SECOND PLACE AT BATHURST GIVES RICHARDS A CHANCE OF BACK TO BACK TITLES.
14 OCTOBER 2014
Defending Touring Car Masters champion in the Pro Masters class ,Jim Richards ,has narrowed the gap to championship leader John Bowe after a successful meeting at Bathurst where he finished second overall in the sixth and penultimate round.
At the time of writing the gap had been reduced from 48 points to just three points in favour of Bowe and with just one round remaining it will all come down to the final round at Phillip Island.
Driving the popular Shannons Falcon Sprint Richards was expecting a tough round with the uphill mountain straight favouring the larger capacity cars and he was hoping that the lighter weight and more nimble handling of the Sprint would give him a fighting chance.
The two practice sessions on the Thursday saw two time champion Bowe well in front of the competition with Richards eighth and seventh respectively and over four seconds off the pace.
“Obviously we were running used tyres at that early stage in the weekend but I found that despite the new track surface there was actually less grip than last year”. said Richards.
Come qualifying and Richards finished sixth with Bowe blitzing the field to score pole position and going on to score a comfortable win in the first race.
Richards had to settle for seventh position after a race long battle with the larger capacity cars but it meant that he would start from the second row in the second race which was a reverse grid for the top ten positions from race one.
The Shannons Falcon got a very good run from the rolling start and the veteran driver was able to move to the front and score a win which was a bonus in terms of grid position for race three.
Initially in race three Richards ran second to the flying Valiant Charger of Tasmanian Greg Crick ,who was setting a cracking pace ,while Richards had his hands full holding off the two door XB Falcon of Kim Jane.
On the last lap Jane managed to get through to take second while Richards came home third to finish second for the weekend and give himself a fighting chance to back up his title win last year.
After finishing eighth in race two ,due to an off track excursion at turn one ,Bowe had a front right tyre delaminate under braking in the Chase during race three which must have damaged the suspension and despite coming back out after a wheel change he was forced to retire.
Richards was obviously very happy with the weekend’s results and was again delighted with the performance of the Falcon Sprint.
“The car never ceases to amaze me and my team of Bruce ,Mick ,Russell and Brian do a fantastic job to keep the car fully prepared and presented so well. I really can’t thank them enough for their commitment and enthusiasm”. said Richards.
As for the final round at Phillip Island Richards is expecting to have his work cut out on the fast flowing circuit but is hoping the reliability of the car and consistent results will give the Shannons team a good result
“At least the circuit is flat and doesn’t have the elevation issues like Bathurst mountain straight so with a bit of luck we will be in contention”. said Richards.
The final round of the championship will be a support category to the final round of the V8 Supercar championship on November 14 to 16.
The next event on the Schedule for Richards will be the Targa High Country tarmac rally the weekend before when Richards will line up with long time navigator Barry Oliver in the Shannons Porsche Cayman S.
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