UTE: Mallala season finale preview

Championships up for grabs as Series Three new Australian motor racing champions will be crowned when the 2004 PROCAR Champ Series stages its seventh and final round at Mallala Motorsport Park, near Adelaide, next week. Lamborghini star Paul...

Championships up for grabs as Series

Three new Australian motor racing champions will be crowned when the 2004 PROCAR Champ Series stages its seventh and final round at Mallala Motorsport Park, near Adelaide, next week.

Lamborghini star Paul Stokell has effectively won the Nations Cup for GT sports cars, but he will be racing also in the GT Performance touring car series with an outside chance of securing that title with the Volkswagen factory team.

The most likely GTP champion is Subaru driver Justin Hemmes, who is heading for an impressive achievement in just his second season of racing.

Meanwhile, only misfortune will stop Damien White driving away with the V8 BRutes Series title in a Team Brock Holden SS ute.

Round 7 of the PROCAR Champ Series presented by Coopers Pale Ale on 17-19 September also will feature races for the Australian Production Car and Formula 3 Championships, the Porsche Drivers Challenge (combined with Nations Cup) and South Australian Formula Vee competitors.

Another big race-day attraction during the PROCAR Champ Series first visit to Mallala will be a trackside Ute Muster, offering trophies for the best roadgoing utes in four categories.

Stokell was handed his second straight Nations Cup crown when the season was shortened from eight rounds to seven, denying nearest rival Nathan Pretty the chance to reduce his points deficit enough in the remaining races.

Stokell, winner of five of six possible pole positions and 10 of 18 races so far, has a 94-point lead over Pretty when the maximum score available at Mallala will be 93.

With little now to lose, the Nations Cup promises to turn on three no-holds-barred races for the South Australian fans.

Team Lamborghini Australia plans to celebrate its success with a flourish, for the first time this year entering a second Diablo GTR coupe to be driven by Formula 3 champion Peter Hackett.

The Lamborghini pair faces strong challenges in the GT (outright) class from James Brock in the Team Brock 7.0 litre Holden Monaro, David Stevens, whose turbocharged Porsche GT2 has gone faster at every round, and the Brabham Honda NSX turbo of Ian Palmer.

The Trophy class should see a close contest between Allan Simonsen, John Teulan and Ted Hugliln, all in Ferrari 360 Challenge coupes, and Geoff Munday in a Ford Mustang Cobra RA.

In the absence of points leader Theo Koundouris, Teulan is best placed to secure the Trophy class championship, his second in three seasons.

Hemmes is chasing his first GT Performance title and is in the points lead thanks to a highly-consistent season comprising two wins and a top-five finish in every one of his 16 races in a Protecnica team Subaru Impreza STi.

Stokell, trailing by 75 points, is Hemmes' only title rival and always a danger in the works Volkswagen Golf all-wheel drive. But GTP has been the PROCAR Champ Series' hardest-fought category this season and neither driver is assured of winning the last three races, which will be presented by Bizmail Broadband..

Ric Shaw (Mazda RX-7), Garry Holt and Mark King (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8), Peter Floyd (Holden GTS) and Tim Leahey (Volkswagen Golf R32) also have won races in the series for high-performance production touring cars and all will be keen to close their season with one more victory.

Knowledge of their home track should be an advantage for Adelaide-based drivers Michael Brock, Steve Knight and Ross Almond (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8s), Steve Cramp and Craig Dontas (Holden GTSs) and Paul Mitolo (Mazda RX-7).

After three years behind the wheel of a Ford Falcon XR8 ute, Damien White's switch to Holden and Team Brock in 2004 has paid off with four pole positions, a 50 percent win rate and leadership of the popular V8 BRutes Series.

In a field of 26 utes with identical performance, knowledge gained from testing at Mallala could again be a factor for local Holden drivers Charlie Kovacs, Gary Baxter and Chris Smerdon.

But only Ford's Jack Elsegood, a former star winger for Sydney rugby league club Easts who turned to motor racing as his "first love", has a mathematical chance of beating White for the title.

Chris Alajajian, a 17-year-old Sydney school student, has won the Australian Production Car Championship and Class A title already in a Subaru Liberty GT.

But there are no certainties in the B, C and D classes, where the points leaders Ian Luff (class B, Honda Integra), Leanne Ferrier (class C, Toyota Corolla) and David Russell (class D, Proton Satria) all will have to fend off close rivals in two handicap races -- in the case of 2003 champion Russell, his father Geoff.

Round 7 of the PROCAR Champ Series presented by Coopers Pale Ale will be the last under the management of interim organiser Peter Boylan, who has run the series since round three.

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) currently is seeking expressions of interest in managing the Nations Cup, GTP, Production Car and V8 BRutes production-based categories from 2005 and is expected to announce its decision on their future within the next couple of months.

-procar.au-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Steve Knight , Tim Leahey , Allan Simonsen , Peter Floyd , Peter Boylan , Ric Shaw , Paul Stokell , Peter Hackett , Theo Koundouris , Ian Palmer , Steve Cramp , Mark King , Ian Luff , Charlie Kovacs , James Brock , Garry Holt , Michael Brock , Jack Elsegood , Chris Alajajian , Damien White , David Russell
Tags AUSUTE