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Top drivers confirm importance of karting  The Karting Show at Autosport International attracted a record number of celebrity drivers and product launches at Europe’s largest motorsport show at the NEC Birmingham this weekend. The show, which ran from 8-11 January, received massive acclaim from drivers across the motorsport spectrum including Formula One and sportscars, single seaters and touring cars. Over 1,000 of the UK’s top karters were also in attendance with the next Lewis Hamilton almost certainly among them. 

Long-time supporter, double Le Mans winner Allan McNish, made a welcome return to the Karting Show and was delighted to see increased public interest in the sport. McNish commented: “Once again karting has formed an integral part of Autosport International, giving young drivers the opportunity to rub shoulders with the stars of motorsport all the way up to Formula One. The BRDC Stars of Tomorrow and the Super One championship awards were also held in the Karting Show and it’s great to see the UK producing so much talent. I’m sure that we will see some of those names at the top end of motorsport in the near future, in Formula One, IndyCar or Le Mans.” 

Over the four days, the Karting Show Stage welcomed a host of drivers offering karting champions of the future the chance to meet and get top tips from the experts. Five-time Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro enjoyed his first ever visit to Autosport International and commented that he was impressed to see such focus on the grassroots of the sport. More ...
VW team 1-2-3 after 8 stages of Dakar  NASCAR Sprint Cup owner/driver Robby Gordon finished eighth Sunday in the eighth stage of the Dakar Rally and remained fifth overall in the standings.

Spaniard Carlos Sainz won the stage and remained the overall leader. Gordon was 23 minutes, 40 seconds behind Sainz in Sunday’s round, which went from Valparaiso, Chile, to La Serena, Chile. Gordon is 1:23:01 behind Sainz in the overall standings.

This 8th very quick stage of the Dakar resembled a last warm-up before tackling the big dunes Chile has to offer. Cyril Despres was the quickest on the way to La Serena and continues to climb up the general standings. The Frenchman has climbed onto a place on the provisional podium, but is still one and a half hours behind leader Marc Coma. Sainz reacquainted himself with rallying sensations on a route tailor-made for him, on which he distanced Nani Roma, who finished fourth, by another several minutes. More ...

Shoe edges NASCAR champ for Titus Trophy  
"(This award) clearly means drag racing is getting its fair share of attention."
-- Tony Schumacher
Tony Schumacher, whose record-setting NHRA drag racing season was capped with a fifth consecutive Top Fuel championship, was announced as winner of the Jerry Titus Memorial Trophy Saturday at the 39th annual American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association All-America Team ceremony presented by A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.

In the closest margin in over a quarter-century, Schumacher edged NASCAR Sprint Cup titlist Jimmie Johnson by one vote. Shirley Muldowney received one vote more than Bobby Allison in 1982.

The Titus Trophy is awarded to the driver who receives the most All-America Team votes. It is named in memory of the late journalist and racer, who was an AARWBA member. It is the highest honor offered by AARWBA, the country’s oldest and largest organization of motorsports media professionals.

AARWBA members annually elect drivers to the Team from seven categories: Stock car, open-wheel, drag racing, road racing, short track, touring series and at-large. More ...

Hyundai Genesis: Car of the Year  The Hyundai Genesis this morning was named North American Car of the Year, giving the 16th annual industry award for the first time to a South Korean automaker.

"I'm very proud, that only in 1980s we launched our product in the U.S.," Brandon Yea, senior vice president of product planning for Hyundai, said as the company's vice chairman, H.S. Lee, held the prestigious trophy for photos with throngs of international automotive journalists. "If American customers accept this car really as 'Car of the Year,' really, it's much more than we expect. Of course, we want it. But it takes a long time to get this kind of award."

Hyundai's luxury offering made history by being the first vehicle from a South Korean automaker to even be a finalist for the award, chosen by automotive media from around the world. More ...

Ford F-150: Truck of the Year  The Ford F-150 was named North American Truck of the Year this morning at the Detroit auto show, in the 16th Annual award juried by the automotive media.

Critics praised the quiet comfortable ride of the redesigned F-150, a model that Ford expects to maintain its spot as the best-selling vehicle in the country.

Before being named a finalist for truck of the year, 2009 F-150 won several accolades.

Specialty Equipment Market Association named it the most accessory-friendly pickup. The F-150 was expected to be named best redesigned vehicle of 2009 by Kelley Blue Book.

Price: Starts at $21,565

GM Rally Showcases 17 New and Upcoming Cars and Crossovers  General Motors opened the North American International Auto Show with a road rally of 17 new and upcoming cars and crossovers – including four global premieres – that underscores GM’s ongoing commitment to emotionally compelling design, leading fuel efficiency and advanced technology.

In addition to the four world premieres – the 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, 2010 Cadillac SRX, 2010 Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac Converj concept – Chevrolet announced it will produce and bring to the U.S. the highly fuel-efficient Spark four-door mini car and seven-seat Orlando multi-purpose vehicle.

The production version of the Spark will be unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show in March. Sales of Spark will begin in early 2010 in Europe, followed by other global regions. Originally seen as the Chevrolet Beat concept, the car drew nearly 2 million consumer votes asking GM to build it. Spark will hit U.S. showrooms in 2011. More ...

Early March launch for new Force India  (GMM)  Force India's Mercedes-powered 2009 car will be revealed and run for the first time at Jerez in early March, team owner and boss Vijay Mallya said on Sunday.

"The new car, VJM02, is under construction.  It will have a McLaren gearbox and Mercedes engine, which is a big change from VJM01.  We are going to unveil it at Jerez in early March," the Indian billionaire explained in New Delhi.

With the 2009 season set to kick off in Australia on March 29, Mallya denied that he is worried his team's new car is arriving later than many of its rivals.

"Not really," he told the Hindustan Times.  "We will have a six day test which I think is enough.  Besides, the facilities at our Silverstone factory are quite up to the mark and I think we will be ready for the first race."

Mallya said he is "confident" Force India, having failed to score a single point in 2008, can progress into the midfield this year.

Groundbreaking Volvo Technology Helps Drivers Avoid Accidents With Pedestrians  Volvo Cars introduces the next generation of preventive safety technology. Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian detection reacts when a pedestrian walks out in front of a car - and will activate the car's full braking power if the driver does not respond to the danger. This groundbreaking innovation is being presented in the Volvo S60 Concept, for the first time at the Detroit Auto Show.
Joel Miller wins 2009 Gorsline Scholarship Award  Joel Miller has been named the recipient of the 2009 Gorsline Scholarship, a prestigious award given to a up and coming driver each year who displays the attributes of a future champion. For the sixteenth year John Gorsline of the Gorsline Company has sponsored this award to recognize aspiring drivers and provide a program that provides tools for the winner, that will assist them in developing skills on and off the track and attain their professional goals.

As the scholarship winner Miller will be working with Dr Jacques Dallaire, Director of Performance Prime, to create an individually designed performance Enhancement program. Dallaire has personally worked with more than 600 drivers from 35 countries from all forms of motorsport. More ...
Axed Petty would like to find Cup ride  Kyle Petty's, who was axed from the team owned by his father Richard Petty, plans for the 2009 season include driving in some Grand American races and continuing his television work. He also would like to obtain a Cup ride, but he knows that his efforts could be harmed by the economic downturn (and the fact he isn't the best driver in the paddock by a wide margin). Associated Press/ESPN
ALMS team Tafel Racing closes doors  The Tafel Racing Ferrari team, which came close to winning the 2008 American Le Mans Series GT2 championship, has closed its doors.

Team technical director Tony Dowe told AutoWeek, "It is indicative of the current financial situation globally and in North America that the ability of a team that had such a successful 2008 to attract sponsorship is virtually non-existent," said Dowe, who ran the TWR Jaguar team's U.S. operation in the late 1980s and early '90s, and then Panoz's sports-car effort.

tv news
Weekend USA TV Reminders  UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below.
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Summer Shootout Lowe's 
12:00pm-1:00pm -Round 6 SPEED
Trippin' on Two Wheels
1:00pm-2:00pm Quebec
2:00pm-3:00pm Scotland SPEED
Dakar Rally Highlights Argentina-Chile 
3:30pm-4:00pm VS
The Motocross Files 
4:00pm-4:30pm -Johnny O'Mara
4:30pm-5:00pm -Joel Robert SPEED
AMA Supercross Lites Phoenix 
5:00pm-6:00pm (1/10/09) SPEED
AMA Supercross Phoenix
6:00pm-7:00pm (1/10/09) SPEED
Dakar Rally Highlights Argentina-Chile 
6:30pm-7:00pm VS
The SPEED Report 
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com
Audi won't reveal R15 until Sebring  Audi say they will not unveil their all-new turbodiesel R15 LMP1 car until it makes its competitive debut at the Sebring 12 Hours in March.

No photographs or specifications have been released, and there are no plans to do so until March.

"The car ran as planned before Christmas," an Audi spokeswoman told this week's Autosport magazine.

"It was just a rollout and everything went to plan.

"There will be more tests this month, but the plan is to keep the car a secret until Sebring. There will be no official photographs until the week of the race."

Walker tips Kubica for 2009  Formula One pundit Murray Walker believes Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso will both challenge for the 2009 Drivers' Championship.

Racing for BMW last season, Kubica found himself leading the drivers' standings after his win at the Canadian Grand Prix.

The Polish driver, though, fell out of the running for the title at the penultimate race of the season with many claiming it was largely BMW's lack of progress that cost him rather than his own ability.

This year, though, former F1 commentator Walker believes Kubica could be in the running thanks to the sport's new regulations. More ...

