WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9: French tyre manufacturer Michelin has despatched 2,500 tyres from Europe to Australia for this year's AMP Bathurst 1000 Super Touring endurance motor race on October 4. Trevor Sheumack, who manages Michelin's competition...
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9: French tyre manufacturer Michelin has despatched 2,500 tyres from Europe to Australia for this year's AMP Bathurst 1000 Super Touring endurance motor race on October 4.
Trevor Sheumack, who manages Michelin's competition activities in Australia, said today the tyres left France by ship in mid-August in three containers and were expected to arrive in Sydney about a week before 'The Great Race' and then transported to the Mount Panorama circuit.
Sheumack said Michelin would supply tyres for more than 30 cars in the event, including the British-based Volvo and Vectra works teams, and factory-supported Audi Sport Australia, spearheaded by newly-crowned 1998 BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Champion Brad Jones and series runner-up Cameron McConville.
"Michelin will have a support team of 18 at Bathurst, with technicians and engineers from France, Britain, and Australia," said Sheumack. "It's a massive operation, and a tremendous technical, sporting, and logistical challenge. It's also an important opportunity for Michelin to showcase its products in front of a worldwide television audience of hundreds of millions."
Sheumack, also a part-time Super Touring driver who raced in two rounds of this year's Australian championship, said Michelin's shipment for Bathurst would include 600 wet-weather tyres. He finalised orders for the event during a trip to Michelin's Competition Department in Clermont Ferrand in France in July.
"We're expecting the top works teams to use about 16 or 17 sets of tyres during Bathurst week," said Sheumack. "They'll probably go through 10 or 11 sets in practice, and another six or seven in the race."
The BMW Motorsport team of Australian drivers Geoff and David Brabham won in the inaugural Super Touring Bathurst 1000 in 1997 on Michelin tyres. Jones' Audi team switched to Michelin this year after he finished second with German Frank Biela in 'The Great Race' in 1997 on a Dunlop-shod A4 quattro.
Former British Touring Car Championship winner ROBB GRAVATT will be hoping for more success at Mount Panorama this year than in his frustrating debut in 'The Great Race' in 1988. That year Gravatt was scheduled to drive one of three Ford Sierra RS500s entered by Dick Johnson Racing, but did not get to race because the car was forced out before his first stint. Gravatt won the BTCC title two years later in a Ford Sierra. He will drive at Bathurst this year in a Honda Accord from Britain, and his team-mate is Englishman LEE BROOKES, who won the BTCC Independents Total Cup in 1996.
Sydney's PETER HILLS will team up with newly-crowned Century Batteries GTP Production Car Championship winner DOMINIC BENINCA in a Knight Racing Ford Mondeo at Bathurst. Beninca clinched the GTP title in a Porsche in the final round at Oran Park on August 30. Hills finished sixth outright in this year's Australian Super Touring Championship, an improvement of 15 places on 1997, and was third in the Independents Cup. He also won the Gregg Hansford Memorial Award for outstanding contribution to Super Touring and sportsmanship in 1998.
Sydney veterinarian Dr JIM CORNISH will make his Super Touring comeback at Bathurst. He drove a Hyundai Lantra in the 1997 Australian championship and a BMW 318 at Bathurst that year, but has not raced since. Cornish will contest Bathurst in the front-drive Nissan Primera driven by NSW's Adam Kaplan in this year's Australian championship. The car will be prepared by Sydney-based New Zealander NIGEL BARCLAY, who will also oversee the Bathurst campaign of MARK ADDERTON in a Honda Accord. Barclay said team-mates for Cornish and Adderton were still being finalised. Barclay said both the Nissan and Honda would race on Yokohama tyres at Bathurst. Adderton raced with Dunlops on the Honda in this year's Australian championship, finishing fifth in the series and runner-up in the Independents Cup.