Tasmania: FPR preview

FPR TAKES DESERT 400 DOMINATING SPEED TO TASMANIA FOR THE PENULTIMATE V8 SUPERCAR ROUND After an unchallenged run to its first V8 Supercar round victory of the season in Bahrain two weeks ago, Ford Performance Racing (FPR) now sets its sights on...

FPR TAKES DESERT 400 DOMINATING SPEED TO TASMANIA FOR THE PENULTIMATE V8 SUPERCAR ROUND

After an unchallenged run to its first V8 Supercar round victory of the season in Bahrain two weeks ago, Ford Performance Racing (FPR) now sets its sights on the penultimate round of the Championship being held at Tasmania's Symmons Plains Raceway this weekend.

The Prodrive team will be looking to go one better at the exciting Launceston circuit this year, literally. Last season, FPR's car 6 finished as the round runner-up, just one solitary point away from the round winner.

The island state of Tasmania has always been kind to FPR, unearthing a number of firsts for the blue oval V8 Supercar team over recent years. FPR raced to its first double podium round result at Symmons Plains last season, with the FPR Falcons finishing second and third overall. It was also the scene of FPR's first 1-2 race result in a V8 Supercar race.

Two second places and a third place last year secured Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon driver Mark Winterbottom a Tasmanian podium finish at third overall. At the time, this was the second podium finish of his career. The 26 year old Desert 400 (Bahrain) Champion driver and Pole setter is planning to continue his dominant qualifying form by posting his fourth pole position in five rounds at Symmons Plains this weekend. Winterbottom currently heads the 2007 V8 Supercar Pole Award competition standings by one round.

Castrol FPR Falcon driver Steve Richards has a long history of success at Symmons Plains, including two memorable Pole positions. He was the pole-sitter when the Launceston circuit returned to V8 Supercar schedule in 2004 and in the following year, when he also took runner-up honours for the round, which was his best overall result at this circuit. The highly experienced Richards will be making his seventh Championship appearance at Symmons Plains this weekend and has scored two podiums and four top ten finishes to date. His speed at recent rounds and his history of success at this venue forebodes a very strong performance this weekend.

Interestingly, Symmons Plains was the scene of Richards' Touring Car racing debut in May 1995. The double Bathurst Champion made his start in an Alfa Romeo 155 during the 1995 Australian Super Touring Championship's second round. The highlight was one Pole position at that event, which was an outstanding result for a rookie. In 1993, Richards won the Symmons Plains round of the Australian Formula Ford Championship.

Symmons Plains Raceway is the V8 Supercar Championship Series' fourth fastest circuit, with only Pukekohe, Bathurst and Phillip Island possessing a faster average lap speed. Despite this, the 2.4 kilometre circuit layout features the Championship's slowest corner, the hairpin, which is negotiated at 55km/h. Symmons Plains Raceway also features the shortest lap length of any circuit on the Championship trail.

The team has enjoyed a fast paced schedule of preparation for this round, with both FPR Falcons returning from the team's victorious round in Bahrain with minimal damage. As the cars will be traveling across Bass Strait to Tasmania well secured within the team's own B-Double race team transporter, the chances of the cars falling off enroute to the circuit is rated at very minimal!

#6 Steve Richards - "I have had some great races at Symmons Plains and I love competing there. It is a challenging circuit despite its relatively short length and it always produces great races. Considering the speed that we have enjoyed at the last five rounds, I am sure that we will be very fast there. My goal is to win the round as we have a great car and team who are eager to continue our impressive form. We have nothing to lose by pushing hard at these final rounds and that it what we intend to do."

#5 Mark Winterbottom - "After our fantastic result at the Desert 400, we haven't had a lot of time to bask in the glory of finally breaking through to win a round this season. It is straight back to business at Symmons Plains this weekend and we intend to hit the ground running and get the overall victory that we only just missed last season after a close fight. The team is keen to keep on winning through to the end of the season and we have a very fast car that will suit the characteristics of this circuit very well."

FPR Team Principal, Tim Edwards - "We have had a busy time turning the cars around after Bahrain and the whole team has been buoyed by our fantastic back to back victory at the Desert 400. There are two Pole positions and six races remaining in the final two rounds of the Championship and we'll be doing our best to get them all, particularly in Tasmania this weekend after coming so close to winning this round last year. "

On FPR's side this weekend is the team's outstanding pace as displayed during the last five rounds, along with history. Cobra liveried Falcon GTs won the Symmons Plains ATCC round in 1977 with Allan Moffat and Colin Bond posting another 1-2 finish as they did at Bathurst. Celebrating this significant anniversary since Bathurst this season, Winterbottom's Orrcon Ford Credit FPR Falcon will appear in a GT Cobra livery in Tasmania.

The weekend's V8 Supercar round, which also doubles as Tasmania's largest outdoor sporting event each year, will also be a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the first racing held at Symmons Plains Raceway. The Light Car Club of Tasmania conducted a combined motoring and aviation sports day on the Youl family agricultural property on October 28, 1957. The current circuit was built a few years later. A round of the Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC- forerunner to the V8 Supercar Championship Series) was first held at Symmons Plains in 1969, during the inaugural series. This year will be 35th time it has hosted a round, ranking it third among the current longest serving venues behind Sandown (38) and Oran Park (37).

-credit: fpr.com.au

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Mark Winterbottom , Allan Moffat , Steve Richards , Tim Edwards , Phillip Island