No. 43 Dodge has full sponsorship  Driver Reed Sorenson confirmed Saturday that Gillett Evernham Motorsports has secured full sponsorship for the No. 43 Dodge that he will drive in 2009. Sorenson said the car will have five rotating primary sponsors, including the U.S. Air Force.

GEM is merging with the former Petty Enterprises and will field three full- and one part-time teams in 2009. Kasey Kahne will drive the No. 9 with Budweiser backing, Elliott Sadler the No. 19 with a rotating group of primary sponsors and Sorenson will be in the No. 43. A fourth car will run a minimum of nine races, with a driver to be named later.

R3 Motorsports plans several Cup races  R3 Motorsports owner Robert Richardson Sr. said his team has entered the Daytona 500 and could compete in a handful of other Sprint Cup races in the 2009 season. R3 plans to compete full time in the Nationwide Series this year with drivers Robert Richardson Jr. and Ken Butler III, with sponsorship from Mahindra Tractors and Aaron’s rentals. Richardson Sr. said his son as been approved for Cup tracks 2 miles and less in length, and the team has five Cup cars purchased from Dale Earnhardt Inc. “We’re expecting the Cup fields to be short as well this year, so in addition to our Nationwide car fleet, we’ve got five ... cars sitting there ready to go,” Richardson Sr. said. The team will watch car counts in Cup races throughout the year, and if the fields are small enough, R3 will enter. Richardson Sr. said the team is talking to two veteran drivers about competing in the Daytona 500. Scene Daily
ESPN Dumps Direct NASCAR Link  Things are certainly getting interesting where the new ESPN.com homepage is concerned. The redesigned version of this top sports website has caused quite a backlash across the Internet.

Where TDP is concerned, one change really stands out. The company that telecasts the entire Nationwide Series, the final 17 Sprint Cup races and offers the only daily NASCAR show on TV has eliminated NASCAR as a direct link on the frontpage of their website.

ESPN.com users no longer see the word NASCAR on the front page and have to click on the "All Sports" tab to open a menu box and then find the sport. Poker and High School sports are also on the same menu. The curious part of this switch is that the National Hockey League remains as a direct link while NASCAR does not.

Dorna boss hopeful Kawasaki ‘private’ team will race in 2009  Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta is confident that Kawasaki will have some involvement in the 2009 MotoGP world championship, despite today’s announcement its factory team would not race next season.

Although Kawasaki will have no direct factory involvement in 2009 after the Japanese factory quit because of the global economic crisis, Ezpeleta believes a private team could takeover the project and field the ZX-RR bikes.

As it stands, Kawasaki’s departure drops the entry list down to 17 bikes and also leaves John Hopkins and Marco Melandri without a ride. More ...

racing news
Toyo Tires 24H
Victory for Land Motorsport Porsche  
Winning Porsche
It couldn’t have been closer: after 24 hours of racing at the Dubai Autodrome, only 49.676 seconds separated the first- and the second-placed car in the fourth running of the TOYO TIRES 24H of Dubai. After a thrilling final hour of the race that saw no less than three changes of the lead, the Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, entered by German team Land Motorsport and  driven by Carsten Tilke, Gabriël Abergel, Andrzej Dzikevic and Niclas Kentenich, came out on top, only just defending its lead from the charging Al Faisal Racing Team’s BMW Z4 M Coupé that was shared by Abdualziz Al Faisal, Paul Spooner, Claudia Hürtgen and Stian Sorlie. Third place was taken by another Porsche, the Besaplast Racing Team entry of Martin Tschornia, Franjo Kovac, former DTM-champion Kurt Thiim and the father-and-son pairing of Roland and Sebastian Asch.

All the experts and race fans agreed that this year’s fourth running of the TOYO TIRES 24H of Dubai was the most fascinating and exciting to date, the battle for victory going right down to the wire after 24 hours of spectacular motor racing action at the 5.43 kilometres long Dubai Autodrome, the state-of-the-art motor sports facility in the United Arab Emirates that hosted the event, organised by Dutch agency CREVENTIC in close co-operation with the Dutch National Racing Team. More ...

Dakar 2009 - French biker found dead  UPDATE Pascal Terry, who was found dead three days after disappearing while racing in the Dakar Rally, died from a pulmonary edema, the judge in charge of the case said.

“The result of the autopsy showed that the cause of death was cardio-respiratory failure brought on by a pulmonary edema which had its origin in a pre-existing cardiograph,'' said Manuel Alvarez, who confirmed the official result of the post-mortem revealed by police on Wednesday.

Terry, 49, disappeared while taking part in the second stage of the race between Santa Rosa and Puerto Madryn on Sunday.

His body was discovered on Wednesday lying 50 meters from his machine before the tragedy led to claims that his life could have been saved had he been rescued. More ...

Dakar support truck crash kills two  Two people were killed Friday when a Dakar Rally support truck from Argentina slammed head-on into another vehicle, police said.

The accident occurred near Pejerreyes, some 400km north of Santiago near the route of Monday's planned ninth stage between La Serena and Copiapo.

The support truck, carrying tires for rally contestants, was operated by an Argentinean company. It was travelling with a Dakar Rally organization logistical support car.

According to the initial police reports, Argentinean truck driver Marcelo Sanchez crossed the center line for an unknown reason and hit the smaller oncoming vehicle. The two occupants of the vehicle, who were Peruvian, were killed. More ...

Formula Two at Brands Hatch  After a 25 year absence from the tarmac, the iconic Brands Hatch circuit in Kent has the honor of hosting the first UK round of the resurrected 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship. F2 will once again be the showcase for some of the brightest young driving prospects in the world, with drivers like World Series by Renault runner-up Julien Jousse and 2006 Formula BMW USA Champion Robert Wickens already having signed up to the championship.

Alongside Formula Two, the FIA World Touring Car Championship will make its fourth consecutive appearance at Brands Hatch. There will be plenty of British talent to support among the field of top international drivers, including three time champion Andy Priaulx and Rob Huff, who was cruelly denied a home victory in 2008 after he suffered a puncture on the penultimate lap. More ...

F2 engine undergoes successful test  

The 1.8-litre turbo-charged Audi engine that will power each Formula Two car next season has undergone a successful dyno test at Mountune Racing's headquarters.

A dynamometer or 'dyno' test measures the torque and rotational speed produced by an engine, which generates the power needed to drive the vehicle. 

The F2 engine reached its 450bhp overboost power target and tests will now continue to measure its reliability and endurance at this power level and the race power of 400bhp.  Overall, the engine will be able to rev up to 8500rpm.

The official Formula Two website will be following the progress of the cars as they are constructed ahead of the scheduled first test later this year.  Keep visiting the website for the latest news and videos.

Click here to watch the F2 engine test.

track news
Martinsville offers ticket packages  Martinsville Speedway officials have announced a series of ticket packages that offer more affordable options for fans.

Ticket packages include discounts for families, children and college students.

“Our fans are the best. They have always been here for us and we’re going to do everything we can to be here for them,” said Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell. “We set out to put together packages that help not only families, but all of our fans.”

Packages for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 on March 29 include the following: More ...

Ferrari switch rollout to Mugello  (GMM) Ferrari has decided to change the venue for the track debut of its 2009 formula one car.

Following the official launch of the single seater at the Maranello based team's Italian headquarters, Felipe Massa had been scheduled to drive the car onto the nearby Fiorano test circuit later next Monday.

But reports in Germany reveal that those plans have changed, given inclement winter weather conditions in the north of the country.

Instead, Massa will clock up the first kilometers at Mugello, Ferrari's other test circuit, located nearly a two-hour drive south of Fiorano.

The Ferrari launch and roll-out will be the first among F1's 2009 teams.

Buemi signed F1 contract last month  (GMM) Sebastien Buemi has revealed that his contract to race with the Toro Rosso team in 2009 was signed almost three weeks ago.

The Red Bull-owned squad only announced on Friday that the 20-year-old Swiss, who was Red Bull Racing's test driver in 2008, will make his grand prix debut this season.

But Buemi, who lives with his uncle in Bahrain, told the Swiss newspaper Blick that he actually put pen to paper before Christmas.

"I signed my contract on 22 December," he said, "but until now I have not been allowed to say anything publicly."

The last Swiss driver on the F1 grid was the backmarker Jean-Denis Deletraz, in 1995.

Drayson Racing announces GT2 entry  Paul Drayson (London/Gloucestershire, UK) officially announced the formation of Drayson Racing at today's Autosport International Show. Drayson Racing (DraysonRacing.com) will contest a select number of professional sports car racing events on three continents in 2009 including the three most prominent races in the American Le Mans Series.

The single car team will enter events on the Le Mans Series schedule in Europe, the American Le Mans Series calendar in the United States and two, late-season races in Asia. The new, standalone operation will campaign the No. 007 Drayson Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT2 with Drayson and Jonny Cocker (Guisborough, Yorks, UK) piloting the British racing green coupe. It was further announced that Drayson Racing will be an Official Partner Team of Aston Martin Racing for the upcoming season. More ...

Mathiasen Motorsports focuses on 2009  In 2008, Mathiasen Motorsports team owners Ray and Leslie Mathiasen took their passion and desire to build a top Formula Atlantic racing team to the next level by pairing the engineering talents of Alain Clarinval with one of the world’s finest young racing talents, American Jonathan Bomarito. This resulted in a season where the team earned the most wins, pole positions and led the most laps by more than double the next competitor on their way to a solid runner up position in the final Championship standings. Ray and Leslie Mathiasen were also honored by the series at the season ending banquet as the Team Owners of the Year. Not a team to dwell on the two motor failure issues which cost the team its first championship, Mathiasen instead will use the lessons learned from last season to build on their success and hone the focus toward winning the 2009 Championship title.

