Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has adapted quickly to the wet conditions at Mount Panorama with the team consistently topping the timesheets on the opening day of running at the Bathurst 1000 which was hampered by the weather.
Persistent rain and low-lying cloud greeted teams for opening practice at V8 Supercars biggest event, though the conditions suited the factory Ford team from the outset.
Mark Winterbottom, Will Davison and Paul Dumbrell kicked off the 50-minute session and Davison was immediately one of the drivers to watch.
The driver of the #6 Tradingpost FPR Falcon topped the timesheets early and after a few adjustments was soon joined in the lead bunch by Winterbottom while Dumbrell was not far behind.
Winterbottom went top late in the session before pitting as the track began to dry along with Davison and Canto, who took over late from Dumbrell.
The early shower meant the trio were bumped down the order in the final three minutes as others took advantage of the drying track, though their pace was obvious.
Second practice was solely the domain of co-drivers and FPR's experienced line-up didn't disappoint.
Steve Richards went fastest early in the #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon and remained on top for the entire session, regularly getting close to his benchmark time despite the constant rain which returned in between the sessions.
Luke Youlden used Davison's tyres from the first session and did well to set top 10 times on his way to ninth, while Dean Canto was just three places back using a similar strategy in the #55 The Bottle-O FPR Falcon he shares with Dumbrell.
The third and final session was not even half a lap old before being red flagged by officials due to the lack of visibility across the top of the mountain.
Despite the reduced running the team is pleased with its first day on track ahead of Sunday's 49th edition of The Great Race.
Mark Winterbottom & Steve Richards – #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon
Practice 1: 2m27.16s - 15th
Practice 2: 2m27.90 - 1st
Practice 3: Cancelled
"The car feels really good in the wet and around Bathurst you need confidence in your car so we've started well. We tidied the car up after our first run and it felt fantastic when we went out again so we are in a good place. If it dries out we all start from square one but there is a real chance we will end up starting the race having not turned a lap in the dry. The forecast is for more rain so we are happy with things at the moment but the weather is going to be a factor."
"I ran Frosty's tyres from the first session in mine and they felt great. The whole package gelled and we've made the best start possible. It would be nice to get some dry running in to see where we are at in those conditions, but we've at least ticked one box by being quick in the wet. Like every other driver you like driving in the dry and at some point on Sunday it will likely be dry so it would be ideal if we can use slicks at some point but so far we are happy."
Will Davison & Luke Youlden – #6 Trading Post FPR Falcon
P1: 2m27.08s - 14th
P2: 2m29.76s - 9th
"Despite the weather we did some meaningful laps and it felt great in the wet so the timesheets don't really show where we are. I was quickest whenever I was on track and Luke was in the top 10 on old tyres during his session which was great. We didn't risk the car today given it was only practice, but obviously we will be pushing if it is wet for qualifying."
"Will showed early on that the car was quick in the wet and I was quite comfortable in my session. I think we discovered that our tyre life was good which it will need to be if the weather stays like it is for the rest of the weekend. We are reasonably confident of our pace but it is always tough for everyone when it rains."
Paul Dumbrell & Dean Canto – #55 The Bottle-O FPR Falcon
P1: 2m27.02s - 13th
P2: 2m30.17s - 12th
"Both sessions were similarly wet though we did get some good work done. The first session was spent getting dialled into the track and we put Dean in for a few laps before he took to the track for the entire second session. I didn't do a lot of running today but when we were on track and had everything going we were in the top five so we are pretty happy. Obviously the last session was cancelled but we feel we're heading in the right direction."
"Today wasn't as wet as we've had previously here but it was the same for everyone so we just gone down to work. Today was only the first of our four days here so we didn't push things too much but if it stays like this everyone will be concentrating on race set-ups between now and Sunday. We can't control the weather so we'll just see what tomorrow brings."
Tim Edwards - FPR Team Principal
"While we knew it might be a little bit wet we didn't expect the severity of the weather we had today. It was unfortunate that the cloud closed in and forced the last session to be cancelled as we'd proved quick in the wet. The first session was, as it always is here, a chance to adjust to the circuit. Will and Mark were both quick and Paul was in the mix at times too. Our co-drivers then stepped up and showed their experience in the second session and Richo did well to go fastest. We head into tomorrow in a good position."