Coleman to return at Bathurst

New car for Victorian as the Carrera Cup takes aim at the Mountain Just four weeks ago, Carrera Cup racer Matt Coleman's world had come crashing down around him as his $250,000 GT3 Cup car rolled itself into destruction at Sandown...

New car for Victorian as the Carrera Cup takes aim at the Mountain

Just four weeks ago, Carrera Cup racer Matt Coleman's world had come crashing down around him as his $250,000 GT3 Cup car rolled itself into destruction at Sandown International Motor Raceway.

This weekend, the 30-year-old will be ready and raring to return to the Porsche category in a brand new machine at Mount Panorama, bolted together by Coleman and a loyal group of helpers over the past few weeks.

Although his crashed car was repairable, Coleman instead elected to opt for a brand new body shell, which was flown in from Germany last week. Last year's Porsche Cup champion has been burning the midnight oil to transfer the salvageable running gear from his old car into the new machine and is confident it will do the job.

"It's been a big job but we're keen to get back out on the track," said Coleman, who tested his new mount at Calder yesterday (Sunday).

The amazing turn-around has been the result of assistance from a number of parties that will allow Coleman to take his place in the 28-car field for round seven of the series this weekend.

But the man they will all be chasing is championship leader, Jim Richards. The seven-time Bathurst champion - in addition to his Carrera Cup commitments -- will also be driving for the Holden Racing Team in the V8 Supercar event this weekend, so the veteran will be one of the busiest drivers in the paddock.

It's the first time the Carrera Cup has ventured to Mount Panorama and Richards believes the 390-horsepower German thoroughbreds will be well-suited to the Mountain layout.

"I'm not sure what sort of lap times they'll produce, but I'd like to think they would do a high 2m14s lap," said Richards, who won the 1998 GTP 3-Hour endurance race in a Porsche at Bathurst with Peter Fitzgerald.

"Early in practice there aren't many cars out on the track and there's not much rubber laid down, so you probably won't see those times until qualifying and maybe not until the races.

Richards leads the championship by 189 points over Queenslander Marcus Marshall, who heads to Bathurst with overseas experience under his belt following his recent strong showing in the Porsche Supercup at Indianapolis.

The 25-year-old will also be doubling up this weekend, joining Greg Ritter in a Team Brock Commodore in the V8 Supercar event in addition to his #31 VIP Petfoods Porsche program. Marshall has competed in a Formula Ford at Bathurst but is yet to race there in a sedan.

"I'll take it one step at a time at Bathurst," said Marshall.

"I've only ever been in a Formula Ford at Bathurst, so running in a sedan is going to be a different thing. I'll take a steady-as-she-goes approach and this is one of the rounds where I'd expect to be a little bit further back on the grid as so many of my rivals have heaps of Bathurst experience."

"From what people have said, you've got to have experience to do well at Bathurst, so I'll make the most of the weekend and see what the end result is."

The fight for third-place in the championship is heating up heading to Bathurst. ENJO driver Peter Fitzgerald sits third after claiming his first win of the season in a shortened first race at Sandown, while Tim Leahey and Kiwi Kevin Bell round out the top five.

Fitzgerald, who won the Bathurst 12 Hour in 1991, sits just 78 points clear of Leahey, who heads up a three-car Greg Murphy Racing -- Team Braun entry.

Leahey, who hails from nearby Orange, will drive alongside Cameron McConville in the V8 race in the Lansvale Racing Commodore.

"Based on my previous experience, if you can't win the championship you've got to go out there and win some races and show some speed and that's what I'll be trying for this weekend," said Leahey.

"If you focus on winning some races, you'll probably wind up in the top three in the championship."

The New Zealand contingent will hit the Mountain with force. Bell and Paul Pedersen sit fifth and sixth in the championship and, coupled with the strong performances of Gold Coaster Charlie O'Brien since he joined the team at Queensland Raceway, the outfit is looking strong.

Jonathon Webb scored his best result of the season with a second in the last round at Sandown and is capable of improving on his seventh place in the championship, while the experienced Andrew Miedecke is one to watch at the Mountain.

The Port Macquarie racer, who joined the Carrera Cup at the start of the season, has been benefiting from the engineering work of Bob Stevens and led at Sandown, only to be handed a drive-through penalty for a jump-start.

Miedecke has a fine Bathurst record, which includes third place in the 1997 Primus 1000 Classic with Mark Larkham in a Mitre 10 Ford and an unexpected seventh in 2000 alongside Dugal McDougall in the Pepsi Commodore.

A full field of 28 cars will be at Mount Panorama this weekend for the Carrera Cup's seventh round and, with 180 points up for grabs over the weekend and 360 remaining in the final two rounds on the Gold Coast and at Eastern Creek, the title chase is far from over.

Practice and qualifying will be held on Thursday, with a single race to be run on Friday at 11.05am. Saturday's second race will be held at 3.15pm, while the third and final event will be held at 7.50am on Sunday, featured on Network Ten's live broadcast.

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About this article
Series Porsche
Drivers Greg Murphy , Mark Larkham , Peter Fitzgerald , Jonathon Webb , Kevin Bell , Andrew Miedecke
Teams Holden Racing Team