Mathiasen sets off for 2009 with a heartfelt thanks and farewell to Bomarito as he moves on with his career and now seeks to fill the seat with another championship contender. The rest of the team will return from last season and the continuity will allow Mathiasen Motorsports to seamlessly focus on maximizing performance out of the box as testing for the 2009 season continues in full force to locate the best young racer to join the Mathiasen team. More ...

racing news
Toyo Tires 24H
BMW leading at sunrise in TOYO TIRES 24H  
Leading BMW
As the sun rose over the Dubai Autodrome, the Al Faisal Racing BMW Z4 M Coupé (Abdualziz Al Faisal, Paul Spooner, Claudia Hürtgen, Stian Storlie) was leading the field in the fourth running of the TOYO TIRES 24H of Dubai. All teams that were being considered as favorites prior to the race had had their share of problems during the evening and night hours. Even the Al Faisal Racing team didn’t have a trouble-free run, losing some ten minutes in the evening when the alignment of the front axle of the BMW had to be adjusted, but that loss of time didn’t prevent them from running in the lead after a strong recovery.

Previous leaders, the Land Motorsport Porsche with starting number 41 (Hermann Tilke, Marc Basseng, Christian Land, Dirk Adorf), were left sidelined when their car caught fire at 22.50 h, causing the third lead change of the race. Another lead change followed a quarter of an hour after the halfway point of the race when the number 53 RJN Motorsport Nissan 350Z (Carlos Tavares, Alexander Buncombe, Chris Buncombe, Richard Meaden) had quite a severe crash, although fortunately just resulting into bodywork damage on the car. More ...

track news
Richmond lowers prices on worst seats in the house  Richmond International Raceway announced Friday a ticket price restructuring of more than 18,000 tickets for its Henrico Grandstand, beginning when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the track in May.

Tickets on sale for the May 2 Cup race and other future events will reflect the new ticket price restructuring, according to a track press release. Rows 1 through 5 of the Henrico Grandstand are now $40 per ticket and rows 6 through 15 are now $55 per ticket. The new prices reflect a 50 and 25 percent decrease, respectively, from the prices for the May 2008 Cup weekend, according to the release. More ...

Sorenson will drive #43  Tom Reddin, CEO of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, spoke to Sirius NASCAR Radio's The Morning Drive Friday morning:

David Poole: "Will Reed Sorenson be in the #43 car and, if you make the deal with A.J. [Allmendinger] for the fourth car would that be the #10? Is that the plan?"

Reddin: "Yeah, pre-merger Reed is in the #10 but post-merger Reed will be in the #43 for next year."

Poole: "What's the sponsorship situation on that car?"

Reddin: "We've got the majority of the races sold but we still have some races to sell. So if anybody's out there listening please give us a call. (laughs) But we've got the majority of the races sold and we're going to be announcing a sponsor in a few weeks on that car. And, again, that was the #10 and it will become the #43. And then our fourth car, we're working on the number right now, which number that will be, and we'll probably have an answer on that within a couple of weeks." Sirius NASCAR PR

Nicola De Marco eager for the challenge of F2  
Nicola De Marco
Nicola De Marco has today (09/01) become the latest addition to the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship line-up.

De Marco joins on the back of a successful season in Formula 3 Spain, where he won races at Albacete and Spa-Francorchamps – a circuit Formula Two will visit this year. De Marco guided his car to an impressive fourth in the overall championship despite a number of reliability issues, and recorded further top four finishes at Vallelunga and Magny-Cours. He also competed against fellow F2 driver Natacha Gachnang in the series.

18 year old De Marco only began his single seater career in 2006 in Formula Azzurra, where he immediately demonstrated race-winning pace by taking victory in three of the 14 races and finishing third in the final standings. Having made the step up to Formula 3 Italy in 2007, De Marco strung together a superb ten consecutive top-four finishes. He showed consistent improvement through the season, taking his maiden pole in race 14, and ended the year sixth in the championship. More ...

Ferrari team ready to battle BMW and Corvette teams  Americanlemans.com presents an exclusive interview with Risi Competizione Team Manager David Sims. In the interview Sims looks back on the 2008 season, shares the plan to improve and greets the new GT2 competition with open arms.

"With BMW coming in and Corvette coming in GT2, and Porsche will improve again so we have to keep one step ahead and on par with those guys," Sims told americanlemans.com. "It's good for the sport. The sport needs it, so it's up to us to keep up or get better. We have to."

The pedigree certainly is there. Since introducing the Ferrari F430 GT in 2006, Risi has won two class championships, 14 races and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Markus Niemelä Retains Attorney against Brooks Racing  UPDATE #2 "...Contrary to the announcement (from) BAR, Markus Niemela is not trying to force changes to an existing contract, but only wants (BAR) to fulfill their part of (the contract). (Responding to) BAR’s statement that Markus agreed that all end-of-the-season monies (would be) paid to the Team...we (would like to) quote a paragraph of the agreement between BAR and Markus Niemelä that defines (the)...prize money split between the team and the driver:

Prize money/Trophies. Prize money will be divided 100% to team for first $100,000, which is in addition to the arrangement as noted above. After $100,000, the next $50,000 to Driver. Remaining amount to be divided 50% to team, 50% to driver. All Trophies remain the property of the Driver. In the event (that the) Driver wins the Championship, (a) Champ Car bonus of $2 million towards a future ride, will be fully vested to driver.

According to Niemelä, “Naturally I’m not happy (with) the way things have gone, (but) more than anything I’m disappointed (with) the way Brooks announced (their statement) in public, (as if) it was not enough (for them) to keep most of (the) the prize money I won...I brought in (a) big part of BAR’s budget last season, and my sponsors always respected our agreement, although there were (fewer) race weekends than we had originally agreed (to), and (when Champ Car went away) there as no more Champ Car Bonus of $2 million and, therefore, (the) actual value of the agreement was less. Still, my sponsors paid the amount of the original agreement. Of course I'm not blaming Brooks (for) those changes but...both my sponsors (and I) kept loyal to Brooks no matter what, and we won the championship together. Anyway, (this) is a huge mess (and it) is not good (for) anyone. I have absolutely nothing to hide in this case, and everyone that know the details of it, know who is right, and who is wrong.

I understand (that) we need to answer...(any) false accusations made by BAR, so that this (issue) does not cause any more damage.

(But), I (also) want to make it clear that none of the employees (at) BAR during the 2008 season (are) involved...and I'm still thankful to all of my mechanics and engineers, who made it possible to win the title."

01/09/09 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Markus was not paid $200k to drive for Brooks Racing and indeed he did enter into a valid driver agreement to run the 2008 Atlantic Championship, which he won. Markus  was not "underfunded" and with the support of his great backers in Finland was able to come to an agreement to run the series with Brooks and paid all of his obligations to the team as called for in the contract. Specifically in the contract, it was agreed that Markus would retain the Championship prize in the event he won the Championship, as well as a clearly written section as to percentage splits of per event winnings. This became even more important as Champ Car folded prior to the start of the season and there really would have been no other reason to spend the money to run this series for any young driver with a budget unless there was some "prize" at the end.  None of the money was paid to Markus per his race winnings and the championship prize in any amount and the more serious issue here is "why" would any team that was delivered it's first Championship in 14 years, be trying treat their champion in this manner?

01/08/09 According to sources in Finland, Atlantic Champion Markus Niemela has retained an attorney in an attempt to secure additional, end-of-year money, allegedly owed by Brooks Racing for the 2008 season.

Niemela, who was paid $200,000 to sign a one year contract with the team, says that he was also to be paid for additional Championship money. However, Sue Brooks, who manages marketing for the team, offers a different slant on the situation. "...our team was proud to give an under-budgeted young driver the opportunity to combine assets to win the 2008 Atlantic Championship.

We had a legal and binding contract with Markus Niemela, which both he and his sponsor signed. During negotiations, it was specifically agreed that any end-of-season monies were to be paid to the team. More ...

Dennis among Donington skeptics  
Ron Dennis
(GMM)  Ron Dennis has admitted he is "concerned" chiefs of the Donington Park circuit will fail in their task to organize the 2010 British grand prix.

The venue, located in North West Leicestershire, has won a 10-year-old contract to move the race away from Silverstone, and this week gained local planning approval for 110m euro renovations.

But there remains skepticism that Donington can succeed from a financial point of view, particularly in the midst of the new world economic crisis.

"I applaud anybody coming into grand prix racing and creating competition but I really do struggle to understand how the economics of Donington will work," Dennis, boss of the McLaren team, said at the Autosport International show in Birmingham.

"They've had a 25 per cent swing in the (US) dollar and the contract will be a dollar based contract.  (They will have to make) a massive investment into infrastructure," he added.

"So I'm concerned that they'll go down this path and the economic model won't work," said Dennis, who said the UK government should realize it can play a role in helping Britain to stay on the F1 calendar.

Dennis said he was also concerned about aspects such as access into and out of the track, which was last the host of a grand prix in 1993.

FOTA turns attention to F1 'show'  (GMM)  Just as F1's team alliance FOTA has pushed on with cost cuts, the group is now turning its attention to spicing up the spectacle of the sport.

"Within a few days, we will get the results of a global market research into the perception of F1 by the public, by the audience," McLaren boss Ron Dennis revealed at the Autosport International show in Birmingham.

Several changes are possible, including the introduction of a medals-style scoring system, and even reverse grids and points for pole.

