Repeat performance in NY
IN what was one of his finest-ever drives, Tasmania’s favourite racing son and former V8 Supercar champion Marcus Ambrose scored back-to-back wins last weekend in very difficult conditions on the Watkins Glen road course in New York State.
It was the same event where he claimed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory last year.
After qualifying fifth this year and dropping back as far as 24th following pit stops, he was in eighth place with 20 laps to run.
Ambrose, along with Brad Kieslowski and Kurt Busch, dominated the 90-lap race. In the final 10 laps Ambrose grabbed second from Kieslowski, but with tyres spent and two laps to run, he slipped back to third behind Busch after running wide on oil spilled by Bobby Labonte’s car.
On the final lap, Ambrose was in third place. Busch spun and with both Kieslowski and Ambrose slipping on the oil, the Aussie pulled off a skilful and courageous outside pass to take the victory.
Kieslowski was second with series-leader Jimmie Johnson bringing his Chevrolet home in third place.
Of his five starts at Watkins Glen, Ambrose has always finished in the top three and has occupied the top of the podium twice. After the race he dedicated the victory in his RPM Ford Fusion to his father Ross, who has been dealing with ill health.
“Last year was a relief. This year it is pure joy,” Ambrose said. “A big shout out to dad who’s been in hospital this week. I wish I was there with you. Hope this makes you feel better.”
Ambrose is now 17 th of 43 with 13 rounds left to run.
Watkins Glen victory: Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, races ahead of Jimmie Johnson.
AUSSIE DUO MISS ITALIAN FINAL
THOUGH they each made the semi-finals in round eight of the World Speedway Motorcycle Championship at Stadium Olympico Terenzano in Italy, Australia’s Jason Crump and Chris Holder, who each won two of their five heats, were unable to progress to the final.
Following his fighting-third place in the final, threetime and reigning champion Greg Hancock of the US, still leads the championship on 111 points. Dani Pedrosa is second on 101, with Crump (97) and Holder (94) still in the championship chase.
SUPERCAR OF THE FUTURE TEST RUN
V8 Supercar Championship leaders 888 Racing have stolen the march on the rest, having completed and tested the category’s first-ever team-built Car of the Future at Queensland Raceway two weeks ago.
It appears that V8 Supercar record books will be re-written with series leader Jamie Whincup and his teammate Craig Lowndes both claiming the car will be significantly faster than the category’s current cars.
“I think this car will be a lot quicker (and there) is no doubt the mid-corner speed of this car feels better than the current car. The bigger tyres and bigger brakes and a reduction in weight really give us the potential to go faster,” Lowndes said.
Following rumours, after Nissan confirmed they will be contesting the V8 Supercar Championship from next year, Mercedes Benz has indicated it will not field cars in the Championship.
“Mercedes Benz has thoroughly investigated this possibility and after serious consideration, the company has resolved that we will not be proceeding. Obviously there are people and teams who want MB in V8 Supercars but there will not be a Factory Team,” said Mercedes spokesman David McCarthy.
The announcement comes at a time when Ford is said to be withdrawing financial support from several of the Falcon teams. Following a downturn of Falcon sales, from 80,000 units in 1995 down to less than 20,000 last year, and despite job cuts and financial support from the government, Ford has indicated that it will only be supporting the Ford Performance Racing Supercar team in 2013. This will see Dick Johnson Racing and Stone Brothers Racing looking to other major sponsors.
General Motors Holden is also suffering in the financial downturn and has also received a financial boost from the Australian Government to continue domestic manufacturing for another 10 years. Although Commodore sales have also dropped, increasing popularity of the recently released Holden Cruze is, in part, making up for the reduced Commodore sales.
In breaking V8 Supercar news, it appears the authorities in Bali have gained funding for a permanent race track near Denpasar which it hopes to be completed in 2014. V8 Supercar management wants to increase international events and, with the proximity of Bali, V8 Supercars could be racing there in 2015.