Young guns push veteran all the way at Eastern Creek Marshall and Leahey score podiums as the gap to Richards closes He may have won both races at Eastern Creek Raceway today to complete his second round win in a row in the Carrera Cup, but...
Young guns push veteran all the way at Eastern Creek
Marshall and Leahey score podiums as the gap to Richards closes
He may have won both races at Eastern Creek Raceway today to complete his second round win in a row in the Carrera Cup, but Jim Richards now has some serious competition from the young guns of the all-Porsche series.
Richards took two more wins today to take a clean sweep of the round following his victory in Saturday's opening race, but was joined on the podium by 25-year-old Queenslander Marcus Marshall and Orange's Tim Leahey.
Marshall, who took his first Carrera Cup pole position on Saturday, finished second in all three races, while Leahey worked his way onto the podium by virtue of taking a pair of thirds in today's two action-packed races.
"I'm pleased to finish the races without any damage," said Leahey, who is working hard on securing a budget for remaining rounds of the series.
"We've learnt a hell of a lot more about the car and we came away with no damage, which is far better than what happened to us in round one at Phillip Island."
Both races featured plenty of close racing, as well as several appearances of the Safety Car to remove stranded or damaged cars from the side of the 3.93-kilometre layout.
The day's first race (the second for the weekend) saw Richards and Marshall lead away, though the latter slipped back to fourth after a failed attempt at taking the lead. While he fought back to take second, the Safety Car was kept busy throughout the race.
It made its first appearance on lap 2 when Leahey's team-mate, Roger Oakeshott, became stuck in the gravel trap at turn one, only to again re-appear on lap 6 when the third Murphy Racing car of Peter Hill and Scott Shearman made contact and were both beached at Corporate Hill.
"I hit the anchors to try and miss him (Hill) as he pulled back across me (having run wide at the previous corner) but he clipped my right front wheel," said Shearman.
"It damaged the lower control arm and did some fender damage but we continue to have our problems with qualifying in lowly positions, which we want to fix for Winton."
Dirt and debris on the circuit at turn one then caught out Rodney Jane in spectacular fashion. The Victorian, who had been having a great weekend after qualifying in the top 10, was lucky not to roll his Bob Jane T-Marts Porsche after spearing through the gravel trap at the exit of the high-speed turn one.
His car launched onto two wheels and very nearly rolled after hitting an uneven patch of area at the end of the gravel trap, before crashing down and damaging it enough for Jane to be a retirement.
"I thought I was going to be alright once I got through the sand but it went up and I was looking out the window at the ground!" said Jane.
His team repaired his car, though it dropped fluid on the warm-up lap of race three, prompting him to pull off the circuit. The same fluid meant that drivers were forced to be careful of their racing lines in the final race, however it caught out Matt Coleman on the opening lap.
The 2002 Porsche Cup champ, who had finished a strong fourth in race two, slid wide on the exit of turn three, receiving a slight tap from the following Peter Fitzgerald that sent Coleman's #62 car spinning off the circuit. He was hit by the following cars of Tony Quinn and Jonathon Webb, with all three instant retirements.
"I got a bit loose at turn three and Fitzy gave me a tap," reported Coleman.
"He turned me around and it was game over. It's a disappointing end to the weekend with a lot of damage to my car."
Things were rosier for Coleman's team-mate James Dutton. The Mirage Series graduate was the big mover over the two races, moving from 20th to 11th in race two and working his way into a career-best sixth spot in the final race.
"I was just pushing on," said the Melbourne-based driver.
"It's a good result. Getting more time in these cars is good and I'm getting more and more used to how to drive them quickly and that's showed in the results today."
Fitzgerald was demoted by Marshall in the championship standings from second to third overall, having made a terrible start in race two due to clutch failure off the grid. The ENJO-backed driver drove back to finish fifth, and ended up fourth in the final race.
"I wasn't aware it was the clutch, I thought it was the synchros in the gearbox but at the end of the race in the pits I couldn't get it into first gear," said Fitzgerald, whose team changed the clutch in time for race three in just over an hour.
Kiwi Kevin Bell again flew the flag for the four-car International Motorsport squad headed up by Lyall Williamson, taking sixth in race two and fifth in race three.
He managed to work his way into second place on the opening lap with a flying manoeuvre around the outside of his bottlenecked rivals, but couldn't quite keep the pace up and lost a handful of positions during the 10-lap distance.
He was better placed than team-mate Paul Pedersen, who missed the final race due to illness. The LakeSawn Lumber-backed driver was hit by a virus, which left him spending the majority of race day in the circuit's medical centre.
Round three of the Carrera Cup will be held at Winton Motor Raceway on May 23-25.