Holden Racing Team driver Mark Skaife survived an action packed 141 laps of the Betta Electrical 500, to take the chequered flag and boost his title defense of the V8 Supercar Championship at Sandown in Victoria, Australia on Sunday. Not only...
Holden Racing Team driver Mark Skaife survived an action packed 141 laps of the Betta Electrical 500, to take the chequered flag and boost his title defense of the V8 Supercar Championship at Sandown in Victoria, Australia on Sunday.
Not only did the drivers have to battle each other, but also they all had to tackle the elements. The predicted storms came on time dumping heavy rain onto the track on two occasions, followed by a hailstorm towards the end of the race, which was the turning point for many of the teams.
Although Skaife put an end to the winning streak of Marcos Ambrose and the Stone Bros Racing outfit, the tables could have easily been turned had Russell Ingall not beached the Pirtek/Caltex Havoline Ford on lap 68. Everything was looking smooth when the 'Devil Racer' came into the pits with a 20 odd second lead. 'The Enforcer' took over and after a magic stop he was out and heading to turn 1 when the cold tyres took their toll. The rest is history.
If there was any consolation it was the fact that Ingall was able to bring the car back through the field after losing two laps to finish a credible 5th, despite the race being shortened. With that performance he proved that the Stone Bros Ford is almost bullet proof, which puts the team in good stead for the Bathurst 1000 in a couple of weeks. Take into Ambrose's qualifying record, clinching his 13th career pole on the weekend and his 5th for the series, this pairing still looks unstoppable.
It should be remembered that Skaife didn't have the race wrapped up until he basically crossed the line. Fellow Holden driver Jason Richards of Team Dynamik gave him a run for his money and almost pulled off the unthinkable, when with one lap remaining he dived down the inside and both cars contacted, forcing them off the track. The five times Champion managed to drag himself back onto the circuit, while Richards had run his race, recording a DNF. Although disappointed, Richards and teammate Simon Wills later expressed the fact that they were pleased with the car and were looking forward to the remainder of the season.
Like Richards, K-Mart driver Greg Murphy looked as though at one stage he had the race in the bag when he was leading going into the pits ahead of stable mate Skaife, and got caught in pit lane behind rookie Jamie Whincup in the Perkins Castrol Racing Commodore who pulled out in front of him. By the time he pitted and pulled out of his pit bay Skaife was long gone and the Kiwi had dropped half a dozen places and had to work hard to claw his way back to 3rd by the end of the race. This ensured that teammate Rick Kelly joined his brother Todd Kelly (HRT) on the podium, becoming the only two brothers in Australian Motorsport to do so.
While all this action was taking place, drivers Steven Ellery and Luke Youlden in the Super Cheap Auto Ford kept their nose clean and stayed out of trouble to grab 2nd place. It was a fitting result, as whispers around the track suggested that Ellery might be without a drive next year.