NCC: Clipsal: Season opener preview

Lamborghini ace Paul Stokell faces a formidable new Ferrari rival when he launches the defence of his Australian Nations Cup Championship in Adelaide next weekend. Stokell returns to the Adelaide Parklands street circuit for round one in his ...

Lamborghini ace Paul Stokell faces a formidable new Ferrari rival when he launches the defence of his Australian Nations Cup Championship in Adelaide next weekend.

Stokell returns to the Adelaide Parklands street circuit for round one in his familiar Lamborghini Diablo GTR, but all eyes will be on the newly-imported Ferrari 550 Maranello of young Danish driver Allan Simonsen.

The V12-engined Ferrari, entered by Melbourne team Mark Coffey Racing, is the most exotic car to join the series for GT sports cars and is expected to give the talented Simonsen, 24, a chance to shine in his step up to the outright competition after being a class contender last season.

"The Ferrari looks impressive, but we haven't seen it run yet and just don't know it will go," said Stokell, who after four Nations Cup seasons is one of the world's most experienced and successful Lamborghini drivers.

We do know how the Diablo will go, so we'll just press on and see what happens."

The ex-Team Rafanelli Ferrari has arrived from the American Le Mans Series via Italy and, following weight, braking and aerodynamic modifications to fit Australian regulations, will be tested at Melbourne's Calder Park circuit today.

The Ferrari will be run against other Nations Cup contenders, including Peter Brock's Bathurst 24-Hour winning 7.0 litre Holden Monaro, to independently compare its performance before series technical officials decide if it needs to be slowed.

Owner Mark Coffey said: "We've had to do a tremendous amount of work in a short time to get the Ferrari ready for next weekend.

"We've had to add about 200 kilograms to the overall weight, change the brakes from carbonfibre to steel and fit a smaller rear wing in order to meet the requirement that the car's performance is similar to our competitors'.

"The engine should produce about 550 horsepower and Allan's very excited about driving it. He's a great talent and now he's getting a chance to really prove it."

The outright class, re-named GT for 2004, promises fans a feast of big-engined racers.

Besides the two Italian V12 coupes, each with 6.0 litre capacity, V8 Monaros will be driven by Nathan Pretty for Garry Rogers Motorsport and by either Peter Brock or his son James Brock for the new Team Brock. A second Brock Monaro is being built for later rounds of the series.

Victorian D'arcy Russell is due to return to the series with his crowd-pleasing Chrysler Viper, powered by an 8.0 litre V10 engine.

In the Trophy class, formerly Group Two, James Koundouris is back to defend his title in a Ferrari 360 Challenge for Mark Coffey Racing, while Queensland stalwart John Teulan will drive a similar car.

The Nations Cup cars will contest three races, including a 20-lap twilight feature event on Saturday.

Television coverage of the eight-round championship, part of the PROCAR Champ Series, will be shown on the national Nine Network and on Fox Sports.

-procar.au-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Nathan Pretty , Garry Rogers , Peter Brock , James Koundouris , John Teulan , Paul Stokell , James Brock
Teams Garry Rogers Motorsport