Holden's local hero Nathan Pretty has set his sights on taking the lead in the Australian Nations Cup Championship ahead of a bunch of exotic European rivals in round four at Winton Motor Raceway in north-eastern Victoria this weekend. Pretty,...
Holden's local hero Nathan Pretty has set his sights on taking the lead in the Australian Nations Cup Championship ahead of a bunch of exotic European rivals in round four at Winton Motor Raceway in north-eastern Victoria this weekend.
Pretty, from Albury-Wodonga, is second to defending champion and Lamborghini ace Paul Stokell in the series standings and hopes to benefit in Sunday's three races from his intimate knowledge of the tight Winton circuit and the improved form of his 7.0 litre Holden Monaro.
Approaching the season's halfway point this weekend, Pretty has emerged as the most consistent rival to Stokell and the V12 Lamborghini Diablo.
The Garry Rogers Motorsport Monaro, in which Pretty shared victory in the inaugural Bathurst 24-Hour race, has carried him to three race wins in the past two rounds and positioned him just 37 points shy of Stokell.
"That sounds like a lot, but a race win in Nations Cup is worth 30 points and we have three races," said Pretty, who also won last year's Winton round.
"Add to that the unpredictability of racing at Winton and our team could be in with a chance."
The Winton layout favours cars with good cornering ability and is well-known for producing upsets. Both Pretty and Stokell will be on the lookout for some formidable opponents.
These include touring car legend Peter Brock, who will debut a new Monaro built in his home workshop, Ian Palmer in Brock's previous Monaro, Porsche drivers Mark Eddy and David Stevens, D'arcy Russell and his 8.0 Chrysler Viper and Allan Simonsen in a Ferrari 550 Maranello.
The Nations Cup field is the strongest so far this season, but for the intensity of competition it will be rivalled virtually throughout the six championship categories on the 15-race PROCAR Champ Series program.
Australia's most diverse touring car series, the GT Performance Championship, heads to Winton with 28 cars representing nine makes and almost 15 models.
Subaru WRX driver Justin Hemmes will have to fight hard to defend his points lead from the likes of Garry Holt, in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 and, again, Paul Stokell, who's doing double duty with the factory-supported Volkswagen team.
Stokell's all-wheel drive Golf R32 was in powerful form in round three at Sandown last month and might have dominated this weekend if not for an official parity adjustment imposed by the series organisers to slow its cornering speed.
The GTP field will feature two powerful new cars this weekend -- the BA Ford Falcon GT of James Philip and a Holden HSV GTS for Peter Floyd. Both machines will make use of more than 400 horsepower to hunt down their smaller, more nimble rivals.
Also on the program are rounds of the Australian Production Car Championship, V8 BRutes Series, Australian Formula 3 Championship and Australian Porsche Drivers Challlenge.
Tomorrow is scheduled for practice -- plus a visit by up to 100 local primary school children to learn about the motor racing world.
Qualifying for all categories will be on Saturday, with racing scheduled all day Sunday from 9 am.
Sunday also will feature a major Ute Muster in support of the V8 BRutes races and displays by several car clubs, including Holden, Ford and Subaru WRX.
The PROCAR Champ Series has set a new benchmark for affordable ticket prices, with adults paying only $10 on Saturday and $12 on Sunday, including free entry to the Competitors Paddock, and children under 15 admitted free.