LE MANS WINNER ORTELLI IN LAST-MINUTE DASH FROM EUROPE TO BOOST PORSCHE CHANCES AT BATHURST LE Mans winner Stephan Ortelli, one of the world's top sports car drivers, is making a last-minute dash from his Monaco home to boost the chances of the...
LE MANS WINNER ORTELLI IN LAST-MINUTE DASH FROM EUROPE TO BOOST PORSCHE CHANCES AT BATHURST
LE Mans winner Stephan Ortelli, one of the world's top sports car drivers, is making a last-minute dash from his Monaco home to boost the chances of the British Cirtek Porsche team in next weekend's inaugural Bathurst 24-Hour race.
Ortelli is due to arrive in Sydney on Friday morning and will be driven immediately the 210 kms to Mount Panorama, where it is hoped he'll join teammate David Brabham for the first practice session at 10.15 am.
Ortelli won the 1998 Le Mans 24-hours for Porsche and recently was crowned 2002 champion in the international FIA N-GT sports car class and Porsche Supercup series.
Cirtek team manager Rob Schirle said negotiations to bring Ortelli to Bathurst lasted until around 4 am today.
"Stephan was part of our original two-car line-up for the race, but when we decided to bring only one car we thought we would not need him. However, we've reviewed the situation and believe Stephan will be an invaluable boost to our competitiveness," Schirle said.
"He is absolutely at the top of his form at the moment. It will be good for the Australian fans to see him in action."
Following the appointment yesterday of Cameron McConville as number four driver in the factory-supported Holden Monaro, another British Porsche team, Graham Nash Motorsport, boosted its line-up today with two more top Australian drivers.
The Nash Pirelli Porsche GT3 RS will be driven by Englishman Chris Maries, who has extensive 24-hour experience, with Australians Rod Wilson, Peter Floyd and Gary MacDonald.
Today at Mount Panorama was devoted to technical inspection of the nine international entries. Australian cars will be scrutineered tomorrow, with practice and qualifying scheduled for Friday.
Apart from the controversial 7.0 litre Monaro, much interest is centred on the striking Mosler MT900R entered by Rollcentre Racing from England.
The low-slung Mosler, built in Florida, weighs just over 1000 kilograms and with a Chev Corvette motor producing a rumoured 500 horsepower, is expected to be one of the fastest cars on track.
GT Performance class entrant Nathan Pilkington, from Sydney, today named his line-up to drive a Nissan 350Z coupe in its world motorsport debut.
The Nissan, released for sale in Japan only three months ago, will be driven by Pilkington, Mark Williamson, Englishman Ian Mitchell and UK-resident Kiwi Elton Goonan.
A total of 37 cars is now listed to take the rolling start at 4 pm on Saturday.
Two BMWs have come from New Zealand and two from Austria, one Porsche is from Germany and three Porsches and a BMW are from Britain.
Australia¹s first major international 24-Hour race, the Bathurst 24-Hour will start at 4 pm on Saturday 16 November, after day and night qualifying sessions on Friday. Support events will be a 2-Hour GTP Showroom Showdown for GTP cars, and races on Friday and Saturday for V8 Brutes and HQ Holdens. Tickets, priced from $40 for two days, can be purchased through Ticketmaster7 by phoning 1300 136 122 or visiting www.ticketmaster7.com. More information about the event is on the official website, www.bathurst24hr.com.