FPR Eastern Creek race report

FPR races to second podium finish of debut season May 4, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) driver Craig Lowndes has muscled his CAT FPR BA Falcon V8 Supercar to second place at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway today after a thrilling 77 lap ...

FPR races to second podium finish of debut season

May 4, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) driver Craig Lowndes has muscled his CAT FPR BA Falcon V8 Supercar to second place at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway today after a thrilling 77 lap race.

Hot on the heels of the triple Champion's maiden Ford V8 Supercar round victory at Phillip Island last month, Lowndes drove an outstanding race. The 28 year old confidently held off the early race advances of HRT driver Mark Skaife and forced his CAT FPR BA Falcon past Holden drivers Greg Murphy and Jason Bright after a number of exciting long battles.

This result contributed to an historic day for Ford in Sydney with Marcos Ambrose racing to a dominant victory in his SBR Falcon with his team mate Russell Ingall finishing third. This secured Ford Australia's first V8 Supercar Championship Round clean sweep of the podium since 1997.

Ford Performance Vehicles FPR Falcon driver David Besnard finished a solid 13th in today's race, scoring valuable Championship points despite losing his power steering with ten laps remaining. The gamble of changing to wet tyres for Glenn Seton on lap 55 did not pay off after only a touch of rain, forcing the Ford Credit Falcon driver into the pits for a third pit stop to return to dry weather rubber. Seton finished 26th.

It was clearly evident during the demanding 300 kilometre race that the race speed of the CAT FPR BA Falcon had improved significantly since Phillip Island, displaying the fast paced development work being carried out by FPR's talented engineers and crew.

Lowndes started the race from third on the grid, promoted one spot due to a penalty imposed on HRT driver Todd Kelly following the Top Ten Shootout. The FPR driver made the most of this advantage and swept past pole-setter Skaife, heading into the first turn behind leader Ambrose and Holden driver Greg Murphy. Lowndes and Murphy engaged in a thrilling 11 lap nose to tail battle from which the FPR driver emerged the winner, settling into second position until his first scheduled pit stop for tyres on lap 37. He returned to the pits for his compulsory second stop (for fuel) on lap 48. The single Safety Car period of the race took place on the next lap, bringing Lowndes behind Holden driver Jason Bright and leader Ambrose. Lowndes found himself once again in a fiercely close battle for position with Bright and passed him on the penultimate lap, racing to a solid second position ahead of SBR Falcon driver Russell Ingall, who made the most of a late race mistake by Bright to make it a Ford 1,2,3.

Besnard's race started magnificently, the FPV FPR Falcon driver gaining seven positions thanks to a brilliant start from 27th on the grid, settling the 26 year old within the top twenty for a long and arduous race. By lap 25 Besnard was up to 18th with his team mate Seton right behind. The driver made his first scheduled stop on lap 35 for tyres and had returned to his FPR pit crew on lap 47 for fuel. From this point the young driver remained consistently fast despite losing his power steering with ten laps remaining. Besnard finished the race in 13th, eleven seconds ahead of Ford driver Jason Bargwanna.

Seton made up two positions at the start of the race, powering his Ford Credit FPR Falcon to 19th before making his first tyre stop on lap 33. On lap 46 the double Champion driver made his fuel stop and the strategy was set for a points earning finish, although a frontal kerb impact caused some handling problems. Rain started to fall on lap 54 and the decision was made to fit wet tyres to the Ford Credit Falcon on the next lap, mirroring the strategy taken on by HRT driver Skaife. The rain didn't last long and made this gamble futile, forcing Seton back for dry tyres on lap 57. For the next twenty laps Seton drove consistently to finish 26th.

#6 Craig Lowndes - "At Phillip Island we admitted that we won the race on strategy rather than car speed, this was definitely not the case here. We didn't start the weekend all that strongly, but we chipped away at it and we knew that we had a very good race car. The guys did a great job with the pit stops and it was a great race. This has been the best start to a Championship for me for the past three years."

#19 David Besnard - "I got off to a good start and gained a couple of positions off the line, but everyone was on the inside coming into the hairpin and they braked very early, so I drove around them all and passed seven cars. The car was excellent on the first set of tyres and I could hold the gap from the cars I passed and stay with the group in front. We pitted at the right times before the Safety Car and I copped a few hits in traffic during the rest of the race - the handling of the car was affected by this and in the late stages of the race Skaife slid into me while passing and soon after the power steering went, making it very hard work to get to the flag."

#5 Glenn Seton - "We have just come away from a race where the strategy paid off well and unfortunately it didn't here - I accept that and I am happy with my performance on the track today. I clipped a kerb about 30 laps into the race and the car didn't steer well into right turns from that point on. I am really looking forward to getting into the BA Falcon, Craig, Marcos and Russell proved today that it is a match for the fastest Holdens."

FPR Chief Engineer, John Russell - "It was a good team effort, Craig made the best out of our strategy and gained a very solid result today. It was very pleasing to see David bring his car home despite struggling without power steering through the closing stages of the race. We sacrificed Glenn a bit to cover Mark Skaife when he stopped for wets and his end result reflected that. All in all a solid performance by all three drivers and we head to the next round at Winton with even more enthusiasm."

-www.fpv.com.au

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers David Besnard , Jason Bright , Greg Murphy , Russell Ingall , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Glenn Seton , Todd Kelly , Phillip Island