Poor luck for native sons continues in Australia

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It should have been a joyous occasion. Daniel Ricciardo, the new face of Red Bull alongside four-time defending World Champion teammate Sebastian Vettel, had qualified and finished second in the season opening Australian Grand Prix.

After more than a decade of Mark Webber’s near misses and frequent bad luck in his home race, Ricciardo delivered the perfect story line switch with a storybook team debut.

Only it was too good.

The Australian was disqualified several hours after the race for exceeding the newly mandated maximum fuel flow rate.

It wiped out what had been an excellent first outing for Ricciardo in the lead Red Bull team after two full years with Toro Rosso.

It also continued a spell of unlucky results for Australians in their home Grand Prix at Melbourne.

Webber was only once able to better his best Australian GP finish set on his Grand Prix debut in 2002 with Minardi, when he finished fifth. A solitary fourth in 2012 didn’t have the same allure or appeal that the fifth with the underdog team did, as it was their first points-scoring finish since the 1999 European Grand Prix.

As it is, with Ricciardo now the sole native son waving the flag in Australia, here’s a rundown of the results since Webber’s 2002 debut.

  • 2014: Ricciardo (Red Bull) DQ
  • 2013: Webber (Red Bull) 6th, Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) DNF
  • 2012: Webber (Red Bull) 4th, Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) 9th
  • 2011: Webber (Red Bull) 5th
  • 2010: Webber (Red Bull) 9th
  • 2009: Webber (Red Bull) 12th
  • 2008: Webber (Red Bull) DNF
  • 2007: Webber (Red Bull) 13th
  • 2006: Webber (Williams) DNF
  • 2005: Webber (Williams) 5th
  • 2004: Webber (Jaguar) DNF
  • 2003: Webber (Jaguar) DNF
  • 2002: Webber (Minardi) 5th

Travis Pastrana leads flag-to-flag in Nitro Rallycross as the series returns to America

Pastrana Nitro Rallycross
Barry Chin / Getty Images
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Travis Pastrana waited until the final trip around ERX Motor Park to take his Joker Lap – a longer way around the course that all drivers must do at least once in a race – and came out cleanly to win his first Nitro Rallycross race of 2022. With this win, Pastrana is the third driver to visit Victory Lane in the first three rounds of the 2022-23 season.

“This is the closest to a motocross track,” Pastrana told Katie Osborne on Peacock. “Thank you so much for a beautiful facility. It’s been a rough start to the season and I’m so thankful to be back out here. We had a good run in the side-by-side and now for this. This is much needed.”

Another thing needed was the sense of improvement. And Pastrana earned that affirmation each time he completed a lap around the course.

“I get my lap times read out and they said ‘fastest time of the week,’ ‘fastest time of the week’ (each time around) ” Pastrana said. “This is really special. We’re a long way behind in the championship, but welcome to America.”

In a pre-race press conference, Pastrana said that as Nitro Rallycross heads back to America, it was time for an American to win and he made good on his promise. Pastrana took the early lead over Robin Larsson and let the back of his Subaru hang out, taking risks he might not otherwise take if not for his need to win.

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Larsson’s second-place finish completed a perfect sweep of the podium in three rounds. In fact, he has not yet finished worse than second after winning the opening round at Lydden Hill in the United Kingdom and finishing second at Strangnas in Sweeden.

Fraser McConnel rounded out the podium for his best result of the season. He finished fourth in each of the first two rounds.

Last year, Pastrana finished second in this race to Scott Speed before narrowly edging his teammate for the championship.

Andreas Bakkerud crashed in prelims, but rebounded to finish just off the block in fourth. Bakkerud won the second round ahead of his teammate Larsson.

Oliver Bennett completed the top five.

Minneapolis is the first of three rounds scheduled in the United States. Next on the schedule is Glen Helen, Calif. on Octo 30 and then Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass on November 12th. Nitro Rallycross will then head to Saudi Arabia in December to continue their 2022-23 season.