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Apr 19, 2013

HANSEN ON TOP IN MALLALA PRACTICE



A STRONG performance in practice by Holden driver Matt Hansen has Holden fans hoping that a good result may be coming their way in the Kumho Tyres Australian V8 Touring Car Series this weekend at Mallala.

The V8’s are one of five national-level categories racing in round two of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals this weekend at the 2.6km circuit 50km north of Adelaide.

Fords dominated the opening round of the V8 series in Sydney last month but Hansen, driving an ex-Holden Racing Team VZ Commodore, was quickest today across three practice sessions.

Hansen’s best lap of 1m10.58s was a full 0.8s up on former champion Terry Wyhoon’s Ford, who was second, and Shea Davies in third. Local driver Chris Smerdon and Jim Pollicina completed the top five.

Five South Australian drivers featured inside the top-10; along with Smerdon, Ian Yieng (6th), Dan Day (7th), Josh Kean (8th) and Michael Bartsch (9th) also featured towards the pointy end of the time sheets.

Victorian driver Richard Muscat is a newcomer to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia series presented by Pirelli – but that didn’t stop him from topping practice for the all-Porsche series today.

Muscat’s speedy 1m09.21s lap – set in the second of two sessions today – was just 0.08s quicker than last year’s polesitter, Adelaidian Michael Almond’s Toshiba / Copyworld entry. Fraiser Ross was third with Phil Woodbury and John Karytinos completing the top five.

The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge will race under lights tomorrow night, their 40-lap season opener the first of three long-distance racers that make up the Jim Richards Endurance Trophy ‘series within a series’ this year.

Clearly inheriting his famous father’s natural talent, rookie racer Ben Grice was the surprise fastest driver in today’s practice sessions for the Hi-Tec Oils Australian Swift Racing Series.

Grice, the son of two-time Bathurst champion Allan, is making his national-level racing debut this weekend but that clearly didn’t phase the 22-year-old Queenslander, his Finance EZI-sponsored Swift topping a competitive one-make series grid today.

Callan Sayers, who won a $50,000 funded drive in the series this year in the pre-season Swift Drivers’ Challenge, was fourth fastest today in his Thenationals.com.au / TheNationals TV sponsored entry. Defending champion Allan Jarvis was fifth overall.

In the Kerrick Sports Sedans series’ most prestigious round, seven-time champion Tony Ricciardello was fastest in his Chev-powered Alfa Romeo, 0.4s up on long-time rival Darren Hossack’s Audi.

The second of three Kerrick series races this weekend will be the popular Clem Smith Cup race, named after the well-known Mallala circuit owner - himself a former Sports Sedan racer.

Defending Clem Smith Cup race winner and series champion Kerry Baily was third in his Aston Martin, Daniel Tamasi’s Calibra fourth.

Local driver Wayne King was quickest of a strong Dial Before You Dig Australian Saloon Car series field, his brand-new VT Holden Commodore a full second faster than the full-time series regulars, though defending champion Simon Tabinor did not practice today.

King – a multiple South Australian state champion in Saloons and HQ Holdens – is contesting a one-off round this weekend but looks likely to be an outright contender against the strong national series competitors.

Queenslander Lindsay Kearns and Gavin Ross completed the top three.

Tickets for this weeend are available at the gate for $40 (weekend), or $25 per day. Kids under 15 are admitted free.

Saturday’s big program will include racing into the evening with V8 Touring Car and Swift Series races to precede the Porsche enduro Saturday evening.

All of Sunday’s racing will be streamed live via TheNationals TV – on the Shannons Nationals website.