Craig Lowndes races to maiden FPR victory at Phillip Island. April 13, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) driver Craig Lowndes broke a two year drought today with his breakthough Team FPR victory in today's rain interrupted second round of the...
Craig Lowndes races to maiden FPR victory at Phillip Island.
April 13, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) driver Craig Lowndes broke a two year drought today with his breakthough Team FPR victory in today's rain interrupted second round of the 2003 Australian V8 Supercar Championship at Victoria's Phillip Island.
The 28 year old triple V8 Supercar Champion scored his 50th career race win - his first since the 2000 Queensland 500 - after a race which saw the CAT FPR Falcon battling within the top five throughout the rain-shortened 54 lap race.
Lowndes made the most of a superb fuel and tyre change pit stop strategy devised by his FPR race engineers that saw him complete 36 laps before making his first pit stop, then returning for a gamble on wet weather tyres ten laps later.
This strategy, combined with the onset of heavy rain and an incident between race leaders Jason Bright and Marcus Ambrose, firmly placed Lowndes into the lead that he expanded to 7.5 seconds as the weather continued to deteriorate.
The Safety Car emerged on lap 51 and after three laps the race was declared with Lowndes cruising to FPR's maiden V8 Supercar victory with Holden drivers Jason Bright and Greg Murphy taking second and third.
In winning today's race, Lowndes became the first Ford driver since his FPR team mate Glenn Seton to win a round at Phillip Island in since 1995. This victory has also catapulted Lowndes from 22nd in the Championship to 10th with 11 rounds remaining.
Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Glenn Seton performed strongly throughout the race, recovering from losing two positions at the start of the race to make his way from 18th to 10th after his second pit stop. Seton also made the most from switching to wet tyres after a long first stint which contributed to his solid 9th place finish. This result has placed the double Champion 11th in the Championship standings, right behind his FPR team mate.
For FPV FPR Falcon driver David Besnard, the race was over virtually before it began when his clutch plate broke at the start. This was a bitter blow to the FPR driver who revels in such wet conditions as those experienced in the closing stages of today's race.
#6 Craig Lowndes - "This is a great result for this new team - we have done a lot of work over Christmas to get the team up and running and to win a round so early in the season is a great reward. We had two strategies in mind for the race and we knew the rain was coming, we just didn't know when. We had reached the end of our pit window for the last stop, we gambled with wet tyres as it was just starting to rain and within the next half of a lap it bucketed down. It is a credit to the team who made the right call at the right time."
#5 Glenn Seton - "The car was very consistent throughout the race, there were some areas that the car suffered from understeer but overall I am happy with the result. I planned to come away with a top ten finish and I finished ninth, so I am not disappointed. There is no doubt that the weather played into our hands a bit as well. It is great for the team to have Craig get back onto the top step of the podium -a great morale booster for all at FPR. I hope that this is one of many that we will win in the future."
#19 David Besnard - "A rare thing to happen - I've never had a clutch let go at the start and it was disappointing to say the least. The team won today's race with an awesome strategy, it was a brilliant effort and it displays what this team is capable of doing. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but it is good to see the team's effort paying off so early."
Jon Matthews - General Manager - " A fantastic result - a great reward for the team's effort. The guys have put in so much since early January to establish the new team and to develop the cars to such a competitive level. What really shined through today was the ability of the team's engineers and drivers to work together to develop a great strategy that paid dividends - you can't get much better than first place."