Dominant Ambrose takes championship lead. Pirtek Falcon driver, Marcos Ambrose, has dominated another race meeting to steal the 2003 V8 Supercar Championship lead from Jason Bright. The tough 300km race proved a challenge for many, with only...
Dominant Ambrose takes championship lead.
Pirtek Falcon driver, Marcos Ambrose, has dominated another race meeting to steal the 2003 V8 Supercar Championship lead from Jason Bright. The tough 300km race proved a challenge for many, with only five cars finishing on the lead lap and a long list of retirements littering the bottom end of the time sheets.
Craig Lowndes fought a clever race to finish second, with HRT owner Mark Skaife claiming third and his first podium finish since the opening round of the season.
For Ambrose though, the day was as good as you could get with his major rivals stumbling while he charged on to a fairly easy win, despite having his 29 second lead cut to nothing by a Safety Car 20 laps from home.
"It's been a great weekend, the race worked out perfectly for us" Ambrose said after his win. "I think we've made some progress, I was a bit worried here because of the undulations... we had some trouble at Phillip Island with that be we were good today.
"It is great to finally get the lead in the series back, we held it after the first race at Adelaide and we haven't had it now for five race wins. Now we do and it's away."
The opening laps of the race were torrid, with Ambrose and Paul Morris trading paint through the first three turns while fighting the early lead. Morris, who finished on the podium at the last round, had a tough day after a drive through penalty was handed down for jumping the start.
"I think we had a Holden hero at the start who wanted to win it in the first corner, but I held onto it when he hit me in Turn 2, and then he tried again in Turn 3. I just hoped he hadn't pushed a guard onto a tyre.
Ambrose's pace this year has been the talk of pitlane, the 26-year-old former Tasmanian dominating the racing in his Stone Brothers Racing Falcon.
"I can't answer for everyone out there, we've all got the same equipment, but some guys just didn't get it right in the shootout and others missed it in the race. We had to work hard at it this weekend, when you burn the tyres up like we did in Queensland you don't have much to work with.
"If we get these next two races and get a 200 point lead going into the last two I'll be feeling pretty good about it."
Lowndes credited his good result to watching Ambrose race strategy at the previous race, opting to make his compulsory pitstop for tyres well before his stop for fuel.
"We looked at Marcos at the Queensland 300 and we decided to try that," Lowndes said. "It worked for us today because we had some good pace in the middle of the race, so it worked for us today but it might not work next time.
"My rear tyres were buggered at the end, and I was lucky Mark got held up there. I got caught up with John Bowe when I was lapping him, and it bent the steering so we were lucky."
For Skaife it was a welcome return to the podium after a run of outs, but he is scratching his head about the speed that has been found by both Ambrose and Russell Ingall whose day was ruined by an early race puncture.
"It just wasn't fast enough," Skaife said, "and I make a pretty poor error early and flat spotted a tyre and had to stop early. We were struggling for rear tyres at the end - they really weren't that flash, and I would have wanted to be the rear right tyre - and then I caught up with Morris.
"To me it was just ridiculous. He was out of control at the start of the race and then at the end... his steering log would be pretty ugly in the dog leg when he turned hard left to hold me out. There were blue flags everywhere, I don't know what he was thinking."
There plenty of tales of woe in this race, starting early with Anthony Tratt not getting a lap run in his new Falcon, and Brad Jones starting from pitlane after snapping a rear axle on his warm-up lap.
An early race incident between Steven Richards and Simon Wills snowballed to include Paul Radisich, Rick Kelly and Jason Bright. Wills eventually retired from the race, while Kelly spent more than 20 laps in the pits having the damage repaired. Radisich was out on the spot, and Bright
"We had some speed today, it was probably the best race car we've had all year," Bright said. "But there was a whole bunch of losers who ruined it for me today. We'll just have to make this the one we drop. It is frustrating to lose the Championship lead, but there is one team (SBRP) out there doing it right, and they are making the rest of us look like fools."
Steve Richards tumbled further down the Championship order after suffering alternator problems for the second race in a row, while Greg Murphy debuted his new race car with a tough drive into 11th And third in the Championship.
A huge crowd of more than 32,000 squeezed into the track today, with the weekend figure of 41,500 exceeding the circuit's previous best. The nest race is at Sandown, and is the first of the two driver endurance races.
Round 8 Overall Results 1. Marcos Ambrose - Pirtek Falcon BA 2. Craig Lowndes - FPR CAT Falcon BA 3. Mark Skaife - HRT Commodore VY 4. Garth Tander - Repco Valvoline Cummins Commodore VY 5. Jason Richards - Team Dynamik Commodore VY 6. Todd Kelly - HRT Commodore VY 7. John Bowe - OzEmail Falcon BA 8. Russell Ingall - Caltex Havoline Falcon BA 9. Cameron McConville - Lansvale Smash Commodore VX 10. Dean Canto - Betta Electrical Falcon BA
Championship Standings (After 8 Rounds) 1. Marcos Ambrose - 1351 2. Jason Bright - 1279 3. Greg Murphy - 1233 4. Russell Ingall - 1163 5. Mark Skaife - 1145 6. Paul Weel - 1109 7. Craig Lowndes - 1094 8. Steven Richards - 1052 9. Garth Tander - 1002 10. Rick Kelly - 952