"It might mean by varying the qualifying format, it might be varying the race format, or it might be by changing the accessibility of F1," Dennis said.

The Briton said he is a motor racing "purist", but said he was prepared to support even radical changes if they can have a "positive" outcome for F1.

"I am pure.  But it can be pretty boring, not to me, but it can be pretty boring for you guys if the race is a procession," Dennis admitted.

"So we have to be mindful of the fact that those people who are captured by F1, their interest is maintained," he said, albeit warning that there is a danger of tinkering with the 'DNA' of a globally popular sport.

track news
Daytona drops prices on least desirable seats  Daytona Int'l Speedway today announced a "significant price drop on a limited amount of tickets" for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500 on February 15. About 4,000 seats in the backstretch grandstand, or Superstretch, will cost $55, down from $99. Speedway President Robin Braig said that '95 was the "last time the track offered a $55 ticket for the 500." Braig: "We're feeling the pressure of slow sales" Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL
Red Bull engineering shuffle  Red Bull Racing have announced a small change in the team’s engineering department.

For the coming season Ian Morgan will act as Head of Race Engineering, having previously worked as Chief Test Engineer with the team. Morgan will now be in charge of all trackside engineering operations at Grands Prix weekends and tests.

Meanwhile, Paul Monaghan, who for the past few years had worked in the role now assumed by Morgan, will work as Head of Car Engineering.

Monaghan will now be mainly factory-based, with his role set out to work on the design, performance and reliability of the team car and integrate these factors into on-track performance.

Formula BMW
Formula BMW gaining momentum under RLR  The Formula BMW Americas series is preparing for its sixth season of competition in the United States, which will be its first under the guidance of three-time Indy Car champion Bobby Rahal and Rahal Letterman Racing, and preparations continue unabated for the 2009 campaign.

Rahal Letterman Racing assumed the stewardship of the series from Lapwing Motorsports late last month, and while Lapwing has recently closed its doors, preparation for the 2009 Formula BMW Americas season is still on track and forging toward its March 21 season opener in Puebla, Mexico. 

The team has had success in a number of open-wheel formulae in the last 10 years including race wins and podium finishes in Champ Car, IndyCar, Toyota Atlantic and Indy Lights, and is looking ahead to the challenge of running one of the world’s top junior open-wheel series in the Formula BMW Americas.

“We are genuinely excited about the opportunity to guide tomorrow’s open-wheel driving talent through a quality series such as the Formula BMW Americas championship,” said Rahal Letterman Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal. “We want to assure everyone out there that is interested in the series that, despite the closure of Lapwing Motorsports, the Formula BMW Series will be stronger than ever, and still affords one of the finest training and proving grounds anywhere in the world for the young driver with open-wheel racing aspirations.

“We encourage anyone to contact us with any questions, whether they be from an established team or from a parent wanting to give their children an opportunity to grow their skills,” Rahal continued. “We are looking forward to a great season in 2009 and many more to come in the future.”
Danica blames AGR team  
Danica Patrick
In this LA Times interview Danica Patrick says the Andretti Green team was the reason for her poor performance this year. The IRL's greatest driver of all time (based on the length of her autograph line) had this to say:

Question: You had the win this year but you also had only three top-five finishes overall. What happened?

Answer: The whole performance of the team was bad; I don't think it was just me. We definitely didn't have the year. The team had, like, a combined 10 wins or something last year, over half of [the races]. That was not the case this year.

Q: What was the problem?

A: We just lacked a little bit of speed. We missed something on the road courses. I think our short ovals were OK. And then on the mile-and-a-halves, it just seemed like [the] Ganassi [team] in particular was just the strongest on the ovals.

Q: What is your personal goal for next season?

A: I go in with the same [goal] every year. I want to win a whole bunch of races. It would have been nice to win two or three this year but that didn't happen. So I'd say that would be my goal for next year.

But I can't say that and then critique myself when we had a tough year overall as a team. How can it really be my fault when we just didn't have the goods?

Q: Winning the Indianapolis 500 is the ultimate goal, of course? More ...
GEM confirms Sadler  Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM) announced that Elliott Sadler will drive the #19 Dodge in the 2009 Sprint Cup season.

Tom Reddin, GEM CEO: "We are a family. Sometimes in a family you have differences. We have resolved all differences. We are moving on and excited about heading to Daytona."

Elliott Sadler: "I want to drive. I'm a racer and that's what I do. We are all on the same page now and I think you will see that show on the track." GEM PR

BMW is on schedule - Riedl  The BMW Sauber F1 Team will present its challenger for the 2009 season on 20th January, and Walter Riedl is happy with the development work completed during the winter break. "We are on schedule," says the Managing Director of BMW Sauber AG. "The component production during the winter break went exactly to plan. Everything is now focused on 20th January, the roll-out of our 2009 car in Valencia."

From mid January, the first chassis for the BMW Sauber F1.09 will be assembled in Hinwil. "We have set aside five full days for this purpose," Riedl explains. "It will only take a matter of hours to completely assemble a new car during the season." For comparison: the team needs about eight hours after a race to dismantle a car, check and replace individual components, and put the car back together again.

Individual components of the new BMW Sauber F1.09, such as the car's gearbox, have been in production for months already. Riedl says: "We started with this as early as last summer. The latest components to have been produced are, for example, the front wing end plates. The regulations for these were only finalized midway through December."

Dakar Stage 7: Sainz wins, Gordon 3rd  Spain's Carlos Sainz has regained the overall Dakar Rally lead, winning the seventh stage as the grueling race left Argentina for Chile by crossing the Andes mountain range.

Sainz beat American Volkswagen teammate Mark Miller by three minutes, 41 seconds to secure his third stage win of the race.

Another American, Robby Gordon, finished third in his Hummer after the shortened 243km stage from Argentine city Mendoza to Chilean capital Santiago. More ...

Kahne, Sadler and Sorenson with Petty, GEM team  The planned new team that combines Gillett Evernham Motorsports and Petty Holdings will have Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Reed Sorenson as its full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers and hopes to add AJ Allmendinger as a part-time driver, says team Chief Executive Officer Tom Reddin.
ALMS Winter Test news  The entry list for the American Le Mans Series’ annual Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway is out and features several of the most anticipated new entries to the world’s premier sports car championship.

The three-day test is set for January 26-28 at Sebring, site of the season-opening 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. A near-record number of entries will test on the same circuit that will play host to the Series’ 100th all-time event.

Perhaps the car most Series fans have been waiting to see is the Acura ARX-02a. The manufacturer announced its move to LMP1 in September with de Ferran Motorsports and Patr¢n Highcroft Racing set to campaign one car each for the full 2009 season. David Brabham and Scott Sharp will drive the Patr¢n Highcroft Acura at the test, with Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud in the de Ferran entry. More ...

A1 Team Germany Delays Season Four Debut  A1 Team Germany will have to postpone its A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Season Four debut, and this means the team will now plan for being on track for the first time in A1GP Gauteng, South Africa on 20-22 February.

“A1 Team Germany has been affected by delays. All the necessary ingredients to get the team on track in Taupo did not come together, so there was no other option but to delay the team’s Season Four debut. On the positive side, we hope the car can cover some test miles so when the team arrives in South Africa it will be able to catch up rapidly,” said A1GP CEO, Pete da Silva. With A1 Team Germany being totally new – a new Team Principal, a new service provider and a new driver in Andre Lotterer – there was no way it or the series was going to jeopardize its entry into Season Four without better preparation.  More ...

Lanigan says team gunning for IndyCar title  Newman/Haas/Lanigan co-owner Mike Lanigan says his team will be competitive enough to possibly win the IRL IndyCar Series championship in 2009.

"Our expectation is to win the championship," said Lanigan in an interview with the official IndyCar website.

"That is what (co-owners) Paul (Newman) and Carl (Haas) taught me - don't settle for second.

"I think it's remarkable that in 2008 with the circumstances we were in - to be 30 days from one league to another, new cars, new equipment, new race tracks, the tremendous hours we put in - just to show up every weekend. Our team has had a lot of turnover because of the changes but every week we learned."

"We certainly understood how the budgets have changed," Lanigan said. "Oval racing is super exciting, but when you crash it's a lot more expensive and a lot more work on our people to put the cars back together. But it's really quite simple that it comes down to drivers, engineering and crew members that make this happen."

"We are going uphill now, not downhill," he said. "Sponsors are looking at us real hard and know we are going to put on a good show. And we are not confusing the race fan anymore and that is a great thing."

"I got to watch three of the last four races of the season with Paul Newman at his house," Lanigan said. "Both Paul and Carl wanted me to get more involved with the race team. I'm ready to get more involved and participate more."

Centennial Era multimedia series starts Jan. 12 at IMS Web site  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will launch a multimedia series on its Web site Monday, Jan. 12 that salutes the heroes and great moments of 100 years of competition at the Racing Capital of the World as it starts its Centennial Era.

The series, entitled "Centennial Era Moments," will feature video clips with IMS legends and historical IMS photos at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com . New videos and photos will appear daily, Monday through Friday, until the Centennial Era Gala on Friday, Feb. 27 in downtown Indianapolis.

"This package will highlight the competitors and machines that have created such a rich history of speed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1909," said Joie Chitwood, IMS president and chief operating officer. "There are so many historic events that will take place over the next three years surrounding our Centennial Era, starting with the Centennial Era Gala on Feb. 27, and this series will be a vibrant way to connect our loyal fans into that excitement." More ...

