CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
MALLALA RACE ONE 19th JULY 1998
SCENT OF VICTORY SLIPS FROM FERRARI GRASP
Domenic Beninca bounced back from a devastating qualifying crash to take race one of round six of the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship at Mallala but not before the dreams of Ferrari fans were shattered.
In the debut race for its new sponsor, Ferrari Eau De Toilette, the RPM Ferrari F355 Challenge driven by Neil Crompton looked set to take a stunning victory before a broken front ball joint ended the team's day.
Beninca took an early lead but Crompton chased down and passed the Porsche 911 RSCS driver after seven laps. His glory was short-lived however, with the broken suspension sending him to the pits and out of the day's action.
"The car felt great and I was able to take advantage of the traffic to get past Dom," Crompton said.
"Unfortunately, Rodney Forbes and I touched slightly on the third lap and it was just enough to damage the suspension.
"The car was fine for five more laps before the ball joint collapsed the car just dropped on the road coming out of the Northern Hairpin. "It is really disappointing because we had a great chance to put the car in the winner's circle for the new sponsor."
Beninca had to hold out a late charge from reigning champion Peter Fitzgerald who was all over his tail in the final laps.
"We are lucky just to get the car back on track, let alone take a win," Beninca said.
"I am really thrilled and grateful to the TAFE repair crew and fellow competitors like Peter Fitzgerald himself for lending me the parts to get the car back out there."
The other man involved in Beninca's qualifying crash, Ross Almond, was not so lucky - a blown engine wrecking an already troubled weekend in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V.
His team-mate Ross Halliday had a strong drive to grab sixth on debut while Class B Evo III racer Ron Barnacle also suffered engine failure.
Chris Kousparis triumphed in Class B aboard his Subaru Impreza WRX, easily accounting for Murray Carter's Nissan 200SX while David Ratcliffe (Toyota Camry CSi) took Class C ahead of Rob Chadwick (Mitsubishi Magna TE Sports).
Phil Kirkham took his first GTP Lights Class D victory of the year - helping him in the points chase to class leader Ric Shaw who took second in the Toyota MR2 Bathurst.
Colin Osborne took third place in the sister MR2 to Shaw - finishing right on his tail.
Nigel Stones' winning run in Class E continued aboard his Suzuki Swift GTi, accounting for fellow Suzuki driver Aaron McGill. Stones win came after an incident with Peter McKay's Ford Falcon XR8 which spun the Class C car off the track.
RESULTS RACE ONE 18 LAPS 1. Domenic Beninca, Porsche 911 RSCS (A) 22:21.707 2. Peter Fitzgerald, Porsche 911 RSCS (A) 22:21.907 3. Rodney Forbes, Porsche 911 RSCS (A) 22:32.472 4 Terry Bosnjak, Mazda RX7 SP (A) 22:46.144 5. Paul Stokell, Lotus Elise Sport 190 (A) 23:06.388 6. Ross Halliday, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V (A) 23:26.697 7. Chris Kousparis, Subaru Impreza WRX (B) 17 laps 8. Murray Carter, Nissan 200SX (B) 17 laps 9. Dean Canto, Subaru Impreza WRX (B) 17 laps 10. Peter Boylan, Subaru Impreza WRX (B) 17 laps
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