Veteran driver Jim Richards today provided Volvo with its first pole position in the BOC Gases Australian Super Toring Championship since the Swedish manufacturer entered the series in 1995.
The 50-year-old Melbourne-based New Zealander claimed pole position for both races in the opening round of the 1998 championship at Calder Park tomorrow after emerging fastest in the two qualifying sessions today. Richards clocked the best lap of 58.47-secs around the 2.3km circuit in the first session in his Tom Walkinshaw Racing-built works Volvo S40, and the time was 0.61-secs inside the race lap record set by Queenslander Paul Morris in a BMW 320 in 1997. In the second qualifying session, five-times Bathurst 1000 champion Richards recorded 58.79-secs. Richards earned two championship points for his qualifying performances.
Victorian Cameron McConville, third in the 1997 championship, qualified second in both sessions and will join Richards on the front-row in the two races. McConville's team-mate Brad Jones and Queensland's Greenfiled Mowers Racing BMW driver Cameron McLean will start on the second row in the two races after qualifying third and fourth in both sessions. McLean was the leading Independents Cup driver. NSW's Ron Searle, who was making his Super Touring debut at Calder Park, has withdrawn from the meeting after damaging his Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry in a crash in the second session. Searle was not injured in the incident. The first race at Calder Park will be over 18 laps, and the second race will be 35 laps and include a compulsory pit-stop. The compulsory pit-stop is a new regulation in this year's championship.
JIM RICHARDS (Volvo Dealer Team S40):
"It's a boost for the Volvco team to win pole position, but the races tomorrow are more important. At this stage the pit-stop factor probably favours the Audis, although our team have been practising hard. We need good starts in both races."
CAMERON McCONVILLE (Audi Sport Australia A4):
"I locked up the brakes and went off the track in the first session, but apart from that there were no dramas. The Volvo is quick and we're having to drive the car hard - we have to brake as hard as we can and get on the power as fast as we can."
RON SEARLE (Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry):
"The crash happened at the end of the main straight. I hit the brakes down the left side where it's rough and bumpy - the car went left, I tried to straighten it, then it bit and went in. The left-front part of the car and unfortunately we can get it fixed for the races."
QUALIFYING TIMES - Session 1 (starting positions Race 1):
POS DRIVER CAR LAP TIME 1. J. Richards (Vic) Volvo Dealer Team S40 58.47-secs 2. C. McConville (Vic) Audi Sport Australia A4 58.81 3. B. Jones (NSW) Audi Sport Australia A4 59.09 4. C. McLean (Qld) Greenfield Mowers BMW 320 59.26 5. T. Newman (Qld) Starion Enterprises Peugeot 406 60.52 6. M. Adderton (NSW) Attitude Clothing Honda Accord 60.54 7. P. Hills (NSW) Knight Racing Ford Mondeo 60.94 8. R. Searle (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry 61.08 9. B. Tweedie (NSW) IBC Vauxhall Cavalier 61.66 10. D. Auger (Qld) Gun Racing Alfa Romeo 61.99
QUALIFYING TIMES - Session 2 (starting positions Race 2):</FONT>
POS DRIVER CAR LAP TIME 1. J. Richards (Vic) Volvo Dealer Team S40 58.79-secs 2. C. McConville (Vic) Audi Sports Australia A4 58.91 3. B. Jones (NSW) Audi Sport Australia A4 59.21 4. C. McLean (Qld) Greenfield Mowers BMW 320 59.91 5. T. Newman (NZ) Starion Enterprises Peugeot 406 60.57 6. M. Adderton (NSW) Attitude Clothing Honda Accord 60.83 7. R. Searle (NSW) Phoenix Motorsport Toyota Camry 61.13 8. P. Hills (NSW) Knight Racing Ford Mondeo 61.46 9. B. Tweeedie (NSW) IBC Vauxhall Cavalier 61.55 10. P. Pickett (NSW) Knight Racing Ford Mondeo 61.83