Ford Performance Racing has been busy ahead of this weekend's race in Townsville with the team working on extracting further soft tyre pace from its factory Falcons while also making big headway with its Car of the Future program.
Mark Winterbottom is the form driver in Townsville and has finished all six races held at the Reid Park track in the top eight - the best record of any driver on the grid.
Will Davison has qualified on pole for the last two races and has the best qualifying record of any driver in the field - one place ahead of Winterbottom and three ahead of David Reynolds.
Reynolds celebrated his 27th birthday earlier this week and wants to continue his push towards the top 10 after jumping five spots to 12th last time out in Darwin.
Winterbottom has been in demand following a week-long promotional tour to the United States where he visited Australian NASCAR star Marcos Ambrose and became the first V8 Supercar driver to sample the new Circuit of the Americas track in Austin, Texas where the series will race from 2013.
The Dunlop Series also returns in Townsville and FPR's series leader Chaz Mostert is eager to return to the track where he will make his debut in the ex-Reynolds chassis.
Mark Winterbottom – #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Ford:
"I've just come back from a big trip to the United States where we went to Texas to check out the new track we will be racing on from next year and it was really great to discover just how well known our sport is so far from home. Chatting to people in shops and restaurants and having them wish you luck for Townsville was pretty cool and goes to show that Austin is the right place for us to be racing. Reid Park is very similar to the Hamilton street track where we were very strong earlier in the year so we know our cars will be competitive which is important given how tight the battle is for the championship lead. The track has always been good to me so let's hope it continues."
Will Davison – #6 Tradingpost FPR Ford:
"Townsville is a really important round as while we are not in the early part of the season anymore we are not far off the enduros so we need to maintain our championship form ahead of the big points races. It is important we show our form at this time of the year particularly after we didn't convert our pole positions in Darwin into strong race finishes. Reid Park is a cool track as it is a combination of a traditional street track with the feel of a permanent circuit in many places. It has some big kerbs and has a lot of character for such a short track so it is a lot of fun to drive. It is very similar to Adelaide or New Zealand and we went well there so we will be in the fight and I want nothing more than to get the championship lead back."
David Reynolds – #55 The Bottle-O FPR Ford:
"Townsville is my favourite event of the year as not only do we go from the depth of Melbourne's winter into a nice sunny place, but it is probably the best overall atmosphere of any race we go to as the crowd is well-informed and happy. I had good pace there last year so I am interested to see how I perform in my FPR Falcon this time around. We are finally out of the bottom half of the points so we are keen to continue our push towards the top 10."
Tim Edwards - FPR Team Principal:
"Townsville is the second part of our winter trip to the far north so the team is always keen to get back to racing. The track is one of the newer on the calendar but it has quickly cemented itself as a favourite for fans and drivers. We've always performed pretty well there but as a team we know we have to bounce back as we didn't perform to our optimum in Darwin and at this stage of the year we have to be at our best in every qualifying and race. Both Will and Mark are hungry to lead the championship and Dave is hitting the form we knew he had so we are in a bullish mood."
DUNLOP SERIES PREVIEW
FPR's Dunlop Series challenger Chaz Mostert is back in action for the third round of the seven event series and after a two month break heads to Townsville with the series lead and a new chassis at his disposal. Mostert has taken over the car driven by David Reynolds up until Phillip Island and hopes to maintain his points lead in a close battle for top spot.
Chaz Mostert – #56 FPR Ford:
"It is good to get a new car for the weekend and while it is not brand new it certainly has good history. I am excited to finally get to round three after a slow start to the year so we can finally build some momentum. Townsville is another street circuit which I quite enjoy as there is little room for error and I like that challenge. I am looking to bank some more points and continue the climb up the staircase of learning. It is also nice to go back to my home state to shake the cobwebs out after such a long break between events and also thaw out!"
Tim Edwards - Team Principal:
"This year's development series calendar means we are only now about to get into the busy part of the year but the break has allowed Chaz to work on improving himself outside of the car so it has been beneficial even if he'd like to be racing more often. While he switches to the chassis previously driven by David Reynolds there is little difference between our cars so that won't hamper him at all. Chaz is in a great battle for the overall lead which is good as it puts him in tough situations and gives him valuable experience."
EVENT NAME: Sucrogen Townsville 400
DATE: 6 - 8 July
LOCATION: Townsville, Queensland
EVENT NUMBER: 7 of 15
FORMAT: Friday - 4 x 30-minute practice sessions; Saturday - 1 x 20-min qualifying, 1 x Top 10 Shootout, 1 x 72-lap race; Sunday - 1 x 20-min qualifying, 1 x 72-lap race
CIRCUIT: Reid Park
DESCRIPTION: Reid Park is a fast and flowing street circuit in a similar style and parkland setting to Albert Park - the home of the Australian Grand Prix. This year is the championship's fourth visit to Townsville and the venue has quickly become a driver and fan favourite. The majority of the track uses specially-constructed roads, while the remainder is made of pre-existing local streets.
TRACK RECORD: 1m12.47s - Garth Tander, 2009 (qualifying)
FPR BEST RESULT: 1st - Mark Winterbottom, 2010