Ambrose wins back-2-back championship

On Saturday at Eastern Creek, just outside of Sydney, Ford Pirtek driver Marcos Ambrose won his second V8 Supercar Series title for the Queensland based Stone Brothers Racing Team. After dominating practice and qualifying in the Bigpond Finale, the Tasmanian born Devil Racer took out another pole position, and when the lights turned green at the start of race one, he never looked back.

Russell Ingall and Mark Skaife battled till the end of the race.
Photo by John Maricic.
Ambrose grabbed an early lead after Mark Skaife and his Holden Racing teammate Todd Kelly came together at Turn 2, resulting in Skaife losing positions and Kelly limping back to the pits with a punctured front right tyre. That altercation left the door open for fellow Ford driver Craig Lowndes in the CAT Falcon to grab second with Jason Bright in the Paul Weel Racing Holden Commodore finishing a credible third, leaving him with a glimmer of hope of securing second place in the championship, although there were two races to contest on Sunday. Ambrose said he wanted to win in style and had finally done it, stating this series win was more rewarding than last year's title.

Ambrose looked certain to win his second championship several weeks ago at Symmons Plains in Tasmania before his home crowd, but a blown engine put paid to that and he had to put the champagne on ice a little longer than expected. Perhaps this was meant to be, as over the weekend AVESCO officials courted a Chinese delegation who were here to oversee the administration and logistics required to be implemented in July 2005 when the V8 Supercar Series heads to China for the Shanghai Round.

Despite clinching the title, Ambrose remained focussed for the two 39 lap races yesterday making it a clean sweep for the weekend. The only threat came from Lowndes who grabbed the lead during lap one and that was short lived after an outstanding pit stop by the Stone Brothers Racing crew who put Ambrose back in front, and likewise an equal effort by Triple 8 Racing who gave Kiwi Paul Radisich in the Betta Electrical Falcon the opportunity of securing second.

The final race of the 2004 series saw Ambrose sprint off the line with a potential storm front looming. The bullet proof Pirtek Ford enabled Ambrose to build a 20 second lead over his nearest rival Lowndes who was looking for another podium finish, however, another blown engine which has been the saga for the past couple of seasons cost him any chance and left the door open for his former team mate Skaife to regain some credibility after a season he would rather forget.

Marcos Ambrose is all smiles.
Photo by John Maricic.
With Ambrose out in front, the fans were hoping for some form of contest and they got their monies worth with the battle between Skaife and his nemesis Russell Ingall in the second Stone Brothers Ford. Only 12 months earlier at the same circuit these two rivals were engaged in a nasty incident which remained in the headlines for weeks after Skaife claimed he was punted off the track by The Enforcer and that Ingall later swerved towards him while he was out of the car.

This contest between the two waged for the entire race with Ingall later conceding that Skaife made no mistakes and that he was driving an 'evil car' which made it difficult to pass. It wasn't until the end of the race that Ingall was informed by his crew that he should settle for third spot, as the points on offer would secure him second place in the championship, making it four times as runner-up. Radisich grabbed 4th place in his last race for Triple 8 Racing which made it an all blue oval podium, keeping a smile on the face of Ford manufacturers.

Stone Brothers Racing have been the benchmark for the past two years and that was evident with them securing first and second in the championship yesterday. Such has been the enthusiasm at Ford Headquarters that they paraded past and present Ford legends to the crowd and presented the SBR crew with special medallions for their achievements.