DESPITE the risk of his $350,000 Ferrari F360 Modena meeting the unforgiving concrete walls of CanberraÂ¹s temporary street circuit, driver Mark Noske can afford no mercy in the fight to defend his fragile lead in the Century Batteries GTP ...
DESPITE the risk of his $350,000 Ferrari F360 Modena meeting the unforgiving concrete walls of Canberra¹s temporary street circuit, driver Mark Noske can afford no mercy in the fight to defend his fragile lead in the Century Batteries GTP Nations Cup this weekend.
Round three, to be contested by 23 of the world's fastest GT production cars, will be one of the most crucial of the season.
Three races, instead of the usual two, give Noske an extra chance to break clear of his closest challengers for the Meguiar¹s Top Marques Drivers Championship, Porsche GT3 driver and defending champion Jim Richards and Lamborghini¹s Paul Stokell. Equally, Richards and Stokell have an opportunity to overcome the points deficit.
The new 4.0 km track will be a critical factor when the GTP Nations Cup cars race in the nation's capital. Untested in competition, its concrete confines will allow little room for error, the "green" surface will be slippery at first and Canberra's cold weather will reduce tyre perfomance.
In addition, the fastest competitors will face the challenge of fighting their way from the rear of the pack when the starting grid is reversed for race two.
After rounds in Adelaide and Sydney, Noske and Stokell own two wins apiece, while Richards is chasing his first of the season. Former champion Peter Fitzgerald (Porsche GT3) and Geoff Morgan (Dodge Viper ACR) also are hungry to break through after impressive runs in round two.
"I¹m not too worried about coming from the back of the grid. If you¹ve got a good car with good brakes, you can always find somewhere to pass the slower cars," Richards said.
Stokell is less confident of handling traffic in his big black Lamborghini Diablo SVR. "Qualifying well is going to be important if you want to get a good run at the front," he said.
The Century Batteries GTP Nations Cup entry list continues to grow. Additions to the field for Canberra include Max Warwick, in a Porsche 911 GT3, Michael Simpson, in a BMW M3-R, and a second Ross Palmer Motorsport Ferrari F360 Modena Challenge, to be driven by Wayne Park.
TIMETABLE: Friday 1.15 pm - Practice (20 min.), 3.50 pm - Practice (20 min.); Saturday 10.20 am - Qualifying (20 min.), 2.10 pm - Race 1 (15 min.); Sunday 10.10 am - Race 2 (20 min., reverse grid), 1.45 pm - Race 3 (20 min.).
MEGUIAR¹S TOP MARQUES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP: 1 Mark Noske 53, 2 Jim Richards 47, 3 Paul Stokell 38, 4 Peter Fitzgerald 26, 5 Peter Bradbury 21, 6 Steve Webb 20.