CRAIG BAIRD ROCKETS INTO CARRERA CUP LEAD His race weekend might have begun with him delayed on a plane in Adelaide, but Craig Baird (ACER/Leading Solutions) has flown to the top of the Carrera Cup championship ladder after winning Round Four...
CRAIG BAIRD ROCKETS INTO CARRERA CUP LEAD
His race weekend might have begun with him delayed on a plane in Adelaide, but Craig Baird (ACER/Leading Solutions) has flown to the top of the Carrera Cup championship ladder after winning Round Four at Barbagallo Raceway, Perth, this weekend.
The Kiwi took victory in both of Sunday's races, ensuring he is safely ensconced at the top of the ladder.
While Baird took control of the championship it was a watershed round for Carrera Cup rookie James Moffat (Bob Jane T-Marts/Trueline), who finished second for the weekend after second and third finishes in today's two races.
The results are the best in the category for the young-gun and they continue his love affair with Barbagallo after he won the Formula Ford round here last year.
Brisbane's David Russell (Boom Logistics) drove brilliantly on Sunday to take third overall and the final spot on the podium.
After qualifying eighth and a fourth placed finish in Race One on Saturday his weekend looked doomed early in this morning's race after a spin sent him to the rear of the field, but he recovered sensationally to finish the race in fifth.
The final race was simply a case of keeping his composure and he dutifully improved his position until he finished second to Baird.
Russell finished on the same number of points as Moffat but was awarded third spot for the weekend because of Moffat's two race podiums.
Theo Koundouris (Supabarn Supermarkets) continued the unpredictable nature of the Pilatus Challenge, which is for non-professional drivers over the age of 30, by becoming the fourth Challenge winner in as many rounds.
Peter Hill (Boost/Globe) was second while James Koundouris (Supabarn Supermarkets) was third.
Barton Mawer (No Fear) followed up his best ever Carrera Cup effort -- which was Round Three at Wakefield Park -- by topping that by two spots to finish the weekend in fourth, while David Wall (Shannon's Insurance) was fifth.
Aaron Caratti (Parklands on Bertram), Dean Fiore (Complispace/Advance Energy), Bryce Washington (ADRAD Radiators), Jono Lester (Blackwoods/JBS Tools) and Rodney Forbes (Jaimie Vedda Racing) rounded out the weekend's top 10.
The final race of the weekend was notable for a few performances, not least of which were those of Caratti and Rodney Jane (Bob Jane T-Marts), who finished ninth and 10th respectively after starting at the rear of the field.
Fiore was also impressive, moving up seven spots.
But it was Baird who dominated the weekend and he now has a sizeable championship lead over Fiore.
"Obviously Fitzy prepares a good car for me and with the other guys having a few dramas I was able to take advantage," he said.
"I haven't lost the championship lead all season and everything is going to plan. Now it's just a matter of keeping out of trouble, keeping an eye on Fiore, Russell and Caratti and making sure that I do enough to keep in front of them."
Moffat was ecstatic with his weekend, which sees him close the gap to Mawer in the Michelin Rookie of the Year.
"I did really well in Perth last year so I had a good feeling coming into the weekend," he said.
"The second race really set things up for me and to finish two races and the round on the podium is just fantastic."
Russell was also pleased with his ability to recover from a poor qualifying.
"My qualifying performance wasn't the best but I knuckled down and focused on getting some points and it paid off," he said.
In the second race of the weekend this morning, an unlucky Caratti was forced to retire while leading Race Two.
The Perth driver's wheel hub bearing failed, shearing his rim and splitting it in two. It was a cruel blow for Caratti who looked likely to win the race, which would have been his fifth Carrera Cup victory in a row.
Moffat finished Race Two in second for his highest ever Carrera Cup victory, while Mawer's third was his first Carrera Cup podium as well.
Lester had a brilliant drive to come from pit lane to finish sixth, while James Koundouris finished 10th after also starting at the rear.
Theo Koundouris finished ninth, which was his best result since 2005, was enough to hand him the Pilatus Challenge race win, while his brother James was second in 10th overall and Peter Hill (Boost/Globe) third in 11th.
The fifth round of Carrera Cup Australia will be at Sandown International Raceway from June 7-9 but before then catch all the action from Barbagallo with the Carrera Cup highlights programme screening nationally on Channel 7 on May 17.