AUS: Bathurst preview

RICHARDS RETURNS TO THE MOUNTAIN IN CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup series leader Jim Richards returns to Mount Panorama from October 6 to 9 with a portfolio of seven Bathurst 1000 enduro victories and numerous race wins...

RICHARDS RETURNS TO THE MOUNTAIN IN CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD

Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup series leader Jim Richards returns to Mount Panorama from October 6 to 9 with a portfolio of seven Bathurst 1000 enduro victories and numerous race wins in his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.

The motor racing stalwart's most recent victory around the historic 6.213km circuit was the Carrera Cup round in 2003 en route to claiming the championship in its inaugural year in Australia.

This year the OAMPS Insurance Brokers-backed driver returns to the circuit he loves for the Super Cheap Auto 1000 with a number of goals in mind.

One goal is to win round seven of the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup and stretch his lead over Porsche rival Fabian Coulthard.

In doing so, Richards will put the disappointment of last year's Bathurst campaign behind him. He encountered clutch problems in race one forcing him to start from the rear of the field for race two. Then trying to make his way through the field, a rear-of-pack incident left Richards' car battered, out of the race, and out of championship contention.

A second goal is a high placing in the 1000km V8 Supercar enduro for HRT. Richards will be one of four active Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup drivers that will 'double up' at Bathurst.

The other three drivers are series second placesitter Coulthard (Glenfords Tool Centres/Makita), third placesitter Luke Youlden (Team VIP Petfoods) and seventh placesitter Cameron McLean (Sherrin Racing).

All harbour hopes and aspirations of high placings in the V8 Supercar race, but desperate to win the round in their Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.

Coulthard, 23, is only a meagre 12 points behind Richards in the championship after forgoing the championship lead at the previous round in Sandown.

Youlden, 27, is having a crackerjack battle with another young gun Jonathon Webb (Yachting Unlimited/Tekno Autosport) for third spot in the championship. Only 41 points separate the duo -- a margin that could potentially be made up in one race.

Webb produced his best result in 2004 at Bathurst securing second place for the round and is an even more seasoned and educated driver this year.

McLean and his Sherrin Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car have recovered magnificently from the spectacular crash he was involved in at Queensland Raceway less than three months ago.

The Queensland-based driver scored his first podium in his rookie year at the previous round in Sandown to move up to seventh in the championship. Since the accident McLean has finished fourth at Oran Park and then second at Sandown and is aiming to continue the progression at Bathurst.

A 22-Porsche field will contest round seven of the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup at the Super Cheap Auto 1000.

A 20-minute Practice session will be held on Thursday, Qualifying and Race 1 over eight laps on Friday, Race 2 over eight laps on Saturday and Race 3 over eight laps on Sunday morning prior to the start of the 1000km V8 Supercar enduro.

Another young gun makes his debut in a Porsche at Bathurst in the shape of 25-year-old Queenslander Shannon O'Brien.

The Formula Ford star replaces Alan Gurr in the Number 6 Glenfords Tool Centres / Hitachi -- backed Porsche for this one round while Gurr focuses solely on his V8 commitments.

O'Brien, the nephew of Porsche and touring car competitor Charlie O'Brien, is the reigning New Zealand Formula Ford champion and recently finished fifth in the Australian Formula Ford championship.

Fellow Queenslander Klark Quinn (Team VIP Petfoods) has fond memories of Bathurst. It was this time last year that Quinn, now 23, scored his first and currently only podium finish in the all-Porsche category.

In the battle that is the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge for drivers over 35 years in a 2003-spec Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, reigning champion Dean Grant (Aqua Max Water Heaters) has a comfortable lead.

With a TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph as the prize for the top three combatants, Grant has a 132-point lead over Tony Quinn (Team VIP Petfoods) with Theo Koundouris (Dare Shots / Supabarn Supermarkets) now in third place marginally ahead of Marc Cini (Hallmarc).

Off the track at Bathurst, the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup will be hosting a Champagne Business Breakfast at the circuit on Friday October 7 to raise money for official charity Gift 4 Dreams.

Gift 4 Dreams has launched the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup Scholarship this year for a Southern Queensland Institute of TAFE motorsport student, with the inaugural recipient 19-year-old Echuca student Jarrod Bowles. Gift 4 Dreams supports disadvantaged young Australians through sporting and cultural endeavours.

The Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup is the primary support category to the V8 Supercar Championship Series, and is seen as a direct pathway for young drivers into the top tier Australian motor racing series.

All cars in the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup are developed and built by Porsche's racing arm in Weissach, Germany. With a top speed in excess of 300 kilometres per hour, the lightweight, high performance vehicles have a 400 horsepower, 6 cylinder Boxer engine which revs to 8000 RPM, producing a sound that is distinctly Porsche.

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Fabian Coulthard , Luke Youlden , Cameron McLean , Tony Quinn , Klark Quinn , Theo Koundouris , Alan Gurr , Jonathon Webb , Shannon O'Brien , Marc Cini , Dean Grant