Surfers fired up about Aussie, New Zealand rivalry
Gold Coast streets are set to ignite with Trans-Tasman rivalry during the Lexmark Indy 300 from October 18-21, with confirmation New Zealand driver Matt Halliday will steer the fortunes for Conquest Racing in the Australian Champ Car World Series event.
Team Australia’s Will Power has already proved himself at home in the International field after capturing an elusive pole position during last year’s event and it’s now be up to Halliday to take up the challenge to win support during the closest thing to a home event for the 27 year-old Kiwi.
With valuable backing from New Zealand Vodka company 42 Below, Halliday has already gained an appreciation for the International open wheelers after fulfilling an initial three-race contract during 2007.
That baptism of fire is sure to hold him well as he now aims to make his mark during the final five rounds of the Champ Car World Series, which includes Queensland’s crown jewel event on the streets of Surfers Paradise.
Halliday joins the ranks of fellow New Zealand driver, Brisbane born Scott Dixon who represented his homeland on the Gold Coast at the 2001 and 2002 events following Championship success in the Indy Lights Series in 2000.
Halliday’s inclusion in the starters list for the 17th running of the Lexmark Indy 300 on October 18-21 is sure to entice many parochial Kiwi fans to the Gold Coast for the annual four day/four night extravaganza.
"It’s a shame we can't complete the whole season, but on the other hand we will be in a better situation going into the last five races, as the opportunity gives us the chance to have some great results to end the year,” said Halliday.
“As far as I'm concerned these races will also be some of the best of the Series, especially the Lexmark Indy 300 where I’m sure there’ll be plenty of Kiwi support for the number 42 Conquest car.”
After an early season ease up in competition the two feature racing categories of the Lexmark Indy 300, the Champ Car World Series and Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series, crank it up a gear this weekend in their respective competitions.
Champ Car drivers will be literally champing at the bit after a six week hiatus when the Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland forms round four of the Championship, while in Australia’s number one touring car category, Ford and Holden will again go head-to-head during round five at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway.
After a promising start to the season, Team Australia’s Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) is turning to Portland International Raceway, where he scored the fastest lap of the race in 2006, to get his momentum back.
With a first in Las Vegas and a podium finish in Long Beach, Houston was a race to forget for the Australian as a series of problems halted his efforts and slid him down into second place in the season standings, three points behind Sebastien Bourdais.
Bourdais' Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) team will be searching for victory number 100 during the Portland round.
The Frenchman will prove one to beat having scored three podium finishes in his last four visits to Portland, including a win in 2004.
Another driver that is still carrying momentum from his excellent start to the season is Dutchman Robert Doornbos (#14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who drives for Australian team owner Paul Stoddart.
The first rookie since Nigel Mansell (Australia 1993) to score a podium in his debut, followed his opening round performance with a third place finish at Houston.