More Cars, More Excitement, More Events On PROCAR Motor Racing Calendar In 2002
MOTOR racing organiser PROCAR Australia will host Australia's biggest and most diverse group of competitors in five major championship series at more than a dozen venues in 2002.
The Australian Nations Cup Championship, Australian GT Production Car Championship (GTP) in two divisions, V8 BRute Muster and the Australian Formula 3 Championship are expected to feature more than 130 cars, ranging from Ferraris to Falcons to international single-seaters.
Announcing PROCAR's 2002 competition dates today, Chairman and Chief Executive Ross Palmer said the calendar would take the largest number of drivers and cars to all the country's big motor racing events, including the Australian Grand Prix, Gold Coast Indy, Sandown 500, Bathurst and seven rounds of the independent PROCAR Championship Series.
"Without doubt this will be the most diverse, comprehensive and exciting package of motor racing entertainment on offer to fans in 2002," Mr Palmer said.
"The Nations Cup showcases the world's greatest sports car marques such as Ferrari, Viper, Lamborghini and Porsche, the highly-relevant GTP fields performance and family passenger cars in near-showroom trim, the unique V8 BRutes feature the popular Commodore and Falcon utes and Formula 3 represents the latest open-wheeler technology for developing driver talent in Australia."
Among changes for 2002, the PROCAR Championship Series will stage its first meetings at Victoria's Phillip Island grand prix circuit and Symmons Plains, in northern Tasmania.
Each of the categories also will come in for development, along with some new event concepts to be announced later.
"The most significant change is to our five-class GTP championship," Mr Palmer said.
"It will continue to run as two divisions, or series, under a single title, but the GT Performance series will be reserved for High Performance class cars such as the BMW M3, Holden HSV and Subaru WRX. Sports Touring will move into the GT Production series alongside the V8, 6-Cylinder and 4-Cylinder Touring classes," he said.
"GTP is extremely popular and this change will allow us to accommodate more competitors throughout the classes, as well as provide a more even performance mix among more than 20 different models."
However, Mr Palmer said he was disappointed to announce that a proposal for the High Performance cars to compete for the Australian Touring Car Championship had been blocked by the motorsport governing body CAMS.
"We saw that the ATCC, one of Australia's most prestigious and revered championships, had been abandoned a couple of years ago by the series to which it had been allocated and we asked CAMS to allow us to bring it back to life.
"It was an entirely logical proposal, as the production-based nature of GTP is close to the origins of Australian touring car racing more than 40 years ago - multiple brands and models of passenger cars taken from showroom to track with few modifications.
"Suddenly, the organisation that didn't want to know about the ATCC now wants it back and CAMS has agreed with them.
"However, we will forge on with our revitalised series and are confident of strong support from our rapidly-growing fan and competitor base in 2002."
The Nations Cup will feature a number of new cars, including five of the latest GT3 Carrera Cup coupes from Porsche for drivers Jim Richards, Peter Fitzgerald and others.
The V8 BRute Muster is on course to continue the outstanding success of its inaugural season. From just eight Commodore and Falcon utes at the first race in Adelaide, the BRutes field has grown to 32 paid-up starters - plus a waiting list - for 2002.
Formula 3, Australia's only international open-wheeler category, will benefit from the admission of current-specification cars from Europe - meaning young Australian drivers will be able to benchmark their performances against the world's best in identical machinery.
Mr Palmer said PROCAR's plans were the result of two years of exceptional growth for its categories.
"We've gone from one series of our own in 1999 to four in 2001, plus a long-term alliance with the exciting Australian Formula 3 Championship. This year we've created the V8 BRute Muster and for the first time we staged five meetings of our own, showcasing all our own categories and reviving the prestigious Sandown 500," he said.
"Next year we'll have seven PROCAR Championship Series events, from Queenland to Tasmania.
"PROCAR has received particularly warm welcomes in regional centres such as Wakefield Park at Goulburn and Queensland Raceway at Ipswich, and next year we'll be making an even bigger effort with extra off-track attractions to give the fans at these places a special experience."