Aussie GP organizers now threaten lawsuit, switch to IndyCar

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From 1991 to 2008, American open-wheel racing annually made a visit to Australia at the beloved Surfers Paradise Street Circuit. But what if the current Verizon IndyCar Series was able to make its way back Down Under at the home of Formula One’s Australian Grand Prix?

Race organizers are still agitated over the lack of noise from F1’s new V6-powered machines, which they say detracted from the atmosphere during the Grand Prix earlier this month.

Now, after alleging that the quieter cars may have breached their contract with F1 management, the organizers have continued their saber-rattling by not only threatening a lawsuit but also bringing up IndyCar as a possible replacement at Albert Park.

“We may as well go and buy an IndyCar race for $3.5m [AUS]. It would be hugely louder,” Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker told the UK’s Independent this week.

“It would be a drastic change to switch to IndyCar but we cannot go on like this.”

Walker also added that the new sound of F1 was “a disgrace” and that as a result, promoters will resort to having to “go and get an IndyCar race or something like that to keep the fans.”

As for the matter of the possible lawsuit, Walker says he has written F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to inform him that F1’s Promoters Association group (of which Walker is the chairman) will meet in two weeks’ time to discuss the matter.

“We can’t just sit back and wait,” he declared. “There’s a strong wind blowing here. Legal action would not be very difficult. Bernie is clearly in breach of his contract because this is not what we bought…”

“I didn’t buy a wimp. Originally, I bought a giant with noise.”

Ecclestone himself has said that he was talking with FIA president Jean Todt about ways to make the cars louder, like their V8-powered predecessors. However, he has told Sky Sports in Malaysia that the noise was louder than he expected and that if it were raised a little bit more, “it will be alright.”

Todt himself appears open to the idea of louder engines, even though he has said he finds the V6 tones “fascinating” from his perspective.

Valiant efforts from Hunter-Reay, Dixon come up just short at Road America

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Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon drove about as hard as they possibly could during Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, and they both drove nearly perfect races.

Hunter-Reay took advantage of Will Power’s engine issues on the start to immediately jump into second, and stalked pole sitter and leader Josef Newgarden from there, often staying within only a couple car lengths of his gearbox.

Dixon, meanwhile, had a tougher chore after qualifying a disappointing 12th. Further, he was starting in the same lane as Will Power, and when Power had engine issues when the green flag waved, Dixon was one of several drivers who was swamped in the aftermath.

Scott Dixon had to come from deep in the field on Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

However, as is his style, he quietly worked his way forward, running sixth after the opening round of pit stops, and then working his way up to third after the second round of stops.

It all meant that, after Lap 30, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, and Dixon were nose-to-tail at the front, with the latter two in position to challenge for the win.

Yet, neither was able to do so. Hunter-Reay never got close enough to try to pass Newgarden, while Dixon couldn’t do so on either Hunter-Reay or Newgarden. And, neither driver went longer in their final stint – Dixon was actually the first of that group to pit, doing so on Lap 43, with Hunter-Reay and Newgarden pitting together one lap later.

And Newgarden pulled away in the final stint, winning by over three seconds, leaving Hunter-Reay and Dixon to finish second and third.

It was a somewhat bitter pill to swallow, with Hunter-Reay noting that he felt like he had enough to challenge for a win.

“I felt like we had the pace for (Newgarden), especially in the first two stints,” he asserted. “I really felt like it was going to be a really good race between us. Whether it be first, second, third, fourth stint – I didn’t know when it was going to come.”

He added that, if he could do it over again, he would have been more aggressive and tried to pass Newgarden in the opening stint.

“In hindsight, I should have pressured him a bit more in the first stint,” Hunter-Reay lamented. “We were focused on a fuel number at the time. Unfortunately that Penske fuel number comes into play, can’t really go hard.”

Dixon, meanwhile, expressed more disappointment in the result, asserting that qualifying better would have put him in a possibly race-winning position.

“I think had we started a little further up, we could have had a good shot at trying to fight for the win today,” he expressed.

The disappointment for Dixon also stems from the knowledge that his No. 9 PNC Bank Honda had the pace to win, especially longer into a run.

“The car was pretty good on the long stint,” he asserted. “I think for us the saving grace was probably the black tire stint two. We closed a hefty gap there. We were able to save fuel early in the first stint, which enabled us to go a lap longer than everybody, had the overcut for the rest of the race.

“I think speed-wise we were right there. Had a bit of a crack at Hunter-Reay on his out lap on the last stint there, but cooked it too much going into (Turn 14), got a bit loose, lost momentum. That would have been really the only chance of passing him.”

Dixon remains in the championship lead, however, by 45 points, while Hunter-Reay moved up to second, tied with Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi.

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