by Mark Fattore
Saverio Rocca fought a brilliant rearguard action to hold out skateboarding star Corbin Harris in today’s second and final Lexus Celebrity Challenge race at the 2011 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix.
Harris stalked Rocca the whole way, but just couldn’t break down the defences of the former AFL great, who has now taken his prodigious kicking skills all the way to the NFL in America.
And the pace was red-hot too, with Rocca’s elapsed time four seconds faster than his race one effort.
“This has been a great experience, and it’s something I won’t forget in a hurry,” said Rocca. “Thanks to Lexus and all the drivers for what has been an unbelievable week, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to win both races – but I will take it.
“I’d actually like to do a bit more racing, but there’s the small problem of being 40kg heavier than most other drivers…”
Rocca defeated Harris by 1.3884 seconds to bring up his clean sweep, while third place was taken by the fast-finishing Giaan Rooney, with the former swimming star holding off ironman Shannon Eckstein in a run to the finish line.
It was a swashbuckling ‘comeback’ performance from Rooney, who only finished a lowly 10th in race one.
“I apologise for giving Shannon a ‘toot’ on the final corner, but it was all good fun,” said Rooney. “And I had to get on the podium, as my fiancé said he wouldn’t marry me otherwise!”
Entertainer Brian McFadden was heavily involved in that battle for third, but he ran wide and touched the fence coming onto the home straight for the last time.
He quickly fell back through the tight pack to finish 10th, with positions 5-9 taken by Callan Mulvey, Nick Cooper, Luke Ricketson, Andrew Scifleet and Danny Wallis.
McFadden wasn’t the only celebrity to lose traction in the rough and tumble of the five-lapper, with comedian Tom Gleeson, Ricketson and Melbourne radio king Ross Stevenson also falling by the wayside at various stages.
Stevenson was the only driver who failed to finish in his CT200h, again leaving Lauren Phillips as the final driver to cross the finish line.