SBR MAINTAINS 1-2 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDING Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose lengthened his lead in this year's V8 Supercar Championship Series and team mate Russell Ingall consolidated second place in round four at Eastern Creek Raceway ...
SBR MAINTAINS 1-2 CHAMPIONSHIP STANDING
Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose lengthened his lead in this year's V8 Supercar Championship Series and team mate Russell Ingall consolidated second place in round four at Eastern Creek Raceway today.
Ambrose won the opening race in his Pirtek Falcon and was second in race two to finish the day on equal points with fellow Ford driver Craig Lowndes, who was declared the overall winner of the weekend because of his higher finishing position in the final race.
Ingall was a solid fifth in the opening race in his Caltex Falcon and eventually finished sixth in race two despite a slow pit stop.
Ambrose now leads the championship on 708 points from Ingall (673) and Steve Richards (585). On the adjusted points system where each driver drops his worst round from the opening 10, Ingall actually leads Ambrose by a point.
Stone Brothers Racing has also extended its lead in the team's championship over the Holden Racing Team to 368 points.
In the opening race there were plenty of people holding their breaths back in the SBR pit after Ingall's car had to be pushed started from the pit lane.
It was discovered that the Caltex Falcon had a flat battery and it had to be changed on the starting grid with only seconds to spare before the race start.
Lowndes got the jump in the in the first race to take the lead from Ambrose and Skaife.
Skaife managed to jump into second after his compulsory pit stop, but on his out lap he had a coming together with Ambrose on the entry to turn three. The impact spun Skaife's car and in what was later described by race officials as a "racing incident".
When Lowndes pitted a couple of laps later, he came out just behind Ambrose and the two stayed in that position to the chequered flag.
In race two Ambrose got the jump on Lowndes, but then gave up the lead after Lowndes followed his lead and pitted on lap seven.
There was just a fraction of a second difference in the stops, but it was enough to give Lowndes the lead which he held for the next 29 laps.
Ingall ran as high as fourth, but a nine-second stop for tyres ended his podium chances.
"For me the coming together with Mark (Skaife) was a racing incident," said Ambrose.
"There was an overlap between our two cars and it really was a repeat of the incident in Perth. Over there I thought I was past Mark, but I obviously I wasn't.
"I don't know if Mark was restricted by the HANS device a little like I was in Perth, but he clearly didn't realise I was there.
"We had a pretty good car in the first race and tried to improve it in the second, but we went the wrong way.
"Craig (Lowndes) managed to sneak out ahead of us when we pitted, but I doubt I would have been able to keep him behind me if we had maintained the lead after the stop.
"Over the last 10 laps or so I have enough problems keep Greg (Murphy) behind me and actually locked up a couple of times.
"At the end of the day we extended our points lead and it is always a good weekend when you manage to do that.
"Now we head into great unknown of China, which is going to be an interesting experience for everyone involved with this sport."
Ingall was disappointed with his overall placing of sixth, but happy to come away with another solid points haul in what has been his best start to a championship campaign for sometime.
"The majority of the time our pit stops definitely work in favour, today was not that crash hot," said Ingall.
"We actually had a reasonable car, but we did not get to show it.
"We had a couple of good tussles in both races, but any chance to challenge the leading couple of cars slipped through our fingers.
"At the same time we still managed to bank plenty of points and keep our championship dream well and truly alive.
"The next round in China is going to offer plenty of challenges for everyone and I think could be a turning point in the title chase for many teams.
"The first race in China will all be about adapting as quickly as possible and I think that is something that the Caltex team and Stone Brothers Racing does very well."
The next round of the championship will be in Shanghai China on June 10-12.