July 4, 2003 - In response to major media interest, Ford Performance Racing (FPR) confirms the team's current V8 Supercar driver pairings for this season's Sandown and Bathurst endurance races. Combining five Championships and 84 victories...
July 4, 2003 - In response to major media interest, Ford Performance Racing (FPR) confirms the team's current V8 Supercar driver pairings for this season's Sandown and Bathurst endurance races.
Combining five Championships and 84 victories between them, CAT FPR Falcon driver Craig Lowndes will be joined by Glenn Seton, who will be competing in his 20th Bathurst 1000 enduro this October.
Lowndes took the coveted Bathurst title in 1996 and has challenged for Mountain glory a total of nine times. The triple Champion is enjoying his most competitive start to a V8 Supercar season in three years and he could not have wished for a more experienced endurance race partner in Seton at Sandown and Mount Panorama.
"Glenn Seton would have to be the best driver who has never won at Bathurst. He has had some terrible luck there and it would be fantastic to be a part of his first success there, as we will be major contenders. I'm absolutely delighted with this pairing, this will be Glenn's 20th Bathurst start and his experience combined with our team's engineering resources will help us develop a very fast car there this year," Lowndes said.
For Seton, one of Australia's most accomplished racing drivers and the most successful Ford V8 Supercar driver in the field, this is the one trophy that has eluded him after no fewer than 19 attempts. Combined with Lowndes and the technical expertise of FPR, 2003 represents the best opportunity yet to realise his single most cherished motor racing ambition.
"For as long as I can remember I have wanted to win at Bathurst. This year I have the best chance of making this dream a reality by being partnered with one of the best drivers in the country, matched with the resources and skill of FPR. By October the team will have gained significant racing experience which will go a long way towards making us one of the strongest partnerships at the mountain. This year's great race can't come soon enough," Seton said.
2003 season FPR Falcon driver David Besnard will be joined by 26 year old Owen Kelly, the talented young driver elated with gaining the most competitive V8 Supercar drive of his career with this appointment.
"I'm excited to be driving with FPR for the endurance races, the team is doing a fantastic job considering how little time they have had to establish the team, build three BA Falcons and to have gained two podiums and several top tens in the process. David was last year's winner in Queensland and I have been gaining significant V8 Supercar mileage in the Konica series this season, so together I think we can be a very strong combination."
Kelly made his Bathurst debut in 2000, co-driving with Aaron McGill in the second Big Kev Commodore, returning the following year to finish 13th overall in the Holden Young Lions Commodore he shared with Paul Romano. Kelly also finished 9th with Romano in the 2001 Queensland 500. Last year Kelly joined Glenn Seton at Ford Credit Racing for the Queensland race, but mechanical problems didn't see him compete in the race. At Bathurst, illness sidelined his race participation at the last moment.
Reigning 500 kilometre V8 Supercar endurance race Champion, 26 year old FPR Falcon driver David Besnard, has competed at Bathurst three times to date but is yet to gain a finish this grueling six and a half hour race. Always an exhilarating performer thanks to his consistent speed and total competitiveness, the teaming of Besnard with Kelly provides the two younger drivers of the team with an opportunity to display what FPR's "Department of Youth" has in store for the field come September and October.
"It will be good to be sharing my car with such a well proven V8 Supercar driver as Owen. I have complete trust in the team's decision, because as I proved last year with Simon Wills, it is not essential to be with one of your season team mates to win endurance races. It will be good to lead the Sandown and Bathurst challenge for the number 19 FPR Falcon crew."
According to FPR Managing Director David Flint, the team has assembled two of the most challenging endurance race driver pairings ever seen behind a blue oval steering wheel.
"This highly potent combination of two of Australia's most successful V8 Supercar drivers and two of the nation's most exciting young drivers, backed up with the technical expertise and resources provided by FPR's engineers and Prodrive, ensures that two of the FPR BA Falcons fielded at this year's Sandown and Bathurst endurance races will take pride of place amongst Ford Australia's strongest ever endurance race challenge in 2003," David said.
The 2003 V8 Supercar Series endurance races start with the return of the traditional Sandown 500 kilometre event, known this year as the Betta Electrical 500 on September 14 and Australia's most famous motor race, the 2003 Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 at the legendary Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst (NSW) on October 12.