-- The Road to Bathurst -- -- Issue 4 -- -- Preview -- After a sudden burst of activity signalling the commencement of hostilities, we take a breather in Touring Car racing as the teams prepare themselves for one of two annual sideshows, and...
-- The Road to Bathurst -- -- Issue 4 --
-- Preview --
After a sudden burst of activity signalling the commencement of hostilities, we take a breather in Touring Car racing as the teams prepare themselves for one of two annual sideshows, and for the first time this year SuperTouring will emerge from it's long winter.
The next event on the schedule is Albert Park Grand Prix support races, with both the V8Supercars and SuperTouring on the menu, the only time this year we will see them together. The V8Supercars, already two meetings into their National Championship have a bumber entry in the high 40's, however at least ten of those entries will not start. Albert Park's nominated track density is 30 cars.
Unlike the SATCC meetings where the V8Supercars are the headline, it is believed there will not be pre-qualifying at Albert Park, and that lesser cars will simply have their entries rejected.
For the SuperTourers, their National Championship will still be a month away from starting when Albert Park rolls around so they will struggle to fill their 17 grid positions (again they will share the grid with Class A and B GT-Production Cars), and while 17 entries are believed to have been lodged, quite a few of those cars are believed to not turn up.
Bob Tweedie two Vauxhall Cavaliers are enterred but without any drivers, Tweedie himself has retired and the cars have been on the market for some time. The ex-Garry Rogers Nissan Primera is also enterred but it is the car will soon be sold overseas, witha similar fate believed to be waiting the ex-Cameron McLean Holden (Opel) Vectra. Tony Newman has been unable to purchase the two ex-BTCC Peugoet 406's. Just about the only guaranteed entries are the Audi A4's of Brad Jones and Cameron McConville (and Orix's sponsorship has still to be formally confirmed), the Volvo S40 of Jim Richards, and privateer entries of Cameron McLean (BMW 320i), Paul Nelson (BMW 318i). Peter Hills will probably start at least one of his Mondeo's with Jenni Thompson to suit up if both start and Milton Leslight's ageing Toyota Carina is likely to start. David Auger is also likely to start his Alfa Romeo 155. The ex-Warren Luff Honda Accord is enterred but the car's status is uncertain. Also a question mark hangs over Paul Pickett's Hyundai based operation. Last year Pickett had grand plans of racing a new Hyundai Sonata.
-- News --
HRT have announced their third Holden Young Lions driver. Tasmanian Owen Kally will join Todd Kelly (unrelated) and full time driver Steve Ellery. Owen Kelly is the son of Tasmanian motorsport identity Chas (who has the distinction of having crashed a Ferrari F40 on the Targa Tasmania) and has a season of Porsche Cup (1996) and many years of Kart racing behind him. Owen Kelly will test regularly with HRT but will not drive with Todd Kelly and Steve Ellery in the Gibson run Young Lions Commodore at Sandown & Bathurst.
Volvo's new S40 SuperTourer has landed in Australia and has spent the best part of the last two weeks on display at the Brisbane Motor Show. The S40 represents a significant upgrade for Volvo. If Richards is unable to win races in this years BMW-less championship it is highly likely the Volvo will pull the plug on their Australian program.
The Volvo team has been unable to test the car due to Lakeside's testing ban on V8Supercars having been extended to othe categories. The track has had problems after recent resurfacing was done in excessively hot conditions, and a rash of V8Supercars on the track caused the new patches to break up. It did not prevent a club level meeting from going ahead yesterday. Of note to Touring Car fans was the appearance of Charles Ryman and his ex-Allan McCarthy, Claude Girogi, Glenn Seton Falcon. Ryman was third placed in both Sports Sedans behind Brent Wentworth's invited Porsche Cup 930S and Danny Meneguzzo's BMW M3 U2 Sports Sedan.
