Pirtek Racing's Marcos Ambrose will take a small but handy points lead into the final round of the 2003 V8 Supercar Series - the VIP Pet Foods Main Event - at Sydney's Eastern Creek this weekend, but he still wants to take maximum score to ensure that he has no way of letting a first title slip from his grasp.

Ambrose has enjoyed a standout season, winning five rounds of the championship and, in the process, providing Ford with its best opportunity of a championship since
Glenn Seton's title in 1997.

In what has been a great debut season for the BA model Falcon, Ford has scored eight wins from twelve rounds, with Ambrose's Stone Brothers' team-mate Russell Ingall winning twice and CAT Ford Performance Racing's Craig Lowndes once.

Ambrose's mid-season streak of four wins straight at Eastern Creek, Winton, Perth and Darwin set up his championship challenge. A further win at Oran Park in August
finally put him in the championship lead - a position he's held onto since. However, the most recent rounds at Sandown, Bathurst, Surfers Paradise and Pukekohe have proved to be a tougher challenge, and championship rival Greg Murphy has taken a brace of wins to close the gap to just six points.

That gap is widened a little bit under the adjusted points system, where the worst round is dropped, as Ambrose holds a 24-point lead over Murphy and needs to finish no further than four places behind the Holden-mounted Kiwi to take the title. However, the Tasmanian insists that he will go all out to challenge for victory to guarantee the championship.

"I want to win the championship the best way possible - and that's by taking victory in the final round at Eastern Creek," Ambrose confirmed, "Our recent performances have not been great but, importantly, we still lead the championship and we're determined to fight all way.

"Our preparation has been very good with an excellent pre-race test in Queensland on Monday. It was our first test since before Bathurst and we took the opportunity
to try some new ideas ahead of the weekend."

The last time Ambrose raced at Eastern Creek he led a Ford 1-2-3, with Lowndes in second and Ingall third. On that day, the 27-year old completely dominated the single 300km race, but this weekend's VIP Pet Foods Main Event is made up of two races, with a 150km event on the Saturday and a 250km distance on Sunday.

"We had a great run that day, but it will be a lot tougher this time around," Ambrose admitted, "The competition has closed the gap to us since May and, with a two-race format and the different shootout, it will be a whole new challenge."

Adding an extra element to the weekend will be an entire 32-car single lap shootout to decide the starting position for the opening race, with the running order determined not by qualifying, but instead by the results of a lottery draw.

"I'm not nervous - in fact, I'm rather excited about having to give it everything to win this championship," the Tasmanian continued, "You should never have it simply given to you, I want to earn the right to be champion.

"I've enjoyed fantastic support throughout this year and I'd like to call on as many Ford fans as possible to come and be part of what will be a great season finale."



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