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Feature: Ambrose 2001, rookie sensation

Marcos Ambrose stormed onto the scene with Stone Brothers Racing (SBR) in 2001. Twenty-years on, we reflect on the game-changing arrival of the ‘Devil Racer’ into Supercars in SupercarXtra Magazine issue #122.

Ambrose 2001
13 September 2021

CLICK HERE for more information on issue #122. 

Twenty years ago, the Holden Racing Team was dominant. Mark Skaife was in the middle of a three-peat in the championship, while Ford seemed to be on its knees. The AU Falcon was hard work relative to the speedier VX Commodore, but there was a changing of the guard in the Ford ranks that was going to prove a game-changer.

Dick Johnson Racing and Glenn Seton Racing were fading from their former glory, while SBR was emerging. Enter a young Ambrose for the #4 PIRTEK Falcon, with an equally young David Besnard in the #9 Caltex Falcon.

Ambrose was talented, ambitious and committed to success. He fitted into the team like a hand fits into its favourite glove. It was, in essence, the perfect combination to unseat the best.

He signalled his intent with pole position for his first-ever race at the non-championship Australian Grand Prix. Four race meetings into the season he had his first round win at Hidden Valley Raceway. He went on to finish on the podium eight times and started from pole position three times, including for his first Bathurst 1000. 

For SBR, Ambrose was a key part of the plan to win championships. He brought the talent and focus it needed to take the next step. It was a risk, but it was calculated.

“It did work well and people said it was a gamble” says Ross Stone on the recruitment of the two young drivers.

“Jimmy and I both thought that if you could drive a Formula Ford, well, you could drive a V8 Supercar.

“Marcos didn’t drive us any harder than we were already going, although he knew how to get people around him, but any good driver does that. 

“We had what we thought was a reasonable car and good engineering. But he was perfect; he was just what we were looking for.”

There was a new edge to SBR, and they continued building on a path to the top of the tree.

“The timing was right; we had been going for a while and starting to get a bit established with everything we needed, and it was time to get the job done” adds Stone.

“Marcos obviously had a lot of talent, but the second thing is he was a smart operator. He knew what was needed to get the job done, and he just focused on that and whatever it took. He was away in no time.”

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