Steven Richards and Tony Bates have emerged as the drivers to beat in the 2015 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia presented by Michelin championship after a perfect weekend on the streets of Adelaide.
Richards entered the final day of the Clipsal 500 with two outright race victories while Bates was unbeaten in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge; a trend the pair continued in Sunday’s Race 3 to claim the clean sweep of race wins.
Richards’ performance in Race 3 was a carbon copy of his Race 2 win; a blistering race start was followed with a dominant performance at the front, managing the gap to second placed Craig Baird until the chequered flag.
The round win was Richards’ first at the Adelaide event, something the former V8 racer considers a special milestone for any driver.
“To get the win here at the Clipsal 500, regardless of the category, is always something special. It has always been a goal to get first place at this event, so to do it in this fashion is fantastic,” said Richards.
Richards now leads the standings over Baird by 30 points, with Baird predicting a strong fight for the 2015 title.
“It’s nice to come away with second for the weekend. I’ve changed cars and we’re a little bit behind the eight ball at the moment. Richards did a great job and I feel for Nick Foster, who was the quickest driver all weekend,” said Baird.
“There are always quick young guys in the championship so it’s great to see two-and-a-half old guys – Dave is getting older – on the podium. There is some real talent on the grid and there are around eight drivers that have the pace to win races. It’s going to be a very competitive season.”
David Russell placed third for the round after finishing third in Race 3, crossing the finish line ahead of Nick McBride, who narrowly missed out on his maiden podium, Cam McConville, Richard Muscat, Michael Almond, the best of the debutants Simon Hodge and Duvashen Padayachee in ninth.
Bates placed 10th in Sunday’s Race 3, scoring his sixth straight Carrera Challenge race win at the Clipsal 500, finishing ahead of Roger Lago, Shane Smollen, Stephen Grove, Marc Cini, Ash Samadi, Adrian Mastronardo and Scott Taylor with eighth in class.
For Lago, second place in Race 3 secured him second in class for the round while Grove beat Smollen to the final step on the podium.
Bates was ecstatic with his form in the opening round and his continued strong pace in Adelaide.
“We had many of last year’s Carrera Challenge drivers fronting up again this year and they’re all improving. I had to up the ante; I worked pretty hard on my fitness over summer and was quick in testing so I knew I was going to be quick this year,” said Bates.
“I’m now just looking for some consistency. I was quick last year but I wasn’t consistent enough and didn’t keep the car out of trouble. The aim this year is to keep it clean and continue to score strong results.”
Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge graduates Fraser Ross and Matt Campbell failed to finish the final race. Ross spun on Lap 7 at Turn 4 with Campbell making contact with the stricken Porsche. The contact broke Ross’s steering while Campbell sustained race-ending radiator damage.
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia presented by Michelin will next appear on track at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in two weeks where the Porsche category will reach the impressive milestone of 250 races in Australia.
Race 3 results
1. Steven Richards (Professional) 12 laps – 16:44.3
2. Craig Baird (Professional) 12 laps – 16:45.6
3. David Russell (Professional) 12 laps – 16:46.2
4. Nick McBride (Professional) 12 laps – 16:49.5
5. Cam McConville (Professional) 12 laps – 16:51.0
6. Richard Muscat (Professional) 12 laps – 16:51.5
7. Michael Almond (Professional) 12 laps – 16:52.2
8. Simon Hodge (Professional) 12 laps – 16:52.6
9. Duvashen Padayachee (Professional) 12 laps – 16:55.9
10. Tony Bates (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) 12 laps – 17:09.7
11. Roger Lago (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) 12 laps – 17:10.6
12. Shane Smollen (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) 12 laps – 17:11.1
13. Stephen Grove (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) 12 laps – 17:21.7
14. Marc Cini (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) 12 laps – 17:23.8
15. Ash Samadi (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) 12 laps – 17:31.3
16. Adrian Mastronardo (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) 12 laps – 17:32.1
17. Scott Taylor (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) 12 laps – 17:52.7
DNF Fraser Ross (Professional) 6 laps – 08:38.8
DNF Matt Campbell (Professional) 6 laps – 08:39.0