Sports car maestro Craig Baird has taken victory in the opening Porsche Carrera Cup Australia race at Sydney Motorsport Park with a sensational wet weather performance, while Tony Bates was the star Elite Class driver.
Downpours over western Sydney left Carrera Cup to line up on a wet circuit for its opening race, where Michael Patrizi led into the opening corner after a strong race start closely followed by TAG Heuer Pole Position winner Warren Luff, Steven Richards, Baird and Nick Foster.
Baird soon shined in the testing conditions, moving past Richards and Luff in the opening laps before eventually taking the lead from Patrizi on Lap 8 of the 14 lap race.
The safety car was called soon after when debutant Greg Taylor ran off-track, though Baird’s superior pace continued from the Lap 11 restart to the chequered flag.
Patrizi finished second from Richards, Luff, Sam Power, Shae Davies and Nick McBride.
Bates was the Elite Class race winner and placed eighth outright from Renee Gracie, Shane Smollen and Nick Foster, who was forced to pit after a rain light issue.
Bates suggested that while drivers had difficulty with vision, the race was still thoroughly enjoyable.
“I’m rapt with the Elite Class win. We haven’t tasted victory since the Clipsal 500 and we’ve had a lot of bad luck in between so it’s nice to be back there,” said Bates.
“It was unbelievably wet out there; you couldn’t see your braking markers through the spray from the other cars so it was hard to ascertain where you were on the track. I’ve raced other categories in the wet and these cars are just another level; I can’t speak highly enough of how well they handle in the wet.”
Ash Samadi scored an impressive 12th from Michael Almond, Stephen Grove, Tony Walls, Roger Lago, Brenton Ramsay, James Bergmuller, Maurie Pickering, Adrian Mastronardo and newcomers Scott Taylor and Greg Taylor.
The result handed Richards a nine point lead in the standings from Luff, with Baird now 59 points further behind in third.
Grove extended his points lead in the Elite Class by 121 points from Bergmuller, Lago, Bates and Smollen.
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will hold its two remaining races for the round on Sunday, with Race 2 to be broadcast on 7mate at the delayed time of 1:30pm (local time).
Sunday August 24, 2014
9:00am – 9:30am – Race 2 (14 laps)
2:35pm – 3:05pm – Race 3 (14 laps)
Carrera Cup – Race 2
Date: Sunday August 24, 2014
Time: 1:30pm (delayed) Sydney local time
Carrera Cup – Post-round Episode
Date: Saturday August 30, 2014
Time: 11:00am Sydney local time