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Loeb wins fifth Monte Carlo rally
World champion Sebastien Loeb bagged a record fifth win in the Monte Carlo Rally on Sunday, seeing off Finnish Ford Focus rival Mikko Hirvonen by 2min 34sec.
Australian Chris Atkinson came in third in his Subaru Impreza, 2min 58sec off the pace, as home favorite Loeb, in a Citroen, stormed to victory following 360km of racing and 19 special stages over four days.

Loeb, picking off his 37th career triumph - also an overall record - in this the first leg of the 2008 world championship, allowed Atkinson and Belgian Francois Duval to take the plaudits over the final stage, a 2.7km ride through Monte Carlo port.

"More than the fact that this was our 37th WRC victory and our fifth Monte win, I think the most significant thing is the way we won this year," said Loeb.

"Our Citroen C4 performed faultlessly throughout and the set-up we chose for the start proved excellent. The C4 and the Pirelli tires also functioned well together on these asphalt stages which were often damp.

"It's always nice to start the season with a win, but I have no intention of getting carried away because there are some very difficult rallies to come."

Top-10 Results


Driver Car Time
1. Loeb Citroen 3h39:17.0
2. Hirvonen Ford +2:34.4
3. Atkinson Subaru +2:58.6
4. Duval Ford +2:59.7
5. P Solberg Subaru +4:40.9
6. Galli Ford +8:46.5
7. Cuoq Peugeot + 10:24.8
8. Andersson Suzuki + 11:19.5
9. H Solberg Ford + 12:43.6
10. Wilson Ford + 14:00.1


Rolex 24 Hour 20: Montoya has 14-second lead
The No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing entry is poised for a win.  Just four hours from the finish, Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus / Riley held a 14-second lead over Burt Frisselle in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford / Riley.

The skies cleared, the track dried, but the air remained chilly as the 46th edition of the Rolex 24 At Daytona at Daytona International Speedway neared its end on the historic 3.56-mile, 12-turn road course.

Joey Hand in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche Crawford placed third behind Montoya and Frisselle.

Joao Barbosa in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche / Riley, hoping to hand teammate and sportscar legend Hurley Haywood his 6th Rolex 24 At Daytona title, held the lead in the 18th hour but relinquished it with single-car incident in NASCAR Turn 4 on lap 550 just after 8:30 a.m. bringing out the 20th full-course caution of the event.

Said Haywood, “We were running the perfect race. We got securely into first place. A tie rod broke, a bolt that holds it on, and sat him (Barbosa) right into the wall. You want to cry almost.”

In the GT Division, Sylvain Tremblay in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 (13th overall), led the GT Class followed by Spencer Pumpelly in the No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3 Cup (14th overall).


Herbert statement on loss of sons
Doug and Sonnie Herbert, the parents of two young men killed in an automobile crash Saturday morning in Cornelius, issued the following statement late Saturday night after Doug returned from a National Hot Rod Association test in Phoenix. Jon Herbert was 17 and James Herbert was 12. Their sister, Jessie, is 9. Plans for a memorial service are still to be announced: "Our kids have always been our best friends and the bond between the two of us. As you can imagine, the loss we are both feeling for Jon and James at the moment is unimaginable.

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Rolex 24 Hour 18: Pruett ahead down the stretch
Scott Pruett No. 01 car
Scott Pruett and Jon Fogarty played a game of cat and mouse early Sunday morning as the two traded the lead back and forth in hour 18 of the Rolex 24 At Daytona from historic Daytona International Speedway.

At the end of the 18th hour and with only six hours remaining in the 46th edition of the round-the-clock classic, defending Rolex 24 At Daytona Champion Scott Pruett in the No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus / Riley held on to the lead by the slimmest of margins.

Jon Fogarty in the No. 99 GAINSCO / Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac / Riley put his car in second place before being relieved by Jimmy Vasser at the 7:25 a.m. mark as the sun tried to peek through the early chilly overcast skis over the 3.56-mile, 12-turn road course.

Ian James in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford / Riley sat in third place after 519 laps.

Sportscar legend Hurley Haywood wheeled the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche / Riley into fourth place before being relieved by Joao Barbosa. Joey Hand in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche / Crawford and Johnny O’Connell in the No. 91 Bob Stallings / Riley-Matthews Pontiac / Riley rounded out the top six places in the event, all Daytona Prototypes.

Raphael Matos in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 (13th overall), led the GT Class.


Rolex 24 Hour 16: Allmendinger still setting the pace
As rain continued to fall early Sunday morning at “The World Center or Racing”, AJ Allmendinger piloted his No. 6 blue and white Michael Shank Racing Ford / Riley to the top of the charts at the end of the 16th hour in sportscars’ most prestigious race – the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Jon Fogarty, in the No. 99 GAINSCO / Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac / Riley made an unexpected pit stop at lap 443 for a new nose cone that put him a lap down early in the hour. However he was able to make it back to the lead lap, moving into second place, trailing the leader by 52 seconds as the race continued into the early morning.

Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates Lexus / Riley stood in third place, more than one minute off the pace after 466 laps.

The GT Series inched closer to a top 10 position as Richard Westbrook in the No. 66 TRG Porsche GT3 Cup (13th overall), Nick Ham in the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 (14th overall) and Spencer Pumpelly in his No. 67 TRG Porsche GT3 Cup (15th overall) rounded out the top 3 in the GT Division.


F1 in India has lots of hurdles before 2010 debut
All the big names will roar into town in 2010 but huge investment and massive planning and development in Delhi are needed before the Grand Prix circus arrives.

Businessman Dominic Cabral from the Western Indian state of Goa is an avid motor racing fan, one among a growing legion in India who follow the sport with a passion. Once a year, Cabral travels to at least one race at which 28-year-old Narain Karthikeyan -- the first Indian Formula One driver -- is participating. Last year that took him to the Malaysian circuit. This year he plans to travel to Bahrain in April.

Cabral was not the only one in Malaysia waving the Indian tri-color flag. Around 500 Indians attended the race. The motor sport craze has come of age in India.

