ASTC: Phillip Island preview

2ND SEPTEMBER 1996 - FROM SUPER TOURERS WEB SITE SUPER TOURERS CHAMPIONSHIP A RACE FOR REPAIRS The race for the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship has moved to the repair shop this week, with several leading teams rushing to fix ...

2ND SEPTEMBER 1996 - FROM SUPER TOURERS WEB SITE SUPER TOURERS CHAMPIONSHIP A RACE FOR REPAIRS

The race for the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship has moved to the repair shop this week, with several leading teams rushing to fix damaged cars in time for round six at Phillip Island, Victoria, on September 22.

After the season's most boisterous round at Winton two weekends ago, three cars required major body repairs, another an engine rebuild and several more the replacement panels, bumpers and lights. Despite the four-week gap to round six, repair schedules have spoiled several teams' plans for test sessions aimed at improving their competitiveness for Phillip Island.

Volvo's Peter Brock and privateer Vauxhall Cavalier driver Jim Richards had planned to test at the 4.5 km island curcuit, but instead, their cars are at the panelbeaters. Damage to Geoff Full's Peugeot 405, in the same second-race crash that took out Brock and Richards, has prevented his Foxtel team testing in New South Wales.

Round six is wide open after Winton, where the dominant ORIX Audi quattros of series leader Brad Jones and teammate Greg Murphy were soundly beaten on a circuit that should have favoured them most. Instead, Diet Coke BMW driver Geoff Brabham scored a pole position and race win. Valvoline Honda privateer Steven Richards had his first Super Touring victory and Jim Richards, his father, took the other pole position in only his second meeting with the British championship-winning Cavalier.

The Winton upset has provided unexpected encouragement to teams running front-drive and rear-drive cars, which already had expected that their weight advantage over the four-wheel drive Audis would make them more competitive on Philip Island's long fast sections. The only team now planning to test at Phillip Island is Audi, with a full-day session scheduled for thursday. BMW's session last week was cancelled because of rain.

"Things will be back to normal at Phillip Island," predicted Jones, winner of six out of 10 races so far this season, "Except that Steven Richards is obviously the one to beat, even more than the BMWs."

Richards Jr agrees he's a chance if the three-day lead-up to September 22 goes well. "We haven't been down there and tested, but if we can get the car on the money early I don;t see why we can't do well," he said. "From what I've heard, the Audis are going around there quite fast. It's going to be very competitive, although maybe over a race distance we'd be ahead of them." Brock's Volvo is now back at its Brisbane workshop, receiving an estimated $10,000 worth of doors, mudguards, bonnet, chassis rails and radiators. Fulls crash wrecked the last aluminium radiator in Australia for his Peugeot and Richards Sr has had to repair both ends of his Vauxhall.

While Brook Tatnells Sentul Motorsports team rebuilds the engine in his Holden Vectra, owner Graham Moore is working hard to find a sponsor to keep dual Australian sprintcar series champion in the BOC Gases series. Tatnell, 24, was impressive at Winton in only his second drive in the Vectra, forcing his way past Brock and the Foxtel Peugeots before his engine ran out of oil.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport has not yet set a date to hear an appeal from Greg Murphy, who was disqualified from the second race at Winton on a charge of putting privateer Cameron McLean's Greenfield Mowers BMW off the circuit. An official said it was hoped to hold the appeal hearing before Phillip Island. Jones leads the Drivers Championship with 124 points, with Diet Coke BMW's Paul Morris on 105 points taking over second place from Murphy, who is third on 90 points after failing to score at Winton and being pena lised five points.

In the Network Ten Privateers Cup, Steven Richards with 88 points leads McLean by one point.

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