Rob Sherrard's ex-Jean-Louis Schlesser Sauber-Mercedes C9 Group will race for the first time at the Phillip Island Classic
A huge entry of more than 560 vehicles has been received for the 2009 Phillip Island Classic Festival of Motorsport from March 13-15, equalling the record attendance of the past two years and cementing the meeting's place as the major event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.
Capacity grids in many categories, 18 overseas drivers from six nations and the attendance of iconic figures in Australian motorsport have been confirming following the official close of entries on February 13.
Highlights include an entry of 43 Minis for a special Regularity event marking the 50th anniversary of the ubiquitous 'brick', with drivers including, Bob Holden who won the 1966 Gallagher 500 at Bathurst with Rauno Aaltonen in a Mini Cooper S.
A record field of 57 Formula Fords, including four drivers from the UK and four from New Zealand, is chasing 50 grid places to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the category in Australia.
2007 Australian Formula Ford and champion and 2008 British Formula Ford Championship runner-up, Tim Blanchard, will step into the Penrite Van Diemen 82 for the meeting, with one of his adversaries being 1977 Australian Formula Ford Champion John Smith at the wheel of a 1978 Lola T440. And the world's first Formula Ford Champion, Australia's Tim Schenken, is expected to be a special guest at the meeting's gala Saturday night dinner.
A capacity grid of 50 production sports cars, with a reserve list of 28 has entered for the meeting's Production Sports Car races, with vehicles including a trio of De Tomaso Panteras, numerous Porsche 911s, two Ferrari Dinos, a number of Datsun Z sports cars, a Shelby GT 350 and a Corvette.
The record grid of Group C & Group A touring cars includes nine Torana L34/A9X models, two V12 Jaguar XJS coupes, a brace of Walkinshaw Group A Commodores, with 2009 Phillip Island Classic Patron Glenn Seton having a guest drive in the ex-Robert Ravaglia 1988 BMW E30 M3 - one of six BMWs entered.
The Group N touring cars have also attracted a bumper entry, with 18 Torana XU-1s, seven Mustangs, five Falcon GT/GT HOs, four Monaros and two Chargers in the Over 3000cc races.
And the high-powered P, Q & R racing and sports car events will see the first Phillip Island race appearance of Rob Sherrard's new ex-Jean-Louis Schlesser factory 1998 Sauber-Mercedes C9 sports car, while his equally-rapid ex-Le Mans Porsche 962 will be in the hands of Queensland's Wayne Park.
Matched against them will be four ex-Formula 1 cars: Guido Belgiorno-Nettis's 1985 ex-Michele Alboreto Ferrari 156/85, Ian Ross's ex-Alan Jones 1985 Lola Hart, Les Wright's ex-Gerhard Berger/Teo Fabi 1986 Benetton BMW B186 and Peter Wright's late 1970s March RAM,
Plus there will be more than 50 Elfins on track or on display to mark the 50th anniversary of Elfin and there will be three racing Nissan R32 GT-R 'Godzillas' on display to celebrate the release of the new R35 GT-R, with one of the new GT-Rs on track to lead the warm-up laps for the Group C & Group A cars.
For the anticipated 15,000 spectators over the weekend there will also be plenty to see off the circuit, with more than 100 special cars on display in the new hardstand pavilion opposite the start/finish line in the 'Shannons Showroom'. These will include a number of former Peter Brock racecars, numerous Australian and American muscle cars, with a fully-restored 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL 'Gullwing' coupe, amongst other special vehicles.
Finally for autograph hunters, Sir Jack Brabham, the VHRR's Patron, will be attending the meeting, joining other driving champions including Bob Jane, Jim Richards, Glenn Seton, John Bowe, Fred Gibson and Tim Schenken.
More meeting details can be found by visiting www.vhrr.com For media enquiries and publication quality images: Michael Browning /0418 324 328