In 2010, Cabral and other Indian motor sports fans will be in for a treat closer to home. That is when the country with the second largest population in the world will host its first Formula One Grand Prix.

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Racing News

360 OTC getting sued again
World Wrestling Entertainment, the producer of Wrestlemania, has sued an Athens, GA company that markets a hangover pill, alleging the company failed to pay for a sponsorship agreement worth more than $1 million. The WWE suit claims that Three Sixty Inc., which distributes over-the-counter hangover medicine 360 OTC, promised in 2006 to pay $1 million to sponsor Wrestlemania, but paid only $75,000. Three Sixty has continued to represent itself as the "official pain relief" of Wrestlemania against WWE's demands to remove the claim from the company's Web site, according to the suit. The suit also names IAHL Corp., Three Sixty's new corporate name; Three Sixty's subsidiary Rockford-Montgomery Labs Inc.; company officers Michele Shearer and Mark De Mattei; and Air, Sea and Ground Inc., an advertising agency De Mattei runs. WWE asked the U.S. Middle District Court of Georgia to force Three Sixty to pay for the sponsorship, including a percentage of 360 OTC profits, and to stop using the Wrestlemania name to promote the 360 OTC products. The WWE lawsuit is the latest in a barrage of legal troubles for Three Sixty, Shearer and DeMattei.

Last year, Virginia-based NASCAR racing team Morgan-McClure Motorsports, sued, claiming that Rockford-Montgomery failed to make payments on a $10.1 million race team sponsorship. The two parties settled the case on Jan. 14, and Rockford-Montgomery Labs promised to pay Morgan-McClure $3 million.

In another case, Dirt Motorsports, a Delaware company that sponsors the World of Outlaws racing tour, sued in August, claiming that Three Sixty and others failed to pay $4.8 million in sponsorship agreements. That case remains unresolved.

Just Marketing International, an Indiana-based firm, also sued Rockford-Montgomery, Three Sixty, Shearer and De Mattei last summer for failing to pay for marketing work the company did for Rockford-Montgomery. Gary Coulter, the Athens attorney who represents Shearer and DeMattei, had no comment on any of the cases. Shearer and DeMattei did not respond to e-mails. Athens Banner-Herald


2 sons of drag racer's Doug Herbert killed
Two sons of drag racer Doug Herbert died Saturday in a head-on collision with another vehicle near their Lake Norman home, according to Doug Herbert Racing.

Jon Herbert, 17, and James Herbert, 12, died instantly, the racing team said.

The wreck occurred around 10:10 a.m. on four-lane Jetton Road, on a lake peninsula.

Police said Jon Herbert, traveling east, tried to use a westbound lane to pass another vehicle. He lost control of his Mazda, police said, which was struck by a Hummer traveling west.

An intact engine lay in the road after the wreck. The Hummer's front end was crushed.

Cornelius police said the Hummer's driver was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center and his young female passenger was taken by ambulance. Police did not release their names, but said they lived in the area. Their condition was not available Saturday. More at Charlotte Observer (including photos)


Rolex 24 Hour 9: Allmendinger leads
After nine hours, A.J. Allmendinger and the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley are maintaining an 18-second lead over the No. 99 Lowe’s/GAINSCO Pontiac Riley of Jon Fogarty in the Rolex 24. In third place is the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche Crawford with Patrick Long.

In all, there are seven Daytona Prototypes on the same lap battling for the overall lead.

The GT class continues to remain tight with four entries – two TRG Porsches, one Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche and the SpeedSource Mazda -- battling it out for the top spot.


Rolex 24 Hour 6: No. 23 Leading DP Parade
The No. 23 Alex Job Racing and driver Joey Hand hold the overall lead by more than 40 seconds while a pack of five other Daytona Prototypes cars are in a tight battle behind.

The No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley went behind the wall with electrical issues while the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing returned to the track.

The No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Racing team holds the GT class lead.

Rain did pass over the Speedway but quickly moved out as the weather conditions continue to change.

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Rolex 24 Hour 4: No. 76 In Charge
No. 61 AIM Autosport car
Eleven lead changes have taken place in the first four hours of the Rolex 24.

The No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley and driver Ricardo Zonta currently holds a 42-second lead over the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley and the No. 9 Penske-Taylor Racing Pontiac Riley.

Patrick Dempsey of Grey’s Anatomy got off to a rough start on his first driving stint in the No. 40 Hyper Sport Mazda in the Rolex 24 brushing the wall leaving pit lane and then ran off in the International Horseshoe.

In the GT class, the No. 07 Banner Racing Pontiac GXP.R holds an one-lap lead.

GT class traffic for the Daytona Prototypes has been a hot topic after drivers are getting out of the car.

“It’s brutal,” said Michael Shank Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger. “It’s so bad out there right now. It’s a struggle just trying to figure out where everybody is going. We were catching the GT cars in groups of like 10 cars. That’s something the last couple of years that I don’t remember catching groups of cars like that. It’s always going to be like that. It’s always going to be a struggle. You just got to stay clean and be patient when you have to be.”

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Rolex 24 Hour 2: No. 02 Scott Dixon leads
Scott Dixon in the No. 02
Two hours are now in the books in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and driver changes have begun in the endurance race.

The race has just restarted with the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley and Scott Dixon in the overall lead with the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda leading the GT class.

The No. 40 Hyper Sport Mazda GT class entry with Charles Espenlaub has hit a speed bump with a cut left front tire and other damages to the car which brought out the second full course caution. Sharing the driving duties on the No. 40 are Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey, Joe Foster, Romeo Kapudija and Scott Maxwell.

Weather conditions are ever changing but the sun is starting to come out on Daytona International Speedway. Sixty laps have now been completed.


Rolex 24 Hour 1: No. 7 In The Lead
The 46th anniversary of the Rolex 24 is now underway.

Following a flyover by three Navy F-5 Tigers based Key West, Dan Gurney, the Grand Marshal, gave the command, “Drivers, start your engines.”

A.J. Allmendinger in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley led the first lap of the twice-around-the-clock challenge but problems have already started early for a variety of teams.

