ASTC: Winton Preview


BOC GASES AUSTRALIAN SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP - ROUND 7 PREVIEW: Winton Raceway, Victoria, Sunday, August 9 JONES WANTS BETTER RESULTS AT WINTON Championship leader rules out 'home track' advantage Works Audi driver Brad Jones is aware his chances of winning this year's BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship title could hinge on whether he can improve on a series of disappointing past results at Winton Raceway this Sunday (August 9). The 38-year-old Albury driver, who leads this year's series by 20 points after six of the eight rounds, has only one championship race win from six starts on the 3km Winton circuit, despite the fact it is the official test track for his Audi Sport Australia team. "Winton has plenty of stop-go corners and it should suit the Audi, but the truth is I've usually struggled with grip, which is surprising because it's my team's 'home' track we test there regularly," said Jones. "The type of surface at Winton seems to be the problem - it's similar to Albert Park (Australian Formula One Grand Prix venue) and we always have problems there as well. We need to do better at Winton this weekend and if we do then it's going to help with the championship." Since the championship began in 1994 German manufacturer BMW has dominated at Winton, winning five of the eight races, followed by Audi with two victories, and Honda with one. Jones' sole victory at Winton was in 1995, and Audi's other success with its quattro-system cars was 12 months ago by Jones' current Victorian team-mate Cameron McConville, who is third in the 1998 championship. Jones leads the championship with 153 points, followed by Volvo Dealer Team driver Jim Richards on 133 in a front-drive S40, McConville on 127, and Queensland's Cameron McLean in a rear-drive Greenfield Mowers Racing BMW 320 on 98. The Winton round comprises a 14-lap opening race, and a second heat over 27 laps which includes a compulsory pit-stop for all cars to change two wheels. Jones, who won the Super Touring title for the first time in 1996, can clinch this year's championship at Winton if he extends his lead to 33 points, regardless of results in the final round at Oran Park in Sydney on August 30 where 32 points are available. He said Winton was a difficult track to pass on and qualifying would be critical. "If you're not on the front row at Winton you're like the man with the wheelbarrow - you've got it all in front of you!" said Jones. Richards, who has won seven pole positions this year, predicted the Audis would be difficult to beat at Winton. However, the five-times Bathurst 1000 champion said he was encouraged by the victory by his now British-based son Steven Richards in a front-drive Honda Accord at the track in 1996. "Audi are tough anywhere and they should be on the pace at a track like Winton with so many second-gear corners," said Richards. "At the same time the Volvo is a fast car, and we'll press on because you never know what's going to happen. I don't think anyone would have predicted Steven (Richards) to win there in the Honda, but he beat the Audis and BMWs fair and square on the day. Maybe we can do the same." McConville, who has four race wins this year and recorded his first championship pole position in the previous round at Mallala, said the left-hand sweeper at Winton was crucial in fast lap times. "It's the fastest corner on the track and it's one place where you can make up time," he said. "The best places to pass are under brakes at the end of the new straight and off the old pit straight. I haven't given up on the championship - I'm still a chance if I can win everything from here." INDEPENDENTS CUP UPDATE: Greenfield Mowers Racing BMW driver CAMERON McLEAN needs 15 points at Winton to claim the Independents Cup title for the second successive year. The 30-year-old Queenslander, who won the title for the first time in 1997 in an Opel Vectra, leads this year's Independents Cup with 162 points and is followed by NSW's MARK ADDERTON in a BOC Gases Honda Accord on 112. If Adderton scored maximum points at Winton and in the final round at Oran Park his points tally would be 176. Thus, McLean will clinch the title at Winton if he can boost his score to 177 points. Veteran NSW driver BOB HOLDEN returns to action at Winton driving the Faber-Castell BMW 318. The 67-year-old from Bootawa, near Taree, takes over from JUSTIN MATTHEWS, who was behind the wheel in the