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Jake Kostecki. Image: MOTORSPORT IMAGES:
KOSTECKI SET FOR TICKFORD DEPARTURE TICKFORD APPEARS SET TO CUT JAKE KOSTECKI FROM ITS DRIVING LINE-UP AFTER A REPORTED WAYWARD EVENING AT THE SUPERCARS GALA LAST MONTH JAKE KOSTECKI’S action-packed night at the Supercars Gala the day after the season finale in Adelaide is believed to have put his drive with Tickford for 2023 in doubt. The youngest of the three Kosteckis involved in the series – brother Kurt is two years older and cousin Brodie three – was reportedly involved in a physical altercation with Scott Pye and was also heard blaming Tickford for his poor performances during the season. Tickford would not comment on the status of Kostecki’s contract with the team when contacted by Auto Action but is known to be disappointed with the actions of the driver, who is halfway through a two-year deal as the driver of the Tradie Mustang. The altercation is believed to have started after comments from Pye, and collateral damage was sustained by some around the pair, including Erebus’ MD and Pye’s partner Shannen Kiely who was trying to break up the disagreement. Both drivers have denied the altercation despite many witnesses.
Declan Fraser appears to be at the head of the pack if the seat in the Tradie Mustang opens up for this season. The 2022 Super2 Champion is without a regular drive this year and acquitted himself well at Bathurst when driving with Craig Lowndes in the Triple Eight Supercheap Auto wildcard. Supercheap has offered sponsorship support to Fraser for anyone looking to run him in 2023, but that will not be required at Tickford, which has support on two of its cars from rival retailer Autobarn. Zak Best is not believed to be in the running for the drive after losing his Super2 seat with the Tickford in 2023, following a successful season where he finished a luckless runner-up to Declan Fraser. It is said Tickford is concerned about whether he is ready to take the next step in his career despite acknowledging his speed and driving talent. A pole winner during his wildcard run at The Bend, Tickford has retained him for the endurance races. Richie Stanaway is a former Tickford driver, but it is unlikely Tickford will turn to
him despite his Bathurst performance. Porsche Carrera Cup young guns Harri Jones and Aaron Love are not endorsed for racing in Supercars and would require dispensation from the Supercars Commission – of which Tickford team principal Tim Edwards is a member – to be allowed to race, but Tickford is unlikely to go down that path. Jaxon Evans, who made his Bathurst debut with Brad Jones Racing, is in a similar situation to Jones and Love, while Tyler Everingham, Jordan Boys and Jayden Ojeda all hold the requisite licences to run in the main game but are not believed to be in the frame. Matt Payne and Cam Hill – third and fifth in the 2023 Super2 Series – already have main game drives for 2023 with Grove Racing and PremiAir Racing, respectively, meaning Tickford’s best option will be Fraser should it be able to prise him out of the Triple Eight stable. Kostecki’s first season at Tickford was his second full season in the main game after running with Matt Stone Racing in 2021
where he finished 19th in the championship with 1157 points from 30 races. His results at Tickford showed promise at times. His best qualifying was third at Wanneroo Raceway, and he qualified inside the top 10 four times during the season. He finished the year with a qualifying average of 17.6, which was 21st among the series regulars. In the races he fared a little worse, with an average of 18.4 and a best of eighth with three top 10 finishes. He finished the season in 21st spot with 1039 points from 34 races, 118 fewer than the year before with four extra races. Kostecki’s Ukraine heritage saw Tickford run for part of the season with Ukraine flags on the car. Tradie has been using Kostecki in its latest advertising campaigns. Andrew Clarke
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GEN3 BUILD UNDERWAY…
BJR’s first two chassis are taking shape steadily. Below: The Ford Coyte engine. Image: MARK HORSBURGH/EDGE PHOTOGRAPHICS
THE GEN3 BUILD IS PUSHING AHEAD FOR ALL THE SUPERCARS TEAMS, BUT SOME PARTS ARE SLOWER IN ARRIVING THAN HOPED. ANDREW CLARKE REPORTS THERE IS a frantic race against time for Supercars’ 11 teams to have cars ready for shakedown and test days in early February, and some pessimists are saying they could be in trouble for the season opener in Newcastle. It is hoped that all teams will have at least one car ready to run in February, but there is no guarantee that this will happen. Most team owners AA spoke with were nervous about the deadlines for getting cars onto the track, but all were hopeful of hitting their time targets, adding that the eventual success or otherwise is out of their hands. The Supercars Gen3 team took holidays over Christmas and New Year with the homologation process yet to be completed and with some contracts for component supply yet to be signed or approved after approving some on Christmas Eve. At least one team has raised its concerns over the shakedown and test days and hopes that if it has at least one car ready to run, it will be allowed to run that car. According to the people we spoke with, it is unlikely all 25 cars will be ready for the days scheduled for Winton (7 February) and Queensland Raceway (9 February). This uncertainty has thrown doubt over the test days, with a debate over whether they will be allowed to proceed if all the cars are not ready to run, or worse if some teams don’t have a car at all. The concern is that
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some teams may gain an advantage heading into the most important season since Supercars’ inception, depending on where the 11 teams are up to with their Gen3 build program. As the New Year has arrived, no team has a full set of parts to build a car, and some of the components are yet to be homologated, meaning they could be weeks away from having complete cars. There is less than four weeks to the first scheduled test day, at Winton, on 7 February. Brad Jones Racing got the first of 16 chassis out of PACE Innovations, with Triple Eight (for itself and customers) and Erebus making their own chassis to the specs supplied by Supercars. “It’s very tight because we’re still waiting on a lot of parts to be produced for the car, but I’m really happy with where BJR is at in terms of the parts that we’ve produced,” Brad Jones said from Albury. “We’ve got a build schedule we are working to, but it’s a massively big job, and we’re waiting for a lot of stuff to be produced. The drawings are really good, so it’s pretty clear what needs to go where. But actually building the car, and being one of the pioneers with the car build, means you will find things that need a little adjusting. But Triple Eight has been really good through this side of the process. “Something new is always exciting. If we had all the parts on the floor and we just had to build a car, it would be a lot easier. But, every time we get a new pile of parts, the
boys are into it. I know they’re enjoying the process, and we’re really looking forward to getting the first one running so we can shake it down and see what it’s like.” Jones said there is an official shakedown day on February 1, which will likely have a cap on the number of laps that can be run, but he doesn’t think many teams will make that session and that it may yet be moved. He was still targeting one complete car for the shakedown, but whether he succeeds or not is out of his hands. “I’d like to have one car ready, but we’re very dependent on part supply to make that date. It’s not very far away, and I think it’s going to be unbelievably tight, but it’s our focus to have at least one car ready for that date. But
that’s out of our hands.” He didn’t give full details about what is missing to finish his team’s first car, but he thinks they are more advanced than any other team. “We’ve got an engine out of the prototype, so we’ve got all our plumbing done. I feel like we’ll get a proper engine soon with an exhaust system on it, and from there, it’s usually the little things that trip you up. We’ve still got to hang the body on it. We’re waiting for bracketry – our local laser cutter, Larsens in Albury, has been fantastic with the way they’ve been producing stuff for us. “It’s just the rush towards the end when you’re building your car. We’ve got a lot of things to finish, but I feel like we’re making
Mustang progress at Tickford – rear bodywork starting to be fitted (top), while one team car has an engine installed (bottom). Images: ANDREW CLARKE
VCAT process, which has previously allowed consecutive models to increase downforce to the point where the erroneously named Gen2 cars had virtually become unraceable due to aero wash. The most visible component yet to be approved is the rear wing of the Mustang, meaning at least 11 rear wings will need to be manufactured in a short time. The design concept has the same rear wing for both cars, with the issue at hand being the length of the two wings, which may ease production concerns.
Ford is still working to adjust its engine to match the performance output of the Camaro. The Coyote engine in the Mustang is more sophisticated than the older-concept engine in the Camaro, meaning GM is trying to use technology to match the performance of its engine to mirror that of the Ford. This process remains ongoing, meaning no team has an approved engine to use yet. Each engine will be supplied by either KRE Racing Engines (Camaro) or Herrod Performance (Mustang) and will be tested by Supercars for compliance before being randomly allocated to the teams.
Many components are yet to be homologated and to have a supplier allocated. Some of the components in question are required near the end of the build, while others are delaying other steps in the build. It is known that parts like wiper motors and dashboards have yet to have an approved supplier. At least one team owner believes if they make it to the first test, they will most likely do it without a dashboard which impacts only the aesthetics of the cars. The issue with the dashboards is finding a supplier at short notice. Tickford was one possibility, but it says it is unlikely to be able to take on any extra parts at the moment. Tickford is already supplying the doors and inner composite panels for the Mustangs and suspension parts – both machined and fabricated – for both cars and other assorted fabricated parts and brackets.
good progress with the bits we’ve got. It depends on who the supplier is, but sometimes we get bits for one car, and sometimes we get bits for four cars but, by and large, normally it’s two cars and then another two cars a little bit later on.” With four cars to build, Jones says they haven’t even gone down the path of allocating chassis to particular car numbers beyond providing it with a BJR Supercars chassis number. Blanchard Racing Team has sent out pictures of its first in-house built car and, if what was shown is correct, it is the most advanced team in the country with regards to the build. The shiny blue Mustang is conspicuously short of some elements, like a rear wing and grilles, but look relatively well finished. It also claimed to have one of the new engines installed – but is unlikely to have an actual racing engine in place.
Grove Racing is also pushing on, but looks to be lagging compared with BRT and BJR with little more than bare chassis on display as the crew works on the build. An interesting part of the supplied video show engineers under a car with a laptop guiding the build. “We had the chassis turn up from Pace Innovation; so, they turn up raw [and] there’s a little bit of prep work that needed to be done,” Penrite Racing team principal, David Cauchi said. “Then we sent them off to paint [and] now they’re back here and we are starting to bolt on all the various parts.” “There’s still a lot of things being made and a lot if things being assembled behind the scenes as well, so slowly, we’ll start to see more parts going on to the car. Next will be the bodywork, so the roof is one of the first things that will get bolted onto the car and then all the other panels can then follow from that.
“A lot of suspension is now getting built. The guys are working at the back on the gearbox and getting all the wiring loom for the rear firewall installed and then, in not too long, we’ll have a car that we can go racing with and have some fun.” Supercars has been approached for comment but has not yet spoken to us.
Mustang Aero Package
Ford has reportedly raised concerns over the initial VCAT tests and requested a second test, which Supercars has scheduled for January. Supercars has previously stated that it had fixed previous inconsistencies with the VCAT process and is confident of its figures but is also keen to keep Ford engaged, so it has agreed to the extra test. The request by Ford, and the agreement by Supercars to run a second test, does however cast doubt over the accuracy of the
While it appears many of the initial cost concerns have been exaggerated, it is clear the costs could have been trimmed further. The panels which sit inside the wheel arches are fully fabricated and stunning but are deemed excessively over-engineered by all the teams we spoke to. The teams believed these panels should have been made from rubber or plastic, given the rate at which they say will get damaged in crashes and general wear, but the design team insisted on them being made from full carbon composite. The fabricated units cost more than $1000 each, meaning nearly $5000 per car, while rubber ones would have cost around $150 each.
The Test Days
Three test days have been scheduled: at Winton (7 February) for the Victorian teams and Brad Jones Racing; Queensland Raceway (9 February) for the Queensland team and Sydney Motorsport Park (22 February) for all teams. Teams will be able to do very short shake downs, limited to 60 km runs prior to full test sessions. Whether these days will proceed as planned was not clear as AA closed for press.
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FROSTY’S NEW COLOURS MARK WINTERBOTTOM will be racing in new colours for the first time in his Team 18 career when the 2023 Supercars Championship commences. Having been backed by IRWIN since moving to the team in 2019, Winterbottom will race in DEWALT colours this year. The simple brand switch by Stanley Black & Decker could confuse Supercars fans with the sister Team 18 entry driven by Scott Pye carrying DEWALT warpaint in 2020 and 2021. Last year Winterbottom secured his best championship finish for Team 18 with P9 and hopes new colours will bring further success in the Gen3 era.
BRT SHOWS OFF GEN3 MUSTANG THERE MAY be some concern surrounding the development of Gen3, but Blanchard Racing Team has showed off its near-complete Gen3 Ford Mustang. BRT was one of the first to reveal a near-complete car with most of the Gen3 bodywork attached, aside the the rear-wing and elements on the front end. “This marks an important step in the development for BRT,” team owner Tim Blanchard said. “Our brilliant little team has worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to have this car on the ground and the engine in and plumbed.” Despite the promising signs, there is still a race against time for teams to be ready for the first test.
COMMUNITY TO HAVE SAY ON NEWCASTLE 500 THE FUTURE of the Newcastle 500 is in the hands of the local community with a decision expected be made mid this year. The City of Newcastle Council will seek feedback from the community before, during and after the Supercars season opener in March as part of a consultation strategy prepared to guide future decisions about the event. Despite missing out on a Supercars race since 2019, the current contract expires after the returning 2023 race. A report on the community’s feedback will inform the decision about a possible extension mid this year.
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EREBUS COOL IN COKE EREBUS MOTORSPORT enters a new era in more ways with its maiden Gen3 Chevrolet Camaros to race in iconic Coca-Cola colours in the 2023 Supercars Championship. The world’s most famous drinks company will be the namingrights sponsor of the team for the next two years, with cars #9 and #99 to race under the Coca-Cola Racing by Erebus banner. The announcement was widely expected with Boost Mobile leaving the team at the end of last year and Coca-Cola stickers appearing on the rear-end of the Erebus Motorsport Holden Commodores that competed in the 2022 Supercars Championship. Erebus Motorsport managing director Shannen Kiely said the landmark deal is a significant moment for the team, which celebrates its 10th year in Supercars in 2023. “We are so excited to welcome Coca-Cola as our naming rights partner,” she said. “We have enjoyed a close partnership with CCEP for a number of years and we are looking forward to this next chapter as we move into an exciting time in the sport. We can’t wait to see two red Camaro’s on track.” Seeing two Coke Camaros roll out onto the Newcastle grid will hit some fans with a dose of nostalgia, marking the first time a two-car Supercars team has been fully backed by the soft-drink giant since the days of Wayne Gardner Racing in the mid 1990s. Allan Moffat first brought Coca-Cola to Australian touring car racing with his famous 1969 Ford Mustang. The brand then returned in 1994 on the doors of Gardner’s and
Neil Crompton’s Holden Commdore’s until WGR was reduced to a one-car operation in 1996. Garnder kept campaigning Coke Commdore’ until 1999 before the brand was not seen on the Supercars grid for another two decades. Chris Pither brought Coca-Cola back with Team Sydney in 2020 and carried the same colours with PremiAir Racing last year, while Macauley Jones had the brand on his door for Brad Jones Racing in 2021. But in 2023 Brodie Kostecki and Will Brown will become the latest drivers to race with the world famous brand and are excited at the prospect. “I grew up a little bit watching NASCAR and Coke was really predominant in that series,” Kostecki said. “It’s like a boyhood dream to have two Coke team cars as part of Erebus … to have two fast red Camaro’s is going to be pretty awesome, and I’m very excited for 2023.” Brown shared his teammates sentiments, and like the fans, is excited for the unveiling of the 2023 liveries. “The cars already look amazing, so I’m sure the livery is going to be something to look out for, that’s for sure,” Brown commented. “It’s a little bit surreal, getting into Supercars is like a pinch yourself moment and now having a sponsor of this calibre is just awesome.” The Coke Chevrolet Camaros will make their Supercars debut at the Newcastle 500 on March 10-12. TW Neal
PENRITE GEN3 BUILDS TAKING SHAPE THE PENRITE and Grove Racing team has provided an update on its Gen3 builds with both chassis starting to take shape in the lead up to the Newcastle 500. The team just had its first full season under the ownership of the Grove Group, where they achieved a hard fought fifth place in the teams championship With all teams under the gun to get their builds completed before testing begins with a proposed shakedown in early February, Penrite Racing’s Victorian Braeside workshop took their first kit late last year. Both builds are being managed by Stephen Robertson, former Sporting and Technical Manager for Porsche Motorsport Australia, who came on board with the team early 2022. Robertson was appointed Project Manager of the Gen3 build for Penrite Racing with additional responsibilities including the development of the team’s infrastructure. Team principal David Cauchi, gave an insight into the process following both chassis being painted. “We had the chassis turn up from Pace Innovation; so, they turn up raw, and there’s a little bit of prep work that needed to be done,” Cauchi explained. “Then we sent them off to be painted, and now they’re back here and we are starting to bolt on all the various parts. “There’s still a lot of things being made and a lot of things being assembled behind the scenes as well, so slowly we’ll start to see more parts going on to the car. Next will be the
body work, so the roof is one of the first things that will get bolted on to the car and then all the other panels can then follow from that. “A lot of suspension is now getting built. The guys are working at the back on the gearbox and getting all the wiring loom for the rear firewall installed and then in not too long we’ll have a car that we can go racing with and have some fun,” said Cauchi. Penrite Racing will enter the new season with a new driver after the retirement of veteran Lee Holdsworth, with young gun Matthew Payne partnering up with David Reynolds behind the wheels of their Gen3 For Mustangs. TW Neal
WILDCARD CHANGES COMING AS ADDERTON EXPLORES LOOPHOLE
SUPERCARS WANTS TO EXPAND THE NUMBER OF WILDCARD EVENTS TEAMS CAN ENTER IN 2023, AND PETER ADDERTON IS KEEN TO EXPLORE RUNNING HIS CAR UNDER THE TRIPLE EIGHT LICENCE. ANDREW CLARKE SAYS, HOWEVER, THAT HE MAY HAVE OTHER OPTIONS TO EXPAND HIS PROGRAM
Peter Adderton and Boost Mobile – which backed the Murphy/ Stanaway Bathurst wildcard last October.
SUPERCARS IS likely to ask Teams Racing Charters (TRCs) holders if they want to expand the wildcard rules for 2023. At present, each TRC is allowed to run a wildcard on just one sprint weekend during the season and Supercars has previously stated it would like to double for this season.
Supercars CEO, Shane Howard, said the process is simple if all TRC holders agree, and it would mean the likes of Declan Fraser (provided he doesn’t line up for Tickford in car #56) and Zakk Best, who aren’t returning to Super2, could run up to four events in 2023 although they will likely be co-drivers at Sandown and Bathurst. The wildcard rules for Sandown and Bathurst are not linked to a TRC. The idea of extra rounds has sparked further interest from Peter Adderton in his Boost Mobile Racing wildcard campaign. After failing to secure the 26th TRC, which
remains inactive this season, Adderton is pushing ahead with his plans for his own team, ordering a car from Triple Eight, which should be delivered in time to run at Newcastle should it be allowed to enter. He announced plans last year to run wildcards at Newcastle, Bathurst and the Gold Coast, of which Boost Mobile has previously been the naming rights sponsor. Adderton is buying a Gen3 racer off Triple Eight with the aim of building a team of his own, but with a limited campaign possible for this season, he will use support crew from Triple Eight, as well as its wildcard facility, to enter races. He is also believed to be exploring the possibility of entering extra race weekends by subcontracting the wildcard facility from other teams. This process of a team other than the
TRC owner running a wildcard is not new, with teams like Erebus previously sub-contracting wildcard entries to Terry Wyhoon’s Image Racing. The process of one wildcard entry running at multiple rounds under different TRCs has not yet been explored but would still have to get clearance from Supercars, which has veto rights over any entry. With teams struggling through the current build process, it is unlikely any teams would have a spare chassis ready to race in the first half of the season, if at all. The 2023 Operations Manual that outlines which events allow wildcard entries has not yet been published on the Supercars website. In the past, wildcards were allowed at all the tracks on the 2023 calendar except the Grand Prix, Townsville and the Gold Coast.
WANTED: RACE CAR MECHANIC Young Race Team is looking to engage an enthusiastic full-time person to assist with race car maintenance, preparation, development and track side assistance. There are four cars involved and with this year’s program, it is planned that we will race up to twelve events. Our workshop is based northern end of Gold Coast (Yatala). Experience is essential.
If you would like to join our young enthusiastic team, please contact/forward resume to Pat at Six 80 Racing. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 0438 599 412
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DE PASQUALE TO FRONT GROVES’ CHARGE ANTON DE PASQUALE will be fronting Grove Racing’s Bathurst 12 Hour assault in February. The current DJR driver, with personal Grove sponsorship, will team up with his Ford Supercars rival in a Porsche GT3R in the Pro-Am class. De Pasquale has raced in the enduro twice, but is yet to finish, while Grove Racing is aiming for a sixth class win at Mount Panorama. De Pasquale will be joined by Stephen and Brenton Grove at Bathurst after racing in the 2023 Dubai 24 Hour.
PREMIAIR TO PUSH FOR 12 HOUR WIN PREMIAIR RACING will expand its reach into the GT3 world by joining forces with Schumacher Motorsport for the Bathurst 12 Hour. The longtime drag-racing team and new Supercars outfit, will race a Audi R8 LMS Evo at the February 3-5 event. A full driver roster is yet to be announced, but car owner Brad Schumacher will play a major role. With the support of Fuchs, PremiAir Racing hopes it will be “battling for outright honours” at Mount Panorama and add the enduro to its growing CV.
PIRES PRIMED FOR “EMOTIONAL” 12 HOUR SERGIO PIRES will be lining up for an “emotional” Bathurst 12 Hour with Tigani Motorsport and Valmont Racing, which has assembled an experienced team for the big race. A quartet of drivers will steer the Silver Class #44 Mercedes led by S5000 race winner Aaron Cameron, GT racer Duvashen Padayachee, plus owners Marcel Zalloua and Pires. It will be a big moment for Pires, who was worried Bathurst may not happen after a brutal Adelaide shunt. “Initially I thought I wasn’t going to be able to do the 12 hour, but the incident has made me even hungrier,” he said.
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ROSSI LEADS BMW BATHURST SUPER SQUAD MOTORCYCLE RACING superstar Valentino Rossi will be coming to Mount Panorama as part of a BMW factory super-squad at next month’s LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour. Seven-time MotoGP world champion Rossi will be driving a factory Team WRT BMW M4 GT3 alongside highly accomplished GT racers Maxime Martin and Augusto Farms Junior. The trio will naturally be racing a striking yellow and blue M4 GT3 with the trademark #46 on the door. But the star power of Rossi is just one part of a wider BMW blitzkrieg of Bathurst with a second factory Team WRT entry. The #36 BMW could also be one of the top contenders with 2018 12 Hour winner Dries Vanthoor, 2022 DTM champion Sheldon van der Linde and Belgian rising star Charles Weerts at the wheel. But all eyes will be on car #46 as ‘The Doctor’ inspects Mount Panorama for the first time. Although Rossi is best known for his work on two wheels, winning 115 Grands Prix, he is no stranger to four wheels. The 42-year-old spent his first year away from the MotoGP world since his 125cc debut in 1996 racing in the GT World Challenge Europe season for Team WRT. Rossi finished 21st in the championship with a best result of fifth at Paul Ricard and Misano. During the mid 2000s the Italian flirted with Formula 1 across multiple tests with Ferrari and even impressed Michael Schumacher as he looked at the possibility of a shock switch. Despite completing a pre-season test in 2006 and well over 1000km in an F1 car, Rossi continued to race in MotoGP. Outside of motorcycle racing, Rossi’s great passion growing up was rallying and he competed in three WRC rallies, while was a regular entrant at the Monza Rally Show where he once defeated Colin McRae.
He has also driven a NASCAR, but is now solely focusing on GT racing, where he is honoured to be a BMW M factory driver. “I am very proud to become an offical BMW M works driver and it is a great opportunity,” Rossi said. “Last night I started racing seriously in cars and I finished my first season with WRT Team with whom I got on very well and I am very happy it chose BMW M Motorsport as a new partner. “I have already had a chance to test the BMW M4 GT3 and the feeling with the car is very good. “I think we could be competitive.” With the prospect of the 2023 Bathurst 12 Hour being the most watched in its history with as at least some of Rossi’s worldwide legion of fans tuning in, event director Shane Rudzis cannot wait to welcome ‘The Doctor’ to The Mountain. “Valentino Rossi is one of the biggest names in world motorsport and we are proud the Bathurst 12 Hour will be his first experience of Mount Panorama,” he said. “Valentino has an enormous Australian fanbase and we are prepared for a significant increase in attention as a result of his entry. “It is one of the most significant driver announcements in Bathurst 12 Hour history.” Thomas Miles
BATHURST 12 HOUR WINNER TO TAKE ON DAYTONA 24 AUSSIE INTERCONTINENTAL GT Pro Am winner, and 2022 Bathurst 12 Hour victor Kenny Habul (right) has been confirmed as the 61st and last Daytona 24 entry. It’s expected that he’ll then back up in the Bathurst 12 Hour to defend his 2022 title, as well as kick start his sensational Pro Am intercontinental GT title defence, after sealing it with a class win at the Gulf 12 Hour. In 2022 he took the #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo to a resounding 12 Hour win alongside Jules Gounon, Martin Konrad and Luca Stolz, giving him the launch pad to take his third Pro Am title. It’s not uncommon for drivers to back up with the two events, with 23 drivers attempting the feat in 2020, which included IndyCar and NZ legend Scott Dixon making his Bathurst 12 Hour debut after winning that years Daytona outright with Aussie Ryan Briscoe. After initially being capped at 60 before Habul’s entry, It’s fitting that the 61st Daytona will include 61 entries, with Habul’s best performance coming in the 59th Daytona 24 with a GTD class P2 driving alongside Raffaele Marciello, Stolz and Mikael Grenier.
Image: MOTORSPORT IMAGES “Having 61 cars for the 61st running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona seems only natural,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “After we previously announced a 60-car capacity for the field last month, and knowing that we received more than 70 entries, our IMSA team regrouped and eventually determined that we could accommodate one more entry to match our field size from last year.” The GTD class will be the largest represented field at Daytona with 25 entries, with the race to also feature the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) hybrid-powered prototype class, which will feature nine entries from four manufacturers.
The green flag drops on January 28 at the Daytona International Speedway, with two other Aussies in 2022 class GT winner Matt Campbell (driving a Porsche 963 for Porsche Penske Motorsport), and Ryan Briscoe driving an Acura NSX GT3 with WRT. Earl Bamber, Scott McLaughlin, Scott Dixon, and Brendon Hartley, make up the strong Kiwi contingent. Habul finished 29th overall, and fourth in the GTD class alongside Italian Marciello at the 2022 edition, with Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque taking the overall win in an DPi Acura ARX-05 – the final appearance of the DPi category in a Daytona 24. TW Neal
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TRIPLE EIGHT CHASING MORE BATHURST SUCCESS TRIPLE EIGHT Race Engineering will push for back-toback LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour victories next month in red, with its Supercars stars leading the charge. The team’s #888 Mercedes AMG GT3 PRO will be racing around Mount Panorama in Supercheap Auto colours reminiscent of the 2022 Bathurst 1000 wildcard livery. The Holden ZB Commodore, also carrying #888, finished P8 in the Great Race and the Mercedes version hopes to score an even better result. At last year’s Bathurst 12 Hour, Triple Eight went all the way with Kenny Habul, Jules Gounon, Martin Konrad and Luca Stolz at the wheel, adding 2022 to its 2017 glory. Joining them on the podium were teammates Shane van Gisbergen, Broc Feeney and Prince Jefri Ibrahim, who finished third and will be back again. Supercars stars van Gisbergen and Feeney will once again join forces with Mercedes AMG performance driver Maxmilian Gotz. The trio will be the only Triple Eight car to race at the 12 Hour, but with the team winning the latest 1000, 12 Hour and GT races at Mount Panorama, it looms as one of the top contenders. Boosted by a breakthrough Supercars win at the Adelaide 500 and victory at the Bathurst International GT race, Feeney is excited to take on The Mountain. “Any day you get to drive at Bathurst is a good day, let alone in these cars,” he said. “It’s really cool to have the top teams and drivers from
around the world coming back to Australia, and getting the chance to go head-to-head with them around one of the best race tracks in the world will be next level. “It’s definitely an adjustment switching between the right-hand drive supercar and the left-hand drive GT car, but once you’ve got your eye in and you’ve tuned in your spatial awareness, it’s so much fun. “The AMG GT3 is a weapon and our Supercheap Auto livery is going to look incredible on track. I can’t wait to do our part to try to repeat the Mercedes-AMG podium lockout we had in 2022.” Supercheap Auto managing director Benjamin Ward said it was a thrill to back the Triple Eight car at a global event. “We’re excited to be partnering with Triple Eight Race Engineering in the 2023 LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour event,” he said. “The once-around-the-clock race is a spectacular event with the worlds’ best drivers on track and great entertainment off-track. “This announcement is an extension of our partnership with Triple Eight and also the Bathurst community, both of which we’re very proud to support. “We can’t wait to get back to the mountain in February and make Bathurst SUPER.” The 2023 LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour will take place from February 3-5. Thomas Miles
LOWNDES LEADING SPECIAL CAR BATHURST LEGEND Craig Lowndes will be racing around The Mountain at the upcoming 12 Hour for more reasons than just winning. The seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner will be the face of the Scott Taylor Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 alongside Supercars driver Alex Davison, Geoff Emery and Scott Taylor. The quartet team up for a second straight year and will step up to the GT3 category after they scored a Class C win in 2022. Although the Porsche will be one to watch on track, it will be having an even greater impact off the track. After raising more than $67,000 for charity, the STM Prostate Cancer Foundation Australia team will be back for more racing for an important cause. Around 24,000 Australian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year and over 3,500 are predicted to pass away from the disease. In addition to racing for success, the team will be completing fundraising opportunities from donation points at the venue and at the town-to-track activation on Thursday. Online portals will also be available. With the super popular Lowndes behind the wheel, the entry is guaranteed to generate widespread attention and the two-time Bathurst 12 Hour winner is determined to make a big difference on and off the track in a car that is close to his heart. “I am excited to be heading back to Mount Panorama with good mates for a great cause,” he said. “Prostate Cancer has unfortunately impacted my family. “So running a car in support of PCFA is a chance for us to have the conversation about getting checked, raising funds and having a red hot go at the podium.” The cause is also one that Davison deeply cares about, with his father and
RED BULL F1 TO ROAR AT BATHURST MOUNT PANORAMA will be shaken by the sound of a screaming V8 F1 car, with Red Bull to complete demonstration runs at the Bathurst 12 Hour. The car Red Bull will take to Bathurst will be one of its best ever, the RB7 – which took 18 of 19 possible poles as Sebastian Vettel cruised to the 2011 F1 world title with Aussie teammate Mark Webber. Driver details are yet to be confirmed, but the dream scenario of Aussie F1 star and Red Bull reserve Daniel Ricciardo flying around Mount Panorama in an F1 car could happen ....
