UTE: Adelaide round one race report

Triumphs In Nations Cup Battle Of Italian Thoroughbreds In Adelaide ADELAIDE -- Lamborghini ace Paul Stokell won a $1.4 million battle of Italian thoroughbreds with Ferrari's Allan Simonsen in the Australian Nations Cup Championship at the ...

Triumphs In Nations Cup Battle Of Italian Thoroughbreds In Adelaide

ADELAIDE -- Lamborghini ace Paul Stokell won a $1.4 million battle of Italian thoroughbreds with Ferrari's Allan Simonsen in the Australian Nations Cup Championship at the Clipsal 500 meeting today.

Their two V12-engined coupes, said to be worth around $700,000 each, were the class of the field in two races for the GT sports car series.

Stokell, the current Nations Cup champion and one of the world's most successful Lamborghini racers, finished the day on top of the new season's pointscore while Simonsen paid dearly for two mistakes in a Ferrari 550 Maranello clearly capable of winning.

In other round-one events in the PROCAR Champ Series, Mark King scored a debut win for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 in GT Performance, 17-year-old Chris Alajajian did the same for Subaru's Liberty GT in Production and Glen Barnes took out a reverse-grid V8 BRutes race.

Stokell started the 12-lap first Nations Cup race from pole position in his Lamborghini Diablo GTR, but Simonsen was immediately on his tail and both smashed the lap record on only their second lap.

The pressure -- and the records -- continued until the eighth lap, when Simonsen's attempted pass on the 200 kmh-plus turn eight resulted in a hair-raising brush with the concrete safety wall.

The Danish driver, 24, continued at full speed, joking later that he'd been a stunt driver in England earlier in his career.

In fact, he continued to match or beat Stokell's lap times as the Lamborghini's rear tyres faded, but it was not enough to close the gap which was 0.48 seconds at the finish.

Simonsen's consolation prize was a new lap record of 1 minute 23.22 seconds, just under the lap record for the V8 Supercars competing this weekend in the Clipsal 500.

Nathan Pretty was a distant third in the Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden Monaro, with James Brock in an identical Monaro was fourth in his debut Nations Cup race for Team Brock.

The Nations Cup system of "success" weight handicaps added 79 kilograms, 56 kg and 28 kg to the cars of Stokell, Simonsen and Pretty respectively for race two.

Simonsen got the jump -- literally -- on the rolling start and was immediately called to the pits for a drive-through penalty.

He resumed in fourth place, but immediately passed Brock then took Pretty's second place on lap 11 of 20.

However, the experienced Stokell was in comfortable control of the race and was able to ease off in the closing laps without fear of challenge from Simonsen.

Stokell said his goal had been to earn championship points early in the season.

"It's only the first day. I need points on the board and I've already got two wins and a pole position," he said.

"The Lamborghini is as fast as it's going to be with the extra weight. If he (Simonsen) gets past me fair and square tomorrow I'm not going to break the car chasing him."

Simonsen did not acknowledge his jump-start error, saying only: "I haven't see the (video) footage -- we'll see."

Mitsubishi Australia's new venture into circuit racing bore fruit when the latest Lancer Evolution 8 sedan won its maiden race in the Australian GT Performance Championship for touring cars.

Queenslander Mark King, driving one of the rally-bred cars in the colors of Mitsubishi's official Ralliart motorsport division, raced away from second on the grid and was never headed in the first race of 2004.

Adelaide driver Steve Knight, in a sister car to King's, made a blistering start from the second grid row and slotted in ahead of the pole-sitter Ric Shaw (Mazda RX-7), who lasted only half a lap before colliding with the concrete safety wall.

A number of first-lap incidents involving Shaw, Mark Cohen (HSV), Trevor Haines (Falcon GT) and John Falk (Ford Tickford) combined to bring out the safety car for four laps.

When the race resumed at the start of lap seven, King had a clear road but Knight immediately came under heavy pressure from the Subaru ProTecnica team of Justin Hemmes and Wayne Boatwright.

Hemmes pounced when Knight appeared to leave a lap and Boatwright followed to the flag in third position.

The result was a promising omen for King, who is the defending GTP champion and won two of three races here last year.

"The Evo 8 is a definite evolution of my old Evo 7 -- it's a sensational thing to drive," he said.

"It's great that Mitsbishi is coming on board with circuit racing and I'm pleased to have given them an early return on their investment.

"Ric Shaw put a move on me at turn eight and I guess the tyres were still cold and there was plenty of debris on the track after the V8 Supercars and it just took him into the wall."

King now leads the series pointscore from Hemmes and Boatwright.

Round one of the GTP championship will wrap up with two races tomorrow.

A seventeen-year-old schoolboy who hopes to become a professional racing driver won his first race in the Australian Production Car Championship.

Chris Alajajian, from Sydney, started the eight-lap race, leg two of round one in the national series, from near the back of the grid and powered his Subaru Liberty GT sedan past 14 rivals to win.

"It feels excellent (to win), especially as this weekend is the first time in our new car," Alajajian said.

"I'm still a schoolboy, but I'm trying to make a career out of racing."

A lightning start from Alajajian launched him past defending champion Scott Loadsman, in a Holden Commodore SS.

He was already in 11 th spot by lap two when a crash involving Mitsubishi driver Richard Hing brought the field behind the safety car for two laps.

Alajajian continued his rapid progress when racing resumed, taking the chequered flag in second place but earning the win post-race when first finisher Ian Luff (Honda) was penalised for jumping the restart.

David Russell continued his giant-killing performances of the weekend, finishing second in a 1.6 litre Proton Satria.

Loadsman, the race one winner, took the series lead in a Holden Commodore V8 after finishing fifth today, but predicted the fast-developing youngsters Alajajian and Russell would continue to be a threat when the series moves to Sydney's Oran Park for round two next month.

Russell is second in the series tally, two points behind Loadsman, with Russell third.

Holden driver Glen Barnes bolted away from pole to win race two of the V8 BRutes Series after an unusually trouble free reverse-grid start.

Victoria's Holden SS driver Kim Jane finished as he started, in second position.

Gary Baxter, from Adelaide, pushed hard over the eight-lap event, the second of three in round one of the 2004 V8 BRutes Series, and finished third after Team Brock's Damien White ran out of brakes exiting the first chicane on lap seven.

Top Ford driver was former Sydney rugby league star Jack Elsegood, in fifth.

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Steve Knight , Nathan Pretty , Garry Rogers , Allan Simonsen , Ric Shaw , John Falk , Paul Stokell , Mark King , Wayne Boatwright , Scott Loadsman , Ian Luff , James Brock , Mark Cohen , Jack Elsegood , Chris Alajajian , Damien White , David Russell
Teams Garry Rogers Motorsport
Tags AUSUTE