QUEENSLAND driver Mark King is poised to hit the front in the 2000 Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship after an official decision prevented series leader Ric Shaw from racing in this weekend¹s seventh round at Melbourne¹s Calder Park circuit.

King, who drives a Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evolution V, trails Shaw by only one point in the eight-round national championship for standard production cars.

He is certain to take over the lead and will be tantalisingly close to wrapping up the championship if his recent form - he has won six of the last eight races - is maintained in Sunday¹s two events.

Meanwhile, Shaw will miss the weekend after last night in Sydney losing an appeal against the severity of a two-month suspension of his racing licence and other penalties.

CAMS Limited stewards had imposed the suspension, a $500 fine and Shaw¹s exclusion from the results of round six after they found his Mazda RX-7 coupe had used an ineligible diff ratio in winning two races.

Shaw said today he hopes to run his car at Calder with a replacement driver.

The grid of 42 starters will include three-time Australian Rally Champion Neal Bates, having his first championship start for the season in a factory-entered Toyota Celica in the Hippies Sports Touring class.

V8 Commodores and Falcons will battle each other in the hotly-contested Pennzoil V8 Touring class, while Subaru supporters are looking for more success after Sydneysider Wayne Boatwright scored the make¹s first-ever GT Production win at Oran Park three weekends ago.

CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after Rd 6): Outright, 1 R. Shaw (Mazda RX-7) 103, 2 M. King (Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo V) 102, 3 B. Hughes (Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo V) 59, 4 B. Morcom (Mazda RX-7) 51, 5 G. Kenny (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) 46, 6 G. Alexander (Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo V) 45; Autobarn High Perf., R. Shaw (Mazda RX-7) 103; Hippies Sports Touring, D.Wood (Honda Integra Type R) 146; Pennzoil V8 Touring, W. Millett (Holden Commodore SS) 112; Pennzoil Six-cyl. Touring, D. Coon (Ford Falcon XR6) 156; Poolrite Four-cyl. Touring, K. Kalaitzidis (Proton Satria GTi) 133.

TIMETABLE:

Friday 9.30 am - Practice, 12 noon - Practice.
Saturday 10.10 am - Qualifying.
Sunday 9 am - Race, 12.05 pm - Race.