It's all starting to sink in for Marcos Ambrose
After three days of celebration and seemingly endless media and sponsor commitments, newly crowned V8 Supercar Champion Marcos Ambrose is now in a position where he can reflect on his achievements.
Ambrose won his first V8 Supercar title on Sunday after dominating both races at the VIP Petfoods Main Event at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney, breaking the back of his only two rivals along the way.
Ambrose, born and bred in Tasmania, but now living on the Gold Coast, was humble as he sat out on the front lawn his Hinterland property this morning.
"I guess I have now had a little bit of time to realise what all this means," said Ambrose.
"The last couple of days have been frantic, but I guess I will have to get used to the added responsibility that goes with being the champion.
"It is hard to believe it is all over and that I have clinched my first title in just my third year.
"It has been a very long and hard year for everyone involved at Stone Brothers Racing with the development of a brand new car.
"There are so many people who have contributed to this championship and it is great that we can all now just take a well-earned break before coming back together to prepare to defend the championship next year."
Ambrose made his way to the stage three times at the V8 Supercar gala dinner in Sydney on Monday night.
He was awarded the Monroe Pole Award for the most pole positions this season, collected the championship trophy and was also awarded the inaugural Barry Sheene Medal after being voted the "best and fairest" driver in the championship by a media panel.
Ironically, the medal was presented to Ambrose by his SBR teammate Russell Ingall, who was a long-time friend of Sheene, a former two-time world motorcycle champion turned Channel 10 V8 Supercar commentator.
"I only knew Barry for a couple of years, but I learnt so much from him in that time," said Ambrose.
"I wish I had of had the opportunity to spend more time with him.
"To win the inaugural Barry Sheene medal is a terrific honor and one which I will cherish for a long time.
Ambrose dedicated his championship to Sheene, former Ford Motorsport boss Howard Marsden, Rally ace Possum Bourne and young driver Stewart McColl who all died this year.
"This has been a tough year in more ways than one," said Ambrose.
"To lose four guys like these (Sheene, Marsden, Bourne and McColl) in one year is just tragic. I dedicate this championship to the memory of these four talented and professional guys."
Ambrose will now take a well-earned break and will actually be going on a "road trip" with his partner Sonja in his Ford F250 truck.
"I will be packing the trail bike, mountain bikes and golf clubs in the back and heading off with the mobile phone turned off," said Ambrose.
"We will be in Tassie for Christmas, but how we get there and how long it will take are unknowns at this stage.
"I might even throw away the razor for a month and see what happens."
It was a big night for Stone Brothers Racing with young gun Mark Winterbottom collecting his championship trophy for the Konica V8 Supercar Series and also being named the Mike Kable Rookie of the Year.
SBR co-owner Ross Stone also accepted the trophy for Champion Team of 2003.
The first round of the 2004 V8 Supercar Championship Series will be held in Adelaide from March 18-21.
The V8 Supercars will also be a part of the Foster's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne from March 4-7.