Round 13 SandownV8 Ultimate, VIC
30 November 2 December, 2001
Sunday, 7pm: Todd Kelly managed to negotiate the wet conditions better than the rest today to take the overall honours in the thirteenth and final round of the 2001 Shell Championship Series at Victoria's Sandown Raceway.
Kelly steered his Kmart Holden to third in yesterday's first 150km, 48-lap race, then followed it up with a convincing victory in the rain in this morning's second, before playing it safe to take third in the final race and wrap up the round ahead of the Ford duo of Craig Lowndes and Marcos Ambrose.
It was the first ever round win for the 22-year old Mildura born racer and he becomes the youngest winner of a Shell round since a 21-year old Craig Lowndes won on debut in 1996.
It is the second round win in succession for his Kmart team, following Greg Murphy's New Zealand triumph, and their fifth consecutive podium performance in a strong finish to their first year under the TWR banner with HRT.
"We have had the speed at other rounds this year, but perhaps not the luck. The crew were onto me during the third race making sure I didn't do anything silly in the third race," he said. "Now the team has the experience at all the tracks, I am looking forward to a more consistent 2002. I want to win a few more rounds next year."
Lowndes was in vintage form, shrugging off the disappointment of qualifying in 14th place to record results of second, third and first in the three races.
His race three win coming despite a couple of off track excursions and an unscheduled pitstop to remove debris from the front airdam. Ambrose looked well on his way to scoring his first race win in the series until engine trouble gave an aggressive Lowndes the opportunity to hunt him down and, despite an entertaining battle over a few laps, Lowndes held sway.
"I certainly did it the hard way," said Lowndes. "It was lucky for me that I had good drive out of corners and that Marcos had engine troubles."
Ambrose was desperate to notch his first win, but was philosophical and looking optimistically towards 2002 after an exciting rookie year.
"It is disappointing not to win the race, but we were losing top end speed and dropping cylinders so there wasn't a great deal I could do about it," he said. "Nevertheless, it was my first V8 race at Sandown and my first race in the rain so I can't be too despondent with the result. I'll do my homework before 2002 and have a real crack at the title."
To win the title, he will have to dislodge Mark Skaife. The Holden Racing Team ace did not finish the year as he may have liked, crashing out of the third race, but his commanding pole position and first and Fourth placings in the opening heats still left him fourth overall in this round and were indicative of the superior results he has managed all year.
"The reality is it was a tougher championship to win this year," he said. "Ford put in a greater effort and there were more drivers vying for every race win, as we have seen this weekend.
"The Kmart team did bother me at the start of the year, I was concerned. You wouldn't see McLaren try to run four cars. I am not so bothered now, but still, we cannot afford to sit on our hands in the off season because the others are going to come at us. The only way we can go from here is down and we want to maintain our competitiveness, we want to win again next year."
Skaife's HRT teammate, Jason Bright, was fifth overall, leaving him to finish third in the end of season standings. Greg Murphy was sixth after engine gremlins in the third heat finished his day early, and he maintained his fourth placing in the championship.
Steven Johnson endured a miserable finish to his season with engine failure in race two leaving him to battle in midfield for race three, but he still finished the year as the best placed Ford driver in the staandings in fifth.
Russell Ingall held onto the runner up position for 2001, the third time has had to settle for best of the rest. It is an unenviable record for "The Enforcer", as he now holds the most runner up positions ever recorded by a driver who has not won a title.
The 2001 season was indeed a more open affair, with Kelly's win making the list of different round winners this season stretch to 10 from the 13 rounds run, a record number in the history of the Shell Series.
With Shell ending their record 15 year association as naming rights sponsor of the V8 Supercar competition, Kelly will go into the record books as the last ever Shell Series round winner and Skaife as the final Shell Series champion.
The new season of V8 Supercars will kick off on the streets of Adelaide in March 2002. <pre>
Race 3 Top Ten 1. CRAIG LOWNDES Gibson Motorsport Ford AU 2. MARCOS AMBROSE Pirtek Racing Ford AU11 3. TODD KELLY Kmart Racing Holden VX 4. JASON BRIGHT Holden Racing Team Holden VX 5. PAUL MORRIS Big Kev Racing Holden VT 6. RUSSELL INGALL Castrol Perkins Racing Holden VX 7. RICK KELLY Holden Young Lions Holden VX 8. LARRY PERKINS Castrol Perkins Racing Holden VX 9. SIMON WILLS CAT Racing Ford AU 10. JOHN FAULKNER John Faulkner Racing Holden VT
Shell Series Points for this round:
1)Kelly - 248
2)Lowndes - 242
3)Ambrose - 232
4)Skaife - 188
5)Bright - 184
6)Murphy - 162
7)Ingall - 155
9)Ellery - 137
10)Jones - 132
11)Wills - 114
12)Besnard - 112
13)J.Richards - 110, 14)Radisich - 104
15)S.Richards - 104
Final 2001 Shell Series Points:
1)Skaife - 3478
2)Ingall - 2875
3)Bright - 2819
4)Murphy - 2724, 5)Johnson - 2532
6)Kelly - 2479
7)Radisich - 2109
8)Tander -2047, 9)Ellery - 2073
10)Ambrose - 2086
11)T.Longhurst - 1814
13)Perkins - 1753
15)Seton - 1698