FPR FINISHES IN QUEENSLAND TOP FIVE DESPITE TROUBLED WEEKEND July 22, 2007 - The seventh round of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series at Queensland Raceway proved to be a challenging one for Ford Performance Racing (FPR). Despite the...
FPR FINISHES IN QUEENSLAND TOP FIVE DESPITE TROUBLED WEEKEND
July 22, 2007 - The seventh round of the 2007 V8 Supercar Championship Series at Queensland Raceway proved to be a challenging one for Ford Performance Racing (FPR). Despite the problems that the team encountered throughout the three sprint race round, Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Mark Winterbottom has salvaged a top five overall finish, but the story was very different for his Castrol FPR Falcon equipped team mate Steve Richards.
FPR set the early pace to beat in Friday's opening practice sessions and gained a top five qualifying result (5th) for Winterbottom. A strong early pace set by Richards (12th) also looked promising for the three Queensland races.
The team's first race (Saturday) results of 10th (Winterbottom) and 13th (Richards) were followed by the ever consistent Richards suffering his first DNF of the season in race two due to an engine misfire problem, while Winterbottom raced strongly to finish 7th. Today's third and final 38 lap race saw a major fight back by both FPR Falcon drivers, Winterbottom racing aggressively in pursuit of a podium finish in this final race of the round. Winterbottom's smooth yet defensive driving ensured that close following rivals Rick Kelly and Mark Skaife remained behind him all the way to the chequered flag. The 26 year old FPR Falcon driver finished 5th after a faultless drive under considerable competitor pressure.
Richards started at the rear of the 30 car field following his retirement of race two and blitzed his way through the field to be 20th by the third lap. With the help of his competitors' pit stops, Richards had raced his way to second place before making a fast compulsory pit stop on lap 11. He rejoined the race well within the mid-field at 13th position and was racing towards the top ten when Richards and HRT driver Todd Kelly contacted heading onto the main straight while battling over 12th position. The contact placed Richards into a spin and on to the circuit infield, relegating the Victorian driver to 22nd position. To add insult to injury, a second pit stop to replace a punctured tyre was also required. Kelly was handed a pit lane drive through penalty for his role in the incident but this was of little consequence to Richards and Team FPR, with the decision made to end Richards' race in the pits on lap 30 due to the damage sustained.
Winterbottom's Round 7 results finds the FPR Falcon driver 8th in the Championship standings, while his result of 5th overall this weekend was his personal best result to date at Queensland Raceway. Richards is now placed six points outside of the top ten at 11th. Garth Tander leads the standings at the half way point of the Championship, ten points ahead od Rick Kelly with Jamie Whincup third.
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "It wasn't a bad finish to the weekend. I think we genuinely had the pace to be inside the top five for the round, but race one cost us a couple of spots. It's nice to get close to the front and I think if we can just get a lucky run we'll be able to win a round. We've made some good improvements and come Oran Park it would be nice to get a solo win before the endurance races. This weekend has been pretty positive, we've finished fifth and still believe we have some improvements to make which gives me some confidence heading into the next round."
#6 Steve Richards - "We didn't qualify that well yesterday and I had a problem in race two that dropped me to the rear of the grid for race three where I made a good start and gained a lot of ground early on. The pace of the Castrol FPR Falcon was very good - probably the best it has been for the weekend, the brakes and tyres were great. We stayed out to run longer than many other cars in race three with very good speed and we had a great pit stop. Our speed before the stop allowed us to get out in 13th position and even then the car was fantastic, we probably could have moved forward another four or five positions. Unfortunately I got turned around by Todd Kelly coming out of the last corner just after mid race which was extremely disappointing as everyone in the team worked pretty hard and ended up without a good result to show for it."
FPR Team Principal, Tim Edwards - "Both drivers did a great job today, they made up positions in the races with both FPR Falcons showing improved pace, but we didn't get the results that we were looking for. Steve had made up 20 positions and was sneaking towards the top ten in race three before he was turned around by Todd Kelly. That was disappointing, but it did clearly show how much speed we have and we will take this pace and improve on it for Oran Park next month."