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R5 RACE 2 & 3 - STORMY SEAS BUT CLEAR SAILING FOR SKAIFE

The V8 Supercar seas were at their most treacherous in Canberra this weekend, but it was all smooth sailing for champion helmsman Mark Skaife as he cruised into the sport's record books.

The Victorian ace masterfully navigated the Stegbar Canberra 400 and all it could throw at him, winning the 50-lap, double-points finale to clinch his fifth straight round victory and break a 25-year record in the process.

Kmart Racing's Todd Kelly was an impressive second on overall points. Craig Lowndes was equally impressive in third, recovering from a hit in the reverse grid race.

"It was a real street fight out there this weekend," Lowndes said.

"There were a lot of incidents out there, so to avoid all of those and have a very strong run is great for our team."

Skaife started this morning's second race from 27th on the overturned grid and muscled his way to 13th.

Russell Ingall, gifted pole after finishing last in yesterday's race, drove to his first win of the season.

Jason Bright finished second in the action-packed encounter, staving off a brave challenge from the Team Kiwi Commodore of Jason Richards in third - the Auckland-based team's best race result.

But 13th was enough for Skaife. It secured him a position on the second row for the all-important race to the podium, and from there it was almost a formality.

Slick early pit stops, one each for tyres and fuel, saw him comfortably leading by mid-race.

Two safety cars gave his pursuers every opportunity to pounce, but while Lowndes and the Kmart cars of Kelly and Greg Murphy fought for the minor places Skaife again slipped away for another emphatic victory.

Jason Bright and Steven Richards - who looked to have the pace to match Skaife in the run to the chequered flag - also challenged, but took each other out of contention in a clash at turn one.

The reverse grid race was, as expected, a bruising crash-fest, putting pay to a number of drivers' chances.

Accident-prone Rodney Forbes instigated the most spectacular pile-up when he misjudged a passing move and nosed the tyre wall, also putting Glenn Seton and Steve Ellery out of action.

Hard charger Marcos Ambrose climbed 20 positions to sixth in the morning melee, securing pole position for the final race. But impatience got the better of him in the final showdown, thumping Bright's rear and wrecking his Pirtek Falcon.

He falls to fourth in the championship, behind the Kmart duo of Kelly and Murphy. Murphy lost ground after retiring from races one and two.

But with Skaife holding a 659-point advantage, the race is now for second.

Race two results:
http://www.natsoft.com.au/cgi-bin/results.cgi?09/06/2002.CANB.R8

Race three results:
http://www.natsoft.com.au/cgi-bin/results.cgi?09/06/2002.CANB.R10

V8 Supercar Championship Series points:
http://www.natsoft.com.au/cgi-bin/results.cgi?09/06/2002.CANB.V8S.S

--V8 WIRE (Jason Whittaker)

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