AUSF3: UTE: Symmons Plains Saturday report

Tassie stars Stokell and Bowe on front row for Nations Cup home round. Lamborghini driver Paul Stokell will head an all-Tasmanian front row after narrowly beating Ferrari's John Bowe in qualifying today for round two of the Donut King Australian...

Tassie stars Stokell and Bowe on front row for Nations Cup home round.

Lamborghini driver Paul Stokell will head an all-Tasmanian front row after narrowly beating Ferrari's John Bowe in qualifying today for round two of the Donut King Australian Nations Cup Championship for GT sports cars at Symmons Plains circuit near Launceston today.

Bowe set the early pace, but had no answer when Stokell gunned his V12-engined Italian coupe to a lap time of 54.45 seconds and an average speed of 159 kmh.

Bathurst 24-Hour winner Nathan Pretty brought his 7.0 litre Holden Monaro into third spot, followed by another Tasmanian, Greg Crick, in a Chrysler Viper and Peter Brock in a second Monaro.

In a highly-competitive 20-minute session, all five drivers were separated by less than 0.7 sec. and all bettered the lap record of 55.65 sec. set by Bowe last year.

Hobart-born Stokell and Bowe, from Devonport, both now base their professional driving careers in Melbourne but have attracted huge support for their homecoming at the PROCAR Champ Series meeting.

Event organiser PROCAR Australia is hoping the appearance of Stokell, Bowe and Crick will help attract a bigger crowd than last year's three-day record of 16,000 people.

Stokell said: "It's great to be on pole and racing in front of my family and friends. You can't get any better than this; I've had a lot of support from everyone.

"I've been trying to win this championship for three years. I'm more determined than ever, but with Bowe, Pretty and Crick on my tail it won't be a walkover.

"And then there's Peter Brock as well - you can't get any more experienced than him."

Bowe, who leads the pointscore for the Meguiar's Drivers Championship, says his Ferrari is the underdog amid big-engined rivals, despite being on the front row of the starting grid for the first of tomorrow's three races.

"The front row is good, but you really have to be on pole at this track to have much of a chance in my car," he said.

"If I can't get ahead of Paul on the rolling start it will be tough."

Brock, returning to regular racing after a four-year lay-off, struggled with a power steering problem in the Monaro.

"I never got into a fast lap today, but I'm confident of moving through the pack tomorrow," he said.

"This is one of the best race cars I've ever driven, so I should go okay in the cut and thrust of competition."

The Nations Cup cars will have two races of 21 laps and a third event of 42 laps on the 2.4 km circuit, with the chequered flag being waved by Tasmanian Deputy Premier Paul Lennon.

Also on the program are 12 races for the Strathfield Australian GT Performance Championship, Siemens Mobile Australian Production Car Championship, Poolrite V8 BRutes Series, Australian Formula 3 Championship and Falken Tyres Mirage Cup.

GT Performance qualifying was won - but hardly dominated - by Victorian driver Peter Floyd in a Holden HSV GTS.

Floyd took the spot for the first of tomorrow's three 14-lap races with a lap time of 61.28 seconds, his 5.7 litre Australian V8 just one-hundredth of a second faster than the Japanese 2.0 litre Subaru turbo of Wayne Boatwright, from New South Wales.

Graham Alexander came fourth in a Mitsubishi Lancer turbo and Sydney touring car veteran Bob Pearson was fourth in a Mazda RX-7, settling a grid with four different car makes on the first two rows.

In the V8 BRutes, Damien White in a Ford Falcon XR8 ute beat Charlie Kovacs, in a Holden SS, by 0.11 seconds to top qualifying, although another Holden driver, Dennis Cribbin, won the usual ballot for pole position.

Holden Commodore SS driver Scott Loadsman set the fastest qualifying lap for the two-race Production Car round. David Russell as the fastest driver in the slowest of three classes will take pole position in his Proton tomorrow and Loadsman will start last, according to the championship's handicap format.

SPEED READ

* Sunday (From 9 am) - 15 races, all categories. Ute Muster display and competition for road utes. Driver autograph sessions at 11.15 am, 12 midday and 1.30 pm.

* Categories - Donut King Nations Cup (Rd 2) supported by Meguiar's, Strathfield GT Performance (Rd 2), Siemens Mobile Australian Production Cars (Rd 2), Poolrite V8 BRutes (Rd 2) supported by Philmac, Formula 3 (Rd 2), Falken Tyres Mitsubishi Mirages (Rd 1).

* Tickets - On sale at all Autobarn stores in Tasmania or at the track. Adults $30 (Sunday). Children 12-16 $15 (Sunday). Children under 12 free. Ute drivers enter free on Sunday with paying adult passenger. Free entry to Paddock and autograph sessions.

-www.procar.com.au.

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About this article
Series Supercars , F3
Drivers Nathan Pretty , John Bowe , Peter Brock , Peter Floyd , Greg Crick , Paul Stokell , Graham Alexander , Scott Loadsman , Damien White , Bob Pearson , David Russell
Tags AUSUTE