Richards and Coulthard Hit Winning Form in Wet Winton Jim Richards returned to the winner's podium in the Australian Carrera Cup for the first time in 2004, breaking the six round streak of Porsche rival Alex Davison today at round six of the ...
Richards and Coulthard Hit Winning Form in Wet Winton
Jim Richards returned to the winner's podium in the Australian Carrera Cup for the first time in 2004, breaking the six round streak of Porsche rival Alex Davison today at round six of the championship at Winton Raceway.
The reigning series champion was victorious in race two this morning in the overcast and damp conditions, and finished second behind rookie Fabian Coulthard in race three this afternoon.
Richards' two second places and one race win was enough to give him the overall round win from Davison with Coulthard squeezing into third following his inaugural race win today.
"The win is what we are always striving for, and it is great to come away with a round win against such quality competition like Alex, Fabian and the addition of Matt (Halliday) this weekend," said Richards.
"Fabian drove fantastically to win race three, and now he has tasted that success and knows what it takes to cross the line first, he is going to be very hard to beat for the rest of the season."
Richards (Jim Richards Racing / OAMPS Insurance Brokers) took control of race two this morning with his best start of the season. He shot to the lead off the line and was never headed in the 10-lap dash.
Halliday (International Motorsport NZ / Lakesawn Lumber), Davison (Greg Murphy Racing / Glenfords Discount Tool Centres) and Coulthard (Greg Murphy Racing / Team Braun) had a great battle for position behind Richards, in finishing second, third and fourth respectively.
In the final couple of laps, the young Kiwi Halliday was closing fast on Richards and could have posed a threat if there was another couple of laps, but that was not to be.
Peter Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald Racing / Abcor, Acer) and Jonathon Webb (Tekno Autosports) also had a ding-dong fight for the entire 10 laps, with the experience of Fitzgerald prevailing for fifth position.
As the track dried out, the Michelin control 'dry' tyres were put on the 19 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars for race three.
Once again Richards was too good off the start, and led Halliday to turn one with Coulthard, Davison and Fitzgerald tucked in behind.
Between laps two and four, there were five changes in position between Halliday, Coulthard and Davison, with the Team Braun young gun assuming second place with eight laps to go.
After Coulthard closed the gap on Richards, he made his move on the Porsche champion on lap eight of 12 and took the lead. During his pursuit of the driver 35 years his senior, Coulthard set a lap record in a Porsche of 1:24.9483.
This time was actually close to half a second under the fastest time set by a V8 Supercar in their 300km race today.
For the remaining four laps, the Melbourne-based Kiwi who turns 22 on Wednesday kept Richards at bay and crossed the line for his first Carrera Cup race win in his first season of Porsche racing. Amazingly an off track excursion by Halliday on the second last lap when he was running third, gifted Coulthard another round podium finish for the season.
"I can only imagine what it would have been like if there were three dry races this weekend," said Coulthard.
"The car had plenty of speed evidenced by our lap times in race three, and it all finally came together to register a race win. This is fantastic, but I'm still learning and hope to take a few lessons from this round into our next one at Sandown."
Coulthard took the checkered flag in race three from Richards, Davison and Fitzgerald, also providing the first time in Australian Carrera Cup history that there were three different winners in three races at an official round (Davison, Richards, Coulthard).
However it was Richards that claimed the round win from Davison and Coulthard, ending the streak of Davison that started at the final round last year.
Witnessing Richards' round win were Gerd Schmid and Rolf Huber from Porsche's Race Vehicles department based in Weissach, Germany.
Schmid and Huber were in Winton over the weekend to overview the development of the Carrera Cup category in Australia.
Schmid was extremely impressed with what he and Huber witnessed. "This is an excellent product in Australia. The fields are good and the quality of the driving is exceptional.
"What is great is the combination of both the young and experienced drivers in the Carrera Cup. There is some wonderful talent here, and the more experienced ones like Jim Richards and Peter Fitzgerald have really boosted the growth of the category in Australia."
In the overall championship after six rounds, Davison leads on 960 points with Richards closing slightly on 849 points and Coulthard in third on 774 points.
In other Carrera Cup award categories this year, Coulthard has shot away in the Michelin Porsche Driver to Europe (for drivers under 30 years yet to drive in a European Porsche series) and the Michelin Rookie of the Year stakes (for drivers in their first season of Porsche racing). Dean Grant (Team Becks) continues to grow his lead over Tony Quinn (Team VIP Petfoods) in the Carrera Cup Challenge (for drivers 35 years or over in a 2003-spec 911 GT3 Cup car), while Quinn snr maintains the ascendancy in the Fuchs Hard Charger award (for the driver who passes the most cars).
'Trackside' on Network Ten will telecast round six of the Carrera Cup on Sunday August 1 at 2pm (check local guides).
The Australian Carrera Cup now moves to Sandown for the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 - round seven from September 10 to 12.
The Carrera Cup is the most successful 'one make' championship in the world with close-to-identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars built by Porsche' racing arm in Weissach, Germany set for racing in 2004. All cars have a top speed in excess of 300 kilometres per hour with a 400-horsepower, 6 cylinder Boxer engine which revs to 8000 RPM.