One of the support races for the NÃ¼rburgring 24 hour race this weekend is the Porsche Carrera World Cup event. There’s going to be more than 100 cars taking part with around 25 countries represented. One of the main attractions is Kiwi, and Australian resident, Craig Baird.
It may surprise a few to learn that Baird, who lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland, is the most successful Porsche Carrera Cup driver of all time ranked by accumulated victories. He has won 109 races in all and picked up eight series titles in Australia and New Zealand along the way.
Invited by Porsche AG to take part in the World Cup race, Baird will draw heavily on his experience at the Ring after competing in the 24 hour race in 2006 and 2007.
After first practice Baird finds himself just inside the top 40. Speaking to Speedcafe Baird says he has gained confidence ahead of tonight’s qualifying, “Every lap I did today was about five seconds quicker than the lap previous, so there was a significant gain over the course of the session.
â€œI’m a long way off my full potential, so weâ€™ll look to further reduce the lap times tomorrow and hopefully get into the top 20 after qualifying.”
There’s more from Porsche after the break and you can get first hand accounts from Baird via his twitter account.
The worldâ€™s most successful Porsche Cup driver in VIP car at Porsche Carrera World Cup
Craig Baird â€“ the man of 109 victories
Stuttgart. A great honour for Craig Baird: Porsche AG has invited the worldâ€™s most successful Porsche Cup pilot to contest the Porsche Carrera World Cup on 25 June on the NÃ¼rburgring-Nordschleife at the wheel of the VIP car with starting number 200. Over the course of his career, the 40-year-old New Zealander has already notched up 109 victories in Porsche one-make race series. With the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, built by Porsche Motorsport in Weissach, Baird takes up the greatest Porsche race in history against more than 100 competitors from 25 nations.
â€œWith his skill and experience, he is the ideal person to drive our VIP car,â€ says Uwe Brettel, Head of Motorsport Sales at Porsche AG. â€œMore than any other driver, he embodies the customer sports philosophy of Porsche.â€
Craig Baird, who lives with his wife and two children on the Gold Coast of Australia, has clinched the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia title twice and the GT3 Cup Challenge New Zealand six times since 2004. At the Dubai 24 Hours of 2008 he won with a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Baird knows the NÃ¼rburgring-Nordschleife from contesting the 24 hour race there in 2006 and 2007. On his list of successes are 23 national championship titles. For his services to motorsport, he was awarded the â€œNew Zealand Order of Meritâ€ in 2010.
â€œItâ€™s a huge honour for me to be given the chance to contest this race against the worldâ€™s best Porsche Cup pilots at the wheel of a Porsche AG VIP-911,â€ says Craig Baird. â€œTo bring the Porsche Carrera World Cup to the Nordschleife is a fantastic idea and will most certainly be an unforgettable experience for drivers and fans.â€
His #200 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup will also leave a lasting impression on spectators at the â€˜Ring. The winning racer not only impresses with his 450 hp engine output, but is also a feast for the eyes. Its design is an artistic interpretation of the NÃ¼rburgring-Nordschleife as the â€˜green hellâ€™ with licking flames as well as a stylised world map signalising the 25 nations from which the international grid comes to contest the greatest Porsche race on earth.
Porsche Carrera World Cup on the NÃ¼rburgring
The race of records
Stuttgart. Motorsport fans around the world wait in eager anticipation for the 25th of June, 2011. On this day, Porsche adds yet another superlative to the history of the NÃ¼rburgring-Nordschleife: At the Porsche Carrera World Cup, more than 100 participants from 25 countries contest the greatest Porsche race of all time on the legendary race track that is also dubbed the â€˜green hellâ€™.
The race on the legendary circuit in Germanyâ€™s Eifel region with a total of 88 corners (northern loop plus the Grand Prix circuit) runs over six laps (152.268 kilometres), and is not just a case for the â€˜Guinness Book of Recordsâ€™. It also poses the greatest sporting challenge imaginable for Porsche Cup pilots. â€œThe Nordschleife is a very tricky track,â€ says Uwe Brettel, General Manager Motorsport Sales at Porsche. He sums up the fascination of this race aptly: â€œThe Carrera World Cup is the link between two very successful motorsport platforms: Porscheâ€™s one-make race series and the NÃ¼rburgring-Nordschleife.â€
The Porsche Carrera World Cup, which takes off just prior to the 24 hour race, is not only unique because of its giant grid, but also because of the sporting significance. Quantity and quality â€“ that was the whole idea. And it worked: The Porsche Mobil1 Supercup as the worldâ€™s fastest international one-make race series, and the well-supported Carrera Cups in Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy and Scandinavia count this event as one of their regular championship rounds. Drivers will be classified for their respective series as well as for the Porsche Carrera World Cup. Also joining the action are guest drivers from other Carrera Cups and GT3 Cup Challenges around the world.
