AUSF3: UTE: Sandown final countdown

DRIVERS in Sunday's Clarion Sandown 500 in Melbourne start the final countdown with an official practice session tomorrow at Sandown International Motor Raceway - but an unofficial outing today provided no early clue to a likely winner. Leading...

DRIVERS in Sunday's Clarion Sandown 500 in Melbourne start the final countdown with an official practice session tomorrow at Sandown International Motor Raceway - but an unofficial outing today provided no early clue to a likely winner.

Leading competitors took time out to demonstrate their skills in a high-speed preview of the 500 kilometre classic and instead of co-drivers they took along some of Victoria's best-known sportsmen.

"It was awesome - I've never done anything like that before," said Richmond Tigers player Andrew Mills after laps in an 8.0 litre Chrysler Viper piloted by Formula 3 star Darren Palmer.

Teammate Mark Dragicevic also jumped at the chance to ride in the number 7# Viper and came back impressed with the levels of fitness and endurance that will be required of drivers on Sunday.

"It's a lot more physical that I expected. It's hot in there, the braking and side forces are pretty heavy and the driver is constantly working. A stint behind the wheel on Sunday will be hard work," Dragicevic said.

While Mills and Dragicevic put their money on Palmer and co-driver D'arcy Russell for the race, Victorian fast bowler Paul Reiffel tasted speed of a different kind with Mark Noske in a $350,000 Ferrari 360 Challenge coupe.

"What an experience. Even more impressive than the speed was the braking. I sat there wondering if Mark was ever going to slow down and when he did it was like being thrown against a wall.

"To drive like that, not just for two laps but maybe for 50 or more, and with other cars all around you would be really something. Sunday should be pretty exciting," Reiffel said.

The race form should start to emerge when the field of 40 cars practises for an hour from 3 pm tomorrow. After general qualifying on Saturday, the fastest 10 will compete in the Budweiser Top Gun Challenge, a one-lap run-off to decide pole position.

The 161-lap Clarion Sandown 500 starts at 12 midday on Sunday.

-ProcarAu-

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About this article
Series Supercars , F3
Drivers Mark Noske , Andrew Mill
Tags AUSGTP-P, AUSUTE