Daniel Ricciardo has made an incredible start to his life with Red Bull by claiming the first podium finish of his Formula 1 career at his home race in Australia.
Having qualified in second place, Ricciardo made a good start to hold position behind Nico Rosberg and stay out of trouble to record his first top three finish, fending off the advances of Kevin Magnussen in the dying stages of the race.
In front of a home crowd, it was a very popular result, whilst it came as a surprise to Red Bull after a disastrous winter that saw many write the team off as possible title contenders. On the podium after the race, a beaming Ricciardo expressed his relief and joy.
“Two to three weeks ago, I would have bet pretty much everything I have that we would not be standing up here,” he explained. “Just full credit to the team for an unbelievable turnaround. I don’t understand how they did it, but they did so thank you guys.”
Ricciardo’s result was made all the sweeter by the home crowd that cheered his every move at Albert Park, and he also paid tribute to the retired Mark Webber by deliberately tripping up on the podium, just as his compatriot did in Brazil last year.
“Of course, the Aussie fans! Wow. Completely overwhelming. No words. I’m tripping balls right now.
“I thought I’d do a stack to commemorate Mark as well. It’s an Aussie thing. Really pleased to be up here.”
Interviewee and 1980 world champion Alan Jones summed up the thoughts of the nation, telling his fellow countryman: “You’ve done us all pround.”
Ricciardo finished as the sole Red Bull on Sunday after Sebastian Vettel was forced to retire from the race on lap five due to a problem on his power unit. It also marks the emergence of a new young superstar in the sport as the Australian driver finally proves his ability after two years stuck in the midfield with Toro Rosso.
Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves made it three consecutive victories in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, winning Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to close in on the points lead in the DPi class.
After Castroneves started second in the No. 7 Acura, Taylor took the checkered flag by 0.607 seconds ahead of Felipe Nasr’s No. 31 Cadillac.
“I’m just proud,” Taylor told NBC Sports reporter Dillon Welch. “Helio did an amazing job at the start, kept his cool. It’s not easy starting on the outside, but he settled in, picked people off and put us in a position to jump the 31 on a stop.
“Then I felt like we were the strongest car on track when we had new tires. It was a real team effort.”
Helio Castroneves picked up Ricky Taylor and carried him several yards down the pit lane in celebration.
“Last year, I had a little issue and lost my cool at the start of the race, and we threw the race away, so this time, if something happens, I know we’re going to come back, and here we are in victory circle.”
With three races remaining this season for the premier class, Castroneves and Taylor have moved to third in the standings, five points behind Renger van der Zande and Ryan Briscoe, who finished third in the No. 10 Cadillac at Mid-Ohio.
Ranked three points behind in second is Pipo Derani, who is Nasr’s teammate.
The championship race could have been tighter as Acura Penske driver Juan Pablo Montoya passed van der Zande for third after the cars banged together a few times with 10 minutes remaining.
But Montoya spun off course a few minutes later in Turn 1 and handed a podium finish back to the Wayne Taylor Racing car.
“Bashy, bashy right there,” van der Zande said. “Old school NASCAR racing, I guess. I’m not so used to that. He was very aggressive but also very very fast. It was a fantastic race for us.”
The final three races will be held at Road Atlanta, Laguna Seca and Sebring.
“It was a great third place with a lot of pressure from Montoya and Mazda and everyone really,” Briscoe said. “We’ll take the points and keep pushing. It’s so close. Can’t think too far ahead, but we’d love to get another win or two to finish out the season. There’s some really big races coming up, and this team tends to excel in the long races, so we’re looking forward to it.”
🏁 on the Acura Sports Car Challenge at @Mid_Ohio. Retweet to congratulate the winners!
–Corvette Racing scored its first victory at the track in eight years as the No. 3 Corvette C8.R of Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia won from the pole position. Teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner finished second in a class that featured only four cars because of the pullout of Porsche.
It was the fourth victory this season for the No. 3 and the fifth for Corvette, which also is 1-2 in the points standings with the No. 3 ahead by 17 points.
“It was a perfect weekend for our Corvette,” Taylor told NBC Sports’ Parker Kligerman. “The car rolled off the truck really well. This was one of the tracks where we never tested at, so the preparation by the team really set us up well. … We’ve been so strong on pace and reliability.”
Said Garcia: “It’s a shame that Porsche is not here as we want them back for sure. It was a brilliant job by everyone. Jordan did a fantastic job all day long, getting on pole and then getting a solid lead even if there were a ton of yellows. The C8.R worked perfectly again today.”
–The No. 14 Lexus of AIM Vasser Sullivan won in the GTD class, moving drivers Aaron Telitz and Jack Hawksworth to the points lead. With four races remaining, Telitz trails the No. 86 Acura by two points, and Hawksworth is four points behind.