APR: Oran Park preview

Sydney Drivers Seeking Hometown Performance Edge At Oran Park When the Donut King Australian Performance Car Championship heads to Oran Park Raceway for its second Sydney stopover next weekend, August 12-14, a group of drivers will have that ...

Sydney Drivers Seeking Hometown Performance Edge At Oran Park

When the Donut King Australian Performance Car Championship heads to Oran Park Raceway for its second Sydney stopover next weekend, August 12-14, a group of drivers will have that little bit of extra motivation.

In a sport where even the smallest advantage can make all the difference, a group of ten Sydney residents will be among the bumper field, and looking to capitalise on a bit of home track knowledge around the challenging 2.62km circuit which will host round five of the 2005 championship.

Currently leading the 'Sydneysider Class' is Garry Holt (Century 21 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII). Holt became the fourth winner in as many rounds at Darwin's Hidden Valley Raceway last month, having been strong for the majority of 2005, though without luck on his side. He currently sits second in the standings, 29 points behind championship leader Peter Floyd.

Chris Alajajian (Jack Hillermans Smash Subaru WRX STi) is another among the ranks of 2005 round winners. The youngest driver in the championship, 18 year old Alajajian won the opening round of the season at Adelaide, and added to his race win tally with a pair of wins at Eastern Creek. After missing the most recent round of the championship due to Formula 3 commitments, Alajajian currently sits fifth in the standings.

After a tough run at the Clipsal 500 to start the year, Barry Morcom (Rondo Building Services Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII) has been playing the consistency card. A blown engine in Adelaide left him fifteenth in the points, however three strong rounds since have helped Morcom move up to fourth place, one point clear of Alajajian.

"I think that we have had a reasonable season so far," Morcom said. "We haven't really missed out at any rounds, aside from Adelaide where we didn't start very well. We should go well at Oran Park, and hopefully we will be up at the front again and able to get some more decent points. That said, the track has little bits that will suit all the different cars, so the competition will be strong, and the racing should be great."

Another driver to choose the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo as his weapon of choice is Sydney doctor Anton Mechtler. Since its last race, the Hurley's Smash Repairs Evo VII has undergone extensive development work. Fellow competitor Mark King, of King Springs, has been instrumental in suspension development, with Aaron Kelly helping out on the engine side.

Its days on the production line may be numbered, but the Holden Monaro is just warming up in the Donut King Australian Performance Car Championship. Debuting the second Donut King Monaro, Barrie Nesbitt had a great weekend in Darwin. A third place finish in the cars first ever race helped the Nesbitt to fourth for the round, having been edged out of third on a countback. Another Sydney resident representing 'The General' is Mark Cohen, who will have his first run for the year aboard his HSV GTS.

While Sydney based company AussieHire are specialists in safety barriers for roadworks, barriers are among the enemies of racing teams -- the two car AussieHire.com.au squad included. Last month in Darwin, Peter Boylan steered the AussieHire.com.au BMW M3 to a strong seventh place finish for the weekend, his best result of 2005 to date.

On the other side of the garage, one of the quietly improving cars this year has been Mike Fitzgerald's AussieHire.com.au Nissan 350Z. Barely 12 months old, the car has made ground with each outing this year as development continues.

"It's only a new car, but we're getting there," said Fitzgerald. "There was a limit with what we could do before with it, but now we can do the cambers, casters, that sort of stuff on front and rear which helps. We have got a bit more grunt, getting the power to weight getting somewhere near to where the Evo's are. We are starting to get there now, so we'll see how it goes from here."

Ric Shaw returns to the series at Oran Park aboard his rotary rocket Mazda RX7, having last run at the Clipsal 500 where he finished sixth. The only Mazda driver in the field, Shaw will be flying solo for the Japanese manufacturer among the seven marque army which will line up on the grid for the weekend.

Sporting signage from LinkMe.com.au -- a new online employment venture between Morgan & Banks Investments and Sensis -- Geoff Morgan will make his Donut King Australian Performance Car Championship debut at his home circuit aboard a BMW M3 recently purchased by Peter Boylan.

Away from his business activities, Morgan is a multiple time Australian Porsche Cup Champion, Nations Cup front runner, and competitor in a range of long distance endurance races at home and abroad, including a class win in the 2003 Bathurst 24hr in a similar BMW M3 shared with Boylan, Peter Hansen and Rick Bates. Morgan is relishing the prospect of getting behind the wheel of the car during the weekend.

"They are a lovely car to drive, the M3," he said. "They do everything you want them to do; they behave well, and I really enjoy driving them. I like the Oran Park circuit, it's a challenging circuit, particularly in the long form and I think it will give the BMW a chance to stretch its legs and show its agility.

"It's not my car, so my first goal is to bring it back in one piece with no scratches on it. Obviously I want to be competitive, and certainly be competitive first of all with my teammate Peter [Boylan], he is the first guy you've got to look at on the track, and then compare yourself to the other cars in the class. It should be a good fun weekend."

The man they are all trying to catch in the championship with four of seven rounds completed is Peter Floyd (BP Ultimate HSV GTS). The Victorian has 274 points to his name, ahead of Holt on 245, with Queenslander Mark King (Delphi Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII) just a further point in arrears.

The action kicks off next Friday, August 12, with practice and qualifying. Three races will be contested across Saturday and Sunday.

-apr-

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Series CAMS
Drivers Rick Bates , Peter Floyd , Peter Boylan , Geoff Morgan , Peter Hansen , Ric Shaw , Mark King , Anton Mechtler , Garry Holt , Mark Cohen , Chris Alajajian , Barrie Nesbitt , Barry Morcom