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8 APRIL 2014

Two time Touring Car Masters champion Jim Richards has come away from round two of the series at the Victorian circuit with an overall win in his crowd pleasing Shannons Falcon Sprint.

Richards was second fastest to former champion John Bowe in the opening practice session by less than two tenths of a second on the very slippery track and then in the second session he dropped back to fifth three quarters of a second behind Bowe.

“The track was very hard to read as the circuit had undergone crack patching and there were different grip levels depending on where you placed the car”. said Richards. Come qualifying and Richards got up to second to be within nine tenths off pole sitter Bowe and the stage was set for a great battle as the following cars were also very close in times.

The first race was shortened to seven laps at the end of which Richards was second to Bowe by 1.6 seconds and it also meant they would start side by side from the fifth row of the grid for the next race which was a reverse top half of the race one finishing positions.

The ten lap race provided a victory for Tony Karanfilovski in his Mustang with Bowe second from Eddie Abelnica with Richards fourth after a good battle between the leading cars.

“I could stay with the leaders but not get close enough to be able to challenge for the position without taking a big risk and it really wasn’t worth it”. said the defending champion.

Bowe and Richards lined up on the front row for the final race and from the now regulated rolling start managed to get to the lead as Bowe faltered which let Abelnica up to second.

Despite being under pressure Richards held on to take the race win and the overall win for the weekend with Bowe second overall after a fifth place in the final race. “I know I’ve said it before but the car was brilliant all weekend and never missed a beat. It also finished unmarked which is a plus so there isn’t too much to do before the next round in Darwin on June 20 to 22”. said Richards.

Next even on the agenda for Richards will be Targa Tasmania which will be run from May 7 to 11.

This will be the 23rd running of the iconic tarmac rally which is considered to be the most prestigious on the championship calendar.

Richards and long time navigator Barry Oliver ,who have contested every Targa Tasmania event except for the first in 1992 ,will debut the new Shannons Porsche Cayman S in the event in the Showroom Sports category.

The car should be very competitive in the class and while it will not be an outright contender for overall honours ,which is traditionally dominated by the cars in the Modern category it will be interesting to see where it finishes in the overall standings. After sixty five tarmac rallies in Australia and New Zealand this will be the first event where Richards has rallied a car with the paddle shift seven speed PDK transmission.

“I’ve driven the car on the road and I must say the PDK is terrific. There is no question I will be able to make faster shifts which should make the times quicker on the stages”. said the eight time outright winner.

Richards and Oliver are scheduled to begin three days of reconnaissance on Monday April 14 to confirm the notes and have a closer look at the three stages that have been reintroduced after an absence of some years.

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