Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose and Russell Ingall were second and fifth respectively after qualifying for tomorrow's Big Pond 300 at Queensland Raceway, near Ipswich today. Ingall was in the lower 50% of the field after the second...
Stone Brothers Racing's Marcos Ambrose and Russell Ingall were second and fifth respectively after qualifying for tomorrow's Big Pond 300 at Queensland Raceway, near Ipswich today.
Ingall was in the lower 50% of the field after the second practice session this afternoon and went out in the first group during qualifying for only the second time in his career.
After struggling with worn tyres over all the previous sessions in his Caltex Havoline Falcon, Ingall did the job in qualifying and was at the top of the qualifying sheet when the session ended.
The top 50 per cent of the field then went out and Ambrose slotted into top spot, but a couple of laps later Skaife took the honors by just 0.07 of a second.
Ambrose sat in the pits with some new rubber on his car, but with about five minutes left in the session he decided to call it quits and save his tyres for tomorrow's top 10 shootout and the 96-lap race.
As the Pirtek Ford driver jumped from his car, Skaife did the same.
"It was a bit of a stand off in the pits there for a while," said Ambrose, who is chasing a record-equaling fifth consecutive round win.
"We could have gone back out, but we decided to look after our tyres for the race.
"We were well in the top 10 and that was not going to change. All the glory comes on race day and that is what we are after.
"We learnt a lot of things today, things you don't learn went you are testing by yourself without any traffic.
"We were happy with our original time, but unfortunately Mark (Skaife) just got us.
"It is going to be a very interesting day tomorrow."
Ingall was pleased with his spot in the top five, but may have been a couple of spots higher if he had not locked his wheels on his next flyer.
"We had struggled with tyres, but we managed to do a time with some new rubber, despite it all being a bit of an unknown quantity," said Ingall.
"I locked a wheel on my really strong lap and it probably cost us a couple of tenths.
"I still think there is a bit left in it and we will put our heads down tonight.
"I think there will be a few drivers who will underestimate this race tomorrow.
"It looks a fairly simple track, but it is tough physically and mentally and 300km will be a long way around here.
"Anyone who thinks there will not be plenty of safety cars is kidding themselves.
"Certainly the safety cars will come into everyone's strategy at the end of the day."
Tomorrow's race will now be known as the Big Pond 300 as part of a major deal with V8 Supercar category managers AVESCO.
Big Pond has joined the V8 Supercar ranks along with Carlton United Breweries and its VB brand as "Super Partners" to the category.
Big Pond will have exclusive internet and mobile rights for the category.
QUALIFYING TIMES -- TOP 10
1: Mark Skaife (Holden) 1:10.3723
2: Marcos Ambrose (Ford) 1:10.4488
3: Todd Kelly (Holden) 1:10.6835
4: Simon Wills (Holden) 1:10.8127
5: Russell Ingall (Ford) 1:10.8798
6: Paul Morris (Holden) 1:10.8878
7: Jason Bright (Holden) 1:10.8959
8: Paul Radisich (Ford) 1:10.9403
9: John Bowe (Ford) 1:10.9416
10: Greg Murphy (Holden) 1:10.9576
V8 SUPERCARS (All times Eastern Standard)
9.00am-9.20am -- Warm-up
11.00am-11.30am -- Top 10 Shootout
1.30pm-3.30pm -- Race (96 Laps)
TV TELECAST -- NETWORK TEN
Sunday -- July 20, 2003 (Eastern Standard Time)
1.30pm-2.30pm -- RPM
2.30pm-5pm -- Round 6 V8 Supercar Championship Series