Melbourne based Kiwi Simon Wills should have this year's Holden Australian Drivers' Championship safely in his keeping by the end of the first race at this weekend's Mallala Formula Holden Grand Final. Wills, the man with the all-time record...
Melbourne based Kiwi Simon Wills should have this year's Holden Australian Drivers' Championship safely in his keeping by the end of the first race at this weekend's Mallala Formula Holden Grand Final. Wills, the man with the all-time record number of Gold Star championship race wins, dominated the recent penultimate round at Sydney's Oran Park and now holds a healthy 30 point lead over WA driver, and also Melbourne based, Christian Murchison. Murchison can still mathematically win the title, however, he would need to score a pair of victories and hope Wills strikes trouble in at least one of the races.
Behind the two leading lights, there are a host of others hoping to secure their maiden win, but first they will have to contend with the might of Wills and his dominant Birrana team. Not only is Mallala the reigning champion's testing venue, but this weekend they will be adding a third car to their armour - with Brenton Ramsay set to line-up for his second outing of the year. After a horror run at the Clipsal 500 earlier in April, Ramsay (second to Wills in last year's Tasman Cup) will be out to show he can mix it with this year's batch of talented hot shoes. It won't be plain sailing though, he will have to get over the likes of Tim Leahey, Paul Dumbrell, Steve Owen, Matthew Halliday, Chris Staff (Canberra winner back after a two race absence) and Dale Brede, not to mention the other Birrana entry of New Zealand Formula Ford champion LeRoy Stevenson.
Hosting the last round of what has clearly been the best Formula Holden season on record, South Australia's Mallala circuit will provide a new challenge for many competitors as with the exception of Wills (scored his first FH win there in '98) and Ramsay, none of the top ten runners have ever raced a Formula Holden at the venue. This could play into the hands of debutant WA driver Stewart Kostera, who is making his Formula Holden debut at the wheel of the ex-Andy Booth, Hocking Motorsport Reynard 98D. Kostera, yet another FF race winning graduate making the jump from Formula Ford (19 drivers in 4 years), will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of the other Hocking machine driven by former FF sparring partner Steve Owen. Owen was brilliant at Winton in Round Six and the Mallala circuit will suit the characteristics of the most up to date chassis' in the field.
There's also a couple of another championships at stake, with the battle for Silver Star honours and the Paul Collins Memorial Trophy going down to the wire between Victoria's Peter Hill and South Australia's Ian Peters. The battle for supremacy in this race within a race is no less intense than that of their Gold Star counterparts, with Hill and Peters both testing extensively at Mallala last week in an attempt to gain an advantage. Hill can also win the mechanics award for the best presented and most reliable car, but he will need to claw back the slim points margin currently being held by the immaculate Dumbrell / Kmart Racing combination. The official Formula Holden prize-giving ceremony will be held at Mallala on Sunday night, giving competitors the opportunity to enjoy a night of festivities and relaxation, so the worthy winners (and losers) may well be nursing a sore head come Monday morning!
A healthy nineteen-car field has entered for this weekend's championship decider, and with the lap record at every venue visited this year having taken a beating - there's no reason to expect anything less when Australia's fastest racing cars take to the track for the final round of the 2000 Holden Australian Drivers' Championship.