Porsche champion Craig Baird has been awarded his dream drive at the Sydney Telstra 500, taking the controls of Porsche’s iconic RS Spyder.
In recognition of his unprecedented success in Porsche racing and his role as a Porsche ambassador, the newly crowned Porsche City Index Carrera Cup Australia champion has been handed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive the 353 kW (480 hp) prototype sports car in demonstration laps at Sydney Olympic Park in addition to his Carrera Cup duties.
The Sydney event will be the second time the RS Spyder has driven on an Australian race track following its popular appearance at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 event, where it was driven by Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen.
Baird secured the 2012 Carrera Cup Australia title at the penultimate round of the one-make championship in Gold Coast; his 10th Porsche Cup championship victory in a career that also includes 125 Porsche one-make championship race victories.
“It’s an honour to be selected to drive the RS Spyder at Sydney and I’m absolutely looking forward to it. Anyone who has driven the RS Spyder or has been around it has always said that it’s a phenomenal car; I’m sure it will be a pleasure to drive,” said Baird.
“I’m looking forward to experiencing the car’s technology and the way it handles. Admittedly, I’ve driven cars with a lot more power, but I would say that the way its ground effects work along with the tyre technology, brakes and many other components means it’s probably one of the most technologically advanced cars that you could drive outside of Formula 1™.
“I’ve followed the Porsche RS Spyders for a long time and I’ve been in races where sports cars like that have been around you; they’re just so fast and exciting and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to drive one around Sydney Olympic Park.”
The creation of the RS Spyder was the first new project built by Porsche exclusively for racing since its successful 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans campaign with the Porsche 911 GT1. The result: a LMP2 legend that was best known for its success in the American Le Mans Series against its more powerful LMP1 class rivals.
The RS Spyder that Baird will drive at Sydney Olympic Park competed in 11 races over the 2005 and 2006 American Le Mans Series, in which time it claimed four LMP2 race victories, never finishing outside the top three positions in its class, and won the 2006 LMP2 Championship.
The famed prototype is part of Porsche’s ‘rolling museum’ and will again be accompanied by the museum’s ambassador, Klaus Bischof, at Sydney Olympic Park.
The RS Spyder continues its tour of Australia in celebration of Porsche’s LMP1 return to Le Mans in 2014.