Tony Lonhurst's provisional Bathurst line-up has been incidentally announced by the Ford Generation XR program. While details are still to be confirmed, it is expected that Longhurst and Jones will team up in the teams new car while the existing car will be driven by the 1998 Australian Formula Ford Champion (unless said driver is signed by another team of course) and by new Australian Iron Man champion Guy Andrews (depeandant on his forthcoming season in Commodore Cup).
Audi Sport have announced it's various teams, including Brad Jones Racing will run on Michelins this year.
No action has been taken against any drivers, by the stewards, from the many incidents at Sandown and Symmons Plains SATCC races, although John Bowe did rate a special mention for his coming together with Mark Skaife at Sandown.
The Australian Racing Drivers Club, still apparently desperately short of funds may be selling it's Mount Panorama buildings & facilities to Channel 7. What impact this will have on the running of the Primus 1000 Classic is yet to be determined, but Channel 7 is not likely to be less antagonistic towards AVESCO and co.
Motosport News's Australian Motor Sport Awards saw many touring car drivers feature, with Peter Brock winning Motorsport Personality of the Year, and Glenn Seton winning Circuit racer of the year. Volvo driver Jim Richards won the Superspeedway Racer of the Year for his NASCAR efforts. Rusell Ingall & Glenn Seton were noimated for Motorsportsman of the year (which was won by Mark Webber) Paul Morris, Russell Ingall and Larry Perkins were nominated for Circuit racer of the year, Rusell Ingall (?) and Neil Crompton (for his North American TCC efforts) were nominated for International Acheiver of the Year (again won by Webber) and Holden Young Lion Todd Kelly was nominated for young achiever of the year (won by James Courtney). 4 times Bathurst 1000 winners (3 times as co-driver) Bob Jane and Harry Firth were awarded life memberships of CAMS.
Of note at the Brisbane Motor Show, in addition to the Richards Volvo S40 (still in BTCC warpaint with Rickard Rydell written on the car) also on display were Brad Jones Racing's two seat Audi A4 SuperTourer (at the Audi stand) which is used for celebrity laps and the like. While the car is one of the original Brad Jones A4 chassis, the engine specs are kept up to date, it is in effect the teams third racecar. David Auger's Alfa 155 was on display promoting the Queensland Alfa Romeo Car Club. Tony Longhurst had his spare Falcon on display at the Autobarn stand along with Victor Bray's Top Doorslammer (again an old spare).
Other racing cars on display included Neal Bates superseded Toyota Celica GT-4 and Ed Ordynski's 1997 Evo IV Mitsubishi Lancer rally cars (each promoting Toyota and Mitsubishi). Also at the Toyota stand was a mock up of the Mark Adderton / Neal Bates Toyota Camry SuperTourer, based on the newer model Camry. Also were the GT-Production cars of Peter Fitzgerald (Porsche 911RSCS), John Cowley (Holden Commodore GTS-R) and Dennis Cribbin (Ford Falcon XR6)
-- Profile -- -- Steven Ellery -- Born August 22, 1974 in Melbourne.
Steven Ellery started his career in Formula Ford racing Rusell Ingall's championship winning Van Diemen RF90 and his first meeting was the Sandown round of the 1991 Formula Ford Driver To Europe Series. Ellery qualified 25th and finished 18th, then finished 14th at the Winton Round.
In 1992 with the assistance of his father contracting company Ellery updated to a new RF92 Van Diemen for a first attack on the 1992 Formula Ford Driver to Europe Series. Ellery was 6th at Amaroo Park, 12th at Symmons Plains, 12th at Winton, 14th at Mallala, 12th at Wanneroo with no finishes at Lakeside, Oran Park and Eastern Creek. Ellery scored 6 point and was classified 15th in the title.
In 1993 Ellery formed a partnership with Mike Quinn's Phoenix Motorpsort operation and joined Con Toparis in a Clelgrave Contracting/Eastern Creek backed team of new RF93 Van Diemens to attack to first Australian Formula Ford Championship. Ellery collected 2 wins at Eastern Creek, 3rd's at Winton & Oran Park, 4th's at Amaroo & Winton, a 6th at Lakeside, a 7th at Oran Park, a 8th at Mallala, 10th's at Phillip Island and Lakeside giving Ellery 104 points, 3 more than his better credentialled team mate and enough for 6th in the title.
