Two of the Australian Carrera Cup's leading rookies are keen to continue their rapid improvement curve and challenge the 'current big two' when round two of the series hits Eastern Creek International Raceway in Sydney this weekend, April 2 to ...
Two of the Australian Carrera Cup's leading rookies are keen to continue their rapid improvement curve and challenge the 'current big two' when round two of the series hits Eastern Creek International Raceway in Sydney this weekend, April 2 to 4.
Melbourne-based Kiwi Fabian Coulthard (Greg Murphy Racing / Team Braun, Mossimo) and Gold Coast-based Kiwi James Cressey (Team VIP Petfoods) showed great potential and car speed at round one at the Clipsal 500, and are eager to continue their rise up through the field.
The task ahead is for Coulthard and Cressey to use their ever-growing experience in the Porsche GT3 911 Cup cars, to find that extra lap speed to challenge series leader Alex Davison (Greg Murphy Racing / Glenfords Tool Centre) and reigning champion Jim Richards (Jim Richards Racing / OAMPS Insurance Brokers).
Twenty-one-year-old Coulthard, especially, has impressed all and sundry with his consistency and exciting passing manoeuvres at both the Grand Prix and Clipsal 500. With three third-placed finishes at the Clipsal 500, Coulthard currently sits third in the championship.
This year is the former New Zealand Formula Ford champion's first season driving a Porsche, and his early results have surprised many including himself.
"Being up there so quickly has been the biggest shock," said Coulthard. "It's been a big learning curve but our consistency has been really pleasing.
"The adaption to the cars has been a big surprise as well. My biggest problem has been the weight difference between the Porsches and the Formula Renaults and Formula Fords I have driven in the past, and also the braking points so there is still plenty of room for improvement.
"My plan is still directed towards rookie of the year which will require a lot of effort and decent results, as James (Cressey) will be very tough."
Cressey comes from a similar racing background to Coulthard. The 20-year-old and youngest driver in this year's Australian Carrera Cup was also a New Zealand Formula Ford champion. He won the Class 2 title at 14 and then the Class 1 title at 16 in 2000, the year before Coulthard took the crown.
In Adelaide, Cressey was encouraged by his performance and lap times in race three, placing fourth for the race and clocking a best lap time of less than half a second from the winner Davison.
While a high placing in the overall championship is a high priority, Coulthard and Cressey will also be at the pointy end of the field in the Michelin Rookie of the Year and Michelin Porsche Driver to Europe stakes. The Rookie of the Year award rewards drivers in their first season of Porsche racing, while the Driver to Europe award will be presented to the highest placed driver under 30 years of age who hasn't driven in a European Porsche series.
The man-to-beat in the overall championship at the moment is Davison who won all three races in Adelaide, won the three races at the final round of the championship at Eastern Creek last year and holds the Carrera Cup race lap record at the Sydney circuit.
Richards also has a claim on Eastern Creek and reason to rise to Davison's challenge. He was the round victor this time last year taking a trifecta of race wins around the 3.93km Eastern Creek circuit.
After experiencing an unfortunate tyre puncture in Adelaide, Peter Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald Racing / Acer, SEW Eurodrive) will be hoping the racing gods are on his side in Sydney. The Australian motor racing veteran was sitting fourth for the round before having to pit with the puncture sending him to the rear of the field in race three, and ultimately fifth for the round.
Fitzgerald had three third-placings in the six Carrera Cup races at Eastern Creek last year, and is confident of a podium finish this weekend.
Eastern Creek will also see the return of local 20-year-old Jonathon Webb (Tekno Autosports) who was a top-10 finisher in the 2003 championship but missed the opening round in Adelaide.
Other local drivers at Eastern Creek include Stephen Borness (Celerity Racing / Logiadd) from Balmoral, Peter Bradbury (Team MPS Security) from McMahons Point, Ash Samadi (Globe Racing) from Bondi and Troy Hunt (MOG Sport / Talent 2) from Wiseman's Ferry.
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 set for racing at Eastern Creek. 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.
Round two of the 2004 Australian Carrera Cup at Eastern Creek begins with practice on Friday April 2, qualifying and race one on Saturday April 3, and race two and three on Sunday April 4. All races will be contested over 12 laps of the 3.93km anti-clockwise racing circuit.
'Trackside' on Network Ten will telecast round two of the Carrera Cup on Sunday April 18 at 2pm (check local guides).