CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 24th MARCH 1999 RICHARDS LAUNCHES '99 GTP ATTACK Multiple Bathurst winner, Super Touring ace and former GT Production Car Champion Jim Richards will make a full-time return to the...
CENTURY BATTERIES AUSTRALIAN GT PRODUCTION CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 24th MARCH 1999
RICHARDS LAUNCHES '99 GTP ATTACK
Multiple Bathurst winner, Super Touring ace and former GT Production Car Champion Jim Richards will make a full-time return to the GTP category for the 1999 Century Batteries Australian GT Production Car Championship.
Acknowledged as Australia's greatest motorsport all-rounder, Richards will campaign a Porsche 911 RSCS in the championship which kicks off at Eastern Creek Raceway on March 28.
The move of GTP to the V8 Supercar program has enabled Richards to dovetail his GTP efforts in with his Volvo Super Touring commitments.
"The move to the V8 program was ideal for me because it is too hard to concentrate on both categories if they are on the same day," Richards said.
"Having won the championship before, I really enjoy the series and I'm thrilled I am able to do the full year this season.
"Being a production based formula, you don't have an enormous amount of work to do on the cars and I can run my own team.
"GTP is growing all the time and this year's championship is going to be extremely tough. Peter Fitzgerald and Domenic Beninca are obviously going to be the two guys to beat but Ed Aitken is also going to give us a real hard time.
"Basically anybody with a Porsche, Viper or Ferrari is going to be strong but there will be a few surprises out there this year with lots of new cars and makes."
Despite not competing in the championship in recent years, Richards still stands in third place in all-time production car championship victories with 11 visits to the top step of the podium.
Richards debuted his own GTP machine at Indy last year. Built in his own workshop with long-time associate and last year's PROCAR Operations Manager, Martin Klein, the re- built Porsche 911 RSCS was virtually brand new when it hit the track.
He finished 2nd in the opening Indy race but retired from the second event with a broken exhaust after Ross Almond's Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V hit the back of the Porsche at the first chicane.
"We have had the chance to do a few laps at Winton and I am very happy with how it feels," Richards said.
"Last year was a bit of rush but we are well prepared now for Eastern Creek. The championship is really looking strong with strong fields and excellent television exposure. It is great to back as a part of it."
While he has not been a GTP regular since winning the championship in 1995, Richards has co-driven with Peter Fitzgerald with great success, winning last year's Century Batteries 3-Hour Bathurst Showroom Showdown in a titanic battle with the Neil Crompton/Darren Palmer Ferrari F355 Challenge.