Australian series Queensland preview

A strong field of Carrera Cup cars will take to Queensland Raceway this weekend in round five of the all-Porsche series as the chase of series leader Jim Richards continues. A total of 25 identical Porsche GT3 Cup cars have been entered for ...

A strong field of Carrera Cup cars will take to Queensland Raceway this weekend in round five of the all-Porsche series as the chase of series leader Jim Richards continues.

A total of 25 identical Porsche GT3 Cup cars have been entered for the round, the first of two rounds to be held in Queensland this season (the other will be at the Lexmark Indy 300 in October).

Heading the charge is none other than seven-time Bathurst champion Richards. While he is the leader of the Carrera Cup championship, the veteran hasn't had things his own way in the last two rounds, proving that there is still a long way to go in the nine-round series.

Two spins in the final race at Winton and a jump start in the final race at Hidden Valley in Darwin have proved that 'Gentleman Jim' is certainly beatable, and three drivers who have beaten Richards in various ways this year start as the main challengers this weekend.

Marcus Marshall, the VIP Pet Foods driver who won the Winton round, will be on his home circuit this weekend, as the VIP team of Marshall and Tony Quinn use the 3.12-kilometre Ipswich venue as their test track.

Marshall, 25, trails Richards by 63 points heading into this weekend, while third-placed Peter Fitzgerald sits in third spot, 93 points behind Marshall in third place.

Fitzgerald's ENJO machine has been one of the consistent performers this season, but the Melbourne-based racer is yet to win a race.

On the other hand, New Zealander Kevin Bell took his first race win in Carrera Cup Australia at Hidden Valley and will have added support from an increased car count from Lyall Williamson's International Motorsport NZ squad at Queensland Raceway.

In addition to Christchurch-based Bell and regular team-mate Paul Pedersen, the duo will be joined in the team by semi-regular Andrew Bagnall and series debutante Charlie O'Brien.

O'Brien tested his new mount at Queensland Raceway just over a week ago and will race in the remaining rounds at Sandown, Bathurst, Indy and Eastern Creek.

The third of the 'elite' group to beat Richards is Orange-based racer Tim Leahey. Although the Greg Murphy Racing driver hasn't actually won a race, he did enough in the last round in Darwin to win the round overall.

The Mossimo-backed driver is focused on simply winning races rather than the championship, but is still a chance, sitting fourth in the series pointscore.

There will be a strong contingent of Queensland-based racers in addition to the VIP Pet Foods team and Gold Coast-based O'Brien. Team Terrier racer Jack Crocker, Jam Racing's David Scaysbrook and Statewide GT-Racing's John Teulan will all be racing on home soil for the weekend.

Crocker sits 19th in the series pointscore, while Scaysbrook, who has only contested one round at Winton in the Fuzion Internet/Corporate Traveller #28 machine, sits 22nd. Teulan, meanwhile, missed the last round at Hidden Valley due to a knee injury and is 25th in the series.

The series will be missing Andrew Miedecke this weekend. The highly- experienced former V8 Stockcar champion and Bathurst veteran is skipping this weekend's round due to personal reasons.

The Miedecke Motorsports driver sits eighth in the series going into this weekend and, given his margin of points over ninth-placed Dean Cook and 10th-placed Dean Grant, is likely to drop out of the top 10 by missing the round.

While one regular racer misses the round, joining the Carrera Cup ranks this weekend is Formula Ford racer Stephen Borness. The 40-year-old from Sydney has purchased the #24 machine from Victorian Paul Blackie and will make his debut in the class at Queensland Raceway.

He will perform 'double duty' by continuing to race his Stealth in the Australian Formula Ford Championship round, also held this weekend at Queensland Raceway.

The Carrera Cup cars hit the track on Friday for two practice sessions at 10.05am and 12.30pm, with qualifying (1.15pm) and race one (4.40pm) to be held on Saturday. Two races on Sunday (at 10.00am and 12.40pm) conclude activities for the fifth round of the series.

For more information on the Carrera Cup, visit its official web site at www.cupcar.com.au

QUEENSLAND RACEWAY CARRERA CUP QUOTEBOOK:

Jim Richards (#5 OAMPS/Greenfield Mowers):
"(On Queensland Raceway). Queensland Raceway is an important circuit for us because there are four straights and similar corners everywhere. It's difficult to pass, but there are passing opportunities. If cars are the same, as they are in Carrera Cup, the only place you can pass is under brakes. If you car works well off turns one and two, you've can get a good run down the back straight. You need to start well and the rest takes care of itself. (On his jump start at Hidden Valley) Darwin was a freak accident so we won't be doing that again!"

Tim Leahey (#55 Mossimo/Greg Murphy Racing):
"We're looking good for this weekend. We're making progress with the car as a team. Providing we can get rid of the ECU (electronic control unit) gremlin we had in Darwin, we'll be right. Our sponsors in Hog's Breath Café and Mossimo have been great to push us forward and get us to Queensland. We've had a few people take care of our championship hopes, so let's focus on winning some races."

Marcus Marshall (#31 VIP Pet Foods Racing):
"Our team tested last week at Queensland Raceway but I didn't actually get a drive of my car. Tony (Quinn) did some laps in my #31 car while his son Klark ran in his #32 car. Unfortunately, we had some minor mechanical problems that ended the day early, which meant I didn't get any time in the car. We don't get parts until today (Wednesday) to put the cars back together but we will be sorted and ready for the weekend."

Charlie O'Brien (#15 WPS Financial Group/Int' Motorsport NZ):
"(On the Carrera Cup racing concept) Racing has always been in the back of my mind, but I've been busy for the last five years with business projects and the like. I've always liked the one formula series. There's one type of car, brakes and tyres, so it really does come down to the driver."

Kevin Bell (#86 GTech Bellmor/Int' Motorsport NZ):
"(On winning at Darwin) It was like winning the World Championship from Michael Schumacher! The support we're getting from back home is great. I raced a Porsche in Nations Cup at Queensland Raceway last year and struggled a lot, so I think it's going to be a hard weekend, to be honest. We'll do the best we can."

Stephen Borness (#24 Logical Additions/Brook Motorsport):
"We were looking for a progressive and commercially attractive category, which is not just seen as a stepping stone to other categories. We looked at the Konica Series, but with the increased involvement of the Level 1 teams in that category, it is difficult to even aspire to compete at the front. We think Carrera Cup puts everyone on an equal footing, although we have plenty more to learn."

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Series Porsche
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Greg Murphy , Andrew Bagnall , Tim Leahey , Marcus Marshall , Jack Crocker , Jim Richards , Peter Fitzgerald , Stephen Borness , Kevin Bell , Dean Grant , Andrew Miedecke
Teams Williams