Chris Pook joins GP of America at Port Imperial executive team

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Chris Pook, the original architect of North America’s most successful street race in Long Beach, Calif., will join the executive team for the planned second Formula One round in the U.S. for 2014.

Pook has been named special assistant to chairman Leo Hindery, Jr., for the Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial, set to premiere in June 2014 in Weehawken, N.J. The race was originally announced for June 2013, but was postponed a year.

The executive team for Port Imperial includes YES Network founder Hindery, sports and entertainment veteran Dennis Robinson, and sports marketing and corporate development specialist Dick Goldschmidt. Pook will provide consultation on all aspects of construction, planning and execution of this race.

“Chris has a history of great success in Formula 1, which I’m confident he’ll bring to the Grand Prix of America race,” Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone said in a statement. “We look forward to working with him to bring F1 racing to New Jersey and New York.”

Pook’s name brings more legitimacy to the Port Imperial project, with rumors swirling from at least one reporter that Long Beach, incidentally, possibly could be back in play for F1.  In an article posted by SPEED.com’s Marshall Pruett, Grand Prix Association of Long Beach officials including longtime race president Jim Michaelian vehemently shot down those rumors.

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.”