Two champion driver combinations are among the favourites for the upcoming Pro-Am round of Porsche Carrera Cup Australia as both primary drivers battle for the points lead.
Reigning champion Steven Richards and five-time winner Craig Baird have both selected their co-drivers from the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge honour roll: Richards picking inaugural winner Dean Grant while Baird recruited triple champion Max Twigg.
Twigg has experienced considerable success in the Pro-Am winning the inaugural event in 2013 with Luke Youlden before taking Professional Class victory alongside Baird at last year’s event. This success extends to the Challenge class record books: the Victorian has a record 46 class race wins, most round wins (16) and an unprecedented three Challenge titles.
Twigg also contested the Albert Park round this season, taking the Challenge class win.
Meanwhile Richards is hoping his recruit, dual Challenge champion Grant, will help continue his 2015 success.
Richards has claimed outright victory in the opening two rounds of the 2015 season and holds a 76 point lead in the championship standings over Baird.
The Pro-Am round has traditionally given the points tally a mid-season shake up, though Richards hopes the appointment of Grant will add some stability to his points lead.
“As far as Challenge co-drivers go, Dean will be one of the strongest and most consistent out there. He has vast Carrera Cup experience and has clocked plenty of time behind the wheel of sports cars of late; both pretty crucial factors that will help at the Phillip Island event,” said Richards.
“This round usually throws a curve ball at the championship standings so I’ll plan to stay out of trouble and focus on retaining the vital championship lead by the end of the weekend.
“I’ve known Dean since he first started racing cars and he’s always dedicated a vast amount of time and energy to being successful. We’ll be out to have a good time driving together and finish both races; simple as that.”
Grant is looking forward to his Carrera Cup return. The Melbourne based businessman has 100 races of Carrera Cup experience (35 round starts) from which he has 16 race wins and six round victories in the class, the fifth highest of any Challenge racer.
Grant also claimed the first two TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge titles in 2004 and 2005, making him one of three multiple class champion alongside Rodney Jane and Twigg.
“It’s been a while since I’ve raced in Carrera Cup and I’m thrilled to re-join the category for the Pro-Am event,” said Grant.
“I’ve raced against many of the Challenge drivers in the past few seasons but it has been far too long since I’ve raced them in the same machinery. I’m looking forward to lining up against those guys and having a great battle on track. It’s also great to be given the opportunity to join Steven in his title defence season. It’s a huge responsibility and a great championship so I’m truly looking forward to my Carrera Cup return for the Phillip Island round.”
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia’s Pro-Am round will be held at Phillip Island as part of the Shannons Australian Motor Racing Nationals on May 22-24, 2015.