PROCAR Championship Series - Grand Final Round - Oran Park, NSW

Richards, Peters, Hackett Are New Champions After PROCAR Series Grand Final Round

Jim Richards won his second Nations Cup, Brett Peters clinched the GT Production Car title and inaugural Formula 3 champion Peter Hackett received congratulations from Jaguar's Australian Formula 1 test driver James Courtney at the grand final round of the PROCAR Champ Series at Oran Park Raceway, near Sydney, today.

Richards had a trouble-free day in his Porsche GT3, settling for a fourth place and two fifths on his way to the 2001 Australian Nations Cup Championship and Meguiar's Drivers Championship.

Victory in the first and third races went to Paul Stokell, in a new $700,000 Lamborghini Diablo, which was imported specially from Italy to give him a last-round shot at the title.

The V12-engined coupe's immense power dominated the field, although he failed to finish race two after a first-lap collision with Tom Waring's Ferrari left him stranded in the gravel trap.

The incident blew Stokell's chances of catching the consistent Richards in the pointscore and he finished third for the season, ahead of Porsche's Peter Fitzgerald.

The result cemented Richards' reputation as Australia's foremost Porsche driver. He also has driven the German sports car marque to 1995 and 1999 wins in the GTP series and five wins in the Targa Tasmania road rally.

"It's always good to win whereever I can, but winning the Nations Cup is particularly satisfying. We had to beat cars from many different manufacturers - some of them more powerful and more expensive - with a car that was often not the fastest, although always reliable," Richards said.

"I hope to have a new Porsche for next season and I'll look forward to giving the Lamborghini, Ferraris, Viper, Jaguar and the others another good fight."

Peter Hackett's win in the first of two Formula 3 races was enough to clinch the first-ever official championship for the fast-growing international single-seater category.

Hackett, 26, who had just returned from a prestigious international Formula 3 race in Macau last weekend, was congratulated by 21-year-old Sydney-born driver James Courtney, now a test driver for the Jaguar Formula 1 team based in England.

The entry of the latest model cars to the Australian Formula 3 Championship next season will ensure Hackett and other Australians with international ambitions will be driving cars identical to the one with which Courtney will contest the British Formula 3 Championship.

Queenslander Brett Peters celebrated his first season in the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship by wrapping up the title today with two second places in his Subaru STi.

In winning both races in an identical Subaru, Wayne Boatwright ensured second place in the series.

And while it was the first time the championship had been won in a Subaru, the official Manufacturers Championship went to Holden, which was represented by competitors in three classes.

Scott Loadsman confirmed his Poolrite V8 Touring class championship with two emphatic race victories in his Holden Commodore SS over Ford Falcon rivals.

The Poolrite 4-Cylinder class also went to a Holden driver, Luke Youlden, who switched to the GTP touring car series this season after winning the 2000 Formula Ford single-seater championship.

Coming into the final round, Youlden trailed his rival David Russell by seven points. But Russell was forced to retire in race one with suspension damage and although he won the class in race two, he had to concede the championship by just four points.

In the Poolrite V8 BRute Muster, Falcon driver Grant Denyer celebrated his first win in the series.

Other wins went to Charlie Kovacs (Holden) and Mick Donaher (Falcon).