ASTC: Mitsubishi Magna V8 debuts at Oran Park

</pre> A Mitsubishi Magna V8 will race for the first time in the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship in the final round of the series at Oran Park this Sunday (February 11). The Magna is entered in the V8 Future Touring class, ...

ASTC: Mitsubishi Magna V8 debuts at Oran Park

</pre> A Mitsubishi Magna V8 will race for the first time in the BOC Gases Australian Super Touring Championship in the final round of the series at Oran Park this Sunday (February 11).

The Magna is entered in the V8 Future Touring class, which joined the Super Touring category in the championship for the eight-round 2000-2001 series. In previous rounds the V8 Future Touring entries comprised solely Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons.


Mitsubishi Magna V8 Photo: ASTC

Sydney's by Peter Muir oversaw building and preparation of the Magna, and at Oran Park it will be raced by 42-year-old NSW driver Greg East, who was runner up in the 1991 AUSCAR series at Calder Park behind dual Super Touring champion Brad Jones.

Kelvin O'Reilly, Chief Executive of championship organisers TOCA Australia, said the addition of the Magna to the field at Oran Park was proof the V8 Future Touring class was expanding and developing.

"This is a significant step forward because the Magna means there will be three types of cars out there in the V8 class, and I'm certain there will be more to come in the future" said O'Reilly.

Muir said the Magna had been built over a six-month period after he took delivery of a bodyshell from the Mitsubishi factory in Adelaide.

He said the car had been built to standard V8 Future Touring specifications with a five-litre V8 engine, capable of producing about 400-horsepower, a control Super T10 gearbox, double wishbone front suspension, live-axle rear suspension, and four-spot calliper brakes. The aerodynamic package, which includes rear wing, side-skirts, and nosecone, was designed in Sydney by Ralliart, the competition division of Mitsubishi.

"One of the main things were had to do was change the car from front-drive to rear-drive, and we're delighted with the finished product," said Muir. "We tried to make a strong, clean car and get the various components interacting together, and I think we've succeeded."

The Magna will make its track debut in the opening practice session at Oran Park this Friday (February 9), and East said he was confident of a successful debut, based on his lengthy association with Muir.

"Peter (Muir) built all my AUSCARS and he always does a good job," said East. "The new car (Magna) hasn't been on the track yet so reliability is going to be the big thing. We'd be happy if we finish both races and if that happens you'd have to say it was a successful weekend with a new car."

Queensland's Paul Morris, who has already clinched the Super Touring championship in his Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i, goes into the two 31-lap races at Oran Park leading the series with an unbeatable tally of 223 points. Sydney policeman John Henderson is second with 124 points.

The championship finale will be held on Oran's Park's 1.9km South Circuit, also used for the opening round eight months ago when Morris claimed pole position and won all three races.

Sydney's Jim Cornish, who recorded his first championship race win in the previous round at Goulburn's Wakefield Park on January 28, believes he will be competitive at Oran Park in his Visit Your Vet Honda Accord. The 30-year-old veterinarian won the first race at Wakefield Park from the 13th grid position after Morris was forced to withdraw because of a loose front wheel. Cornish's win was also his first top-three podium finish since his championship debut in 1997.

"I think we've got a good chance of being on the podium at Oran Park, and if Paul (Morris) happens to have another problem then we could do even better," said Cornish. "Being realistic, we've had the car speed all season, but we've suffered from reliability problems. I think we showed at Wakefield Park what we can do when we can get the car set up to suit the track."

CHAMPIONSHIP NEWS BRIEFS

Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i driver PAUL MORRIS will be chasing his 50th championship race win at Oran Park. The 33-year-old from the Gold Coast has won 49 races since his championship debut in 1994, all of them in BMWs. He will bring up his half-century of victories if he wins one of the two races at Oran Park. Morris won the first championship race at Eastern Creek in the inaugural 1994 championship, ahead of fellow-Queenslanders Tony Longhurst in a BMW, and Steven Ellery in a Ford Sierra. There have been a total of 114 championship races since 1994. The winners' list is as follows: Paul Morris 49, Brad Jones 23, Jim Richards 12, Geoff Brabham 9, Cameron McConville 9, Tony Longhurst 6, Greg Murphy 3, Steven Richards 1, Patrick Watts 1, Jim Cornish 1.

This season's Independents Cup champion, DAVID AUGER, could finish as high as second outright in the championship, or as low as fourth, depending on results at Oran Park. There are a maximum total of 32 championship points available at each round. Auger is currently third on 107 points. The Brisbane driver is currently 17 points behind second-placed John Henderson in the Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra, and 14 ahead of Peter Hills, who is fourth in a Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo. Auger has been a model of consistency during the championship, evidenced by 12 top-five finishes from the 15 races held, and he has been on the podium four times.

Newly-crowned V8 Future Tourers champion TIM SHAW has revealed plans to campaign a two-car team in the 2001-2002 championship. The 29-year-old Tasmanian hopes to continue to operate his team from a base in Launceston, where he lives. Shaw said he had almost raised sufficient sponsorship for one car next season, and he was now searching for additional funding for a second car and to cover costs of travel and freight from Tasmania to the mainland and back for each round.