One of the most prominent competitors is Craig Baird. Over the course of his outstanding career, the New Zealander has notched up 109 victories in Porsche one-make race series, making him the most successful Porsche Cup pilot in the world. Porsche AG invited him back to the Nordschleife, which he knows from two 24 hour races there, to drive the VIP-car with the starting number 200. His Porsche 911 GT3 Cup is also a feast for the eyes. Its design is an artistic interpretation of the NÃ¼rburgring-Nordschleife as the â€˜green hellâ€™ with licking flames as well as a stylised world map representing the 25 nations from which the international grid comes to contest the greatest Porsche race on earth. At the wheel of the second VIP-911 fielded by Porsche Cars North America, Melanie Snow celebrates her race debut on the Eifel circuit. The mother of four is one of the most well-known racers in the USA and for many years has contested the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge where she won the Gold Cup class in 2009. At the Porsche Carrera World Cup the â€˜worldâ€™s fastest mumâ€™ is the only female in the field.
The field is divided into two classes: The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup with 3.6-litre engines from the 2007 to 2009 model years (400 to 420 hp) as well as the 3.8-litre version from the 2010 and 2011 model years (450 hp) are classified separately. Two sets of slicks and one set of wet tyres are permitted for each vehicle for the entire race weekend. The starting groups, consisting of a maximum of 70 vehicles per group, take off on their journey into the â€œGreen Hellâ€ with a flying start (Indianapolis start). About two minutes separate each group.
So that the spectators can better recognise the vehicles, all start numbers have three-digits. The first numeral stands for the respective series from which the cars come. 0 stands for the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, the number 1 for the Carrera Cup France, the number 2 for the Carrera Cup Deutschland, number 3 for the Carrera Cup and the GT3 Cup Challenge Great Britain, 4 for the Carrera Cup Italia and 5 for the Carrera Cup Scandinavia. The second and third numerals are the original starting numbers with which the individual cars contest their respective series. Prize money for the overall winner is 11,000 Euro. Second place receives 8,000 Euro, third 6,000 Euro.
â€œSince its market launch in 1998 weâ€™ve built more than 2,200 units of the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup which are fielded in 20 one-make race series worldwide,â€ says Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport. â€œWith the Porsche Carrera World Cup on the Nordschleife, we want to offer our brand trophy series customers worldwide another highlight.â€
Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup: Nick Tandy hopes for first win of the season
Nick Tandy tackles the Porsche Carrera World Cup as the leader of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup. Driving for Konrad Motorsport, the Briton has notched up three second places this season, but is now hoping to bring home his first victory from the demanding Nordschleife. Last yearâ€™s vice-champion has prepared himself well for the race, however the three winners of this season are experienced Nordschleife pilots: For his teammate Christian Engelhart, winner of the season-opener in Istanbul, the Eifel circuit is no less familiar turf as it is for Barcelona winner Sean Edwards of Abu Dhabi by tolimit and the VELTINS Lechner Racing pilot and reigning Supercup champion RenÃ© Rast, who dominated at the Monaco round.
Jeroen Bleekemolen from the Netherlands is also very much looking forward to the Porsche Carrera World Cup. â€œThis race is a great idea,â€ says the two-time Supercup winner driving for the Abu Dhabi by tolimit squad. Bleekemolen has yet to secure a victory this season. â€œIf you want to be seriously fast on the Nordschleife you need to be gutsy. But thatâ€™s exactly what race drivers love. For me, this race marks the greatest challenge of the year.â€
Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland: Ideal start to the season
Unlike in the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup, Nick Tandy has already notched up one win from the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland this year â€“ the pointsâ€™ leader kicked off the new season perfectly with victory at the season-opener in Hockenheim. Jeroen Bleekemolen has also enjoyed a promising start: Competing for the Deutsche Post by tolimit team, the Dutchman won his home race in Zandvoort. His compatriot Jaap van Lagen (Land Motorsport), winner at Spielberg, and Denmarkâ€™s Nicki Thiim (Hermes Attempto Racing), who last weekend celebrated his first Carrera Cup victory on the Lausitzring, are all determined to earn more championship points at the Porsche Carrera World Cup.
Despite not having notched up any wins yet, Germanyâ€™s seasoned campaigner Uwe Alzen (PZ Aschaffenburg Uwe Alzen Automotive) belongs to the circle of favourites to win at the Porsche Carrera World Cup, thanks to his extensive Nordschleife experience. Another race favourite is the Schnabl Engineering pilot from Austria, Martin Ragginger. â€œIâ€™ve already driven the Cup-Porsche on the Nordschleife and the handling of the car is very good,â€ says Uwe Alzen, an authority on Porsche one-make race series. â€œItâ€™s going to be tight amongst the front-runners and facing so many good pilots at the top will be a tough nut to crack.â€
Schedule Porsche Carrera World Cup
- Thursday, 23 June 18.00 â€“ 19.00 hrs Free practice
- Friday, 24 June 15.25 â€“ 16.25 hrs Qualifying
- Saturday, 25 June 10.30 â€“ 11.00 hrs Grid line-up
11.00 hrs Formation lap
11.20 â€“ 12.35 hrs Race
TV station Eurosport broadcasts the Porsche Carrera World Cup on 25 June 2011 live from 10.45 hrs.