This time it’s per­sonal

A taste of Par­adise is up for grabs, writes STEPHEN OTTLEY

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Carsguide -

PER­SONAL glory is the main prize at this Sun­day’s Gold Coast Indycar race. With the cham­pi­onship al­ready won by Scott Dixon, it will be a stand-alone, non-points race.

‘‘I know this year’s race is not for cham­pi­onship points, but that will not make one inch of dif­fer­ence when it comes to race time,’’ driver Dario Fran­chitti says.

‘‘The Nikon Indy 300 is one race ev­ery se­ri­ous Indycar driver wants to com­pete in and win.

‘‘I would give any­thing to win it twice and I am thank­ful I will get that op­por­tu­nity, but I know there will be an­other 23 driv­ers just as keen to get their hands on that big gold cup as me — cham­pi­onship points or not.’’

Fran­chitti is re­turn­ing to the se­ries af­ter spending this year strug­gling to make it in the Nascar Sprint Cup.

He is one of sev­eral driv­ers who will be in new sur­round­ings for the Surfers Par­adise race.

Though still not back to the same level of early years of the race — with fields that in­cluded driv­ers such as Mario An­dretti, Rick Mears, Emmerson Fit­ti­paldi, Bobby Ra­hal and Nigel Mansell — this year’s line-up is one of the strong­est since the ill-fated split be­tween Indycars and Champ Car in 1996.

Hopes of a lo­cal win will be high. Three Aus­tralian-born driv­ers are se­ri­ous con­tenders.

Will Power hope to avenge his two near-misses in the past two years on his home track.

Team­mate Oriol Servia hopes to cash-in on the home crowd with his car car­ry­ing the Team Aus­tralia/Aussie Vine­yards liv­ery.

Ryan Briscoe will lead the crack Team Penske on its re­turn to Aus­tralian soil.

His team­mate, Brazil­ian He­lio Cas­tron­eves, will race de­spite fac­ing US courts on tax of­fences. He is free on bail and has been granted a dis­pen­sa­tion to race in Aus­tralia for the first time since 2001.

Dixon flies the New Zealand flag but was born in Bris­bane, so can ex­pect plenty of lo­cal sup­port.

Prac­tice starts to­day.

No place like home: Will Power is keen to make amends for two near-misses at his home track.

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