Steven Richards has secured his first Porsche Carrera Cup Australia round win and charged to the championship lead following a sensational Townsville event, as Stephen Grove scored his second consecutive Elite Class round win.
Richards placed second in Saturday’s opening race and trailed Race 1 winner Michael Patrizi at the start of Race 2 until Patrizi entered an escape road mid-race, allowing Richards to take the lead and ultimately win from Warren Luff, Shae Davies, Nick Foster and Craig Baird.
Race 2 was also Marc Cini’s and Ash Samadi’s 200th and 100th race in the Carrera Cup championship, respectively.
Richards followed this performance with another victory in Race 3, securing the round win. The race’s turning point however came when Davies attempted to pass Luff in the final laps for second place; contact between the duo saw an end to Luff’s race and a drive through penalty for Davies.
The mishap allowed Richards to cruise to victory from Baird, Sam Power, Patrizi, Foster and Michael Almond in sixth, while also promoting Richards to the points lead, now equal with Luff in the Outright and Professional Class standings.
The round win, which Richards claimed from Patrizi and Baird, was his first in 26 attempts following seven second placed round finishes.
“It’s nice to get the round win. We’ve been trying hard for a round win for a few years and been close lots of times,” said Richards.
“I qualified seventh but knew I had good speed and we then had some really good races. We raced well and kept it clean.
“Unfortunately for Luff that last race has helped a lot in the points but there’s always a long way to go. I’m driving the car really well and as long as we can keep this good form, keep the car in good condition and stay out of trouble we’re looking good.”
Grove had one of his most impressive performances in Carrera Cup with two Elite Class wins in Sunday’s two races.
The Victorian placed 10th outright in Race 1 ahead of his Elite Class challengers Roger Lago, James Bergmuller and Tony Bates. Grove then placed an impressive seventh outright in Race 3 and won the Elite Class battle from Bates and Lago.
“The Elite Class drivers are really good and you’ve got to be on your game to beat them,” said Grove, who finished ahead of Lago and Bates in the Elite Class points.
Grove was the Outright and Elite Class round winner of the championship’s previous round at Phillip Island when teaming with Scott McLaughlin and suggests the Townsville triumph is special for different reasons.
“Winning this weekend is special. You win a round like Phillip Island and you’re driving with one of the best drivers going around. It’s now good to come here and get the round win on your own.”
Richards and Luff are now equal on points at the season’s half-way mark, both on 534 points ahead of Craig Baird on 448 points and Sam Power on 406 points. The leading duo are then on 552 points in the Professional Class standings from Baird (463 points) and Power (427 points).
Grove (603 points) has strengthened his class dominance of late with a 97 point lead in the Elite Class standings. Bergmuller (506 points) sits in second from Lago on 494 points and Bates on 450 points.
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will return on August 22-24 to begin the second half of its 2014 season at Sydney Motorsport Park.