Monday Motor Sport Report

Ricciardo insists Vettel will bounce back

BEWARE the down-but-not-out defending world champion. That’s the warning from Daniel Ricciardo, who senses Sebastian Vettel is poised to turn around his poor 2014 season, perhaps starting with his home race in Germany next weekend.

Nine races into the season, Vettel sits a lowly fifth in the points standings and trails his third-placed Australian team-mate by 28 points.

While Vettel hasn’t adapted to the new turbo V6 hybrid F1 cars as well as some, Ricciardo believes his team-mate will get on top of the characteristics of the 2014 Red Bull RB10 sooner rather than later.

Vettel has been uncomfortable with the new car’s behaviour when downshifting on corner entry, when the tail doesn’t feel planted.

Ricciardo senses Vettel will be very hungry to do better at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, although it’s not a layout that suits the power-strapped Renault-engined Red Bull cars. 

Look out in the Hungarian GP at Budapest a week later, he warns.

De Pasquale’s Twin Wins at the ‘Ring

ANTON De Pasquale turned his first visit to the Nurburgring grand prix circuit into a celebratory romp at the weekend, brilliantly converting two pole positions into victories in races five and six of the European Formula Renault 1.6 NEC Championship.

Though unfamiliar with the technical 5.1km circuit, the young Australian teenager showed he was a fast learner in his Lechner Racing open-wheeler.

Tough rival Janneau Esmeijer of the Netherlands pushed the Australian hard through practice and qualifying, and then made a lightning jump in the first of the two races. But it was too fast and Esmeijer was penalised for a jump start, leaving De Pasquale untroubled to take the victory.

"I was actually kind of disappointed when Janneau got the drive-thru penalty,” said De Pasquale. “I was keen to beat him on the track and had worked out where I was going to attempt a pass.”

De Pasquale then repeated his triumph in Sunday’s race, outrunning Esmeijer by 5.2sec to clean sweep the weekend and move to a useful points lead in the championship.

Jack, you ripper!

WITH his eyes firmly on winning the 2014 Moto3 World Championship, Townsville’s Jack Miller has again scored another narrow victory, this time in the German round at the 3.67km Sachsenring circuit.

Aboard his Red Bull KTM, the tenacious Miller edged Brad Binder and Alexis Masbou to extend his advantage in the standings over nearest title rival Alex Marquez to 19 points.

It was Miller’s fourth GP triumph this year.

Importantly, Marquez (Honda) could manage only fourth after a late-race mistake.

In Moto2, last-start Dutch TT winner and fellow Queenslander Ant West finished 17th.

No flash tricks from Ambrose on Magic Mile

TEAM Penske’s Brad Keselowski dominated Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway one mile.

It was a perfect weekend for Keselowski, who also won the Nationwide Series round at the ‘Magic Mile’.

His spotter Joey Meier kidded over the radio to his driver: "Be sure you wear gloves in victory lane." A fortnight previously, when Keselowski won at Kentucky Speedway, he cut his right hand on a champagne bottle that busted in victory lane when he was swinging it vigorously.

But while Keselowski banked his third Sprint Cup victory of the season, another Ford driver, Australia’s Marcos Ambrose, is still chasing his elusive first win of the year. 

Ambrose, who started 21st, struggled to 27th a lap down in his loose-handling Richard Petty Motorsports Fusion. He is now 20th in the Sprint Cup Series, though he has trousered $US2,644,235 from 19 starts this year.

Ambrose’s underdog team plans to use the third of its four allocated tests to prepare for the August 10 road course race at Watkins Glen International, where has been a star in the past.

A Marcos Ambrose win at Watkins Glen is obviously the team’s best shot at putting a second RPM Ford into the Chase.

Dual V8 Supercars champ Ambrose wasn’t too threatening at a road course race at Sonoma, California, earlier this year, but his two victories in 210 Sprint Cup starts both came at Watkins Glen (in 2011 and 2012). He has 11 top-10 finishes in 13 career road-course races.

Limited joy for Aussies in Iowa Indycars

WILL Power slipped from the top of the Indycar table after fading to a 14th place finish in the Iowa Corn Indy 300 on Saturday night, a race stolen in the final two laps by American Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport).

When the Iowa points shook out, Power’s Team Penske team-mate Helio Castroneves had eked out a nine-point lead with six races remaining in the tightly contested series.

The Mid West was a happier hunting ground for the second Australian in Indycars.

Driving his Ganassi Chev, Sydney’s Ryan Briscoe claimed a solid ninth on the 0.875-mile oval, aka The Tricky Triangle.

“It felt so good to be running strong all weekend,” Briscoe reported. “Frustrating result but a really fun race last night.”

It was his seventh top 10 finish this year. Briscoe is ninth in the points.

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