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Around the tracks 4 February 2011


CRAIG Lowndes started the 2011 V8 Supercar season with an emphatic lap record at the Eastern Creek test day at the weekend. The five-time Bathurst winner and three-time series champion set a lap of 1m30.1877s on fresh, soft tyres, beating Mark Skaife's 1999 pole position lap by half a second. Commodores took the top seven positions, while current champion James Courtney was 16th in his HRT Holden. The series begins next weekend in Abu Dhabi.

THE Daytona 24-Hour came down to a one-lap sprint to the flag after a late restart at the weekend. Defending Grand-Am Series champion Scott Pruett held off his teammate, Kiwi Scott Dixon, by 2.42 seconds in the one-lap dash to take out the title at Daytona International Speedway in Florida. It was team owner Chip Ganassi's fourth win.

GT vehicles will join with production cars for the first time in the Bathurst 12-Hour this weekend. There are entries from Audi, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford, Holden, Lotus, Mitsubishi, Mosler, Nissan, Porsche and Subaru. However, outright honours are expected to be fought out between Porsche teams and the 11-time Le Mans winners, Audi Sport Team Joest, with Craig Lowndes as the lead driver in an R8.

FORMER F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen and World Rally Champion Petter Solberg have been confirmed to contest Rally Australia at Coffs Coast, New South Wales, in September. They will drive works-built Citroen DS3 WRC rally cars. Raikkonen's ICE1 Racing team will contest 10 of the 13 WRC rounds this year, while Solberg finished third last year and will compete in the full season.

TASMANIAN Jason White has moved to the top of the Australian Targa Championship points table with a dominant performance at the second round of the series, Targa Wrest Point, out of Hobart. The reigning Wrest Point champion drove his Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera to a 29-second lead from South Australian Steve Glenney in a Mazda RX8 SP and Queenslander Tony Quinn third in his Nissan GT-R. The final round is the Targa Tasmania from April 5 to 10.

EASTERN Creek International Raceway in Sydney will get a $9 million circuit upgrade. Work will include increasing the circuit's capacity and track configurations to four layouts with two circuits able to operate independently. The upgrade follows the recent closure of Oran Park.

CHAD Reed has claimed his first podium with his own team, TwoTwo Motorsports, at in the fourth round of the AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, at the weekend in Oakland, California. The Australian finished second n the slick surface behind James Stewart and remains in fifth position in the titles while Stewart moves to the top. The next event is in LA this weekend.

FLOOD damage has forced the third and fourth rounds of the Australian Off Road Championship to be moved from Queensland to Victoria. The March round at Goomburra will now be held on May 28-29 at Hedley in Victoria. Motorcycling Queensland has cancelled the Queensland 2 Day Enduro to the floods, but the national CIK Stars of Karting Series will go ahead as scheduled on February 26/27 in Ipswich. The International Karting Committee decision has come after consultation with the local council. The five-round series is conducted in four states up to September.

TWO-time World Superbike champion Troy Corser has admitted he doesn't have many years left at the top level. The 39-year-old BMW rider from Wollongong missed the first test day in Portugal to test on his own at Eastern Creek and start his physical training earlier than usual. "I know I haven't got too many seasons left at the highest level, so I am really motivated to make the most of the next few years," he said. The season starts at Philip island on February 27.

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