R13 RACE 2 - FORD, AMBROSE SAVE BEST FOR LASTIt was the ultimate performance on the Ultimate weekend. Not even Mark Skaife can lay claim to the sort of round Ford rival Marcos Ambrose celebrated today.
Skaife finished second in the frenetic 300km season showdown at Sandown Raceway, powerless to stop Ambrose from reigning on his championship parade.
For the season that has now gone, it was a poor reflection.
Through practice, qualifying and both races this weekend, Ambrose was invincible, belying Stone Brothers Racing's season-long subservience to the TWR Empire.
It elevated Ambrose from sixth to third in the final championship standings, behind Kmart Racing's Greg Murphy, who won the battle for second.
Murphy and Skaife both finished on the overall weekend podium, Skaife fighting back from a drive-through penalty on the first lap after pre-race fuel dramas.
Jason Bright, fourth today, fell to fourth in the series, failing to deliver the Holden Racing Team its first championship one-two.
Ambrose said the weekend was a dream run.
"It's the best race car I've ever driven and to totally dominate a meeting is the best experience I've had in racing," he said.
"I'm over the moon to have finished third in the championship. It hasn't been a good year in terms of results, but we did take five pole positions and were one of the fastest teams out there."
Thoughts in the Stone Brothers Racing camp immediately turned to next season. With the new BA-model Falcon in development, Ambrose said he's "making it a priority" to keep up the momentum.
Murphy played the game conservatively throughout the weekend to secure the runners-up position - yielding to a faster Skaife in the closing laps today - but admitted the pace of Ambrose took him by surprise.
"We didn't expect Marcos to be as quick as he was this weekend, both SBR cars were fast," he said. "He drove well too, he is the class of the Ford field."
David Besnard's adventurous race started in pitlane with an on-board fire and included a drive-through penalty for an altercation with Rick Kelly, but SBR's other man still managed to bring the car home in seventh and fourth overall.
John Bowe achieved OzEmail Racing's equal-best round result in fifth.
Steven Richards' mathematical shot at the vice-championship ended when he was punted into the wall by a "disgusting" act from Neil Crompton.
Crompton may have driven his last V8 Supercar race after cutting ties with the 00 Motorsport operation.
John Faulkner also failed to finish his last race, while Larry Perkins may have ended his remarkable racing career with a top 15 race result.
Race two results: http://www.natsoft.com.au/cgi-bin/results.cgi?01/12/2002.SAN.R10
V8 Supercar Championship Series final standings: http://www.natsoft.com.au/cgi-bin/results.cgi?01/12/2002.SAN.V8S.S
--V8 WIRE (Jason Whittaker)
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