Steven Richards has inched closer to the lead of the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship with victory in a shortened Race 1 at Mount Panorama, while Shane Smollen cruised to a convincing Elite Class race win.
Richards secured the TAG Heuer Pole Position Award early on Friday before charging to the lead at the start of the opening race.
The safety car was soon called to the circuit following an opening lap accident on the run to The Cutting which ended the race for four Elite Class drivers – Tony Bates, Marc Cini, Ash Samadi and James Bergmuller.
Richards was able to streak ahead of his combatants after the restart when Warren Luff, David Russell and Nick Foster battled for second position, with Sam Power and Craig Baird in close pursuit.
Richards continued at the front until the chequered flag, though only half championship points were awarded as 75 per cent of the original race distance was not completed; the scheduled 10-lap race concluded at the end of Lap 7 due to the early safety car.
Richards was ecstatic with the win and is comfortable with his Porsche entering the remaining two races.
“The car feels great and everything is going well. Gaining pole position and getting a good start helped; that set up the rest of the race. It’s great to get the win,” said Richards.
“This championship has been unbelievably tough the whole season; no one has been able to get away and I can’t see that changing. There seems to be all these little twists and turns along the way that somehow managed to keep us all together. We’ve got to capitalise while we can because there’s still five races to go and anything can happen.”
Luff held off challenges in the closing laps to place second from Russell, Foster, Power and Baird in sixth, with Michael Patrizi, Shae Davies, Michael Patrizi and Nick McBride rounded out the top 10.
Smollen was the best placed Elite Class driver in 11th from Duvashen Padayachee and next best Elite Class drivers Stephen Grove and Tony Walls in 13th and 14th, respectively.
Smollen was pleased with his class dominance and is hoping for similar form in Saturday’s Race 2.
“As is turns out we had an Elite Class win by 18 seconds, but it’s not the way I want to achieve it as we lost a big chunk of the faster Elite Class drivers in one incident. That happened just behind me and I could have just as easily been involved in it,” said Smollen.
“At the end of the day I’m happy to take home a pretty comfortable win but I’m sorry to see those boys with damage.
“I think we’ve got every reason to be confident going into tomorrow. We’ve got good pace and track position and plenty of tyres so there’s no reason why we can’t repeat today’s effort.”
Renee Gracie placed 15th from Brenton Ramsay, Scott Taylor and Adrian Mastronardo in 18th.
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will hold its second race of the Bathurst event on Saturday at 3:25pm, with the final race to be the final on-track session before the V8 Supercars 1000km endurance race on Sunday, to be held at 8:50pm.
Saturday October 11, 2014
3:25pm Race 2 10 laps
Sunday October 12, 2014
8:50am Race 3 10 laps
Race 2 (live)
Date: Saturday October 11, 2014
Time: 3:25pm (local time)
Race 3 (live)
Date: Sunday October 12, 2014
Time: 8:50am (local time)