MOTOR racing in Australia will receive a major boost next year with the introduction of an expanded 16-meet calendar for some of the country's most important championship series.
The calendar, announced today at Mount Panorama, Bathurst, by championship organising company PROCAR Australia, will see the popular Nations Cup and Australian GT Production Car Championship between them feature at every major Australian meeting, plus five stand-alone meetings, including a new event in New Zealand.
The PROCAR calendar will involve around 100 drivers in four categories competing at 16 meetings on 14 different tracks between 25 February and 16 December.
The four categories are -
* Nations Cup (Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, Dodge Viper, Jaguar, etc)
* GTP [A, B] (High Performance & Sports Touring classes, featuring HSV Commodore, Subaru Impreza WRX, Ford Mustang, Honda S2000, etc)
* GTP [C, D, E] (V8, 6-Cylinder & Four-cylinder Touring classes, featuring Holden Commodore, Ford Falcon, Mitsubishi Magna, Toyota Camry, Peugeot, Proton, Holden Astra, etc)
* Ute Muster (10 Ford Falcon and 10 Holden Commodore V8 utes with controlled modifications and matched performance)
In addition, PROCAR categories will be accompanied at several rounds by Formula 3 single-seaters.
PROCAR Australia Chairman Ross Palmer said the calendar was designed to accommodate exceptional growth in competitor numbers.
"In 1999 we had just one series, for GT Production cars. Nations Cup was added this year and has been a huge success.
The increasing popularity of GT Production has meant that this year on occasions we couldn't accept all those who wanted to race - for instance, there were 78 applications for 55 grid spots at Bathurst.
"Creating two series from GT Production next year means growth will be able to continue unhindered, while we also have high hopes for our fourth championship, the Ute Muster."
Mr Palmer said PROCAR teams had been invited to virtually every major meeting, including the Australian Grand Prix, Gold Coast Indy, Adelaide Le Mans, Bathurst, Adelaide's Clipsal 500 and the GMC400 in Canberra, because they promised promoters healthy entry lists, strong public support and good racing.