Australian series Sandown Friday notes

Richards tops practice at Sandown Marshall and Fitzgerald head the chasing bunch in first session While he may be driving in both the Carrera Cup and the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 V8 Supercar race this weekend, there's no doubting the focus...

Richards tops practice at Sandown
Marshall and Fitzgerald head the chasing bunch in first session

While he may be driving in both the Carrera Cup and the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 V8 Supercar race this weekend, there's no doubting the focus of Jim Richards who recorded the fastest time in today's first practice session for round six of the Carrera Cup at the Melbourne venue.

Richards, who is driving his OAMPS/Greenfield Mowers Porsche as well as partnering Tony Longhurst in a Holden Racing Team Commodore this weekend, lapped the 3.1-kilometre venue in 1m14.4549s, 0.55s clear of second fastest driver, Marcus Marshall.

Marshall, who is also driving in the V8 event on Sunday (in a Team Brock Commodore with Greg Ritter), out-paced Victorian Matt Coleman, with Peter Fitzgerald and James Dutton rounding out the top five.

"We struggled in the second session without a clutch," reported Coleman.

"We can't work out why. It was OK while we were out running quickly on the track but I couldn't select gears on the slow-down lap. There's no over-rev on the data so we'll have a look at it."

It was an impressive performance from Dutton. With his only experience at Sandown coming in Mirage racing and a single V8 Brute appearance, the former jet-ski champion was pleased with his time.

"I don't think that experience helps in the Porsche, but we were using tyres that are two rounds old so that's a good result."

Also impressive was series debutante Klark Quinn. The 21-year-old, driving the #23 Pioneer-backed RT Motorsport machine, was seventh fastest, just three-tenths of a second slower than his father Tony, who was sixth fastest.

Rounding out the top 10 were Andrew Miedecke (benefiting from a recent test at Eastern Creek with engineer Bob Stevens), Peter Hill and Charlie O'Brien.

A notable absentee from the top of the times is Hill's Greg Murphy Racing Team Braun team-mate Tim Leahey.

The Orange-based racer, debuting the new livery for the Melbourne-based squad, suffered a clutch problem and only completed four laps in the 30- minute session.

This weekend's field is the largest Carrera Cup field of the year, not only in Australia but worldwide.

Absent from practice today is New Zealander Andrew Bagnall, who is in hospital in New Zealand suffering a flu virus. Team boss Lyall Williamson said that fellow Kiwi Rick Armstrong, who is currently in Sydney, may fly to Melbourne to take over the #82 car for the weekend, though a decision has yet to be made.

Bagnall's team-mate Kevin Bell was the first to taste trouble, hitting the wall on the entrance to the back straight and busting the radiator on his #86 GTech Bellmor machine. The Christchurch-based driver was 16th fastest.

Qualifying will be held at 3.00pm this afternoon, with the first two races to be run tomorrow at 12.05pm and 3.40pm. The third and final race will be on Sunday as a curtain-raiser to the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 at 10.25am.

<pre> Top 10 Positions - Practice

Pos   No    Driver              Car/Team                                Time
1     5     Jim Richards        OAMPS/Greenfield Mowers                 1:14.4549
2     31    Marcus Marshall     VIP Pet Foods Racing                    1:15.0974
3     62    Matt Coleman        Matt Coleman Racing                     1:15.5060
4     33    Peter Fitzgerald    ENJO/Fitzgerald Racing                  1:15.5222
5     26    James Dutton        Mobil Synergy 8000/Dutton Motorsport    1:15.8286
6     32    Tony Quinn          VIP Pet Foods Racing                    1:15.8671
7     23    Klark Quinn         Pioneer/RT Motorsport                   1:16.1563
8     35    Andrew Miedecke     Miedecke Motorsport                     1:16.3109
9     66    Peter Hill          Greg Murphy Racing - Team Braun         1:16.3142
10    15    Charlie O'Brien     WPS Financial Group/Int' Motorsport NZ  1:16.3354

-cca-

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Greg Murphy , Andrew Bagnall , Tim Leahey , Marcus Marshall , Jim Richards , Tony Longhurst , Greg Ritter , Tony Quinn , Klark Quinn , Peter Fitzgerald , Peter Hill , Kevin Bell , Andrew Miedecke
Teams Williams , Holden Racing Team