Honda Indy 300 round crucial for Richards' Nations Cup PORSCHE star Jim Richards celebrates his 10th annual Gold Coast Indy appearance this weekend, hopeful the occasion will see him move closer to a second straight Megamantis.com Australian ...
Honda Indy 300 round crucial for Richards' Nations Cup
PORSCHE star Jim Richards celebrates his 10th annual Gold Coast Indy appearance this weekend, hopeful the occasion will see him move closer to a second straight Megamantis.com Australian Nations Cup Championship for grand touring cars.
The 4.5 km street circuit is a happy hunting ground for the New Zealand-born driver, who has tasted success in a variety of cars and returns to the Honda Indy 300 weekend in the lead to defend the title he clinched there last year.
But a dark threat is looming in the form of the black Lamborghini Diablo of three-time Australian Gold Star champion Paul Stokell, making the three seventh-round races on Friday, Saturday and Sunday crucial for Richards.
"It's nice to be leading the points, but I've got a big job ahead to stay there," Richards said.
"Paul Stokell is not far behind in second spot and the Lamborghini is extremely powerful. He'll be hard to catch if he gets a break - but possibly not as hard as he'll be in the final round at Oran Park, so Surfers is going to be vital.
"I love racing on street circuits, but this one is very unforgiving and demands good brakes, which fortunately are one of the Porsche's best features. It's also important to set up the car to ride the kerbs well - we'll just do our best and hopefully that will be enough on the day."
Fellow Porsche driver Peter Fitzgerald is another for whom this is a vital weekend. He's third in the Meguiars Drivers Championship and will be hoping his usual good Indy form - pole position and a race win last year - will return to lift him nearer the series lead.
Other contenders include the Chrysler Vipers of Geoff Morgan and D'arcy Russell, who will be keen to explore Indy's fast straights with their V10 engine power, and the four-car Prancing Horse Ferrari team of Sandown 500 winner Tom Waring, AFL personality Sam Newman, John Teulan and Scott Shearman.
LAST YEAR: Pole - Fitzgerald (Porsche) 2 min. 00.03 sec. Race 1 - Richards (Porsche), Williamson (Porsche), Bradbury (Porsche). Race 2 - Richards, Fitzgerald, Noske (Ferrari). Race 3 - Fitzgerald, Stokell (Lamborghini), Richards. Lap record - Stokell 2:00.98.
2001 MEGUIARS DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP (after Rd 6): 704 points Jim Richards, 574 Paul Stokell, 566 Peter Fitzgerald, 537 Geoff Morgan, 459 Tony Quinn, 420 D'arcy Russell.
TIMETABLE: Thursday - 11.10 Practice (30 min.), 4.20 Qualifying (20 min.) Friday - 8.55 Race 1 (6 laps). Saturday - 12.25 Race 2 (6 laps). Sunday - 10.45 Race 3 (6 laps).