Ingall broke the four race winning streak of teammate Marcos Ambrose, who said his own pitlane error cost him a chance at victory. Ambrose was shooting for his fifth straight win, and looked the goods until he was given a drive through penalty for...
Ingall broke the four race winning streak of teammate Marcos Ambrose, who said his own pitlane error cost him a chance at victory. Ambrose was shooting for his fifth straight win, and looked the goods until he was given a drive through penalty for hitting Steve Ellery in pitlane.
Todd Kelly was third in a brand new HRT Commodore, enjoying his first podium of the year at the expense of team leader Mark Skaife whose race was over when his engine stopped while running second less than 10 laps from home.
But all eyes were on Ingall and his first Championship win since switching to Ford earlier this year, and his first since the Winton round in 2001.
"About bloody time," he said after stepping from his car. "I thought Skaife was going to catch me, he was so quick early, and I used my rear tyres pretty viciously because I was just trying to put some cars between me and Skaife.
"Any win is this series is great. It is hard unless you are sitting in the seat... it is hard to relay how tough it is in this series. So when you get circumstances like that, you just take it. Any win in this series is great.
"We say it all the time, but this really is a hard competition and you only win with hard work. This team has a great work ethic, and the rewards really go to them today."
With two pitstops today, the SBR showed its pitlane advantage again today, changing tyres on Ingall's car in less than seven seconds and moving him ahead of Skaife whose stop had been 11 seconds.
"It's great to win, especially for the boys. I've given them a fair amount of work in previous races, so it is good to have kept the car straight all weekend. The guys at SBR are great, even when you are having a tough time they are analyzing the data and giving you encouragement.
"I reckon we've over taken more cars this year than anyone else because we've had so many problems and been qualifying badly. This weekend I just wanted to qualify well, and I can tell you it is a lot easier at the front.
"I'm not going to be sitting back now, we've still got a bit of speed to find. These cars are very different to drive, and I'm creeping up to it."
For Ambrose it was a day that could have had him in the record books as only the second Ford driver to win five Championship rounds in a row, bit it turned into a day of frustrations after scoring his third pole position of the season in the Top 10 Shootout.
Running a different strategy to all the other leading runners, Ambrose held a comfortable lead after the pitstops only to be called into pitlane for his indiscretion.
"I didn't have the best race," Ambrose said. "There was a bit of aggro there in the first corner, but I backed out of it because there is no use bending panels in turn 1. I knew the race was going to be won between the two pitstops, and that is what I wanted to concentrate on."
Ambrose emerged from that period of the race with a 20 second lead before scoring a drive through for hitting Ellery.
"I'm not angry, just disappointed in myself that the five in a row was there to be had. I made a mistake, I stalled the car in my pitstop, and in my haste to get out I hit Ellery. It was my mistake and I accept the penalty, you can't be hitting people in pitlane."
Ambrose's second spot has moved him to 36 points behind Jason Bright in the Championship chase, or to a two point lead in the nominal pointscore when the driver's drop their worst round result.
Todd Kelly enjoyed his best run for the year in his HRT car, but said his first podium in the red car was not that easy to get.
"It was probably one of the hardest races I've driven in a while," he said. "In the first stint I had to let some cars go, but as the race went on I started to learn the car was able to get some speed out of it."
He added that this new HRT racer was dramatically different from his previous car, and that this weekend gave him some valuable learning time in the car he will probably drive for the rest of the season.
Local driver Paul Morris was next in his Sirromet Wines Commodore, with Jason Bright following him home for fifth.
Steven Richards and Mark Skaife both had rough days in a Championship sense, both finishing the race in pitlane with engine failures. For Skaife the failure was gutting, running second with just a handful of laps left, although Ambrose had closed in on his tail.
"He wouldn't have got passed so long as I got out of the corners OK," Skaife said. "The engine was fine the entire race, but then it just stopped without warning.
"It makes it very tough from here," he said of recording his fourth Championship on the run, virtually conceding his record breaking run was over. "It's just bad luck really, I said to Toni 'what have we done, it's been a shocker this year'. We've had the car speed and been in winning positions, we are just having a bad run."
Richards was more pragmatic about his chances in the series despite dropping out of second.
"We had to drop a round, this is it," he said. "It means all the rest of the year has to be a good one now."