TAG Heuer Carrera Challenge points leader Tony Bates says he believes his Porsche Carrera Cup Australia Pro-Am co-driver David Reynolds will be the best bet to help him maintain his series lead ahead of the championship’s third round, to be held at Sydney Motorsport Park next weekend.
Bates, who has had an impressive start to his 2016 campaign, was quick to secure Reynolds as a co-driver for the Porsche Rennsport Australia event.
Now racing for Erebus Motorsport in the V8 Supercars Championship, the former Bathurst 1000 runner-up is one of the more successful Carrera Cup drivers of the last decade, having won 13 races and four rounds in the category prior to launching into his V8 Supercars career.
Bates said he was keen to continue his strong early season form in the critical two-driver event.
“We did what we always seem to do in Adelaide, which is grab a win, and the Grand Prix started well when we won the first race – but once we got caught up in some other drivers’ errors it put us in the pack,” he explained.
“I think we’ve shown that when you qualify well and stay out of trouble the results flow but when you get caught up in the pack, it’s tough.
“The Pro-Am event represents some tricky thinking for us because there’s two races in a race – there’s the outright fight and the chance to grab a race win and then there’s keeping out of trouble and racing the guys you’re competing against for the full championship.”
2007 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia champion David Reynolds tested Bates’ car in Sydney last week and was excited to be back driving a thoroughbred race car.
“It was a while since I had driven a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, so it was great to be back behind the wheel,” Reynolds said.
“The latest 991 Porsche is very different to drive compared to the older models I raced; it has a lot more power and technology so it is a real weapon.
“We spent the test day tuning up the car, making it easy for both of us to drive. Tony and I get on like a house on fire so I’m sure we’ll work really well together.
“I’ve also worked with Tony’s crew chief, Ash Seward, a lot in the past, so it’s a really comfortable environment.”
Bates explained that his relationship with Reynolds was a factor in making it a strong weekend for the combination at Sydney Motorsport Park.
“I think we’ll be a good combination,” Bates confirmed.
“Dave has a lot of Carrera Cup experience and knows both Dan Gaunt and Ash Seward (who prepares the car) really well. He’s a funny guy and brings a lot to the team.
“To get someone who has already won a Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship in the car is a great thing and gives us some high expectations on how we can perform – though we definitely know that the enduros are won by the combination that might not always be the fastest, but the most solid and consistent.”
A high level of semi-professional drivers entering the category for the two-driver round will likely be another factor that adds to the challenge of the two one-hour races scheduled for the Porsche Rennsport event.
As well as a host of V8 Supercar stars, some of the top rated semi-professional drivers will be on the grid racing with Carrera Cup’s ultra-competitive professional class pack at the pointy end of the grid.
“The V8 Supercar guys coming in are fantastic, but there’s some seriously good guys racing with the Pros as well – people like Max Twigg and Geoff Emery, who will be coming in and piling on the pressure.
“You’ll have to make the choice as to what you get involved in and what to stay out of!”
The third round of the 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship will be held with the Porsche Rennsport Australia Motor Racing Festival at Sydney Motorsport Park between April 29–May 01, 2016.