Jim Richards celebrated his 1999 Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship win in fine style by taking a classic come- from-behind victory in race two of the final round at Sydney¹s Oran Park Raceway today.

Richards was fourth in the early stages as Garry Waldon¹s Dodge Viper GTS did battle with the Ferrari F355 Challenge of Wayne Park.

Park actually bounced the Ferrari off the wall coming on to the main straight as he tried to fight his way up to the Viper.

He eventually forced his way through with a handful of laps remaining as Richards fought his way past Peter Fitzgerald.

Geoff Morgan¹s Porsche 911 RSCS also joined the lead pack for a five- way fight for the lead.

After losing the lead, Waldon¹s Viper fell to brake dramas and slid off the circuit at the end of the main straight as Richards soon set his sights on the Ferrari.

Sliding around the circuit, Park battled tyre wear in the Ferrari and despite frantic sideways action, could not hold the 1999 Champion at bay.

"I am thrilled to finish the Championship with a victory, especially after such a fantastic race with the Viper and Ferrari," Richards said.

"It was certainly pretty frantic out there, but the car stayed very consistent towards the finish.

"Races like that is why I enjoy running in GT Production, you don¹t see too many races like that."

Last year¹s Champion Domenic Beninca did not finish his title defence on a high note, also spinning off the circuit at the end of the race.

Mark King bounced back to victory lane in Class B, taking a win aboard his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III over newcomer and local Sydney driver Garry Holt in a Subaru Impreza WRX.

Another new GTP racer fought his way to victory lane for the first time with Class C racer Daryl Coon winning his first event aboard his Ford Falcon AU XR6. Roland Hill took second after new champion Peter Phelan finished the event in the sandtrap after an opening lap tangle.

Ric Shaw (Toyota MR2 Bathurst) held out Michael Simpson (BMW 323i) to take the Class S battle.


Nathan Thomas may not have been able to clinch the GTP Lights Class E title, but he finished the year on a winning note with his second victory of the day aboard his Suzuki Swift GTi.

Thomas has been a strong contender through the Championship, but a run of bad fortune crippled his title chance.

Warren Luff¹s Peugeot 306 Style took second place ahead of Kosi Kalaitzidis¹s title-winning Proton M21 Coupe.

Despite damage to the Mazda 626, Phil Kirkham was still to take another Class D victory over the Holden Vectra 2.2 GLs of Melinda Price and Sam Newman.

RESULTS RACE TWO - 16 LAPS 1. - Jim Richards, Porsche 911 RSCS (A) - 22:23.683 2. - Wayne Park, Ferrari 355 Challenge (A) - 22:24.843 3. - Peter Fitzgerald, Porsche 911 RSCS (A) - 22:26.367 4. - Geoff Morgan, Porsche 911 RSCS (A) - 22:27.753 Class B - Mark King, Lancer EVO III - 23:27.607 Class C - Daryl Coon, Ford Falcon AU - 1 lap down Class D - Phil Kirkham, Mazda 626 - 2 laps down Class E - Nathan Thomas, Suzuki Swift Gti - 1 lap down Class S - Ric Shaw, Toyota MR2 Bathurst - 1 lap down

POINTS OUTRIGHT: Richards 187.5, Fitzgerald 162, Beninca 123, Aitken 95, Park 92, Morgan 91, Waldon 32

CLASS A: Richards 183.5 CLASS B: Full 166.5 CLASS C: Phelan 172 CLASS D: P. Kirkham 180, CLASS E: Kalaitzidis 158 CLASS S: Shaw 209.

Paul Ryan, paul@pr2.com.au