Bathurst: FPR ultimatum - only a win will do

By Eric Thompson

Mark Winterbottom.  Photo / Christine Cornege
Mark Winterbottom. Photo / Christine Cornege

Ford Performance Racing is hoping to get a monkey off its back this weekend at the 50th anniversary of the Bathurst 1000 at Mt Panorama.

In the 10 years since the team was formed, after Prodrive bought Glen Seton Racing, they have yet to taste the ultimate success at Bathurst. Trying a different tack this year, FPR is paying homage to one of Ford's best results on the mountain.

In 1977 Allan Moffat and Colin Bond crossed the line in formation for the blue oval win and this year fans will see the FPR cars liveried in the same colours.

The Falcons of Mark Winterbottom/Steve Richards and Will Davison/John McIntyre will be resplendent in the white and black that Moffat, Bond and co-drivers Jacky Ickx and Alan Hamilton used all those years ago.

"The passion of our sport really comes to a head at Bathurst every single year, though perhaps never more so than this year with the 50th anniversary celebrations and what we as a team are doing," said 2009 race winner Davison.

"It's an honour to go there as a factory Ford driver racing with the colours from arguably the company's greatest moment. Our cars look amazing and I think we've really done justice to the 1977 team.

"We are going to Bathurst to hopefully replicate that moment."

Getting the elusive FPR win on the mountain might be easier said than done.

This year has at various times seen Winterbottom and Davison on top of the table and after 10 rounds they are in second and fourth respectively.

"We've had a couple of moments and come close to winning up there [Bathurst]," said Winterbottom on his way to the circuit. "This year our preparation is a lot better than it has been in the past. But Bathurst always has a story to tell.

"We've got a great car, team and a couple of really good drivers this year. We've got everything on paper to go and get a win this weekend. I know that if everything goes well on the day we'll be in good shape to get the win.

"There's only been four blokes and two teams who have won this year but going into Bathurst it's a lot more open."

The key for FPR is not to change what they've been doing right all season and stick to the race plan that has proven successful this year.

Engineering manager Matt Nilsson, who joined FPR last year, has a good record on the mountain having worked his magic in engineering the win for Davison and Tander in 2009.

Nilsson's touch saw the Fords rocket to a record-breaking beginning to the season, with a seven-race winning streak at Hamilton, Barbagallo and Phillip Island.

"It's a good thing having Matt on board but also that we've had the same people in the same positions all year. Things like strategy and other related things will definitely help us up there as they play a massive part," said Winterbottom.

"I know the numbers about the 10 years and stuff and there's a fair bit of pressure from the fans as they really want this win. FPR has had quite a few cracks at this and come close a few times.

"Everyone at FPR is pumped about this weekend."

Results

V8 Supercars after seven rounds:

1 Jamie Whincup 2472

2 Mark Winterbottom 2440

3 Craig Lowndes 2353

4 Will Davison 2236

5 Shane van Gisbergen 1882

6 Garth Tander 1764

7 Tim Slade 1662

8 Fabian Coulthard 1541

- NZ Herald

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