Cairns driver Geoff Olholm sets Safari in his sights
Cairns Dakar Rally specialist Geoff Olholm is well into his preparation for the rugged Australasian Safari with a recent 750km win under his belt.
Olholm won the Condo 750 conducted over Easter at Condobolin in New South Wales, overcoming a two-minute deficit incurred on the Saturday.
Driving the Cairns Coconut Caravan Resort V8-powered Mitsubishi Pajero with navigator Gordon Trigg of Sydney, the pair combined well to win the event which comprised 750km of tracks, wet creeks, rocky hills, farm fence lines and rough terrain over eight competitive stages.
Fellow Cairns racers Murray Young and navigator Paul McBean went on to win their sixth straight class victory in their Cairns Kart Hire/Smithfield Dental Pajero. Young was delighted to finish 10th outright in the slowest production car in the field. Both teams are preparing for the Australasian Safari in Western Australia from September 21-29.
Former V8 Supercar and Bathurst 1000 Champion Craig Lowndes, has indicated he wants to contest the event once again after hitting a tree root on day one last year while leading the event. Young and McBean towed his PWR Holden Rally Team Colorado back to the service compound. Following swift repairs, Lowndes drove faultlessly to finish fourth with Young and McBean delighted with fifth behind Lowndes. The Cairns pairing is looking for a podium finish in September.
Blue oval dominates in Hamilton
The final Hamilton 400 V8 Supercar race was dominated by the Blue Oval brigade with Will Davison (FPR Falcon) after starting sixth, racing to an emphatic win in race one ahead of reigning champion Jamie Whincup (888 Commodore) and Garth Tander (HRT Commodore).
Tander’s teammate James Courtney recorded his best race finish for 2012 in seventh place. Sunday’s race featured an all-Ford front row with Davison once again on the pole and Winterbottom beside him in two. 888 Commodore Team drivers Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes occupied the second row of the grid.
Winterbottom, in his 250th V8 Supercar race, assumed a race-winning lead at the start with Davison “riding shotgun” in second. A brush with the wall in qualifying necessitated some hasty repairs to Whincup’s Commodore, however the number one car was off the pace a little and Whincup lost touch with the leaders, only to come back and challenge for the lead. He finished second with Davison third. Davison now leads the championship going into the next round in Perth, WA, on the first weekend in May.
Vettel bounces back in Bahrain
The Bahrain F1 GP race was exciting and without incident, however it is understood that one person was killed during a demonstration away from the circuit. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Renault) bounced back following ordinary performances for the reigning Champion. Vettel started on the pole and was never headed. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) started beside Vettel, however fell back through the field, three slow pit stops major contributors to his disappointing eighth place.
Hamilton’s teammate Jensen Button, who was third in the championship prior to Bahrain, also had a day he would like to forget.
He was “off the pace” from the start, then suffered a puncture late in the race followed by a last-lap retirement. Mark Webber, who started from third, once again finished a distant fourth as he has in each GP thus far this year. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus Renault), who has been driving in the Word Rally Championship for the past decade, has demonstrated he still possesses the skills and determination which won him a World F1 Championship.
After starting from 11th on the grid, Raikkonen was chasing Vettel down in the latter stages of the race, however ran out of laps, finishing second. His teammate Romain Grosjean recorded a career best, third. After qualifying sixth, fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo dropped back rapidly in the “no holds barred” early laps where numerous drivers were vying for the same piece of the race track. He finished 17th.
Vettel leads the Championship with 53 points, ahead of Hamilton (49) with Webber now up to third, one point behind Hamilton.
Aussies take their place for Indy 500
The official entry list for the Indianapolis 500, to be raced on May 27, has been announced, with two Australians to compete.
Team Penske drivers Will Power, the IRL Championship leader, from Toowoomba, and Sydney’s Ryan Briscoe will take their place on the 33-car grid.
Three former winners are in the mix. The third Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves won in 2001, ’02, ’09, reigning IRL Champion Dario Franchitti (Chip Ganassi Racing) ‘07-’10 and his teammate, Australian-born New Zealander Scott Dixon, 2008. The oldest driver in the field, having his first Indy 500 drive, is F1 convert Rubens Barichello who just turned 40.
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Tough competitor: Geoff Olholm battles on in the Dakar Rally in South America. Picture: MAINDRU PHOTO