Super Cheap Auto Racing's Steve Ellery and Luke Youlden have scored a career-best performance with second placing in the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 V8 Supercar race.

Mark Skaife and Todd Kelly won the race, with Greg Murphy and Rick Kelly third.

Ford finished with six cars in the top-10, including championship leader Marcos Ambrose (Pirtek Racing) who along with Russell Ingall finished fifth, one place behind Brad Jones and John Bowe (OzEmail Racing).

The return of the 500-kilometre race to Sandown was easily one of the toughest races of the year with two storms, including one with heavy hail highlighting the race.

After starting late due to damage to a guardrail from a support race, the wet conditions forced an early end to the race at 141 of the 161-laps.

In what became a race of strategy and staying out of trouble Ellery and Youlden were able to hold down third place from mid race distance, before moving to second on the penultimate lap.

The final laps proved dramatic as Skaife, suffering electrical problems, dropped back into the clutches of Jason Richards with the two colliding and both going off the road. Skaife just managed to get back on the track while Richards remained bogged.

In contrast Ellery and Youlden enjoyed a trouble-free run. Ellery started the race and handed the car over to Youlden on lap 68, with the original plan being that he would get back into the car for the final run to the flag.

However, the massive hailstorm on lap-121 meant Youlden had to stay in the car in the final run. It was during this period that he came of age, showing plenty of maturity to keep the car on the road in the icy conditions.

The final result was not just a good day for the Super Cheap Auto Racing team, but the culmination of two years hard work for the single car team.

"This is by far a career highlight and it's not going to end here," said Ellery. "This has been two years in the making and I could not be happier going to Bathurst with a result like this under our belt.

"Our aim was a top five result, and if we were lucky a podium. I don't think we were lucky today, we drove the car hard and it responded and we truly deserved this result.

"I have to congratulate Luke. He drove the car in the shocking conditions and did everything we asked of him and he delivered."

Not wanting to distract Youlden's concentration on the run to the flag, the Super Cheap Auto Racing team did not tell him that he had moved into second.

"Being told that I'd done a good job was pretty good - then for them to add in the fact that I'd finished second was just incredible," said Youlden. "I tell you that was the race of my life. Steve gave me the car in a good position and I went 100 percent throughout.

"The hail was so slippery - I just kept my head down and concentrated on staying on the road. Even after the safety car was called onto the track there were cars going all over the place.

"There were plenty of good teams and drivers that we beat today and that's especially satisfying."

The opening 69-laps was all Marcos Ambrose in the Pirtek Racing Falcon. However, after handing over to Russell Ingall, the #4 BA slid off the road at the end of the front straight.

A combination of cold tyres and cold front brakes, after a pad change, caught the Ingall out and he went down a lap as the recovery crew pulled his car out of the sand trap.

Placed 18th, Ingall then charged through the field to score fifth place.

Another team set to finish in the top five was the Orrcon Steel Racing Falcon of Mark Larkham and Jason Bargwanna.

Running a similar strategy to Ellery and Youlden, Bargwanna handed the car over to Larkham in a strong position.

However, the hail storm got the better of Larkham, who went off the road and fell down the order to finish ninth, just one place behind the Ford Credit Ford Performance Racing BA Falcon of David Besnard and Owen Kelly.

Eighth place went to Team Betta Electrical's Paul Radisich and Rickard Rydell.

Teams next gather for the biggest race in Australian motor sport, the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 at Bathurst on October 12.

 

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