-- TAC V8Supercar Challenge -- -- Qualifying --
A new record was set for entries at a V8Supercar sprint meeting with a grid of 40 cars lining up for Race 1. Russell Ingall continued his love affair with the Albert Park layout by claiming pole position with a 1:59.138, and it was an all Castrol front row as you might have expected from lastyear's results. But it was Tony Longhurst not Perkins in second, less than two tenths behind Ingall. Jason Bright was third, continuing to impress with his consistent speed. John Bowe indicated a Ford resurgence claiming fourth ahead of HRT driver Craig Lowndes. Lowndes was over a second slower than polesitter, Ingall.
Glenn Seton was next, 4th fastest of the Fords being a rare disappointment for him, as was the performance of his new team mate, Rodney Forbes in 22nd. Mark Skaife was 7th ahead of Jason Bargwanna, continuing to show GRM's ability to run with HRT and Perkins Engineering as a front running Holden team. Wayne Gardner was a very encouraging 9th on his return to Touring Cars, and emphasized along with Longhurst, that Yokohama was back.
Larry Perkins completed the top ten, followed by Mark Larkham, Steven Richards, Dick Johnson, John Faulkner and Steven Ellery in the Young Lions Commodore. 15th for Ellery, 18th for Hossack and a DNQ for Pate, and the performances of Longhurst & Gardner indicated that the tyres are not all to blame for Gibson Motor Sports problems. Sixteenth, and top level 2 team, was again Paul Romano, and 17th was top privateer (level 3) Trevor Ashby in the Lansvale Commodore. Greg Crick & Tomas Mezera completed the top 20, Mezera having his first race since The Primus Classic in Chris Smerdon's Commodore.
The rest of the grid was Terry Finnigan (Sony Holden), Rodney Forbes (Ford Credit Ford), Mark Poole (Gawler Holden), Wayne Park (Charles Ryman Ford), Anthony Tratt (Toll Express Ford), Paul Weel (Tradelink Ford), Mal Rose (Fairfax Holden), Wayne Russell (Holden), Michael Donaher (Ultra Tune Holden), Kerryn Brewer (Castrol Holden), Danny Osborne (Colourscan Ford), Neil Schembri (Gearbox Holden), Ray Hislop (NHP Ford), Mike Conway (OAMPS Ford), John Cotter (M3 Holden), D'arcy Russell (Holden), Garry Willmington (Simon's Earthworks Holden), Barry Morcom (Holden), Mike Imrie (Saabwreck Holden) and Darren Pate in the Wynn's car.
-- Race 1 --
Russell Ingall won the start and led Lowndes, Bright, Longhurst and Skaife in fifth. Ingall immediately started pulling away and a group of cars started after him. The five-way battle for second between Bright, Lowndes, Longhurst, Skaife and Bowe was the highlight of the race.
On the third lap, Bright went wide and was pounced on by Longhurst. With Bright getting a poor exit on the striaght, Lowndes, Skaife and Bowe were able to follow past and Seton was able to close up. Longhurst was then caught out exiting onto one of Albert Park's long straights and the pack flowed past.
Coming into turn three, Bowe and Lowndes touched putting Lowndes into the wall, and out of the race. Coming into the last turn, Bowe snuck up the inside of Bright, pushing him off line. This allowed Longhurst to pass Bright on the run to the flag, but the race was all Ingall, his 4th consecutive win at Albert Park.
