Ford Performance Racing heads to Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway this weekend with plans to improve on the team's early season podium performance at the circuit following a successful final test of the season at Phillip Island last week.

FPR has yet to decide whether the team will debut the new Prodrive R8 engine which was tested for the first time in Glenn Seton's Ford Credit FPR Falcon, as a planned programme of detailed comparison against Craig Lowndes' CAT car was cut short due to an accident.

Ford privateer driver Anthony Tratt accepted an invitation to take part in the test, but a jammed throttle early in his first stint caused the driver to run wide at the entry to the final turn, before the car made heavy contact with the tyre barriers and caused significant panel damage. Tratt was uninjured in the accident and the CAT Falcon was sent directly back to FPR's headquarters for immediate repair work.

Despite this set-back, the team continued the detailed test day in the Ford Credit FPR Falcon, with a number of new suspension set-ups and engine mapping trials completed.

"Eastern Creek is the first race the team will go back to with some prior knowledge," acknowledged chief engineer John Russell, "We hope to use this to good effect to finish our first season on a strong note. With the championship situation as it stands, we look forward to an exciting weekend."

There is no doubt that the weekend ahead will be an exciting one for V8 Supercar fans, with the overall championship hanging in the balance between three drivers. The championship points fight extends all the way through the top five positions, with Lowndes needing a strong round result in Sydney to consolidate his top five finish in this most competitive of seasons.

"Following our early season performance at Eastern Creek, we head into this final round in a strong position, but we are under no illusions as to the challenges ahead," Lowndes admitted, "Racing against the likes of Rick Kelly, Jason Bright and Steven Richards is not going to be easy, and the goal is to stay well ahead of them and consolidate our top five finish in FPR's debut championship."

Team-mates Seton and David Besnard have also enjoyed strong performances at Eastern Creek in the past, boosting the team's confidence of ending the season on a high note. While both drivers competed in AU Falcons at this circuit back in May, there is no doubt that the data gained from Lowndes' second place effort will assist all three team drivers at Eastern Creek next weekend.

"This will be my first time at Eastern Creek with the BA Falcon, which will give me an excellent opportunity to gain a strong result," Seton commented, "Ending the season on the podium is my goal. The fans can expect an exciting weekend with the championship hanging in the balance - I'm looking forward to it!"

"Eastern Creek is my real home track and I have done a lot of racing miles there," Besnard countered, "I like the circuit and I gained a top ten finish there in the AU back in May so, armed with the BA Falcon, I'm planning to end the season on a high."



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