CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP SANDOWN PREVIEW 22nd JUNE 1999 SANDOWN STRAIGHTS COULD FAVOUR VIPERS The Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship is set to come alive at Sandown International...
CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
SANDOWN PREVIEW 22nd JUNE 1999
SANDOWN STRAIGHTS COULD FAVOUR VIPERS
The Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship is set to come alive at Sandown International Motor Raceway this weekend, as a 46-strong grid, lines up for round five of the championship.
While the GTP stars and cars did battle in the OAMPS Insurance Endurance Classic at Sandown last year, this weekend will be the first time the Century Batteries Championship has graced the prestigious Melbourne circuit.
Jim Richards, leading the championship in the Porsche 911 RSCS, believes the Porsches will have their work cut out for them this weekend, as the track will favour the big horsepower cars such as the Dodge Viper GTS which is returning to the series this year and at Sandown for the first time.
"Sandown is a collection of slow corners coming onto big long straights and that means the Vipers are likely to have the jump on us and - we'll be doing it tough," Richards said.
Richards has a strong history at Sandown having claimed a number of touring car championship races and is now looking forward to what is a great driver's track.
"Sandown has a certain novelty about it, because we don't race there very often and that will make taking the Porsche there for the first time all the more enjoyable," Richards said.
"I wouldn't say that we're necessarily confident of a win - you only ever go into a race to do your best and if that's better than the next guy then you'll come away with success."
Melinda Price and Sam Newman in the Gibson Motorsport Vectras will both be challenging for Class D honours against current leader Phil Kirkham (Mazda 626) at the Melbourne track this weekend.
Price is making her debut in one of two Holden Vectras entered in the series and is delighted to be back in the drive after an eight-month break from racing.
Price's last drive was in the Larry Perkins prepared Commodore at the 1998 Primus 1000 at Bathurst. Price says an eight month lay-off is not ideal preparation but is glad to be getting back into the driver's seat for a competitive run.
"My first taste of the Vectra was trying out Sam's (Newman) car during practice at Hidden Valley. It felt pretty good up there, and once we've settled into the series and had a chance to work on our setup, then we should be a chance of taking class honours by the end of the year."
Price says that she is looking forward to debuting her Vectra with her celebrity team-mate on track and hopes to go one better than Newman.
"I'd like to think that he won't see me for dust, but seeing he already has points on the board I won't be making any bets. It should be a great weekend and if it rains, as it has a tendency to do at Sandown, all the better."
Roland Hill will be making his debut in the Holden Commodore V8 VS Executive at Sandown Raceway, joining class leader Peter Phelan (Holden Commodore VT SS) and Commodore VS driver Mark Cohen to make a three strong Holden assault on Class C.
Geoff Full (Subaru Impreza WRX) is hoping to continue his commanding run in the Autobarn Class B of the championship following his run of unchallenged race victories this year. Mark King ( Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3) and Wayne Vinckx (Nissan 200SX) are chasing Full in the class.
Class E youngster Craig Dontas (Suzuki Swift GTi) will be returning to the series after missing the Hidden Valley round while repairing his car from his spectacular exit from race two at Phillip Island. Dontas' spun Suzuki was struck by Peter Fitzgerald's Porsche 911 RSCS, resulting in major damage to both cars.
Kosi Kalaitzidis (Proton M21 Coupe) is hoping to again find the outstanding form from the Hidden Valley round, where he claimed both class victories, and challenge current Class E leader Sue Hughes (Suzuki Swift GTi). Warren Luff also returns aboard the Peugeot 306 Style which took Class E victories at Phillip Island.
Ric Shaw (Toyota MR2 Bathurst) continues to lead Class S, but Wayne Russell's BMW 323i is keen to bounce back after failing to topple Shaw in Darwin.
