Ford Performance Racing arrives in New Zealand this weekend ready for the new Blue Oval team's first trans-Tasman V8 Supercar battle at Auckland's fast and exciting Pukekohe Park Raceway.

The team will field a full-strength three-man squad following hasty repairs to David Besnard's battered Falcon after the Indy 300 meeting on Australia's Gold Coast two weekends ago.

"David's car was fully repaired at Surfers, so the team is ready with three fighting Falcons for the battles ahead in New Zealand," FPR's chief engineer, John Russell, confirmed, "Now, following Surfers Paradise, we venture to a very different circuit, hoping to build on Glenn's strong form and consolidate Craig's fifth place in the Championship.

Representing yet another new circuit challenge for FPR's race engineers, the venue is very familiar to Besnard, Craig Lowndes and Glenn Seton.

Ford Credit driver Seton holds the Pukekohe V8 Supercar lap record of 57.35secs, which he set back in 1996. He was the team's only top five finisher at the Gold Coast round a fortnight ago, but all three FPR Falcons displayed significant race pace and high speed balance characteristics - two factors which are imperative for success at the sweeping 2.8km Pukekohe circuit.

"I have raced at Pukekohe a few times since my first race there in 1987, and I thoroughly enjoy the circuit as it is a high-speed, adrenalin-pumping place to compete at in a V8 Supercar," Seton revealed, "I am looking forward to a competitive race in New Zealand after our top five form at Indy and welcome the challenge of the three races ahead."

New Zealand is a nation with a rich and successful motorsport history and this is more than reflected through the public support that this annual V8 Supercar round generates each year. The excitement leading to the race and during the round itself makes it a unique experience for competitors and fans alike.

"Pukekohe is a fast and bumpy circuit where you need good power, along with ride control," Craig Lowndes explained, "I am looking forward to the races, as we have been working hard on our high speed set-ups - so we should have a strong car. This, combined with good race strategies, should break the run of bad luck I have had at Pukekohe in the past."

Third FPR team member David Besnard will join Seton and Lowndes on track after his car, damaged at Surfers Paradise, was repaired in time to make the hop across the Tasman to New Zealand. The news comes as a welcome break for another driver who thoroughly enjoys the trip to Pukekohe.

"I love the Pukekohe circuit, the atmosphere of this race is awesome," Besnard said, "It is a fun track to drive on - it is high speed and exhilarating, it suits my style of driving. I qualified second there last year and I am looking forward a very strong run this weekend."

FPR takes to the track on Friday for the opening practice and qualifying sessions, followed by the top ten shootout and a 36-lap, 100km sprint race on Saturday. Two 54-lap, 150km races wrap up the action on Sunday.



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