Ryan Briscoe lands Indy 500 drive with Ganassi

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Ryan Briscoe has become an instant contender to win the 2013 Indianapolis 500 this evening, as both SPEED.com’s Marshall Pruett and the Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer have confirmed that the former Team Penske pilot will drive for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at the Brickyard in May.

Briscoe won the pole position for last year’s “500,” but left Penske following the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season and was unable to land another ride in the series. However, the Australian has bounced back nicely in sports cars, earning a P2 class victory last month in the 12 Hours of Sebring.

He’s had varying degrees of success at the Brickyard in his career. He finished 10th in his first ‘500’ with Ganassi, for whom he drove for in the 2005 campaign (an abbreviated year due to injuries sustained in a horrific crash at Chicagoland Speedway). He would return to Indianapolis in 2007 and finish fifth for Luczo-Dragon Racing, but then could only muster a best finish of 15th (2009) across his next four 500s for Team Penske. However, he snapped his rough streak at Indy last year with another fifth-place finish.

During his five-year run with Roger Penske’s outfit, Briscoe notched seven victories and 26 podium finishes. Now he’ll be running alongside Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball as part of the team that belongs to The Captain’s greatest rival — and, furthermore, in the biggest race of them all.

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.”