CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
WINTON RACE ONE 9th AUGUST 1998
BOWE WINS AS FITZY STAGES TITLE FIGHTBACK
Ferrari F355 Challenge driver, John Bowe, pulled out a faultless performance to take race one of round seven of the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship at Winton today.
But while Bowe stormed away at the front, reigning champion Peter Fitzgerald staged a stunning come-back after clashing with 1998 championship leader Domenic Beninca in turn one on the opening lap.
Fitzgerald was forced wide and dropped back to seventh place on the opening lap, but charged his way back to second place by the end of the race.
The Porsche 911 RSCS trio of Fitzgerald, Beninca and third place man Rodney Forbes swapped positions throughout the event, giving Bowe the break he needed to charge to victory.
"The tyres were very bad by the end of the race, but the fighting going on behind me, enabled me to hold on," Bowe said.
"It's great to grab a win for our new sponsor but this afternoon's race will be even tougher."
Fitzgerald has now closed the points gap to Beninca to only five points with only three races remaining in the championship.
"Domenic was obviously determined to get past in turn one, but he obviously didn't count on how determined I was," Fitzgerald said.
"We're not going to give this championship up without a fight and it looks like it will go right down to the wire at Oran Park in three weeks."
Beninca finished fourth ahead of Lotus Elise Sport 190 driver, Paul Stokell, who pulled off a great drive to pass Ed Aitken's Porsche with only two laps to go.
Ross Almond (Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo V) and Craig Dean (Toyota Soarer Turbo Coupe) both had their races spoilt by spins coming onto the start-finish straight.
Chris Kousparis (Subaru Impreza WRX) ruined Murray Carter's day in Class B. Carter was honoured at a special presentation after the race to celebrate his 50th year in motorsport.
The 67-year-old veteran finished second aboard his Nissan 200SX while young star Dean Canto had a wheel bearing failure in his Subaru Impreza WRX.
Mitsubishi Magna TE Sports driver Robert Chadwick took his first victory for the year in Class C - holding out Mark Cohen's Holden Commodore VS SS.
AFL Media star Sam Newman drove well, recording a personal fastest lap time nearly 1/2 a second quicker than his qualifying performances.
Kosi Kalaitzidis drove a determined race to capture the first ever GTP Lights Class E victory for the Proton M21 Coupe.
The Melbourne driver held out Suzuki Swift drivers Aaron McGill and championship leader, Nigel Stones to take the victory after a race long fight.
The BMW 323i was the weapon of choice in Class D with Michael Simpson and Luke Searle toughing out a closely fought first and second with Ric Shaw's Toyota MR2 Bathurst in third place.
RESULTS RACE ONE 16 LAPS 1. John Bowe, Ferrari F355 Challenge (A) 24:25.434 2. Peter Fitzgerald, Porsche 911 RSCS (A) 24:28.075 3. Rodney Forbes, Porsche 911 RSCS (A) 24:34.235 4. Domenic Beninca, Porsche 911 RSCS (A) 24:36.415 5. Paul Stokell, Lotus Elise Sport 190 (A) 24:48.238 6. Ed Aitken, Porsche 911 RSCS (A) 24:48.799 7. Alfredo Costanzo, Maserati Ghibli (A) 25:03.197 8. Chris Kousparis, Subaru Impreza WRX (B) 15 laps 9. Murray Carter, Nissan 200SX (B) 15 laps 10. Mark King, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III (B) 15 laps
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