Ambrose and SBR take Ford hat-trick at Barbagallo Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose became the first Ford driver to win three consecutive rounds of the V8 Supercar Championship series since 1993 at Barbagallo Raceway near Perth ...
Ambrose and SBR take Ford hat-trick at Barbagallo
Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose became the first Ford driver to win three consecutive rounds of the V8 Supercar Championship series since 1993 at Barbagallo Raceway near Perth today.
Ambrose finished third in the opening 42-lap leg yesterday and continued his impressive form with a second in race two this morning and a dramatic last-race victory this afternoon.
Not since Glenn Seton claimed victories at Winton, Eastern Creek and Mallala in 1993 has the blue oval collected an elusive hat-trick of round victories -- ironically, Ambrose was still in the junior karting ranks when Seton, who was in today's field, achieved his feat.
Today's win was the fourth time in five rounds that SBR has been the leading Ford team this season and really killed the Barbagallo Raceway "hoodoo" which has haunted Ambrose through his Formula Ford and V8 Supercar careers.
Today was the seventh race win of Ambrose's V8 Supercar car career and his fifth round win from 31 starts.
It was also his fourth round win from six starts after winning the final round at Sandown last year and collecting the spoils in the last three at Eastern Creek, Winton and now Barbagallo.
Ambrose, a Gold Coast-based Tasmanian, had one of his best starts of the season in the final race and led Greg Murphy and Mark Skaife to the first corner.
He maintained his lead for the rest of the race with the help of a 7.4-second pit stop for tyres on lap eight, which allowed him to maintain his lead over Todd Kelly.
On Lap 11 Ambrose was involved in "incident" on the exit of turn one which saw lapped driver Rodney Forbes spin in front of him and on to the in field. There was a stewards' inquiry about the incident after the race, but there was "inadequate evidence to support a breach of the rules by either driver."
Ambrose built a solid 4.8-second lead, but that was reduced to nothing when a safety car was required on lap 32 of the 42-lap contest after Paul Dumbrell ended up in a sand trap.
During that period Mark Skaife was forced into the pits with a flat left front tyre which was caused after his car was hit by a spinning Forbes in a separate incident to that on lap 11.
The race re-started on lap 35, but on lap 39 another safety car was required when Steve Ellery ended upside down in the sand trap at turn one -- again nullifying Ambrose's 1.4-second buffer.
Unbelievably the race got a re-start with just one lap remaining and with Ellery's car still on its roof at turn one.
Ambrose remained cool and managed to get to the chequered flag ahead of Kelly and Greg Murphy.
"I think you could safely say we have 'unlocked' the key to the BA Falcon," said Ambrose.
"There is just no comparison between the car we had to day and what we had here last year.
"The car at the end of the race was a weapon and it is definitely nice to get the Barbagallo monkey off our back.
"You could not really ask for a better start to the season than what we have achieved.
"I just came here to bag some points, to be heading away from here as the winner and with a hat-trick under our belts is just a fantastic reward for all our team and our sponsors.
"We have not done a lot of testing, but have been developing on the go.
"So much credit has to go to the boys who gave me three great pit stops this weekend. The job is so much easier when you are passing cars in the pits.
"Stone Brothers have had some strong results at Darwin in the past, so we are all looking forward to the next round."
The day was not so great for Ambrose's SBR teammate Russell Ingall, who had his day ruined when the throttle stuck open in his Caltex Havoline Ford when he was running fifth on lap 16 of leg two.
Ingall lost eight laps to the leaders as his car was dug from the sand, but his crew managed to get him back out on to the track to finish the race and collect a handful of valuable points.
Ingall started from the rear of the grid in race three and managed to race his way to 14th before his fading tyres allowed him to do no more.
"That's life," said Ingall of his drama-packed race two ride.
"You are saying plenty of things you cannot repeat in print when you are spearing off the track at around 200km and the thing just isn't slowing down.
"This place is just so sandy and it would seem that some gunk got stuck in the linkage and jammed it.
"Thankfully SBR have a "cut off" switch and I just reached across and hit it to try and stop the car before it hit the fence.
"We put some old tyres on after I came back into the pits and my times were similar to those of Skaife who won the race. It was important to get back out there and get some points.
"I did what I could in race three and just got as many points as I could on the tyres I had.
"We have the team and the car speed, we just need a little luck."
* The next round of the championship will be held at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin on 27-29.