Daniel Ricciardo drops into WA to fly the flag for surf event

Daniel MercerThe West Australian
Motor racing star Daniel Ricciardo checks out the surf at Prevelly and, inset, rising Margaret River surfer Jacob Willcox.
Camera IconMotor racing star Daniel Ricciardo checks out the surf at Prevelly and, inset, rising Margaret River surfer Jacob Willcox. Credit: Richard Hathaway

Formula One ace Daniel Ricciardo has emerged as a surprise advocate of WA’s premier surfing event, saying it was a perfect showcase for WA’s beauty and deserved a place among the world’s elite contests.

As Perth-raised Ricciardo threw his support behind the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro during a surprise visit to the event yesterday, local surfer Jacob Willcox enhanced his reputation as a giant killer by knocking out Brazilian superstar Gabriel Medina.

Action moved back to the main contest site at Prevelly after an historic first day of World Championship Tour competition at Gracetown’s North Point on Wednesday, with a host of big names moving into the third round.

VideoThe nominations for the Big Wave Awards have been announced

However, several others were eliminated, including Medina and three-time Australian world champion Mick Fanning.

Ricciardo described himself as a keen fan of the sport after learning to surf last year during a trip to Byron Bay.

He also revealed he had been invited to Margaret River by Fanning, with whom he had struck up a friendship through common sponsor Red Bull.

VideoWA young gun Jacob Willcox has eliminated the 2014 world champion in round two of the Margaret River Pro.

According to Ricciardo, WA often struggled to attract the same recognition as other States but could hold its own in event management.

Amid rumours the World Surf League could drop Margaret River from the tour next year, Ricciardo said he would love for it to stay.

“Because we’re on the other side of Australia we don’t often get a chance to show our State off,” he said.

VideoMargaret River Pro gets underway with a totally epic ride.

Willcox, who drew headlines in 2013 after beating 11-time world champ Kelly Slater as a 16-year-old, claimed another high profile scalp by beating Medina.

The Margaret River local said while he had kept his expectations in check ahead of the clash, he was quietly confident he would be able to use his knowledge of the conditions to his advantage.

Willcox, who is vying to qualify for the tour next year, faces world champ John John Florence in the third round.

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