CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 25th MARCH 1999 RECORD TITLE ENTRY AS GTP GOES TO THE V8s Competitors have clearly voted in favour of the move of the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship to...
CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 25th MARCH 1999
RECORD TITLE ENTRY AS GTP GOES TO THE V8s
Competitors have clearly voted in favour of the move of the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship to the V8 Supercars program with a record 45 entries for the opening round of the 1999 Championship at Eastern Creek.
The exciting diversity of the championship is highlighted by the 29 different models of vehicle competing, from 17 different manufacturers.
Highlights include the full-time return of 1995 GTP Champion, Jim Richards; multiple Porsche Cup champ, Geoff Morgan; stunning new cars including the TVR Chimaera 5.0, the Ford Mustang Saleen, Nissan Skyline GT-R Turbo 4WD and BMW M3R Coupe plus the added bonus of rally ace Neal Bates returning in Ray Lintott's Dodge Viper GTS Coupe ... and that's just the Class A action!
Reigning champion Domenic Beninca will return aboard his Porsche 911 RSCS and is expecting a tough job to try to defend his title.
"Our team is still battling to raise sponsorship to defend our crown, but that fight will be nothing compared to the on-track action this year," Beninca said.
"Jim Richards and Peter Fitzgerald will be hard to beat but the new cars could spring some major surprises.
"Guys like Terry Bosnjak (Mazda RX7 SP Twin-Turbo) are very quick when the car is reliable and we have seen what the Maserati can do when they get that on song.
"The championship is extremely strong and it is going to be a very tough year."
Darren Palmer will campaign the Ferrari F355 Challenge he drove to second place last year with Neil Crompton at Bathurst while Damien White will make his Class A debut aboard the Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo V of rally ace Rod Salmon.
But the boys will not have things their own way in 1999. Three women will contest the entire championship include Paula Elstrek aboard a standard version of the Mazda RX-7 which is eligible for Class B in 1999. She will be joined by Suzuki Swift racer Sue Hughes in Class E and Megan Kirkham who will debut a Mazda MX-5 in the new Class S for sports performance cars.
Elstrek's main Class B opposition includes the experienced Geoff Full who will campaign Chris Kousparis's championship winning Subaru Impreza WRX. Also mounted aboard the Subaru rocketships will be 1998 GTP Rookie of the Year, Dean Canto; Peter Boylan and Super Touring driver Dwayne Bewley ... made famous by his attempt to push his Peugeot over the line on foot at the 1997 AMP 1000.
Iron man legend Grant Kenny will also contest the 1999 Century Batteries Championship after some impressive performances with Scott Jacob at Sandown, Indy and Bathurst last year.
David Ratcliff will be out to defend his Class C championship with the Toyota Camry Touring V6. Prepared and run in 1999 by Chris and Nick Kousparis, Ratcliff's machine will be chased hard by Peter Phelan's Holden Commodore VT SS V8 and Ryan McLeod aboard a Ford Falcon EL XR8.
Calvin Gardner's Mazda 626 will make his championship debut in 1999 after taking most of the silverware from the long-distance races in Class D for the past two years. Phil Kirkham's similar machine will be out to ensure Gardner's winning run does not continue.
Motoring journalist Peter McKay is set to debut a new Peugeot 306 Style in the GTP Lights Class E division. The 1762cc French machine will do battle with the 1298cc giant-killing Suzuki Swifts of Nathan Thomas, Sue Hughes and newcomer Paul Buda. Darren Best's Hyundai Excel Sprint Twin Cam also returns for his second year in the championship.
Launched last year at Sandown, the new Class S has attracted seven entries for the opening round with ex-V8 Supercar driver Wayne Russell debuting a BMW 323i. Michael Simpson (BMW 323i) and Ric Shaw (Toyota MR2 Bathurst) are expected to fight it out for the Class S title.
ENTRIES 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 Neal Bates, Dodge Viper GTS Coupe 11 Jamie Cartwright, Toyota Supra RZ Twin-Turbo 12 Geoff Morgan, Porsche 911 RSCS 23 Beric Lynton, BMW M3-R Coupe 27 Darren Palmer, Ferrari F355 Challenge 30 Perry Spiridis, Maserati Ghibli Twin Turbo 38 Damien White, Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo V 39 Paul Stokell, Lotus Esprit Sport 300 41 Terry Bosnjak, Mazda RX-7 SP Twin-Turbo 45 John Teulan, Nissan Skyline GT-R Turbo 4WD 53 Ian Palmer, TVR Chimaera 5.0 65 Craig Dean, Ford Mustang Saleen
CLASS B 6 Geoff Full, Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 7 Peter Boylan, Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 15 Bob Hughes, Mazda RX-7 Twin Turbo 34 Mark King, Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo III 40 Dwayne Bewley, Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 44 Dean Canto, Subaru Impreza WRX Turbo 47 John Trimbole, Mitsubishi Lancer RS Turbo Evo III 51 Grant Kenny, 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 33 Denis Cribbin, Holden Commodore VS Exec V8 46 Ryan McLeod, Ford Falcon EL XR8 55 Mark Cohen, Holden Commodore VS SS V8 88 David Ratcliff, Toyota Camry Touring V6
CLASS D 43 Calvin Gardner, Mazda 626 71 Phil Kirkham, Mazda 626
CLASS E 36 Peter McKay, Peugeot 306 Style 37 Nathan Thomas, Suzuki Swift Gti 74 Sue Hughes, Suzuki Swift Gti 78 Paul Buda, Suzuki Swift Gti 78 Darren Best, Hyundai Excel Sprint Twin Cam
CLASS S 4 Clayton Haynes, Toyota MR2 GT 13 Colin Osborne, Toyota MR2 Bathurst 17 Megan Kirkham, Mazda MX-5 Sports 26 Wayne Russell, BMW 323i 32 Michael Simpson, BMW 323i 35 Ric Shaw, Toyota MR2 Bathurst 77 Nicolas Lucas, Toyota MR2 GT