2001 Holden Australian Drivers Championship Round 7 - Mallala Strong Field To Take It Up To Kelly With the battle for the CAMS Gold Star now settled, the gloves can come off for this weekend's penultimate round of the Holden...
2001 Holden Australian Drivers Championship
Round 7 - Mallala
Strong Field To Take It Up To Kelly
With the battle for the CAMS Gold Star now settled, the gloves can come off for this weekend's penultimate round of the Holden Australian Drivers' Championship to be held at South Australia's Mallala circuit, and the field is one of the strongest seen this year. Returning to take on newly crowned champion Rick Kelly in the fourteen-car field is Californian Emerson Newton-John, Japan's Akihiro Asai and local ace Brenton Ramsay, while New Zealand's reigning Formula Ford champion James Cressey is also down to make his FH debut.
Newton-John will drive the same car he drove to two strong podium spots at Calder last month. Engineered by the Hocking Motorsport team for the final two rounds, his 96D model Reynard should be suited to the twisting nature of the Mallala circuit. The fleet-footed American has proven he can do the job and will be after a pair of wins to finish the season on a high, after being left without a drive mid-year when the team he was driving for disbanded
Akihiro Asai will make a welcome return to the category he performed so strongly in during the 1998/ 99 seasons and the Japanese pilot will drive one of Hocking Motorsport's pair of Reynard 98Ds. The likable Asai is a tough customer and will benefit from a year in the USA in 2000 that saw him contest the Formula Atlantic Championship. More recently, Asai has been driving in Japan's Formula Dream Series.
Not a lot has been seen of Ramsay since he finished second to Simon Wills in the 1999 New Zealand Grand Prix Series, although he did contest a couple of rounds last year. Mallala is Ramsay's and his Birrana team's home circuit, and after a testing there last Friday he should figure in the battle for a podium place.
The Mallala round has a truly International feel about it and Singapore's Christian Murchison will make it five different nations contesting the battle for supremacy if plans come to fruition to have James Cressey join the fray. Cressey, who has tested successfully with Graham Watson's Ralt Australia outfit, is down to drive a new 96D currently being assembled and should be on the grid. If he does make it to the track the NZFF star should rattle the cage of a few of the regular runners, as Watson predicts Cressey to be star of the future, and having spotted the talent of Scott Dixon in 1997 few would argue.
Representing the Aussies will be this year's standout Rick Kelly, ably assisted by rapid NSW teenager Alan Gurr - who scored a career-best second place last time out - Peter Hill (scored his second podium of the year at Oran Park), Terry Clearihan, Roger Oakeshott, Ian Peters, Mark Ellis, Stan Keen and Rohan Carrig.
The CAMS Gold Star may have been settled for the professional runners, but the Silver Star Championship is still up for grabs for the six privateers entered, with Canberra's Clearihan now leading the championship narrowly over South Australian Peters. Peters will be after points honours on his home track and will want to keep the championship alive going into the final round at Winton in September.
Formula Holden will have two practice sessions on Friday, Qualifying Saturday and two races on Sunday.