Toro Rosso confirms Buemi for 2009  
Sebastien Buemi happy to be confirmed as STR driver
(GMM)  Toro Rosso on Friday finally confirmed that the 20-year-old Swiss rookie Sebastien Buemi will make his formula one debut with the Red Bull-owned team in 2009.

Team boss Franz Tost said the appointment was made because engineers are impressed with his speed and ability during testing, but also because it "meets Dietrich Mateschitz's intention to use Scuderia Toro Rosso as a showcase for young drivers the company has supported in the lower formulae".

Buemi's teammate will be finalized before late March's season opening Australian grand prix, the Faenza based team also said in a statement.

New Renault fails FIA crash test  Autosport reports that the new Renault F1 car has failed the FIA crash test, but the engineers know why and a fix is in order.  The team still plans to test at Algarve this month.
Ex-Jaguar man finds new job  David Pitchforth, once the principal of the failed Jaguar F1 Racing team in F1, has been named as the new boss of a company to be called Boeing UK Rotorcraft Support, which will consolidate the company's helicopter service businesses in Britain.  Pitchforth, who seems to bounce from one job to the next, was previously with AgustaWestland's military division dealing with the company's relationship with the UK government. He will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Defense to ensure that the helicopters that are supplied are used for the maximum possible time......a far cry from the world of F1.
Alegra Motorsports Announces Two New Primary Sponsors  Alegra Motorsports is pleased to announce that two new primary sponsors have joined its Grand-Am Rolex Series endurance sports car team:  StrategicAir, a worldwide private air charter company, and Merchant Services LTD, which provides payment processing solutions for merchants around the world.

The new marketing partnership will kick off at the most prestigious endurance sports car race in North America, the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla. on Jan. 24-25. 

Alegra Motorsports won this event's GT class in 2007.  This year it is fielding a Riley BMW Daytona Prototype, No. 22. More ...

Sadler to sue GEM and Allmendinger  UPDATE #3 The Elliott Sadler Saga took another strange twist Thursday. Days after rumors began circulating that Sadler was set to be replaced at Gillett Evernham Motorsports by AJ Allmendinger and the threat of a lawsuit, Sadler will return to the GEM #19 Dodge, multiple sources have confirmed. Sadler's return coincides with the official news that GEM and Petty Holdings had reached a deal to merge. Fox Sports  How about Allmendinger, impressive as a late-season fill-in in GEM's #10, stepping in as Sadler's replacement? I [Tom Bowles] had a good conversation with his agent, Tara Ragan, [Wednesday] that cleared up a few things. Here's the most important one to know: Allmendinger is NOT under contract with GEM, and remains looking for a ride. And according to Ragan, under no circumstances were there any sort of negotiations that revolved around Allmendinger trying to kick Sadler out of his ride. A free agent since being released from Team Red Bull in September, the Dinger's simply been looking for a good fit with several teams, trying to align with one where he can race competitively over the long term. While GEM was one of those opportunities out there, negotiating with the concept of kicking out a driver like Sadler was never on the mind of someone who just went through a similar experience not too long ago. Sports Illustrated [Editor's Note:  BS.  Sadler would not have threatened to sue if it not for Allmendinger trying to take his ride.  As soon as Sadler threatened to sue all of a sudden the stories about Allmendinger changed.]

01/07/09 Attorney John Buric said Monday that Sadler will file suit against Gillett-Evernham Motorsports, team owner George Gillett, Ray Evernham Enterprises and driver AJ Allmendinger, hoping to block Allmendinger from replacing Sadler this season in the No. 19 Dodge.

"Our objective is to get in the car and race for them," said Buric, "We have a contract with them. We intend to enforce that contract." Sadler recently filed paperwork in Iredell County (NC) court, giving him until January 20th to file a breach of contract suit, if a settlement cannot be reached.

Sadler learned from Christmas Eve media reports that GEM was negotiating with Allmendinger to replace him, and claims that he still has not been officially informed of the move by anyone associated with the team. Buric says Sadler received a phone call saying only that the team wants to buy him out of his contract.

"We said we don't want to be bought out,” said Buric. “Elliott has a contract that doesn't expire until the end of 2010. He intends to race in 2009 and 2010."

01/06/09 Since this lawsuit Allmendinger is now saying things that make you wonder if he will get the GEM ride....that perhaps Sadler's lawsuit will force GEM to keep Sadler, "I have nothing right now," Allmendinger said, adding, "There's always something brewing, but until I have a signed contract and I'm sitting in a race car, I'm going to stick with 'I have nothing right now.' "

With Speed Weeks at Daytona International Speedway rapidly approaching, the 27-year-old driver said the tension is mounting to get a deal.

Elliott Sadler - his lawsuit may prevent Allmendinger from getting GEM ride
"I hate it," Allmendinger said. "I'd like to be signed up and focusing on the 500 and the rest of the season. Unfortunately, the reality right now is where the economy is, well, it's just everybody is feeling it.

"I'm not the only jobless person in NASCAR. It's a tough time. It's the wrong time for me to be jobless because the economy is so bad, and there aren't as many teams around. It is what it is. We've got some people we are talking to and we'll see if that's going to happen."

01/02/09 An attorney representing Elliott Sadler has filed notice in Iredell County (N.C.) court saying the NASCAR driver intends to claim that Gillett Evernham Motorsports has breached Sadler's contract to drive the Sprint Cup team's No. 19 Dodges.

John Buric, Sadler's lawyer, filed an "application and order extending time to file complaint" Wednesday in Iredell County Superior Court. Sadler has until Jan. 20 to file an actual complaint if the parties cannot reach an agreement on their dispute.

According to the form, Sadler plans to seek "injunctive relief, declaratory relief/specific performance, consequential and punitive damages as a result of Defendants anticipatory and actual breach of Plaintiffs' Driving Services Agreement. ... Plaintiffs also seek general, consequential, treble and punitive damages, and attorney fees, as a result of Defendants' tortuous interference ..." More ...

NASCAR teams test at TMS  UPDATE Just like usual in early January, #2-Kurt Busch was back in the cockpit of a car at a track doing testing. Except this was different. Busch was at Texas Motor Speedway instead of Daytona and taking part in a Goodyear tire test rather than an open test for Penske Racing. With NASCAR's new ban on testing at all of its sanctioned tracks, including the traditional "preseason" Daytona 500 testing that usually would be taking place about now, the tire test at Texas provided a now-rare chance to run test laps on a track where Sprint Cup races will be held. #00-David Reutimann, who drives the primary car for Michael Waltrip Racing, said sponsorship for his car is lined up for only half the season. Despite the lack of sponsorship, Reutimann is confident that he will be able to run a full season and that limits on testing help ease some of the financial burden. Busch, Reutimann, #31-Jeff Burton and #28-Travis Kvapil participated in the Texas test, the first official session this season for Goodyear and likely the only NASCAR test of any kind on the 1 1/2-mile high-banked track that will host two Cup races this season. Associated Press

01/09/09 Just like usual in early January, Kurt Busch was back in the cockpit of a car at a track doing testing.  "It's just good to have that racetrack smell back in your nose," Busch said Thursday.

Except this was different. Busch was at Texas Motor Speedway instead of Daytona and taking part in a Goodyear tire test rather than an open test for Penske Racing.

With NASCAR's new ban on testing at all of its sanctioned tracks, including the traditional "preseason" Daytona 500 testing that usually would be taking place about now, the tire test at Texas provided a now-rare chance to run test laps on a track where Sprint Cup races will be held. More ...

track news
New race track to be built in Ontario, Canada  Locally based race track designer Paxton Waters’ engine is burning white hot despite the freezing temperatures outside. While the race season is dormant, Waters’ business is pedal to the metal. “It doesn’t matter what time of year it is,” Waters said. “I’m usually busy year-round.”

Waters flies to Ontario, Canada today to begin work on a project there with a group including NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon. The project, just a few miles from Buffalo, includes a one-mile oval and 2.5-mile road course. “The track alone is a $110 million project,” Waters said. “With retail and commercial elements, it’s a $250 million project.”

While Waters may be relatively unknown to most auto racing fans, he’s a well known and highly appreciated commodity among track builders and operators worldwide. Projects’ on Waters’ resumé include the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, California Speedway, Iowa Speedway and Pikes Peak International Raceway.

So when Gordon got involved in the Ontario project, the two quickly came together with other project principals. “Jeff is to this project what Rusty Wallace is to the track in Iowa,” Waters said. The Ontario project, Waters added, is on track to be done in early 2011.

The Ontario track could bring the highest levels of open-wheel and stock car racing to another Canadian destination. “The entire project is set on 650 acres,” Waters said. “This will be a major oval and road course speedway.”

The Ontario track is not Waters’ only project. He’s working on a big-time track in Angola, Africa; and just finished a project in Brazil. Waters also recently began working on a major project that is sure to turn heads in central Indiana. IBJ.com

FOTA agree on standard 2010 gearbox, leave door open for Cosworth  UPDATE Full FOTA Press Release:

The FOTA Executive Committee met today in Heathrow to further progress the cost reducing initiatives already developed. All the Members unanimously agreed a number of important principles and supported the process now established within FOTA.

The teams detailed and signed a comprehensive Aerodynamic Test Restrictions Agreement, effective in 2009.

Furthermore, the Teams agreed that they would develop and freeze low cost transmissions for the 2010/12 seasons which would have a six race life, priced at Euro 1.5 million per season per team.

FOTA also reaffirmed its commitment to a Euro 5 million engine supply from 2010 for independent teams, who have expressed their agreement with and support for this arrangement.

The FOTA Technical Regulations Working Group will now conclude the elimination of expensive materials and identify further opportunities to reduce the cost of components and systems which do not deliver performance differentiation. All of the Teams present wished to express their support for the entrant currently known as Honda and they will agree to any name change registered.

