To say that for Daniel Ricciardo the next couple of weeks are going to massive is something of an understatement. Not only will Dan be making his first race weekend appearance for Infiniti Red Bull Racing on March 14, but he’ll be doing it on home soil in Melbourne, where he’ll undoubtedly be the centre of attention.
It won't be Dan's first appearance in one our cars ahead of the opening race of the season, however, as this weekend, Daniel will be in Sydney for the Top Gear Festival, where nothing short of the honour of F1 will be on the line. No pressure then.
At last year's event at Sydney Motorsport Park, Mark Webber took on a couple of old mates, MotoGP ace Casey Stoner and V8 Supercar champ Jamie Whincup, in a star-studded battle but this time up the Top Gear team have upped the ante massively, pitting F1 against V8s, Superbike, WRC machines, GT3 cars and a World Time Attack Challenge Car in a contest they're calling the Ultimate Speed Showdown.
Naturally, we're firmly convinced that an F1 car will soundly trounce any other bit of racing kit, but with an array of legendary talent defending the honour of the other series, the showdown suddenly isn't so cut and dried.
Ducati rider and three-time World Superbikes champion Troy Bayliss will take to the track for Team Superbike, while Erebus Motorsport's Will Davison will drive for Team V8. They'll be joined by Davison's Erebus Motorsport team mate Lee Holdsworth in Team GT3, former World Time Attack Challenge champion Garth Waldon and WRC driver and multiple Australian Rally Championship winner Neal Bates.
And while Daniel's not underestimating the competition, he's still hopeful of taking victory for Team F1 and the title of 'King of the Track'.
"I'm super excited about the battle ahead for the Ultimate Speed Showdown, especially against Troy Bayliss who is an absolute legend on two wheels,"
"I want to give F1 fans in Australia the victory in the Ultimate Speed Showdown so will be doing my best to bring home the Infiniti Red Bull Racing F1 car ahead of the rest of the field."
However, Bayliss, reckons he's got a trump card up his sleeve – experience.
"With 52 World Superbike victories under my belt, I'm in good stride to give these guys a run for their money. I know Sydney Motorsport Park like the back of my hand which will give me a competitive advantage against the other drivers and I want to put on a show for all those that favour two wheels over four."
The Ultimate Speed Showdown won't be the only time the guys get to go head-to-head this weekend. Several other Speed Showdowns will feature over the two-day event, with a range of motoring mash-ups seeing Daniel take on Bayliss and teammates Davison and Holdsworth battling for supremacy.
The Top Gear Festival Sydney at Sydney Motorsport Park will once again feature a massive schedule of track action and spectacular stunts, and will once again be attended by Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and The Stig. Last year's inaugural event attracted over 40,000 motoring enthusiasts over two days, so best get your tickets sorted now.
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