The Gold Coast Bulletin - - OPINION -

THE boys from Brazil cov­ered them­selves in glory at the 11th an­nual Honda Indy 300 – and the men, women and chil­dren of the Gold Coast, Aus­tralia and the world turned out in record-shat­ter­ing force to cheer them on.

De­fy­ing the doom and gloom of the ter­ror at­tacks in the US and the Ansett col­lapse, and rev­el­ling in post­card­per­fect Gold Coast weather, 110,187 peo­ple flocked to Indy to see baby-faced Brazil­ian Cris­tiano da Matta take the che­quered flag and emo­tional com­pa­triot Gil de Fer­ran claim the world cham­pi­onship.

The mas­sive last-day turnout helped the event set a new record four-day at­ten­dance of 286,610 peo­ple, eclips­ing the pre­vi­ous year’s 10th an­niver­sary crowd of 269,890.

Mo­ments af­ter cross­ing the fin­ish line to claim his sec­ond suc­ces­sive Indy world cham­pi­onship, de Fer­ran was over­taken by his emo­tions.

Over­come with the enor­mity of his achieve­ment, and men­tally and phys­i­cally ex­hausted af­ter one of the most gru­elling Gold Coast Indy races ever, de Fer­ran broke down as he took a con­grat­u­la­tory mo­bile phone call from his wife, An­gela, back home in Florida.

Sur­rounded by his ec­static team, the 33-year-old Brazil­ian cut an emo­tional fig­ure as he sat hunched on the edge of his car, tears stream­ing down his face. He had just be­come only the fourth man in Indy rac­ing his­tory to win back-to-back cham­pi­onships.

His hard-fought fourth plac­ing in the 11th an­nual Honda Indy 300 was enough to se­cure him the pres­tige Van­der­bilt Cup and the $US1 mil­lion bonus prize.

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