All of the Teams are committed to working together in a rational and systematic manner, within the framework of FOTA to effectively reduce the costs inherent to Formula One. The same approach will now be used to improve the spectacle of the sport, following the outcome of the FOTA commissioned market research.

01/08/09 Further agreements have been made between the teams on more cost cutting measures it has been announced. At a meeting of the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) in Heathrow, London today, all teams unanimously agreed on a number of important cost-cutting principles and supported the process now established within the association.

A new development within FOTA has been the agreement for the teams to develop and freeze low cost transmissions for the 2010-12 seasons, which would have a six-race life and cost €1.5m per season per team. The news comes following a leaked letter from FIA President Max Mosley to FOTA Chairman Luca di Montezemolo demanding that transmission costs be reduced, by proposing all teams run a standard gearbox supplied by an outside party. More ...

De la Rosa says he 'deserved' race seat  
Pedro de la Rosa
(GMM)  Team test driver Pedro de la Rosa has refused to criticize McLaren for failing to push him into the Force India race seat for the 2009 season.

Under the auspices of Force India's new technical collaboration with McLaren-Mercedes, the veteran Spaniard recently tested with the Silverstone based team.

But with Force India settling on an unchanged race lineup, de la Rosa said he accepts that his role this year will remain on the sidelines.

Asked by the Spanish radio sports program El Larguero if he expected better treatment for his loyalty, the 37-year-old said: "Good or bad, it is not up to me.

"I do deserve a seat, my quality of driving is better than it has ever been, especially since the removal of the electronic aids," he said at the Autosport International show in Birmingham. More ...

STR sets no driver decision deadline  (GMM)  There is no deadline for the announcement of Toro Rosso's race driver lineup for the 2009 season, the Faenza based team insists.

With the exception of the beleaguered Honda Racing F1 outfit, Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso is now the only team yet to confirm its driver plans for the forthcoming season.

The Swiss rookie Sebastien Buemi is considered a shoo-in for one of the cockpits, while the French incumbent Sebastien Bourdais, and Japanese veteran Takuma Sato were in the pre-Christmas tests effectively vying for the other.

A spokesman for the team told the Dutch portal f1today.nl that Toro Rosso plans to be a sixth team present at the upcoming test at Portugal's new Algarve venue.

But as for the drivers, he added: "The drivers for the coming season have not been specified yet, and we have not set ourselves a timeframe for the decision."

The actual official deadline for teams to finalize their drivers for 2009 is the Thursday prior to the season opener in Australia in late March.

De la Rosa hails new Spanish test track  (GMM)  A new circuit in Spain hopes to be used for formula one testing, McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa said on Thursday.

The 37-year-old is involved with the project for the Motorland Aragon venue, whose construction in the Spanish municipality of Alcaniz, overseen by renowned F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke, began early last year.

"The combination of long straight and replication of known corners make it an ideal test track," de la Rosa said at the Autosport International show in Birmingham.

"Formula one teams can go there and develop their aerodynamic packages or test with certain tracks on the calendar in mind," he added.

The first racing at the circuit, courtesy of the World Series by Renault, will take place later this year.

Rally officials disqualify Dakar leader Al Attiya  Dakar Rally leader Nasser Al Attiyah was disqualified for skipping part of the sixth stage he won on Thursday.

Rally officials said Al Attiyah missed more than three hidden check points during a difficult route through the Andes foothills between San Rafael and Mendoza.

Al Attiyah, winner of the first and third stages, was leading the sixth stage by more than 20 minutes until his BMW engine overheated. The Qatar driver decided to avoid a swath of hot dunes to reduce the risk of more mechanical problems. He won the stage but race stewards decided to review his course.

With Al Attiyah out, Giniel De Villiers was declared the winner of his second successive stage in 2 hours, 12 minutes, 33 seconds, and moved to the overall lead. A flooded river ford meant the route was cut in half from 245 miles to 111.

"It was quite tricky in the beginning in the dunes," De Villiers said. "A few times we had to turn around because we couldn't make it up some dunes. In some places it was very soft. If it hadn't rained last night, it would have been really, really tricky."

The South African led a Volkswagen sweep of the podium. Mark Miller of the United States was second, 20 seconds behind, and Carlos Sainz of Spain was third, 3:20 back.

The Volkswagens also dominated the overall standings as De Villiers led Sainz by 7:39, and Miller was 17:51 behind in third.

Petty & Gillett Evernham Motorsports Announce Agreement To Merge  Gillett Evernham Motorsports (GEM) and Petty Holdings announced an agreement in principle to form a new NASCAR Sprint Cup team co-owned by Richard Petty, Petty Holdings, owned by majority shareholder Boston Ventures, and Gillett Evernham Motorsports. The team will field four Dodge entries in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Details of the transaction are expected once the deal is closed. Petty and GEM officials anticipate a final agreement by the end of January. Some notes:
* The new team plans to run a fourth Dodge in eight races in the 2009 season including the Budweiser Shootout with additional races contingent on sponsorship.
* Ray Evernham retains a minority ownership role with the new team.
* Richard Petty and Petty Holdings will continue to own and operate the Richard Petty Driving Experience as an independent entity.
* Key Petty employees Robbie Loomis, Dale Inman and Brian Moffitt will also have active roles with the new team.
* The new team will use the GEM race shops in Statesville, N.C. and engine shop in Concord, N.C.
* GEM and Petty sponsors will continue with the new organization. Gillett Evernham PR.
Grand-Am axes Mexico City race  The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series will not race in Mexico City for the first time in four years, it was learned during testing for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Grand-Am dropped the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit from the schedule, making the April 25 round at Virginia International Raceway the first race to follow the Rolex 24--scheduled for Jan. 24-25--meaning there is a three-month gap between the first two rounds of 2009.

The Mexico City race's future has been uncertain since NASCAR's Nationwide Series announced last year that it would drop its Mexico race, which the Grand-Am race supported on the bill. Grand-Am released a 2009 schedule in early October with Mexico City listed as a standalone event on the schedule but with a tentative date.

Nationwide and Grand-Am both suffered declining crowds ever since they debuted at the track in 2004. The Nationwide race drew an estimated 94,000 fans the first year, while just 57,000 attended in 2008.

NASCAR's decision to drop the race was also fueled by higher costs for team logistics, which also hit Grand-Am teams.  AutoWeek

DAKAR: Day 6 - Al-Attiyah extends lead  Nasser Al-Attiyah increased his overall lead more than three-fold on day six of the Dakar Rally - but only after he missed a way point.

Al-Attiyah, who began the day 2 minutes 24 seconds ahead of Giniel de Villiers, completed the shortened 178 km run between San Rafael to Mendoza in 2 hours 7 minutes 26 seconds. That was good enough to allow the BMW man to stretch his overall lead to 7 minutes 31 seconds.

However, due to an overheating engine, he later admitted to having missed a way point and as such he may be penalized by the stewards.

"We missed a way point," he confirmed. "Due to the engine overheating, we couldn't go through the dunes. The temperature rose. The engine stopped and I preferred to choose a different route and avoid the dunes.

"When we push too hard, the engine temperature gets too high. It should have been repaired yesterday. If we can't repair this problem, then we won't be able to carry on. It is bad news, but we'll have to wait and see."

de Villiers was 'best of the rest', 5 minutes 7 seconds slower, while Mark Miller was third and Carlos Sainz fourth. More ...

Daytona gets sponsor for Truck race  Daytona International Speedway has announced that NextEra Energy Resources will be the official sponsor of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Feb. 13.

Not only will the wind and solar energy company sponsor the NextEra Energy Resources 250, it has signed a multiyear deal with  Daytona and Homestead-Miami Speedway, which are both owned by International Speedway Corp.

"We are thrilled by the future opportunity of this unprecedented partnership," said Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig.

"Given NextEra Energy Resources’ track record of generating electricity from renewable sources for more than 20 years, we now have a strong partner to help us identify future opportunities to operate more efficiently."

racing news
Autorlando Sport Porsche on pole for TOYO TIRES 24H  
Autorlando Sport Porsche
Italian team, Autorlando Sport will be starting from pole position for tomorrow’s fourth edition of the TOYO TIRES 24H of Dubai. With the team’s Porsche 997 GT3, Austrian driver Richard Lietz posted a fastest lap time of 2.01.183 minutes in the closing stages of the two hour qualifying session. “I am happy with that performance because this is my very first time at this track”, said Lietz, who is sharing the car with Dane Allan Simmonsen, Italian Gianluca Roda and Portuguese Francisco Cruz Matins. Second-fastest was German team, Land Motorsport, also with a Porsche, followed by Dutch team Equipe Verschuur (Renault Mégane Trophy), who were the fastest in the SP1 class, and local team Al Faisal Racing, that was fourth overall and fastest in the A5 class. More ...
Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg -- Pit Notes #1  
St. Petersburg Awarded Opener for 2009 Indy Car Series
For the first time in the history of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the event will be the opening race of the IndyCar Series.  The 17-race IndyCar schedule also includes stops in Long Beach, Toronto and Chicago before closing out the season back in Florida at Homestead-Miami Speedway in October.  The Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg, the American Le Mans Series feature race, which will be run on Saturday, April 4, will be the second stop on the 2009 ALMS schedule.  Both races will be carried live, with the ALMS event on ABC and the Honda Indy St. Pete race broadcast on Versus.

