New era for Production Car racing to start at Phillip Island
12/06/2008 at 6:03:51 AM:

Signalling the start of a new era of Production Car racing, the Australian Manufacturers Championship will kick off this weekend at Phillip Island, in Round Four of the Shannons Nationals.

After a major overhaul of the local Production Car scene, Phillip Island will host Round One of the new championship, as part of one of the biggest-ever Shannons Nationals rounds, with over 160 competitors set to do battle.

The new Australian Manufacturers Championship is based around regulations for the Bathurst 12 Hour, with a six-class structure catering for everything from four-cylinder hatches up to high performance vehicles, with a $125,000 price cap.

As global motoring evolves, there is also a class for diesel and hybrid cars.

In a promising start, the opening round will feature 16 cars from nine different manufacturers; ranging from the humble Toyota Echo and Hyundai Sonata up to homegrown V8 Ford and Holden muscle, and Japanese rockets like the Subaru WRX STi.

Australian motorsport legend John Bowe is among the field, and will share a Ford XR8 Falcon with Sydney driver Chris Delfsma in Class B, for High Performance Rear Wheel Drive vehicles.

“I’ve done quite a bit of Production Car racing over the years, it’s a form of racing I really enjoy,” Bowe said.

“I drove with Chris at the Bathurst 12 Hour in the last two years and jumped at the chance to drive with him at Phillip Island again this weekend.”

Bowe, a former Australian Touring Car Champion and two-time Bathurst 1000 winner, has raced a variety of cars since retiring from V8 Supercars at the end of 2007.

“I’ve probably almost done as much racing so far as I would have as a fulltime V8 Supercar driver,” he said.

“I love driving and enjoy the diversity of getting in different cars, so far this year I’ve driven everything from historic open-wheelers to a Ferrari sportscar, which has been really enjoyable.”

At the opposite end of the experience spectrum is young-gun George Miedecke, who will race a factory-campaigned Hyundai Tiburon.

Miedecke, whose father Andrew was an experienced and accomplished driver, currently races in the V8 Ute Championship and contested Targa Tasmania in the Hyundai last month.

“Hyundai is keen to have their felt presence in Australian motorsport, and felt that running the Tiburon in the Australian Manufacturers Championship is the perfect opportunity to do so,” he said.

Miedecke will race in Class D, Production Sports, in a livery supporting the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Foundation.

“The Tiburon is unreal to drive; it’s really good through fast corners so it should be well suited to Phillip Island,” Miedecke, 22, said.

“We’re aiming for the Class D win, and if it rains I think we could even surprise a few of the faster cars as well.

“I’m excited about the format with the longer races; the longest car race I’ve ever done is about 25 minutes so it will be a good challenge.”

Round One of the Australian Manufacturers Championship will consist of two, one-hour races at Phillip Island, one each on Saturday and Sunday, featuring a unique reverse-handicap and compulsory pitstop format.

Cars in Class A and B are required to change two tyres at their pitstop, Class C will change one tyre, Class D will simply drive through pitlane while Classes E and F don’t have to venture to the pits at all.

This weekend’s card also features the Kumho Tyres Australian Formula 3 Championship, Menzel Glass Commodore Cup, the Kerrick Sports Sedan National Series, SAF Holland Formula Vee and Muscle Car Gearbox HQ Holdens.

Following practice and qualifying, racing kicks off on Saturday afternoon ahead of a full day of racing on Sunday.

Tickets are $10 on Saturday and $25 on Sunday, with a weekend pass available for $30 while accompanied kids under 16 are free all weekend.
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