At this present moment in time, CAMS and the promotors of Lakeside have a few problems on their hands. The track break up problems of earlier in the year have not abated in hot conditions. The track could be a safety problem to the V8Supercars, and their supports, for their upcoming meeting on March 29.
Lakeside has been closed for most of the last three months, much to the chagrin of the Queensland Ford teams. The worst affected section is the high speed descending right hander coming on the main straight. The karrussell is also affected. CAMS have not yet suspended Lakeside's track licence but are considering the matter. Lakeside's promotor David Harding is confident that there is no problem and the third round of the Australian Touring Car Championship will go ahead on schedule.
However the Australian Racing Driver's Club, who promote Eastern Creek and Amaroo Park, are taking interest if the round has to be moved. The ARDC are already 'on alert' as CAMS have still to issue Calder Park with a wet weather licence for its SATCC round later in the year, and the opening round of the SuperTouring Championship on April 5.
Lakeside's problems have not ended there however. There are 40 V8Supercar entries for the third round and Lakeside's offical Touring Car track density is 29 cars, although 32 can qualify. That still leaves 8 cars that won't get on the track in addition to the 3 that would not make it through qualifying.
With Lakeside only 2.4 kilometers in length a Albert park grid of 40 is impossible. Some proposals going about include a pre-qualifying race on Friday, and a late 1980's Formula 1 style pre-qualifying session (again Friday), probably limited to the level 3 teams. Although the level 2 cars are not thought to be totally exempt.
The unlucky 8 (or 11 cars) will then get an extra race on the Sunday program. This has the large number of Queensland based privateers in danger of missing their home round in front of their sponsors, this includes, John Briggs (Super Cheap Autos Falcon EL), Kevin Heffernan (Price Attack Commodore VS), Danny Osborne (Colourscan Falcon EL), Ian Palmer (Palmer Promotions Commodore VS), Charles Ryman (Falcon EL), Paul Weel (Tradelink Falcon EL) and the level 2 Commodore of Paul Romano. All bar two of the level 1 Fords are also based in Queensland (John Bowe, Jason Bright, Dick Johnson, Alan Jones, Mark Larkham & Tony Longhurst)
To add insult to injury, some of the V8 teams are claiming that Lakeside's newly built garages are too small for a 2 car V8 team.
John Faulkner is said to be looking at expanding to a three car operation. In addition to his own car, Faulkner is also preparing the Rod Nash car (which has still to make its debut) Dean Wanless was previously mentioned in connection with a JFR V8Supercar and that may yet go ahead. That makes JFR rather busy at the moment after the team recently started work on their new VT Commodore.
Steven Richards has recently tested a Ray Mallock Limited factory BTCC Nissan Primera. Richards was one of three drivers who tested the cars in place of usual drivers Anthony Reid and David Leslie. The BTCC Nissan team are currently planning to race the AMP Bathurst 1000 and Richards' test with the team probably indicates their preferred choice of Australian driver. Also tested were former BTCC racer Chris Goodwin and British Renault Spyder Champion Bryce Wilson.
Alfa Romeo will make selected appearances in the BTCC this season with their new 156 SuperTourer with drivers Nicolaa Larini and Fabrizio Giovanardi. It seems they may also swing down for the Bathurst 1000 which should help considerably with the relaunch of Alfa Romeo on the Australian market later this year. Greg Murphy has already spoken with the team about their Bathurst plans.
TEGA have decided against legalising traction control. They are also looking at banning a front brake system in use at HRT and also believed to be used by Dick Johnson Racing. The new system eases braking pressure on theinside front tyre while cornering. It is currently legal as the force comes from the centrifugal force of cornering.
Nigel Mansell may yet be seen in a West Surrey Racing Ford Mondeo towards the end of the BTCC season. Mansell's Touring Car debut came in 1993 when he wrote of one of Rousesports factory Ford Mondeo's at the TOCA shoot out.
All the BTCC teams are out frantically testing in the lead up the the first round next month. At the moment no one team has a big advantage. 24 cars have registerred for the BTCC including two car factory teams from Audi, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault, Vauxhall, Volvo & Alfa Romeo, although Alfa won't do the full series. At the moment there are 6 privateers, including Robb Gravett (Honda) a two car David Cook Renault Laguna team, Mark Lemmer's Vectra, but not the Rousesport Patrick Watts driven Toyota Corolla. Japan is reportedly blocking the homologation of the Corolla, possibly to prevent creating a marketing clash with the rally program.