Ford Performance Racing's (FPR) Mark Winterbottom has claimed his second podium of 2011 after a fighting drive through the field netted him third place in race two of the Clipsal 500 on a day where the weather played a major role in the race outcome.
The rain came down shortly after qualifying concluded where Will Davison claimed his first pole position since moving to the factory Ford team.
The entire field started the race on wet tyres and despite dropping from third to fourth at the opening turn, Winterbottom and his #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon held station in the lead pack until lap six when he ran down the escape road at turn four.
This dropped him to position 14 and began a fightback that took more than 70 laps to see him regain the lost ground and eventually move into the final spot on the podium.
"It was a good day and great to get a podium at Clipsal," Winterbottom said. "We are happy about it and how the car performed in the back half of the race. I went up the escape road at turn four early in the race as the wet weather was really bad.
"The tyre pressures weren't right and I had no tyre temperature so that made it hard. I got back on track when it started to dry and passed a few cars. I then pushed my way back into the top 10 after we changed to slicks and made my way through from there as at the second stop we got the tyre pressures right and the car was quick.
"I was just really trying to survive until the rain stopped as I knew it would and that we could recover."
Davison started well and led the race early in his #6 Trading Post FPR Falcon, battling with championship leader Jamie Whincup for the first third of the race.
He pitted on lap 26 to change to slick tyres but the heavens opened as he entered pit lane and the team made a hurried switch back to wets. The slight delay dropped him to 17th and although he recovered to seventh at the end, he was disappointed not to fight for the win.
"That was a crazy race - really tough for drivers and the team to try and call the right strategy and work out the weather," Davison said. "I had an awesome scrap early with (Jamie) Whincup, I really enjoyed it and it was great racing, but in really difficult conditions.
"Everyone was undecided on which way to go with tyres at the first stop and it started to dry, but it started to rain again just as I came in for slicks so we changed to wets literally as I came in to stop. In hindsight we should have stayed out an extra few laps and it is disappointing, but it was a really positive day all-in-all.
"The car was strong enough to lead, we had some very encouraging signs and I am really excited about how things are going with the team."
Paul Dumbrell qualified sixth and spent much of the race around the top 10 until his #55 The Bottle-O FPR Falcon found its groove on the drying track and he climbed as high as fourth.
A slight mistake at the final turn 15 laps from the end dropped him back to sixth where he remained until the race ended one-lap short of the scheduled 78 laps due to the numerous safety car periods.
"It certainly was an interesting one," Dumbrell said. "We got banged from pillar to post throughout.
"Changing weather conditions always spice up the racing which was again the fact today. Our true speed was fourth and we were there until I made a mistake late in the race and let the two red cars through. It is never a nice feeling when that happens, though we have the Australian Grand Prix next weekend so roll on."
FPR now travels back to its Melbourne base for a few days until the V8 Supercar field hits the track at Albert Park as the main support act for this coming weekend's Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
2011 V8 Supercar Championship
Clipsal 500
Race 2- Results:
1) Jamie Whincup - Triple Eight
2) Rick Kelly - Kelly Racing
3) Mark Winterbottom - Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon
4) James Courtney - HRT
5) Garth Tander - HRT
6) Paul Dumbrell - The Bottle-O FPR Falcon
7) Will Davison - Trading Post FPR Falcon
2011 V8 Supercar Championship
Drivers' Championship points table
1) Jamie Whincup: 567 points
2) Mark Winterbottom: 423
3) Garth Tander: 363
4) Alex Davison: 348
5) Fabian Coulthard: 345
9) Will Davison: 306
17) Paul Dumbrell: 240
2011 V8 Supercar Championship
Teams' Championship points table
1) Triple Eight: 903 points
2) Ford Performance Racing: 729
3) HRT: 693

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