Prodrive Racing Australia (formerly known as Ford Performance Racing) is an Australian motor racing team which competes in the Supercars Championship. The team currently campaigns two Ford FG X Falcons, driven by Mark Winterbottom and Cameron Waters, and prepares two customer FG X Falcons for Rod Nash Racing and Britek Motorsport (which will replace Super Black Racing in 2017). Winterbottom won the 2015 championship driving for the team.
In early 2003, Prodrive purchased Glenn Seton Racing waterproof containers, and renamed it Ford Performance Racing as part of a marketing push to link the Prodrive-owned Ford Performance Vehicles road car range to the popular V8 Supercars. Along with this renaming came a huge expansion programme – the team expanded from one car driven by Glenn Seton to three; Seton, Craig Lowndes and David Besnard. The team moved into a new headquarters adjacent to the FPV factory in Campbellfield, Melbourne, and the crew expanded as well. The third car was entered using Rod Nash Racing's Racing Entitlement Contract (REC). While other teams such had received major Ford support in the years since, it became the first official Ford factory team since the Ford Works Team of 1962 to 1973.
The team's early years were somewhat disappointing, given the fact the team was one of the best funded in V8 Supercars. Lowndes had his moments in 2003, including a round win at Phillip Island, and a second-place finish at Bathurst driving with Seton. Lowndes finished the year 5th in the championship, with Seton and Besnard well down the order. In 2004, the team downsized to two cars. Lowndes and Seton both had disappointing years, plagued by engine dramas, a lack of test days, and a lack of comparable data (their cars were built to different specifications). While the pair did start to find some pace at the end of the year (they finished second at Bathurst again), they both decided to move at the end of the year – Lowndes to Triple Eight Race Engineering and Seton to Dick Johnson Racing.
Jason Bright and Greg Ritter joined for the 2005 season. Bright had a consistent year, and finished inside the top 10, while Ritter was disappointing, David Brabham replaced him for the final rounds. In 2006, Mark Winterbottom joined the team. Bright scored multiple front-row starts, including three pole positions. He won the inaugural round in Bahrain, the Desert 400, and came 6th in the championship. Winterbottom enjoyed a very consistent run to finish third in the championship. The pair won the Sandown 500. FPR came second in the team's championship behind the HSV Dealer Team.
Bright left FPR at the end of the 2006 season to drive for his own Britek Motorsport outfit, with Steven Richards recruited to replace him. The team continued to take the challenge to the front running teams. The most disappointing moment in 2007 was when Winterbottom left the circuit late in the race while leading at Bathurst. In 2008, Winterbottom challenged for the championship however Jamie Whincup managed to finish the championship ahead of Winterbottom while Richards finished 8th.
In 2009, the new FG Falcon was debuted. While Triple Eight already had the speed, FPR struggled with only one win from Mark Winterbottom during the season with Steven Richards finishing a best of 3rd. The team also struggled at Bathurst again with the no. 6 car driven by Winterbottom and Richards caught fire on lap 50 while the second car driven by Dean Canto and Luke Youlden crashed late in the race. Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards finished 5th and 13th in the championship.
In 2010, Winterbottom finished 3rd and Richards 15th. For 2011, Richards was replaced by Will Davison, however was retained as an endurance co-driver for Winterbottom. Winterbottom finished 3rd and Davison 7th in the championship. In 2012, FPR were strong challengers for the championship, Winterbottom finishing 3rd with Davison finishing 4th.
In January 2013, the team was sold by Prodrive to Rusty French and Rod Nash. In the 2013 season, Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards won the Bathurst 1000. Davison finished the season in third, Winterbottom fourth. Chaz Mostert joined the team in 2014, replacing Will Davison. FPR won the 2014 Bathurst 1000 with Mostert partnered by Paul Morris.
In 2015, Ford Performance Racing was renamed as Prodrive Racing Australia, as a result of Ford's decision to progressively withdraw its V8 Supercars support by 2016. The team introduced the Ford FG X Falcon, the first new Falcon since 2009. After a slow start, the team achieved considerable success in the next section of the season, with eleven out of fifteen race wins between the third event (the Perth Super Sprint) and the eighth event (the Sydney Motorsport Park Super Sprint). Winterbottom, co-driving with Steve Owen, then went on to win the 2015 Wilson Security Sandown 500, leading home a team one-two with Mostert and Cameron Waters in second. It was the team's first win at the event since 2006. At the 2015 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, Mostert had a substantial crash in Friday qualifying, ruling his car out for the weekend and himself out for the rest of the season. This left Winterbottom with a large championship lead entering the final rounds, and while he didn't win another race after Sandown, Winterbottom held on to win his, and the team's first drivers' championship. The team was leading the teams' championship until the final round, in which it was overtaken by long-time rivals Triple Eight.
