AUSF3: UTE: Phillip Island race report

Courageous Stokell fights back into Nations Cup lead at Phillip Island A courageous drive by Team Lamborghini's Paul Stokell reclaimed his lead in the Donut King Australian Nations Cup Championship in round six at Phillip Island Grand Prix...

Courageous Stokell fights back into Nations Cup lead at Phillip Island

A courageous drive by Team Lamborghini's Paul Stokell reclaimed his lead in the Donut King Australian Nations Cup Championship in round six at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Victoria today.

Stokell overcame the death yesterday of his Volkswagen teammate Stewart McColl to win the first and third of three races for GT sports cars.

Nathan Pretty won the second race in a Holden Monaro.

After starting the day tied with Ferrari pole winner John Bowe on 348 points in the Meguiar's Drivers Championship, Stokell finished with 424 points and a 16-point advantage.

However, it seems likely the title will be fought to the wire at the final round on the Gold Coast in October.

Stokell appeared to put everything into his driving today.

He was to have done double-duty at Lamborghini's sister team Volkswagen and would have shared the front row of the GT Performance Championship grid with McColl in a pair of Volkswagen Golfs.

Instead, the Volkswagen team withdrew its entry following McColl's accident and the first GTP race started with two empty grid positions after teammates, drivers and officials observed a minute's silence.

Stokell said he believed the last two Nations Cup rounds at Winton next month and at the Gold Coast Indy would suit Bowe's Ferrari, but he had expected the Lamborghini to be strong today.

"To be honest, I was surprised Bowe was as close as he was. Last week he reckoned we were going to disappear on this track, but it wasn't the case," he said.

"This is our circuit and under the circumstances we did as good as we could. But John Bowe also did a good job and I take my hat off to him."

Bowe, who completed the round in second spot ahead of Pretty, described his chances now of winning the championship as "long odds".

"My car will be quick around Winton, but not as quick as the Lamborghini.

"The Lamborghini is a faster car, but even if they took 50 or 60 horsepower off it, it would still beat me to the first corner."

Although Stokell dominated the field, Bowe fluffed a last-minute chance to get ahead in race three.

A caution lap behind the safety car at half-distance had allowed Bowe on to the tail of the Lamborghini, but at the restart Stokell rocketed away in first place.

"I guess I misunderstood the rules. I saw the safety car pull off and Paul went straight away, but I didn't think you could resume racing until you crossed the start-finish line," Bowe said.

The Garry Rogers-run Monaro team had mixed fortunes.

Pretty came third in the first race and won the second, but was dismayed when forced to retire from pole position in race three on the way to the rolling start.

"A piece of the (engine) flywheel broke off," Pretty reported.

"This weekend for fun I've been wearing a long wig because that's what Peter Brock looked like when he was winning in his younger days and I hoped the luck might rub off -- but it didn't."

Indeed, while teammate Brock showed his strongest form earlier in the weekend -- qualifying third -- he did not finish the first and second races because of tyre problems, although he came third in race three.

The star of the Group Two class was young Danish driver Alan Simonsen, who scored four outright fourth places in his Mark Coffey Racing Ferrari 360 Challenge.

Simonsen had been absent from the series since after round one, but said he will enter the last two rounds and is hoping to stay in Australia for November's Bathurst 24-Hour.

Mark King and Wayne Boatwright remain locked closely in battle for the Australian GT Performance Championship after today's three round-six races.

Neither driver figured prominently in the results, Boatwright's sixth in his Subaru Impreza in race one the highest finish, while King retired his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution in race two.

King, from the Gold Coast, retained the lead in the standings with 288 points, but Boatwright narrowed his deficit slightly with a 267 total.

The round went to first-time winner Ian Box, in a Subaru Impreza.

Box took first, second and third-place finishes, but V8 touring cars dominated the top podium spots.

In race one, John Falk recorded his second win of the season for his Team GT Ford Falcon TE50, while Peter Floyd took his first for the year in a Holden GTS in race three.

Falk finished the round in third spot, behind a consistent Garry Holt Garry Holt in a Mitsubishi Lancer.

Regular front-runner Bob Pearson, from Sydney, had a disastrous round.

He retired his Mazda RX-7 with engine problems on the warm-up lap for race one and then withdrew from the rest of the day's racing.

With one round still to go in the Australian Production Car Championship, Holden Commodore SS driver Scott Loadsman wrapped up the outright and Class A titles today.

Loadsman and Honda S2000 driver Darren Palmer both emerged with an outright win after battling each other for many laps in some of the closest racing of the day.

With two Class D wins, David Russell put his championship beyond reach of his father and Proton Satria works teammate Geoff.

However, Russell Senior is just 12 points ahead of last season's class champion Martin Doxey (Holden), who can be expected to fight on his home track at Winton in the final round on September 21.

After two Class B wins today, Steve Grocl retains the points lead in his Volkswagen Beetle, but still can be beaten for the championship by David Ratcliff (Toyota Celica).

Ford Falcon XR8 driver Warren Luff retained the lead in the defence of his Poolrite V8 Series championship with a consistent performance that reaped a win and two third place finishes.

However, James Brock was unable to recover fully from a non-finish in race one and saw his second place in the series slip away to fellow Holden SS driver Gary MacDonald, winner of the third race.

Charlie Kovacs from South Australia won the second V8 BRutes race in another Holden.

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About this article
Series Supercars , F3
Drivers Nathan Pretty , John Bowe , Garry Rogers , Peter Brock , Peter Floyd , John Falk , Paul Stokell , Mark King , Wayne Boatwright , Scott Loadsman , Charlie Kovacs , James Brock , Garry Holt , Warren Luff , Bob Pearson , David Russell , Phillip Island