Oran Park: FPR Sunday notes

STEVE RICHARDS RACES TO SECOND IN WILD ORAN PARK ROUND August 18, 2007 - Castrol FPR Falcon driver Steve Richards has raced to second overall after a wild weekend of V8 Supercar racing at Sydney's Oran Park Raceway. The 34 year old Victorian ...


August 18, 2007 - Castrol FPR Falcon driver Steve Richards has raced to second overall after a wild weekend of V8 Supercar racing at Sydney's Oran Park Raceway. The 34 year old Victorian driver's speed and consistency paid major dividends during a round which saw a great deal of damage and lost points for several of the more favoured competitors.

Today's inclement weather in Sydney provided a spectacular day of racing to decide the final two heats of the 2007 Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series' 8th round.

Both Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers competed within the top five throughout races one and two, but rain during the final seconds before the start of race three would see the final heat become one of survival and attrition. More than half the field headed to the pits before the race started, Richards included, to change to wet weather tyres and start the race from the pit lane. As a consequence of Winterbottom being further ahead on the grid at third, following his outstanding race two drive, the 26 year old was not able to pit until the first lap of the race. A wheel nut problem in the pits and a late race off-circuit foray proved costly to any podium chances this weekend in the Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon.

Despite the third and final race throwing some of the worst weather and circuit grip conditions experienced so far this season, Richards was in superb form. The FPR Falcon driver maintained a strong race pace to finish 5th, gaining enough points to take runner-up honours for the round behind inaugural V8 Supercar round winner Lee Holdsworth, with Ford's Craig Lowndes third. Winterbottom's disappointing race three result of 24th saw him finish 6th in the overall points standings for the round.

Both FPR Falcon drivers set a speedy pace throughout this round, starting with their qualifying results of 6th (Winterbottom) and 8th (Richards). The FPR duo's unchallenged 4th and 5th place finishes in Saturday's opening race was a pre-cursor to their outstanding performances in the wet second race, where Winterbottom recovered from an opening lap spin to set the pace to beat of the race, including the fastest lap, as he powered his way from 12th to 3rd place. Richards also drove a determined second heat, recovering from an early race off-circuit foray and countless competitor on track impacts to progress from 11th to 6th.

This is Richards' first podium result since joining the Prodrive team at the start of the 2007 season. It is also his best ever overall result at Oran Park in 11 V8 Supercar starts at the Sydney circuit. The Castrol FPR Falcon driver's effort this season has matched FPR's best finish at Oran Park of second during the team's debut season in 2003.

#6 Steve Richards - "I was just trying to drive around keeping the car out of the gravel and off the fences, it was one of those weekends where consistency paid off. The conditions today were unbelievably changeable. When we completed our stop in the final race my rear tyres still had a fair bit of grip left in them, but then it got wetter and I was never able to get the temperatures and pressures up to where they really needed to be. It was hard work but we managed to keep it on the island and at the end of the day that is what counts. It's nice to have my first podium result with Ford Performance Racing, it was one of the things I was determined to do this year, this second place is hopefully the first of many podiums with the team."

#5 Mark Winterbottom - "This morning's race was good, I came through from a fair way back after an early spin and I was happy with how I drove and the strategy we used, but it doesn't really mean much when you throw it away in race three. We put ourselves in a position to challenge for the round win but if we didn't finish it off. On the positive side, we gained some valuable points to hold our position in the Championship, but you want to take a trophy away from the round and it would have been nice to have done that this weekend. Richo's podium is good for the team. Heading into the enduros we've got good, strong form but we just need to improve in a couple of areas which seem to stop us from battling for the win."

FPR Team Principal, Tim Edwards - "A great result - it is no secret that we have had a difficult start to the season compared to our performance last year. It is not too dissimilar to this time last season when we came on strong during the second half of the season. We have to really push hard from here to keep getting podium finishes in the remaining rounds."

FPR will embark on the team's final two test days of the season at Victoria's Winton Raceway on August 27 and 28 in preparation for the upcoming Sandown 500 and Bathurst 1000 endurance races. The team is looking forward to defending its Sandown 500 Champions' title at Melbourne's Sandown International Raceway from September 14 to 16, particularly after the exciting performance displayed at Oran Park over the weekend.

-credit: fpr

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Series Supercars
Drivers Craig Lowndes , Mark Winterbottom , Steve Richards , Tim Edwards