The No. 29 Alegra Porsche had problems even before they crossed the start/finish line to take the green flag cutting down a tire and making contact with two other GT class machines.

About a half a hour into the race, Helio Castroneves and the No. 9 Penske-Taylor Racing Pontiac Riley cut down a right front tire which caused damage to the front end.

Currently, the No. 7 Sigalsport BMW Riley with Matt Plumb is currently atop the overall leader board with a 3.6-second lead followed by Alex Gurney in the No. 99 Bob Stallings/GAINSCO Pontiac Riley and Max Angelelli in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley.

In the GT class, the No. 81 Synergy Racing Porsche leads with driver Patrick Huisman with the No. 87 Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche and driver Dirk Werner.


PCM to test Figge and Martinez at Sebring
Preparations for the 2008 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series officially begin next week at Sebring International Raceway.  Alex Figge, driver of the #29 PCM Champ Car will complete all three days as he prepares for his sophomore season of Champ Car competition.  Figge will be joined by David Martinez, of Monterrey, Mexico in the #28 PCM/DP01.  Martinez made an impressive showing in the final two rounds of Champ Car competition in 2007, with his 10th place finish at Surfers Paradise and his strong performance at Mexico City where he looked set to finish in the top-six before a mechanical failure in his Forsythe Racing machine. A graduate of the Champ Car Atlantic Series, Martinez has three Champ Car starts under his belt and is looking forward to his first full season in 2008, “I’m very happy, it’s been a long off season for me and we worked extremely hard on getting everything ready for this year,” said Martinez.  He continued, “I’m very excited to be able to go to Sebring with Pacific Coast Motorsports. I have always been very fond of the team, and I actually started my Champ Car career with their junior team, so it’s a great feeling to be able to drive their car again.  This will be great opportunity to get to know and evaluate each other and build some foundation and relationships so we can start on the right foot if we end up being together for the full season this year. Everybody knows Champ Car is huge in Mexico and also among the Hispanic community in the United States so I’m really looking forward to giving everybody a great result at this test and hopefully for the whole year.” 


Dixon, Wheldon high on IRL
Five months preceding the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti were the adversaries locked in a last-race shootout for the IndyCar Series championship.

Now they are teammates under the Target Chip Ganassi Racing umbrella. Franchitti has moved from Andretti Green Racing's IndyCar Series operation to Ganassi's NASCAR Sprint Cup program. Dixon and Dan Wheldon will again compete for the IndyCar Series title, and recently welcomed 2007 Indy Pro Series champion Alex Lloyd into the fold.

At a testing session at Daytona International Speedway earlier this month for the 24-hour race, Dixon acknowledged it was a bit strange to see the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion wearing the same red firesuit with the Target logo on the front.

"It would have been better to have Dario as a teammate last year," said Dixon, the series' 2007 runner-up.

Ganassi has a diverse driver lineup, which also includes 2000 Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya, schooled in open-wheel racing.

"They say I'm robbing the open-wheel series to bring them over here and that's not true," Ganassi said. "The IndyCar Series is about to get jump-started with some big things happening this year. I just want to grow and I want to win.

"In the IRL, I think Dixon and Wheldon are the class of the series. Last season, we lost the championship in the last corner of the last lap of the last race to some other guy."

Losing the IndyCar Series title has heightened Dixon's resolve to add to his 2003 championship.

"It was a fun season for us, a great season for Team Target," Dixon said. "In many of the races, Dan and I were extremely competitive and won a lot of races. It's a shame to see Dario go but hopefully we'll win a championship this year."

Similarly, Wheldon expects big things from the IndyCar Series, both on and off the track, in 2008.

"I honestly believe the IndyCar Series is ready for a big boost of momentum," Wheldon said. "I very much enjoy driving those race cars, particularly at the Indianapolis 500. Now, they seem ready to go the extra mile and do what it takes to increase awareness. They have some good people now and have a little consistency in that. I believe and trust what they are saying.

"With (president of the commercial division) Terry Angstadt, you have somebody now with a solid focus on moving the series ahead. Having him is a help because it is stability and he understands we have to do whatever it takes. I really do see some momentum and you will hear some more positives in the future.

"And the Helio Castroneves factor (from winning "Dancing with the Stars") will be very, very good. You have to give Helio credit with the way he portrayed himself and he portrayed the IndyCar Series was very positive. I don't think anybody but him could have done as good a job as he did, which is why we couldn't give him any grief about it even though we were dying to. What he did for IndyCar's image was very important."  IndyCar.com


Morbidelli sweeps second Speedcar win
Gianni Morbidelli won his second consecutive Speedcar race held at the Dubai Autodrome today. His victory was witnessed by special spectator, Michael Schumacher who watched the action from the Speedcar garages.

Mathias Lauda came in second, gaining a position since yesterday's race where he finished third. Local favorite Hasher Al Maktoum thrilled the crowd when he made the podium in third place.

Race day 2 proved to be even more exciting than the first with non-stop action on every lap. The grid for race 2 was determined by reversing the order of yesterday’s classification, with Stefan Johansson on pole after finishing 8th in the first race.

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Mosley mulls over another run at FIA president UPDATE (GMM)  Max Mosley will decide whether to seek re-election as president of F1's governing body, the FIA, in October this year.

October 2008 is twelve months before the Paris-based body, made up of motor sport clubs from around the world, is set to decide on its new chief.

"It really depends on how you feel; what the clubs feel.  I would not want to go on doing it for ever," Mosley, who is 67, is quoted as saying by the British newspaper The Independent.

He suggests that he is enthused by his next goals for formula one -- paving the way for the introduction of budget caps, and the advent of the energy-recovery, or KERS, era.

"My last big project is to get the search for extra horsepower away from making the engines run faster and moving towards KERS, heat recovery, exhaust energy recovery," he said.

01/25/08 Max Mosley says that he will decide whether to stand again as a candidate for President of the FIA in October this year, a year before the election is due to take place. Mosley says that he is not yet sure if he will be a candidate - he is allowed one more term of office under the current rules - and that his decision will be based above all on whether he feels he wants to continue.

"I don't want to go on doing this forever," he said.

