CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
EASTERN CREEK PREVIEW 1 JUNE 1998
"FITZY" OUT TO STOP DODGE VIPER CHARGE
Reigning Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Champion Peter Fitzgerald knows full well he must stop the charge of Garry Waldon in the thundering Dodge Viper or his championship defence will soon start to disappear into the distance.
Waldon enters the fourth round of the Championship next weekend at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney having won the past three GTP races – including both races at Phillip Island.
Having closed on early points leader Domenic Beninca (Porsche 911 RSCS), Waldon is now only two points from the Championship lead, with Fitzgerald only one point adrift.
Should Waldon repeat his Phillip Island success, Fitzgerald knows he will face a tough fight to defend his crown.
"The Viper is certainly the car to beat at the moment, but I think Eastern Creek will be slightly tougher for Garry than Phillip Island," Fitzgerald said.
"It is a bit of an unknown quantity because we haven't raced at the Creek for a couple of years but I am confident I will be able to run him down.
"Catching him is one thing, getting past is a another story. With his power advantage, he can go past me on the straight, but I'll be all over him across the back of the circuit. "I think we are in for a really tough weekend."
Beninca's Porsche will be keen to get amongst the front-running action after a couple of consistent, yet unspectacular meetings while Alfredo Costanzo's Maserati Ghibli could again be the fly in the ointment.
Costanzo showed blistering speed at Phillip Island, but his charge was halted by a turbo problem in the opening race, and a trip into a sandtrap on the opening lap of race two.
Neil Crompton returns aboard John Bowe's usual Ferrari F355 Challenge and is confident of a strong result after one meeting under his belt.
The prancing horse marque will also be boosted by the Class A GTP debut of Chris Smith who has purchased one of the Ross Palmer Motorsport cars from 1997. The experienced Porsche racer dabbled in GTP last year with a race in Allan Letcher's Class D Honda Civic VTi-R but is now keen to get amongst the Class A action aboard the Ferrari.
Mazda also returns to the Class A GTP motoring smorgasboard with Terry Bosnjak driving an RX7 SP Twin Turbo. The car has not seen racetrack action for two years, but Bosnjak is keen to re-establish his GTP career after it came to a shuddering halt at Amaroo Park in 1996 when brake problems sent the Sydney racer cannoning upside down into the "stop corner" concrete wall aboard Geoff Morgan's Porsche 911 RSCS.
Young racer Dean Canto is hopeful of continuing his stunning form from Phillip Island aboard his Subaru Impreza WRX in Class B.
Canto's two wins showed Class B hot-shoes Chris Kousparis (Subaru Impreza WRX) and Murray Carter (Nissan 200SX) that their championship battle may be a three-way fight. Both Kousparis and Carter suffered mechanical dramas at Phillip Island and will be hoping for a more reliable run at Eastern Creek.
Talented female racer Paula Elstrek will make her GTP debut in Class C aboard the Ford Falcon XR8 media car. Seen on Foxtel's "Though the Gears" program, Elstrek will do battle with class leader David Ratcliff (Toyota Camry CSi) while Jim Myhill graduates to Class C, steering the Mitsubishi Magna TE Sports usually driven by Steve Knight.
Ric Shaw is again expected to be the man to beat on home soil in the GTP Lights Class D division aboard the Toyota MR2 Bathurst. Team-mate Colin Osborne, Mazda 626 driver Phil Kirkham and BMW 323i steerers Michael Simpson and Luke Searle will be out to inflict Shaw's first 1998 defeat.
Nigel Stones (Suzuki Swift GTi) will be out to defend his Class E lead, but Kosi Kalaitzidis' two second places at Phillip Island aboard the Proton M21 Coupe showed the Melbourne racer could soon be filling Stones' mirrors.
FURTHER NEWS: http://www.gtprod.com.au
ENTRIES CLASS A 1 Peter Fitzgerald Porsche 911 RSCS 3 Alfredo Costanzo Maserati Ghibli Twin Turbo 5 Garry Waldon Dodge Viper GTS 12 Terry Bosnjak Mazda RX7 SP Twin Turbo 26 Ross Almond Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo V 27 Neil Crompton Ferrari F355 Challenge 30 Chris Smith Ferrari F355 Challenge 41 Craig Dean Toyota Soarer Turbo Coupe 46 Max Dunn Porsche 911 RSCS 50 Paul Stokell Lotus Elise Sport 52 Domenic Beninca Porsche 911 RSCS 64 Bob Thorn Toyota Supra RZ Twin Turbo 85 Rodney Forbes Porsche 911 RSCS
CLASS B 2 John Cowley HSV GTS-R 215i 6 Chris Kousparis Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 7 Peter Boylan Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 18 Murray Carter Nissan 200SX Turbo 44 Dean Canto Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo
CLASS C 20 Robert Chadwick Mitsubishi Magna TE Sports V6 21 Jim Myhill Mitsubishi Magna TE Sports V6 28 Paula Elstrek Ford Falcon EL XR8 55 Mark Cohen Holden Commodore VS SS V8 88 David Ratcliff Toyota Camry CSi V6
CLASS D 4 Clayton Haynes Toyota MR2 GT 13 Colin Osborne Toyota MR2 Bathurst 15 Luke Searle BMW 323i 32 Michael Simpson BMW 323i 33 Allan Letcher Honda Civic VTi-R 35 Ric Shaw Toyota MR2 Bathurst 71 Phil Kirkham Mazda 626
CLASS E 22 Kosi Kalaitzidis Proton M21 Coupe 42 Nigel Stones Suzuki Swift GTi 75 Aaron McGill Suzuki Swift GTi 78 Darren Best Hyundai Excel Sprint Twin Cam 98 Danny Brian Suzuki Swift GTi
POINTS OUTRIGHT Domenic Beninca 71 Garry Waldon 69 Peter Fitzgerald 68 John Bowe 44 Ross Almond 23 Alfredo Costanzo 22 Rodney Forbes 22 Paul Stokell 22 Neil Crompton 16 Peter McKay 10 John Bourke 8 Bob Thorn 5 Murray Carter 5 John Trimbole 5 Dean Canto 5 Craig Dean 3 Chris Kousparis 2 John Cowley 1 Marcus Marshall 1
CLASS A Domenic Beninca 70 Peter Fitzgerald 67 Garry Waldon 67 John Bowe 42 Ross Almond 23 Alfredo Costanzo 22 Rodney Forbes 22 Paul Stokell 22 Neil Crompton 16 Peter McKay 10 Bob Thorn 9 John Bourke 8 Craig Dean 6 Marcus Marshall 1
CLASS B Murray Carter 70 Chris Kousparis 53 Dean Canto 48 John Trimbole 36 Peter Boylan 33 John Cowley 26 Richard Davis 24 Trevor Haines 8
CLASS C David Ratcliff 67 Mark Cohen 50 Robert Chadwick 44 Steve Knight 40 John Wright 22 Paul Gover 15 Joshua Dowling 12
CLASS D Ric Shaw 90 Colin Osborne 58 Phil Kirkham 54 Luke Searle 52 Michael Simpson 28 Carol Jackson 21 Peter Phelan 12 Allan Letcher 8
CLASS E Nigel Stones 84 Aaron McGill 59 Danny Brian 56 Kosi Kalaitzidis 53 Jim Myhill 22 Clayton Haynes 18 Darren Best 14