Ford led the way in the opening practice session for the Sandown 500 as reigning V8 Supercar Champion Marcos Ambrose led a Ford lock out of the top five positions.

Ambrose, and SBR teammate Russell Ingall, were both inside Ambrose's previous practice record, as Ford teams set the standard on the track.

David Besnard, who will be making his 50th championship start this weekend, was third quickest, with last year's runner-up Steve Ellery fourth and John Bowe rounding out the top five

"The car is probably the best we have had straight off the truck this year," Ambrose said afterwards. "We worked on the car being in good shape for Greg (Ritter) in the afternoon session, but we did not need to work too hard.

"We bolted on better tyres towards the end like a lot of the teams, but as usual we will need to wait for qualifying to get a real guide when everyone is one the same tyres.

"I think the time this morning was quicker than our qualifying time last year. Stone Brothers Racing has really moved forward from last year and today was a really good indication of that."

Ingall was also happy with the opening day on the track.

"A lot of the time you can really get a good idea about the rest of your weekend from the opening session," he said. "Hopefully today was a gauge on what is to come for us.

"You still have to pedal the thing around to get a good time out of it, but at the end of the day I think we have a pretty good toy. Cameron (McLean) is doing a solid job and I think we will have a strong race package.

"The weather predicted for tomorrow is going to make things very interesting."

Besnard only arrived back into Melbourne on the eve of the event after taking part in a Champ Car test in America as he prepares for a possible entry into the Lexmark Indy 300.

"I'm pretty tired right now, but it's a great start to the weekend for the team," he said. "The car has been improving over the last few events, and today was a great reward
for the crew. We are determined to carry that through this weekend and be a contender on Sunday."

After finishing second last year, Ellery is confident that this weekend could bring another good result.

"The car wasn't great this morning, but we worked on it and it's now showing
some potential," he said. "Luke (Youlden) drove the co-driver's session this afternoon and he was happy with the feeling of the car. So combined we're confident of even better things as the weekend goes on. Sandown has been one of my better tracks, I wouldn't complain about going one spot better on last year."

Bowe was also happy with his time, but is looking to the race on Sunday as the true indicator, a race where he feels there is a chance of victory,

"The car is really good, but I'm not surprised as we've prepared extremely well this weekend," he said. "Brad and I really enjoy these long distance events, and we are going to have a legitimate shot at winning this race".



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