Four-straight V8 Supercar round wins, that’s the goal for Ford as it makes the long journey across the Nallabour Plain for round five of the V8 Supercar Championship Series, the VB
300 at Barabagallo Raceway north of Perth.
Having won three rounds straight coming into the Perth round, Ford is enjoying its best start to a year since 1995 when John Bowe and Glenn Seton won four races in succession.
Leading that charge has been Marcos Ambrose (Pirtek Racing) who will chase his third straight win after success at Sydney’s Eastern Creek and Winton (Victoria).
If Ambrose can win again in Perth it will be just the fourth time that a Ford driver has managed to score a trifecta of wins in Australian Touring Car Racing history.
The last Ford driver to score three-straight was Glenn Seton in 1993. The other driver to achieve at least a hat trick was Allan Moffat in 1973 (four-straight win) and then five in a row in 1977.
Ambrose has won the last two races from pole position, another win from pole in Perth will equal a record set by just three drivers; Allan Moffat in 1977, Peter Brock 1980 and Jim Richards in 1990/91. All three drivers went on to win the championship in those same seasons.
However, not all indicators point towards an Ambrose victory in Perth, as it’s one place he’s enjoyed less success at.
The 26-year-old has claimed 10 pole positions and 26 top-10 appearances from just 30 starts. Both times he’s visited Barbagallo Raceway he’s failed to make the top-10 shootout.
“The last two rounds have been as good as it gets and we’re very confident of repeating the dose in Perth,” said Ambrose.
“It’s been a busy start to 2003 with an all-new BA Falcon and although we’re still learning the car, we’re certainly heading in the right direction.
“The most impressive thing is that we’ve been successful on tracks that Ford had not won at in many years. Now we race at Perth where two years ago Paul Radisich took pole and swept all three races.
“My record, and in fact our team’s performances in Perth have not been all that flash, but 2003 is a year where we are out to re-write history and victory at Perth will go a long way to ending any doubts.
“I’m now fourth in the title chase and victory in Perth will go a long way to further cutting into the opposition’s lead”.
It’s the 27th time Australia’s premier category of motor sport has visited Barbagallo Raceway, only Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway (33) has hosted more championship rounds. The Perth track has been a regular stop since 1978.
The driver with the best winning ratio in Perth is CAT Ford Performance Racing’s Craig Lowndes, with four round wins from six visits.
Lowndes took victory at round two of this year’s V8 Supercar Championship Series at Phillip Island and backed that up with second place to Ambrose at Eastern Creek.
“Perth has been very kind to me in the past and I’d like to extend that record this year,” said Lowndes.
“Our car continues to get better and better every time it hits the track, I feel very confident of being in the mix once again in Perth.
“Marcos is going very well at the moment, but it won’t just be him that will put up the challenge with a number of Ford teams all starting to hit their straps right now.
“There was six Falcons in the top-10 at Winton, so Ford fans do have the right to feel optimistic right now.”
After three individual 300km races, the Perth round represents a return to the three-race sprint format with mandatory tyre stops.
Following his success two years ago with his “rat trick” of wins, Team Betta Electrical’s Paul “the Rat” Radisich is optimistic about his chances in Perth in 2003.
Radisich has won two VIP Pet Foods Top Dog awards (Adelaide and Winton) for making up the most number of positions in a race from qualifying to be placed ninth in the championship.
“Our race pace this year has been very good, but we have not quite hit the mark in qualifying,” said Radisich.
“We’ve worked very hard on getting the car better for qualifying and then keeping that going in the race.
“After two plus hours of continued driving in the past three races, going back to 45-minute races will need some adjusting. The important difference is that you can’t afford to be too patient as each race will be over before you know it.
“The sprint race format has been good for me in Perth in the past and although it’s been good to see Marcos and Craig fly the Ford flag so far in 2003, I’m keen to get myself some of that action”.
300 will keep crews busy as apart from one 35-minute practice session on the Friday, Saturday includes two more practice sessions, qualifying, top-10 shootout and the opening 42-lap race. The final two races will be held on the Sunday.
Even before the action on the track gets underway, Perth race fans will get the chance to dine and chat with their favourite Ford V8 Supercar driver at the inaugural Ford Superbreakfast to be held at the Burswood Casino on Friday 6 June from 7.30am.
Tickets are priced from $80, with driver tables costing $100 per ticket. Interest has been very high and those wanting to attend are advised to book straight away through BOCS on 9484 1133 or go to www.bocsticketing.com.au.
All Proceeds will go to the Variety Club.
Details for Barbagallo
Top 10 Shootout – Saturday 7 June – 2.15pm
Race 1 (42 laps – 101.22km) – Saturday 7 June - 4.10pm
Race 2 (42 laps – 101.22km) – Sunday 8 June – 10.35am
Race 3 (42 laps – 101.22km) – Sunday 8 June - 1pm
Circuit: Barbagallo Raceway (Wanneroo) – Perth, Western Australia
Qualifying – Ingall 0:57.5199 (2001)
Shootout – Radisich 0:57.2542 (2001)
Race – Lowndes 0:57.9950 (1996)
Estimated top speed: 245km/h – Main Straight
Estimated average speed: 150 km/h
Top-10 Championship after four of 13 rounds
1. Jason Bright - Team Brock - Holden Commodore 717pts
2. Steven Richards – Castrol Perkins Racing – Holden Commodore 666pts
3. Russell Ingall – Caltex Havoline Racing – Ford Falcon BA 633pts
4=. Marcos Ambrose - Pirtek Racing - Ford Falcon BA 597pts
4=. Paul Weel - Team Brock - Holden Commodore 597pts
4=. Mark Skaife - Holden Race Team - Holden Commodore 597pts
4=. Greg Murphy – KMart Racing – Holden Commodore 597pts
8. Craig Lowndes – CAT Ford Performance Racing – Ford Falcon BA 594pts
9. Paul Radisich – Team Betta Electrical – Ford Falcon BA 540pts
10. Rick Kelly – KMart Racing – Holden Commodore 507pts