Tour­ing car glory at Phillip Is­land

Shepparton News - Shepparton Car Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

Aus­tralia’s great­est ac­tive tour­ing car driver, Jim Richards, will re­live the first of his four National ti­tles when he re­turns to the wheel of one of his 1985 Cham­pi­onship-win­ning BMW 635 CSI cars at the 2012 Phillip Is­land Clas­sic Fes­ti­val of Mo­tor­sport from March 9-11.

Richards will race the former John Player Spe­cial team car against a near-ca­pac­ity field of former Group C and Group A tour­ing cars from the 1970s and 1980s in four Tour­ing Car Re­vival races over the Phillip Is­land Clas­sic week­end in his first race in a BMW for 24 years.

Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Phillip Is­land Clas­sic races is es­sen­tial to qual­ify driv­ers for their in­volve­ment in ma­jor sup­port cat­e­gory events for the Group C and Group A Tour­ing Cars at the 2012 For­mula 1 Aus­tralian Grand Prix meet­ing the fol­low­ing week­end, at which Richards will again drive the 635 CSI.

The BMW Richards will race is the car he orig­i­nally cam­paigned in Group C con­fig­u­ra­tion in the 1984 Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship. The ve­hi­cle was then re­built to Group A spec­i­fi­ca­tion and was one of three sim­i­lar BMWS Richards drove to dom­i­nate the 1985 se­ries, win­ning both the Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car and Aus­tralian En­durance Cham­pi­onships.

Although a three-time Bathurst win­ner (part­ner­ing Peter Brock in Hold­ens) and hav­ing fin­ish­ing sec­ond (twice) and third in the Aus­tralian Sports Sedan Cham­pi­onship driv­ing his self-pre­pared Fal­con XC, they were Richards’ first ma­jor Aus­tralian se­ries ti­tles since his first race in Aus­tralia at Bathurst in 1974.

“The BMW was a great car,” said Mr Richards, who first drove the car in the fi­nal Surfers Par­adise round of the 1982 Aus­tralian Tour­ing Car Cham­pi­onship af­ter be­ing ‘head-hunted’ by the late Frank Gard­ner to spear­head his newly-formed JPS Rac­ing Team.

Although well down on power com­pared to its Group C Fal­cons, Com­modores and Mazda RX7S, Richards man­aged to fin­ish fifth in the 1984 ATCC and sur­prised his ri­vals by lead­ing the open­ing laps of the rain-drenched Lake­side, Queens­land round.

The ‘ Tour­ing Car Re­vival’ races will be one of the high­lights of the 33-event Phillip Is­land Clas­sic Fes­ti­val of Mo­tor­sport pro­gram, which will be­gin on Fri­day, March 9 with prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing for all cat­e­gories, fol­lowed by rac­ing through the week­end.

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