UTE: Friday Winton report

Stokell posts early advantage in Nations Cup round at Winton Lamborghini driver Paul Stokell set the pace on the first day of a crucial round in his battle with John Bowe for the 2003 Donut King Australian Nations Cup Championship at Winton...

Stokell posts early advantage in Nations Cup round at Winton

Lamborghini driver Paul Stokell set the pace on the first day of a crucial round in his battle with John Bowe for the 2003 Donut King Australian Nations Cup Championship at Winton Motor Raceway in northern Victoria today.

Stokell's fastest lap time in official practice was more than a second ahead of Bowe's best in a Chrysler Viper -- but still too little and too soon to convince the championship leader he has the weekend in the bag.

"Today was about what we expected. We've tested here quite a lot and we know the circuit and know what the car will do," said Stokell, who leads Bowe by just 16 points in the Meguiar's Drivers Championship.

"If John was in his (usual) Ferrari he'd be right on the money, but I don't really know how he'll go in the Viper.

"I've been there before. Even if he's slow in practice John is quite capable of pulling it out of the bag for qualifying tomorrow, so we've still got a challenge on our hands."

Bowe reported handling difficulties with the Viper he borrowed from fellow Tasmanian Greg Crick, although he still managed to narrowly beat the 7.0 litre Holden Monaros of Nathan Pretty and Peter Brock.

Danish driver Allan Simonsen, in a Ferrari 360, was fastest in the Group 2 class of the eight-round championship for GT sports cars.

Sunday's three Nations Cup races will be the highlight of an 18-race PROCAR Champ Series meeting this weekend.

Pole position and three wins will yield a total of 93 points, meaning that success for Stokell or Bowe will be a critical advantage to take to the final round at the Gold Coast Indy next month.

Poolrite V8 BRutes Series champion and current points leader Warren Luff assumed his customary position at the top of the timesheets in practice for round seven.

Luff posted a time four-hundredths of a second ahead of South Australian driving instructor Gary Baxter, the first of five Holden SS drivers.

In the Australian GT Performance Championship (presented by Lukey Mufflers), Garry Holt set the fastest time in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII ahead of points standings leader Mark King, who drove an identical model.

King's nearest championship rival, Subaru driver Wayne Boatwright, managed only ninth-fastest today.

Tomorrow's program will feature qualifying for Nations Cup, GTP, V8 BRutes, the Australian Production Car Championship (presented by Revolution Racegear) and the Australian Formula 3 Championship, plus races for the Falken Tyres Mirage Cup and Australian Porsche Drivers Challenge.

More information about the PROCAR Champ Series meeting, including entry lists, race times and championship standings, is available on www.procar.com.au

PRACTICE TIMES <pre> Donut King Australian Nations Cup Championship (Rd 7 of 8) 1. Paul Stokell (Vic.) Lamborghini Diablo GTR 1min. 24.25 seconds 2. John Bowe (Vic.) Chrysler Viper 1:25.31 3. Nathan Pretty (Vic.) Holden Monaro 1:25.36 4. Peter Brock (Vic.) Holden Monaro 1:25.63 5. Martin Wagg (Vic.) Porsche GT3 RS 1:27.15 6. Allan Simonsen (Denmark) Ferrari 360 Challenge1:27.35

Australian GT Performance Championship, presented by Lukey Mufflers (Rd 7 of 8) 1. Garry Holt (NSW Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII 1min.33.19 sec. 2. Mark King (Qld) Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VII 1:34.13 3. John Falk (Vic.) Ford Falcon TE50 1:34.12 4. Paul Stokell (Vic.) Volkswagen Golf R32 1:34.18 5. Justin Hemmes (NSW) Subaru Impreza STi 1:34.29 6. Peter Floyd (Vic.) Holden GTS 1:34.39

Poolrite V8 BRutes Series (Rd 7 of 8) 1. Warren Luff (NSW) Ford Falcon XR8 1 min. 40.62sec. 2. Gary Baxter (SA) Holden SS 1:40.66 3. James Brock (Vic.) Holden 1:41.00 4. Denis Cribbin (NSW) Holden 1:41.30 5. Gary MacDonald (NSW) Holden 1:41.45 6. Dave Griffin (NSW) Holden 1:41.46

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Series Supercars
Drivers Nathan Pretty , Denis Cribbin , John Bowe , Allan Simonsen , Peter Brock , Peter Floyd , John Falk , Greg Crick , Paul Stokell , Mark King , Wayne Boatwright , James Brock , Garry Holt , Warren Luff , Dave Griffin
Tags AUSUTE