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Around the tracks 09 April 2010

AUSTRALIAN Formula 1 driver Mark Webber is on cloud nine after Red Bull's one-two finish at last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix. "It could have gone either way, but in the end Seb (Sebastian Vettel) did the job at the crucial stage and deserved the victory," he says. "A one-two finish for us as a team is sensational. The cars ran very well and it was a nice come back for us after a tough few races where we didn't finish as we wanted to. I'd like to be one spot further up, but its a great result for the team."

V8 Supercars Australia is keeping its options open in the search for alternate engines for the V8 Car of the Future. The category estimates that a current high-end V8 Supercar engine costs a ludicrously high amount to run at almost $40 a kilometre. Mark Skaife, who heads the CoF committee, acknowledges that the biggest point of contention in CoF was the engine program. Under CoF, V8 Supercars plans to overhaul engine systems used from 2012.
Today engines cost about $100,000. However CoF wants a lighter and longer-lasting engine for $50,000 with a 10,000km life cycle and the same output as today's cars.

HAVING achieved two career milestones in an impressive performance at the recent Clipsal 500, Tony D'Alberto believes next week's Hamilton 400, New Zealand will be a good indicator of whether he can carry the form into the rest of the season. "I would love to think we could do that more often," D'Alberto says. "The car's very good at street circuits so we are looking forward to getting over there and seeing how we go."

THE Hamilton 400 will be a big milestone for Steven Johnson. The No17 Jim Beam Racing driver celebrates his 150th ATCC/V8 Supercar event start in New Zealand, becoming just the 13th driver in history to achieve the feat. Since debuting at Oran Park in 1994 Johnson has notched up 337 starts, three wins, two poles, and 11 podiums. Johnson is downplaying the achievement. "It does make me feel old," he says. "I haven't thought about it too much but I'm pretty pleased to have been around for so long."

THE International Rally of Queensland has received a huge boost with the signing of world rally star Chris Atkinson to contest the event for the Proton R3 team. Gold Coast-based Atkinson, 30, and fellow World Rally Championship driver Alister McRae, will line up in a pair of Proton Satria Neo S2000 cars for the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. The Queensland rally on July 30 is round four of the championship. Atkinson, McRae and the British-run Mellors Elliot Motorsport Proton team are expected to be strong contenders in Queensland, where Atkinson won in 2004 before joining Subaru for four years in the World Rally Championship.

MORE rounds, more drivers in the feature races, the reconfirmation of the television package and a tweaking of the points structure have all been discussed at the first planning meeting for the 2010/11 World Series Sprintcars campaign. The World Series management group met in Adelaide recently to review last season and plan next season, which is says will be the biggest in the history of the national series. WSS group chairman Geoff Kendrick says there have been "a lot of expressions of interests from tracks". "The reaction has been positive with most of the tracks already indicating they will take a WSS round next year" he says.

ASTON Martin will tackle this year's Nurburgring 24 hour endurance race in a Rapide. The Rapide endurance racer has very few modifications, apart from the removal of the luxury interior addition of mandatory safety gear and racing slicks. The brand has been quite successful in Le Mans-class racing and has performed well at the Ring in the SP8 category, which it has won the past two years running. Last year a V12 Vantage had a class win and came 21st overall. Apart from the Rapide, Aston is running a V12 Vantage in this year's event.

IT has only just had its debut at the Geneva Motor Show but Volvo's new S60 is already track ready. The sedan debuts in the Belgian Touring Car Championship this weekend. The racecar put together by the Chinese-owned Swedish carmaker's Belgian S60 racing team. The liveried racecar shares little with the road-going S60. The Belgian Touring Car Championship is highly-regulated. Each car shares a tube chassis, extensive aerodynamic work and front and rear suspension. The S60 racer gets its power from a rear drive 305kW V6 mated to a six-speed manual

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