Australia: Ford Performance Racing Drivers Visit HMS Coonawarra
Ford Performance Racing drivers Will Davison and Mark Winterbottom swapped the wheel of their high performance V8 Supercars for one of Navy’s 7.2m Zodiac sea boats in a visit to Darwin’s patrol boat base HMAS Coonawarra yesterday.
The visit included a special autographing signing for kids from HMAS Coonawarra’s adopted family cancer charity Camp Quality after the sea boat drive.
Mark “Frosty” Winterbottom, driver of Car 5 Orrcon Steel said driving the jet powered Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat was “a bit different to a ski boat”.
“I wish my ski boat handled like that” he said. “They stop and turn on a dime and you generally don’t expect that from something that floats!”
Will Davison, driver of the number 6 Tradingpost FPR Falcon said the half an hour drive wasn’t enough.
“I’d love another hour on the water just to build my confidence and see what the boat can do” he said.
Last year the Royal Australian Navy announced a five year partnership with Ford Performance Racing (FPR) which will give two of the Navy’s Marine Technical Sailors the opportunity to embed in the FPR Team and work as mechanics for ‘Team Navy’, every year, until the end of 2016.
Petty Officer Marine Technician Clint MacGregor and Leading Seaman Marine Technician Ashley Schmidt are the current members of the Marine Technician Outplacement Program in FPR and made their first track appearance at the Clipsal 500 motor sport carnival in Adelaide.
“They’re very much part of the team and the work they do is integral to our success” said Frosty.
“As a high performance racing team, what we do is quite specialised and quite demanding” he said.
“We share a synergy with Navy like that, and although the cars and boats are vastly different the boys have brought their dedication and discipline to the team and their work ethos is fantastic”.
Leading Seaman Schmidt said the Outplacement program was the opportunity of lifetime.
“We’re learning all the time, but the drivers seem to be just as interested in what we do in Navy as we are in them”.
Will Davison said having the Camp Quality kids on base made the visit extra special.
“The track gets pretty busy and I am delighted we had some quality time with them”.
Naval Today Staff , June 14, 2012; Image: Australian Navy