Ford Performance dominate V8s practice

Last updated 17:56 20/04/2012
Greg Murphy
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ
UNDER REPAIR: The crew works on the No 51 car of Greg Murphy after hitting the wall at turn eight.

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The boys from Ford Performance Racing dominated the opening day practice of the Hamilton 400 today, with all four of their cars finishing in the top five. 

Current V8 Supercars championship leader Will Davison went fastest with a 1:21.794, more than a second under Craig Lowndes' practice record around the 3.4km street circuit.

Davison edged out Mark Winterbottom and David Reynolds to complete a FPR clean sweep.

Garth Tander led the way for the Holden Racing team in fourth fastest ahead of Tony D'Alberto, also in the FPR camp, fifth fastest.

"It's an unbelievable start, really big pat on the back for FPR," said Davison. "Today's no points, no glory but this is a real testament to the cars they are supplying us all, particularly Dave [Reynolds] and Tony D'Alberto as well.

"We've come a long way in 12 months. This wasn't one of our best places last year but from the first lap on hard or soft tyres we've all been really quick today."

Davison continues to battle with a back-related problem which causes his right foot to become numb during races but he said he was learning to live with the problem.

"I'm doing lots of things and it's frustrating but I've learnt to deal with it now," Davison said.

"Even when it's really bad I can still seem to get podiums and stuff.

"It's not an excuse at all but it does trouble me at times in the races for sure."

He continues to alter arrangements in the car to try to combat the issue.

"I don't want to harp on about it but I've made some changes this weekend, even in the sessions today," he said.

"I was fiddling around with some ergonomics in the car, some brake stuff, positions, because I went out very uncomfortable with some of the changes we'd made back at the workshop.

"Let's just hope that translates into the foot staying alive 20 or 30 laps into the race."

Davison said the start to the New Zealand round could not have been better scripted.

"It's an unbelievable start, a really big pat on the back for FPR," Davison said.

"Today, no points, no glory but really this is testament to the car that they are supplying us all with.

"We've come a long way in 12 months. This wasn't one of our best places last year."

Winterbottom has not always enjoyed the best of fortunes on the streets of Hamilton, but was impressive in practice.

"It's a lot more enjoyable this year than last year. They paint a black cat up in turn five, last year I got a bit friendly with the black cat because I was out there quite a few times, but I never saw it this year so that might be our gauge."

Reynolds led the way, taking advantage of the first two practice sessions for cars in the bottom 50 per cent.

"The stars have aligned and I'm up here again," Reynolds said. "I want to win races and finish on the podium more than anyone so I don't see why it can't happen now. I really want to be up there but I've just got to learn, the cars a lot different for me to drive track to track and for myself being in the bottom 50 percent - I've got to do four sessions so I'm buggered at the end of the day."

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It was not such good news on the local front with Kiwi legend Greg Murphy crashing in morning practice and while he managed to get out for the final session, the Holden driver trailed at the bottom of the list.

"It was one of those things. Rookie driver, cold tyres and ran out of talent," Murphy said. "It set us back a long way today but the weekend is still ahead of us although we do have some catching up to do.

"To be honest the hit wasn't that big but enough to do a fair bit of damage. We got back out for practice which was a good thing. The back is all fine though. No problems at all."

The Kiwi drivers all face a big day if they are to treat the fans in the final event in Hamilton, with last year's winner Shane van Gisbergen only 22nd fastest and Fabian Coulthard 26th.

Tomorrow comprises a 20-minute qualifying period for V8 Supercars and the top-10 shootout ahead of the first race over 200kms at 3pm.

- with AAP

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