AUS: 2006 season preview

SEASON PREVIEW -- WRIGHT PATTON SHAKESPEARE CARRERA CUP AUSTRALIA A quality field of drivers from Australia and New Zealand in all-new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 997) cars will compete for glory in a history-making Wright Patton Shakespeare ...

SEASON PREVIEW -- WRIGHT PATTON SHAKESPEARE CARRERA CUP AUSTRALIA

A quality field of drivers from Australia and New Zealand in all-new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 997) cars will compete for glory in a history-making Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup Australia championship in 2006.

Showcasing innovation, emotion, aspiration and fascination, the most successful one-make championship in the world will launch the highly-anticipated 997-based Porsche machine into Australian racing this month.

Led by Jim Richards, Alex Davison, Craig Baird and Jonathon Webb, the championship will boast its most competitive driver line-up in its four-year history.

One of seven International Carrera Cups contested around the world along with Germany, Asia, Great Britain, Japan, France and Scandanavia, the Australian championship will continue as the primary support category to the V8 Supercar Championship Series.

The Championship

Starting at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide from March 23 to 26, the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup Australia will comprise eight championship rounds and a non-championship event in five states in 2006 and exhilarate crowds of more than 1.3 million people.

Round one at the Clipsal 500 will be followed a week later by a Non Championship Round at the Formula 1 Foster's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The championship continues with the new Round 2 at Wakefield Park in Goulburn (May 26-28); Round 3 at Hidden Valley in Darwin (June 30-July 2); Round 4 at Oran Park in Sydney (August 11-13); Round 5 at the Betta Electrical 500 at Sandown (September 8-10); Round 6 at the Super Cheap Auto 1000 at Bathurst (October 5-8); Round 7 at the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast (October 19-22); and Round 8 at the Grand Finale at Phillip Island (December 8-10).

The Drivers

Championship Patron and its inaugural champion in 2003 is Jim Richards, who is aiming to win his second championship in 2006. Richards is as determined as ever to claim top spot after finishing runner-up for the past two seasons.

Dominant 2004 champion Alex Davison is back after a stint in V8 Supercars, this time with rising team Paul Cruickshank Racing. Despite his age (26), Davison is one of the most experienced Porsche racers in the field with two seasons in Carrera Cup Germany and one season in the Porsche Michelin Supercup in addition to his Australian season.

Team mate Jonathon Webb has made steady progress up the championship standings over the past three seasons, and claimed his first round win and championship top-three placing last year. Webb has tested vigorously in the new car including a brief stint with Lechner Racing School late last year -- the premier team in the Porsche Michelin Supercup.

Another seasoned Porsche racer making a return to the category is Gold Coast-based Kiwi Craig Baird for Team VIP Petfoods. Baird is in top form, currently leading the Battery Town New Zealand GT3 Cup Challenge. He already has a Carrera Cup round win on his resume, the Lexmark Indy 300 in 2004 -- one of only three previous starts in the Australian all-Porsche category.

A host of young guns are set to step up after impressing last year including former Formula Ford champion David Reynolds, developing Porsche racer Klark Quinn and ex-Formula Ford rookie star Bryce Washington.

Newcomers to the category are led by ex-V8 Supercar driver and former Porsche Cup frontrunner Anthony Tratt with champion team Greg Murphy Racing, reigning Formula 3 champion Aaron Caratti, Formula Ford pacesetter Dean Fiore, another top former open-wheel rookie in Daniel Pappas, former Production Car champion David Russell, ex-GT competitor David Wall and last year's runner-up in the Porsche Driver's Challenge John Kaias.

Peter Fitzgerald will return for his fourth season in the championship and will challenge for podium positions in the new 997 Porsche.

The privateers will also create a ultra-competitive 'race within a race', known as the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge, with a hot battle set to rage between Dean Grant, Rodney Jane, Tony Quinn, Paul Freestone, Marc Cini and Ash Samadi.

The Car

All cars in the 2006 International Carrera Cups are 997-based Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars, which have been meticulously developed by Porsche's racing arm in Germany, ensuring they are at the cutting edge of motorsport technology.

With a top speed in excess of 300 kilometres per hour, the lightweight, high performance vehicles have a 400 horsepower, 3.6-litre six cylinder Boxer engine which revs to 8200 RPM, producing a sound that is distinctly Porsche.

The 2006 race car based on the 911 Carrera 997-model will feature enhanced aerodynamics - a new front section and a larger rear wing producing 40 percent more downforce than the previous model.

The six-speed sequential gearbox will make gear shifting faster and more failsafe, while the ABS brakes are replaced by tandem racing master cylinders and an in-car brake bias adjustment control. This feature will enable drivers to brake later and gain maximum braking effect.

The Awards

Drivers will vie for the prestigious Overall Championship in 2006, as well as a host of other awards including the:

- TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge for the leading privateer driver 30 years of age or older;

- Wright Patton Shakespeare Michelin Driver to Europe for the leading driver under 30 years of age who has not previously driven in a Porsche Michelin Supercup or International Carrera Cup round;

- Michelin Rookie of the Year for the leading driver who has not competed in more than six rounds of a Porsche racing series prior to 2006;

- Mobil 1 Hard Charger for the driver who makes up the most number of grid positions in points-scoring races over the eight rounds.

Key Information

Network 10 will telecast all rounds of the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup Australia in a regular Sunday afternoon timeslot. The schedule on Network 10 is:

April 9 - Clipsal 500, SA
June 18 -- Wakefield Park, NSW
July 16 -- Hidden Valley, NT
September 3 - Oran Park, NSW
September 24 - Betta Electrical 500, VIC
October 15 -- Super Cheap Auto 1000, NSW
November 5 - Lexmark Indy 300, QLD
December 17 - Phillip Island, VIC

For more information about the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup Australia, visit www.cupcar.com.au or www.porsche.com

-cupcar.au-

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Greg Murphy , Jim Richards , Craig Baird , Alex Davison , Anthony Tratt , Tony Quinn , Klark Quinn , Paul Freestone , Peter Fitzgerald , Ash Samadi , Jonathon Webb , Bryce Washington , John Kaias , David Reynolds , Marc Cini , Aaron Caratti , Dean Grant , Dean Fiore , Paul Cruickshank , David Russell , Phillip Island