P/GT: The future of the series

Building blocks for a new Australian GT Future. With the sun now firmly set on the opening round of the 2005 SPEED Energy Drink Australian GT Championship and Porsche Drivers Challenge, the focus is now on preparation for the series' second...

Building blocks for a new Australian GT Future.

With the sun now firmly set on the opening round of the 2005 SPEED Energy Drink Australian GT Championship and Porsche Drivers Challenge, the focus is now on preparation for the series' second round of the championship at Queensland Raceway in a Month's time.

Phillip Island's opening round of what is a brand new championship was the beginning of a new era for Australian GT Racing -- Bringing together GT Competitors and the strong field that comprises the Australian Porsche Driver's Challenge to create a diverse, strong and entertaining field of pure blooded GT Style racing cars.

The event at the Island -- won so capably by Lamborghini Driver Peter Hackett -- was the first chance to test the waters of the new GT series, designed to rebuild and re invigorate the already popular style of racing in Australia. The racing was competitive, the cars well presented, and most present gave the opening round a strong report card.

"I think that this series is a really good base to work with, and I'm looking forward to be a part of it as it grows and expands," explained Geoff Munday, who completed the Phillip Island round in his distinctive Jim Beam sponsored Ford Mustang Cobra R.

"When we get a few more cars on the GT side of things the racing will be even better than it is at the moment," Monday said, whilst adding that there is another 'Stang in the works. "The car itself needs a bit more speed, but it's good fun to drive and should be a good base for development. We have the second car currently undergoing a re build back at the workshop and we will probably be looking to bring it out at some stage this year -- better to run it rather than have it sitting there collecting dust!"

Long-time GT competitor D'arcy Russell was an interested spectator at the 4.4km Victorian Circuit, forced to sit out the opening round due to his awesome Chrysler Viper suffering an engine failure on the Dyno in the week leading up to the opening round.

Russell has invested a significant amount of time into the creation of the series, and said after the inaugural meeting that it was satisfying to see the series' finally get on track.

"It's a really good step forward for GT Racing in Australia," he said. "I have been involved with this since Procar pulled out of Motorsport, and it has been a stack of work -- it's amazing how many trials and tribulations we have had to go through to get to this stage.

"I think the series, as it is now, has great potential to go forward," Said Russell. "We have a great TV package with Speedweek (on SBS) and Inside Speed (on FOX Sports) that will help competitors gain exposure and sponsorship. The overall look and presentation of the series is also fantastic."

And after competing in what was essentially the 'heyday' of modern GT Racing in Australia a few years ago, the long-time Viper driver said that the potential competitor base in Australia to grow the series with was significant.

"There are at least 16 -- 20 different models of GT cars out there sitting under covers just waiting to come back and race - Imagine what a fantastic smorgasbord of performance cars that would be!" he enthused.

Russell also added that the series was, whilst hoping to attract high profile cars and drivers, still trying to create affordable racing for all competitors.

"We need to be very mindful, and we are, of creating cheap racing for our competitors. The cheaper we make it for the competitor, the better it is for everyone who starts in the series. We can control and improve the growth of the series, and channel sponsorship funding back into the competitors to bring things like Entry fees and other costs right down."

Sponsorship signs have already been increasingly positive for the series, announcing just before racing got underway at Phillip Island that SPEED energy Drinks had joined the series as a sponsor. Speed, in conjunction with sister brand Aqua 1 Water, was recently purchased by Australian Porsche Drivers Challenge competitor Garth Rainsbury. Rainsbury competed at the Island in arguably one of the most strikingly liveried cars in the field -- his Aqua 1 Porsche 911 in Class B of the Porsche series.

"Because we have only just started distribution of Speed Energy Drinks, we felt that utilising the Australian GT Championship and Porsche Drivers Challenge to promote our brand was a good first step to getting the name "Speed Energy Drink" out there in the market." he said, adding that a move up a class was in the works as well.

"We will look at purchasing a Cup Car (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) to run in the remainder of the championship and take a step up in competitiveness. We're really looking forward to the rest of the year."

And with support incoming from Prestige Car website Duttondirect.com, Porsche Cars Australia and Dunlop Tyres even at the early stages of the championship's development, the signs are certainly positive.

Australian GT Group CEO Terry Little said that the final result of last weekend was one of satisfaction.

"It has been a long hard road, and a lot of long days trying to get this series' off the ground," he said. "To bring it all together and put on an excellent show like we did at Phillip Island was a very, very satisfying thing to see.

"Now we can concentrate on building the series, and stepping things up another level in time for the next round at Queensland Raceway, where I think the series' will really kick off." He enthused.

The Championship heads to Ipswich's Queensland Raceway in Early July.


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Series CAMS
Drivers Jim Beam , Phillip Island