Shell Australian Touring Car Championship Round 2 - Symmons Plains, Tasmania -- Overview -- Criag Lowndes has extended his lead in the championship to over 50 points with a controlled drive to win the second and third heats at Symmons Plains.

Shell Australian Touring Car Championship Round 2 - Symmons Plains, Tasmania -- Overview --

Criag Lowndes has extended his lead in the championship to over 50 points with a controlled drive to win the second and third heats at Symmons Plains.

Mark Skaife completed HRT's third successive Symmons Plains Quinella with 3 2nd places, confirming that in the horspower stakes nothing beats a HRT unit.

It was a day hometown hero John Bowe would rather forget, a heavy shunt ruining his day.

Jason Bargwanna was third for the day, just from Russell Ingall who is beginning to find this year that the shoe is on the other foot. From an entertainment point of view the racing was breathtaking, particularly the second race, where the privateers put on an unparrelleled show of dicing.

-- Qualifying --

Mark Skaife claimed pole position by .2 of a second. The HRT driver keen to enforce the teams dominance of the venue. Seton was second, from Jason Bright. Bright continues to impress with his speed. Series leader Craig Lowndes lines up 4th on the grid from local hero John Bowe, then Ingall, Richards, Johnson, Romano and Bargwanna.

Qualifying seemed to indicate that if you didn't have Bridgestone you could give up now, with Dunlop driver 5th, 6th and 8th. The rest of the top ten was all Bridgestone, the best Yokohama car was Tony Lognhurst in 14th, lining up behind Perkins, Larkham & Faulkner.

When asked about his performance Longhurst could only say he was depressed. When asked about his race set up all Longhurst could say was that he was depressed about that too.

Larry Perkins had a shunt on the short grid straight, swapping back to front over the rise and belting the fence. At later hot lap was baulked by Jason Bargwanna. At the end of qualifying Perkins caught up to Bargs on the track and much fist-waving ensued. At the press conference Bargwanna apologised immediately to Perkins. When quizzed about his own poor qualifying performance Perkins (celebrating his 100th ATCC start) blamed inexperience, whether his or someone else's he didn't specify but Bragwanna slid lower in his seat.

Perkins went on to say that a total front brake failure caused the spin-shunt.

The Gibson team continues to struggle with Ellery in the Young Lions car in 15th whilst the Wynns Darren's had Hossack in 17th and Pate 22nd. Romano was again the top Level 2 driver in 9th, with top privateer cup entrant going to the other home town hero Greg Crick in 16th.

Joining the series for the first time this year was Peter Doulman in the M3 Motorsport Commodore, updated to VS specs and was 2nd fastest privateer in 18th. Also joining the series were Ryan McLeod in the Mike Conway OAMPS Falcon (21st), Steve Reed in the Lansvale car (23rd), Kerryn Brewer in the Cougardore (24th), and D'arcy Russel making his first time V8Supercar appearance in the ex-Stenniken car (26th). The car had not lost it's impressive flame blowing talents. Terry Finnigan lined up in 19th followed by the reamining Taswegian Ray Hislop in 20th, claiming 3rd spot in the privateers battle in his Falcon. Paul Weel placed 25th.

Mal Rose failed to qualify after a major engine failure which sent the engine to a North Coast repairer, Rose would start 27th. Rod Nash was scheduled to start his ex-Wayne Gardner Commodore but CAMS weren't satisfied that Nash had done enough to warrant a V8Supercar licence. Nash had intended to start the Sports Sedan support races, but with the dramas that befell Faulkner on the weekend the crew ended pushing Nash's car to and fro across the pits all weekend.

-- Privateers Dash --

Steve Reed bolted from the front row swamping pole man Peter Doulman. Greg Crick was in no mood to muck around and passed Doulman for second round the outside, down the back of the circuit. Half a lap late at the Brambles Hairpin, Ray Hislop got past the beseiged Doulman and Brewer lost a spot after being tapped into a big wobble by Paul Weel.

Crick hunted down Reed and caught him going into Brambles for the third time but Reed had enough horsepower to keep Crick at bay, but the two touched at the high speed sweeper. A lap later Crick nailed Reed after Reed mucked up the line through Australia's tightest corner. Hislop finished third from Doulman and Ryan McLeod.

