ADELAIDE -- It was a weekend of highs and lows, but finally nine new motor racing champions carried their trophies away from the final 2004 PROCAR Champ Series round, presented by Coopers Pale Ale, at Mallala Motorsport Park today. Paul Stokell...
ADELAIDE -- It was a weekend of highs and lows, but finally nine new motor racing champions carried their trophies away from the final 2004 PROCAR Champ Series round, presented by Coopers Pale Ale, at Mallala Motorsport Park today.
Paul Stokell had already wrapped up his second straight Australian Nations Cup Championship, but his plans to close the season with a bang ended instead with a whimper when his Lamborghini Diablo suffered its first non-finish in two years.
But few champions went through more than Justin Hemmes, who had to buy two business class seats on a Qantas flight from Sydney last night for an emergency "passenger", a new bonnet for his GT Performance championship Subaru Impreza.
Hemmes wrecked the car in qualifying yesterday at the start of what should have been a "cruise-and-collect" appearance and it could have come to nothing without a shipment of parts from Sydney -- the bonnet would not fit through the door of the aircraft's cabin hold -- and a frantic, 12-hour repair marathon by his Protecnica team.
Also receiving their trophies today were V8 BRutes champion Damien White, Australian Production Car Champion Chris Alajajian -- at 17, believed to be the youngest winner of an Australian championship -- and five class champions.
The round was the last in the PROCAR Champ Series, which was launched by PROCAR Australia in April 2001 to showcase racing for cars based on showroom-production models.
Events based around the Nations Cup, GT Performance, Production Cars and V8 BRutes attracted strong and growing support among fans keen to see close racing between many different makes and models of cars originally intended for road use.
PROCAR withdrew its involvement last April. The last five rounds have been run by businessman and competitor Peter Boylan, but now the categories are in the custody of the Confederation of Australian Motorsport while new operators are sought.
Paul Stokell finished his year in the V12 Lamborghini with a total of six pole positions out of a possible seven and 12 wins from 21 starts.
He took pole and the first two race wins today, but his car stopped with gearbox problems while leading race three -- curiously, at the same place and just one lap after his teammate Peter Hackett retired with an almost identical problem in the sister car.
James Brock surged past in his Holden Monaro to take race and round honours, having finished second in each of the earlier heats.
It was Brock's first win in his self-built Monaro and he said one of the first things he intended to do post-race was to telephone the news to his father Peter, who has shared driving duties this season.
David Stevens, was third on the day, in a Porsche GT2.
"It's been a long day and a long year, to tell the truth," Stokell said on the podium.
"I was hoping for a perfect score to end the year, but we had our first DNF (non-finish) in two years."
Round six winner Garry Holt continued his recent strong form to take two out of three races and today's round in the Australian GT Performance Championship, driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 8 touring car.
Hemmes recovered from his setbacks to finish seventh, fifth and second in the races and score enough points to clinch the championship, an impressive achievement for a driver who took up the sport less than two years ago.
His only rival, Paul Stokell, struggled all weekend with his factory Volkswagen Golf but managed to defend his second place in the series from Holt. Stokell's teammate Tim Leahey scored three podium finishes, including the race three win.
Team Brock driver Damien White was another with a "cruise-and-collect" mission in the V8 BRutes Series. He needed only eight points to lock away the title in race one, but almost had to postpone celebrations when his Holden dropped a spark plug lead and struggled to the line on seven cylinders.
The V8 BRutes typically turned on some of the day's best entertainment, with Gary Baxter in a Holden taking the first race win and Marcus Zukanovic races two and three in a Ford Falcon.
Small cars in the Australian Production Car Championship turned in giant-killing performances in two handicap races today.
David Russell won the first in a 1.6 litre Proton Satria, beating home newly-crowned outright champion Chris Alajajian in a Subaru Liberty GT and lifting himself to second outright in the final series standings.
Adam Beechey won race two in a Honda Integra, from Alajajian and Ian Luff.
Luff, also in a Honda, wrapped up the Class B championship, Leanne Ferrier won class C in a works Toyota Corolla Sportivo and Russell beat his father Geoff to the class D trophy for the second time.
PROCAR CHAMP SERIES - 2004 Champions
Australian Nations Cup Championship -- GT class/outright Paul Stokell (Lamborghini); Trophy class John Teulan (Ferrari).
Australian GT Performance Championship -- Justin Hemmes (Subaru).
Australian Production Car Championship -- Outright Chris Alajajian (Subaru), Class A Chris Alajajian, Class B Ian Luff (Honda), Class C Leanne Ferrier (Toyota), Class D David Russell Proton.
V8 BRutes Series -- Damien White (Holden).