-- Shell Australian Touring Car Championship -- -- Round 7, Barbagallo, Western Australia -- Overview & Entry --
HRT's Craig Lowndes regained his championship lead over Russell Ingall but the margin is just as slim. These two will battle the series out, even Skaife and Perkins appear too far backm although Skaife is appealing his disqualification from Mallala.
28 cars appeared for the far western round of the SATCC, and only one local team this year -- Geoff Kendrick. The traditionally strong number of local V8 touring car racers has dwindled in recent years. The only other significant difference in the entry was that Tony Longhurst and Alan Jones were wearing Dunlops. Yokohama's leading team had defected. In addition to the privateers, the only team now running Yokohama tyres are Gibson Motorsport (Ellery, Hossack & Pate).
Mark Skaife got pole position but he also received a $3000 fine after an incident with Trevor Ashby, adding yet another scar to the very fast privateer Lansvale car. Ingall was second, still to get an SATCC pole, then Lowndes, Johnson & Bargwanna.
Pole Mark Skaife Mobil HRT Holden Commodore VS 2nd Russell Ingall Castrol Holden Commodore VS 3rd Craig Lowndes Mobil HRT Holden Commodore VS 4th Dick Johnson Shell Helix Ford Falcon EL 5th Jason Bargwanna Valvoline Holden Commodore VS 6th Larry Perkins Castrol Holden Commodore VS 7th Jason Bright Pirtek Ford Falcon EL 8th John Bowe Shell Helix Ford Falcon EL 9th Glenn Seton Ford Credit Ford Falcon EL 10th Steven Johnson Drive For Life Ford Falcon EL 11th Paul Romano Holden Commodore VS (1st Level 2) 12th John Faulkner Betta Stores / Fisher & Paykel Holden Commodore VS 13th Steve Ellery Konica Young Lions Holden Commodore VS 14th Garth Tander Valvoline Holden Commodore VS 15th Tony Longhurst Castrol Ford Falcon EL 16th Alan Jones Komatsu Ford Falcon EL 17th Terry Finnigan Sony Autosound Holden Commodore VS 18th Darren Hossack Wynns Holden Commodore VS 19th Mark Larkham Mitre 10 Ford Falcon EL 20th Darren Pate Wynns Holden Commodore VS 21st John Briggs Super Cheap Auto Ford Falcon EL (1st Level 3) 22nd Mal Rose Fairfax Community Classifieds Holden Commodore VS 23rd Greg Crick Ericsson / Trust Bank Holden Commodore VS 24th Trevor Ashby Lansvale Smash Repairs Holden Commodore VS 25th Rod Nash Highlift Holden Commodore VS 26th Danny Osborne Colourscan Ford Falcon EL 27th Geoff Kendrick PM FM Holden Commodore VR 28th D'arcy Russell NTS Holden Commodore VS
-- Privateers Dash --
A four lap race this time. John Briggs had drawn pole position, making it seemingly unlikely for anyone to beat him. The improving Rod Nash sat beside him, and Greg Crick and mal Rose shared the second row, ready to force the issue should Briggs falter. Ashby in 5th could also threaten. Nash won the start and lead Briggs into the first corner with Rose & Crick hard on his tail. While a gap was initially openned from the first 4 to the second four Ashby quickly bridged that gap, while Greg crick snuck under Rose at Kolb. Briggs powered out of Kolb and passed Nash on grunt.
Across the line first, Briggs lead Nash, Crick, Rose, Ashby, D'arcy Russell, Geoff Kendrick and Danny Osborne. Ashby ranged up on Rose, while Nash cracked under pressure from Crick and went off at the Esses, falling back to last while regaining the track.
Ashby catches Rose up the inside of turn 1 at lap 3 while Kendrick passes Russell further back. Russell was then set upon by Osborne & Nash, but time and distance ran out. Briggs held the win ahead of Crick, Ashby, Rose, Kendrick, Russell, Nash & Osborne.
