AUS: Debutants to spice up season opener

DEBUTANTS SPICE UP MICHELIN CARRERA CUP AT GRAND PRIX Five potential Carrera Cup stars of 2005 will make their racing debuts in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at next week's Formula 1 Foster's Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park...


Five potential Carrera Cup stars of 2005 will make their racing debuts in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car at next week's Formula 1 Foster's Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne.

Much interest will surround the performances of the new 'fast five' during the three non-championship races to be staged at Albert Park before the official Carrera Cup season gets underway two weeks later at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.

Twenty-three Porsches will take to the Albert Park circuit for the Michelin Carrera Cup which will feature Practice, Qualifying and Race 1 on Thursday March 3, Race 2 on Friday March 4, and Race 3 on Saturday March 5 which will be telecast live on Network Ten.

From eldest to youngest in the 'fast five' debutants: 37-year-old Cameron McLean will line up with the new Sherrin Hire Racing outfit; 27-year-old Luke Youlden joins the three-car Team VIP Petfoods; Alan Gurr, 23, and Ian Dyk, 19, will campaign for the Glenfords Tool Centres-backed Greg Murphy Racing; while 19-year-old David Reynolds starts his Porsche career with Sonic Motor Racing.

All five drivers are touted as potential frontrunners in the Carrera Cup either in 2005 or 2006, to challenge current contenders Jim Richards (OAMPS Insurance Brokers), Fabian Coulthard (Glenfords Tool Centres), Peter Fitzgerald (Abcor/Acer), Klark Quinn (Team VIP Petfoods) and Jonathon Webb (Paul Cruickshank Racing).

Brisbane-based McLean, who has compiled a competitive V8 Supercar history including a second at the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 with Stone Brothers Racing last year, is eagerly awaiting his new challenge for 2005.

"The main priority down at Albert Park is to bring a straight car home for Sherrin Hire Racing," said McLean.

"Like the other new guys, it's a chance to learn a bit about these cars especially in race trim. We're going out to Morgan Park Raceway (Warwick, Qld) before then to give the car a shakedown and get more of a feel for the Porsche."

Youlden comes into the Grand Prix on a high following the announcement that he will be one of the new endurance drivers at Stone Brothers Racing this year, to partner either series champion Marcos Ambrose or Russell Ingall at Sandown and Bathurst.

"It was fantastic to land the enduro drives with the champion V8 Supercar team in Stone Brothers Racing, and to join Team VIP Petfoods for the Carrera Cup, based only a couple of kilometres from SBR," said Youlden.

"I haven't done many laps in a Porsche yet, but hope to get a few in today with the team at Queensland Raceway. I still want to be as quick as possible next weekend, but will be using it more as a learning weekend."

The youngest in the Carrera Cup is 19-year-old Dyk from West Pennant Hills in Sydney, last year's third placegetter in the Australian Formula 3 Championship.

"The Greg Murphy Racing team is having its first test day of the year today, and I'm very much looking forward to spending some time with Fabian (Coulthard) as he was in a similar position to me last year," said Dyk.

"Being a non-championship round next week relieves a bit of pressure, and gives me a good opportunity to go out and just learn the ropes. There is certainly no better team to learn off than GMR."

Just two months older than Dyk is reigning Australian Formula Ford champion Reynolds from Albury in NSW.

"We're using the Grand Prix as an introduction into the category, as we only got the car two weeks ago," said Reynolds.

"It will be a quick education, as I've really only had five laps in Fabian Coulthard's car last year. I know to prepare for much more power in the Porsche, and get used to sitting in the left hand side.

"The Carrera Cup is ideal for me at this stage in my career. The television coverage it receives helps to attract sponsors, and people like to be associated with Porsche as a brand."

V8 Supercar driver Paul Morris' protege Alan Gurr, based on the Gold Coast, was a round winner in the Konica V8 Supercar series last year to showcase his talents.

"My main aim out of testing today and the Grand Prix is adapting to the Porsche, especially the braking with the ABS, the lighter pedals (than a V8 Supercar) and the gearbox," said Gurr.

"I've been told that the clutches and gearboxes are the biggest traps for the inexperienced Porsche driver, so that's a big focus of mine. The Grand Prix is shaping to be very important for me -- a new track, new car and new team."

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.

Practice -- 11.40am Thursday
Qualifying -- 1.55pm Thursday
Race 1 (8 Laps) -- 4.25pm Thursday
Race 2 (8 Laps) -- 5.05pm Friday
Race 3 (8 Laps) -- 3.30pm Saturday

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Marcos Ambrose , Greg Murphy , Russell Ingall , Jim Richards , Fabian Coulthard , Paul Morris , Luke Youlden , Cameron McLean , Klark Quinn , Peter Fitzgerald , Alan Gurr , Ian Dyk , David Reynolds , Paul Cruickshank