by Matthew Agius

The Ford Motor Company has cleaned up at the annual V8 Supercar awards night - taking eleven honours in their most successful year in recent times.

The Blue Oval was presented with the Champion Manufacturer trophy and also had drivers Russell Ingall (2005 champion), Craig Lowndes (Runner up) and Ingall's teammate Marcos Ambrose (Third place) receive their respective championship trophies.

These three men flew the Ford flag high in 2005. Ambrose took pole and dominated the season opener in Adelaide before Lowndes took three pole positions and four round wins to take the limelight off the defending champion. Whilst his two compatriots fought it out for round honours at the front, Ingall took a more conservative approach - rewarding him with a round win at Oran Park - and allowing him to win his first ever V8 Supercar Championship.

Stone Brothers Racing were awarded the Teams' Championship trophy - a solid year for the team saw two of their cars finish in the top three for the second consecutive year, and in a first for the team in 2005, Lowndes' SBR-powered Falcon finished second - thus resulting in the top three car using SBR engines.

Lowndes picked up three further awards as well. The Champion Pole Award was presented to the three-time champion for his five fastest shootout qualifications> He then received the Barry Sheene Medal for being the best and fairest driver as voted by media personalities who cover the series. Lowndes' was also voted the RPM People's Choice as the most popular driver amongst V8 fans.

Holden Performance Driving Centre V8 Supercar Series competitors were also successful at the night. Gatorz Racing driver Dean Canto was presented with his championship trophy, whilst teammate Grant Denyer, pilot of the Summit/Jax Tyres Racing Falcon was declared V8 Supercar Rookie of the year. In addition, Kanga Loaders Racing and driver Gary MacDonald were presented with their Privateers' Cup after finishing third in the championship.

It wasn't a wasted night for Holden however. Holden Racing Team drivers Mark Skaife and Todd Kelly were presented their Bathurst Champions trophy, whilst the HRT were granted the Best Presented Team award.

Two events also received awards. The Super Cheap Auto 1000 was decided to have the best volunteer award - fitting as Bathurst has been regarded the race of the people in the past - whilst incredibly, the Clipsal 500 Adelaide was inducted into the V8 Supercar Hall of Fame - a first for an Australian Touring Car race in the series' history, although somewhat unsurprising as it has won the AVESCO Event of the year every year since 1999.

With the formalities for the 2005 V8 Supercar Championship done and dusted, teams and drivers will benefit from a four-month sabbatical before the season opener in Adelaide. During that period squads will take the opportunity to present their 2006 cars and drivers to the media, and will also participate in the pre-season V8 Supercar fan day.

2005 V8 Supercar Gala Award winners

Champion Manufacturer: Ford Motor Company of Australia
V8 Supercar Series Champion: Russell Ingall, Caltex Racing, BA FalconRunner-up: Craig Lowndes, Team Betta Electrical, BA FalconSecond Runner-up: Marcos Ambrose, Pirtek Racing, BA FalconChampion Team: Stone Brothers RacingBathurst Champions: Mark Skaife/Todd Kelly, Holden Racing Team, VZ CommodoreChampion Pole Award: Craig Lowndes, Team Betta Electrical, BA FalconBarry Sheene Medal: Craig Lowndes, Team Betta Electrical, BA FalconRPM Viewer's Most Popular Driver: Craig Lowndes, Team Betta Electrical, BA FalconBest Presented Team: Holden Racing Team
HPDC V8 Supercar Series Champion: Dean Canto, Gatorz Racing, BA FalconHPDC Series Privateers' Cup: Gary MacDonald, Kanga Loaders Racing, BA FalconMike Kable Rookie of the Year: Grant Denyer, Summit/Jax Tyres Racing, BA FalconBest Volunteer Group: Super Cheap Auto Bathurst 1000V8 Supercar Hall of Fame: Clipsal 500 Adelaide



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