After six events, 17 races and 232 laps, Porsche Carrera Cup Australia this weekend converges on the Gold Coast for the final round of the spectacular 2013 season.
Only three 14-lap races remain in this year’s one-make championship, with both the Professional Class and Elite Class titles undecided entering the Surfers Paradise based event.
There is, however, a firm favourite for the Professional Class crown; as Craig Baird enters his 50th round of the championship on the verge of his fifth Carrera Cup Australia title win.
“It doesn’t feel like I’m about to enter my 50th Carrera Cup round,” said Baird.
“I had a reasonably solid finish to the Bathurst round which put me in a better position in the standings; especially after a bit of bad luck for Nick Percat, so that really extended my championship lead. I just have to go through the motions this weekend, tick all the boxes to make sure I get the championship.
“Everyone says this championship gets tougher every year, and this year we’ve had some very good competitors and great battles.”
Baird becomes only the third driver to reach 50 round starts in the category behind Carrera Cup’s most capped driver, Marc Cini, and Rennsport race winner Rodney Jane.
From Baird’s previous 49 round starts, the New Zealander has won 20 rounds (a success rate of 41 per cent), had 56 race wins (a success rate of 39 per cent), gained 12 pole positions and stood on 37 round podiums.
Having won seven of the last nine races on the Gold Coast, Baird carries a 104-point lead in the Professional Class standings from Warren Luff, with Nick Percat a further 16 points behind.
Bathurst 1000 victor Steven Richards and Michael Patrizi are placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in the standings and both remain in contention for a top-three Professional Class finish.
Meanwhile, Max Twigg holds a 39-point lead in the Elite Class standings from Damien Flack, substantially extending his class lead at Bathurst.
Shane Smollen is placed third in the Elite Class, 78 points ahead of Stephen Grove, and is looking for redemption on the Surfers Paradise streets following a promising, yet ultimately unfortunate, round last season.
“The Gold Coast round last year was disappointing; we won the first race in the Elite Class and then engine issues ended my round; obviously a disappointing way to finish the weekend as I had great pace,” said Smollen.
“Last year weighs on my mind; I have unfinished business at this track. I will be aiming for the best possible result this weekend but keeping in mind the Elite Class podium.”
Carrera Cup will first drive on the 2.98 km street track on Friday for its practice and qualifying sessions before a single race on Saturday and the final two races of the Carrera Cup season on Sunday. Race 1 will be televised from the Gold Coast round, delayed in all markets to be broadcast at 5:10pm.
The Gold Coast round will be the final event where the current model Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars will be eligible for Porsche Carrera Cup Australia competition ahead of the championship’s introduction of the new model Type 991 GT3 Cup car for the 2014 season.
Friday October 25, 2013
10:15am Practice 30 minutes
2:55pm Qualifying 20 minutes
Saturday October 26, 2013
12:25pm Race 1 14 laps
Sunday October 27, 2013
8:50am Race 2 14 laps
11:40am Race 3 14 laps
Carrera Cup – Race 1 (delayed)
Date: Saturday October 26, 2013
Channel: Seven (Adel/Per), 7mate (Syd/Bris/Melb)