Bathurst 1000 - Top 15 Shootout report

Saturday, 1pm: Tasmanian born Ford rookie, Marcos Ambrose has set the fastest time in today's top 15 shootout to claim pole position for the Bathurst 1000 in his first trip to Mt Panorama in a V8 Supercar. Ambrose became only the second rookie...

Saturday, 1pm: Tasmanian born Ford rookie, Marcos Ambrose has set the fastest time in today's top 15 shootout to claim pole position for the Bathurst 1000 in his first trip to Mt Panorama in a V8 Supercar. Ambrose became only the second rookie ever to win pole at Bathurst, taking the top spot from Glenn Seton to set up an all Ford front row for Sunday's 161-lap race.

The four major contenders for the 2001 Shell Championship Series crown will line up on the second and third rows tomorrow with Russell Ingall third fastest, Jason Bright fourth, Mark Skaife fifth and Steven Johnson sixth.

After qualifying for the shootout in 11th place yesterday, Ambrose found the extra speed needed around the 6.2km circuit to set the fastest time of 2:09.77 in the Pirtek Falcon, securing the pole spot for himself and co-driver, Wayne Wakefield.

"That was one of the biggest laps of my life," said Ambrose. "I knew I had to dig deep to find some extra speed after yesterday and I really want to thank the Pirtek crew for all the work they did to give me a car like they did today."

It is the third pole the exciting 25-year-old has earnt in his debut year in the Shell Championship Series, on top of his pole at the support events at the F1 GP at Albert Park in March where he was driving his Pirtek Falcon for the first time.

Ambrose also tore into pole position for the second big endurance event on the Shell Series calendar, the Queensland 500 in August, but failed to capitalise on it after his co-driver, Greg Crick, started the race and was swamped by the more experienced V8 Supercar drivers and handed the wheel to Ambrose while running midfield.

"We haven't finalised it yet but I would imagine I will be starting this time," he said. "I am focusing on getting off the line tomorrow because my starts aren't renowned."

Seton's grin has been a permanent fixture since he arrived at Mt Panorama this year, seeking his first victory from 18 attempts in his brand new Tickford Falcon. Teamed with two-time winner, Steven Richards, his speed in the last two days has seen bookies slash his price.

"My lap was really good, but Marcos' was better so congratulations to him," said Seton. "How can you pick a winner for tomorrow? It is just so even out there, but we are on the front row and that's a good place to start."

Ingall put the Castrol Holden he is sharing with Larry Perkins on the third grid spot and ahead of his title rivals with a self confessed conservative lap.

"No problems at all," he said. "I said before I went out that I would make sure not to hang it in to the wall just yet and just get through a nice, clean lap and that's what I did."

Bright secured fourth for himself and co-driver, Tomas Mezera, but it promised to be so much more after he had set an amazing 2:08.7630, faster than any lap ever recorded by any car at this track. Getting a little untidy on his shootout lap prevented a repeat effort and ensured Mark Larkham's 1999 V8 qualifying record survived for another year.

"That warm up lap was a pretty nice one, I don't know if I could have gone much better," said Bright. "The shootout lap should have been at least the same but I made so many stuff ups, I even put it on the grass at Griffins."

Skaife was less than happy with his qualifying effort which sees him and co-driver, Tony Longhurst lining up in fifth for the big race in the number one HRT car.

"It is very disappointing, there's not much pleasure in being the fourth worst loser. We made some changes overnight that didn't work. I though there would have been more grip on the circuit and now we have a but of work to do before the race."

Johnson's shootout lap put he and Paul Radisich, the bookies favourites, sixth in their Shell Helix Falcon. John Bowe and Simon Wills are seventh in the CAT Ford, ahead of the Super Cheap Falcon of Steve Ellery and Geoff Brabham.

Last year's winner's Garth Tander and Jason Bargwanna were ninth before the shootout and ninth after it, ahead of the second FTR car of Jim Richards and Dean Canto and the Kmart Holden of Todd Kelly and Greg Murphy was 11th.

Craig Lowndes was second fastest coming into the shootout but dropped all the way back to 12th in the Gibson Falcon he is sharing with Neil Crompton. Greg Ritter and Cameron McLean will start from 13th in the second Shell car, ahead of the Big Kev Holden driven by Paul Morris and Ashley Stichbury. Paul Weel and Tim Leahey round out the top 15 in their K&J Thermal Products Ford.

The brilliant sunshine which has bathed the mountain for the last couple of days has been in direct contrast to the constant downpour of 2000, and while some showers are forecast tomorrow, the race pace on the newly resurfaced track is sure to be hot. The race commences at 10am tomorrow morning and the winner will be known some six to seven hours later. <pre> Top Fifteen Results (** NB: Provisional qualifying position shown in brackets Driver listed first set Q time) 1. (11) M.AMBROSE/W.WAKEFIELD Pirtek Racing Ford AU11 2:09.7785 2. (1) G.SETON/S.RICHARDS Ford Tickford Racing Ford AU 2:09.9804 3. (6) R.INGALL/L.PERKINS Castrol Perkins Racing Holden VX 2:09.9912 4. (4) J.BRIGHT/T.MEZERA Holden Racing Team Holden VX 2:10.1178 5. (3) M.SKAIFE/T.LONGHURST Holden Racing Team Holden VX 2:10.1459 6. (12) S.JOHNSON/P.RADISICH Shell Helix Racing Ford AU 2:10.3538 7. (5) J.BOWE/S.WILLS CAT Racing Ford AU 2:10.4338 8. (7) S.ELLERY/G.BRABHAM Supercheap Auto Racing Racing Ford AU 2:10.4735 9. (9) G.TANDER/J.BARGWANNA Valvoline Cummins Race Team Holden VX 2:10.4999 10. (13) J.RICHARDS/D.CANTO Ford Tickford Racing Ford AU 2:10.5180 11. (8) T.KELLY/G.MURPHY Kmart Racing Holden VX 2:10.8654 12. (2) C.LOWNDES/N.CROMPTON Gibson Motorsport Ford AU 2:11.0141 13. (10) G.RITTER /C.McLEAN Shell Helix Racing Ford AU 2:11.2323 14. (15) P.MORRIS/A.STICHBURY Big Kev Racing Holden VT 2:11.3743 15. (14) P.WEEL/T.LEAHEY K&J Thermal Products Racing Ford AU 2:11.5767

Shell Series Points Overall after 10 rounds: 1)Skaife - 2498, 2)Bright 2371, 3)Ingall - 2281, 4)Johnson - 2217, 5)Murphy - 1842, 6)Radisich 1836, 7)Kelly - 1644, 8)Ambrose 1611, 9)Tander - 1479, 10)Ellery 1477, 11)S.Richards - 1454, 12)Lowndes 1432, 13)Morris 1341, 14)Perkins 1307, 15)Seton - 1300

Sunday: 161 lap (1000km) race 10am-4.45pm

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Series Supercars
Drivers Steven Johnson , Garth Tander , Marcos Ambrose , Jason Bright , Neil Crompton , Greg Murphy , Russell Ingall , Tim Leahey , Jim Richards , Dean Canto , Mark Skaife , Paul Weel , Craig Lowndes , Jason Bargwanna , Paul Morris , Paul Radisich , John Bowe , Glenn Seton , Todd Kelly , Simon Wills , Tony Longhurst , Cameron McLean , Larry Perkins , Greg Ritter , Greg Crick , Wayne Wakefield , Steven Richards
Teams Holden Racing Team , AT Racing