 1st Greg Crick  Ericsson Trust bank Holden Commodore VS
 2nd Steven Reed  Lansvale Smash Repairs Holden Commodore VS
 3rd Ray Hislop  Ford Falcon EF
 4th Peter Doulman  M3 Motorsport Holden Commodore VS
 5th Ryan McLeod  OAMPS Ford Falcon EL
 6th Paul Weel  Tradelink Castrol Ford Falcon EL
 7th Mal Rose  Fairfax Community Classifieds Holden Commodore VS
 8th Kerryn Brewer  Castrol Cougars Holden Commodore VS
 9th D'arcy Russell  Holden Commodore VS

-- Race 1 --

Mark Skaife got a slightly better start than Seton but Seton had the inside line and mounted the kerb to make sure he hung on to the lead. Inexperience caught out Jason Bright and he was left on the grass heading through the right-left-right after Bowe short cut the corner forcing some cars wide.

Bowe was tapped into a hard shunt, by Richards, into the fence exiting the Symmons wiggle before rolling backwards down the straight facing the oncoming masses. It was a frightening experience for Bowe. Somehow everyone missed him. Richards and Faulkner would both lose time in the pits from the incident replacing tyres, Faulkner needing body repairs too. Bowe needed a new tyre and was back in the fray.

Seton, Skaife, Lowndes, Ingall and Johnson cleared away from the rest, the Bowe/Richards incident creating a whole in the field, with Longhurst leading Perkins, Romano, Larkham, Bright and Crick, and the rest and Bargwanna in no man's land in the middle. Johnson was soon dropping back into Bargwanna's clutches.

Bowe's front left tyre exploded just after the irse on pit striaght, almost pitching Bowe into the whole and leaving Bowe the whole lap to return to the pits.

Larkham was spun around by his team mate Bright at Brambles Hairpin, after coming together with Longhurst and lost his front air dam. Further down the field Weel and Pate made contact holding up Lowndes allowing Skaife to clear way in second.

Finnigan cut a tyre and had to limp back to the pits.

McLeod abandoned his car at Brambles and Well spun down the field at the same corner.

Mark Skaife clouted Steve Ellery, resulting in minor damage in the closing laps and Johnson was caught and passed by Bargwanna, but no-one could touch Seton.

Lowndes re-caught Skaife after his incident with Ellery but couldn't get past. Ingall held out the closing Bargwanna for 4th, followed by Johnson. Greg Crick bolted away in the privateers, claiming 10th place, but for the rest of the privateers (and some Level 2 cars) the battle royal ensued. Reed eventually claimed that one despite squirrelly handling in the Lansvale car. Paul Romano was top level 2 car in 9th.

1st Glenn Seton Ford Credit Ford Falcon EL 2nd Mark Skaife Mobil HRT Holden Commodore VS 3rd Craig Lowndes Mobil HRT Holden Commodore VS 4th Russell Ingall Castrol Holden Comoodore VS 5th Jason Bargwanna Valvoline Holden Comoodore VS 6th Dick Johnson Shell Helix Ford Falcon EL 7th Jason Bright Pirtek Ford Falcon EL 8th Larry Perkins Castrol Holden Commodore VS 9th Paul Romano Holden Commodore VS (first Level 2 car) 10th Greg Crick (first Privateer Cup entry) 11th Tony Longhurst Castrol Ford Falcon EL 12th Steve Reed 13th Ray Hislop 14th Darren Hossack Wynns Holden Commodore VS 15th Peter Doulman 16th Kerryn Brewer 17th Steven Richards Valvoline Holden Commodore VS 18th Steve Ellery Konica Young Lions Holden Commodore VS 19th Darren Pate Wynns Holden Commodore VS 20th Paul Weel 21st D'arcy Russell 22nd John Faulkner Fisher & Paykel Holden Commodore VS 23rd Mal Rose

-- Race 2 --

The program was held up 30 minutes by repairs to the armco where John Bowe hit.

Seton and Skaife made good starts but Lowndes and Ingall exploded from the second row and pushed their way past the front row cars, to lead out to the hairpin for the first time, chased by Skaife, Bargwanna, Seton, Bright, Johnson and Perkins.

