2010 V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES - RACE 18
Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, New South Wales
Date: October 10, 2010
Circuit: Mount Panorama, Bathurst
Race Format: 1 x 1000-kilometre race (161 laps)
After a promising start to the weekend, which included pole position for today's 1000k race, Ford Performance Racing endured a tough day at the office, with the Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon of Mark Winterbottom and Luke Youlden and Dunlop Super Dealer FPR Falcon of Steve Richards and James Moffat finishing the punishing race in ninth and 11th places respectively.
All FPR drivers put in inspirational efforts to bring their cars home after suffering the effects of various hindrances throughout the grueling 161 laps.
From pole position, Frosty made a blinding start and soon pulled a gap on Triple 8's Mark Skaife before -on the second lap – Walkinshaw Racing's Fabian Coulthard made a frightening exit from the race at more than 290kph through the chase resulting in a spectacular crash which resulted in the Safety Car being deployed.
On the resumption of the race three laps later, Frosty maintained his rapid pace for the next 25 laps before handing over to his co-driver Youlden who continued the push for the lead.
In the Dunlop Super Dealer FPR Falcon, Steve Richards also made a great start, snatching two places off the line, but by the first turn found himself boxed in and further progress was halted.
Richo maintained his position, and while he too struggled with the right balance, kept the leaders in his sights before handing over the reins to partner James Moffat.
"Overall I'm pretty happy with today," Moffat said after his Bathurst 1000 debut.
"It would have been nice to finish in the top ten but to come close is I suppose a consolation on my debut.
The first stint was tough because when I came out there was a bit of rain on the circuit so for the first four or five laps I had to be conservative until I worked out what and where the grip was ... the main thing for me this weekend was to do the best job I could and I'm pleased with the outcome."
Back at the front of the field, FPR's hopes for its first ever Bathurst 1000 win were dashed 70 laps into the race when the Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon piloted by Luke Youlden at the time, suffered a delaminated rear tyre causing him to slide into the wall at The Cutting.
While the damage was not enough to stop the FPR Falcon, it did enough warrant a slow return to pit lane, costing the pole sitting entry at least a dozen places.
"A frustrating day," a clearly dejected Youlden said.
"We were in a really good position ... I thought I'd let the team down (by having the accident) and it was my fault – but to learn it wasn't and that it was a tyre that let go made me feel a little bit better personally but not for the team," he added.
"I felt the rear starting to drift and I radioed to Campbell that I'd lost the balance of the car ... I moved over to let Holdsworth and Lowndes through and all of a sudden she's just let loose and bang! I'm in the wall.
The positive to take from it I suppose is that we were really lucky that we could soldier on in the race ... it was a pretty big hit and we could ended the race there and then ... if that had happened I would have been absolutely shattered."
Once the new tyres and driver change was completed - along with a quick check for damage, Frosty rejoined the race back in 26th place.
From there on the Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon struggled to find its full fighting fitness due to front camber being lost from the touch with the wall and severe oversteer, eventually going a lap down to the leaders on lap 104 which was claimed back on lap 134 after another Safety Car was called when the Holden of Jason Bargwanna expired on Conrod straight.
With Frosty at the wheel for the dash to the line, the Orrcon Steel FPR eventually crossed the line inside the top ten in ninth place - a great effort considering this meant a gain of 17 places since the clash with the wall earlier in the day.
"A tough day," Frosty reflected.
"The car was definitely a top-three contender early on ... but after the tyre went and the resulting off, the front end just wasn't right ... I had to fight so much understeer – add to that fading brakes towards the end and it was a tough car to drive," he added.
"We managed to pick a few off though which was rewarding considering the conditions but you still leave feeling a bit empty."
Richo also had the 'run home' honours, pushing hard over the final laps to bring the Dunlop Super Dealer FPR Falcon home just outside the top ten in 11th place.
"I'm not sure what to say about today," Richo mused.
"The car really struggled to drive out of turn one but was great across the top of the mountain ... so it was a case of two steps forward one back all day which is pretty frustrating.
On full fuel loads the car worked well but rear tyre wear was the demonic conflict and trying to find the right balance was difficult ... when you're chasing set-up on the run it's very hard to get ahead.
Overall though we did the best we could and 11th will get up the championship points a few places ... bring on the Gold Coast," Richo optimistically concluded.
FPR will now refresh and regroup for the Gold Coast International event which will be held on the streets of Surfers Paradise in a fortnight's time.
Until then, keep an eye on our website and FPR's Facebook fan page for regular updates (see link below):