Ambrose may gamble to win Bathurst: Richards Defending V8 Supercar Champion Marcos Ambrose may be prepared to take an uncharacteristic gamble in an attempt to win the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000, counterpart and 2004 championship contender Steven ...
Ambrose may gamble to win Bathurst: Richards
Defending V8 Supercar Champion Marcos Ambrose may be prepared to take an uncharacteristic gamble in an attempt to win the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000, counterpart and 2004 championship contender Steven Richards predicted today.
Ambrose has made no secret of his desire to win Bathurst in his Pirtek Falcon but he stopped just short of saying he would risk his championship hopes to do so this weekend. He currently leads the series from PWR Racing's Jason Bright, who has also won Bathurst, and Richards.
Castrol Perkins Motorsport's Richards has twice won Bathurst and now places more emphasis on a championship victory than he will a third win on the mountain this Sunday. But he thinks Ambrose might have a slightly different view if a risk needs to be taken to win the world's greatest touring car race.
"There are lots of guys who haven't won Bathurst, Marcos included," Richards said.
"I'm sure Marcos really wants one. He's done the championship thing but he doesn't quite have that (Bathurst) on his CV. We are all competitive and we want that those things, that's what it's all about. For me it's the championship that I'm most after."
Richards won Bathurst in 1998 and 1999. He is teaming up with his father Jim this year who is chasing an eight Bathurst title that would leave him just one short of Peter Brock's all-time record.
In Ambrose' case he is relatively new to the series having won a championship in just four years of V8 Supercar racing. Winning Bathurst is the next major tick on his to do list.
"I would dearly love to have a Bathurst victory," Ambrose admitted.
"Bathurst rates up there with the best events in the world. The circuit is unique in that it is as still as raw and challenging as it ever was.
"The very high-speed cornering sadly doesn't exist on too many tracks now days. It really is a place that sorts the men from the boys.
"Any track where you're your steering binds up in the middle of a corner requires plenty of bravery. This is the one race every Australian kid dreams of winning.
"We have a good opportunity this year but we have had the same in previous years. Having said that if I don't win it this year I'm not going to be devastated."
Last year's winners, Kmart Racing's Greg Murphy and Rick Kelly, are among the favourites. They would join a select few to win Bathurst back-to-back with a victory on Sunday.
But Murphy, also responsible for the fastest lap of the circuit during last year's shootout, know nothing is a certainty when it comes to taming the mountain.
"Sure, 2003 was awesome, the best weekend of my motor racing life, but it doesn't help us to win the 2004 race, which is what we're setting out to do. Going back-to-back is something that would be pretty special if we could pull it off," Murphy said.
"We're entering the race in a careful frame of mind. It's never smart to make big predictions about what you're going to do. We just work away at being the best we can be and prepare ourselves for another Bathurst campaign."
Kelly was of a similar train of thought.
"It's not a hard race to get fired up for. It's such a special race on the V8 Supercar calendar and it's the one that we all want to win. 2003 is the furthest thing from our minds because what happened last year doesn't help us this year," he said.
"I'd like to think we're one of the favourites because we have one of the most evenly-matched driving line-ups in the race. But it's a case of making sure we do everything possible to give ourselves a chance of victory."
This year's event is expecting a record crowd and for the first time Network 10 will broadcast live on Friday. The telecast is also going live into Shanghai and China as well as New Zealand taking the coverage in its entirety on Sunday.
In all more than 800 million people across the world will see the race unfold.