The 2002 National Australian Sports Sedan Champion has stunned his rivals at the third round of the 2003 title chase with a first-up qualifying time that is over two seconds under the category lap record at 2.6 km Mallala Motorsport Park in rural...
The 2002 National Australian Sports Sedan Champion has stunned his rivals at the third round of the 2003 title chase with a first-up qualifying time that is over two seconds under the category lap record at 2.6 km Mallala Motorsport Park in rural South Australia.
At the helm of his Chev V8-powered Alfa Romeo GTV, Tony Ricciardello reeled off three laps in the one minute, five second bracket, culminating in a 1:05.4071 which is only 2.9 seconds outside the outright lap record set in 1994. The time is also over three seconds faster than the best from the number one sedan category in Australia - V8 Supercars.
Further ego deflating for his rivals was the news that he can go faster. "On each of those laps I was baulked and even though the track was slippery, I think I can improve. To get good times here the car has to gets its power down really well, and you must be able to accelerate as you drive through the corners. It also helps to have good brakes," he said.
Second fastest was Darren Hossack in the Saab/Chev who was more concerned with sculpturing a good race pace than posting the fastest time. "It doesn't really matter for us to be on the first row or the second, just as long as we are up with the quick guys," he explained.
Kerry Baily ran his Nissan 300ZX with a light fuel load, which gave fuel surge near the end. Despite that he was amazed at the time of Ricciardello, as he wants to race him rather than conserve for the championship.
At his first Mallala outing Daniel Jameson was fourth, although chasing a "loose" rear end on his Jaguar XKR/Chev. Also working with rear end development was Dean Randle in his Saab/Chev. "We have just gone to a three-link setup on our live axle rear, and this is our first chance to test it out," he said.
Local South Australian Mick Monterosso's Escort/Chev was sixth but broke a gearbox while Jeff Barnes' Pontiac managed to complete its first session continually blowing fuses in practice on Friday. Mark Stinson overcame early gear selection problem in his Calibra/Chev for eighth ahead of a clean run from the Commodore/Chev of David Brenssell.
Meanwhile Phil Crompton was out early after posting the tenth fastest time to repair the exhaust on his Ford Falcon. He also had light contact with the Calibra/Chev of Mark Duggan (15th), which pitted when it began running lean. Fred Axisa (11th) suffered two spins in his Commodore/Chev the second of which stopped proceedings for a brief spell.
Rodney Woods worked on suspension and brakes problems with his Commodore Chev to be ahead of the misfiring Calibra/Chev of Ray Ayton, the disappointed Graham Smith in the only non-V8, despite new tyres and more boost for the turbo Fiat-powered Opel Calibra. Similarly Dean Camm thought his Honda Prelude/Chev was traveling well, but the times didn't reflect so.