ASTC: Dean Canto To race Ford Mondeo Super Tourer

Hills hires 'Young Gun' for two-car attack on BOC Gases championship TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16: Sydney teenager Dean Canto is poised to establish himself as the outstanding rookie driver of the 1999 BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship...

Hills hires 'Young Gun' for two-car attack on BOC Gases championship

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 16: Sydney teenager Dean Canto is poised to establish himself as the outstanding rookie driver of the 1999 BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship after winning a fulltime position in the rapidly improving Knight Racing Ford Mondeo team.

The 18-year-old panelbeater is determined to become the next emerging driver to make an impact in Australian Super Touring, following Greg Murphy, Steven Richards, and Cameron McConville, who all won championship races, and Cameron McLean.

Canto rocketed into the limelight in his first year of motor racing in 1998 by winning the Sandown One-Hour GT Production endurance event in a Maserati, and he also finished second in Class B in the Australian GT Production Championship in a Subaru Impreza.

He will make his Super Touring debut this year in a two-car Ford team with Peter Hills, who drove a front-drive Mondeo to sixth outright and third in the Independents Cup in the 1998 championship, and then finished sixth in the Bathurst 1000 in an international field which included works Volvos, Audis, Vectras, and a Nissan.

"This is a good opportunity for me and I'm keen to do the best possible job," said Canto. "Peter (Hills) and his Mondeo team are coming off a very successful year so I'm joining them at the right time. It won't be easy - I haven't raced a front-wheel-drive car before or tried a sequential gearbox. I'm hoping to get some testing before the first race to get familiar with the car."

Hills said recruiting Canto was a crucial element of his team's long-term plan to challenge the works teams in the championship. The 40-year-old Sydney engineer visited Great Britain earlier this year and he said the team's Andy Rouse-build Mondeos would feature updated aerodynamic and gearbox components in 1999.

"Dean (Canto) is a young driver with talent and speed, and he's what we need to take another step up the ladder," said Hills. "Last year we had several different drivers in the second car at various races, which was good, but there will be more continuity and stability with a permanent guy in the seat. Young drivers have a history of doing well in Super Touring and I think Dean can do the job for us."

Hills said the cars were being rebuilt and prepared by Mick Quinn, who previously managed Peugeot and Toyota teams in the championship. This year's championship comprises eight rounds in NSW (Oran Park, Eastern Creek), Queensland (Lakeside, Queensland Raceway Ipswich), Victoria (Calder Park, Winton), and South Australia (Mallala).

SUPER TOURING BRIEFS

Sydney Policeman JOHN HENDERSON says he aims to contest the entire championship in 1999 after restricted campaigns in the previous two years. Henderson has upgraded to the South African-sourced Opel Vectra in which Cameron McLean won the 1997 Independents Cup. In 1998 Henderson recorded his best championship result - fourth in race one of round two on Oran Park's short circuit in a Vectra.

PETER HILLS and Team Mondeo, and the Rotary Club of St George Central have organised a Motor Racing Day at Oran Park in Sydney on March 1 to raise funds for Camp Quality and its support programmes for children with cancer and their families. Hills, a long-time supporter of Camp Quality, said several Super Touring drivers would take the children and corporate guests for 'hot laps' in their race cars. Other activities organised include four-wheel-drive exhibitions, touch football with Australian Rugby League players, six-a-side soccer, displays by the NSW Police and Fire Brigade, and a rock concert. Further enquires contact - Tel: (02) 9948-9131

Mike Porter <mikep@qldnet.com.au>

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Series General
Drivers Cameron McConville , Dean Canto , Cameron McLean , Andy Rouse , Peter Hill , Steven Richards