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Brad Hodge scores pole position for opening race of Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge

Former Australian Test Cricketer Brad Hodge has taken pole position of the first Mazda6 Celebrity Challenge race at the 2013 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

Hodge edged out actor Jonathan LaPaglia and Britain’s greatest ever Olympian Sir Chris Hoy in an electrifying qualifying session today at Albert Park.

Hodge said after the race that all his training with Mark Skaife this week paid off in spades today.

Coulthard breaks through for maiden pole

Fabian Coulthard has given his V8 Supercar career a real shot in the arm by qualifying on pole position in the MSS Security V8 Supercars Challenge at the 2013 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

The 31-year-old New Zealander – the second cousin of former F1 driver David Coulthard – was the only driver to eclipse Craig Lowndes’ V8 Supercar lap record around Albert Park in the 30-minute qualifying session, and he did so with 0.3491 seconds to spare over Brad Jones Racing team-mate Jason Bright, both steering Holden Commodore VFs.

“Track conditions were perfect today, and I had

Percat makes it two poles from two

Nick Percat’s red-hot qualifying form in the 2013 Porsche Carrera Cup has continued with the South Australian putting his 911 GT3 on pole position for the three-race program at Albert Park.

Percat was the only driver among the crackerjack field – lauded as the most impressive at Albert Park in nearly a decade – to tap into the 1min58-second bracket, which was more than sufficient to keep the fast-finishing Steve Richards in check.

“I couldn’t be happier!

Webber needs no extra spur

Australia’s Mark Webber used the first official FIA press Conference at Albert Park on Thursday to underline his eagerness to get on with the job – driving his Red Bull Renault RB9 as close to the limit as always.

Webber was one of six drivers paraded before the world’s press to kick-start the Formula 1 weekend, and he was glad to be back home.

“It’s great to come to Australia at any stage, let alone for a race, so we’re all looking forward to finally getting down to what we all enjoy doing, and that’s racing the car,” said the 36-year-old.

Hamilton happier at home – and at Mercedes

Six years after his dazzling 2007 debut for McLaren, Lewis Hamilton declared on Thursday that his move to Mercedes for 2013 had made him a happier man and, he hoped, a faster and better driver.

The 28-year-old Briton, who qualified fourth and finished third in his first F1 race and won the drivers’ world title in 2008, told a pre-race news conference at the Rolex Australian Grand Prix that he felt “very comfortable” following his team-switch -- with both car and working environment.

Crowds flock to opening day of the 2013 Formula 1® Australian Grand Prix

The sun came out to shine on Day 1 of the 2013 Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix, as an estimated 69,400 fans flocked through the gates to celebrate “Heritage Day” and commemorate 60 years since the first Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park.

To celebrate the milestone, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) opened the gates of the Albert Park track for General Admission patrons resulting in the second highest Thursday attendance since the event returned to Melbourne in 1996.

Racing into the unknown: Albert Park’s annual challenge

F1’s top drivers admitted on Thursday that they are racing into the unknown at this weekend’s Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

Led by defending drivers’ World Champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, the top men said that they have little idea of how the new extra-soft Pirelli tyres will perform when run in warm, or hot conditions, for the first time.

After weeks of European winter testing in low temperatures, they agreed that the new compounds of rubber did not last long – and may cause unpredictable problems before and during Sunday’s 58-lap race.

Lyons imperious in qualifying

British driver Michael Lyons has claimed the first bragging rights in the Total Oil International Sports Car Challenge at Albert Park.

Lyons, a regular Melbourne visitor, powered to an emphatic pole position in his thumping 8.8-litre March 717.

With the sports cars making their debut at Albert Park, today’s sessions were a huge learning curve for all the drivers, and it was Lyons who showed the field a clean pair of heels with a best lap of 1:55.3907.

Mark Webber: Just get out to Melbourne and get on with the racing

Their home Grand Prix is a mixed blessing for Australia’s Formula One favourites Daniel Ricciardo and Mark Webber. Yes, it’s great to see family, friends… and the sun; but demands on their time are extraordinary so race weekend comes as a relief.

When you are approaching your 200th Grand Prix, starting your 12th World Championship season and the senior man on the 22-driver grid, you might be forgiven for taking a broad, relaxed view of life in the Formula One paddock.

Not if you’re Mark Webber.

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