BAIRD BUILDS A BUFFER IN TITLE CHASE Although the race honours were shared today, Kiwi Craig Baird took out round three of the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin from Trans Tasman rival Alex ...
BAIRD BUILDS A BUFFER IN TITLE CHASE
Although the race honours were shared today, Kiwi Craig Baird took out round three of the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin from Trans Tasman rival Alex Davison.
Baird (Team VIP Petfoods) won two of the three races this weekend in the all-Porsche championship with Davison (Glenfords Tool Centres/DeWalt) returning to the front end earning a race win himself.
With the 22 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup drivers facing stifling conditions in Australia's 'top end', it was an ex-pat Kiwi that was up to the task to stand on the top rung of the podium.
After three races, Baird won the round outright from Davison with Jim Richards (OAMPS Insurance Brokers) producing a fighting third ahead of 20-year-old dynamos Ian Dyk (Juniper Racing) and David Reynolds (Bob Jane T-Marts).
The round win enabled Baird to stretch his lead in the championship after three of eight rounds to 108 points from Richards with Davison another 35 points further back.
"It's great to come away with another round win," said Baird. "It was a tough weekend in the heat and with Alex (Davison) breathing right down my neck, and another five or so guys right there capable of winning.
"The important thing for me is to keep building points and put the pressure on the other guys to narrow the gap."
In race two this morning, Baird and Davison continued their duel for superiority into the first few turns. Baird won the sprint to turn one but by turn five down the back of the circuit, Davison had made a fantastic passing manoeuvre to hit the lead.
The Aussie kept the Kiwi at bay over the remainder of the 15 lap race to even the ledger heading into the final race of round three.
Davison's team mate Jonathon Webb (Glenfords Tool Centres / Makita) suffered a setback in his title aspirations early in race two after being given a drive-through penalty after an incident with Dean Fiore (Landscape Developments). Despite some hard charging through the race, Webb finished a disappointing 16th.
Fiore's bad luck continued. Although he rejoined the race after the Webb incident, the WA rookie star broke a gear lever and did not finish putting an end to his podium chances this weekend.
Davison set a new Porsche race lap record of 1:10.0091 on his way to the win from Baird with Richards third, young flyer Dyk fourth and last year's Formula 3 national champion Aaron Caratti (Firepower) in fifth.
In race three in hot and sunny afternoon conditions, Baird once again won the race to the first turn and was never headed over the 15-lap journey despite plenty of pressure from Davison and the hard charging Reynolds.
Reynolds will celebrate his 21st birthday tomorrow knowing that he put in a mammoth performance to rise from 22nd on the grid in race one to third by the finish of race three -- making up 19 positions over three races.
The oldest driver in the field Richards continued his consistent racing to place fourth fending off a challenge by the youngest driver in the field Dyk.
Caratti finished off his most consistent round yet in the series with a sixth placing, following on from a seventh and a fifth in race one and two respectively.
Tony Quinn (Team VIP Petfoods) was blasted into performing today and led home the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge for the leading privateer driver over 30 years of age.
Quinn was struck by a fire cracker that went awry last night during Territory Day celebrations in Darwin, hitting him in the chest and burning a hole in his Team VIP Petfoods polo shirt.
Despite some minor burn marks, Quinn hit the track today like a fire cracker himself and finished ahead of other TAG Heuer-eligible drivers John Kaias (Abcor) and Ash Samadi (ROOCK).
Reynolds took a consolation prize for the round by winning the Mobil1 Hard Charger for making up the most number of grid positions over the three races, and he currently leads the standings in this award after three rounds.
David Wall (Glenfords Tool Centres/Hitachi) hit the lead in the Michelin Rookie of the Year race from Fiore and David Russell (Boom Logistics/Sherrin Hire).
Round four of the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup is next on the calendar to be staged at Oran Park Raceway in Sydney from August 11 to 13.