A tight hairpin, the rain coming in and a coming-together between Mark Skaife and Russell Ingall made for a pretty good opener for the return of the V8 Supercars to Tasmania, and through it all Marcos Ambrose increased his title lead.

There was plenty of incident in the race, the crucial moment for the winner coming as he and Marcos Ambrose pitted as soon as the compulsory pitstop window was open. Ambrose's attention once more was on the Kmart car in the rear-view mirror and the 'I'm trying to win a championship here' Ford-man was far more circumspect than the young charger, and the Kmart team and driver made a far better pitstop and Kelly was back on track with vital track position and a very fast Commodore under him.

Ambrose had been off to a great start, slipping into second place on the first lap but he had lost that position to the lead HRT Commodore of Todd Kelly with a simple-enough manoeuvre at the hairpin.

The second HRT car in contrast was once more off to a poor start, but things would get worse for four-time champ mark Skaife as the race went on.

The tight Symmons Plains hairpin provided the predicted action from the very first lap with Paul Morris getting sandwiched and retiring from the race soon afterwards. "Not much left of the front and not much left of the rear, Paul Dumbrell arrived and used me as a brake," explained Morris afterwards.

As soon as the first pitstop window was open the front-runners were in with only three laps completed. The general consensus seemed to be an early stop, but a couple of team managers had their eyes on the horizon and could see the rain-clouds gathering. Team Kiwi and Tasman Racing were the two greatest exponents of this train of thought and Craig Baird and Jason Richards stayed out very late and were pitted on lap 28 and 29 respectively, both returning to the track with wet tyres as the rain had started.

Though the track may have then been wet, it wasn't wet enough to warrant running without slicks and Baird and Richards were soon swallowed up by the other runners. They weren't the only ones to make the wrong call, with quite a few other teams opting to bring in their steeds for a second stop to change to wets.

Ambrose on track seemed content to play the points game and certainly had his eyes set firmly on the championship. There was, however, no need to be worried, with both Jason Bright and Greg Murphy sufficiently behind him during the race.

Rick Kelly had certainly gained good advantage from his lighting stop, but Ambrose found himself right with the dicing Holdens of Steven Richards and Todd Kelly for second place. Richards had the second position but made a mistake and went long in his braking to allow Todd Kelly and very nearly Ambrose through too.

The elder Kelly brother was not to be long in this position however as he was soon to make his very own mistake and Richards was right there battling with the HRT car, only for Ambrose, probably not quite believing his luck, to take the both of them.

With the second place then his, Ambrose very nearly lost the position the very next time as he lost time in the hairpin, but ultimately the SBR reigning champ came home with a big smile after taking second place in his first ever race at his home circuit.

With just two laps the rain was certainly coming down harder, and it was time for the Skaife and Ingall show. The pair had been battling before in the race and this time it was for eighth, and it was to provide plenty of entertainment for the crowds. Symmons Plains is hardly a wide circuit and when there's two drivers wanting the same piece of track it's always going to be interesting. When those two drivers are Mark Skaife and Russell Ingall then wait for the fireworks.

Plenty of rubbing and touching occurred between the Caltex Falcon and Skaife's new Commodore but ultimately Skaife on the inside for the hairpin had too much speed for the tight turn and Ingall wisely let the Holden man run long into the corner and helped the HRT car to its already inevitable gravel destination on the exit. Brilliant stuff.

Skaife wasn't the only one to discover just how slippery it was off the racing line in the dying laps. Jason Bargwanna did the same when alongside Glenn Seton and Craig Lowndes squeezing down the inside of Murph's Kmart Commodore, at the hairpin once more, saw Murph make a late spin on the last lap.

Ultimately the rain had not been of a sufficient quantity to warrant wets and Rick Kelly took the victory from Ambrose, with Jason Bright coming in tenth to mean Ambrose's title looks all the more secure heading to Sunday's two races.

Top ten race one
1. Rick Kelly
2. Marcos Ambrose
3. Todd Kelly
4. Steven Richards
5. Garth Tander
6. Craig Lowndes
7. Russell Ingall
8. David Besnard
9. Paul Radisich
10. Jason Bright