It was the season of reckoning for prodigious Australian talent Alex Davison. A driver of the future emerged in the form of Fabian Coulthard. The series reached six states with nine championship rounds and one non-championship round. Close to 1.4...
It was the season of reckoning for prodigious Australian talent Alex Davison. A driver of the future emerged in the form of Fabian Coulthard. The series reached six states with nine championship rounds and one non-championship round. Close to 1.4 million people were exposed to the racing at these rounds. More than eight million people watched it on television in Australian and New Zealand.
The second season of the Australian Carrera Cup further highlighted the initial success and future growth potential of the popular Porsche category 'down under'.
On track, the Australian Carrera Cup provided intense and close racing at the front end, with rivalries also developing in the mid-field with new award categories introduced as an incentive for all drivers.
The driver of the season was certainly 25-year-old Alex Davison from Melbourne, campaigning in the Glenfords Discount Tool Centres-backed Number-77 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car prepared by Greg Murphy Racing.
Davison was crowned the 2004 Champion totalling an impressive 1344 points, including six round wins (out of nine), a further two podium finishes, 16 race wins (out of 26), five pole positions (out of nine), five fastest laps at the round (out of nine), and the most number of consecutive race wins totalling five (three at Round 3 Hidden Valley and two at Round 4 Barbagallo).
The youngster impressed V8 Supercar scouts to land endurance drives for Castrol Perkins Racing this year, and a full-time drive next year.
Following on from his 2003 championship win, Jim Richards provided bumper-to-bumper opposition to Davison at the front end of the field, claiming second place overall in the 2004 series with 1146 points.
In his OAMPS Insurance Brokers-backed Number-1 Porsche, Richards accumulated two round wins, a further five podiums, six race wins, a further 14 top-3 race finishes, three pole positions and two fastest laps of the round.
Arguably the find of the season was Fabian Coulthard, the young 22-year-old driving the Braun-backed Number-55 Porsche prepared by Greg Murphy Racing.
In his first year of Porsche racing, Coulthard claimed third place in the championship, and won the Porsche Michelin Driver to Europe award and the Michelin Rookie of the Year. The Driver to Europe award was for the top driver under 30 years yet to drive in a European Porsche series, while the Rookie of the Year was for the top driver in their first full season of Porsche racing.
Coulthard's 1071 points were made up of six round podiums, two race wins, a further 17 top-3 race finishes, one pole position and two fastest laps of the round.
The Melbourne-based Kiwi also caught the eye of V8 scouts, landing endurance drives in the 2004 V8 Supercar Championship Series for Tasman Motorsport.
In total, there were five drivers that won Australian Carrera Cup races in 2004. The top three all had race success, as did single race winners Craig Baird (at Indy) and Peter Fitzgerald (at Eastern Creek).
Fitzgerald, one of the most experienced motorsport campaigners , endured both the highs and lows of racing this year, but managed to finish the season in fourth place overall in his Acer and Abcor-backed Number-3 Porsche. He held off late surges by young guns Jonathon Webb and Klark Quinn who are both expected to feature prominently in 2005.
Webb, in his Tekno Autosports-backed Number-22 Porsche prepared by Paul Cruickshank Racing, impressed with two top-three race finishes, while Quinn, driving the Number-28 Team VIP Petfoods Porsche, scored his first-ever top-three race finish at Bathurst.
A popular new award category in the Australian Carrera Cup in 2004 was the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge, providing a major incentive for drivers 35 years or older in 2003-spec 911 GT3 Cup cars to engage in a closely-fought mid-field battle.
The major prize, a TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph, was won by 38-year-old Melbourne driver Dean Grant who was too consistent for the Gold Coast's Tony Quinn, Sydney's Stephen Borness and Melbourne's Peter Hill.
Grant was the only driver in all the 35 Australian Carrera Cup entries in 2004 to finish all 26 races over the nine rounds. This proved vital in claiming the inaugural TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge by 48 points from a fast-finishing Quinn, with Borness close by in third.
Quinn, however, did not finish the season empty-handed, after winning his second consecutive Fuchs Hard Charger award for making up the most number of grid positions over the season.
Kiwi Paul Pedersen took out the honour of being the highest placed New Zealand-based driver, providing a good reward for his hard-working International Motorsport NZ team.
The 2004 Australian Carrera Cup also claimed a number of firsts. This year was the first time that the all-Porsche category travelled to South Australia for the Clipsal 500 and Western Australia for the Barbagallo round.
Race one at the Lexmark Indy 300 was the first night race for the Australian series and also for the event, producing an awesome spectacle over 50 minutes.
Also at the Lexmark Indy 300, the Australian Carrera Cup announced the Gift for Dreams Foundation (G4D) as its Official Charity Partner, to provide a platform to support disadvantaged young Australians. The Patron of G4D is Sydney Olympic silver medallist and avid motorsport fan Tatiana Grigorieva, who has shown interest in driving Porsches competitively in the future.
A coup for the Australian Carrera Cup in 2004 was attaining live coverage on Network Ten of races at the Foster's Australian Grand Prix, Clipsal 500 and Bathurst. This was in addition to the excellent coverage telecast on 'Trackside' on Network Ten and 'Shell Helix Motorsport on TV NZ.
TAG Heuer joined the Major Sponsor ranks along with Porsche, Michelin and Fuchs, while Series Partners, Screen Offset Printing, Ferodo and Web Resource continued their valuable support.
The Carrera Cup is the most successful 'one make' championship in the world with close-to-identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars built by Porsche' racing arm in Weissach, Germany racing in the Australian series. All cars have a top speed in excess of 300 kilometres per hour with a 400-horsepower, 6 cylinder Boxer engine which revs to 8000 RPM.