FPR SURVIVES PIT DRAMA FOR 2ND Mark Winterbottom drove a stellar race at Winton Motor Raceway today, navigating on-track and pit lane chaos to score a second podium for Ford Performance Racing. The mayhem started as Lee Holdsworth's car...
FPR SURVIVES PIT DRAMA FOR 2ND
Mark Winterbottom drove a stellar race at Winton Motor Raceway today, navigating on-track and pit lane chaos to score a second podium for Ford Performance Racing.
The mayhem started as Lee Holdsworth's car expired on lap 20, which was in the refueling window for the 66-lap race.
Teams lunged into the pit lane, including 888's Craig Lowndes who was next door to FPR. That obstructed the Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon's exit and the two emerged fighting for the race lead with Paul Dumbrell.
Stuck behind the Commodore, Frosty was balancing fuel consumption with pushing forward; he charged up and passed Dumbrell on lap 47 to finish second just a couple of seconds behind Lowndes.
After qualifying 14th Richo got a left-rear puncture on lap two and had to pit, relegating him to the back of the race.
The safety car saw him emerge mid-field, however, and he was up to 14th before having to splash and dash on lap 51. The Castrol FPR Falcon fitted soft tyres and rejoined 24th, making up eight places to finish 16th by the chequered flag.
FPR will be back on track in Tasmania on May 28-31.
Mark Winterbottom 5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon
"Yesterday I saw plenty of people get turned around by cars on softs lunging past people on hard tyres so I played it pretty conservative in the early stages today. I just wanted to finish a race; to get to the end and stay clear of the drama early on!
"I knew I had a good car on hard tyres so I thought we'd wait to jump Lowndes in the pits because our guys have been pretty fast on the guns recently. When the safety car came out it was a race to the pits but unfortunately we got blocked in.
"It was a pretty exciting race and I wasn't worrying about what was going on in the pit lane; I just put my head down and raced for track position."
Steve Richards 6 Castrol FPR Falcon
"The used soft tyres were great; a heap faster than anyone we were around but we were 30 seconds off the eight ball. I passed two or three guys on the last two laps with the extra pace. Everyone else's soft tyres had run out of grip."
"Lowndes' stop was just a pit lane incident as far as I'm concerned. We've all got to work closely together in the congestion and I'm sure there was no malice involved.
"We had no intention of using the soft tyres for Richo but because of the puncture on the first lap we thought we'd put them on for the last few laps. It was a fantastic move because Steve made up about eight places.
"Our pace on hard and soft tyres was outstanding today and we made the right strategy calls. We could have quite easily had two cars on the podium; I know it's all ifs, buts and maybes but the team and drivers did a great job today and we can give ourselves a big pat on the back."