Reigning Porsche City Index Carrera Cup Australia champion Craig Baird has secured the 2012 title in the Gold Coast, while Jonny Reid and Max Twigg claimed round honours at the 2.96 km beachside circuit.
After victory in the opening two Gold Coast races, Baird again led from the start of Sunday’s Race 3 however an uncharacteristic error in the opening lap forced Baird down the order, handing Reid the race lead.
Reid pulled away from the field to claim a two-second victory, with Steven Richards holding off a race-long challenge from Alex Davison to take second place.
Andre Heimgartner finished his round on a high, placing fourth in the final race from Nick Foster – who started from the rear of the field – Daniel Gaunt, Shae Davies and Baird, recovering to finish eighth.
While Baird’s error handed Reid the round win, eighth was enough to secure him the 2012 Porsche City Index Carrera Cup Australia title with one round remaining.
Baird now holds a 180-point lead in the standings, with 180 points on offer in Sydney. However as Baird has 10 race wins this season – compared to Davison’s four wins –the New Zealander would win the championship even if the duo were to finish on equal points.
“I never thought I’d be leaving this round with the championship. I came into this round thinking I’d like to have a race win or two and keep the points gap as it was, or try to extend it,” said Baird.
“I’d go as far as to say that this is the best championship win. There were a solid five or six drivers that were capable of winning the championship at the beginning of the season and we’ve won 10 out of 21 races with more poles than anyone else. Now I’m just looking forward to Homebush and having a round without too much pressure.”
Reid was ecstatic with his performance in his third round win of the season.
“Some people may look at it as though we were handed the round win, but we certainly put the pressure on from the start and made sure Baird had the hardest job possible. It would have been a good battle, the car was fantastic and, even on used rubber, we were setting really good times,” said Reid.
“It was a really solid round for us in the championship chase and now it’s quite possible to move into second place at Homebush. That’s our goal now – second in the championship. After missing the first round, second for the season would be like winning the championship for us.”
Finishing behind Baird in the final race was ninth-placed Twigg, who finished first in the Elite Class for the round, ahead of Tony Bates in 10th.
James Koundouris placed 11th and Paul Kelly in 12th, with the duo finishing second and third in the Elite Class points at the Gold Coast event.
“All the Elite Class guys drove at the same pace; I don’t think I was the fastest, I just had better track position,” said Twigg.
“I just hope everyone is on the same pace at Homebush, it makes it a much more enjoyable race meeting.”
Michael Loccisano finished 13th from Stephen Grove, Ray Angus and Marc Cini.
Heimgartner, who finished fifth in the round points behind Reid, Richards, Davison and Gaunt, secured the Michelin Australia Sportsperson of the Year Award.
Davison’s failure to finish in the opening race allowed him to secure the Mobil 1 Hard Charger Award, for gaining the most positions over the weekend’s three races.
The final round of the championship will be held at Sydney Olympic Park on November 29 to December 02, 2012.