Nations Cup to thrill Bathurst fans

MORE than 20 of the world's fastest sports coupes, including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Jaguar and Dodge Viper, will treat motor racing fans to a spectacular appearance in the closing round of the 2000 Century Batteries GTP Nations Cup...

MORE than 20 of the world's fastest sports coupes, including Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche, Jaguar and Dodge Viper, will treat motor racing fans to a spectacular appearance in the closing round of the 2000 Century Batteries GTP Nations Cup at Bathurst's Mount Panorama circuit on 16-19 November. The GTP Nations Cup will be making its first showing on the 6.3 km track and drivers predict the leading cars will be among the fastest to race on the FAI 1000 weekend. Three Ferrari F360 Challenge coupes, five V10-engined Dodge Viper ACRs, six Porsche GT3s, a V12 Lamborghini Diablo SVR and a brand new supercharged Jaguar XK-R are included in the 22-car field entered for three races on consecutive days. Saturday will feature a reverse-grid race in which the fastest cars will start last. While six-time Bathurst 1000 winner Jim Richards already has clinched the GTP Nations Cup in a Porsche GT3, fellow Porsche driver Peter Fitzgerald and Ferrari's Mark Noske approach the final round just four points apart in the battle for second spot. After a disappointing seventh round at the Gold Coast Indy, in which he lost second place to Fitzgerald, 26-year-old Noske hopes his $350,000 Ferrari will show its best at Bathurst. "The Porsches, the Vipers and the Lamborghini will all be quick, but I expect the Ferrari will be particularly good coming down the mountain from Skyline - having a formula one-style gearshift on the steering wheel will make it easier to drive through the twisty bits," Noske said. "Overall, I think Paul Stokell in the Lamborghini will be hard to beat, although Geoff Morgan's Viper will be super-quick." Experts say qualifying lap times for the fastest of the production-based GTP Nations Cup cars could be inside 2 min. 16 sec., an average speed of more than 165 kmh, and up to eight seconds faster than the 1999 GT Production pole of John Bowe in a Viper. There is strong interest in the debut of the Jaguar in the GTP Nations Cup. Driver Bob Thorn, who was due to test for the first time today in Queensland, says the British V8 thoroughbred should top 280 kmh on Bathurst's Conrod Straight.

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