Marcos Ambrose ends year with win for SBR & Ford.
Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose gave Ford its second outright win of the season and provided plenty of hope for 2003 when he won the final leg of the Betta Electrical V8 Ultimate at the Sandown International Raceway in Melbourne today.
Ambrose dominated today's 300km event after winning yesterday's 150km leg in his Pirtek Falcon and finished with a maximum of 240 points to claim third place in the championship.
Ambrose's teammate David Besnard was fourth outright in a remarkable performance after an air box problem saw him start the race from pit lane and give the rest of the field three quarters of a lap start.
He also fought his way back from a controversial drive-through penalty to finish seventh in race two and claim 109 points to jump a place to eighth outright in the series.
Ambrose thought he had some steering problems with his Falcon before his first pit stop, but his concern was unnecessary.
He spent about six seconds longer in the pits than he needed as his crew checked the front end of the car, but he still managed to maintain his track position as leader.
"The car I had this weekend is the best I have ever had," said Ambrose.
"We were fast all weekend and to get into third outright was a dream coming into this weekend.
"Today's result is critical to keep the motivation up and with going on with the job next season.
"Hopefully we can continue our way forward with the Pirtek BA Falcon next season.
"We have guys working around the clock to get new cars built for next year's first round."
The round win was Ford's second for the season the other being SBR's victory in the VIP Petfoods Queensland 500 with David Besnard and Simon Wills back in September.
Besnard had battled his way to sixth place by lap 59 and was challenging for fifth when he was given a drive through penalty after a controversial incident with Rick Kelly at turn one.
Besnard drove up the inside of Kelly, but was then "squeezed" resulting in contract which temporarily forced Kelly off the track.
The 25 year-old slipped back to 17th after his drive through, but he drove his way back through field setting the fastest lap of the race with a 1:12.06 on lap 62. A painful burning right foot end his progress late in the race.
"What a day," said Besnard.
"I was on the warm-up lap when smoke started coming from the bonnet and I just had to pull it straight into the garage.
"We got back out without dropping a lap, but I gave the field three quarters of a lap start.
"The throttle was sticking for the first part of the race and I really had to work at it.
"In the end my right foot went numb and was burning and I could not feel the difference between the brake the accelerator so I was all over the place.
"The boys gave me great pit stops and it is a pity that we could not get the Caltex Havoline Ford on to the podium.
"To finish eighth in the championship after where we were after the opening round of the championship is a credit to all my boys and Stone Brothers Racing."
Ambrose won today's round from Greg Murphy and series champion Mark Skaife.
The opening round of the 2003 championship series will be the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide on March 12-15.