Ford survive carnage to win Sandown 500

Despite predictions of heavy rain and hail during the Betta Electrcial 500 at Sandown, in Victoria, it was the carnage that sorted out the field. The action packed race saw three Fords finish on the podium, a feat that hasn't been achieved by the...

Despite predictions of heavy rain and hail during the Betta Electrcial 500 at Sandown, in Victoria, it was the carnage that sorted out the field. The action packed race saw three Fords finish on the podium, a feat that hasn't been achieved by the blue oval brigade for many years.

Defending V8 Supercar champion Marcos Ambrose at one stage thought he was dreaming when co-driver Greg Ritter ran wide at turn one. A similar incident cost him the race last year when team mate Russell Ingall beached the Pirtek/Caltex Havoline Ford after failing to pump the brakes after a pad change.

Ritter was able to recover, losing a handful of spots in the process before Ambrose got back behind the wheel and steered the Stone Bros car across the line for his first endurance win. Again, the Queensland based outfit was dominant with Ingall and Cameron McLean in the Caltex Havoline Ford coming in second ahead of 'Junior' Johnson and Warren Luff in the brand new Dick Johnson Racing Shell Ford.

The race was a matter of survival, whoever avoided the incidents stood a good chance of winning. The first incident on lap one resulted in David Besnard running off into the kitty litter at turn one. He and team mate Alex Yoong in the second WPS car had a day they would rather forget after spending more time off the track then on it.

The more fancied rivals of Mark Skaife and Todd Kelly in the Holden Racing Team, who were defending champions after last year came to grief when Glenn Seton in the Ford Performance Racing Ford was hit from behind and spun in front of Skaife, forcing him into a tyre wall. Although he was able to get back onto the bitumen, the Holden Commodore suffered extensive damage to the front left guard. Skaife limped back to the garage and left it to the crew to repair. Despite losing 20 odd laps, he returned to the track to gain some valuable points in the run for the championship, which may have been in vein.

Fellow Holden drivers Greg Murphy and Rick Kelly appeared to be clear favorites after Kelly put the K-Mart car on pole on Saturday. During the press conference Murphy said that he had given his young team mate the responsibility of qualifying for Sandown and that he would take care of it when they got to Bathurst. Unfortunately Kelly couldn't get off the line at the start and dropped back through the field, until Murphy got behind the wheel and brought it home in 5th spot, behind Cameron McConville and Garth Tander in the Garry Rogers Valvoline Commodore.

Despite a handful of international drivers joining the line up, as has been the case in the past, it was left up to some of the young and up and coming drivers to prove a point, most of whom drive in the Konica Minolta series. Only Britain Jason Plato, who partnered legend Peter Brock in the second HRT car finished in the top twenty.

Only seven cars finished on the lead lap, with eleven recording DNF's, which included both the Team Dynamik Holden's and the Triple 888 Racing Fords. The latter being disappointing for the major sponsors Betta Electrical who also sponsor the team,, although the announcement that Craig Lowndes will be joining them next year eased the pain somewhat.

Sporting new internet sponsors Dodo, Team Dynamik were in the wars from the time they arrived at Sandown after the illegal testing incident at Woomera, South Australia a couple of weeks earlier. Although the testing was conducted under what could only be described as suspicious circumstances, CAMS officials fined the team over $100,000.00 for four major breaches and deciding not to penalise the drivers by deducting competition points. Mr Kieran Wills, team principal, advised that he would be lodging an appeal.

The win enabled Ambrose to take back the lead in the championship ahead of Jason Bright who managed to finish in 10th with Paul Weel, considering after Friday's practice sessions both cars were extensively damaged. Steven Richards who partnered father Jim Richards in the Perkins Castrol Racing Commodore remains in third, while Rick Kelly and Russell Ingall round out the top five.

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Series Supercars
Drivers Alex Yoong , Garth Tander , Marcos Ambrose , Jason Bright , Greg Murphy , Cameron McConville , Russell Ingall , Jason Plato , Jim Richards , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Paul Weel , Todd Kelly , Garry Rogers , Cameron McLean , Greg Ritter , Peter Brock , Warren Luff , Steven Richards