Mosley said that his last big project (at the moment) is to see F1 switch from looking for more horsepower by making the engines run faster and switch towards finding the extra power by using new systems such as the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, head recovery systems and exhaust energy recovery. Mosley say that these will be of great importance for the sport as it will lead the automobile industry towards a much cleaner future. Grandprix.com


Force India to launch 2008 campaign next month
(GMM)  The formula one team Force India confirmed that its 2008 car will be launched officially on February 7.

The event will take place in Mumbai, but the single seater will only make its track debut at Spain's Circuit de Catalunya, in Barcelona, on February 25 -- less than a month before the first race of the season in Australia.

It is believed that the team's 2008 car, the first to be raced under the Force India banner following Vijay Mallya's buyout of the Spyker team, will be a slight development of the car used by the Silverstone based squad in 2007.

Force India's definitive livery, and the sponsorship package, will also be unveiled in Mumbai.


Nationwide gears up for NASCAR debut
Charlotte, NC —Nationwide Insurance today unveiled key new initiatives that will be launched to enhance the experience of the NASCAR Nationwide Series for fans, drivers and teams.

“We know NASCAR fans are the most passionate and loyal in sports and we’re committed to taking the NASCAR Nationwide Series experience to the next level for them,” said John Aman, brand management officer for Nationwide Insurance. “The NASCAR Nationwide Series gives fans an opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds – today's stars and the next generation of great NASCAR drivers.”

New initiatives include:
• The Up to Speed Challenge, an exciting new “fantasy league” experience in partnership with ESPN, not previously available for the series.
• Nationwide Insurance will provide the largest sponsor contribution to the NASCAR Nationwide Series points fund in series history.

The Up to Speed Challenge
Nationwide Insurance will partner with ESPN to bring fans ‘Up to Speed’ on the latest racing action. The Nationwide/ESPN Up to Speed Challenge, is an exciting new online fantasy challenge that will keep fans in the driver’s seat for all the latest NASCAR Nationwide Series action.

In this season-long interactive contest, fans will be asked to pick the winning driver in a series of speed categories. The fan with the most points at the end of the season will win a $100,000 grand prize. Weekly winners may get some of the best seats at the track or autographed merchandise. The season’s second and third place winners will receive a trip for two to ESPN studios to view a taping of NASCAR Now.

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Quotes from ESPN-Dale Earnhardt Jr. Conference Call
Quotes from ESPN-Dale Earnhardt Jr. Conference Call: New TV Series Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears on ESPN

Q – Will this documentary shed some insight on what went on behind the scenes between you and Teresa Earnhardt?

DALE EARNHARDT JR. – “I think everybody has a different idea of how things might have been. Whatever you’ll see, that’s what happened. I don’t think it’s really going to answer a lot of questions about my relationship with Teresa. Of course it may. We don’t touch on that point because it’s not necessarily up for discussion. That’s between me and her and that’s really where it’s going to stay.”

Q - Is this type of show a trend in sports?

JOHN SKIPPER, ESPN Executive Vice President, Content – “Increasingly fans want behind the scenes access. NASCAR is as good as it gets. These guys understand that and what the sport has to do for the fans and provide them. I think you’ll see more of it. You see a lot of it during our coverage with the access we have to the radios and the pit crews and the drivers. They are just terrific to work with in this regard.”

Q - What were the emotions you felt behind the scenes just prior to your departure from the team your father founded?

DALE EARNHARDT JR. -- “Every time I watch that it brings back a lot of hard emotion. That’s what the show is about. I was fortunate enough to have the foresight to want to document this, knowing how big a change it was and how huge of an impact it was going to have on my life. All that footage and everything we’ve captured throughout that whole deal is pretty impressive and pretty powerful when you watch it.

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Grand-Am to Sanction Skip Barber National
Skip Barber Racing and the Grand American Road Racing Association (Grand-Am) today announced a comprehensive agreement that not only provides sanction of the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda, but makes the Skip Barber organization the Official Racing & Driving School of Grand-Am. Among other benefits, Grand-Am’s sanction of the Skip Barber National (heretofore, self-sanctioned) secures the entry level pro series featured support-series status at the top line venues and dates of many of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and/or KONI Challenge race weekends.

As part of the agreement, all cars competing in any Grand-Am championship – Daytona Prototypes, GT, KONI, etc. – will sport the Skip Barber logo. Likewise, Skip Barber Racing’s fleet of nearly 175 race cars (Formula Skip Barber, Skip Barber Formula 2000 and Skip Barber MX-5 Cup cars) will carry Grand-Am identification. Skip Barber National competitors will be licensed by Grand-Am. Additionally, the hundreds of drivers Skip Barber graduates from its advanced racing schools, as well as driver in its five amateur Regional Race Series, will enjoy special benefits exclusive to them.

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tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Two Roads to Baja Baja
12:00am-1:00am (R) SPEED
Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona -Rolex 24 
1:00pm-2:30pm (L) -FOX
2:30pm-10:00pm (L) -SPEED
Art Mann Presents... Midwest Mayhem Indy 500
Special Guests: Mario Andretti, Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon Indianapolis
11:30pm-12:00am (R) HDNet
Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona -Rolex 24 
6:00am-2:00pm (L) SPEED
AMA Supercross San Francisco
12:00pm-1:00pm (1/26/08) CBS
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com


Westfield Insurance joins Michael Shank Racing
(Daytona Beach, FL)  —Michael Shank Racing is pleased to announce the addition of Westfield Insurance to the teams roster of partners, as the Ohio-based insurance company has signed on as title sponsor for the No. 60  Westfield Insurance Ford-Riley for the Rolex 24 At Daytona this weekend. The partnership will see Westfield Insurance logo prominently displayed on the No. 60 entry, which will start Saturday’s race on the pole after Oswaldo Negri set a Daytona Prototype track record in Thursdays qualifying session. Negri will share the driving duties in the Westfield Insurance entry with Mark Patterson, Graham Rahal, and Justin Wilson.

Westfield, which was also recently named as the “Official Insurance of the Mid-Ohio School,” will also be on the car for the EMCO Gears Classic presented by Key Bank event at the Mid-Ohio weekend June 20-22.

