Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose has made a great start in his quest to win four successive V8 Supercar Championship rounds when he was fastest in practice for round six at Hidden Valley Raceway near Darwin today. No Ford driver has won...
Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose has made a great start in his quest to win four successive V8 Supercar Championship rounds when he was fastest in practice for round six at Hidden Valley Raceway near Darwin today.
No Ford driver has won four consecutive rounds of the championship since Allan Moffat achieved the feat in an XC Falcon in 1977 - Ambrose was just nine months old at the time.
Ambrose is brimming with confidence in his Pirtek Falcon after winning the last three rounds at Eastern Creek, Winton and Barbagallo Raceway near Perth.
Russell Ingall made it a terrific start for SBR when he clocked the fifth-fastest time of the session on old tyres in his Caltex Havoline Falcon.
"It has been a great run for us," said Ambrose.
"We were not out there to set the fastest time today, it turned out that way for us and that is always a good thing.
"You pretty much get instant grip around this place and we managed that time on a cold set of tyres right at the end.
"We will give the car a little bit of a "tickle" tonight, but overall we are quiet happy to be this fast straight out of the truck.
"It would be great to win four in a row, but we can't think about that.
"I would love to have a real hard go, but we need to think about the championship. We won't be taking any unnecessary risks."
Ambrose is only sitting third in the championship despite his string of wins because of a new points system
Ambrose has 783 points and sits in third place in the title chase behind Jason Bright (851) and Steve Richards (834) - neither of whom have won a race this year.
This year's points system has been redeveloped to ensure that there is not a runaway title winner like Mark Skaife was last season, but unfortunately the new system seems to have had too much of an effect.
The new system involves much tighter points gaps between placings in individual races.
If last year's points system was being used the Ambrose would be leading the championship by 125 points.
Ironically, the new system has also worked against Skaife who currently sits fifth in the 2003 championship. The Holden driver would be second in the championship if last year's system had been maintained.
"I have been having some serious therapy about it, so let's drop it," joked Ambrose.
"Look, the points system changed for a reason this season and unfortunately it has worked against us.
"I struggle to think we don't lead the championship considering the results we have had this season, but they are now the rules.
"We just need to get on with the job we have been doing. If we keep winning races then we will have to win the championship - I think!"
Ingall, who won the inaugural round at Darwin in 1998, was delighted with the performance of his car despite very old and worn tyres.
"We have had a couple of frustrating rounds so it is nice to get this start," said Ingall.
"We really struggle to put a decent set of old tyres together for the session, because of the off-track grief we have had in the last couple of rounds.
"The car feels really balanced and I have to say I am surprised with the time we did today considering the tyres we had.
"I really can't see any downsides at the moment."
TOP 10 - PRACTICE TIMES
1: Marcos Ambrose (Ford) 1:09.3444
2: Mark Skaife (Holden) 1:09.3934
3: Todd Kelly (Holden) 1:09.4468
4: Steve Richards (Holden) 1:09.4648
5: Russell Ingall (Ford) 1:09.8784
6: Rick Kelly (Holden) 1:09.8907
7: Paul Radisich (Ford) 1:10.0113
8: John Bowe (Ford) 1:10.0920
9: Paul Weel (Holden) 1:10.1301
10: Max Wilson (Ford) 1:10.2075
TRACK FACTS - HIDDEN VALLEY
Venue: Hidden Valley Raceway, Darwin, NT
2003 Race format: Top 10 Shootout & 17-Lap race (Saturday); 2 x 35 Lap races (Sunday)
Circuit Length: 2.9km - Front straight 1.1km
Circuit Direction: Anti-Clockwise
Maximum Speed: 260 km/h (Main Straight)
Qualifying Record: Garth Tander (2001) 1:08.49
Lap Record: Jason Bright (2001) 1:09.01
V8 SUPERCARS (All times Darwin Local)
9.30am-10.05 - Practice session
11.35am-11.55am- Qualifying (Lower 50%)
Noon-12.20pm Qualifying (Upper 50%)
2.30pm-3.00pm - Top 10 Shootout
4.30pm-5.15pm - Race 1 (17 Laps)
9.40am-10.00am - Warm-up
11.45am-12.40pm - Race 2 (35 Laps)
2.30pm-3.20pm - Race 3 (35 Laps)
TV TELECAST - NETWORK TEN
Sunday - June 29, 2003 (Eastern Standard Time)
1.30pm-2.30pm - RPM
2.30pm-5pm - Round 6 V8 Supercar Championship Series