Clipsal: Round one pre-race notes

1. The Clipsal 500 this weekend should be special for Betta Electrical's Steven Ellery. It will be his 100th Championship start and the first time since 1998, when he drove the Konica Holden Young Lions Commodore, that he will not own his own race...

1. The Clipsal 500 this weekend should be special for Betta Electrical's Steven Ellery. It will be his 100th Championship start and the first time since 1998, when he drove the Konica Holden Young Lions Commodore, that he will not own his own race team. Ellery will be the 16th driver to make the 100 mark but unfortunately he is also closing in on another, unwanted, record - that of the most starts without winning a round. Currently John Faulkner holds that dubious honor with 110 Championship starts while between him and Ellery are Murray Carter (107) and Mark Larkham (104).

2. Marcos Ambrose comes to Adelaide looking to get a flying start in his quest to win his third straight Championship, which will mean he would join only Ian Geoghegan and Mark Skaife as the only drivers with a hat trick of titles. So far ten drivers, including Ambrose, have won back to back titles and only two have gone on the take the third. When qualifying time comes around in Adelaide, Ambrose could be excused for feeling a sense of dejà vu as for the last three years he has qualified in third position.

3. Last year in Adelaide, Ambrose became the eighth driver to win the opening round of the series having won the title the year before. Geoghegan won the opening round in 1969 having won the title in 1968, Allan Moffat (1976/1977), Dick Johnson (1981/1982) and Jim Richards (1990/1991). Since 2001 this has happened every year - Mark Skaife was Champion in 2000, 2001 and 2002 and he won the opening round in 2001, 2002 and 2003 and, of course, Marcos Ambrose did it in 2003 and 2004. Ambrose' win in last years race was the first time a Ford driver had won the opening round since John Bowe in 1993 and if he can do it again this year it will be the first time since Dick Johnson in 1981 and 1982 that a Ford driver has won the opening round two years in a row.

4. This will be the seventh time the V8 Supercar Championship Series has visited the Adelaide street circuit since the first Adelaide 500 back in 1999. In that time the track has proved itself to be where Holden and the Holden Racing Team in particular, feel most at home. In the six rounds Holden drivers have won five times, taking out eight of the 12 races. HRT has won four rounds and every single race for the men in red. HRT owner driver Mark Skaife is the only man to have won twice at the circuit while the other wins for HRT were Craig Lowndes and Jason Bright, with Garth Tander winning for the Valvoline team in 2000. The only man to have won in a Ford is Marcos Ambrose, last year, but, of course with Lowndes and Bright now in the blue team, Ford will have more previous winners on their side in this year's race than Holden.

5. The promotion of Andrew Jones into the main game certainly proves the value of the HPDC V8 Supercar Series as it means that the last four Champions of that series will be in this year's main game. Jones is joined by Simon Wills (2001), Paul Dumbrell (2002) and Mark Winterbottom (2003). Two time runner up Matthew White gets his chance with a full time drive in the Fujitsu team. The field for this Clipsal 500 will also include 15 drivers who have either won or been runner up in the Australian Formula Ford Championship. Russell Ingall (1990), Cameron McConville (1992), Craig Lowndes (1993), Stephen Richards (1994), Jason Bright (1995), David Besnard (1996), Garth Tander (1997), Greg Ritter (1999), Will Davison (2001) and Jamie Whincup (2002) have all been Champions while Jason Bargwanna (1996), Marcos Ambrose (1997), Steve Owen (1999), Rick Kelly (2000) and Mark Winterbottom (2002) were runners up.

6. When teams move into the pits at Adelaide for the Clipsal 500 they might have to get used to a number of drivers walking into the 'wrong' garage as over the off season there has been a record number of drivers changing teams. Of the 35 drivers in the series 19 are driving the same cars for the same teams as last year, seven drivers have come into the series full time while nine others have changed teams. Of the nine who swapped operations, three have changed sides. Jason Bright has gone from Holden back to Ford, Craig Baird has gone to a Ford from Holden while Paul Radisich has gone the other way. The others to have made the move are Tony Longhurst (Perkins to Team Dynamik), Garth Tander (Valvoline to the HSV Dealer Team), Glenn Seton (FPR to DJR), Greg Murphy (KMart to Super Cheap Auto Racing) while Betta Electrical had a major reshuffle with two new drivers Craig Lowndes and Steven Ellery. Of the seven newcomers none are technically rookies. Jamie Whincup and Greg Ritter have had full time drives. The other five - Alex Davison, Will Davison, Steve Owen, Matthew White and Andrew Jones - have all driven in a Championship event before.

7. The Clipsal 500 is the 13th season of Championship racing under the V8 formula. The first race was at Amaroo in 1994 and was won by John Bowe in a Shell Falcon. Of the 30 drivers who took part in that first round in 1993 only five will be part of the field here in Adelaide - Mark Skaife, Glenn Seton, John Bowe, Tony Longhurst and Paul Morris. Three of these drivers, Mark Skaife, Glenn Seton and John Bowe have taken 7 of the 12 Championships with Mark Skaife the most prolific with four while Craig Lowndes and Marcos Ambrose make up the five drivers to win the title in those 12 years. There have been 137 rounds of the Championship since 1993 with Holden taking 78 pole positions to 59 for Ford and also taking victories at a rate of almost 2 to 1 with 90 to 47.

8. V8 Supercar racing is a constantly evolving enterprise. With a new season a new points scoring system has been introduced to ensure a tightly contested series and reward all teams. Since 1993, when the V8 racing formula was introduced, there has been some change to system each year with every one a step in the right direction. This year it is a cross between the 2003 and 2004 models where teams can drop their worst score up until the tenth round at the SuperCheap Auto 1000 at Bathurst and then enter into a finals series format for the remaining three events.

-avesco-

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Series Supercars
Drivers John Faulkner , David Besnard , Garth Tander , Marcos Ambrose , Will Davison , Jason Bright , Steven Ellery , Greg Murphy , Russell Ingall , Andrew Jones , Jim Richards , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Baird , Mark Larkham , Craig Lowndes , Jason Bargwanna , Paul Morris , Paul Radisich , John Bowe , Jamie Whincup , Alex Davison , Glenn Seton , Simon Wills , Mark Winterbottom , Steve Owen , Tony Longhurst , Paul Dumbrell , Matthew White , Greg Ritter , Allan Moffat , Dick Johnson
Teams Holden Racing Team