AUSF3: UTE: Symmons: Race report

Double wins a happy homecoming for Bowe as PROCAR Champ Series packs Symmons Plains. LAUNCESTON - Tasmanian-born champion John Bowe made a triumphant return to his home track today, taking the lead in the Australian Nations Cup Championship...

Double wins a happy homecoming for Bowe as PROCAR Champ Series packs Symmons Plains.

LAUNCESTON - Tasmanian-born champion John Bowe made a triumphant return to his home track today, taking the lead in the Australian Nations Cup Championship after two wins in his Ferrari 360 GT at Symmons Plains Raceway.

Bowe won the first of two 35-lappers by a margin of 48 seconds over Geoff Morgan in a Chrysler Viper.

In race two, the margin was halved to Jim Richards, in second place in a Porsche GT3 Cup.

While Bowe celebrated, his key rival and fellow Tasmanian Paul Stokell, packed away his $700,000 Lamborghini Diablo GTR with no points.

A transmission failure sidelined the Italian coupe after six laps in race one and it could not be repaired in time to complete the meeting.

Stokell came to Symmons Plains as the series leader and left in fifth place. He will have to fight hard to recover when the series heads to Sydney's Oran Park for round three on 3-5 May.

Bowe said he was thrilled to win in front of family and friends and a record crowd of spectators.

Today's official count was 11,871, with an estimated 16,000 attending over the meeting's three days.

The crowd included fans in about 400 utes, attracted by racing in the V8 BRute Muster series, a trackside ute muster competition and display for roadgoing vehicles, plus an appearance by country singer and intending V8 BRute racer Adam Brand.

Tasmanians starved of major motorsport for several years surpassed the attendance record at any mainland sprint round since the PROCAR Champ Series was launched last year.

Ross Palmer, Chairman of events company PROCAR Australia, which staged the meeting with circuit operator Motorsports Tasmania, said negotiations had begun already for a return in 2003.

"We brought around 80 cars in six categories from the mainland for this weekend, and Tasmanians have shown their appreciation in magnificent fashion," Mr Palmer said.

"We're very keen to come back, although there will be some issues to resolve in helping our competitors with costs, so we can bring more of them."

Bowe said: "What a way to come home. The atmosphere here today was just fantastic and I'm delighted for the motorsport fans of Tasmania. This will be a big boost."

He won in impressive style today, taking the lead from pole-sitter Geoff Morgan at the first corner and setting the lap record time on lap four as he opened an unbeatable gap on the big American Viper. Jim Richards came in third, ahead of New Zealander Kevin Bell in another Porsche.

In race two, it was Morgan who made the break over Bowe at the rolling start. Bowe applied characteristic pressure, closing under brakes and through the corners only to see the eight-litre Viper romp away to more than 250 kmh on the straight.

But, eventually Bowe's persistence appeared to take its toll on Morgan's brakes and he slipped by on lap 13, followed soon after by Richards.

Brian Carr, who raced a GTP Falcon last year, stepped up to a Ferrari 360 Challenge alongside Bowe in the PHR Scuderia and won both races in the Group Two division.

However, a consistent performance for the second consecutive round brought the Group Two points lead to AFL football personality Sam Newman, also in a Ferrari.

The Australian GT Performance Championship also saw a new leader by the end of the day.

Queenslander Brett Peters, back in the Subaru STi that won him last year's championship, scored three second places while former points leader Geoff Full slipped with two sixth places and a seventh.

Each of the three 14-lap GT Performance races produced plenty of excitement. The 400-horsepower GTS Holden Commodore of Peter Floyd was fast, as expected, but also in trouble.

Dave Wood led from start to finish in the first two races, but a spin on the first lap of race three put his out of contention.

Floyd ran off the track in race one, recovered, and then had to retire with radiator damage after a collision with the Subaru of Wayne Boatwright.

The Holden started race two from the back of the field, but Floyd made maximum use of its performance to gain third place at the end. However, in race three the pressure of racing the heavy car hard resulted in a tyre blowout while Floyd was leading on the last lap; he limped home in third with the tyre in shreds.

Sydney driving instructor Warren Luff was the star performer in the V8 BRute Muster.

Driving a Ford Falcon XR8 ute, Luff took third place in race one and then two wins to lift himself 36 points clear of Damien White (Falcon) in the series pointscore.

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Series Supercars , F3
Drivers Adam Brand , Jim Richards , John Bowe , Peter Floyd , Paul Stokell , Geoff Full , Brett Peters , Warren Luff , Kevin Bell , Damien White