Porsche Carrera Cup Australia has embarked on its final round of the 2014 season on the streets of Surfers Paradise, with David Russell and Tony Bates the early pace-setters.
The 23-strong Porsche field held two uninterrupted practice session on Friday to begin the epic final round where both the Professional Class and Elite Class championships will be decided.
After previously partnering Roger Lago in the Phillip Island Pro-Am event in May, Russell was handed sole-driving duties for the final two 2014 rounds at Bathurst and Gold Coast, and today commenced the final round with the strongest form in Friday practice.
Russell’s lap record pace of 1:12.8524 eclipsed the best times of the top title combatant Warren Luff and Steven Richards, who posted the second and third fastest times, from Shae Davies, Nick Foster, Craig Baird, Sam Power, Nick McBride and ninth-placed Michael Almond.
Russell was pleased to return for the finale and is looking forward to translating his Friday form into the crucial Carrera Cup qualifying session on Saturday morning.
“I love driving these cars; they’re so fun to drive and it’s great to be on top today, but it’s not really where it counts. I’d love to now convert this into qualifying pace,” said Russell, who is glad to again experience the thrill of Porsche racing in Surfers Paradise, something he last experienced in 2008.
“You’re very busy behind the wheel in these cars at this track. It’s pretty thrilling to drive because you don’t get a rest and you’re on the edge the whole time. If you drive them hard and fast, they’re a ton of fun.”
Tony Bates was the fastest Elite Class racer from the opening practice sessions from Shane Smollen, Stephen Grove and James Bergmuller – the top four in the Elite Class points.
Bates suggests aggression is key to getting the most out of the Gold Coast track following his impressive practice performance.
“The car felt really good in the second session. We fitted some new brake pads which really lifted my confidence. You’ve got to be aggressive at this track to be fast. We can go faster but I was pretty happy with my pace today,” said Bates.
The battle for the TAG Heuer Pole Position Award will be crucial, according to the Carrera Cup history books.
Every year the Porsche championship has visited Surfers Paradise the pole-sitter has gone on to win the opening race. Therefore, with just 31 points separating Luff, Richards and Baird for the 2014 title with three races remaining, the fight for the TAG Heuer Pole Position will be more fierce than ever.
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will hold its qualifying session tomorrow morning at 9:10am following by Race 1 at 1:20pm before its final two races of the season on Sunday.
Saturday October 25th, 2014
9:10am – Qualifying (20 minutes)
1:20pm – Race 1 (16 laps)
Sunday October 26th, 2014
9:30am – Race 2 (16 laps)
12:30pm – Race 3 (21 laps)
Race 3 (live)
Date: Sunday October 26th, 2014
Time: 12:30pm (QLD, local time), 1:30pm (AEDT)
Channel: Seven (7mate in Perth)