1st John Briggs Super Cheap Auto Ford Falcon EL 2nd Greg Crick Ericsson / Trust Bank Holden Commodore VS 3rd Trevor Ashby Lansvale Smash Repairs Holden Commodore VS 4th Mal Rose Fairfax Community Classifieds Holden Commodore VS 5th Geoff Kendrick PM FM Holden Commodore VR 6th D'arcy Russell NTS Holden Commodore VS 7th Rod Nash Highlift Holden Commodore VS 8th Danny Osborne Colourscan Ford Falcon EL
-- Race 1 --
Russell Ingall won the start after pole man Skaife dwelt. Craig Lownmdes got one of his trademark good starts while further back, home town hero Garth Tander got a bad start and was swamped. Down into Kolb corner the first time John Briggs cut the corner a little too fine and the nose of the Super Cheap Auto Falcon dug in and spun him around, tapping Danny Osborne in the process. It was the start of an eventful day for Osborne. Over the line the first time Ingall lead Lowndes, Skaife, Dick Johnson, Bargwanna, Bowe, Bright, Perkins, Seton, Steven Johnson, Romano, Faulkner, Ellery, Longhurst, Jones, pate, Tander, Finnigan, Hossack, Larkham, Rose, Ashby, Nash, Crick, Osborne, Kendrick & Russell. Briggs limped around with a broken front air dam. It was to be the only lap Lowndes didn't lead. On the second lap Lowndes past Ingall on pure horsepower, climbing away from Kolb Corner. Paul Romano tapped John Faulkner and Faulkner speared off and spun into the sand. Faulkner recovered. Lowndes, Ingall & Skaife started to open a gap over the pack, lead by Johnson senior. Longhurst was charging through the field. Holding Skaife at bay was taking it's toll on Ingall allowing Lowndes to skip away. In Level 2 Paul Romano was 5 cars clear of his competitors Finnigan, Hossack & Pate all running as a bunch. Just behinf Mal Rose was leading the privatters battle with trevor Ashby right behind. Seton was putting Bright under pressure and on lap 8 Seton was through and away. 4 laps later Mark Skaife gets by Russell Ingall for 2nd and sets off after Lowndes. Bargwanna taps Russell. Russell is forced wide off the track and Bargwanna is pit bound with damage to tyres. After his poor start Garth Tander was recovering was recovering strongly. Paul Romano caught Bright while further ahead Seton was lining up Perkins. Romano passed Bright on the last lap but Lowndes collected his tenth heat win for the year.
-- Race 1 -- 1st Craig Lowndes Mobil HRT Holden Commodore VS 2nd Mark Skaife Mobil HRT Holden Commodore VS 3rd Russell Ingall Castrol Holden Commodore VS 4th Dick Johnson Shell Helix Ford Falcon EL 5th Larry Perkins Castrol Holden Commodore VS 6th Glenn Seton Ford Credit Ford Falcon EL 7th Jason Bright Pirtek Ford Falcon EL 8th Garth Tander Valvoline Holden Commodore VS 9th Steven Johnson Racing For Life Ford Falcon EL 10th John Faulkner Betta Stores / Fisher & Paykel Holden Commodore VS 11th Mark Larkham Mitre 10 Ford Falcon EL 12th Alan Jones Komatsu Ford Falcon EL 13th Steve Ellery Konica Young Lions Holden Commodore VS 14th Terry Finnigan Sony Autosound Holden Commodore VS (1st Level 2) 15th John Bowe Shell Helix Ford Falcon EL 16th Darren Pate Wynns Holden Commodore VS 17th Darren Hossack Wynns Holden Commodore VS 18th Ashby (1st Level 3) 19th Rose 20th Nash 21st Kendrick 22nd Crick 23rd Osborne 24th Briggs 25th Russell 26th Jason Bargwanna Valvoline Holden Commodore VS * Paul Romano was disqualified from his place retroactively.
-- Race 2 --
After disappearing in race 1 with an engine failure Tony Longhurst didn't face the starter.
Garth Tander and Larry Perkins both took to the grass, but it was Lowndes who won the start. Over the line the first time, Lowndes lead Skaife, Ingall, Perkins, Dick Johnson, Seton, Bright, Steven Johnson, Romano, Faulkner, Tander, Larkham, Bowe, Jones, Ellery, Finnigan, Pate, Bargwanna, Hossack, Ashby, Rose, Osborne, nash, Crick, Kendrick, Briggs & Russell.
Ingall taps Skaife going into turn 1 as he sees Craig Lowndes disappear with the race and Ingall's Championship lead. Garth Tander was continuing to improve, showing the home ground advantage while Bowe and Bargwanna were coming through from the back of the grid. Rod Nash and Geoff Kendrick both spin at Kolb corner.
Seton, in 6th, was starting to lead a fairly close train of Bright, Romano, Tander, Steven Johnson, Bowe, Faulkner, Larkham, Jones, Bargwanna, Ellery & Finnigan. Ashby was next and top privateer. Bowe passed Steven Johnson as the younger Johnson slid back through the field and out of the top ten, having already been passed by Romano and Faulkner. Glenn Seton also started to fall back although he had broken up the chain of cars behind him. Bright and Romano, having passed Seton were closing on Dick Johnson & Perkins who were running 5th & 4th.
The incredible charge of Jason Bargwanna ended when he spun and bogged his Commodore half off the track at the bottom of the course. On lap 16 after being held up Romano punted Danny Osborne off the track, sending the Ford spinning into the infield. Romano was called in for a stop-go penalty. John Bowe spins into the sand at turn 1.
