Ford Performance Racing (FPR) is confident of success at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide after a positive pre-event test confirmed the team has improved how the car handles in key areas.
FPR trio Mark Winterbottom, Will Davison and Paul Dumbrell each spent a day testing at Winton in northern Victoria before heading to Adelaide and all three feel their factory Falcons are ready to tame the challenging 3.21-kilometre layout.
Winterbottom is particularly conscious of how well his #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon will ride the kerbs and believes the team improved significantly in this area during the Winton test.
"The car is riding kerbs massively better than last year and that was my main weakness when we look at our notes from Clipsal 2010," Winterbottom said. "At the moment my Orrcon Falcon feels like a very good car on the Dunlop hard tyre and Clipsal is all about tyre life.
"Clipsal is the busiest weekend of the year because of how successful the event is. I always look forward to it. We have massive support in Adelaide with Orrcon and their parent company Hills Industries so it almost feels like a home race. The day I win there will be one of the most special of my career."
Davison further acclimatised to the team at Winton and spent much of the time gaining a better understanding of how the #6 Trading Post FPR Falcon reacts to varying set-up changes.
"I am putting high expectations on myself for Clipsal," Davison said. "I've had a couple of races in the car now and while we certainly didn't get the points we wanted in Abu Dhabi we took a lot out of those races.
"The Adelaide track is very demanding but the areas where I already get the most out of the FPR package will translate to Clipsal. You need a car that is nice on kerbs, easy to drive and I think we've got that.
"For me it is important to get some good solid races on the board and hopefully have a couple of mistake-free ones which would personally be very rewarding around a track like Clipsal. I will be disappointed if I don't make my way onto the podium at least once across the two races."
Dumbrell was perhaps the most comfortable with the set-up of his car and believes he can return the #55 The Bottle-O Racing FPR Falcon to the front of the field after a less-than ideal start to the year in Abu Dhabi.
"We had two fifth positions at Clipsal last year so that is the benchmark we have to beat and after a successful test at Winton we are looking forward to doing just that," Dumbrell.
"Clipsal is a challenge for everyone, though I am at peak fitness which should help and I am really looking forward to it. Racing in front of big crowds and with all that atmosphere is why the event has won the best-race award so many times and why from my point of view it is the best event on the calendar by far."
FPR team principal Tim Edwards is eagerly anticipating racing in Adelaide and admitted it is one of the key events the factory Ford team has set itself to win this season.
"Despite showing good pace in Abu Dhabi we know we should have gained a lot more points, so in a way Clipsal is a chance to set things straight and begin our season proper," Edwards said.
"Mark has carried on the great pace he had at the end of last season and is happy with his Falcon after our recent test day. Will didn't enjoy the luckiest of starts with us but has been on the pace since the first time he drove the car, so an error-free weekend will show just why we signed him.
"Paul performed well at Clipsal last year and was one of the revelations of 2010 so we're sure we have three cars capable of delivering the desired result in Adelaide."