Rain Turns Carrera Cup Into Soapy Opera Today was the most challenging day to face the Australian Carrera Cup teams since the all-Porsche category's inception more than a year ago. The challenge was the fluctuating weather conditions...
Rain Turns Carrera Cup Into Soapy Opera
Today was the most challenging day to face the Australian Carrera Cup teams since the all-Porsche category's inception more than a year ago.
The challenge was the fluctuating weather conditions at Sydney's Eastern Creek International Raceway which played havoc with all drivers and their Michelin control tyres in both 12-lap races held today.
At the end of the day, Alex Davison (Greg Murphy Racing / Glenfords Tool Centre) claimed the round win but had his colours lowered in the two races by close rival Jim Richards (Jim Richards Racing / OAMPS Insurance Brokers) and the evergreen Peter Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald Racing / Acer, SEW Eurodrive).
For statisticians, today's result in round two of the championship was Davison's third consecutive round win in the Australian Carrera Cup following his win at the final round last year at Eastern Creek and the opening round this year at the Clipsal 500. The 24-year-old Melbournian's second and fifth places in race two and three respectively today were also his first defeats in Porsche championship races in Australia.
Current series champion Richards secured his first race win in his Porsche GT3 911 since the Lexmark Indy 300 in October, while Fitzgerald's win in race three was his second Carrera Cup victory adding to a race win at Sandown in September.
"It was an amazing day and definitely the most challenging I have faced in my career," said Davison.
"At one point we would be in quite a dry area, then at the other part of the circuit we'd be aquaplaning around a corner.
"In the end it is great to come away with the round win, but I hope we don't face too many days like this again for a while."
Both Richards and Fitzgerald agreed on the difficulty of the conditions, which caused some of the most dramatic racing seen in the all-Porsche category.
"You can't describe how much effort and concentration went into staying on the track and out of trouble," said Fitzgerald.
"We made a mistake in race two and were pleased to put that behind us in race three, and come away with a race win."
But with results aside, the weather told the story of the day.
As the drivers readied themselves for the green light in race two this morning, light rain began falling. Davison assumed the lead on the opening lap and set himself for another classic duel with Richards over the 12 laps.
All drivers had a task staying on the track with grip proving extremely difficult in the drizzly conditions on slick tyres. On lap three, Davison went on a slight off track excursion paving the way for Richards to hit the lead. After a number of other lead changes between the duo, Richards' experience came to the fore and he coasted to a three-second win over the young tyro.
Rising star Fabian Coulthard (Greg Murphy Racing / Team Braun) claimed his fifth consecutive third placing in only his fifth Carrera Cup championship race. New Zealand's Paul Pedersen (International Motorsport NZ / Lakesawn Lumber) improved a couple of places from race one to finish fourth ahead of Rodney Jane (Rodney Jane Racing / Bob Jane T-Marts) and Stephen Borness (Celerity Racing / Logiadd) who put in a career best performance for sixth.
There were a number of casualties from race two including Ross Rutherford (International Motorsport NZ / Woodstock Bourbon) who had a large shunt with the wall on lap 11 when vying for third position. Earlier an altercation between James Cressey (Team VIP Petfoods) and Troy Hunt (MOG Sport / Talent 2) caused the end of Hunt's race. Cressey was later given a 25-second penalty -- equivalent to a drive through penalty. Another prominent incident occurred on lap six with Klark Quinn (Team VIP Petfoods) spinning off the track and into the wall after a coming together with Pedersen. Quinn was taken to hospital for precautionary x-rays but returned to the track with a clean bill of health.
With rain falling on-and-off through the day and dark clouds hovering above, race three was declared a 'wet' race with all cars starting with Michelin control wet tyres.
Davison got the better of the start as amazingly the rain stayed away, but Richards pounced on lap three as the wet tyres started to play havoc in the dryer conditions. It became a battle for the drivers to stay on track, and a number of positional changes ensued.
As the rain came back across part of the track, drivers had to face both wet and dry areas which caused plenty of drama. The on-going tussle between Davison and Richards came to a head on lap nine, as Richards spun after the two Porsches nudged. Davison was hampered enough for Coulthard to hit the race lead for the first time in his Carrera Cup career, but this was shortlived.
As rain bucketed down on lap 10 all over the track, Coulthard ran wide giving the lead over to Fitzgerald. The rookie then spun, had an arm-wrestle with Pedersen for third and then struck the wall in the diabolic conditions.
The safety car came out with two laps to go, with Fitzgerald in the lead and taking his first checkered flag for 2004. In the amazing race, Peter Bradbury (Team MPS Security) finished second - his best result in his first year of Carrera Cup racing, while Rodney Jane (Rodney Jane Racing / Bob Jane T-Marts) had his first podium finish in his 2003 Porsche GT3 911.
Young Sydney driver Jonathon Webb (Tekno Autosports) placed fourth, while Davison crossed the line in fifth and Richards in ninth.
Davison's weekend proved the best as he won the round ahead of Richards with Fitzgerald taking third. In the overall championship, Davison retains his lead from Richards, Coulthard and Fitzgerald.
Round three of the Australian Carrera Cup will be held at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin from May 21 to 23. 'Trackside' on Network Ten will telecast round two of the Carrera Cup on Sunday April 18 at 2pm (check local guides).
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 racing in the Australian series. 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.