1983 Australian GT Championship season
|1983 Australian GT Championship season|
The 1983 Australian GT Championship season was the second season of the Australian GT Championship. It was open to grand tourer cars complying with CAMS Group D regulations with Group B Sports Sedans competing by invitation. The season was originally to be contested over eleven rounds, though it was eventually reduced to six rounds and ran from 10 April to 28 August 1983.
1982 GT champion Alan Jones, had decided to make what was to be an abortive comeback to Formula One in 1983 and didn't defend his title. His main opposition from 1982 were fronting for the series, including, Rusty French in a Porsche 935 sponsored by John Sands, along with new team-mate Alan Browne in the ex-Jones 935. Twice former Australian Sports Sedan Champion Tony Edmonson fronted again in the Don Elliot owned, 5.0L Chev powered, Alfa Romeo Alfetta (upgraded to a 6.0L Chev during the year), while touring car star Peter Brock again was to drive the Bob Jane owned 6.0L Chevrolet Monza. Also competing was the Frank Gardner run JPS Team BMW with Jim Richards driving the teams turbocharged BMW 318i that had originally been driven by Allan Grice in Craven Mild colours, and production car ace Peter Fitzgerald in his Porsche Carrera RSR. The expected challenge from the twin-turbo Chevrolet V8 powered Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC of Bryan Thompson failed to show until late in the series as the Mercedes was plagued by unreliability.
The third round of the series at the Adelaide International Raceway was the scene of a start line pile up after the Monza of Peter Brock snapped left off the line and speared into the concrete wall before bouncing back in front of the field. With nowhere to go and little time to react, others, led by Jim Richards crashed into Brock, with the ex-Jim Richards Ford Falcon of Tony Hubbard ending up on top of the pile and the Jaguar XJS of Mark Trenoweth on the bottom. At least ⅓ of the field were eliminated in the crash. Following the crash, the Bob Jane owned Monza wasn't to be seen until the 1984 Australian GT Championship when it had been purchased by Alan Browne and was driven by Allan Grice, while the BMW wasn't raced again until late in 1984 at the 1984 World Endurance Championship meeting, the Sandown 1000 in Melbourne.
Rusty French won his first Australian GT Championship with a consistent run over the six round series to score 40 points, never finishing out of the top 3, and winning Round 3 in Adelaide and the sixth and final round at Surfers Paradise. Jim Richards finished 2nd in the championship with 18 points, despite competing in only the first two rounds of the series at Lakeside and Sandown, winning both races convincingly, with Richards driving making up for the BMW turbo's lack of power compared to the Porsche turbo of Rusty French. 1980 and 1981 Aussie Sports Sedan champ Tony Edmonson finished equal 2nd with Richards in the championship. Like Richards, Edmonson only scored in two races (wins at Calder and Winton for rounds 4 and 5). Though unlike Richards, Edmonson did enter other rounds of the series. His was one of the cars damaged in the start line crash at Adelaide. Alan Browne was classified 4th in the championship in his Porsche, scoring 13 points.
As a reward for driving his Porsche 935 to the championship French was flown to West Germany in 1984 by Porsche as one of their award winners for 1983. This also saw him land a drive with German World Sportscar Championship team Kremer Racing at the 1984 24 Hours of Le Mans driving a Porsche 956B. Alongside Englishmen Tiff Needell and David Sutherland, French finished 9th outright in the 24 hour classic. French then went on to finish 5th outright with German Manfred Winkelhock in the 1984 1000 km of Sandown Park in a 956B in what was the first ever FIA World Championship race held in Australia.
|1||Lakeside International Raceway||10 April|
|2||Sandown Raceway||17 April|
|3||Adelaide International Raceway||10 July|
|4||Calder Park Raceway||31 July|
|5||Winton Motor Raceway||14 August|
|6||Surfers Paradise Raceway||28 August|
Points were awarded on a 9-6-4-3-2-1 basis to the top six finishers in each round. All scores counted towards the championship.
|Pos||Driver||No.||Car||Entrant||Rd 1||Rd 2||Rd 3||Rd 4||Rd 5||Rd 6||Total|
|1||Rusty French||3||Porsche 935||John Sands Racing||6||6||9||4||6||9||40|
|2||Jim Richards||11||BMW 318i Turbo||JPS Team BMW||9||9||-||-||-||-||18|
|2||Tony Edmondson||9||Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV - Chevrolet||Don Elliot||-||-||-||9||9||-||18|
|4||Alan Browne||4||Porsche 935||John Sands Racing||-||4||-||2||3||4||13|
|5||Peter Fitzgerald||5||Porsche Carrera RSR||Peter Fitzgerald||-||3||-||3||4||-||10|
|5||John Briggs||91||BMW 318i Turbo||John Briggs BMW||-||-||4||-||-||6||10|
|7||Bryan Thompson||17||Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC - Chevrolet||Kenwood Shepparton||-||-||6||-||-||-||6|
|7||Colin Bond||28||Porsche 944 Turbo||Porsche Cars Australia||-||-||-||6||-||-||6|
|9||Bruce Lynton||18||BMW 318i Turbo||Bruce Lynton BMW||4||-||-||-||-||-||4|
|9||Phillip Swinton||Mini Cooper||2||-||-||-||-||2||4|
|9||Bob Jolly||31||Holden Commodore||-||2||-||-||2||-||4|
|9||Clem Smith||26||Chrysler Valiant Charger||-||-||3||1||-||-||4|
|13||Jeff Barnes||9||Chevrolet Monza||3||-||-||-||-||-||3|
|13||Mark Trenoweth||18||Jaguar XJS||-||-||-||-||-||3||3|
|15||John Lusty||43||Holden Torana||-||-||2||-||-||-||2|
|16||Bruce Smith||Ford Capri||1||-||-||-||-||-||1|
|16||Jim Keogh||Holden Commodore||-||1||-||-||-||-||1|
|16||Larry Kogge||Mazda RX-3||-||-||1||-||-||-||1|
|16||John Bourke||77||Toyota Celica||-||-||-||-||1||-||1|
|16||Simon Harrex||69||Holden Commodore||-||-||-||-||-||1||1|