Ford Performance Racing has overcome the extreme heat of Darwin to finish with two cars on the podium in the opening race of the SKYCITY Triple Crown.
Pole-sitter Will Davison finished second in the race to claim a solid haul of points. Mark Winterbottom finished third and David Reynolds claimed a season-best fifth after leading much of the opening half of the race.
The Bottle-O driver ran an alternate strategy and used the soft tyre in the first portion of the race while his team-mates and most of the field relied on the hard compound Dunlops.
Davison ceded the lead at turn one to the soft tyres of Reynolds and ran most of the opening sector in second before slipping in behind eventual race winner Jamie Whincup. From there he ran relatively unchallenged to second.
While he finished in the runner-up spot he has slipped to second overall, a mere two points behind Whincup.
Winterbottom was at the back end of the top 10 after his stop though with fresher soft tyres and good overall car pace he quickly recovered to the podium places.
Reynolds could not maintain the pace of the leaders on soft tyres against his hards in the closing laps and had to settle for fifth.
In qualifying and the Top 10 Shootout FPR's trio put in a dominant display by locking out the top three spots in qualifying and then three of the top four in the shootout.
Winterbottom grabbed position one in qualifying before Davison set a lap nobody could beat in the shootout to claim pole from Reynolds. Winterbottom claimed fourth after a slight error on his one flying lap.
Mark Winterbottom – #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Ford
Qualifying: 1st - 1m08.55s
Top 10 Shootout: 4th - 1m09.26s
Race result: 3rd - Best lap: 1m10.82s
"I had quite bad tyre life in the race and I struggled a bit early on the hard tyre as it went away quite quickly. I then couldn't pit early to swap to the softs as it would've given me a double penalty as the tyres would've worn faster than they did. I then used my softs to get back to the top three so by the time I got to Will I didn't have enough to challenge him. There will be a bit of work tonight to sort tyre life for tomorrow's longer race. The car is quick so I think we will be able to sort it out."
Will Davison – #6 Tradingpost FPR Ford
Qualifying: 2nd - 1m08.60s
Top 10 Shootout: 1st – 1m08.66s
Race result: 2nd - Best lap: 1m10.91s
"The points battle is super-close and it can go 150 points either way in one race so we need to ensure we keep getting these sorts of results on days where we don't quite get the car right. Our one lap pace was great but we struggled a bit in the race and it was very hot and very hard on the tyres. We didn't quite have the longevity of Jamie (Whincup) but it was another good clean race. We will work hard with the guys tonight to strike a balance between the qualifying and race pace. There were a lot of people struggling out there so we can be fairly happy with our day."
David Reynolds – #55 The Bottle-O FPR Ford
Qualifying: 3rd - 1m08.65s
Top 10 Shootout: 2nd - 1m09.08s
Race result: 5th - Best lap: 1m10.93s
"We remained positive after yesterday's poor showing and it really paid off today. We had a good run early with third in qualifying and then second again in the shootout before leading the first part of the race. We had a great start and got into the lead using our soft tyres though they degraded faster than we thought so that meant we had to change tyres earlier than planned. Then on the hard tyres we had a similar issue so all-in-all the tyre life wasn't as good on my car. It is still great to get fifth as it has really helped our championship position and given the team a real boost."
Tim Edwards - FPR Team Principal
"Today will probably some of the hardest conditions we'll face all year so we cannot be too upset to finish with two cars on the podium and Dave in a season-best fifth. While we are disappointed not to win the performance in qualifying was impressive and if we can make the necessary adjustments overnight we will be able to improve our tyre life for tomorrow's longer race. The points battle is extremely close so another good haul of points is crucial tomorrow."
SKYCITY TRIPLE CROWN - RACE 1
1) Jamie Whincup - Triple Eight
2) Will Davison - Ford Performance Racing
3) Mark Winterbottom - Ford Performance Racing
4) Craig Lowndes - Triple Eight
5) David Reynolds - Ford Performance Racing
1) Jamie Whincup - Triple Eight: 1356 points
2) Will Davison - Ford Performance Racing: 1354
3) Mark Winterbottom - Ford Performance Racing: 1316
4) Craig Lowndes - Triple 8: 1097
5) Shane van Gisbergen - Stone Brothers Racing: 1049
13) David Reynolds - Ford Performance Racing: 657
1) Ford Performance Racing: 2670 points
2) Triple Eight: 2478
3) Stone Brothers Racing: 2059