Ambrose Crowned 2003 Champion

Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose is the 2003 V8 Supercar champion following a sensational round victory at this weekend's VIP Petfoods Main Event at Sydney's Eastern Creek which drew a record three-day crowd of 41,300.

Ambrose secured his first championship title in the Pirtek Falcon by winning both races over the weekend including a dominating win today in a storm-shortened race.

It was time for celebration for Ford as Ambrose and his Stone Brothers Racing team brought the series crown back to the 'blue oval' for the first time since Glenn Seton's championship win in 1997.

Ambrose's SBR teammate Russell Ingall took his Caltex Havoline Falcon to 12th place for the race and sixth for the round after a fiery confrontation with Mark Skaife of the Holden Racing Team on lap 42 today.

Ingall reached a race high of second after blitzing the start but lost crucial race position during the first safety car period after a radio glitch saw him motor past the open pit lane.

Ford fans erupted as Ambrose crossed the finish line in his Pirtek Falcon after a torrential downpour and storm forced the reduction of the race from 64 to 57 laps.

"This all really has not sunken in yet," said Ambrose.

"This has been a very tough year with us loosing Howard Marsden (Ford Racing boss), Stewart McColl (Racer), Possum Bourne (Rally Champion) and Barry Sheene (Former world motorcycle champion) and I would like to dedicate this championship to those four guys.

"This is awesome - it has been something I have been working since I was 11 years old.

"To Ross and Jimmy Stone and Geoff Polites, the President of Ford, I would like to give a big thanks as these guys gave me a chance to fulfill my dream today.

"I owe an enormous thanks to everyone involved at SBR this year and to all our sponsors, especially our long-time major sponsors Pirtek.

"I look forward to having a couple of cold VBs tonight."

A tussle ensued between Ingall and Skaife which saw the HRT number one car crash into the wall at the exit of corner nine. Skaife got out of his car and remained on track until Ingall passed on the next lap with both drivers trading fiery glares and gestures.

"He (Skaife) had given me a touch up before the corner and then he came up beside me," said Ingall.

"I bounced around on the kerb after being pushed wide and continued out onto the dirt which tripped the car sideways.

"I was then beside him and he moved across in front of me, but there was no way I was going to back off.

"When I came around the corner and saw him on the track, I thought he was going to throw something so I backed off and drove towards him so he could not get a full lob at it. I thought he was going to throw his helmet or something."

Ambrose won today's race from Jason Bright and Max Wilson. It was the same top three positions for the round at the VIP Petfoods Main Event.

After 13 rounds in the series, Ambrose was presented with the series trophy finishing 102 points clear of Greg Murphy with previous champion for the past four years Mark Skaife finishing third overall another 67 points back.

Ingall finished fourth overall capping off a great year for Ford, Stone Brothers Racing and major car sponsors Pirtek and Caltex Havoline. Overall Stone Brothers Racing won eight of the 13 rounds (Ambrose -- 6, Ingall -- 2) showcasing their dominance with the new BA Falcon.

The first round of the 2004 championship will be held in Adelaide on March 18-21.

-sbr-