Phoenix Motorsport made the move to Touring Cars at the end of the season, purchasing an ex-Glenn Seton Ford Sierra, removed the turbo and ran it as a Two Litre Touring Car. Ellery and Gary Gosatti promptly won their first race in the car at the Sandown 500, being the only Two Litre car to finish.
At Bathurst the car failed to finish.
The Sierra then went into the 1994 season to contest the Valvoline Australian Manufacturers Championship. Ellery was competitive against the cars contesting third place in the championship (no-one was going to touch the two factory backed BMW's of Tony Longhurst and Paul Morris) racing against Phil Ward's Mercedes, John Blanchard, Mark Adderton & Peter Doulman in BMW's, and the Toyota Carina shared by James Kaye and Greg Murphy. Ellery would finish 4th in the series on 100 points behind Longhurst, Morris and Blanchard.
The season highpoint was a pair of third's at Winton.
The problem with the Sierra was the engine, in non-Turbo form it was heavy and over-engineered.
Ellery and Phil Ward combined at Bathurst, Ward's Commodore scored privateers Pole Position in its first meeting, but the car did not last the day. Ellery and Phonix parted ways and Ellery bought the Championship winning BMW 318i from Tony Longhurst.
For the 1995 Australian SuperTouring Car Championship Ellery had his sight set on the privateers cup. The BMW was much faster than the Sierra, and Ellery was fighting with Tony Scott's factory Volvo and Jeff Allam in the semi-factory Ford Mondeo, and with top privateers Steven Richards (Alfa Romeo), Graham Moore (Opel Vectra), and the Peugeot 405's of Mark Adderton and Geoff Full. Ellery would finish 6th in that series with 79points, his best finishes, third's at Symmons Plains and Mallala.
Ellery sat out Bathurst in 1995, and in 1996 purchased Tony Longhurst's Ford Falcon and enterred an agreement with Longhurst. If Ellery won the privateers cup he'd co-drive Bathurst with Longhurst. Longhurst helped prepare the Falcon at each meeting but after a disasterous Lakeside round Ellery fell far enough down the point to finishe 2nd in the championship. Ellery scored 28 points in the series proper to be 15th in the 1996 Shell Australian Touring Car Championship.
Longhurst gave Ellery the drive at Bathurst anyway.
Ellery drove an inspired double stint in the middle of the race. Ellery and Longhurst finished 3rd outright. Ellery's drive at last signalling his arrival.
1997 saw a bitter split errupt between Longhurst and Ellery just before Symmons Plains and Ellery was not seen again until Bathurst where he was drafted by Fred Gibson into the Wynn's backed Darren Hossack Commodore. Hossack and Ellery circulated all day and came home with 6th place. In 1998 with substantial backing from Konica, Steve Ellery will race the Holden Young Lions Commodore at all rounds in the Fred Gibson prepared car. But like his GMS team mates Hossack and Darren Pate has struggled a lot.
-- Errata --
As I started to point out in #3 the point scores form ATCC Round 1 mentioned in #2 were based on last year's pointscore system. The new pointscore system seemed to take everyone by surprise with even Motorsport News and Auto Action announcing the new system, after the fact. Also thank you to Scott Davis for poiting out I'd left Mark Poole #38 of my list of Touring Car drivers from #3. He also points out that I'd left out Wayne Gardner, but his numbers of course are still unknown as old numbers of #4 and #7 have been taken by other drivers.
Apologies also to those who have gone looking for the Symmons Plains photos, they are as yet not posted, but should be posted tonight or tomorrow night.
The Road to Bathurst's sources include but are not limited to the major regular motorsport publications, Motorsport News and Auto Action.
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