UTE: Race report

PROCAR Champ Series, 3-5 May, Oran Park, NSW Bowe puts Ferrari on top at Oran Park. John Bowe extended his lead in the Australian Nations Cup Championship by winning round three in a $750,000 Ferrari 360 GT at Oran Park Raceway, near Sydney, ...

PROCAR Champ Series, 3-5 May, Oran Park, NSW
Bowe puts Ferrari on top at Oran Park.

John Bowe extended his lead in the Australian Nations Cup Championship by winning round three in a $750,000 Ferrari 360 GT at Oran Park Raceway, near Sydney, today.

Bowe scored a win and two second places to finish the day with 463 points in the series for exotic sports cars.

Different drivers won each race, Geoff Morgan's race-two victory in a Chrysler Viper giving him second on the day and consolidating his second spot overall in the pointscore ahead of defending champion Jim Richards (Porsche).

The first 16-lap race was won by Paul Stokell, but a recent run of bad luck for the Lamborghini driver continued when broken front suspension sent him flying spectacularly into a gravel trap in race two.

On a weekend when Stokell badly needed points - he scored none in round two because of mechanical problems - his team was unable to repair the car in time to start race three and as a result he slipped from fifth to sixth in the series tally.

The Nations Cup was the highlight of a 16-race program for the PROCAR Champ Series event, which also featured the GT Performance and GT Production Car Championships, the V8 BRute Series and the Australian Formula 3 Championship.

"The round win didn't come easily this weekend. We were carrying extra weight and other handicaps, but the PHR Scuderia team gave me a perfect car and it did the job," Bowe said.

"Consistency is what counts in a championship and this weekend we fell only 10 points short of a second straight clean sweep. It's a great credit to everyone."

There were three different winners in three races also in the Australian GT Performance Championship for high performance sedans and sports coupes.

Defending champion Brett Peters matched Bowe's consistent performance, scoring a win and two second places in a Subaru STi and extending his lead in the 2002 pointscore.

Geoff Full won race one in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII, but fell through the field in race two after a stop-go penalty and failed to finish race three because of a broken wheel.

Race-two winner Mark King, in another of the Japanese all-wheel drive sedans, also did not finish race three after a tyre punctured.

A new handicap system in the Australian GT Production Car Championship produced upset winners in both races, with the four-cylinder cars of Martin Doxey (Holden Astra) and David Russell (Proton) respectively narrowly beating the 5.7 litre Holden Commodore of Scott Loadsman in exciting finishes.

South Australian Steve Cramp, driving a BMW, retained the series lead.

Typically, the V8 BRute Series Holden and Ford utes provided the wildest racing - plus a touch of controversy and an historical note.

Touring car legend and Bathurst winner Allan Grice, 59, returned to Oran Park for the first time in 10 years and scored his first win aboard a Ford Falcon XR8 in the third BRutes race.

Locally-based driver Warren Luff won the first race by a massive 13 seconds, while Grant Denyer won race two. Both also drove Falcons, helping Ford maintain its Manufacturers Championship lead over Holden, 2247 points to 1897.

The first two races featured plenty of contact between a packed field of 23 competitors, who included former Sydney Roosters rugby league player Jack Elsegood.

After a heavy accident in race two involving front-runner Damien White (Falcon) and James Brock (Commodore), all the drivers met to discuss driving standards and to hear calls for less aggressive tactics in race three. White's car was badly damaged when it hit a tyre wall, but he was unhurt apart from bruising.

Senior Ford driver Ian McAlister said a six-man committee of Ford and Holden representatives would discuss the meeting's sentiments - including calls to scrap a ballot system of deciding starting order - with V8 BRute Series organiser PROCAR Australia.

"Even after race one today there was always going to be something said, but the crash in race two sealed it," McAlister said.

"Some of the driving was pretty bad today. It's been happening for a year and the competitors are concerned for their safety and damage to their cars."


Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Ian McAlister , Jim Richards , John Bowe , Grant Denyer , Geoff Morgan , Paul Stokell , Geoff Full , Steve Cramp , Mark King , Scott Loadsman , James Brock , Brett Peters , Warren Luff , Jack Elsegood , Damien White , David Russell