Champs galore in Classic

You can't keep a good man down for long. A few months ago, Australia's three-times world champion Sir Jack Brabham, was ailing and not remotely inclined to participate in any of the fun motorsports events that he normally likes to play in all over the globe.


But now he's fighting fit, and his doctors have given him the green light to drive in the four-day 2008 Classic Adelaide tarmac event.

The enthusiastic 82-year-old Formula One legend, will pilot a white Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG roadster. Not coincidentally, Brabham's 265kW V8-powered SLK will carry the coveted number one plate.

Following Sir Jack in car number two will be the winner of the 1983 Le Mans 24-hour race Vern Schuppan. The South Australian native and former Formula One and Indycar racer will feel at home in the 386kW SL 63 AMG roadster on roads he knows well. Schuppan's spectacular driving style in previous years has delighted the spectators, and Mercedes-Benz Australia predicts he will make good use of the car's brutal power.

Joining Australia's four-wheel racing legends in the Mercedes-AMG team will be the five-time grand prix motorcycle world champion Mick Doohan who is tagged to drive some sizzling Merc AMG models in rotation with Wheels magazine.

One of the impending delights is the 336kW C 63 AMG.

Spectators will see not only the sell-out saloon in full flight; they will also get to see a matching estate version, the first of its kind to arrive in Australia. The C 63 AMG estate packs the same V8-powered punch of the sedan version but with more load space. The special order C 63 estate officially goes on sale next month.

Two of 32 limited-edition CLK 63 AMG Black series coupés will be campaigned in this year's 12th annual Classic Adelaide. Based on the Formula One Safety Car, they boast a unique-to-Australia specification, belting out 373kW of power and an impressive 630Nm of torque, resulting in a zero-100km/h time of 4.3 seconds, along with commensurate sports handling and braking.

With AMG-designed hand-built engines, subtle bodywork enhancements and polished light alloy 19-inch wheels, these two AMG specials will be easy to spot.

And they should be real weapons on the magnificent driving roads around Adelaide.

Pocketing more frequent flyer points than anyone driving in the world-renowned event is the British Ferrari crew of Sir Paul Vestey and Doug Nye.

The pair has entered what they call "the finest event of its type anywhere in the world" every year since it started in 1997, all but one in a selection from Sir Paul's stable of historic racing Ferrari sports cars.

Their mount will be a Ferrari 275GTB/C, which is sure to delight spectators as it races through the scenic Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley, Southern Vales, Fleurieu Peninsula, Victor Harbor and McLaren Vale regions with the same 12-cylinder roar that accompanied it to a GT Category win at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Vestey Ferrari's competition days are over and it will run in the Thoroughbred Touring category.

"The great attraction of Classic Adelaide to us is the gorgeous road surface and scenery," says Nye, an author and historian. "Most European and US events are run on remote roads which see little use, which normally means they are poorly surfaced, badly marked and very bumpy - so, not much fun."

In other Classic Adelaide developments, the new Mitsubishi Lancer developed in Australia for tarmac rally drivers will make its public debut as the flagship of Mitsubishi's 12th year as official vehicle supplier to the event.

The TMR SST Club-Spec version has a role leading the cars participating in the Regularity category across 34 special stages and more than 1000km of South Australia's most challenging roads.

Developed by Team Mitsubishi Ralliart (TMR), it features extensive modifications for competition, while retaining its suitability for normal road use.

Based on the standard Evolution sedan with TC-SST twin-clutch, six-speed transmission, the Club-Spec has an 248kW upgraded engine, TMR exhaust , lowered, progressive-rate springs, competition brake pads, 245R18 R-Spec tyres, bolt-in (removable) roll cage, modified front seats with six-point harnesses, and two fire extinguishers.

The 2008 Classic Adelaide rally starts on Wednesday (rally prologue) and ends on Sunday, November 23.

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