BIG 12 HOUR SUPPORTS FIELD THE 2023 LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour will be a busy weekend of action with two loaded support categories locked in. With the Combined Sedans series returning and Formula Ford 1600 racers arriving, more than 100 cars will line fill the supports paddock at Mount Panorama. A 55-car field of Combined Sedans brings a variety of ‘tin-tops’ to Bathurst from Fords to Fiats. In the category’s 60th anniversary, a 52-car field will race in Formula Ford 1600, which showcases many eras from a 1971 Elfin 600 to a 2010 Stealth S3.
Image: MARK HORSBURGH Australian Formula 2 champion Richard Davison having battled the illness. “Last year was a great experience driving with good friends and for a really worthy cause that has touched us all,” Alex said. “It was easy to agree to come back and the step into the Mercedes AMG takes it to another level. “Ultimately we’re out there to have a good time and do everything possible to raise funds for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. “If we can do that and enjoy the weekend as well then it will be very worthwhile.” CEO of Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia Anne Savage said the Bathurst 12 Hour campaign makes an immense impact. “Beyond the funds raised in 2022, the STM team helped us raise awareness of prostate cancer among hundreds of thousands of supporters in Australia and worldwide, driving action to save lives. “We are incredibly grateful to Scott Taylor for his generosity and leadership and to Craig and Lara Lowndes for their tireless and heartfelt support of our mission. “These guys are champions on and off the track and we can’t wait to hit the circuit in support of this truly first class motor-racing crew.” Thomas Miles
CONTENDER COMING BACK AFTER JUST falling short last year, Craft-Bamboo Racing returns to Mount Panorama to chase glory at the LIQUI MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour. The Hong Kong based team will race a MercedesAMG GT3 in the outright Pro class in its sixth attempt at the Bathurst enduro. Last year Maro Engel, Daniel Juncadella and Kevin Tse, came within eight seconds of glory. Its 2023 drivers are yet to be confirmed. “The Bathurst 12 Hour has a special place in our hearts (and) we will have to be sharp to have a chance at victory,” said team director Darryl O’Young.
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WATERS AND SVG TAKE ON SPRINTCAR WORLD THE 2022/23 summer of speedway has been sprinkled with some Supercars stardom with Shane van Gisbergen and Cameron Waters racing on respective sides of the Tasman. The pair, who occupied the top two positions of the 2022 Supercars Championship, have spend the recent weeks sharpening their skills on the dirt. Whilst this summer is not Waters’ first racing on the ovals, it is the latest venture in a long list of recent new experiences for van Gisbergen. The Kiwi has been racing his trademark #97 across four separate events in New Zealand and has endured an eventful time, having to deal with fires, retirements and fightback drives. Van Gisbergen’s speedway debut was a long time coming after his maiden drive was delayed twice due to bad weather. He finally put the foot down in the V8-powered beast on Tuesday, December 27 in Auckland, where more than 10,000 fans packed into Western Springs Speedway. Despite an eventful night including a spin and mechanical dramas, van Gisbergen managed to record a P14 finish on debut. After a long wait, van Gisbergen was buzzing after his sprintcar debut, noting how unique it was from the Supercars world. “It’s cool to get back out there,” van Gisbergen told Nine’s Wide World of Sports. “I had a go in the midget a few years ago and got pulled short. It’s good to have a proper go. “Everything is different (from Supercars) – it’s pretty awesome. “You come in and they change so many things on the car. I don’t know what stuff does yet or what to ask for — it’s pretty cool.” Unfortunately for van Gisbergen, he could not greet the chequered flag in his second appearance at Baypark Speedway, where he could only complete nine of the 20 laps before retiring. The Kiwi experienced a warmer start to 2023 than he would have liked at Western Springs Speedway where his car caught alight in the opening heat. Despite the fiery start, Van Gisbergen recovered well and launched a stunning counterattack in the A-Main for the JA Russel Sprintcars Silver Crown. The triple Supercars champion started 17th, but soared up to eighth within the first five laps. Van Gisbergen managed to hold onto an impressive P8, which was his personal best in a Sprintcar. But the Kiwi only needed one more race meeting to better it as he recorded a seventh place finish at Meaner Speedway. After finishing third and eighth in his respective heats, van Gisbergen showed strong pace to stay on the lead lap in his most recent speedway appearance. On the other side of the Tasman, Waters has been racing against some of speedway’s best across a number of competitive events Victoria for Chief Racing. The Tickford driver also carrying #6 started his summer
Cam Waters runs the high line ... Image: EBONY McQUINN
Shane van Gisbergen on the inside line at Western Springs. of speedway at Max’s Race in Warrnambool and initially everything was going to plan. He was three seconds faster in the Hot Laps and cruised to his first ever Heat victory. Starting from the third row of the A-main, Waters looked to settle into a groove, before disaster struck on Lap 2 when he hit a rut, spun and crashed out on the “super fast and rough” track. The eight-time Supercars race winner and Modified Production Australian Speedway champion opened the new year by racing at the final round of the Speedweek Series at Premier Speedway. Waters started strong, but had to fight for survival in the B-Main where he finished third behind experienced
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Sprintcar operators Brock Hallett and Glen Sutherland. This meant the #6 Chief Racing entry started at the back of the grid for the 35-lap main event but worked its way up to 11th. Waters said it was a big confidence booster to make some progress against high-quality competition. “(It was) a huge field that was great to be a part of, probably one of the hardest fields I have been in,” he said. “Started the A-Main at the back, chipped away at it and passed a few cars to finish 11th. It was great to finish one.” Following the comeback drive, Waters headed to the Victorian 410 title with confidence and harnessed this to collect his top result of the season. Despite an early scrape with the wall during the Hot Laps, the Victorian collected enough points to start the A-Main from third on the grid in a 50-car field. Waters proved he had the skills to fight at the front and record a P6 finish after surviving numerous wheel-to-wheel battles in a race of attrition. Waters said it was proof he is starting to come to grips with the car and the environment. “We just stepped it up on the night before,” he said. “I dropped a few spots at the start, but got a few back through the race. It was cool to be running with the good guys. “I had a straight car, its getting better and I’m getting better. We are making progress.” Waters hopes to continue building momentum at the Grand Annual Sprintcar Classic on January 27-29. Thomas Miles
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EGGLESTON TO LAUNCH THREE-CAR ASSAULT EGGLESTON MOTORSPORT will be a triple threat in the 2023 Super2 season. The team which last won a Super2 Series race in 2020 already announced prolific Super3 race winner Kai Allen will race in a Team 18 ZB Commodore and he will have two team-mates by his side. One of those is Cooper Murray, who became the third Porsche Carrera Cup racer to make the leap to Super2. Murray is the youngest race and round winner in Carrera Cup Australia history and has overseas racing experience, but did not find a drive in 2022. Despite a year without racing, he did manage to drive Scott Pye’s 2022 car when Team 18 was grappling power-steering issues and also jumped behind the wheel of Erebus Motorsport’s ‘Mercadore’ at Winton. The refreshed Murray now has his sights set on Supercars and wants to make full use of the new opportunity with Eggleston. “I want to be in Supercars, and this is the next step of achieving that,” he said. “Ben (Eggleston) and Rachael (Eggleston) have helped many young drivers like Brodie Kostecki and Will Brown achieve that. I’m looking forward to working with the experienced team to make sure we start our 2023 campaign strong at Newcastle for Round 1.” The final part of Eggleston’s trio is Jordan Sinni (below), who is making the move from open-wheelers. Sinni has been a regular Formula Ford competitor recently and finished in the top five in last year’s national series. The 20-year-old has not raced with a roof over his head for three years, but impressed the team with how quickly he adapted to Supercars machinery at a recent test session. “Jordyn tested with us (in late 2022) and came to grips with driving a Supercar quickly which was a pleasant surprise,” Eggleston Motorsport co-owner and manager Rachael Eggleston said. “He showed instant natural ability and speed which is a massive plus for any race team. We are excited to see what he can do.” The 2023 Super2 Series kicks off at Newcastle on March 10-12.
WAU REVEALS SUPER2 COMEBACK FOR THE first time in 10 years, Walkinshaw Andretti United will be racing in the Dunlop Super2 Series and the faces who will lead the comeback have been revealed. With WAU’s last Super2 competitor Nick Percat now in the squad’s main-game setup, it has turned to Zach Bates (above) and Ryan Wood to drive the two Holden ZB Commodores campaigned in the 2022 Supercars Championship. Bates steps into the Supercars world with plenty of runs on the board, having been a winning machine in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia 86 Championship, collecting 16 wins and 23 podiums over the last two years. The son of former World Rally Championship and Supercars competitor Rick Bates arrives at WAU with plenty of confidence and is excited about the challenge ahead. “I’m really excited to be joining Walkinshaw Andretti United for the 2023 Super2 season,” said Zach. “To join a team with so much experience is super cool, it is a big step for me, but there will be no shortage of people to learn off and the entire Walkinshaw Andretti United team couldn’t have been more welcoming. “I am really excited to get underway.” Wood’s move to Supercars was more of a surprise, with the 19-year-old Kiwi originally lined up to make his Porsche Carrera Cup debut after receiving a scholarship from Porsche New Zealand. However, 2023 will be the year he makes the switch to Supercars. Wood admitted it was a tough call to pull the pin on his continuing rise up the Porsche pyramid, but said the Supercars dream was too strong.
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“There’s no doubt it was a really tough decision to make the switch from Porsche New Zealand and Earl Bamber Motorsport, they’ve been amazing for me, and I can’t thank them enough for all that they’ve done,” said Wood. “It’s been a dream of mine since I was a kid to race Supercars, so I’m really excited to chase that dream with Walkinshaw Andretti United and see what we can do together.” Wood steps up to Super2 after a solid Porsche Michelin Sprint Challenge campaign, where he finished second best to Thomas Sargent in a titanic championship battle. Despite being eclipsed, he demonstrated his express pace by taking all six pole positions on offer, while he also won four rounds including the season finale. But Wood is under no illusions over the challenge ahead, stating the jump from Porsches to Supercars as a “big learning curve”. Not only has WAU signed up two highly-rated youngsters, it is also taking its Super2 program seriously behind the scenes with veteran engineer Rob Starr steering the ship and experienced driver Warren Luff in a driver development role. WAU is the third Supercars team to announce its Super2 plans after Tickford elevated Brad Vaughan and brought in Elly Morrow, while Blanchard Racing Team poached Aaron Love from the Porsche Carrera Cup and Brad Jones Racing will remain on the grid. Triple Eight Race Engineering and Matt Stone Racing have ceased their Dunlop Series operations, while Erebus Motorsport will team up with Image Racing. Thomas Miles
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The fabulous BMW M4 GT4 debuts this weekend – with Cam McLeod sharing the driving.
HEAVY HITTERS BACK MCLEOD FOLLOWING ON from third generation racer Cameron McLeod announcing his 2023 Super3 drive, the 18 year-old Queenslander has headed over to compete in the Dubai 24 Hour thanks to some well known backers. This weekend’s January 13-15 race will see popular Touring Car Masters and MARC car driver Kieth Kassulke, and Honda stalwart James Kaye, share the seat with McLeod in a brand new BMW M4 GT4: which making its racing debut. His chance comes on the back of a strong consortium of international and local backers that have decided to get behind the young gun, which includes Former British Touring Car (BTCC) champion Matt Neal, former BTCC and Australian Super Tourers driver Kaye along with the aforementioned Kassulke, and his current performance coach and Super 2/3 competitor Bradley Neill, who is largely responsible for his Super3 seat. Despite being only 18 years of age, this quartet of experienced backers have all thrown their weight behind creating a diverse and testing pathway for the young speedster. Auto Action spoke with Neal from his home in England regarding his thoughts and experiences with McLeod. “He’s really sharp and he’s a fast learner, you could see that in the couple of tests he had in the Super2 cars,” Neal said. “We were obviously keeping an eye on him and the times that he put in on the track, and in the limited preparation time he was sharp. I mean, I’ve driven one of those things and I know how easy it is to stuff it up.” Neal and Kaye helped fund McLeod in 2021, getting him over to the UK for the last three rounds of the British F4 season with team Arden. “He’d impressed me before, which is why I managed to get him over here to race in the F4 … and he shone quickly! He really impressed a lot of people out here. “We actually tried to get him back to do some tests in a British Touring Car, but the timing didn’t work out with the travel restrictions going on.” His time with Kaye over in Britain has led to the young Queenslander getting the incredible invite to Dubai for the 24 Hour, which will in turn, be a real test of race smarts and maturity. Neal explained the thought process behind getting him into the Dubai seat. “So we’ve got this opportunity for Cam to jump in the M4 with Kieth and James, so that’s going to be good to get him some track time in another formula,” Neal continued. “And you know … it’s the Dubai 24 – it’s a busy, busy race, and there’s a big variation in driving standards and abilities,
12 I www.autoaction.com.au
McLeod ran with Arden in F4 in 2021– here in discussion with mentor Matt Neil.
and you’ve got to think of other people as well as yourself. “It’s just another experience to widen his resume.” Led by Neal, the ultimate goal of McLeods big quartet of backers is to expose McLeod to multiple levels of exposure and pressure across several disciplines. Together, they’ll continue to push for opportunities with and against high class opposition, and provide him with guidance and tutoring in off track skills. Auto Action also spoke to Cameron himself, where he gave his thoughts on getting a berth at the Dubai 24 Hour. “It’s going to be a mega experience, and a bit different from my last overseas stint,” McLeod said. “I did the British F4 last year which was obviously in a more junior field and drivers starting out in motorsport, but this is just another level. “With the 24 hour races there’s just so many experienced professionals, and drivers like Valentino Rossi competing … it’s just such a high-end field and I’m going to do my best to mix it with them. It’ll be a big learning curve but I’m so happy to be involved.” The brand new sixth generation BMW M4 GT4 – of which
two are confirmed to start at Dubai – is also a cause for great excitement for McLeod. “It’s pretty cool to think that I’ll be amongst one of the first drivers to compete in the new GT4. Just to drive it in the first place, as well as being among the first in such a prestigious race is a really cool feeling,” he explained. “And although I’m very excited to drive it, at the end of the day I just want to do what the team needs me to do, and I’m looking forward to being in that team environment. “I’ll be going in pretty raw for the practice sessions obviously, but I’ve been doing some sim work on the track, and I’m looking forward to driving on it. It seems really flowing with a bit of stop and go, and the third to last corner is really cool where you’re kind of braking uphill and there’s a bit of camber. “The other guys know the track really well, and my dad’s had some experience on it, so there’s some really good people behind me in that sense. “A big goal of mine is to be able to drive and compete in anything I can really, and I’ve already had experience in quite a few things, and the next thing is that new BMW GT4, which is a pretty cool thing to add to that list.” TW Neal
RECORD NUMBERS COMING TO AMF
A RECORD number of categories will be coming to the South Australian capital for the 2023 Adelaide Motorsport Festival. Last held in 2018, the event will be returning bigger and better than ever with a record 20 unique categories to hit the streets of Adelaide on March 25-26. The festival brings all elements of motorsport from Formula 1 to Prototypes to fans on the edge of the Adelaide CBD. The special cars on show will fly around Victoria Park section of the Adelaide street circuit made famous by Formula 1 and Supercars. In addition to getting a close look at motorsport history, some lucky fans may even get the chance to experience the Festival from the driver’s seat. A three-seater Formula 1 car (right) based on the Arrows 21 driven by Jos Verstappen and Pedro de La Rosa in 2000 will complete a series of demonstration runs throughout the weekend. The three-seater will give fans a real experience of life at the pinnacle of motorsport with the car powered by a 720-horsepower, 3.5 litre Hart V10 engine, which is the same specification used by Arrows in 2000, reaching speeds of 330kph. The car will be one of the most spectacular sights of the AMF, especially for those luckily enough to receive the ride of a lifetime with hot laps up for grabs at a soon to be launched giveaway. The Arrows A21 three-seater will not be the only car bringing F1 action back to the South Australian capital with a variety of cars from 1970 onwards including Gerhard Berger’s r
race-winning Benetton and Ferrari cars from 1986 and 1994 respectively. The category will look and sound very similar to the old days of when Adelaide hosted the Grand Prix from 1985 to 1995, while more open-wheel cars will feature in Tipo F1 and Open Wheelers. V8 fans still on a high from the return of the Adelaide 500 last year will get their motoring fix in March when original Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores touring cars once driven by names such as Peter Brock, Steven Richards and Larry Perkins from the V8Supercars/ATCC era roar around the precinct.
Heritage Touring Cars ranging from 1973 to 1992 will also be a highlight, while Classics date back even further the the 1950’s. An Invitational category has been creating for cars celebrating special anniversaries, while a wide range of sports cars will be on show. Ferrari fans will get their own standalone category, as does F1 arch rival McLaren and famous German brand Porsche. Australian Sports Sedans from the pre1990s will also get a go, as do Aussie Racing Cars and Mini Muscle Cars.
In something a little bit different, drift specific vehicles and highperformance electric cars are set to go for a spin, while there will also be a number of motorbikes from over the years putting on a show for the two-wheel fans. Once each category has wowed the crowd, the fastest cars will put the foot down in pursuit of the fastest time. With so much on offer, there is plenty of excitement surrounding the returning Adelaide Motorsport Festival with tickets on sale now at www. adelaidemotorsportfestival.com.au Thomas Miles
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www.autoaction.com.au I 13
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EXCEL RACING GOES NATIONWIDE IN A FIRST for Australian motorsport, Hyundai Excel racers can drive in a national competition in 2023. The Excel Racing National Series will be held across a three round season at Queensland Raceway (June 2-4), Sydney Motorsport Park (October 13-14) and Calder Park (November 24-26). The aim of the championship is to put the top Excel racers against one another at some of the most well-known tracks in the country. It will run as part of the Hi-Tec Oils Super Series after being state level events previously.
MORE SPEEDSERIES ON YOUR SCREEN AN ENHANCED television package is coming for the unified SpeedSeries brand across the Nine Network and Stan Sport in 2023. After a strong 2022 season of viewership, a new viewing package will be put in place for the expanded eight-round 2023 season. Nine Network offer a 30% increase in viewing time, with an extra three hours of live HD viewing, while extended highlights replays will also be available. With over 1.5 million people watching SpeedSeries on the Nine Network across 2022, a bigger 2023 calendar promises to deliver another record year.
AUSTRALIA EXTENDS F1 CONTRACT AS WESTACOTT STEPS ASIDE
THE AUSTRALIAN Grand Prix will take place in Victoria until 2037, after the AGPC extended its contract with Formula 1 by two years. Victoria was already locked in to host the F1 Grand Prix until 2035 after a new, 10-year agreement was signed in June, but within months an extension has been announced. Australia has the right to ‘at least four’ season openers over the period of the contract, a clause that prompted the extension. Under the original deal, the first race of the 2024 and 2025 Formula 1 seasons was set to be held in Melbourne, but plans for the former have now changed due to a scheduling clash with Islamic holy month Ramadan. With Ramadan running from March 10 to April 9 in 2024, it is expected that year’s season will now start in Saudi Arabia earlier than that window “out of respect for Ramadan”. If that proves to be the case, it will likely mean F1’s earliest start date since 2005 when lights went out at Albert Park on March 6. As a result, Australia was stripped of
its right to host the 2024 season opener and has extended its deal for a further two seasons to ensure it can hold the first race four times. The contract extension means that Victoria will get the chance to celebrate its 40th anniversary of hosting the event since it crossed the border from Adelaide to Melbourne in 1996. However, the change also means the destination of the Formula 1 season opener is set to rotate between three tracks throughout the next decade. Australia’s almost exclusive hold on Round 1 appears a thing of the past, with the likes of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia appearing to receive the honour at least once on rotation. News of changes to Australia’s F1 contract comes after Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott (above) announced he will not extend his contract beyond 2023. Westacott has been the AGPC CEO since February 2011 but will not seek another term following the conclusion of his current contract, which runs until June 30, 2023. He will depart with a lasting legacy as
the AGPC’s longest-serving CEO, having overseen 15 Formula 1 Australian Grands Prix and Australian Motorcycle Grands Prix at Melbourne and Phillip Island, respectively, after joining the AGPC as General Manager of Operations in 2006. During his tenure, Westacott has witnessed plenty of historic-making moments on track, as well as the recent track modifications and resurfacing at Albert Park. Notably, Westacott was at the helm when the 2020 Grand Prix was dramatically called off due to COVID-19. The departing CEO expressed pride and gratitude when reflecting on his 16 years at the AGPC. “It’s been a source of immense pride to be able to work for the Australian Grand Prix Corporation for so many years and to work so closely with the wonderful AGPC team and all those involved in our major events industry, including those at Formula One and MotoGP,” Westacott said. “Thirty events, a few cancellations along the way, and record-breaking crowds in 2022 have all provided special moments.”
VSRS SCORES NEW SERIES SPONSOR
AUSSIE RACING CARS GO TRANS TASMAN THE BATTERY World Aussie Racing Cars Series will race on both sides of the Tasman in 2023. Its 2023 season will be held across six rounds including four Supercars support slots at Newcastle, Tasmania, Darwin and Townsville. It opens at Newcastle in March before going to Queensland Raceway, which is followed by a Supercars triple header. The season finishes in a big way with a trip to New Zealand for the season finale at Highlands Motorsport Park as part of the venue’s 10th birthday celebrations in November.
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THE VICTORIAN State Race Series (VSRS) has named 888 Capital Group Home Loans as its naming rights partner for 2023. Since 888 began sponsoring the VSRS five years ago, the partnership between the two parties has strengthened and grown. Initially, 888 solely sponsored the Improved Production category, before extending its support to Hyundai Excel and Porsche 944 racing. Now, 888, which specialises in home and business loans, will have its brand attached to all the numerous categories that fall under the VSRS banner in a naming rights deal that is the first of its kind for the VSRS. “The logic behind it was sharing the love around the grassroots motorsport paddock, instead of just supporting one or two categories,” 888 Home Loans representative Cameron McKinnon told Auto Action. “This sponsorship will go towards paying for many of the costs incurred by the series.” McKinnon has a personal appreciation of state-level
motorsport, having previously competed in the Improved Production category. “I was up in the top 10 in Improved Production around 10 years ago,” he said. “In the last few years, I’ve started to dabble the toe back in it and I’m rebuilding a Datsun 1600. “It was a quick little car, but it was all done with wrecker parts, this time I’m trying to build it for the last time.” The VSRS boasted a five-round calendar in 2022, including events at Sandown Raceway, Winton Raceway and Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. JN
AUSSIE ICON ENTERS INTERNATIONAL DRAG RACING HALL OF FAME AUSTRALIAN DRAG racing icon Graeme Cowin will be inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in March. Cowin’s induction into the class of ’23 will make him just the third Australian to be receive the honour, with current Top Fuel Australia team owner Jim Read (2010), and John ‘Stomper’ Winterburn (2021) having previously been honoured. From Mount Vernon, NSW, Cowin began his racing career in 1973 when he and his wife tipped everything they had into purchasing his famed ‘Psycho’ nitro-fuelled drag car, and is now considered as a real pioneer for the sport in Australia. After starting out in Nitro Funny Car and then Top Fuel racing, Cowin raced in both Australia and the US, primarily racing Top Fuel in Australia in the latter part of his career, and he also came runnerup in America in the 1987 NHRA Winternationals (Funny Cars).
In 1993 he became the first Australian to break the five second barrier driving a Top Fuel Dragster, registering a 4.895 at 473.8Km/ph. Then, in 1995, Cowin captured the Australian Top Fuel Championship, and would go on to create the Outlaw Nitro Funny Car Series in 2013, which is a popular and successful series both here and for competitors across the ditch. Known as a person of both high integrity and creativity, Cowin was honoured with a spot in the Australian National Drag Racing Association Hall of Fame in 2013, and then the Australian Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2018. Cowin continues to be a leader in the industry, with his knowledge and knowhow persuading him to open Rocket Industries, a leader in the performance parts and
equipment provider for drag racers in Australia. Cowin’s sons, Andrew and John Cowin, were also successful Top Fuel drag racers, having been championship winners in both America and Australia, and operated in Australian Top Fuel under the Rocket Industries name. The 33rd Hall of Fame Banquet will take place on March 9 in Gainesville, Florida, with the likes of John Force, Bunny Burkett, Shelly Anderson, and Bob Frey, also getting inducted into the prestigious collective. TW Neal
FORMULA FORD AUSTRALIA LAUNCH
SEVEN ROUND 2023 CALENDAR
IN 2023 the Australian Formula Ford Championship will again feature on the Supercars scene with a trip to the Tasmania SuperSprint, marking one of the highlights of its new seven-round calendar. Both the Formula Ford and the Australian FF1600 Championship kick into gear on March 24-26 at Queensland’s Morgan Park, followed by a round at the SMP. The third round of the season will then be on the Supercars support card at Symmons Plains in Tasmania on May 19-21. Formula Ford’s national exposure will continue when it takes part in the Winton SpeedSeries round on the June long weekend, where organisers are putting together a V8 themed festival. The championship then remains in Victoria with rounds at Sandown and Phillip Island, before crossing the border to South Australia to The Bend for the October season finale. The 2023 Australian FF1600 Championship will be confirmed at a later date with different options being considered and expressions of interest being requested. The 2023 calendar is slightly more balanced than 2022 with the only change being Tasmania replacing the second SMP round, with the seven rounds spread across four states. The Australian Formula Ford Championship continues to be one of the biggest talent factories in the national motorsport scene with a championship that bred the likes of Bathurst 1000 winners Chaz Mostert, Nick Percat, David Reynolds, Jamie Whincup, Will Davison, Garth Tander, Jason Bright, Steven Richards and Craig Lowndes, just to name a few. This reputation rang true once again in 2022 with
some of its competitors going onto new pastures. In 2022 a late season push ensured Valentino Astuti was the latest talent to secure the crown at the SMP finale after a competitive battle with James Piszcyk. Whilst Astuti is still assessing his future, both Piszcyk and Cameron McLeod, who finished in the top three in the standings will not be returning with the former set to contest British F4 with Hitech GP, while McLeod will start his journey towards a Supercars career in the Dunlop Super3. Sixth place getter, 20 year-old Jordan Sinni, will be racing in Super2 for Eggleston Motorsport Fourth place finisher Ryder Quinn and fellow Formula Ford competitor Tom McLennan have ventured across the ditch to prepare for their upcoming New Zealand Toyota Racing Series (which starts this weekend), and also partake in the 67th NZ Grand Prix. Entries have yet to be confirmed for the 2023 season, with another big year of Formula Ford racing in store. The 2022 season included a Supercars support round at Winton where 2007 champion Tim Blanchard made a successful return. This year’s Tasmania SuperSprint will ensure the category continues to get the widespread coverage generated by the Fox Sports telecast, along with Stan’s SpeedSeries broadcast from Winton. 2023 AUSTRALIAN FORMULA FORD CHAMPIONSHIP CALENDAR ROUND 1: 24-26 March Morgan Park Raceway QLD, (QLD State Championship) ROUND 2: 14-16 April Sydney Motorsport Park NSW (NSW State Championship) ROUND 3: 19-21 May Symmons Plains Tasmania, (Supercars Super Sprint) ROUND 4: 9-11 June Winton Motor Raceway VIC, (Speed Series) ROUND 5: 11-13 August Sandown Raceway VIC, (Victorian State Championship) ROUND 6: 22-24 September Phillip Island GP Circuit VIC, (Vic State Championship) ROUND 7: 13-15 October The Bend Motorsport Park SA, (SA State Championship)
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TRAGEDY AT WILLOWBANK RACEWAY
CLAIMS THE LIFE OF SAM FENECH
THE DRAG racing and Australian motorsport community has been left in a state of shock and disbelief after the universally liked Sam Fenech, a veteran drag racer from Sydney, lost his life at the Willowbank Raceway last weekend. The 55-year-old father of three was racing at the Queensland facility during Top Fuel’s New Year Nitro in the ADRC Top Doorslammer event. The brand new Fabietti Racing Chevrolet Camaro he was piloting, lost control at 320km/h and flipped over the barrier into a camera tower off-track. Fenech was treated by paramedics at the scene but lost his life shortly after, with the crowd left in a state of shock, and the event subsequently called off. A cameraman was also injured in the incident and taken to hospital with non-
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life-threatening injuries. Auto Action reached out to Sam’s friend, car and team owner Maurice Fabietti, and we were grateful that he could say some words about the much loved, and experienced racer. “He was the type of guy that you’d never hear a bad word about from Anyone,” Fabietti told AA. “Anyone who mentioned Sam Fenech said nothing but praise … a gentleman, quiet, unassuming, and just a giant of a guy that was very very humble.” Fabietti explained how Fenech was the perfect choice for his team, with some 30 years of experience in the sport bringing a huge wealth of experience that the drag racing community will miss. “He knew his way around engines
and motor vehicles, and he was just a fantastic and cautious driver, and that’s why he was in the seat of our car,” he continued. “We had plenty of people we could have driving and representing our team and our sponsor, but Sam fitted the bill perfectly because he was just that type of guy. And the drag racing community is shocked … they’re in total shock.” The long-time friend and team owner also gave an insight into Fenech’s experience in the industry. “Sam has been involved in the sport for 30 plus years. He worked on Santino Rapisarda’s Top Fuel cars in the early days before driving his own Super Sedans, and for the last 10 years he’d been driving for Steve Sarkis. “He was running his Supercharged Sedan teams, and then they stepped up to Top Doorslammer, and he ran a very successful team until about five years ago when Sam had a very bad accident. “He was at the Sydney Dragway where the parachutes didn’t deploy after the run, and he went straight through the catch nets and ended up in the wall at the end … but he walked out without a scratch.” Following the incident, Sarkis soon folded the team, which left Sam without a drive, leading him to join up with Fabietti just 18 months ago. “Sam was without a drive, and he wanted to keep racing and we needed a driver. He was a buddy of mine for the last 30 years, and I knew he could drive. He really knew his way around with helping us build and tune the cars, so he
was a natural choice for us. That’s why he’d been with us for the last 18 months.” With tributes pouring in over the tight knit drag community, and the Motorsport community as a whole, with Top Fuel releasing a statement shortly after the incident. “It is with great sadness that Top Fuel Racing Australia announces that Sam Fenech, driver of the Fabietti Racing Top Doorslammer, has succumbed to injuries suffered in a racing accident at Willowbank Raceway and passed away this evening,” the release read. “We send our love and support to the Fenech family and the whole team at Fabietti Racing.” Likewise, the Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA) also released a statement. “All at ANDRA are deeply saddened by this tragic news. Sam was a great man, racer and friend, may he rest in peace. Please join us in sending our deepest condolences to his team and loved ones at this terrible time.” Chevrolet Racing also released a statement following Fenech’s passing. “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Sam Fenech. Sam was a great racer and a true gentleman. Our thoughts are with his wife, children and family.” Sam is survived by his wife Natalie and three adult children. Auto Action extends its deepest condolences to Sam’s family and friends, and our long-time friends at the Fabietti Racing Team. Timothy William Neal
FORMULA OPEN NEWS
MULTIPLE FORMULA FORD MANUFACTURERS NOW LIKELY FORMULA FORD is now likely to remain as a multiple manufacturer category after Motorsport Australia took note of competitor feedback. Motorsport Australia Director of Motorsport and Commercial Operations Michael Smith opened up to Auto Action about the current state of play in the incredibly popular Australian Formula Ford category. Smith explained that the original idea Formula Ford now appears to be substantially less likely after listening to competitors views. “We’re really wanting the DNA to stay “We’ve taken the time to speak to the same,” he said to AA. every single one of those people or “I know one of our preliminary email every single one of those people. recommendations was to look at a “I guess as a consequence of that 2023 AUSTRALIAN FORMULA single manufacturer path,” heOPEN said. CALENDAR we’ve come around to the view that Round 1: Winton (NSW State Championship) – March 4-5a multi-manufacturer concept “Whilst the (Formula Ford) working perhaps Round 2: Sydney Motorsport Park (NSW State Championship) – April 15-16 group hasn’t formed a view, one way is the way to go.” Round 3: The Bend Motorsport Park (Super Trofeo) June 9-11 or another on that, I think we’re coming Smith feels that if they can get the Round 4: Queensland (Motorsport Trophy Series) – August 4-6 around to the view Raceway that, potentially a Australia rules right, then a multi-manufacturer Round 5: SpeedSeries (Sandown Raceway) – September 8-10 multi-manufacturer format would be series will continue to work Round 6: Island Magic (Phillip Island) – November 25-26 a better path to go, because that’s successfully. consistent with what Formula Ford has “In order to do that (a multi-brand always been in this country. category) you have to get the rules “We had the stakeholder forum, we right, we know that, it’s a lot simpler then had the survey, and then we to craft a set of rules when you’re only invited people to make submissions. have one homologated manufacturer.