On lap 6 Ellery attacks Hislop, collides and the two are out of the race.

Bowe, Richards, Faulkner and Larkham carve their way through the privateers and Level 2 cars, and after a dozen laps are doing it almost in formation.

Again the top 5 cars open a gap on the field this. Lowndes leading Ingall, Skaife, Bargwanna and Seton. Bright starts hunting down Seton but passing doesn't become neccessary as Seton retires with engine problems just past half way. Bright sets his sights on the four Holdens in the distance. Three laps later and the charging Faulkner develops and oil leak and comes in to the pits and oines Glenn Seton Racing in the throws of a between race engine change.

Dick Johnson gradually loses spots down the field, to Bright early on, then to Perkins, then Romano, then to the charging Bowe and finally to Richards. Tony Longhurst also slid down the field having deranged his front air dam early on, and was even passed by Russel. Bowe starting from last has claimed 13 spots in 5 laps and makes the top ten on lap 8. Down the field the privateers battle is breathtaking as Finnigan, Doulman, Reed, Hossack, Brewer, McLeod, Pate, Rose & Weel charge around the track in a bunch, looking not dissimlar to a game of under 8's soccer, two and three abrest down the straights.

Finnigan cleared the battle and set off after the long, too long gone Crick, and by the end Doulman and Hossack worked their way clear as well, whilst Paul Weel succumbed to the battle.

Brewer in particular was putting in a great effort, banging doors most notably with McLeod. The Falcon looked very second hand. After the race the two were seen deep in discussion in the pits. With two laps to go Skaife was finally able to pull alongside Ingall down the back straight, and viewers across Australia were treated to the extrodinary sight of the two drivers visibly fighting to keep the cars straight along the bumps of Symmons Plains. Skaife had the inside line and won second place, but Lowndes was gone recording his third heat win of the year.

Bright never quite got close enough to challenge Bargwanna for 4th. Perkins and Bowe were next followed in 8th by Paul Romano, the Level 2 franchisee keep well up with the top V8 runners. Richards and Johnson completed the top ten with Crick in 12th being top privateer again.

1st Craig Lowndes 2nd Mark Skaife 3rd Russell Ingall 4th Jason Bargwanna 5th Jason Bright 6th Larry Perkins 7th John Bowe Shell Helix Ford Falcon EL 8th Paul Romano (first Level 2 car) 9th Steven Richards 10th Dick Johnson 11th Mark Larkham Mitre 10 Ford Falcon EL 12th Greg Crick (first Privateer Cup entry) 13th Terry Finnigan Sony Autosound Holden Commodore VS 14th Peter Doulman 15th Darren Hossack 16th Ryan McLeod 17th Kerryn Brewer 18th Mal Rose 19th Darren Pate 20th Steve Reed 21st D'arcy Russell 22nd Tony Longhurst

-- Race 3 --

Seton finished his engine change in time for the warm-up lap, and Faulkner's car got the car out of pit lane with bare seconds to spare. Lowndes and Ingall again got the start perfect and Ingall was able to muscle his way past Skaife for second. Bargwanna settled in to 4th, followed by Perkins, Johnson, Romano, Bowe, Bright, Richards & Crick. From the back of the grid Seton got a superb start and was soon slicing through the field, Faulkner catching and riding his wake. Seton was blowing smoke however. Bright very quickly forced his way past Richards and the two Shell cars.

Bowe rapidly dropped away, his Dunlops not recovering from the punishment they received in the second race. Ingall too was finding his Dunlops weren't up to the job, and Lowndes cleared away. By lap 6 it was evidently clear that Ingall was holding up Skaife and Bargwanna, and Bright was bearing down on the three Holdens at a rapid rate of knots. Seton was into the top ten by lap 8. Paul Romano's great run faded rapidly as the sponsorless Holden dropped back to four gears.

Mark Larkham was given a stop-go penalty for passing under a yellow flag, caused by the spinning Ray Hislop, losing two spots. Down the field the battle was more spread out than the frenetic two previous races, the battles being split by the faster cars of Seton, Faulkner and Finnigan coming through from the back.

