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THE GOOD, GREAT & UNFORTUNATE: CARRERA CUP ROUND 1

WHAT a season opener for the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, which put on quite a show on the streets of Adelaide last weekend.

The series faced plenty of questions over the size of it’s grid (13) but delivered in spades with three highly intense motor races on the Adelaide streets.

As such, lets delve into the good, great and the unfortunate from Round 1 of Carrera Cup.

THE GOOD:

JAXON Evans’ debut in the category was superb, offering even more proof of concept that Australia’s Porsche Pyramid – from GT3 Cup Challenge to Carrera Cup – is a beauty and actually works. The young Queensland-based Kiwi expat was on the pace from practice one and ended up with a best of second place in race two. Yes, he got in trouble for turning Alex Davison around (from the stewards and Alex himself) but the maturity and level-headed nature Jaxon showed all weekend bodes well for the remainder of the season. Has McElrea Racing got anther Campbell on their hands?

Dylan O’Keefe and James Abela deserve huge praise, too. Now in their second seasons of Carrera Cup, both showed significant improvement from where they left off last year and both set PBs for race results on the weekend. O’Keefe has gelled within Ash Seward’s ASM squad and the addition of Davison as a teammate will help further. Meanwhile while Abela struggled for qualifying pace, his race performances were very strong. Really very impressive performances from both drivers and each can look forward to big seasons ahead.

We could list a lot of drivers here, but Andre Heimgartner deserves praise too: He jumped into Sonic’s No. 777 car with no prep or testing and was bang on the money from the first session. After a few tough years in the Supercars, a winning season in Carrera Cup could be just what the doctor ordered for the young Kiwi.

THE GREAT:

THIS is an incredibly competitive championship and even though the fields are smaller than last year, at the pointy-end it’s only the Supercar Series with the same level of depth amongst the top ten cars.

As a result, the Clipsal 500 racing was hugely intense. The best thing about Carrera Cup is that there’s never a phase of any race – even longer, 20-lap affairs like we had on the weekend – where people are just cruising around saving brakes, tyres or fuel. Every lap is driven to the limit and the result is the most intense racing in support-land.

It might lack the all-out brawl of a Super2 series race but those who appreciate the subtleties of racing are the ones who truly appreciate when someone makes a really good move in a Carrera Cup race. And there were plenty on the weekend.

Such was the competition that five different drivers finished in the top three during at least one race on the weekend, the championship favorite Alex Davison sits only 8th in the standings (but will undoubtedly bounce back) and the round was decided on a count-back thanks to Andre Heimgartner winning the final race. It rarely gets more competitive and it will be the very same from round one to the Gold Coast finale’.

THE UNFORTUNATE:

LARS KERN traveled a long way to join the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia in Adelaide and his results sheet makes for shattering reading: Two races, zero finishes, zero fault. The German, a factory Porsche test driver, was immense on debut and had pace to challenge for podiums from the outset, despite never having driven on a street circuit like Adelaide’s before. Sadly, his Porsche Centre Melbourne car was removed from contention by accidents not of his doing, leaving him scoreless from the weekend. But man, he is quick.

What does Nick McBride have to do to get some luck swing his way? The slightest moment chasing his teammate Heimgartner in race one saw him go from second to eighth in a heartbeat after a brief spin, and though he rebounded to fourth in the final race when you give up that much track position you’re going to hurt. The same could be said for Michael Almond, who had raw speed all weekend but not much in the way in the luck department.

Hard to classify the guy who finished second for the round as ‘unfortunate’, but David Wall will be keen to notch up a maiden round win soon: He’s now finished second overall five times in Carrera Cup rounds and this time lost by the narrowest margin – 0 points – on a count back!

Meanwhile, Simon Ellingham’s bout of illness on Friday denied him a chance to qualify and race in the first heat, putting the Kiwi’s rookie season on the back foot early.