Good speed but tough weekend for Laser Racing in Adelaide

SRM-Richards-Carrera_Cup-2016-R1_3060_medAfter winning all three Porsche Carrera Cup Australia races at the Clipsal 500 in 2015, there was a lot of expectation on 2014 series champion Steven Richards heading to Adelaide, something which the reigning Bathurst 1000 champion is no stranger to, and typically as the weekend wore on, the experienced Porsche campaigner found himself getting closer and closer to the front of the field.

With the heavy four-day schedule at Clipsal, track-time ahead of the three races too is limited, with the Laser Racing #12 Porsche 991 qualifying back a little further than Richards would have liked, but well within reach of the leaders.

“Our pre-season preparation wasn’t as great as we’d have liked in the end, with an engine failure four laps into testing with a unit that had been freshly rebuilt, so we were limited with laps ahead of Clipsal. It also didn’t help that the engine wasn’t ready before Sydney Motorsport Park for the official pre-season test, so whilst we knew basically what we wanted from the car [at Clipsal], there’s no substitute for laps and that really had us behind the eight ball early in the weekend.

“There’s also some strong competition this year.. A couple of former full-time V8 Supercar drivers, a former champion in Alex Davison and some hot young stars coming up through the ranks, it’s certainly not going to be an easy year.”

From the third row of the grid, Richards ran with the leaders off the start of race one, before a long Safety Car intervention for an opening lap accident brought the field to a crawl. On the restart former V8 Supercar regular David Wall grabbed the jump on the Laser Plumbing & Electrical driver, forcing Richards back to eighth, a position he held until the end of the race.

“There weren’t a lot of opportunities to move forward, the race ended much the way it had started,” Richards lamented. “It was nice to have some of our first serious miles in the car this year, so we’ll apply a few of the things we learnt and come out fighting in race two.”

A strong start from the fourth row in race two saw Richards return the favour to Wall, taking the inside running into turn one to be seventh, which became fifth by turn four after contact between race one winner Matt Campbell and Davison saw both in the barriers.

From there Richards pushed hard to be one of the fastest cars on the circuit as he closed in on Fraser Ross for position four. By two thirds race distance he made the move at turn four, but ran into turn nine deep under brakes, allowing Ross back through for position, Wall now closing on the duo.

A lap later Richards pressed the move home again, and grabbed fourth, crossing the line comfortably clear of Wall and just a couple of seconds down on third placed Michael Almond.

For race three the start was again the key, Richards winning the drag race to turn one to be third inside Almond, which became second by turn three, but only just as the #777 Porsche of race two winner Ash Walsh spun sideways on the exit of the corner right in front of Richards who was forced hard onto the brakes to avoid him.

“That certainly raised the heart-rate,” Richards admitted afterwards.

With Walsh stuck in the barriers the race was brought under the control of the Safety Car, with Richards maintaining second, but news soon came that the #12 Laser Plumbing & Electrical Porsche was the effective race leader with Nick McBride expecting a post-race time penalty for jumping the start.

On the restart Richards continued punching out strong laps to be within tenths of McBride’s tail, but on lap nine it all came unstuck, the right rear of Richards’ immaculate Laser Racing Porsche clipping the unforgiving barriers on the exit of turn 11, breaking the right rear suspension which forced him out of the race.

“100% my error,” a disappointed Richards admitted afterwards. “I’d been pushing on and had been using all the circuit there each lap, but on that lap as the car bounced across the exit of the corner like I’d done before, it went just that little bit wider and that was that. I’m disappointed for the team because they’d done such a great job of getting the car to where we’d had it in 2015, but sometimes these things happen, so it’s just a matter of getting the car home to Melbourne, rebuilding it and being ready to go again at the Grand Prix in two weeks time.”

Round two of the 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Championship gets underway in Melbourne as part of the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship season which begins at Albert Park Circuit on 17 March.

2016 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Championship
Clipal 500, Adelaide, South Australia (3-6 March)

Qualifying (20-minutes) – 4 March
1. Ash Walsh (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) – 1:21.9574
2. Matt Campbell (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) – 1:21.9694
3. Alex Davison (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) – 1:22.4104
4. Nick McBride (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) – 1:22.4307
5. Fraser Ross (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) – 1:22.4331
6. Steven Richards (Laser Racing Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) – 1:22.4466

Race#1 (10-laps) – 4 March
1. Matt Campbell (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
2. Nick McBride (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
3. Ash Walsh (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
4. Alex Davison (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
5. Fraser Ross (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
8. Steven Richards (Laser Racing Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)

Race#2 (18-laps) – 5 March
1. Ash Walsh (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
2. Nick McBride (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
3. Michael Almond (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
4. Steven Richards (Laser Racing Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
5. David Wall (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)

Race#3 (16-laps) – 6 March
1. Michael Almond (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
2. Matt Campbell (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
3. Nick McBride (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
4. Alex Davison (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
5. David Wall (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
DNF. Steven Richards (Laser Racing Porsche 991 GT3 Cup) – 9-laps

Source. Motorsport Media

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