PORSCHE driver Jim Richards and Ferrari's Mark Noske will take to the Gold Coast Indy street circuit tomorrow with opposing missions but the same goal - to lead the Century Batteries GTP Nations Cup.

Going into the seventh and penultimate round at the Honda Indy 300, Richards already heads the national series with 155 points. Noske, who was the leader until round four, is 36 points behind but has the best opportunity since then to get back in front of the prestigious championship for exotic grand touring cars.

Three races instead of the usual two per round mean 46 points are available to a driver who can win pole position tomorrow and every event - and Noske says he'll be going for every one of them in his Ferrari F360 Modena Challenge.

"I'm absolutely rapt to be at Surfers Paradise, but I've got a big job ahead," said Noske, who last raced on the 4.5 km beachside track in a Formula Ford in 1995.

"Qualifying tomorrow is going to be critical. It's quite hard to overtake at Surfers, so you'll need to be on the front row of the grid to have a chance."

Richards, the current Surfers Paradise GTP champion with a history of successful performances on street tracks, said setting up his Porsche GT3 to ride the kerbs easily would be important in defending his series lead.

"It's a great track and I love the atmosphere. It's good to be back again this year, especially in the situation where we are leading the championship," he said.

Other strong contenders for the QR Citytrain GTP Nations Cup races on Friday, Saturday and Sunday include round-six winner Peter Fitzgerald (Porsche GT3), three-time Australian Gold Star champion Paul Stokell (Lamborghini Diablo SVR) and Geoff Morgan, driving a Dodge Viper.

MEGUIAR'S TOP MARQUES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP (after Rd 7): 1 Jim Richards 155, 2 Mark Noske 119, 3 Peter Fitzgerald 107, 4 Paul Stokell 88, 5 Peter Bradbury 70, 6 Mark Williamson 64.

TIMETABLE: Thursday: 12.20 pm - Practice (30 min.), 4.05 pm - Qualifying (30 min.); Friday 9.00 am - Race 1 (8 laps); Saturday 12.15 pm - Race 2 (8 laps); Sunday 10.45 am - Race 3 (6 laps). <pre>

(2000 Century Batteries GTP Nations Cup, Rd 7 of 8) 12-15 October, Honda Indy 300, Surfers Paradise


1 1 Jim Richards Porsche GT3 Yellow 2 3 Peter Fitzgerald Porsche GT3 Blue/Green 3 4 Mark Noske Ferrari F360 Challenge Red 4 6 Rusty French Dodge Viper ACR Black 5 7 Darcy Russell Dodge Viper ACR Black 6 10 Michael Downard Porsche GT3 White 7 11 Jamie Cartwright Toyota Supra RZ Silver 8 12 Geoff Morgan Dodge Viper ACR Silver 9 14 Peter Bradbury Porsche GT3 White/Orange 10 19 Ken Matthews Dodge Viper ACR Black 11 20 Ian Palmer Brabham Honda NSX White 12 21 Greg Keene Porsche GT3 White 13 23 Beric Lynton BMW M3R White 14 24 TBA Ferrari F360 Challenge Red 15 39 Drew Marget Porsche RSCS Black 16 42 Ric Bates Porsche 911RSCS White 17 43 Tony Quinn Porsche GT3 Yellow 18 44 Christian Jones Ferrari F360 Challenge Red 19 45 John Teulan Nissan Skyline GT-R Silver 20 55 Peter Floyd Ferrari F355 Challenge Red 21 63 Paul Mitolo Mazda RX-7 SP Red 22 79 Mark Zonneveld Dodge Viper ACR Blue 23 80 Mark Williamson Porsche GT3 Yellow 24 81 Takeshi Nakamaru Porsche GT3 Silver 25 83 Max Warwick Porsche GT3 Silver 26 91 Peter Harburg Porsche GT3 Red 27 666 Paul Stokell Lamborghini Diablo SVR Black