Ford Performance Racing – Sydney Motorsport Park 360 Race Report

Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom, Will Davison and David Reynolds put on a strong performance in today’s mix of practice, qualifying and racing at the newly refreshed Sydney Motorsport Park at Eastern Creek near Sydney.

Winterbottom and his Orrcon Steel Ford now leads the championship by twenty points after taking second to Craig Lowndes who is carrying great championship momentum after securing his third straight win following his performance in Queensland earlier this month. It was Winterbottom who took the race up to Lowndes after getting a great start from position five on the grid. Winterbottom launched into third position directly behind the equally fast starting Caruso and Webb who started from the front row on soft tyres and began the chase for the race lead even though he was using his hard tyres.

After the pit stop by Winterbottom on lap twelve he lost a small amount of time to Lowndes who stopped one lap earlier on lap eleven. The time gained by Lowndes stopping one lap earlier was enough to give him a second and a half lead over Winterbottom that he held until the completion of the race.

Will Davison took his Tradingpost Ford to a credible third place today but had to battle all the way with Jamie Whincup after both drivers had a poor start to the race, loosing valuable positions in the first lap.

With Davison starting third behind the pole sitter Whincup – he was baulked after Jamie was slow to get off the line allowing Winterbottom and Caruso to get passed. That set up a great race between the defending champion and FPR’s Davison that would last through the pit stop process and all the way through until lap 30 when Whincup suffered a tyre issue and lost critical seconds to Davison who would go on to claim third place and retain third in the chase for the championship – 103 points behind Winterbottom.

For Whincup the day would go downhill rapidly following a tyre failure within the last six laps. He eventually would fall from fourth position behind Davison to twenty third by race end dropping him to second in the championship.

While the race was again dominated by FPR and 888 drivers it was The Bottle-O Racing Ford of David Reynolds that had a lot of work on his hands. After starting a strong seventh he battled long and hard with fellow Ford driver Van Gisbergen for positions in the top ten however Reynolds would eventually fall to thirteenth in the closing laps after suffering a tyre issue on the front right. His finish today moves him down one place in the championship to eleventh however his pace will surely assist his movement back into the top ten before the start of the endurance events of Sandown and Bathurst.

Drivers’ View

Mark Winterbottom – #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Ford
Qualifying: 5th
Race Result: 2nd

“Good, really good day, obviously qualifying the car wasn’t 100% we just needed to improve it a bit but we qualified 5th. I know the way our race pace has been lately so we have half a chance in the race to have a crack and 5th wasn’t really a true reflection I guess of where the car should have been. A good start in the race got up to P3 in the first corner and just tried to push as hard as I could. A few little issues in the race definitely didn’t go our way but it went as good it as could. Craig is obviously on a roll at the moment he’s the guy to catch and we’re the car that’s just pushing him along a little bit and then there’s a bit of a gap to the other competitors, so I am pretty happy with our progress. The Championship lead is a good thing not that you’re focused on it but I think the last time I led the Championship was potentially 2008 so it’s a milestone anyway and I will try and hold on to these 20 points until the end of the year. I don’t care if we can only win it by 1 or whatever but we’re well aware that it will be a fight to end of the year and Craig’s on a roll, he’s the one that’s coming but we also expect that Jamie will bounce back. So a lot’s going to happen between now and then, and we’ll take the Championship lead, it’s a good thing for the Team.”

Will Davison – #6 Tradingpost FPR Ford
Qualifying: 3rd
Race Result: 3rd

“Tricky day, very busy day – practice straight into qualifying straight into the race, made it quite challenging. I haven’t been entirely happy with the balance of the car today, we never quite got it right. I didn’t have very good practice tyres so it was a bit of a gamble. Once again the one lap speed was great, the car was definitely good enough for pole but I just made a few little errors on my lap. So one lap pace again is very good but we’re just not translating it into good race pace at the moment and that’s where I’ve got to focus for tomorrow. We just didn’t quite have the rear grip, just the balance on both sets of tyres. It was good to salvage a podium again of course but I need to be faster tomorrow.”

David Reynolds – #55 The Bottle-O FPR Ford
Qualifying: 7th
Race Result: 13th

“My day wasn’t too bad considering after the first session I thought I was legitimately 2 seconds off the pace but in actual fact I think it was just the tyres, the tyre batch we had wasn’t that good. So, qualifying went ok however I was a bit disappointed in myself, I didn’t get the most out of it – I should have been further up. I just ruined my last sector and you only get one chance so we’ll come back tomorrow and have a better qualifying session.
The race didn’t go to plan either. I got a terrible start after the clutch went to the floor off the start line but later on I was trucking along ok on hard tyres and I thought I had reasonable pace and we put the soft tyres on and I had really good pace for a little bit, and then the front right tyre started to go funny and the car wouldn’t turn properly after that I was just struggling and looking in my mirrors a lot. But I felt like Ari Vartnen driving with one hand trying to block the sun it was pretty cool.”

Tim Edwards – FPR Team Principal

“Today was a strong outcome for the team. We have worked hard to get the balance as good as it can be between hard and soft tyres today and we are really close to the pace we need to return to the top step of the podium again. We may just need to keep up the pressure on Triple Eight and see if they stumble a little.

Mark’s drive was great. He kept pushing and for both he and Lowndes to have driven to more than a twelve second lead over Will was amazing. That kind of consistent pace from our cars will be a real asset to our drivers and our team when we get to Sandown and Bathurst.

Will and David had their moments and their own battles but both handled the race well. Will certainly did a great job fighting for position with Jamie and in the end he won that battle and with that we gained the championship lead in both the driver and the teams championship – now we have to keep it.”

Sydney Motorsport Park 360 – Race 1

1st Craig Lowndes – Triple Eight
2nd Mark Winterbottom – Orrcon Steel FPR Ford
3rd Will Davison – Tradingpost FPR Ford
4th Garth Tander – Holden Racing Team
5th Russell Ingall – Supercheap Auto Racing
13th David Reynolds – The Bottle-O FPR Ford

Driver Championship
1st Mark Winterbottom – Orrcon Steel FPR Ford – 2108 points
2nd Jamie Whincup – Triple Eight – 2088 points
3rd Will Davison – Tradingpost FPR Ford – 2005 points
4th Craig Lowndes – Triple Eight – 1946 points
5th Shane Van Gisbergen – Stone Brothers Racing – 1568 points
11th David Reynolds – The Bottle-O FPR Ford – 1083 points

Team Championship
1st Ford Performance Racing – 4113 points
2nd Triple Eight – 4059 points
3rd Stone Brothers Racing – 2812 points