August 17, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has returned to the V8 Supercar podium after an outstanding drive by CAT FPR Falcon driver Craig Lowndes, who finished second to fellow Ford drive Marcos Ambrose after today's 300 kilometre V8...
August 17, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has returned to the V8 Supercar podium after an outstanding drive by CAT FPR Falcon driver Craig Lowndes, who finished second to fellow Ford drive Marcos Ambrose after today's 300 kilometre V8 Supercar race at Sydney's Oran Park Raceway.
Lowndes third podium finish in FPR's debut V8 Supercar season was the result of an excellent enduro race strategy and outright car speed, which saw the 29 year old triple champion hold off the advances of HRT driver Mark Skaife throughout the race. A dramatic encounter and impact with lapped Ford driver John Bowe gave the team a scare in the closing stages of the 111 lap race, Lowndes continuing strongly despite a damaged steering to make a strong return to the podium in Sydney.
The story was very different for Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Glenn Seton, who retired after just 35 laps due to an engine failure. This was cruel luck for the hard charging double Champion who was making strong progress from 13th starting grid position to the top six at the time. Seton pitted earlier than planned on lap 26 due to a right rear punctured tyre and was in competitive form until his race ended abruptly.
FPV FPR Falcon driver David Besnard got things off to a flying start, making up three places to 14th at the green light and making his first scheduled pit stop on lap 35 while in 6th position. Unknown to the FPR driver was the fact that his left rear door had jammed open due to a side impact during the opening laps. This forced his pit crew to break the door's window to secure it so Besnard could continue the race. This undoubtedly cost the 26 year old driver a top five finish, as he powered from 26th and one lap down to 13th over the remaining 76 laps.
The race was won by SBR Falcon driver Marcos Ambrose with Lowndes finishing the race seven seconds ahead of HRT rival Mark Skaife.
#6 Craig Lowndes - "We saw what Marcos did in Queensland and we decided to adopt a similar strategy to this race, starting with older tyres and using our best tyres for a long mid-section. This race plan worked well today, we were setting fast lap times and the progress we are making since we have been racing three BA Falcons is clearly taking shape. I thought that the flag marshalls were not on the job today, there were many hold ups from lapped traffic and in the closing stages I was almost driven off the track by John Bowe. He was a lap down at the time and the altercation bent the steering. It is great to be back on the podium, it rewards the team for the hard work they have put in."
# 5 Glenn Seton - "What can I say? The car was going well and I was conserving my tyres while maintaining the pace of the top six, when a puncture wrecked my race strategy forcing an early pit stop and then the engine dropped a cylinder down the straight after 35 laps, ending my day. We had a better car today and I am disappointed not to have capitalised on that."
#19 David Besnard - "I came into the pits in 6th and re-joined the race in 23rd and one lap down. That pretty much describes what happened to me. I got off to a good start and I came into the pits for our scheduled first tyre stop unaware that the door was stuck open from a few impacts at the start. I am sure that we would have had a top five finish today if not for the long stop to fasten it. We had a great race car today but we need to focus our work on our qualifying set up."
Today's result has elevated Craig Lowndes into 7th in the Australian V8 Supercar Championship standings with 1094 points, Glenn Seton is 21st (600) David Besnard is 24th with 566 points. Marcos Ambrose leads the title fight with 1351 points from Holden drivers Jason Bright (1279) and Greg Murphy (1233).