Greg Crick claimed the privateer lead but Ashby was definetely close enough to take it back. Lowndes had a close encounter with Darren Pate on lap 19, but he won unchallenged in the end. Tem mate Mark Skaife came home second, just holding out a disappointed Russell Ingall.
1st Lowndes 2nd Skaife 3rd Ingall 4th Perkins 5th Dick Johnson 6th Bright 7th Seton 8th Tander 9th Steven Johnson 10th Faulkner 11th Larkham 12th Jones 13th Finnigan (1st Level 2) 14th Ellery 15th Hossack 16th Crick (1st Level 3) 17th Ashby 18th Briggs 19th Pate 20th Rose 21st Kendrick 22nd Russell 23rd Nash 24th Osborne * Paul Romano was disqualified from his place retroactively.
-- Race 3 --
Between the races a physical incident occurred in the pits between Paul Romano and Danny Osborne. Romano was subsequently disqualified from the meeting for hitting Osborne, a claim Romano refutes, saying Osborne had hit him. Romano was also given a $3000 fine and the Barbagallo stewards recommended his licence be suspended.
Tony Longhurst returned to the grid after missing Race 2, and had a new engine on board. Lowndes won the start, while Skaife moved across to the inside line to find Ingall already there and had a half loose across the infield grass. Seton tapped Tander into spinng in front of the recovering Skaife and, in avoidance of the jam developing at turn 1, Ashby went to the grass in the inside, with Steve Ellery the outside.
Dick Johnson was given a stop-and-go penalty for jumping the start, adding insult to injury after a shocking start.
Across the line for the first time Lowndes lead Ingall, Perkins, Seton, Skaife, Bright, Steven Johnson, Faulkner, Larkham, Hossack, Finnigan, Dick Johnson, Pate, Jones, Kendrick, Briggs, Bargwanna, Nash, Crick & Longhurst with Tander at the back. Bowe again starts to recover from a poor grid while Bargwanna, Longhurst & Tander further back were scything through the privateers. Geoff Kendrick went wide at turn 1, held the power on as he recovered regained the track only to spin the other way.
On lap 7 Longhurst passed Finnigan for 12th while Tander passed Jones for 14th. Seton & Skaife closed in on Larry Perkins. Lowndes was moving slowly away from Ingall. Seton slowed briefly and Skaife and Bright were through.
Another incredible Bargwanna charge yielded 10th by lap 10. Glenn Seton pulled a slightly desparate passing move on Bright, effectively using the SBR Falcon for brakes and Bright spun into the turn 1 sand. He kept the boot in and recovered, he was looking for a gap in the traffic to return to the track, when panic galvanised him into sand spitting action. The Falcon however failed to move and was hit hard across the nose by Geoff Kendrick and in the rear quarter panel by Rod Nash simultaneously, the pair of privateer Holdens having lost it slightly and heading for the sand. All 3 out on the spot. Seton was given a stop-go penalty. Seton rejoined behind John Bowe who's charge through the field had faded badly.
Most of the top positions were settled in the dying laps except for Mark Skaife climbing all over and eventually around Larry Perkins for 3rd spot.
-- Race 3 -- 1st Lowndes 2nd Ingall 3rd Skaife 4th Perkins 5th Faulkner 6th Bargwanna 7th Steven Johnson 8th Larkham 9th Tander 10th Longhurst 11th Hossack (1st Level 2) 12th Bowe 13th Dick Johnson 14th Ellery 15th Finnigan 16th Pate 17th Briggs (1st Level 3) 18th Ashby 19th Seton 20th Osborne 21st Crick 22nd Russell 23rd Rose 24th Jones
-- Points -- Lowndes 120, Skaife 106, Ingall 104, Perkins 94, Dick Johnson 76, Faulkner, Steven Johnson & Tander 70, Larkham 60, Seton 56, Bright 54, Ellery 38, Finnigan 36, Hossack 34, Jones 32, Bargwanna 28, Bowe 26, Longhurst 20, Pate 18, Ashby 14, Crick 8, Briggs 4, Rose 3, Nash & Osborne 1
-- Standings -- Lowndes 728, Ingall 720, Perkins 578, Skaife 536, Bowe 530, Dick Johnson 482, Seton 472, Bright 470, Longhurst 404, Bargwanna 347, Faulkner 306, Larkham 288, Steven Johnson 238, Romano 228, Ellery 196, Jones 195, Steven Richards 188, Hossack 160, Finnigan 151, Tander 149, Pate 88, Ashby & Poole 72, Crick 68, Tomas Mezera 44, Steve Reed 41, Chris Smerdon 40, Neil Crompton 36, Briggs 30, Peter Doulman, Rose & Paul Weel 26, Hislop 20, Tratt 17, Kerryn Brewer 14, Osborne 13, Ryan McLeod 10, Kevin Heffernan & Melinda Price 8, Nash, Richard Mork 4, Dean Crosswell 2.
yours Mark Alan Jones