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This weekend is not just the Supercars round at Symmons Plains, but is also the first round of the revamped Shannons Nationals.

The traditional season opener at Sandown Raceway will host five categories across the weekend headlined by the expanded Australian GT Trophy grid, Australian Formula 4 Championship, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, Australian Prototype Series and Radical Australia Cup.

An 18-car field for the GT Trophy Class sees an Audi dominate field, though Italy’s best will make sure the Germans won’t have it their own way across the weekend. The Audi challenge is led by reigning GT Trophy Champion Rob Smith, while regular Australian GT competitor Steve McLaughlin Jake Fouracre, Rio Nugara and 15-year-old Ryan How.

The Italians will be led by Lamborghini pilots Richard Gartner and Jan Jinadasa, with Gartner making the switch from Porsche to a Lamborghini Gallardo LP600. Wayne Mack will represent the prancing horse in his Ferrari 458 GT3.

Not forgetting the MARC Cars Australia class with reigning champion Jake Camilleri returning to defend his title after tasting GT3 machinery at the Australian Grand Prix. Camilleri will have to contend with the experience of John Goodacre and Keith Kassulke.

Cameron Shields will be one to watch in the Australian Formula 4 Championship. The ex-Formula 3 driver will take on some of Australia’s brightest talent including Tyler Everingham, Harley Haber, Josh Denton and Nick Rowe in a double-header. Sandown will host the first two rounds of the championship as Zagame Motorsport join AGI Sport and BRM in the battle for the Formula 4 crown.

A familiar name will battle in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge field this weekend, but not a familiar motorsport name. Olympic runner, John Steffenson will contest the weekend alongside young drivers Jordan Love and Brenton Grove, while the experienced Michael O’Donnell and Anthony Gilbertson will look to keep the young kids honest.

The Australian Prototype Series will debut this weekend with a wide variety of machinery ranging from a pair of new Wolf Tornado GB08 to the Wolf, West and Prince machinery that have been a constant in the previous Sports Racer class.

Radicals will also feature in the class, but will also contest a round of their national title with series frontrunner Peter Paddon doing double duty this weekend in both series. Simon and Tony Haggarty, Greg Smith, Kim Burke and Simon Meade will battle Paddon for the Radical honours across the weekend.

If you want to take advantage of Melbourne’s fine autumn weather, then head down to Sandown on the weekend.

Ticket prices:

CAMS member: Free
Children under 15: Free
Saturday: $15.00
Sunday: $25.00
Weekend: $35.00
Red Hill (Car Pass – Sunday only): $25.00