Tight tussle at Island. Richards and Fitzgerald fight out opening Carrera Cup race. Porsche racing veterans Jim Richards and Peter Fitzgerald have scored a first-up win for the experienced racers in this year's Carrera Cup, after the duo...
Tight tussle at Island.
Richards and Fitzgerald fight out opening Carrera Cup race.
Porsche racing veterans Jim Richards and Peter Fitzgerald have scored a first-up win for the experienced racers in this year's Carrera Cup, after the duo finished first and second in today's first race at Phillip Island ahead of young guns Marcus Marshall and Tim Leahey.
The two started from the front row of the grid, though Richards got the better start and was never headed over the 12-lap distance. Fitzgerald kept his Porsche GT3 Cup car right with 'Gentleman Jim', but couldn't quite carry his ENJO-backed machine to victory.
"The start of each race is always critical," said Richards, who scored 60 championship points for his efforts, with two races to be run tomorrow to complete the category's opening round at the Victorian venue.
"Everyone wants to do well but it's not about just racing, it's about building the Carrera Cup category and to do that we need some younger drivers coming on and they'll certainly do that as the season progresses."
Meanwhile, Fitzgerald said that he felt that Richards had a touch too much pace.
"We were sort of there, but not enough. Two laps from home into turn one I selected third gear instead of fifth. That slowed me up but didn't over-rev the engine so I had to try and haul that ground back."
Marshall, who started his VIP Pet Foods Porsche from fifth, moved to fourth from the start, taking the final podium position from Greg Murphy Racing's Tim Leahey on lap eight at Honda Corner and holding it to the chequered flag.
"I'm starting to get myself up to speed with the car now," he reported, adding that he had seen a bit of a gap and simply filled it, with regards to his passing move on Leahey.
Kiwi racer Kevin Bell drove superbly on his Australian debut at the wheel of a Porsche GT3 Cup car, taking fifth spot, clear of Matthew Coleman, who finished sixth after starting fourth.
Peter Hill made it two Greg Murphy Racing cars in the top 10 by holding off another Kiwi in the form of Paul Pedersen on the last lap to take seventh spot, with Pedersen, Tony Quinn (VIP Pet Foods Racing) and Jonathon Webb (Tekno Autosport) completing the top 10 finishers.
Not so lucky was former Porsche Cup champion Geoff Morgan, who survived a high-speed spin entering the fast Gardner Straight. Another to spin at the same spot was Coleman's team-mate, James Dutton. Both drivers managed to re-join without damage.
A spirited dice between Paul Blackie (Pro-Floor Racing), Rusty French (Skye Sands Racing) and Rodney Jane (Bob Jane T-Marts) resulted in contact between Blackie and French at Honda Corner and a subsequent spin by Jane at the next corner, though Victorian Chris Seidler faces an expensive repair bill, after he crashed out at Siberia on lap four. His Australian Home Industry Warranties machine spun into an earth bank and suffered severe damage to the front end.
Tomorrow (Sunday) sees the Carrera Cup run a further two races, one at 10.15am, the final at 12.45pm.
The Carrera Cup will be run over nine rounds following the V8 Supercar Championship Series this season, with all drivers utilising Porsche's purpose-built GT3 Cup car. Capable of 390 brake horsepower, the cars are all identical, with teams allowed minimal adjustments.