The Grand Finale, also known as the V8 Ultimate and as The Main Event, was the auto race held as the final round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series from 2001 to 2008. In those years, it was held at Sandown Raceway, Eastern Creek Raceway, the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and Oran Park Raceway.

Format

The Grand Finale was staged over a weekend in either November or December each year. Free practice took place on Friday; qualifying sessions and the first of three races took place on Saturday; and the final two races took place on Sunday. The driver accumulating the most points over the weekend's races was deemed the winner of the event.

History

Sandown

In 1999 and 2000, the Bathurst 1000 took place as the final round of the championship. Following Bathurst's move back to early October in 2001, and the decision to extend the championship calendar beyond the endurance events and into December, the final round of the season moved to Sandown Raceway. For the first time, the final round was given a designated name, and became known as the "V8 Ultimate". The inaugural 2001 event saw Todd Kelly score his first championship round win. In 2002, Marcos Ambrose gave the Ford AU Falcon a round win in the last event of its largely unsuccessful era. It was what would become the first of four consecutive round wins in the Grand Finale for Ambrose. In both 2001 and 2002, Mark Skaife had already secured the championship title before the final round of the series, and as such the V8 Ultimate was a dead rubber on each occasion.[1] In 2003, the Sandown 500 was reinstated on the calendar as Sandown's round of the championship, and the final round moved to Eastern Creek in Sydney.

Eastern Creek

In the 2003 season, the final round was called "The Main Event". It was held at Eastern Creek Raceway and was won by Marcos Ambrose, who secured his first championship win in the process. The 2003 event is perhaps best remembered for an incident between Russell Ingall and Mark Skaife, which has since been dubbed the "race rage" incident or the "shriek at the creek".[2] Ingall and Skaife made contact exiting Turn 9 which resulted in Skaife being spun into the wall. Having parked his damaged car on the other side of the track, Skaife remained next to his car, waiting for Ingall to return on the following lap. Skaife walked towards the edge of the circuit, shaking his fist at Ingall, and Ingall responded by swerving towards Skaife. Ingall was disqualified from the event and both drivers were fined.[1] For 2004, the "Grand Finale" title was used for the first time, and Ambrose won the event for the third time in succession, again securing the championship on the same weekend. In both years, Eastern Creek also hosted a sprint round as well as the finale.

Phillip Island

The event moved to Phillip Island for 2005 and Ambrose again won the event, though Craig Lowndes won the first of the three races on this occasion. Ingall secured his first championship win at the event, having finished runner-up in the championship four times previously.[1] In 2006, Rick Kelly led the championship by a small points margin over Lowndes. Following the first two races, in which Lowndes complained of being unfairly held up by Kelly's teammates, Kelly and Lowndes were tied on points. A controversial incident in the third race saw Kelly make contact with the back of Lowndes, sending Lowndes and Kelly's brother Todd into a spin. Lowndes was stranded in the middle of the track and was hit by Will Davison, sustaining steering damage which caused him to finish in thirty-first place. Despite receiving a drive-through penalty for his role in the incident and finishing eighteenth and a protest from Lowndes' team, Kelly was crowned champion.[1]

The event decided the championship again in 2007, with Garth Tander and Jamie Whincup battling for the title. Tander won the event, winning two races, and secured the championship by two points over Whincup.[1]

Oran Park

Oran Park Raceway hosted the event in 2008, having previously hosted the final round of the Australian Touring Car Championship in 197172, 1980 and from 1985 to 1998. Having been on the calendar each year since 1971, it was the circuit's final championship event before it was demolished for a housing redevelopment. Garth Tander again won the event but it was Whincup who sealed the championship, over Mark Winterbottom. Rick Kelly won the final race of the weekend for HSV Dealer Team, in what was also the final race for the successful team before they were disbanded. The event was Skaife's last as a full-time driver after having raced in the championship since 1987.[1]

Demise

The 2009 championship saw the Grand Finale replaced by the Sydney 500, held at the newly built Homebush Street Circuit around Sydney Olympic Park. This event itself was replaced by the Newcastle 500 for 2017.[3]

Winners

Year Event title Driver[1] Team Car Circuit
2001 Australian V8 Ultimate Australia Todd Kelly Kmart Racing Team Holden VX Commodore Sandown Raceway
2002 Betta Electrical V8 Ultimate Australia Marcos Ambrose Stone Brothers Racing Ford AU Falcon
2003 The Main Event presented by VIP Petfoods Australia Marcos Ambrose Stone Brothers Racing Ford BA Falcon Eastern Creek Raceway
2004 BigPond Grand Finale Australia Marcos Ambrose Stone Brothers Racing Ford BA Falcon
2005 BigPond Grand Finale Australia Marcos Ambrose Stone Brothers Racing Ford BA Falcon Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
2006 Caterpillar Grand Finale Australia Todd Kelly Holden Racing Team Holden VZ Commodore
2007 Dunlop Grand Finale Australia Garth Tander HSV Dealer Team Holden VE Commodore
2008 NRMA Motoring and Services Grand Finale Australia Garth Tander Holden Racing Team Holden VE Commodore Oran Park Raceway

Multiple winners

By driver

Wins Driver Years
4 Australia Marcos Ambrose 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
2 Australia Todd Kelly 2001, 2006
Australia Garth Tander 2007, 2008

By team

Wins Team
4 Stone Brothers Racing
2 HSV Dealer Team1
Holden Racing Team

By manufacturer

Wins Manufacturer
4 Ford
Holden
Notes
  • ^1 – The HSV Dealer Team was known as Kmart Racing Team from 2001 to 2004, hence their statistics are combined.

Event sponsors

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Greenhalgh, David; Howard, Graham; Wilson, Stewart (2011). The official history: Australian Touring Car Championship - 50 Years. St Leonards, New South Wales: Chevron Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-9805912-2-4.
  2. ^ Kirby, Cameron (25 August 2016). "Ingall and Skaife: Ford Falcon vs Holden Commodore final showdown". Wheels Magazine. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Supercars to race in Newcastle". Supercars Championship. 27 September 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2017.