Ford Performance Racing was back on track today for the first time in season 2012 where Will Davison set the fastest lap ever around Sandown at the V8 Supercars season-opening test day.
New signing David Reynolds got his first taste of a Falcon, while Mark Winterbottom tested his rapidly-healing broken ankle and Will Davison looked to start his season with the same pace he finished the last.
Morning rain meant the team made only a handful of outings on track, though once the weather improved all three cars got to work where the team's endurance drivers - Steve Richards, John McIntyre and Dean Canto - also got in some running.
The team tested a range of things on both hard and soft compound Dunlop tyres.
Reynolds quickly acclimatised and topped the timesheets at the lunchtime break, while his new team-mates were not much further behind.
After the break the team spent most of the afternoon working on set-ups and Winterbottom further tested his ankle with increasingly longer stints.
Davison would be the team's top runner, finishing the day at the head of the field with a new lap record - faster than any lap ever set in a touring car at the flowing Melbourne track.
Winterbottom ended the day eighth and happy with how his ankle performed while Reynolds was 11th as he got to grips with his new car.
Will Davison – #6 Tradingpost FPR Falcon
Ended the day: 1st - 1m09.32 (65 laps)
"It was good to dust the cobwebs off and finish the day on such a good note. Rain meant we were hampered early but we got through most things. As it was a test day we had to just focus on what we were doing as everyone was doing different things. I was obviously very happy with the car no matter what tyres we were on and I had a crack at the end and set a great lap time which was encouraging. It is always nice to finish the first day of the year in P1 and while we thought we would be close to the fastest it is nice to know that we actually are. We can carry that knowledge and confidence into Clipsal."
Mark Winterbottom – #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon
Ended the day: 8th - 1m09.98s (77 laps)
"The leg wasn't perfect but I drove 40-odd laps without any issues. If I had to race tomorrow I would probably struggle to start as it is my clutch foot but once I got away I would be fine. It is therefore a blessing to still have three weeks to get it right as that will be enough to have it healed. We didn't run new soft tyres but the car was really balanced on used tyres. It wasn't as good on new hard tyres but that is what we wanted to find so we know what to improve. I am pretty happy overall and Will is obviously quick too so we have some good data and a good car to go with it."
David Reynolds – #55 The Bottle-O FPR Falcon
Ended the day: 11th - 1m10.12s (68 laps)
"Today was a challenging day to start with as it felt like I was in a foreign country but that changed as the day went on. I gradually got more and more comfortable and the car is actually really easy to drive. Obviously the weather was a little all over the place to start with and while it was also good to get some wet weather running though I would have preferred a completely dry day as Clipsal will likely be dry. Our enduro driver Dean Canto did some laps to and was pretty comfortable so we had a great day all round."
Tim Edwards - FPR Team Principal
"While you can never read too much into testing it was nice to see Will end the day on top with a bit of a margin so while there is still work to be done before the first race in three weeks, we know we are pretty close. It was great to have Dave in the car and see what he can do and likewise it was even better to have Mark in the car and able to drive with hardly any discomfort. Overall we are happy with what we achieved today."
2012 SUPERCARS SEASON LAUNCH TEST DAY
1. Will Davison, 1m09.3230s, 65 laps
2. Craig Lowndes, 1m09.5588s, 73
3. Lee Holdsworth, 1m09.5796s, 61
4. Todd Kelly, 1m09.8234s, 47
5. Jonathon Webb, 1m09.8576s, 62
6. Garth Tander, 1m09.9376s, 56
7. Tim Slade, 1m09.9790s, 43
8. Mark Winterbottom, 1m09.9871s, 77
9. Steve Owen, 1m10.0505s, 44
10. Michael Patrizi, 1m10.0736s, 54
11. David Reynolds, 1m10.1266s, 68