Newcastle Herald

Runway to race track

Date: 20/02/2013
Words: 452
Source: NCH
          Publication: Newcastle Herald
Section: Drive
Page: 38
NOTHING says "celebrity" quite like a supermodel, and Los Angeles-based Australian Jessica Gomes is about as super as they come.

Boasting six appearances in the Sports Illustrated "swimsuit edition", Western Australian Gomes, 27, this week became the latest signing for Mazda and its Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge, sideshow to the annual Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne's Albert Park.

Gomes, an avowed Formula One fan and Monaco Grand Prix spectator (although from the deck of which superyacht we are still to find out), said she was honoured and excited about the Melbourne experience but does not rate herself for a podium finish.

"I'm a pretty competitive person so we'll see how I go on the day," Gomes said, admitting she had never raced a car before.

With four weeks to go until the start of the meeting, Mazda has signed 11 drivers for its 20 diesel-engined cars.

In for a wildcard ride

THE Lake Macquarie man with the Peter Pan complex, Kevin Curtain, continues to show that age is just a number and will front for a one-off, wildcard ride in this weekend's opening round of the World Supersport Championship at Victoria's Phillip Island circuit.

Curtain, 46, is no stranger to the class and only three or four years ago was one of its stars. This time he will be something of a rookie though, given his lengthy break.

Championship runner-up in 2005 and 2006, he has been competing successfully in the Australian Formula Xtreme series since coming home.

"Yamaha asked me [to ride at Phillip Island] and I was like 'Stuff it, why not?' " he said.

Curtain will be joined on the grid by another three Australian wildcard riders - Josh Hook and Matt Davies riding Hondas and 2012 national champion Mitchell Carr aboard a Triumph.

His goal, he says, is simple: "To get on the podium and I don't care whether that's first, second or third".

The Top Gear trial

IF you have ever wondered how a superbike, a V8 Supercar and a Formula One car compare in performance, then the Aussie Speed Showdown at the upcoming Top Gear Festival at Sydney Motorsport Park might answer a few questions.

MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner on a CBR1000RR Honda will race against four-time Australian V8 Supercar champion Jamie Whincup in his Red Bull Holden V8 Supercar and wannabe Formula One world champion Mark Webber in a Red Bull-Renault Formula One car to see which of the three comes away with ultimate bragging rights.

If that is not enough, the show will also feature a "Fish Out of Water" race pitting Stoner, in Craig Lowndes' V8 Supercar, against Lowndes, who will be aboard a Suzuki GSX-R1000 superbike.

The Top Gear show is on March 9 and 10 at Sydney Motorsport Park.

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