RICHARDS TO JOIN BATTERY TOWN PORSCHE GT3 CUP SERIES AT PUKEKOHE Evergreen expat 'Gentleman' Jim Richards will head a bumper Porsche GT3 Cup lineup at the final round of the 2004/05 Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup series at the Placemakers V8 ...
RICHARDS TO JOIN BATTERY TOWN PORSCHE GT3 CUP SERIES AT PUKEKOHE
Evergreen expat 'Gentleman' Jim Richards will head a bumper Porsche GT3 Cup lineup at the final round of the 2004/05 Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup series at the Placemakers V8 Supercar meeting at Pukekohe's Pukekohe Park Raceway over the April 16/17 weekend.
Auckland-born Richards, now best known for a stellar tin-top career in Australia including nine wins at Bathurst and three consecutive GTP-Nations Cup titles, won the inaugural Carrera Cup Championship in Australia in 2003 then the inaugural Trans-Tasman GT3 series (both for Porsche's purpose-built GT3 Cup race car) over the 2003/04 New Zealand summer season.
Though he chose to take a well-earned break over the 2004/05 New Zealand summer season he started the 2005 Australian season with three wins from three starts in the Porsche GT3 Cup races at the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix meeting and currently lies a close second to young fellow Kiwi gun Fabian Coulthard in the points standings after the first round of the now Wright Patton Shakespeare-backed 2005 Carrera Cup
Richards' return will see him drive the Paul Pedersen-owned Porsche GT3 Cup car which has already taken Craig Baird to the '04/05 Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup title.
Three-time New Zealand Grand Prix and New Zealand 2-litre Touring Car Champion Baird sealed overall victory in the 2004/05 Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup series at the penultimate round at the Taupo Motor Racing Circuit a month ago and at Pukekohe Park Raceway will be competing in the V8 Supercar races for the WPS team.
Richards will be one of two 2005 Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup Australia competitors joining the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup races at the Pukekohe Park Raceway final, the other being Queenslander Charlie O'Brien.
Like Richards, O'Brien is no stranger to these shores, having competed and finished fourth overall in the Porsche Trans-Tasman GT3 Cup series over the 2003/04 summer.
He too is competing in the 2005 Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup Australia championship and currently lies 14th overall after the first round at the Clipsal 500 meeting in Adelaide last month.
Taking the battle to the visitors will be current points runner-up Matthew Halliday, who won the first round of the Battery Town Series at Pukekohe Park Raceway in October last year and who led the points standings after further wins at the second round at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Raceway in November, and Tag Heuer Challenge (for drivers aged 35 and over) pace-setter Ross Rutherford.
Hamiltonian Rutherford won two of the three races at the third round of the Battery Town series at Timaru after Baird and Halliday tangled in controversial circumstances in the second race.
Keeping Rutherford honest will be a strong lineup of resident New Zealand drivers led by Dean Fulton and including Rick Armstrong , Graeme Cameron, Andrew Bagnall, Angus McFarlane, Paul Kelly, Dean Cockerton, Rhys McKay, Mike Morton and yachty Grant Dalton.
And joining the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup series for the first time this season are three of the Porsche GT Cup car drivers from the Bridgestone Porsche Series, Mike Eady, Scott O'Donnell and David Mackrell.
Ross Rutherford looks set to claim the top spot in the inaugural Tag Heuer Challenge at Pukekohe but behind him and second place man Dean Fulford a battle royal still exists for third place, with Angus McFarlane on 878 points, Rick Armstrong on 856 and Battery Town series rookie Mike Morton on 807.
Dean Cockerton, who has 756 points, could also improve his place with a couple of good performances on his home track.
Joining the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup cars on the support roster at the Placemakers V8 Supercar meeting are the Parker ENZED New Zealand V8 Touring Cars, Formula Fords and new wings-and-slicks' Toyota Racing Series single-seaters.