Power, Briscoe looking for their moment in the Indy fun

Passing the baton: Wayne Gardner with son Luca. Photo: SuppliedTwo Australians – Will Power and Ryan Briscoe – are among the 32 drivers named in the 33 entries lodged for next weekend’s 97th annual Indianapolis 500, the race with a shaky claim on being the greatest spectacle in racing. A few decades ago, Indy would routinely kill an average of a driver every May. Not so, in this faster, yet safer era. The entry list screams quality. IndyCar Series champions assigned to cars are reigning champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dario Franchitti (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011), Scott Dixon (2003, 2008), and Tony Kanaan (2004).Though from a road-racing background in European motor sport, Power – runner-up in the IndyCar standings for the past three years – is increasingly competitive on the high-speed ovals. His experience on road courses is an asset at Indianapolis, a flat, four-kilometre circuit with four distinct turns. Power qualified second in 2010, and has a fifth place (2009) to his name. Briscoe, cast aside by long-time employer Penske at the end of last season, has grabbed a lifeline with the Ganassi team, a five-time winner at Indy. The versatile Briscoe, who claimed pole last year and went on to finish fifth, is part of a four-driver Ganassi line-up which also includes Franchitti, Brisbane-born Kiwi Dixon and Charlie Kimball.
Nanjing Night Net

FLAT TYRES

Formula one’s clumsy efforts to spice up its racing by instructing tyre supplier Pirelli to create two very different compounds for every grand prix descended into farce in Spain last Sunday as most drivers, struggling with rubber degradation, were forced to make four pit stops. Mark Webber has long shown his dislike of the contrived unpredictability. Pirelli says it will have better-lasting compounds ready for the Canadian Grand Prix on June 9. Meanwhile, the Suddeutschen Zeitung newspaper in Munich has reported that the Bavarian public prosecutor’s office has completed its investigation into F1’s little big man Bernie Ecclestone and will indict him later this month for allegedly bribing former BayernLB executive Gerhard Gribkowsky, a state official. Ecclestone, who steered F1 from a motley assortment of race folk to one of the grandest shows in global sport, has indicated he will resign if charged. The court case, rumoured to start in July, could have serious implications not only for Ecclestone but for the planned flotation of the formula one group in several months’ time. Ecclestone, 82, maintains his innocence.

SON SHINES

Chip off the old bloke is Luca Gardner. The younger son of the 1987 world 500cc champion Wayne Gardner scored a big win in round two of the pre-Moto3 Campeonato Mediterraneo de Velocidad category at the Circuito de Navarra in Spain last weekend. “It’s a long year ahead, but I’m so proud of Luca’s results so far this season,” said Gardner snr (pictured with Luca) who moved to Spain last year with wife Toni to give Luca, 13, and his brother Remy, 15, the chance to seriously pursue their road-racing careers.

MACAU REVISITED

Though never a round of the world championship, the annual Macau Grand Prix is coming up for its 60th anniversary, its longevity due to the dramatic, exotic setting on the streets of the former Portuguese protectorate. The temporary circuit of more than six kilometres and a mix of claustrophobic sections and wide-open straights was a favourite of Ayrton Senna, one of many champions who raced formula three cars there. A free exhibition, Macau Grand Prix: 60 Years of Motorsport History will be held in the Lower Exhibitions Hall at Sydney Town Hall from May 23-26 with three different-era formula cars, historic photographs, video coverage and other memorabilia.

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