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Monday Motor Sport Report

By Peter McKay, 27 Oct 2014 Motorsport

Monday Motor Sport Report

Ambrose to make early return; Whincup set for title #6; Audi tipped for F1; Miller keeps title alive; Marquez equals Doohan record

V8 Supercars:  Scott ready to “welcome” homecoming Marcos

EXCITING young V8 Supercars star Scott McLaughlin can’t wait to deliver his own brand of red-carpet welcome to returning two-times champ Marcos Ambrose at the street race at Homebush in December.

McLaughlin said he was pumped to learn Ambrose will race a third Dick Johnson Racing Falcon as a wildcard in the 2014 grand finale as a precursor to his full-time campaign next year with the remodelled DJR Team Penske outfit.

“For sure, I’m looking forward to it – Marcos is a legend of the sport and I grew up watching him and learning from him,” enthused McLaughlin.

“But 100 per cent I’m here to say that, while I respect him so much, I’ll be at Homebush to try to beat him.

“I race hard and I race fair and when the racing starts he’ll be just another racer.”

On Saturday, DJR announced Ambrose will return home soon after the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the year at Homestead on November 16 to familiarise himself with the aspects of V8 Supercars racing that he hasn’t tasted since leaving to chase his NASCAR dream in  2005.

“I am really pleased that DJR has been able to put the wildcard deal together for Homebush. I have never driven there, so it will be not only a bonus to do some really good long races, but it also gives me a good look at the track,” said Ambrose from his home in Charlotte.

“It will be a fantastic way to kick off our preparations for DJR Team Penske in 2015 and I am really looking forward to getting stuck into it.”

Team Penske’s Tim Cindric will also return to Australia, one year on from his first visit to a V8 Supercar event, bringing with him experienced members of the Team Penske IndyCar program to support the DJR effort.

Ambrose has indicated he doesn’t have high expectations of instantly matching it with the new breed of V8 Supercars frontrunners, but says he welcomes the opportunity to get up to speed with data familiarisation and set-up on the new-generation Supercars.

Dick Johnson said the Sydney 500 would be an ideal way for Ambrose “to not only get a feel for the car, but also an early opportunity to work with the DJR engineers and crew”.

Ambrose will need to reacquaint himself with standing starts, as well as the good and bad traits of drivers he has never raced against.

“So really for me the Sydney race is about just getting back into the rhythm of what a V8 Supercar is,” Ambrose, 38, told Channel Seven.

“I haven’t been looking at much telemetry over here in NASCAR because they ban it during race weekends.”

So we shouldn’t consider Ambrose’s last-start win in V8 Supercars at Phillip Island in 2005 as a form indicator for Homebush….

V8 Supercars: Jamie on track for title #6

JAMIE Whincup’s grip on a record sixth Australian V8 Supercars title tightened yesterday when the Red Bull Holden racer, along with his regular “Tonto” Paul Dumbrell, crushed his challengers with a dominant win in the second leg of the Gold Coast round on the steamy, brutal, claustrophobic streets of Surfers.

Whincup is on track to move one title ahead of the three other drivers to have won five national touring car or V8 Supercars crowns – Ian Geoghegan, Dick Johnson and Mark Skaife.

Earlier on Sunday, Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin nabbed a brilliant pole – his eighth of the season – to equal Whincup’s haul in the tight and unresolved battle of the fast men.

But McLaughlin and co-driver Alex Premat ceded to Whincup/Dumbrell early and then in the closing stages had to deal with the threatening Nissan of Michael Caruso and Dean Fiore.

Saturday race winners Shane van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb (Tekno Holden) again uncorked sizzling pace, but then the Kiwi speedster copped a drive-through penalty for a restart infringement that left car #97 way back in the field. 

No doubt propelled by anger and frustration, The Gis stormed back to fifth by the time the chequer was shown, behind Tim Slade/Tony D'Alberto, who enjoyed a fine weekend in their Holden.

Whincup now heads to the penultimate round at Phillip Island next month holding a bountiful 402 points advantage over Ford rival Mark Winterbottom, with van Gisbergen a further 76 points back in third.

F1: Speculation Audi will dump Le Mans and DTM and go F1 racing

RUMOURS have been around for years, but now the grapevine is white hot with stories that Audi is close to abandoning LMP1 sports car racing and DTM (the German touring car series) – two categories it has owned recently – to tilt at Formula One.

Remarkably, Audi has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans outright 13 out of the last 15 times. How many more times need it win the world’s biggest sports car race to show its technological supremacy?

England’s Auto Express reports that key Audi insiders have revealed the company is developing a 1.6-litre turbocharged V6 and is pursuing one of the Red Bull teams – Red Bull Racing or Scuderia Toro Rosso – to buy as an entry point into the sport.

The report suggests that the luxury German car-maker and its parent, the VW Group, have strong links to Dietrich Mateschitz, who owns Red Bull. Volkswagen's winning world rally championship team is backed by the energy drink company.

Audi’s hiring of Stefano Domenicali, who recently resigned as Ferrari's F1 director, is also seen as more telling evidence of Audi’s F1 ambitions.

Outside of F1, Domenicali has no experience relevant to any of Audi's current motor sporting programs.

Stories of Audi’s growing interest in F1 have been around for some time, but cranked up when an executive of sister brand Porsche revealed that the company first plotted its return to top-level racing back in 2010.

Moto3: Jack keeps alive his title chances

JACK Miller has shown he is not done and dusted in the fight for the Moto3 world championship, pulling back Alex Marquez’s lead from 20 to 11 points after the Malaysian round.

The title will now be decided in the final round at Valencia on November 9.

Miller, who took pole, led the majority of the race at Sepang but missed victory by 0.2sec after being overtaken by Efren Vazquez in the run to the flag.

Marquez finished behind usual suspects Alex Rins and Danny Kent in fifth.

It has been confirmed that Miller’s bike will carry the number 43 into the premier class next season when the young Queenslander will ride a Honda for Lucio Cecchinello Racing, alongside Cal Crutchlow.

The Brit has praised Miller’s talent but cautions that he will need to “calm down” a little when he jumps on a MotoGP machine.

Crutchlow will have a full factory Honda MotoGP bike, while Miller will ride a slightly lower-performance production version.

Record-equalling win for Marquez in Malaysia

DANI Pedrosa slipped off early, leaving the surviving three of the big four to scrap for the win in the Malaysian MotoGP Grand Prix yesterday.

Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez went at it like we see at nearly every race, locked together in a tight bunch, probing and slipstreaming, centimetres apart at 330km/h.

The crowd roared with unabashed delight when Rossi, a winner at Phillip Island a week earlier, pounced at half distance, with Marquez following into second soon after.

But nothing stays the same in MotoGP and Marquez capitalised on a Rossi mistake to take the lead. 

It seemed like game over, but 35-year-old Rossi relentlessly stalked the young world champion, as Lorenzo lost touch.

Meanwhile, Pedrosa, who had remounted and resumed in 20th place, made his way forward to 11th before he binned it again, this time more comprehensively.

Then, with four laps remaining, Marquez lit the touch paper and stretched the gap. The fierce Rossi challenge had been quelled.

At the finish, Marquez held a 2.4sec margin to land his 12th win of this stunning season, equalling Mick Doohan’s record of wins in a season.

Marquez was the third winner in the past three races.