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Heat spoils Frosty's pace


V8 Supercar championship contender Mark (Frosty) Winterbottom struggled for grip on a hot track at Oran Park yesterday.

Ford Performance Racing driver, Mark Winterbottom, says he’s confident of a strong qualifying performance at Sydney’s Oran Park today, even though he struggled for grip on a hot track in yesterday’s practice session.

The Orrcon Falcon driver has a slim chance of pipping points leader Jamie Whincup in the championship-deciding series finale this weekend.

But low grip yesterday kept FPR focused on race pace. Hot weather meant planned changes to improve the Orrcon and Castrol Falcons' distance running took longer to assess, allowing no time for a run in qualifying trim. That left Steve Richards and Winterbottom in sixth and ninth.

“We certainly didn’t see the maximum of what the car could do but the race pace is strong,” says Winterbottom. “We know what we’ve got to do to make it quicker, we just ran out of time.

“Whincup (who topped the timesheets by a sliver from Russell Ingall) is obviously quick and we’ve still got to prove our own speed to ourselves tomorrow, but we’re pretty confident we’ll be strong.”

Richards says he couldn’t make headway on any of the changes because there was no grip. “It’s just how this circuit is when it’s hot.

“We changed so many things during the session to make the car handle in the race and had no chance to run through the same tests on greens (new tyres).”

Oran Park practice times

1. Jamie Whincup, 888, 1m 09.5125s.

2. Russell Ingall, PMM, + 0:00.0795s.

3. Craig Lowndes, 888, + 0:00.1090s.

4. Rick Kelly, HSVDT, + 0:00.2493s.

5. Garth Tander, HRT, + 0:00.4127s.

6. Steve Richards, FPR, + 0:00.4547s.

7. Lee Holdsworth, GRM, + 0:00.4607s.

8. James Courtney, SBR, + 0:00.5293s.

9. Mark Winterbottom, FPR, + 0:00.6816s.

10. Jason Bright, Britek, + 0:00.6996s.

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