International Australian stars Will Power and Ryan Briscoe have both been confirmed as starters for this year’s Armor All Gold Coast 600 on the streets of Surfers Paradise, October 21-23.
Both Aussies are in contention for this year’s US-based IZOD Indycar Series with Power sitting in second place behind Dario Franchitti by just 20 points and Briscoe not that many points away back in sixth place.
Both drivers have been given permission to drive in this year’s event by their regular team owner, Roger Penske, who is one of the most successful identities in US motorsports.
While the V8 Supercar Championship Series continues in Townsville this weekend, Power and Briscoe will be competing in the Honda Indy Toronto in Canada.
Power returns to the Gold Coast with Ford Performance Racing, and will team up with Mark Winterbottom in the #5 Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon; while Briscoe continues his long association with the Holden Racing Team and will partner either Garth Tander or James Courtney.
The two join this year’s Indy 500 pole sitter Alex Tagliani, European stars Andy Priaulx, Marc Lieb and Dirk Müller, US gun Joey Hand and colourful US veteran Boris Said to be confirmed in the Armor All Gold Coast 600 field, with the remaining 20 drivers being announced in coming weeks.
A world-class field of 18 internationals took to the track as co-drivers with regular V8 Supercar drivers last year – the number increases to 28 this year with every Supercar including an international star.
The international stars will team-up with home-grown Australian talent such as Craig Lowndes, Mark Winterbottom, Jamie Whincup, James Courtney, Steve Johnson, Jason Bright, Will Davison, Russell Ingall, Garth Tander and Rick Kelly.
Power, who was born and bred in Toowoomba about 2.5 hours west of the Gold Coast, has some unfinished business at Surfers Paradise having taken pole at the event three previous times in an IRL or Champ Car.
“To have a driver who was born and bred in Queensland being so successful in international motorsport is fantastic,” said Queensland Sport Minister Phil Reeves.
“Will stirred so many emotions for us during Champ Car and Indycar days in Surfers Paradise, and I am sure he will be keen to strut his stuff again in front of his home crowd.”
Ryan Briscoe’s return to the Armor All Gold Coast 600 as one of the renowned internationals is proof Australia breeds some of best drivers in the world.
Briscoe won the only IRL race on the Gold Coast in 2008 for Team Penske.
“Ryan Briscoe is a fabulous young driver who really did us proud by winning the IRL race in 2008 and I am sure his return to HRT will make them one of the favourites for the weekend,” said Phil Reeves.
“We wish them all the best as they both try and claim their first IZOD Indycar title and we look forward to seeing them here in October.
“The Armor All 600 is a race like no other, a challenging street circuit set with an idyllic backdrop and the Queensland Government is proud to be a race sponsor.”
This year’s event will not only include some of the biggest names in world motorsport, but also from the world of entertainment with the event’s Rock and Race format to continue with nightly concerts at the Broadwater Parklands entertainment precinct.
More drivers will be announced in coming weeks before the entire field, ticketing options and world-class concert acts are announced at the event’s official launch.
“Where else can international drivers go to experience V8 Supercar action combined with surf, sun and fun, than at The Gold Coast 600,” Minister Reeves said.
“The event showcases Queensland’s best assets to an international audience.”
WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY…..
WILL POWER – ORRCON STEEL/FORD PERFORMANCE RACING
“I won a few poles in the Indy cars on the streets of Surfers Paradise, but could not get a race win so I certainly have some unfinished business,” said Power.
“The Gold Coast is always a fantastic event. I love to come home to Queensland and have the opportunity to race at an event that has so much energy.
“The whole city shows up for this event and they are joined by fans from all over the world.
“I am really looking forward to working with Frosty (Winterbottom) again and knuckling down and getting the job done.
“Ford Performance Racing has one of the fastest cars out there this season, I’m excited to see how it performs for me. I have to thank Roger Penske and Team Penske for allowing Ryan and I to do this event again this year.
“The International field is looking extremely competitive. I am looking forward to the challenge and maybe winning a surfboard for Orrcon Steel and FPR.
“In the meantime I am concentrating on trying to win my first IZOD IndyCar Series title. It would be fantastic to head home as the champion.”
RYAN BRISCOE – HOLDEN RACING TEAM
“I have fond memories of my Indycar win at Surfers Paradise in 2008 and to go back as part of the Holden Racing Team last year was great,” said Briscoe.
“The international field is shaping up to be really competitive, and with an international driver in each car the field will become even tighter.
“The Gold Coast really is one of the best places race. The people, the beach, the sun and a great street track make for a great event with an amazing atmosphere – not to mention the Sunday night party!
“Team Penske has been supportive of Will and myself being available to do this event again and we have to thank everyone involved for that.
“Will, Alex (Tagliani) and I have been competing against each other all year so I there’s a bit more on the line for us – bragging rights. I am sure you might see a few more Indycar guys confirmed in coming weeks.”
