For all intense and purposes the 2.0 litre Bathurst 1000 scheduled for early October has been canceled. Instead two shorter races, consisting of a Super Tourer and V8 Junior Tourer leg will run over the weekend.
The organisers had originally planned to run the two classes together in a bid to increase the size of the field and include a broader range of cars. In any event it had seemed unlikely that New Zealand's Schedule S Touring cars would be seen competing in the last Great Race of this century. It is therefore a great surprise to many of the Schedule S Touring car teams to find that the 1998 event will qualify as the last Great Race of the millennium!
Honda will be almost as prominent as BMW at the inaugural Liquor King Drivesafe 500 late this year, according to sources close to race organisers.
A two car team from Honda Europe, boasting well known motorsport personalities is expected to contest the race that has also attracted a two car Honda team from Great Britain. With at least four Hondas and six BMWs the two litre option will be well represented.
Interest in the V8 option at the Liquor King Drivesafe 500 is building as more teams show their hand in what many see as a Goliath and David struggle between V8 horsepower and 2.0 litre economy.
It is believed that international motorcycle racer Josh Coppins and respected racer Wade Henshaw have been paired to pilot a Peter Sturgeon/Clyde Collins owned Commodore in the upcoming endurance classic. Josh is well established on the European motorcycling stage, competing with fellow Kiwis, the King brothers. Wade has driven in a number of classes, but is probably best known for his highly competitive Mazda RX 7 drives.
NZ Touring Car spies report that two V8 Golfs from Germany may compete at the Liquor King Drivesafe 500. The Golf V8 is a very competitive package, having performed well this season in Europe and currently leads the championship.
Also rumoured to be coming are two, yes two 2 car teams of E46 BMWs from Germany. Details are sketchy, but if it is true then the European cars and New Zealand's International Motorsport Team will make BMW very prominent on the grid.
Another rumour that
has come to the attention of the editor is a 500 km shakedown
planned for Wayne Huxford at Manfield in preparation for the
Pukekohe Endurance Race. Race strategies will be vital for the
race with fuel consumption and tyre wear critical factors in
determining how many pit stops will be required. In addition
to gathering this type of information, it gives pit crews a chance
to hone their skills!
Having begun the Canadian Round of the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship with such promise, Scott Dixon could only manage 18th on the grid for Race 7 of the 12 race championship. His qualifying time of 66.167 sec was 1.73 seconds off pole sitter Geoff Boss.
Dixon made a relatively
good start from the back of the grid, gainning 5 places before
an incident on lap 4 ended his race. Geoff Boss went on to win,
with Oriol Servia further cementing his lead in the championship.
Dixon has now slipped to seventh in the championship.
Brock, son of motor racing legend Peter Brock looks set to contest
the Drivesafe 500 in November this year. We understand that James
will be driving in a team managed by Peter who has been prominent
in the launch of the Junior V8 series in Australia. Would anyone
be surprised if they run a Holden Commodore!!
Our spys have been working particularly hard this week to bring you up to date on who's rumoured to be driving in the upcoming Drivesafe 500. Check back over the next few days as they lodge their reports!!
One of the most exciting
rumours is that a Ford Australia-contracted V8 Supercar driver
is likely to race a V8 Ford Falcon in the Drivesafe! Interestingly
a car/sponsorship deal is being put together by him. Could this
be the reason that a well recognised Australian based Kiwi was
recently seen back in the Land of the Long White Cloud ??!!
At the end of Friday morning's first practice session Scott Dixon had set a time of 70.334 sec for the 1.755 mile Toronto circuit. He was fourth fastest, 0.727 seconds behind Johnny Kane who set the fastest time (69.607 sec) for the session.
Oriol Servia clocked the 12th fastest time with a 72.938 second
fifths and a sixth place in the Shell Helix Ford Falcon AU V8
at the 7th round of the Shell Championship Series in Queensland
earned Paul Radisich 118 points. His points score was 3= with
Jason Bright and enough to elevate him to eleventh overall and
only four places behind fellow Kiwi Gregg Murphy who remains
in 7th place.
Formula Holden and part time Touring Car driver Simon Wills has amassed an incredible 175 points after just five of the seven rounds of the Australian Formula Holden Championship. He has almost twice as many points as his nearest rival second placed fellow Kiwi Chris Staff who has 96 points.
Wills has dominated the series with eight wins in ten races, following in the footsteps of Indy Light sensation Scott Dixon. Rumour has it that he will make an appearance at the Bathurst V8 Supercar 1000 in a Wynn's Racing Team VT Holden Commodore. Wills crashed heavily at his last assault on the Mountain.
