Phillip Island: Stone Brothers Racing qualifying report

Ambrose takes pole and Besnard fourth at Phillip Island. Stone Brothers Racing furiously flew the Ford flag in qualifying for the second round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Phillip Island today with Marcos Ambrose and David Besnard...

Ambrose takes pole and Besnard fourth at Phillip Island.

Stone Brothers Racing furiously flew the Ford flag in qualifying for the second round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Phillip Island today with Marcos Ambrose and David Besnard qualifying first and fourth respectively.

It was the team's best qualifying result since putting both cars on the front row at the Queensland 500 last August and set up a classic Ford vs Holden dog fight against the Holden Racing Team Commodores of Mark Skaife and Jason Bright who will separate the Queensland teammates in tomorrow's first of two 150km races.

Ambrose was quickest after official qualifying in his Pirtek Falcon and then saved his best for last in the top 10 shootout.

He was trailing Skaife's time 70% of the way into the lap, but found something special in the desperate final stages to snatch pole with a time of one minute and 45.5613 seconds.

It was Ambrose's four championship pole in just 15 races an amazing strike rate in what is regarded as the world's most competitive touring car championship.

When you add his pole on debut in support races at the Australian Grand Prix last year his record is even more impressive.

"It is nice to knock off these HRT (Holden Racing Team) guys on one of their Victorian test tracks," said Ambrose, who was last year's "Rookie of the Year".

"We learnt a lot here last year and we have certainly made a lot of progress since the opening race of the season in Adelaide.

"I took it easy on the first half of the lap because I did not feel I had enough heat in the tyres. I pushed coming through the last corner on to the main straight and that's where I made up the time.

"One lap runs are about staying calm."

Besnard was sixth after official qualifying in his Caltex Havoline Falcon and was the fifth driver on a wet, but trying track, in the top 10 shootout.

He put together a very solid lap in difficult conditions and grabbed fourth place on the grid despite a minor "lock-up" going into Honda Corner.

"I don't think the results so far this year indicate our potential," said Besnard.

"We had a great test session at Willowbank last week and we have continued to try things which have taken us in the right direction and there is still plenty left.

"HRT are not impossible to beat and I look forward to having my go at doing just that tomorrow.

"The biggest thing today was adapting to the changing weather conditions during the sessions.

"The track was possibly a little better towards the end of the top 10 shootout.

"To have two SBR cars in the top four is a great reward for the boys, but we still have a big job to do tomorrow."

Originally qualifying was to be held in two groups, but the changing weather conditions encouraged officials to combine both groups into one 30-minute session.

Besnard was as high as third 10 minutes into the session and dropped as low as 19th before charging back late in the session to eventually qualify sixth.

Ambrose was continually in the top 10 throughout the session and was pipped for pole by Mark Skaife with less than a minute on the clock.

Ambrose made use of the drying conditions and fired back to claim provisional pole position with a time of 1:44.7753.l

The final qualifying list left several high-profile drivers outside the top 25 and in a position where they will have to pre-qualify for round three of the championship at Eastern Creek on April 26.

The drivers who will have to pre-qualify include Paul Romano, former two-time champion Glenn Seton, Last year's Bathurst runner-up Brad Jones, Mark Larkham, Neil Crompton, Cameron McConville and Dugal McDougal.

Paul Morris, Greg Ritter, Mathew White, Cameron McLean, Anthony Tratt and Tomas Mezera will also be left to pre-qualify in Sydney after failing to qualify for this weekend's meeting yesterday.

Caltex Havoline Racing's Wayne Gardner will also be among the pre-qualifying list at Eastern Creek after missing this weekend's event due to racing commitments in Japan.

-sbr-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers David Besnard , Marcos Ambrose , Jason Bright , Neil Crompton , Wayne Gardner , Cameron McConville , Brad Jones , Mark Skaife , Mark Larkham , Paul Morris , Glenn Seton , Anthony Tratt , Cameron McLean , Greg Ritter , Phillip Island
Teams Holden Racing Team