Marcos Ambrose has taken his fifth pole position of the season, blitzing Saturday's Top Ten Shootout to claim top spot for the Sandown 500 endurance event by more than four-tenths of a second.

Ambrose, who will share his re-badged Caltex Havoline Pirtek Falcon with Russell Ingall in the first of the season's two-driver endurance races tomorrow, wound up ahead of HRT's Mark Skaife, with Greg Murphy sharing the second row of the grid with Paul Radisich.

"It was a conservative lap," Ambrose said of his pole winning effort, "Once you get the first split, and you know you are in control, you can then be cautious and make sure you bring it home... the last sector was maybe a bit too cautious though.

"Yesterday was all about making sure the car was comfortable for both of us to race with, but today was all about speed, and I feel sorry for Russell that he hasn't got in the car today, but that is the way it had to be.

"I haven't done all that well in endurance races in the past for one reason or another, and maybe inexperience was one of those, but I'm looking forward to turning it around tomorrow."

Skaife said his new car was performing well in its first outing, and revealed that he and Todd Kelly were able to lap in almost identical times, but also said his shootout lap was just not good enough for pole.

"It was a very average lap," he said, "We lost three-tenths of a second in the first sector and you can't afford that in a shootout. Marcos has been doing well with them, and I didn't do that well and you can't expect to be on pole when you do that.

"We've got a pretty good package, it is responding well to changes, but clearly being such a new car it isn't perfect - it is definitely a car than I have been driving though."

Murphy was third fastest in the second race for his new Kmart Commodore, but was left to lament a poor start to his flying lap.

"I thought the first sectors were good, but not the last," he said, "but they were pretty poor. Luckily, the third one was a blinder and pushed us up a couple of spots."

A season's best Shootout run by Radisich landed his Betta Electric Falcon fourth on the grid after earlier in the day topping qualifying for the first time in two years. The result was a good one on which to reveal that British Touring Car operation Triple Eight Engineering would be assuming control of the Briggs Motor Sport-run team.

"It is great to be up here," the Kiwi said, "There's a lot of people we need to thank, and one of them is John Briggs, who has got the programme to were it is before handing over to Triple Eight.

"We knew that car would be good here, but to be the top qualifier and fourth in the shootout is better than we expected. It is not a race winning car in any respect, but it is a car that can finish in the top five, and will be a great result for Triple Eight."

The reigning BTCC champions have already taken over the running of the Betta Electric Falcon from Briggs Motorsport, and has, according to Radisich, already had a
positive impact on the team.

"Ludo [Triple Eight technical director Ludovic Lacroix] has had a big influence this weekend - he's taken a lot of pressure off the engineers and drivers by providing good direction and decision making," he said.

Simon Wills rounded out the top five with another solid effort in qualifying after a troubled day and a half. Each of the three sessions leading into qualifying was interrupted by mechanical gremlins in the Team Dynamik Commodore, and he said that meant qualifying and the shootout were being used to fine tune the car.

"To be honest, we've had a tough weekend so far, and we had barely any laps in practice we had so many problems, so qualifying was a real learning experience," he said, "We still trying to tune the car, and we changed the shocker settings for the shootout. It got a bit of bounce up into turn seven and then locked a wheel. Up until then, it was third of second fastest, so that was a little disappointing."

 

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