“This is obviously great news for the team and we’re tremendously excited to start this relationship off right here at Daytona with the No. 6 Westfield Insurance Ford Riley starting on the front row on Saturday,” said team owner Mike Shank. “This is a huge weekend for this team and to have our cars qualify where they did and to keep our program moving up with new commercial partners like Westfield Insurance, it’s only getting better. Hopefully we can go one better on Sunday afternoon with a win.”

track news

Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers Sponsoring Gateway Race
The Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers have been named as the title sponsor for the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Gateway International Raceway and will now be called the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250. The 50-dealer organization moves to the Nationwide event after a successful decade of sponsoring GIR’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races. Gateway Raceway PR


Wallace to drive second Fitz Motorsports Nationwide car
Kenny Wallace announced today that he will drive a second Nationwide Series car for Fitz Motorsports.

Wallace unveiled his plans at a news conference that also announced the Dodge sponsorship of the Nationwide race at Gateway International Raceway, Wallace's "home" track.


Buddy Rice eager for '08
Buddy Rice
Buddy Rice's off-season dance card has been full. Not quite in the Helio Castroneves "Dancing with the Stars" category, but busy nonetheless.

"Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like to be home but I like to race," said Rice, whose wife, Michelle, is expecting the couple's first child (girl) in early May. "I'm privileged to drive as many different things as I am. I'm not getting any younger (turns 31 on Jan. 31). It's not necessarily reinventing myself. It's just trying to constantly stay sharp and drive a bunch of different things. As you get older, those opportunities will slowly but surely evaporate because the younger group is going to show up." Rice, who is competing in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Daytona Prototype in the Rolex 24 At Daytona this weekend, also drove the Team USA "We the People" car early in the A1GP season.

"Every year I change it up a little bit; this year it was A1GP and the year before it was a lot of the sports car stuff and the year before that it was Baja as well," Rice said. "I think what I've been able to do in the past has allowed me to keep driving -- and keep having opportunities to keep driving -- and I'd like to do it as long as I can. It's been exciting to have the opportunity to do those things."

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Q&A with Bridgestone's Tetsuro Kobayashi
The Valencia race circuit in Spain played host to Bridgestone’s medium compound Potenza for ten of Formula One’s eleven teams for the second test of 2008 on January 22-24. The medium compound Potenza dry grooved racing tire was in action for the entirety of the test which took place in dry conditions, with blue skies overhead on the first two days, but a mainly cloudy and overcast day three.

No runs were completed using any of Bridgestone’s wet range of Potenza Formula One tires. Teams completed valuable evaluation work with both the latest and last season’s cars run to the 2008 regulations.

New cars from BMW Sauber, Ferrari, Honda, McLaren, Red Bull, Renault, Toyota and Williams and were all put through their paces along with older cars from some of these teams as well as Force India and Toro Rosso. Super Aguri were not present at this test.

Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tires will be in use next week at Barcelona on 1-3 February, where Bridgestone’s hard compound Potenza will be used for the first time this year.

Q&A with Tetsuro Kobayashi – Technical Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport:

What has Bridgestone learnt from this test?
“Valencia is an interesting circuit with a mixture of low and medium speed corners, as well as a reasonably long straight, which makes it useful for data accumulation. This has been a useful exercise to see how our tires interact with the latest cars from the teams, and we had no interruptions from poor weather over these three days. As the car regulations are largely the same as the previous season it becomes more critical for the teams and drivers to extract the maximum from the Bridgestone Potenzas and watching the evolution of the new cars for this purpose is fascinating.”

What is the rest of the test program before the season starts?
“From Valencia we head to Barcelona with an expected eight teams who will use the hard compound Potenza. Ferrari and Toyota will test in Bahrain with the medium compound between 4-6 and 9-11 February and should see hotter running than we have had in Europe. After that, it is back to Jerez with an expected nine teams and the medium compound on 12-14 February. Six teams are expected to return to Barcelona between19-21 February, with certain teams opting to test at other locations in this period. Finally, between 25-27 February we will have a test in Barcelona with the hard compound where all teams are expected to attend. This is an intense period of activity for us, and unlike many teams our engineers attend both the tests and the races. There are now under 50 days before we see running at Albert Park for the first race of the season, and I am sure we will see plenty of progress from the teams between now and then.”


Kawasaki announce Monster partnership
The Kawasaki Racing Team announced that it will be joining forces with the meanest energy drink on the planet, Monster Energy, for its assault on the 2008 and 2009 MotoGP World Championships.

One of the two leading energy drink brands in the United States, Monster Energy has an undoubted passion for racing, with involvement in many motorsport activities worldwide. The partnership with Kawasaki in MotoGP, the pinnacle of two-wheeled motorsport, is a natural progression for Monster Energy, as they look to expand into the European market following their successful collaboration with Kawasaki's factory road racing and motocross teams in America.

It's an exciting start to a new era for the Kawasaki Racing Team. The two-year partnership with Monster Energy marks the first time that a major consumer brand has appeared on the side of Kawasaki's Ninja ZX-RR MotoGP machines since the Japanese engineering powerhouse returned to the premier class six years ago, after an absence of more than two decades.

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Gianni Morbidelli wins inaugural race
Gianni Morbidelli triumphed in the inaugural Speedcar race this afternoon at the Dubai Autodrome with an 8 second lead over the two other podium drivers - German, Uwe Alzen and Austrian, Mathias Lauda.

With the exception of Gianni, starting from pole position and dominating the race through all of the 20 laps, the race was thrilling and close with drivers battling for position down to the last lap.

Mathias Lauda qualified second, however, had to concede his position to Uwe Alzen who started fourth on the grid. The German's handling of the V8 stockcar was impressive considering that this morning was the first time he drove the car.

David Terrien drove with heart and won fans with his performance when his car went into a spin causing him to fall to 8th position. He still battled his way back up the order to finish in 4th. David's team mate Hasher Al Maktoum followed 7 seconds behind.

