FPR DRIVERS FINISH 10TH & 13TH IN OPENING QUEENSLAND RACE July 21, 2007 - FPR Falcon drivers Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards have finished race one at Queensland Raceway in 10th and 13th places. After qualifying 5th (Winterbottom) and...
FPR DRIVERS FINISH 10TH & 13TH IN OPENING QUEENSLAND RACE
July 21, 2007 - FPR Falcon drivers Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards have finished race one at Queensland Raceway in 10th and 13th places.
After qualifying 5th (Winterbottom) and 12th (Richards) earlier in the day, FPR lined up for the start of the business end of the weekend in fine and warm weather conditions.
It wasn't long after the green light when the wild racing antics started in earnest, with no fewer than six cars emerging from the turn one melee with damage resulting in their eventual retirement from the race. FPR Falcon drivers Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards also found themselves in the thick of several early battles for track position. In attempting to find a way past Ford rival Jamie Whincup for 5th position, Winterbottom was ambushed by the close following Craig Lowndes and Will Davison, and after a wild moment on the fourth lap, both rivals were able to pass the Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver.
Richards' Castrol FPR Falcon was challenged early by Holden driver Lee Holdsworth, with this followed by a panel scraping fight with Todd Kelly, the two not giving an inch in their close battle over 7th position. The pit window opened on lap 5 and Winterbottom was brought in for his stop on the following lap with Richards also into the pits for his compulsory stop one lap later.
Once the entire field had completed their stops, Winterbottom was racing in 8th position with one Kelly brother in front (Rick) and the other behind. By the closing stages of the race it was clear that Kelly was holding up Winterbottom, the FPR driver forcing the point with slight contact on lap 35. Due to being held up and with just two laps to go, Ford rival Russell Ingall had caught Winterbottom and despite his best efforts to defend on some very worn tyres and with an intermittent engine problem, Ingall found his way past on the final lap, relegating the FPR Falcon driver to 10th at the finish.
Richards emerged in 14th position after a lengthy pit stop and chased Paul Morris and Steve Johnson for the remainder of the race. The FPR Falcon driver built a gap of over four seconds to Max Wilson during the second half of the race and finished 13th by the chequered flag.
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "It was a disappointing race because we did a reasonable job in qualifying and had a good start before really pressuring the front four early on. I made a mistake when Jamie Whincup missed a gear as I thought he had an engine problem and got caught on the wrong side of him which hung me out to dry on a number of corners. I'm disappointed in myself that I lost those positions early and then I had an issue with the engine near the end of the race which cost me two more spots, so overall it wasn't a really good day. In saying that though, we're still inside the top ten. Tomorrow we just have to make sure the engine has got the full grunt we need, then making a good start and having a good pit stop which should allow us to make our way forward."
#6 Steve Richards - ""I made a good start, gaining a couple of positions off the line which was good but I got caught on the outside on turn one for a couple of laps which cost me a few positions. The Castrol FPR Falcon showed some good pace, I was catching the group in front of me and it was all looking pretty good. Unfortunately we had a bad pit stop which cost us a couple of positions and it is very difficult to pass around here and make up that lost ground."
FPR Team Principal, Tim Edwards - "A disappointing result for both of our drivers today, we have a few things to work on to improve our pace, pit stops and strategy for the two remaining races of the round."
The race was won by Garth Tander, with Mark Skaife and James Courtney making up the race one podium. FPR returns to Queensland Raceway tomorrow for the remaining two races of the round at 11:00am and 1:40pm (EST) respectively.