“But ultimately, if we’re, wanting to achieve or carry on the philosophy of Formula Ford Racing we need to be able to do it in a multi-manufacturer environment.” Smith believes the reason that Formula 4 did not work in Australia was because it did not appeal to the Australian motor sport scene, this is why it is essential that Formula Ford remains as close as possible to its roots. “Formula 4 didn’t work here,” he admitted. “It’s clear, people are very passionate about Formula Ford Racing “Our thinking is have it as an
evolution of Formula Ford Racing, as distinct from trying to introduce something that’s entirely new that we know with our Formula 4 experience hasn’t worked.” Smith also admitted that the plan for a 2023 introduction along with the reintroduction of championship status is looking ambitious. “If I’m being really honest, I think 2023 introduction might be a bit ambitious at this point,” Smith felt. “But we haven’t formed a fixed view on that, the Formula Ford Association of course, will be key to all of this as well. “What I will say is our current thinking is to run Formula Ford, the current cars as a national series next year, and then at a point in time, whether that’s 2023 or 2024, we will introduce a new car as a championship. “We’d run existing cars in parallel with the new ones as sort of a mixed grid and that would happen for a period, broadly speaking, I’d be anticipating that it’d be three to five years, something like that. “I guess ultimately, it depends on the take up of any new car. DM
done in terms of the technical regulations, and my other hope is that we can eventually get Super icence points in the frame as we evolve.” In terms of series growth, the initial goals are to grow it by joining more national events, but initially, getting the classes sorted is also an important factor. “The future is obviously more national events, but the couple we’ve got now is a great start, and in the future, we’d like to get in with the V8s as a longer term vision. and was always focused on the result “The Formula 3s are going to be the top rather than looking for accolades. class, and I see it as a direct replacement “Margaret was very dedicated to for the F3 championship in the country. all things Formula Ford and has “But we want to cater for the F4 void recently assisted the association in and the Formula Toyota’s that are about … the production of a book on 50 years there’s just so many classes and I thought of Formula Ford in Australia and ‘why not!’ They should be running on the disappointingly will not get to see the same grid. Getting a really good class final result.” format is the key.” Many Australian racing legends past Macrow also let us in on how he sees a
race day looking when it starts out, and where that might evolve. “As a starting point, we’re hoping for 15 or more cars, with some events to grow to 30, like at the Island Magic. “We’ll run it on a standard format first up – after practice sessions we want to do 15-20 minute qualifiers, then it’ll start as 20-25 minute races, then hopefully 30 minute races at events such the Super Trofeo and Winton. “There’s a definite two to three plan here, and present took to social media to and we’ll eventually have to move to halo send their condolences. cars – after this year we’ll need to sort out Outside of Formula Ford, Margaret what we can and can’t have running for also took on roles such as the race the longer term. secretary for Sandown Raceway. “But the aim is to get these kids coming Hardy was diagnosed with straight out of karting, or the ones moving Inflammatory Breast Cancer in 2019 on from Formula Ford, and even if they and went into Stage 4 in May. only stay for a year before they go to Auto Action sends its condolences to Europe, that’s a big win for us.” her friends and family. DM TW Neal
FORMULA OPEN TO VALE: MARGARET HARDY – FORMULA FORD’S GUIDING HAND FILL NATIONAL VOID
ONE OF the country’s longest serving category administrators Margaret Hardy passed away from cancer on Thursday August 19. AFTER A healthy 28 car Formula Open grid Hardy was involved in motor racing took part at Phillip Island’s Island Magic for decades and was known for her event, retired S5000 pioneer and team dedication to Formula Ford. owner Tim Macrow identified a vital hole Hardy joined the Light Car Club as that existed on the Australian racing circuit. the office manager and began working That need led to the creation of the with the Australian Formula Ford Australian Formula Open (AFO) series championship 1978, doing paperwork that will run over six rounds on both for the category throughout the ‘80s. national and state calendars, with events Early in the following year she became in Victoria, Queensland, NSW and South the administrator of the category and Australia, with a mix of F3, F4, TRS FT50, was tasked with organising national Formula Renault, and other junior openseries events, a role she held until 2013. wheel machines. She has dealt with many of Australia’s With a big contingent of young motor sport stars over the years and Australians heading overseas for open was well-known as a hardworking and wheel racing in both Europe and North passionate worker. America, the availability of seat time In her time as category manager outside of series’ such as Formula Ford seven-time Bathurst 1000 winner Craig and S5000 has become scarcer, and that’s Lowndes, reigning 1000 victor, Will the AFO’s niche spot. Davison, David Reynolds, Chaz Mostert Auto Action spoke to AFO Administrator and Anton de Pasquale are just some and team owner, Macrow, to get his
of the illustrious names that won in the category. Hardy assisted all of these drivers on their route to Australia’s top-level. thoughts on why it was needed and where She was liked by all who knew her its growth potential lies. in the industry which is why the motor “I think there’s still a hole in Aussie sport community is sad to hear of her motorsport for kids to get some wings passing. and slicks experience before they head During her time in the category, overseas,” Macrow said. she was named a Life Member of the “After F4 finished up, and F3’s been kindFormula Ford Association. of trucking along a little with the AASA, I Formula Ford Association believe there’s a big need for this category. representative Phil Marinon said “We have a lot of cars that are sitting she remained very connected to the around not getting raced in Australia, so category. it’s two-fold. There’s a void where kids “Margaret was a tireless Administrator can get experience in these types of cars for Formula Ford Association and also before they go overseas – I think it’ll give the AFFM including category manager them a leg up … and at a decent price! We for the national competition,” he told want to make it as affordable as possible.” Auto Action. One important player has been “Her attention to detail and ability to Motorsport Australia, which Macrow said support the competitors has been very has been great to deal with. strongly acknowledged on social media “They’ve been really helpful – pretty and is undisputed. much everything I’ve put to them they’ve “Margaret was a very private person followed through on. There’s work to be
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BATHURST 1000 EVENT A HIGHLIGHT FOR NATIONAL SPORTS SEDANS
THE PRECISION International National Sports Sedans series is set to shine as a Supercars Championship support category twice as part of a five-round 2023 calendar. The National Sports Sedans have finalised their fiveround 2023 series, which features two Supercars rounds, with the series visiting Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The highlight of the series being six on-track sessions for the final round at the 2023 Repco Bathurst 1000 Supercars event in October. The October 5-8 Bathurst 1000 event will mark the first ‘Great Race’ visit for the National Sports Sedan series in recent decades and will showcase the popular series to the huge Bathurst audience following the event, both at the venue and via the Foxtel and Channel Seven coverage. An enthusiastic Director of National Sports Sedans,
Michael Robinson said the calendar reflected the recent resurgence in the Sports Sedan ranks. “It’s going to be an exciting 2023 season, and it builds on what has been a very positive 2022 Precision International National Sports Sedan Series,” he said. “Obviously the faith that they are showing us is being rewarded by the invitation to race on the Bathurst 1000 event, and it proves that we have been putting on a great show.” “I have to thank the drivers and teams for being so committed to this year’s season and proving that Sports Sedans have a place on some great high-profile events.” With all-but one round of the season being broadcast to a national audience, Robinson said the 2023 calendar will generate an exciting amount of exposure. “What we have been able to give them this year is that exposure at high-profile events with crowds watching and TV coverage, so sponsors and friends can all watch it,” he said. “The profile has lifted which was our aim because it is something sponsors, teams and competitors need, so it is working out well.” The 2022 series saw a significant growth in competitor numbers and Robinson hopes the racing will be more competitive than ever in 2023. “With the series starting in mid-May we expect plenty
of cars being capable of racing, with several competitors returning to the series, as well as several new cars being built now that are getting close to the finish of their builds,” he said. “We look forward to our 2022 series champion Jordan Caruso to be at the front of the field again but expect him to be challenged with lots of competitive equipment in the field. “We think we will see several new cars appear during the 2023 series, and hopefully most of them being close to finished in the time for the first event. “That includes John Gourlay’s second Audi he been building for a couple of years, Daniel Tamasi’s second Nissan and the Ingram brothers have a beautiful Mazda RX8 being built. “We are waiting for Tony Ricciardello, who has been preparing cars over the last couple of years and have not got confirmation yet ... but would like to see him.”
2023 PRECISION INTERNATIONAL NATIONAL SPORTS SEDAN SERIES CALENDAR. 1. May 19-21 Ned Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint Symmons Plains TAS 2. June 9 -11 SpeedSeries Winton VIC 3. A ugust 4-6 MA Trophy Series Queensland Raceway 4. Sept. 9-10 Sydney Master Blast Sydney Motorsport Park 5. O ctober 5-8 Repco Bathurst 1000 Mt. Panorama NSW
Image: JOHN MORRIS
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Image: JACK MARTIN PHOTOGRAPHY-ARG
JB, TOURING CAR MASTER, BOWS OUT
TOURING CAR Masters legend John Bowe has decided to call it a day in the category, choosing to make 2023 his last full-time season in the fan favourite series. Whilst he’s certainly not retiring from racing - quite the contrary - the six-time TCM champion will embark on 2023 as a ‘Testimonial Tour’. Up until now, Bowe’s extensive trophy cabinet features two Bathurst 1000 victories, an Australian Touring Car Championship, and three Gold-Star titles to go his six TCM titles collected over 15 seasons, with perhaps one more in the offing after finishing second to Ryan Hansford in 2022’s battle of the Toranas. Bowe’s name is synonymous with the series, and the driver who was the first to 300 TCM starts has amassed 104 wins, 41 round victories, 70 podiums, and 53 poles. And in 14 of his 15 seasons, has finished within the topthree in the standings. “I love Touring Car Masters. It has been, and continues to be a very important part of my life, both in motorsport and beyond that,” Bowe explained. “I have spoken before about how important it was to go back to racing following my retirement from Supercars in 2007, and it was TCM that filled that hole in my life for me. I’ve had an incredible time, made many new friends, and been able to compete with many old ones along the way.” Bowe also summed up his feelings towards the series’ appeal for both drivers and fans, which over the years, due to the racing and the spectacle of classic muscle cars going at it door-to-door, has turned
it into a really integrated and fan driven category. “The racing is sensational; the cars are great to drive and the competition is fantastic but the vibe in the paddock is the best thing about it. It’s great fun car racing. Everyone is enthusiastic and the fans love the category which makes it all the better to turn up at each round knowing you’re putting on a show people enjoy watching.” His first TCM race saw him driving a Chevrolet Camaro SS, before switching to his iconic Ford Mustang, affectionately known as ‘Sally’, the first race car that Bowe actually owned in his long and storied career. Bowe went on to take his first of his three titles in the Mustang in 2011, before going back-to-back in 2012. The next decade was dominated by him, Jim Richards, and Steve Johnson, with Hansford’s 2022 title making him the first driver without
the surname of Bowe or Johnson to win it since 2013. His battles with Richards became the stuff of legend, as the pair of Aussie motorsport Hall of Famers took out every title between 2009-2017. When Johnson went on his triple 20172019 title run, he did so with ‘Sally’, with the two drivers providing four years of highly entertaining racing. Bowe then carved out another category record, becoming the first multi-brand champion when he switched to a Bendigo Retro Muscle-prepared Holden SL/R 5000 in the second year of his triple championship run in 2014-2016. His last championship then came in 2020 in the Torana, making him the first six-time title holder. Whilst he may return for some guest appearances, Bowe’s intentions are to race in
‘must do’ events, including enduros, historic events abroad and at home, and category one-offs. “This year felt like the right time to step back from the full-time campaign and have a look at some other things I want to do in motorsport,” JB continued. “I’ll go racing with my mate Joe (Calleja) in historic racing, do some endurance races I enjoy like the Bathurst 6 Hour and other bits and pieces.” “I’m not retiring … I probably won’t ever retire. It’s just ‘ciao for now’ from TCM in a sense of competing in every round. “I’m not ruling out more racing in the category, and If someone throws me the keys to a car for a round here or there I’d find it impossible to say no!” Fittingly, the Davenport born stalwart will set another record come Round 1 in his home state, when he becomes the first TCM driver to notch a century of round appearances at Symmons Plains. “I’m really looking forward to the season ahead to say thanks to the fans, the fellow racers, the sponsors, the supporters, and everyone who has supported my 15-odd years in the category. “Starting in Tasmania and at Symmons Plains, the place where I started watching racing as a kid, will be especially special and I hope everyone gets out to that event in February.” The first round back is the opening of the 2023 SpeedSeries, on February 26-26, before returning to the streets of Newcastle on March 10-12; where surprise surprise, Bowe took the outright in 2018. Timothy Neal
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S5000 YOUNG GUN GETS EUROPEAN SHOT Image: DANIEL KALISZ GUN VICTORIAN S5000 pilot Cooper Webster has joined the growing list of Aussie guns to be racing in open wheelers in Europe this year. Webster’s first full year of ‘Wings and Slicks’ racing for Versa Motorsport had him finishing third in the standings with two S5000 wins and four podiums. Now the 19 year-old is getting ready to join up with Australian outfit Evans GP for a full season in the GB4 in the UK, telling Auto Action about his aspirations beyond, and how the chance came about after his strong S5000 performances. “Initially, I definitely wasn’t saying to myself that I had to go race in Europe at one point,” Webster told AA.
“I was just looking at my Australian options after starting in Excels in 2018/19, and when the opportunity to race S5000s came about I focused on having a decent crack, but I always thought going to Europe would be difficult … the S5000s provided really good exposure. “I was initially approached by an American open-wheel team to race in US F2000, the Indy Lights feeder series, and that was from them watching the S5000s. And in-turn, it was the same with Evans GP, and their package was much more appealing.” In terms of what comes after that, his focus is on driving well for Evans GP, but he hopes that the opportunity can now open more doors in Europe.
“I’m a bit of a realist to be honest, and I’m not expecting to rise into Formula 1, but I’d love to progress into something like GB3,” he continued. “There’s a lot of good drivers that go through that series, and it does open up a bunch of opportunities that you see plenty of drivers receive.” Despite a great 2022 season, Webster really turned heads at the Adelaide 500 when he scored three straight podiums in a very strong S5000 field that included former Italian F1 pilot Giancarlo Fisichella, Joey Mawson, Nathan Herne and Aaron Cameron to name just a few. “I didn’t get to speak to him (Fisichella) but I did get pretty close to him on the track
when he was chasing me down and I did my best to defend him. “It was a great experience to race against a Formula 1 driver, but I tried not to think about it too much when it was happening. But it was definitely a highlight of that weekend.” For the record, Webster did hold him off and finished the weekend with a P3, and two P2’s to win the weekend and finish second in the Tasman Series. The GB4 season, in support of the prestigious British GT Championship, gets underway on April 7 at Oulton Park, and includes rounds at Silverstone, Brands Hatch, and Donington. TW Neal
LACEY BEGINS US JOURNEY AT THE tender age of 16, Jesse Lacey is packing his bags and jetting off to America to chase the F1 dream. Lacey, who idolises Lewis Hamilton, will be racing in the competitive F4 United States Championship in 2023 and, armed with the team which won the last year’s teams championship, Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport, the determined teenager only has one goal in mind – winning. “I am there to win,” Lacey told Auto Action. “It is going to be exciting, probably the biggest season I have ever had and the prize of winning the championship is really good. “It also opens other pathways such as Indycar and NASCAR, but the dream is to go to F1.” The chance to race for Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport came about through Lacey’s connection with the AGi Academy, which helped arrange a test with the team where the Aussie would face off with eight other hopefuls in Texas.
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But it was Lacey, who “knocked it out of the park” and was offered the coveted drive. “I just tried my best and focused on what I had to do,” he said. “I did not let anyone else get in the way and obviously it worked.” The impression the Victorian made on the team is still noticeable, with Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport team owner Gary Orton believing the youngster has what it takes to be an F4 US champion. “Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport is excited to have Jesse join our program for 2023,” he said. “After two days of testing in Texas in unfavourable weather conditions, Jesse showed amazing pace. “I am positive that Jesse will be a championship contender. “Our plan is for Jesse to become the third Australian to win the F4 US Championship.” Lacey was destined to be a racer with his uncle national sprintcar champion Brett Lacey, his grandfather Victorian sprintcar champion Ray ‘Nippa’ Lacey and father Kris Lacey also a speedway driver. But unlike his relatives, road racing stole
Jesse’s heart and there was no turning back. His karting career started at the age of nine and he quickly developed into a winning machine, with national and international success. The youngster soon found himself as the youngest and least experienced finalist in the Ferrari Driver Academy at the world-famous Maranello base. Although he was not the chosen one, it was a major turning point, opening his eyes to what is required to be the best. Since the experience Lacey has been hitting the gym up to six days a week to be fit enough for the demands of an F4 car. It has paid off with the youngster recording F4 Australian Race Car Association wins at Sydney Motorsport Park. Having put in the hard yards, Lacey and his father will make the move across the Pacific Ocean in February before getting stuck into a vigorous on-track program ahead of round 1 on March 9-12. Racing with the same number used by his grandfather in #16, Lacey is ready for the ride of a lifetime, chasing his dream in the states. Thomas Miles
Tommy Smith took his first GB3 win at the testing Spa circuit last year. It followed a lean 2021, which did include the Formula Regional F3 event at Monaco (below). Images: MOTORSPORT IMAGES
TOMMY SMITH IS READY TO TAKE ON FORMULA 3
THE AUSTRALIAN invasion into Formula 3 continues with Tommy Smith becoming the latest to join the global grid with Van Amersfoort Racing. Ahead of the official announcement Auto Action’s Thomas Miles sat down with Smith to discuss the opportunity and to outline how his previous racing program had delivered him to this exciting new challenge. Smith will take the step up with the Dutch team and joins fellow Australian Christian Mansell, who will race for Campos, on the F3 grid. It is a big rise for the nephew of Supercars driver Jack Smith after taking on the European scene over the last two years, whilst trying to make up for lost time due to school commitments and COVID-19 complications. But Smith said he cannot wait to take on the invaluable opportunity and race on the world stage. “I am lucky enough to be in this situation with a great team. It is really
exciting and we will make the most of the opportunity,” he told Auto Action. “If you look at the results on paper they are not great, but the team look further into that and know there is more to come. “We have explained to them and they trust us. They would not have signed me if they did not think I could do a good job.” Van Amersfoort CEO Rob Niessink said the team looks forward to supporting Smith in his elevation to F3. “We are excited to have Tommy as part of our driver line-up,” he said. “He is new to the FIA F3 Championship, but Tommy’s time spent in FRECA and GB3 will certainly help him to pick (it) up quickly. “Tommy is very eager to learn and quickly book progress. He showed this positive attitude already in the past and that will help both Tommy and the crew to jumpstart the season. We look very much forward to supporting him in this
important next step of his career.” Due to the timing of the deal, Smith missed the post-season test and will drive a Formula 3 car for the first time at the season opener in Bahrain in March next year. Smith jumped straight from karts to Formula Ford before stepping into Australian Formula 4 and Asian F3 in 2019. But all of his momentum went “backwards” in 2020 when COVID-19 and Year 12 came along to unravel his Formula Renault opportunity. But with the help of mentors Andrew Jones and the Scottish based Dave Boyce, Smith now “feels ready” for the challenges ahead after making the move to Europe and returning to racing in 2021 and getting back to his best. “At the start of 2020 I felt like I was at a high level, really fit, driving well and ready to go to Formula Renault,” he said. “But then I sort of took two steps back. I could not travel and there was not many racing, so we just said ‘lets finish school’. “It has taken me the last two years to get back to where I was and now I feel like I am more than ready for the challenges ahead.” Although his performances in the Formula Regional European and GB3 championships were not as great as he would like, finishing 19th in his first fulltime GB3 campaign, Smith showed his true potential at Spa. Racing on the famous Belgium circuit brought out the best in Smith, who managed to score a maiden win in dramatic circumstances after crossing the line in second, but handed the P1 trophy on a count-back.
This experience means he expects the F3 cars and more open European tracks to suit him better than the tight and unforgiving British circuits he has at times struggled to come to grips with. “It is hard to say because I have not driven it (the F3 car) but it should suit me because the GB3 cars moved around a lot on some pretty sketchy and daunting tracks,” he said. “I struggled to learn the tracks against guys who have done years there, which reflects in the results. It was tough. “I won a race in Belgium which was awesome. It had been coming and was relieved just to get that first one. “I have asked a few people who have raced F3 and they said ‘just do it’. You are on big open tracks on a car with a lot of grip so it’s like driving a kart and I just seem to go better in a quicker car.” Although Smith will be unable to jump behind the wheel of an F3 until Bahrain due to the “very restrictive” testing guidelines, he will get some track time in an old GP3 or Euro Formula car. Looking at the road ahead, Smith is aware of the challenge and is not placing a high benchmark on himself, hoping to come to grips with the cars and take it from there. “It will be tough, and I am not underestimating the challenge,” he said. “At the moment I am on that (Formula 1) pathway, but you can go anywhere from F3 and we always wanted to get to that level. “It probably is a two-year thing. I just want to do the best I can and be competitive against my teammate, but if I have a few good results, things can move forward very quickly.”
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FRASER LOCKED IN AT TICKFORD RACING DECLAN FRASER will soon be confirmed as the replacement for Jake Kostecki at Tickford Racing after the team decided to end its relationship with Jake Kostecki following an incident at the Supercars Gala Awards dinner last month. While no announcement has come from the team itself, AUTO ACTION has learnt that Fraser was introduced to the team today (Tuesday) in a meetand-greet at Tickford’s Glenbarry Road, Campbellfield, operations centre. Until the issue with Kostecki arose, Fraser, the 2022 Super2 Champion, was without a regular Supercars drive this year. In addition to his series win, he also acquitted himself well at Bathurst
when driving with Craig Lowndes in the Triple Eight Supercheap Auto wildcard. Triple Eight Race Engineering boss Jamie Whincup told the assembled media at the Adelaide 500 that while Fraser was an important part of the team, they did not have a position for him and were open to him leaving should a good opportunity arise. “We have not signed him up for five or 10 years and we will not try and lock him or anything like that. Declan is a great kid, and we want him to do well.” Whincup said Supercheap Auto was reported as offering some sponsorship support to Fraser for a Supercars team looking to run him in 2023. While a consideration –
with Supercheap Auto having been part of Tickford’s program in the past - it’s likely that it will not be required, as the team currently has some support from rival retailer Autobarn. Fraser’s elevation to the ‘main game’ Supercar series follows reports that Kostecki was involved in a physical altercation with Scott Pye at the Supercars Gala Awards night presentation and was also heard blaming Tickford for his poor performances during the season. Tickford would not comment on the status of Kostecki’s contract with the team when contacted by AUTO ACTION on Monday of this week, but it is known that the team are very disappointed with
the actions of the driver, who is halfway through a two-year deal as the driver of the Tradie Mustang. In what has been a surprise externally, Zak Best was not considered for the drive after losing his Super2 seat with Tickford in 2023, following a successful season where he finished a luckless runner-up to Fraser. It is said Tickford is concerned about whether he is ready to take the next step in his career despite acknowledging his speed and driving talent. A pole winner during his wildcard run at The Bend, Tickford has retained him for the endurance races. Bruce Williams
BEETON JOINS BIG UAE F4 FIELD TEENAGER JACK Beeton has been announced as the fourth Australian on the UAE Formula 4 grid, as his compatriot James Wharton impressed in pre-season testing. Beeton is a late addition to the FIA UAE F4 field, which begins its five-round season on January 13. The young Aussie will drive for Pinnacle VAR, which is the result of a collaboration between Irish outfit Pinnacle Motorsport, and Dutch F3 and F3 squad Van Amersfoort Racing. Beeton has already jumped behind the wheel for his new team, finishing 35th and 34th in separate sessions at Monday night’s pre-season test. He and Indian Kai Daryanani are the only full-time drivers for the team, with Japan’s Hiyu Yamakoshi and Italy’s Brando Badoer sharing the third seat. Beeton arrives with some F4 experience already under his belt, as last year he got a taste at the Ferrari Driver Academy after being handpicked as one of just two drivers from the Asia Pacific and Oceania Selection program to attend the final at Maranello. Beeton cut a number of F4 laps and tests before, during, and after his experience with the FDA where, he was the second youngest of the six drivers at the final. In addition to the FDA final, he has had lots of karting success in Australia, most recently finishing fourth in the 2022 KA4 Junior class.
Now Beeton is ready to use the UAE F4 Series as the launch pad to ignite his international single-seater racing career. Vans Amersfoort Racing CEO Rob Niessink said Beeton is part of a “new chapter” for the team. “We are excited to set up the partnership with Pinnacle Motorsport. They have strongly established themselves, so joining forces will create an great opportunity to benefit from each other,” he said. “We are excited to continue working with Brando, Rafael and Niels, but also very much welcome Jack to the team. It is yet again another new chapter for us, and we look forward to getting back to racing soon.” Beeton joins fellow Australians Wharton, Jimmy Piszcyk and Noah Lisle on the 33-driver UAE F4 entry list, who all competed at Monday’s preseason test at Dubai Autodrome. Wharton turned some heads by finishing second in two of the three sessions held. The Mumbai Falcons Racing Limited driver started strong, being the only driver within seven tenths of a second of session 1 leader William McIntyre.
