August 1999


The New Zealand Touring Car Website announced today the launch of the Official Liquor King Drivesafe 500 website.

"We've pleased to be able to bring the excitement of this classic endurance race to the Net", said Editor and Webmaster Tony Bunyan. "Although stage one of the project is almost complete, nztouringcars is presently in discussions that are likely to result in some world firsts for motorsport web fans. Closer to the event we'll be announcing some very hot web interactivity not seen on sites anywhere. To check out the new site Click Here!


Event Management Specialists (EMS), known for their involvement in the AMP Bathurst 1000 between 1995 -98, has jointed with the Auckland City Council to investigate the possibility of staging a round of the Australian Shell V8 Supecars Race Series around the streets of downtown Auckland in 2001.

Auckland's rapidly changing waterfront, revitalised by the Amrica's Cup Regatta would make an impressive backdrop for the event. EMS representative Greg Eaton has been in discussions with the Auckland City Council and AVESCO (Australian Vee Eight Supercar Company) to map out the project. According to Eaton, AVESCO are keen to export the highly popular motorsport formula to cities around the Asian and Pacific basin. It had been anticipated that the racing might have been scheduled for the year 2000, but more time was needed to organise the multi-million dollar motoring spectacle.

As a first step towards making the racing a reality a feasibility study is being funded in part by the Auckland City Council and sponsorship from Arrow Project Management. Grant Aitken, promotor of the Queenstown Goldrush hillclimb is also involved in bringing the cars last seen at Pukekohe in 1996.


Simon Wills has taken the 1999 Formula Holden title with a round and a race of competition to spare. His 79 point lead in the Championship meant that no one has a mathematical chance of scoring enough points to beat him!

The championship win came as a mild anticlimax due to the cancellation of the first race at Winton. This was due to two opening lap incidents that brought out the red flags. No points were allocated for the canceled race and Wills's championship win was sealed. Intending to break Jason Bright's race winning record of seven victories in a season on his way to the Championship win, Wills was clearly upset by the double red flag and race cancellation as were a number of his Formula Holden colleagues.

"It is a shame that the race never happened. I was looking forward to a fast paced race with Chris Staff, Tim Leahey and the guys," Wills said. "I am sure that my team mate Brenton would have been working his way through the pack as well. I am over the moon about winning this title as my team, Birrana Racing, has worked very hard for this,"

"I am delighted at how the team has worked together to make this such a strong season for me, constantly improving the car to the point where here at Winton, I was sure that we were going to be even faster again after our qualifying effort. These cars are great to drive and to miss a race like this is a bit of a major anti-climax to winning the title," The new CAMS Gold Star Award winner added.

The most serious of the opening lap multi-car accidents involved Melbourne Reynard 94D driver Sam Astuti, whose car was launched into a number of airborne flips before coming to an inverted halt on the infield after contact with Peter Hill's Reynard 92D. Fortunately Astuti escaped injury but his Reynard 94D sustained major damage, sidelining his involvement in this round.

In the second race, Wills the CAMS Gold Star/Formula Holden Champion was able to celebrate his series win with a superb performance. The Aucklander won the Sunday 15 lap race by an astounding 30 seconds from Formula Holden rookie from Orange (NSW) Tim Leahey and Japanese driver Akihiro Asai, who recovered from a first lap incident with Paul Dumbrell to make it to the Winton podium.

Wills finished the weekend on 195 points, with fellow New Zealanders Chris Staff on 96 points and Matthew Halliday on 83 points rounding out second and third respectively.

There is no word yet regarding Wills participation in the V8 Supercar Bathurst 1000. The consistency and competitiveness he has shown throughout the season can only count in his favour for a drive in the Endurance Classic. When we hear ANYTHING we'll let you know!


In an incredible reversal of fortune Scott Dixon (Speedbet/Diagem Lola) snatched centre stage at the Mi-Jack 100 of Chicago, Eleventh Round of the 1999 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship to take both Pole and the Win, leading from start to finish! Dixon admitted feeling under pressure in the latter stages of the race from Guy Smith as they weaved their way through the back makers.

Dixon's weekend began quietly enough, managing eleventh after Friday mornings session (Thursday's practice was not held due to rain). Saturday's practice sessions gave him the second fastest lap time of the weekend and placed him in a position to capitalize on his advantage in Qualifying.

Dixon's qualifying time of 25.919 seconds gave him pole and the Lap Record for the new Chicago Circuit with an average speed of 142.922 mph. Closest to him was Guy Smith 0.178 seconds behind him and making up the front row of the grid. Rookie rival, Mario Dominguez also had a great qualifying session to take third spot on the grid.

The pressure from Guy Smith increased as fuel loads lightened and tyres warmed. As the pair started to weave their way through the back markers, the track became very crowded. Back marker Philip Peter caused Dixon a few anxious moments in the final lap of the race. When Dixon attempted to move under him and overtake him on the racing line, Peter firmly blocked his progress allowing Smith one last desperate attempt to steal the lead. Dixon managed to maintain his composure, crossing the line only 0.362 of a second ahead of Smith.

The points table shows Dixon's clear preference for oval circuits which have netted him twice as many points as road circuits. With a total of 72 points, Dixon has been eliminated from taking the championship, but he is 16 points clear of his closest rival for Rookie of the Year, Mario Dominguez.


As the Summer Touring Car Season rapidly approaches, teams are beginning to announce their plans for the year ahead.

