Symmons Plains: FPR Sunday report

FPR Races To Fourth in Tasmanian V8 Supercar Round November 14, 2004 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton have managed to gain a strong points haul in the team's first Tasmanian appearance at Symmons Plains...

FPR Races To Fourth in Tasmanian V8 Supercar Round

November 14, 2004 - Ford Performance Racing (FPR) drivers Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton have managed to gain a strong points haul in the team's first Tasmanian appearance at Symmons Plains Raceway this weekend.

CAT FPR Falcon driver Craig Lowndes finished the 12th round of the Championship at 4th overall after gaining two 6th places and a 10th place finish in a consistent and determined performance during the three closely contested Tasmanian races.

Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver Glenn Seton managed to recover a points earning result despite a 28th place finish in Saturday's first race (due to a team strategy gamble on wet tyres) and a 19 second pit stop in the second race due to a wheel nut problem. Seton finished the third race in 14th place after starting from the rear of the field.

It was a weekend of three fast and furious V8 Supercar races in Tasmania, none more confusing than the third 42 lap encounter, which saw a great deal of confusion surrounding the ten lap deployment of the Safety Car and the race order thereafter.

Despite this, the weekend was a highly competitive spectacle worthy of the return of Australia's premier motor racing category to this island state after an absence of five years. The local fans voted with their feet, with over 60,200 fans attending over the three days. (30,150 on Sunday).

Ford driver Russell Ingall was the winner of the round ahead of Holden drivers Greg Murphy and Stephen Richards with CAT FPR Falcon driver Lowndes and Holden driver Cameron McConville making up the Tasmanian top five.

#6 Craig Lowndes - "We had a good car today and after a great start in the third race I had an early altercation with Marcos Ambrose that bent the steering, but the car was still strong and I kept up the chase of the leading group. Finishing fourth overall is a good result in the end, but the confustion with the Safety Car made race three a very frustrating one. Although we came here wanting to win this round, we have once again displayed our constantly improving performance here in Tasmania."

#5 Glenn Seton - "The third race was a very enjoyable one but the only problem was the Safety Car periods - these didn't provide enough race laps to pass the cars in front. We had a fast car today and to come away from where we started at 28th to finish 14th was better than what I thought we were in for. The team has learned more from this round and it is a better result compared to where we have been during the season."

FPR Chief Engineer John Russell - "An interesting weekend. To come out of the round at fourth overall reflects the consistent progress that FPR is making. Glenn drove a very good third race to reclaim credibility after my bad pit stop decision yesterday. Good work by all."

With only one round remaining in the Championship (to be held at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway on December 4 and 5), the 2004 Championship is far from a foregone conclusion. Ford driver Marcos Ambrose leads with 1982 points, followed by Holden rival Greg Murphy with 1831 points.

Individual Tasmanian Triple Challenge race summaries follow;

RACE ONE (Saturday - 4:00pm)
Ford Performance Racing driver Craig Lowndes finished 6th in the first of three Tasmanian V8 Supercar races being held this weekend at Launceston's Symmons Plains Raceway. Glenn Seton endured a tough race punctuated by an off circuit foray and an unsuccessful gamble on wet tyres.

The 42 lapper started at 4:00pm and by the mid stages of the race dark storm clouds provided the continuous threat of heavy rain - but only brief light showers saw the circuit remain mostly dry.

Both Seton and Lowndes made strong starts in Saturday's race, Seton making up two positions from the green light and Lowndes bringing his CAT FPR Falcon into the pits while in 3rd position after 11 laps (from 7th on the grid). Racing on slick (dry) tyres throughout, Lowndes muscled his way to 6th by the chequered flag.

Seton was forced to run his Ford Credit FPV Falcon off the circuit to avoid impacting the early braking Max Wilson on the approach to the turn four hairpin on lap 10, this costing the 1992 Symmons Plains winner valuable time and track positions after his first tyre stop. With dark clouds and rain showers closing in around the circuit, the team made the decision to take a gamble with one of the team's FPR Falcons in the unpredictable conditions with wet tyres, but the expected heavy showers never came. Seton finished 28th.

The first Tasmanian Triple Challenge V8 Supercar race was won by Holden driver Rick Kelly ahead of Ford's Marcos Ambrose and Todd Kelly (Holden). Lowndes was the second highest placed Ford driver in the race.

RACE TWO - Sunday 12:05pm
Craig Lowndes got race two off to a blistering start, racing from 6th to 4th before the first turn and starting a race long chase of Ford rival Russell Ingall and Holden driver Greg Murphy. The battle continued for the entire 42 lap race which was interrupted only by his compulsory pit stop for tyres on lap 5 and two short Safety Car periods.

Glenn Seton set off on the hard task of gaining as many track positions as possible during this race, starting from 28th on the grid. He progressed to 23rd by the half way point of the race and continued to 19th in a solid drive to the chequered flag. The Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver was the first of the two FPR drivers to make his compulsory pit stop for tyres on lap 5.

Lowndes raced his CAT FPR Falcon to 6th place, 4.4 seconds behind the race winner Marcos Ambrose. Holden drivers Rick Kelly and Todd Kelly finished second and third.

Overcast and windy conditions prevailed for both of Sunday's V8 Supercar races.

RACE THREE - Sunday, 3:00pm
Starting from 6th on the grid, Lowndes pitted on the 4th lap for tyres and started a race long chase of the leaders. On lap 9, Lowndes and Ambrose had territorial dispute on the track resulting in a bent steering for the CAT FPR Falcon. The first of two Safety Car periods took place on the 11th lap when Holden driver Paul Weel spectacularly crashed after hitting oil from Todd Kelly's blown HRT engine at the first turn.

Lowndes drove around the problem to continue his charge into the top ten from 16th position by the half way point. By lap 27 he had progressed to 14th and the second Safety Car period occurred, this one lasting some ten laps due to a car blocking the circuit and some race timing issues that saw utter confusion reign supreme in the V8 Supercar pit lane in relation to the running order of the field. The race re-started on lap 37 and Lowndes sprinted to the chequered flag at 10th.

For Ford Credit FPV Falcon driver Seton, the race was frustrating as he started from 19th on the grid and made up one place at the start. After a 7.7 second pit stop on lap 5, Seton continued his charge towards the top ten. The long Safety Car period proved costly, taking away valuable race laps to continue moving up the order.

Seton finished 14th, the double Champion driver clearly matching the pace of the top ten drivers throughout the limited racing laps of the 42 lap Tasmanian encounter.

The third race was won by Holden driver Greg Murphy ahead of Ford's Russell Ingall and Holden driver Steven Richards. This result earned Ingall the round victory.

-fpr-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Max Wilson , Marcos Ambrose , Greg Murphy , Cameron McConville , Russell Ingall , Rick Kelly , Paul Weel , Craig Lowndes , Glenn Seton , Todd Kelly , Steven Richards