Popular Sports GTs, Holden HQs support

THE popular Sports GT category and HQ Holdens will make up most of the support programme at the V8 Supercars' Symmons Plains meeting in two weeks' time, with the addition of the spectacular Aussie Race Cars.

While this is not a round of the six-round Statewide Super Series, all drivers will relish the opportunity to perform in front of the biggest crowd of the season.

A total of 30 Sports GT cars, covering three classes, have entered for the meeting together with a large field of HQ Holdens. Each group has been allocated four races over the two days of competition.

Both categories will have two 30-minute practice sessions on the Friday with one qualifying session for each on the Saturday.

The HQs will have two races each day while the Sports GT cars will have one on the Saturday and three on the Sunday.

In the Sports GT A class the man to beat will be Launceston's Greg Garwood in his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, which won all five races in the opening round of the series at Symmons Plains recently.

Stuart Benson finished second overall on the day to the flying Porsche in his Mazda RX7 SP scoring four seconds and a third but will find it more difficult this time round with the addition of some quick cars.

Ray Hislop and his Falcon XR8 have won multiple Improved Production Car championships and, based on previous performances at the circuit, will be very fast.

Hislop will also be looking to make amends for the disappointment of not getting to the start line for the two support races at the recent Bathurst 12-hour meeting when the car was diagnosed with terminal engine failure after qualifying on pole position.

One disadvantage for Hislop is that the Garwood Porsche is much better off the line than the big horsepower Falcon and it will be difficult to stay in touch let alone get past.

Others to watch include Tim Briggs in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, Tony Warren in his Evo 7 RS version, Peter O'Keefe in his Nissan GTR V-Spec11 and Kim Barwick if he can organise a replacement engine in time for his V8 Commodore.

The 15 cars entered in Class A are all capable of breaking the 60-second barrier and while Garwood and Hislop will be the front runners, there are bound to be some great battles among the rest.

In class B, fly-in driver Matthew Grace in his turbocharged Datsun 1200 Coupe scored three firsts and two seconds at the opening round of the series but may not have it all his own way with Alex Williams in the Mazda RX7 scoring two seconds and two thirds to be second overall on the day despite missing the first race.

In Class C there should be a good battle between Greg Garwood's wife, Luana, in her Mitsubishi Evo 8 and Peter Roberts in his Nissan Skyline GTS-t.

In fact, there will be three Garwoods competing on the day with son Adam competing in class A in his Nissan Skyline GTS-t against his father.

The HQ Holdens are bound to turn on some door-rubbing action and the driver they will be hoping to beat will be Andrew Toth, who has won the series title for the past two years.

In the opening round this year he scored four wins and a third. However, it's not a foregone conclusion with both Andrew Bird and Duane Preece scoring solid results and ready to pick up the pieces if Toth was to have a bad day.

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