2001 Holden Australian Drivers Championship Round 8 Preview - Winton, 3rd September 2001 Final Showdown And Silver Star Battle Heads For Winton The eight round, sixteen race Formula Holden schedule draws to a close this weekend at Victoria's...
2001 Holden Australian Drivers Championship
Round 8 Preview - Winton, 3rd September 2001
Final Showdown And Silver Star Battle Heads For Winton
The eight round, sixteen race Formula Holden schedule draws to a close this weekend at Victoria's rural Winton circuit near Benalla. The final Holden Australian Drivers' Championship battle has attracted the biggest and most competitive field of the year, and while the Gold Star has been run and won, the Silver Star Championship is yet to be decided.
The Silver Star Championship is for drivers of older cars, or drivers with less experience than some of the professionally run driver/ team combinations and provides a race within a race for the mid-field ranks.
After three years of trying, including a second place in 1999, South Australian Ian Peters will this weekend be looking to capture his first Silver Star Championship. Peters, who drives the ex-Jason Bright 1997 championship winning car, has been consistent all year and has finished every one of the 14 races contest thus far. Operating on a budget of approximately $35,000 for a full season, the former Lotus historic racer will have to keep closest rival Terry Clearihan at bay if he is to claim the title, but after a Race One win at Mallala Peters is full of confidence going into the championship decider.
Clearihan, who led by four points before the Mallala weekend, endured a shocker on the rural South Australian circuit and now sits 12 points adrift of Peters with 40 points up for grabs. The Canberra based car dealer is probably ruing the fact that he missed the opening Phillip Island round, but he is capable of scoring victory at Winton, although that may still prove insufficient to knock off Peters. If Clearihan can win both events he will need Peters to finish lower than second in class in one of the races to claim the crown.
As usual there will be a gang of interlopers all hoping to upset the applecart and among the other Silver Star front-runners are Roger 'Doc' Oakeshott, Mark Ellis and Rohan Carrig. Oakeshott, who sits third in the Silver Star battle having won the first three rounds on the trot, will be out to finish the season on a high. The Doc will benefit from having had V8 Supercar star Greg Murphy sort his car out for the tight Winton circuit during a recent test day.
Ahead of this tug of war will be the battle between the young hotshots and with the championship already in the safe keeping of 2001 standout Rick Kelly; it will be a gloves-off encounter. Eighteen-year-old Kelly's closest challengers this year have been Christian Murchison (20) and yet another teenager, Nineteen-year-old Alan Gurr. These two will be desperate to record their first season win, having both scored a number of second places during the year. However, they will have to contend with a host of talented speedsters making a return to the category as well as the rapid M ONE 11 machine of Peter Hill.
Among those likely to throw out a challenge to the flying trio of youngsters currently sitting atop the points table are Emerson Newton-John, Paul Stokell, Akihiro Asai, Brenton Ramsay and Tim Leahey, while Chris Staff will also join the fray in a brand new Reynard 96D Ralt Australia entry.
Stokell has won three Formula Holden Gold Star titles and returns to his old team, Birrana Racing, fresh from his outing at the VIP Pet Foods Queensland 500. He will have Brenton Ramsay to keep him company and Ramsay showed good speed at Mallala last time out and also went well in the recent FH test day at Winton.
Newton-John, once again lining up in a third Hocking Motorsport entry, will also be one to watch and the fast-starting American will surely figure in the battle for podium spots. Japan's Akihiro Asai will also join the Hocking equipe' for the weekend and if he can repeat his fireworks from the 1998/ 99 season will be worth watching. Leahey will field a third Murphy Motorsport car and is happy to be given the chance to help develop the car for next year. Leahey cannot be discounted and also comes from a great result at last weekend's Queensland V8 Supercar event.
2001 Holden Australian Drivers Championship (Top Ten)
1. Rick Kelly 265pts
2. Christian Murchison 132pts
3. Alan Gurr 107pts
4. Peter Hill 99pts
5. Stewart McColl 74pts
6. Terry Clearihan 66pts
7. Ian Peters 62pts
8. Simon Wills 60pts
9. Emerson Newton-John 59pts
10. Roger Oakeshott 35pts
2001 Silver Star Award
1. Ian Peters 194pts
2. Terry Clearihan 182pts
3. Roger Oakeshott 117pts
4. Rohan Carrig 94pts
5. Chris Hocking 75pts
6. Mark Ellis 74pts