AUS: Wakefield Park round two preview

Craig Baird -- The Team VIP Petfoods driver took out the opening round at the Clipsal 500 by winning two of the three races despite a bout of food poisoning. He then backed up the next week to win three of the four non championship races at the ...

Craig Baird -- The Team VIP Petfoods driver took out the opening round at the Clipsal 500 by winning two of the three races despite a bout of food poisoning. He then backed up the next week to win three of the four non championship races at the Foster's Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. Since the Grand Prix, Baird ventured over to New Zealand to wrap up the Battery Town Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge by winning the final round at Pukekohe.

Alex Davison -- Has returned to Porsche racing with aplomb. The Glenfords Tool Centres and DeWalt backed driver for Paul Cruickshank Racing got great starts at both the Clipsal 500 and Grand Prix by winning race one after taking pole position. Is right on Baird's hammer with the two combatants set to continue a ding-dong battle all season.

David Reynolds -- Could be the real find of the season if his improvement continues. The Bob Jane T-Marts supported Sonic Motor Racing driver produced a treble of third placings at round one and continued his pace at the Grand Prix. At only 20 years of age, anything is possible for the 2004 Formula Ford national champion.

Jim Richards -- The Porsche master and elder statesman in the field is adapting to the new Type-997 Porsche being run in this year's championship. With only one test session before round one, Richards supported by OAMPS Insurance Brokers was not quite on the pace but still managed a string of fourth placings. He continued to improve at the Grand Prix with fourth, second and third race placings. A few weeks ago Richards won an eighth Targa Tasmania in his 2003 Porsche 911 GT2 CS with Barry Oliver.

Ian Dyk -- The youngest driver in the championship at 20 years of age -- two months younger than Reynolds. With a new team Juniper Racing in 2006, Dyk is taking to the new Type-997 Porsche like a duck to water. Had some dramas at the Clipsal 500 despite a fifth place race one finish, but then produced a third placing in the final race at the Grand Prix to suggest he can be on the pace at Wakefield Park.

The Title Chase:

Leading into Round 2 of the championship next weekend, drivers and teams are vying for the prestigious Overall Championship in 2006 as well as a host of other awards. Here is an update:

Overall Championship: If the championship was a one-round affair then Craig Baird (Team VIP Petfoods) would have wrapped it up after the Clipsal 500. But it's not, and there are still seven rounds (21 races) to go. However Baird is in a good position -- at the top of the standings. The 35-year-old Gold Coast-based Kiwi has a slender six point margin over Porsche rival Alex Davison (Glenfords Tool Centres / DeWalt) after the first round. 2004 Formula Ford champion David Reynolds (Bob Jane T-Marts) has placed himself in contention in third spot, just another 24 points behind Davison. One name that can never be discounted is Jim Richards (OAMPS Insurance Brokers) -- the Porsche master that won the first series in Australia back in 2003. Richards sits in fourth position, 18 points behind Reynolds while 24 points ahead of rookie prospect Dean Fiore (Landscape Developments) in fifth. A couple of other names that have made early impressions are the sixth placed Jonathon Webb (Glenfords Tool Centres / Makita) and seventh placed Ian Dyk (Juniper Property Group). Both are young, have plenty of Porsche racing experience and are sure to make their presence felt as the season progresses.

TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge: Could it be three in a row or will someone spoil Dean's party? Dean Grant (Hankook Motorsport) has won the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge for the past two seasons, as the leading privateer driver over 30 years of age. He continued his form at the Clipsal 500 to be currently tied for the lead in the race for a prized TAG Heuer Carrera Chronograph with Rodney Jane (Bob Jane T-Marts). John Kaias (Abcor) put in a consistent showing in his debut Carrera Cup round to be placed in third position.

Michelin Rookie of the Year: The leading debut season driver after the opening round is Dean Fiore (Landscape Developments). The 22-year-old Melbourne-based Sandgroper also tallied maximum points at the Clipsal 500 to lead from David Wall (Glenfords Tool Centres / Hitachi) with Aaron Caratti (Firepower) and David Russell (Boom Logistics, Sherrin Hire) locked up for third.

