Tony Kanaan hopes to give home fans a win

Leave a comment

Despite dealing with an injured right hand, Tony Kanaan still managed to break into the Firestone Fast Six and claim a solid fourth-place starting position for tomorrow’s Sao Paulo Indy 300.

That should increase already high anticipation amongst the home crowd going into the race. Kanaan finished third in his first-round group and then hit the top of the second round charts before earning his best start of the season thus far.

“We had a great car from the get go, but there was no way I could beat those guys that had sticker reds during the Fast Six,” said Kanaan, who is a native of the city of Salvador in the Brazilian state of Bahia. “It was a disadvantage not having the new Firestones, but you know, they got it by luck because of how their qualifying group went on.

“I’m happy. This is my home race; we have the fans cheering and the backing from my local sponsor. Starting in fourth in a street course is not bad at all and I think it’s going to be weird seeing just three cars in front of me at the start.”

According to the AP’s Tales Azzoni, Kanaan received an injection before Saturday’s qualifying and will get another before the race tomorrow. He’s also had to continue icing his injured hand every time he’s out of his No. 11 KV Racing Technology machine.

Nonetheless, Kanaan easily out-paced his fellow Brazilian racers Ana Beatriz and championship leader Helio Castroneves on Saturday. Beatriz will start 16th and Castroneves 18th after both were caught out by James Jakes’ engine fire that ended their first-round session.

Kanaan’s ability to race through the pain impressed Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver and good friend Dario Franchitti, who’s convinced that the Brazilian will be a contender.

“In the [Turn 11] hairpin using maximum lock, it’s difficult on your hands and your wrists — Tony is there with essentially one hand working properly and in a lot of pain,” the Scotsman said.

“…Give him a sniff at a win, he looks — he can see a win, he’ll be pushing very, very hard.  That was an impressive performance today, definitely.”

Watch tomorrow’s Sao Paulo Indy 300 online and on your mobile device.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.”