Wharton continued the fine pace throughout the day, rounding out the top five in the second session, before rising back up to second in the third. He was one of just seven drivers to break the 2:02s barrier, and the pace will give him plenty of confidence for the season opener. Lisle got as high as 14th during the day, while Piszcyk’s personal best was 24th as the Aussies gave it their all across the three busy and competitive sessions. The quartet of young Aussies will be in action in the opening round of the 2023 UAE F4 Series at Dubai this weekend on January 13-14. Thomas Miles
WALL RACING LAMBO RETURNING TO THE MOUNTAIN THE DISTINCTIVE Wall Racing Lamborghini Huracan EVO will return to Mount Panorama to have another crack at the LIQUI-MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour. Car owner Adrian Deitz has joined forces with David Wall and Wall Racing for the fourth straight year in the red and white Italian beast. The pair will share driving duties with the man who steered Wall Racing to the 2022 TCR Australia championship, Tony D’Alberto, and another former Supercars driver in Grant Denyer. The Silver Class quartet hope to try and repeat its 2022 performance where they fought for the podium before being forced to settle for fifth. It’s a far rise after finishing P12 and five laps down in their maiden 12 hour in 2019, with a DNF the following year. In 2023 the Wall Racing team will be a renewed force with the Huracan having received an extensive “freshen up” over the summer. But in the truest sign the squad means business, a senior Lamborghini engineer will be on hand to offer expertise, flying directly from the 24 Hours of Daytona, which takes place three days before on-track action at Mount Panorama kicks off. Head of Lamborghini Motorsport Giorgio Sanna said the Italian brand is “proud” to be at Mount Panorama. “Lamborghini Squadra Corse is proud to support Wall Racing at the Bathurst 12 Hour with engineering support on site at the event, confirming our global assistance dedicated to all our customer teams,” said Sanna. “Good luck to Adrian, David, Tony and Grant for this iconic race.” Deitz said the presence of Lamborghini support at Mount Panorama will give the entire team a big boost. “Lamborghini is sending out a senior engineer, straight from Daytona, and we are incredibly grateful to have the
brand’s support for Australia’s best sportscar endurance race,” he said. “Having someone on the ground will be a huge benefit, not just for us drivers, but also the team. “We felt we made good steps with the car at the Bathurst International in November and we are looking forward to making more improvements in the 12 Hour.” A veteran of 151 Supercars races, Wall is bullish of what his well prepared squad can achieve. “I don’t feel we have ever been better prepared for a Bathurst 12 Hour,” said Wall. “The Huracan EVO is ready to go, and a short test beforehand will get the team and drivers ready for another big event. “And personally, it’s also great to be getting back in the car with Adrian, Tony and Grant. It’s one of the best races to be in.” A return to Bathurst brings back happy memories for D’Alberto as he returns to the scene of his tense TCR Australia championship glory for the first time since the Bathurst International. He said he already feels the buzz. “The 12 Hour is the best way to kick start the new racing season, and it’s great to have the chance to step back into the Lamborghini with Adrian and the Wall
Racing team,” said D’Alberto. “There’s a great sense of anticipation for this year’s race. It will be great to have the international teams and drivers back in the field with big crowds returning. “Wall Racing has been developing Adrian’s Lamborghini for a number of years now. I feel we have the car pretty sorted.” But the driver with most connection to the famous 6.213km circuit is Bathurst resident Denyer, who is determined to make the 2023 12 Hour one to remember. “I live in Bathurst, I’ve finished second in this race before and doing almost 300kmh around here in Adrian’s Lambo is one of life’s greatest ever experiences,” said Denyer. “This was the first major race I attended as a kid. We even slept in our Toyota Corolla in the pits. So this place means the world to me. It’s where I decided I wanted to be a racing driver.” The red and white Lamborghini will hit the track at Mount Panorama from February 3-5. Thomas Miles
STRONG GLOBAL FIELD TO DESCEND ON 12 HOUR A LARGE field is set to line up on the grid for the 2023 LIQUI-MOLY Bathurst 12 Hour next month when the world returns to Mount Panorama. The event, known as Australia’s greatest International Endurance Race, will live up to its name with cars coming from Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Hong Kong, Belgium and the United States. The 12 Hour race held from February 3-5 will double as the season opener of the Intercontinental GT Challenge and has attracted an entry list of 28 GT3 and invited vehicles. An eight car increase on the COVID impacted 2022 running. The GT3 field has 22 entries spread across the Pro, Bausele Pro-Am, and Silver categories, which includes strong European manufacturer representation, with a 12 Hour record of nine Mercedes GT3’s lined up. One of them will be driven by reigning winners Triple Eight Race Engineering, which is out for more Bathurst glory after collecting all trophies on offer in 2022. The title defence will be led by Red Bull Ampol Racing stars Shane van Gisbergen and Broc Feeney, plus experienced Mercedes AMG Performance driver Maximilian Gotz. The trio will do their level best to ensure the #888 Supercheap Auto Mercedes will be fighting at the front to keep the team’s Mount Panorama winning streak alive. The other half of Triple Eight’s 12 Hour success, Sun Energy1, returns with the same goal in mind,
2023 LIQUI-MOLY BATHURST 12 HOUR ENTRY LIST
while Audi is also in the mix. Craig Lowndes will find himself in the unfamiliar position of standing outside the Triple Eight garage as he races for the Prostate Cancer awareness Scott Taylor Motorsport entry. It is likely most eyes will be drawn towards the Team WRT area of the pit lane, with MotoGP superstar and current GT racer Valentino Rossi racing one of two brand new BMW M4 GT3’s. There will be records broken in the Pro-Am class where veteran driver Marc Cini starts an unprecedented 11th Bathurst 12 Hour in his Hallmark Racing Audi. He hopes to join the fight for the Pro-Am battle where a host of Mercedes GT3’s and Audi R8’s are expected to battle it out. Six cars are lined up for the Silver Class, including the Wall Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3. The same amount is expected for the Invitational Class with a pair of MARC cars and a KTM X-Bow GT2 to offer something different. The full entry list, including drivers, will be released closer to the event. Thomas Miles
Sun Energy 1 Supercheap Auto Racing GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG Craft-Bamboo Racing
Mercedes-AMG Mercedes-AMG Mercedes-AMG Mercedes-AMG
AMG GT3 AMG GT3 AMG GT3 AMG GT3
Melbourne Performance Centre
PRO PRO PRO PRO PRO
R8 LMS Evo 2
Team WRT Team WRT Manthey EMA
PRO PRO PRO
BMW BMW Porsche
M4GT3 M4GT3 911 GT3R
Schumacher Motorsport Fuchs Racing
R8 LMS Evo 2
Melbourne Performance Centre
R8 LMS Evo 2
R8 LMS Evo 2
Makita Volante Rosso Motorsport
Triple Eight Race Engineering
Scott Taylor Motorsport
EBM Giga Racing EBM Giga Racing Harrolds Volante Rosso Motorsport
PRO-AM PRO-AM SILVER
Porsche Porsche Mercedes-AMG
911 GT3R 911 GT3R AMG GT3
Wall Racing Supabarn Melbourne Performance Centre Melbourne Performance Centre Our Kloud - UpTo 11 MotorSport
SILVER SILVER SILVER SILVER INV
Lamborghini Audi Audi Audi Porsche
Nineteen Corporation MMotorsport / Vantage Racing Daytona Sports Cars MRA Motorsport Wheels / FX Racing
INV INV INV INV INV
Mercedes-AMG KTM SIN MARC MARC
Huracan R8 LMS Evo 2 R8 LMS Evo 2 R8 LMS Evo 2 991 GT3 Cup Gen II GT4 GT XBOW R1 I Mazda II V8
POWER TO MAKE DAYTONA 24 DEBUT REIGNING INDYCAR champion Will Power will join up with the Australian Sun Energy1 Racing Team for his 24 Hours of Daytona debut. The Toowoomba born racer, a two-time IndyCar champ and Indy 500 winner, will join fellow Aussie Kenny Habul in his #75 Mercedes AMG GT3, which was declared the 61st and final entry of the 2023 edition. Fabian Schiller and Axcil Jeffries will join the pairing to race in the GTD class which features 25 entries from nine manufacturers at the 61st running of the event. “The Daytona 24 is an iconic event on the bucket list of most drivers, and I have to thank Kenny (Habul) for the opportunity,” Power said. “I am looking forward to driving the heavier GT car and getting experience for hopefully a lot more drives like this in the future, including the Bathurst 1000 and Bathurst 12-hour (race) back in Australia. “It is quite funny when you look back at how Kenny and I raced Formula Ford against each other all those years ago, and now we are going to be teammates!” Power joins fellow IndyCar Antipodeans Scott McLaughlin (Tower Motorsports) and Scott Dixon (Cadillac Racing/Chip Ganassi Racing) for the famous endurance event at the end of the month, with Colton Herta, Josef Newgarden, and Romain Grosjean among some of the other IndyCar contingent. “Will is a monster talent and a genuine person, and we look forward to him being a valuable contributor to our 24-hour campaign at Daytona,” Habul said. “He has a reputation of being fast in anything he drives, and I am sure he will be up to speed in our gear in no time.” Habul is also coming off a title winning campaign, taking out the Pro Am class in the intercontinental GT World Challenge, which included a maiden Bathurst 12 Hour
victory. He also achieved second-place class finishes in the 24 Hours of Spa and the Indianapolis 8 Hour at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Habul’s sixth start at the American endurance classic sees him with a best class finish of second in 2021, where he personally led the GTD field at one stage in the 59th edition of the event.
Power comes into Daytona after winning his second IndyCar title, after breaking the all-time pole record, as well moving to within one win of Michael Andretti’s 42 wins (fourth of all time). The 24 Hours of Daytona Hour kicks off on January 2829, which also marks the first round of the IMSA sportscar championship. TW Neal
INDYCAR BOOST FOR ADELAIDE MOTORSPORT FESTIVAL A MODERN IndyCar has been added to the stellar list of vehicle entries for the Adelaide Motorsport Festival for the 2023, March 25-26 event. The 2011 spec Dallara IR-07 last took to an Aussie track at the Gold Coast Indy event, and was in operation with Conquest Racing between 2008-2011. New Zealander Matthew Radisich, nephew of Paul Radisich, will pilot the Dallara around the Adelaide Park Lands; Radisich is a former Formula 3 racer, having raced in the Australian Drivers Championship, as well as having raced in Formula Fords in both in Australia and at Home. His uncle Paul was also a former V8 Supercars race winner, and a British Touring Car competitor. The car itself was most notably driven by Canadian racer Alex Tagliani, who took the Dallara to a high of P4 at the 2008 Gold Coast Indy 300, the final one in Australia. It’s fitted with a 3.5-litre methanolfuelled V8 Chevrolet, producing more than 675 horsepower, with a Carbon fiber monocoque, honeycomb structure chassis. The IndyCar is the latest car announced
for the 2023 Adelaide Motorsport Festival, along with a pair of 1989 Brabham BT58s, as driven by Martin Brundle and Stefano Modena during the 1989 Formula 1 season, a 1988 Arrows A10B Megatron, as driven by Eddie Cheever during the 1988 Formula 1 season, and the newly announced Arrows Formula 1 three-seater car. More Formula 1 cars, Sportscars, rally cars, touring cars and others attending the event will be revealed in the coming weeks. The Adelaide Motorsport festival is a fast, thrilling, and frequently changing museum in motion, with a different category of vehicle on track every 10 to 15 minutes. As well as the open wheelers, headlined by the classic F1 machinery, fans will also see a host of V8 Supercars alongside Heritage Touring Cars, a special Invitational category alongside Demonstration sessions, and a Shootout for the fastest cars and more. Adelaide Motorsport Festival tickets on sale now at www.adelaidemotorsportfestival. com.au TW Neal
TCR ‘23 TO ADD QUALIFYING BOOST
NZ YOUNG GUN ENTERS SUPER3 EGGLESTON MOTORSPORT has recruited young New Zealand gun Matthew McCutcheon for its 2023 Super3 campaign. McCutcheon is a recipient of the 2022 Tony Quinn Foundation Scholarship, and whilst not many in Australia will know his name, he’s been a rising youth star in NZ since starting out in dirt track racing. After dominating in the Quarter Midget vehicles with 12 wins and 8 podiums, he progressed into the F2 Midgets where he was again the standout, scoring rookie of the year, as well as clinching the club championship, and at 15 years-old, was its youngest ever championship winner. McCutcheon also started racing Formula Ford in 2019 where instantly started winning and taking podiums, before entering the national Formula Ford competition where he swept a number of rounds and claimed 2nd in the Championship. That year he was aided by three time Supercar champion Shane van Gisbergen as he was racing SVG’s championship winning sister car, and the NZ star offered up data analysis, vision, and guidance.
In 2022, McCutcheon took on the NZ Toyota 86 championship and scored a win in his rookie season driving for Action Motorsport, where he finished sixth in the standings. The up and coming speedster offers his thoughts on starting out on his long-held Supercars dream. “I am so excited to be joining Eggleston Motorsport in 2023 to race in the Super3 series,” McCutcheon said. “I can’t thank Ben, Rachael and the team and all my supporters enough for this opportunity. It has always been a dream of mine to race in the Supercar series and this step is an amazing opportunity in achieving my goal of racing in Supercars. “After spending time with the team at the Adelaide 500, and then again at the test at Winton a couple of weeks after, I already feel at home and I am honoured to be a part of their winning team. “I can’t wait to kick off the season at Newcastle which is coming around fast!” Rachael Eggleston, Eggleston Motorsport Co-owner and Team Manager, says that McCutcheon has shown plenty of eagerness, and has
talent to burn. “In our first discussion with Matt he didn’t just say he wanted to be a Supercar driver, he said he wants to be a Supercar champion. We know he will leave no stone unturned to get to the top level of Supercar racing in Australia and we cannot wait to be a part of helping him get there. “Matt and his family flew to the Adelaide 500 where Matt worked with the team, he wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and was doing everything from cleaning cars, tyre pressures, and everything in between. It was a great opportunity for him to learn how a race weekend in the category works and get himself ahead of the game for 2023. “He had a test with us in December and showed real talent behind the wheel. He worked so well with the team to get faster and faster as the day went on. He has such a fantastic attitude and is just a great young guy. We are genuinely excited to hit the track and we are confident Matt will be a regular podium contender.” The combined Dunlop Super2 and 3 series kicks off at Newcastle on March 10-12. TW Neal
QUALIFYING POINTS have been added to the Supercheap Auto TCR Australia season ahead of its 2023 campaign starting on February 24-26. The move is aimed at increasing the importance of Qualifying, giving a significant points boost, meaning the points maximum for a round is extended to 153. The 10 point boost will add a new dynamic to the series, giving extra spice to the grid spots tussle, with P2 to P5 to also score added points on a 7, 5, 3, 2 basis. The driver who scores the fastest lap will also score a championship point, with a maximum 50 points still on offer for a Race 1, 40 points for the top-ten flipped grid Race 2, with Race 3 (grid determined by total points scored over races 1 and 2) seeing 50 points again on offer. In 2022, Wall Racing Tony D’Alberto was a deserving winner by just 9 points over Supercars driver Will Brown. “The change will put more emphasis on qualifying to ensure every driver has an extra incentive to go as hard as they can in that session,” said McMellan. “We want to see our drivers and teams always pushing the limits, in every session, and we feel this is going to add more spice to the most important sessions of a race weekend. “For qualifying, it needs to have real meaning. Almost all of the qualifying sessions were broadcast on Stan Sport in 2022,” Said Ben McMellan, Head of ARG Category Operations. “The plan is to keep that for 2023, so we want to ensure that it is an unmissable session, whether fans are watching the Stan broadcast or trackside.” It’s a huge year for Australia’s TCR series, as its drivers have a chance to qualify for the new TCR World Tour championship, which will have two rounds in Australia. Testing for the new hybrids will also begin in Australia in 2023, with the new vehicle roll-out expected for the 2024 season. The new global series is a consolidation of TCR racing globally under the WSC group, replacing the previous independently operated WTCR series. The opening round of the 2023 Supercheap Auto TCR Australia Series will be held at the third-running of the AWC Race Tasmania on February 24-26, in conjunction with the opening SpeedSeries round. TW Neal
AUSSIE RALLY STAR TO CONTEST FOR WRC JUNIOR SEAT AT 19 years-old, Taylor Gill has become the youngest ever winner of the Australian Rally Champions Production Car class, clinching the title at the Coffs Coast Rally. He also captured the FIA Rally Star AsiaPacific final in India, which gives him a shot at six European rallies, and the chance to win a drive the WRC Junior championship in 2024. Gill will head to Europe to compete against six other drivers in a Rally3 car – the same as used in the WRC Junior championship – where he will have six rallies to win a chance into the premier junior pathway with four spots available. “In terms of 2022, It doesn’t get much better. We set out to be in the top three of the Production Cup and ended up winning it,” Gill told Auto Action. “That was a big bonus, and we went to India with no expectations other than to do my best, and won that as well.” Like most young rally drivers, the dream is to race around the world in the top tier of the WRC, but there was a point where Gill thought that his dream wasn’t realistic anymore, but then everything changed with the Rally Star program. “Like any young person trying to make a
Image: PETER WHITTEN PHOTOGRAPHY career, you need to aim high, but you also have to be realistic,” Gill continued. “The WRC goal was probably getting out
of touch recently, and then winning the Rally Star really re-ignited it, so that’s what I’m fully focused on achieving now.”
“My co-driver Dan (Brkic) who I won the production championship with is coming also – it’s obviously really beneficial to have someone in the car you’re comfortable with and that you can trust.” Gill also gave an insight into what it’s like behind the scenes in the ARC this season. “The biggest thing is that everyone’s just super helpful. From the top of the championship down to the people in the mid-pack and the back half of the championship. “No-one holds anything against each other, and people like Lewis and Harry Bates for example are amazing with giving out advice. And then there’s people like Dale Moscatt, a co-driver in the championship with a lot of international experience, who was really good with helping also. “Considering how hard it is to win in all the classes and how competitive it is, everyone is really good at helping each other.” As the Asia pacific winner, the talented young mechanic from NSW will front up against European winner Romet Jurgenson from Estonia, Oman’s Abdullah Al Tawqi, and Max Smart from South Africa, with the winners from the Americas yet to be decided.
TAYLOR TARGETING TOP 10 IN ‘TOUGH’ DAKAR AUSTRALIA’S MOLLY Taylor has been taking on the might of the Dakar Rally and is full of anticipation for the road ahead after an up-and-down first week in the desert. Taylor and her American co-driver Andrew Short are on track to better their result from last year, where they finished 14th in the SSV class. The South Racing Can-Am combination sit in P11 in the T4 Modified Production SSV class after the first eight stages and have finished as high as sixth twice. Taylor revealed the 2023 route has taken a larger toll both mentally and physically than last year when she became the first Australian female to complete the famous event. “So far it has been a really tough Dakar,” she told Auto Action. “Having the experience of doing Dakar before is a massive help, but this one feels harder than I remember with slightly more challenging routes and conditions. “Physically they have been really, really long days. “The temperature is really cold. When you are driving 300km in a Can-Am with no windows when it is two degrees that takes a physical toll. “You are driving 10-13 hours a day and then trying to keep positive and focused in every kilometre even when things have not gone well. “All of those physical and mental challenges is what makes Dakar such a challenge.” In addition to the battles behind the wheel, the strain on machine is also unrelenting. Taylor’s campaign has been held back by “little issues” most days, starting with a broken front drive shaft and flat tyre in the opener. However, the pair bounced back to get up to ninth in the class classification after the next stage, only for a “heartbreaking day to forget” on the following day.
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Image: MCH PHOTOGRAPHY With three flats and only two spares available, Taylor had to wait for over an hour for assistance as she lost around 90 minutes on the tough stage. But the South Racing Can-Am team has bounced back well and regained ground. Taylor has learnt a lot after more than 40 hours behind the wheel, but the said one of the biggest areas of improvement is tackling the sandy terrain. “In the dunes which are still relatively new to me is just about picking the lines, trying to find the fastest
route, which is just experience. Having Andrew in the car has been a massive help,” she said. “Every single metre of each stage is different, so there is still so much to learn. “Reading the lines in the dunes and terrain changes and when to push and when to manage the car is something we are always working on. “It is great to be making those gains each day.” With 1219km of special stages still to be completed, Taylor is aware of the challenges ahead and the former
Australian Rally Championship and Extreme E champion would love to cross the finish line with a top-10 finish. “I definitely want to get into the top 10,” she said. “We had higher ambitions from the outset and having to wait for the truck on day 3 and having little issues every day has been disappointing, but there is still a long way to go and we know the pace is good when we have a trouble free run. “We have been clawing back time every day and will keep pushing.” Thomas Miles
FRESH IS BEST AA’S COLUMNIST CAN’T WAIT FOR 2023’S NEW SUPERCARS AND SPORTSCAR ERAS
SEASON 2023 brings something of a fresh start for both motorsport’s premier classes here in Australia and a traditional, if sleeping, giant internationally. In Supercars, it’s a complete reset. After four long seasons of the odd-ball ZB Holden Commodore (bearing little resemblance to the roadgoing hatchback upon which it was based) battling the ungainly hightop Ford Mustang, we start afresh with far sexier machines. Far racier ones, too, theoretically. First-up will be the thrill of a very different livery reveal season over the next six weeks. Then, hold your breath, the new cars hit the tight confines – and hopefully not the walls – of Newcastle East, in the NSW street circuit’s new slot as season-opener. Expect a bumper crowd of Novocastrians (and Sydneysiders) over March 10-12 thanks to three years of pent-up demand. Three years and four months, to be precise. The Supercars last raced in the Hunter in November 2019, and
with Luke West
REVVED UP ‘Novos’ will be gagging for it. It’s anyone’s guess how Gen3 will shake things up, but it’s certain that the long-awaited racing debut of Supercars’ new regulations will bring some fascinating unintended consequences. Things will pop up that not even Nostradamus could have predicted. How refreshing! Can’t wait. Hopefully it’s the start of something big, with new entrants enticed. I’m not convinced new players are going to arrive, but I’ll be happy to be proven wrong. Internationally, 2023 is a massive one for sportscar racing, with manufacturers embracing hybrid prototypes in unprecedented fashion. My New Year’s resolution is to watch each and every IMSA round, starting with the seasonopening 24 Hours of Daytona in late January. Brand new GTP cars from Cadillac (Ganassi included), BMW (Rahal), Porsche (Penske) and Acura (Indy 500 winners
Meyer-Shank Racing included) will battle for outright honours this year, before Lamborghini joins the fray in 2024. How about four famous marques run by fabled teams? All works efforts. There’s just so much energy and excitement in and around the premier US-based sportscar championship right now. IMSA has truly cracked the code in attracting manufacturer entrants. That magic formula is a shared affordable chassis draped with different bodywork for each marque with brandspecific styling cues. The key ingredient is the ability for each manufacturer to bring a completely unique internal combustion engine solution – matched to standard IMSAmandated hybrid components – so each has multiple elements of individualism. Reliability and software compatibility issues are expected to spice up the action in 2023. As Rahal Letterman Lanigan team patriarch Bobby Rahal
explained to racer.com: “The races are going to be pretty intense, and fans are going to respond to these cars – they look good and they sound good. I think IMSA is about to embark on a very, very exciting time for racing and the sport.” “IMSA is amazing when you think about how many manufacturers are involved, in all the different categories of racing. I don’t think there’s a series out there that can claim the number of manufacturers that IMSA can.” It’s a similar story in the World Endurance Championship where the only full-time 2022 entrant, Toyota, will finally face some stiff opposition in ‘23. Peugeot, a part-timer last season, is now in-like-Flynn; so too completely new chums Ferrari (through AF Corse), Porsche (Penske) and Cadillac (Ganassi). We may also see US-brand Glickenhaus return, plus new efforts from quirky and historic Europeans Isotta Fraschini and Vanwall. I just wish Ferrari would rope in a certain Aussie of Italian heritage to join their driving ranks which is filled with no-names. Lamborghini has the right idea in engaging Romain Grosjean for its GT campaign this year and for its future prototype efforts. Anyway, the kicker for world sportscar racing is that IMSA cars can now compete at
Le Mans in 2023 and WEC machines in IMSA the year after – just as teams did back in the 1960s and 1970s. Excitingly, both series are convergence formulas that, theoretically, put IMSA LMDh prototypes on equal terms to compete for overall wins with the LMh Hypercars in the FIA WEC’s top class. Hopefully the Europeans will soon race in America, just as the US-based Porsche and Cadillac team will field cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and every other WEC race this year, with BMW and Lamborghini set to follow suit in 2024. Then there are the manufacturers involved in IMSA’s and WEC’s GT classes. Speaking of GT, it all gets serious here in Australia with the Bathurst 12 Hour over February 3-5. What better way to start the domestic season than with an event on Australia’s best circuit that continues to grow in stature. Factory BMW M3s are the shiny new toys for 2023, including one driven by motorcycling GOAT Valentino Rossi. We live in a celebrityobsessed world, so Rossi’s presence is going to take the B12’s profile to new levels. Ditto, the RedBull RB7 F1 car being demonstrated during the preliminaries. It’s not to be missed. More on the 12 Hour in the next edition of Auto Action.
Image: MOTORSPORT IMAGES
LAWYERS THAT KNOW MOTORSPORTS Know your position.
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KEEPING TRACK OF ALL OUR GREAT HISTORIC CIRCUITS Hi Auto Action, What’s the go with the future of Sandown? We have known for a while that its long-term future is clouded. However, after reading your stories about the recent changes to the Melbourne Racing Club board and the fresh new board members, who I believe are more positive about keeping the venue, I have been left feeling a bit more positive that it might live on for a good while yet. But I note that the only motorsport news outlet that seems to be pushing the line that it could be saved is Auto Action. I recently got a text from a mate that was a link to a story from a web outlet saying that it is all over at Sandown. Have things changed or is it another case of the people up there trying to find the negative in everything? Please enlighten us – on Sandown, and what’s the go at Calder too, as well as Wakefield Park. Any other news on tracks? Any new ones in prospect? We need new circuits, for all kinds of racing. Not just Supercars. Bill Williams Shepparton Editors Note: Thanks Bill, we here at AA HQ have a very positive outlook when it comes to the long term as far as both Sandown and Calder, and for that matter Wakefield Park. For more positive news about the sport stay tuned...
NZ SHOULD BE TO THE FORE, NOT BLANKED I love my motor racing here in New Zealand - and my
Pukekohe ... huge disappointment in NZ that it was the last Kiwi Supercars race for a while ... Image: MOTORSPORT IMAGES subscription to Auto Action, thanks - so I’m p….. off big-time that the Supercars aren’t coming to NZ this year. Would have been great to see the new Gen3 cars in their first season. And lots of my friends share my view. Kiwis have been great supporters of Supercars for a long time, but we have been dealt a bad hand here. While we love the Brute cars and have always identified with Mustangs and Camaros from our old days, as well as having given Supercars many Kiwi champion drivers, surely the series management could have negotiated something here for this year? Yes, there may have been difficulties, but how much of a priority did the Supercars honchos make it. That management has always been rather odd. They kicked the sh.. out of Pukekohe years ago and went off to Hamilton, which was a financial disaster for that city, then came crawling back to Pukey. Cars, drivers, show … tick, tick,
tick, in spite of the management. Supercars HQ, wherever you are, do better. Much, much better. Looks as though we’ve got to wear no round this year, but never again. We know there would be some hurdles with the FIA, but Supercars should look at a four-round tour of NZ from midJanuary to late February in future. It could be the Tin-Top Tasman Series, with two events on the North Island and two on the South Island, leading into your Australian rounds. Aaron Norton Auckland, New Zealand
MOTOR RACING IS DANGEROUS After the past few days of tragic news, I felt compelled to drop you all at AA line and say that it’s always sad to hear that people involved in motorsport are tragically taken from us. Last week I was shocked to learn that Ken Block was killed in a snowmobile accident. It seems to me that with all the crazy stuff Auto_Action
and the stunts he performed that going out this way was pretty sad. It’s a similar story to what happened to our great Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher. Raced in a dangerous sport and got hurt skiing. And then I heard the news about Sam Fenech being killed in a high speed drag racing crash. It’s a reminder that while our sport is dangerous and while we accept that it is, there are many other things in life that we do that can hurt and even kill us as well, not just when we are racing. Safety is a very important part and should always be an important consideration when we are involved in the sport we love. My thoughts and best wishes are with the families and friends as well as all the people that knew these men. Best wishes to all. Peter Brady Wollongong NSW. Editors Note: Thanks Peter, it reinforces that life is fragile we should value all the time that we have on this earth. . . AutoActionMag
The motorsport world did not stop turning over the holiday period and some used Auto Action’s social channels to express their thoughts.
KEN BLOCK PASSES AWAY
SVG AND WATERS RACE ON THE DIRT
Alan Hart How very sad, but he did push the limits. Condolences to his family and friends. RIP Ken Block.
David Gallagher I’d love to see SVG and Cam go head to head. Both are very capable with Cam Waters being a former Australian champion in Modified Sedans and SVG being good in anything he sits in.
Paul Buccini Gut wrenching to hear. He was a true legend. Rick Swat Totally shocked. An absolute super star behind the wheel of anything, so sad. Condolences to all family and friends and fans. Dave Emm Burn brightly, live short. Sad news, they boy had serious skills.
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Adam Poulsen I hope these guys end up on the same track in Sprintcars in the near future and I hope someone captures it. Mark Williams I don’t like SVG, but I’d like to see him race at The Classic in my hometown alongside Cam. They are predicting 120 others, including around ten Americans. Can’t wait.
COMMUNITY TO HAVE SAY ON NEWCASTLE 500 FUTURE Justin Idelburger Keep it going Newcastle. It needs a few years to get established after the Covid interruptions. Carl Prosser Get rid of street circuits and use all available race tracks, there are plenty in Australia that can be used. Just imagine how much money the teams can save by minimising the damage that happens at street circuits. Barry Baker Another pothole in the road for Supercars. It must be driving them crazy. I hope Newcastle stays.
Image: MOTORSPORT IMAGES
HOW WILL ANDRETTI FARE IN F1? FORMULA ONE’S year has started with the great news that Michael Andretti’s Grand Prix project has now received the backing of General Motors, the biggest American car manufacturer and is, therefore, virtually certain of being granted an entry into the World Championship once the yet to be started ‘Expression of Interest’ process by the FIA is completed. As you can read elsewhere in this issue, time constraints and the massive regulation changes that are coming by 2026 make it logical to expect any new team to start competing only three years from now, so Michael Andretti has plenty of time to put his structure in place before his first Formula One car hits the track. Comparisons with what the three new teams that entered the sport in 2010 had to do are completely irrelevant, for a number of reasons: First, those new teams were guaranteed there would be a very low budget cap of 40 million pounds, that was never implemented, so
with Luis Vasconcelos
F1 INSIDER they were on a different league against the existing teams even before the started racing; Second, they were given seven months warning they’d be racing the following season; Third, the only engine available to them was a consumer Cosworth, that could not compete with the manufacturers’ V8s; And, finally, the sport wasn’t nearly as big as it is now, so finding sponsors was a lot harder than it is now. It’s also worth reminding everyone that Formula One already has an American team in Haas, so Andretti is not really opening a door to Formula One. Obviously, though, mention Haas to the average American and chances are they don’t know what you’re talking about, while
the Andretti name, thanks to the legendary Mario, is widely known in the US. Then, of course, there’s finally getting GM into Formula One, with the prestigious Cadillac brand to the fore, and that of course will catch the eye of even those who are not that much into racing and only have a passing interest in motor sport. That’s why the FIA received Andretti’s announcement so enthusiastically and I can only join president Mohammed Ben Sulayem in welcoming this big US-based project into the sport. One extra reason to believe the Americans will be able to hit the ground running is that, in all likelihood, Honda will be supplying complete Power Units that will
be branded Cadillac, as GM and the Japanese manufacturer’s partnership is growing fast. That will guarantee Andretti-Cadillac a top-notch Power Unit from day one – so if the chassis, the drivers and the teams are up to it, there’s no reason this new team cannot be competitive right from its first season. A lot, however, will depend on how the team is structured and I have to say I’m a bit dubious about the approach of splitting the operation between Indianapolis and the Silverstone area, as was previewed by Michael Andretti. Having the design and manufacturing team in a different continent than the one where the race team will be operating from simply doesn’t make sense and has proved, time and again, to be an unpractical solution. And let’s not forget Andretti’s own operation in the US hasn’t been too successful of late – the team’s last Indycar title dating back to 2012 and the last Indy 500 win coming back in 2017
courtesy of Takuma Sato. Plus, we can also just hope GM will be happy to open its facilities and supply technology only when the Formula One team will request it, because if the American manufacturer is going to call the shots and insist things are done GM’s way, then this project could be doomed before it even starts – just ask those who worked for Jaguar when Ford ran it or the ones who did all they could to make Toyota succeed, only to be reeled in by the Board’s insistence things should be done “Toyota’s way”, not the “Formula One way”. For the good of the sport and its growth in the USA, I can only wish Andretti and GM all the success in the world – and getting Honda to be the real engine supplier is a good start. But Honda power alone won’t guarantee them anything, so most of it will be down to the way the team will be structured and managed right from the start of the design process of the 2026 car. Luis Vasconcelos
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FORMULA 1 NEWS – LUIS VASCONCELOS
Cadillac has already moved into the world of higher-tech racing with its V-LMDh IMSA car. Images: MOTORSPORT IMAGES
HONDA SET TO SUPPLY
HONDA IS believed to have already agreed to supply Power Units to Michael Andretti’s prospective Formula One team, with Cadillac footing the bill and branding the Japanese engines, as the cooperation between General Motors and Honda continues to grow. The two companies signed a major deal last April, in which they agreed to expand their relationship to a new chapter by co-developing a series of affordable electric vehicles based on a new global architecture using nextgeneration Ultium battery technology. During that announcement it was stated that, GM and Honda “are working together to enable global production of millions of EVs starting in 2027, including compact crossover vehicles, leveraging the two companies’
technology, design and sourcing strategies. The companies will also work toward standardising equipment and processes to achieve world-class quality, higher throughput and greater affordability. The compact crossover segment is the largest in the world, with annual volumes of more than 13 million vehicles.” This growing partnership made it completely logical for Cadillac to turn to Honda when it was necessary to find a partner that already has the technology required to design and develop a 2026-spec Formula One Power Unit – and during the announcement of the deal with Andretti, GM’s president, Mark Reuss, said that, “we have a signed agreement with a power unit supplier to begin with. Then, as we move
forward, we bring a lot of our expertise to create things for the future as well.” The American, though, just fell short of confirming that manufacturer is, indeed, Honda, but admitted that, “obviously we do have a large partnership with Honda on the EV part of it, and we also compete against Honda in series like IndyCar as well. So, we have that natural respect and relationship, which is not problematic at all. But we’ll talk about the engine piece of this at a later date.” Securing this deal means that Honda Racing has won the internal battle against important Board members who wanted the company completely out of international racing and with the financial investment being fully covered by Cadillac, there’s no legitimate reason for anyone to block it,
as the deal represents a win-win situation for Honda, who will continue to develop technology that is relevant for the future of the car industry at zero or very limited cost. This deal also means Honda’s ties with Red Bull will be completely cut by the end of 2025, when the current commercial deal expires, with Ford now likely to become the brand that will finance and badge the Power Units that will be designed and developed by Red Bull Powertrains. Should that be the case, with Ford and Cadillac branding Formula One engines from 2026, the sport has all the ingredients to continue to grow in the United States, fulfilling one of the biggest declared goals of Liberty Media when the company bought Formula One’s commercial rights.
