AUS: Albert Park preview

Albert Park to Unveil Porsche Stars of Future The Australian Carrera Cup will unveil its most talented crop of young drivers yet when the all-Porsche category hits the Foster's Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park starting this Thursday. Ten...

Albert Park to Unveil Porsche Stars of Future

The Australian Carrera Cup will unveil its most talented crop of young drivers yet when the all-Porsche category hits the Foster's Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park starting this Thursday.

Ten of the 30 Porsche GT3 911 drivers are 30 years of age or under, and all have the talent and skill to feature in the top third of the field.

While well-known, experienced and highly credentialed drivers such as Jim Richards, Peter Fitzgerald, Charlie O'Brien and Paul Pedersen will be forces, it is the youth brigade that has Carrera Cup officials licking their lips in anticipation.

The generation next and, in some cases, generation now contingent includes:

Matt Halliday (International Motorsport NZ) from Auckland; Jonathon Webb (TEKNO Autosports) from Glenhaven in Sydney; Klark Quinn (Team VIP Petfoods) from the Gold Coast; Fabian Coulthard (Greg Murphy Racing/Team Braun) from Auckland; Matt Coleman (Matt Coleman Racing/Red Bull) from Donvale in Melbourne; Troy Hunt (MOG Sport) from Wiseman's Ferry in Sydney; Allan Simonsen (Mark Coffey Racing/Barry Plant Doherty Real Estate); James Cressey (Team VIP Petfoods) from Auckland; Alex Davison (Greg Murphy Racing) from Hawthorn in Melbourne; and Marcus Marshall (TEKNO Autosports/AEG Power Tools) from the Gold Coast

Halliday, 24, is in top form after finishing runner-up to Jim Richards in the recent six-round Trans Tasman GT3 Cup series, including numerous race wins. He has also built up an impressive racing CV with a history in Formula Ford, Formula Holden, Indy Lights, Infinity Pro Series in the US, Formula Renault in Europe and GT3 racing.

Webb, 20, is only in his third season of professional motor racing after claiming rookie of the year honours in his inaugural year in 2002 in the Porsche Cup and then finishing eighth overall in last year's Carrera Cup. He demonstrated his driving prowess at Sandown last year when he finished second for the round in an outstanding three-race display.

Quinn, 21, only raced in four of the nine Carrera Cup rounds last year but did enough in this short time to finish 13th in the overall standings and announce himself to the category as a legitimate contender. His best results came in the high pressure surrounds at Bathurst and Indy placing fourth at both rounds.

Coulthard, 21, is a former New Zealand Formula Ford champion in 2002 and accrued invaluable experience in last year's British Formula Renault series. He also has a win at Albert Park previously, after winning the Formula Ford support category in 2002.

Coleman, 30, is a former Porsche Cup champion who placed sixth overall in last year's Australian Carrera Cup. He has just secured sponsorship from Red Bull to campaign his 2003 GT3 911 at the Grand Prix.

Hunt, 22, is a six-time Australian Go-Kart champion with an eighth place finish in the 2001 World Championships. He has secured a ride with Geoff Morgan's MOG Sport team for the Grand Prix after successful testing at Oran Park recently.

Simonsen, 25, is a former Scandinavian Formula Ford champion, British GT front runner, Formula 3000 test driver and V8 Supercar endurance driver with Garry Rogers Motorsport.

The youngest driver in the field is 20-year-old Cressey. The 2001 New Zealand Formula Ford champion finished fourth in the Australian Formula 3 series in 2002 and improved another place in that series last year.

Davison, 24, will be one of the favourites for race victories at Albert Park with his 100 percent success rate in the Australian Carrera Cup last year. He claimed six race wins with three at Albert Park at then three at the final round at Eastern Creek, after finishing a credible fifth in the German Carrera Cup series.

Marshall, 26, is also expected to feature prominently after achieving runner-up status in the inaugural Australian Carrera Cup last year and taking out the Michelin Rookie of the Year and Driver to Europe Awards.

Having his first Australian Carrera Cup hit-out will be Kiwi Halliday who is expecting a tough but promising time at Albert Park.

"After getting used to the GT3 over the Trans Tasman series in NZ, I'm expecting the Melbourne races to be good for me," said Halliday.

"A field of such competitive young drivers will prove exciting for spectators although a few experienced hands like Jim Richards will keep us all honest.

"Coming from a single seater background has been quite an adjustment but in saying that, I'm sure it helps me adapt new techniques for the future."

The Carrera Cup is the most successful 'one make' championship in the world with 30 close-to-identical Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars built by Porsche' racing arm in Weissach, Germany set for racing at the Foster's Australian Grand Prix. 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.

The Michelin Carrera Cup at Albert Park begins with practice, qualifying and race one on Thursday March 4, race two on Friday March 5, race three on Saturday March 6 and race four on Sunday March 7. All races will be contested over eight laps of the 5.303km street circuit.

Round one of the 2004 Australian Carrera Cup will be held at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide from March 18 to 21 with the final round (Round Nine) to be held at the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast from October 21 to 24.

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Greg Murphy , Marcus Marshall , Jim Richards , Fabian Coulthard , Alex Davison , Garry Rogers , Allan Simonsen , Klark Quinn , Peter Fitzgerald , Matt Halliday
Teams Garry Rogers Motorsport