RICHARDS FINISHES WITH A FLURRY AT THE GRAND PRIX Jim Richards returned to familiar territory today, standing atop the podium after winning race one of the Michelin Carrera Cup at the Formula 1 Foster's Australian Grand Prix at Albert...
RICHARDS FINISHES WITH A FLURRY AT THE GRAND PRIX
Jim Richards returned to familiar territory today, standing atop the podium after winning race one of the Michelin Carrera Cup at the Formula 1 Foster's Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.
It wasn't without a challenge, as last year's Carrera Cup Rookie of the Year Fabian Coulthard led for most of the race before Richards' experience and cunning shone through.
While 2004 was the Davison -- Richards show in the Carrera Cup, this year could well be heading towards a Richards -- Coulthard sequel.
It all started this morning as Coulthard (Glenfords Tool Centres/Makita) looked set to claim pole position with a scorching lap of 2:01.8790, before Richards (OAMPS Insurance Brokers) pulled a rabbit out of the hat with a 2:01.7813 last lap in qualifying.
Then this afternoon in race one, Coulthard took the ascendancy off the line to lead Richards to the first corner with Charlie O'Brien (Peter Osborne Motorsport) and Jonathon Webb (Paul Cruickshank Racing) engaging in a great battle for third.
Unfortunately an off track excursion by Bryce Washington (ADRAD Radiators) at turn one sent his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car into a slide, and into Cameron McLean (Sherrin Hire Racing) who in turn clipped Rodney Jane (Bob Jane T-Marts). This incident forced the retirement of both Washington and McLean from today's race, and also brought out the safety car for two laps.
But at the head of the field, Coulthard was doing his utmost to keep Richards at bay, while O'Brien had Webb's Porsche large in his rear vision mirror.
With less than two laps to go in the eight-lap journey, Richards found a path past his younger rival and took the first Porsche checkered flag of the season.
Twenty-one-year-old Webb is delivering on the promise he showed last year with an impressive podium finish, managing to overtake one of the most difficult campaigners to overtake in O'Brien.
Porsche newcomer Luke Youlden (Team VIP Petfoods) improved as the day went on to place fifth, ahead of Porsche veteran Peter Fitzgerald (Abcor, Acer) with another Carrera Cup debutant Alan Gurr (Glenfords Tool Centres/Hitachi) in seventh.
Back atop the podium, Richards said he was determined to stay there but knows that Coulthard and Webb will be forces to reckon with in 2005.
"We had a lean year last year so this is a very good start," said Richards. "Fabian will have his fair share of wins this year with his ability, and hopefully Jonathon Webb will as well. It's going to be another tough racing season."
Coulthard wasn't disappointed with having victory and pole taken from his grasp at the death.
"It's great to race with Jim -- you certainly know the race isn't over until the checkered flag," said Coulthard. "This is a non championship event, and while it is still important in our preparations, our main concern is to not put the car into the fence."
Race two of the Michelin Carrera Cup at the Formula 1 Foster's Australian Grand Prix will be held tomorrow, Friday March 4 at 5.05pm. Peter Fitzgerald will also be giving an educational overview of his Porsche 911 GT3 as part of an Automotive School's Program in the Michelin Carrera Cup Paddock at 1.40pm.
The Carrera Cup is the most successful 'one make' championship in the world, and is the primary support category to the V8 Supercar Championship Series in Australia.
All cars in the Carrera Cup are developed and built by Porsche' racing arm in Weissach, Germany. With a top speed in excess of 300 kilometres per hour, the lightweight, high performance vehicles have a 400 horsepower, 6 cylinder Boxer engine which revs to 8000 RPM, producing a sound that is distinctly Porsche.