Sandown: Ford Performance Racing preview

FPR SET FOR SANDOWN 500 SUCCESS August 29, 2006 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) is ready for the first of two major endurance races of the 2006 season, the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 on hometown turf. Jason Bright and Mark Winterbottom will...


August 29, 2006 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) is ready for the first of two major endurance races of the 2006 season, the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 on hometown turf.

Jason Bright and Mark Winterbottom will form one of the most challenging driver pairings of the event in the CAT FPR Falcon. They are joined by impressive New Zealand A1 GP team racer and three time Sandown 500 starter Matt Halliday and experienced Australian driver Cameron McLean who will be making his 5th Sandown 500 start in the Ford Credit BroadIP Falcon this Sunday.

Bright's best finish in the Sandown 500 was third on debut in 1997, sharing a Falcon with 1980 Formula One World Champion Alan Jones. Since then, Bright has competed in five Sandown enduros, gaining four top ten finishes.

Winterbottom, who is currently 4th in the Championship standings, will make his fourth Sandown 500 start this Sunday. He was 11th on debut in 2003, 6th in 2004 and 16th last year, giving him a 100 percent finishing record in this major race. Another top ten finish at Sandown will mark the 25 year old's seventh consecutive top ten round finish of his outstanding 2006 season.

McLean makes a welcome return to FPR at Sandown and much is expected from his exciting partnership with Halliday in a car which is capable of taking the duo to the top step of the podium. McLean has tasted success at Sandown before, finishing second in the 2004 event with Ford driver Russell Ingall.

#6 Jason Bright - "The Sandown 500 can be a tricky race and it rewards the teams who are prepared for anything to happen. After all of the situations that we have managed to recover from to get strong results this season, I know that FPR heads to this race being more than capable of winning it. Mark and I share the same car set-up without any compromises and this is crucial for a long race like this. After the speed we have shown so far this season and our detailed testing last week, we intend to start the endurance season very strongly."

#6 Mark Winterbottom - "Its great to be paired with a driver as experienced as Jason Bright heading into the endurance races. As we have displayed this season, we are both very comfortable with eachother's car set-up. This is very important, particularly at Sandown because this long race is usually held in challenging weather conditions. Our experience behind the wheel and that of the team is sure to make us one of the fastest driver combinations out there. I have to say that it is an incredible feeling to be approaching the Sandown 500 with a very strong chance of being able to win it."

#5 Matt Halliday - "The team has done some excellent preparation for Sandown and I am more than comfortable with the car following my laps during testing. It is great to be heading into this event with a co-driver and car that can get the job done. The team's experience and record in running long distance events is also a promising factor for us. Cameron has seen the podium at Sandown and I would like to step up on it as well."

#5 Cameron McLean - "We are heading into Sandown in better than good shape - the team has performed very strongly throughout the season so I can't wait to get back into racing with a very competitive car. Matt and I do not feature in the Championship, so there is no need to be conservative or to employ strategies simply to finish in the points - we will be trying to win this race."

FPR Motorsport Director, Tim Edwards - "We are very well prepared for the first of the Enduro races at Sandown and like every round, our goal is to ensure that the team has strong, fast and reliable cars for the long race. We have yet to win a round this season and I couldn't think of anywhere better to do this than here in our hometown of Melbourne. We have assembled a very strong team of drivers and we know that we have two very fast Falcons, so we are looking forward to it."

The 2006 Betta Electrical Sandown 500 will be the 39th Touring Car based endurance event held at the Melbourne circuit since 1964. Prior to 1984, this event was contested over various distances and lengths, the past formats included six hours, three hours, 250 miles and 400 kilometres. The 2006 event will be the 23rd which has been held over 500km.

-credit: fpr

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Matthew Halliday , Alan Jones , Jason Bright , Russell Ingall , Mark Winterbottom , Cameron McLean , Tim Edwards