Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has scored its best result of the season with a double-podium finish after the first race of the Armor All Gold Coast 600 at Surfers Paradise where Will Davison and Mika Salo claimed second ahead of team-mates Mark Winterbottom and Richard Lyons.
The day started with a mixed result as a brief rain shower meant Winterbottom and Paul Dumbrell missed the Top 10 Shootout while Davison made the shootout in seventh.
Davison then went on to qualify third, putting team-mate Mika Salo in the ideal starting position.
He made the most of the grid slot and jumped to second by the first turn, while Richard Lyons and Christian Klien also gained one and three places respectively by the end of the first tour.
Salo was judged to have jumped the start and would have 10 seconds added to his first pit stop, though in spite of the penalty he pressed on and gained a near-10-second lead by the end of his time in the car.
Lyons muscled his way through the field, though made contact with another car on lap 18 and was forced to serve a drive-through penalty two laps later.
Klien regularly gained positions in a reasonably unnoticed stint, rising to 11th before he handed the car to Dumbrell at the end of lap 34.
Salo stopped on the same lap from second and despite the penalty and a stall, Davison rejoined effectively only one place worse off, while Lyons stopped one lap later from a recovered 10th place and swapped with Winterbottom.
The safety car was deployed on lap 50 to repair a bollard on the back chicane, bunching the field while Dumbrell was one of the few to make a strategic stop and took on fuel and tyres.
At the restart Davison was back up to second, while Winterbottom had fought back from Lyons' early penalty and was seventh.
The safety car returned four laps later and all the main contenders pitted where Winterbottom was forced to queue behind Davison which cost him one position.
Amazing pit work from Dumbrell's crew gained him nine positions and vaulted him to a virtual fifth place.
Winterbottom began a charge at the restart which saw him into the top 10 by lap 80 while Davison battled closely with Jamie Whincup for the lead, briefly passing him on lap 76 before being repassed on the exit of Turn 2.
The safety car made another appearance on lap 90 to clear debris, though by this time Winterbottom was up to fourth, just two places behind Davison.
Dumbrell was close behind in eighth when the race restarted with nine laps to go though ended up being bumped and hung out wide in a large pack of cars, dropping from ninth to 15th where he would finish the race.
Winterbottom charged onto the podium on lap 97, passing Greg Murphy and starting to chase his team-mate and while he closed on Davison but then had to resist attack from a charging James Moffat on new tyres which he did to claim third.
Davison cruised home in second - his and the team's best finish of the season ensuring the team claimed four of the event's popular surfboard trophies for its trophy cabinet.
FPR also moves up to second in the Team Championship standings.
Mark Winterbottom & Richard Lyons – #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon
Qualifying: 17th - 1m12.81s
Race 21: 3rd - Fastest lap: 1m12.29s
Winterbottom championship position: 5th - 1816 points
"I knew we had a good car which we unfortunately couldn't show during qualifying. That then put Richard deep in the pack which around here is not nice. We had a quick car and despite the drive-through we bounced back and that puts us in good shape tomorrow. Hopefully we can qualify in clean air tomorrow and put ourselves up the front as when you are running in the pack the car just takes a battering. If we do a good job in qualifying we should have a good day."
"I think we tried to get all our bad luck out of the way as early as possible so we could get on with the weekend. The car had terrific speed and Frosty was rightly upset that the rain ruined our chances in qualifying. For me I had a little mistake where I locked up and tagged the back of the car which I didn't want to happen. But our car was so fast and the others so much slower so it was difficult not to touch anyone. Hopefully that is all the bad luck out of the way and the rest of the weekend is good."
Will Davison & Mika Salo – #6 Tradingpost FPR Falcon
Qualifying: 7th - 1m12.11s
Top 10 Shootout: 3rd - 1m12.05s
Race 21: 2nd - Fastest lap: 1m12.66s
Davison championship position: 6th - 1784 points
"It is a great day for the team and while we all want to win it was great to challenge Jamie (Whincup) as hard as I could in the mid-part of the race. At the end of the race when the bollard was removed I was being too conservative as I was scared of getting a penalty, but the result is fantastic for the team, especially as this comes on soft tyres. There are a lot of bruised and battered cars out there as it was a pretty crazy race but the team deserves a big pat on the back as this was a massive improvement on our previous soft tyre races."
"I don't agree with the jump-start penalty as although I rolled before the lights came on I stopped it way before they were on. But it doesn't matter now and the car was fine for me. It was a long first stint and I just tried to save the tyres as much as I could. I kept up with (Sebastian) Bourdais for the first 20 laps or so but then he just pulled away. Will did the rest of the work and it is just great to be with FPR - they are a top professional team which really knows what they are doing. I think the surfboard might be useless in the snow in Finland but we can always try."
Paul Dumbrell & Christian Klien – #55 The Bottle-O FPR Falcon
Qualifying: 23rd - 1m13.53s
Race 21: 15th - Fastest lap: 1m13.02s
Dumbrell championship position: 23rd - 1012 points
"Unfortunately all our good work was undone near the end of the race which is tough given how well Christian drove. The first part of the race was full of incidents but to his credit he stayed out of all of them and brought the car back in a good position. I struggled a bit with the brakes when I first got it but we were on for a top 10 until I got swamped in a brutal five-car battle. We know we have good pace as Will and Frosty finished on the podium so I hope for more tomorrow."
"Despite our finishing position I really enjoyed the race today. The start was a little crazy after the rain meant we qualified so far back. I survived and started to get comfortable and then began trying to push as much as I could before I gave the car to Paul. I was quite happy with what I did though it is disappointing for the team that we missed out on a good finish. I am looking forward to tomorrow's race."
Tim Edwards - FPR Team Principal
"Today is easily our best day of the season so I must congratulate the team on all the hard work that has gone into today. While we didn't win, we weren't far off and our guys were much happier with our soft tyre pace which is the main thing. Mika drove a great first stint and Will was very consistent thereafter so it is great to achieve our best finish of the year. Mark and Richard were in the wars early but redeemed themselves especially with some great passing in the closing laps. Paul and Christian were unlucky but showed that if all goes to plan they can be in the fight tomorrow. We have to tweak things tonight but overall it's a fantastic start for the team."
2011 V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
ARMOR ALL GOLD COAST 600
RACE 21 - RESULTS:
1) Jamie Whincup/Sebastian Bourdais - Triple Eight
2) Will Davison/Mika Salo - Ford Performance Racing
3) Mark Winterbottom/Richard Lyons - Ford Performance Racing
4) James Moffat/Joey Hand - Dick Johnson Racing
5) Fabian Coulthard/Patrick Long - Walkinshaw Racing
15) Paul Dumbrell/Christian Klien - Ford Performance Racing
2011 V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
DRIVER POINTS AFTER RACE 21
1) Jamie Whincup - Triple Eight: 2379 points
2) Craig Lowndes - Triple Eight: 2329
3) Shane van Gisbergen - Stone Brothers Racing: 1952
4) Garth Tander – HRT: 1920
5) Mark Winterbottom - Ford Performance Racing: 1816
6) Will Davison - Ford Performance Racing: 1784
23) Paul Dumbrell - Ford Performance Racing: 1012
2011 V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
TEAM POINTS TABLE AFTER RACE 21
1) Triple Eight: 4733 points
2) Ford Performance Racing: 3625
3) Stone Brothers Racing: 3511