Having set the second fastest time (1:11.82 sec) at the Queensland Raceway last weekend, Paul Radisich in the Number 18 Shell Helix Falcon AU, put himself on the fourth row of a 43 car strong field for 7th round of the Shell Championship Series on Sunday 11th July.
Radisich's time of 1:10.13 sec made him the third fastest Ford at the circuit. A brilliant qualifying drive by John Bowe in the CAT Racing Ford AU put him on pole with a blinding 1:09.25 sec. Ingall and Lowndes in Holdens are squeezed between the Fords of Bowe and Pirtek Racing's Jason Bright.
Meanwhile Kiwi driver Gregg Murphy qualified his Wynn's Holden Commodore VT in 19th place with a 1:11.08 seconds. Murphy who was leading the championship earlier in the season has slipped to 7th place.
With a "Home Town"
advantage, the weekend might see Radisich claw his way into the
top ten in the championship.
Ex-patriot Kiwi Jim Richards in the Volvo Racing Team car had to work hard in Round 4 of the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship at Winton to retain his championship lead. This was despite setting pole at the begin of the weekend.
Brad Jones took out Races 1 & 2 for Audi Sport Australia, with Richards finishing third in the first race and failing to finish in the second. Richards pulled out all the stops in the third race to take it from Paul Morris (320i). Jones just missing out on the podium in fourth.
Paul Morris's consistency
paid dividends, managing to finish second in all three races
and collect the best tally of the day with 37 points. However,
Richards 28 points from the weekend were enough to retain his
lead in the championship taking him to 107 points, with Morris
immediately behind him on 106 points and Jones third on 83 points.
Craig Baird was in attendance when the mighty V8 Supercars went to the new Queensland Raceway over the weekend of 3/4th July and had his own shakedown of the Pirtek AU Falcon. Baird is expected to compete in both the Queensland and Mt Panorama endurance races for the Stone Brother's team later in the year. A rocker failure cut down the amount of time available for Baird to familiarise himself with the car.
There is no word on
how Baird's schedule would affect his announcement earlier in
the year on his participation in the Liquor King Drivesafe 500.
Word on the street is that two prominent NZ Touring Car Teams have new cars in the pipeline.
Our spies believe that Peter Van Brugel is building a Nissan Primera, having sold his highly competitive Nissan Sentra SSS to ex-Mini Seven driver Jody Vincent. Van Brugel who has not competed in a Touring Car since the 1998 AMP Bathurst 1000 might be aiming to debut the car at another endurance race - the Liquor King Drivesafe 500 in November!
Just as interesting
is the rumour that Ford man Geoff Short is shifting camps to
build a Toyota Rocketship in the form of a 2.0 litre Lexus! The
NZ Touring Car Association President sure likes to lead by example!!
Paul Radisich made his first real impression in the highly competitive Shell V8 Supercar Championship Series at Sandown, Melbourne with a third place in the second of three races contested on Sunday 27th June. In addition Radisich finished third for the meeting overall by scoring a third and two fourths.
"It's hard to get on the podium in this Shell Series," said the two time World Cup Touring Car winner, Radisich. "You really have to earn your money."
"We have been working hard to improve the Shell Helix cars. We knew what we had to do to get on the podium today and it is very pleasing to do it. We still have certain areas we know we can improve on."
Qualifying had seen Radisich qualify ninth on the grid, with five Fords and three Holdens ahead of the Shell Helix Ford.
Radisich got off to a good start and had moved to fourth by the first corner. Two separate midfield incidents during race two required the introduction of the safety car, consequently reducing the race distance to 15 laps. Only the dominant HRT Holdens of Skaife and Lowndes finished ahead of him.
The 128 points scored
by Radisich during the weekend gives him a total of 394 points
for the championship and puts him in 16th place. Craig Lowndes
currently leads the championship with 962 points.
Indy Lights Rookie Scott Dixon is looking to break the points drought that has seem him collect only 2 points in his last three starts. He is one of four different drivers to lead the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship this year.
The eighteen year old got off to a brilliant start to the season by finishing 3rd at Miami and second at Long Beach. Since then he has failed to finish twice.
At the half way mark
and with six more rounds of the championship left, Dixon still
has time to make up the lost ground that has seen him slip to
sixth in the championship on 44 points. Oriol Servia currently
leads the championship on 69 points.