Queensland Raceway supports young driver at Lakeside

Queensland Raceway, the State's leading motorsport facility, has come to the aid of promising young star Michael Simpson on the eve of the fifth round of the Konica V8 Supercar Series at Lakeside this weekend. Simpson, who has struggled for ...

Queensland Raceway, the State's leading motorsport facility, has come to the aid of promising young star Michael Simpson on the eve of the fifth round of the Konica V8 Supercar Series at Lakeside this weekend.

Simpson, who has struggled for sponsorship all season, managed to secure the last-minute deal this morning and will run the official event logo of the VIP Petfoods Queensland 500 on the bonnet of this EL Falcon this weekend.

The announcement comes as organisers of the VIP Petfoods Queensland 500 start their 50-day countdown to what is shaping as one of the best V8 Supercar events of the year.

The arrangement is a one-off deal, which will help Simpson get through this weekend's commitments while providing terrific publicity for the 500km endurance race to be held at the Queensland Raceway on August 24-26.

Queensland Raceway officially announced the VIP Petfoods sponsorship of the Queensland 500 during a special launch in Brisbane on Wednesday.

"The VIP Petfoods Queensland 500 is going to be a fantastic event and I am thrilled event organisers have selected me as its representative this weekend," said Simpson.

"It would be great if we could fly the VIP and Queensland Raceway colours towards the front of the field and maybe bring home a trophy.

"We are hoping our efforts this weekend led to an offer to drive in the 500km race at Queensland Raceway next month. We can only give it our best shot."

Queensland Raceway Chairman, John Tetley, said he hoped his organisation's support of Simpson could spur full-time backing for the talented Gold Coaster.

"You could say it has been a pretty big week for the Queensland Raceway," said Chairman, John Tetley.

"First of all we announced VIP Petfoods as the naming-rights sponsor of the Queensland 500 and now we are doing a bit of sponsorship of our own.

"Michael (Simpson) is a very talented young driver who deserves the support of a major sponsor.

"We are certainly not that major contributor, but at least this will pay for a few things over the weekend.

"In return we expect Michael to run strongly and to provide plenty of exposure for the VIP Petfoods Queensland 500 on the Network Ten telecast."

Simpson learnt most of his race craft at Lakeside and in this game there is no substitute for miles.

Simpson has driven a range of cars at the venue including a formula vee, formula ford, HQ Holdens, Suzuki GTi and a GT Production BMW and he is hoping that experience will give him an edge in his EL Falcon on Sunday.

Given tremendous support from Stone Brothers Racing this season, Simpson is hoping a big result this weekend will secure him a competitive rider for next month's VIP Petfoods Queensland 500 and the Bathurst V8 1000 in October.

"I cannot win the championship, but I think we can have a real crack this weekend," said Simpson.

"I just have to go out there and give it my best shot.

"Lakeside is not the easiest place in the world and I hope my amount of miles there will account for something at the end of the day."

Simpson was a serious championship contender until he was caught up in a first-corner incident in round three at Winton on May 6.

As a result, he did not score a point for the round and he was left to wonder where he would get the cash to get his car re-built in time for round four at Phillip Island.

Brisbane driver Craig Harris came to the rescue and offered Simpson his Castrol Falcon for the round because he would be out of the country on business.

After a strong third in the opening race at Phillip Island, Simpson's hopes were again dashed by an engine problem, which kept him out of the remaining two heats.

"There have been a lot of people who have given us what they could to keep our operation running this year and it would be great to reward them with a big result this weekend," said Simpson.

"It is always great to race in front of family and friends and that is exactly what we will be doing this weekend.

"We certainly have a task ahead of us, but I think we will be up to it."

While Simpson has struggled to find the sponsorship dollars to fund his operation this season, he has also picked-up some support from Chef Talk for this weekend.

The Labrador-based catering company will help Simpson get to the meeting and ensure he has plenty of carbohydrates to get him through the weekend.

Simpson has received other support during the year from the Queensland Vehicle Warranty Network, Brannigan's Budget Tyres, Eddie's Auto Painters, MA Howard Constructions, Nerang Diffs, the Lynton Group and Wade-Parker Consulting.

The Konica V8 Supercar Series consists of six rounds in the Eastern states of Australia and has been designed as a breeding ground for the Shell Championship Series.

-Brett Murray

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Series Supercars
Drivers Mike Simpson , Phillip Island