THE spectacular Chrysler Vipers will return to the Megamantis.com Australian Nations Cup Championship ranks at the GMC400 meeting next month, boosting the entry list to 24 cars for round three on the Canberra street circuit. Viper...
THE spectacular Chrysler Vipers will return to the Megamantis.com Australian Nations Cup Championship ranks at the GMC400 meeting next month, boosting the entry list to 24 cars for round three on the Canberra street circuit.
Viper regulars Rusty French, Geoff Morgan and D'arcy Russell will field their powerful 10-cylinder coupes for the first time in full 2001 guise, with Le Mans-type GTS-R bodywork and Holinger sequential gearboxes.
Reliability problems with the standard Viper roadgoing gearboxes kept the cars out of the season's first two rounds - although French had a highly successful run at the non-championship Australian Grand Prix.
The return of the Nations Cup to the nation's capital with the biggest field so far this year will be headed by current leader of the Meguiar's Drivers Championship Paul Stokell, in a Lamborghini Diablo SVR.
Also entered are Ferrari's Mark Noske, who scored a sensational win-from-the-back in round two at Wakefield Park, and defending Nations Cup champion Jim Richards, in a Porsche GT3.
With Richards and fellow Porsche pilots Peter Fitzgerald and Mark Williamson each winning a leg of the Canberra round last year, the German marque ought to be favorite again - but there are some promising new challengers.
Williamson is due to rejoin the Nations Cup an in ultra-lightweight Lotus Elise 200R just imported from England. Kevlar body panels will save 100kg and add competitiveness to the Jaguar XKR of Queenslander Mark Trenoweth.
Unlike the tiny Lotus, the American-built Vipers will fight for space on the narrow street course near the national parliament building, but French is hopeful.
"Apart from reliability, the biggest gain with the new transmission is the certainty of not missing gearchanges at a critical moment," French said.
"On a crowded, concrete-walled track like Canberra, a missed gearchange could mean instant disaster. Canberra won't be our best track, but it's great to be back in the race."