Fewer stars, but Reynolds’ first V8 Supercars win highlights Gold Coast 600

1 Comment

The third or fourth weekend in October usually brings a bout of nostalgia for open-wheel fans who miss IndyCars racing at Surfers’ Paradise in Queensland, Australia.

The event has continued in the five years since IndyCar last raced a non-championship event there in 2008, with the Australian V8 Supercars as the headliner. In these few years, a number of star guest drivers from IndyCar and sports cars have shared the seats with V8’s best, but there were a reduced number on hand for this year’s Gold Coast 600, which occurred this weekend.

Red Bull’s weekend dominance wasn’t limited to India because Red Bull Racing Australia won the Saturday race with Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff in the No. 888 Holden Commodore. It wasn’t a perfect weekend sweep though as David Reynolds and Dean Canto scored the Sunday race win in their No. 55 The Bottle-O FPR Ford Falcon. The win was Reynolds’ first in V8 Supercars; he nearly won the Bathurst 1000 in 2012.

Lowndes leads teammate Jamie Whincup by just six points (2549-2543) with just two more weekends, Phillip Island Nov. 22-24, and Sydney Dec. 6-8, to go in the 2013 season. Bathurst winner Mark Winterbottom is 88 points back in third.

Ryan Briscoe’s season-long world tour of different championships (IndyCar, sports cars, V8 Supercars, and IndyCar TV) continued with fifth and third place finishes co-driving the No. 66 Supercheap Auto Racing Holden with Russell Ingall.

Jeroen Bleekemolen scored an emotional second place finish on Saturday in the No. 97 TEKNO Team VIP PetFoods Holden with Shane van Gisbergen; Bleekemolen took a day while in Queensland to visit the site of Sean Edwards’ fatal accident. The Dutchman was Edwards’ best friend and tremendous rival both in the U.S. and in Europe.

Other possibly familiar names to U.S. fans who competed at the Gold Coast this weekend: American Le Mans Series legend David Brabham, IndyCar driver James Davison’s cousins Will and Alex Davison, one-time CART and former Indy Lights racer Jason Bright, Porsche factory shoe Marc Lieb, ex-Formula Atlantic driver Daniel Gaunt and ex-Trans-Am racer Craig Baird.

Merhi confirmed for WEC return with Manor at the Nürburgring

Getty Images
Leave a comment

CEFC Manor TRS Racing has confirmed that Roberto Merhi will return to the FIA World Endurance Championship for next month’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring, replacing Jean-Eric Vergne.

Merhi previously raced for Manor in both Formula 1 and the WEC, making his most recent appearance with the British marque at last November’s 6 Hours of Bahrain.

Merhi’s last racing outing came in the Formula 2 double-header in Spain and has flirted with a move into Formula E, but was confirmed on Wednesday to be making his racing return at the Nürburgring on July 16.

Merhi will deputize for Vergne in the No. 24 Oreca 07 Gibson while the Frenchman is in New York for the city’s inaugural Formula E event.

FIA to re-examine Vettel/Hamilton Baku clash

Leave a comment

The FIA has confirmed that it will re-examine the clash between Formula 1 title rivals Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton in Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix to see if further action is warranted.

Vettel and Hamilton made contact twice behind the safety car in Baku, with the second incident deemed to be an act of dangerous driving on Vettel’s part.

The FIA stewards in Baku handed Vettel a 10-second stop/go penalty for the clash – the harshest available penalty besides disqualification – but faced calls to issue a stricter punishment post race.

Hamilton said that the incident set a dangerous precedent for F1 and wider motorsport, but Vettel believed his rival deserved a penalty for allegedly brake testing him.

On Wednesday, the FIA confirmed that it would be re-examining the incident in a meeting on July 3, with a verdict set to be delivered ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

More to follow.

Wickens not interested in full-time IndyCar switch despite practice run

INDYCAR
Leave a comment

Robert Wickens is not interested in making a full-time switch to the Verizon IndyCar Series in the near future despite his practice run-out at Road America last weekend for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Mercedes DTM driver Wickens was called up for Friday practice at the KOHLER Grand Prix in the No. 7 Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda after Mikhail Aleshin was unable to make it in time due to immigration issues.

Aleshin was able to return to the United States in time for Saturday’s final practice and qualifying at Road America, with Wickens stepping back down.

The Canadian got his first taste of an Indy car in a car swap with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe in March, paving the way for his practice appearance at Road America.

However, Wickens is not looking to make a full-time move over to IndyCar anytime soon despite enjoying his run-out, with his focus lying with DTM.

“Not really, to be honest,” Wickens said when asked if IndyCar was something he would like to move into in Mercedes’ ‘Tales from the Paddock’ press newsletter.

“I just want to race cars. That’s the main thing. I have no urge to leave the DTM at the moment.

“Everything is going well, and I’m really happy with Mercedes.”

Wickens also went into detail about how rapidly things moved with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, having only been told the day before practice that he was required for the running.

“I planned on having a relaxing weekend at home, but on Thursday afternoon I got a call from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, which is the team that we did the ride swap with involving James Hinchcliffe back in April,” Wickens said.

“They asked if I could go to Road America and fill in for Mikhail Aleshin who had immigration issues. Fortunately, Toto [Wolff] was happy for me to do it and I was able to jump on a plane and get to Wisconsin.

“We didn’t get to the hotel until about 10pm on Thursday, and Free Practice 1 was on Friday morning very early. It took some getting used to.

“The practice itself was fun. The track was really good. It would be amazing to have a DTM race there one day.

“I definitely wanted to do the full weekend, but the full-time driver got his immigration stuff sorted and he made it to the race track by Friday night. My duties were finished, but it was still a really fun Friday.”

Force India’s Celis gets FP1 appearances in Austria, Hungary

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Force India youngster Alfonso Celis Jr. will make his first Formula 1 race weekend appearances of the season next month, taking part in first practice for the grands prix in Austria and Hungary.

Celis, 20, joined Force India as a development driver ahead of the 2016 season, enjoying six FP1 run-outs across the course of the year.

The Mexican driver returned for 2017, taking part in pre-season testing and the running following the Bahrain Grand Prix in April.

Force India confirmed on Wednesday that Celis will return for FP1 in Austria next week, before also featuring in practice in Hungary at the end of July.