Mobil 1 Hard Charger: David Russell (Boom Logistics, Sherrin Hire) has the early honour of holding down top spot for making up the most number of grid positions in championship races. At round one, the 24-year-old from Brisbane made up 14 positions over the three races to edge out another young talent in last year's Formula 3 champion Aaron Caratti (Firepower) who made up 12, followed by Rodney Jane (Bob Jane T-Marts) with 11.

Interesting Facts and Figures:

For the first time in Carrera Cup history around the world, a compulsory pit stop has been added to a race. Since the Carrera Cup category was established in Germany in 1990 there has never been a race conducted with a compulsory pit stop. The milestone occasion for the type-997 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars will occur in race one on the Sunday over a longer-than-usual 25 laps of the 2.2km circuit. The compulsory pit stop will include a wheel and tyre change within a designated pit window.

A field of 22 drivers will race in the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 997) cars at Wakefield Park. 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.

Jim Richards and Peter Fitzgerald would have accumulated thousands of pit stops throughout their motor racing careers. However a large contingent of the Carrera Cup field will be competing in their first compulsory pit stop race in their career.

Rodney Jane has taken the plunge recently. The Sonic Motor Racing driver and contender in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge recently wed girlfriend Penny. Jane survived his buck's weekend which included a competitive go kart competition won by team manager Mick Ritter from Alex Davison.

Jonathon Webb has been a model of consistency so far in 2006. The Glenfords Tool Centres and Makita backed PCR driver has finished between fourth and seventh in all seven championship and non championship races contested this season, plus the two qualifying sessions.

Jim Richards has the most number of race wins in the history of Carrera Cup Australia with 31 -- 11 ahead of the next closest in Alex Davison. Richards also has the most number of pole positions with 14 from Davison who has six.

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

Ten of the Porsche drivers at Wakefield Park are under 30 years of age -- Jonathon Webb, Aaron Caratti, Bryce Washington, Daniel Pappas, David Reynolds, David Russell, David Wall, Dean Fiore, Ian Dyk and Klark Quinn.

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

Tony Quinn and Dean Grant are the only two drivers in the field to have started all 81 races in the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup over its first three and a bit seasons.

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.

Jonathon Webb has been the youngest entrant in the Carrera Cup Australia in its history at 19 years, 4 months when he lined up at Phillip Island for round one in 2003. He was also the youngest pole-sitter at 21 years, 5 months at Eastern Creek for round three in 2005. At the same round, David Reynolds became the youngest race winner at 19 years, 10 months.

Sonic Motor Racing's Dean Fiore is aiming to become the eighth rookie since the category's inception in 2003 to stand on the podium. If he can do so at Wakefield Park, he will join Marcus Marshall (2003), Tim Leahey (2003), Fabian Coulthard (2004), James Cressey (2004), Luke Youlden (2005), David Reynolds (2005) and Ian Dyk (2005).

A series of new sponsors have been introduced to the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup for 2006. Mobil is the Official Automotive Lubricant Partner, MAN is the Official Transporter, Pilatus is the Official Executive Aircraft, ZF Sachs is the Official Suspension and Clutch Components Provider, Adidas is the Official Uniform Supplier and The Autograph Shop is the Official Memorabilia Provider. Another new sponsor will be unveiled at Wakefield Park.

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Series Porsche
Drivers Tim Leahey , Marcus Marshall , Jim Richards , Rodney Jane , Craig Baird , Alex Davison , Anthony Tratt , Luke Youlden , Bob Jane , Tony Quinn , Klark Quinn , Peter Fitzgerald , Jonathon Webb , Ian Dyk , David Wall , John Kaias , David Reynolds , Aaron Caratti , Dean Grant , Dean Fiore , David Russell , Phillip Island