MARK WINTERBOTTOM TAKES SUPERB SANDOWN POLE POSITION Ford Performance Racing (FPR) driver Mark Winterbottom has gained Pole position for tomorrow's 40th running of the Sandown 500 in Melbourne. Team mate Steve Richards has qualified 6th, capping...
MARK WINTERBOTTOM TAKES SUPERB SANDOWN POLE POSITION
Ford Performance Racing (FPR) driver Mark Winterbottom has gained Pole position for tomorrow's 40th running of the Sandown 500 in Melbourne. Team mate Steve Richards has qualified 6th, capping off a very strong day for the Prodrive team, who are also the defending winners of this hometown endurance race.
This is the second career Pole position for 26 year old Winterbottom, who also topped qualifying at New Zealand's third round in April, making this Sandown 500 Pole his first on an Australian circuit and his first top ten shoot-out victory. Winterbottom's pace was complemented by his co-driver Matt Halliday, who performed impressively during today's final practice session.
This is also FPR's fifth V8 Supercar Pole position, which co-incides with the Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver's 50th Championship round.
Richards was in strong form throughout today's highly competitive qualifying and top ten shoot out, setting the 8th fastest lap in qualifying and following this up by elevating his and co-driver Owen Kelly's starting position in the Castrol FPR Falcon to 6th after the single lap shoot-out. Both drivers have displayed very strong pace ahead of tomorrow's long 161 lap race.
Winterbottom's top ten shoot out lap time of 1:10.6405s was 8/100ths of a second faster than Ford rival James Courtney, with HRT driver Todd Kelly third. Courtney was fastest in qualifying but was surpassed by Winterbottom in the high pressure single lap qualifying decider.
#5 Mark Winterbottom - "This is a great start for us but it probably isn't as important in the wider scheme of things with such a long race. Winning the race last year was great, to gain Pole this year is another major achievement for us and we can rest tonight knowing that we have an excellent car for the race and that we can get off to a good start from the front row. I am particularly pleased because the top ten shoot-out used to be my weak point and today it was my strongest point."
#5 Matt Halliday - "Mark did an awesome job today, it was an amazing lap and he deserves the top spot for his effort. After competing in the V8 Supercar endurance races over the past three years I am very confident in the car, its finding those last extra tenths of a second that is always very hard in a series as competitive as this. My goal for the weekend is not to be the hero, but to be quick and consistent. Mark's obviously got the pace and the aim is to transfer this speed into a good result tomorrow."
#6 Steve Richards - "The car is just fantastic, I can't describe how happy I am with our speed and set-up. We will be very competitive tomorrow with a great race car and it is exciting to head into this race with such confidence. I was a little slow into turn one on my shoot out lap, but other than that it was great. We are positioned to have a great race tomorrow."
#6 Owen Kelly - "We had a great day today and Richo capped it off with a great effort in qualifying. Everything has run exactly to plan this weekend and we have a great starting position for tomorrow's race. I feel confident and comfortable in the car and the team is in great shape for the race."
FPR Team Principal, Tim Edwards - "This is a fantastic result for the team, with Mark and Steve performing so well in qualifying, along with the strong pace of our co-drivers during this morning's practice sessions. We head into the race in the strongest form possible and look forward to defending our Sandown 500 title tomorrow."
The first of the two major V8 Supercar endurance races of the season takes place at 1:30pm (EST) tomorrow.