AUS: Hidden Valley round three preview

Craig Baird (VIP Petfoods) -- Baird has the early ascendancy in the championship after winning the first two rounds in Adelaide and Wakefield Park. The Gold Coast-based Kiwi has won five out the six races this season, and finished second to...

Craig Baird (VIP Petfoods) -- Baird has the early ascendancy in the championship after winning the first two rounds in Adelaide and Wakefield Park. The Gold Coast-based Kiwi has won five out the six races this season, and finished second to Davison in the only race he has been beaten. Baird has a comfortable 72-point lead over Richards and 137-point lead over Davison.

Jim Richards (OAMPS Insurance Brokers) -- Richards has been the quiet improver in the race for the overall championship. While much hype has been built around Baird and Davison, Richards has stayed clean and out of trouble and is starting to get his feel right in the new 997-based Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. Richards finished second at Wakefield Park after a third and two second placings in the three races.

Alex Davison (Glenfords Tool Centres / DeWalt) -- Davison will be eager to make inroads into Baird's lead at Hidden Valley after a poor result at Wakefield Park. A number of costly mistakes and mishaps in race one put an end to his podium chances in Goulburn but he did show much character to reach sixth by the end of race three. The Melbourne-based former series champion has good form at Hidden Valley, winning all three races in 2004 when Carrera Cup made its last visit to the Northern Territory capital.

David Reynolds (Bob Jane T-Marts) -- Like Davison, Reynolds suffered because of race one mishaps at Hidden Valley but recovered well for an overall seventh placing for the round. The youngster from Albury will be hoping for a result more similar to the Clipsal 500 when he stood on the podium. He has demonstrated the pace to challenge for race wins.

Jonathon Webb (Glenfords Tool Centres / Makita) -- Webb is the second member of the Paul Cruickshank Racing stable, with Davison, to sit in the top five. He is another youngster going places evidenced by his third placing in the championship last year including a debut round win at Eastern Creek. Webb finished the Wakefield Park round with his best race placing for the season to date -- 4th, so he is on the rise.

Ian Dyk (Juniper Development Group) -- Dyk is the big 'developer' in 2006. After finishing eighth overall last year, Dyk sits comfortably in sixth place. The youngest driver in the field finished fourth overall at Wakefield Park after placing third in the final race. He is starting to excel with his new team in 2006, Sherrin Motorsport, after a move from Sydney to Brisbane to join them a few months ago.

The Title Chase:

Leading into Round 3 of the championship this weekend, drivers and teams are vying for the prestigious Overall Championship in 2006 as well as a host of other awards. Here is an update:

Overall Championship: New Zealand is flying its flag proudly after two rounds. Kiwi Craig Baird has won both round one and two of the championship so far. Baird has built a 72-point margin over second placesitter and fellow Australian-residing Kiwi Jim Richards. With 60 points up for grabs for the winner of every race, Baird has that vital race buffer between him and Richards. The elder statesman of the field and 2003 series champion, Richards has built his season on consistency and gradual improvement. Unfortunately 2004 series champion Alex Davison suffered a number of setbacks at the Wakefield Park round which dropped him back to third in the standings. However Davison is an experienced driver who will chip away at the 137-point gap between him and Baird at the top. Young tyro David Reynolds sits in fourth position, only seven points behind Davison.

TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge: It's a topsy turvy race in the award for the privateer drivers on the latter side of 30 years of age. Dean Grant (Hankook Tyres) continues to look down on his rivals from the top perch -- a position he has held since the award was initiated in 2004. Grant has 300 points and leads John Kaias (Abcor) by 42 points with Rodney Jane (Bob Jane T-Marts) three points further back. Ash Samadi (ROOCK) is currently placed fourth while Paul Freestone (Star Track Express) made up for a disappointing first round with a win in the second round to sit fifth overall.

Michelin Rookie of the Year: Dean Fiore (Landscape Developments) is currently the leading rookie or newcomer in the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup. Fiore is 36 points ahead of David Wall (Glenfords Tool Centres / Hitachi) with another 12 points back to David Russell (Boom Logistics / Sherrin Hire) in third. Aaron Caratti (Firepower) and Daniel Pappas (Sherrin Motorsport) are tied for fourth a further 60 points back.

