CARRERA CUP CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER ON NOTICE The gauntlet has been thrown down to Carrera Cup Australia championship leader Craig Baird (ACER/Leading Solutions) as the category heads into Round Three at Wakefield Park, Goulburn, this ...
CARRERA CUP CHAMPIONSHIP LEADER ON NOTICE
The gauntlet has been thrown down to Carrera Cup Australia championship leader Craig Baird (ACER/Leading Solutions) as the category heads into Round Three at Wakefield Park, Goulburn, this weekend.
Baird has been in excellent form winning the first two rounds of the season in Adelaide and Melbourne, but he has been put on notice from his rivals -- they are gunning for him.
Dean Fiore (Complispace/Advance Energy) sits second in the championship after his consistent start to the year and with him and the Sonic Motor Racing Services team testing at Wakefield Park on Wednesday, he'll be in prime position to challenge Baird.
"The way to beat Baird is to constantly pressure him and always be on him," Fiore said.
"He's just like any other driver, he's not perfect. You've got to give him his due respect, but you have to treat him just like anyone else; which is if there is a car in front it has to be passed, it doesn't matter who is driving it."
Fiore sits 18 points behind Baird in the championship and believes Wakefield Park is the track where he can make up the difference.
"I think it's a cool track," he said.
"It's a pretty small circuit which makes it a pretty intense track to drive around because it means you never get a rest.
"There are three main hard braking areas where you can lunge, so on corners leading into those spots you have to be really smooth or you can get passed."
Another driver who'll be pushing hard is Boom Logistics driver David Russell.
Russell has stepped it up a level in the early stages of the season and with him sitting third in the championship he poses a real threat to Fiore and Baird.
"The pressure is really on Dean and Craig more so than me because they have a lead they're trying to maintain," he said.
"The guys behind them, like me, David Wall (Shannon's Insurance), Aaron Caratti (Parklands on Bertram) and Bryce Washington (ADRAD) are all pushing hard for race wins and trying to close the gap so it should make for some pretty fierce racing."
Russell has fond memories of Wakefield Park after securing his first race podium there in only his third Carrera Cup round in 2006 so he knows what it takes to do well at the track.
"The key for me will be to get the car going as fast as it can as early as possible so I can clear away from the traffic," he said.
"We saw with guys like David (Wall) at the Grand Prix how badly it can knock you around if you're not up the front and if you want to win championships you can't afford for that to happen."
With Carrera Cup having extra race time this round (two of the three races will be 30 minutes long as opposed to the usual 20 minutes) there is ample opportunity for drivers to work their way through the field.
And Wall will be especially keen to do that given his need for championship points after a disappointing Round Two in Melbourne.
"The only way I can look at Melbourne is be happy I got 63 points, not any less and move on," he said.
"We've got to console ourselves with the fact there are seven rounds left including Wakefield Park and do the best job we can from here on in.
"The longer races will hopefully suit me because I've had really good race pace in the opening two rounds and with me testing at the track on Wednesday I should be on the money right from the start."
Goulburn marks Carrera Cup's first traditional circuit appearance this season after beginning the year at two street circuits in Adelaide and Melbourne and Wall isn't the only driver happy to be there.
Wakefield Park is the home track for Canberra's James and Theo Koundouris (Supabarn Supermarkets), while Wall and Barton Mawer (No Fear) live only two hours away in Sydney's south-eastern suburbs.
The weekend also marks the debut of New Zealand driver Daniel Gaunt, who will be racing for Sherrin Rentals.
It's the Kiwi driver's Australian Porsche debut but he comes with some pedigree after finishing second in the recently completed NZ Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.
Carrera Cup Australia kicks-off Round Three with practice and qualifying on Friday, before Race One on Saturday.
Races Two and Three on Sunday complete the weekend.