CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Rookies, rain, records

Rookies, rain and records at Honda Indy 300. After the most dramatic start in Honda Indy 300 history in wet and stormy conditions, rookie driver Mario Dominguez from Mexico had a fairytale finish claiming his first ever champ car win on the Gold...

Rookies, rain and records at Honda Indy 300.

After the most dramatic start in Honda Indy 300 history in wet and stormy conditions, rookie driver Mario Dominguez from Mexico had a fairytale finish claiming his first ever champ car win on the Gold Coast today.

With the majority of the race run under the yellow flag because of the conditions, Dominguez (Herdez Competition) hit the lead on the 36th of the reduced 40-lap race and followed the safety car to the chequered flag.

The 26-year-old from Mexico City led home Patrick Carpentier (Player's Forsythe Racing) and Paul Tracy (Team KOOL Green) to become the second rookie winner of the Honda Indy 300 and the 12th different victor in the 12-year history of the event.

In another amazing statistic, Dominguez had only led one lap in all of the previous 16 rounds of the CART FedEx Championship Series. This lap was in Round 15 at Rockingham in England in September.

"I feel like the luckiest man in the world at the moment," said Dominguez.

"I really think it will be the first of many for this team. We had the good luck for once today. A win is a win and you take it no matter what."

Carpentier said it was one of the most challenging races he has contested.

"Every weekend is different. And when you get conditions like this it's always difficult," he said.

"It was tough out there but it was the right decision to run the race behind the pace car."

Nine cars were involved in a major incident on Havoline Straight at the start after Jimmy Vasser (Shell Team Rahal) and Adrian Fernandez (Fernandez Racing) touched and spun. Vasser's and Tora Takagi's (Walker Racing) cars flipped and landed upside down.

The Simple Green CART Safety Team and medical personnel arrived on the scene just after Michael Andretti (Team Motorola) and Carpentier jumped from their cars and ran to attend Vasser's machine.

Takagi who suffered a slight fracture to his right pelvis and Fernandez were taken in an ambulance to Gold Coast Hospital but later released.

Jason Bargwanna reached the winner's podium for the first time in 2002 with a great wet weather display in the Gillette V8 Supercar Challenge.

The Valvoline Cummins Commodore driver won race two on a wet track with a five second gap back to Craig Lowndes in his 00 Motorsport Falcon with Todd Kelly in the K-Mart Racing Commodore in third place.

Bargwanna's race two win after his fifth placing yesterday gave him his first round victory in 2002, and Garry Rogers Motorsport's second consecutive win on the Surfers Paradise street circuit. Garth Tander won the V8 race last year.

The 30-year-old from Melbourne took out the round with Craig Lowndes placing second after a consistent display this weekend with a third and second placing, and Greg Murphy (K-Mart Racing) finishing third overall.

Bargwanna said the result was a major turnaround after one of the lowest points of his career at Bathurst recently.

"Bathurst was probably the lowest point in my life, but it's great to be able to pull it all together so soon," said Bargwanna.

"You come here to win the race but also to keep it on the track with New Zealand only a couple of weeks away. Staying out of trouble was the key this weekend."

Third-placed Murphy took a major risk to race on slicks before the rain moved in.

"As soon as I put the tyres on, it rained. It was always going to be a hero or zero move -- unfortunately it was a zero," said Murphy.

"This was the best car we have had this year, so things are looking good for New Zealand."

Following today's result, Mark Skaife (Holden Racing Team) holds a 703-point lead over team-mate Jason Bright with Murphy closing to within 73 points of Bright in third.

Steven Richards (Castrol Perkins Racing) sits in fourth place with Lowndes moving into seventh and Bargwanna catapulting up to 11th.

Former rugby league star Jack Elsegood demonstrated his prowess behind the wheel with an impressive victory in race three of the Century Batteries V8 Brutes.

The Falcon XR8 ute driver took the chequered flag by close to a second from fellow Ford driver Damien White with Gary Macdonald bringing the first Commodore SS ute home in third place.

Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 winner Jim Richards made a clean sweep of the Shannons Nations Cup after winning race three this morning in his GT3 Cup. He cleared away to win by five seconds from Paul Stokell (Diablo GTR Coupe) and Peter Fitzgerald (GT3 Cup).

Today's Sunday attendance of 103,351 capped off a great four days for fans, teams and organisers. A record total of 297,835 attended over the four days (up four percent from last year), with an attendance record set on each of the three fine days.

Honda Indy 300 Chief Executive Officer Geoff Jones said the event this year had everything from drama, excitement, an electric atmosphere, unprecedented levels of support and drought-breaking rain.

"The past four days have been a tremendous showcase of a magnificent international event," said Jones.

"Today we saw drama that only motorsport can bring. I would like to pay tribute to the 103,351 people that attended today in the cool and wet conditions.

"The Honda Indy 300 has gone from strength to strength and 297,835 spectators over the fours days is a fabulous result for the event, Queensland and Australia."

"Now the work continues to make next year even better." he said.

-hi-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Tora Takagi , Mario Dominguez , Garth Tander , Jason Bright , Greg Murphy , Jim Richards , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Jason Bargwanna , Todd Kelly , Garry Rogers , Bob Jane , Peter Fitzgerald , Paul Stokell , Jack Elsegood , Damien White , Steven Richards
Teams Holden Racing Team , Garry Rogers Motorsport