CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP DARWIN PREVIEW 31st May 1999 BATTERED PORSCHE IN RACE AGAINST TIME Porsche 911 driver Peter Fitzgerald is facing a frantic weekend of repairs in a race against time to be ready...
CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP
DARWIN PREVIEW 31st May 1999
BATTERED PORSCHE IN RACE AGAINST TIME
Porsche 911 driver Peter Fitzgerald is facing a frantic weekend of repairs in a race against time to be ready for Round 3 of the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway on June 6.
Fitzgerald, who came together with Suzuki Swift GTi driver Craig Dontas in the second round of the championship at Phillip Island, says that he and his team are working overtime to ensure the Porsche 911 RSCS makes it to Hidden Valley by next weekend.
"We’re pulling out all stops to make sure the Porsche is in top form and ready to race. There’s no doubt we’ve got a tough job ahead of us, but my guys are putting their hearts and souls into getting the car ready in time," Fitzgerald said.
‘Fitzy’s’ Porsche sustained significant body damage to the driver’s side door, front and rear quarter panels, as well as suspension damage during a racing incident between Fitzgerald and Dontas at the Lukey Heights corner of Phillip Island.
Dontas who planned to race at Hidden Valley will not appear and has set his sights on having the Suzuki ready for the following round at Sandown Raceway on June 27.
Fitzgerald says that repairing the Porsche in the few weeks between races was never going to be an easy job. His team started working feverishly on the car from the Monday after the Phillip Island race, disassembling the car and sending the damaged bodywork to be repaired.
"I’ve been feeding my guys a lot of pizza for the late nights and they’re all committed to getting the job done in time," Fitzgerald said.
"My only reservation is that when I turn up to Hidden Valley next week, the car will be virtually untested. That means that practice on Friday will be the first opportunity to try out the settings on what is essentially a new car.
"To be running against Jim (Richards) and Dominic (Beninca) in an untested car is not an ideal scenario. But still, I’m looking forward to Hidden Valley because as they say - if you fall off the horse the best thing to do is to hop right back on."
Fitzgerald’s misfortune at Phillip Island saw him slip from second position to third in the championship and he says that he has a big job ahead of him to make up the ground lost to Jim Richards.
While the battle for Class A honours between Beninca, Richards and Fitzgerald will be tight, the battle behind them on track between lead Class B driver Geoff Full (Subaru Impreza WRX) and Wayne Vinckx (Nissan 200SX) will be just as close.
The chase for Class C honours between Ryan McLeod (Ford Falcon EL) and Peter Phelan (Holden Commodore VT), who are putting aside on-track rivalry and pooling resources to get to Hidden Valley, should provide some spectacular racing with the Ford pilot leading the Holden driver by just one point.
Providing some interest on track is the anticipated Class D debut of the first of two, 2.2-litre Holden Vectras, driven by Sam Newman.
Newman has visited the GT Production Car Championship before with Ford, in the 1998, 3-Hour Bathurst Showroom Showdown. His co-driver Melinda Price will debut the second Vectra at Sandown on June 27.
The Class E battle between Kosi Kalaitzidis’ Proton M21 Coupe and Nathan Thomas’ Suzuki Swift GTi will continue in the "Top End" as will the GTP Sports Class S fight between the Toyota MR2 Bathurst of Ric Shaw and the quick BMW 323i of V8 Supercar driver Wayne Russell.
CLASS A 1 Domenic Beninca Porsche 911 RSCS 3 Peter Fitzgerald Porsche 911 RSCS 5 Jim Richards Porsche 911 RSCS 8 Ed Aitken Porsche 911 RSCS 9 Ray Lintott Dodge Viper GTS Coupe 11 Jamie Cartwright Toyota Supra RZ Twin-Turbo 12 Geoff Morgan Porsche 911 RSCS 18 Murray Carter Chevrolet Corvette C5 V8 Coupe 27 Darren Palmer Ferrari F355 Challenge 38 Layton Cambrook Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo V 41 Terry Bosnjak Mazda RX-7 SP Twin-Turbo 57 Graham Alexander Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo V 65 Craig Dean Ford Mustang Saleen
CLASS B 2 John Cowley HSV GTS-R 215i 6 Geoff Full Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 7 Peter Boylan Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 34 Mark King Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo III 40 Dwayne Bewley Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 66 Paula Elstrek Mazda RX-7 Twin Turbo 76 Wayne Vinckx Nissan 200SX Sport Coupe Turbo
CLASS C 16 Peter Phelan Holden Commodore VT SS V8 20 Robert Chadwick Mitsubishi Magna TH Sports V6 3.5 46 Ryan McLeod Ford Falcon EL XR8 55 Mark Cohen Holden Commodore VS SS V8 88 David Ratcliff Toyota Camry Touring V6
CLASS D 17 Sam Newman Holden Vectra GL 2.2 Sedan 71 Phil Kirkham Mazda 626
CLASS E 21 Kosi Kalaitidis Proton M21 Coupe 37 Nathan Thomas Suzuki Swift Gti 74 Sue Hughes Suzuki Swift Gti
CLASS S 13 Colin Osborne Toyota MR2 Bathurst 26 Wayne Russell BMW 323i 35 Ric Shaw Toyota MR2 Bathurst 54 Matt Lehmann Mazda MX-5 Sports 77 Nicolas Lucas Toyota MR2 GT
Outright Drivers Championship Domenic Beninca 52 Jim Richards 39.5 Peter Fitzgerald 33 Terry Bosnjak 27 Jamie Cartwright 19 Ed Aitken 14 Geoff Morgan 11 Perry Spiridis 10 Craig Dean 6 Geoff Full 5 Darren Palmer 4 Graham Alexander 3.5 Beric Lynton 3 Damien White 3 Murray Carter 2.5 Rod Salmon 2 Wayne Vinckx 0.5
Class A Domenic Beninca 51 Jim Richards 37.5 Peter Fitzgerald 32 Terry Bosnjak 27 Jamie Cartwright 19 Ed Aitken 15 Geoff Morgan 12 Perry Spiridis 10 Craig Dean 7 Graham Alexander 4.5 Darren Palmer 4 Murry Carter 3.5 Beric Lynton 3 Damien White 3 Rod Salmon 2
Class B Geoff Full 52.5 Wayne Vinckx 40 Mark King 20 Scott Jacob 16 Paula Elstrek 16 Peter Boylan 5 Bob Hughes 3
Class C Ryan McLeod 35 Peter Phelan 34 David Ratcliff 28 Mark Cohen 27.5 Robert Chadwick 19 Denis Cribbin 18
Class D Megan Kirkham 30
Class E Nathan Thomas 42 Sue Hughes 29 Darren Best 27 Peter McKay 24 Warren Luff 22.5 Kosi Kalaitzidis 16 Craig Dontas 8
Class S Ric Shaw 44 Wayne Russell 42.5 Colin Osborne 39 Clayton Haynes 20 Phil Kirkham 12 Nicolas Lucas 5 Megan Kirkham 4 __________________________________________________________ FURTHER NEWS: http://www.gtprod.com.au/