CHANGES COMING TO PREVENT TACTICAL PU CHANGES THE 2023 Sporting Regulations may include important changes in the way drivers are penalised by going over their allocation of Power Unit parts during the season, after it became obvious over the previous two years that the current grid penalties are not a big enough deterrent for the tactical changes some teams and manufacturers have taken. Particularly in tracks where overtaking is relatively easy – like Montreal, the Red Bull Ring, Spa-Francorchamps, Mexico City and Interlagos – it has proved advantageous to take a grid penalty as the drivers are able to recover almost all the positions they lost with the penalty and then have a fresher Power Unit to take to the following Grand Prix. In order to make the penalties more meaningful, the Sporting Group has been charged with finding alternatives to the current penalties, taking input from the Sporting Directors of the 10 existing teams, but also from the four Power Unit manufacturers that are currently competing in
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Starting rear of the grid for the sprint race after penalties were applied, didn’t stop Lewis Hamilton from winning the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2021. Image: MOTORSPORT IMAGES Formula One. The most popular alternative seems to be imposing a lengthy time penalty to drivers who go over their Power Unit allocation – up to 30 seconds in the case of using completely new Power Units over the allocated limit, to
be served during pit stops. It’s not clear yet if such penalties could be served during Safety Car and Virtual Safety Car periods, but the idea behind it is that a penalty served one third of the way into a Grand Prix will cost a lot of track positions and will be impossible to
overcome until the end of the race. Also under discussion is the possibility of automatically deducting points to any driver using parts of a full Power Unit that exceeds their annual allocation, going from docking five points for a new part to a whooping 25 points for anyone using a completely new Power Unit on top of what is allocated. Such a draconian penalty would completely nullify the advantages of using a new Power Unit in the first event and would leave drivers from the smaller teams with negative points from an event, something the purists are completely against. The discussions will intensify in the next couple of weeks, now that everybody has returned from their short winter breaks, with a proposal expected by the end of this month, to then be submitted to the Formula One Commission, voted on in early in February, and becoming effective right at the start of this year’s Formula One World Championship.
FIA-FORMULA 1 DIVIDE EXPOSED AFTER ANDRETTI’S ANNOUNCEMENT THE BATTLE for control of Formula One between the FIA and the Commercial Rights Holder has been very much exposed in their respective reactions to the Andretti-Cadillac announcement made last week. While FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem warmly welcomed the news that General Motors was getting involved in Formula One soon, Formula 1’s reaction to the new was, at best, lukewarm, making a point of reminding that any new team also needs to get its green light to start competing in Grand Prix racing. It is now clear the reason Ben Sulayem tweeted earlier in the week that, “I have asked my FIA team to look at launching an Expressions of Interest process for prospective new teams for the FIA Formula One World Championship”, was because he was fully aware of the deal between Andretti and General Motors and, almost certainly, had given the Americans the green light to go ahead with the announcement. Therefore, his statement following the press conference where details of the deal between the American team and General Motors were explained, was a full congratulatory message to this new venture: “Today’s news from the United States is further proof of the popularity and growth of the FIA Formula One World Championship under the FIA’s stewardship. It is particularly pleasing to have interest from two iconic brands such as General Motors Cadillac and Andretti Global.” He then added that, “any additional entries would build on the positive acceptance of the FIA’s 2026 PU regulations among OEMs which has already attracted an entry from Audi”, before warning that, “any Expressions of Interest process will follow strict FIA protocol and will take several months”, which is way we already wrote that any new team that will be accepted into Formula One is unlikely to start competing before the start of the 2026 World Championship.
Above: The last involvement by the Andretti family in F1 was back in 1993, when Michael completed most of the season alongside Ayrton Senna in the McLaren MP4-8 Ford. Left: father Mario watches on at Donington Park
While the FIA’s reaction was one of delight, and in line with what Ben Sulayem had said when Audi made its own announcement regarding entering Formula One in 2026, Formula 1’s statement was very far from that warmth: “There is great interest in the F1 project at
this time with a number of conversations continuing that are not as visible as others. We all want to ensure the championship remains credible and stable and any new entrant request will be assessed on criteria to meet those objectives by all the relevant stakeholders. Any new entrant request
requires the agreement of both F1 and the FIA.” Not a single mention of Andretti or Cadillac, giving the impression the Americans, fed up with Domenicali’s negative reaction to all their approaches, completely bypassed the Commercial Rights’ Holder and held discussions exclusively with the FIA. By comparison, the Italian’s reaction to Audi’s announcement, at the end of last August, was completely different: “I am delighted to welcome Audi to Formula 1, an iconic automotive brand, pioneer and technological innovator. This is a major moment for our sport that highlights the huge strength we have as a global platform that continues to grow. It is also a big recognition that our move to sustainably fuelled hybrid engines in 2026 is a future solution for the automotive sector. We are all looking forward to seeing the Audi logo on the grid and will be hearing further details from them on their plans in due course.”
CHINA WANTS PLACE IN 2023 CALENDAR BACK THE CHINESE Grand Prix promoters have thrown a spanner in the works by officially telling Formula One that they want their place back in the 2023 Formula One World Championship calendar, barely a month after requesting the cancelation of the event that was originally scheduled for April 16. It was on December 2 that JussEvents confirmed to Formula One and the FIA it was not in a position to host this year’s Grand Prix, as the Chinese government was persevering with the Zero Covid policy that had shut China out for almost two years, so Stefano Domenicali and his team immediately started to make alternative plans, to keep this year’s calendar with 24 Grands Prix, reaching an agreement with the management of the Algarve International Circuit, in Portimão, in spite of a little delay required by changes in the Portuguese government that held the necessary state guarantee for 10 days. Now, when everything has been settled and all the guarantees issued, the Chinese promoters have come back to Domenicali and asked for their race to be reinstated. The reason for such a sudden change of heart came from the Chinese government’s
surprising U-turn in its Covid-19 policy that has seen the country open its borders to everyone and put an end to the dozens of lockdowns that were still in place all over its territory. Now Formula One has a problem in its hands and Domenicali won’t find an easy solution for it. On one side, China remains a very attractive market for all Formula One sponsors and manufacturers and, therefore, from a marketing point of view it’s interesting to go back to Shanghai. The fact that the Chinese pay a lot more than the Portuguese promoters can afford also weighs in Shanghai’s favour as does, very heavily, the fact Zhou Guanyu is now a Formula One driver and the first Chinese to race at this level. With open gates, his presence would guarantee the Chinese Grand Prix would be sold out – the kind of image Formula One is keen to get in all its races. On the other hand, there are serious concerns among the teams given that, with Covid-19 now seriously affecting China, there are millions of people reportedly infected as the vaccines used in the country proved useless and a large number of the population didn’t even get them. There’s a serious risk the team’s staff could be easily infected and, therefore, refused entry on
F1 last visited China in 2019. And then came Covid ... return to Europe, as the EU is about to require proof of a negative Covid-19 test for anyone flying out of China, putting everyone back in the situation that existed in 2020 – and that’s something no one wants to live through again. On top of that, the teams’ logistics planning has been done without the race in Shanghai, meaning no -one has sent a sea freight to China, but have already done it to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia, with the freight for Azerbaijan and Miami leaving in the next couple of weeks. Reintroducing the race in Shanghai would force the teams to rearrange their plans, something they’re not too keen to do at such short notice.
To make matters more difficult, China has requested to have its race moved back to Autumn, favoring the October 8 weekend, but the slot belongs to Qatar and the Arabs don’t seem to have any intention of moving their race forward by four months just to accommodate Shanghai’s request. All of this, of course, makes Domenicali’s decision a very tough one to make as, while he’d love to have the sport back in China with all the commercial benefits that will come with it, he’s aware there are many obstacles in the way and some teams will need a lot of convincing to go back to a country where the pandemic is now raging stronger than ever.
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JAMIE WHINCUP PLUS T8
TRIPLE EIGHT BOSS JAMIE WHINCUP SPOKE WITH AUTO ACTION ABOUT THE MOST SUCCESSFUL SEASON IN THE TEAM’S HISTORY, WHICH HE SAYS WAS SET UP BEFORE HE TOOK OVER. ANDREW CLARKE AND BRUCE WILLIAMS REVIEW THE 2022 SEASON WITH T8’S MD ...
JAMIE WHINCUP’S first season at the helm of Triple Eight Race Engineering was arguably its most successful to date. With the spectre of Roland Dane hovering with the odd cameo, Whincup and his new partners – Jess Dane and Tony Quinn – managed the biggest handover in Australian sport with aplomb. During his time racing, where he is arguably the GOAT, he left nothing to chance. His attention to detail was legendary, and he had an innate ability to read and analyse data and situations. It didn’t make him the most fun bloke to be around at a race weekend, and it still doesn’t, but it did and does make him competitive. The ingredients for the season lay in the amount and quality of the cars it was running in 2022. Shane van Gisbergen’s
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record-smashing season dominated the headlines, but there was more to it than that. There were five Supercars across two categories, winning the Supercars Championship Series and 22 of 34 races, Teams’ Championship, Super2 Championship and the Best Presented Team, which we’ll get to later. Its rookie driver, Broc Feeney, took his first main game win with the Adelaide 500 and van Gisbergen, with Garth Tander, winning another Bathurst 1000. T8 also supplied teams up and down the Supercars pitlane with the bits and pieces to go racing. In GT racing, it continued as the local source of race-ready Mercedes-AMG GT3 and GT4 cars and parts and ran two GT3 cars at the Bathurst 12 Hour, winning with car #75 and nearly knocking off the GT Championship with Prince Jefri Ibrahim.
On top of that, it engineered the Gen3 chassis and cars, which was a massive undertaking in anyone’s books. “I’m somewhat surprised at the amount of winning we’ve done, and it’s just true credit to the people at Triple Eight,” Whincup told Auto Action. “They’ve literally just put their heads down and ground it out and been able to stay competitive. “There’s plenty of clever people in pit lane spending most of their time trying to make their cars go fast. We’ve had to do the same while building this Gen3 car from scratch. To have our most dominant year yet, or the most success we’ve ever had in one season, while investing a huge amount of our resources and time into a Supercars product for the other teams to be able to benefit is …”
He was lost for words at that point, reflecting on his late-year stoush with a couple of members of the Supercars Commission as reported in Auto Action #1851. He felt the level of input from his team, at no cost to the other teams or the sport, was not being given its due credit, and exploded. He’s apologised and is a little calmer, but you can still wind him up over it all if you get the chance. Triple Eight is a big machine, spread across two workshops in Depot St, Banyo, just near Brisbane Airport. The race centre that builds, stores and services all the race cars is at #40 Depot St, while #73 hosts the advanced manufacturing centre that manufactures all their race cars and components, including the two components it will supply to the whole field in the Gen3 era,
Above: Feeney and SVG celebrate a 1-2 qualifying lock-out. Right: Another Bathurst win – SVG and Tander.
The T8 crew is a relatively young and united bunch. Image: MARK HORSBURGH
which is a lot fewer than previously. Obviously, the Gen3 development fades away now as the build starts. Whincup says it has met all its cost targets (he’ll sell you a rolling chassis for $650k, which he says is less than a previous generation car cost to build) and that only time will tell if it improves the competitiveness of the field. He is confident of that, though. “It’s a new car that’s cheaper to run. It’s exciting. It’s going to revive the sport. All the teams will gain from our work, we don’t want any thanks or anything from anybody else. All we ask is not to be disrespected. “All I want now is for everyone to work together against the other sports. Let’s try and grab some of the fan base, or whatever you want to call it, and the sponsorship dollars from other sports. Let’s work together on that, and then let’s enjoy beating each other on track. Let’s be fierce rivals on track and hate each other on race day, but let’s work together off track.” Prior to the Christmas break, Whincup said he had little time to reflect on the year as he looked forward to a break before coming back in January to try and do it all again.
teams’ championship, the Bathurst 1000, the Bathurst, 12 Hour and the Super2 Championship; that’s a massive year. But then, to complement that with the Best Presented award was great. “Some say, ‘oh, that’s just a bullshit award’. But it’s not. That’s making sure our cars are immaculate every single time they get to the track. That’s being there an hour before and an hour after every other team, every race weekend. “Then Shane got the most popular
driver. Our marketing team got best use of social media … it’s been an incredible year results-wise. No other year has been better. But right now, we need to build the Gen3 cars at the same time as we’re tired. We all need a little bit of a break. “In 20 years, we’re all going to get massive satisfaction out of knowing that we gave it everything we had, and we got the chocolates for it.” Of the three shareholders, Whincup is probably the most visible, but the day-to-
Shane van Gisbergen delivered Holden’s 600th win, in Perth. “To be perfectly honest, the first feeling that comes to mind is tired. I’m tired and run down. It’s been a huge year for both the crew and me. We couldn’t be prouder of our results. We won all the obvious ones, the championship, the
Cam Waters, one of the team’s main competitors, presses SVG. Image: MOTORSPORT IMAGES. Right: Whincup co-drove with Feeney at Bathurst. Image: Mark Horsburgh
It’s a new car that’s cheaper to run. It’s exciting. It’s going to revive the sport. All the teams will gain from our work ...
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Broc Feeney took the first of what may be many Supercars wins, at Adelaide. IMAGE: MARK HORSBURGH Below: Super2 champions – Jess Dane managed Declan Fraser’s successful bid. Bottom right: And the succesful ‘Wildcard’ entry at Bathurst with Lowndes and Fraser. Below right: the ‘old boy’ is still around ... in the background. Image: JACK MARTIN PHOTOGRAPHY-ARG day running of the team is handled jointly by him (a 30% shareholder) and Jess Dane (30%), with Tony Quinn (40%) as a quiet and guiding hand when needed. Roland is still around – he wanders in and out of the workshop and makes a few appearances at tracks, but that is it. “Jess and I are running the day-to-day operation from a management point of view, but where the change is from RDs time is we are enabling our managers to actually manage their part of the business. I’ve given them a lot more responsibility
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and the opportunity to make it their own. The commercial manager runs the commercial; our technical director runs the technical side. “I’m really focused on making sure that the people run the business and they’ve done that this year (2022) and done a fantastic job. The work that Jess and I have to do is minimal because the people are running the business themselves, and they’ve absolutely smashed it out of the park.” Whincup could sit back and claim all the
credit for his team’s year – it was, after all, better than anything Roland Dane ever had – but he gives a lot of credit to the older Dane for putting together the team. It is an engineer-rich environment, despite some recent raiding by others. Jeromy Moore (JJ) and Mark Dutton remain mainstays and Andrew Edwards and Martin Short (who stepped up from Super2 with Feeney) have proven themselves in the main game while over the years, people like Ludo Lacroix, David Cauchi, Wes McDougal and Grant
McPherson have been poached by others. “It’s because RD has put the right people in the right place,” Whincup says when talking about 2022. “He laid the foundations. I’ve just come in and let the people run the business, I’m not taking any credit whatsoever. It’s RD’s foundations and the management team absolutely maximising the resources that put together the best year in Triple Eight’s history.” For 2023, Triple Eight Race Engineering will field two Supercars
Taking out the final race at Pukekohe was a season highlight for Van Gisbergen. Image: MARK HORSBURGH
Super2 Champion Declan Fraser at Sandown.
Whincup has been a guiding hand, as he carries the brolly for the team’s new young racer ... Image: MOTORSPORT IMAGES
To be perfectly honest, the first feeling that comes to mind is tired. I’m tired and run down. It’s been a huge year ...
in the championship and will build a third car for possible wildcard duties, two Super2 cars, likely two GT3 cars, and it will import and prep MercedesAMG cars for the upscaling of GT4 in Australia. He’ll find something new for his group of talented design engineers to undertake. In an interview with Tony Quinn late in 2021, he suggested the team could design and engineer anything – electric scooters (Vespa style) was one example he tossed up, but he wasn’t limiting it to that – with
its current engineering set-up. “I must say I’ve been very, very impressed with Jamie,” he said. “He’s a young man with an intelligent mind, driven, keen to succeed … I’m basically backing Jamie to do a good job.” And despite the cynics and some of the rumours generated to try and destabilise Triple Eight, you’d have to argue that is exactly what Whincup did in 2022. The winning record speaks for itself. Can Triple Eight maintain the rage in 2023? Only time will tell.
The team has also undertaken the bulk of the engineering development for the new Gen-3 car.
Winning the Bathurst 12 Hours, with a team including Aussie expat Kenny Habul. Image: MARK HORSBURGH
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HOW IT ALL BEGAN OVERSEAS FOR OSCAR FROM DAY ONE IN EUROPE A MAN BIG IN THE KARTING SCENE KNEW OSCAR PIASTRI WAS DESTINED FOR THE TOP. KARTING GURU RICKY FLYNN IN AN INTERVIEW WITH PLANETF1.COM TELLS OF WHAT HE SAW THEN AND WHAT HE SEES AHEAD FOR OUR NEW BOY IN F1
The start of the championship-winning streak in car racing – 2019 Formula Eurocup champion. NOT ONLY will Oscar Piastri begin his Formula 1 race career with Lando Norris as his teammate, but little known is that they’ve got to the same place from the same place. Norris, entering his fifth season of F1 with McLaren, won the 2013 European Karting Championship and then the 2014 World
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Karting Championship with an outfit called Ricky Flynn Motorsport (RFM), based north of London. Like so many, Flynn had been a top karter with dreams of much bigger things, but he didn’t have the money to go further so he stuck to the racing he knew, fielding others as he got older.
The year after Norris conquered the world of karting an American kid, Logan Sargeant, did the same with the same team. RFM was the place to be if you wanted to get to the very top in karting. And Flynn has recounted, in an interview with PlanetF1.com, how Piastri was the next star to emerge there. He didn’t win a world title (he finished sixth), but Flynn saw a lot of Norris in Piastri. He could see he had the sheer speed to go to much greater heights too. Three years later, in 2019, Piastri was Formula Renault champion, the next year Formula 3 champion, the next Formula 2 champion. The story since is well known, including the controversial switch from the Alpine F1 squad to McLaren, dislodging Daniel Ricciardo, and now Piastri is just weeks away from his Grand Prix debut in Bahrain on the first weekend of March and a guaranteed hero’s welcome from Aussie fans in his first home F1 race four weeks later. But here, in Flynn’s words on Planet F1. com, is how it all began for the then 14-yearold Melbourne boy in Europe. “We were doing quite well that year (2015),” Flynn says. “Obviously the year previous with Lando, and then this year (2015) with Logan Sargeant, and then I got an email from his
(Piastri’s) dad (Chris), probably two-thirds of the way through that season. “He said they were looking to come over and do the full programme in Europe for Oscar in OK Junior (karting). Would we have a space for him? “(Once a contract was agreed) I found him a two-bedroom apartment close to our headquarters and the very first test he did with us was in Garda, Italy, in January (2016). “I flew back (to London) with him and his dad. From there, we went and viewed a couple of these type places and said, ‘Right, we’ll have that one.’ Paid for a year’s rent up front and then we put him in the school in Haileybury, where a lot of the drivers go. “That was how it all started with us with Oscar. “He’s such a calm, cool, collected kid. “He took it all in his stride. “He had just moved to near London from Australia, didn’t have anybody around, but it never really fazed him. “I still think that’s similar now when you see him on the grid, even if he’s on pole. “In 2021 (when Piastri last raced) he didn’t look troubled or fazed or anything. “Even back during karting he was very mature for his years. “I’m sure leaving his family behind would have not been helpful for him in the first
RFM team principal Ricky Flynn – high success rate in F1 graduation! Above: 2016, aged 15, at the Italian Adria kart circuit, and (left) 2022, driving a McLaren F1 car for the first time at the Bahrain test ... Images: MOTORSPORT IMAGES
Above: Prema team-mates and RFM graduates, Piastri (left) and Sargeant scrap it out in F3 at Monza in 2020.
He said they were looking to come over and do the full programme in Europe for Oscar in OK Junior (karting)...
three, four months of the year (2015), but by the middle of the season he had obviously developed a lot better. “He’s more in the European way of living now. He’s been in Europe now for almost eight years and he’s not got that sort of culture change to get over. It’s already been done.” Flynn says 2014-2016 was “a purple period” for karting, but especially his team. “We had just had Lando win a world championship, Logan the following year, and then Oscar’s first test … you could tell he was fast. “The year after that first test he turned up to testing … he was just fast. “That was all you needed to say. “Whatever the time was that weekend, he was matching it or better. “His feedback was good. Car control was good. “Just a kid that you knew was obviously talented and he wasn’t going to stop just with karting. “His style is extremely smooth. Never ragged; never looked like he was going to
be flying off the track. Always looked in total control on it. “We knew he was going to have an exceptionally good career in motorsport in whatever avenue he chose to take. “I think Lando is a good choice to put himself with as a team-mate, because he’s exceptionally fast and exceptionally good. There’s no doubt about that. “If you look at what he (Norris) has done to Ricciardo last year, and if you look before with (Carlos) Sainz in terms of qualifying, there’s no question of Lando’s ability. “I think if Oscar can learn from that and bounce off of that, then it should help him massively. “It will be a proud moment when they both push off for the first race. They both come from us. I’d like to think we helped both of them on their way to get there. “Having worked with both kids and knowing both these personalities, I see it being a nice atmosphere to be in McLaren, both as a driver and if you’re working in there, because they’re both smashing kids, lovely kids to work with.
Contesting the 2016 World Junior Kart Championships, in Bahrain – Oscar finished sixth. “We enjoyed every minute of our work with both of them, so I’m sure they’ll continue because they’re older and more mature and I’m sure they’ll both do a very good job this year.” Sargent also will be making his F1 debut, with Williams, while Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou, who also passed through RFM, is into his second season with Alfa Romeo. Jack Doohan, now test driver at Alpine, is another graduate of RFM. But Piastri is the man of the moment. Does
Flynn see him as world champion material? “Without doubt. Same with Lando,” he says. “If you look at his (Piastri’s) record in F2, F3, you don’t win championships if you’re not top quality, and they are both obviously top quality. “Oscar has got a little bit more to prove in his first year than Lando will have, but I’m sure he’ll come up and be very, very good. “Given the right car, I’m sure he’ll be challenging for victories, podiums and titles.”
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KEN BLOCK 1967 – 2023
VALE KEN BLOCK by JOSH NEVETT THE INTERNATIONAL motorsport community is mourning the death of American rally star and viral video sensation Ken Block, who passed away last week aged 55 after a horror snowmobile accident in Utah, USA. The Wasatch County police department said that Block was riding up a steep slope when his snowmobile flipped, landing on top of him. “He was pronounced deceased at the scene from injuries sustained in the accident,” the police department said in a statement. The Block-founded Hoonigan Racing Team first broke the news on social media, paying tribute to a larger-than-life motorsport figure. “It’s with our deepest regrets that we can confirm that Ken Block passed away in a snowmobile accident today,” the team said in a statement on Instagram. “Ken was a visionary, a pioneer and an icon. And, most importantly, a father and husband. He will be incredibly missed.” Block was riding in a group but was alone at the time of the accident.
SLIDING TO STARDOM An adrenalin junkie, Block was late to the scene, transitioning to motorsport from skateboarding, snowboarding and dirt biking after his shoe company DC Shoes took off in the mid-2000s. “I practiced and played much more than ever competing, and so when I got to start racing the rally cars in 2005, I was addicted and wanted to do it a bunch,” Block told Auto Action in 2019. Getting his start as a rally driver in America, Block made an instant impact, earning the Rally America Rookie of the Year award. Earning acclaim for his elite car control and flair, the Californian built on his debut season success in 2006, finishing second in the Rally America National Championship aboard a Subaru WRX STi. Block also took part in the first ever X-Games rally event, finishing third. Block would go on to win several medals in Rallycross at the X-Games. In 2007 Block stepped up from national rallying to the World Rally Championship – he competed in 25 rounds between 2007 and 2018, driving for Subaru Rally Team USA, Monster World Rally Team, Hoonigan Racing and M-Sport World Rally Team, with a best result of seventh at Rally Mexico in 2013. In the wake of his death, it has been announced that #43 will be retired from use during the 2023 WRC season. The World Rallycross Championship brought Block the most competitive success – he scored six round wins between 2011-15, finishing third in 2014 and second in 2015 before making the switch to the FIA World
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Top: One of Ken Block’s ‘creations’ – the Ford Mustang Hoonicorn Above: Block in Rallycross action – 2013, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil. Images: MOTORSPORT IMAGES Rallycross Championship, which he was involved in until the end of 2017.
A HOUSEHOLD NAME Arguably Block’s greatest legacy will be his series of high-octane Gymkhana stunt videos, which drew hundreds of millions of views and created a worldwide fanbase. Born of Block’s desire to bring in extra dollars and spend more time behind the wheel, Gymkhana was a marvel of marketing and stunt driving.
“I wanted to practice more, I wanted to play with the car more, so that’s really where that came from,” Block said in 2019. “Motorsports … they’re so damn expensive … on the marketing side of things we really discovered through the videos we were originally making for DC and then Hoonigan that a lot of what we were doing with the race cars could be marketing and therefore paid for by the sponsors.” The Gymkhana series included 10 videos filmed between 2008 and 2018, featuring
Block sliding, slicing and slaloming through intricate obstacle courses in exotic destinations such as Downtown Los Angeles, Universal Studios, Dubai, Lulea (Sweden) and Guanajuato (Mexico). The 2012 ‘Gymkhana Five: Ultimate Urban Playground; San Francisco’ has been viewed a whopping 115 million times on YouTube. When it comes to motorsport and marketing, Block did it all. He is synonymous with the Monster Energy,
Above: The #43 Hoonigan Racing Division Ford Fiesta ST flies during a Global Rallycross Championship round at Daytona. Below: The Ken Block, Audi S1 e-tron quattro Hoonitron, alongside one of the majestic Audi Sport quattro S1s ... Bottom: 2013 FIA World Rally Championship, Rd3, Rally Guanajuato Mexico, Leon, Mexico. Images: MOTORSPORT IMAGES
Ford, DC Shoes and Hoonigan Racing brands, just to name a few, and his media footprint is hard to fathom. On top of his iconic Gymkhana series, Block appeared in several video games, most notably the Dirt rally franchise. Block also appeared on hit TV show Top Gear back in 2009.
LASTING IMPACT Within moments of the confirmation of Block’s death, tributes started to flow. Figures across the motorsport world, from rallying to the pinnacle of open wheel racing, have since left their messages of admiration, gratitude, and sorrow. Eight-time World Rally Championship (WRC) champion Sebastien Ogier competed against Block during his stop-start WRC career, which spanned 12 years and 25 appearances. The Frenchman shared his memories of Block on Instagram. “Such sad news,” Ogier said. “Ken was a visionary, so passionate and inspiring. He knew like no other how to combine motorsport and a big show. He lived his life to the fullest and I’ll never forget his smile and laugh. “Sending my thoughts and support to his family and friends.” Block also had a strong association with Ford, piloting Focus and Fiesta machinery in the WRC as well as taking on Gymkhana courses in modified Focus, Fiesta and Mustang models. “We lost a legend today,” read a Ford Motor Company statement shared by CEO Jim Farley. “Ken Inspired generations of automotive enthusiasts, and in the process he came to inspire us all at Ford Motor Company as well. He was truly one of a kind – an innovator, a talented driver and a marketing genius.
“Ken personified the joy of driving, drifting and racing. He had a boundless imagination for creating special cars and special moments. “Our hearts go out to his family during this time, and we mourn his loss together with the community he fed with his visor and spirit.” FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem described Block, a friend, as an ‘inspiration for us all’. “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend Ken Block,” Ben Sulayem posted on social media. Ken Block was an outstanding driver, entertainer and entrepreneur, but most of all he was a kind, well-mannered, humble family man who was solely focused on doing what was best for the sport. “He set an example for the sports stars of today. We have lost a truly talented individual. “The FIA’s thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time. Rest in peace.” Block is survived by his wife Lucy and three children. Auto Action thanks Block for his immense contribution to motorsport and extends its sincere condolences to Block’s family.
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WRC SEASON PREVIEW
WRC 2023: SEASON PREVIEW THE 2023 SEASON OF THE WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP – ITS SECOND HYBRID SEASON – IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER, WITH PLENTY OF TEAM NEWS OUT THERE SINCE THE RALLY JAPAN FINALE IN NOVEMBER WRITES TIMOTHY WILLIAM NEAL
Images: MOTORSPORT IMAGES
Elfyn Evans, here churning up dust in Kenya, stays with Toyota. THE JANUARY 19 start to the new WRC season, leaves little turn-around time for the three manufacturers, especially heading into the unique and mixed surrounds of the Monte Carlo Rally, where teams are afforded little conditioning. The post-2022 silly season had plenty of speculation and surprises, with some questions still remaining over several part-time seats, and all three teams going in with altered line-ups. All eyes will be firmly on Kale Rovanpera come Monte Carlo, with the youngest ever WRC champion keen to prove he’s no flash in the pan following a brilliant six-win season.
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DRIVER MOVEMENT AND TEAMS
UNDOUBTEDLY THE biggest move of the off season, announced prior to the Japan Rally, was Ott Tanak leaving Hyundai, after three frustrating seasons, with one year left on his contract. Dissatisfaction with the new Hyundai Hybrid i20, and reported rifts with teammate Thierry Neuville were seen as the biggest reasons for the Estonian’s move. After a month of speculation, Tanak finally made the announcement that he was returning to his roots at Ford M-Sport after Irishman Craig Breen had vacated his seat after one year in the job.