Impressive Newcastle teenager KIEL JOHNSTON will be back behind the wheel of the Hi-Tech Motorsport Nissan Primera at Oran Park. The 18-year-old made an excellent championship debut in the previous round at Wakefield Park in the 1993-specification Nissan. He was fifth and seventh in the two qualifying sessions, but was forced to retire from both races because of gearbox problems. Johnston said the necessary repairs had been made to the Primera since Wakefield Park.

Trinovin Nissan Primera driver AARON McGILL says he aims to finish the championship on a high note at Oran Park after a frustrating season hampered by reliability problems. He said that Graham Julius would return to the team for the final round and would improve its technical resources. McGill is 11th in the championship.

SAM DALE is searching for sponsorship to contest the entire championship in 2001-2002. The 24-year-old Royal Australian Navy helicopter pilot has driven his Mumbo Racing Ford Mondeo in two rounds of the current series, both at Wakefield Park. He will also be on the grid for the final round at Oran Park. Dale, stationed at HMAS Albatross, was slowed by clutch and power steering failures in the first race of round seven at Wakefield Park. He believes tyre management will be crucial at Oran Park where he will attempt to maintain his 100-percent finishing record in the championship from four race starts.

West Australian KERRY WADE is a confirmed starter for Oran Park after repairs were carried out on his EL Ford Falcon V8 Future Tourer in the past week. Wade's car was damaged after contact with the Biante Holden Commodore of James Brock on the opening lap of race one at Wakefield Park. Both cars were forced out of the race by the incident. Wade said repairs had been made to the differential, steering rack, and panels. The repairs were overseen by Wade's father, Graham Wade, who remained at Wakefield Park after the previous round and did the work there. <pre> xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

ORAN PARK - SUPER TOURING CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE

FRIDAY, FEBURARY 9: Practice, 12noon-12.45pm; 2.35-3.20pm

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10: Practice, 9.30-9.45am; Qualifying session 1, 11.15-11.45am; Qualifying session 2, 1.55-2.25pm

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11: Race 1, (31 laps) starts 12.45pm; Race 2, (31 laps) starts 3.05pm

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ORAN PARK - SUPER TOURING FAST FACTS

CIRCUIT LENGTH: 1.9km (South Circuit)

RACE LAP RECORD: 42.80-secs, Brad Jones (NSW) Audi A4, 26.4.98

2000 POLE POSITION (only one qualifying session held): 43.67-secs, Paul Morris (Qld) BMW 320i

2000 RACE WINNERS: Race 1: Paul Morris (Qld) BMW 320i Race 2: Paul Morris (Qld) BMW 320i Race 3: Paul Morris (Qld) BMW 320i

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2000 DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 7): POS DRIVER CAR POINTS 1. Paul Morris (Qld) Mount Cotton Estate Winery BMW 320i 223 2. John Henderson (NSW) Sydney Cranes & Transport Holden Vectra 124 3. David Auger (Qld) Leatherman Racing Alfa Romeo 107 4. Peter Hills (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 93 5. Allan Gurr (NSW) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 87 6. Luke Searle (NSW) SAE College-Roadchill Express BMW 318i 61 7= Owen Kelly (Tas) Thermo King BMW 320i 46 7= Jamie Miller (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry 46 9. Allan Letcher (WA) McGill Motorsport Ford Mondeo 31 10. Jim Cornish (NSW) Visit Your Vet Honda Accord 30 11. Aaron McGill (NSW) Trinovin Nissan Primera 26 12. Michael Downard (Vic) MPD Racing BMW 318i 14 13= Mark Zonneveld (A.C.T) Signature Security Systems Ford Mondeo 13 13= Sam Dale (A.C.T.) Mumbo Racing Ford Mondeo 13 15. Dwayne Bewley (NSW) TC Motorsports Peugeot 406 10 16. Matthew Fox (A.C.T.) Hi-Tech Motorsport Nissan Primera 9 17= Tony Newman (NZ) TC Motorsports Peugeot 406 8 17= Paul Leabeater (NSW) Redline Motorsport Hyundai Lantra 8 19. John Saunders (WA) Kellahan Saunders BMW 318i 7 20. Anthony Robson (NSW) Grid Motorsport BMW 318i 6 21. Brad Stratton (Qld) Motorsports Developments Toyota Carina 5 22. Carlos Rolfo (Qld) Boco-Global Express Peugeot 405 3 23. Mike Fitzgerald (NSW) MF Motorsport Peugeot 405 2

INDEPENDENTS CUP POINTS (after round 7): Auger 203, Searle 120, Miller 97, Letcher 66, Cornish 49, Downard 33, Fox 32, Dale 30, Leabeater 24, Saunders 22, Robson 20, Stratton 8, Rolfo 6, Fitzgerald 6

TEAMS CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS (after round 7): Knight Racing 290, McGill Motorsport 112, Hi-Tech Motorsport 99, Paul Morris Motorsport 96, Motorsport Developments 12

FUTURE TOURERS POINTS (after round 6): Shaw 168, Domaschenz 103, D'Agostin 67, Brock 65, Wade 55, Sidebottom 51, Webb 50, Gillespie 16, Papendell 16, Holt 12

- Mike Porter
www.toca.com.au

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