THE NATIONS CUP’S FINAL FAREWELL

The field takes off from the grid in the last Nations Cup round held, at Mallala in 2004. Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith.

IT was the category that pitted nation versus nation with some of the most exotic racing cars competing against one another: Nations Cup.

The category was born out of the old GT Production category and gave a place for the top-line cars from that category a place to call their own, without having to weave in and out of the slower production cars!

Debuting in 2000, Nations Cup frequently found itself into the news pages of the specialist press with plenty of parity bunfights, but it also provided a platform for some great racing, interesting cars and memorable times.

Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Holden and many more tackled one another in a class of racing that lasted five years.

PROCAR Australia, who conceived and ran the category, pulled up stumps in early 2004, and the category limped its way to the end of the season with the last round held at Mallala in September of that year.

The field sizes in that last year certainly had shrunk, but here we’ve dipped back into the vast Motorsport News archive recently acquired by V8 Sleuth parent company, AN1 Media, to see how it was reported at the time by reporter Chris Jordan.

Thesedays Jordan is the main man of PR at Porsche Cars Australia, however in September 2004 he was a young reporter for MN and covered the last Nations Cup round held in Australia.

This report originally appeared in Motorsport News, Issue 293:

IN what is most likely to be the category’s last hurrah in its current name and form, the Mallala round of the 2004 Nations Cup Championship did not befit the great races we have seen from the exotic fields of years gone by.

That said, the round was able to produce a couple of firsts for some, and signs of potential for others, to inspire confidence as the category tries to grow new legs in some other guise.

Entering the round, Paul Stokell had already been assured a second consecutive Nations Cup crown in his Lamborghini Diablo GTR, but Team Lamborghini Australia did not take light of the final round, doubling their efforts by bringing along their second car for Peter Hackett.

The first race saw Stokell get the ascendency at the start from pole, but the Monaro of James Brock was not going away without a fight. The Team Brock–mobile was obviously beginning to work well, after a year of indifferent speed. Stokell, however, has the number one on his door for a very good reason, and was able to slowly eke out a gap with a series of quick laps and held the advantage for the remainder.

Behind, the second Lambo of Hackett was having to contend with Allan Simonsen in the Trophy class Ferrari 360 Challenge. By rights, the cars should not have been dicing, but as we know, Allan and Ferraris go hand in hand, and on lap eight, the Dane’s red Coopers car was shoved inside of Hackett at the Southern Hairpin. Hackett’s comeback move at the next corner was not as successful, as Simonsen shut the door, sending the Lambo into a spin. Hackett recovered but had to settle for fourth.

The Lamborghini of 2004 Nations Cup champ Paul Stokell. He was a regular in the category since it began in 2000. Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith.

Brock was able to make the best of the rolling start in Race 2, catching out Stokell to go to an early lead. As the laps went on and Stokell and Brock swapped positions, one was given the feeling that both drivers were giving service to a more entertainment–orientated form of racing, but in the end, the result was still the same, with Stokell leading Brock home.

The assembled crowd looked on as Stokell got the better start in Race 3, followed by Brock, David Stevens and Hackett. The race seemed to be going to order, until Hackett ground to a halt on lap 10 with gearbox problems. Then, just to prove that fate has a sense of humour, Stokell’s car also succumbed to a broken gearbox at the same section of track. Stokell parked his black beast adjacent to his stranded team-mate.

Stokell was philosophical post-race, the round lost, but the championship well secure.

“The championship means a lot to me, and that’s what it’s always been about. My goal this year was to win two championships, and we came reasonably close.

“We had lots of problems in GT Performance, but we came close: we got first in one, and second in the other.”

Brock cruised home to take a popular victory, the red Holden flags awoken, triumphantly waved on the spectator mounds as he drove the final lap.

“It was good to have a dice up there with Stokell this weekend, but it was a pity that Paul had to park it. But we’ll take the win any way we can get it,” said Brock.

“The boys have worked really hard, it’s great.”

David Stevens was next past the post, his Porsche 911 GT2 proving to be a solid and reliable weapon. Stevens finished only 4s back from the lead two drivers to collect third in Race 2, and then was able to capitalise on the Lamborghini woes to collect second in the final. Simonsen followed him home in third. 

Ian Palmer’s Brabham-Honda NSX was problematic but one of the cars that lived on in the Australian GT Championship that replaced Nations Cup for 2005. Behind him is the late Allan Simonsen in a Ferrari 360 in the Trophy Class. Photo: an1images.com / Dirk Klynsmith.

Ian Palmer’s turbocharged Brabham Honda NSX had one of its better outings, with improved reliability allowing him to grab a solid sixth and fourth in Races 2 and 3.

John Teulan capitalised on the absence of the Koundouris brothers to pass them in the points chase to become the 2004 Trophy class champion in his Ferrari 360 Challenge, finishing second to Simonsen in Trophy class in all three races.

Final Points: Stokell 572, Pretty 415, Stevens 309, James Brock 238, Palmer 178.5, Peter Brock 156. Trophy class: Teulan 312, Theo Koundouris 291, Simonsen 279.