Porsche Carrera Cup Australia moves from the excitement of a joint Sydney round to the vital Sandown event where, as the number of races that remain hits single digits, the fight for championship points intensifies.
Matt Campbell currently leads the charge in the outright standings; the 21-year-old has claimed victory in five of the past eight Carrera Cup races, including four 90-point battles and the joint Porsche Carrera Cup Asia & Australia race in Sydney.
Campbell will now join four other Carrera Cup racers – Dean Fiore, Steven Richards, David Wall and Ash Walsh – who will compete in both the Porsche series’ ninth visit to Sandown and the Supercars Championship endurance race in a co-driver role. This is the greatest number of Carrera Cup drivers also competing in the Supercars endurance race at Sandown since 2006 and the same number of duel-roled drivers as the V8 Supercars Development Series.
While Campbell’s nearest points rivals, Nick McBride and Alex Davison, can focus their efforts solely on Carrera Cup’s three races, Campbell will have to manage the weekend-long transition between the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and the Nissan Altima Supercar.
“I really won’t know how I will handle the transition and the busy schedule until this weekend. Driving the two different cars will be a challenge; I have done it before on the same weekend, but only once each time. Changing multiple times will be a challenge but, going off past experience, I think I’ll be fine,” said Campbell, who placed second in all three Sandown races last season behind eventual champion, Nick Foster.
“It’s really good to have the lead in the Carrera Cup points; though it might sound like a big lead, it’s not. I’ll just head into this weekend with the same approach as the past few rounds. I really enjoyed Sandown last year and I’m looking forward to racing there again.”
Campbell will also shoot for his fifth straight TAG Heuer Pole Position, an effort only ever achieved by Jim Richards in 2003, who topped six straight qualifying sessions.
Another double duty driver in fine form is Wall; the former full-time Supercars racer hasn’t finish outside the top two positions in the past five Carrera Cup Australia races (one win, four seconds) and is looking to stop his climb up the order of most podium appearances without a round win – now second in the category with five, behind 10-time podium getter, Russell.
The battle at the front of the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge is edging closer, with Tony Bates now leading the division by 19.5 points from reigning class champion, Shane Smollen.
While Smollen has outscored Bates in the past four Carrera Cup rounds, Bates has form at his home circuit, claiming four wins in the last five Sandown races, including a clean sweep at the 2015 event, which gives him the most ever Sandown race wins in the class.
“The Sandown track is busy with not a lot of areas where you can have a rest during the race. Being a home round I’m sure to get a whole lot of friends, family and business associated that come out and watch. It’s an event I love racing at and, after success last year, I’m looking forward to returning again this season,” said Bates.
The round is also home for three other TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge drivers – the series’ most experienced driver, Marc Cini, and third and fourth placed drivers, Stephen Grove and James Bergmuller, with just 4.5 points separating the pair in the Challenge standings.
Grove enters Sandown as the only multiple Challenge round winner in 2016 and spectacularly claimed victory in the Class B/TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge joint Carrera Cup Asia & Australia race at Sydney Motorsport Park last round.
The Sandown event marks the series’ return to live broadcast on Network Ten, something that Carrera Cup will enjoy for the remainder of the season. The opening two races will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 5 and delayed (as live) on Channel 10, while Sunday’s final race will be solely broadcast on Fox Sports 5.
Double Duty: Porsche Carrera Cup Australia/Supercars Championship
#7 carsales Racing – Todd Kelly/Matt Campbell
#14 Freightliner Racing – Tim Slade/Ash Walsh
#23 Nissan Motorsport – Michael Caruso/Dean Fiore
#33 Wilson Security Racing GRM – Scott McLaughlin/David Wall
#888 TeamVortex – Craig Lowndes/Steven Richards
Friday September 16, 2016
9:30am Practice 1 (25 minutes)
12:30pm Practice 2 (25 minutes)
3:35pm Qualifying (25 minutes)
Saturday September 17, 2016
10:45am Race 1 (17 laps)
3:10pm Race 2 (17 laps)
Sunday September 18, 2016
12:05pm Race 3 (21 laps)
Fox Sports 5
Practice 2 – 12:30pm, Friday September 16
Qualifying – 3:35pm, Friday September 16
Race 1 – 10:45am, Saturday September 17
Race 2 – 3:10pm, Saturday September 17
Race 3 – 12:05pm, Sunday September 18
Race 1 – 12:40pm (delayed), Saturday September 17
Race 2 – 3:25pm (delayed), Saturday September 17
Entry List: Round 6, Sandown
1. #4 Stephen Grove (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Grove Hire
2. #7 Matt Campbell (Outright) Nuveau Constructions/Phase 8
3. #8 Dean Fiore (Outright) Saint/Porsche Centre Melbourne
4. #9 Marc Cini (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Hallmarc
5. #12 Steven Richards (Outright) Laser Plumbing and Electrical
6. #13 James Bergmuller (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) pricepressure.com.au
7. #21 Garth Walden (Outright) Commercial Interior Projects/PlastaMasta Minchinbury
8. #24 Tony Bates (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Moveitnet/A.F.S
9. #25 Alex Davison (Outright) Wilson Parking
10. #26 Michael Almond (Outright) Toshiba/Copyworld
11. #38 David Wall (Outright) Wilson Security/PAYCE
12. #39 Adrian Mastronardo (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) TOGA/Veritas Property Group
13. #45 Duvashen Padayachee (Outright) Darrell Lea STIX
14. #54 James Abela (Outright) Horsley Park Gun Shop
15. #56 Shane Smollen (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) McGrath Estate Agents
16. #77 Nick McBride (Outright) Bob Jane T-Marts
17. #88 Dylan O’Keeffe (Outright) All Star Equipment Sales/Dexion Supply Centre
18. #777 Ash Walsh (Outright) Bob Jane T-Marts/Infants Friend