Ford Pepsi Max Crew enters the Endurance Cup confident it can return to the front of the field starting at this weekend’s Sandown 500.
The historic Melbourne race track has traditionally been a favourite of the factory Ford team and is where title challenger Frosty made his main series debut in 2003.
The former Sandown 500 winner celebrates 150 event starts this weekend and wants a strong run with new co-driver Steve Owen to close the points gap.
He knows a competitive run at the suburban track is crucial to his title aspirations.
Team-mate Chaz has been on form of late and with experienced co-driver Paul Morris alongside the pair is confident of challenging at the front.
Morris debut and finished second at Sandown the year Mostert was born so aims to revisit the rostrum 22 years later.
Mark Winterbottom - #5 Pepsi Max FPR Ford:
“I am really looking forward to Sandown as there is history there for me as I had my first race there. It is good to be back in Enduro mode as they were pretty good for us last year though a few things have changed as I am now with Steve (Owen). It is good to have a new partner as while I had the same thing for years, a different input and perspective is positive. I like Sandown as a track, the racing is always good and the endurance races suit me. We need to be strong this weekend and then head back to defend our crown at the big one. We want to win the Enduro Cup, get our winning ways back and be back in the series lead. It all starts this weekend and we’re ready for it.”
Steve Owen - #5 Pepsi Max FPR Ford:
“It is good to come back to FPR with a year under my belt with the engineering group and the car. We are going to Sandown to win and that’s the reason I am here racing with Frosty. If we don’t win we’ll be disappointed. It’s as simple as that. I think the co-driver-only sessions are going to play a key role for the drivers that have stayed in the same team as we’ll be able to fine-tune things quicker. I’ve done plenty of laps around all the tracks coming up and it will be my 16th Bathurst so I think we’ll have plenty of advantages over the next few events.”
Chaz Mostert - #6 Pepsi Max FPR Ford:
“Heading to Sandown this year we’ve been struggling in qualifying so the fact we did such a good job there last year gives me confidence. Saying that, the race is so long that strong race pace can bring you through the field no matter where you start. I really enjoy the circuit – I really click with it. It is a simple layout on paper but it is quite technical in the sections where you can gain time on your rivals so I enjoy that challenge. Teaming up with Paul is fantastic. The last test day was really good, he was right on song and I am keen to get out there and get going. It’s my first year in the endurance races with Pepsi Max and as part of the Factory Ford squad. That’s a bit daunting but as a team we’ve always been strong at this time of year so hopefully we can continue that.”
Paul Morris - #6 Pepsi Max FPR Ford:
“Testing was good due to the fact I got plenty of miles and I understand the car’s unique characteristics and how you need to drive it. I pretended I was Chaz and drove the car in the same way and it all worked well. I am under no illusions as to what my job is – go to each event and hand the car back to Chaz and let him take the fight to the regular drivers. We definitely have a shot at winning at Sandown but so do probably another 15 cars. I’ve done this plenty of times. My first Sandown was 1992 and I finished second and while it has taken a while to get back to the front this is my best shot at being there.”
Tim Edwards – Team Principal:
“The Enduro Cup is without doubt the high point of each season and where the title is often decided so we know how much is riding on our performances over the next two months. Sandown this weekend is just as important as Bathurst and the Gold Coast as it offers 300 points for a win. We know where our deficits are and we’ve worked on ironing them out so this weekend’s 500km race is crucial to how the rest of the Enduro Cup and our season plays out. Sandown has always been a hub for Ford fans so we expect strong crowd support this weekend.”
EVENT NAME: Wilson Security Sandown 500
DATE: 12 – 14 September
LOCATION: Melbourne Victoria
EVENT NUMBER: 10 of 14
FORMAT: Friday – 3 x 40-minute practice; Saturday – 1 x 40-minute practice; 1 x 20-min qualifying, 2 x 20-lap qualifying races; Sunday – 1 x 20min warm-up, 1 x 161-lap race
CIRCUIT: Sandown International Raceway
DESCRIPTION: Sandown is a fast and flowing circuit with long front and back straights peppered with tight right-angled corners. Particularly challenging is the tricky high-speed, downhill section marking the end of the back straight. The track can be treacherous in the wet and very exciting in the dry. Sandown is arguably the most historic circuit on the calendar and has a rich and storied past formed over decades of touring car and single-seater racing.
TRACK RECORD: 1m08.85s – Garth Tander, 2009
FPR BEST RESULT IN SANDOWN 500: 1st – Jason Bright/Mark Winterbottom (2006)