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Aug 8, 2014

TIMES TIGHT IN QUEENSLAND PRACTICE

A TIGHT WEEKEND of competition is in store at Round 6 of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals, following completion of unofficial practice at Queensland raceway on Friday.

Several key categories featured results where the leaders were split by fractions of a second – setting up the potential for some intense racing when the race meeting proper commences on Saturday.

Seven categories make up a bumper program at the Ipswich circuit headlined by the ‘Fight in the Night’ for the Australian Manufacturers Championship for Production Cars, and a critical fifth round of the Formula 3 Australian Drivers championship.

The Kerrick Sports Sedan Series also features and this weekend has a grid that includes winners of fifteen out of the last twenty Sports Sedan titles contested in Australia.

The return of Aston Martin-driving and six-time champion Kerry Baily adds further spice to the ongoing war between Tony Ricciardello (Alfa GTV) and Darren Hossack (Audi A4).

Today the trio were split by just 0.2s in practice with Ricciardello leading the way – just – as Hossack hopes to use this weekend as a way to bed in a new gearbox and score solid points in his Sports Sedan title chase.

However, the two-time champion admits admits it’s easier said than done when it comes to racing his long-time rival.

“The thing with Tony and I is that we push each other to the point of destruction,” he said.

“We push each other and we push each other’s equipment so hard that it will break.

“Last year here was a good round to come away with the win and the record, but we did have issues with a spoiler coming apart, but ironically Tony had the same issues in the last race so we were able to come away with the win.

“I think this track is about 50/50 for our two cars, I am stronger through corners one and two, while he is stronger through three and six.

“No matter where we go though we are pretty close and I am sure that will be the case this weekend, but I am going to be trying to not let wanting to win races get in front of the need for us to get the car right.

“Having said that though, as soon as the helmet goes on, you want to win!”

The fourth round of the Australian Manufacturers championship includes the 200km ‘Fight in the night’ – now an annual feature of the Queensland Raceway Shannons Nationals event.

“I think the night racing is a fantastic concept, I wholly endorse it,” said Donut King Racing BMW driver, Tony Alford.

“You get interest in Championships by being different, and I think the Australian Manufacturers Championship and the Shannons Nationals have done a very good job in giving us four hour races, three hour races, night races and two 200km races – I think it is excellent and if more categories did it you would have more entrants across the board.”

Alford and his Alphera Financial Services Racing teammate Beric Lynton are expected to be amongst the key outright contenders for the AMChamp round this weekend, amongst a host of competitive BMWs, Mitsubishi’s and a lone Audi TT expected to feature at the front.

In Formula 3 championship rivals Ben Gersekowski, Simon Hodge and Chris Antony were split by just 0.2s in combined practice times today while it was even closer in the other open-wheel category present this weekend; Formula Ford.

There, Jordan Lloyd and James Golding topped practice with the largest margin between the pair across three sessions a positively miniscule 0.04s.

Both Formula Ford and Formula 3 will contest three races each this weekend in the best weekend for national-level open wheel racing for a long time.

The Dial Before You Dig Australian Super Six Series, Kumho V8 Touring Cars and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia also feature this weekend.

The Porsche’s will tackle the third and final of the Jim Richards endurance series races; a series of longer-distance races held within the overall GT3 Cup Challenge season.

Victorian Fraser Ross has won the first two races of the season at Mallala and Winton, respectively, however both were closely contested against the likes of John Goodacre and Jon McCorkindale – amongst others.

Saturday features a bumper program with practice, qualifying and one race for each category featuring in a packed schuedule (Click here to view) - including the 200km 'Fight in the Night' AMChamp encounter and a 40-lap Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge enduro beforehand.