Hidden Valley: FPR Sunday report

FPR Seventh Overall in Hot Darwin Round May 23, 2004 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton experienced a day of highs and lows at Darwin's Hidden Valley Raceway, with a highest race result of 5th for CAT FPR...

FPR Seventh Overall in Hot Darwin Round

May 23, 2004 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton experienced a day of highs and lows at Darwin's Hidden Valley Raceway, with a highest race result of 5th for CAT FPR Falcon driver Lowndes (Race 2) and 12th for Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver Glenn Seton (Race 2).

In a weekend which displayed a considerable forward leap in performance and reliability for the Prodrive owned Ford V8 Supercar team, the potential of a podium finish evaporated when a stalled start by Lowndes in the third and final race from 5th on the grid meant another hard working race from the rear of the field for the triple Champion. In a superb effort, Lowndes raced from the rear of the field after his pit stop to 9th by the chequered flag.

Seton finished this fourth round of the Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series 13th overall after a hard working weekend in Darwin. This was Seton's final race in the team's 2003 configuration BA Falcon, with a brand new car identical in specification to the CAT FPR Falcon making its debut in Perth next month.

#6 Craig Lowndes - "What an unbelievable mistake! I released the clutch a bit quicker than I normally do and that was that. It was a shame as the car was unbelievable - just sensational and particularly quick on the second set of tyres. I had a bit too much understeer initially, but that disappeared fairly quickly and the car balanced out very well. I am very happy for the crew and the great job they have done this weekend, its just a pity that I messed up the third race start."

#5 Glenn Seton - "I got a good run in the first two races around the outside of turn one, but in the third race I was hit from behind which sent me onto the marbles and it was like driving on ice. The car was very consistent today, we have made some good headway in making the car consistent throughout a race distance, we only needed a bit more outright speed. We are about half a second from where we need to be. I am looking forward to racing my new car in Perth, being able to compare set up notes with Craig, as we will be in the same equipment. I am looking forward to that."

FPR Chief Engineer John Russell - "We certainly made some progress this weekend, the drivers performed extremely well as did the team, managing to get through three very hot races without any reliability issues. Today was an exciting day of racing and we were expecting the third race to be better as our car speed was good, but Craig didn't have luck on his side when he stalled at the start of race three. Glenn was pushed wide at the first corner and knocked off the circuit during that race which also dropped him to the rear of the field. That's racing and at least the cars are straight and we head to Perth with optimism as we look forward to the debut of Glenn's new car and a further improved overall team result."

After the three Darwin V8 Supercar races and with 11 rounds of the 2004 series remaining, Lowndes is 16th in the Championship with 390 points. Seton is 19th in the standings with 341 points. Holden driver Steven Richards won the round ahead of Ford driver Marcos Ambrose and Holden's Greg Murphy.

Team FPR heads on the long road to Perth tomorrow, when Craig, Natalie and Levi Lowndes, join the team's merchandise crew and transporter, a fleet of FPV high performance vehicles and the FPR Bathurst simulator on the team's first ever Road to Perth trip. The team will travel from Darwin to Katherine tomorrow (May 25) and will continue along the Western Australian coast through to June 7, ahead of that weekend's fifth round of the series in Perth. For trip details and public appearance information, visit the team website at www.fpv.com.au.

FPR Race Summaries:

RACE ONE (Saturday)

Starting from 11th on the grid, Lowndes powered his CAT FPR Falcon into the first turn strongly but found himself on the outside in the battle for positions through the corner. This cost the 29 year old three positions, commencing a race long battle with Mark Winterbottom (Ford) and Greg Murphy (Holden) in to finish the short 17 lap race in 12th place.

Seton gained a position at the start, but shortly into the opening lap Holden driver Paul Weel made an inside passing move that caused an impact with the Ford Credit FPV Falcon, dropping Seton back to 20th. A race long battle in heavy traffic saw the double Champion finish the race in 18th position.

The first Darwin V8 Supercar race was won by Ford driver Russell Ingall with Holden driver Todd Kelly second and Ford series leader Marcos Ambrose third

RACE TWO (Sunday)

Starting from 12th and 18th on the grid, Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton were geared for a major battle to move up the order following extensive set-up modifications made to both cars overnight. After setting the 6th (Lowndes) and 18th (Seton) fastest lap times during the Sunday morning warm up, the team started the race in strong form.

Both Lowndes and Seton's race progression was remarkable over 35 hot (34C) laps of the Hidden Valley circuit. Lowndes raced from 12th on the grid to 8th on the first lap, Seton from 18th to 16th. Lowndes made his compulsory pit stop on the 5th lap, followed by team mate Seton on lap 13. Setting fastest lap times that were equal to the race leaders throughout the 35 laps, Lowndes raced from 24th to 10th by lap 16 and into the top six by the 20th lap. A long and exciting battle for position between Lowndes and Holden rival Greg Murphy then took place for the remainder of the race, Lowndes finishing a strong 5th.

Seton gained three positions by the 4th lap and pitted on lap 13, racing from 21st to 16th by lap 19, displaying strong speed as the 39 year old made his way through the field. By lap 24 Seton was 13th and defending his position from Championship leader Marcos Ambrose all the way to the chequered flag. Seton finished the 35 lap race 12th.

The second race was won by Holden drivers Rick Kelly with Todd Kelly second and Steven Richards third.


The drama started early for FPR when Lowndes, who was starting from 5th on the grid - stalled his engine at the green light, allowing the field to power past him after some tense moments. Once the CAT FPR Falcon was on its way, he had dropped to 26th position. Team mate Glenn Seton suffered a rear impact early in the race that forced him off the circuit at high speed, dropping him to 29th.

Despite the bad start to the race for both FPR drivers, the team adhered to their pit stop strategy, bringing in both FPR Falcons early and setting out on a strong race pace to gain as many points as possible from this last 35 lap race.

Lowndes pace was amongst the strongest in the field as he aggressively carved his way through the field up to 13th by the half way point of the race. The first yellow flag / caution period of the race weekend took place on the 23rd lap, with Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver Seton up to 21st position. Lowndes had broken into the top ten by this stage and by lap 33, he had gained a further position to 9th which he held until the chequered flag. Seton powered his way to the finish line in 14th position after a consistent and solid performance.

The race was won by Holden driver Todd Kelly with Ford's Marcos Ambrose second and Holden's Steven Richards third. The weather was fine and hot throughout the race.


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Series Supercars
Drivers Marcos Ambrose , Greg Murphy , Russell Ingall , Rick Kelly , Paul Weel , Craig Lowndes , Glenn Seton , Todd Kelly , Mark Winterbottom , Steven Richards