Apart from Gianni Morbidelli who stole the show, the other ex-F1 drivers did not fare as well. Johnny Herbert managed to finish all 20 laps with engine trouble that slowed him down. He will have the engine replaced in time for tomorrow's second race. Ukyo Katayama retired after 7 laps in which he and Stefan Johansson collided twice. Jean Alesi finished in 6th place and admitted to making a few mistakes that cost him some positions.

Gianni said at the press conference, "It was an excellent inaugural race and gave us all a chance to size up our competition. It was hard though and long, but exciting and I can't wait for the next one."

track news

Sprint Cup Series teams coming to test at Las Vegas
Race fans are invited to watch the cars and stars of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series Monday and Tuesday as Las Vegas Motor Speedway conducts the annual NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas test session. The grandstands will be open to the public and fans are invited to watch their favorite drivers test the new Car of Tomorrow on the high banks of LVMS. The so-called Car of Tomorrow competed at select tracks in 2007 but will be used at all tracks in 2008. The Car of Tomorrow never has been raced at LVMS. LVMS' grandstands will be open to the public from 9am-5pm during the Jan. 28-29 NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas. The Nationwide Series will test at LVMS Jan. 30-31. Tickets for the Feb. 29-March 2 NASCAR Weekend - featuring the UAW-Dodge 400 for the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300 sale by calling (800) 644-4444 or visiting www.LVMS.com. Race fans also may purchase tickets to the exciting Neon Garage fan experience as well as Driver Introduction passes and Lucky 7 preferred parking passes. LVMS PR


Ford commits to NASCAR
Ford isn't giving up on NASCAR. After a dismal 2007 season that saw the manufacturer win only seven Nextel Cup races - to Chevrolet's 26 - Ford officials made a point Thursday to show their commitment to the newly named Sprint Cup. Edsel Ford II, a member of Ford's board of directors and the great-grandson of Henry Ford, visited Roush Fenway Racing's shop Thursday during the final day of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour. "There's been a lot of talk in the Ford Motor Company in the media in the past year, much of it negative," Ford said. "People have wanted to write us off, to say we couldn't compete in the marketplace or on the race track. I'm here to tell you one thing today: don't underestimate our resolve." Canadian Press


Latest F1 news in brief
  • F1 teams eye next winter tests
  • Toyota boss slams F1 quit reports
  • No permanent F1 steward in 2008
  • New Honda better than old says Barrichello
  • Heikki vows to make a mark at Hamilton's team
  • Campos happy Alonso left McLaren
  • Raikkonen to end F1 career with Ferrari
  • Massa expects even faster Ferrari
  • Rosberg happy with new Williams racer

F1 teams eye next winter tests
(GMM)  Thursday brought an end to the multiple-day F1 group test at the Valencia circuit in Spain.  For the majority of teams, the action will resume for a rare weekend test beginning on 1 February at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, but Ferrari and Toyota are heading to Bahrain for six days of running at the grand prix track at Sakhir.

Toyota boss slams F1 quit reports
(GMM)  Toyota team president John Howett has rubbished claims that the Japanese team could pull out of formula one as early as 2010 if rapid progress is not made.  "The media reports of the squad withdrawing are pure, malicious scare-mongering," he told the British print magazine Autosport.

No permanent F1 steward in 2008
(GMM)  F1's governing body will not replace outgoing permanent race steward Tony-Scott Andrews in 2008, the website of the British magazine Autosport reports.  Instead, three officials will be selected for each grand prix, to be assisted by permanent FIA delegate Alan Donnelly.

New Honda better than old says Barrichello
(GMM)  Rubens Barrichello has cautiously assessed Honda's new car for 2008, the RA108, as better than its abysmal predecessor.

The Brazilian veteran gave the unliveried  single seater its track debut at Valencia on Wednesday, languishing at the bottom of the time sheets with a best lap some 3.5 seconds shy of the pace.

A day later, in teammate Jenson Button's hands, the RA108 was nearly a second quicker, but still outpaced by every rival team at the Spanish group test.

"I'm certain that this car is better than the 2007 one because it's difficult to do worse," Barrichello, 35, told the Italian magazine La Gazzetta dello Sport after trying the car for the first time.

"Lap times were slow but also because on the first day it made no sense to push too hard," he added.

"In any case we are awaiting the new aerodynamics," Barrichello said.

He also explained that the Brackley based team experienced normal shakedown gremlins with the new car, but confirmed that the RA108 already feels better than its predecessor under braking.

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Old BMW better balanced says Heidfeld
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld has gone into more detail about the problems facing BMW-Sauber's newly launched F1.08 single seater in winter testing.

Despite the German squad targeting a maiden victory this season, the 2008 car has usually been outpaced by its predecessor, the F1.07, on Spanish test circuits so far.

Heidfeld, 30, revealed that the problem is the car's balance.

"We have understeer and oversteer, and too much of both," he is quoted as saying by the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

Heidfeld refused to comment on whether he thought the 2007 car, which was F1's quickest racer excluding the Ferrari and McLaren last year, is better than its successor.

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'F1' number plate fetches $740k
(GMM) The British number plate 'F1' has sold at auction for a staggering (US) $740,000. The proceeds will be used by the plate's previous owner, the Essex County Council, to educate young drivers about road safety.


BMW working on slow 2008 car - Rampf
(GMM) BMW-Sauber technical director Willy Rampf has played down the lack of early testing pace of the German team's new 2008 challenger.

The F1.08 has usually been slower in head-to-head comparisons with its predecessor at Valencia this week, and Nick Heidfeld expressed concern about the car's handling problems.

But in a BMW statement issued after the close of the Valencia test on Thursday, Rampf said: "We are at the start of a comprehensive development phase. We have analysed the data from the test drives so far and identified the potential areas concerned."

He added that the car will already be running in a modified form at the upcoming Barcelona test.

"Following that, we will be using new components in all the other tests up to the start of the season," Rampf said.

He added: "We have set ourselves an internal target which we aim to meet by Melbourne, and I am confident we will achieve that."


Champ Car Stars Wilson and Rahal on Daytona Pole
When the green flag drops Saturday afternoon for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, the car to be co-driven in the race by Champ Car World Series standouts Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal will pace the field for the start of the annual twice-around-the-clock classic.

