SATURDAY SLEUTHING: SETON’S FIRST FORD AFTER GSR

Winton 2003, Glenn Seton aboard his first new Ford Falcon after the sale of GSR. Pic: an1images.com / Graeme Neander

THIS week’s edition of Saturday Sleuthing looks at a car that marked the start of a new chapter in Glenn Seton’s hall-of-fame career.

After rising to prominence racing for the factory Nissan team under Fred Gibson, Seton struck out on his own for 1989 and founded Glenn Seton Racing.

The squad took a few years to find its feet but became one of the teams to beat for much of its 14-year existence, with its owner/driver claiming two Australian Touring Car Championships in 1993 and 1997 and a pair of Bathurst 1000 pole positions before Seton sold the team to the internationally-renowned rallying and circuit racing outfit Prodrive for the 2003 season.

The individual histories of the Sierras and Falcons built by GSR are covered in Seton’s upcoming autobiography, currently available for pre-order through the V8 Sleuth Bookshop and scheduled for release later in 2020.

Click here to pre-order and secure your copy!

Seton remained with the rechristened Ford Performance Racing into 2003, and actually continued racing one of his GSR-built AU Falcons for the early part of the year as the new team hurried to build three of the new BA Falcons for he and new teammates Craig Lowndes and David Besnard.

Seton finally received his first FPR-built Falcon – FPR BA02 – in time for the Winton round of the 2003 V8 Supercars Championship.

While Seton’s best result of the season was his popular second-placing at Bathurst with Craig Lowndes in his teammate’s chassis, he endured a tougher year in the single-driver races aboard BA02.

Seton took his only top-five finish in a single-driver championship race with FPR on the Gold Coast in 2003. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

A couple of top-10 qualifying performances – including eighth at Eastern Creek’s Grand Finale in the only full-field Shootout in championship history – plus a trio of top-10 race finishes, led by fifth on the Sunday on the Gold Coast, were the highlights of a year where Seton ended up 15th in the final points standings.

Seton began the 2004 season in a different chassis, but moved back into BA02 amid FPR’s torrid start to the season as reliability proved elusive for its new in-house engine program.

The chassis’ late start to the season means it also missed a controversial styling choice that FPR adopted for the start of 2004 – black wheels!

After qualifying 12th, Seton finished in the bottom half of the field in all three races at Symmons Plains in 2004. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

Once again it was Winton – with white wheels – where Seton climbed back aboard this car and he raced it for the remainder of his second and final year with FPR, save for the endurance races where he again rejoined Lowndes.

In a twist of fate, given that the defining years of Seton’s career were spent as an owner/driver, BA02’s next custodian was a team owner who was better known as a driver, while its steerer was another driver who is now better known as a team owner!

BA02 was sold to Jason Bright’s new Britek Racing outfit and driven by Matthew White, the then-Super2 Series owner/driver getting his first full-time ‘main game’ drive.

White running ahead of his boss at the 2005 Adelaide 500. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

The highlight of White’s season was an outstanding 12th in the Sunday race at the Adelaide 500, but it proved his only finish inside the top half of the field amid a difficult first season for the Britek squad, not helped by being unable to test due to being grouped with FPR.

Britek completely rebuilt the car ahead of the 2006 season. In fact, they virtually re-birthed it: the FPR floor of the chassis remained, but Britek suspension, uprights, plumbing and engine configuration made it somewhat different from its original specification!

It also received the new chassis designation of BM002, with Jose Fernandez – who shared the car with Damien White at the Sandown and Bathurst enduros the previous year – and Tony Ricciardello sharing the driving duties and teaming up for the long-distance races.

Reverse grids meant Fernandez started Race 2 at Oran Park from the front row. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

The chassis continued as the team’s #26 car into 2007, albeit upgraded to BF Falcon panelwork and with Alan Gurr as driver and IRWIN as its primary sponsor.

It was retained as a spare for the 2008 season but was soon purchased by the Sieders Racing Team mid-way through the year.

Both David and Colin Sieders raced the car in the Super2 Series for the next few seasons, with its final race coming at the Sydney Olympic Park round in 2011.

Colin Sieders on his way to a 12th place finish in this car’s final Super2 race, Homebush 2011. Pic: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith

The car remained with the team until being purchased by Victorian Jared Lovie, who had been looking for a V8 Supercar to restore.

Lovie stripped the car back to a bare shell and restored it to its 2004 FPR/Seton Ford Credit livery, and it made several public appearances over the next few years before the car found a new home – ironically, with its original owner!

Prodrive founder and chairman David Richards did a deal to acquire the car in early 2019 and, after arriving in England in May 2019, it has been on display in the museum at the team’s headquarters ever since.

FPR BA02 is keeping pretty good company in the Prodrive Museum! Pic: Supplied
Will Dale is V8 Sleuth's Head of Content - Digital. He began his media career as a breakfast radio newsreader before joining SPEED TV Australia and FOX SPORTS Australia in 2012 as its Digital Editorial Lead - Motorsport, covering all forms of motorsport both in Australia and internationally. He became part of the V8 Sleuth team in 2018.