KINGSLEY VS BURCHARTZ - THE DRIVERS SPEAK AHEAD OF GT3 CUP CHALLENGE DECIDER AT SANDOWN
The 'Man who would be King' is that in both stature and name. He's Matt Kingsley, a young Gold Coast based star with a fairytale story of his own; after bouncing back from a horrendous shunt at the Clipsal 500 18 months ago in a V8 Ute.
That crash was like a dramatic moment before a 'To Be Continued' title page appears on the screen in a weekly TV drama. You know that part two, when the hero returns from the brink of oblivion, will be just as good to watch.
And in Kingsley's case, it has been. He has gone on to be the dominant driver of 2009, especially when it's raining, and heads to the big season finale' at Sandown leading the Princess by an imposing 68-point margin. With 90 up for grabs, over three races, he doesn't have the crown on his head quite yet - but the coronation party is surely well into the planning stages.
Against his favor is no experience at Sandown since 2004. In it, is his unparalleled ability to be on the pace within five laps of unloading on a track he's never been to before. This year Kingsley's strong suit has been Sundays - so watch for the Action Tyres & More car to deliver the 'And More' bit in Sunday's longer, 20-lap enduro and waltz his way to the series title.
KNOWN AS THE PRINCESS, the man with the most unlikely nickname in motorsport towers over his rivals by standing at well over six-foot-five and is built like a a rugby front-rower - yet he proudly contests each and every round of the all-Porsche series wearing his "Princess" t-shirt as a good luck charm.
It has been a tougher season for Burchartz in 2009 - against a much deeper field the results he scored throughout 2008 were harder to find, but the consistent front running pace was still very much there.
Sven's accumulating ability has kept him in the hunt and a strong performance on Queensland soil - where he was able to defeat a majority of the local contenders who could've ended his championship tilt there and then - was critical in allowing him to take the fight to Sandown this week.
Sven probably knows Sandown better than anyone in the field this weekend and dominated the longer race that ended last years title, so he has every right to feel confident. It might be an uphill battle to win the title, but Sven might still have enough to make Kingsley 'yield to the Princess' in the biggest race of the GT3 Cup Challenge season.
How are you preparing for the final round of the 2009 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia Series?
"Go out all guns blazing... The car has been fully rebuilt since the Morgan Park round, where we found a number of issues with the car that needed to be re-addressed. The main one being the engine, it has done 15,000km of racing and after compression + leak down test there was a question mark on whether it would see the end of race three without a major explosion!"
"I have been continuing with the training 3 times per week, a weight loss program and a test at Winton… oh, and trying to get regular sleep, though Luca (our 6 week old) has other ideas." This is the first time the GT3 Cup Challenge will have visited Sandown. It is renowned as a tough, fast circuit that sorts the 'men from the boys'. What do you think about the track?
"Sandown has a lot of overtaking opportunities, so it's definitely a racers circuit. Parts of the track are a lot of fun; Turn six would be a favorite as the approach to it in a Porsche GT3 Cup Car would be around 260kph, which is more than enough to get the blood pumping."
"Other than Phillip Island, it's my home track. It's the first race track I ever drove on and I've had some very good results there. It was also the track at which I took out the 2007 Porsche Drivers Challenge title so it has many happy memories for me."
Do you have any past experiences at Sandown - if so, what are they and will they help this weekend?
"I have raced there back in 2004 at a Procar meeting in a little sportscar called a Futureracer. It wasn't the most successful meeting as I spun on the very last lap whilst leading; hopefully I have learnt from that mistake. Seriously' any time spent on a track previous is an advantage as you have basic knowledge of the track and it's a lot easier to gain confidence earlier in the meeting and start to push for a lap time." "Well, I've done about 4 million laps there in the past so yeah, I think it'll all help. It'd better."
What is the highlight of your season to date?
"It would have to be race two at Phillip Island. I managed to 'keep it on the Island' in very wet conditions and won the race. I love racing in the rain & it was the first time I had driven on a full wet weather tyre so it was a learning experience at the same time." "Each and every race."
And the low point you'd rather forget (but we won't let you)?
"Ahhh... really?? damn.. ok... definitely stalling the car sitting on pole position at Eastern Creek, no excuses I'm just an idiot. I copped a big earful over the radio from the crew, I can assure you."
"Spinning in race two at Phillip Island before beaching it, followed closely by a fuel pump failure at Mallala. Combined, these two things cost me 50 points. I'm 68 behind now so you do the maths!"
Outside of your direct championship rival, who are you watching closely at Sandown as 'The one to beat'?
"Well at each round we go to the locals seem to be the ones to beat if you look at the 2009 season so far. So heading into VIC territory you can't look past Jeff Bobik & Steve Kepper; both have shown that they are more than capable of running at the front this year." "Jeff Bobik. Like me, it's a bit of a home track for him and he has proper s peed at the moment"
In ten words or less, what does it take to win the GT3 Cup Challenge?
"Cheater engine, skullduggery and pull spark leads off Sven's car. Joking of course. At least about the cheater engine..."
"Time, talent and persistence."
Any closing comments for your rival?
"All the GT3CC drivers are my rivals, and my mates. Looking forward to Sandown and having a beer with them all afterwards."
"Good luck, hope you DNF each race!"
-credit: gt aus