MARK Webber’s chances of standing on the podium following tomorrow’s Monaco F1 GP in Monte Carlo have been enhanced following his fine third place in the Spanish GP two weeks ago. Ironically, Webber stood on the podium in Spain two weeks ago, 50 years to the day since his racing idol, Australia’s Sir Jack Brabham, won his first Formula 1 GP.
Red Bull design chief Adrian Newey said the team were racing to have a new double-decker diffuser ready this weekend in an effort to close the gap between the all-conquering Brawn Mercedes Team. Brawn is one of three teams, along with Toyota and Williams, who started the season with the controversial split-level double-decker diffuser which gives greater aerodynamic down force and thus more speed.
Newey said: “It’s not easy for us to put a double diffuser on our car as it’s not designed for that in the first place with pullrod instead of pushrod rear suspension.
“However, we have a solution which I believe we may be able to use this weekend.”
After finishing third at Barcelona, Webber is quietly confident. He was fourth at Monaco last year and makes no secret of the fact the Monte Carlo street circuit is his favourite track, however with passing being difficult he will need to qualify well.
AUSSIES AT INDY
AUSTRALIA is well represented in this weekend’s 94th running of the iconic Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the aptly named suburb of Speedway in downtown Indianapolis.
“The Brickyard”, as it is commonly known, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and almost 400,000 people are expected to attend.
Ryan Briscoe is the highest ever Australian qualifier at Indy and is lining up beside his Penske teammate and pole sitter Helio Castroneves on the front row of the grid in second.
Fellow Aussie, Queensland’s Will Power, is two rows further back after having qualified a brilliant ninth in only his second ever in Indy 500.
After losing his drive in the cash strapped KV Team last year, Power was handed a lifeline by Roger Penske to replace Castroneves who has been battling for seven months to prove his innocence in a tax evasion charge, in which he was successful.
However, team owner Penske promised Power a drive in the Indy 500, regardless of whether Castroneves returned to the team or not. Power’s future in the IRL (Indy Racing League) will be determined by his performance, in what is known as “the greatest one-day sporting event in the world” tomorrow.
NASCAR LONGEST RACE
NASCAR’s longest race, the World at 600, over 965km, also is tomorrow in NASCAR’s heartland at Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte.
After finally mastering the Superspeedway ovals, Australia’s Marcus Ambrose sits in 20th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship following his best ever finish on an oval, fourth place at Talladega a month ago.
He now has newfound confidence and the respect of his opponents on the 300km/h-plus high banked Superspeedway ovals of NASCAR.
STONER BOUNCES BACK
FOLLOWING an indifferent start to the World Moto GP championship, Australia’s Casey Stoner, with lack a front end grip on a drying track in Spain, has bounced back into contention after finishing fifth.
Championship leader and fivetime world champion Valentino Rossi succumbed to the difficult conditions, crashing out of contention in the closing stages of the race. Stoner’s gutsy performance has elevated him into second place in the championship only one point behind Rossi’s Yamaha team mate Jorge Lorenzo. Fellow Aussie Chris Vermuelen is in eighth place.
IRL teammates: Helio Castroneves (left), of Brazil, and Ryan Briscoe, of Australia.