FPR OFF TO A STRONG START IN NEW ZEALAND April 22, 2005 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Jason Bright and Mark Winterbottom have started their New Zealand V8 Supercar round campaign very strongly with third and fourth place finishes in ...
FPR OFF TO A STRONG START IN NEW ZEALAND
April 22, 2005 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Jason Bright and Mark Winterbottom have started their New Zealand V8 Supercar round campaign very strongly with third and fourth place finishes in today's opening V8 Supercar race at Auckland's Pukekohe Park Raceway.
Bright started the 36 lap race in his CAT FPR Falcon from 5th (his top ten shoot-out result) on the grid after having qualified 3rd fastest earlier in the day, while Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Winterbottom qualified 5th and started the race from 6th position - the highest starting position of his career, alongside his team mate. The FPR duo's combined qualifying and top ten shoot-out results displayed the potential of the Prodrive team's strong pace ahead of today's first of three New Zealand races.
A strong opening stanza by Bright promoted the Victorian driver to 3rd by the 7th lap, chasing Ford rival Russell Ingall and leader Mark Skaife following his fast compulsory pit stop on lap 12. Bright re-joined the race in the top ten and kept applying pressure to the leaders with consistently fast laps. Bright coped with a greasy circuit in the closing stages, to finish a strong third behind Ford's Russell Ingall and race winner Mark Skaife.
Winterbottom also gained a strong start to the race, benefitting early from Rick Kelly who stalled at the start behind him, enabling the FPR driver to gain a sizeable gap heading into turn one. The 24 year old driver was the first of the two FPR drivers to pit for his compulsory tyre stop on lap 8, but stalled the engine on his exit, losing a small amount of time and placing him behind Todd Kelly when he exited the pits. Winterbottom chased the Holden Racing Team driver relentlessly, passing him and breaking away on the 23rd lap, forging ahead to 8th position. The last of the drivers in the field to pit promoted the FPR driver to 5th and a late race lose by Steven Richards handed Winterbottom 4th position with four laps remaining in race.
#6 Jason Bright - "The start was great and we pulled away from the other drivers heading into the first turn and we had very good pace early in the race. I thought we would be taking the battle right up to Ingall and Skaife the way it was heading. Later on the track became more and more greasy and we generated a little more tyre wear than I would have liked despite having made a few balance changes during the race. We had a great race strategy today and we head into the reverse grid race in very strong form."
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "I had a good gap heading into the first turn due to Kelly's problems behind me and the race ran pretty much to plan until I stalled the car exiting the pits and re-joined the race behind Todd Kelly. That cost me the benefit of the new rear tyres we fitted, but once I passed him I could break away and head towards the top four. Steven Richards went off and handed us 4th - which was a good opening race result. While we were fast today, I did have some oversteer issues and once we iron them out, I am sure that we will have an even faster car for tomorrow."
FPR Motorsport Director, Tim Edwards - "A fantastic effort by the team throughout qualifying and the race. We knew that we had the pace we needed to be competitive this season and we displayed the potential of our FPR Falcons very well today. It is great to see the hard work that the team has done over the past two years finally start to pay off."
FPR is back on the track tomorrow for the second and third 50 lap heats of the round, with the second race (12:05pm local / 10:05am EST) being the first reverse grid race of the season.