MARK WINTERBOTTOM SECOND IN NEW ZEALAND April 23, 2006 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) driver Mark Winterbottom has driven the three best V8 Supercar races of his career to finish second overall in the second round of the 2006 V8 Supercar ...
MARK WINTERBOTTOM SECOND IN NEW ZEALAND
April 23, 2006 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) driver Mark Winterbottom has driven the three best V8 Supercar races of his career to finish second overall in the second round of the 2006 V8 Supercar Championship held at Auckland's Pukekohe Park Raceway this weekend.
The 24 year old Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver finished fourth in Saturday's first heat and commandingly raced to two third places in today's two 50 lap heats.
What made his effort more outstanding was the fact that Winterbottom started today's first 50 lap reverse grid race from 24th on the grid. Ford's fastest young gun driver in the field mounted an exciting chase of leader Mark Skaife in the third and final 50 lapper, while defending the advances of Ford rival Craig Lowndes for the major part of the race. While Lowndes did pass the FPR driver on the last lap, his points haul was not enough to beat Winterbottom, who finished a superb second to Skaife with defending Ford Champion Russell Ingall third.
A potential podium finish was lost for CAT FPR Falcon driver Jason Bright who also displayed extremely strong form throughout the weekend, qualifying third and finishing third in Saturday's opening race. In both of Sunday's races, right front wheel-nut loosening problems forced the 2004 New Zealand Champion into the pits for an unscheduled stop during each of the races that proved costly. Bright finished 12th overall in his sixth appearance at this venue.
The speed that both FPR Falcons displayed during this second round of the series finds the Prodrive team excited about the prospects ahead at the series' third round in Perth in three weeks time.
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "Second overall is as good as a win for me any day. considering the drivers that I was competing with. Knowing that you can stay with and challenge drivers like Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes definitely makes you feel good about your ability and speaks volumes for the equipment that you have under you. The team did a great job all weekend to give me the car I needed to compete as strongly as I did. We made a major change to the car overnight that made it even faster for today's two races and this made the reverse grid race an enjoyable one for me.
#6 Jason Bright - "We certainly proved that we can be very fast this weekend. On the other side of that we also still have some problems that need sorting. I am pleased for Mark and his performance clearly displayed what we both could have been capable of here at Pukekohe. I look forward to being able to do that in Perth."
FPR Motorsport Director, Tim Edwards - "A brilliant effort by both drivers and the team this weekend. Our result was just reward for the three years of hard work by the team - with some of it under trying circumstances. We are all disappointed that Jason wasn't able to join Mark on the podium and the fact that something like a wheel nut problem stopped our two car charge through the field. We are looking forward to Perth and to continuing the form that we have put on show here and at the Grand Prix this weekend."
Winterbottom enjoyed a weekend of career milestones in New Zealand this weekend, including his best qualifying, race and round results in two years of main series V8 Supercar racing. The Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver has moved into the Championship top ten at 9th with 421 points, with team mate Bright placed 12th with 328 points. Ford driver Russell Ingall leads the title chase with 540 points.
This was another record-breaking trans-Tasman V8 Supercar round, with a three day attendance total of 103,426 fans taking part in the event.