RICHARDS SCORES FIRST BIANTE WIN IN QLD DEBUT
26 August 2009
The Biante Touring Car Masters delivered an action-packed debut at Queensland Raceway (QLD) with a well-earned first round win for Shannons driver Jim Richards, this weekend.
Despite a range of minor mechanical issues for a number of the series’ frontrunners, including John Bowe and Gavin Bullas, Friday’s two practice session provided an accurate Group 1 form guide for the weekend with Richards fastest followed by Bowe and Bullas.
In a repeat of the previous round at Darwin, Saturday morning’s qualifying saw former V8 Supercar hero, Richards top the Biante timesheets as his Shannons Falcon again set the pace with a 1:18.788m lap, just three tenths ahead of second of the WesTrac Cat Camaro of Bowe.
Featuring an all-legend front row with Richards and Bowe front row, Gentleman Jim got the jump at the start of race one.
A clean start turned into a hectic opening lap with contact from Waddington sending the Sunliner Monaro of Tony Hunter off-track at turn two.
Series leader, Bullas made an aggressive lunge under brakes in the Rain City Mustang, charging from third place to the front of the field as Richards took evasive action by running off the circuit, which dropped him back to fifth place behind Bullas, Bowe, Drew Marget and Brad Tilley.
The pursuing laps had Bowe and Bullas repeatedly trading places for the race lead, while Richards worked past the Tilleys Automotive Falcon on lap three.
A drag race along the front straight saw Richards make his move on third-placed Marget and quickly close down the gap to join the battle with the leading pair.
A grass fire mid-race brought out the Safety Car on lap five as the fire marshals expertly brought the blaze under control to get the race underway again with the field recompressed on lap seven.
Quick to seize his opportunity, Tilley muscled through on Marget with four laps remaining.
With only five corners remaining, Richards out-braked Bullas at the end of the back straight on the final lap to lead the pack to his first race win in the Biante Touring Car Masters.
Starting Sunday morning with a reverse grid for the top eight cars in race two saw Richards grid up in eighth place behind his main rivals Bullas and Bowe, with Waddington’s Monaro on pole.
By the end of a busy opening lap, the lead had switched to Marget and then over to Bowe, with Tilley up into third.
Presented with a clear track laid out in front of him, Bowe stretched out a strong lead.
Bullas out-braked himself into turn three and briefly bounced across the countryside before rejoining the circuit, but a simultaneous incident in which Tilley tapped and spun Marget allowed the Rain City driver a lucky break as he sailed past with Richards in tow.
Bowe’s advantage blew out to over eight seconds, until lapped traffic let Bullas and Richards claw the gap back to 4.8sec as the trio greeted the chequered flag.
Replicating the race one grid, Richards lined up on pole alongside Bowe for race three and, as the start lights went out, he maintained his advantage ahead of Bowe through the first lap.
Starting from fourth Marget passed and held out Bullas for a lap and a half before Bullas remounted a charge after the leaders.
Continuing the action at the front of the field, Bowe made a lunge past Richards for the race lead, but was unable to shake the seven-time Bathurst winner who quickly returned serve and re-took command of the race.
Bowe dogged Richards all the way to the chequered flag with Bullas trailing in third, giving Richards his second race win and first overall round victory in the category.
Bowe locked away second place for the round and narrowed the overall series points between himself and championship leader Bullas.
Third overall for the round, Bullas’ winning streak was brought to a halt, but the 2008 Biante series winner still holds a 104-point lead in the championship.
The Biante Touring Car Masters now has a quick two-week turnaround for round five at Eastern Creek (NSW) as part of the Muscle Car Masters event on 5-6 September.
In addition to battling for Touring Car Masters championship points, the best of Australia’s Biante field will provide a thrilling finale to the Muscle Car Masters event as they take on their Kiwi counterparts in a Trans-Tasman contest, with both sides racing for national pride.
BIANTE TOURING CAR MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after round 4 of 7):
Gavin Bullas 692
John Bowe 588
Drew Marget 508
Brad Tilley 485
Steve Mason 407
Tony Edwards 384
Jim Richards 359
Rod Wilson 327
Bob Middleton 312
Steve Makarios 219
Graham Alexander 219
Tony Hunter 210
Nigel Benson 191
Greg East 168
Alastair MacLean 162
Michael Acheson 132
Ross Donnelley 90
Mike Erwin 66
Robbie Burns 60
Matt O'Brien 45
Brett Youlden 42
Garry Treloar 18
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