Monday Motor Sport Report

Marcos misses by this much

A SHATTERED Marcos Ambrose has missed what was his best chance of  gaining a start in NASCAR’s lucrative 2014 Sprint Cup championship “play-offs”,  taking second to A.J. Allmendinger in a heart-stopper at Watkins Glen on a sad day for American motor sport.

After winning what was his first career Cup race, Allmendinger offered his condolences to the family of Kevin Ward Jr, the driver killed in the sprint car incident with Tony Stewart the night before.

“We're a community here, we're thinking about you,” Allmendinger said.

In a two-lap dash to the finish, Allmendinger held off Ambrose through the first two turns of the Glen road course. They bumped, but Ambrose did get a second shot at winning the crucial race.

The Tasmanian drove in both the second-tier Nationwide Series and top-level Sprint Cup races at the Glen, needing a win in the latter to advance him into the Chase – the end of season races that decide the championship.

Ambrose showcased his road course abilities in a brilliant victory on Saturday – but the win came in the wrong race.

A day later, he came up short – just – in the Sprint Cup race.

His win in the Nationwide race, after being turned around in the early stages, was Ambrose’s first success in 2014.

Sydney’s Kerry Madsen third at Knoxville

DONNY Schatz extended his hot streak at sprintcar racing’s biggest event at the weekend when he won the Knoxville Nationals for the eighth time in nine years.

Schatz, who celebrated a $150,000 pay day, is now just three wins away from matching legend Steve Kinser’s Knoxville successes.

Held in the middle of nowhere – aka Iowa, USA – there isn’t a sprintcar race in the world with the prestige and the tough competition of the Knoxville Nationals.

This year's 54th running drew 112 drivers from all over, with six drivers from Australia adding a punchy international flavour.

After a compelling fight with pole man Schatz, Brian Brown finished runner-up for the third year in a row. With seven laps to go at the dirt half-miler, Brown caught and passed Schatz, but Schatz took the lead back two laps later.

And after looking strong throughout the lead-up races and prelims, Sydney’s Kerry Madsen took a hugely impressive third, bettering his fifth in 2007.

Of the Australians, only Madsen and Knoxville one-lap record-holder Brooke Tatnell qualified for the 50-lap final. Tatnell was classified 20th.

Marquez lands perfect 10; Miller third

MARC Marquez’s incredible sequence of MotoGP victories this season extended to 10 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this morning, leaving his rivals wondering if they will ever win a race again as long as the precocious Spaniard turns up.

The redesigned Indy MotoGP layout is now a 16-turn, 4.2-kilometre circuit with exciting new turn configurations and braking zones and more passing opportunities.

Marquez, who led home Yamaha pair Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, became the first rider to win 10 premier-class GP races on the trot since Mick Doohan in 1997, also on a Repsol Honda.

Aussie Broc Parkes finished 15th.

Marquez increased his lead in the championship, with a perfect 250 points to team-mate Dani Pedrosa’s 161.

Australia’s Moto3 charger, Jack Miller (KTM), finished a fighting third in the Moto3 championship race at Indianapolis, 0.2sec behind winner Efren Vazquez (Honda), who edged Romano Fenati (KTM). 

Miller nevertheless holds a 21-point advantage over Vazquez in the championship battle.

Monopoly money gets Bernie off the hook

FORMULA One’s big news last week was (again) centred on dodgy off-track activities and the German court case against grand prix boss Bernie Ecclestone for bribery and incitement of breach of trust.

Little Bernie faced 10 years in jail if convicted of allegations involving a $US44 million payment to German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who is serving eight and a half years for taking the money.

Ecclestone, 83, denied any wrong-doing, claiming Gribkowsky, who was in charge of selling German bank BayernLB's 47 percent stake in F1 in 2005, blackmailed him.

The long-anticipated smoking gun hadn’t materialised during the trial. Prosecutors and the great escapologist’s defence team, agreeing on a lack of conclusive evidence, called for proceedings to be closed, in exchange for a payment of $US100 million to the state of Bavaria.

Deals like this can happen as long as "the gravity of guilt" isn’t an impediment. Common under German law, they have to be approved by the court hearing the case, but normally don’t involve such staggering amounts of money. Fines are pinned to the assets of the defendant.

And Ecclestone was off the hook for a mere US$100 million, tea money for a bloke with a net worth of an estimated $US4.8 billion.

The unusual decision to end the trial with a payment means Ecclestone was found neither guilty nor innocent. He will continue to run F1.

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