Ingall: No longer the V8 Supercar Championship Series bridesmaid

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It was a double celebration for Stone Brothers Racing with defending champion Marcos Ambrose winning the final round of the V8 Supercar Championship at his swansong and his team-mate Russell Ingall grabbing his first Series title at Phillip Island today.

Ambrose won both races today in a dominant display for his Ford team, finishing ahead of the HSV Holden pair of Garth Tander and Rick Kelly at the event, who enjoyed their second straight podium finish.But all the glory was for the 41-year-old Ingall, who finally achieved the breakthrough to win his first championship after nine years in the series.

He finished fifth overall for the final round to claim the championship on 1922 points, 57 points clear of Craig Lowndes with a further nine points to Ambrose, to complete a Ford trifecta in the series.

“I’m waiting for it to sink in. I’m very happy for the team and glad I can give one to them,” Ingall said.“I’ve tried every which way to win this Championship and this was the last resort. You don’t win by just one thing. You have to be quick, you have to be smart, you have to know when to go and when not. Being good at one thing won’t win this championship.”Ingall said he would have enjoyed racing more aggressively this season but with the current points system, consistency was the key to overall triumph.

“I had to change my strategy with this point system. After 10 years I will take what ever I can get,’’ he said in terms of his victory.He paid tribute to his crew, Stone Brothers Racing and his team-mate Ambrose, who was lavish in his praise for Ingall.

It was also an emotional time for Ambrose, the two-time champion, in his final race before heading to the United States to further his racing career.“This is an era in my life that I won’t forget. I would have never have dreamed that I would win two championships. I am a lucky, lucky guy. I owe a lot to Ford, my crew and Stone Brothers Racing.”

After a close early battle, Ambrose jumped both Lowndes and Tander in the pits to win the second race ahead of Rick Kelly and Ingall. While light rain fell at the start, the weather cleared to produce superb conditions.Lowndes was the only driver with a faint chance of beating Ingall, needing 19 places between him and his Ford compatriot in the final race. Ingall gave some early flutters when he was forced on to the grass attempting to pass Steven Ellery on the main straight on the second lap.

He re-gathered and from that point was always near the front of the field. The pressure went on Lowndes, who was controversially given a stop-go penalty for a pit lane infringement by his crew. The Betta Electrical Ford driver had to force his way from the back of the field for 15th place to ensure he finished runner-up in the championship.

It proved total domination for the Blue Oval team who took out the Manufacturers Award with their seventh win of the series while Stone Brothers Racing emphatically won the Teams Points honours.

It was also a successful return to Phillip Island for the V8 Supercar series, with an official three-day attendance of 66,363, the largest ever at the circuit for any form of car racing.Leading placings,

round 13 Phillip Island:
1. Marcos Ambrose Stone Brothers Racing Ford 188 points
2. Garth Tander HSV Dealer Holden 182
3. Rick Kelly HSV Dealer Holden 176
4. Greg Murphy Super Cheap Auto Holden 168
5. Russell Ingall Caltex Racing Ford 168
6. Craig Lowndes Betta Electrical Ford 160
7. Steve Ellery Betta Electrical Ford 150
8. Paul Weel Super Cheap Auto Holden 142
9. Paul Radisich Team Kiwi Racing Holden 140
10. Mark Skaife Holden Racing Team 132

Top 10 Championship Placings:
Russell Ingall 1922, Craig Lowndes 1865, Marcos Ambrose 1856, Todd Kelly 1760, Mark Skaife 1754, Garth Tander 1734, Steven Richards 1669, Rick Kelly 1630, Jason Bright 1566, Cameron McConville 1501.

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