Both Winterbottom and Mostert are signed to drive for the team until 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Since 2010, the team has prepared a customer car for Rod Nash Racing. Paul Dumbrell drove in 2010 and 2011 before David Reynolds took over in 2012. Reynolds has achieved the most success in a FPR/PRA customer car, with notable results being a race win at the 2013 Armor All Gold Coast 600 and second place at the 2012 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, both times driving with Dean Canto. In 2016, it was announced that Chaz Mostert would race under Rod Nash Racing in his Supercheap Auto-backed Falcon.
In 2013, PRA took on a second customer car for Charlie Schwerkolt Racing. The Schwerkolt entry was driven by Alex Davison in 2013, with Jack Perkins replacing Davison for 2014. Schwerkolt and his team split with Prodrive prior to the 2015 season, moving to Walkinshaw Racing for 2015.
Super Black Racing replaced the #18 Schwerkolt entry for 2015, with Andre Heimgartner the driver of Car #111. Chris Pither replaced Heimgartner for the final two rounds of the 2015 season and continued with the team for 2016. After the 2016 season, the team sold its Racing Entitlement Contract.
For 2017, Britek Motorsport will replace Super Black Racing as the team's second customer entry. Jason Bright will drive the team's #56 entry in 2017.
Prodrive Racing Australia has run a number of customer cars for other franchise holders, the first in 2007 where the #021 Team Kiwi Racing BF Falcon driven by Paul Radisich was prepared for the first few rounds of the season. In 2008, FPR prepared the #777 Ford Rising Stars Racing BF Falcon of Michael Patrizi reusable metal water bottle. For the 2015 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, the team ran a third customer car, a wildcard entry for Renee Gracie and Simona de Silvestro known as the Harvey Norman Super Girls.
The team has also run entries in the second-tier Dunlop V8 Supercar Series in recent years. The first of these was in 2010, when the team ran James Moffat in a BF Falcon. This was followed by entering Chaz Mostert in 2012 using an FG Falcon. In 2014 and 2015, the team ran Cameron Waters in an older generation (pre-2013) FG Falcon in the Development Series. In 2016, the team expanded to two (2015-spec) FG X Falcon entries for Garry Jacobson and Jack Le Brocq. The pairing finished first and second in the championship respectively, winning 11 out of a possible 16 races for the team. For 2017, the team will continue to run Ford FG X Falcons, for defending champion Jacobson and Josh Kean.
The following is a list of drivers who have driven for the team in V8 Supercars white socks over football socks, in order of their first appearance. Drivers who only drove for the team on a part-time basis are listed in italics.
The BA Falcon of Jason Bright & David Brabham at the 2005 Bathurst 1000.
The BF Falcon of Mark Winterbottom at the Eastern Creek round in 2008.
The FG Falcon of Will Davison at the 2011 Clipsal 500.
The FG Falcon of Mark Winterbottom at Queensland Raceway in August 2011.
The FG Falcon of Mark Winterbottom at the 2012 Clipsal 500.
The FG Falcon of Mark Winterbottom at the 2013 Clipsal 500.
The FPR entered Ford FG Falcon of Mark Winterbottom at the 2014 Clipsal 500 Adelaide.
The Ford FG X Falcon of Chaz Mostert at the 2015 Sydney Motorsport Park Super Sprint.
Media related to Ford Performance Racing at Wikimedia Commons
2. Scott Pye
22. James Courtney
3. Taz Douglas
62. Alex Rullo
5. Mark Winterbottom
6. Cameron Waters
7. Todd Kelly
15. Rick Kelly
23. Michael Caruso
78. Simona de Silvestro
8. Nick Percat
14. Tim Slade
9. David Reynolds
99. Dale Wood
12. Fabian Coulthard
17. Scott McLaughlin
18. Lee Holdsworth
19. Will Davison
21. Tim Blanchard
33. Garth Tander
34. James Moffat
55. Chaz Mostert
56. Jason Bright
88. Jamie Whincup
97. Shane van Gisbergen
888. Craig Lowndes