Both Stone Brothers Racing Drivers In Top 10 At Grand Prix

It was only yesterday that Stone Brothers Racing's David Besnard and Marcos Ambrose declared they were at this weekend's Foster's Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix "to race".

The two Ford drivers gave themselves every chance of some strong results in the Netscape V8 Supercar support races over the next three days when they qualified seventh and ninth respectively in Melbourne today.

Ambrose was the second-fastest Ford in the #4 Pirtek Falcon with a time of one minute and 59.549 seconds.

"We did not make the gain on new tyres that we need to, but while saying that, it's still good to be in the top 10," said Ambrose.

"We certainly learnt a lot today and I am sure we can adapt some of that new knowledge overnight and be in a good position for race one.

"I had a few clean laps in a row, but we just did not have the speed we thought we might have had on new rubber.

"We said we would be here to race hard this week and these qualifying spots give us the chance to do that."

Besnard qualified ninth in his #9 Caltex Havoline Ford with a 1:59.787 lap around the 5.303km Albert Park layout.

"I am certainly pleased to be in the top 10, but we could have been higher if I had managed to put together a full flyer," said Besnard.

"I clocked one lap in the 59 (1 minute and 59 second) bracket and knew the car had some left in it, but I was baulked on my next two laps.

"We threw the original set of tyres back on the car for one last go and my last lap was my fastest despite another car getting in my way on the back part of the circuit and Paul Weel spinning in front of me.

"There is no doubt that this has been a solid start for the Caltex Havoline team and hopefully I am far enough up the grid to stay out of any drama in the races tomorrow and at the weekend.

"The main thing is that the car feels good and we are heading in the right direction.

"I think we can find a little more speed for tomorrow's race."

Top 10 Qualifying
1: Jason Bright 1:58.671
2: Steve Johnson 1: 58.923
3: Mark Skaife 1: 58.963
4: Russell Ingall 1: 58.991
5: Garth Tander 1:59.092
6: Steve Richards 1:59.533
7: Marcos Ambrose 1:59.549
8: Paul Ratisich 1:59.575
9: David Besnard 1:59.787
10: Craig Lowndes 1:59.913

Race One (10 laps - 53 km) Friday 1 March 3.10pm
Race Two (12 laps -- 463.6 km) Saturday 2 March 2.25pm
Race Three (10 laps - 53 km) Sunday 3 March 10.35am

Circuit: Albert Park - Melbourne
Length: 5.3km
Estimated top speed: 250 km/h - Pit Straight
Estimated average speed: 158 km/h

Event Television
Channel 9 will be showing V8 Supercar races live as part of their Formula 1 coverage throughout Australia at the weekend.

Saturday: 13.30pm-3.30pm (Eastern Daylight Savings Time)
Sunday: 10.30am-4.30pm (Eastern Daylight Savings Time)
* An hour earlier in Queensland Please check your local guides

Network Ten will be providing a thorough coverage of the V8 Supercars and F1 each night in their regular news and Sports Tonight programs Please check your local guides