Supercar changes afoot - Townsville bows out, should Cairns step up?
There was positive response in local media, including numerous Letters to the Editor in The Cairns Post, to the news that Townsville will no longer host a round of the V8 Supercar Championship.
This is despite the comment from TTNQ manager Rob Giason that the V8 Supercars “was not a good fit” for Cairns.
The V8 Supercar Championship is now an international event with rounds in New Zealand and Abu Dhabi. From 2013, it will include Austin, Texas, in the US, where a new circuit is under construction.
In my opinion the timing could not be better due to the fact from 2013 the new “Car of the Future” will be introduced and other manufacturers will participate in the championship alongside Ford and Holden.
Nissan has already confirmed it will join forces with family-owned Kelly Racing, where Rick Kelly, his brother Todd and two other drivers will race four of the new Nissan Altimas.
The Altima is to replace the ageing Nissan Maxima in the Nissan passenger car range. It is being built in America at Nissan’s racing division NISMO and will have a Nissan VK56DE 5-litre DOHC V8 motor, one of which is being developed in the Kelly family workshop near Winton in Victoria.
Nissan is scheduling the Australian release of the Altima so as to coincide with the opening round of the 2013 V8 Supercar Championship.
Nissan’s Australian general manager of Communications and Motorsport Jeff Fisher, who conceived and drove the idea of a factory-based V8 team said, “We’ve kind of created a precedent globally to turn the Altima into a race vehicle.”
“It’s never been raced anywhere in the world before, so the Americans and the Japanese are intrigued.”
Faultless form in Monaco
After starting on the pole, Australia’s Mark Webber drove a faultless race, in sometimes damp conditions, to win the Monaco F1 GP. He led home Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, his own teammate Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. Just 4.1 seconds separated the top five. Unprecedented in F1 history, Webber is the sixth different winner in the six races so far contested.
Jensen Button won in Melbourne, Fernando Alonso in Malaysia, Nico Rosberg in China, Sebastian Vettel in Bahrain, Pastor Maldonado in Spain with Webber in Monaco. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) leads with 76 points with Red Bull Renault teammates Vettel and Webber both on 73 points. The next round, the Canadian GP, is in two weeks.
Power plagued by misfortune
Toowoomba’s Will Power still has the Indianapolis 500 monkey on his back. After qualifying fifth in the 96th Indianapolis 500, Power was in eighth, driving at 320km/h, when a car driven by Mike Conway exited the pits.
However Conway hit a team member as he was leaving the pits, breaking the front wing and leaving him without front down force. He continued on to the track, spinning in front of Power’s number 12 Penske Chevrolet. Fortunately neither driver was injured.
A circumspect Power said, “He just spun in front of me. Nothing I could do.” Power broke six vertebrae in a high-speed qualifying crash on a road course at Sonoma in California in 2009. A car had spun and was stationary on the other side of a crest and Power hit it at high speed. He spent the rest of 2009 recuperating.
Last year at Las Vegas in the last race of the 2011 IRL Championship, a 14-car pile-up at almost 300km/h occurred. 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was killed after his car became airborne and hit the catch fence at 200km/h. Power’s car was also airborne but it came to rest before hitting the fence. He again broke three vertebrae.
Last Sunday he was thankful he did not injure his back for a third time, though he has lost the championship lead with Dario Franchitti, last year’s IRL champion, winning his third Indy 500.
Frustration at hub failure
Our other overseas Aussie in America, Marcus Ambrose, was at the other end of the US, competing in the Memorial Day NASCAR World 600 at Darlington.
After qualifying on the front row in second and running in the top five for the first 120 of 600 miles, his RPM Ford Fusion suffered a front hub failure and he pitted for repairs, finally finishing a disappointing 32nd.
Kasey Khane (Chevrolet) won ahead of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, both in Toyotas.
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Ready for 2013: Nissan will enter the V8 Supercars Championship next year with Rick and Todd Kelly in the new Altima.