Tanak left Ford in 2017 for Toyota where he won the 2019 crown, before switching to Hyundai. Although visibly frustrated in ‘22, he still finished second in the championship, winning three rallies, as Hyundai proved the dominant team in the run home, taking five out of sicx events. In terms of the Breen (and his Ford split), he showed good pace throughout the year and captured a podium first up in Monte Carlo and a P2 in Sardinia; but a series of crashes that constantly dropped him deep in the field ended a frustrating season in a car with good speed. He’s now returned to Hyundai for a parttime drive where, along with Spaniard Dani Sordo, he gives the South Korean team a solid pair of part-time seat fillers. Sordo ruled out a full-time drive before the year was out. He has been with the Hyundai factory team since 2014, and a part-timer in the third entry since 2018. He captured an impressive three podiums in five races in 2022. Neuville will continue to lead the Hyundai i20 team after a strong finish to last season, with Esepekka Lappi added as his full-time teammate. It’s the Finn’s first full time drive since his 2020 season with M-Sport, after impressing last year whilst sharing a Toyota Yaris part-time with WRC legend Sebastien Ogier. Lappi’s three podiums in seven rounds always made him the favourite to replace
Tanak at the South Korean manufacturer, and it was announced shortly after Rally Japan. Lappi enters 2023 with big expectations. Teaming up with Tanak at Ford M-Sport for his first full-time stint is 2019 WRC2 champion, Frenchman, Pierre-Louis Loubet. Loubet impressed for Ford last year in the fourth car, winning four stages and capturing two outright P4s, in Sardinia and Greece, in seven appearances, having made 18 WRC appearances in three seasons. Neuville’s former co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul will accompany him on the journey. The wholesale changes at M-Sport also included Gus Greensmith leaving after making his way through the Ford Rally ranks as a youngster, with no agreement being reached from either party for his continuation with the team. Having made his way into a WRC2 R5 Fiesta for the start of the 2019 season, the Manchester-born driver made his first top tier appearance in the same year before contesting all 12 rallies by 2021. A full year in 2022 didn’t result in any podiums, but he captured his first stage win in Monte Carlo. He has himself suggested that he may race some rallies in ’23, but there’s no confirmation in what car, or at what level. Former WRC2 champion and 2022 runner-up, Andreas Mikkelsen, was linked
WRC CALENDAR 2023 19 – 22 Jan
9 – 12 Feb
16 – 19 Mar
20 – 23 April
11 – 14 May
1 – 4 June
22 – 25 June
20 – 23 July
3 – 6 Aug
7 – 10 Sept
28 Sept – 1 Oct CHILE 26 – 29 Oct
16 – 19 Nov
(AUT, CZE, GER)
Left: Ott Tanak in the Swedish snow – gone from Hyundai to Ford ... Above: 2022 champion Kalle Rovanpera and co-driver Jonne Haltunen. Top right: Thierry Neuville, flying in Greece, remains with Hyundai. Above right: Loeb won Monte Carlo in 2022 but won’t defend the opening rally.
with one of Ford’s part-time seats for ’23, but that talk was shut down by the Norwegian, who will continue in WRC2. M-Sport will start the year with three entries at Monte Carlo – but, with Greek privateer Jourdan Serderidis taking the third car, after a P7 in last year’s Kenyan Rally. The other big question for M-Sport is whether or not Rally legend Sebastien Loeb will participate at all on a part-time basis. The record-holding nine-time champion has not made any commitments this season, preferring to focus on Dakar rather than defending his 2022 Monte Carlo win – Ford’s only triumph for the WRC year. Aside from Lappi’s departure (who will be missed), Toyota are relatively settled as they head into the year defending a double crown with a three car assault. The expectant rising star of Takamoto Katsuta is tipped to continue, as he enters his first full-time season working with the manufacturer teams. Whilst Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala has urged eight-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier to compete in more rounds after dominating Spain, he has signed up for the opening rounds, but there’s been no confirmation of further participation beyond that. Toyota’s other full-timer in Elfyn Evans will be hoping to improve on his four podiums in ’22 as he continues to come
to terms with the GR Yaris Rally1 machine, but in his third year with Toyota, the team will be banking on him pushing Rovanpera for championship points. And when it comes to Toyota’s ‘King Kalle’ – when he won last season, he generally romped it in. Expect the margins in the second hybrid season to close somewhat.
FACTORY TEAM LINE UPS TOYOTA
• Kalle Rovanpera – Jonne Haltunen • Elfyn Evans – Scott Martin • Takamoto Katsuta – Aaron Jonston • Sebastien Ogier – TBC
HYUNDAI • Thierry Neuville – Martijn Wydaeghe • Esepekka Lappi – Janne Ferm • Craig Breen – James Fulton (partial) • Dani Sordo – Candido Carrera (partial)
FORD • Ott Tanak – Martin Järveoja • Pierre-Louis Loubet – Nicolas Gilsoul
OFF SEASON ACTION
TEAMS WILL start to trickle into the French Alps to prepare for the unique conditions of Monte Carle, but so far both Toyota and Hyundai have been prioritising their preparation for Sweden in Round 2, focusing on aerodynamic changes with testing held in Finland where they’ve
taken advantage of the colder conditions and snow. Whilst Hyundai has redeveloped its spoiler and aerodynamics, Toyota’s engine sound has been reported as being noticeably different, with expectations of a few more horsepower with the further development of their German-made thrusters. But, considering that Hyundai entered 2022 well behind in the Hybrid development stakes, the fact that they largely dominated on the run home is food for thought for both Toyota and Ford. Only one day of testing is expected for Monte Carlo across all teams given the new restrictions on testing, which isn’t a huge amount of time for such a specific round. M-Sport has remained relatively tight-lipped over its testing, with Tanak choosing to delay his start-proper until January after some initial testing in Cumbria where the team has its base.
THE BIGGEST alteration is a reduction in testing to greet the ’23 season, with 21 days now allotted to each manufacturer across the entire season. Previously, before each European round, each manufacturer driver was permitted one definite test day, whereas now each driver will only have a total of seven days within those 21 days. Drivers are also restricted to no more than 28 tyres per event, and the allotment of an extra four tyres over Shakedown won’t be permitted any longer. HEV (hybrid electric vehicle) zones will also become more defined this year, with the rules stating that “each HEV must be positioned 10km (6.2 miles) or more from the end of a special stage to allow regeneration in normal driving conditions.” Drivers must only use the 100kW hybrid units in the Rally1’s in these zones.
THE TRADITIONAL opener – the historic Monte Carlo Rally – represents the only true mixed condition event of the ’23 season.
Whilst it is essentially an asphalt rally, the changed conditions can throw in snow, ice, and dry asphalt. The changing conditions of the French Alps make tyre choice tricky, and the skill of extracting speed whilst driving comparably slow in some sections will decide the winner. Round 2 is the WRC’s true winter round, where the teams will tackle the deep mountain forest tracks of Sweden, where some unique methods are adopted to navigate the slippery, yet highly fast-paced conditions with the studded tyres coming into play. The Mexico Rally returns for the first time since the Pandemic for the first gravel event of the year, whilst Croatia follows with the season’s first “official” Tarmac event. The next seven rounds present a sustained gravel hit-out where, last season, Rovanpera and Tanak generally dominated. After the Portugal and Italian rallies, the Kenya leg represents a tough slower-paced rally with wet, dusty, and rocky conditions throughout. Estonia, Finland and Greece follow that, before the WRC makes its return to Chile in mainly forested surrounds, juxtaposed with open hilly sections where the Pacific Ocean looms in the background. The two Tarmac season closers kick off with the new Central Europe Rally, where drivers will uniquely cross through Austria, the Czech Republic, and Germany. The closer sees WRC head back to Japan in November, where last year Toyota closed out the manufacturers championship.
AUTO ACTION PREDICTIONS
What Rovanpera did at his age was remarkable, but expect the Hyundai pairing of Neuville and Lappi to close that gap, with Tanak to show the true pace of the Puma without it finding the ditch so frequently. MANUFACTURER’S TITLE: Toyota DRIVER’S CHAMPIONSHIP: Tanak to edge Neuville in a tight affair
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AUSSIE OPEN WHEEL RACERS
TAKING ON THE WORLD
THE 2023 INTERNATIONAL SEASON IS SHAPING UP AS THE MOST EXCITING IN RECENT MEMORY FOR YOUNG AUSTRALIAN MOTORSPORT COMPETITORS, WITH A LITANY OF FAST–PACED PROSPECTS MAKING THEIR MARK IN THE COMPETITIVE SINGLE-SEATER CIRCUITS. TIMOTHY NEAL AND THOMAS MILES REPORT AT THE pinnacle of them all, the eyes of Australia and the world audience will be on McLaren’s Oscar Piastri when he makes his Grand Prix debut for McLaren F1, having dominated the FIA Formula pathways like few others. Whilst Piastri will be the only Australian on the Formula 1 grid in 2023, there are many young guns on the rise that will be representing Australia internationally. With FIA Formula 2 and 3 competing on the Australian Grand Prix program at Albert Park for the first time, more attention will be placed on the feeder series than ever before by Aussie fans, and there will be several other local contenders to cheer for. F2 hotshot Jack Doohan will saddle up for a second straight Formula 2 campaign with Virtuosi Racing, he will be one of the favorites to take the F2 crown and hopes to build on his 2022 success. Doohan has also cemented
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himself as a leading candidate in the Alpine Academy. But there is also an Aussie invasion in Formula 3, with three drivers set to make their way up the steep Formula ladder. At 17, Christian Mansell is poised for the latest challenge of his career as he jumps into F3 with Campos Racing after some solid seasons in Europe, most recently finishing third in the Euroformula Open. Compatriot Tommy Smith will race for Dutch outfit Van Amersfoort Racing and takes the step up after battling away in the competitive GB3 championship. Both Australians will be racing for teams that appeared in victory lane last year, and will be determined to make their mark as they close in on the F1 dream. The pair will be joined by Hugh Barter, who is looking to make it an Aussie trifecta in F3, after an impressive juggling effort in 2022, where he was a frontrunner on two F4 grids.
Below them, an extensive grouping of young talent will this season take on fields across Europe, North America, the Middle East and, a bit closer to home, in New Zealand. Drivers like Costa Toparis, who will be competing in the GB3 for the UK’s Carlin outfit, is just one of a handful that will take on Britain and the UAE. He’ll be joined in both the UK, European, and the Middle East by the likes of Jimmy Piszcyk, James Wharton, and Noah Lisle; all of whom have been making their way, or are debuting this season in Europe. Whilst both Patrick Heuzenroeder and Piszcyk will take on the proven British F4 stepladder. Then there is the likes of S5000 young gun Cooper Webster, who’s been picked up to take on the GB4 circuit in the UK, proving that the Aussie ‘Big Bangers’ are starting to pick up attention from overseas suitors.
Looking across the Atlantic from the European scene, Auto Action also casts it’s eye on the Indy feeder system and the USF4. Whilst Kiwi Australian resident Hunter McElrea will continue in the premier Indy feeder, Indy NXT (Indy Lights), with big wraps from Andretti Motorsport, Last years USF4 champion Lochie Hughes takes the first official step on the ladder to Indy in the USF2000. Jesse Lacey is the last of the North American contingent, with the 16 year-old Victorian hoping to begin where Hughes left off in the USF4. A bit closer to our shores and just over the ditch, third generation speedster Ryder Quinn, and the versatile Tom McLennan will compete in the New Zealand Toyota Racing Series, a pathway taken by a number of current F1 stars. With seats still to be announced, the list mightn’t stop here, but here’s what we know so far…
FIA FORMULA 3
CHRISTIAN MANSELL, TOMMY SMITH, HUGH BARTER FOR THE first time, the FIA Formula 3 World Championship is coming to Albert Park and will feature three Australians on the grid. Aussie young guns Christian Mansell, Tommy Smith and Hugh Barter are all confirmed to race in the 2023 season. The trio will be racing for teams who did win last year, but are not expected to be in championship contention. The series formerly known as GP3 was renamed as F3 in 2019 by the FIA as an entry point for young drivers on the road to F1, and the entire 10-round calendar is made up of F1 Grand Prix weekends. After impressing on the European pathway, Mansell will take on a full FIA Formula 3 season for the first time in 2023 with Campos. The 17-year-old has already had a taste of F3 action, having raced at Hungary and Belgium last year, which has “taken the pressure off” ahead of his full-time debut. Mansell steps up to F3 full-time after a breakthrough year in the Euroformula Open Series, where he recorded 15 podium finishes and an impressive third in the championship. Having also overcome Type 1 Diabetes and the threat of never racing again, Mansell has demonstrated a skill of being a consistent fighter and believes that 2022 which exceeded all expectations – puts him in a good frame of mind for the challenges to come. “It (2022) is something we are all pretty stoked about if I am honest,” Mansell told Auto Action. “The opportunities were genuine and
once in a lifetime, so to take them in my stride and outperform my teammates on a given weekend was really cool. “With a strong showing in the latter part of the season it gives me confidence I can do well in my opening year in FIA F3.” Smith steps up to F3 with Dutch team Van Amersfoort Racing. It’s a big step up for Smith, who has been racing on the European scene for the last two years, competing in the GB3 Championship last year where he finished 19th after struggling to “learn some sketchy tracks”. Despite the result, the 20 year-old did enjoy some moments in the sun. In the opening round at Oulton Park he came second, while top-five race results followed at Donington and Snetterton. His breakthrough then arrived at the famed Spa-Francorchamps circuit, where he managed to score an unexpected win. It was the highpoint of Smith’s year, giving him the confidence to compete on the fast, open, and flowing style of European circuits. Although it’s yet to be officially confirmed at the time of print, Barter is expected to compete in F3, and has likely signed with Campos, the team he took to the Spanish F4 series with. It will be a big deal for Barter, who recently told Auto Action that the goal was to be “at the pointy end of the F3 field” in 2023, and that the chance to drive in the F1 support series, particularly at Albert Park, would “mean the world to him”. Born in Nagoya, Japan, but raised in Hughesdale, Melbourne, he developed Images: MOTORSPORT IMAGES, MARK HORSBURGH
Hugh Barter (#68) will step up from F4 to F3 in 2023. Above (top to bottom): Christian Mansell (DUTCH PHOTO AGENCY), Tommy Smith, Hugh Barter.
a reputation as a regular winner on the karting scene, representing Australia on the international stage a number of times. Barter was handpicked over nine other highly accomplished drivers at a French talent academy to land a drive in the 2021 French Formula 4 Championship, where he instantly threw himself into championship contention. He hit new heights during a huge 2022, racing full seasons in both the Spanish and French F4. Despite jumping between two completely different championships and racing on vastly unique tyre compounds, Barter impressed. He recorded 16 wins and 11 poles across an enormous 42-race season where he finished runner up in both championships. Having done the time in F4, the F3 dream is expected to soon become a reality, while Barter even revealed on the INFORMER podcast, that he has been in contact with some interested F1 teams. With an unprecedented five Australians taking to the Albert Park street circuit across the three formulae, this year’s Melbourne GP looms as an historic occasion.
GB3 CHAMPIONSHIP COSTA TOPARIS
TOPARIS WAS perhaps the earliest announced open wheel driver for 2023, with the UK’s Surrey-based Carlin team jumping on his signature in early October. Carlin competes right through the formulae up to F2, making their eagerness for Toparis’ signature as a 15 year-old a good sign of faith. Starting out in karting at a young age, he finished second in the NSW state championships at age 10. Toparis then went on to win the 2022 KA2 Australian Karting Champion, whilst also testing F4s for AGi Sport in Australia, where he then finished second in the NSW Formula Race Car Championship. Following his Carlin signing in a whirlwind 2022, he then represented Australia at the FIA World Games at Paul Ricard in France
where he battled into P13 with a broken front wing after looking the goods. Along with Hitech GP’s Piszcyk, Toparis also made his way to the UAE for the F4 Trophy races in Support of the F1 season closer in Abu Dhabi, where he managed finishes of P4 and P8. Running alongside the prestigious British GT Championship, the GB3 runs over eight rounds between April and October. Two of those rounds feature over in mainland Europe, with the pilots getting to race at Spa Francorchamps (Belgium) and Zandvoort (Netherlands), alongside the well known UK tracks. The Tatuus MSV-022 machinery is used in the GB3, with an advanced aerodynamic package introduced last season, running on a two litre, four cylinder engine at 250bhp.
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GB4 CHAMPIONSHIP COOPER WEBSTER
SHORTLY AFTER the news that the Australian owned Evans GP team would run two cars in the 2023 GB4 Championship, Victorian young gun Cooper Webster was announced as its first driver. Webster’s name may be more familiar with race fans than some others on this list, as he was an S5000 front runner for Versa Motorsport in the 2022 Championship, as well as in the two-part S5000 Tasman Series. He started to turn heads in his first full year in the Aussie ‘Big Bangers’, capturing third in the championship with two wins and four podiums, as well as a three
podium sweep at the Adelaide 500 where he battled with, and came up trumps against former F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella in Race 1. Racing against Jack Doohan in BMX as a kid, Webster went to karting before racing Excels prior to the wings and slicks. The GB4 pilots race with the competition proven Tatuus F4-T014 chassis with a 160bhp, 1.4-litre turbocharged engine. The series runs a seven round season from April to October, with two rounds at Silverstone, and Donington, as well as visits to Brand Hatch, Snetterton, and Oulton Park.
USF4 CHAMPIONSHIP JESSE LACEY
JESSE LACEY is the latest Australian teenager to leave home and move to the other side of the world in pursuit of an international career. Lacey has elected for the North American pathway, racing in the USF4 Championship, The 16 year-old has highlighted the USA as the first stepping stone in his dream to get to F1. The USF4 Championship is run under the same regulations as the European series, and has been developing a reputation as a competitive feeder category. During a six-round season, Lacey will race on tracks such as Road America, Virginia and Circuit of the Americas, where the series is on the support card for the US Grand Prix. Lacey may be raw, but he has high ambitions, hoping to become the third
Cooper Webster. Image: JACK MARTIN PHOTOGRAPHY
BRITISH FORMULA 4
JAMES PISZCYK, PATRICK HEUZENROEDER WITH PLENTY of seats remaining in the FIA-certified British F4 for its April 22 start at Donington Park, the two young Aussies that are so far confirmed are Jimmy Piszcyk and Patrick Heuzenroeder. The 2023 pilots will take to the famous British circuits in the second generation Tatuus T-421 which were introduced for last season. Piszcyk’s journey into the F4 series was well documented after he sat out the final national Formula Ford round, instead opting to fly to the UK and test for Hitech GP. Aged only 16, the South Australian speedster was leading the championship into the final round after a consistently strong four win season. His gamble paid off when Hitech (2022 British F4 champions) jumped at signing
him, immediately sending him off to the UAE where he competed in the UAE F4 trophy races in support of the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, grabbing two P7s with little preparation in the unfamiliar machinery. Piszcyk returns to the UAE with Hitech for a five round FIA sanctioned championship starting on January 27 in Kuwait. Heuzenroeder enters the season with Argenti Motorsport, having been the first 2023 signing for the Banbury, Oxfordshire based team. Like Piszcyk, 16 year-old Heuzenroeder was in contention for the NSW Formula Ford Championship where he sat third in the pointscore, skipping out of the final rounds to test with Argenti at Snetterton in the UK.
In 2022, the Sydneysider, who started out in karting at the age of 13, advanced as far as the final six in the Ferrari Drivers Academy, narrowly missing out on making the world final in Italy. Heuzenroeder will remain in the UK for the pre-season, where he will undergo a rigorous testing regime in advance of the 2023 season. The 10 round British F4 series gives young up-and-coming drivers the chance of driving on legendary tracks such as Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Thruxton, and Donington. Heuzenroeder (left) and Piszcyk (above) both walked away from latter stages in Australian F/Ford series to test in the UK – and it paid off ...
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Australian to win the USF4 title after Joshua Car (2019) and Lochie Hughes (2022). The Melbournian will be driving with Crosslink Kiwi Motorsport, which is expected to produce him a winning car after claiming the constructors title this year. Lacey arrives in the states with 85 podiums from 115 races in the Australian and international karting scene. After his prolific karting assault, Lacey has just only recently taken to F4 machinery. However, he enjoyed immediate success after recording a clean-sweep in the Formula Race Car Association round at SMP. Racing against fellow international hopefuls in America will be different gravy, but Lacey is determined to make a name for himself.
ONE OF the first open wheel series to fire into life in 2023 will be the USF2000 championship opener on March 3-5 in support of the IndyCar opener in St Petersburg Florida. Hughes arrives for his first season in the Road to Indy category on a high, following his resounding championship win in the USF4, after initially cutting his teeth in the now defunct Australian Formula 4 Championship in 2018/19. The Aussie was a major force for Jay Howard Driver Development, scoring maximum points at NOLA, Mid-Ohio, New Jersey and Circuit of the Americas, en route to a convincing 55-point championship win. Hughes had a taste of USF2000 during his 2022 USF4 season, where he competed at Mid Ohio, where he qualified in fourth, but his car was disqualified in scrutineering for Race 1, before he followed up with a P18 and P4. The competition that is officially the first rung on the ladder towards IndyCar, operates with Tatuus USF-17 machinery, and runs on just the one Oval circuit, in Indianapolis, just prior to the Indy500.
INDY NXT (INDY LIGHTS) HUNTER MCELREA
MCELREA WILL look to continue his strong Indy Lights form from 2022 into his second Indy NXT Series in 2023. The final rung on the ladder before IndyCar, Indy Lights has this season been rebranded as Indy NXT. The American born Kiwi who grew up in Australia with his family (we’ll claim him), won the 2018 Formula Ford Championship, before coming second in the USF2000 feeder series in 2019. His breakthrough rookie season in Indy Lights then saw him claim Rookie of the Year honours. The 22 year-old claimed pole in his first ever race, before capturing his maiden win at Mid Ohio, then backing it up for a second in Iowa. With five podiums he’d go on to finish
fourth outright. Andretti Autosport moved quickly to lock in McElrea for 2023 before the 2022 season had finished, with glowing endorsements from racing legend Michael Andretti. The 14 round Indy NXT season kicks off in St Petersburg, Florida on March 5 in support of the IndyCar series.
NZ TOYOTA ITALIAN F4 CHAMPIONSHIP JAMES WHARTON RACING SERIES (TRS) WHARTON COMES off a very solid 2022 where he drove across three championships. He rose to be a driver to watch in 2020 at the age of 14 when he was selected as a winner of the Ferrari Driver Academy. After a full training year in the FDA training programme in 2021, Wharton went on to race in the UAE F4 Championship, taking five victories, before a full Italian F4 season for Prema. The 16 year-old ace took five podiums and only finished outside the top ten on three occasions to finish fifth in the championship
RYDER QUINN, TOM MCLENNAN
TWO YOUNG Aussies are bound for the five round Castrol Toyota Racing Series, held in New Zealand over January and February, with Formula Ford front runner Ryder Quinn (below) driving for the M2 Competition squad, and Tom McLennan (above) fronting up for the Kiwi Motorsport Team. Operating with the Toyota FT-60 cars, The TRS offers a five round series starting on January 13, which includes the 67th NZ Grand Prix at Hampton Downs on February 5. A third generation racer from Queensland, Quinn had a strong ’22 season finishing fourth in the national Formula Ford, with three wins and 10 podiums in a strong field of young drivers. McLennan was originally entered with Australian team MTEC Motorsport, but their cancellation caused a late team switch for the 18 year-old, also from Queensland. His busy 2022 involved racing in both three rounds of the Formula Ford, and three rounds of the Porsche Sprint Challenge Australia as a Class B rookie in the Pro class, scoring 182 points to finish ninth in the standings. The TRS has traditionally been a strong breeding ground of talent, with its more sophisticated Tatuus machinery seeing current F1 drivers Lando Norris, Lance Stroll, Guanyu Zhou, and Yuki Tsunoda, go through its competition.
(fourth of the rookies). He also raced in the German F4 (ADAC) as a constant front runner, taking one win and three podiums over 15 races to also finish fifth in the standings. Wharton returns for another full year with Prema, with any other series yet to be announced. The Italian F4 operates over seven rounds with trips to Paul Ricard and Spa Francorchamps, as well as races at Imola and Monza. The series uses the Italian built Tatuus F4T014, operating on the FIA regulated 160hp.
UAE F4 CHAMPIONSHIP JAMES WHARTON, NOAH LISLE, JAMES PISZCYK
YET TO BE CONFIRMED FOR 2023… MATTHEW BRABHAM, NOAH LISLE, MARCOS FLACK
Noah Lisle – goes again in F4, this time in the UAE series, after a full 2022 season. Image: JAKOB EBREY PHOTOGRAPHY TAKING PLACE between January 13 and February 19, the five round FIA sanctioned event offers teams a chance to race ahead of their prospective seasons and get some important miles into their young drivers. So far, three Australians have been confirmed to race in the UAE, with the chance of more to come (Costa Toparis) as the UK’s Carlin has not announced its drivers as of yet. 16 year-old Wharton, a Ferrari Academy member and Italian F4 driver, will represent Italian squad Prema Racing for his second crack at the series. First time out in early 2022 he took four wins and five podiums from 15 races.
Noah Lisle will race for the Dubai based Xcel Motorsport team, who snapped up the chance to have Lisle after completing a full 30 race season with the JHR Developments squad in 2022, grabbing one podium and 10 top ten finishes. He also competed in three rounds of the Spanish F4 for the local Drivex team. Piszcyk (see British F4) returns to the Middle East for the second time since November with Hitech, and will be feeling more confident now that he’s had some more time in the Tatuus T-421. He’ll be hungry for wins after showing good pace in his initial testing. The five rounds are spread across Yas Marina, Dubai, and Kuwait.
MATT BRABHAM – Grandson of Sir Jack – made a return to IndyLights after seven years out (with two IndyCar drives to his name in 2016) and had a sensational year, winning two races to finish third in the standings with Andretti Autosports. The 28 year-old who first raced in America in 2012, winning the USF2000 Championship, is yet to confirm his drive for next season. Another yet to be confirmed is Lisle, who although has been confirmed for the month long UAE F4 series starting in January, is yet to find a seat for a full 2023 open wheel season. Lisle impressed in 30 races with JHR developments, and should be likely to find an F4 seat somewhere in Europe. Marcos Flack did plenty of racing in 2022, including the GB3, Italian F4, Spanish F4, and Indy Pro 2000 in the states. Flack scored a win racing for Douglas Motorsport at Silverstone in the GB3, and a podium second at Snetterton, and you can expect to hear some news of him finding a seat somewhere in 2023 after a full season both in Europe and a trip across the channel.
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Testing the Cooldrive Mustang ... pretty cool ...
MCLEOD NINE THIRD GENERATION RACER CAMERON MCLEOD WILL START OUT ON HIS PATH TOWARD THE SUPERCARS MAIN GAME THIS SEASON IN THE SUPER3 SERIES. AS A RACER EAGER FOR EXPERIENCE, MCLEOD SPOKE TO TIMOTHY NEAL ABOUT HIS JOURNEY INTO A CAREERSHAPING 2023.
ON THE eve of his second international trip, where he’ll front up to the Dubai 24 Hour, 18 year-old Cameron McLeod will start the Super3 season with an array of varied racing experience under his belt. After his first full national season in Formula Ford and a handful of impressive drives at Mount Panorama, he’s entering the serious tin-top stuff with a fairly calm and mature racing brain. As with a lot of young sportspeople, competing starts out as a family driven affair. This is no more true than with McLeod, who started out in the karting scene racing against his three siblings – all four of them out of his Father’s van. In terms of racing stock, his father Ryan is the founder of MARC Cars Australia, a former Bathurst 1000 competitor, and an experienced racer across many formats; whilst Cameron’s grandfather Peter was a Bathurst 1000 winner no-less, conquering The Mountain alongside the great Peter Brock in 1987. “I didn’t really think much about racing – dad just asked me if I wanted to go karting and that was that. Every now and then I’d do ok but I never really won much. It wasn’t until 2018/19 that I started to take it a bit more seriously, and I McLeod leads the Formula Ford field at Morgan Park. Image: MTR IMAGES-FORMULA FORD
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was watching Supercars and F1 and getting more into cars. “I didn’t even know my grandpa had won Bathurst till about 2018, and when dad told me I thought that was a pretty cool thing, and I’d set my mind on being a Supercar driver around that time.” After three years of karting, his first taste of cars came via the Queensland Circuit Racing Championship, where he took to racing Formula Ford 1600s in 2020 with his brother Nick, piloting Paul Morris’ 1991 Van Diemen. In McLeod’s second year of Formula Ford racing in Queensland, he won four races in six events and never left the podium to win his first state title. “I won the Queensland championship in ’21 racing against my brother, and other kids that were pretty fast, like Ryder Quinn, Carl Davies, and Tom Davies. “I was stoked to win that, and then we did a national round before going to the UK.” In April of 2021, he also raced in his first Bathurst 6 Hour
There wasn’t too much racing to be had in Australia then (2021) so it was important not to let the year dry up Production car race with his brothers Ben and Nick, and finished sixth in the class in a Holden Astra. At the back-end of 2021, McLeod then went under the radar, flying to England to race the last three rounds of the British F4 championship, where he was looked after and tutored by British Touring Car champion Matt Neal and veteran driver James Kaye. He competed well and in just his second outing in unfamiliar machinery, he took a podium second at Silverstone. “I took a lot from that experience – it was a very professional environment and I learned plenty from the people around me. There wasn’t much racing to be had in Australia then, so it was important to not let the year dry up.” His formative year came in 2022, where he competed in a second 6 Hour with his brother Nick and TCR frontrunner Aaron Cameron in a Ford Mustang Mach 1, where they managed a class P2. He then took to a full season of National Formula Ford under the tutelage of experienced Toowoomba racer Bradley Neill with his father as an engineer, taking two wins and five podiums to finish third in a hotly contested championship where he was in contention in the last round.
“It was a really important series for me, we threw everything at it and we would’ve liked to have won. It didn’t really click with us until halfway through the year when Brad came onboard, as well as finally clicking with the car.” Neill proved an important piece of the puzzle as a mentor for McLeod, who started to switch on to the mental side of racing. “We had Steve Owen in the team before that and he was really good, but when he couldn’t continue, Dad got Bradley on board in a mentor role, and he also brought another mechanic for some of the rounds. After that we ran in the top five every race. “He (Neill) just knew so much about every aspect of racing. Dad was busy trying to get the car perfect, so when Brad arrived he’d talk me through the mental aspect of racing, what happened last time, what to think about, and what I had to focus on … he really helped in focusing me and we got along really well.” McLeod also conducted several tests in Supercars machinery last year, once with Neill’s ex-James Courtney - Stone Brothers Racing Falcon, the Erebus Academy’s Mercodore, as well as cutting laps in an evaluation day in the Cooldrive/Blanchard Racing Team Mustang Supercar.
