CAST OF CARRERA CUP CHALLENGERS INCREASES For Carrera Cup Australia championship front runners Dean Fiore (Complispace/Advance Energy) and Aaron Caratti (Parklands on Bertram), Round Five at Sandown International Raceway this weekend marks a...
CAST OF CARRERA CUP CHALLENGERS INCREASES
For Carrera Cup Australia championship front runners Dean Fiore (Complispace/Advance Energy) and Aaron Caratti (Parklands on Bertram), Round Five at Sandown International Raceway this weekend marks a vital time in their title ambitions.
And they both know it.
While many drivers had breakthrough rounds at Barbagallo Raceway in Round Four, Fiore and Caratti -- who sit second and third respectively in the Championship -- saw their title ambitions slump with lower than expected finishes.
After the pair went into the Perth round with serious designs on the title, the Gold Coast's Craig Baird (ACER/Leading Solutions) skipped away to a handy championship lead after winning the round and is on the front foot for the rest of the year.
So the Midas 400 this weekend, where Carrera Cup Australia will support the V8 Supercar Championship Series, marks the most important round so far for the West Australian pair.
Melbourne based Fiore, who sits 93 points behind Baird, said recovering from his poor last round was just a matter of attitude.
"Obviously I'm keen on making amends for the last round," he said.
"Compared to Perth I need to have a bit more of a clear mind and get back to the way I focussed in the lead up to the first three rounds.
"I've done well in the past at Sandown so I know I have the pace, so if I keep a cool head, qualify well and stay close to the front anything can happen."
Caratti's first goal is to finish all three races, the importance of which was made clear in Perth when he was forced to retire while leading Race Two.
"I need a really big points haul if I'm to keep myself in the chase for the title and for that to happen you can't afford to have any DNFs," he said.
"I've been pretty quick at Sandown in the past so there's no reason why I can't be again and I'll be aiming for top three finishes all weekend."
Paul Stokell (Sherrin Rentals) returns to Carrera Cup for the first time this season and the former two-time Nations Cup and Australian Driver's Champion -- and Carrera Cup race winner -- adds to the growing list of drivers who will challenge for maximum points.
Brisbane's David Russell (Boom Logistics) finished second overall in Perth and after his performance at Sandown last year is full of confidence heading into the event.
"I had a look at how a few of the other guys went last year and of this year's field I was the top qualifier at Sandown," he said.
"I'd like to think I've got the pace to be on the front row and if I'm on the front row then I'm on my way to getting race wins."
Carrera Cup rookie James Moffat (Bob Jane T-Marts/Trueline) finished third overall in Perth and with him having seat time at Sandown recently he should be right on the pace.
"This weekend is all about building on what happened in Perth," he said.
"I still need to find at least a tenth of a second more consistently, but in Perth I proved I can match it up the front of Carrera Cup so if I can keep that momentum going another strong result will be on the cards."
Sydney's Barton Mawer (No Fear) left Perth with fourth overall - his best ever Carrera Cup result - and the current Michelin Rookie of the Year leader is keen to back it up in Melbourne.
"The bar has been raised for me after our performance in Perth and I would love to repeat it this weekend," he said.
"But it's all about being competitive and consistent and if I can do that the weekend should be a good one."
Carrera Cup Australia will take to the Sandown track for practice on Saturday, before qualifying and Race One on Sunday.
Races Two and Three will be held on Monday, with Race Three shown nationally on Channel 7 at 3pm. (Check local guides)
Highlights of Round Five will screen on Channel 7 on June 21.