Hulkenberg remaining coy about chances in Australia

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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg is remaining grounded ahead of the opening race of the 2014 F1 season, despite enjoying a successful testing period that suggests he could be one of the men to beat in Australia.

Hulkenberg returns to Force India in 2014 after one year away at Sauber, and the team – along with the other Mercedes-powered outfits – appeared to have the upper hand during testing. Nevertheless, with reliability being such an important factor this year, the German driver is merely hoping to pick up some points in the opening round of the season.

“I feel comfortable, but I think this feeling will grow stronger during the season,” he explained. “It’s a new challenge and it’s difficult to tell just from testing how it will feel during a race weekend.

“Testing only tells you so much, but I think we still have some performance in our pocket. I just hope we are competitive and can race for good points.”

However, Hulkenberg’s first target in Australia is to complete a racing lap, having failed to do so in three attempts. In 2010, when driving for Williams, he was taken out in a large accident also involving Sebastien Buemi and Kamui Kobayashi, whilst a first corner collision also ended his race in 2012.

Last year, he didn’t even make it to the grid as an engine problem on his Sauber stopped him from starting the race.

“It’s been three races in Melbourne and I’ve still not completed a racing lap!” Hulkenberg joked. “They say bad luck comes in groups of three so hopefully attempt number four will work out better!”

With the top engine on the grid and an all-new line-up in 2014, it could prove to be a very exciting and lucrative season for Force India.

INDYCAR: Josef Newgarden quickest again in second practice at Road America

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Josef Newgarden continued to be quickest around Road America, first this morning and again this afternoon in the second practice session for Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix.

Newgarden had a best lap in the second session of 1:42.6279, followed by rookie Robert Wickens (1:42.9025), Sebastien Bourdais (1:43.0020), Will Power (1:43.0545) and teammate Simon Pagenaud (1:43.1599).

Sixth through 10th were Graham Rahal (1:43.1995), Scott Dixon (1:43.4212), Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:43.4755), Takuma Sato (1:43.5410) and Marco Andretti (1:43.6221).

One significant incident of note occurred during the session when Alfonso Celis Jr., making his IndyCar debut this weekend, lost control coming out of a turn and slammed into the tire wall, causing damage to his suspension.

The third and final practice session of the weekend will be Saturday at Noon E.T., followed by qualifying later in the afternoon.

The race will take the green flag on Sunday shortly after 1 p.m. ET. It will be televised live on NBCSN.

Follow @JerryBonkowski