GTP leader faces hot new challenge at Eastern Creek

JAPAN¹S latest high-tech, high-performance ³cult car² will be given its first Australian racing appearance next weekend in a bid to catch runaway points leader Brett Peters in round five of the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car ...

JAPAN¹S latest high-tech, high-performance ³cult car² will be given its first Australian racing appearance next weekend in a bid to catch runaway points leader Brett Peters in round five of the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship at Eastern Creek International Raceway, near Sydney.

New South Wales driver Wayne Boatwright, who holds a distant second place in the eight-round series for showroom-production passenger cars, will debut a specially-imported Subaru Impreza WRX STi Version 7 several months before the model¹s official local launch.

Boatwright is one of several drivers desperately seeking any chance to peg back Peters, who drives an earlier Subaru. However, he fears the under-developed new car is not ready for the challenge and disputes Altiris Team manager Michael Sainsbury¹s decision to switch so soon from the car he has raced so far this season.

"I'm not convinced that the new car is anywhere near ready yet and I've asked Mike to reconsider our strategy,² Boatwright said. ³The thought of my teammate Steve Burke driving the car that I should be in gets me pretty wound up. Teammate or not, he'll be right in my sights on Sunday."

Peters also expects to be an underdog and says the fast and flowing Eastern Creek layout will favour cars such as John Bowe¹s Ford Mustang Cobra RA, the four Holden GTS sedans entered and Bob Pearson¹s Mazda RX-7. Bowe¹s weakness in the Mustang has been slow starts, but otherwise the American coupe is formidably quick and has delivered two race wins in the GT Performance division with seeming ease.

In the Sports Touring class, Nathan Pilkington (Mitsubishi) will be defending his three-point lead against Honda driver Nathan Thomas, plus the improving works Volkswagens of Tim Leahy and Matt Coleman.

Competition also will be fierce in the GT Production division races, where Brian Carr (Falcon), John McIlroy (Falcon) and Scott Loadsman (Commodore) are all close contenders for the V8 Touring class crown.

CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after Round 4): 87 B. Peters; 39 equal W. Boatwright, M. King; 38 eq. J. Bowe, P. Polites, G. Deane; 33 R. Hughes; 31.5 G. Alexander; 31 E. Aitken. Poolrite High Performance 87 B. Peters. Hippies Sports Touring 76 N. Pilkington. Poolrite V8 Touring 89 B. Carr. Poolrite 6-Cylinder Touring 113 D. Coon. Poolrite 4-Cylinder Touring 73 L. Youlden.

LAST YEAR: Pole R. Shaw 1 min. 45.33 sec. Race 1 M. King (Mitsubishi Evo V). Race 2 R. Shaw (Mazda).

WEEKEND TIMETABLE: Friday 9 am GT Production (practice, 30 min), 10.15 am GT Performance (practice, 30 min.), 12.50 pm GT Production (practice, 30 min.), 1.30 pm GT Performance (practice, 30 min.). Saturday 9.40 GT Production (qualifying, 30 min.), 11.30 am GT Performance (qualifying, 30 min.), 2.45 pm GT Production (practice, 15 min.), 3.10 pm GT Performance (practice, 15 min.). Sunday 9.30 am GT Production (race 1, 8 laps), 11 am GT Performance (race 1, 8 laps), 1.00 pm GT Production (race 2, 8 laps), 3.40 pm GT Performance (race 2, 8 laps).

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Series Supercars
Drivers John Bowe , Wayne Boatwright , John McIlroy , Scott Loadsman , Nathan Pilkington , Brett Peters , Bob Pearson