Championship; Thursday, December 2
BOC GASES AUSTRALIAN SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP INDEPENDENTS CUP UPDATE
DECEMBER 2: The following is an off-season update on Independents Cup teams preparing for the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship in 2000-2001. The eight-round championship is scheduled to begin at Oran Park in Sydney on May 28, and continue until February, 2001. All rounds will be televised by the Seven Network - a total of 16 hours coverage.
PETER HILLS, this year's Independents Cup champion, has confirmed he will continue with a two-car Ford Mondeo team in the 2000-2001 BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship, as in the past two years. The cars will again be prepared by Mick Quinn. Hills said he would drive one of the cars, but he is still evaluating candidates for the second Mondeo. He said his team's long-term plans included campaigning a Mondeo complying with the British Touring Car Championship 2001 regulations, and possibly a Super Production car, which are eligible for the Australian series next year.
New Zealander TONY NEWMAN, who made his championship debut in 1997, intends to expand to a two-car team of Peugeot 406 vehicles in the 2000-2001 series. The 43-year-old Sydney-based businessman has raced a 1997-specification ex-works Peugeot 406 in the championship since 1998. He has purchased an identical 406, and is confident both cars will be in the championship next year, prepared by his TC Motorsport team in Sydney. Canberra's MARK ZONNEVELD is being touted as a possible driver of the second Peugeot 406. Zonneveld drove a Ford Mondeo in selected rounds of the 1998 championship, and leased one of Newman's former Fastway Couriers Peugeot 405 cars for the final stage of this year's series. Newman said his preparation for the 2000-2001 championship would include driving one of his Peugeot 406 cars in the New Zealand endurance series in March and April next year. The endurance series comprises three rounds, each with a three-hour race in Christchurch, Timaru, and Invercargill.
NSW's AARON McGILL and Victorian MICHAEL DOWNARD are also making plans to campaign two-car teams in the 2000-2001 championship. McGill, who raced a Ford Mondeo in 1999, will soon meet with principal sponsor Trinovin and will finalise his options after that. Downard confirmed he was a definite starter next year in the Playboy BMW 318 he drove in 1999. He also plans to campaign another BMW 318 for New Zealander MARK PORTER. The pair were team-mates in the 1999 Bob Jane T-Marts Bathurst 500 and finished fourth. Downard is travelling to New Zealand later this week for further negotiations with Porter, who is racing in the TraNZam series.
The Roadchill Express BMW 318 raced by Newcastle brothers LUKE SEARLE and TROY SEARLE the past two years is almost certain to contest the 2000-2001 championship. Team manager DAVID SEARLE said he would be meeting with principal sponsors SAE College later this month to discuss future plans. The team is also considering the possibilities of a Super Production BMW.
Queenslander DAVID AUGER will have a new engine sourced from Germany in his Gun Racing Alfa Romeo in next year's championship. He said the engine would allow the team to maximise performance from the 1997-specification aerodynamic kit fitted to the Alfa Romeo this year. Auger said he was also planning to make various suspension improvements to the car in the off-season.
Project Racing manager NIGEL BARCLAY said it was likely Sydney driver JIM CORNISH would race the team's existing Honda Accord, fitted with updated components, in next year's championship. The car was raced by Briton JAMIE WALL and ANTHONY ROBSON in 1999. Barclay said previous plans to import an Accord from Italy were now doubtful. He said the team was negotiating with prospective buyers to sell the Nissan Primera which Cornish drove in 1999. The Nissan was previously raced by STEVEN RICHARDS in 1997 and ADAM KAPLAN the following year.
English driver MIKE NEWTON, who competed at Bathurst in October, has bought the two ex-British Touring Car Championship Vauxhall Cavaliers raced by NSW's BOB TWEEDIE in the championship in 1997-98. The car Newton drove at Bathurst was raced by GRAHAM MOORE when he won the Independents Cup in 1995.
Sydney's MILTON LESLIGHT and his All Auto Parts team are investigating options to race a Super Production car in the 2000-2001 championship. Leslight has driven a Toyota Carina in the championship the past two years. He said his research had indicated a Peugeot 306 or a Honda Integra could be possible choices for a move to the Super Production class in next year's championship. Leslight said he may also maintain a Super Touring program with his team.