P/GT: Phillip Island preview

RETURNING VIPER HEADLINES CLOSE GT, PORSCHE FIELD TO AGAIN GIVE PHILLIP ISLAND THE NEED FOR SPEED. Eastern Creek's recent round of the Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship and Porsche Driver's challenge had everything --...

RETURNING VIPER HEADLINES CLOSE GT, PORSCHE FIELD TO AGAIN GIVE PHILLIP ISLAND THE NEED FOR SPEED.

Eastern Creek's recent round of the Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship and Porsche Driver's challenge had everything -- dramatic passes, aggressive, competitive racing and seriously close finishes.

And despite Peter Hackett's Lamborghini managing to hold on and take all three races at the Sydney circuit, last month's third round signified that the challengers to Hackett's supremacy are beginning to bank up behind the Black Italian Supercar, three thrilling races at the Sydney circuit seeing rival after rival launch relentless attacks on the series leader.

That's why next weekend's fourth round of the championship -- the second time the series visits the 4.46km Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit this season -- is set to produce even better competition than that seen in Sydney, another expanded field of 25 cars entered to continue the rapid growth the series has shown since the championship's formation earlier this season.

Phillip Island take two will see the return of one highly anticipated driver and car combination to the ranks of Australian GT Racing, D'arcy Russell's thumping 8-litre V10 Chrysler Viper ACR ready and waiting for it's first hit out in months.

After loosing an engine on the Dyno in the lead up to the opening round, Russell has been forced to sit and wait for replacement parts to arrive from America before being able to complete the rebuild. Despite lengthy delays waiting for the correct parts to arrive, the Victorian driver said that he couldn't wait to get back out on the track.

"No one likes to be sitting on the sidelines when the racing has been as good as it was at Eastern Creek, but we've got it all back together now and will be ready and waiting to take to the track at Phillip Island.

"Unfortunately we were sent the wrong piston rings - the last bit we needed to complete the rebuild - from the 'states so we had to miss the last round waiting for replacements to arrive," he said. "It will be great to have the Viper out on track to add some more variety to the field, which is what this is all about. Hopefully we are competitive, as well!"

And whilst the battle at the front between season long rival's Bryce Washington (Adrad Radiators Porsche 911 GT3 Cup Car) and Peter Hackett (Team Lamborghini Australia Diablo GTR) is surely set to continue at the front of the field, potential challengers to the throne of "top GT car" are cuing up behind the two warring young guns.

Along with the return of Russell, round 2 winner Ian Palmer (Instant Foundations Brabham Honda NSX) head's to the island after yet another competitive performance at Eastern Creek behind the wheel of his turbocharged Honda NSX, whilst Queenslander John Teulan (Industry Central Ferrari 360 Challenge) will be hoping to put the electrical dramas that have plagued his Ferrari 360 challenge all season behind him for an outright attack in Victoria.

Series sponsor Garth Rainsbury will debut a brand new Speed Energy Drink / Aqua 1 water Ferrari 360 challenge for his first step into potentially outright honours, whilst Neil Bryson will be hoping to continue his learning curve in his similar Ferrari, meaning that four of the Italian thoroughbreds will be in the field.

The battle for Australian Porsche Driver's Challenge honours is set to be just as intense, sparkling performances by a number of contenders in Sydney warning current points leader Washington that he might want to watch his back from now on in.

Mark Eddy's Quarterback Clothing Porsche 911 GT3 RS continues to improve, Eddy now deciding to solely focus on the chase for Porsche Points after a strong run in Sydney that saw him race with the leaders in the final, thrilling, ten lapper.

John Kaias has been one of the revelations of the season, putting in determined and aggressive drives of late to muscle the ABCOR GT3 towards the pointy end of the field in New South Wales. It was a delighted Kaias who charged from the back of the field in the second of three races in Sydney to finish well inside the top ten, the driver looking to be even closer towards the front all weekend for what will be his home round.

The battle for the other classes involved in the Australian Porsche Driver's challenge is just as intense as the one right at the pointy end of the field.

Class A leader Simon Middleton will be set to continue his season long battle with the likes of Anthony Skinner and Malcolm Lynn at the top of the class charts, whilst Max Twigg will be hoping for more laps of the 4.6km Victorian track after crashing heavily in practice before the opening round of the series in May.

Meanwhile, series' newcomers Kevin Miller (Property Solutions Group Porsche GT3) and Sven Burchartz (Macpherson & Kelley Lawyers Porsche GT3) are set to enter the fray and shake up the front of the field. Burchartz has shown impressive testing form in the build up to the event and should have the pace to take the fight up to class pacesetter Middleton.

In Class B, Don Tryhorn holds a narrow series lead heading into Phillip Island, season long battles with Matt Humphries -- often no less intense than those for the lead -- raging quietly in the background all season long.

The Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship and Porsche Drivers Challenge will once again be contested over three flat out sprints on Saturday and Sunday -- August 20 & 21.

-p/gt-

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Series CAMS
Drivers John Teulan , Peter Hackett , Ian Palmer , Anthony Skinner , Sven Burchartz , John Kaias , Mark Eddy , Max Twigg , Simon Middleton , Phillip Island