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Competitive Fields Set For Shannons Nationals Season Opener
Posted by: newsla on Mar 21, 2014 - 07:01 AM
Competitive Fields Set For Shannons Nationals Season Opener

PICKING RACE WINNERS will be tough at the opening round of the 2014 Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals when a new season commences at Sandown Raceway in Melbourne next week.


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The 75th Shannons Nationals round to be held since the series’ formation in 2006 features six national-level Australian race categories, with more than 100 entries received for the March 28-30 event.

Picking a winner in a majority of the categories is near impossible following an offseason of change and the introduction of new cars, new faces and new excitement.

The Pirelli Australian GT Championship, Dial Before You Dig Australian Super Six Touring Car Series and Australian Manufacturers Championships will all kick off their respective 2014 campaigns at Sandown, while the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship, Radical Australia Cup and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Pirelli have already commenced their seasons but will arrive at Sandown with plenty to play for.

It is only the Radicals – where dominant champion Neale Muston continued his incredible streak of victories in their season opener at Mount Panorama in February – that enter the Sandown weekend with any sort of certainty as to who will come out on top if all goes to form.

In the five other categories it’s open season.

Victorian driver Fraser Ross will be on home turf when he fronts at Sandown next week and he will race there as the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge series leader for the first time.

Ross won the one-make Porsche series’ season opener in Sydney two weeks ago but by no means is the favourite heading into his home round; a stack of young and experienced drivers alike lining up to beat the speedy Porsche Centre Brighton competitor.

Former speedway ace Jon McCorkindale, Porsche legend Peter Fitzgerald and GT3 Cup elite class champion John Goodacre all look to have the raw speed to beat the current series leader and the racing was intense in Sydney at their season opener.

A stunning 23-car field of mainly top-flight GT3 machinery has entered for the opening round of the Pirelli Australian GT Championship, the grid set to include a spectacular array of GT vehicles from around the world and some of the best teams in the business.

Reigning Bathurst 12 hour champions Maranello Motorsport and 2013 Bathurst winners Erebus Motorsport both feature, the Ferrari team nominating Peter Edwards and John Bowe to share the driving duties.

Shannons Nationals ‘Racing Magazine’ 2013 Driver of the year Richard Muscat will make his GT debut with Erebus in one of the Melbourne-based outfit’s SLS AMG GT3s, Klark Quinn will make the domestic championship debut of the McLaren MP4 12C GT3 whilst Bathurst 1000 champion and Carrera Cup ace Steve Richards will co-drive with local Justin McMillan in a current spec Lamborghini.

The Aussie GT field will tackle a pair of one hour endurance races, including compulsory pit stops, at Sandown.

A resurgent attack from a strong BMW brigade will look to challenge the otherwise dominant Mitsubishi’s in the AMChamps Sandown 3 Hour Classic, a third BMW 1M entered by West Aussie duo Glyn Crimp and Matt Cherry joining the existing Beric Lynton / Tim Leahey and Tony Alford / Pater Leemhuis examples already entered.

The Mitsubishi brigade is headed by defending champion Garry Holt and three-time series champion Stuart Kostera, while the father-son duo of Rob and Shane Marshall plus last year’s Great Southern Four Hour champions, Glenn Seton and Bob Pearson, should also contend.

Perhaps the most open field of all will be the always-competitive Dial Before You Dig Super Six Touring Cars, for six-cylinder powered Holdens and Fords.

Previously known as Saloon Cars, the departure of back-to-back series champion Simon Tabinor has left the competitive series as a winner-take-all proposition with a group of drivers angling to stake their claim as the next ‘man to beat’.

The ever competitive Travis Lindorff, Harley Phelan, Gavin Ross and speedy West Aussie visitor Rick Gill are expected to run at the front of the field.

Adelaide driver Simon Hodge leads the Formula 3 Australian Drivers Championship in his Mygale chassis however didn’t quite have things his own way in the Gold Star’s first round; Ben Gersekowski’s McDonald’s Dallara leading much of the feature race at the Clipsal 500 and marking his claim as a title contender.

F3 rookies Chris Anthony, Ricky Capo and Chelsea Angelo will all enjoy the transition from street circuit to permanent road course as they seek to make their mark in Australia’s fastest racing cars.

In the midst of an incredible month of Motorsport in Melbourne, the Nationals season opener represents sensational value with a weekend pass just $30 and offering access to much of the Sandown precinct.

The pit / paddock area and pit garage roof, main grandstand and famous ‘Red Hill’ – with a great view of the challenging esses and Dandenong Road corner – are all open to spectators across the weekend.

For those not able to make it to Sandown, all of Sunday’s action will be streamed live and free on the internet via www.thenationals.com.au and the MotorsportsTV app, available via iPhone and Android-based smart phones now.

Action commences Friday with private practice with qualifying and racing commencing on Saturday, March 29.

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