V8 Touring Cars return to Mallala..
Mallala will resound to a once familiar battle cry when the V8 Touring Cars return to the South Australian venue to continue the now famous Holden versus Ford rivalry during round two of the 2011 Shannons Nationals Motor Racing Championships over the May 14-15 weekend.
A full field of Kumho Tyres supported V8 Touring Cars cars with a heritage linked to some of the greats from Craig Lowndes to Mark Skaife Russell Ingall and John Bowe will line up for what is turning out to be one of the hottest categories on the Australian circuit racing scene this year.
Adelaide is strongly represented with local Touring Car veteran and the inaugural winner of the series three years ago – Chris Smerdon – one of the favourites at his home circuit in his ex-James Courtney Stone Brothers Racing BA Falcon.
Smerdon was on the podium at the opening round at Wakefield Park a venue he feels doesnt suit his driving style – but he believes hell be a strong outright contender on home soil.
â€œObviously being a local Im passionate about my home circuit and it has been good to me in recent years he admitted. â€œThis year though Im in the new car which is a step up from my AU Falcon which I ran last year [Chris made the podium in each of the three races defeated only by new champion Tony Evangelou and series runner-up Terry Wyhoon] so its going to be interesting. Theres a lot of really strong competition in the series this year stronger than Ive faced in a long time so it wont be by any means easy but I think well be there.
Another local hoping to impress is Barossas Michael Bartcsh who although campaigning an older model AU Falcon (interestingly purchased from Chris Smerdon) displayed strong pace at Wakefield Park to be well inside the top half of the field he too will be looking to exploit any home track advantage as the field contests three 14 lap races over the May 14-15 weekend.
Whilst the locals are expected to be contenders they will have their work cut out for them especially against the pace the front runners displayed at the opening round at Wakefield Park (Goulburn NSW) last month.
After three gruelling races across two days Commodore pilot Scott Loadsman took the round victory over the consistent Smerdon with pre-season favourite Terry Wyhoon third.
Smerdon and Whyoon have formed an allegiance this season that sees Smerdons team gain valuable additional engineering support from the experienced Touring Car campaigner something Chris admits played into his hands at the opening round.
â€œIve only had limited time in this new car he admitted â€œand Wakefield Park isnt one of my strongest tracks but Terry and his team worked tirelessly to help me get the car sorted and I wound up taking second as a result.
The Nationals arrival at Mallala also signals the return of the annual Clem Smith Trophy a highlight of the Kerrick Sports Sedan calendar.
Whilst recent years has seen some intense battles season 2011 will see the reigning national champion James Sera (SAAB/Chev) and the 2010 Clem Smith Trophy recipient Darren Hossack (Audi/Chev) taking a sabbatical which will pave the way for two-time Clem Smith champion Tony Ricciardello to go after another title.
â€œIts disappointing that the other guys are sitting the season out the West Australian and multiple Australian Sports Sedan champion admitted after he himself returns from a season away from the category campaigning V8 Supercars.
â€œIve had some epic battles at Mallala not the least being the 2009 event where Darren [Hossack] and I did some serious wheel banging. We were both at the absolute limit and we ended up coming together in fairly dramatic fashion its water under the bridge now but it was pretty firey back then he reflected.
â€œIts never a sure thing that youll take the win but Im keen to make amends for a tough 2010 so well be doing everything we can to take the Clem Smith Trophy and start our season off on the front foot.
As Clem Smith the man after whom the annual event is named will tell you Sports Sedans are the fastest and most exciting tintop racecars in the country and to watch them get their power to the ground and accelerate is one of the most awesome sights in world motorsport they are sheer brute force!
Whilst V8 Touring Cars and the Kerrick Sports Sedans provide plenty of pleasure to the fans of home-grown motorsport the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge will deliver plenty of action for the sportscar enthusiasts with a full field of Type 997 and 996 GT3 specification Porsches.
There will be plenty of competition throughout the field however it will be reigning champion Roger Lago (Queensland) and 2009 champion Matt Kingsley (Gold Coast) that will provide much of the action at the front of the field. Throw in local star John Goodacre and Victorians Jon Trende and Jeff Bobik and you will be on the edge of your seat.
Mallala will also see the debut of the one-make Australian Swift Sport Series a category which is based on a successful model employed on the other side of the Tasman and its not just the format thats been adopted Mallala will also see a number of the New Zealand series top drivers entered for the opening round.
