Friday, Oct 12 07:52pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

“Disappointing” 11-car grid set for Hampton Downs 500

The Australian GT Championship final will feature just 11 cars this weekend at the Laser Plumbing & Electrical Hampton Downs 500.


Nine of the 11 cars in attendance are within mathematical reach of winning a title this weekend, either in the Australian GT Championship of the CAMS Australian Endurance Championship.


The field has this weekend been boosted marginally by the addition of an International Motorsport-run Audi R8 LMS GT3 driven by Jonny Reid and Andrew Fawcett, as well as Tony Quinn’s Aston Martin V12 Vantage that he’ll race with Andrew Waite.


Earlier this year Quinn sold the Australian GT franchise to Jim Manolios of Trofeo Motorsport, who are the official Australian importers of Pirelli tyres.


A rival GT3-based championship was simultaneously set up earlier in the year too, which primarily took away competitors that would otherwise have been racing in the Trophy Series ranks.


While this weekend's championship-ending race is not a scheduled Trophy Series round, there are still a sizeable number of cars out of Australia not making the trip over. 


This weekend's Hampton Downs 500 will be the last in the foreseeable future. Hampton Downs and Highlands Motorsport Park COO Josie Spillane said the grid size isn’t what they would have hoped for.


“Obviously the small grid is a little disappointing but it’s a sign of the times,” she said.


“There’s been a lot of upheaval in GT racing in Australian motorsport this year with the sale of the Australian GT Championship to Trofeo Motorsport mid-season.


“Then there’s the new GT-1 series which launched this year under the AMRS banner. It’s created a lot of uncertainty and has had the knock-on effect of splitting the field.


“Unfortunately, the number of cars coming to Hampton Downs is down on previous years as a result, a situation completely out of our control.”
“In saying that, we’d like to acknowledge the commitment of the drivers that have made the trip across the Tasman who will put on a great show for motorsport fans.”


The weekend will be boosted by healthy grids in the BMW Race Driver Series, ENZED Central Muscle Cars, Pirelli Porsche Championship, and the SsangYong Racing Series.


“From a New Zealand perspective, the Central Muscle Cars will have almost 30 cars on the starting grid and we’ve also got big numbers for the Pirelli Porsche Championship and the BMW Race Driver Series.”