September 14, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers David Besnard and endurance race co-driver Owen Kelly endured 500 kilometres of the most inclement weather conditions of the season to claim a top ten finish at 8th in today's Betta ...
September 14, 2003 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers David Besnard and endurance race co-driver Owen Kelly endured 500 kilometres of the most inclement weather conditions of the season to claim a top ten finish at 8th in today's Betta Electrical 500 in Melbourne.
The Ford Credit FPR Falcon drivers drove a solid race from 23rd on the starting grid, managing to recover from an early stop and go penalty, a fierce mid-race hailstorm and wildly fluctuating rain and drying circuit grip variations to make their way into the highly competitive Sandown V8 Supercar top ten.
CAT FPR Falcon drivers Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton finished the grueling 500 kilometre race 16th after a difficult race that started with an engine misfire immediately before the start. This forced Seton to start from the pitlane, missing out on the 7th place grid position earned by Lowndes in qualifying and having to start a major push from the rear of the field.
FPV FPR Falcon drivers Adam Macrow and Darren Hossack were initiated to V8 Supercar endurance racing with FPR in the most difficult conditions imaginable, but the two determined drivers aquitted themselves remarkably well, staying out of trouble to finish 17th out of the 31 finishers.
This first of two major endurance races of the season saw an end to the Ford domination of the 2003 V8 Supercar Championship Series with HRT drivers Mark Skaife and Todd Kelly the victors from Ford drivers Steven Ellery and Luke Youlden, with Holden drivers Rick Kelly and Greg Murphy third.
#19 David Besnard - "A good result but I would have been happier to have been much higher in the top ten as the car was much better than yesterday in the dry. We did some great pit stops, the team effort and tactical approach to the race was excellent but I let them down with the black flag. I was trying to move as high up the field as I could early in the race and Jones braked earlier than I expected. Owen did a good job today in the trying conditions and we salvaged a strong points earning finish."
#19 Owen Kelly - "I have never driven in conditions like that before - when the hailstorm and heavy rain hit the track, there was zero grip - none at all. The Dandenong Road corner was completely iced over and I ran off the track rolling along behind the safety car at 50kph! Other than that I am pleased with our drive today, we made the most of it and the team worked extremely well together."
#6 Craig Lowndes - "A good result considering the obstacles thrown in front of Glenn and I from the very start with the misfire and starting from the very back of the field. The track became an ice skating rink for a while there, the worst conditions that I have ever seen at Sandown. The car was aquaplaning heading into turn one in second gear! We learned a lot that we can take to Bathurst this weekend."
#6 Glenn Seton - "It was a shame to have to start from pitlane when we had a 7th place starting grid position, but I would rather experience the problems that we had here then at the mountain in a month's time. Craig made up some good ground in the second half of the race and we will take a lot of our endurance racing data gained here with us to Bathurst."
#5 Adam Macrow - "The team gave us a great car in the dry conditions today, it was very competitive and I was enjoying the opening stages as we progressed as high as 13th. When it rained, it became a struggle as the these were my first laps with the car in such conditions, so I was being cautious in finding the limits of grip in the wet, to not make take unnecessary risks or make costly mistakes. Darren drove a great race in the worst conditions imaginable, so to gain a top twenty finish on our endurance race debut together boosts our confidence leading to Bathurst."
#5 Darren Hossack -"The car was very good in the dry and I was comparing our performance with some of the other drivers with similar V8 Supercar mileage levels to my own and we passed a few of them, until the rain hit. The car was a struggle in the rain, then the conditions became absolutely awful - there was no grip at all when the hail fell, even at 30kph! I have never driven in conditions anything like that before, so I am happy with this finish and look forward to driving with Adam again at Bathurst armed with everything we have learned here."
FPR Chief Engineer John Russell - "An exciting race and a solid drive by David and Owen resulted in 8th place. Craig and Glenn's race was compromised by a misfire on the warm up lap, forcing us to start in pit lane. Credit goes to Adam and Darren for a very good drive in the changeable conditions. The FPR pit work was better than ever and we look forward to using everything that we have learned here at Bathurst."