Wheldon’s Gold Coast Seat Filled
The field for this weekend’s Armor All Gold Coast 600 in South East Queensland, Australia, has been finalized with the addition of English driver Darren Turner as a replacement for the late Dan Wheldon.
A two-time/reigning Indianapolis 500 champion, Wheldon was killed Sunday in a crash during the season-ending IZOD IndyCar Series Las Vegas Indy 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Wheldon was scheduled to compete as co-driver to Australian V8 Supercar champion James Courtney in the No. 1 Toll Holden Racing Team Commodore.
Turner is a current FIA GT driver and former Formula One test driver for McLaren International.
The accident which claimed Wheldon’s life also has affected two other prominent IndyCar Series regulars who were scheduled to compete in the Gold Coast 600. Australian Will Power of Team Penske injured his back in the crash and has been replaced in Mark Winterbottom’s Orrcon Steel FPR Falcon by Northern Ireland’s Richard Lyons.
“I’m really torn about racing as I literally heard the sad news about Dan’s passing only an hour before I spoke with Tim,” said Lyons, referring to Tim Edwards, Ford Performance Racing team principal. “I’ve known Dan for about 15 years as we started off racing together as juniors. We lived nearby in England and we hung out whenever we could, so it is with a heavy heart I come to Surfers Paradise.”
Singapore-based Lyons has won Formula Nippon and Super GT titles in Japan during his career.
Brazilian Tony Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar champion who was leading the race at LVMS at the time of the accident, has opted to not make the trip to Australia. Kanaan has been replaced in Jason Bargwanna’s Jana Living/BJR Commodore by Danish driver Allan Simonsen, fresh from a podium finish in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 at Mount Panorama on Oct. 8.
Additionally, three IndyCar Series drivers involved in the race at LVMS – Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe (No. 2 Toll HRT Commodore with Garth Tander); Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ Alex Tagliani (No. 16 Stratco/Kelly Racing Commodore with David Reynolds) and Penske’s Helio Castroneves (No. 47 Lucky Seven/SBR Falcon with Tim Slade) have reconfirmed their participation at Surfers Paradise.
Tander teamed with Nick Percat to win the Bathurst 1000. Percat, 23, is sitting out this event but will be monitoring the Toll HRT team from the pits.
All 28 drivers are expected to be at Queensland Raceway near Ipswich Wednesday, Oct. 19, for a co-driver test day. The Armor All Gold Coast 600 is the third endurance race on the V8 Supercars Championship calendar. The V8 Supercar regulars are partnered with an international star in this event. Racers from Formula One, IndyCar, Sports Car, Touring Car and NASCAR will be on hand for an event running Friday through Sunday. The V8 Supercars will be supported by Porsche Carrera Cup, the V8 Utes, Touring Car Masters and Formula Ford.
Turner is a former British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC) Young Driver of the Year winner and a two-time GT1 class winner in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, teaming with Australian David Brabham in victories for Aston Martin in 2007 and 2008. More recently, Turner has been competing in the FIA GT1 World Championship for the Aston Martin Racing team, winning the most recent round held in China to take second spot in the championship.
Shane Howard, V8 Supercars acting CEO, said reaction from the motorsports community internationally after Sunday’s tragedy has been remarkable.
“It was a very sad situation for everyone after Dan’s death,” Howard said. “The offers of support from all levels of the international motorsport community have been amazing and really makes you proud to be a part of this business. Obviously, we were looking forward to having Dan, Will and Tony with us but our thoughts are with them and their families at this time.
“We are grateful that Richard (Lyons), Allan (Simonsen) and Darren (Turner) could make themselves available at such short notice and we look forward to having them here. We also appreciate what Ryan, Alex and Helio have been through in the last couple of days and will ensure they are accommodated with what they need over the next week.
“We are looking forward to paying tribute to Dan with a terrific event, one he was very much looking forward to being a part of.”
The field now includes eight drivers with Formula One race experience and current F1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi, five-time Le Mans champion Emanuele Pirro and former Indianapolis 500 champions Castroneves and Gil de Ferran.
SPEED will broadcast the Gold Coast 600 live Saturday at 11:30 p.m. (EDT) from the street circuit at Surfers Paradise. Darrell Waltrip, three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and recent NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, will headline the same broadcast team that covered the Bathurst 1000. Waltrip will be joined by NASCAR on FOX boothmate Mike Joy and SPEED announcer Leigh Diffey, a native of Brisbane. Former racer Calvin Fish again will work the pits.
ARMOR ALL GOLD COAST 600 FIELD with DRIVER/CO-DRIVER
1 – Toll Holden Racing Team _ James Courtney/Darren Turner
2 – Toll Holden Racing Team _ Garth Tander/Ryan Briscoe
3 – Wilson Security Racing _Tony D’Alberto/Vitantonio Liuzzi
4 – IRWIN Racing _ Alex Davison/Marc Lieb
5 – Orrcon Steel FPR _ Mark Winterbottom/Richard Lyons
6 – Trading Post FPR _ Will Davison/Mika Salo
7 – Jack Daniel’s Racing _ Todd Kelly/Richard Westbrook
8 – Team BOC/BJR _ Jason Bright/Stephane Sarrazin
9 – SP Tools Racing _ Shane van Gisbergen/Emanuele Pirro
11 – Pepsi Max Crew _ Greg Murphy/Oliver Gavin
12 – Westrac Racing _ Dean Fiore/Gianni Morbidelli
14 – Jana Living Racing _ Jason Bargwanna/Allan Simonsen
15 – Jack Daniel’s Racing _ Rick Kelly/Jorg Bergmeister
16 – Stratco Racing _ David Reynolds/Alex Tagliani
17 – Jim Beam Racing _ Steven Johnson/Dirk Mueller
18 – Jim Beam Racing _ James Moffat/Joey Hand
19 – Mother Energy Racing _ Jonathon Webb/Gil de Ferran
21 – Fair Dinkum Sheds Racing _ Karl Reindler/Fabrizo Giovanardi
30 – Gulf Western Oil Racing _ Warren Luff/Marino Franchitti
33 – Fujitsu Racing GRM _ Lee Holdsworth/Simon Pagenaud
34 – Fujitsu Racing GRM _ Michael Caruso/Augusto Farfus Jr.
39 – Supercheap Auto Racing _ Russell Ingall/Jan Magnussen
47 – Lucky 7 Racing _ Tim Slade/Helio Castroneves
49 – V.I.P. Petfoods _Steve Owen/Boris Said
55 – Bottle-O Racing _ Paul Dumbrell/Christian Klien
61 – Bundaberg Racing _ Fabian Coulthard/Patrick Long
88 – Team Vodafone _ Jamie Whincup/Sebastien Bourdais
888 – Team Vodafone _ Craig Lowndes/Andy Priaulx
A public memorial service celebrating the life of IZOD IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon has been scheduled by INDYCAR for Sunday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m. (EDT) at Conseco Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.
Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and 2005 IZOD IndyCar Series champion, was fatally injured in a racing accident Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He is survived by his wife, Susie, and sons Sebastian and Oliver. Wheldon was 33.
The Dan Wheldon Family Trust Fund has been established for the financial security of Wheldon’s family. The public can make contributions to the fund starting Wednesday, Oct. 19, at the following address:
Fifth Third Private Bank
Attn: Dan Wheldon Family Trust
251 North Illinois St., Suite 1000
Indianapolis, Ind. 46204
A memorial site, which includes a Facebook link to leave condolences and remembrances and a career photo retrospective, can be found at http://www.danwheldonmemorial.com.No Comment