Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has high expectations of a strong showing at its home track this weekend during the fifth event of the 2011 V8 Supercar Championship at Winton in northern Victoria.
The team is confident of a return to form in front of its loyal supporter base following an encouraging day of testing at the circuit last week.
Drivers Mark Winterbottom, Will Davison and Paul Dumbrell believe the performance of their factory Fords has improved due to the test, especially on Dunlop's soft compound tyre which will be the only dry weather tyre on offer at Winton.
Despite the threat of rain and cold weather Davison is looking to continue his charge up the points table where his #6 Trading Post FPR Falcon now sits fifth after just four events with the team.
"We are definitely looking to continue our recent progress and to again be battling up the front and seeing how much improvement we've made from the test day," Davison said.
"The car generally works well at Winton as it is our home track and it is also a good track to run the soft tyre because it is satisfying when you get it right. We just need to find the sweet spot and make the tyre live a bit better than we did in Perth.
"However, the weather and track conditions could have a bit to play in it. We have high expectations though - I want more podiums and would like to be in the top three in the championship by the end of the weekend. If the car is working well the first win for the year is on the cards."
Winterbottom celebrates his 30th birthday on Friday and a return to the podium would be the ideal present.
"Weather is going to play a big part in the outcome at Winton," Winterbottom said. "It often rains there on a race weekend, but the track is perhaps the fastest drying of any that we go to so the cross over point between switching from wet to dry tyres is critical.
"We learnt a lot from the test day and we have found improvement after reviewing the data we collected so we should see a much better showing at Winton.
"We usually perform well there in the wet, though it will be much more satisfying if we can do it in the dry as it will prove we've turned a corner and there is no better place to do that than at our home track. I am confident we can have a strong weekend."
Dumbrell spent almost an entire day testing Dunlop's soft tyre last week at Winton and has faith his #55 The Bottle-O FPR Falcon will be well-placed to see him return to the front running pack.
"Winton is a track I have raced at a lot and I enjoyed success there early in my career so it would be the ideal place to start turning things around," Dumbrell said,
"Our test day was very productive as I have never done so much running on the soft tyre before. We collected a lot of information and have compared notes among our group of drivers so we expect an improvement this weekend.
"Our final race in Perth was a turning point and I hope to continue that at Winton."
FPR team principal Tim Edwards is eager to see how much the team has improved on Dunlop's soft tyre and hopes the weather does not intervene in what is set to be a challenging weekend of racing for teams.
"We are all eager to get to Winton as it is our home track and as such we enjoy a lot of strong support each time we visit," Edwards said.
"Each of the drivers felt they found improvement so we are expecting a step forward when the cars hit the track."
2011 V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
DRIVER POINTS AFTER RACE 9
1) Jamie Whincup - Triple Eight: 946 points
2) Craig Lowndes - Triple Eight: 804
3) Garth Tander - HRT: 737
4) Shane van Gisbergen - Stone Brothers Racing: 730
5) Will Davison - Ford Performance Racing: 714
9) Mark Winterbottom - Ford Performance Racing: 665
23) Paul Dumbrell - Ford Performance Racing: 362
2011 V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
TEAM POINTS AFTER RACE 9
1) Triple Eight: 1570 points
2) Ford Performance Racing: 1321
3) Stone Brothers Racing: 1284