1 Russell Ingall Castrol Holden Commodore VS 2 Mark Skaife Mobil HRT Holden Commodore VS 3 John Bowe Shell Helix Ford Falcon EL 4 Tony Longhurst Castrol Ford Falcon EL 5 Jason Bright Pirtek Ford Falcon EL 6 Glenn Seton Ford Credit Ford Falcon EL 7 Jason Bargwanna Valvoline Holden Commodore VS 8 Wayne Gardner Coca Cola Holden Commodore VS 9 John Faulkner Fisher & Paykel Holden Commodore VS 10 Dick Johnson Shell Helix Ford Falcon EL 11 Mark Larkham Mitre 10 Ford Falcon EL 12 Larry Perkins Castrol Commodore VS 13 Steve Ellery Konica Young Lions Holden Commodore VS 14 Darren Hossack Wynns Holden Commodore VS (first Level 2 car) 15 Terry Finnigan Sony Autosound Holden Commodore VS 16 Mark Poole Gawler Holden Commodore VS 17 Tomas Mezera Vittorio Holden Commodore VS 18 Trevor Ashby Lansvale Smash Repairs Holden Commodore VS (top privateer) 19 Anthony Tratt Toll Express Ford Falcon EF 20 Rodney Forbes Ford Credit Ford Falcon EL 21 Mal Rose Fairfax Community Newspapers Holden Commodore VS 22 Darren Pate Wynns Holden Commodore VS 23 Michael Donaher Ultra Tune Holden Commodore VS 24 Danny Osborne Colourscan Ford Falcon EL 25 Ray Hislop NHP Ford Falcon EF 26 Kerryn Brewer Castrol Cougars Holden Commodore VS 27 Neil Schembri Gearbox Holden Commodore VS 28 John Cotter M3 Motorsport Holden Commodore VS 29 D'arcy Russell Holden Commodore VS 30 Garry Willmington Simon's Earthworks Holden Commodore VS 31 Mike Imrie Saabwreck Holden Commodore VS 32 Barry Morcom Holden Commodore VP 33 Paul Weel Tradelink Ford Falcon EL 34 Mike Conway OAMPS Ford Falcon EL 35 Wayne Russell Holden Commodore VS 36 Steven Richards Valvoline Holden Commodore VS
-- Race 2 --
The start was fairly equal all round and it was pole man Russell Ingall who won the race to the first corner. He was followed by Skaife, Bowe, Longhurst, Bright, Bargwanna, Gardner, Seton, Haulkner, Hossack, Johnson, Perkins, Larkham, Ellery (running wide onto the grass), Finnigan, Poole, Mezera & Ashby. At the third corner, Bright got onto the grass, and the power too quickly, and the Pirtek Falcon rotated into the wall. Over the back section, into the chicane, Longhurst was able to dive underneath John Bowe, while Ingall and Skaife pulled away at the front.
At the end of the first lap it was Ingall, Skaife, Longhurst, Bowe, Bargwanna, Gardner, Perkins, Seton, Johnson & Faulkner.
Michael Donaher in the Ultra Tune car had a coming together with Paul Romano whilst Osborne spun in sympathy. Donaher was able to continue but Romano was buried in the sandtrap.
The order across the line for the second time was Ingall, Skaife, Longhurst, Bowe, Bargwanna, Gardner, Seton, Perkins, Johnson & Faulkner. Longhurst's challenge ended on lap 4 when he blew a power steering pulley, the Falcon belching white smoke. Neil Schembri spun the Gearbox Commodore going into 'Brundle' Corner, a corner that caught out many, and Kerryn Brewer in the Cougardore was forced onto the grass as a result. Darren Hossack shoved Terry Finnigan into a spin ending in a mild head-on with Steven Richards. All three continued.
After 5 laps the order was Ingall, Skaife, Bowe, Bargwanna, Perkins & Gardner. With a lap to go Terry Finnigan ruptured his damaged radiator, with a gout of steam. Bargwanna & Gardner had an off track excursion together, both continued. At the last corner Bowe was able to repeat his trick from the previous race and got the better line on Skaife and powered past him to the line, but the Castrol painted bird had flown, Ingall winning convincingly. Larry Perkins was 4th from Glenn Seton & Dick Johnson.
-- Race 3 -- no race report 1 Ingall 2 Bowe 3 Skaife 4 Perkins 5 Seton 6 Johnson 7 Richards 8 Lowndes 9 Larkham 10 Faulkner 11 Crick (top privateer) 12 Ashby 13 Finnigan (1st level 2) 14 Park 15 Romano 16 Mezera 17 Tratt 18 Weel 19 Rose 20 Donaher 21 Schembri 22 Hislop 23 Wayne Russell 24 Willmington 25 Morcom