China pre-race notes

Eight facts about V8 Supercars in SHANGHAI, China STARTS: 1. For the first time V8 Supercars venture outside Australasia for the 349th Australian Touring Car Championship round to be held since 1960. Shanghai will be the 25th different ...

Eight facts about V8 Supercars in SHANGHAI, China

STARTS:

1. For the first time V8 Supercars venture outside Australasia for the 349th Australian Touring Car Championship round to be held since 1960. Shanghai will be the 25th different circuit used in that time and as a measure of the significant advances that have come about since AVESCO has managed the series in 1997, it is one of six tracks on the 2005 calendar that has been introduced to the Championship in that time.

2. Craig Lowndes duly completed his hat trick of Pole positions at Eastern Creek and amazingly he did it for the third time after qualifying in sixth place. If he can go on and claim Pole in Shanghai he will become the first driver to take four in a row since 1998. Back then Mark Skaife did it in Rounds 5-8 at Winton, Mallala, Barbagallo and Calder Park. The last time a Ford driver managed four in a row was across the 1995/1996 seasons when John Bowe took Pole in the final round of 1995 at Oran Park and the first three rounds of 1996 at Eastern Creek, Sandown and Bathurst.

3. The victory at Eastern Creek means that Craig Lowndes comes to Shangahi in fourth place in the Championship, only 31 points behind Steven Richards. With things falling into place he could leave China with Ford drivers in the top three places. If it were to happen it will be the first time since 1993 when Glenn Seton, Alan Jones and John Bowe finished 1, 2, 3 in that years Championship. And, although Marcos Ambrose leads the series by 35 points from Russell Ingall, this year drivers have to drop their worst score in the first ten rounds. So, if you adjust the scores as of now, Ingall leads Ambrose by one point.

4. Although Marcos Ambrose hasn't scored a Pole position in the four rounds so far, he does go to Shanghai with the best average grid position. He has had three second places and one third for an average of 2.25 while Craig Lowndes is next best with three Poles and a seventh for an average of 2.5. The most consistent Holden driver is Steven Richards, who with two thirds, a fourth and a sixth averages 4. Rick Kelly took Pole in the first round at the Clipsal 500 but since then it has all been downhill, with an average of 16. Fear not though because a Pole position is no guarantee of success. Only Craig Lowndes at Eastern Creek won after starting from Pole while Ambrose won the Clipsal from second place, Murphy won at Pukekohe from fourth and Stephen Richards won at Barbagallo from third grid position.

5. There have been four different winners in each round this year (Marcos Ambrose, Greg Murphy, Steven Richards and Craig Lowndes) and if another stands on the top step of the podium in Shanghai it will be the first time that there has been five different winners in the opening five rounds of a series. In 1997 Wayne Gardner, Russell Ingall, Glenn Seton and Greg Murphy each won a round before Ingall took the fifth round. Last year Marcos Ambrose, Rick Kelly, Jason Bright and Todd Kelly won rounds one to four before Ambrose took his second win of the season in the fifth round.

6. There may have been four different winners in the first four rounds but there has been one constant on the podium - Marcos Ambrose. He has finished in the top three in all four races and if he can do it again it will be the first time since 2002 that a driver has been on the opening five podiums. Back in 2002 it was Mark Skaife but that wasn't his best effort as in 1994, in the Winfield Commodore, he finished in the top three in the first eight rounds. The last time a Ford driver did it, though, was in 1989 when John Bowe had six top threes in the first six rounds but it wasn't enough to give him the title as he was still beaten by his boss, Dick Johnson. Johnson, by the way is one of only three men to have finished on the podium in all rounds during a season. In 1981 it was eight rounds while in 1984 it was seven. The other two drivers were Ian Geoghagan with a podium in all seven rounds in 1971 and Peter Brock who managed all seven rounds in 1974.

7. Craig Lowndes' Pole position was the 145th Pole for Ford since the Championship began and if he, or any other Ford driver can take the top starting position in Shangahi it will be the first time since 1995/1996 that the blue oval has managed four in a row. John Bowe was the driver who took all four with the final round on 1995 at Oran Park followed by the first three rounds of 1996 at Eastern Creek, Sandown and Mount Panorama. It would be only the eighth time that Henry's men have managed four or more Poles in a row while the General's boys have done it 11 times but Ford does hold the record for the most in succession with 20 between 1988 and 1990 with the all conquering Sierra RS500.

8. With their two drivers sitting 1-2 in the Championship going to China, it is no surprise to see that Stone Brothers Racing is the most consistent team in the series with 19 top ten finishes in the 10 races that have made up the four rounds so far. The only blemish was an 18th place for Russell Ingall in the second race at the Clipsal 500 but, considering their positions in the Championship, the surprise is that HRT is the next best with 14 top ten results but they have had three retirements, one to Skaife and two to Todd Kelly. The teams with the most retirements are FPR and Orrcon with five non finishes each. All the bad luck at FPR has gone to Greg Ritter who has had all five retirements but, although Jason Bright has finished every race he has only had three top tens, a pair of seventh places at Pukekohe and another seventh at Barbagallo. The retirements at Orrcon have gone four to Bargwanna and one to Winterbottom and they have only had two top ten results a ninth and a tenth for Bargwanna at Barbagallo.

-avesco-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Alan Jones , Marcos Ambrose , Jason Bright , Greg Murphy , Wayne Gardner , Russell Ingall , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , John Bowe , Glenn Seton , Todd Kelly , Greg Ritter , Peter Brock , Dick Johnson , Steven Richards