When qualifying ended Thursday afternoon at the Daytona International Speedway, the No. 61 Ford/Riley entered by Michael Shank Racing was on the pole with a lap time around the 3.56-mile circuit of 1:40.793, good for an average speed of 127.151 miles per hour. Wilson and Rahal will be sharing the car with Brazil’s Oswaldo Negri and Mark Patterson of the United States.

Wilson, who finished second in this race two years ago, will be making his second start at Daytona while 19-year-old Champ Car counterpart will be making his third start in the race that his father, Bobby Rahal, won in 1981.

"It seems like we have a real good car,” said Rahal. “I ran in traffic during the day and it was solid. I'm not worried a bit about the car in the race. We just need to stay out of trouble and avoid the bad luck that can happen and, if we do that, I think we'll have a good chance to do well."

Ryan Dalziel, a Champ Car rookie in 2007, will start eighth in the SAMAX Racing Pontiac/Riley while Jimmy Vasser, co-owner PKV Racing and 1996 Champ Car titlist, will start 11th in the Gainsco Racing Pontiac/Riley.

Jan Heylen, another veteran of Champ Car, will co-drive a Synergy Racing Porsche GTE that will start sixth in the GT class. Robert Doornbos, 2007 Champ Car "Rookie of the Year", will qualify on Friday. 


All-Ford front row for Rolex 24
The top-five in qualifying were the following teams:

1. Michael Shank Racing (No. 60 Ford Riley) with Oswaldo Negri, Mark Patterson, Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson (1:40.793 at 127.152 mph)
2. Michael Shank Racing (No. 6 Ford Riley) with A.J. Allmendinger, Burt Friselle, Ian James, John Pew (1:40.802 at 127.140 mph)
3. Bob Stallings/Riley-Matthews (No. 91 Pontiac Riley) with Marc Goosens, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Jim Matthews, Johnny O’Connell (1:41.041 at 126.840 mph)
4. SunTrust Racing (No. 10 Pontiac Riley) with Max Angelelli, Michael Valiante, Wayne Taylor, Ricky Taylor (1:41.161 at 126.689 mph)
5. AIM Autosport (No. 61 Ford Riley) with Mark Wilkins, Colin Braun, Andrew Ranger, Brian Friselle (1:41.413 at 126.374 mph)

More later......


Walker Racing Completes Testing in the West
Indianapolis, IN -  Walker Racing wrapped up testing in the west this week, despite encountering a minor setback along the way.  The first stop for the Indianapolis based squad was Chandler, Arizona, where they completed two successful days of testing earlier in the week.

The Arizona test was just what the doctor ordered for Walker Racing newcomers, Greg and Leo Mansell, sons of former Champ Car champion Nigel Mansell, and Canadian Kevin Lacroix.  Seat time and miles are what the trio needed as they logged a number of laps and stayed on pace with fellow Champ Car Atlantic competitors who were testing at Firebird International Raceway as well.

Lacroix, a native of Saint-Eustache, Quebec, Canada, got his start competing in various karting series in 1996 winning multiple championships, and continued to move up the ladder finishing second in the 2005 Formula BMW USA championship with four victories and six podiums, finished second in the 2006 Star Mazda championship with five podiums and ten top-five results and earned the Star Mazda Rookie of the Year title.  Last October the 18 year old tested with Walker Racing and for 2007 joined Brooks Racing Champ Car Atlantic program in Portland scoring his first Champ Car Atlantic victory in just his second career start at Portland and signed with Walker Racing in August of 2007.

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Lowe's Fernandez racing readies for full season
Adrian Fernandez
When Lowe’s Fernandez Racing hits the circuit at Sebring International Raceway this weekend, it will enter the second phase of its American Le Mans Series venture. A brand new Acura chassis, the next-generation ARX-01b, will be on display as the team prepares for its second appearance in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The work will continue Monday through Wednesday at the American Le Mans Series’ fourth annual Winter Test at Sebring.

“We took delivery on December 28th,” said Tom Anderson, co-owner with Adrian Fernandez. “We are quite excited about the changes that have been made between last year's 01a-specification ARX versus the 01b which we received. The computer numbers look very impressive and hopefully this will translate to the quicker estimated lap times that the computer shows. We are really looking forward to getting to Sebring and our first on-track adventure with it.”

Fernandez and Luis Diaz finished second in LMP2 and third overall in the team’s Acura-powered Lola in the 2007 race at Sebring. Lowe’s Fernandez served as the engine development team for Acura last year, and the 3.4-liter V8 never suffered from a reliability standpoint.

“What Acura accomplished in their first season is remarkable,” Fernandez said. “They were strong out of the box with not only a brand-new engine but the chassis as well. Expectations are even higher for next year.”

The three Acura-powered LMP2 entries are part of a strong prototype contingent entered for the Winter Test. Audi, Lola, Mazda, Peugeot and Porsche also will have prototypes on track.


Modifications on the way for new BMW
Nick Heidfeld spent the final day of testing here at the Valencia circuit behind the wheel of the BMW Sauber F1.07B where he continued working on the systems based on the 2008 rules. Just like yesterday, the German driver had a limited program and completed just thirty nine laps to record the ninth best time overall.

Meanwhile, teammate Robert Kubica worked on the set-up of the F1.08 and the team was able to find some settings that are favorable to the new car. Robert also completed some long-runs and finished sixth overall after a total of eighty six laps.

“In terms of reliability the F1.08 is already very good,” said Technical Director Willy Rampf. “We have covered numerous laps without any noteworthy problems to date. As far as performance is concerned, we are at the start of a comprehensive development phase. We have analyzed the data from the test drives so far and identified the potential areas concerned.”

“By the next test in Barcelona the car will already have received some relevant modifications. Following that, we will be using new components in all the other tests up to the start of the season. We have set ourselves an internal target which we aim to meet by Melbourne, and I am confident we will achieve that.”   

The BMW Sauber F1 Team will be testing in Barcelona from February 1 to 3.


