Eastern Creek II: Saturday report

Ambrose claims back-to-back V8 Supercar Championships Marcos Ambrose sealed the 2004 V8 Supercar Championship Series just as he began it -- leading start to finish in the first race of the BigPond Grand Finale at Eastern Creek Raceway in...

Ambrose claims back-to-back V8 Supercar Championships

Marcos Ambrose sealed the 2004 V8 Supercar Championship Series just as he began it -- leading start to finish in the first race of the BigPond Grand Finale at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney tonight.

The champion then declared he can become the second person to win three V8 Supercar Championship Series and Australian Touring Car titles.

"I'm aiming for three, "I would love to get a hat-trick," Ambrose said.

"I'm with the best team in pit lane, the synergy is there and there's no reason we can't get three in a row. I am really proud to be V8 Supercar champion and that I have backed that up from last year.

"There's no reason why the package should suddenly crumble."

Ambrose became only the eighth person in the history of Australian touring cars to win back-to-back titles, the last being Mark Skaife in 2000, 2001 and 2002. He is the first Ford driver since the great Dick Johnson to achieve the feat since 1988-89.

After crashing in practice and a nervous start to the last event on the 2004 calendar, Ambrose grabbed pole position today and as he has for most of the year nailed the start, took the lead and powered home from there.

His methodical domination of the field included one final, championship sealing pit stop by his lesser known back rook team that ensured his equipment stayed in the lead and stayed together for the entire race.

"I really wanted to finish this in style," he said. "I wanted to finish the deal tonight. We've made a concerted effort all year to go hard and it has shown in my driving all year. I've maintained that right to the finish."

Ambrose and the Stone Brothers Racing team were rewarded for being clearly the strongest team in the field. This year they have won four of the 13 rounds and been consistently at the head of the field when they haven't claimed the trophy.

The team and the Pirtek Falcon set up the year at the opening Clipsal 500 in Adelaide in March when they stamped their authority on the championship with a decisive victory.

The race is now on for second in the championship. PWR's Jason Bright and Kmart Racing's Greg Murphy are the most likely to do battle for that honour tomorrow with the pair separated by 11 points.

Bright finished third to Ambrose today with Craig Lowndes second. Murphy again struggled at Eastern Creek finishing the first of three races in 13th place.

For Bright he lamented what could have been year that has fallen adrift of late.

"To come here and still be in contention for the championship was a good effort," Bright said.

"It has been a really tough slog in the last four rounds and today was no different."

The final two races of the series will be held tomorrow with Ambrose promising not to slow down just because he has sealed the deal.

"I still want to win the event," he said.

-avesco-

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