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Blindsided! Ellery’s Triple Eight heartbreak

FOR all the enjoyment Steven Ellery took from his sole Supercars season at Triple Eight Race Engineering, a couple of sore points stick out.

Ellery became a free agent for 2005 after a sponsorship saga saw his own team suddenly dealt a budget shortfall as Supercheap Auto shifted its support to Paul Weel Racing.

He ultimately pounced on an opportunity to join Triple Eight, who had already pulled off a coup by signing superstar Craig Lowndes.

A year of two halves eventuated for the #88 driver.

By the end of Round 8, Ellery was buried 20th in the standings in a campaign that had been punctuated by crashes at Adelaide and Oran Park. Lowndes by contrast was fourth at that time and right in the championship hunt.

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But from there, Ellery turned it on, combining with Adam Macrow for fifth in the Sandown 500 before the pair notched Triple Eight’s first Bathurst 1000 podium.

A further seven top 10 results from the final nine races elevated him to 13th in the end-of-season standings.

The damage had been done, however, and Ellery’s two-year contract was cut in half as team boss Roland Dane moved in favour of Jamie Whincup for 2006.

“I thought we were rolling, I thought we were really getting momentum for the next year, so I was fully blindsided,” Ellery admitted on this week’s episode of the V8 Sleuth Podcast powered by Repco.

The news, delivered shortly after Bathurst, shattered the then 31-year-old to the point where he couldn’t bring himself to accept Dane’s offer of an endurance co-drive.

Having also turned down a 2006 seat with Garry Rogers Motorsport, Ellery ended up co-driving at Paul Morris Motorsport for two years before making one last start at The Mountain in ’08 with GRM and Greg Ritter.

Ellery also expressed frustration at being overlooked to team up with Lowndes at Bathurst in ’05, at which time full-time teammates could join forces for the enduros.

Instead, Triple Eight drafted in Frenchman Yvan Muller, who had just five prior Supercars Championship races under his belt, compared to Ellery who already was a two-time Great Race podium finisher.

Muller, in fairness, did combine with Lowndes for victory in the 2005 Sandown 500, although they would endure a troubled run from pole at Bathurst to finish 10 laps down in 15th.

“I was disappointed with Triple Eight for not pairing Craig and I up in 2005,” Ellery reflected.

Ellery shared the #88 Falcon with Adam Macrow. Pic: an1images.com

“That was a kick in the guts to me.

“I don’t know whether that was Craig or Roland, but that disappointed me a little bit. I found that hard to overcome.

“Nothing against Adam, don’t think that there’s anything against Adam, I really enjoyed driving with Adam. You go back to the Oakleigh Go Kart Club, I’ve known Adam since he was (young), his dad used to build my engines.

“So I was so happy to do that with Adam but I’ll always say that wheel (that flew after Paul Dumbrell crashed at Griffins Bend) would never have hit Craig’s windscreen if I was in the car with him because we would have been that far up the road that I don’t think anyone would have really seen us.

“I don’t understand the decision… it cost us Bathurst.”

Ellery addresses those topics in further depth, plus various other highs and lows, during the hour-plus Part 2 episode.

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