GTP leader to race Mazda in Canberra

MELBOURNE driver Philip Polites, whose Holden Commodore race car was stolen just hours after he took the lead in the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship earlier this month, will drive a borrowed Mazda RX-7 in the third round ...

GTP leader to race Mazda in Canberra

MELBOURNE driver Philip Polites, whose Holden Commodore race car was stolen just hours after he took the lead in the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship earlier this month, will drive a borrowed Mazda RX-7 in the third round in Canberra.

Still reeling from the $250,000 theft of his Commodore HSV GTS300i and all its spares and equipment, Polites has accepted the offer of the car from owner Phil Kirkham, who will put aside his own championship quest at the GMC400 meeting on 8-10 June.

A replacement Commodore is under construction and should be ready for round four in Queensland in July.

"Phil was the first person to offer a car after mine was stolen and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to stay in the hunt for the GTP championship. He's had some pretty good results this season, so I hope I can come away from Canberra with some points," Polites said.

Polites has experienced the highs and lows of motorsport since returning to driving this season for the first time since winning the 1993 British Formula Ford Championship.

In Adelaide in April he won the first race of the season - and his first-ever "tin top" event - in the then-new Holden Commodore HSV GTS300i.

Two fifth places in round two of the GT Performance series at Wakefield Park on 6 May saw him edge into the GTP championship lead - and then calamity struck.

The Commodore, trailer, tow vehicle and every spare part and item of equipment were stolen the same night from outside the Melbourne home of team chief Frank Lowndes.

The tow vehicle and trailer were recovered, but there has been no sign of the rest.

Polites said several GTP competitors had offered to lend him their racing cars.

"Ross Palmer and Peter Floyd were also among those who contacted me, but Phil's Mazda has been running near the front this year and should be a handy thing in Canberra," he said.

"He's also agreed to transport the car and help me on the weekend, so it's a huge gesture. And Rod Wilson, the Pirelli motorsport tyre agent, is helping us with tyres.

"The response we've had since Wakefield Park has been enormous.

"I reckon with the cost of the car, the expense of building it, our computers and spares and a set of tools Frank Lowndes had accumulated over 30 years, the thieves got away with around $250,000 worth - we lost everything.

"We've had some extremely generous help, but there's still a shortfall and we're chasing more funding.

"But at least we have now been able to acquire another Commodore and start converting it for racing. There's a long way to go in the GT Production Car Championship and I'm sure we'll be back in there fighting."

After two rounds, Polites leads the Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship with a total of 38 points, from Subaru STi driver Brett Peters on 30 and defending champion Mark King, in a Mitsubishi Evo V, on 28.

-Chris Nixon

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