AUS: WPS Barbagallo preview

FITZY BRINGS HISTORY AND PASSION TO BARBAGALLO The name Peter Fitzgerald is synonymous with Porsche racing in Australia. Only an elite few can lay claim to racing in every Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup round over its first two and a bit...


The name Peter Fitzgerald is synonymous with Porsche racing in Australia. Only an elite few can lay claim to racing in every Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup round over its first two and a bit years, and Fitzgerald is one of them.

Coming up to round two of the 2005 series at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth next weekend, Fitzgerald will be making his 20th consecutive round start in the premier one make series in Australia in his Abcor and Acer-backed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. And he will be aiming to make his 20th start a successful one.

Barbagallo Raceway was the site for Fitzgerald's best qualifying result in the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup. Last year Fitzgerald started from second on the grid next to eventual series champion Alex Davison, but then had to settle for a treble of fourth-placings in the three races to miss a podium by one spot.

This year the 55-year-old from Warrandyte on the outskirts of Melbourne will not leave a stone unturned to improve on that result and his 11th place at round one, the Clipsal 500, this year.

He knows he should be higher and his motor racing history backs that up. Fitzgerald finished third in the inaugural season of Carrera Cup in Australia followed by fourth overall last year. He was the Australian GTP Champion in 1997, the Porsche Cup champion in 1990, and the Australian Production Car champion in 1987 and 1989. Not to mention the many successes Fitzgerald has achieved in endurance races at Bathurst and Sandown.

"We've always done well at Barbagallo Raceway and I don't know why, but we're certainly hoping that trend continues next weekend," said Fitzgerald.

"It's a short under-a-minute circuit which makes the field a lot closer. Last year we were quick straight out of the box, had the car running really well, and qualified only a couple of tenths of a second behind Alex Davison.

"This year though the competition is so much tougher with all these young guns pushing hard, but we'll be doing our best to land a podium result at Barbagallo."

Fitzgerald's passion for motorsport extends much further than just racing, but also servicing and maintaining Porsche racing vehicles from as far and wide as the South Pacific and South East Asia.

His company, Fitzgerald Racing Services, has been operating since 1994 and now specialises in the maintenance and support of Porsches from club sprint cars to GT2 Porsche Cup winners.

As the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup heads across the Nullarbor Plain for round two, series leader Fabian Coulthard (Glenfords Tool Centres/Makita) will be focusing on another round win, 2003 champion Jim Richards (OAMPS Insurance Brokers) will be aiming to even this year's ledger, while a number of young guns led by round one third-placegetter Luke Youlden (Team VIP Petfoods) have their maiden win in their sights.

Coulthard will be buoyed by the news that he will be attending a Porsche Michelin Supercup test at Leipzig in Germany on June 1, before competing in the Silverstone round of Porsche Michelin Supercup on July 10. The test and race was the prize for winning last year's Michelin Porsche Driver to Europe award as the leading driver under-30 years of age in the category.

In other milestones at Barbagallo Raceway, race one will mark Rodney Jane's (Bob Jane T-Marts) 50th race start in the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup.

It will also be Andrew Luxton's (Hyundai Construction Equipment) debut round in the category after stepping up from the Porsche Driver's Challenge where he finished runner-up last year and won 'Class B'. Gold Coaster Klark Quinn who was born in Perth became a first-time father to son Ryder recently and will himself turn 23 on May 12, and a podium result will be further cause for celebration.

The Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup is the most successful 'one make' championship in the world, and is the primary support category to the V8 Supercar Championship Series in Australia.

All cars in the Wright Patton Shakespeare Carrera Cup are developed and built by Porsche' racing arm in Weissach, Germany. With a top speed in excess of 300 kilometres per hour, the lightweight, high performance vehicles have a 400 horsepower, 6 cylinder Boxer engine which revs to 8000 RPM, producing a sound that is distinctly Porsche.

<pre> SCHEDULE -- WRIGHT PATTON SHAKESPEARE CARRERA CUP: Practice 1 9.00am Friday Practice 2 11.00am Friday Qualifying 9.20am Saturday Autograph Session 12.30pm Saturday at Wright Patton Shakespeare Merchandise Truck Race 1 (20 Laps) 2.10pm Saturday Race 2 (20 Laps) 11.50am Sunday Race 3 (30 Laps) 3.05pm Sunday


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Series Porsche
Drivers Jim Richards , Rodney Jane , Fabian Coulthard , Alex Davison , Bob Jane , Klark Quinn , Peter Fitzgerald