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Two decades since Ford’s breakthrough

New Zealanders have dominated the Repco Supercars Championship since 2018, but another streak ended 20-years ago and it was Holden’s.

The local brand might not be here anymore, but Holden dominated the late-1990s and early-2000s bar 1997 when Glenn Seton took victory for his Ford Credit Racing team. Mainly doing all the winning was the Holden Racing Team through Craig Lowndes and Mark Skaife, who split six championships between them.

Ford’s AU Falcon was a disappointment both on and off-track as victories eluded the brand, despite the model’s now cult like following.

But along came Geoff Polites, who took over as Ford Australia boss in 1999 and led a successful rejuvenation both in the showroom as well as on the race track.

The first move was to poach Lowndes from Holden in 2001, then Stone Brothers Racing recruited Tasmanian Marcos Ambrose leading to the BA Falcon debuting successfully in 2003.

Lack of success spurred on the Ford squads as Ambrose was joined by another former long-time Holden driver in the form of ‘The Enforcer’ Russell Ingall. Ford Performance Racing was also launched featuring Lowndes, Glenn Seton and David Besnard in its driver line-up, with the power of mega team Prodrive behind it.

Ambrose won the first race of the season in Adelaide, then Lowndes took his first Ford round victory at Phillip Island before the Tasmanian again greeted the chequered flag at Eastern Creek.

Ambrose enjoyed a four race run at the top starting at Eastern Creek and continuing through Winton, Wanneroo before winning in the Top End at Hidden Valley.

Ambrose wasn’t finished as he added further round victories at Oran Park and the grand finale at Eastern Creek to take his maiden crown.

Holden may have won at Sandown and Bathurst, but these only interrupted Ford victories as Ingall also joined in to establish Stone Brothers Racing as a frontrunning team.

In the end it was Ambrose completing donuts at a wet Eastern Creek to celebrate a supreme title-winning season and breaking the dominance of Holden.

Ford won three titles on the trot courtesy of Stone Brothers Racing before the HSV Dealer Team arrived on the scene.

Fans can’t help to feel some déjà vu regarding dominance after the recent exploits of Scott McLaughlin and Shane van Gisbergen leading to a New Zealand run of success.