Pukekohe: FPR Sunday report

FPR GAINS TOP SIX FINISH IN DRAMATIC TRANS-TASMAN ROUND April 17, 2005 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has finished the second round of the 2005 V8 Supercar Championship Series in the top six after an action packed three sprint races at...

FPR GAINS TOP SIX FINISH IN DRAMATIC TRANS-TASMAN ROUND

April 17, 2005 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has finished the second round of the 2005 V8 Supercar Championship Series in the top six after an action packed three sprint races at Auckland's Pukekohe Park Raceway in New Zealand.

Sunday's second and third races saw FPR Falcon drivers Jason Bright and Greg Ritter display major car speed improvements over the pace displayed in Friday's opening practice and Saturday's first race, where Bright raced the CAT FPR Falcon to 7th with Ritter's Ford Credit FPV Falcon racing to 20th from the rear of the grid.

Today saw two action packed 50 lap races at Pukekohe, in the second race of the day Bright finished 11th and Ritter 23rd, while in this afternoon's third race, Bright and Ritter avoided several major accidents and a red flag stoppage to finish 7th and 21st respectively.

Bright's efforts over the weekend earned the 32 year old sixth overall for the round, while Ritter gained his first points of the season. Bright has elevated two places in the Championship to 8th, placing him well within reach of the top five with 11 rounds remaining in the series.

Today's dramatic third race started at 4:30pm in cool and overcast conditions, with slight drizzle in the area. Starting from 11th on the grid, Bright dropped three places to 14th on the first lap and pitted for his first compulsory stop on lap 7. On lap 14 the first Safety Car caution period took place with Bright placed in 13th position. By lap 30 Bright had muscled his way into the top ten when a spectacular three car accident took place on the main straight involving Holden drivers Paul Dumbrell, Craig Baird and Cameron McConville. The ferocity of the accident forced the race stewards to stop the race and while the damaged cars were cleared from the circuit (all drivers involved were uninjured), rain began to fall on the Pukekohe circuit, making the re- started race another challenge altogether. Bright re-started the race from 16th on the grid on wet tyres, racing his way up to 7th by the end of the race.

Ritter started today's third race from 24th on the grid, but didn't get off the line well, dropping to 31st on the first lap. He made his pit stop on lap 11 and had raced his way through the field to 21st by the time the major accident took place. It was a dramatic moment for Ritter, who was behind McConville, the last car to crash in the main straight accident, the Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver approaching the smoke and debris covered accident scene at 240kph. Ritter re-started the race from 20th on the grid on dry weather tyres on a very damp circuit. Betting on a drying circuit did not pay off until the very late stages of the race, Ritter greeting the chequered flag in 21st position.

More than 36,000 fans enjoyed an exciting day of V8 Supercar racing at Pukekohe, taking the total crowd attendance for the round to 88,000, retaining its place as one of the most popular on the V8 Supercar calendar.

#6 Jason Bright - "That was a really tough race - we just couldn't seem to take a trick. We had an extremely fast car today, we made some great improvements this weekend to come from where we were in practice. Every time that we took to the track since qualifying we have managed to make major gains and I really think that we had the quickest car on the track in the last race, but I didn't get the chance to show it. The Safety Car coming out in front of me really hurt us and there were a number of other times that we lost out due to circumstances beyond our control. We can now fine tune everything for Perth, which has a similar surface to here, so we should be very quick there,"

#5 Greg Ritter - "We gained a reasonable points haul this weekend and that is always good considering the problems that we had in practice. I was the first car to make it past the accident and all I could see was a big cloud of dust as I was racing down the main straight. I have to say that it was a bit daunting at fifth gear and 240kph. We took a gamble and re-started the race on dry tyres and that didn't pay off, so overall it wasn't the ideal weekend, but we head to Perth with a straight car and a car that we have learned a lot more about."

FPR Chief Engineer, Phil Keed - "A good finish to the weekend and we improved our cars with every race, particularly the in the last race. It was a case of learning throughout the weekend and we discovered some changes that had held us back in the last races, so we come away from this weekend with two straight cars, more Championship points and more confidence heading into the third round and beyond. Greg had a lot of bad luck but he has gained valuable experience at this round."

FPR Motorsport Director Tim Edwards - "A fantastic result for the team, we came here with the objective of gaining a top five finish and we finished one place short of that with 148 points and this is very encouraging for the future. My first race with the team has confirmed my suspicions that we have a great group of people and all the ingredients are there for us to move forward in the future."

Most of the FPR crew will remain in New Zealand preparing both FPR Falcons before they are shipped back to Australia on Wednesday. The cars will land at Brisbane and be driven direct to Perth in time for the V8 Supercar Championship Series' third round in Perth from May 6-8.

-fpr-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Jason Bright , Cameron McConville , Craig Baird , Paul Dumbrell , Greg Ritter , Tim Edwards