AUS: Round five preview

The fastest 'one-make' championship in the world makes its first trip to the sunshine state in 2004, with more than 20 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars set to scorch Queensland Raceway for round five of the Australian Carrera Cup from July 2 to 4. Much...

The fastest 'one-make' championship in the world makes its first trip to the sunshine state in 2004, with more than 20 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars set to scorch Queensland Raceway for round five of the Australian Carrera Cup from July 2 to 4.

Much of this year's Carrera Cup hype has been generated by the battle between last year's 'man to beat' Jim Richards (Jim Richards Racing / OAMPS Insurance Brokers) and this year's 'man to beat' Alex Davison (Greg Murphy Racing / Glenfords Tool Centre).

Turning the clock back 12 months, Richards was the dominant force in the all-Porsche category having already won nine of the 12 races up to round five at Queensland Raceway, including two of four round wins.

The seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner would go on to win all three races at Queensland Raceway, and continue his superiority for the rest of the season to claim the inaugural Australian Carrera Cup title.

Richards also showed a liking for Queensland events by winning all three races at the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast, taking his Porsche record in the sunshine state to six wins from six races.

Now winding the clock forward to the present, the Australian Carrera Cup has a new dominant force in the form of 24-year-old Aussie international Alex Davison.

The Melbourne-based driver has followed a similar path to the one Richards laid last year, by winning nine out of the 12 Carrera Cup races up until round five at Queensland Raceway.

However the young star, who has secured a full-time V8 Supercar drive next year, has won all four rounds so far this season with his more experienced adversary Richards finishing second on each occasion.

So come round five of the Australian Carrera Cup at Queensland Raceway next weekend, it will be a battle of 'Youth versus Experience' for the honour of winning in front of tens of thousands of Queensland fans.

While Davison and Richards lead the championship, the next two drivers also fit the bill of 'Youth versus Experience'.

Arguably one of the finest talents to emerge in Australian motor racing this year is 21-year-old former Kiwi Formula Ford champion Fabian Coulthard (Greg Murphy Racing / Team Braun).

Coulthard has had a stranglehold on the third podium position this year, with a combination of composure beyond his years and confidence to take on his more experienced rivals.

The Melbourne-based Kiwi currently leads both the Michelin Rookie of the Year and the Michelin Porsche Driver to Europe standings -- two annual awards recognising new and young talent in the Carrera Cup.

One of his great battles so far in 2004 has been with one of Australia's most decorated drivers in Peter Fitzgerald (Fitzgerald Racing / Abcor, Acer), who finished third last year in the inaugural season of Australian Carrera Cup racing.

The pair had a great stoush at the last round in Perth with youth reigning supreme, but experience could play a big part in the outcome at Queensland Raceway.

Queensland fans will have plenty to cheer about with local drivers James Cressey, Tony Quinn and Klark Quinn (Team VIP Petfoods) sitting sixth, seventh and eighth in the championship respectively and all capable of ending the weekend in the top five on their home track.

Cressey is another former Kiwi Formula Ford champion who is on the rise in the Carrera Cup, the primary support category and major driver stepping stone to the V8 Supercars.

The 20-year-old had a great start to the season by finishing fourth for the round at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, and is keen to make amends for a few poor rounds recently in front of the local Team VIP Petfoods supporters.

Tony Quinn has put in more miles than most on the Queensland Raceway circuit, and will be aiming to continue his consistent season using his local knowledge.

Son Klark is breathing down his neck in the championship standings and brings strong form to his home circuit. A fifth place finish for the round in Perth two weeks ago has whet Klark's appetite for another improved performance.

While Team VIP Petfoods will attract plenty of local support, another Queensland-based driver is sure to benefit from the 'local' factor. Recent series newcomer David Thexton (Thexton Racing / made the switch from V8 Supercars in Darwin two rounds ago, and has clocked up plenty of testing miles at Queensland Raceway to assist his transition.

Round five of the 2004 Australian Carrera Cup at Queensland Raceway begins with practice on Friday July 2, qualifying and race one over 14 laps on Saturday July 3, and race two and three over 14 laps on Sunday July 4.

'Trackside' on Network Ten will telecast round five of the Carrera Cup on Sunday July 11 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 set for racing in 2004. 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.

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Series Porsche
Drivers Greg Murphy , Jim Richards , Fabian Coulthard , Alex Davison , David Thexton , Tony Quinn , Klark Quinn , Peter Fitzgerald