CALDER PARK. MELBOURNE AUSTRALIA...It's a long way from the hot and dusty Gypsum mines of Hopetown in Central Victoria to the cold wind swept plains of Melbourne's Calder Park, but the journey will be worth it come Sunday if local Sports Sedan star Stephen Vines can pull off a first round win in the Victorian Motor Racing Championships.
Vines is concentrating on the local championship this year choosing not to run in the National series." We just don't have the budget to do both properly so we're throwing everything into the VMRC" he said. Vines is hoping a good result in the series will help his long term ambition to represent Australia in the prestigious US based Trans-Am series in 2003.
It's been five long months since Vines last drove his Gypsum Australia V8 Cortina in competition and the young Melbourne driver is thrilled to be back behind the wheel. "We went well. Its the first time the car has been out since December so it was just a matter of getting used to the car again and tuning it in for the weekend" said Stephen after todays first practice session for the weekends three big races. Unfortunately a puncture robbed the team of valuable track time but Stephen is still confidant of his chances this weekend. "The cars right on the pace and we're really happy with the way things are going" he said.
The car will run with the new 5.6 litre Ford that debuted at Sandown last December, and Stephen will need every one of those 600 horses to beat home one of the biggest Sports Sedan fields in the Championship's history.
Chris Muscat will be the man to beat in his awsome triple rotor 20B powered RX7, as well as Vines' old 2 litre sparring partner Luke McPherson in another lightweight RX7. Apart from Stephen, the V8 challenge will be led by Dean Camm in his mid engined Chev powered Honda Prelude and defending champion Michael Robinson in the VS Commodore.
According to Vines, Calder is real V8 territory. "It's basically two drag strips connected by a couple of squiggles" he said. "It's not my favorite circuit but it does suit the car."
Qualifying for the race will be on Saturday morning with the first of the three races , a six lap sprint on Saturday afternoon. The second race and the pointscore final take place Sunday and admission to the event is free.