Top to bottom: British F4; the MARC Mustang in flight at Bathurst; Bathurst 6 Hour Holden Astra – plenty of experience-building variety. With Neill then purchasing a Nissan Altima Supercar from MW Motorsport, driven by Tyler Everingham in 2022, the young gun now finds himself with the perfect platform to start on his dream journey. “I thought they’d be more sluggish to be honest, but they were really great to drive,” he continued. “There was a lot of adapting to the natural Supercar thing, in terms of trailing it in, driving with the extra horsepower and where to change up gear. “You can’t change up too early ‘cause the back will go out etc, just things like that, but I felt pretty comfortable considering all that time in open wheelers, and that the cars weren’t fitted to me also. I’m a bit taller than average so I had to adapt to that also. “I think I gave a pretty good impression with those test days, and I think that gave Brad some pretty good faith in me. I’m sure he didn’t get it for me to drive specifically … he wanted one because they’re pretty cool! But he’s entrusted me with it for a year. We couldn’t have looked to be doing this without him.” McLeod says that they’re still working on finalising the team set-up heading into the season, but his father will stay on board as an engineer, with respected car prepairer
Simon Chapman, as the number one mechanic on the car. “We’re definitely out to win it and hopefully mix it with the Super2 field. We obviously won’t stick around too long if we aren’t winning, but I’m aiming to move up steadily and I’d like to try moving into Super2 if we can get a team to help us in the future.” His desire to drive as much machinery as he possibly can, also saw him recently take part in the Challenge Bathurst, where he took to Mount Panorama in a MARC II V8, sharing the duties with Kieth Kassulke and Hadrian Morrall in a nine lap stint. He also heads to the Dubai 24 Hour on January 13-15, where he’ll team up with a familiar face in James Kaye and Kassulke once again, driving the brand new BMW M4 GT4 on its debut. “It’s pretty cool to think that I’ll be among one of the first drivers to compete in the new GT4. Just to drive it in the first place, as well as being among the first in such a prestigious race is a really amazing feeling.” With such experience and willingness to push himself at a young age, and with a dedicated support team around him, McLeod is the perfect storm of youth, calmness, skill, and confidence.
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Long time PIARC race communications official and also the Vice-President of the VFT- Sue Arnott, is a great advocate for women being involved in the sport. Image: REVVED PHOTOGRAPHY
BACK ON TRACK
WOMEN ARE UNDERREPRESENTED IN JUST ABOUT EVERY FACET OF THE MOTORSPORT INDUSTRY AND HAVE BEEN FOR GENERATIONS. NOW, ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF AUSTRALIA, A PROGRAM HAS BEEN LAUNCHED TO PUT WOMEN FRONT AND CENTRE AT THE RACETRACK. JOSH NEVETT INVESTIGATES DANIELLE MEYN fulfilled a lifelong dream in 2021 – she was named the Clerk of Course at a Supercars Championship event. After volunteering for decades as an official at events in Western Australia, the appointment was a huge personal achievement, but it also took on a far greater meaning. Meyn was the first woman to ever have the privilege of running a Supercars round. Entering the industry over 20 years ago as a fresh-faced motorsport enthusiast, Meyn certainly felt out of place. “When I first started as an official for Motorsport Australia, there were no women around me,” recalls Meyn. Motorsport should be a welcoming industry for all, especially as there is always a demand for officials in a variety of different roles. On the ground, pit and paddock team members are responsible for directing traffic, setting up race grids, and managing the start and end of events, while medical and fire personnel respond to potentially harmful situations out on the track. ‘Behind the glass’, stewards and race control officials ensure that competitors abide by the rules of motorsport, sending messages to pitlane including any penalties that are to be applied to drivers and their teams. Motorsport Australia are always after volunteers to fill these roles – however, while the motorsport industry may be changing, women still face an uphill battle to progress through the officiating ranks. Emma Notarfrancesco of WhichCar reported that only five per cent of women held leadership positions in Australia in 2020 and Meyn estimates that just 10-15 per cent of WA officials are female. Motorsport Australia, in conjunction with
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state governments and passionate women such as Meyn, decided in 2022 that enough was enough. The national governing body of motorsport launched the new Women’s Officiating Pathway Program early last year, an initiative designed to ensure that women are among the next generation of high-ranking officials. Nineteen women from Queensland and Western Australia were selected to receive mentoring and guidance throughout the year, in an effort to propel them up the officiating ladder. It’s about discrediting gender misconceptions in motorsport, but also giving women already involved in the industry the best opportunities to succeed, according to Michael Smith, Motorsport Australia Director of Motorsport and Commercial Operations. “There’s an old mentality that this is a sport for men, which is totally incorrect,” says Mr Smith. “We’re really keen to increase the level of female participation in our sport.”
Paired with a mentor drawn from the most experienced officials in the country, each participant was tasked with taking on several events in 2022 to develop their skills and ultimately progress from club-level officiating to working at the state level and higher. Ultimately, the program aims to increase both the quality and quantity of female officials, enriching the pool of talent and paving the way for enhanced participation in the future. Meyn, a trailblazer for fellow female officials, is at the forefront of the WA program as a panellist. While she was fortunate enough to have the support of a male mentor as a young official over 20 years ago, she is now determined to provide opportunities that some of her peers were never afforded in years gone by. “There was a very old school mentality within the ranks that the women would take on administrative type roles, secretary type roles,” she recalls. “When I put my hand up and said, ‘I want
to be running events’, there was a barrier there. “The most important thing now is showing that there are women already involved, and that they are ready and willing to put their hands up to help other women come through the ranks.” The new pathway initiative has thrived in WA. Applications outnumbered the positions available in the program and, since then, multiple mentees have upgraded to the ranking of bronze official in Motorsport Australia’s bronze-silver-gold tier system. However, across the country in Queensland, there have been unexpected challenges. Uptake has been underwhelming in the ‘Sunshine State’ so far according to Nigel Faull, who is heavily involved in the Queensland program as the Queensland State Officiating Panel Chair, overseeing its implementation while also taking on a mentee of his own. “There are about 550 female officials in Queensland but, unfortunately, only nine applied for the program,” explains Mr Faull. “Speaking to some of the females I said, ‘how come you didn’t apply?’, they said, ‘well, I’m already in the sport, there’s no need to’. That’s probably a communication issue from us.” Even before the issue of communication, it’s difficult to attract people into officiating pathways in the first place, both men and women alike. Motorsport officials are mostly unpaid volunteers who are required to work 8-10 hours per day during events, almost all of which are held on weekends. That makes it an undesirable pursuit for many.
The Women’s Officiating Pathway Program has added a stronger female presence to motorsport officiating. “You can promote the best seat in the house, the ability to get up close to the action, but there are going to be times when you spend eight hours trackside and nothing happens,” admits Mr Faull. “Trying to keep people motivated to continue turning up when they know that they’re not getting paid and they’re not out partying with friends… it’s very difficult to keep people in the sport.” Regardless of gender, there is a general shortage of officials nationwide due to the influx of motorsport events post-COVID. Few volunteers are needed at the grassroots level, but hundreds are required for major events such as the Australian Formula One Grand Prix. With some women on the fence about whether they wish to commit to life as an official, Mr Faull is hopeful that this program will get some of those individuals over the line: “There are young women who have been in the sport for a little while that are unsure of what they want to do and where they want to go… giving them some opportunities to branch out and do other things is definitely a positive.” Despite the participation hiccup in Queensland, Smith is positive about the impact that the officiating pathway program is having. Such is the faith that Motorsport Australia has in its program at this early stage, an expansion is on the cards. “We’d really like this to be an Australia-wide program,” confirms Mr Smith.
It’s music to the ears of Meyn, who wants to see her female counterparts joining her at the top echelons of officiating in years to come. After all, to Meyn motorsport is about community, which isn’t possible without inclusion. “This program would have helped me immensely,” says Meyn. “In motorsport you find friends for life, you find a second family, the camaraderie is huge.”
Cassie Walters is a regular at high profile events including in her role as a pit lane official at Supercar events. Image: REVVED PHOTOGRAPHY
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Shaw, Shah, Webber, and Pennacchia nose-to-tail in the RX8 contest. Below: Busy E30 racing – Jeremy Payne heads debutant Royce Lyne. Images: PHIL WISEWOULD PHOTOGRAPHY
SERIES START AND FINISH ON THE ISLAND BOTH THE RX8 Cup and E30 Racing categories started their seasons at Phillip Island. They were back to complete the year on December 10-11 and determine the titleholders.
with Garry O’Brien
AFTER HE secured the NSW title a month earlier, Tom Shaw completed the double with victory in the National title. Over the weekend, Shaw’s consistency and victory in the last of three races ensured he won round six ahead of Luke Webber and Jack Pennacchia. With a clean sweep at the previous round, Brad Harris again qualified fastest and won the final round opener which he led throughout. Second place went to his twin brother Will while Luke Webber eclipsed Shaw and Pennacchia for third. Webber was penalised 15s and relegated to seventh behind Matt Butters, and ahead of Ben Shaw and Alaine O’Connor. Justin Barnes was third initially and until contact from Andrew Shah at Turn 4 ultimately meant 11th while Shah DNF’d. Brad Harris was first across the line in Race 2 as well. But a safety car breach incurred a 30s penalty and dropped him to 19th. The win went to Will Harris over Webber while Shah stormed through to
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pick up third ahead of Pennacchia, Duncan, Tom Shaw, Butters, Stacy Vickers, O’Connor, Barnes and Ben Shaw. After he led the first lap of Race 3, Will Harris encountered gearbox issues that saw him drop down the order and then out. Shah took over the front running in a five-car battle that saw Tom Shaw emerge victorious. Brad Harris took second with Shah next in front of Pennacchia, Webber, Butters, O’Connor and Ben Shaw. Despite Barnes not starting after gearbox issues in Race 2, he finished second in the National series.
ILLNESS PUT Jeremy Payne out of the previous round after one race win, but there was no such drama at the final round where he took out all four races. He won overall
ahead of Brian Bourke and Jesse Bryan while the series went to Alex Jory over Bourke and Bryan. Payne was a comfortable winner of the first of four races where Jory was second. Bryan took third off Bourke with two laps to go but was subsequently demoted to sixth behind Ash Rogers and Cameron Hudson. He was still placed ahead of the Geoff Bowles, Mark Gorgovski and Matt Thewlis. The second outing was a reverse grid affair where Payne and debutant Royce Lyne – a non-finisher in Race 1 – came through to win ahead of early leader Thewlis. Jory was
a close fourth ahead of Bourke, Rogers and Simon Leach. Payne took out Race 3 where Lynne was second and well clear of Bryan and Bourke close together, as too Hudson and Thewlis in the race for fifth and sixth. Jory went out when a tyre delaminated and gave him a big moment out of Turn 12. The final race produced the closest result with Payne 0.5s ahead of Lyne and the pair well clear of Bourke and Bryan who were split by 0.04s. Jory was next from Hudson was next while Thewlis was a DNF. Garry O’Brien
HEAFEY AND MCFARLANE HOLD ON FOR WIN IT WAS a narrow win in round three of the Whiteline Tarmac Rallysprint Series for Phil Heafey and Luke McFarlane in their Mitsubishi EVO 6 (pictured below), on December 15 at Sydney Dragway. The North Shore Sporting Car Club reduced the entry numbers to try to stop excessively late finishes, as the first two rounds ran overtime. Heafey was fastest of the 78 starters on the first run, even though he clipped a barrier and crumpled the front guard, as David and John Calabria (EVO 7) were second, from Stephen and Alex Marlin (EVO 9). Previous round winners, Josh and Matt Redhead blew the rear diff in their Evo 5. They got it changed in time to make the second run, where they were fourth fastest. Heafey was quickest, again from the Calabrias. Redhead had his brake pedal go to the floor and motored around very slowly. They would be compromised by lack of faith in the brakes and eventually took third place, but were fastest on the last run. Calabria was fastest on runs three and four and were within half a second of Heafey, who pulled out a fast run on the last of the night to take the win by 1.9s from the Calabrias. Fourth place went to Lance Arundel and Luke Job (WRX), just a little off the pace this time, from the Marlins. Next were Michael Caine and Tomas Vadoklis (Mazda RX7), first 2WD, then Josh Muggleton and Blake Stokes (Toyota Yaris GR). Eighth were David Isaacs and Paul Pritchard (EVO 6), from Steve Reed and Jeff Morton (Porsche Cayman), second 2WD, and then Matthew and Aaron Guinti (Honda Civic), first of the under 2.0 litres. Best Junior were Jake and Dallas Beattie (WRX) in 12th overall. Bruce Moxon
Image: BRUCE MOXON
Connor Roberts heads Ryan O’Sullivan in the dark at QR. Image: MTR IMAGES
EXCELS STAR AT QR IT WAS a scintillating performance at Queensland Raceway on December 10 as Connor Roberts took out round six the Track Attack EFS Excel Cup at the ninth QR Drivers Championship outing. It was a near faultless display that saw him win three heats and the 30-lap feature. Second on the day was Brett Parrish with Tyler Collins third while the title was taken out by Ryan O’Sullivan over Jarrod Hughes and Caleb Paterson who was the only one of the three top points scorers to finish the final race. Forty qualified with Roberts the fastest ahead of O’Sullivan, Alex Haigh, Parrish, Zane Rinaldi, Hughes, Josh Dremel, Harrison Stock, Collins and Daniel Peasey. The field was divided up into two groups
for three races each before the feature. Roberts won his three heats, the first over Rinaldi and Collins, then he narrowly held off Parrish and Peasey before a clear win over Collins and Darren Whittington in the third. Nash Morris won the second race of the day, narrowly over O’Sullivan and Parrish. Whittington held off O’Sullivan to win race four while Hughes was third, and Parrish took out the last over O’Sullivan and Rinaldi. After Roberts won the top 10 shootout, he was overwhelmed at the start of the night-time feature by Parrish who held the lead for just the opening lap. Roberts took over the front running on lap two and showed the way to the flag, apart from two laps when O’Sullivan went ahead.
There was one Safety Car, just before onethird distance for an incident at Turn 1 where one car spun and was collected by the last of a three-car pack that was following. Parrish dropped to fifth behind Collins, O’Sullivan and Hughes on lap three before the latter retired early with no brakes, and O’Sullivan had a mechanical failure after his brief stint at the front. On the last lap, Morris was able to get by Whittington to snare fourth by 0.14s. From 13th on the first lap, Hayden Hume drove to sixth ahead of Peasey, Rinaldi, Dremel, Ryan Hadden, Shane Mahoney and Lincoln Taylor. Paterson climbed up seven places and aiming for a top five when gearbox issues set in and he dropped to 13th. Garry O’Brien
PENALTY DIDN’T DETER DAY DESPITE A 10-second penalty, Dan Day (right), driving his Subaru STi C-spec, won the ampl auto Willunga Hillclimb on December 11, a month after he dominated Legend of the Lakes. The 130 competitors encountered rain, thunderstorms, and lightning early in the day before conditions improved. The hillclimb is 3 km long and about 7.5 percent grading the whole way. In the wet conditions, Day went quickest on the opening run, 4.8s faster than Douglas Johnson (Subaru Impreza WRX), who in turn was 1.87s up on Jordan Rohrlach (WRX) with 0.99s to Andrew Campbell (Nissan S14). It went wrong for Day on the next run, taking out the finish timing sensor, to incur the penalty. Johnson therefore went into the event lead with 4.05s over Nick Streckeisen (Nissan Skyline R35 GTR), with Henry Beasley (Mitsubishi EVO) third from Campbell. Day was back into the lead on the next run, his 17.65s run a new course record. Johnson 3.56s away on the run, and bested Streckeisen and Beasley. Day effort on the penultimate run was again ahead of Johnson, with Campbell and Streckeisen next.
Image: JOHN LEMM Not content to play it safe, Day set another record on the final, leaving it at 1min 17.31s whilst Johnson also did his best run of the day of 1min 20.38s, 3.98s faster than Streckeisen, who edged out Campbell by 0.83s. Therefore Day was the winner on aggregate over Johnson by 8.49s with Streckeisen’s time in the final bringing him up to third, ahead of
Campbell, the first 2WD, and Jordan Rohrlach (WRX) in fifth. Sports car racer Aaron Steer was next, and second 2WD in his very loud Porsche GT3. The most serious incident involved Vasula Mudiyanselage who rolled his Peugeot 206 near the top of the hill on the final run, fortunately without injury. John Lemm
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Jock Goodyer’s consistency would earn him the series title. – Image RAY RITTER
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN – VICTORIAN SPRINTCARS SPEEDWEEK By PARIS CHARLES WHILE MANY take the time to sit back and relax over the Christmas/New Year holiday season, the Speedway community traditionally congregates to the south-eastern corner of the nation as they ramp it up for four nights of racing over four venues and over two States for the Clay-Per-View Sprintcars Speedweek. Over that time, fans would encounter extreme heat during the day, beautiful summer nights, the threat of rain and even a partial fog in on the final night as a total of 53 teams chased the adrenalin rush and their share of the $150,000 in series prize pool.
LET’S GO TO THE VIDEO TAPE! Night 1 took place at the Murray Machining and Sheds Murray Bridge Speedway in South Australia and with 32 competitors, a large crowd and hot night the action would not disappoint as the feature race would go down to the wire – where the winner would be decided after the race and, in the immortal words of American Sports caster Warner Wolf, “Let’s go to the video tape” would he heard as the image was scrutinised by the Chief Steward. After the heats and the dashes this is how it would get to the point of climax as the top 20 teams would line up for the 35 incidentplagued laps ahead. Jamie Veal lined up on
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the front row with the surprise packet of the night Chad Ely. Brock Hallett would throw the first caution, riding the Turn 4 wall after challenging Jock Goodyer for third. Veal led at the restart, but as quickly as the lights blazed green, they would go red for the inverted Daniel Pestka who rolled out of contention, clipping Steven Caruso in the process. Third time lucky, with only one lap in the books, Veal led the charging field until Max Vidau spun to reset the field into Indian file formation. Again, Veal charged from the front – however Tate Frost and Brendan Quinn would tangle and bring on the reds for the second time, while Caruso would also retire his wounded entry. With 32 laps still on the board Veal led the field away for the fifth attempt. This time, the race would settle into rhythm and the mover in the field was Luke Dillon working his way from sixth to second, relegating American teenaged sensation Chase Randall, Goodyer then Ely. Goodyer, Randall and Ryan Jones then surpassed the struggling Ely entry after wall contact. As the race ran express to the closing stages, Goodyer mounted a challenge to Veal, throwing a slider for the race lead and coming through Turn 4 would make contact with just three laps remaining, Veal looped his entry but kept the power down to continue in second as Goodyer expressed to the waving
V35 Jamie Veal in action. Image: PARIS CHARLES
chequered flags. Despite crossing the line in the prime position, the final decision would come down to the Chief Steward after the dust had settled. Veal was awarded maximum points, Goodyer second and Dillion claiming the final step on the podium. Randall, Jones, Lachlan McHugh, Steven Lines, the Hard Charger Award winner rounded out the top seven to remain on the lead lap. Cody Maroske, Keke Falland, Joel Heinrich, Ely, Ricky Maiolo, Brendan Guerin and Vidau went the distance. Ben Morris was a late retiree,
joining Caruso, Frost, Quinn, Pestka and Hallett on the infield. Ely had advanced from the Bronze and Silver Dashes to claim the Gold and Pole Position. The heats were shared amongst Caruso, Veal, Goodyer and Randall, while McHugh would claim the B Main. Sadly, in an earlier heat race, former Australian Champion David Murcott was involved in a nasty wreckage after contact with Lisa Walker – this impact took David out of the rest of the Speedweek Series with a shoulder injury.
Left: #35 Jamie Veal and #22 Jock Goodyer make contact as they battle for the lead. Right: Jamie Veal celebrates his provisional race win. Images: PARIS CHARLES
Mount Gambier Speedway. Left: #7 Lachlan McHugh in action. Bottom right: Lachlan McHugh celebrates his Round 2 victory. Bottom left: #7 Lachlan McHugh, #35 Jamie Veal, #5 James McFadden and #9 Chase Randall launch as the lights blaze green. Images: PARIS CHARLES
would have to go to the rear for the restart. With 29 to go, McFadden led the field away, Veal and Co charging hard behind. Hallett’s issues would soon intensify, jumping from the frying pan to the fire as he tumbled down the back chute, taking Glen Sutherland and Steven Caruso out with him. McFadden again showed the way as the race settled into rhythm, running express as the laps dwindled away at a fast rate of knots. With 10 to run, McHugh would work his magic as he worked his way to second. Veal was relegated to third but would soon be rounded up by Jock Goodyer, dropping the round victor to fourth as the race started to ignite and excite in the closing stages as the leaders raced through traffic. Goodyer hunted down the lead duo and closed in. McFadden was slightly hindered in lapped traffic allowing McHugh to take command with just five laps remaining. On the penultimate lap, Goodyer would strike for the runner-up placing for two consecutive nights in a row and McFadden the final podium step. Veal hung tough for fourth, followed by Randall, Grant Anderson and Luke Dillon the final competitor on the lead lap. Tate Frost, Cody Maroske, Jack Lee, Daniel Pestka, Ryan Jones and Bobby Daly were next, two laps in arrears and rounding out the field were Brendan Guerin, Dennis Jones and Chad Ely. Caruso, Sutherland, Hallett and Lines failed to travel the distance. McHugh had proven his worth with the Gold Shootout, while Hallett and McFadden Sutherland, Frost would share the maximum points in the heats. Lachlan McDonough took The C Main and Caruso the B Main.
JMAC, #5 COMES ALIVE!
MCHUGH TAKES ROUND 2 The ‘Cast of the Fast’ then moved to the evergreen south-eastern corner of South Australia, the Borderline Speedway of Mount Gambier, for Round 2 of the Clay-Per-View Sprintcars Speedweek where the entry picked up an extra nine competitors, making it a field of 41. One of the additions was James McFadden, who would set the Cat amongst the Pigeons as he would find the fastest way
to Victory Lane, but to do so he would have to battle hard to gain the top step of the podium. Going into the 35-lap A Main, Jamie Veal would again find himself on the front row, this time alongside Lachlan McHugh, with Mcfadden and Chase Randall occupying the second. At the drop of the green the field blasted into action but, before a full lap could be run, local gun Steven Lines would bicycle through Turn
4 and into the wall bringing on the reds and a complete restart. As per the round prior, Veal would pounce to lead while McHugh and McFadden would begin to battle for second. With five laps down, the lead quartet would hit traffic, allowing McFadden and Randall to relegate McHugh to fourth while Veal and McFadden locked horns for the lead until the yellow lights were triggered by Brock Hallett who
Round 3 of the Clay-Per-View Sprintcars Speedweek ventured across the border, to the Avalon Speedway in Lara, Victoria and a field of 40 teams assembled for the night’s action. While the competitor numbers remained consistent, the drivers were shuffled, as many Victorians entered the fray for their first crack at Speedweek while some of the South Aussies forfeited the round. Going into the 35-lap final, Jamie Veal and Jock Goodyer were tied away on points but we would see a complete new front row in Grant Anderson and Luke Dillon. While Anderson led the opening lap, Dillon would work the topside to his advantage as he catapulted to the lead down the back chute. However, the reds would quickly blaze as Anderson pinched the wall and rolled over and out of his tilt for victory.
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SPEEDWAY James McFadden celebrates his Avalon Raceway win and (below) in action ...
Goodyer won at Premier Speedway and took out the series. Image: RAY RITTER Jake Smith then became collateral damage, rolling while trying to avoid the stricken ride of Anderson. With 34 laps remaining, Dillon led the field away and for the next 12 laps looked comfortable until encountering lapped traffic, allowing James McFadden the opportunity to close the real estate before striking for the lead as Dillon brushed the wall, losing momentum, to regather in third behind Veal who had been working the bottom side. While the lead duo checked out, Dillon still had a challenge trying to pass the slower car of Brenton Quinn – this allowed both Chase Randall and Jock Goodyer into the fight for the final step on the podium. Goodyer would swing past for third and Dillon eventually worked his way past Quinn to remain in the hunt. While McFadden controlled the race tempo over the remaining distance, Goodyer would throw a late race challenge at Veal and with just five laps remaining he would strike, relegating Veal to third. Goodyer was not going to be left wondering and over the closing laps he threw the kitchen sink at McFadden – however the race winner would cover off Goodyer for the maximum points, making it three different race winners over the first three rounds. Goodyer claimed his third runner up placing in as many rounds and Veal shared the podium. Lachlan McHugh advanced to fourth over Dillon, Chase Randall, Glen Sutherland, Tate Frost, Ryan Jones, Tim Hutchins, Steve Lines and Bobby Daly rounding out the top dozen. One lap in arrears was Cody Maroske, Brock Hallett, Daniel Pestka, Brett Milburn and Quinn completing the field. Jack Lee joined Smith and Anderson on the DNF list. The qualifying heats were shared between McHugh, Ryan Jones, Randall and Goodyer. The Gold Dash went to Anderson while the C and B Mains were claimed by Brodie Appleby and Quinn.
A HAPPY NEW YEAR FOR GOODYER!
A new year and the fourth and final round ventured to the high banks of the Premier Speedway Warrnambool and, with a whopping 55 teams in the house, the racing proved a night to excite as the series came down to the wire. Jock Goodyer had placed consistently in the bridesmaid position for three consecutive nights giving him a 20 point series lead over Jamie Veal, who would take home track advantage. Going into the 35-lap final, Goodyer had made his best qualifying position, starting
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the series, earning the young Tasmanian a $22,500 prize purse for the night. McHugh and Veal shared the podium celebrations. Lines was fourth, posting his best result of the series, followed to the chequered flag Luke Dillon, Chase Randall, Ryan Jones, Darren Mollenouyux, Chad Ely, Ben Morris, Cameron Waters, Cody Maroske and Glen Sutherland on the lead lap. Joel Heinrich and Will Carroll rounded out the finishers one lap in arrears, while Brock Hallett, Tate Frost joined McFadden and Milburn on the retirees list and Corey McCullagh was a non-starter for the final. The heat wins were shared between Morris, Mollenoyux, Frost, Carroll and Lines while the alphabet race winners were Brendan Quinn D Main, Brendan Guerin C Main and the B Main to Hallett.
The Warrnambool podium – McHugh, Goodyer and Veal. Image: RAY RITTER
from P3 behind Lachlan McHugh and James McFadden while Veal was set back in the pack starting from 13th in the 20 car field. At the drop of the green, McFadden would jet from the front but his fortune quickly turned south. Brett Milburn triggered the first yellow just three laps into the journey, and as the field rolled through under caution period the race leader pulled to the infield with steering issues. At the restart Goodyer led the field away, Steven Lines advanced to second and developed a battle with McHugh. While this was unfolding, Veal had monstered his way to
fifth and with 10 laps in the books the leader would encounter the first of the lapped traffic and would run at a fast rate until the yellows were brought on with a dozen laps to run. As they lined up for the Indian file restart it was Goodyer, McHugh and Veal, the top three point scorers, vying for the overall series win. Goodyer set the pace as Veal worked on passing McHugh – he would get it done with nine laps to play. However McHugh was not about to fly the white flag of surrender and with three to run reclaimed second. Goodyer went on to claim the win and in doing so
Top 20 Clay-Per-View Sprintcars Speedweek Overall Standings: 1: Jock Goodyer 910, 2: Jamie Veal 840 , 3: Lockie McHugh 830 , 4: Luke Dillon 720 , 5: Chase Randall 710 , 6: Ryan Jones 615, 7: Steven Lines 581, 8: James McFadden 450, 9: Cody Maroske 420 , 10: Tate Frost 405 , 11: Daniel Pestka 348 / Glen Sutherland 348 (tied), 13: Brendan Guerin 337, 14: Chad Ely 323, 15: Brock Hallett 316, 16: Dennis Jones 293, 17: Brendan Quinn 271, 18: Scott Enderl 266 / Grant Anderson 266 (tied), 20: Bobby Daly 255.
FORMULAS FLY FOR FOUR NIGHTS OF SPEEDWEEK ACTION! THE PRESTON Rowe Patterson Formula 500 Speedweek raced throughout South Australia and Victoria, visiting five venues, the first four rounds running in consecutive nights from December 27 through to Dec 30 before taking a few nights off with the final night of competition in the New Year on January 2. The Speedweek series boasted an incredible 71 competitors, representing all states and territories of Australia plus two visiting Americans who were keen for some Christmas/New Year action and chasing down a whopping $30,000 prize pool.
Above: Formula 500 start shot with series champion, USA73 Nikko Panella, among the pack. Right: Series Champion Nikko Panella. Images: PARIS CHARLES
WILLSHER’S SIMPSON SCORCHER The opening round kicked off at the Heytesbury Stockfeeds Simpson Speedway and Dylan Willsher claimed the 20-lap feature race victory over Jordan Rae, while rounding out the podium was Queensland champion Kayden Iverson. The reigning Australian Champion Dylan Beveridge was next and rounding out the top half dozen was Jac Laneyrie and Max Owen.
BORDERLINE BLITZ FOR KAROUSIS The Speedweek series then travelled over the border and to South Australia’s Borderline Speedway in Mount Gambier. Whyalla’s Angelo Karousis produced a masterful driving display to lead all 20 laps of the final. Tim Rankin and American visitor Nikko Panella took the final podium steps followed by a trio of Victorians in Declan Robinson, Jordan Rae and Liam Russell completing the top six.
DAVIS DOWNS PANELLA The Laang Speedway Club played host to Round 3 where Queensland’s Brodie Davis claimed the 20 lap final by a commanding 1.6 seconds from Nikko Panella, while rounding out the podium was Jordy Rae. Both Panella and Rea were visiting the podium twice from the three rounds to date. Jac Laneyrie, Cody Turacchio and Hayden Pascoe completed the first six home.
BEVERIDGE ENDS 2022 ON HIGH NOTE Round 4: Australian champion Dylan Beveridge proved why he proudly wears the A1 mantle on his wing with a memorable victory at Portland’s Southern 500 Speedway over American Nikko Panella, with Jack Bell rounding out the podium. The top six to the chequered flag was completed by the ever consistent Jordan Rae, Liam Russell and Angus Hollis
BEVERIDGE TAKES AVALON ACTION Picking up from where he left off and bringing in the 2023 New Year the best way possible was Dylan Beveridge, claiming back-to-back features for the fifth and final round, hosted at the Avalon Raceway. Flanking him on the podium would be Angelo Karrousis and Boyd Chafley. Nikko Panella’s fourth placing
would earn him enough points to secure the overall Speedweek Series, while rounding out the top six were Liam Russell and Angus Hollis. After five hard-fought rounds of the Preston Rowe Patterson Formula 500 Speedweek, American racer Nikko Panella was crowned as the overall champion, with Angelo Karrousis taking the runner-up position. Despite leading going into the final round, Jordan Rae would drop to third. Squaring off the top five amongst a stella field of competitors were Liam Russell and Brodie Davis. In conjunction with the seniors was The Gibbtrans Junior Formula 500 Speedweek with a total of 22 of the best young drivers from around Australia taking part in the four round series. The four nights would be contested at the Heytesbury Stockfeeds Simpson Speedway, the Laang Speedway
and consecutive rounds hosted at Avalon Raceway. Queensland’s Charlie Bowen won the opening round – flanking him in the podium celebrations was Mitch Saunderson and Kobi Wright. The second round saw the second generation New South Welshman Kobi Wright claim the honours over Zoe Pearce and Cooper Norman. Kobi Wright back-to-backed his efforts to stand on the top step of the podium for Round 3 and the final race for 2022. Koby Oshannassy was home in second after leading over half the race distance and Zoe Pearce again found herself on the podium. The fourth and final round would see Charlie Bowen ahead of Kobi Wright and Zoe Pearce. After four fantastic rounds of the series Zoe Pearce would take victory over Mitch Saunderson and Kobi Wright. Charlie Bowen and Mikey Green completed the top five.
