Eastern Creek: Teams recover for round two

Teams and Drivers Recover from $1m Carnage in time for Eastern Cr Many of the V8 Supercar drivers and teams chasing defending champion Marcos Ambrose have spent countless hours and in excess of $1 million for the chance at Eastern Creek ...

Teams and Drivers Recover from $1m Carnage in time for Eastern Cr

Many of the V8 Supercar drivers and teams chasing defending champion Marcos Ambrose have spent countless hours and in excess of $1 million for the chance at Eastern Creek International Raceway this weekend.

The fallout from a spectacular crash in Adelaide almost a fortnight ago has meant a sleepless 10 days for the teams of Cameron McConville, Brad Jones, Steve Johnson and Mark Winterbottom.

But all are ready for Eastern Creek this weekend where round two of the V8 Supercar Championship starts with practice on Friday, qualifying and the Top 10 shootout on Saturday and a 77-lap, 300km race on Sunday.

The crash damage was most severe for Garry Rogers Motorsport who spent around $200,000 fixing the cars of crash victim McConville and Garth Tander, who hit the wall during practice in Adelaide.

Several other teams also sustained damage during the Adelaide weekend.

With everyone in his wake Stone Brothers Racing's Ambrose (192), who also won Eastern Creek last year, took both races in the first round of 2004 in Adelaide

He leads the championship from Steven Richards (186), Paul Weel (171), Greg Murphy (159) and Jason Bright (147).

Ambrose sealed last year's championship in the final round at Eastern Creek last year giving Ford its first winner six years.

"Our last visit was very special. Winning the championship and finally giving Ford fans their fist title since 1997 was a big highlight. I hope the many thousands of Ford fans will be out at Eastern Creek getting behind us again," Ambrose said.

"We got a great start to the year in Adelaide and it's nice to lead the championship at the moment, that's the best feeling coming into Eastern Creek."

Many Holden eyes will be on former champion Mark Skaife who has battled speed problems in his HRT Commodore and a long-term back problem that resurfaced In Adelaide, leaving the 36-year-old with pins and needles down his legs.

But Skaife did not blame the back problem or his team for his equal ninth place.

"We're going to go better, there's no doubt about that," Skaife said.

"We weren't as competitive as we would have liked and I felt my personal performance was very average. It's not one single issue -- there are probably three or four things we have to do better."

The best team performer in Adelaide was that of PWR Racing when Weel and Bright came home third and fifth respectively for the weekend. Both drivers are keen to consolidate in Sydney.

"Being third in the championship is a good start to the year for us, but it really only means something after the last round, not the first," Weel said.

"We want to follow up with a good result at Eastern Creek and give ourselves the best possible chance of being there by the end of the season."

Bright wants to take the good work from his two wins in the non-championship races at the Australian Grand Prix and his performance in Adelaide to Sydney.

"We've certainly got the car speed to take it to Marcos Ambrose, or anyone else for that matter," Bright said. "But 300km is a long way and lots of things can happen, so our ambition is always going to be to qualify well and stay in front of any trouble."

Similarly Craig Lowndes, a former winner in 1996 and second-placed to Ambrose last year, has been battling for the right combination early in the year.

"We've been working hard to get some more speed from the car," said Lowndes.

"All the Ford teams take great encouragement from Marcos's win in Adelaide and I'm sure we'll be amongst a group of Falcons fighting at the pointy end."

<pre> Eastern Creek Schedule:

Friday      Practice            2.00-2.30
Saturday    Practice            9.30-10.05
Saturday    Practice            11.35-12.10
Saturday    Qualifying          1.50-2.35
Saturday    Top 10 Shootout     4.00-4.30
Sunday      Race 1 (300 Klms)   1.30-3.45

2004 V8 Supercar Series Championship top 10 ladder:

1 Marcos Ambrose        192
2 Steven Richards       186
3 Paul Weel             171
4 Greg Murphy           159
5 Jason Bright          147
6 Rick Kelly            144
7 Paul Dumbrell         141
8 Paul Morris           132
9 John Bowe             126
10 Mark Skaife          126

-avesco-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Marcos Ambrose , Jason Bright , Greg Murphy , Cameron McConville , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Paul Weel , Craig Lowndes , Paul Morris , John Bowe , Mark Winterbottom , Garry Rogers , Paul Dumbrell , Steve Johnson , Steven Richards
Teams Garry Rogers Motorsport