic for their British Touring Car Championship effort from 1992 to 1995. Ward then was appointed to the role of Chief Mechanic with Audi Sport UK for their now legendary BTCC assault with the Audi A4 Quattro. He remained with Audi Sport UK for three highly successful seasons, culminating in competing at Le Mans with the Audi R8C Coupe.

In November 2000, Audi Sport UK became Apex Motorsport and Ward continued with the team to build a number of Audi RS4's for Champion Racing USA. This team went on to win the SCCA GT Championship in 2000 and 2001.

At the conclusion of the 2000 season, Ward joined Team Bentley (Apex Motorsport) as Crew Chief from the outset of "Project Barnato", the company's ambitious and highly successful plan to reach the pinnacle of international Sportscar racing.

Ward joins FPR following his most recent posting as Team Manager for Audi Sport UK, Team Veloqx, which was formed at the end of the 2003 season. He was responsible for the running of two Audi R8's competing at the Sebring 12 hour, the Le Mans 24 Hour and the LMES Championship. During this time the team achieved a first and second place at Sebring and Monza, while finishing 2nd and 5th at the Le Mans 24 Hour.


Rob Benson's engine building career started in 1975 in his native New Zealand where he worked with the Tuning and Performance Centre in Hamilton. This role saw Benson working on the tuning and dyno testing of high performance road, race and rally cars.

In 1982 Benson joined Tom Walkingshaw Racing (TWR) where he was responsible for building Rover V8 engines for the British and European Touring Car Championships. During his tenure at TWR he was also intrinsically involved in the manufacture of Jaguar V12 and V6 (twin turbo) engines for the Group C World Sports Car Series. He was also involved in TWR's engine development programs and provided track support at race meetings all over the world.

Benson then crossed the Atlantic in 1988 to work with the Callaway Advanced Technology Group in Connecticut, USA. There he occupied the role of Engine Build Manager for the Aston Martin World Sports Car racing program. He also provided technical support for Callaway Advanced Engine Technology and designed engine support systems to suit 24 hour endurance racing. Benson also provided technical support and data acquisition services at worldwide race meetings.

1990 saw Benson join the TWR Holden Racing Team (HRT) as manager of the Race Engine Division. Here he was responsible for an eight member engine building and development team devoted exclusively to V8 Supercar racing in Australia. Benson was the point of liaison between General Motors and HRT for all engine related issues.

Benson took the opportunity to establish his own race engine building and consultancy firm in 1996, under the name of Race Engine Developments Pty Ltd. He built, and maintained V8 Supercar engines for a number of V8 Supercar teams, while also maintaining and developing race engines for Audi Sport Australia for the Asia Pacific Super Touring Championship. He also moved into the design and development of fuel injection manifolding for racing, provided technical support for all of his customers at race meetings and worked on the development and testing program for endurance race designed Chevrolet V8 engines.

2000 saw Benson return to the United States, accepting an offer to manage the Hendrick Motorsports six car Nascar Winston Cup (and two Busch teams) four- engine dyno facility, along with a rolling road testing facility. Over almost four years with the team, Benson designed and manufactured a fuel injection system for the General Motors Corvette American Le Mans Series program, while constantly working on the development of Nascar small block V8 engines.

February 2004 saw Benson and his wife Jo-Ann return to Australia to be closer to family, with Benson taking on the engine building and development program for Brad Jones Racing in the 2004 V8 Supercar Championship Series, before making the decision to join Ford Performance Racing as Race Engine Team Leader in July.

Benson brings more than 20 years of global race engine building, design and development experience to Ford Performance Racing.


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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers John Watson , Brad Jones , Craig Lowndes
Teams Brad Jones Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Holden Racing Team