APR: Eastern Creek Saturday summary

Alajajian strikes first in Sydney Chris Alajajian has taken out an enthralling opening race in round three of the 2005 Donut King Australian Performance Car Championship at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway. The nature of the Eastern Creek ...

Alajajian strikes first in Sydney

Chris Alajajian has taken out an enthralling opening race in round three of the 2005 Donut King Australian Performance Car Championship at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway. The nature of the Eastern Creek layout coupled with the diverse range of cars in the series ensured the ten lap race was full with great racing throughout the field. In the end, four different manufacturers were represented within the top six places.

After qualifying on the front row of the grid, both Garry Holt (Century 21 Real Estate Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII) and Mark King (Delphi/King Springs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII) had races to forget. King broke an axle getting away from the line and would end the first lap in ninth. Holt got the start, but dropped to fourth by the end of the opening lap. A puncture would later end his race.

Peter Floyd (BP Ultimate HSV GTS), Barry Sternbeck (Wake Up! HSV GTS) and Chris Alajajian (Subaru WRX STi) were the ones to move past Holt and quickly settled into a fierce battle at the head of the field. Alajajian and Sternbeck swapped positions a number of times, with the Subaru often making a move, only for the HSV to move back past down the long straight.

On lap four, the trio were three wide coming down the straight, as Sternbeck and Alajajian simultaneously moved past Floyd. After Alajajian got by Sternbeck later in the lap, the Sydney teenager went on to build comfortable cushion over the HSV pair and went on to take the race win by three seconds.

"It was a pretty close race," said Alajajian. "After getting past the HSV's I had to maintain a gap. I couldn't afford to let them stay too close to me, so I kept pushing."

It was left to Floyd and Sternbeck to battle it out for second place. Sternbeck held the position as the race approached half distance, however the car soon encountered gearbox problems, hampering his efforts. This was all Floyd needed to move past, claiming the place and another podium finish for the year.

"I was very surprised at the start that the two Evo's didn't get away from the line too well," Floyd said post race. "I settled into 1st place, and I didn't expect Alajajian to be able to get close enough to slipstream me down the straight. But he did and got past, so then I battled with the other HSV and was able to move past him late in the race."

Despite the gearbox problems, Sternbeck was able to look on the bright side after a weekend in Wakefield riddled with woes. The third place finish equals his best result in the championship, having made his debut at the Clipsal 500 in March.

"It was looking good for a while," he said. "We were in the lead for a little while, but then we started having problems with the gearbox. It seems to be sticking in fourth gear and it started costing me some time.

"After that, I had to push as hard as I could to keep the place, but we were quick enough early in the race to have good gap up our sleeve in those final laps."

Barry Morcom (Rondo Building Services Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII) upheld some honour for the Lancer contingent, claiming fourth place at his home circuit, ahead of Beric Lynton (Donut King BMW M3). Graham Alexander (Corio Auto Parts Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII) was next, from John Falk (Fibreglass International FPV MkII GT), while King salvaged some points, battling on to finish in eighth place.

Barrie Nesbitt (Donut King HSV GTS) was ninth, edging out James Philip (First Auto Parts Plus FPV Mk II GT) by a mere two tenths of a second at the finish line. Bruce Williams (Bruce Williams Motorsport Subaru WRX STi) finished twelfth on debut in the championship.

Sydney driver Anton Mechtler (Hurley's Smash Repairs Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII) lined up to start the race from tenth on the grid, but didn't get much further than that. For his second race in succession (the other being the third race at the Clipsal 500), Mechtler suffered a gearbox failure on the starting grid and was left stranded on the line. With some assistance from Mark King, Mechtler will be back on the grid today.

"Mark King has been very nice, he is lending us his spare gearbox for the rest of the weekend," said Mechtler. "The gearboxes are homologated to a certain specification, so we are fortunate that Mark is good enough to us his spare that is already setup and in the right specification so we can race again this weekend."

Despite his Friday misfortunes, Mark King retains his championship lead, although now by a reduced margin from Peter Floyd. Race two will take place this afternoon at 1:40, before the final ten lap race at 12:40pm on Sunday.

For more information on the Donut King Australian Performance Car Championship, visit www.performanceracing.net.au <pre> Provisional Race One Top 10; 1. Chris Alajajian Subaru WRX STi 2. Peter Floyd HSV GTS 3. Barry Sternbeck HSV GTS 4. Barry Morcom Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII 5. Beric Lynton BMW M3 6. Graham Alexander Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII 7. John Falk FPV MkII GT 8. Mark King Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII 9. Barrie Nesbitt HSV GTS 10. James Phillip FPV MkII GT

-apr-

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Series CAMS
Drivers Peter Floyd , John Falk , James Philip , Beric Lynton , Mark King , Graham Alexander , Anton Mechtler , Garry Holt , Chris Alajajian , Barrie Nesbitt , Barry Morcom
Teams Williams