Baird back in action as Carrera Cup Australia hits Townsville

Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will this weekend return to the V8 Supercars spectacle as the championship readies for its fourth ever visit to the Townsville streets.

The competitive Porsche championship will feature 21 cars for the sunny north Queensland round, with one well credentialed debutant set to take on the talented Carrera Cup competition.

Carrera Cup’s return to the V8 Supercars calendar strongly increases its visibility; every session from Townsville will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 5 (Channel 506) while races one and two will be televised on Network Ten.

History has favoured New Zealand born Carrera Cup drivers at Townsville; all four previous Townsville rounds and 10 of the past 12 races at the venue have been won by drivers born across the Tasman Sea: Alex Davison and Michael Patrizi the only drivers to buck the trend, brought on by the success of Dan Gaunt, Jonny Reid, Craig Baird and reigning Townsville victor Steven Richards – the only multiple round winner over the last 12 months.

Nick McBride is looking to improve the ratio for locally born talent. Sitting second in the standings, the Melbourne born racer is looking to continue his strong start to 2015 and hopefully outpace his more experienced rivals.

“I’m going to go out there this weekend and go as fast as I can, not worrying about the championship standings. I know that Richards and Baird don’t make mistakes so I’ll just go out there and be as fast as I can and hopefully the results follow,” said McBride, who will sport the DonateLife logo on his race car in Townsville to raise awareness for the government programme to improve organ and tissue donation and transplantation outcomes in Australia.

The TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge is tight at the front, with its three top drivers – Shane Smollen, Stephen Grove and Tony Bates – split by 21.5 points before the Queensland round.

Smollen enters the round having taken outright victory in the Phillip Island Pro-Am alongside Nick Percat while Grove has proven his pace in Townsville, winning the event in the class last year. Meanwhile Ash Samadi will move to sixth in the list of most Carrera Cup rounds start with his 44th appearance in the championship.

With competition in the Challenge class better than ever, Bates hopes Townsville success will place him in a strong position entering the championship’s mid-season mark.

“We’re nearly at the half way point of the season and points are really starting to become valuable now so no one wants a bad round in Townsville because you want to kick off the second half of the season in Sydney with a bag full of points. There aren’t many points between the top three so this weekend will be very interesting,” said Bates.

One exciting addition to the championship is John Martin. The Queenslander has chosen Carrera Cup for his return to Australian motorsport following an impressive record in several international championships – British Formula 3, World Series by Renault, A1GP, Superleague Formula, United Sportscar Championship and the World Endurance Championship.

“The likes of Craig Baird and Steven Richards are definitely the benchmarks in Carrera Cup Australia so if we can run with them I’ll be very happy. I’m looking forward to seeing where I stack up against those guys,” said Martin, who will become the 169th driver to have competed in Carrera Cup Australia since 2003.

Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will hold three races over the Townsville weekend, all of which can be viewed live on Fox Sports. The opening two races of the weekend will also be broadcast free-to-air on Network Ten.

Entry List
#1 Steven Richards (Laser Plumbing & Electrical) Professional
#4 Stephen Grove (Grove Group) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge
#6 Ash Samadi (Apartment Hotel) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge
#7 Matt Campbell (Phase 8/Nuveau Constructions) Professional
#8 Craig Baird (Porsche Centre Melbourne) Professional
#9 Marc Cini (Hallmarc) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge
#10 David Russell (Finance Ezi/Hydraulink/Actron Air) Professional
#11 Simon Hodge (Team BRM) Professional
#13 James Bergmuller (MotorOne Car Care) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge
#22 Richard Muscat (Wilson Security/PAYCE/Genis Steel) Professional
#23 Roger Lago (JBS Australia) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge
#24 Tony Bates (AFS/Top Cat Video Productions) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge
#25 John Martin (Copyworld) Professional
#26 Michael Almond (Copyworld) Professional
#39 Adrian Mastronardo (Veritas/Builtform) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge
#45 Duvashen Padayachee (Darrell Lea STIX) Professional
#56 Shane Smollen (McGrath Estate Agents) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge
#65 Fraser Ross (Cigweld/Porsche Centre Brighton) Professional
#77 Nick McBride (Bob Jane T-Marts) Professional
#222 Scott Taylor (Scott Taylor Motorsport) TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge
#777 Nick Foster (Bob Jane T-Marts) Professional

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

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