November 9, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has endured a tough weekend that has tested the fighting spirit of the blue oval racing team from the start on Friday to today's closing two races to decide the penultimate round of the V8 Supercar...
November 9, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has endured a tough weekend that has tested the fighting spirit of the blue oval racing team from the start on Friday to today's closing two races to decide the penultimate round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.
Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Glenn Seton was the highest FPR finisher of the round, gaining 9th and 11th place finishes in today's two 150 kilometre races, which combined with his 11th place result in Saturday's first race, earned the 38 year old double Champion driver 9th overall for the meeting.
CAT FPR Falcon driver Craig Lowndes endured a weekend of missed opportunities, both with race strategies and on track drama, the triple Champion finishing 12th and 18th in today's two races. Lowndes was hit from behind heading into turn one in the second race, forcing an early pitstop on the third lap to repair the damage. This forced the FPR driver to complete the race on tyres which were excessively worn by the mid stages of the race.
FPV FPR Falcon driver David Besnard joined Seton as the team's major top ten hope in today's second race, but after having forced his way into the top ten with some impressive driving, an engine fire in the race's closing stages put paid to his efforts to end FPR's New Zealand weekend on a higher note. This followed Besnard's effort in today's first race, when he made up ten track positions.
With just one round remaining in the 2003 V8 Supercar Championship Series at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway on November 28-30, Lowndes holds on to 5th in the Championship standings with a ten point buffer from Holden driver Rick Kelly. Seton is placed 15th and Besnard 22nd.
The winner of the round was kiwi Holden driver Greg Murphy, accompanied by HRT drivers Mark Skaife and Todd Kelly on the Round 12 podium. Ford driver Marcos Ambrose retains the Championship lead by a slim 6 points from Murphy, with Skaife 34 points behind. Ford driver Russell Ingall also remains in the running at 4th.
#5 Glenn Seton - "The car was more consistent during today's second race and I am reasonably happy with my results. I struggled with the first set of tyres but the second set was much better allowing me to be more consistent and defend my position. I stalled after the pit stop - which cost me some time and this was the first time that I have done that. Overall it was a consistent weekend for me, but its not where we want to be."
#6 Craig Lowndes - "We had a good car today, I got off to a bad start in the final race and set about protecting Glenn who was ahead of me into the first turn when I got a major hit from behind which ripped off the rear bumper and forced me into the pits way too early for our race strategy. My tyres were too worn to progress any further after the mid stages of the race, so it was a case of being consistent and looking after the tyres. As for the round, we now have a major battle on our hands to retain 5th in the title chase, so we will be working hard to ensure we are as strong as possible for Eastern Creek."
#7 David Besnard - "After being taken out of the first race, then struggling through the field to start today's third race in a stronger position, then to have worked our way into the top ten and for it to go up in smoke like that is pretty depressing. We knew after this morning's warm up that we had an engine problem and my engineers and I were able to extract some very good car speed out of it for today's races considering it was troublesome all day. I did all I could from behind the wheel."
FPR Chief Engineer John Russell - "A tough weekend, we had some bad luck and we also didn't have great car speed. We are very disappointed for David, who was on track for a top ten finish in a storming drive until his engine fire, caused by a yet to be identified problem. Glenn was consistent all weekend and Craig bore the brunt of on track drama and some bad luck, but he still holds on to 5th in the Championship. Now we'll concentrate our efforts on a much better performance at Eastern Creek."
This was a record breaking New Zealand V8 Supercar round with 91,213 spectators visiting the event over the three days and 35,712 attending today.
Race Two Report - 35 Laps.
Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Glenn Seton was the highest Team FPR finisher in the second New Zealand V8 Supercar race, racing from 14th to 9th in a strong and consistent drive.
CAT FPR Falcon driver Craig Lowndes made up five positions during the race to 11th. He was the first of the three FPR drivers to complete his compulsory pit stop on lap 5. It wasn't until lap 36 that the first of two Safety Car periods took place, playing into the hands of the teams that elected to pit at the very last opportunity.
FPV FPR Falcon driver David Besnard raced from 25th to 15th in a determined drive, despite reporting engine power problems throughout the race.
Holden driver Greg Murphy won the race ahead of HRT driver Mark Skaife, and Jason Bright (Holden).
The 54 lap / 150 kilometre race was held in fine conditions.