HOME TOWN SUPPORT TO LIFT OPTIMA AT MALLALA

South Australian driver David Clark will be hoping that home town support will lift him and his newly formed Optima Sport team to the podium in round five of the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series at Mallala Motorsport Park next weekend.

Clark is one of only three South Aussies competing in a V8 Supercar this year. In his and the team's rookie year, the 28-year-old has been nothing short of impressive by qualifying tenth on debut at the Clipsal 500 before recording a season high third fastest qualifying time at Queensland Raceway in July.

The former four-time Australian karting champion became the only South Australian driver to claim a race victory in the category so far in 2006 when he crossed the line first at Sydney's Oran Park Raceway last month.

Clark, who raced in the British Formula Three Championship in 2001, spent three years away from the sport prior to the start of this year. In that time he matured significantly and believes he is ready to take full advantage of the opportunities he is now presented with.

"I always knew in myself that I had the talent to be amongst the best in Australia, and even competed at the world karting championships twice, but when I went to England things just didn't go right. I returned to Australia not knowing where to head so I stepped away from the sport," said Clark.

"When I first drove the Optima Sport Falcon in March it felt like it was meant to be, it was like a second chance which I was determined to grab with both hands.

"For me it's now more than just driving a racecar, it's about being an integral part of a team that I believe will build into something significant.

"Already this year we've shown we have the pace to match it with the front runners but have just been unlucky on a couple of occasions which has cost us dearly. With three rounds remaining in the championship our aim is to continually transfer our speed into results, hopefully that starts next weekend in front of my home crowd at Mallala."

Twelve months ago Optima Sport was nothing more than a 'dream' of team owner David Macdougall's to own a V8 Supercar team. In February his vision became a reality when he purchased the ex-Steve Ellery BA Falcon, associated equipment and transporter.

"I've been in the business of marketing for quite a few years and I've always looked at the V8 Supercar Series being a perfect tool to promote a product or brand," said Macdougall.

"The opportunity at the start of the year came together pretty sudden so I've spent the last six months planning for the future and looking at the marketing opportunities for the team while the guys have been making all the right moves to get the car in a position where it is competitive."

Despite only having two full-time staff, Optima Sport has made a lot of waves along pit lane and Macdougall is hoping these waves will continue to grow in size next weekend.

"We are one of the smallest teams in pit lane, but what we lack in numbers we certainly make up by dedicating ourselves to succeed in the sport," said Macdougall.

"Since we made our debut in Adelaide at the start of the year everyone in the team has improved out of sight. We are continually learning about the characteristics of the Optima Sport Falcon and David has improved and matured a lot as a driver over the course of the championship so far.

"We are aiming to be able to give the South Australian fans something to cheer about at Mallala next weekend by securing a good result against the bigger and more experienced teams."

Clark will take to the 2.2km Mallala circuit aboard his Optima Sport Falcon, located 55km north of Adelaide, next Saturday September 16 for practice and qualifying followed by three races on Sunday September 17.

-credit: Optima Sport