Ford Performance Racing's (FPR) Will Davison will start a sensational second in tomorrow's Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama following a dramatic Top 10 Shootout which saw the final three runners severely hampered by a brief rain shower.
The driver of the #6 Tradingpost FPR Falcon made the most of his opportunity and belied the apparent disadvantage of being the first runner to qualify second - a mere 0.08s off pole position.
Davison originally missed a place in the race for pole when he qualified 11h only to be elevated into the shootout field following a post-qualifying penalty for Lee Holdsworth.
He felt his lap would be bettered by the top three runners until a rain shower hit the top of the mountain and destroyed any chance team-mate Mark Winterbottom and two other opponents had to depose him.
Winterbottom, last year's Bathurst pole-sitter, sat at the end of pit lane in his #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon watching the rain start to fall knowing his chance at back-to-back poles had disappeared.
He completed his lap very slowly to ensure he recorded a time, yet did not damage his car in the increasingly wet conditions.
His lap secured him 10th on the grid, well below the expectations he and the team had ahead of the session.
Team-mate Paul Dumbrell did not take part in the session after qualifying 11th yesterday.
The team is now finalising preparations ahead of tomorrow's 161-lap race which will be preceded by a 20-minute warm-up.
Mark Winterbottom & Steve Richards – #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon
Practice 6: 2m29.09s - 20th
Shootout: 2m52.06s - 10th
"The disappointing thing today is not necessarily the weather but the fact I didn't get to really take part in the shootout as it is one of the things I most look forward to every year at Bathurst. I was really pumped to try and have a crack at a two-minute seven-second lap even though the track looked a bit slow, but we can't control the weather and Murp did well to score pole and we are starting 10th. That said, we have a very good car and we'll fight tomorrow."
Will Davison & Luke Youlden – #6 Trading Post FPR Falcon
Practice 6: 2m28.84s - 19th
Shootout: 2m08.88 - 2nd
"We may be considered a bit lucky to get the result we did today but luck is a small part of this business. You often get plenty of bad luck so when you get the good stuff you have to take it. I knew yesterday we had the potential to be in the top 10 and I was very disappointed when we were bumped out. Overnight we made some changes, put a fresh engine in and we knew it would be a difficult task when we heard we were in the shootout but we knew it also presented a chance for us to show what we could do. I drove a reasonably good lap and knew I wouldn't be any worse than fifth and then the rain came down. It is a little bit of a numb feeling but it was a great performance by the team to achieve what we have. It is great to be here after what happened yesterday so we'll see what tomorrow brings."
Paul Dumbrell & Dean Canto – #55 The Bottle-O FPR Falcon
Practice 6: 2m31.57s - 26th
"Today was a bit of an anti-climax. We barely turned a wheel in practice due to the weather and the tyre situation and then we weren't in the shootout so we just supported Will and Mark and the rest of the team. Will did a great job considering he started first and Frosty was just unlucky. Dean and I are only one place behind him tomorrow so anything is possible."
Tim Edwards - FPR Team Principal
"Today was another unpredictable chapter in this constantly changing week. We didn't do any serious running this morning so we could conserve our wet tyres for the race. Then we all got behind Will and Mark for the biggest single lap of the season. Will did an amazing job to end up second and while the weather played a hand, his speed across the top of the mountain is undeniable. He should be pleased with his efforts. Frosty was just plain unlucky. He wasn't the only one affected but he deserved better than that. All three cars are quick in the wet and the dry and anything can happen come tomorrow so we'll have a thorough discussion tonight and get everything in order for 161 unpredictable laps tomorrow."
TOP 10 SHOOTOUT RESULTS
1) Greg Murphy/Allan Simonsen - Kelly Racing: 2m08.80s
2) Will Davison/Luke Youlden - Ford Performance Racing: +0.08s
3) Craig Lowndes/Mark Skaife - Triple Eight: +0.41s
4) James Courtney/Cameron McConville - HRT: +0.43s
5) Shane van Gisbergen/John McIntyre - Stone Brothers Racing: +0.58s
10) Mark Winterbottom/Steve Richards - Ford Performance Racing: +43.26s