Mobil 1 Hard Charger: Although David Russell (Boom Logistics / Sherrin Hire) won round one and Alex Davison round two of the Mobil 1 Hard Charger award, Aaron Caratti (Firepower) and Peter Fitzgerald (Acer / Leading Solutions / Hitachi Data Systems) are joint leaders overall for making up the most number of positions in official championship races. Russell and Davison have both walked away with 20L of Mobil 1 engine oil, 20L of Mobil 1 gear oil and 20L of Mobil 1 degreaser, but are outside the top three overall. Caratti and Fitzgerald sit at the top on 22 from Rodney Jane (Bob Jane T-Marts) on 21.

Interesting Facts and Figures:

This is the third time that the all-Porsche racing series has been staged at Hidden Valley Raceway. In 2003, Richards took pole position and won two of the three races but an incident in race three cost him the round victory that eventually went to Tim Leahey. In 2004, Richards once again claimed pole position but Alex Davison took a clean sweep of race wins en route to the round victory.

A field of 22 drivers will race in the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 997) cars at Hidden Valley. This new model has enhanced aerodynamics - a new front section and a larger rear wing produces 40 percent more downforce than the previous 996 model. The six-speed sequential gearbox makes 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.

Craig Baird, Klark Quinn and Tony Quinn have recently returned from Germany where their four-driver VIP Petfoods team (including former Carrera Cup driver Kevin Bell) finished ninth out of more than 220 entrants in the famous Nurburgring 24-hour race. The quartet were driving the 996-based 911 GT3 Cup car that was campaigned in last year's championship.

Jonathon Webb has recently been testing the Glenfords Racing V8 Supercar at Queensland Raceway under the watchful eyes of the PCR team. Could he be partnering Marcus Marshall in the V8 Supercar enduros this season at Sandown and Bathurst.

Alex Davison, Craig Baird and Anthony Tratt have jumped out of their V8 Supercar seats from last year to get into the left-hand drive seats of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.

Ten of the Porsche drivers at Hidden Valley are under 30 years of age -- Jonathon Webb, Aaron Caratti, Bryce Washington, Daniel Pappas, David Reynolds, David Russell, David Wall, Dean Fiore, Ian Dyk and Klark Quinn.

There are seven newcomers to the category in 2006 - David Russell, Dean Fiore, Daniel Pappas, Aaron Caratti, David Wall, Anthony Tratt and John Kaias.

Eight drivers have contested each season of Carrera Cup in Australia since its introduction in 2003 - Jim Richards, Klark Quinn, Peter Fitzgerald, Rodney Jane, Dean Grant, Marc Cini, Jonathon Webb and Tony Quinn.

Adelaide's Bryce Washington won two of the three races at round five of the Speed Energy Drink Australian GT Championship at Mallala Raceway. Washington currently sits second overall in the standings.

Sherrin Motorsport's David Russell became the eighth rookie since the category's inception in 2003 to stand on the podium. Russell's third placing at Wakefield Park put him on the honour roll with Marcus Marshall (2003), Tim Leahey (2003), Fabian Coulthard (2004), James Cressey (2004), Luke Youlden (2005), David Reynolds (2005) and Ian Dyk (2005).

Craig Baird has moved up into fourth in the all-time lists for Most Round Wins and Most Race Wins in the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup. Baird has three round wins and sits behind Richards (10), Davison (7) and Coulthard (6). He also has accrued six race wins and is behind the same trio -- Richards (31), Davison (20) and Coulthard (18).

A number of new sponsors have been introduced to the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup for 2006. Mobil is the Official Automotive Lubricant Partner, MAN is the Official Transporter, Pilatus is the Official Executive Aircraft, ZF Sachs is the Official Suspension and Clutch Components Provider, Adidas is the Official Uniform Supplier, The Autograph Shop is the Official Memorabilia Provider, and Gatorade is the Official Sports Drink.

-cupcar.au

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Series Porsche
Drivers Tim Leahey , Marcus Marshall , Jim Richards , Rodney Jane , Fabian Coulthard , Craig Baird , Alex Davison , Anthony Tratt , Luke Youlden , Bob Jane , Tony Quinn , Klark Quinn , Paul Freestone , Peter Fitzgerald , Ash Samadi , Jonathon Webb , Bryce Washington , Ian Dyk , David Wall , John Kaias , Kevin Bell , David Reynolds , Marc Cini , Aaron Caratti , Dean Grant , Dean Fiore , Paul Cruickshank , David Russell