Ford Performance Racing [FPR] has celebrated Glenn Seton's 20th race at Bathurst in the second best way possible by racing to second place at the 2003 Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 at the Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst.

This was an emotional day for Seton, who despite having competed in this historic Australian motor racing event 20 times, the double V8 Supercar Champion had never appeared on the Bathurst podium until today.

It was also a special day in the career of triple V8 Supercar Champion and 1996 Bathurst 1000 winner Craig Lowndes, who is competing in his most successful V8 Supercar season since switching from Holden to Ford three years ago. Lowndes was delighted with this team effort at the toughest and most famous V8 Supercar race of the year, particularly as this was FPR's debut Bathurst race.

Lowndes and Seton maintained a strong car speed throughout the physically demanding 161 lap race, keeping their CAT FPR Falcon out of trouble and on the pace, despite being caught up in numerous close battles from the start of the race until its end - six hours and thirty-two minutes later.

"We have done a lot of work since Thursday on our fuel economy and on setting up a car that we would not have to fight with over 161 laps," noted Lowndes, "We knew that we didn't have the power of some of the front runners here and this strategy paid off today. We had a bit of understeer under full fuel loads, but as the car lightened, it became very quick.

"Everything went to plan and we gained a bit of luck today with Skaife's penalty, as we were never going to catch Murphy. We raced to the best result that we could today. Glenn had a lot more pressure on him as throughout the lead up to the year's biggest race everyone kept reminding us of his Bathurst curse."

Seton added: "It has taken me 20 years to actually be able to step up onto the Bathurst podium and it was an absolutely sensational feeling. To come here with a brand new team and for them to have done such a great job is just fantastic. Being teamed up with Craig was an honour and this will be a day that I will never forget. I struggled during my first stint, but the second stint was much better. We worked well together to get the car set up for the race - it was very consistent and speedy. This result is a brilliant effort for this new Ford team which was put together late last December. To have built three BA Falcons and to come away with a debut podium at Bathurst is just outstanding - it feels great to be a part of it."

It was a tough day at the office though for Ford Credit FPR Falcon drivers David Besnard and Owen Kelly, who started from 22nd on the grid with a proven fast car, ready for a major push through the field.

An accident with Simon Wills at Hell Corner on lap 13 broke the Falcon's front right shock absorber and bent a steering arm, bringing the 26 year old in for a long repair stop. The duo's dramas didn't end there though, the car returned to the pits several times for repairs during Besnard and Kelly's subsequent stints. Their race came to an abrupt end on lap 130 when Besnard crashed after an impact at Konica corner.

"It has been a bad weekend, I had a couple of hits during the race, but I ultimately got taken out by Radisich or Rydell - I was wiped out of the corner," said Besnard, "Having said that, it all goes back to qualifying. If I had not messed it up I wouldn't be racing at the wrong end of the field - you need to be at the front to stay out of trouble. Craig and Glenn did a first class job today and deserve their result."

Kelly continued: "I clipped the wall coming out of Forest Elbow and damaged a wheel which caused further steering damage during my stint. We had a different shock in the car which made it a bit difficult to drive, but it was still capable of consistent lap times. This was just one of those days for us, the team did a great job all weekend and it is a shame that we couldn't make the most out of it for them."

The return of the Ford GT to Bathurst in the hands of Adam Macrow and Darren Hossack got off to a promising start, but on lap 66 and after having made their way into the top 20, Hossack crashed heavily at Forest Elbow while defending his position from the advances of Steven Ellery.

"The weekend had been great until my accident today," noted Hossack, "Adam and the team did a brilliant job with our car and this is what makes it even more disappointing. I have never had one of these moments in my career and I certainly didn't want today to be my first. Overall the team had a great day and deserved second place for all of the effort they have put in."

Macrow noted: "I didn't get the best start to the race, but we got away unscathed and my goal was to keep the car straight and fast in the first stint. We were progressing well and the car was in great shape when we changed over, then Darren had his accident. Besides not gaining a finish today, I have had an absolute ball with FPR at Sandown and Bathurst, it has been truly a great experience working with them."

FPR chief engineer, John Russell concluded: "A great result for the team's first Bathurst 1000 and a superb performance by Craig and Glenn all day long. This race was quite an experience for the team and our engineers played it very well to ensure that the CAT FPR Falcon was always holding on to the leaders from the start to the finish. David and Owen had a rough day and it was tough for Adam and Darren, who worked hard to have a strong car for this race. This result is a tribute to the tremendous effort put in by the team since January."

FPR now prepares for the Gillette V8 Supercar Challenge being held on the streets of Surfers Paradise on October 25 and 26.

 

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