Ford fans were celebrating after Sundays V8 Supercar race at Eastern Creek, Australia after Ford drivers Marcos Ambrose, Craig Lowndes and Russell Ingall completed a one, two, three for the Ford motor company. Holden fans believed that they had...
Ford fans were celebrating after Sundays V8 Supercar race at Eastern Creek, Australia after Ford drivers Marcos Ambrose, Craig Lowndes and Russell Ingall completed a one, two, three for the Ford motor company.
Holden fans believed that they had the race won before the weekend started as Holden Racing Team number 1 pilot, Mark Skaife had dominated this event for the past three years, and particularly after last years effort when he won three from three of the sprints rounds. They were even more confident after Skaife finished on top after qualifying on Saturday, but that was all about to change when Ambrose took out the Top 10 shoot out in the Stone Bros Racing Pirtek Ford. This was the start of a black weekend for not only the Holden teams but also the fans.
After a minute silence in tribute to Kiwi Rally driver 'Possum' Bourne who tragically died during the week, round three of the V8 Supercars got underway with Ambrose beating Skaife off the line. By the end of pit straight Craig Lowndes in the Ford Performance Racing Caterpillar Ford and Kiwi racer Greg Murphy in the K-Mart Racing Commodore squeezed passed Skaife heading into Turn 1 at over 200 kph, with Jason Bright in the Team Brock Commodore retaining fifth position.
The pack settled down but it wasn't too long before John Bowe in the OzEmail Ford spun at Turn 9 after an altercation with Garth Tander in the Garry Rogers Motorsport Valvoline Commodore, suggesting that the officials intervene and penalize Tander. Bowe's troubles were only starting when he was then informed that he was being penalized for jumping the start and had received a stop/go penalty. Fellow Ford driver Greg Ritter in Lowndes' old 00 Motorsport Ford also spun, as did Brazilian driver Max Wilson in the Dick Johnson Racing Shell Helix Ford.
It was starting to look as though the Ford drivers were going to suffer another defeat after only a handful of laps, however, Lowndes turned the tables when he passed Bright at the end of the straight and fans of the Blue Oval began to rejoice. By this stage Ambrose had stretched his lead to 10 seconds and then pitted for the first of his two compulsory tyre and fuel stops. A lap later he was followed in by Murphy, and then Skaife pitted after suffering a puncture to the front right tyre. HRT's problems were only beginning when team mate Todd Kelly in the No. 2 car came in with a flat front left tyre.
With many of the teams pitting, Lowndes remained out in front with Paul Morris in the Sirromet Life Style Wine Commodore. Both had yet to pit and some experts were wondering whether Ford Performance Racing had left Lowndes out on the track too long before bringing him. Their strategy paid off at Phillip Island and today was no different.
Todd Kelly was again in the woes when he overshot Turn 9 and ended in the sand trap. He managed to drive out but the damage had already been done after he ripped off the front spoiler and cracked the radiator. After limping back to the pits team boss Jeff Grech called it a day.
Ambrose completed his second compulsory stop, this time for tyres and was heading back down pit lane after an 8 second stop. His crew were pumped, as most of the other teams were two and three seconds slower. This left series leader Bright to take the lead and looking as though he was going to be the only Holden to spoil Fords party.
Officials were again clamping down, this time on the 40 kph pit lane speed limit and Kiwi and Team Dynamik driver Jason Richards copped a stop/go penalty for his troubles.
Ritter, who had spun earlier was involved in a more spectacular off when he left the circuit at Turn 1 and skidded across the sand trap, which ultimately slowed him considerably otherwise he was destined for the concrete wall. Although no doubt shaken, he rejoined the race and pitted after only occasioning minimal damage to the front of the 'green eyed monster'.
With a lead of almost 40 seconds Ambrose was reduced to the pace behind the safety car which joined the circuit for the first and only time after Brad Jones in the second OzEmail entrant pulled off the track after suffering what appeared to be electrical problems. Three laps later Ambrose again rocketed to the front and worked on stretching his lead over the field.
The skies then opened up and there was a brief shower around parts of the track which no doubt created a bit of a panic for some teams. Perhaps believing the forecast of the threat of thunderstorms Skaife was the first to pit for wets, followed by Glenn Seton in the second of the FPR Fords. This was a move that HRT would regret, and ultimately forced their number one driver to the back of the field, as two laps later he and Seton returned for slicks.
In the meantime, The Enforcer Russell Ingall in the second Stone Bros Racing Caltex Ford was all over the bumper of Murphy, and Tander was all over the back of him. This dog fight enabled Ambrose to increase his lead by a further two seconds. With a dozen laps to go Ingall pulled off a spectacular move down the inside at the 'loop', forcing the Kiwi wide while at the same time Lowndes was attacking Bright. It wasn't long before Ingall tried to haul in Lowndes but he had to get past Wilson who was a lap down. Fortunately the officials pulled out the blue flag and it wasn't long before Ingall was breathing down the neck of Lowndes. The Kid, as he was often referred to when driving for Holden before his defection to Ford showed his talent when he passed Bright, who then lost out to Ingall on the last lap. The rest is history.
It was definitely Fords day today, even David Thexton who is in his first year of V8 Supercar racing driving his plain white 99 car celebrated after his first official race after failing to qualify at Adelaide and Phillip Island.