No Changes Planned to St. Petersburg Track
There are no planned changes to the 1.8-mile, 14-turn track through the streets of St. Petersburg for the 2009 event.  Even with the construction of the Salvador Dali Museum, the vast majority of the event footprint will remain unchanged and fans attending the fifth annual event will be greeted by minimal changes inside the race circuit.  Post-race ceremonies and concerts will once again be held on the Honda Plaza, adjacent to the Mahaffey Theater complex and the Bright House Networks Speed Zone will be in action near Progress Energy Park.

Ticket Prices Remain Unchanged for 2009 Event
Ticket prices for the 2009 event have not changed from last year’s pricing.  General Admission ticket start at $25 and reserved seat tickets begin at $60.  In addition to reserved seat and general admission ticket sales, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is offering a free IndyCar Series paddock pass to groups purchasing 10 or more 3-day reserved tickets.  Group purchases are only available through the HGPSP box office. Corporate hospitality and sponsorship packages are also still available.  Tickets can be purchased by calling the Honda Grand Prix box office at (727) 898-INDY (extension 225), by visiting the event's website at www.gpstpete.com or through Ticketmaster.

F2 grid to expand to 24 cars  MotorSport Vision will manage the new FIA F2 series.  MotorSport Vision boss Jonathan Palmer says the relaunched Formula Two field will expand from 20 cars to 24 due to a huge level of interest.

"We were originally only going to do 20 cars, but I could see pretty early on that it was going to be a big success, and we've got 24 that we're going to run - that's the maximum," said Palmer during the Autosport International Show.

"I could see the level of interest we had. I'm sure there are lots of drivers out there who would love to find 1.5 million (Euro) for GP2, 750,000 for Formula Renault 3.5 or 650,000 for F3, but just don't understand how difficult it is to find that sort of money in the current climate.

"I think that by the time Formula Two is full in a couple of weeks, there are going to be a lot of drivers that feel that they've missed the boat.

"It's taken off far quicker than I've expected, there's some great talent in there and it's going to be looked at very seriously by the Formula One teams."

"I think it's very significant that Red Bull have chosen Formula Two and are actually going to have three cars in it - there's another driver who is a great talent that hasn't been announced yet," said Palmer.

"Having got Robert Wickens, Julien Jousse, Sebastian Hohenthal and some top drivers from Formula Palmer Audi, I think even in our first year we're going to have a stronger line-up in Formula Two than anything else."

Dodge: smaller budget, less team, high hopes  Although it will have fewer cars on the track and fewer promotional displays in cutting 30 percent of its NASCAR budget, Dodge has not cut back its Sprint Cup research and development for the 2009 season. The automaker hopes that even with fewer cars, it will have better results after a season where it failed to put a car in the Chase For The Sprint Cup. With Chip Ganassi Racing’s merger with Dale Earnhardt Inc. eliminating three Cup teams from where Dodge started in 2008, Dodge has at least one fewer organization to support in 2009. Dodge could end up with only six cars next season if the pending Gillett Evernham Motorsports-Petty Enterprises merger eliminates two more from the manufacturer’s stable, which also included Robby Gordon in 2008. That leaves three cars at Penske Racing and three or four at the GEM-Petty consolidation. “You want to have a portfolio of drivers that can at any given time deliver a top-five or a victory,” said Mike Accavitti, director of the Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep brands. “We feel with the lineup that we have remaining that we can do that. … The seven cars that we have – or eight cars or six cars or whatever it ends up to be – will be sufficient. We can give Dodge customers a good show. We can give NASCAR fans a good show and we can represent the brand well.” Accavitti said that his budget was set and would not get increased by the authorization of the bridge loan for Chrysler. He said it will remain at 30% below 2008, just as it was planned prior to President George W. Bush’s approval of the loan last month. “The entire operation was contingent upon the bridge loans being passed,” he said. “It was a critical element for the viability of our company and we’re very appreciative to have that behind us and be able to move forward." SceneDaily
Fry confident ex-Honda team will return  Nick Fry, the chief executive of Honda Racing, said he was confident that the team would be back on track for the start of the new formula one season in March. Since Honda withdrew from the sport five weeks ago due to the global economic crisis, Fry and the team principal, Ross Brawn, have been in talks with a number of prospective new owners. "Right at the start of this process Bernie Ecclestone said he was 100% confident we'd be on the grid in Melbourne," said Fry. "I have to say I wasn't quite so sure where his confidence came from. But as we've gone through this process my confidence, based on what we've seen, has increased. Maybe not to 100% but it's pretty close and it has been very gratifying." More ...
Michael Shank Racing Announces Rolex 24 Lineup  Michael Shank Racing has attracted another strong driver line up for the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona as the team announced highly competitive driving rosters for a two-car Daytona Prototype effort in the Rolex Sports Car Series season-opening race on January 24th.

Michael Shank Racing enters the 2009 Rolex Sports Car Series season with tremendous momentum. The team started 2008 running the Rolex 24 with both team entries on the front row and went on to close the season on an even stronger note as the No. 60 Ford/Riley won the New Jersey Motorsports Park event before the sister No. 6 Ford/Riley scored its breakthrough win at Miller Motorsports Park.

For the 47th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley full-season drivers John Pew and Michael Valiante will be joined by experienced Michael Shank Racing pilot Ian James and NASCAR racer AJ Allmendinger.

No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley full-season drivers Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri will be joined by the 2008 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Ryan Hunter-Reay and 2008 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year Colin Braun. More ...

Ryan Briscoe gets engaged  IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe and ESPN host Nicole Manske are engaged to be married.

The 27-year-old Briscoe, who won three races and finished fifth in the IRL standings last season, popped the question during a vacation with Manske in his native Australia over the holidays. The engagement was announced Wednesday by Team Penske.

The couple is planning a wedding next December in Hawaii, a location chosen because it is halfway between their families' homes in Sydney, Australia, and Roscoe, Ill.

Manske is host of ESPN's "NASCAR Now." USA Today

Nissan Recalls More Than 240,000 SUVs  Nissan Motor Co. is recalling more than 240,000 trucks in 20 cold weather states to fix a problem that could prevent front air bags from deploying in a crash.

The government said in a posting on its Web site Wednesday that the recall affects the Frontier, Pathfinder and Xterra from the 2005-2009 model years.

In states where wintertime road salt is used, a mixture of snow, water and salt could enter a crash zone sensor area and rust, interrupting the signal. The Japanese automaker said that could prevent the front air bags from deploying in a crash. More ...

Anatomy of a steering wheel A1GP  

For a downloadable PDF of the wheel, please CLICK HERE

Have you ever wondered what do all the buttons on an A1GP steering wheel actually do? Championship leader for A1 Team Ireland, Adam Carroll, takes us through this fine bit of kit, button by button, lever by lever. There is more to it than right or left.

1 – PowerBoost Button

“On the left hand side you have the first button at the top, which is marked PTP. This stands for Push to Pass, but in A1GP, it’s known as PowerBoost. This gives you the increased power in the races that could end up in an opportunity to overtake, but you only have a certain number of uses for each race, four times in the Sprint race, and eight times in the Feature. The buttons needs to be pressed for more than half a second before it activates. It might sound like a short time but when you are in the car it feels like ages. Maybe it’s like that so that it doesn’t go off if you accidentally catch it. You have to make sure it’s a nice good press to feel the boost.”

More ...
F1's Finnish champs enter rally  (GMM)  F1 champions Kimi Raikkonen and Mika Hakkinen are both expected to take part in Finland's famous Arctic Lapland Rally later this month.

It is believed that for Ferrari driver Raikkonen's Arctic rally debut, he will race a Fiat Abarth S2000.

F1's 1998 and 1999 title winner Hakkinen, meanwhile, who has contested the rally before, will be at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Lancer, Holland's Blik Op Nieuws publication said.

The rally, part of the Finnish rally championship, takes place between January 22 and 24.

FOTA meets at Heathrow hotel  (GMM)  F1's teams alliance, FOTA, is meeting on Thursday at a Heathrow airport hotel, spokespeople for two grand prix outfits confirmed.

The news coincides with the leaking of a letter sent on Monday by FIA president Max Mosley to the alliance's chairman Luca di Montezemolo, outlining the need for further radical cost cuts.

It is believed, however, that high on the agenda for the meeting is Mosley's proposal to investigate the possible future use of further moveable aerodynamic devices, in addition to the adjustable front wing that is allowed in 2009.

"If sufficiently radical, these could give a car following another car a performance advantage by virtue of being behind," the FIA president wrote in his letter to Montezemolo.

Andersen Racing Signs Kent  Defending team champion Andersen Racing is pleased to announce that it will field a car for 20-year-old Richard Kent of Clifton Reynes, England in the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear.

Kent hopes he can begin the 2009 season just as he finished 2008.  He stunned the series regulars last October at the 2008 season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., when he posted his first victory in the series in his initial start. Driving an Andersen Racing entry sponsored by Traka and Allied Interior Products, he led every lap of that race from the pole, which he'd won a few hours earlier by setting a new track record.

Kent had never driven at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca prior to that event. He's already tested with the Palmetto, Fla.-based team at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., site of the 2009 Star Mazda season opener on March 20, the first day of spring. More ...

Bodine Earns Bobsled Title In Lake Placid  Todd Bodine carried over his success from Saturday's qualifying round to the finals as he earned his first Whelen Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge championship Sunday at the Olympic Sports Complex.

