Five years of Speedcafe.com: News stories

Speedcafe.com

Wednesday 22nd October, 2014 - 3:00am

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Mark Skaife at the COTF announcement in March, 2010

Mark Skaife at the COTF announcement in March, 2010

As Speedcafe.com celebrates its fifth birthday, we look back at the best in Australian and international motorsport over the last half-decade.

Today we focus on the biggest news topics both here and overseas, as selected by our editorial team.

Domestic

1) Ambrose returns to V8 Supercars with new DJR Team Penske alliance

After almost a year of highly publicised negotiations, Team Penske confirmed it would partner with Dick Johnson Racing for the 2015 V8 Supercars season.

The American giant’s September announcement also confirmed it had signed Marcos Ambrose, who decided to discontinue his nine-year NASCAR tenure and return home to V8 Supercars.

Penske is yet to announced plans on the identity of a second driver for the new American/Australian aligned team, stating that it would more likely to be in a position to disclose a team-mate for Ambrose around the Sydney NRMA Sydney 500 in December.

2) V8 Supercars introduces Car of the Future

In March, 2010, V8 Supercars formally announced its Car of the Future project that would ‘open the shop front’ to new manufacturers.

The reveal was the culmination of an 18 month V8 Supercars study, spearheaded by Mark Skaife.

Naturally, the COTF was a major part of Speedcafe.com’s V8 Supercars news coverage through the ensuing months and years.

Delays in the project meant that the new generation rule package did not hit the track until the start of the 2013 season.

3) Nissan enters V8 Supercars

Two years after the initial Car of the Future announcement, Nissan became the first new manufacturer to commit to a V8 Supercars project.

The car manufacturer first shared details of its partnership with Kelly Racing at Melbourne’s Crown Casino in February, 2012; a full year before the race cars hit the track.

The Nissan Altimas would eventually be joined by Erebus Motorsport’s Mercedes E63 AMGs in taking on the Holdens and Fords for the 2013 season.

Volvo subsequently entered a partnership with Garry Rogers Motorsport to make it five marques for 2014.

4) Archer Capital takes majority stake in V8 Supercars

The greatest corporate upheaval since the V8 Supercars brand came into existence saw the sport change hands in May, 2011.

In a deal that valued the business at an estimated $300 million, the move saw Archer buy-out Sports & Entertainment Limited’s 25 percent share, as well as reducing the teams’ collective ownership from 75 percent to 35.

Founding series chairman Tony Cochrane, a stakeholder in SEL, would later leave V8 Supercars at the end of 2012 after brokering some of the biggest national and international deals the sport has seen.

The category’s shareholding is now again under the spotlight as the teams assess a complete exit from the ownership structure.

5) James Courtney defects to HRT

The biggest driver move in V8 Supercars over the last five years was undoubtedly James Courtney’s switch to the Holden Racing Team for 2011.

The deal was signed in the lead-up to Courtney sealing an amazing championship victory for Dick Johnson Racing.

Courtney’s defection came amid a sea of turmoil for DJR, which also saw team manager Adrian Burgess depart for Triple Eight and co-owner Charlie Schwerkolt split from the squad ahead of the new season.

Michael Schumacher continues a long rehabilitation at his home near Lake Geneva

Michael Schumacher continues a long rehabilitation at his home near Lake Geneva

International

1) Michael Schumacher injured in skiing accident

On December 29, 2013, news broke that Michael Schumacher had been involved in a skiing accident in France.

The seven-time world champion lay in a coma with massive head injuries after striking his head on a rock.

Schumacher was transferred from France to a hospital in Lausanne, Switzerland in June before being moved to continue his rehabilitation at his home near Lake Geneva.

2) Dan Wheldon killed in IndyCar crash

English driver Dan Wheldon made his home in the US in the early 2000s before quickly claiming popularity and success in IndyCar.

Among his most prized achievements were the 2005 Indy 500 and Indy championship and the 2006 Daytona 24 Hour.

But only months after claiming his second Indy 500 in dramatic circumstances, Wheldon would lose his life in a sickening accident at the start of the Las Vegas IndyCar race when his car was pitched into the catch fencing.

Officials cancelled the race before drivers voted to perform a five-lap salute in honour of their fallen comrade.

3) Lewis Hamilton leaves McLaren

After being part of the McLaren family since he was a child, Lewis Hamilton dropped a bombshell by saying farewell to the Woking squad at the end of 2012.

A contract worth close to $100m enticed Hamilton to Mercedes, where he replaced Michael Schumacher alongside Nico Rosberg.

The move has proven a savvy one on the behalf of Hamilton, who currently leads the 2014 world championship with the dominant Mercedes as his former team struggles.

4) Tony Stewart involved in Sprint Car fatality

NASCAR hard man Tony Stewart’s world was plunged into turmoil when he struck and killed young driver Kevin Ward Jr at a low-key Sprint Car meeting up Upstate New York in early September, 2014.

A grand jury clear cleared Stewart of any criminal charges in the case which occurred a year after Stewart suffered a badly broken leg in a Sprint Car crash which ended his NASCAR Sprint Cup season prematurely.

5) Bernie Ecclestone’s bribe case

There was an extraordinary ending to a long and drawn out bribery case involving F1 ruler Bernie Ecclestone, paying $100 million to a German court to avoid a jail term.

Ecclestone had faced accusations that he paid German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky almost $50 million which was designed to help the billionaire Brit stay at the commercial controls of F1.

Gribkowsky was jailed for eight and a half years in 2012 having been found guilty of accepting bribes.