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Skaife, T Kelly Win Bathurst 1000

Mark Skaife and Todd Kelly ran up front all day to take victory at the Super Cheap Auto 1000 at Bathurst

Skaife took his fifth and Kelly his first victory in the 1000 km classic in a race which saw most of the expected front runners fail to finish or have problems. The victory extends Holden's victory run at the mountain to seven, with Skaife taking his third win in five years at the circuit.

The rest of the podium was made up by Jason Richards and Jamie Whincup in second, with Steve Ellery and Adam Macrow in third, neither crew tipped to win but both came close. Cameron McConville and Andrew Jones took fourth while Russell Ingall and Luke Youlden made a late recovery to complete the top five places.

The race was marred in the closing stages by a collision between Marcos Ambrose and Greg Murphy entering the Cutting which saw Ambrose nearly vault the wall and several other cars damaged as the track became effectively blocked, the incident likely to see further repercussions for one or both drivers in the week ahead.

The title chase has also closed up thanks to the mixed-up results and each driver having to drop their worst round up to and including this race. Russell Ingall is now the new championship leader by two points ahead of his teammate Marcos Ambrose, with Todd Kelly moving up to third 74 points further back. Steven Richards drops to fourth, 121 points behind Ingall, with Craig Lowndes down to fifth another 28 points further behind just five points ahead of Mark Skaife.

The start of the race saw Lowndes pull away from the field, until he clipped the wall soon after the Cutting, damaging his rear suspension and forcing him to pit for repairs. This handed the lead to Marcos Ambrose, who led the field as a string of incidents brought the safety car out six times in the first half of the race, one of which saw the demise of the Steven Richards/Paul Dumbrell Commodore when it lost a wheel.

Lap 46 saw Greg Murphy/Paul Weel move ahead of Marcos Ambrose/Warren Luff, as Russell Ingall/Luke Youlden followed close behind. Ambrose/Luff regained the lead during pit stops under the safety car around 20 laps later but was passed by Murphy/Weel and Skaife/T Kelly as soon as the race returned to green.

Around lap 100 drivers made another series of stops, which was followed soon after by a drive through penalty for Ambrose for his co-driver Luff not wearing a balaclava. By this time Skaife/T Kelly led from Steve Ellery/Adam Macrow, Jason Richards/Jamie Whincup, Murphy/Weel and Owen Kelly/Nathan Pretty.

Lap 121 saw Ambrose return to the pits so he could put a balaclava on, Ambrose suggesting over the radio that he was not the only driver not wearing one. Around lap 130 most of the leaders pitted, with Jason Richards/Whincup stealing the lead from Skaife/T Kelly and Ellery/Macrow.

Richards held on to the lead until Skaife passed him on lap 141, just seconds before the safety car made an appearance for a stranded car on the top of the hill. Those yet to make their final stops took this opportunity to do so in preparation for a fight to the chequered flag on lap 161.

The race restarted on lap 145, Skaife/T Kelly leading Jason Richards/Whincup, Ellery/Macrow, Murphy/Weel and Ambrose/Luff. But before the lap was completed the race was under safety car again.

Coming out of the right-handed turn two, Murphy made an error, allowing Ambrose to make a run at him. Murphy moved across towards Ambrose, but Ambrose continued to edge his nose further in front. As they approached the left-handed kink before the hard left at the Cutting, Ambrose turned in but Murphy wouldn't give way, sending Ambrose spinning hard into the concrete wall.

This temporarily blocked the track, other cars receiving major and minor damage as they tried to avoid the mess. Eventually the situation was cleared, the race restarting on lap 150 but from there it was comparatively calm, Skaife/T Kelly taking the win ahead of Jason Richards/Whincup, Ellery/Macrow,

Leading results, Super Cheap Auto 1000, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, Australia:

Pos Drivers                              Car                  Time
 1. Mark Skaife/Todd Kelly               Holden Commodore VZ  161 laps
 2. Jason Richards/Jamie Whincup         Holden Commodore VZ  +   2.49
 3. Steve Ellery/Adam Macrow             Ford Falcon BA       +  15.80
 4. Cameron McConville/Andrew Jones      Holden Commodore VZ  +  19.58
 5. Russell Ingall/Luke Youlden          Ford Falcon BA       +  20.76
 6. Owen Kelly/Nathan Pretty             Holden Commodore VZ  +  51.06
 7. John Cleland/Dale Brede              Ford Falcon BA       + 2 laps
 8. David Besnard/Craig Baird            Ford Falcon BA       + 3 laps
 9. Glenn Seton/Dean Canto               Ford Falcon BA       + 3 laps
10. Alan Gurr/John Faulkner              Holden Commodore VZ  + 3 laps

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