HOT HOUSE CONDITIONS CONFRONT DRIVERS IN WRIGHT PATTON SHAKESPEARE CARRERA CUP As track temperatures soared in Australia's 'Top End' to 44 degrees Celsius, series leader Craig Baird turned up the heat on his rivals after winning race one of...
HOT HOUSE CONDITIONS CONFRONT DRIVERS IN WRIGHT PATTON SHAKESPEARE CARRERA CUP
As track temperatures soared in Australia's 'Top End' to 44 degrees Celsius, series leader Craig Baird turned up the heat on his rivals after winning race one of the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup at Hidden Valley Raceway today.
Gold Coast-based Kiwi Baird (Team VIP Petfoods) was victorious in the 15-lap race from former series champion and polesitter Alex Davison (Glenfords Tool Centres / DeWalt), after the duo fought doggedly in the Darwin heat.
The day started well for Davison who put his Glenfords-backed 997-type Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car on pole for the third consecutive time this season.
Baird joined Davison on the front row of the grid for race one despite being only the third fastest driver in qualifying. Second fastest qualifier David Reynolds (Bob Jane T-Marts) was relegated to rear-of-grid for a technical infringement.
The relegation proved an important part of today's events for Baird who produced a great start to lead Davison to the first turn.
Ultimately Baird, a former V8 Supercar driver and reigning New Zealand GT3 Cup Challenge champion, was never headed over the full 15 laps however Davison came almighty close on at least three occasions.
As these dynamic drivers battled it out in front, another former Porsche champion Jim Richards (OAMPS Insurance Brokers) put in his standard controlled performance to consolidate third position.
Rookie flyer from WA Dean Fiore (Landscape Developments) held off a fierce challenge from another young gun Jonathon Webb (Glenfords Tool Centres / Makita) to secure fourth spot. Webb was riding high after receiving news this morning that he will co-drive the Glenfords Racing V8 Supercar in the upcoming endurance races at Sandown and Bathurst.
Ian Dyk (Juniper Racing) led home a trio of rising stars for sixth position with rookies Aaron Caratti (Firepower Racing) and David Russell (Boom Logistics / Sherrin Hire) filling places seven and eight respectively.
Ex V8 Supercar driver Anthony Tratt finished ninth while the big mover was Reynolds who put his qualifying drama behind him to make up 12 positions and place inside the top 10.
Reynolds also set a new Porsche race lap record at Hidden Valley with an electric 1:10.8498 -- although it was more than a second slower than Davison's pole time of 1:09.5227.
Unfortunately the news wasn't good for Klark Quinn (Team VIP Petfoods) who had to pit on the third lap with no driver-side door. In an amazing scene, Quinn's door came flying off after a pin worked its way loose and unsecured the carbon-fibre component.
Baird's win made it six race wins out seven starts in the all-Porsche series this year, and took his lead out to 84 points from Richards in second and Davison closing in third.
"That was a struggle out there today in the heat and it was quite slippery," said Baird. "The important thing was we won and pulled away by a few more points from Jim (Richards) and Alex (Davison).
"I was very happy with the start -- it is vital to get a good start in these races because everyone is so close and very hard to get past. Let's hope we can continue that on for the remaining two races tomorrow."
Round three of the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup at Hidden Valley Raceway will conclude tomorrow with Race 2 over 15 laps at 9.55am and Race 3 over 15 laps at 1.45pm.