WILL POWER – AUSTRALIA
Born: March 1, 1981
Place: Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia
Lives: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Status: Wife, Elizabeth
Current Series: IndyCar Series
Current Team: Team Penske
V8 Supercar Team for the Gold Coast: Ford Performance Racing in the Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon
• 2002 Australian Drivers’ Champion
• 2nd, 2001 Australian Formula Ford Championship
• 4th, 2007 Champ Car World Series
• 2006 Champ Car Rookie of the Year
• 5th, 2009 Indianapolis 500
• Runner-up 2010 IndyCar championship, with five race wins and 15 top-10 finihses
• During 2010 he earned a series record eight pole positions and won the inaugural Mario Andretti Road Championship trophy.
• No stranger to the Gold Coast having taken three consecutive pole positions in Champ Car/IndyCar in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and raced in a V8 Supercar during the 2010 Armor All Gold Coast 600 with Ford Performance Racing’s Steve Richards.
• Won in Formula Ford and Formula 3 on the Gold Coast during his years in the junior categories.
• Competed in the V8 Supercar endurance races at Queensland Raceway and Bathurst with Mark Larkham in 2002.
• In his second full season driving for Team Penske in the IndyCar Series, with his first full season resulting in a runner-up spot in the championship with five wins.
Now one of the top stars in IndyCar Series racing in the United States, Will Power started out in go karts at the age of six before moving to the Queensland Formula Ford State Series in 2000.
He showed continued promise in the junior categories, finishing second to Will Davison in the 2001 Australian Formula Ford Championship before winning the 2002 Australian Drivers’ Championship for Formula Holden.
Power took his career to England, competing in the British Formula 3 Championship and the World Series by Renault championship in Europe before landing an opportunity with Team Australia in the Champ Car World Series.
He finished sixth in his first full season, with three top-five results and his first career podium finish. Qualifying in the top-10 in 12 of 14 races, including his first career pole (at the Gold Coast), he was named the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year and won the Bridgestone Passion for Excellence Award that year.
He continued with Team Australia for 2007 and was in the championship hunt until the final two races, eventually finishing fourth. He scored two wins that season and recorded nine top-10 finishes including eight top-five showings with five podium finishes. Additionally, he earned five pole positions. After this stellar season, Power was honored with the 2007 Sir Jack Brabham Award.
In 2008, Power began his IndyCar Series career driving for KV Racing Technology after the merger of IndyCar and Champ Car; where he earned his third career victory at Long Beach and scored five top-10 finishes. In addition, the Australian started from the pole in the non-title event at Surfers Paradise and led the first 16 laps before an accident forced him out of the race.
Power joined Penske Racing in 2009 as he filled in for Helio Castroneves in the No. 3 Dallara/Honda through pre-season testing and the first race of the year at St. Petersburg. After Castroneves returned to the team, Power continued to produce as he earned a win, two poles and four top-five finishes in just six season starts, before a crash in Infineon Raceway in August 2009 saw him break his back.
An intense off-season recovery period led him back to a full-time berth in the IndyCar Series in the #12 Verizon Dallara-Honda for 2010, in which he won five races to come oh so close to winning the 2010 IndyCar Series Championship. In 2011, Power is off to a strong start in the championship chase.
RYAN BRISCOE – AUSTRALIA
Born: September 24, 1981
Place: Sydney, Australia
Lives: Cornelius, North Carolina, USA
Status: Wife, Nicole
Current Series: IndyCar Series
Current Team: Team Penske
V8 Supercar Team for the Gold Coast: Toll Holden Racing Team
• 2008 Gold Coast IndyCar winner
• 3rd in 2009 IndyCar Series and 5th in 2010 IndyCar season
• 2003 EuroSeries Formula 3 Champion
• 2nd, 2007 American Le Mans Series LMP2 Class
• Competed at Sandown and Bathurst for the Holden Racing Team in V8 Supercars in 2006.
• Has made five starts in the Indianapolis 500, finishing fifth in 2007.
• Has made three starts on the Gold Coast, once in a Champ Car in 2006 for RuSport (finishing 11th) before he returned to win the non-championship IndyCar race in 2008 for Team Penske, and he competed in the 2010 Armor All Gold Coast 600 with the Toll Holden Racing Team, to which he will return for 2011.
• Wife Nicole is an ESPN NASCAR television reporter.
One of the most talented drivers Australia has produced, Briscoe started his career on a motocross bike and then turned to karting, moving overseas to Italy at the age of just 16 to follow his racing dreams.
Graduating through the junior open wheeler categories, he spent time as test driver for Toyota in Formula 1 and, although taking part in Friday practice sessions in 2004, decided to turn his attentions to the United States in 2005.
After surviving a horrendous accident driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing at Chicagoland Speedway in 2005, Briscoe spent 2006 as a racing nomad and competed in a range of series including A1GP, IndyCar, Champ Car, Grand-Am and V8 Supercars before joining Team Penske’s Porsche prototype program in the American Le Mans Series in 2007.
He received the call up to Roger Penske’s IndyCar squad for 2008 to replace NASCAR-bound Sam Hornish Jr and the Aussie responded by finishing fifth in the championship and winning two races as well as the non-points Surfers Paradise event.
Briscoe finished third in 2009’s title after leading with just two races to go and was fifth in the 2010 season, during which he competed with Will Davison in the #22 Toll Holden Racing Team Holden on the streets of the Gold Coast.