RICHARDS TO RACE WORKS NISSAN AT BATHURST Father & Son rivalry in 'The Great Race' for Super Touring THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10: British-based Australian Steven Richards today confirmed he would race a works Nissan Primera in the AMP Bathurst ...
RICHARDS TO RACE WORKS NISSAN AT BATHURST
Father & Son rivalry in 'The Great Race' for Super Touring
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 10: British-based Australian Steven Richards today confirmed he would race a works Nissan Primera in the AMP Bathurst 1000 for Super Touring cars at Mount Panorama on October 4.
The 26-year-old will drive a 1998-specification Primera in 'The Great Race' in a field which also includes his father, five-times Bathurst 1000 winner Jim Richards, who will be behind the wheel of a works Volvo S40. Steven Richards, who moved to England t his year as Nissan's works test driver, will drive in the 161-lap event at Mount Panorama with Englishman Matthew Neal, who races in the British Touring Car Championship.
The Primera they will drive at Bathurst was raced in the early rounds of the 1998 German Touring Car Championship by Michael Krumm, and is being converted to endurance specifications at Nissan Motorsport headquarters in Britain. Richards said the team at Bathurst would comprise about 15 staff from Nissan Motorsport, Ray Mallock Ltd., and Team Dynamics, who oversee Neal's BTCC campaign.
"We won't be lacking anything in terms of equipment, personnel, or support," said Richards. "This is going to be a big effort, which is what you need to win at Bathurst. We won't be doing an endurance test before the race, but I'm confident the engine, dr iveline, and other aspects of the car will be reliable."
Richards drove a privateer Primera with Neal at Bathurst in 1997, and they qualified seventh, but retired after 84 laps because of mechanical problems. He predicts the race lap record of 2-mins 16.80-secs by Englishman Jason Plato in a Renault will be bet tered by 2-secs in qualifying in 1998 because of engineering and tyre development.
"I've seen first-hand in Britain how much faster the cars are going this year," he said. "It won't surprise me if the top teams get into the high '14s' (2-mins 14-secs) in the top 10 shootout. The race pace is also going to be quicker and, as usual at Bat hurst, there will be a fine line between speed and looking after the car."
Assessing Bathurst, Richards said he was encouraged by the performances of works drivers Anthony Reid and David Leslie in this year's BTCC. They have collectively won seven of the 22 races this year, Reid is second in the drivers' championship, and Nissan leads the manufacturers' category.
"The Nissans have been on the pace everywhere, and one of the reasons is attention to detail," he said. "Our guys are the last to leave the garages at night. I'm sure we'll see the same preparation at Bathurst."
Richards has tested with the works Nissan team at all BTCC tracks this year. but has not had the opportunity to race in a round of the championship. He said he hoped to secure a fulltime racing position with the team for 1999 following the announcement Re id would drive for Ford next year.
"Obviously I want to race for Nissan next year, but that decision is still a long way off," said Richards. "If I do well at Bathurst, and hopefully win, it won't hurt my chances because my aim is to race in the BTCC."
Jim Richards won the Bathurst 1000 twice for Nissan - in a GTR with Mark Skaife in 1991 and in 1992.
AMP BATHURST 1000 NEWS BRIEF:
MURRAY WALKER, the voice of Formula One, will make a flying visit to Australia next month to join the Seven Network's commentary team for the Bathurst 1000. Walker will travel to Australia after the Luxembourg Formula One Grand Prix on September 27. Walke r commentated for the Seven Network at Bathurst for the first time in 1997. The Seven Network's team also includes nine-times Bathurst 1000 winner PETER BROCK, four-times race champion ALLAN MOFFATT, staff members GARRY WILKINSON, TRACEY HOLMES, and PAT WELSH, and DAVID TAPP.