Phillip Island: Qualifying summary

Close fight looms in Nations Cup as Morgan puts Viper on pole for Phillip Island round. SYDNEY driver Geoff Morgan's chase for his first Australian Nations Cup Championship for exotic sports cars hit top gear with pole position for round seven...

Close fight looms in Nations Cup as Morgan puts Viper on pole for Phillip Island round.

SYDNEY driver Geoff Morgan's chase for his first Australian Nations Cup Championship for exotic sports cars hit top gear with pole position for round seven at Phillip Island in Victoria today.

Morgan steered his eight-litre Chrysler Viper coupe around the grand prix circuit in one minute 35.18 seconds, 0.23 sec. ahead of a Ferrari 360GT driven by PHR Scuderia team leader John Bowe.

With Jim Richards, in a Porsche GT3 Cup, and Paul Stokell, in a Lamborghini Diablo GTR, on row two of the starting grid - and four of the world's fastest sports cars separated by just 0.59 sec. - the scene is set for an exciting three races tomorrow that will be crucial to the championship outcome.

Morgan's goal this weekend is to cut his points deficit to Bowe, who is leading, and second-placed Richards.

With a point earned for the fastest lap in qualifying, the gap to the lead is a mere 34 points.

"I want to go to the last round at the Gold Coast Indy next month with only 10 points separating us, so that means I'll be going all-out tomorrow," Morgan said.

"There's no other way to attack it - you can't afford to hang back when you are racing John Bowe and Jim Richards or they'll disappear into the distance."

Bowe said: "This will be a terrific battle - a Ferrari, a Viper, a Porsche and a Lamborghini all fighting it out on a high-speed track that will bring out their best.

"I'm happy to be leading the series, but it's hardly a comfortable position with so few points between us."

The Nations Cup and the deciding round of the Australian GT Production Car Championship will be among the highlights of an 18-race program for the PROCAR Champ Series weekend.

Three other titles also hang in the balance at the PROCAR Champ Series event this weekend.

In the GT Production Cars, Colin Osborne (Celica), Steve Cramp (BMW) and Scott Loadsman (Commodore) will fight for the outright title in the two-leg final round tomorrow, Cramp and Osborne will contest the Sports Touring class and Martin Doxey (Astra), David Runkel (Proton) and Rick Bates (Daihatsu) are close in the 4-Cylinder Touring pointscore.

In qualifying today, Loadsman put his 5.7 litre V8 Holden on pole position, but he will start the first eight-lap race with a 49-second handicap that will put him at the back of the field.

Subaru driver David Wood, who is third in the GT Performance Championship pointscore, took pole today by almost a second over his closest rival, Bob Pearson, in a Mazda RX-7.

The main championship contenders, leader Geoff Full (Mitsubishi) and Brett Peters (Subaru), will start from the second row, but their best lap times were significantly slower than Wood's.

Holdens were fastest in a 23-car field of V8 BRutes contesting their seventh-round qualifying.

Gary MacDonald, from Sydney, was first from James Brock, with series leader Warren Luff and Allan Grice making up the second row in Ford Falcon utes.

In a ballot for starting positions, Commodore driver Steve Robinson drew pole for the first of three nine-lap races, while Grice will start from pole for the reverse-grid race two.

The Australian Formula 3 Championship, the Toyo Mitsubishi Mirage Series and HQ Holdens also will be part of a 16-race program tomorrow.

At trackside, the highlight is expected to be the Ute Muster, a display and competition featuring several hundred roadgoing utes from throughout regional Victoria.

RESULTS (Qualifying)

Nations Cup (Rd 7): Outright & Group One - 1 Geoff Morgan (NSW) Chrysler Viper 1:35.18, 2 John Bowe (Vic.) Ferrari 360 GT 1:35.41, 3 Jim Richards (Vic.) Porsche GT3 Cup 1:35.62, 4 Paul Stokell (Vic.) 1:35.77, 5 Peter Fitzgerald (Vic.) Porsche GT3 Cup 1:37.34, 6 Tony Quinn (Qld) Porsche GT3 Cup 1:38.07. Group Two - 1 John Teulan (Qld) Ferrari 360 Challenge 1:40.76, 2 Steve Beards (Vic.) Ferrari 360 Challenge 1:41.98, 3 Sam Newman (Vic.) Ferrari 360 Challenge 1:42.25.

GT Performance (Rd 7): 1 Dave Wood (Vic.) Subaru STi 1:45.13, 2 Bob Pearson (NSW) Mazda RX-7 1:46.10, 3 Geoff Full (NSW) Mitsubishi Evo VII 1:47.18, 4 Brett Peters (Qld) Subaru STi 1:46.66, 5 Steve Knight (SA) Mitsubishi Evo VI 1:47.27, 6 Graham Alexander (Vic.) Mitsubishi Evo V 1:47.34.

V8 Brutes (Rd 7): 1 Gary MacDonald (NSW) Commodore 1:55.23, 2 James Brock (Vic.) Commodore 1:55.38, 3 Warren Luff (NSW) Falcon 1:55.46, 4 Allan Grice (Qld) Falcon 1:55.99, 5 Gary Young (SA) Commodore 1:56.18, 6 Grant Denyer (Vic.) Falcon 1:56.21. (Pole ballot - Race 1 Steve Robinson, Race 2 Allan Grice).

Australian GT Production Car Championship (Rd 8): Outright - 1 Scott Loadsman (NSW) Commodore SS 1:55.42, 2 Colin Osborne (NSW) Toyota Celica 1:56.02, 3 Aaron McGill (NSW) 1:56.29, 4 James Dutton (Vic.) Honda Integra 1:58.05, 5 Steve Cramp (SA) BMW 323i 1:58.13, 6 Martin Doxey (Vic.) Holden Astra 2:00.35. Sports Touring - Colin Osborne. V8 Touring - Scott Loadsman. 4-Cylinder Touring - Martin Doxey.

Australian Formula 3 Championship (Rd 7): 1 James Manderson (NSW) Dallara Holden 1:27.15, 2 James Cressey (NZ) Dallara Holden 1:27.53, 3 Will Power (Qld) Dallara Toyota 1:28.39, 4 Darren Palmer (Qld) Dallara Holden 1:28.66, 5 Justin Watt (NSW) Dallara Alfa Romeo 1:29.40, 6 Ricky Occhipinti (Vic.) Dallara Fiat 1:29.71.

-www.procar.com.au-

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Series Supercars
Drivers Steve Knight , Jim Richards , John Bowe , Tony Quinn , Grant Denyer , Geoff Morgan , Will Power , John Teulan , Paul Stokell , Geoff Full , Steve Cramp , Aaron McGill , Graham Alexander , Scott Loadsman , James Brock , Colin Osborne , Gary Young , Brett Peters , Warren Luff , Bob Pearson , David Wood , Phillip Island