Round one Adelaide preview

Holden has the numbers for first GTP round. Holden will have the numbers when more than 30 of Australia's most popular high-performance production touring cars contest the first round of the 2003 Australian GT Performance Championship, starting...

Holden has the numbers for first GTP round.

Holden will have the numbers when more than 30 of Australia's most popular high-performance production touring cars contest the first round of the 2003 Australian GT Performance Championship, starting in Adelaide tomorrow.

A record seven examples of Holden's fastest road sedan, the 400 horsepower HSV GTS, have been entered for three races scheduled to run on the Adelaide Parklands street circuit.

They will face a variety of smaller, turbocharged cars from Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Mazda, plus three European sports machines, the BMW M3 and M Coupe, and Volkswagen's new factory-run Golf R32 all-wheel drive.

Despite the Holdens' numerical advantage, the championship has never been more open.

Two-time champion Brett Peters (Subaru STi) and 2002 runner-up Geoff Full (Mitsubishi Evolution) dominated the podium last year but have both moved to other series, leaving a more evenly-matched group of successors.

These include on the Subaru side teammates Wayne Boatwright and Justin Hemmes, plus Gary Deane, Ian Box and John Falk, who's driving the 2002 championship winner.

Former champion Mark King, Bob Hughes, Adelaide's Michael Brock, Ross Almond and Steve Knight, and Geelong's Graham Alexander will start for Mitsubishi, while a five-car entry of Mazda RX-7s will be led by Sydney ace Ric Shaw.

The Holdens will contest a championship round for the first time on wider 18 inch x 9 inch wheel rims, some teams hoping to overcome tyre problems they had suffered last season with the fast but heavy sedans.

Peter Floyd, Barrie Nesbitt, Barry Morcom, Richard Davis, Dennis Gilbert, Mark Cohen and John Beasley will drive Holdens, while Trevor Haines will represent Ford alone in a Tickford TE50 Falcon, pending completion of a new BA GT Falcon shortly.

Along with the works Golf, driven by ex-Formula Ford star Stewart McColl, new cars in the field include the BMW M Coupe of Adelaide's Steve Cramp and the world's first racing version of the recently-released Nissan 350Z, in the hands of Nathan Pilkington, from Sydney.

Round one will introduce a number of developments to GTP, the most significant being "success ballast", which will add weight on a reducing scale to the first, second and third cars in each round. (With Adelaide being the first round, success ballast will not be applied until round two.)

A revised championship points system will award finishers up to 15th place.

Adelaide also will kick off a new broadcast deal between GTP organiser PROCAR Australia and the Seven Network, which will see a total of 40 hours' television devoted to PROCAR categories and events this season.

SPEED READ

TIMETABLE: Thursday - 10.35 am Practice (20 min.). Friday - 9.05 am Practice (20 min.), 1.05 pm Qualifying (20 min.). Saturday - 10.00 am Race 1 (9 laps), 5.30 pm Race 2 (9 laps). Sunday - 8.30 am Race 3 (9 laps).

AUTOGRAPH SESSIONS: GT Performance drivers will attend public autograph sessions in the Support Paddock at Adelaide Parklands on Saturday at 12.30 pm and Sunday at 10.30 am.

TELEVISION: Channel Seven, Saturday 5 April, 12 noon - 1.00 pm (check local guides).

-www.procar.com.au

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Series Supercars
Drivers Steve Knight , Peter Floyd , Ric Shaw , Trevor Haines , John Falk , Geoff Full , Steve Cramp , Mark King , Wayne Boatwright , Graham Alexander , Bob Hughes , Michael Brock , Mark Cohen , Nathan Pilkington , Gary Deane , Brett Peters , John Beasley , Barrie Nesbitt , Barry Morcom
Teams Nissan Motorsports