AUS: Adelaide preview

Stellar Carrera Cup Cast Hits Adelaide For First Time The best Porsche drivers in Australia and New Zealand have warmed up at the Australian Grand Prix, and are now psyching up for a sizzling showdown at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide from March...

Stellar Carrera Cup Cast Hits Adelaide For First Time

The best Porsche drivers in Australia and New Zealand have warmed up at the Australian Grand Prix, and are now psyching up for a sizzling showdown at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide from March 18 to 21 -- round one of the Australian Carrera Cup series.

If the racing at Albert Park is anything to go by, there will be some fast and furious action in the all-Porsche GT3 911 category around the 3.22km Adelaide street circuit.

Two of the young guns of the 2004 Carrera Cup field, Melbourne's Alex Davison (Greg Murphy Racing / Glenfords Discount Tool Centres) and Auckland's Matt Halliday (International Motorsport NZ / Giltrap Prestige) shared two wins apiece at Albert Park. The two 24-year-olds are regarded as two of the best up-and-coming motor racing talent in Australia and New Zealand.

Davison has an eight out of 10 race win success rate in the Australian Carrera Cup. After winning all six races he contested in 2003, he won two races and finished second twice at Albert Park. His only losses were to Halliday, who started the season in fine form with a second placing in the six-round Trans Tasman GT3 Cup in New Zealand to last year's Carrera Cup champion Jim Richards.

"I expect the racing to be very tight this season, as the non-championship Carrera Cup races at the Australian Grand Prix showed," said Davison.

"I'm really looking forward to the street circuit in Adelaide and hopefully getting the official part of the season off on the right foot, following our success at Albert Park."

Richards (Jim Richards Racing / OAMPS Insurance Brokers) will be keen to start the 2004 season like he did last year when he won all three races in round one at Phillip Island. The Melbourne-based seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner had a consistent campaign at Albert Park with two second-placings and two third-placings, never far behind each race victor.

2004 will be the first year that the 400-horsepower Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars have featured at the Clipsal 500, with a record Adelaide crowd sure to be enthralled by the tight 'one make' racing.

The Australian Carrera Cup is the primary support category to the V8 Supercars, with three 12-lap races set for the season-opener of the nine-round all-Porsche championship.

While Davison, Halliday and Richards will certainly be fighting for race and round podiums, that equation can also include Matt Coleman (Matt Coleman Racing / Red Bull), Fabian Coulthard (Greg Murphy Racing / Team Braun) and Peter Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald Racing / ENJO, Acer).

Despite some early mechanical woes at Albert Park, 30-year-old Coleman put in a sensational final race to place third from 14th grid position.

In his first foray into Porsche GT3 racing, 21-year-old Coulthard excited fans and his Greg Murphy Racing team who selected the newcomer last month to drive a full season in the Carrera Cup. The former New Zealand Formula Ford champion and British Formula Renault driver qualified fourth and had two fourth-placings to showcase his potential.

One of the most experienced touring car professionals around, Fitzgerald, showed good car speed at Albert Park and is keen for a solid Adelaide showing as a platform to improve on his Carrera Cup series third placing last year.

The former Australian Production Car, Porsche Cup and GTP champion from Melbourne wore the bridesmaid tag in all three races at the opening round of the Australian Carrera Cup last year, and is determined to claim a race win in Adelaide.

"I really like Adelaide as a place to race. To do well there, you need to use the curbs but if you attack them too vigorously, you can encounter problems with your shocks," said Fitzgerald.

"We were always within one to three seconds of Jim Richards in each race at Phillip Island (opening round) last year, so another good start would be very welcome."

The Carrera Cup field at the Clipsal 500 will also feature one local driver in Adelaide surgeon Roger Oakeshott (Greg Murphy Racing / Team Braun). Albert Park was Oakeshott's first racing campaign since undergoing shoulder surgery, and he will be better for the outing despite some car damage experienced over the weekend.

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 at the Clipsal 500. 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.

Round one of the 2004 Australian Carrera Cup at the Clipsal 500 begins with practice and qualifying on Thursday March 18, race one on Friday March 19, race two on Saturday March 20 and race three on Sunday March 21. All races will be contested over 12 laps of the 3.22km street circuit.

'Trackside' on Network Ten will telecast round one of the Carrera Cup on Sunday March 28 at 2pm (check local guides).

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Series Porsche
Drivers Matthew Halliday , Greg Murphy , Jim Richards , Alex Davison , Phillip Island