Three Australians racing in the United States have begun their 2021 seasons in style with a number of impressive results over the course of the first weekend of the year.
Leading the way with the best results was NTT IndyCar Series star Will Power - the Queenslander securing a runner-up finish during the series’ first round of the year in Birmingham, Alabama.
With 24 drivers entered in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Power got off to a strong start, putting in a light quick qualifying lap to land on the second row.
The 2014 IndyCar Series winner was then highly consistent all race, sticking around the top five, having even led the field for four laps before eventually crossing the chequered flag in second place behind Spaniard Álex Palou.
The race also saw three-time Supercars Champion Scott McLaughlin make his long awaited full-time debut in the series – the New Zealander finishing a respectable 14th.
Another driver to make their North American racing debut in Birmingham was Tasmanian Alex Peroni, who was competing in the Indy Lights season for the first time since making the switch from the FIA Formula 3 Championship at the end of last year.
Racing for British outfit Carlin, Peroni held his own during the series’ first meeting of the year, making progress in both of the round’s races.
Starting race one in P7, Peroni performed well during the 30 lap race and gained two spots to comfortably finish the race inside the top five – nine seconds ahead of the sixth placed Robert Megennis.
It was a similar story in the round’s second race with Peroni starting in P8 and making up two spots to finish in sixth despite being unable to find too much pace on the straights.
Ahead of the series’ second round, Peroni now sits sixth on the standings – just six points off of the top five.
Having already raced in the US before, Cameron Shields began a new chapter of his career with the Queenslander taking part in the first round of the 2021 Indy Pro 2000 Championship – another support category to the IndyCar Series.
Shields started the weekend off well, posting the sixth fastest time in practice and going fifth in the first race’s qualifying session before enduring a difficult second qualifying session where he was 13th on the timesheets.
As he had in qualifying, Shields fared quite well in the opening race, making up a place and finishing just off the podium.
The 20-year-old then suffered front wing damage in the second race and was unable to progress through the field, instead dropping to 15th and ending the season opener in ninth place.
All three drivers will be in action this weekend for their respective second round on the Streets of St. Petersburg in Florida.