Ford Performance Racing arrives in Queensland for this weekend's Surfers Paradise V8 Supercar street fight armed with added confidence following a strong Bathurst performance - and a new race number for one of the squad's BA Falcons.

Surfers Paradise is one of only two temporary street circuits on the V8 Supercar Championship Series calendar, along with the season-opening encounter in Adelaide, and the team will only have two 25-minute practice sessions to develop fast set-ups for Craig Lowndes, Glenn Seton and David Besnard before qualifying.

Celebration time following Lowndes and Seton's second place at Bathurst was short-lived as the frantic rush to prepare the team's three Ford Falcons for this weekend's round resulted in an a round-the-clock schedule for the FPR crew. This included the race preparation of the team's three cars, with two of the them requiring extensive panel and sub-assembly repairs following accidents at Mount Panorama.

"The team is on a high following our Bathurst performance, and we are confident of the CAT FPR Falcon being very strong on the streets of Surfers Paradise," last year's runner-up Lowndes insisted, "However, this is a physically demanding stop-and-go street circuit, which requires 100 per cent driving all the way in order to gain a strong result."

Extensive repair and development work on Seton's Ford Credit FPR Falcon will continue today and tomorrow, with the car being transported separately to the Gold Coast in time for the races.

"I'm looking forward to racing to a strong result at Surfers, as this is such a great event," the veteran said, "Following on from our Bathurst podium, a good result at this round would lift me considerably in the championship standings, but the layout of the circuit makes it the most vulnerable for accidents. You have to give it your very best to come away with a major result."

"Following Craig and Glenn's success at Bathurst, we head to Surfers Paradise with strong optimism, albeit that this is yet another new circuit for us," commented chief engineer John Russell, "Detailed work on Glenn's car has meant that it has to be transported to Surfers separately, but all will be completed well in time for the start of the round. We intend to make our mark on this event as best we can and we look forward to two exciting street races."

Besnard's FPV Falcon will appear with a new race number in Surfer's Paradise, changing from 19 to seven and giving the team three successive running numbers for the rest of the year.

"This is one of the most enjoyable races of the year because of the atmosphere of the entire event," Besnard said of the Indy 300, "This is as close to a home race as I get and, for a street circuit, it is a very challenging and exciting track to compete at in a V8 Supercar.

"I had mixed results last year, but enjoyed excellent car speed, so I know what to expect from this circuit. I think we can be very competitive this weekend."

The exciting 4.5km Surfers Paradise street circuit presents a number of unique challenges for both FPR's engineers and drivers this weekend, but the circuit generally proves popular with all as the V8 championship provides the main supporting cast to the visiting CART Champ Car World Series.

"The first chicane approach is difficult, as you arc right before you enter the left hander," says Lowndes of one his favourite parts of the street track, "It is a semi-quick chicane and there is a very hungry set of tyres on the left-hand side. In '98 I got caught up in Steven Ellery's accident there and turned his EL Falcon into a Ford Focus in a flash!"

Seton refers to turn six - ANA Corner - as being 'high speed, with a blind entry into the braking area.

"It is critical to be on the right-hand side of the braking area so that you don't lock the right front wheel," he explained, "If you get this corner right, you can gain a lot of time there."

Besnard, meanwhile, reckons that the turn 9-11 complex is critical to a good lap.

"The back chicane represents a very difficult series of corners and it's not much fun in a heavy V8 Supercar to be honest," he said, "If you get the entry wrong, you can't recover through the next two turns and you end up losing heaps of time."

The Gillette V8 Supercar Challenge comprises of two 100-kilometre races on the unforgiving seaside circuit.



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