PROCAR Champ Series - Grand Final Round - Oran Park, NSW, 23-25 November
Stokell Brings $700,000 Lambo, Waratahs Help Bowe Find Other Ways To Boot The Opposition
LAMBORGHINI driver Paul Stokell wheeled out a new $700,000 racing coupe while Ferrari ace John Bowe found a very different way to put the boot into the opposition as the on-track countdown to the deciding round of the Megamantis.com Australian Nations Cup Championship began today at Oran Park Raceway, near Sydney.
Stokell and his Lamborghini Diablo GTR, which was flown in from Italy especially for Sunday's three-leg round, completed two official practice sessions just 0.013 seconds behind provisional pole qualifier Geoff Morgan, in a Chrysler Viper.
The exotic Nations Cup sports cars are the stars of a big weekend of racing for the 2001 PROCAR Champ Series grand final meeting, which will feature 16 events on Sunday for seven different categories.
Bowe finished fifth today, after series leader Jim Richards and Peter Fitzgerald, in Porsches, but later discussed winning strategies with members of the Waratahs New South Wales rugby union team.
"After winning the Sandown 500 race recently I'd love to kick another goal for my Ferrari team on Sunday. The Waratahs came out to Oran Park for a look at what I do in motorsport, but it was certainly an inspiration for me to meet them," said Bowe, a multiple Australian driving champion.
Bowe and teammate Steve Beards fired up their Ferrari 360 Challenge coupes to take Waratahs Jono West, Patricio Noriega, Mark Gerrard, Steve Talbot, Shaun Berne and Sam Norris for high-speed rides around the track.
However, flanker Des Tuiavii had to remain on the bench because he could not squeeze his muscular frame into the Ferrari's cramped cockpit.
Fly-half Shaun Berne said after his ride: "That was a fantastic experience. Many sports fans would be surprised at how hard a race driver has to work.
"John was constantly braking, accelerating or cornering and the forces on the body and the heat inside are pretty fierce. I'd say he'd have to be pretty fit."
More than 100 drivers will compete tomorrow in qualifying sessions for starting positions in Sunday's races.
Also on the program will be the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship - with separate races for the GT Performance and GT Production divisions - the Poolrite V8 BRute Muster, the Australian Formula 3 Championship, Toyo Mitsubishi Mirage Series and New South Wales Holden HQ Championship.
The GT Production car practice session was topped by Sydney touring car veteran Bob Pearson, in a Mazda RX-7, who was four-hundredths of a second faster than Queenslander Brett Peters (Subaru), who is in line to clinch the championship on Sunday.
The only other driver still mathematically able to win the series for near-standard passenger cars, Philip Polites, from Melbourne, almost blew his chance with a heavy crash this morning.
His Holden GTS slammed backwards into the concrete wall at the start of the main straight. At first Polites believed he would have to withdraw, but his team will attempt to repair the car overnight.
NATIONS CUP: 1 G. Morgan (Viper) 1:12.43, 2 P. Stokell (Lamborghini) 1:12.45, 3 J. Richards (Porsche) 1:13.37.
GTP: 1 B. Pearson (Mazda) 1:17.19, 2 B. Peters (Subaru) 1:17.23, 3 W. Boatwright (Subaru) 1:17.76.
V8 BRutes: 1 M. Donaher (Falcon) 1:22.97, 2 G. Denyer (Falcon) 1:24.35, 3 C. Kovacs (Commodore) 1:24.64.
Formula 3: 1 D. Palmer (Dallara) 1:07.85, 2 J. Cressey (Dallara) 1:07.89, 3 P. Hackett (Dallara) 1:08.58.
PROCAR Champ Series - At a Glance
* Date - 23-25 November (Friday - practice, Saturday - qualifying, Sunday - racing)
* Venue - Oran Park Raceway, corner Northern & Cobbity Roads, Narellan; near Camden
* Featuring - - Megamantis.com Australian Nations Cup Championship (Rd 8) - Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship - GT Performance Series and GT Production Series (Rd 8) - Poolrite V8 BRute Muster (non-championship) - Australian Formula 3 Championship (Rd 7) - Toyo Mitsubishi Mirage Series (Rd 6) - Holden HQ State Championship (Rd 6)
* Tickets - Sunday adult $30 (child $15), Saturday adult $15 (child $10), weekend adult $40 (child $20). Children under 10 free
* Information - Oran Park Raceway, ph. (02) 4646 1004, www.oranpark.com