Rallying, karts and Aussie Rules for Trulli and Glock 13 Mar 2008
Toyota's Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock have been flat-out in Melbourne - before the Australian Grand Prix weekend even gets under way at Albert Park. The start of a new Formula One season always means a busy few days for the team, with the mechanics at the track working hard to ensure everything is ready, and the drivers doing their bit to engage the local and international media.
For Toyota's newest signing, Glock, the week started behind the wheel in unfamiliar circumstances on Monday. The 25 year-old German was given the chance to try his hand at rallying, joining three-time Australian rally champion Neal Bates behind the wheel. On a specially-designed course at Werribee Park, to the west of Melbourne, Glock was first given some pointers by the expert before getting the chance to take the wheel of the Super 2000 Auris.
The dust and oppressive heat of the Victoria countryside did little to limit the Germans enthusiasm for the car and even after the day's activities had officially drawn to a close, he put in some unscheduled laps just for fun, impressing seasoned rally observers with his natural flair for sideways driving.
On Tuesday Glock visited the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) plant in Altona on the outskirts of Melbourne to meet the racing and performance vehicle department of Toyota Australia. There he learnt the secrets of how his company car for the week -the TRD Hilux - was upgraded by the technicians.
Trulli had his turn on Wednesday, going back to his roots as a world champion karter on the new kart track adjacent to the Albert Park Grand Prix circuit. Driving one of his own Trulli Karts, he gave some expert tips to some of Australia's most promising up-and-coming drivers from the Toyota Leopard Series.
The Italian presented recent series winner David Sera with a brand new Toyota Yaris as his prize for winning the championship, before moving on to a restaurant on the Yarra river to give a small group of Australian media a crash course in the intricacies of wine.
Elsewhere, Glock was being shown the basics of Australian Rules football by local heroes, and national cup holders, St Kilda. Of course, with his Grand Prix debut just days away, the 25 year-old steered clear of the rough and tumble action Aussie Rules is famous for but, just a few days before the start of the AFL season, St Kilda star Matt McGuire, showed him the ropes at Moorabbin Oval.
After enjoying the thrills and spills of Melbourne, the Toyota duo will focus on something much more familiar on Friday, as they return to the cockpit of the team's TF108 for the first practice, ahead of this weekends Australian Grand Prix.