2013 review: Scott Dixon wins title once again

16:00, Dec 26 2013
Scott Dixon
PROUD KIWI: Scott Dixon waves the New Zealand flag after winning the first race of the weekend at the Grand Prix of Houston.

Scott Dixon earned himself legend status in the tough domain of IndyCars racing by claiming his third driver's championship.

The 33-year-old added to his 2003 and 2008 titles by transforming an average season into a remarkable one with a mid-season comeback that gave him the momentum for glory.

After 10 races he was lying in seventh place, 92 points behind Brazil's Helio Castroneves.

But somehow Dixon and his Ganassi/Honda team found the perfect combination of speed and skill to climb back into contention.

A hat-trick of titles within eight days in July, including a doubleheader at Pennsylvania, suddenly had Dixon looming in Castroneves' rear-view mirror.

And then it was the Brazilian who started to strike problems, so much so that by the time the championship came to its final race in California, Dixon had a 25-point lead and the title was his to lose.

Castroneves' team ganged up on Dixon and the Kiwi had some overheating problems but he held tough to finish the final race in fifth place which was enough to take the overall title and the US$1m bonus.

Dixon worked harder for this title than the other two, his crown attributed to his mental toughness as much as anything as he endured a variety of problems, including some pit-row blunders that saw tempers fray.

Dixon finished the 19-race season with more wins (4) and top-fives (9) than any other driver, making him a deserved champion.

His efforts have placed him in the mix for New Zealand sportsman of the year honours and certainly raised his stocks in Kiwi motorsport where there are no lack of stars who have shone on the biggest international stages.

Closer to home young Kiwi Scott McLaughlin won the rookie of the year award in the Aussie V8 SuperCars.

The 20-year-old became the youngest winner in the history of these cars with his victory at Pukekohe and he backed that up with another chequered flag in Ipswich.

McLaughlin finished 10th overall while Shane van Gisbergen (fifth) and Fabian Coulthard (sixth) were consistent performers.

Evergreen Greg Murphy hung on to take out the New Zealand V8 SuperTourer title after struggling on the other side of the Tasman.

Auckland's Mitch Evans found the jump to GP2 demanding. Arden International struggled to deliver him a competitive car for much of the season. When they did, he showed his potential including a double podium performance in Monaco. But 14th was his final position for a tough year.

Nick Cassidy carried out the double of winning the New Zealand Grand Prix and the Toyota Racing Series.

On the rallying scene Hayden Paddon remained at the head of the pack, claiming his third New Zealand title.

Finances made offshore campaigning difficult with Paddon ear-marking five international events with solid success.

He got a break late in the year when the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team put him behind the wheel of a Ford Fiesta for his full WRC debut at the Rally of Spain where he finished a credible eighth.


Fairfax Media