Ford Performance Racing has enjoyed a solid start to proceedings at the Gold Coast 600 with two of the team’s three pairings finishing in the top three places at the end of practice in Surfers Paradise.
Track specialist Mark Winterbottom was at or near the top of the times all day and along with co-driver Will Power ended the day second-fastest, a mere 0.09s back. V8 Supercar debutant Nick Heidfeld carried on his impressive pace from the Wednesday test, finishing in the top 10 in both of his sessions before David Reynolds ended the day third.
Returning duo Will Davison and Mika Salo had no issues across the day and the experienced pair finished sixth-fastest. Salo and Davison were happy with the progress they made with Davison pleased with his pace on worn tyres.
Reynolds’ day almost turned out very differently after a hard brush with the wall early in opening practice tore the skin of his left-rear door. He avoided contact with any concrete and aside from a few minutes lost replacing the damaged door he was able to continue without further issue.
Mark Winterbottom & Will Power – #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Ford:
Practice 1: 1m12.59s – 3rd (Winterbottom)
Practice 2: 1m13.99s – 12th (Power)
Practice 3: 1m13.25s – 12th (Power)
Practice 4: 1m11.78s – 2nd (Winterbottom)
Winterbottom: “There was quite a bit of oil on the track on my last timed lap so while I didn’t grab top spot I was happy with the time I did early in the session. We’re both comfortable in the car and apart from the usual things we’ll change before qualifying everything is going well. The car is well-balanced, you can really lean on it and it is really enjoyable to drive.”
Power: “It is definitely possible to win this weekend given how quick Mark is and how quick the car is. I am enjoying driving around here and driving a V8 Supercar is a unique experience. I am definitely getting accustomed to the car and it is going to be quick in the race. Frosty will also be right on it in qualifying so I think we have the pace to start fairly far up the grid.”
Will Davison & Mika Salo – #6 Tradingpost FPR Ford:
Practice 1: 1m12.06s – 1st (Davison)
Practice 2: 1m14.02s – 14th (Salo)
Practice 3: 1m13.11s – 7th (Salo)
Practice 4: 1m12.14s – 6th (Davison)
Davison: “It was a good day as the car is pretty quick and feels good. We didn’t get a run in on new tyres at the end of the day but the car feels pretty good. Mika is comfortable, the car has rolled out fast although I am a little disappointed not to get a run in on new tyres but there is no reason to panic.”
Salo: “I did two sessions on old tyres but I am very happy. The car is very good on new tyres but there is not much to say today as we’ve had no real issues at all. I am happy with the car, it is very consistent and it is great to be working with Will again.”
David Reynolds & Nick Heidfeld – #55 The Bottle-O FPR Ford:
Practice 1: 1m13.44s – 14th (Reynolds)
Practice 2: 1m13.27s – 4th (Heidfeld)
Practice 3: 1m13.17s – 10th (Heidfeld)
Practice 4: 1m11.93s – 3rd (Reynolds)
Reynolds: “I am really enjoying my driving at the moment and to be here with someone as experienced as Nick is just brilliant. He is very professional and even after my little incident early in the day he just got on with the job. Basically, I crashed it and then he set it up and made it fast. Jokes aside, the car is very fast on old tyres which is encouraging. Nick has done a great job today, his pace has been good, his feedback is very articulate and I am learning a lot from him.”
Heidfeld: “Surfers Paradise is completely different to any street circuit I’ve ever driven on as you can really use the kerbs a lot. You don’t feel it in the car, but on TV you can see that we spend a lot of time on two wheels really pushing hard. We have been quick today and I am happy in the car. Dave knows my background is driving cars without as many doors (as a V8 Supercar) so he kindly took one off. He is a very honest and open driver and we are having fun.”
Tim Edwards – FPR Team Principal:
“Today was about as routine a day as you can have at a track like Surfers Paradise. All three cars were quick from the outset and we had good pace on both new and old tyres so we are confident of a good run in qualifying tomorrow. Will Power and Mika quickly reacclimatised while Nick continued to be as impressive as we thought he’d be. He and Dave are making a great combination and Dave is actually learning a lot from Nick which is a nice by-product of the partnership. A busy day tomorrow but our first aim is to get all three cars in the shootout.”