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Nov 19, 2012

TITLES ON THE LINE AT SANDOWN

SIX national champions will walk away from Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway this weekend when the Shannons Nationals presented by Hi-Tec Oils concludes the 2012 season in style.

Nearly 120 cars across six categories will compete at the fast and challenging 3.1km layout in Melbourne’s South Eastern suburbs and all bar one - Commodore Cup was decided at the previous round - has a title on the line going into their respective final rounds.

Perhaps the highest profile category on the program, the Touring Car Masters series is set for a grandstand finish with two all-time greats of the sport set to battle for the title – and one has even switched machinery to make it happen.

Jim Richards has switched from his still-new AMC Javelin to his existing – but now completely rebuilt – 1964 Ford Falcon Sprint in an effort to topple John Bowe as both battle to win their second TCM titles.

Richards is the only driver who can challenge Bowe’s 133-point lead going into the Sandown finale – the second time the series will have competed at the circuit this year.

As a support to the V8’s Sandown 500 in September, Richards won the round ahead of Gavin Bullas and John Bowe, with Nigel Benson’s HQ Monaro taking the win in Class B.

A full field of over 30 cars has entered for the final round of the TCM season.

A battle between youth and experience will take place in the Kumho Tyres Australian V8 Touring Car series finale, youngster Josh Hunter on the verge of taking home the title after a season of contrasting fortunes.

Whilst the 17-year-old Finance EZI Racing-backed driver has led the field in outright speed, luck and reliability have often cost the youngster this year and a tight title fight with the experienced Jim Pollicina resulted.

Pollicina sits second and remains a chance for the title in what looks to be another Holden – versus – Ford showdown.

The Australian Manufacturers Championship for Production Cars will fight out a pair of 40-lap races each afternoon at Sandown – in what is shaping as a battle of ‘who can beat the Mitsubishi’s’.

The four outright-contending Mitsubishi’s entered will have the fight taken up to them by several rear-drive entries amongst the field: The still-new BMW 1M of Beric Lynton showed great promise on its series debut at Queensland Raceway, whilst Steve Briffa’s HSV GTS will love Sandown’s long straights.

John Bowe will do double duties and team with Peter O’Donnell in the GWS Motorsport BMW.

A massive 29-car Dial Before You Dig Australian Saloon Car Series entry should provide some classic racing, as Holden driver and former Victorian state champion Simon Tabinor looks to close out his remarkable season by sealing his first Saloon Car title.

Trying to stop him will be his regular season-long rivals in Josh Keane and Ford ace Andrew Nowland and a host of cars from around Australia – with five cars travelling all the way from Western Australia to compete – along with cars from New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and, of course, a host of locals.

A title battle in the Hi-Tec Oils Australian Swift Racing Series will go down to the wire between Reece Murphy and Allan Jarvis, however it is the addition of several new names to the series that will add further spice this weekend.

Rally driver Luke Page recently won his class in the Coffs Coast rally driving a Swift, and will try to do the same on bitumen at Sandown, while holder of multiple land and sea speed records, New Zealander Heather Spurle, OBE, will also make her series debut.

The V8 Commodore Cup will front for their ‘last blast’ at Sandown, and some firepower has been added to the field in the quest to stop runaway champion Adam Beechey.

The Tasmanian Donut King Racing driver has dominated this season en route to his third-straight tile, but returning to challenge him this weekend will be the ever-speedy Tony Bates.

Bates, Chris Stevenson and the ever-present Ross McGregor – along with impressive young driver Jordan Symes – should be counted as Beechey’s closest challengers across the three races this weekend.

A highly affordable weekend of racing commences on Saturday – with 21 races spread across the weekend into Sunday, November 25.

Tickets are available at the gate for $15 on Saturday, $25 on Sunday or weekend passes for $30.

Children under 14 will be admitted free.

Sunday’s racing will be broadcast live on the internet via online broadcast partners www.itvlive.com.au and the Shannons Nationals website, with all the action to be broadcast on SBS Speedweek and Inside Speed, on SPEED TV Australia, in coming weeks.