Ambrose Kicks off V8 Supercar Season with victory for Stone Brothers Racing Marcos Ambrose embarked on his V8 Supercar Championship Series defence with a first up in win, dominating the first race of the 2004 at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide ...
Ambrose Kicks off V8 Supercar Season with victory for Stone Brothers Racing
Marcos Ambrose embarked on his V8 Supercar Championship Series defence with a first up in win, dominating the first race of the 2004 at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide today.
Ambrose, driving the same Pirtek Falcon he ran to win the first race in Adelaide last year, took control of the race when early race leader Greg Murphy chose not to pit during the first safety car period.
Castrol Perkins Commodore driver Steven Richards was second with Ambrose's SBR teammate Russell Ingall joining in the fun with a strong third place.
The HRT continued to struggle. Todd Kelly became the race's first retirement after slamming his car into the wall on the second lap while Mark Skaife performed better by working his way into seventh spot.
Skaife suffered problems with his back which hampered his drive when his right leg lost feeling. The problems relates to a crash he had several years ago.
Ingall and Skaife contacted at one stage bringing back memories of their now infamous bingle in the final round of last year. Skaife touched the back of Ingall's car as he came out of the pits today but it was only minor contact.
"There was contact," Ingall said. "He must have come out behind me as I came into the breaking area."
With the HRT suffering their problems today, Ambrose is now lining himself up to become the first non-HRT winner of the Clipsal 500.
"I'm just so pleased I've got a race win with the 'number one' on the car," an exhausted Ambrose said after the 250km race.
"I really wanted to get that first race out of the way and get the season started. We had a really good year last year and I'm keen to carry it through again.
"It's early days and we hope to have more Fords up there to match the Holdens - not just for the sake of the category but for the manufacturers as well.
"Having Russell on the podium with me is great because it shows that we don't have a weak link anywhere in the team.
"We haven't won here and it's a feature round of the series. We fell short by only a few laps last year."
Richards was pleased with his performance that included a dual with Ingall that was amongst the biggest highlights of the first of the two races in Adelaide.
"The car was fantastic today, it has been great all weekend," Richards said. "When you start 12th on the grid you have just got to use your head and not get caught up in any scraps.
"That was one of the best races I've been involved in. We were battling hard for most of the race with someone. The dice with Russell was great, it was fair and fun."
Ingall said the battle was good, but he enjoyed the start more.
"I said to the guys after the start if I crash and don't do another lap I wouldn't have cared - it was that good," Ingall joked.
"Richo was like me a few years back, he was the bulldozer and I just followed through in his wake."
Greg Murphy was fourth after a great drive to recover from a strategy error that dropped him outside the top 10 when all the pitstops were complete. Murphy failed to pit when the first Safety Car was called, and he knew straight away it was going to cost.
"I looked in the mirror and I saw Marcos and Brighty peel off and I knew we were in trouble," Murphy said, sporting an oxygen mask to help him recover the race.
"That was the hardest one here yet, I don't what the ambient temperature was, but wow."
Paul Weel was fifth in a great drive from the rear of the field, with Paul Morris gambling on back-to-back pitstops to lead the race during its middle phase before dropping to sixth ahead of last year's winner Mark Skaife.
The second and final leg of the Clipsal 500 will be run tomorrow afternoon at 2pm.
<pre> Clipsal 500 - Race 1 Results
1. Marcos Ambrose - Pirtek Falcon 2. Steven Richards - Castrol Perkins Commodore 3. Russell Ingall - Caltex Havoline Falcon 4. Greg Murphy - Kmart Commodore 5. Paul Weel - PWR Commodore 6. Paul Morris - Sirromet Wines Commodore 7. Mark Skaife - HRT Commodore 8. Paul Dumbrell - Castrol Perkins Commodore 9. John Bowe - OzEmail Falcon 10. Glenn Seton - Ford Credit FPR Falcon