THE “blue oval brigade” came to life in Adelaide last Sunday when FPR Falcon teammates Will Davison and Mark Winterbottom dominated race two of the Clipsal 500, taking the ascendency early in the V8 Supercar race.
The pair recorded Ford’s first “one-two” finish in four years, though James Courtney won the 2010 Championship in a “nail biter” in the final round in Sydney, driving a Dick Johnson Racing Falcon.
Fuel management played a big part in this year’s Clipsal 500, with many teams affected by high fuel consumption. Jamie Whincup courageously won Saturday’s race despite being devastated by his father’s death from illness early in the week.
Will Davison (FPR Falcon) was second after almost running out of fuel on the last lap. Garth Tander (HRT Commodore) took the minor placing. Tander also finished a consistent third on Sunday, with Whincup and Lowndes fourth and fifth after both had to conserve fuel.
The round was won by Davison, who has an 18-point buffer over Whincup, with Tander a further 12 points adrift of Whincup. James Courtney is out of his million-dollar contract with HRT at the end of the season and, unless he improves dramatically, it is understood the contract will not be renewed.
His performances in 2011 and at the Clipsal 500 have been dismal and he has invariably crashed out or finished mid-field, while his teammate Tander has usually been up at the “pointy end”.
Following “non-championship” races at the F1 GP on the Albert Park road course next weekend, round two of the championship is at Symmons Plains in Tasmania at month’s end. One-two Ford: Clipsal 500 winner Will Davison (right) celebrates with Mark Winterbottom.
BARICHELLO JOINS INDY LEAGUE
AFTER contesting a record-breaking 322 Formula One races in a career spanning 18 years, Brazilian Rubens Barichello has confirmed he will drive in the Indy Racing League in 2012. Following several weeks of testing and discussions with Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven, owners of KV Racing, in Florida, Barichello has signed to drive for them this season.
Barichello’s F1 contract was not renewed at the end of last season and though he never won an F1 World Championship, he was runner-up in 2001 and 2004. In an enduring F1 career, he raced with six different teams, won 11 races, scored 68 top-three placings, 106 top fives and 172 top-10 placings. The affable Brazilian was assisted in his early years in F1 by his good friend and fellow Brazilian, Ayrton Senna.
After confirming his drive with KV Racing, a delighted Barichello said: “I’m over the moon. I went to test at Sebring. We had no expectations. It was just a test. I got to the track and received a fantastic reception. I felt that I wanted to do it straight away.
“I love the sport. I love the speed. I’m so myself behind the steering wheel, I just feel at home.”
LOEB LEADS RALLY INTO MEXICO
SEBASTIAN Loeb (Citroen) takes a seven-point lead in the World Rally Championship going into this weekend’s third round, Rally Mexico, which begins in the historic town of Guanajuarto.
The ancient city is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The former French gymnastics champion is shooting for an unprecedented ninth consecutive WRC Championship.
His new Citroen teammate Mikko Hirvonen sits in second with 32 points, ahead of the very popular, always-smiling Petter Solberg on 29 points.
Solberg, who is adored by millions, has been a privateer for several seasons but is now driving for the Ford Factory Team. He is expected to do well in 2012.
Australia’s Chris Atkinson, who drove for the Subaru Team, has been out of the WRC for several years after Subaru withdrew from the WRC.
He has secured a “one-off” drive with Ken Block’s Monster Team in a Ford Fiesta in Mexico.
“I’ll be in the same (specification) car that won the last round in Sweden,” said Atkinson, who hails from the Sunshine Coast.
“I’m stoked to be back in the WRC and teaming up with Ken.”