Canberra Crucial to Ford
In what is sure to be a pivotal event of the 2002 V8 Supercar Series, Ford has its sights set on a repeat victory at one of the sport’s glamour events, the STEGBAR Canberra 400 from June 7 –9, the fifth round of this year’s championship.
The ‘400’ in the STEGBAR Canberra 400 represents the kilometres competitors will travel in total over the event. However, with 400 championship points up for grabs, that will be the crucial number Ford Racing teams will be chasing on the streets of Australia’s capital city.
Only the showpiece rounds of the V8 Supercar Series; the STEGBAR Canberra 400, Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, the VIP Pet Foods 500 in Queensland and Bob Jane T-Marts Bathurst 1000 carry the maximum amount of championship points. However, Queensland and Bathurst are events where two drivers race per car, so the winning drivers earn 200 points each.
The final 50-lap race in Canberra earns the winning driver 240 points, making it the highest scoring individual race of the entire season. The recent round in Darwin earned 240 points for the three races combined.
Racing on the Canberra streets is a tough assignment for all teams, with any small error usually punished by the concrete barriers that line the 3.9km course.
Shell Helix Racing’s Steve Johnson broke through for his first round win of his career in Canberra last year. It was an event that also featured his first pole position and race win in the opening 25-lap race.
“I really want to win in Canberra, not just because we got the job done there last year, but more importantly to jump up the leaderboard from my current ninth position,” said Johnson.
“The Blue Oval desperately needs a win in Canberra. I know that a win for me will provide our team and the rest of the Ford runners with a massive lift going into the coming races.
“To be successful in Canberra you have to race hard, but keep your head. Cars that finish the event with bent panels don’t usually figure at the top of the results”.
Ford’s best challenger in 2002 has been Pirtek Racing’s Marcos Ambrose. A consistent runner in the top three during the races, the Falcon AUXR8 driver is one of the fastest qualifiers around. Ambrose heads to Canberra with the aim of turning that consistent qualifying speed into race wins.
“Starting up front is crucial anywhere, but on the very narrow streets of Canberra it’s a must,” said Ambrose.
“The top guys are very evenly matched, so passing can be difficult at the best of times. Picking the right time to make pit stops, as well as quick work from the crew will be vital to success.
“So far this season I along with the likes of Craig Lowndes (00 Motorsport) and my team mate David Besnard (Caltex Havoline Racing), have been able to show glimpses of taking the fight to the opposition.
“Hopefully in Canberra more Ford teams can join the party. That way we can cut down the opposition and give our fans something to cheer about”.
The STEGBAR Canberra 400 features three contrasting races. Race one is held over 25 laps with a compulsory pit stop. Race two also features a compulsory tyre stop, but is a reverse-grid format with the opening race winner starting off the back. Grid positions for the final 50-lapper are determined on the combined results of the first two races. This race also features compulsory fuel as well as tyre stops and carries a hefty 240 championship points.
Most of the Ford Racing teams will be in Canberra from Tuesday 4 June for the V8 Supercar Experience presented by John McGrath Ford at Exhibition Park from 6pm.