FHOLDEN: Series heads north to Darwin

Fresh from the streets of Adelaide the Formula Holden category will make their longest ever road-trip when they travel north to Darwin's Hidden Valley circuit for round three of the 2001 Holden Australian Drivers' Championship. This weekend's ...

Fresh from the streets of Adelaide the Formula Holden category will make their longest ever road-trip when they travel north to Darwin's Hidden Valley circuit for round three of the 2001 Holden Australian Drivers' Championship.

This weekend's event will see twice champion Simon Wills return for another crack at the youngsters trying to emulate his feats of 1999 and 2000, although this will be his last outing for the dominant Birrana Racing outfit. Wills will be looking for a repeat of his dominant second race performance at Adelaide where he took victory from the rear of the grid.

One man who will be keen to strut his stuff on a circuit new to all-comers will be championship leader Rick Kelly. Despite extending his championship points lead after the two torrid Adelaide events, Kelly was disappointed he couldn't take it up to Wills and will be out to have a head-to-head showdown with the Kiwi in Darwin. His current points lead over nearest rival Stewart McColl could also allow him to throw caution to the wind in his battle for supremacy, but Kelly will need to finish the first race before he considers any real heroics.

McColl, who has been a revelation this year, looks the most likely to challenge the Birrana duo, and despite a recent testing crash at Melbourne's Calder Park, he too, will be pleased to start the meeting on an even footing with his rivals. McColl's team mate in the beleaguered NRC team, Californian Emerson Newton-John, will be after some points after his brain-rattling shunt at Adelaide and after showing good speed at Phillip Island should use the big horsepower NRC V6 engine to good effect on Hidden Valley's long front straight.

Among those hoping to figure in the results at day's end will be Christian Murchison, Allan Gurr and Peter Hill. Murchison was dead set stiff at Adelaide and could have been a contender for a top placing. Gurr showed great speed and maturity to score two podium spots despite his tender age and relative inexperience, while Hill will be another to benefit from a strong engine on the relatively straight-forward Hidden Valley circuit. Throw in the battle for Silver Star honours between the 'flying doctor' Roger Oakeshott, Mark Ellis (yet to start a race this year), Canberra's fastest car salesman Terry Clearihan and SA's Ian Peters, and the Darwin crowd should have plenty to cheer about when the cars hit the circuit for two 17 lap races.

One thing that is a certainty, unless of course it rains, is the likelihood of a new outright lap record. Computer generated estimates put the mark at around four to five seconds under Jason Bright's 1:09.04s V8 Supercar lap record, which will open more than a few eyes.

If further proof of the speed a Formula Holden is needed then a three-way match race between an HQ Holden sedan, a V8 Supercar and the country's fastest racing cars will put that to rest. Rick Kelly will compete in a staggered-start handicap race driving his Holden Young Lions Reynard 94D and he will give the HQ a huge start before he sets out after it. To add further spice to the line-up, Rick's older brother Todd - himself a former FH winner - will drive his K Mart/ TWR Commodore V8 Supercar in the triumvirate match-race.

The Formula Holden machines will hit the track on Friday for two, thirty minute sessions, before another practice session on Saturday morning. Qualifying will take place during Saturday afternoon over a single 20-minute session, while both 50 kilometre races will take place on Sunday.

-Formula Holden

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Jason Bright , Rick Kelly , Simon Wills , Peter Hill , Mark Ellis , Emerson Newton-John