The basis of the series is to develop an introductory tin-top category where the emphasis is on the driver and not on the size of their wallet. All cars have been built by the same team and all will be run to strict rules which allow very little modification (some minor suspension tweaks are all that teams can modify).
The beauty of this category is that it allows young drivers to hone their skills and show potential future team bosses that it is their ability behind the wheel and not the speed of their equipment that gives them the edge. Entrants will come from across the country and New Zealand with names that may not be recognisable now but may well become household names in the years to come.
On top of the Shannons Nationals regulars there will also be strong local support program from Formula Vee and HQ Holdens where local star and multiple national Saloon Car champion Bruce Heinrich will be hoping to continue his winning ways.
Rnd#2 2011 Shannons Nationals Mallala Motor Sport Park event schedule
Saturday May 14 2011
9:00Â Â Â Â P1Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Australian Swift Sport Series (20 mins)
9:25Â Â Â Â P1Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Kumho Tyres V8 Touring Car Series (20 mins)
9:50Â Â Â Â P1Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge (20 mins)
10:15Â Â Q1Â Â Â Â Â Â Kerrick Sports Sedan National Series (25 mins)
10:45Â Â Q1Â Â Â Â Â Â HQ Holden (20 mins)
11:15Â Â Q1Â Â Â Â Â Â Formula Vee (15 mins)
11:35Â Â Q1Â Â Â Â Â Â Kumho Tyres V8 Touring Car Series (20 mins)
12:00Â Â Q1Â Â Â Â Â Â Australian Swift Sport Series (20 mins)
12:25Â Â Q1Â Â Â Â Â Â Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge (20 mins)
13:10Â Â Q2Â Â Â Â Â Â Kerrick Sports Sedan National Series (25 mins)
13:45Â Â TAÂ Â Â Â Â Â Kumho Tyres V8 Touring Car Series (20 mins)
14:15Â Â R1Â Â Â Â Â Â Formula Vee (8 laps)
14:40Â Â R1Â Â Â Â Â Â HQ Holden (6 laps)
15:05Â Â R1Â Â Â Â Â Â Australian Swift Sport Series (12 laps)
15:35Â Â R1Â Â Â Â Â Â Kumho Tyres V8 Touring Car Series (14 laps)
16:05Â Â R1Â Â Â Â Â Â Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge (40 laps)
Sunday May 15 2011
9:00Â Â Â Â R2Â Â Â Â Â Â HQ Holden (6 laps)
9:25Â Â Â Â R2Â Â Â Â Â Â Formula Vee (8 laps)
9:50Â Â Â Â R1Â Â Â Â Â Â Kerrick Sports Sedan National Series (10 laps)
10:20Â Â R2Â Â Â Â Â Â Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge (14 laps)
10:50Â Â R2Â Â Â Â Â Â Kumho Tyres V8 Touring Car Series (14 laps)
11:20Â Â R2Â Â Â Â Â Â Australian Swift Sport Series (12 laps)
11:50Â Â R2Â Â Â Â Â Â Clem Smith Cup (15 laps)
Kerrick Sports Sedan National Series
12:50Â Â R2Â Â Â Â Â Â HQ Holden (8 laps)
13:20Â Â R2Â Â Â Â Â Â Formula Vee (8 laps)
13:50Â Â R3Â Â Â Â Â Â Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge (14 laps)
14:20Â Â R3Â Â Â Â Â Â Kumho Tyres V8 Touring Car Series (14 laps)
14:50Â Â R3Â Â Â Â Â Â Australian Swift Sport Series (12 laps)
15:20Â Â R3Â Â Â Â Â Â Kerrick Sports Sedan National Series (10 laps)
15:50Â Â R4Â Â Â Â Â Â HQ Holden (10 laps)
16:20Â Â R4Â Â Â Â Â Â Formula Vee (8 laps)
Gates open 8:30am (Saturday and Sunday).Tickets; $25 (Saturday) $35 (Sunday) weekend pass $50 Kids under-14 FREE (free access to pits/paddock).
Mallala Motor Sport Park is just over an hour from the centre of Adelaide. Follow the signs from Port Wakefield Road drive through the town of Mallala for a kilometre and there it is. Parking is easy there are plenty of toilets grandstand seats and food outlets… and you can see most of the circuit from trackside.
For more information on the Shannons Nationals please visit www.thenationals.com.au