Saturday Sleuthing: Ingall's first Ford winner

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 29/02/2020
  • By Will Dale, V8 Sleuth

Saturday Sleuthing is back for 2020, with a return to the column’s roots.

After two years of driver interviews, we return the spotlight to tracking the histories of some of Supercars’ most significant chassis.

This week we're looking back at a special Ford that took a memorable first-up triumph at Albert Park.

The 2020 season marks Supercars' 24th visit to the Melbourne street circuit as the top support act to the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

In that time, few races resulted in a more emotional triumph than Russell Ingall's Race 2 win in 2003.

The event was Ingall's first since his high-profile defection from Holden to Ford, leaving a Castrol-backed Perkins Engineering Commodore for a Caltex-branded Falcon at Stone Brothers Racing.

Despite carrying the chassis number SBR BA01 this was actually the second BA Falcon the team finished, a delay in its build meaning Marcos Ambrose's sister car beat Ingall's to the race track.

This car had three hours of testing at Queensland Raceway in late February before the first V8 Supercars races of the year at Albert Park, with three non-championship sprints headlining the undercard of the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.

'The Enforcer' quickly showed he'd lost none of his trademark aggression in his switch to Ford.

From sixth on the grid, he edged Garth Tander into the grass on the run down to Turn 1, then when he got to the corner he was squeezed by Todd Kelly; the contact spinning the new Holden Racing Team signing and triggering a three-car crash.

Fourth on the restart, Ingall gained another spot when Mark Skaife spun off mid-race, then picked off former teammate Steven Richards for second on the penultimate lap.

Better was to come the next day, Ingall blitzing the start to beat Race 1 winner Jason Bright into the first corner and didn't look back, leading all 12 laps to take his first race victory aboard a Ford and the first for the BA Falcon model.

However, he was racing with a heavy heart.

"I just want to say something, there's a good mate of mine out there Barry Sheene, he's doing it pretty rough out there," Ingall said on television after the race.

"He had a lot to do with putting this deal together. I know he'll be watching, he's having a rough time at the moment. Good one Baz, we did it mate!"

Sadly, the motorcycle racing legend and Supercars commentator lost his battle with cancer the following day.

Ingall led the early stages of Sunday's final 12-lapper in the wet, but a crash between Paul Morris and Paul Dumbrell caused the race to be red-flagged and declared 'no result'.

SBR BA01 remained Ingall's car for the next two seasons, taking wins at Queensland Raceway and at the Gold Coast in 2003 before his controversial clash with Skaife in the final race of the season at Eastern Creek.

Ingall was only able to secure one race win with SBR BA01 in 2004 – benefitting from a last-corner tangle between Skaife and Ambrose at Hidden Valley – but finished second overall in the drivers' championship behind Ambrose to secure a team 1-2 for SBR.

As well as serving as Ingall's mount for 2003 and 2004, this car played a role early in the careers of several future Supercars stars.

Mark Winterbottom made his championship debut aboard SBR BA01 at the 2003 Sandown 500, partnering Mark Noske in the team's #9 entry as SBR paired lead guns Ambrose and Ingall in the other car.

Following its sale to Jim Morton's Decina Racing squad in 2005, Warren Luff campaigned the car to second in that year's Super2 Series.

Michael Caruso, below, then took his first race and round victories in Supercars' second tier aboard BA01 in 2007, when Morton's team ran under the Ford Rising Stars Racing moniker.

Grant Denyer took over the car mid-season and finished the year aboard it, marking the car's final race starts for several years.

The car returned in Terry Wyhoon's hands in 2011 in the V8 Touring Car Series and continued to race for the next three seasons with various drivers, including Bobby Jane, son of Supercars Hall of Famer Bob Jane, who drove in the 2012 series.

Now 17 years on since its triumphant debut, SBR BA01 lives on in tribute to its triumphant debut season.

Melbourne collector Jared Lovie purchased the car in 2014 and retains the car today, having returned it to the red and green Caltex Havoline livery carried by Ingall during his first season as a Ford driver.

The car was reunited with its original pilot for a photoshoot ahead of Supercars' 500th championship round at Phillip Island in 2016.

With its sisters SBR BA02 and SBR BA03 currently receiving ground-up restorations by Ross and Jimmy Stone, Lovie is contemplating carrying out the same on the Stone Brothers' original BA.

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