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Jun 21, 2013

SIMPSON READY FOR V8 DEBUT AT SHANNONS NATIONALS

THE LATEST star signing for one of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals’ key categories is ready for a tough debut at Winton Motor Raceway in regional Victoria, this weekend.

25-year-old Sydney driver Ryan Simpson will make his Kumho Tyres V8 Touring Car series debut this weekend driving a Ford Falcon BF prepared by Sonic Motor Racing.

The former Formula Ford star – also driving for Mick Ritter’s Sonic team – completed his first laps behind the wheel of the ex-Craig Lowndes Triple Eight Race Engineering Ford today and was pleased with the early progress.

“Before today I had only driven 30 laps in a car like this, an ex-FPR Ford,” Simpson explained.

“So it was a new experience but at least I had a bit of an idea what to expect. I’m feeling pretty comfortable already and I don’t think we’re far away from where we need to be.

“I think we were quickest today so that’s a good start.”

Like so many others, Simpson said the biggest learning curve surrounded the unique driving style required to drive the pre-Car of The Future V8’s.

“They’re different to drive, everyone says it. But it’s the same as any other car – you’ve just got to learn to get the most out of it. Fortunately working with Mick Ritter is a big help because he understands how to get the most out of the car.

“Mick ran the car with Tim Blanchard and James Moffat in the Development Series so he’s great to have to get a direction on the car setup and to make changes during a session.”

Simpson says he is unfazed about entering the Kumho series at its most competitive juncture ever – with just one point separating series leader Shae Davies and former series champion, Terry Wyhoon.

The 22-car entry assembled this weekend at Winton – a series record – also features former champions Chris Smerdon and Tony Evangelou, 2013 race winner Matt Hansen, 2012 series runner up Morgan Haber and current V8 Development series ace, Sam Walter.

“If you look at the entry list, there are probably five or six guys who can win it this weekend.. It’s a very competitive series,” Simpson observed.

“There are people fighting for the title and I’m just coming in at the third round, so I don’t want to get involved in anyone else’s championships. I want to do my own thing and race at the front and hopefully get some good results.

“It’s always tough to come in mid-season to a different group of people, but I think it should be good.”

Simpson plans to compete the remainder of this years’ Kumho series and return next year for a title tilt, all going well.

The third round of the Kumho V8 Touring Cars will be fought out this weekend within round four of the Shannons Nationals at Winton – the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia Presented by Pirelli, Dial Before You dig Australian Saloon Cars Series and the Hi-Tec Oils Australian Swift Racing Series also featuring on the program.

The unique Saloon Car format this weekend includes two, 30-lap races for the six-cylinder Holden-versus-Ford category, each with a compulsory pit stop.

The category will also contest a top-10 shootout on Saturday to determine the first five rows of the grid.

This weekend marks the first time that the foundation Shannons Nationals category has moved away from its traditional sprint race format and is set to offer the strong 24-car field something new in their chase for runaway champion, Simon Tabinor.

All four classes practiced unofficially today with some dramas striking key contenders.

Swift series leader Luke Fraser rolled his #7 CLS Finance-sponsored car in the first practice session of the day, escaping unharmed from a spin into the sand at the turn five-six-seven complex that tipped his car over, though he would later return to the circuit to complete the remainder of the days sessions.

Meanwhile, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge series leader Richard Muscat broke a driveshaft in their series final session, though will return tomorrow without further issue.

Tomorrow will feature practice, qualifying and the first races of the day.

Sunday’s action will be broadcast live from 10:30am via www.thenationals.com.au’s live streaming service.