Ford Performance Racing has toughed it out in the heat of the Northern Territory during Friday practice with the team electing not to use its best tyres ahead of tomorrow's qualifying and race.
Enduro drivers Steven Richards and Dean Canto took part in the opening two sessions to gain extra seat time before the long-distance races before handing the cars back to the regular drivers.
Series leader Will Davison did not run new tyres so did not set a representative time, though feels there is work to be done to get the most from the car.
Mark Winterbottom did make a green tyre run, though didn't get the best from it and while he was only half a second off the best time he ended the day 12th.
Winterbottom's weekend will be a little tougher as he is battling to overcome a viral infection which isn't being made easier by the Darwin heat.
David Reynolds had the toughest day of all and is mystified by his lack of pace though believes with the data collected the issue will be overcome overnight.
Mark Winterbottom – #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Ford
Practice 1: 1m11.29s - 7th (Richards)
Practice 2: 1m12.01s - 15th (Richards)
Practice 3: 1m11.20s - 18th
Practice 4: 1m10.06s - 12th
"It was an okay day today. We only used one set of softs so did most of our running on the hard compound. Despite this we didn't quite get the set-up right for the quick run of the day so by no means have we shown our true pace. The main things is we have a lot of data to review so we'll spend the night working through that and if we can cure a bit of understeer we will be in much better shape. Campbell (Little) has a few ideas so I'm not too worried."
Will Davison – #6 Tradingpost FPR Ford
Practice 3: 1m10.06s - 2nd
Practice 4: 1m09.96s - 8th
"It was one of the tougher days today as when it is so hot there is no track grip and it makes it hard to get productive running in. We struggled a bit and while it wasn't too bad we need to work on the balance and the degradation. The very high track temperatures made it tough to get a good understanding of things, though we didn't use new tyres which mean we weren't expecting to be at the head of the field. We know we would've been a lot faster than the timesheets says so if we learn a bit from today I'm sure we'll be close tomorrow."
David Reynolds – #55 The Bottle-O FPR Ford
Practice 1: 1m11.80s - 15th (Canto)
Practice 2: 1m12.03s - 16th (Canto)
Practice 3: 1m11.18s - 17th
Practice 4: 1m10.29s - 17th
"Dean did a few laps which is great for him as any time you can get time in the car is a benefit for later in the year. On track we both struggled a bit, but I seemed to not quite get on top of the car today. There isn't one thing I can pinpoint which is a little mysterious as my overall pace wasn't great so we have our work cut out tonight, but we'll stay positive and I'm sure we'll get there with a bit of work tonight."
Tim Edwards - FPR Team Principal
"It has definitely been a hot one on track today which makes things difficult all round for everyone. There wasn't a lot of point using new rubber today so we purposely limited ourselves to make sure we have our best tyres for qualifying and the race. There is a bit of work to do tonight for all three cars but nothing we weren't expecting given the conditions. Frosty is battling a viral infection which is never pleasant in this sort of heat, though he is the fittest guy on the grid so we know he will tough it out and it will make him more determined to get a result."
EVENT NAME: SKYCITY Triple Crown
DATE: 15 - 17 June
LOCATION: Darwin, Northern Territory
EVENT NUMBER: 6 of 15
FORMAT: Friday - 4 x 30-minute practice sessions; Saturday - 1 x 20-min qualifying, 1 x Top 10 Shootout, 1 x 42-lap race; Sunday - 1 x 20-min qualifying, 1 x 69-lap race
CIRCUIT: Hidden Valley
DESCRIPTION: It is a very fast circuit with the longest straight in the series, taking up 1.1 of the circuit's 2.9 km length. The actual circuit is not considered overly difficult for the drivers, but the tropical heat - even in mid-winter, makes this without a doubt one of the toughest races on the calendar. The venue has produced some excellent races in the past and the Northern Territory fans are always out in force for this major event.
TRACK RECORD: 1m07.85s - Jason Bright, 2002 (qualifying)
FPR BEST RESULT: 1st - Mark Winterbottom, 2008 & 2010