New drivers and a winning record will highlight Porsche Carrera Cup Australia’s eighth visit to Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway this weekend.
In a season showcasing Australia’s best young sports car talent, the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge – a class for semi-professional drivers – will this weekend be the focus as one of the championship’s oldest records is set to be reached.
Shane Smollen’s recent success places him at the top of the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge standings, so class victory in this weekend’s Sandown round will not only extend his points lead. Smollen is on the verge of equalling Rodney Jane’s 2006 effort of four straight round wins in the TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge, something he is eager to achieve.
“It’s really important I focus on Sandown. I know I’m strong at Bathurst and Gold Coast, so I’ve got to ensure I get strong results this weekend,” said Smollen.
“This season is really about the balance of speed and finishing races. Consistency is still going to win this championship. The field is starting to thin out at the top end but, having said that, it only takes one bad race to drop back in points. We’ll aim to keep up our strong results at Sandown and hopefully enter the last two rounds in a strong position.”
Two drivers will join the Professional Class ranks at Sandown. Young gun Aaron Seton will make the move from Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia into the #222 Porsche, replacing Scott Taylor. The one-off appearance in the championship will make Seton, son of Glenn, the fifth son of an Australian Touring Car Championship/V8 Supercars champion to compete in the one-make Porsche championship (joining Rodney Jane, James Moffat, Steven Richards and Steven Johnson).
Another newcomer is former Formula 3 and current Australian GT racer, John Magro; the Queenslander will replace Simon Hodge in the #11 Porsche.
Leading the points outright is Steven Richards who, along with David Russell, will perform double duty at Sandown. Richards will contest the Sandown 500 V8 Supercars race alongside Craig Lowndes while David Russell, who will become just the 13th driver to reach 100 Carrera Cup race in race one, will join Rick Kelly.
Richards leads Craig Baird the championship battle, while young guns, third placed Nick Foster and Matt Campbell are the recent form drivers, between them winning the past seven races.
“Sandown is quite a hard track. It requires a lot of commitment, which hopefully translates to great racing,” said Campbell, who became the championship’s 31st different race winner at Sydney.
Foster, who is aiming for his third straight round win at Sandown, added: “Sandown is an interesting track. It’s a permanent circuit but has so many characteristics of a street track. It can have mixed weather also; you can start the race in the dry and finishing in the wet, and vice versa. I’m looking forward to getting down there as it’s always fun to race at Sandown.”
Carrera Cup’s unpredictable qualifying continued at Sydney Motorsport Park, with the championship yet to see a repeat pole-sitter in 2015. Over this season’s five rounds, the TAG Heuer Pole Position Award has been shared between Foster, Nick McBride, Smollen, Russell and Shae Davies.
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia will hold a similar event schedule to what the championship enjoyed at Sydney Motorsport Park. Friday will be dedicated to practice, Saturday will host qualifying and two races and the final race will be held just prior to Sunday’s 500km V8 Supercars event.
Entry List – Sandown
#1 Steven Richards (Professional) Laser Plumbing & Electrical
#4 Stephen Grove (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Grove Group
#6 Ash Samadi (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Apartment Hotel
#7 Matt Campbell (Professional) Phase 8/Nuveau Constructions
#8 Craig Baird (Professional) Porsche Centre Melbourne
#9 Marc Cini (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Hallmarc
#10 David Russell (Professional) Finance Ezi
#11 John Magro (Professional) Team BRM
#13 James Bergmuller (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) MotorOne Car Care
#22 Richard Muscat (Professional) Wilson Security/PAYCE/Genis Steel
#24 Tony Bates (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) AFS/Fleetguard
#25 John Martin (Professional) Copyworld
#26 Michael Almond (Professional) Copyworld/Toshiba
#39 Adrian Mastronardo (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Veritas/Builtform
#45 Duvashen Padayachee (Professional) Darrell Lea STIX
#56 Shane Smollen (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) McGrath Estate Agents
#65 Fraser Ross (Professional) Porsche Centre Brighton
#77 Nick McBride (Professional) Bob Jane T-Marts
#88 Shae Davies (Professional) Davbridge Constructions
#222 Aaron Seton (TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge) Scott Taylor Motorsport
#777 Nick Foster (Professional) Bob Jane T-Marts