OAMPS INSURANCE ENDURANCE CLASSIC SANDOWN INTERNATIONAL MOTOR RACEWAY
FRIDAY 11th SEPTEMBER 1998
MASERATI SETS THE GTP SANDOWN PACE
Australian open wheel racing legend Alfredo Costanzo stunned his opposition in practice for the OAMPS Insurance Endurance Classic at Sandown today – charging around the Melbourne circuit .85 of a second faster than his nearest opposition.
Teamed with talented youngster Dean Canto, Costanzo stopped the clocks at 1.19.582 aboard his Maserati Ghibli.
The Ferrari F355 Challenge of John Bowe and Neil Crompton was second fastest ahead of Ed Aitken and Peter Fitzgerald aboard a Porsche 911 RSCS. Costanzo believes the long straights of the Sandown circuit are the key to the Maserati's speed.
"I've always been confident we would go well here because the car had the room to really stretch its legs," Costanzo said.
"We were very fast at Phillip Island and Sandown also helps us because the Maserati is also very strong through 90 degree turns.
"The team should be in a good position to do very well here this weekend."
The multiple Australian Drivers' Champion also is impressed with his 17-year-old co-driver.
"Young Dean is a very clever driver and I believe he will be very good for the team," Costanzo said.
"I'm a little quicker at the moment because I know the car and the circuit but Dean is not upset that he is slower than the older driver. He is keen to learn and I am very impressed with his pace so far."
The Century Batteries GTP Championship winning Porsche 911 RSCS of Domenic Beninca and Garry Waldon was fourth fastest ahead of the father and son team of Max and Luke Warwick aboard the ex-Cameron McConville title winning Porsche.
Two-time Commodore Cup champ Gary Baxter was the fastest man in Class B aboard Richard Davis' HSV GTS-R. John Trimbole and Damien White (Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo III) were second fastest ahead of the Subaru Impreza WRX team of Scott Jacob and former Iron Man champ, Grant Kenny.
Class C champion David Ratcliff continued to set the pace aboard his Toyota Camry he will share with Geoff Full while the new VT model Holden Commodore driven by Peter Phelan and Trevor Talbot was second fastest.
Sam Newman drove well aboard the new AU Ford Falcon XR6 to be fifth fastest in his class.
Last year's GTP Lights Class D Bathurst winners Calvin Gardiner and Tom Watkinson were on the pace in their return race aboard a Mazda 626.
Gardiner and Watkinson toppled the newly rebuilt Phil Kirkham Mazda which will be driven this weekend by Phil's wife Megan, and crew chief Matt Lehmann.
Aaron McGill and Don Pulver headed Class E with a Suzuki Swift GTi.
RESULTS SESSION ONE 1. A. Costanzo/D. Canto, Maserati Ghibli 1:19.582 2. J. Bowe/N. Crompton, Ferrari F355 Challenge 1:20.429 3. E. Aitken/P. Fitzgerald, Porsche 911 RSCS 1:21.018 4. D. Beninca/G. Waldon, Porsche 911 RSCS 1:21.269 Class B R. Davis/G. Baxter, HSV GTS-R 1:28.871 Class C D. Ratcliff/G. Full, Toyota Camry CSi 1:31.736 Class D C. Gardiner/T. Watkinson, Mazda 626 1:32.373 Class E A. McGill/D. Pulver, Suzuki Swift GTi 1:35.241
FURTHER NEWS: http://www.gtprod.com.au