Darren Manning Surfers column

Autosport.com's Champ Car World Series columnist Darren Manning scored his best result of the season in what turned out to be the final event of the year at Surfers Paradise in Australia

Darren Manning Surfers column

All year long I've heard that Surfers Paradise was the race of the year and the guys weren't lying. Ryan Hunter-Reay and I were the first two drivers to arrive in Australia and we came first and second in the race, although I wish the order had been reversed.

I had a great time all week, really savoured the party atmosphere and how the fans treat the drivers here. Then, to basically come from last in the field to finish second was a bonus. I want to dedicate my first podium to my crew at Walker Racing, who played a big hand. It also goes to show just how competitive the Champ Car series is. Anyone can win on any given weekend.

I don't want to play the poor boy card, but we've achieved a lot this year with one chassis and a minimal amount of spares while going up against some pretty powerful teams. But we've worked hard and it's great to get rewarded with a podium.

We really struggled all weekend in the dry. We were about two seconds off the pace and never managed to run better than 14th quickest. So we knew we had to do something special in the race in terms of strategy or hope and pray for rain. I've been quick all year in the rain - coming from England it's pretty much a given!

I made some good passes in the first few laps and got up to eighth place and I was one of the first guys to take dry tyres. It nearly ended in tears, though, when I got wrapped up in the incident with Tagliani, Tracy and Moreno, and there was a bit of pandemonium before I got going again.

Our early pitstop worked out and I was third for the last restart behind Hunter-Reay and Vasser. Jimmy was slow exiting the hairpin so I got a run on him and moved up to second, but by then Ryan was four seconds up the road and there were only three laps remaining. Still, it was a fantastic end to a wild day.

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