Recently Paul Pavletich purchased Bart Simpson's Nissan Bluebird to move him up to the pointy end of the grid. David [Bart] Simpson retired from the Touring Car Scene at the end of the NZRDC Winter Series in 1998, having driven the car very competitively on a comparatively small budget. Pavletich is intending to drive the Nissan throughout the coming season, presumably in both the Drivesafe 500 and the MANZ Summer Series. He had competed successfully over the last few seasons in a Nissan Sentra 1600 and his move up to a bigger car places him in a position to compete for line honours.


nztouringcars is delighted to announce that we have been chosen to produce the OFFICIAL Liquor King Drivesafe 500 Website for this great endurance race scheduled for Sunday 7th November 1999.

"We couldn't be happier that the NZRDC and its associates believe we can make a significant contribution towards the 1999 event and into the future", said nztouringcar editor Tony Bunyan.

An announcement is expected shortly on a launch date for the site.


Last held in Australia and New Zealand in 1975, The Tasman Cup Series was this region's premier open wheeler racing challenge.

Motorsport organisations on both sides of the Tasman are hoping for a return to the glory days of years past, when the Tasman Cup attracted racing legends like Jim Clark, Sir Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Graham Hill, Chris Amon, Graeme Lawrence and Frank Gardiner.

Last year's Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix Series was the catalyst for the re-birth of the newly formatted three round Tasman Cup Series for 1999.

Round 1 Denny Hulme Memorial Trophy 26 - 28th November 1999 Teretonga Raceway, Invercargill, N.Z.
Round 2 Tasman Express New Zealand Grand Prix 3 - 5th December 1999 Ruapuna Park, Christchurch, N.Z.
Round 3 Mallala Motorsport Park 21 - 23rd January 1999 Adelaide, Australia

Simon Wills current leader in the Australian Formula Holden Series battled it out with Wynn's V8 Supercar driver Greg Murphy and Indy Lights Rookie Scott Dixon to become the 1998 Current NZGP Champion. In addition to his NZGP and Formula Holden Titles, Wills is looking to secure drives in the 1999 V8 Supercar Bathurst 1000 and Drivesafe 500 to add Touring Car titles to his open wheeler tally.


As reported earlier this year by nztouringcars, Peter Van Breugel's Nissan Racing New Zealand Team have been busy building a new Super Production Nissan Primera for the upcoming season.

"We are quietly confident that the car will be quicker in all areas compared with the trusty old Sentra (Nissan Sentra (Pulsar) SSS)", Van Breugel enthused to nztouringcars. "Rest assured that this year our team will be much bigger and better organised than we have ever been in the past".

Nissan Racing New Zealand also announced that they will be releasing further information shortly on sponsors and the teams objectives and goals for the coming season.


Kiwis Greg Murphy and Paul Radisich had mixed weekends after the ninth round of the Shell Championship Series at Symmons Plains in Tasmania.

Paul Radisich blitzed the field in his Shell Helix Ford Falcon AU to claim pole after qualifying on Saturday with a 53.438 second lap time. Greg Murphy was only 0.075 seconds behind him to complete a Kiwi one-two on the first row of the grid.

The weather was wet in Tasmania as Murphy claimed the first win of the day in his Wynn's Commodore VT after Radisich spun off the track, failing to finish. Paul's day got worse with a DNF in the second race and a DNS in the third.

It was Murphy's first race win since 1997, although he had lead the 1999 championship earlier in the year, and his superb performance seemed like setting the pace for the rest of the meeting. Hopes of a second victory were stiffled after he spun in the second race handing the lead to Skaife who made the most of it. Murphy recovered to finish tenth.

In the final race Murphy managed a seventh to give him a total of 116 points for the meeting and the fourth highest point score of the weekend. He now has a grand total for the series of 852 points, maintaining his seventh placing overall behind championship leader Craig Lowndes on 1146 points. Lowndes did not race in Tasmania after a huge accident at Calder Park in Victoria a fortnight earlier required left knee surgery.

After starting with such promise, Paul Radisich failed to score a point after a slippery spin on the last lap of race one and a crash in the early stages of race two retired him from the day. Currently he is eleventh overall on 574 points.


To provide the best coverage available NZ Touring Car Website Editor Tony Bunyan announced this week the imminent launch of the Drivesafe 500 website.

The site will cover all the major areas of the event including competitor information, news, team announcements and results. It is also hoped that if suitable sponsorship can be found the site will bring surfers live timing and webcam views of the track

"If any organisation has a proposal we would be delighted to hear from them. Increasingly Motorsport fans are using the internet in conjunction with television to supplement coverage", Bunyan commented. "Formula One, the British Touring Car Championship and the Australian Supercar V8 Series all use live internet timing to follow the race. There are excellent opportunities for sponsorship exposure".


As reported last month Geoff Short has been busying himself building new 2.0 litre Touring Cars for the upcoming season. Short and Touring Car Ace Barrie Thomlinson are pinning both their Drivesafe 500 title and the MANZ Summer Championship hopes on a Toyota Lexus rocketship. The car was launched at an event sponsored by the NZRDC in traditional style with long legged beauties framing the car and Short and Thomlinson on hand to promote their new stead.

The tide of opinion seems to be swinging in their favour with many suggesting that they have the fastest package currently available. NZ Touring Car Champion Jason Richards believes they will be a major threat to BMW's dominance and championship hopes.

With the imminent launch of the Drivesafe 500 Website we're saving our pictures of the car until then!!

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