AS championship leader of the Carrera Cup, Jim Richards was fully expected to be strong in round five of the all-Porsche series at Queensland Raceway this weekend and today he delivered. The seven-time Bathurst winner, who will team up with...
AS championship leader of the Carrera Cup, Jim Richards was fully expected to be strong in round five of the all-Porsche series at Queensland Raceway this weekend and today he delivered.
The seven-time Bathurst winner, who will team up with Mark Skaife again in the V8 Supercar endurance races at Sandown and Bathurst later in the year, topped the practice times in both 20-minute sessions, with a best of 1m13.4725s, some eight-tenths of a second clear of ENJO driver Peter Fitzgerald.
"There wasn't much rubber down on the track today but it will be better tomorrow," said Richards of today's track conditions
"I'd like to think that a low 1m13s lap will be a pole position time for tomorrow. There's probably three or four tenths of a second improvement but I won't be surprised if we don't go faster."
Second fastest Fitzgerald was happy with his time, having used older Michelin tyres than Richards to record his 1m14.2546s.
"I'm glad to be leading the rest - we were running older tyres from Darwin rather than new ones like Jim, so we're happy," said the former Australian Production Car Champion.
Such is the increased competitiveness of the new Carrera Cup category, just eight tenths of a second separate Fitzgerald from the 10th fastest driver, Queenslander Jack Crocker.
Category debutante Charlie O'Brien starred in his first competitive hit-out in his #15 WPS Financial Group Porsche run by Lyall Williamson's squad. The Queenslander, who is returning to competitive racing after a five year absence, was third fastest today.
Darwin round winner Tim Leahey was fourth fastest for Greg Murphy Racing, the Orange-based racer struggling with initial set-up in his #55 Porsche.
"We're struggling in the mid-corner with speed but I think it will come good - we're not a mile off the pace, which is good," said Leahey.
Leahey's team-mate, Peter Hill, suffered a clutch problem in his #66 machine and could only manage a best of 13th in the first session.
One of the stars of the day was Victorian Rodney Jane. The son of racing great Bob Jane was fifth fastest in his #7 machine. A rookie at Queensland Raceway, Jane was finding the bumps entering turn one to be something of a challenge.
"I'm consistently getting quicker at the faster type of tracks, like this one, but still struggle a bit at the lower speed tracks like Winton," said Jane.
"The team is getting better at setting up the car and I'm getting better at giving them the right feedback, so it's all starting to pay off."
Completing the top 10 were Matt Coleman, Marcus Marshall, Kiwi Paul Pedersen, Tony Quinn and Crocker.
Marshall, second in the championship entering this round, was a lowly seventh after clutch problems in his VIP Pet Foods Porsche GT3 Cup machine.
"Due to getting the car back late on Wednesday night after a gearbox problem the team had in testing last week, we're having some drivetrain problems," reported the Gold Coast-based racer.
The man who won the final race at Darwin, Kiwi Kevin Bell, could only manage a 1m15.2738s lap, which placed him outside the top 10, such is the strength and tightness of the field.
Qualifying will be held at 1.15pm tomorrow for the 24-car field with race one at 4.40pm. Races two and three will be run on Sunday, at 10.00am and 12.40pm respectively.
<pre> Top 10 Positions - Practice
Pos No Driver Car/Team Time 1 5 Jim Richards OAMPS/Greenfield Mowers 1:13.4725 2 33 Peter Fitzgerald ENJO/Fitzgerald Racing 1:14.2546 3 15 Charlie O'Brien WPS Financial Group/Int' Motorsport NZ 1:14.4693 4 55 Tim Leahey Mossimo/Greg Murphy Racing 1:14.4875 5 7 Rodney Jane Bob Jane T-Marts/Rodney Jane Racing 1:14.6267 6 62 Matt Coleman Fuchs/Matt Coleman Racing 1:14.7153 7 31 Marcus Marshall VIP Pet Foods Racing 1:14.7609 8 96 Paul Pedersen LakeSawn Lumber/Int' Motorsport NZ 1:14.8626 9 32 Tony Quinn VIP Pet Foods Racing 1:14.9599 10 51 Jack Crocker Megajet/Team Terrier 1:15.0672