past four rounds. Holden previously raced the car in the championship opener at Calder Park in Melbourne, with Michelin technician TREVOR SHEUMACK driving it in round two at Oran Park. Sheumack will return for the final 1998 round at Oran Park. Holden said his drive at Winton would assist his preparation for his 30th start in the AMP Bathurst 1000 on October 4. He won Bathurst in 1966, and in 1997 teamed with Matthews and NSW's PAUL NELSON in the BMW to finish leading privateer and seventh outright. Holden, Matthews, and Nelson will again join forces at Bathurst this year. Newcastle's TROY SEARLE rejoins the championship at Winton after missing the previous round at Mallala while repairs were carried out on his Roadchill Express BMW 318. Searle crashed twice in round five at Lakeside, once in practice and again in race one. The Lakeside blemishes disrupted an otherwise successful debut Super Touring season. The 23-year-old is the only Independents Cup driver, apart from Cameron McLean, to finish on the podium in a championship race this year with his third place in race two of round four at Eastern Creek in Sydney. Also returning to the championship after missing Mallala is Queenslander MALCOLM REA in a Toyota Carina. Rea made his championship debut at Lakeside. BOB TWEEDIE, fresh from his 50th championship race start in the previous round at Mallala, hopes to contest the 1999 series in a rear-drive BMW. Tweedie has placed his two ex-works Vauxhall Cavaliers on the market. The Cavaliers were raced in the British Touring Car Championship by John Cleland and James Thompson in 1995, with Cleland claiming the title that year. They were raced in the 1996 Australian championship by Jim Richards, Brooke Tatnell, and Russell Ingall before being purchased by Tweedie. OTHER NEWS: STEVEN RICHARDS, the 1996 Independents Cup champion, reports that leading teams in this year's British Touring Car Championship are completing their compulsory pitstops to change two wheels in less than 7-secs. The compulsory pitstops were introduced into the British and Australian championships this year for the second race of each round. The fastest pitstop recorded in this year's Australian championship to date is 8-secs by the Audi Sport Australia team on Brad Jones' car in race two at Eastern Creek. Richards, who raced in the Australian championship for three successive years before moving to Britain in 1998 to take up a position as Nissan's works test driver, said BTCC teams allocated considerable time to practising pitstops. "Nissan usually do some pitstops after practice each day, and also for 30-mins on the morning of race day. A good stop is between six to seven seconds. The pitstops are getting faster as the season goes on." WINTON - FAST FACTS CIRCUIT LENGTH : 3km RACE LAP RECORD : 1-min 25.71-secs, Paul Morris (Qld) BMW 320, 10.9.97 1997 POLE POSITIONS : Race 1: 1-min 24.84-secs, Geoff Brabham (Qld) BMW 320 Race 2: 1-min 24.77-secs, Geoff Brabham (Qld) BMW 320 1997 RACE WINNERS : Race 1: Cameron McConville (Vic) Audi A4 Race 2: Paul Morris (Qld) BMW 320 1998 DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 6): Brad Jones (Audi) 153, Jim Richards (Volvo) 133, Cameron McConville (Audi) 127, Cameron McLean (BMW) 127, Mark Adderton (Honda) 60, Peter Hills (Ford) 48, Bob Tweedie (Vauxhall) 34, Justin Matthews-Bob Holden-Trevor Sheumack (BMW) 28, Troy Searle (BMW) 26, Ron Searle (Toyota) 24, David Auger (Alfa Romeo) 20, Adam Kaplan (Nissan) 19, Paul Pickett-Ric Shaw-Aaron McGill-Kurt Kratzmann (Ford) 15, John Henderson (Opel) 8, Dwayne Bewley (Peugeot) 5, Anthony Robson (BMW) 4, Tony Newman (Peugeot) 2 1998 MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 6): Audi 174, Volvo 150 1998 INDEPENDENTS CUP CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 6): McLean 130, Adderton 104, Hills 68, Holden-Sheumack-Matthews 58, Tweedie 56, R. Searle 46, T. Searle 46, Auger 40, Pickett-Shaw-McGill-Kratzmann 38, Kaplan 23, Henderson 15, Robson-Bradshaw 11, Bewley 4, Newman 3, Rolfo 3 1998 TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 6): Audi Sport Australia 150, Knight Racing 100

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Series General
Drivers James Thompson , Cameron McConville , Russell Ingall , Jim Richards , Brad Jones , Paul Morris , John Cleland , Cameron McLean , Ric Shaw , Trevor Sheumack , Aaron McGill , David Auger , Brooke Tatnell , Geoff Brabham , Anthony Robson , Justin Matthews , Steven Richards