The 2004 season has been one of the best on record for the Ford Racing V8 Supercar program in Australia.

Not only were Stone Brothers Racing duo Marcos Ambrose and Russell Ingall the first teammates to take the top two spots in the championship since Glenn Seton and Alan Jones in 1993, other Ford teams completed strong seasons.

With most of the attention focused on the achievement of Ambrose and his back-to-back championship titles, the likes of Orrcon Steel Racing, OzEmail Racing and Shell Helix Racing provided Ford with five drivers in the championship top-ten.

Orrcon driver Jason Bargwanna was a model of consistency during 2004. He finished in the top-ten overall on seven occasions, including a third place finish at the Gold Coast Indy event. Also of note was the reliability of his Falcon, failing to finish just twice out of 26 individual races.

He finished eighth in the championship chase and was understandably upbeat about recording his best result aboard a Falcon and his highest Championship result since he finished seventh in 2001.

"It is an absolutely fantastic result for the team," he said. "What the team has achieved over the last 12 months has been outstanding, now we look to move forward and aim to be in the top five.

"This year has been the perfect platform to build on for our 2005 campaign, especially when many of the other teams along pit lane will be settling in with new drivers and combinations."

For team owner Mark Larkham the reward of being Ford's next-best team to the all conquering Stone Brothers Racing outfit was a highlight for his dedicated operation.

"At the start of the year we sat down as a team and set out to achieve our targets, which we have now achieved," he said. "To me it is all about human achievement, 18 dedicated people who all year were working towards a common goal of ensuring we had a car inside the top ten and become the second Ford team in the Championship.

"Now we look forward to even bigger and better things in 2005. I think our greatest asset and strength will be the stability of our tight knit team as we continually strive for bigger and better results."

John Bowe showed that he's still one of the best drivers in the championship in the OzEmail Racing Falcon. His ninth place in the championship was also a model of consistency finishing with five top-tens, including third at Bathurst.

"It's a great result for the team and well deserved," he said. "Now it's time to do some development over the off-season and come back bigger and better next year.

"This is only a small team, but a dedicated group of people that all want to beat the big teams on a regular basis. From a driver's point of view it keeps me very focussed and it makes racing very enjoyable.

"One of the most pleasing things is that everyone knows we are one of the best teams at Bathurst. 2005 we will go back there again and give it everything to make the top spot."

Shell Helix Racing's Steven Johnson completed the 2004 season with eight top-ten finishes, including an amazing run of five over the final five rounds.

His best result came at Sandown when he combined with Warren Luff to finish third behind Marcos Ambrose / Greg Ritter and Russell Ingall / Cameron McLean.

"The highlight for me really has been every round from Sandown onwards," Johnson said. "That weekend we put both team cars in the top-ten shootout and then Warren and I combined to finish third in the race. It really lifted the crew who had been improving the car, but not getting the rewards. From then we've raced strongly and confidently.

"I can't wait for the 2005 season. There's a lot of strong teams out there, and for the first time in many years they are all Ford teams!"

In amongst all the action over the weekend was Ford President Tom Gorman. It was the first championship experience for Gorman who took over the presidency from Geoff Polites in March.

"It was an amazing emotional high to be present at such a great moment," he said. "My joy was echoed by the thousands of Ford fans with their flags and signs, turning Eastern Creek into a veritable sea of blue.

"You'll notice a new format to some of our Falcon print media advertising, with the championship win and the Best Family Car award side by side on facing half pages. This combination of success both on the track and in the marketplace is exactly what we need to continue to drive forward.

"What can I say except it just doesn't get better than this."

With driver changes and other improvements to the likes of Ford Performance Racing and Team Betta Electrical, Ford has a realistic chance of not only making it three championships in-a-row, it also has a great opportunity to fill the majority of the top-ten on a regular basis in 2005.