Steven Richards has claimed victory in an entertaining opening Porsche Carrera Cup Australia race at Albert Park, while Max Twigg capitalised on late-race dramas to take Elite Class honours.
Starting second on the grid, Richards took the early race lead in the eight-lap battle from pole-sitter Nick Percat and Craig Baird.
Baird soon made his way into second and challenged Richards for the lead mid-race, however the reigning Carrera Cup champion was not able to claim the top position. This battle enabled Percat to catch the leading duo.
Percat then moved into second place on Lap 4, moving on the inside of the New Zealander Baird on the second-to-last corner. The pair turned side-by-side around the left-hander, resulting Baird exiting the corner on the grass and Percat moving into second place on track. An investigation into this incident is continuing.
Percat quickly caught Richards for the lead with Baird closely in tow, allowing for a three-way battle for the lead on the final lap.
Richards retained the front position to the chequered flag to claim his second win of the season from Percat and Baird.
This battle allowed Warren Luff and Michael Patrizi to close the gap to the leading trio, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, from Matt Kingsley, Karl Reindler, Shae Davies and Steven Johnson in ninth.
Richards, who will start from pole position in Saturday’s Race 2, was pleased to continue his strong start to the 2013 season.
“I'm rapt. I’ve been trying to start the year off on a good note. We gave it everything in that race so we’re really happy to take the win,” said Richards.
“We’re consistently on top of the car at the moment in terms of how I need to drive it, and that's a good sign. We need to progress a bit further, but I’m confident we can remain at the front. The team is working really well together as well so we’re looking forward to the rest of the weekend and hopefully we’ll see more of the same results.”
The battle for the Elite Class looked to be in favour of James Koundouris, who held the class race lead for the majority of the race. A deflating tyre however allowed Twigg to take the class lead on the final lap and take 10th outright in the race.
“To win in the Elite Class was really unexpected as James was driving really well in qualifying,” said Twigg.
“He pulled a gap of about a second-and-a-half in the first two-thirds of the race and then he started to struggle under brakes. I eventually ended up passing him into one of the corners.
“I’m still a little bit concerned about James for tomorrow. We’ve just got to put our best foot forward and try as hard as we can.”
Koundouris finished one place behind Twigg in 11th from Damien Flack, Shane Smollen, Duvashen Padayachee, Paul Kelly, James Bergmuller, Michael Loccisano, Tony Bates, Marc Cini, Stephen Grove, Renee Gracie and Tony Walls in 22nd.
The second race of Porsche Carrera Cup Australia from the Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix will be held at 12:50pm on Saturday.