ATCC: Mallala report

MALLALA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA SUNDAY JUNE 2 -- With still one round to go 21 year old Craig Lowndes has wrapped up the 1996 Shell Australian Touring Car Championship at Mallala Raceway. Defending champion and current second place runner Tasmanian...

MALLALA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA SUNDAY JUNE 2 -- With still one round to go 21 year old Craig Lowndes has wrapped up the 1996 Shell Australian Touring Car Championship at Mallala Raceway.

Defending champion and current second place runner Tasmanian John Bowe out qualified the Holden factory driver for pole but in Heat one it was the Kid who yet again made a lightning start to lead Bowe into the first turn. Wayne Gardner, and Glen Seton went off courtesy of Dick Johnson leaving Mark Skaife in third. Alan Jones' young team mate Paul Romano had big coming together with Mark Larkham and local privateer Lester Smerdon putting all three out. Larry Perkins, Russell Ingall, and Peter Brock fought it out for fourth and fifth while Lap 11 saw Tasmanian based privateer Greg Crick spin without any major damage and Falcon driver Steven Ellery retire with apparent engine woes. Lowndes had a comfortable win from Bowe who just held off Mark Skaife for second.

It was Lowndes again leaping to the front in Heat 2 from Bowe and a fast starting Peter Brock from Skaife and Russell Ingall. Speedway sprintcar and NASCAR driver Max Dumsney spun his Falcon as Bowe decided to find out how wide you could make a Falcon . He discovered - much to the chagrin of Brock and the rest off the field - that with great diligence and skill that you can make them very wide indeed. Skaife pulled a late out braking manoeuvre on Ingall taking both off track and letting Alan Jones through to fourth. But up front it was all Lowndes as he moved ever closer to sowing up the title from Bowe, a frustrated Brock and Jones, Larry Perkins and Wayne Gardner who moved up through the field for a fine sixth. For the final heat the script went out the window. First it was Bowe who got the start from Lowndes only to have Peter Brock spin and take Larry Perkins, Glen Seton,Tony Longhurst and Mark Skaife off with him causing the clerk of course former F1 driver Tim Schenken to call for the red flag.

At the restart Bowe got the start again from Lowndes and Jones with the 5 cars involved in the Brock incident all unable to start.

Wayne Gardner held off Russell Ingall and privateer Steve Richards as the field cued up behind Bowe. Then all hell broke loose as Jones pulled a desperate on Lowndes hitting him and sending him into Bowe. Lowndes and Jones kept going but for Bowe his hopes of a race win and a chance at the title were now axel deep in sand. The incident left a surprised Gardner in front from an even more surprised Richards. Jones hung on for third from Dick Johnson and Lowndes whose sixth place was enough to give him the round and the title. Overall Jones finished second from Bowe with Richards the leading privateer. The field now moves to Oran Park for the Grand Final with only the battle for second between Bowe and Seton still up in the air.

HEAT ONE

DRIVER TEAM CAR TYRE

CRAIG LOWNDES MOBIL/HOLDEN RACING TEAM HOLDEN COMMODORE BS JOHN BOWE SHELL/FAI/DICK JOHNSON RACING FORD FALCON D MARK SKAIFE GIBSON MOTORSPORT HOLDEN COMMODORE Y LARRY PERKINS TEAM CASTROL HOLDEN COMMODORE D RUSSELL INGALL TEAM CASTROL HOLDEN COMMODORE D PETER BROCK MOBIL/HOLDEN RACING TEAM HOLDEN COMMODORE BS HEAT TWO DRIVER TEAM CAR TYRE

CRAIG LOWNDES MOBIL/HOLDEN RACING TEAM HOLDEN COMMODORE BS JOHN BOWE SHELL/FAI/DICK JOHNSON RACING FORD FALCON D PETER BROCK MOBIL/HOLDEN RACING TEAM HOLDEN COMMODORE BS ALAN JONES PACK LEADER RACING FORD FALCON BS LARRY PERKINS TEAM CASTROL HOLDEN COMMODORE D WAYNE GARDNER COCA COLA/WAYNE GARDNER RACING HOLDEN COMMODORE D HEAT THREE DRIVER TEAM CAR TYRE

WAYNE GARDNER COCA COLA/WAYNE GARDNER RACING HOLDEN COMMODORE D STEVEN RICHARDS VALVOLINE/CUMMINS HOLDEN COMMODORE BS ALAN JONES PACK LEADER RACING FORD FALCON BS DICK JOHNSON SHELL/FAI/DICK JOHNSON RACING FORD FALCON D CRAIG LOWNDES MOBIL/HOLDEN RACING TEAM HOLDEN COMMODORE BS RUSSELL INGALL TEAM CASTROL HOLDEN COMMODORE D

OVERALL CRAIG LOWNDES ALAN JONES JOHN BOWE

POINTS AFTER ROUND 9 CRAIG LOWNDES 391 * CANNOT BE BEATEN JOHN BOWE 314 GLEN SETON 264 PETER BROCK 226 LARRY PERKINS 178 NEXT ROUND ORAN PARK NSW JUNE 16

-- Brett Ramsey

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Series General
Drivers Alan Jones , Steven Ellery , Wayne Gardner , Russell Ingall , Mark Skaife , Mark Larkham , Craig Lowndes , John Bowe , Tony Longhurst , Larry Perkins , Peter Brock , Greg Crick , Dick Johnson , Steve Richards , Tim Schenken