Ford Ready for 2003 V8 Opener in Adelaide
The first real test of Ford’s new weapon in V8 Supercars, the BA Falcon, will take place on the streets of Adelaide from March 20-23 with the running of the opening round of the 2003 V8 Supercar Series, the Clipsal 500.
Following a strong debut in the non-championship support races at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, Ford will have 11 BA model Falcons on track for the twin-250km challenge.
Although this will be his first championship outing in a Ford, Caltex Havoline Racing’s Russell Ingall has already got the jump with victory in race two around Albert Park, and was leading when the final race was cancelled after two laps.
“The Grand Prix result was great, but this race is the one I really want,” said Ingall.
“The Clipsal 500 is long, hot and tough on both car and driver. It’s about not making mistakes and having your crew do everything to get you to the front and stay there.
“It was great to get the first race win for the BA in Melbourne, but I want the first championship round win to really give the Ford fans something to cheer about.
“For the championship it’s important to start the season strong and carry that through the year.”
2003 marks the fifth year of the Clipsal 500 around the revised layout of the former home of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. The previous four years have produced different winners - none have been aboard a Ford.
Winner of the inaugural Clipsal 500 in 1999, Ford Performance Racing’s Craig Lowndes has a challenge ahead of him with a new team and car for 2003.
“It will be pretty tough, but we’re all looking forward to the challenge in Adelaide,” said Lowndes.
“The track and the event itself is amongst my favourites. The atmosphere is just awesome and it’s definitely a race that all teams and drivers want to win.
“We are learning the BA Falcon, but each time out we are making improvements. With two practice sessions and qualifying on the Friday, we’re hopeful of getting the car into a position to make the top-10 shootout and from there anything is possible.”
Revisions last year to the turn #8 section of the track produced one of the fastest corners in Australian motor sport. It also brought a number of drivers undone, including Ford drivers Glenn Seton, Steve Ellery and Paul Radisich.
Despite the incidents none of the drivers is concerned with the sweeping right hand bend.
“I certainly know where the limit to the corner is,” said Team Betta Electrical’s Paul Radisich.
“As a professional race driver you can’t let that get on top of you and I’m approaching this race the same way I do all of them – I want to win.
“Street racing is tough, there’s no room for error, especially with 35 V8 Supercars all wanting to be at the front!”
Each race features compulsory separate pit stops for tyres and fuel.
The 2003 Clipsal 500 has been extended its race program in 2003 from a three to a four-day program to allow further categories. The V8 Supercar series cars are on track from Friday through to Sunday.