Ford Performance Racing (FPR) endured all the highs and lows in the first day of racing at Homebush with Will Davison snatching pole, though failing to finish along with team-mate Paul Dumbrell while Mark Winterbottom recovered after a penalty to fifth in a dogged drive.
Davison continued his strong practice pace to secure second on the provisional grid while Winterbottom was close behind in third place, ensuring FPR had two cars in the shootout.
Dumbrell broke a steering arm early in the session and after pitting for repairs could only manage 19th-fastest.
Davison went one better in the shootout as the second-last runner to claim his third pole position of the season by a margin of 0.3s with Winterbottom holding his third place from qualifying to line up behind his team-mate on the grid.
Davison made a clean getaway and held the lead into turn one while Winterbottom remained third, while Dumbrell jumped two places to 17th.
Davison had opened a lead of more-than one second by lap five. However, on the same lap Dumbrell bent a steering arm and pitted for repairs, losing two laps in the process.
Davison radioed in with slightly bent steering on lap 10 and dropped from first to third before electing to continue though the steering arm broke entering turn one on lap 12.
The damage pitched him into the tyre barriers and the impact forced him to retire.
The safety car was deployed to recover his car and when the race restarted on lap 16 Winterbottom was second.
Chaos ensued on lap 26 when three drivers made contact with the wall around the circuit.
Winterbottom pitted under the resultant safety car along with Dumbrell for the third time.
Winterbottom rejoined fifth, but was in a virtual second place before passing Holdsworth on lap 29 to be the lead car of those on the most common strategy.
Three laps later Greg Murphy ran wide at turn one in front of him and Winterbottom attempted avoiding action down the inside but made contact with the rear of Murphy's car.
The impact spun Murphy on the exit of turn one despite Winterbottom's best efforts.
Officials issued a pit lane drive through penalty four laps later despite footage showing Murphy running wide.
The team challenged the penalty but Winterbottom was forced to serve it four laps later.
Dumbrell was experiencing radio issues and was having trouble communicating with the team so his engineers started using the pit board to communicate before switching radio frequencies at a later pit stop which cured the issue.
Dumbrell's race would not be issue-free as another bent steering arm on lap 45 forced him to pit for further repairs while on the same lap the safety car was deployed and Winterbottom made his final stop, coming in 14th and rejoining 12th.
With 20 laps to go he was 11th and into the top 10 three laps later Dumbrell was forced to retire his car on lap 55 after further steering issues.
Winterbottom was seventh with 10 laps to go and kept charging and on the next lap he was sixth and as other drivers battled to finish with enough fuel he snatched fifth on the final lap.
Winterbottom retains third in the championship despite his nearest championship rivals finishing in the two places ahead of him.
Mark Winterbottom – #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon
Qualifying: 3rd - 1m28.09s
Top 10 Shootout: 3rd - 1m28.52s
Race 27: 5th - Fastest lap: 1m28.90s
Championship position: 3rd - 2560 points
"The car was good and today we definitely had the car to win the race. The variety of different strategies meant I was fighting guys that were fighting for 15th rather than the win so I got caught up in other people's mess. I tagged Murphy which is probably how the officials see it, but they obviously didn't see where he ran wide and missed the apex. We shouldn't have received a penalty. The inconsistency in rulings is annoying. I am disappointed with the result as either Will or I should have won, but I guess we did have a good comeback to fifth. We have good car speed so we are confident tomorrow will be better and we can end the year with a win."
Will Davison – #6 Tradingpost FPR Falcon
Qualifying: 2nd - 1m27.60s
Top 10 Shootout: 1st - 1m28.11s
Race 27: DNF - Fastest lap: 1m29.07s
Championship position: 6th - 2345 points
"I bent the steering very early in the race on the kerbs, which PD also did, though I also did it in qualifying. It is really disappointing as we had a rocket of a car and we were leading comfortably when I hit the kerb one time too many. When it finally broke going into turn one I had nowhere to go and that was that. We'll be fine tomorrow but we missed an opportunity today."
Paul Dumbrell – #55 The Bottle-O FPR Falcon
Qualifying: 19th - 1m28.68s
Race 27: DNF - Fastest lap: 1m29.30s
Championship position: 24th - 1242 points
"We just kept bending steering arms today so obviously something I did today in the race wasn't that good. I guess we have to go back to the drawing board tonight and I either have to learn how to drive again or we have to work out how to combat these kerbs. The radio drama didn't help either as I couldn't communicate easily with the team. We went back to the old pit board though we just had too many issues today. Motorsport isn't meant to be easy so we'll give it another go tomorrow."
Tim Edwards - FPR Team Principal
"Homebush again produced an up and down race, though unfortunately for us it was more downs than up today. Will's qualifying effort was brilliant and he made a great start though to exit so early in the race is a major disappointment for all of us as he has been so strong all weekend. Mark drove very well given the amount of different strategies at play throughout the race, though we are all highly-annoyed at the decision made by the stewards. It was another example of inconsistent decision making and we feel there should have been no case to answer. The decision ruined a race we should have won. While I don't want to make excuses we just feel we've been hard done. We'll work hard overnight and use our frustration to get the result we deserved today."
2011 V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
SYDNEY TELSTRA 500
RACE 27 - RESULTS:
1) Craig Lowndes - Triple Eight
2) Garth Tander - HRT
3) Shane van Gisbergen - Stone Brothers Racing
4) Michael Caruso - Garry Rogers Motorsport
5) Mark Winterbottom - Ford Performance Racing
DNF) Will Davison - Ford Performance Racing
DNF) Paul Dumbrell - Ford Performance Racing
2011 V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
DRIVER POINTS AFTER RACE 27
1) Jamie Whincup - Triple Eight: 3078 points
2) Craig Lowndes - Triple Eight: 2995
3) Mark Winterbottom - Ford Performance Racing: 2560
4) Shane van Gisbergen - Stone Brothers Racing: 2543
5): Garth Tander – HRT: 2526
6) Will Davison - Ford Performance Racing: 2345
24) Paul Dumbrell - Ford Performance Racing: 1242
2011 V8 SUPERCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
TEAM POINTS TABLE AFTER RACE 27
1) Triple Eight: 6098 points
2) Ford Performance Racing: 4930
3) Stone Brothers Racing: 4468