AUS: Clipsal round one preview

A YEAR OF 'FAB'ULOUS PROGRESS MARKED IN ADELAIDE A year ago at the Clipsal 500, Fabian Coulthard was regarded as an emerging talent in Australian motorsport, debuting in round one of the Carrera Cup. His team Greg Murphy Racing believed he ...

A YEAR OF 'FAB'ULOUS PROGRESS MARKED IN ADELAIDE

A year ago at the Clipsal 500, Fabian Coulthard was regarded as an emerging talent in Australian motorsport, debuting in round one of the Carrera Cup.

His team Greg Murphy Racing believed he could secure a few podium finishes through the season, as team mate Alex Davison and Porsche master Jim Richards battled for series supremacy.

A year down the track at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, and Fabian Coulthard reflects on a season of massive progress -- a season which saw him secure an endurance drive in a V8 Supercar, win the Michelin Porsche Driver to Europe and Michelin Rookie of the Year awards, and now lay out a challenge to Richards and company for 2005 Carrera Cup honours.

Coulthard, backed by Glenfords Tool Centres and Makita, will be a feature in round one of the 2005 Australian Carrera Cup to be held at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide next week from March 17 to 20.

Then for his efforts in winning the Michelin Porsche Driver to Europe award last year as the leading driver under 30 years of age, Coulthard will jet out at the end of this month for a Porsche Supercup test in Europe, either in Liepzig or Hockenheim in Germany.

This test will precede his drive in the Porsche Supercup round in Indianapolis on June 19, as part of a factory-backed Porsche team. The Porsche Supercup is a support category to the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

What a year for the now 22-year-old Kiwi who accrued 19 race podiums from 26 race starts in last year's Carrera Cup, as well as one pole position, two race wins, six round podiums from nine rounds, and an overall championship standing of third.

It was the Clipsal 500 last year that Coulthard made his first mark in the Australian Carrera Cup, completing a treble of third placings behind Davison and Richards.

"2004 was a great developmental year, and now it's time to take it up another notch," said Coulthard.

"Everything about last year was a learning experience, so now I can take a whole heap more knowledge and experience into racing this season.

"I know the car. I know the tracks. So I don't have to spend as much time learning in those areas -- I can focus my attention on honing my race craft, concentration and lifting my level.

"Jim (Richards) is going to be very hard to beat once again, as will a number of new guys, but that will be a challenge for me.

"I can't wait to race around the Adelaide street circuit next week -- it's one of my favourites, and the atmosphere is fantastic."

Coulthard warmed up for the Clipsal 500 last weekend at the Carrera Cup Non Championship round at the Grand Prix, with three second-placings in three great duels with Richards.

The Clipsal 500 will also see another Porsche young gun James Cressey return to the Carrera Cup with Paul Cruickshank Racing. The 21-year-old Kiwi raced in six Carrera Cup rounds last year, pulling off a great podium finish at Queensland Raceway.

Cressey is also fond of the Clipsal 500 circuit, having finished fourth for the round last year.

Another driver who is looking forward to the Clipsal 500 is TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge champion Dean Grant, who had his best round result (sixth) and race result (fifth) last year in Adelaide.

Grant has just secured a new major sponsor, Aqua-Max Water Heaters, to campaign his 2003-spec Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car through the nine rounds in 2005.

Grant will lead the charges in this year's TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge -- a major award for Carrera Cup amateur drivers over 35 years in 2003-spec Porsches. He will face a stiff challenge in Adelaide from other contenders Tony Quinn (Team VIP Petfoods), Ash Samadi (Globe), James and Theo Koundouris (Supabarn Motorsports) and Marc Cini (ADAMCO).

Other hotly contested awards in 2005 will be the Michelin Porsche Driver to Europe for drivers under 30 years who have not driven in a Porsche Supercup or German Carrera Cup round; the Michelin Rookie of the Year for drivers who have not competed in more than six rounds of a Porsche racing series prior to 2005; the Fuchs Hard Charger for the driver who makes up the most amount of grid positions through the entire series; and the Ferodo Highest Placed New Zealand Driver.

Team VIP Petfoods drivers Luke Youlden and Klark Quinn, Glenfords Tool Centres-backed drivers Alan Gurr and Ian Dyk, last year's Formula Ford champion David Reynolds (Sonic Motorsport), the in-form Jonathon Webb as well as Cressey (Paul Cruickshank Racing) and Adelaide's own Bryce Washington (ADRAD Radiators) will ensure the Michelin Porsche Driver to Europe is a closely-fought award.

While Gurr, Dyk, Youlden, Reynolds, Washington and Cameron McLean (Sherrin Hire Racing) are all eligible for the Michelin Rookie of the Year.

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.

RACE SCHEDULE -- CARRERA CUP:
Practice 1 -- 11.25am Thursday
Practice 2 -- 5.15pm Thursday
Qualifying -- 11.35am Friday
Race 1 (12 Laps) -- 4.40pm Friday
Race 2 (18 Laps) -- 4.30pm Saturday
Race 3 (12 Laps) -- 9.40am Sunday

TELEVISION COVERAGE:
Race 1 of the Carrera Cup will be replayed during Network Ten's live coverage of the Clipsal 500 on Saturday March 19. Trackside on Network Ten will telecast Round 1 at the Clipsal 500 on Sunday March 27 from 2pm. TV One on TV NZ will telecast on Sunday May 15 from 3pm.

CARRERA CUP LAP RECORDS:
Qualifying -- Alex Davison -- 1:25.1754 - 2004
Race -- Alex Davison -- 1:25.3801 - 2004

-cupcar.com.au-

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Greg Murphy , Jim Richards , Fabian Coulthard , Alex Davison , Luke Youlden , Tony Quinn , Klark Quinn , Theo Koundouris , Alan Gurr , Ash Samadi , Jonathon Webb , Ian Dyk , David Reynolds , Marc Cini , Dean Grant , Paul Cruickshank