Castroneves, Briscoe Complete Australian Race Weekend
October 24, 2011
Just days after the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season came to a tragic ending following a multi-car accident at Las Vegas that claimed the life of driver Dan Wheldon, Castroneves and Briscoe traveled to Australia to participate in the annual Gold Coast street race for the second consecutive year. Competing as international drivers among the star-studded field in V8 Supercars, Australia's popular touring car series, the Team Penske pilots experienced both promise and disappointment with their respective race teams. Will Power of Verizon Team Penske was also scheduled to compete in the Gold Coast event in his home country, but he withdrew from competition after he was involved in the accident at Las Vegas.
In the opening race of the weekend on Saturday, Briscoe's team won the pole position as Garth Tander posted the fastest lap for the Toll Holden Racing team. Castroneves, paired with series regular Tim Slade at Stone Brothers/Lucky 7 Racing, saw his team qualify in 24th place. Both of Team Penske's representatives in the event fared well in the opening race as they garnered top-12 results. Briscoe and Tander finished 11th while Castroneves and Slade took the checkered flag in the 12th position.
In the second race of the doubleheader, Briscoe and Tander showed impressive speed again, qualifying second for the Sunday battle while Castroneves and Slade earned a 22nd-place starting position. Shortly after taking the green flag, however, Briscoe had some issues on his Commodore as he was forced to pit lane just 10 laps into the 102-lap race. An axle problem resulted in the team falling back in the field as they finished 23rd on the day, some 20 laps down to the race leaders due to the repairs on the car. Castroneves and Slade were able to record a top-10 finish after Castroneves, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, got off to a strong start, as he improved six positions on the opening lap. Despite rear roll-bar issues that caused severe understeer on the team's Falcon, Castroneves and Slade came home 10th in the running order for the solid result.
"We had a great start and we jumped quite a few places and kept ourselves out of the madness that was going on out there but then unfortunately we had the issue with the rear roll-bar - but we were able to work around that," said Castroneves after Sunday's race. "The team did a fantastic job -Tim saved fuel and was able to get us back into the top 10, so I'm extremely happy for him and Stone Brothers Racing. It was awesome to come back here again."
Both Castroneves and Briscoe were among the top international drivers invited to the event and they competed with other stars for the Dan Wheldon Memorial trophy, named in honor of the two-time Indianapolis 500 champ who was also scheduled compete at the Gold Coast 600 on the same Toll Holden Team that Briscoe raced for. The trophy went to the top finishing international driver which turned out to be INDYCAR's Sebastien Bourdais.
"I want to thank everyone from the race organizers to the HRT team and Team Penske for making it possible for me to race again here on the Gold Coast," said Briscoe, the native of Sydney, Australia. "It wasn't too successful in terms of our results but I had a lot of fun and it was another terrific event here for the fans. Garth (Tander) did an awesome job in qualifying - getting us on the front row for both races. We had a decent result in the first race and at the end a broken axle took us out of contention (on Sunday)."
Both Castroneves and Briscoe will return to the U.S. in the coming days and they're already looking forward to the start of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series.