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Seven international stars who shone at Surfers Paradise

GLITZ and glamour goes hand-in-hand with the Gold Coast so it’s no surprise there has been no shortage of high-profile stars at the glitter strip’s annual Supercars round.

What’s more is that several have tasted success in a big way.

Surfers Paradise of course was home to an international co-driver round from 2010 to 2012.

In the spirit of race week, for what is the Repco Supercars Championship’s first Gold Coast event since the COVID-19 pandemic, V8 Sleuth looks back at seven of the biggest names from overseas to have won a coveted surfboard trophy.

Qualifier: Drivers considered are those who had established their careers abroad, regardless of their nationality.

Andy Priaulx – 2010

Craig Lowndes and Andy Priaulx. Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

The three-time World Touring Car Championship winner was the most successful signing in the first year of the international co-driver initiative.

He combined with Triple Eight Race Engineering’s Craig Lowndes to finish second in the opening race, the duo backing that up with 10th the following day.

The Brit wasn’t exactly new to Supercars though, having previously run with Kmart Racing/Walkinshaw in three separate endurance campaigns.

Simon Pagenaud – 2011

Simon Pagenaud (left). Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

Four years after a top five finish for Team Australia in the Gold Coast Indy 300, the Frenchman returned for a crack in a Supercar.

Driving with Lee Holdsworth of Garry Rogers Motorsport, Pagenaud finished third in the Sunday race.

He has gone on to forge a successful IndyCar career, winning the 2016 championship and the Indianapolis 500 in 2019.

Sebastien Bourdais – 2011-12

Sebastien Bourdais. Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

Pagenaud wasn’t the most successful Frenchman at the 2011 event however, that mantle belonging to ex-Formula 1 driver Bourdais.

In four Surfers Paradise races across 2011-12, Bourdais/Jamie Whincup netted two wins and two runner-up finishes.

Mika Salo – 2011-12

Will Davison and Mika Salo. Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

It was a similar story for another former F1 driver at Triple Eight’s archrivals Ford Performance Racing, Salo and Will Davison finishing second on the Saturday in 2011 and first on the Sunday in 2012.

Salo was notable for filling in for an injured Michael Schumacher in 1999, chalking up two grand prix podiums for Ferrari.

Will Power – 2012

Will Power with Mark Winterbottom. Pic: an1images.com

In the sister FPR car led by Mark Winterbottom was internationally based Aussie star Power.

Power/Winterbottom finished third in both 2012 races.

The now two-time IndyCar Series champion has not competed in Supercars since – although he was at one stage linked to the Anderson Motorsport wildcard effort which attempted to enter this year’s Repco Bathurst 1000.

Ryan Briscoe – 2013

The car which Russell Ingall and Ryan Briscoe shared. Pic: an1images.com / Justin Deeley

Like Power, Australian-born Briscoe had tasted success abroad long before doing so in Supercars.

Then with Penske, Briscoe also in 2008 became the first Australian and last ever driver to win the Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise.

Five years later, he helped Russell Ingall to one last podium finish – which also happened to be The Enforcer’s only Supercars podium after 2009.

Alex Premat – 2016-19

Scott McLaughlin and Alex Premat celebrate victory in 2019. Pic: Mark Horsburgh

Premat is the most successful of all when it comes to Gold Coast results for drivers born outside of Australia or New Zealand, tallying five podiums including two wins.

He was a double podium finisher in both 2016 (with Shane van Gisbergen/Triple Eight) and 2019 (with Scott McLaughlin/DJR Team Penske), winning one race on each of those occasions.

Honourable mentions

Richard Lyons: 1st and 3rd in 2011 with Mark Winterbottom for Ford Performance Racing

Marc Lieb: 2nd in 2012 with Jonathon Webb for Tekno Autosports

Jeroen Bleekemolen: 2nd in 2013 with Shane van Gisbergen for Tekno Autosports

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