The top qualifier on Saturday, Todd Bodine was first out of the chute in Sunday's first round of Race 1, which featured NASCAR and NHRA racers competing against the clock for a trip to the podium. His maiden run of 49.83 seconds stood as the fastest in the round as the top eight of 12 drivers advanced. In the second round, with the race order inverted, nearly each driver that went bested the one before him. Joey Logano, who went next-to-last, posted a 49.56 to set the bar for Bodine. The younger brother of the event's namesake did not disappoint as he crossed the finish line at 49.35. Bodine's two-round combined time of 1:39.18 earned the Race 1 title.

"I've had a good sled," Bodine said. "During qualifying and the first round I had really clean runs. The second round wasn't quite as fast as Larry's [Gunselman], and what I needed to do was just stay with them, and we got it done."

Logano, in his second year of competition in the Bodine Bobsled Challenge, finished with a combined time of 1:39.58. Logano, who will contend for the 2009 Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, earned his first invitation last year as the 2007 NASCAR Camping World Series East championship. Gunselman came in third at 1:39.60. Gunselman's second run of 49.33 seconds was the fastest run of either round in the morning session. More ...

Bridgestone confident on slick tires  Bridgestone are confident that degradation problems teams have suffered with new slick tires in testing will be resolved before the start of the season.

There were complaints during tests held at the Jerez circuit in Spain last month that the new rear tires suffer from severe degradation due to increased oversteer.

However, Bridgestone's motorsport chief engineer Jun Matsuzaki told autosport.com that the problem was more a matter of drivers and teams having to adapt.

"It is still early days for the teams working on their understanding of the slick tires and the aerodynamic regulations, so we would expect improvements in all areas of how teams use their tires," he said. More ...

Mosley letter reveals push for more cuts, return of Cosworth  UPDATE Mosley's full letter:

Dear Mr. Luca di Montezemolo, Chairman



5 January 2009

Max Mosley
Dear Luca


Following Charlie's (Whiting) email of 3 January, I feel it may be useful to set out the current position as we see it.

A few general points

First, even before the current crisis, Formula One was not viable. Costs have been so high that we have had vacancies in the Championship for some time. Secondly, it is impossible to cut costs substantially without significant change. Inevitably, cherished projects, facilities and sadly even people have to go. Thirdly, the fact of having recently invested in an expensive facility is not an argument for retaining it. That money has been spent. It's gone. What we have to avoid is forcing others to spend the same money in order to keep up. Fourthly, there is no rational argument to support the continued use in Formula One of expensive technologies which have no relevance outside the sport and are unknown (and thus of no interest) to the general public.



The changes to the 2009 Regulations agreed at the December 10 meeting will help a lot. We need detailed proposals on some aspects, particularly the 8 hour/5 day restriction on wind tunnel use (which we understand was agreed among the teams) if we are to enforce this as a regulation, but much is already in place.

We are ready to agree further cost-saving measures for 2009 if these have the agreement of all the teams.


The really big changes come in 2010.


- The rev limit will be reduced to 17,000 for 2010 and thereafter;
- retuning will be limited to, at most, trumpets and injectors (position only), except that Cosworth, having missed out on the last retune, will be allowed to make general changes within a limited budget;
- engines remain completely frozen until 2013, as already agreed;
- testing will be limited to 15,000km per year, Friday testing included.

On this basis, Cosworth will be able to supply competitive engines from 2010 for well under €5m per season per team, including all on-track support, provided they have firm orders to supply at least three teams within the next week or two;

The present regulations will remain in force, so there will be no interference with any existing arrangement for the supply of engines. Furthermore, the reduction to 17,000 rpm will allow additional cost savings for current engine suppliers. More ...

F1 team bosses meet to discuss cost-cutting  The Formula 1 team principals are meeting today at a Heathrow Hotel to discuss more details of the cost-cutting plans that were agreed in December. One of the major aims today will be to work out an equivalency formula between restrictions on the use of wind tunnels and on computational fluid dynamics. FIA President Max Mosley has written to the teams in the run-up to the meeting to say that he wants more cuts to be made to help safeguard the industry. Mosley wants the teams to be able to survive with finds from the commercial rights holder. At the moment the teams get only 50% of the money raised by the sale of commercial rights, with the rest disappearing off to financiers and offshore trust funds. The teams are increasingly saying that they want a bigger share of the money from the Formula One group. They point out that with the rights fees from the Olympic Games and the soccer World Cup, a much larger percentage goes back into the sport, although direct comparisons are difficult because the commercial rights in both case are overseen much more closely than in motor racing.

One controversial item that will probably be discussed is a salary cap for the F1 drivers. Mosley has made it clear that he wants to see all F1 budgets capped but some of the teams have baulked at this. However, as the financial situation gets worse, the pressure to agree to budget-capping will increase. Grandprix.com

Select ticket prices at Talladega Superspeedway to drop  Talladega Superspeedway just gave its fans another reason to help celebrate its 40th Anniversary, by reducing more than 20,000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tickets in the least desirable grandstands to only $40 each.  Beginning January 8, tickets in the Gadsden and Lincoln grandstands will be available at this phenomenal low price for both the April 26 Aaron's 499 and the Nov.1 AMP Energy 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. 

"We recognize the difficult economic conditions our fans are facing, so to help we are thrilled to offer our fans a $40 ticket to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Rick Humphrey.  "In 40 years of racing, no other racetrack has matched Talladega Superspeedway for sheer speed or thrilling competition.” 

The Gadsden and Lincoln Grandstand tickets normally retail for $70 and $75 respectively, creating a savings of more than 40 percent for race fans. 

"This is a great opportunity for us to thank our current fans and welcome new fans to an exciting year of racing at Talladega Superspeedway,” said Humphrey.  "There's no better bang for your buck than a $40 ticket to Talladega Superspeedway.” More ...

Another NASCAR team scales back  JTG Daughterty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter said Wednesday that the team’s No. 47 NASCAR Nationwide Series team for driver Kelly Bires will run at least 12 races in 2009 as sponsorship issues will likely force the team to cut back to part-time status.

Geschickter has run full-time teams in the series since the mid-1990s, running two cars since 2004. But JTG Daugherty likely will have two part-time teams in 2009.

“The nature of most of our sponsorship is a pay-as-you-go, business-to business relationship,” Geschickter said. “I can tell you we’re going to go to Daytona and Bristol. I can tell you that relationship’s going to continue to provide money to the operation. I would anticipate 12 [races] would be the least we would run, but you may see us run a lot more than that. We’re going to make the money from the sponsorship before we spend it rather than go ahead spend it and bet on how much it’s going to turn into.”

Jack Clarke joins Formula Two entry list  
Jack Clarke
Jack Clarke has today become the latest addition to the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship line-up.

Clarke has been a frontrunner in Formula Palmer Audi for the last two seasons, winning races in both the 2007 and 2008 campaign. He also received support from the MSA in 2008 after being awarded a place on the motorsport governing body's 'Race Elite Academy' scheme. His most notable victory of the season came at Brands Hatch on the legendary Grand Prix layout - a circuit that the FIA Formula Two Championship will visit in 2009.

The 20 year-old Englishman entered single seater racing via the Formula BMW UK Championship in 2006 where he finished sixth in the Rookie Cup, before going on to compete in the Formula BMW World Final against fellow F2 drivers Robert Wickens and Tobias Hegewald. Racing is in Jack’s heritage as his great grandfather was the founder of Motorsport magazine in the UK, and stepfather Julian Bailey is a former F1 driver and World Sports Car champion. More ...

Keselowski to run 7 Cup races in 2009  GoDaddy.com extended its partnerships with JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports, which will give the world’s leading registrar of Internet domain names a significant presence in NASCAR’s top two series in 2009. This season, GoDaddy.com will be the primary sponsor for 20 Nationwide Series events with JR Motorsports and seven Sprint Cup Series races with Hendrick Motorsports. The company also will be an associate sponsor of Hendrick’s #5 Sprint Cup Chevys with driver Mark Martin. The pact includes two Nationwide Series races with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the #5 Chevys of JR Motorsports. Earnhardt is a GoDaddy.com spokesperson. In addition, GoDaddy.com will back the #88 Chevys of JR Motorsports and driver Brad Keselowski in 18 Nationwide Series races. Keselowski, 24, also will attempt a seven-event Sprint Cup schedule in the #25 GoDaddy.com Chevys of Hendrick Motorsports. The Cup effort will be led by veteran crew chief Lance McGrew. Details of the Nationwide and Cup programs, including race dates, will be announced at a later time. GoDaddy.com’s first foray into auto racing came in December 2006 with the Indy Racing League’s Danica Patrick. The company moved into NASCAR last season as a primary sponsor in the Sprint Cup Series (two events), Nationwide Series (six events) and Camping World Truck Series (five events). The extension and expansion of the GoDaddy.com relationship completes the 2009 sponsorship picture for the #88 JR Motorsports Chevys. The company joins Unilever (11 races) and Delphi Corp. (six races) as primary sponsors of championship contender Keselowski in the Nationwide Series. Hendrick Motorsports PR
Portimao to host first major F1 test of 2009  
Algarve Motorsports Park
(GMM)  Portugal's new Algarve circuit in the Portimao region is set to host the first major track action of 2009 later this month.

It was already known that Toyota, Williams and Renault intend to get their new single seaters up and running at the newly opened venue during a four-day test session beginning January 18.

Citing the information of the operators of the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, Portuguese media report that McLaren and Red Bull will also be present for the January test.

McLaren, whose new MP4-24 is being launched at Woking (UK) a few days before Algarve's January test, were present for the circuit's debut session in December, as were Ferrari.

While the Algarve test is taking place, BMW-Sauber will run its 2009 car for the first time at Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit in Spain.

Portuguese media report that the Algarve circuit is positioning itself as a regular venue for formula one tests.

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