Calder Park - Noske, Alexander fastest

NOSKE, FERRARI TOP FIRST GTP NATIONS CUP SESSION AT CALDER PARK FERRARI driver Mark Noske began his fightback into contention for the Century Batteries GTP Nations Cup today, topping the official practice sessions for this weekend's sixth ...

NOSKE, FERRARI TOP FIRST GTP NATIONS CUP SESSION AT CALDER PARK

FERRARI driver Mark Noske began his fightback into contention for the Century Batteries GTP Nations Cup today, topping the official practice sessions for this weekend's sixth round at Calder Park circuit in Melbourne.

Noske lapped the 2.28 km circuit in his Ferrari F360 Modena Challenge in 59.4 seconds, almost half a second faster than championship leader Jim Richards, who was third fastest in a Porsche 911 GT3.

Richards took over the series lead from Noske at round four and the young Ferrari driver now has to fight back from a 40-point deficit.

"This is an important weekend for us. We can't take back the lead from Jimmy, but hopefully we can narrow the gap," Noske said.

"We've put in some time testing at Calder and so far it's paying off. Qualifying tomorrow will be the first real test."

The action was close at the top of the field today, with the six fastest positions separated by less than 1.3 sec. and filled by two Porsches from Germany, two Ferraris and a Lamborghini from Italy and a Dodge Viper from the United States.

Christian Jones, 21-year-old son of Formula One world champion Alan Jones, put in another impressive performance in his third appearance in Tom Warwick's Ferrari Challenge, stopping the watches at 60.0729 sec.

Paul Stokell battled brake lock-up problems in his Lamborghini, leaving the track three times on the way to fifth fastest.

<pre> RESULTS: Lap time (sec.) 1. Mark Noske (Ferrari F360 Modena Challenge) 59.4092 2. Peter Fitzgerald (Porsche 911 GT3) 59.5449 3. Jim Richards (Porsche 911 GT3) 59.8820 4. Christian Jones (Ferrari F360 Modena Challenge) 60.0729 5. Paul Stokell (Lamborghini Diablo SVR) 60.1043 6. Geoff Morgan (Dodge Viper ACR) 60.6814

</pre> TIMETABLE: Saturday 12.15 pm - Qualifying, 1.30 pm - Practice; Sunday 10.45 am - Race 1, 2.05 pm - Race 2.

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ALEXANDER FIRST-TIME FASTEST AT CALDER PARK

FORMER rally ace Graham Alexander proved he can handle the racetrack as well as the forest gravel by topping the timesheets in official practice for round seven of the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship today at Calder Park, Melbourne.

Alexander put his Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evolution V, a turbo-powered all-wheel drive sedan similar to Mitsubishi's world championship rally car, around the 2.28 km Calder circuit in 64.6033 seconds to claim his first provisional pole position in the series.

Championship newcomer Ken Douglas, standing in for suspended driver Ric Shaw in the Mazda RX-7 that leads the series, was second-fastest in the two practice sessions, ahead of Gary Deane in a Subaru.

Holden V8 fans were cheered to see the 400 horsepower HSV Commodore GTS of Ed Aitken claim fourth spot ahead of the combination that has won six of the last eight races, Mark King and his Mitsubishi Lancer.

King is poised to take over the series lead from Shaw, but engine computer problems today meant he could do no better than fifth.

Falcon XR6 driver Daryl Coon claimed another fastest time in the Pennzoil Six-cylinder Touring class and said he hoped a good result this weekend would wrap up his championship title for the year. David Wood (Honda Integra) was fastest in the Hippies Sports Touring class.

<pre> RESULTS: Outright Lap time (sec.) 1. Graham Alexander (Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo V) 64.6033 2. Ken Douglas (Mazda RX-7) 64.7392 3. Gary Deane (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) 64.8453 4. Ed Aitken (Holden Commodore HSV GTS300) 65.0500 5. Mark King (Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo V) 65.3597 6. Scott Jacob (Subaru Impreza WRX STi) 65.8142

Class Autobarn High Perf.: Graham Alexander (Mitsubishi Lancer RS Evo V) 64.6033 Hippies Sports Touring: David Wood (Honda Integra Type R) 67.9324 Pennzoil V8 Touring: James Philip (Ford Falcon XR8) 68.1177 Pennzoil Six-cyl. Touring: Daryl Coon (Ford Falcon XR6) 69.5671 Poolrite Four-cyl. Touring: Kosi Kalaitzidis (Proton Satria GTi) 71.9557

TIMETABLE: Saturday 10.10 am - Qualifying. Sunday 9 am - Race 1, 12.05 pm - Race 2.

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Series Supercars
Drivers Jim Richards , Mark Noske , Geoff Morgan , Peter Fitzgerald , James Philip , Paul Stokell , Mark King , Ken Douglas , Graham Alexander , Gary Deane , Christian Jones , David Wood