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FPR faces Townsville qualifying challenge

Gordon Lomas

Saturday 5th July, 2014 - 4:00am

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Mark Winterbottom says focus is on qualifying

Mark Winterbottom chasing key to impoved qualifying

Ford Performance Racing spearhead Mark Winterbottom says the points-leading team needs to improve its qualifying form ahead of the Castrol Townsville 500.

Winterbottom says the biggest focus of the weekend will be finding the key to a better a starting position.

Each qualifying session for the 125km Races 20 and 21 today are restricted to a helter-skelter 10 minutes.

Extracting optimum one-lap pace on new tyres has been an achilles heel for FPR.

“Although we’ve been consistent we need to be three or four spots further forward,” Winterbottom, who is protecting a 161-point lead, told Speedcafe.com

“We need front row or second row. We can’t afford to be too much further back than that.

“You run the risk of crashing, it’s not just position its some of the other stuff that goes with it as well.

“Our big emphasis is qualifying the other stuff takes care of itself.”

Winterbottom has claimed four race wins this season, only one behind Red Bull Racing Australia’s Jamie Whincup.

With qualifying amounting to a critical part of a race weekend, Winterbottom says a major focus is being levelled at one lap pace.

“We race well and have been very good as a team but qualifying pace has not been good enough.” Winterbottom added.

“If we can qualify well we can definitely race well. But that’s our biggest challenge to make sure we qualify at the front.

“We’ve got to make sure we get it right.”

Winterbottom was no better than eighth in any of Friday’s three practice sessions, while team-mate Chaz Mostert fared even worse, finishing in the bottom half on each occasion.

Mostert insists he is in good shape for the races but, like Winterbottom is conscious of extracting a forward starting berth.

“We went through a little program we had for today – some things worked and some didn’t,” he told Speedcafe.com.

“We’ll see what we can come up with overnight.

“I think we are in good shape for the race but we’ve just got to work on the qualifying car.”

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