This time it’s personal
A taste of Paradise is up for grabs, writes STEPHEN OTTLEY
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.