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Apr 21, 2014

KUMHO SERIES TO KICK OFF AT MALLALA THIS WEEKEND

Field full of familiar and new names for V8 Touring Car season opener

THE 2014 Kumho Tyres Australian V8 Touring Car Series begins this weekend at Mallala Motorsport Park in South Australia with a field of new names and faces set to compete.

The Kumho Series – held for ex-V8 Supercars no longer eligible to compete in the V8 Supercars Championship or Dunlop Series – is the banner head category at the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals event this weekend.

A major number of drivers have graduated from the Kumho Series into the Dunlop Series, leaving the door open for a range of drivers to grab some attention in the feeder class this season.

Reigning champion Shae Davies is fully focused on Porsche Carrera Cup this season, opening the door to 2013 runner-up Ryan Simpson and his ex-Craig Lowndes/Triple Eight Falcon to be the dominator of the new year.

Simpson’s car has undergone a transformation over the off-season, being re-painted in the familiar fluro red and silver livery carried by Lowndes during its time as a TeamVodafone car.

Simpson was the form man of last season, claiming a record nine race wins in a row and finishing runner-up in the final points despite missing the opening two rounds.

The team that has won the Kumho Series for the last two years, Fernandez Motorsport, is working on a last-minute deal to be on the grid at Mallala.

There remains a possibility that team principal Jose Fernandez himself will step behind the wheel of his ex-Ford Performance Racing Falcon and make his first V8 start in seven years.

Local South Australian – and two-time Mallala Kumho Series round winner – Chris Smerdon is due to return to the category at Mallala in his Stone Brothers Racing-built Falcon BF after missing the second half of last season.

Dunlop Series leaders Eggleston Motorsport will make a return to the Kumho Series at Mallala with Sydney rookie Justin Ruggier in the ex-Rick Kelly, Toll HSV 2006 V8 Supercars Championship-winning Commodore.

Queenslander Shane Hunt will debut his ex-Paul Radisich/Triple Eight Falcon while reigning Saloon Car Champion Simon Tabinor will start his first Kumho Series season in his ex-Brad Jones Falcon.

V8 Utes star Craig Dontas is entered to drive local team THR Motorsport’s ex-Greg Murphy/Superchep Auto Commodore while Sydneysider Steve Briffa has new backing from Poco Furniture and a new yellow and red livery on his ex-Paul Morris Motorsports Commodore.

Queenslander Lyle Kearns will travel south to race his sister PMM Holden though the Commodore runners are out-numbered by their Ford counterparts 9-4.

Kumho Series regulars John Vergotis, Matthew Palmer and Chris Delfsma return in their respective Falcons, while Matt Chahda will also return in his ex-Jason Bright Ford after competing in Sports Sedans at the Winton V8 Supercars event.

Private practice will be held on Friday at Mallala Motorsport Park with official practice for the opening round getting underway on Saturday morning.

All of the Sunday race action will be live-streamed, free, at www.thenationals.com.au with TV coverage to follow in upcoming weeks on SBS’ Speedweek and SPEED TV Australia.

Event Schedule

Saturday April 26

10.05am Practice

12.30pm Qualifying

2.50pm Race 1 (15 laps)

Sunday April 27

9.15am Warm Up

11.35am Race 2 (15 laps)

1.35pm Race 3 (20 laps)