Defending Bahrain winners leave nothing to chance.
There has been no time for rest for defending Desert 400 champions Ford Performance Racing (FPR), since returning from the chaos of round eleven on the streets of Surfers Paradise last weekend.
Following the Bathurst 1000 and Gold Coast Indy 300 within a fortnight of each other, a round-the-clock effort has been made to ensure that FPR arrives in Bahrain fighting fit to defend its Desert 400 title from the event's inaugural meeting last November, with the cars being returned to the team's technical headquarters in Melbourne – a 2,000km drive.
“To say that it has been an extremely busy period for us over the last few weeks would be a massive understatement,” stressed FPR team manager Chris O'Toole. “A group of mechanics started work at 6:30pm on Monday to unload the transporter and strip the cars back. By midnight, (Mark) Winterbottom's car had been stripped and at 3:00am Tuesday the fabricators went back to work to repair the damage on the car.
“The other issue was the number of panels we damaged over the weekend; we had all-but run out of spares after the three Surfers Paradise street races. So over the past three days we've had two panel shops working 24 hours a day painting panels, doors and bumpers for us.”
The challenge for the Desert 400 race is selecting what the team takes from their habitual 40-plus tons of spares and equipment that usually travel to races in the team's massive B-Double transporter. Only the bare essentials can make the trip to the Middle East, in two 3.5-ton capacity air containers.
“This is the sixth time we have competed at a flyaway event like this,” O'Toole went on, “and over the years we have developed easier ways of packing our tools, equipment and essential spares to ensure that when we arrive in Bahrain everything is organised and easy to work with. Above all else, we need to ensure we have everything we need to get the job done. This year is the first time we have had to do it after such a panel-crunching round like we endured at the Gold Coast last weekend.”