Jun 3, 2015
IROC CHALLENGE TO LAUNCH AT WINTON
AUSTRALIA’S booming heritage motorsport scene will gain an exciting new addition when the IROC Challenge Series makes its debut at the upcoming Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals round at Winton Raceway.
Modelled on the inaugural International Race of Champions (IROC) series held in the United States in 1973-74, the IROC Challenge will pit classic Porsche 911 RS cars head to head in their own racing category.
LEARN MORE: IROC CHALLENGE
True to the spirit of the original IROC, the cars will feature fat tyres, aggressive body kits and Porsche’s famous ‘whale tail’ rear wing.
IROC 1 was held across the 1973-74 period in the USA and pitted the best from Formula 1, Indy Car, Sports Car and NASCAR drivers head to head in identical Porsche 911s.
The legendary Mark Donohue, then racing Can Am Porsche’s for Roger Penske, won the inaugural season that saw him beat the likes Emmerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Unser, A.J. Foyt and Richard Petty across three races at Riverside Raceway and one on the Daytona International Speedway Road Course.
Australia’s IROC Challenge will race within the spirit of the original rules with a fleet of 3.6-litre, flat-six powered 911s from the mid-1970s.
The series is something of a spin-off from the successful Touring Car Masters series, with the technical specification of the Porsche’s in that series the basis for those built for the IROC Challenge – some cars having been converted from TCM to IROC spec.
Weighing just 1100kg, producing approximately 345hp and with slick Hoosier control tyres, the cars are expected to lap at near front-running TCM pace at a majority of tracks.
IROC Challenge cars are built to Marque Sports rules (allowing them to run in state-based competitions as well) but must be presented in one of 15 original colours available in 1973/4 – including fetching 70s hues like ‘Pistachio Green’, ‘Sahara Beige’ and ‘Aubergine’ – adding to the retro touch.
“The build up to the opening round has been fantastic and we’re happy to be on the grid at Winton,” series founder and Category Administrator Rowan Harman said.
“There has been a lot of talk but we are at the point where we just need to get the cars on the track and show people the product we (think we’re going to) have. That will be the best possible motivation for others to get their cars out of sheds and onto the track.”
Several cars that remain under construction will start their respective campaigns later in the year.
“We’ve got nine cars that have been purpose-built or converted to the series with six of these running in round one, but there are still more cars being constructed. We would like to get to 15-16 cars by the end of our first season.
“The cars look great, sound even better and the racing should be very competitive.”
The inaugural round at Winton has attracted a small but strong field that includes several well-known motorsport identities.
Former Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge series winner Sven Burchartz and noted Porsche racers Greg Keene and Graeme Cook are expected to be amongst the early contenders.
Victorian Burchartz came to prominence by winning the 2008 GT3 Cup Challenge title before switching to historic racing in a Group S Porsche 911.
His IROC Car was converted from TCM and Tarmac Rally specification and was formerly campaigned by Bill Pye.
Greg Keene will share a brand-new car with racer wife Amanda Sparks throughout the season, the pair coming off the back of several competitive seasons racing Porsche’s in TCM competition.
The Keene / Sparks 911 RS has been purpose-built for the series to a high standard by Buik Motorworks.
While Keene will race the new car at Winton, Sparks’ has her TCM-spec 911 entered for Winton as well.
Graeme Cook, who won the first ever round of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, has bountiful Porsche experience and has shown pace in testing his car at Mallala prior to next week’s opening round.
Rob Black and Rory O’Neill will also travel from Adelaide to compete in the IROC opener while Victorian Rohan Little – fresh from several TCM ‘testing’ hit outs in his IROC Machine already this season - will also be one to watch.
Former V8 Supercars Privateer Mark Poole will also be joining the IROC Challenge later this season, set to debut his brand new car by the Mallala round later this year. The South Australian has become something of a Porsche preparations specialist over the years and has his hand in several of the series’ entries including those of Stuart Elshaw and Bernie Stack - with their cars also well underway.
Aussie legend Rusty French has also indicated he will be converting his TCM-spec 911 to full IROC spec in order to compete.
A provision in the IROC rules will allow for similar-era Porsche’s allowed to compete as the series builds its competitor base across the opening season.
Three races will make up the opening round of the IROC Challenge series, competing as part of Round 3 of the 2015 Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals.
The IROC series will then compete at Nationals rounds at Sydney Motorsport Park (July), Phillip Island (September) and Wakefield Park (October), plus a South Australian State series round at Mallala in August.
Seven categories will tackle Winton Motor Raceway across the June 12-14 weekend including the Kumho V8 Touring Cars, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia plus Formula 3 and Formula Ford open wheelers – and more.
All the action on Sunday will be streamed live via thenationals.com.au, or tickets will be available at the gate on both Saturday and Sunday.