AUS: Round five Sandown preview

Craig Baird (VIP Petfoods) -- Baird continues to lead by a substantial margin despite finishing behind Alex Davison at Oran Park. At the halfway mark of the season, Baird has a 137-point lead over Davison in the standings. He has accumulated eight...

Craig Baird (VIP Petfoods) -- Baird continues to lead by a substantial margin despite finishing behind Alex Davison at Oran Park. At the halfway mark of the season, Baird has a 137-point lead over Davison in the standings. He has accumulated eight race wins out of the 12 races so far, but has yet to land a pole position. Baird is one of five Porsche drivers also stepping into V8 Supercars for the first of the V8 enduros this season. The Gold Coast-based Kiwi will partner Jason Bargwanna in the #10 WPS Racing Falcon.

Alex Davison (Glenfords Tool Centres / DeWalt) -- Davison has started to eat away at Baird's championship lead after his recent round win at Oran Park. He will be chasing his first round win at Sandown to maintain the momentum. Davison will partner Grant Denyer in the #18 DJR Falcon in the V8 Supercar enduro.

Jim Richards (OAMPS Insurance Brokers) -- Richards will be aiming to put the memory of his last round start at Oran Park behind him when he hits the track at Sandown. He finished 10th for the round after an incident in Race 3 with Luke Youlden ended his race and saw him penalised six championship points. Richards has won the two Carrera Cup rounds that have been staged at Sandown. He will also partner Ryan Briscoe in the #22 HRT Commodore in the V8 Supercar endurance race.

David Reynolds (Bob Jane T-Marts) -- Reynolds is closing in on third sport in the championship after an impressive fourth place round finish at Oran Park three weeks ago. The 21-year-old has only stood on the podium once this season at the Clipsal 500 and will be seeking three consistent race finishes to return to a lofty perch.

David Russell (Boom Logistics / Sherrin Hire) -- Russell has been one of the finds of the 2006 season in the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup. The rookie has stood on the podium twice -- Wakefield Park and Oran Park, and now lies sixth overall in the championship. He is also tied for the lead in the prestigious Michelin Rookie of the Year with David Wall.

Interesting Facts and Figures:

Six drivers in the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup will 'double up' by driving in the V8 Supercar enduro at Sandown as well. They are Luke Youlden (#1 SBR with Russell Ingall), Craig Baird (#10 WPS Racing with Jason Bargwanna), Anthony Tratt (#15 HSV Dealer Team with Tony D'Alberto), Alex Davison (#18 DJR with Grant Denyer), Jonathon Webb (#20 PCR with Marcus Marshall) and Jim Richards (#22 HRT with Ryan Briscoe).

In addition to those six drivers, another four V8 Supercar drivers have driven in the Carrera Cup in previous seasons -- Matt Halliday, Fabian Coulthard, Alan Gurr and Marcus Marshall.

Alex Davison, Craig Baird and Anthony Tratt have jumped out of their full-time V8 Supercar seats from last year to get into the left-hand drive seats of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.

This is the third time that the all-Porsche racing series has been staged at Sandown in Melbourne. Last year, Jim Richards claimed pole position and won two races en route to the overall round win. While in 2004, Fabian Coulthard started from pole, but Richards won two races and Alex Davison the other, for an overall round win to Richards. The race lap record is still held by Richards at 1:13.6956 set in 2004.

A field of 22 drivers will race in the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 997) cars at Sandown. This new model has enhanced aerodynamics - a new front section and a larger rear wing produces 40 percent more downforce than the previous 996 model. The six-speed sequential gearbox makes gear shifting faster and more failsafe, while the ABS brakes are replaced by tandem racing master cylinders and an in-car brake bias adjustment control.

Luke Youlden will continue in the #6 Fitzgerald Racing Porsche backed by Acer, Leading Solutions and Hitachi Data Systems, after replacing Peter Fitzgerald at Oran Park. Shaun Juniper will replace Ian Dyk in the #8 Juniper Racing Porsche, with Dyk currently in the UK preparing for an A1 Grand Prix test at Silverstone this week. Australian GT Championship driver Damien Flack, like Juniper, will make his debut in the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup at Sandown. Flack will step in for Bryce Washington in the #54 ADRAD Racing Porsche.

Jim Richards celebrates his 59th birthday on September 2 -- the Saturday of the Sandown round.

Ten of the Porsche drivers at Sandown are under 30 years of age -- Jonathon Webb, Aaron Caratti, Damien Flack, Daniel Pappas, David Reynolds, David Russell, David Wall, Dean Fiore, Luke Youlden and Klark Quinn.

There are nine newcomers to the category in 2006 - David Russell, Dean Fiore, Daniel Pappas, Aaron Caratti, David Wall, Anthony Tratt, John Kaias, Damien Flack and Shaun Juniper.

Eight drivers have contested each season of Carrera Cup in Australia since its introduction in 2003 - Jim Richards, Klark Quinn, Peter Fitzgerald, Rodney Jane, Dean Grant, Marc Cini, Jonathon Webb and Tony Quinn.

Sherrin Motorsport's David Russell has become the sixth rookie since the category's inception in 2003 to stand on the podium on more than one occasion. Russell can lay claim to that feat along with Marcus Marshall (2003), Tim Leahey (2003), Fabian Coulthard (2004), Luke Youlden (2005) and David Reynolds (2005).

Craig Baird is in fourth in the all-time lists for Most Round Wins and Most Race Wins in the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup. Baird has four round wins and sits behind Richards (10), Davison (8) and Coulthard (6). He also has accrued nine race wins and is behind the same trio -- Richards (31), Davison (23) and Coulthard (18).

-credit: www.cupcar.com.au

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Series Porsche
Drivers Ryan Briscoe , Russell Ingall , Tim Leahey , Marcus Marshall , Jim Richards , Rodney Jane , Fabian Coulthard , Craig Baird , Jason Bargwanna , Alex Davison , Anthony Tratt , Luke Youlden , Bob Jane , Klark Quinn , Grant Denyer , Alan Gurr , Jonathon Webb , Ian Dyk , Damien Flack , David Wall , Shaun Juniper , David Reynolds , Marc Cini , Aaron Caratti , Dean Grant , Dean Fiore , Matt Halliday , David Russell