APCC: Clipsal round one preview

Ten different makes and 15 different models will battle each other in a true test of showroom mettle when the Australian Production Car Championship (APCC) returns to Adelaide for its season opener on 18-21 March. Made up of popular roadgoing ...

Ten different makes and 15 different models will battle each other in a true test of showroom mettle when the Australian Production Car Championship (APCC) returns to Adelaide for its season opener on 18-21 March.

Made up of popular roadgoing sedans, hatchbacks and sports coupes, the seven-round APCC attracts entrants and fans for its David and Goliath-like contest between cars as diverse as the "micro" 0.66-litre Daihatsu Copen and the "monster" 5.7-litre Holden V8 Commodores.

Defending outright and Class A champion Scott Loadsman, from Sydney, will return to the series with a Holden Commodore VY SS, while at the other end of the speed spectrum, in Class D, well-known rally and track ace Rick Bates will be out to prove his factory-backed turbocharged Copen is a tiny terror.

The Production field is one of the strongest in years, reflecting its growing popularity with manufacturers and private entrants as a performance showcase for popular cars.

Big and small cars have equal chance of success due to a system of start handicapping based on class qualifying times.

With the slowest of the four classes starting first, Class D champion David Russell hopes his factory-entered Proton Satira GTi can again hold off the fast-finishing V8s for an outright win, as he did last year in Adelaide.

Even if the V8s ultimately emerge on top around the 3.22km Adelaide Parklands street circuit, the handicappers ensure the race to the flag is never less than exciting.

Loadsman expects to work hard to defend his title against a bigger squad of Ford Falcon XR8s and XR6 Turbos in Class A.

And although traditionally a big-car contest, Class A will be joined this year by two interesting contenders, the all-wheel-drive Subaru Liberty GT of Sydney teenager Chris Alajajian and the Alfa Romeo 156GTA of series newcomer David Caparo.

Class B champion Steve Grocl will return in his ex-works Volkswagen Beetle RSi, but he'll have a challenge on his hands against the two Bathurst 24-Hour class-winning Toyota Celicas of Osborne Motorsport and Sydney driving instructor Ian Luff in Honda Integra.

And Toyota is returning to circuit racing for the first time since the early nineties, entering a Corolla Sportivo for one of Australia's best female drivers, Leanne Ferrier.

The Toyota Camry has a chance in Class C to prove it's more than a family car, with driver AJ Lewis behind the wheel in a contest with Lynne Champion, in a Ford Falcon AUII XR6.

Much of the action came from Class D last year, with David Russell's father Geoff rolling the second works Proton and Rick Bates regularly two-wheeling his Daihatsu Sirion around corners.

Bates acknowledges the move to the Copen with barely half the Sirion's engine capacity is a challenge, but he's confident the little coupe's cornering ability will keep it well in the fray against the Protons, a Ford Focus and, later this year, a Mini Cooper.

The Australian Production Car Championship will retain its competition format of two races with a handicapped start.

The outright fastest qualifier will earn three championship points, but the handicap procedure means that the cars start in reverse class order, with the fastest qualifier on pole in each class.

All Production Cars will continue to race on Dunlop D01J control tyres and this season will use BP Ultimate fuel.

Adelaide also will kick off a new television deal which will see all seven rounds of the Australian Production Car Championship aired on the long-running SBS motorsport programme Speedweek, as well as on Fox Sports.

-www.procar.com.au

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Rick Bates , Scott Loadsman , Ian Luff , Chris Alajajian , David Russell