Hidden Valley: SBR Sunday report

SBR EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD DESPITE TOUGH DAY Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose extended his championship lead in the V8 Supercar Championship Series despite a tough day at the SkyCity event at Darwin's Hidden Valley Raceway...

SBR EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD DESPITE TOUGH DAY

Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose extended his championship lead in the V8 Supercar Championship Series despite a tough day at the SkyCity event at Darwin's Hidden Valley Raceway today.

While it was pleasing to move forward on the championship table, things could have been better after Ambrose finished 31st in today's opening race and ninth in the event closer in his Pirtek Falcon.

Things were worse for Ambrose's SBR teammate Russell Ingall who slipped from second to third in the championship hunt behind Steve Richards after his Caltex Falcon failed to make the start of race three because of a faulty starter motor.

Ambrose now leads the championship on 980 points from Richards (893), Ingall (877) and Todd Kelly (870), who won today's round.

HOW IT HAPPENED--..

RACE 1

Ingall got a great start and had jumped from 14th to eighth by the exit of the first corner.

On lap six he made his compulsory tyre stop and changed rears in 4.9 seconds, but then had an altercation with Craig Lowndes who seemed to turn down on Ingall at turn one.

While Lowndes spun, Ingall managed to maintain his position without damage. On lap 21 Ingall went by Rick Kelly to become the fourth car on track who had pitted and he maintained that to the race's end.

Ambrose started the race in fourth and got a reasonable start to slot in behind Todd Kelly and get underneath Mark Skaife for second place.

He stopped for his tyres on lap 10, but lost one spot to Skaife. A lap later Ambrose speared off the track after the deflation of his front right tyre. It could not be determined if the tyre was damaged in a slight altercation with Skaife or was the result of a puncture.

Ambrose managed to get out of the loose sand and limp back to the pits where he got fresh rubber, but rejoined the field two laps down to finish 31st.

RACE 2

The day of drama continued in race two when Ingall's Caltex Ford failed to fire under its own power in the pit lane. He was push-started and made it to the grid, but then could not get the car going again.

He was push-started again and got back around to the pit lane where the car was rolled into the garage so the gremlin could be found.

It was discovered that a faulty starter motor had triggered the drama and when it was decided that Ingall would not be able to complete at least 75 per cent of the race to declare him a "finisher" his crew stopped working on the car.

Ambrose started from 31st on the grid after his race-two drama, but was 19th by the end of the opening lap, unfortunately that gain came at a cost with Ambrose flat-spotting both front tyres.

Ambrose believed that the front right tyre was causing him problems and when he made his compulsory pit stop on lap six, his Pirtek crew changed both rears and that tyre.

Unfortunately Ambrose soon discovered that it was his front left which was the major problem and he was forced to drive the remaining 41 laps with a "shuttering" front left wheel.

Amazingly, the tyre actually blew on the cool down lap after brose Amhad taken the chequered flag in ninth place.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY--..

MARCOS AMBROSE "What an amazing weekend," said Ambrose. "There were just so many highs and lows on both the Pirtek and Caltex sides of the SBR garage this weekend. "This championship is the most competitive it has ever been and it's great to still be in the lead, although there are plenty of others trying to make it hard for us. "When the tyre let go in the second race I actually thought I had lost a wheel because I had just done a pit stop. The car just went straight ahead and I guess we were lucky not to do more damage. "In the second race I had a great start, but then flat spotted both front tyres. "The car was just "shuttering" later in the race and I really had to dial the brakes to the rear to ensure I did not nip the tyre again and blow it. "I guess luck was on our side when you consider the tyre did go a couple of turns from home on the cool down lap. "It is going to be a cracking second half of the season and I can't wait."

RUSSELL INGALL "To say today was disappointing would be an understatement," said Ingall. "We had a couple of great recoveries after starting from the back of the grid in the opening race and then not being able to start the last race was shattering for everyone. "This certainly isn't going to help our championship chances, but it is far from over. "We could not let Marcos get too many points ahead of us and we had the chance to really close the gap after race two. "I have been relatively conservative in my approach to races this season, but now that's about to change. "If we are going to win this championship we need to win races. "It's time to get serious and that start's at the next round in three weeks time on our home track in Queensland."

-sbr-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Marcos Ambrose , Russell Ingall , Rick Kelly , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Todd Kelly