Brewer was much slower in this race, slower even than D'arcy Russell, whether there was a car problem or Brewer had no rubber left is yet to be determined. Still Ingall held out until a bare 2 laps from home Skaife plunged down the inside at the end of the back straight, and was through, dragging (or more like being pushed) Bargwanna with him. Bargs had to fight for it but there was little Ingall could do. A lap later and Bright spun Ingall around allowing Bright, Seton and Perkins through.

The Enforcer was being enforced by others.

Lowndes was never threatened and won in a canter from his team mate and an ecstatic Bargwanna. Bright claimed 4th from a smoky Seton, then the two Castrol Holdens, Richards & a consistent Dick Johnson. Completing the top ten and finally getting a decent result was John Faulkner. Top privateer was Greg Crick in 12th, and top Level 2 car went to Darren Hossack in 16th. Crick clean swept the four privateers races, and proved the measure of all the Level 2 cars bar Romano as well.

1st Craig Lowndes 2nd Mark Skaife 3rd Jason Bargwanna 4th Jason Bright 5th Glenn Seton 6th Larry Perkins 7th Russell Ingall 8th Steven Richards 9th Dick Johnson 10th John Faulkner 11th John Bowe 12th Greg Crick (first Privateer Cup entry) 13th Mark Larkham 14th Steve Reed 15th Tony Longhurst 16th Darren Hossack (first Level 2 car) 17th Steve Ellery 18th Peter Doulman 19th Darren Pate 20th Terry Finnigan 21st Mal Rose 22nd Paul Weel 23rd D'arcy Russell 24th Kerryn Brewer

-- Pointscore -- For Round 2 1 Lowndes 114, 2 Skaife 108, 3 Bargwanna 96, 4 Ingall 92, 5 Bright 88, 6 Johnson & Seton 70, 8 Crick & Richards 52, 10 Romano 46, 11 Bowe 44, 12 Larkham 32, 13 Hossack 30, 14 Reed 29, 15 Longhurst 28, 16 Doulman 26, 17 Faulkner 20, 18 Finnigan 15, 19 Hislop & Brewer 14, 21 Ellery 10, 22 McLeod 8, 23 Pate 6, 24 Rose 4, 25 Weel 1 Privateers 1 Crick 120, 2 Doulman 102, 3 Reed 100, 4 Brewer 88, 5 Rose 86, 6 Russell 80, 7 Weel 58, 8 Hislop & McLeod 34

-- Standings -- 1 Lowndes 230, 2 Skaife 186, 3 Seton & Ingall 172, 5 Perkins 170, 6 Bowe 152, 7 Johnson 130, 8 Richards & Bargwanna 124, 10 Bright 108, 11 Larkham 92, 12 Lognhurst 72, 13 Romano 68, 14 Crick 58, 15 Hossack 46, 16 Ellery 44, 17 Finnigan 43, 18 Poole & Faulkner 38, 20 Ashby 32, 21 Reed 29, 22 Smerdon 28, 23 Doulman 26, 24 Briggs 22, 25 Hislop & Rose 20, 27 Brewer 14, 28 Pate 10, 29 Price & McLeod 8, 31 Osborne 6, 32 Mork 4, 33 Weel 2 Privateers 1 Ashby & Reed 210, 2 Rose 178, 3 Brewer & Price 166, 4 Crick 160, 5 Smerdon 106, 6 Doulman 102, 7 Hislop & Briggs 96, 9 Weel 92, 10 Russell 80, 11 Osborne 54, 12 Mork 52, 13 McLeod 34, 14 Willmington 20

yours Mark Jones Australian Motorsport Internet Bulletin www.ecn.net.au/~amib/home.htm

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Series General
Drivers John Faulkner , Jason Bright , Wayne Gardner , Russell Ingall , Mark Skaife , Mike Conway , Paul Weel , Mark Larkham , Craig Lowndes , Jason Bargwanna , John Bowe , Glenn Seton , Darren Hossack , Tony Longhurst , Larry Perkins , Greg Crick , Peter Doulman , Mal Rose , Dick Johnson , Ryan McLeod , Rod Nash , Ray Hislop , Steven Richards , Mark Jones