UTE: Clipsal round one preview

A Squad of young and ambitious new drivers will set out to prove themselves against the hardened regulars of the V8 BRutes Series when the 2004 season opens on the streets of Adelaide next weekend. With the top three drivers from last year's ...

A Squad of young and ambitious new drivers will set out to prove themselves against the hardened regulars of the V8 BRutes Series when the 2004 season opens on the streets of Adelaide next weekend.

With the top three drivers from last year's series, Warren Luff, Gary MacDonald and James Brock, all graduating to faster categories, the way is open for new contenders in one of Australia's toughest racing series.

Thirteen Holdens and 12 Fords will be on the grid at the Clipsal 500 event from Thursday for the first of eight rounds and rivalry between representatives of the two brands is expected to be fiercer than ever.

Ford Falcon XR8 stalwarts will include touring car legend Allan Grice, former Sydney Roosters rugby league star Jack Elsegood, the championship winning Coopers Pale Ale team and the RENTCO-sponsored Leaver brothers, Roy and Paul.

Dick Johnson Racing's junior development driver Ryal Harris is a newcomer to the blue oval brigade in a privately-entered Falcon, while Marcus Zukanovic is making the step up from Commodore Cup and Adam Bressington switches from Formula 3 to the Quirk's Refrigeration team ute.

There will be an equally strong line-up in Holden SS utes, with 2002-runner up Damien White switching brands and joining the new Team Brock, plus Dave "Schmacko" Griffin, Matthew O'Grady and Adelaide aces Charlie "Handlebars" Kovacs, Gary Baxter and Chris Smerdon, Matthew O'Grady and Charlie Kovacs all returning for another season.

Holden new recruits include 22-year old Brisbane driver Danielle Argiro, for the Kanga Loaders team, and Martin Miller in the V8 BRute Gary MacDonald raced for Kanga last year.

With memories still fresh of big accidents at the past two Adelaide rounds, drivers start the season with a range of vehicle enhancements that should make their laps around the concrete-lined Adelaide Parklands circuit even faster.

The 5.7-litre Holden SS utes and 5.0-litre Ford Falcon XR8 utes are given limited, specified modifications to equalise performance and improve reliability and safety, but otherwise remain close to standard production examples and can still be driven on the road.

This year they have a revised package from Disc Brakes Australia, featuring competition-type two-piece front rotors and more powerful rear brakes designed to improve braking reliability over race distances.

New "control" alloy wheels from CSA Wheels and exhaust systems fitted with eco-friendly catalytic converters complete the upgrades.

All V8 BRutes will continue to race on Dunlop SP Supersport control tyres and this season will be fuelled exclusively with BP Ultimate.

Poolrite V8 BRutes Series rounds will retain their familiar three-leg format, including a reverse grid second race.

The fastest qualifier will earn three points under the championship scoring system, but pole position for the first race still will be determined by ballot draws among drivers in the faster and slower halves of the field.

A revised scoring system will pay points for the first 21 finishers in each race.

Adelaide also will kick off a new broadcast deal which will see all V8 BRutes Series rounds covered on national Nine Network television.

-procar.au-

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