TWO-time GTP champion Jim Richards, driving a German Porsche GT3, faces a massed Italian attack on his new position in the lead of the 2000 Century Batteries GTP Nations Cup when round five is staged this weekend at Oran Park, near...
TWO-time GTP champion Jim Richards, driving a German Porsche GT3, faces a massed Italian attack on his new position in the lead of the 2000 Century Batteries GTP Nations Cup when round five is staged this weekend at Oran Park, near Sydney.
Richards took the lead from Mark Noske at the last round in Queensland a month ago and then two weeks later found his margin extended when points were deducted from Noske over a technical infringement in his Ferrari F360 Modena Challenge.
Noske now trails Richards by 22 points and will be determined to reduce the gap in two races on a track that appears not to favour any car.
Also in the hunt will be three more of the $350,000 Ferraris, driven by the seasoned Wayne Park, world champion Alan Jones' 21-year-old son Christian and a yet-to-be-announced partner for Noske in the Prancing Horse Racing team.
And rounding out the Italian attack will be the super-fast V12-engined Lamborghini Diablo of triple Australian driving champion Paul Stokell, who is third in the series.
"Oran Park is going to suit everyone and I think they will be terrific races. The Lamborghini is a big car and won't like the slow corners, but it will be good in the faster corners and on the straight," Stokell said.
Richards says he fears the Ferraris more, but will simply do his best. "We'll go as good as we go; if someone beats us they'll have done a better job," he said.
Other contenders include Peter Fitzgerald, Peter Bradbury and Mark Williamson in Porsche GT3s and Geoff Morgan in his fast-improving Dodge Viper ACR.
The record entry of 26 ultra-performance GT cars for Oran Park features six drivers new to the series. Peter Landan will drive the first British make entered in the GTP Nations Cup, a Lotus Elise 200R coupe, while John Teulan and Rod Smith will represent Japan in four-wheel drive Nissan Skyline GT-R turbo.
MEGUIAR'S TOP MARQUES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP (after Rd 4): 1 Jim Richards 105, 2 Mark Noske 83, 3 Paul Stokell 71, 4 Peter Fitzgerald 63, 5 Mark Williamson 49, 6 Wayne Park 44.
TIMETABLE: Friday 10.50 am - Practice (30 min.), 1.20 pm - Practice (30 min.); Saturday 12.15 pm - Qualifying (30 min.), 3.35 pm - Practice (15 min.); Sunday 10.45 am - Race 1 (15 in.), 4.20 pm - Race 2 (20 min.).