GT3 CUP CHALLENGE COMPETITORS GET PRE-SANDOWN 'ENDURANCE' TESTING
LEADING PORSCHE GT3 Cup Challenge Australia teams and drivers have used a one-hour sportscar race in Sydney to prepare for a change in format to the final round of the 2009 season to be held at Sandown later this month.
Several series regulars raced at Oran Park's final state-level race meeting in New South Wales last weekend, the event featuring a one-hour Production sports car race that served as an ideal warm up for Sandown's finale'.
The final round of an exciting 2009 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge season will feature two shorter races followed by a longer, 20-lap finale' at the 3.0km Sandown layout, when the series visits with the Shannons Nationals between November 28 - 29.
Six GT3 Cup Challenge drivers were entered amongst the 30-plus field, with four of the top ten finishing positions of the CUE 1-hour being filled by series' regulars at the end of the race.
Shane Smollen, who has starred on his Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge debut this season, won the race whilst South Australian Mark Krashos missed out on a podium by just a few seconds but secured a strong fourth position. Paul Bolinowsky, who had Top Gear Australia co-host Steve Pizzati as co-driver, was sixth.
Indiran Padayachee, another to make his debut this year, finished ninth.
An 'all-star' combination of Action Tyres driver Matt Kinglsey and McDonald's backed Terry Knight - currently placed first and fourth in the series standings, respectively, - showed plenty of pace but an opening-lap scuffle saw them slip to the back of the field early in the running, though they were able to recover to 16th position by the flag.
Kingsley will aim to wrap up the series crown at Sandown whilst Knight attempts to chase down Melbournian Jeff Bobik for third overall.
All six drivers have confirmed they will race at Sandown later this month, joining an expanded field that includes two brand-new competitors in the form of Melbourne-based 997 GT3 Cup Car owners Aaron Silluzio and Mark Seamons.
"It (Oran Park) was a chance to have plenty of seat time on a challenging circuit prior to our last round at Sandown," Terry Knight said.
"It was great to get feedback from Matt (Kingsley) as to how my car drove and on setup. He reckons my car has more torque out of the corners so given the Porsche Centre Gold Coast team has just rebuilt his engine for Sandown, he can expect to compete well with the Victorians and cement his Series win!
"I actually ended up setting a quicker lap than Matt during the race, so that's a claim to fame I'll be holding on to for a long time to come!
"We had a great weekend, running with a big grid with fellow GT3 Cup Challenge competitors. It was a good warm up for the big race at Sandown."
The 2009 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia Series will go down to the wire at Sandown, though it will require a mighty effort from Sven Burchartz to topple longtime series leader Kingsley.
Sven is 68 points behind his rival though with 90 points on offer there remains an opportunity for the 'Princess' to take the crown.
The final round of the series will feature three races, two 10-lap sprints and a 20-lap finale' to conclude the season.
Run with round nine of the Shannons Nationals, the event will also feature a 40-minute Porsche Club Regularity to be held on Sunday morning. This will be the second running of such an event after a hugely successful Regularity was contested at Phillip Island earlier this year attracting over 30 entrants.