SUPERS BATTLE OF THE BORDER Also staging their own mini ‘Battle of the Border’ were the V8 powered Super Sedans, featuring a field of 14 competitors over two nights of competition. The field consisted of half a dozen Victorians, four South Aussies, a pair of West Aussies and a lone New South Welshman making it a healthy national mix. The opening round commenced at Mount Gambier’s Borderline Speedway and it was returning Dave Gartner, after a long hiatus period, collecting the maximum points but he would only get there by the barest of margins – just 0.066s after 20 solid fought laps as the hard charging Jamie Collins
chased vigorously over every millimetre to narrow the real-estate, drawing alongside to challenge for the lead as the duo ran door to door over the closing laps. Collins would poke his nose to the front using the inside line – however Gartner would use his home track knowledge and momentum of the outside to slingshot out of the corners. Taking the final step on the podium was West Aussie Lee Aylett who fought his way back from fifth to third. Paul Blenkiron, Kemble Aylett, and Trav Ramsdale followed while one lap down was Kym Jury, Lyle Harris, Chris Ferguson, Darren Giacometti, Jimmy
#18 Dave Gartner and #34 Jamie Collins drag race to the finish line. Image: PARIS CHARLES Harris and Stephen Hodder rounding out the finishers while Dave McKenzie was a midrace retirement Heat wins were divided amongst Giacometti, K. Aylett, Gartner and Collins with one apiece.
The V8 powered beasts would then venture into Victoria, picking up for the second and final night at Portland’s Southern 500 Speedway. After a thrilling finish to the previous final, the racing continued giving the ‘Sedan Fans’ plenty of thrills.
With Gartner absent for the second round, a determined Collins would make the most of his Pole Position to lead from flag to flag in the 25 lap final, taking victory in convincing style. L Aylett would have a lonely race for the runner-up position, but the race for third was a barnstorming affair as six competitors ran in a tight group – heading the pack for the final podium step was Giacometti over Jury, Blenkiron, Ramsdale, J Harris and L Harris. Sadly, Ferguson would fail to travel the journey while Hodder, Ricky Ashmore was unable to start the final. Collins would make every post a winner, clean sweeping all three of his heats while singles were shared by L. Aylett, Ferguson and Giacometti. Paris Charles
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SPEEDWAY SPEEDWEEK WAY OUT WEST THE WEST Australian Speedway scene has been in full swing over the holiday period – beautiful summer nights and a collection of top shelf racing has brought the crowds out in their droves to witness the Speedway Australia USA vs WA Sprintcar Speedweek Series, run in conjunction with the Maddington Toyota Sprintcar Series. The high octane festivities kicked off with Boxing Day Bonanza at the Perth Motorplex, followed by the Merger Contracting Sprintcar Muster before heading to the Bunbury Speedway for the Totally Workwear New Year Sprintcar Derby and then back to the Motorplex for the fourth round of seven (three remaining at time of writing), with American stars Brock Zearfoss, Tyler Courtney and Corey Eliason unleashing their skills against 27 Aussies.
RD 1 – UNCLE SAM’S TRIFECTA, ALL GUNS BLAZING!
Twenty-five teams rolled into The Motorplex keen to kick start their series off the best way possible, but the American trio proved in a class of their own. Tyler Courtney started on Pole, sharing the front row with Kris Coyle for the 30-lap final. At the drop of the green Courtney bolted, leading the charge. Within 5 laps he had caught the first of the backmarkers, allowing Coyle to challenge as the duo locked into an enthralling battle through traffic. Sadly, Coyle’s challenge would implode after tagging the wall, bringing on the first of the caution periods. The restart would instantly pause, as Ryan Lancaster inverted his ride, the stoppage allowing the Coyle entry to complete his fix and re-join from the back. Courtney led again as Corey began his assault on Dayne Kingshott for second, the two trading blows until Coyle delaminated a right rear, bring on the second and final caution. As the race came down to the wire, Courtney and Eliason traded places with the best racing any fan could hope to see. Courtney would visit Victory Lane flanked by Eliason and Brock Zearfoss making it an American trifecta. James Inglis, Callum Williamson, Jason Kendrick, David Priolo, Dayne Kingshott, Andrew Priolo, Taylor Milling, Daniel Harding and Jason Pryde finishing on the lead lap. One lap down was Bradley Maiolo, Trent Pigdon, Mitchell Wormall, Matthew Cross, Russell Taylor, Nathan Swan and Robbie Farr. Failing to travel the journey were AJ Nash, Matt Egel, Coyle and Lancaster.
RD 2 – A TISSUE OVER THE PODIUM! South Aussie Matt Egel started from pole, however Jason Kendrick took the lead, despite multiple early caution periods. At one third race distance and seven Indian file restarts, the race would settle into rhythm as Kendrick led, Egel charged past Tyler Courtney to second, challenging for the lead before the red lights blazed at half race distance after Robbie Farr and Jaydee Dack made contact, sending the latter upside down. Kendrick again led the field away – however Egel and Courtney would jet by, developing a thrilling dual for the lead until Kendrick spun out of third and the race. Egel this time led the charge until a fast-finishing Cory Eliason catapulted his way from 13th to the lead with just half a lap remaining. Egel followed, then
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Americans on the charge:. Above, Cory Eliason; left, Tyler Courtney; right, Brock Zearfoss. Images: RICHARD HATHAWAY
SPEEDWAY NEWS with Paris Charles Courtney third in a thriller with only 0.379 separating the podium. Dayne Kingshott was next followed by Callum Williamson from 21st to fifth, David Priolo, James Inglis, Rusty Hickman, Taylor Milling, AJ Nash, Daniel Harding, Andrew Priolo, Chase Karpenko, Ryan Lancaster, Mitchell Wormall and Jason Pryde the finishers. Joining Kendrick, Dack, Farr on the DNF list was Brock Zearfoss, Kris Coyle, Trent Pigdon, Matthew Cross and Bradley Maiolo.
RD 3 – CORY ELIASON BACK TO BACK! It was a different track, but it was a case of deja-vu from the previous round as Matt Egel and Jason Kendrick would again square up on the front row for the 30-lap final. Kendrick got the advantage from the start, however Egel would take command of the pack as Cory Eliason moved to second and it would remain that way until capturing the
lead through lapped traffic. The race would run express for over half the journey until Tyler Courtney spun, resetting the field into indian file for the restart. Eliason again led the charge – however Egel threw down another challenge to poke his nose in front momentarily with eight laps remaining. Eliason would not lay down as he charged back to take command. Just as the white flag was being unfurled, the yellow would trigger for Trent Pigdon and Robbie Farr with deflated tyres. Cautions breed cautions and the yellows again blazed as Dayne Kingshott, David Priolo and Daniel Harding would go no further. With another attempt to get the field away Egel challenged for the lead however his bid would fail and he spun to a stop. This time the green, white and chequered flags would run in succession, Eliason claiming victory over Brock Zearfoss and Kendrick for the podium. James Inglis, Callum Williamson, Mitchell Wormall, Tyler Courtney, Kris Coyle and Ryan Lancaster. Egel would salvage 10th over Andrew Priolo, Jaydee Dack, Jason Pryde, Bradley Maiolo and Nathan Swan the remaining finishers.
RD 4 – USA & SA FOR THE PODIUM. The American domination continued back at the Perth Motorplex. Tyler Courtney claimed his second feature race of the season – however this time Brock Zearfoss
and Andrew Priolo would top the qualifying sheets for the 30-lap final. However a determined Tyler Courtney wanted the front more as he quickly took control of the tempo, clearing out from the field. With 17 laps in the books, the Americans in Courtney, Zearfoss and Eliason would occupy the top three positions and things looked set to remain that way until Zearfoss took slight contact from Ryan Lancaster which knocked the front left out from under him. With 11 to run Courtney would lead but Eliason challenged hard, at times drawing alongside, the two touching wheels with just three and a half laps remaining. Courtney would hold sway for maximum points, Eliason second and Matt Egel the final podium step. Kris Coyle, Jason Kendrick, David Priolo, Callum Williamson, Dayne Kingshott, Andrew Priolo, Bradley Maiolo, Taylor Milling and James Inglis completed the top dozen, while Mitchell Wormall, Robbie Farr and Jason Pryde finished on the lead lap. One lap in arrears was Ryan Lancaster, Chase Karpenko, Jaydee Dack, Russell Taylor and Nathan Swan was the last car to see the chequered flag. With three rounds remaining Cory Eliason leads the point score over Tyler Courtney, Callum Williamson, James Inglis, Jason Kendrick, Matt Egel, David Priolo, Dayne Kingshott, Andrew Priolo and Brock Zearfoss rounding the top 10.
Luke Oldfield (left) has won three of the five rounds to date. USA1 Justin Sanders (right) turned the tables on Oldfield to claim Round 5 of the track championship. Images: CHRIS METCALFE
OLDFIELD DEFENDING HOME GROUND BRISBANE’S ARCHERFIELD Speedway has been a hive of activity over the Christmas to New Year’s period with the domestic East Coast Logistics Series, Rounds 4 and 5. A large and festive fan base has come through the gates to see American import Justin Sanders take on the best of the Banana Benders for what was a thrilling two nights of competition. The Boxing Day event saw the Californian take to the track for the very first time against 30 competitors coming in with local track knowledge. However, from the get go, Sanders would set alarm bells ringing, taking the KRE Quick Time mantle in his first ever attempt at the venue. While the 30-lap final would see Jy Cobet and Luke Oldfield squaring off, Saunders would have his work cut out for him coming from eighth. At the drop of the green Corbet led the field with Oldfield, Brent Kratzmann and Co in the chase. Corbet held sway for the opening 15 laps before Oldfield found his mark and pounced to the lead. At this point, Ryan Newton advanced to third as Kratzmann fell from contention. Saunders had steadily made his way through the field and with five laps remaining found himself in second and hunting for the lead – however the lights would go yellow for the stricken Corbet who retired as the only non-finisher. With just four laps remaining and a clear track ahead, Oldfield charged away at the Indian file restart to claim maximum points and his third feature race victory this season in the domestic track championship. Saunders claimed the runner-up spot and Newton remained in
third for the final step on the dais. Randy Morgan, Kratzmann, Taylor Prosser, Harry Stewart, Jack Bell, James Kennedy, Allan Woods squared off the top 10. Kevin Titman, Karl Hoffmans, Andrew Baumber, Tim Farrell, Mitch Gowland, Trent Vardy and Mark Pholi, completed the 17 competitors finishing on the lead lap. Heat races were shared by Stewart, Kennedy, R. Morgan, Saunders, Corbet and Oldfield who also claimed the Top 8 Boss Hogg’s Steakhouse Dash, with the last chance B Main going to Vardy.
NIGHT 1 SUPPORTS Charlie Brown proved the best of the 17 competitors in the Speedcar brigade. Going into the 20-lap final Darren Dillon and Brock Dean shared the front row. Dean got the initial jump, however both were surpassed by Brown coming quickly from third. Casey O’Connell claimed the runner-up mantle and talented New Zealand wheel twister Kaleb Currie took the final podium placing. Rusty Whittaker was next with Tim Devine, Brad Dawson, Kody Stothard, Darren Vine, Chris Moor and Daniel Griffiths rounding the top 10. Klinton Hancey proved too strong in the Modlite final, leading the 20-lapper from go to whoa. The remainder of the podium would also finish where they started, with Dan Lewis and Luke Harrison sharing the celebrations. Chris Fing was fourth followed by Tyson Snow, visiting American Blake Wilson, Trent McLean, Callum Beerling, Sean Rose and Leroy Martin rounding out the top 10 from a whopping field of 27 competitors.
SANDERS STRIKE BACK!
Returning to Archerfield for the next installment of Sprintcar racing was a strong field of 29 competitors. Proving his KRE Quick Time award was no fluke Justin Sanders would top the charts again with a 12.034 to edge out Oldfield by a mere .004 of a second. Randy Morgan led the opening portion of the 30-lap final having the advantage of clear track before Oldfield took the control of the race with just half a dozen laps in the books. Sanders continued his path forward and after 12 laps, the Californian advanced to second, pushing Morgan back to third and at this point the intensity lifted at the pointy end as Sanders began to engage Oldfield for a crack at the lead, but as the duo traded punches the red lights would soon pause their battle for the inverted entry of Andrew Baumber. The race would recommence only for another stoppage, this time by Dan Murray. One last restart would see Oldfield head the queue – however Sanders had other ideas and got the better of the local to swoop in and take the lead and onwards to Victory Lane, followed by Oldfield and Jy Corbet for the minors. Morgan would hold on for fourth, chased home by Kevin Titman, Brent Kratzmann, Taylor Prosser, Jack Bell, Harry Stewart, Trent Vardy, Mitch Gowland and Brad Ayres completing the top dozen, while further back were Dan Murray, Adam Butler, Karl Hoffmans, Nathan Pronger and Kye Jensen. Joining Baumber on the retirement list was Tim Farrell.
Bell claimed the B Main event, the Top 8 Boss Hogg’s Steakhouse Dash was claimed by Farrell after Sander pulled the full inversion marble, and the heats were shared amongst R. Morgan, Oldfield, Corbet and Sanders with Titman notching a double.
NIGHT 2 SUPPORTS A field of 20 Wingless Sprints showcased some heated action in the The Wildink Wingless Series. Jamie Usher would go flag-to-flag for victory in the 20-lap final, reigning Queensland champion Jacob Jolley was next as the Thomsen’s, Brody and Scott, traded blows, with Brody getting the upper hand for the final step on the rostrum. Despite some of the best competitors down south on a tour of duty, the Formula 500s proved entertaining with a field of 10 pushing the limits. Liam Williams claimed victory over the Jukes (Scott and Wayne) with Ronnie Barber completing the first four to the finish. Round 2 of the Shock Absorber Therapy AMCA Series went to Bruce Marshall, proving the best of the 20 competitors. Lee McKinnell, Matt Hardy and Nathan Tomkins finished where they started for the first four home. Sedan fans were entertained with Open Sedans. In the A Division final, it was oh so close for Ben Robertson, leading the entire journey before expiring with one lap remaining. Andrew Craft persisted and came up with the win with Wayne Kirkman and Gary Kivella tucked in behind. Tim Swart won the B division with Shaun Donnelly and Haiden Grantz sharing the podium.
JOCK TAKES IT TO THE MAX! APPLE ISLANDER Jock Goodyer (left) pulled off a tremendous win at Premier Speedway, taking victory in the victory in the action-filled Chitticks Bakery Max’s Race, an event held to celebrate the stellar career of former home track favourite Max Dumesny. From pole position, Goodyer held strong over the 30-lap journey to defeat the defending race champion James McFadden. Queensland’s Ryan Newton turned in his best result at the Premier
Image: PARIS CHARLES
venue to claim the third podium step. Tate Frost was fourth but was disqualified for failing to head to the scales after crossing the line. Steven Lines was elevated to fourth followed by Brett Milburn, Luke Dillon, Ryan Jones and Brock Hallett the final classified finisher. Jamie Veal, Marcus Dumesny, Grant Anderson, Ashley Cook, Peter Doukas, Will Carroll, Cole Macedo, Lachlan McHugh, Jordyn Charge, Corey McCullagh, Cameron Waters made up the list of retirees.
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AT THE HALFWAY MARK OF AN EPIC 2023 DAKAR RALLY, THE CARS CLASSIFICATION HAS A CLEAR LEADER, WHILST A GRUELLING BATTLE FOR THE AGES IS FORMING IN THE BIKES CATEGORY. THOMAS MILES AND TIMOTHY NEAL REPORT.
AL-ATTIYAH ON TRACK TO COMPLETE DAKAR DYNASTY NASSER AL-ATTIYAH (right) is in pole position to score a fifth Dakar Rally victory after opening up a commanding lead across the first half of the 2023 event which has not been without its dramas. Audi landed the first blow in the 13km Prologue, where Mattias Ekstrom edged out Sebastien Loeb, while the manufacturer’s good news continued as Carlos Sainz Snr stormed to a Stage 1 victory. Alula was the scene where Al-Attiyah kicked his campaign into gear, as he won Stage 2 and made giant inroads. It was also the moment where Loeb’s misery began as three punctures saw him lose almost 90 minutes. Audi’s promising start turned into a nightmare in Stage 3, with Al-Attiyah taking over a lead he’s yet to relinquish with Sainz stumbling. The Spaniard could do little as mechanical, tyre, and navigation dramas meant his lead slipped away. As the rally headed for the dunes, things finally went Loeb’s way after he lost 90 minutes across the two previous days. The Frenchman then managed to salvage some pride as he snuck ahead of Stephane Peterhansel by just 13 seconds. A war of words then erupted between Toyota and Audi off the road after the latter received a power boost from the FIA. Al-Attiyah feared the directive would “kill” the rally, but the fired up Qatari driver turned his frustrations into speed, by winning Stage 5 with authority. As the Toyota driver’s stocks continued to go up, Loeb’s hit more trouble when he rolled his Bahrain Raid Xtreme Prodrive Hunter upside-down (below). Despite Al-Attiyah being well in front, the Audi threat remained ever present with both Peterhansel and Sainz within Images: Red Bull Content Pool; Gigi Soldado; MCH Photography
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34 minutes. But this was not a concern for the reigning winner after Stage 6 when his lead exploded from 22 minutes to over an hour. As Al-Attiyah cruised to a second straight stage win, both of Audi’s top contenders ran into trouble. Peterhansel was forced to withdraw after his co-driver Edouard Boulanger was air-lifted to hospital following a significant shunt. With its leader out of action, Audi’s attention turned to Sainz, but he also got stranded in the same stretch of sand. In Stage 7 it was Ekstrom’s turn to bring more misfortune to the four-ringed squad. After leading at the opening checkpoint, the Swede had to stop in the dunes due to mechanical issues, while teammate Sainz pulled over for assistance, forcing the pair to lose even more time. With Al-Attiyah focused on keeping his nose clean, Yazeed Al-Rajhi seized on the opportunity to take the stage by nine minutes. In the final outing before the rest day, mechanical gremlins finally disappeared for Audi, as it found a new way to lose. Sainz led the entire 367km special between Al Duwadimi and Riyadh and secured a provisional 1m39s win, only for a speeding penalty to drop him into third and, giving the win to Loeb.
SANDERS FEARED HIS DAKAR OVER
The setback summed up a nightmare first half for Audi, as Al-Attiyah carried a 1:03.46 advantage over Toyota teammate Henk Lategan going into the Riyadh camp rest day. The class Australian Molly Taylor is currently competing in, T4 Modified Production SSV, is set for an intriguing finale. Only six minutes separate the top four with Rokas Baciuska (above) leading EnergyLandia Rally Team pair Marek and Eryk Goczal. Taylor’s teammate Rodrigo Luppi De Oliveira was leading the way until he plummeted in the last two stages. After 823 eventful kilometres, anything could happen across the second half of the 2023 Dakar Rally. Thomas Miles
AFTER DANIEL Sanders himself said he was “lucky to be alive” after his road crash in last year’s Dakar during the Stage 7 liaison, he jumped out of the blocks this year to be in lead by Stage 3. The tough GAS GAS rider (above) was then struck down with a mystery illness that he thinks may have come from a thorn lodged deep in his arm, which dropped him into 0:26.56s from the lead, and he feared his ailment would end his rally. “I’m really happy to make it to the rest day because, the other day, I thought I was going to pull out and I didn’t think I was going to keep going because the body was so drained,” Sanders said. “I’m still fighting this bug a little bit in the stomach. Hopefully I’m on the mend now, and tomorrow is another rest day, so we’ll rest up and come out swinging on Stage 9 … hopefully.” His subsequent semi-recovery saw him fight back in Stages 6 and 8 with a P7 and P2, putting him back in the top ten to seventh overall, and just 7 minutes off the front runner in Skyler Howes. With the rally still wide open, the gutsy rider they call “Chucky” is very much alive in the fight for Dakar.
PRICE KNOWS DAKAR LONG GAME TOBY PRICE, Australia’s first ever Dakar winner and two-time winner, knows all too well that Dakar isn’t won in a day. And despite carrying shoulder and back injuries following a crash with Joan Barreda on Stage 5, the eight time Finke Desert race winner was hanging tough to sit fourth, just 0:1.58s of the lead. Despite the bad nature of the crash with Barreda and his own injuries, Price lost 5-6 minutes to assist the Spaniard, ensuring he was ok before heading on. “Barreda had a crash in front of us and I ended up hitting him … I’m not sure, I pretty much shut my eyes,” Price said. “The bike went flipping in front of me and cleaned me out, it was a good get-off for both of us. I was okay, but I stopped for around five minutes there to make sure Joan was okay while he was having a snooze.” Despite finishing in P17 prior to the rest day, the durable KTM rider has more or less avoided big trouble, and although he hasn’t won a stage since the opening prologue, he’s handled the tough conditions with caution whilst largely keeping the pace, where he sat as high as second overall after seven stages.
EPIC CLASSIC LOOMING IN THE DAKAR BIKES
A SEESAWING opening eight stages has seen some gruelling action, starting at the Red Sea Prologue camp, all the way to the landlocked Riyadh province. An Aussie double from the get-go, had Toby Price (above) and Sanders scoring a one-two, as the KTM Factory rider continued his opening stage dominance of the Dakar Rally. Stage 1 had the new timed special bonus points come into play for the first time, awarding the fastest riders push harder for time bonuses. The rally gave up its first high profile victim in the first 368km loop, when defending British champion Sam Sunderland needed an air lift to the hospital after 52km. Honda rider Ricky Brabec took the opening stage, after Sanders was penalised for speeding in the liaison, dropping him into eighth. Argentine Kevin
Benavides and Price filled the top-three. The second, and very rocky 430km stage to Alula, saw young American star Mason Klein take a maiden stage win, whilst sanders took the foot of the gas so he didn’t have to open the Stage 3 navigation, whilst he also took on a troubling thorn that lodged deep into his arm. Stage 3, the road to Ha’il, had 2020 winner - and the first ever American winner - Brabec, crash out at the 274 km mark, whilst Sanders tore through the historic centre of the Nabataean civilisation, with a resounding win, the fourth in his third Dakar, to take the overall lead. The monstrous 574km high altitude Ha’il to Ha’il loop had Spaniard Joan Barreda take out the stage with a broken toe, with the dunes entering into prominence. A fuel pump issue halted the charge
Molly Taylor – a top 10 chance with some luck other than bad!
of Klein with only 42km to travel, allowing Sanders to keep his overall lead, whilst American Skyler Howes (right) and Price kept out of trouble to sit in threatening overall positions. The second Ha’il loop - Stage 5 - had Sanders wake up with a suspected infection from the thorn, as riders faced a sustained trip through the Camel grass and mountainous dunes. Sanders dropped to eighth overall after struggling into P21, whilst Frenchman Adrien van Beveren took the stage win over Honda teammate Jose Ignacio Florimo, with Price taking third over Klein and Howes, for overall second. Price did encounter difficulties after he crashed into Barreda when he tried to overtake, losing five minutes as he stayed with a knocked-out Barreda, whilst Price also injured his shoulder. Howes moved into the lead with a P5 finish, leaving Price two minutes back with a three minute lead over teammate Kevin Benavides. Stage 6 had a shortened 357km special stage due to rain, as the field made it through relatively unscathed. Whilst Luciano Benavides took out the stage over Husqvarna teammate, Howes, the American managed to extend his overall lead from Price to three minutes. Barreda continued after his accident to hold onto fourth overall to be 10 minutes off the leader, whilst Klein fell twice to be 12 minutes back heading into stage 7, with Sanders almost 20 minutes back
despite finishing in seventh. Due to the bivouac being underwater due to flooding, Stage 7 had a line ruled through it, meaning the special timed stage between Riyadh to the Al Duwadimi got scratched. The Stage 7 loop initially meant for Riyadh was shortened to 128km and moved to Stage 8. When the racing resumed after a forced day off, the leaderboard was turned on its head. After a tough Stage 6, Klein stormed back into the overall lead from P7 in a 13:33s turnaround, finishing in P2 behind Botswana rider Ross Branch who sits 35 overall. A subsequent speeding penalty then saw Klein take a two minute penalty, dropping him into third overall. Sanders shook off his ailment to finish 3:15s behind Branch to sit seventh overall, 8:50s off the lead. 8 riders now sit within 10 minutes compared to three at the beginning of the stage, with Howes, Benavides, Klein, and Price making up the top five. It was a tricky day for navigation, with both Howes and Price finishing 10+ minutes back on the leader, as riders then took a well earned rest day Riyadh. Timothy Neal
TAYLOR AND SHORT MAKING UP GROUND MOLLY TAYLOR’S 2023 Dakar would seem shot by the headlines, but the Can-Am South SSV driver still remains in strong contention for the top-10. Whilst the Victorian is 2:37.41s from the lead, she has remained only five minutes from 11th come the Riyadh rest day. After a front drive shaft issue on a tough first day, Taylor then sat as high as ninth during stage three but three punctures, an hours wait for a spare, and poor visibility dropped her into P15 with a P39 finish. After a fight back on Stages 4 and 5, Taylor and co-driver Andrew Short again hit issues on Stage 6.
“One of these days luck is going to be on our side. We did a CBT belt about 90km into the stage and then had some issues with the drive, which made some of the dunes a bit challenging,” she said. “Looks like there might be a broken spring as well, but all we can do is keep fighting.” During another fight back on Stage 8, the pair then had another puncture before their Jack then jammed in the dust. All in all, three top-10 stage finishes has been a strong yield all things considered, and with a turn of luck, Molly could more than best her 2022 Dakar debut finish of P14.
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GENERAL KNOWLEDGE Across 6 Lewis Hamilton went winless in 2022, but how many podiums did he score? 7 Who ended up as the highest placed Brad Jones Racing driver in the Supercars Championship? (surname) 9 After Shane van Gisbergen, Chaz Mostert won the most amount of races –how many did he take? 10 In his final full-time Supercars season Lee Holdsworth took a podium finish – where was this? 11 How many IndyCar races did Scott McLaughlin win in 2022? 15 Who spectacularly rolled out of the opening lap of the F1 British Grand Prix? (full name) 16 How many race victories did Sergio Perez take in 2022? 17 Which former Formula 1 race winner raced an S5000 on the streets of Adelaide? (surname) 18 What team did Nyck de Vries race for on debut at Monza? 20 Who won the 2022 TCR Australia Series? (surname) 21 Who broke through to score his maiden Supercars race victory in 2022? (surname)
22 Who scored a famous pole position as a Wildcard at The Bend Motorsport Park? (surname) 25 Who made his debut alongside Craig Lowndes in the Bathurst 1000 last year? (surname) 26 Who won the 2022 IndyCar Series? (surname) 27 Where did James Moffat finish the Bathurst 1000 this year? 28 Who finished as runner-up in the 2022 World Rally Championship? (surname)
Down 1 Who won the 2022 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix? (surname) 2 Who was forced to sit out the opening two races of the 2022 F1 season after catching COVID-19? (surname) 3 Carlos Sainz took his first F1 victory at which circuit? 4 Who finished second in the 2022 Supercars Championship? (surname) 5 Who won the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix in 2022? (surname) 8 Who was the only person not driving a Mercedes, Ferrari or Red
Bull in F1 to score a podium this season? (surname) 11 Kalle Rovanpera became the youngest ever World Rally Champion in 2022 – how old was he? 12 George Russell broke through to score his maiden Formula 1 victory – in what country did this occur? 13 Who replaced Garry Jacobson mid-season at PremiAir Racing? (surname) 14 Who scored his maiden Indy 500 victory in 2022? (surname) 19 Who finished third in the 2022 S5000 Championship and second in the Tasman Series? (surname) 21 What was Tim Slade’s best Supercars race finish in 2022? 23 Who collected the most TCR Australia race wins in 2022? (surname) 24 After a season of such promise, how many race wins did Ferrari score in 2022?
#1851 Holden Crossword Answers: 1 down – three, 2 across – three, 3 down – Perkins, 4 down – Jane, 5 across – Feeney, 6 down – VR, 7 across – HRT, 7 down – HDT, 8 down – Percat, 9 across – Seven, 10 down – van Gisbergen, 11 down – ten, 12 across – Tander, 13 across – Queensland, 14 down – Mostert, 15 down – Murphy, 15 across – Monaro, 16 down – Richards, 17 down – McPhee, 18 across – five, 19 across – nine, 20 across – four, 21 down – one, 22 across – VP, 23 across – Beechey, 24 across – ZB, 25 down – Brock, 26 across – Triple Eight, 27 across – Lowndes, 28 across - Whincup
We take a look back at what was making news in Auto Action 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago
1973: THERE WAS plenty of racing across the New Year period with Allan Moffat enhancing his international reputation by dominating the Rothmans International Touring Series. Moffat driving his well-known Ford Mustang was a dominant force, winning two of the three races at Bay Park Raceway. Leo Geoghegan also enjoyed plenty of success at Phillip Island where he won all Sports Sedan races on offer Geoghegan lapped seven seconds quicker than his nearest rival and took an outright class record in his Porsche 911S.
1983: THE YEAR started with some big news as Auto Action revealed 1980 F1 world champion Alan Jones and then seven-time Bathurst winner Peter Brock would team together in an all-Aussie team in America. The superstars were planning to contest the second round of the 1983 IMSA Series, a 500km Miami Grand Prix street race. The team prepared its Chevrolet Monza GT at secret test sessions held at Calder Park. Allan Grice also made news with his tie-up with STP announced, the first step towards the fondly remember red and blue #6 Commodore to VH Commodore hitting the track.
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1993: GARY BRABHAM was announced as the first Australian to race in the Gold Coast IndyCar Grand Prix after striking a deal with Dick Simon Racing. The Aussie was signed up to not only race on the streets of Surfers Paradise, but also the famous Indianapolis 500. However, in the end, Brabham only raced at home. After rumours of a shock move to HRT, John Bowe stayed loyal and remained at DJR, while sources indicated Ayrton Senna was likely to have a sabbatical in 1993 and Gibson Motorsport unveiled its post-Nissan future.
2003: FORD WAS making all of the news at the start of 2003 after the widely anticipated announcement of Russell Ingall switching camps to SBR. After spending his entire career until that point at Perkins Engineering, Ingall finally joined Ford on a long-term deal after a similar switch almost happened in 2000. Ford’s other major team was creating headlines as rumours surfaced Glenn Seton and Craig Lowndes would lead a three-car Prodrive ‘Super team’. Although the key parties remained tight lipped, it proved to be true as Ford Performance Racing fielded Lowndes, Seton and David Besnard in the 2003 season.
2013: FORD PERFORMANCE Racing was back in the news a decade later with Rod Nash and Rusty French confirmed as new owners of the factory team in a deal worth at least $8 million. Despite Ford Falcon road car sales at an all time low, the blue oval played a key part in the deal with factory backing locking up the team’s short-term future. Fans were still concerned about how they would watch the upcoming 2013 V8Supercars Championship with negotiations on a new TV deal still ongoing into January, with eventual broadcaster Seven the frontrunner.
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