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THE HEIGHT OF SUPER TOURING IN AUSTRALIA

IT would be easy to argue that the event depicted in this week’s throwback gallery was the very height of the Australian Super Touring Championship.

WORDS & IMAGES: Mark Walker

The seventh round of the 1997 season at Lakeside International Raceway saw the Championship riding the crest of a wave.

Three weekend’s following the success of the category’s first headline act at the Bathurst 1000, competitor and spectator interest was at an all-time high.

Fresh from being disqualified from victory at the Mount Panorama, Craig Baird was brought in off the bench by BMW to be used as a buffer between the rear wheel drive machines and the rival four-wheel drive Audis.

The move paid dividends in the two races, with the marque claiming a sweep of the poduim places, with Paul Morris leading home Geoff Brabham and Baird in both encounters.

The Lakeside event also featured the Super Touring Championship debuts for future V8 Supercar teammates Steven Johnson and Warren Luff.

Pictured below is the grid walk, some of the pit life, as well as the aftermath of a heat one coming together, where Kurt Kratzmann’s Hyundai cleaned up the stalled car of Tony Newman at the first attempt of a race start.

This event, and the one following at Amaroo Park (which rounded out the season), attracted fields of 20 and 23 participants respectively, records at the time, with the Amaroo tally never bettered before the category’s petering out in 2002.

By the end of the 1997 season, the official BMW effort disappeared, with Volvo continuing their factory involvement alongside Audi for the next two seasons.

It was entertaining while it lasted – hit us up on the socials @theracetorque with your favourite Super Touring memories!