Ford Performance Racing has claimed its second podium of the weekend in Darwin as Mark Winterbottom made the most of his tyre situation to claim third. Fellow championship contender Will Davison was sixth and David Reynolds eighth as the team scored valuable points on a weekend where it did not have the absolute outright pace required to win.
The team enjoyed the perfect qualifying result with all three cars locking out the top three spots in the race against the clock. The trio started well on hard tyres and held the top three spots early, though a safety car changed the outlook of the race. The team decided to stop all three drivers and switch to soft tyres with the aim of running a three-stop strategy. Davison unfortunately had to queue behind Winterbottom and while he dropped places he soon regained much of the lost ground in the next phase of the race. Winterbottom and Reynolds regained the top two places just before half distance though all three factory Fords pitted in a four lap window for the second time. By this time a multitude of alternate strategies were starting to play themselves out and with worse than expected tyre life Davison and Reynolds dropped off the front pack. After the final round of stops Winterbottom was second behind title rival Jamie Whincup who only stopped twice. While he eventually ceded another place to race winner Craig Lowndes, he claimed another valuable podium finish. Davison finished strongly and regained ground to sixth at race end while Reynolds settled for eighth and moved up another place in the standings.
In qualifying the team dominated by locking out the first three places on the grid as Davison took his second pole in as many days ahead of Winterbottom and Reynolds to give FPR a unique sweep of the top three places.
Mark Winterbottom - #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Ford
Qualifying: 2nd – 1m08.66s
Race result: 3rd – Best lap: 1m11.02s
“The car was definitely hard work in that last stint but we had flashes of speed. I was good on the hard tyre and then had a massive gap to everyone until we changed the strategy to go onto the softs. It was a great call and one we had planned but each set of tyres from then on was inconsistent. The second set was fine, the next was very good and the final set was a long way off the pace so we will have to look into that and see what happened. That aside, third on a day where we are struggling is a good result.”
Will Davison - #6 Tradingpost FPR Ford
Qualifying: 1st – 1m08.50s
Race result: 6th – Best lap: 1m10.64s
“It is obviously disappointing when you don’t convert two pole positions into anything. Around here there is a massive difference between one lap pace and race pace and while our one lap was awesome and the car was great in qualifying we struggled with our race set-up. We took a bit of a gamble in the race to try and improve things but we actually went backwards a little so that didn’t make things easy. I had to queue in the pits and from there things didn’t quite go to plan. There aren’t many tracks like this but we now know we have work to do in these sorts of conditions. I can’t wait for Townsville.”
David Reynolds - #55 The Bottle-O FPR Ford
Qualifying: 3rd – 1m08.84sd
Race result: 8th – Best lap: 1m11.15s
“I had a good qualifying session as did Will and Frosty though we lacked tyre life in the races compared to our main rivals. We went with a three-stop strategy compared to some other people who went with two and for me that might’ve been the better option. It is really hard to say but our tyre life wasn’t quite there so maybe it was for the better. We’ll press on and this was still my best weekend since joining the team and I am encouraged by that.”
Tim Edwards – FPR Team Principal
“We certainly hoped for more from the weekend but to have a bad weekend and still come away with two podiums and a decent haul of points is certainly damage limitation. Our qualifying effort on both days was simply phenomenal but around here you need very good tyre life and we fell just short of that this weekend. Frosty and Will haven’t lost too much ground which is crucial and Dave has actually made up a big gap and is threatening the top 10 so he can be pleased with that.”