ATCC: Oran Park report

SUNDAY JUNE 16...In front of the series biggest crowd Aussie touring Car legend Peter Brock took the final round of the 1996 Shell Australian Touring Car Championships at Sydney's Oran Park. With the title already decided it was left for...

SUNDAY JUNE 16...In front of the series biggest crowd Aussie touring Car legend Peter Brock took the final round of the 1996 Shell Australian Touring Car Championships at Sydney's Oran Park.

With the title already decided it was left for champion elect Craig Lowndes to support his high profile team mate as Brock took all three 20 minute sprints. Fastest Ford on the day was Glen Seton who just failed to close the points gap between himself and out going champ Tasmanian John Bowe in the Shell/FAI/Dick Johnson Racing Falcon.

Brock took pole in a wet practice ahead of Seton with Lowndes in his older Phillip Island crash car in third. Bowe was back in 4th with Wayne Gardner, and Alan Jones' young teammate Paul Romano having his best qualifying performance to take sixth.

As the green light went on for race one it was Brock from the fast starting Seton with Lowndes ahead of Gardner. Lowndes then took Seton in a fine outbraking manoeuvre at the end of the long front straight to set up yet another one - two for the factory Holden team. Seton stayed ahead of Gardner with Bowe just edging out Mark Skaife for fifth.

Light rain fell as they started for race two which was virtually a mirror of the first. Seton again made a great start to grab second only to have Lowndes outbrake him again at the end of the straight. Privateer Steve Richards pulled a demon late move on Calder Park winner Russell Ingall but ran wide at the exit allowing Alan Jones to drive under him. It was Brock and Lowndes again in a formation finish with the minor places exactly the same as race one.

Race three and just for variety it was Lowndes who got the jump on Brock as if to emphasise the fact that he may have been holding back for the first two races. Wayne Gardner and Tony Longhurst touched sending Gardner's team mate Neil Crompton down the escape road at their main sponsors own corner (things go better? :-))

Larry Perkins and Mark Skaife swapped back and forth for fifth and sixth as Lowndes cleared out from the pack before what looked like another worrying diff/rear axle failure. This left the folk hero back in front to take the perfect three from three. Seton came through for a consistent second from Skaife and Alan Jones.

So the title went to the rookie Lowndes with Bowe hanging on to take second from Seton. Another 5 litre rookie in Steven Richards was the privateer winner with a series of consistent and very professional performances since his late start to the series.

But the big winner was Bridgestone whose tyres dominated the series. The teams now have a long Olympic imposed brake before the challenge of the Enduros at Sandown and Bathurst. Lowndes will team again with New Zealand's Greg Murphy as Brock renews acquaintances with old team mate Thomas Merzara

Of the main Ford teams Dick Johnson has pulled a major surprise in having U.S Trans Am star Tom Kendall driving with son Steven. Dick will again team with Bowe and Seton will run last years co-driver David Parsons. On a personal note thanks again for all those who have e-mailed expressing their appreciation for these reports. Until Sandown Bye For Now.

RACE 1 DRIVER TEAM CAR TYRE CRAIG LOWNDES MOBIL/HOLDEN RACING TEAM HOLDEN COMMODORE BS PETER BROCK MOBIL/HOLDEN RACING TEAM HOLDEN COMMODORE BS GLEN SETON FORD CREDIT RACING FORD FALCON BS WAYNE GARDNER COCA COLA/WAYNE GARDNER RACING HOLDEN COMMODORE D JOHN BOWE SHELL/FAI/DICK JOHNSON RACING FORD FALCON D MARK SKAIFE GIBSON MOTORSPORT HOLDEN COMMODORE Y RACE 2 CRAIG LOWNDES MOBIL/HOLDEN RACING TEAM HOLDEN COMMODORE BS PETER BROCK MOBIL/HOLDEN RACING TEAM HOLDEN COMMODORE BS GLEN SETON FORD CREDIT RACING FORD FALCON BS WAYNE GARDNER COCA COLA/WAYNE GARDNER RACING HOLDEN COMMODORE D JOHN BOWE SHELL/FAI/DICK JOHNSON RACING FORD FALCON D MARK SKAIFE GIBSON MOTORSPORT HOLDEN COMMODORE Y RACE 3 PETER BROCK MOBIL/HOLDEN RACING TEAM HOLDEN COMMODORE BS GLEN SETON FORD CREDIT RACING FORD FALCON BS MARK SKAIFE GIBSON MOTORSPORT HOLDEN COMMODORE Y ALAN JONES PACK LEADER RACING FORD FALCON BS JOHN BOWE SHELL/FAI/DICK JOHNSON RACING FORD FALCON D LARRY PERKINS TEAM CASTROL HOLDEN COMMODORE D

POINTS (FINAL) CRAIG LOWNDES 423 JOHN BOWE 344 GLEN SETON 308 PETER BROCK 286 LARRY PERKINS 192 Next major 5 litre touring car event is the SANDOWN 500 Sept 8.

-- Brett Ramsey

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Series General
Drivers Alan Jones , Tom Kendall , Neil Crompton , Greg Murphy , Wayne Gardner , Russell Ingall , Mark Skaife , Tony Longhurst , Larry Perkins , Peter Brock , Dick Johnson , Steve Richards , Steven Richards , Phillip Island