Ambrose opens up on Bathurst crash

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 23/09/2015
  • By Kassie Gadeke

DJR Team Penske's Marcos Ambrose is set to line up at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 for the first time since his explosive crash with Greg Murphy in 2005.

Ambrose spoke candidly about the incident - which has become one of the great stories of Bathurst in recent years - on last night's episode on Inside Supercars.

The Ambrose-Murphy clash happened in the late stages of the race, blocked the track, put both contenders out of the running and ended with a war of words between the Ford and Holden rivals on-track.

It was a shattering end to a rollercoaster day for Ambrose - who was gunning for his first Bathurst win and third consecutive championship - who had recovered track position after he'd been forced to pit for from fourthto put on his balaclava.

While Ambrose and Murphy are amicable on the TV broadcast these days, the two-time champ admitted he had been furious about that clash for years following.

"I was pretty cranky anyway because I'd had the penalties for not wearing a balaclava and how that'd gone down," Ambrose began.

"I'd come from leading a lot of laps to coming back through the field, and Greg made a mistake in turn two and he missed a shift. So I had a lot of momentum, tried to go around the outside.

"It's one of those things that when you look back, it was a pretty heavy racing incident, as far as he missed a shift, I had the moment, it was one of those split second decisions to try and go round the outside of him.

"He clearly didn't give me a lot of room, it's a pretty tight corner there anyway and I was hot and cranky from the day anyway - and he just finished me off.

"So I didn't have many kind words to say to him, and I didn't have many kind words to say to him for a lot of years after it. But we're softening over the years now."

The pair came face to face at the Sydney 500 last year, Murphy having to interview the returning star, but Ambrose had nothing but respectful words to say about the Kiwi.

"I respect Greg, he's a brilliant race car driver, had a great career, and now he's doing a great job on TV. He's a great custodian for racing in general so I certainly respect him but he's certainly not going to come round for a barbecue any time soon."

When news of Ambrose's return broke last year, Murphy spoke to v8supercars.com.au about the incident and the rivalry, which was also fuelled by a heated press conference exchange at the Gold Coast in 2004 after Ambrose's alleged 'brake testing' of Murphy's young teammate Rick Kelly.

"I told him 'You can XXXX off right now, we will all chip in and buy you a ticket, you XXXXXXX XXXX'," Murphy said of the exchange at the Cutting at Bathurst in '05.

"I always apportioned the blame 50:50, but he never wanted to apportion any of the blame to himself. But that is past ... we might not be mates, best of friends or anything at all, but at the end of the day I have always said I have respect for what he has done and his ability."

While Murphy has the honour of four Bathurst wins to his name, Ambrose is yet to conquer the mountain and has never even stood on the podium there, his best Bathurst result fourth with Greg Ritter in 2004.

The Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 is a victory Ambrose desperately wants, and paired with Scott Pye this year will be gunning for glory in the #17 DJR Team Penske Falcon. Interestingly this is the first year the Johnson name won't be represented on-track since 1975, with Steven Johnson not taking part in the race.

"[I've had just] five goes - and all have been pretty shabby, to be honest with you," Ambrose said.

"One year I ended up in the gravel trap, one year I crashed with Murph, and then we had three years of blown tyres so never really had a good shot at winning that race. Five goes is really ... not good enough really. So I'm going to do one this year, see if we can win it."

Ambrose contested both the Clipsal 500 and non-championship Australian Grand Prix events as a main driver, before stepping back and handing Pye the keys. The Wilson Security Sandown 500 was Ambrose's first V8 Supercars race since March and the pair finished 12th.

Ambrose missed the start, not in gear, but managed to power up through the field before handing over to Pye.

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