IndyCar Driver Preview: Marco Andretti

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#25 Marco Andretti

  • Team: Andretti Autosport
  • Engine: Chevrolet
  • Sponsors: Royal Crown Cola
  • 2012: 16th, One Pole, One Podium

2012 WRAP: Andretti struggled mightily for much of last season, and especially so on the road/street circuits that make up the bulk of the schedule. His best finish on the twisty tracks was a middling 11th, achieved twice at both Barber Motorsports Park and Detroit’s Belle Isle Park. But the most grueling moment for him had to be at Indianapolis, where he led the most laps of any driver (59 laps) but ended his day with a crash on Lap 188.

2013 OUTLOOK: In addition to his car number, Andretti has changed his race craft over the winter (“Essentially, I was trying to make the front tires do two things at once,” he told IndyCar.com of his previous style in January). He’ll also have a new engineer on his No. 25 car – Blair Perschbacher, who moves up to IndyCar from Firestone Indy Lights. Altogether, it would appear to be a fresh start for the third-generation driver, and we’ll see if it makes for a more competitive run for him in 2013.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”