SPIRIT of cham­pi­ons

Sev­eral Aussies ex­celled on the in­ter­na­tional mo­tor sport­ing stage in 2009.

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

DE­SPITE var­i­ous mis­for­tunes, the winning spirit of Aus­tralian mo­tor sports­men shone brightly this year.

Casey Stoner, his Moto GP sea­son af­fected by a mys­tery, en­ergy sap­ping, ill­ness, came good when the chips were down.

Casey lifted, and won his home GP at Phillip Is­land fol­low­ing a race-long bat­tle with Valentino Rossi, still manag­ing to fin­ish fourth in the cham­pi­onship.

Mark Web­ber also over­came ad­ver­sity af­ter sus­tain­ing a com­pound frac­ture of his left leg in the Mark Web­ber Chal­lenge in Tas­ma­nia in Novem­ber when, on his moun­tain bike, he was hit by a car.

Though his in­jury wasn’t com­pletely healed he started fit­ness train­ing but was un­able to do any pre-sea­son test­ing.

De­spite th­ese set­backs he has just com­pleted his best ever sea­son in F1, since he fin­ished fifth in his first F1 race at the Aus­tralian F1 GP in 2002 in Mel­bourne in a Mi­nardi.

He came back strongly to win twice, firstly in Ger­many and then in the penul­ti­mate round in Brazil. Web­ber also fin­ished sec­ond on four oc­ca­sions and third twice.

His duel with newly crowned world cham­pion Jen­son But­ton in the clos­ing laps of the fi­nal round at Abu Dhabi was tes­ta­ment to his out­stand­ing skill and determination, where he fin­ished sec­ond ahead of But­ton.

He also backed up his stel­lar sea­son winning at the an­nual Bri­tish Racing Driv­ers Club An­nual Awards in Lon­don. He won the Innes Ire­land Award for best dis­play­ing the qual­i­ties of courage and sports­man­ship, along with the Bruce McLaren Award the most mer­i­to­ri­ous per­for­mance in in­ter­na­tional motorsport.

Web­ber wasn’t the only Aussie to win awards. David Brab­ham won an award for his victory in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race and the Amer­i­can Le Mans Se­ries.

Young West Aussie Daniel Ric­cia­rdo was also awarded for winning the Bri­tish For­mula 3 Cham­pi­onship and, as doc­u­mented in this col­umn, has been signed as the re­serve driver in Web­ber’s Red Bull Re­nault F1 Team in 2010.

Queens­lan­der Ja­son Crump’s quest for a third World Speed­way Mo­tor­cy­cle GP ti­tle be­gan well with three wins, a sec­ond and a third at the half­way point of the cham­pi­onship.

In round six he fin­ished fourth and round seven sec­ond, con­sol­i­dat­ing his al­ready sub­stan­tial lead in the cham­pi­onship. How­ever a crash dur­ing a League race saw Crump badly in­jure his left wrist and fore­arm which re­quired surgery and skin grafts.

De­spite con­stant pain and very lit­tle strength in his left hand and fore­arm which made con­trol­ling the mo­tor­cy­cle most dif­fi­cult, Ja­son sol­diered on fin­ish­ing ninth in round eight, his comfortable lead be­ing whit­tled away.

Fol­low­ing a su­per hu­man ef­fort he rode into fifth place in the penul­ti­mate round, then just hung on to fin­ish a gal­lant and coura­geous 13th in the fi­nal round, enough to right­fully claim his third world cham­pi­onship by a scant 15 points from one of the all-time greats, Thomaz Gol­lob.

For­mer V8 Su­per­car Cham­pion Mar­cus Am­brose, who came sec­ond in one round and fin­ished 18th of 43 in his first full sea­son in the premier NASCAR Sprint Cup, won the Sir Jack Brab­ham Award, pre­sented by CAMS (Con­fed­er­a­tion of Aus­tralian Mo­tor Sport) for his out­stand­ing tal­ent, achieve­ment and suc­cess at In­ter­na­tional level.

Wish­ing all my read­ers a very happy, and, most im­por­tantly, safe Christ­mas.

Stoner: Suf­fered mys­tery ill­ness.

Web­ber: Frac­tured left leg.

Crump: In­jured wrist..

Am­brose: Won Sir Jack Brab­ham Award.

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