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Seton looks back at his time with FPR and Lowndes

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Wednesday 11th November, 2020 - 2:00pm

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Craig Lowndes (left) and Glenn Seton (right) at Bathurst in 2004

The new Ford Performance Racing team was created amid piles of publicity in 2003 after Prodrive bought out Glenn Seton’s race team just before Christmas the previous year.

Seton became an employed driver for FPR in 2003 and 2004 and spent those seasons as team-mate to Craig Lowndes.

While the two years were largely frustrating given the team was devoid of results for both drivers, the fan favourites combined to claim back-to-back podium results at Bathurst against the odds.

The two-time Australian Touring Car Champion and Supercars Hall of Famer has released his first book this week, Seto: The Official Racing History of Glenn Seton, documenting his amazing career and written with former Speedcafe.com editor Stefan Bartholomaeus.

Speedcafe.com has a selection of exclusive excerpts from the 320-page hardcover publication, which is available to buy now from the V8 Sleuth Online Bookshop.

CLICK HERE to access the bookshop

To celebrate the release, Speedcafe.com is also offering fans the chance to win one of five copies.

CLICK HERE to enter the competition

Excerpt: Seton and Lowndes at FPR

One of the enjoyable aspects of my time at FPR was being teammates with Craig Lowndes. What the public sees is what I saw behind the scenes. Craig was exceptionally easy to work with and never had agendas or tried to undermine anyone, he just got the best out of himself and the vehicle he was in. When it comes to driving around problems and getting a result out of a car that wasn’t flash, I can’t think of anyone better. Where he lacked in technical skills with the car he made up with his driving ability. 

Putting him with an engineer who had no racing experience at all meant a lot of what was being done to his car over a race weekend in 2003 was just not right. 

My engineer that year had no experience either, but I was lucky that I had more experience that allowed me to have input into what was going on with my car. 

Although that meant I had a bit more direction than Craig did, it was a difficult situation for both of us. A factory racing team in a professional category like V8 Supercars hiring such inexperienced people wasn’t fair on anyone involved.

Craig won at Phillip Island in FPR’s second-ever event, but the race had been red-flagged due to heavy rain and the downpour had somewhat scrambled the order. It probably created some false expectations about what the team was capable of.

At FPR, our year came together at Bathurst because Craig and I made a good combination. I accepted he was faster than me, so my attitude was that I was there to support him by using my feedback to convince the engineers to make a car that he could go and drive the hell out of!

We had very different driving styles. He could cope with a lot more oversteer than I could. He wanted a car with a lot of front turn and would deal with the rear being loose. I’m very much a style of driver that loves the rear to be secure. If the rear was edgy, I’d struggle.

One of my strengths was tyre life. I was all about being smooth and easy on the throttle. I’d always go back to the theory that you’ve got 100 percent grip in a tyre, but only in one direction. If you’re asking for 50 percent side loading from a tyre, then you’ve only got 50 percent traction. I’d approach a corner in a diamond-shape, trying to keep the load off the side of the tyre on the exit to maximise traction. 

Our first race together, the Sandown 500 in September, was a non-event; we started from pitlane due to an engine misfire and battled away to finish 16th. But the car was solid at Bathurst. Craig qualified sixth in the Shootout and we kept out of trouble to finish second. Because of what had happened with the disqualifications in 1987, I was classified second but never actually stood on the podium. Finally, 20 years after making my Bathurst debut I made that podium climb and it felt bloody good! We didn’t have the pace to win it, so it was a great result with what we had.

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