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EXPAT EXPLOITS

The Superbike races at Oschersleben were also a tale of triumph and tragedy. In qualifying and superpole on Saturday Troy Corser on the underpowered three cylinder Petronas FP1 stunned everyone by taking pole by quite some margin. In the race however, he was swamped off the start by the more powerful Ducatis but held on to take a fine fourth in the first race ahead of fellow Aussie Steve Martin who finally managed to beat his mechanical gremlins to score a good finish. Garry McCoy struggled all weekend and could only manage ninth in race one while Chris Vermeulen had a shocker with major rear tyre dramas and slipped from the leading pack to fifteenth at the finish.

In race two both Corser and Martin came off very heavily, Martin in very spectacular style when his engine seized, giving him a massive Òtank-slapperÓ. Ironically, just before he finally came off he managed to get the bike into neutral, so after it deposited him on the track the bike took off on itÕs own until ploughing into a retaining wall several hundred metres later. McCoy made the best of a difficult weekend to finish a gutsy fourth while Vermeulen fell back again although only to eighth this time, still struggling with the rear tyres on his Honda.

On a brighter note Mark Webber in the Jaguar finally managed to score a couple of points with a seventh placed finish in the European Grand Prix, overcoming a one second penalty in qualifying and clutch troubles which gave him another lousy start and problems every time he came out of the pits after his refuelling stops. Had it not been for these problems he may well have been fighting with the Renaults of Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso who finished just sixteen seconds up the road in fourth and fifth places.

In the Indianapolis 500 Brisbane born Scott Dixon, the reigning IRL champion, just managed to hang on to the leading pack for an eighth placed finish as the highest placed Toyota powered finisher. Toyota had struggled all month to match the pace of the Honda engined cars, in fact eight of the top ten finishers were Honda powered. Dixon now lies fifth in the pointÕs standings on 106 points, 52 behind leader Dan Wheldon on 158.

In action this coming weekend will be the GP bikes at Mugello, Italy with Troy Bayliss, who may revert to last years bike after struggling with the handling of the latest Ducati so far this season, Anthony West in the 250cc class and Casey Stoner in the 125Õs who will be hoping to stay on the bike and score KTMÕs first victory. The British Formula 3 championship visits Snetterton with Will Power hoping to improve on his pair of second placings at the last round. ItÕs hard to say who will be joining him as both Will Davison, who has scored a couple of podium finishes so far, and Barton Mawer who is currently lying second in the scholarship class are struggling to raise enough finance to continue in the series. This is a great disappointment as they have both impressed greatly and Davison has been offered a Minardi F1 test drive later this year, however if he cannot continue he will probably lose that chance and the possibility of there being at least two Australians on the grid at the Melbourne Grand Prix next year goes begging.

And finally, Queenslander Josh Hunt will be running in the Toyota Atlantic race, the feeder series for Champ car drivers, at the Milwaukee one mile oval in preparation for his Champ car debut at Surfers Paradise later this year.

Sam Snape

2-6-04