After the dramatic build-up to the main event, round 13 of the V8 Supercars Series at Eastern Creek did not disappoint the punters, as more than 43,000 fans filed through the turnstiles for the three-day event.

A shock announcement at the beginning of the race confirmed that Greg Murphy would not be driving the Kmart Holden, having injured himself in a promotional exercise prior to the start of the race. With the rules of the competition allowing each driver to drop their worst performance, Murphy was a 'no-show' for the race, and it naturally became his worst performance of the season, throwing a different complexion on his title battle with Ford's Marcos Ambrose.

While the title fight formed the main attraction on an afternoon that threatened storms on and off the track, Team Betta Electrical was determined to see out the season on a high.

Having surprised in practice, Paul Radisich and Dean Canto were fired up for the second and final race of the year - to the extent that the Kiwi had a slight altercation with Max Wilson on the first lap. There was no damage sustained in the incident, but it signalled to all that it was 'game on' and 'no holds barred' as the teams let their hair down for the finale.

By lap 14, Radisich had fought his way through the pack to be back in seventh position, with team-mate Canto following behind and advancing to ninth position. Where their pit-stops had let them down in race one, the Triple Eight-run team showed that it had put in some very solid practice and improved its performance for race two with good stops for both drivers.

On lap 26, the safety car bunched up the field after Steven Johnson blew the engine of the #17 Shell Helix car, leaving oil deposits along the circuit. Two casualties of this incident - Steve Ellery and Paul Weel - reduced the numbers running still further before the safety car pulled in lap 30.

Three laps later, Canto had to take a drive-through penalty for coming into pit-lane in 'double file', and subsequently struggled to regain the touch that had taken him into the top ten, but Radisich worked his way back up to ninth after stop.

The race finally boiled over on lap 42, when the racing incident to end all racing incidents occurred. Mark Skaife and Russell Ingall came together, with neither willing to give the other any racing room, eventually seeing the outgoing champion crashing into retirement. The ugly incident subsequently saw Skaife storming out of his car to wait for Ingall to go past on the next lap, standing on the side of the track to gesture at the Ford driver. Ingall's reply was to swerve close to Skaife as he went past....

Soon after the skirmish, the 'natural' storm that had been threatening for some time unleashed its fury over the circuit, resulting in a total power loss to all facilities at the circuit. Despite the cloudburst, the race continued for quite a few more laps, while officials decided what to do - even though the electronic timing equipment was also affected, and a procession of cars was coming into pit-lane for wet tyres to create yet more positional changes.

At this point, Ambrose had firmly cemented his championship win and, shortly afterwards, the race was red-flagged, leaving fans and insiders alike to reflect on what had been a spectacular end to a spectacular season.

"What you have here is a great spectacle - great drivers, great cars, great fans, noisy cars, terrific tracks... you've got it all," commented ex-F1 star-turned-Triple Eight boss Derek Warwick, "The fans attending this event, as well as the millions of fans who have both attended and viewed the series on television, would have to agree."

 

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