Wet Wet Wet at Sandown

20 November 2011

Frosty charges to 7th

Ford Performance Racing (FPR) has survived a wet and wild opening race of the Norton 360 Sandown Challenge with Will Davison the best factory Ford finisher in fourth place.
Yesterday’s sweltering conditions were replaced by rain and much cooler temperatures ensuring qualifying was somewhat of a lottery.
Will Davison continued his recent run of top-five efforts by qualifying third in tricky conditions.
Paul Dumbrell was one of five drivers within one-tenth of a second in qualifying seventh, while Mark Winterbottom was the unlucky one of the FPR trio and only managed 17th.
By race time the rain had increased ensuring conditions would be tougher than qualifying.
Davison largely held station early while Dumbrell and Winterbottom gained ground before the safety car was deployed for the first time on lap six which started a flurry of pit stops.
Dumbrell was the first in and got a jump on the field by only taking fuel, though a stall exiting his pit bay lost him any advantage.
Davison followed the next lap around and took four new tyres and fuel before Winterbottom followed his team-mate in and only took on fuel.
Action resumed on lap 11 with Davison fourth, Dumbrell fifth and Winterbottom 17th with Davison quickly passing Jamie Whincup at the restart.
Dumbrell ran off at the final turn allowing Shane van Gisbergen through before he was then caught out in the heavy wet and spun which dropped him to 13th.
Winterbottom was up to 12th by this stage and started to push as Davison dropped from second to fourth and held his position for the next phase of the race.
Dumbrell fought back and passed Winterbottom for 10th on lap 21, before jumping to ninth as the safety car was deployed again on lap 23 though, despite leaving the track on lap 26 it returned on the same lap.
Davison jumped to third and Dumbrell and Winterbottom both moved into the top 10 despite the short green flag period.
Racing resumed on lap 29 and in the chaos Winterbottom and Dumbrell made contact, dropping Dumbrell from eighth to 16th.
The safety car was again deployed and by this stage the race was set to run to time due to the numerous delays as the race restarted on lap 34.
The race finished three laps short and while Dumbrell made a small recovery and finished 14th, Winterbottom gained 10 places during the race to gain a solid haul of points in seventh.
Davison held third through the closing stages though he ran slightly wide at the final turn of the final lap allowing Todd Kelly to take third on the line though Davison’s points allowed him to close the gap to the group of drivers fighting for third in the championship.


Mark Winterbottom – #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon
Qualifying: 17th – 1m21.46s
Race 25: 7th – Fastest Lap: 1m22.38s  
Winterbottom championship position: 4th – 2311 points
“Conditions were terrible and it was like driving blindfolded at times. The car was relatively quick but I needed to start further up the grid to make the most of it as the further back you are the spray gets worse. It was great to come through the field and pick up some points though my bingle with PD was far from ideal. You never want that to happen with a team-mate. That aside it was a pretty good race.”
Will Davison – #6 Tradingpost FPR Falcon
 3rd – 1m20.50s
Race 25: 3rd – Fastest lap: 1m21.33s
Davison championship position: 6th – 2216 points
“It was treacherous out there and much worse than we all anticipated. My first set of tyres wasn’t really sorted for the conditions but that all changed when we pitted during the safety car as the next set had better pressures. It was really just a matter of survival though as we were wheel spinning in sixth gear down the straight and visibility was nil. I was just trying to hang onto the podium so it was disappointing to lose it so close to the line. Todd was very strong and I made a little slip up at the final turn and that was that, though I can’t believe the safety car wasn’t out given Moffat and Fiore’s cars were stranded beside the track.”
Paul Dumbrell – #55 The Bottle-O FPR Falcon
 7th – 1m20.87s
Race 25: 14th – Fastest lap: 1m21.24s
Dumbrell championship position: 22nd – 1267 points
“We were in every position from 20th to fourth and had great pace throughout and we definitely had a car that could very easily have been on the podium. A small mistake forced me to spin and lost me some ground and then coming back through I was spun by Frosty so that was the last thing I expected. That was unfortunate but we are quick and have another race tomorrow to show what we can do. The conditions today were some of the worst I have ever raced in. I was aquaplaning down the straights and had to use the grandstand as a braking marker. We escaped the day relatively unscathed so that is the main thing.”
Tim Edwards – FPR Team Principal
“That was really just a race of survival for everyone in the field so I am just glad we came through it relatively unscathed. The conditions got worse and worse but full credit to the guys for providing three quick cars with so little data to go off. Will was unlucky to miss the podium as he drove beautifully all day. Frosty battled back and PD was quick but didn’t have things go his way. The conditions really dictated the racing today so hopefully we get a cleaner race tomorrow as I think we can be even stronger again if it is dry.”
1) Rick Kelly – Kelly Racing
2) James Courtney – HRT  
3) Todd Kelly – Kelly Racing
4) Will Davison – Ford Performance Racing
5) Shane van Gisbergen – Stone Brothers Racing
7) Mark Winterbottom – Ford Performance Racing
12) Paul Dumbrell – Ford Performance Racing
1) Jamie Whincup – Triple Eight: 2883 points
2) Craig Lowndes – Triple Eight: 2725
3) Shane van Gisbergen – Stone Brothers Racing: 2312
4) Mark Winterbottom – Ford Performance Racing: 2311
5) Garth Tander – HRT: 2277 
6) Will Davison – Ford Performance Racing: 2216
22) Paul Dumbrell – Ford Performance Racing: 1267
1) Triple Eight: 5633 points
2) Ford Performance Racing: 4552
3) Stone Brothers Racing: 4108

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