CLASS A 1 Domenic Beninca Porsche 911 RSCS 3 Peter Fitzgerald Porsche 911 RSCS 5 Jim Richards Porsche 911 RSCS 8 Ed Aitken Porsche 911 RSCS 9 Ray Lintott Dodge Viper GTS Coupe 11 Jamie Cartwright Toyota Supra RZ Twin-Turbo 12 Geoff Morgan Porsche 911 RSCS 18 Murray Carter Chevrolet Corvette C5 V8 Coupe 27 Darren Palmer Ferrari F355 Challenge 29 Gary Waldon, Dodge Viper GTS Coupe 38 Rod Salmon Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo V 41 Terry Bosnjak Mazda RX-7 SP Twin-Turbo 45 John Teulan Nissan Skyline GT-R Turbo 4WD 57 Graham Alexander Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo V 65 Craig Dean Ford Mustang Saleen
CLASS B 6 Geoff Full Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 7 Peter Boylan Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 15 Bob Hughes Mazda RX-7 Twin Turbo 25 Richards Davis HSV GTS-R 215i 34 Mark King Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo III 40 Dwayne Bewley Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 47 John Trimbole Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo III 66 Paula Elstrek Mazda RX-7 Twin Turbo 76 Wayne Vinckx Nissan 200SX Sport Coupe Turbo 91 Gary Deane Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo
CLASS C 16 Peter Phelan Holden Commodore VT SS V8 20 Robert Chadwick Mitsubishi Magna TH Sports V6 3.5 33 Roland Hill Holden Commodore VS SS V8 46 Ryan McLeod Ford Falcon EL XR8 55 Mark Cohen Holden Commodore VS SS V8 88 David Ratcliff Toyota Camry Touring V6
CLASS D 17 Sam Newman Holden Vectra GL 2.2 Sedan 28 Melinda Price Holden Vectra GL 2.2 Sedan 71 Phil Kirkham Mazda 626
CLASS E 21 Kosi Kalaitidis Proton M21 Coupe 36 Warren Luff Peugeot 306 Style 37 Nathan Thomas Suzuki Swift Gti 74 Sue Hughes Suzuki Swift Gti 75 Craig Dontas Suzuki Swift Gti
CLASS S 13 Colin Osborne Toyota MR2 Bathurst 26 Wayne Russell BMW 323i 35 Ric Shaw Toyota MR2 Bathurst 54 Matt Lehmann Mazda MX-5 Sports
POINTS AFTER ROUND FOUR:
Outright Drivers Championship Richards, Jim 71.5 Beninca, Domenic 62* Fitzgerald, Peter 41 Cartwright, Jamie 31 Aitken, Ed 30 Bosnjak, Terry 27 Park, Wayne 24 Morgan, Geoff 22 Full, Geoff 13 Spiridis, Perry 10 Dean, Craig 6 Boylan, Peter 4 King, Mark 4 Palmer, Darren 4 Alexander, Graham 3.5 Lynton, Beric 3 White, Damien 3 Carter, Murray 2.5 Cowley, John 2 Elstrek, Paula 2 Salmon, Rod 2 Shaw, Ric 1 Vinckx, Wayne 0.5
Class A Richards, Jim 67.5 Beninca, Domenic 61 Fitzgerald, Peter 40 Aitken, Ed 31 Cartwright, Jamie 31 Bosnjak, Terry 27 Park, Wayne 24 Morgan, Geoff 23 Dean, Craig 10 Spiridis, Perry 10 Alexander, Graham 4.5 Palmer, Darren 4 Carter, Murray 3.5 Lynton, Beric 3 White, Damien 3 Salmon, Rod 2
Class B Full, Geoff 82.5 King, Mark 40 Vinckx, Wayne 40 Elstrek, Paula 34 Boylan, Peter 23 Cowley, John 16 Jacob, Scott 16 Hughes, Bob 3
Class C Phelan, Peter 58 Cohen, Mark 52.5 Ratcliff, David 46 Chadwick, Robert 42 Mcleod, Ryan 41 Cribbin, Denis 18
Class D Kirkham, Megan 30 Kirkham, Phil 30 Newman, Sam 12
Class E Hughes, Sue 56 Kalaitzidis, Kosi 46 Mckay, Peter 30 Luff, Warren 22.5 Best, Darren 22 Thomas, Nathan 17 Dontas, Craig 8
Class S Shaw, Ric 74 Russell, Wayne 66.5 Osborne, Colin 49 Haynes, Clayton 20 Kirkham, Phil 12 Lehmann, Matt 10 Lucas, Nicolas 5 Kirkham, Megan 4
* subject to appeal __________________________________________________________