Kanaan, Andretti to appear at Detroit Auto Show
Andretti Green Racing drivers Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti will be joined by former IndyCar Series teammate Bryan Herta at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Jan. 25.

The drivers will be part of the annual NAIAS Racing Day activities at Cobo Center. Racing Day features driver appearances as well as special interactive exhibits and displays celebrating motorsports at the nation's premiere automotive showcase, the NAIAS.

Kanaan, Andretti and Herta experienced the return of world-class racing to Motown in 2007 at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix and all three will be in action when the Grand Prix comes back to the Belle Isle street circuit Aug. 29-31.

Kanaan, Andretti and Herta will participate in a question and answer session with fans at the show from 2:30-3 p.m. in the Michigan Hall and then will sign autographs for fans from 3-4 p.m. in the Michigan Hall.

"I am very excited to go back to Detroit this week for the first time since I won at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix," said Kanaan, who won the IndyCar Series inaugural Detroit Indy Grand Prix last September. "I am definitely looking forward to promoting the 2008 Grand Prix and also to attending the Auto Show. People know I have a passion for cars and I can't wait to see what's new. This is a perfect combination for me - I get to talk about what I love in an environment where I get to look at the most innovative designs in cars."


Shifting Gears on ESPN Goes Behind Scenes with Dale Earnhardt Jr
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the focus of a new television series on ESPN, Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears, premiering prior to next month’s opening of the 2008 NASCAR season. The five-part series chronicles Earnhardt’s move from Dale Earnhardt Inc., the team founded by his father, to Hendrick Motorsports, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The first episode airs Friday, Feb. 8, at 7:00pm/et on ESPN2.  The series provides viewers with a behind-the-scenes look at the personal, corporate and competitive ramifications involved with the five-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver award recipient changing teams. Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears is produced by Earnhardt Jr.’s Hammerhead Entertainment, a division of JR Motorsports, in cooperation with Hendrick Motorsports and is presented by the National Guard. The new program is part of an exclusive, multimedia agreement between ESPN and Hammerhead Entertainment. “We were working on a new DVD about my life and the guys kept getting more and more footage, so they decided to put a whole TV show together to document the biggest career decision I’ve ever made,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “The past year of my life has been a roller coaster, and it’s pretty cool that we’re giving everyone an inside look at how everything came together.” Three of the five episodes of Shifting Gears air on ESPN2 in the nine days prior to the Daytona 500, including following ESPN2’s live coverage of Nationwide Series qualifying on Friday, Feb. 15, and the Nationwide Series Camping World 300 at Daytona on Saturday, Feb. 16. The final two episodes air on ESPN in prime time the week of the July 27 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, ESPN’s first live Sprint Cup event of the season. The pre-season episodes reveal never-before-seen footage from the 2007 press conferences and fan response to the announcements. Shifting Gears also chronicles the design process of the new paint schemes, the makings of Earnhardt Jr.’s Adidas fire suit and how the driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew AMP/National Guard Chevrolet handles the pressure of working with new sponsors as he prepares for his first season with Hendrick Motorsports. The final two episodes, each one hour in length, will catch up with Earnhardt Jr. and the Hendrick team as he chases his first Sprint Cup championship. Previews and additional video from the show will be made available on ESPN.com Video and DaleJr.com starting next week and the full episodes will be made available shortly after they air on ESPN2 on ESPN MobileTV and ESPN.com Video.
The air schedule (all times Eastern):
Friday, Feb. 8 7-8 p.m. ESPN2
Friday, Feb. 15 6:30-8 p.m. ESPN2
Saturday, Feb. 16 4:30-6 p.m. ESPN2
Thursday, July 24 7-8 p.m. ESPN
Friday, July 25 7-8 p.m. ESPN. ESPN PR


McDowell to Take Over #00 Toyota Camry at Martinsville
Wednesday night, sitting on a stage with racing royalty, 23-year-old Michael McDowell heard the words he thought were only audible in his dreams as Michael Waltrip announced his organization's 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver lineup.

Waltrip officially revealed that the Arizona native will drive the #00 Toyota Camry for Michael Waltrip Racing, beginning on March 30th at Martinsville Speedway, joining MWR's driver lineup of Waltrip, Dale Jarrett and David Reutimann.

Reutimann will start the season in the #00 Toyota Camry while Jarrett finishes out his career in the #44 UPS Toyota Camry, running the first five races on the schedule.  Jarrett will turn the #44 UPS ride over to Reutimann and McDowell will fill the seat vacated in the #00 by Reutimann starting at Martinsville.

"We are proud to have Michael join our organization as we field three full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams and a Nationwide Series team for a second year in a row," Waltrip said. "To be honest, at first I was apprehensive only because I know how difficult the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is and what challenges it presents. After testing with Michael, I learned firsthand that he is intense, knowledgeable of racing and more importantly he was fast at all of our test sessions. Those factors set my mind at ease. I feel like he will do a great job and it is our job to prepare the best cars we can for him and provide the best opportunity to hone his driving talents."

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Valencia Thursday: Raikkonen sets pace
Kimi Raikkonen rounded off Formula One testing at Valencia in Spain with the quickest time on Thursday, edging out McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen, with Ferrari's Felipe Massa setting the third best time.

Today's times:


Driver Team Time Laps
1. Raikkonen Ferrari 1.11.189 88
2. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1.11.206 89
3. Massa Ferrari 1.11.831 96
4. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1.11.971 116
5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.11.994 84
6. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1.12.095 86
7. Trulli Toyota 1.12.109 96
8. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.12.526 113
9. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1.12.600 39
10. Glock Toyota 1.12.705 68
11. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1.12.949 93
12. Piquet Renault 1.12.973 89
13. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.13.060 95
14. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1.13.133 15
15. Hulkenberg Williams-Toyota 1.13.306 74
16. Button Honda 1.13.689 80
17. Kogure Honda 1.15.703 25
Bold = 2008 Car

racing news

Roger Penske Wins RRDC's Phil Hill Award
Roger Penske
Roger Penske, who rose from a rank-and-file SCCA weekend racer to become one of American auto racing’s powerhouse team entrants, tonight was presented with the Road Racing Drivers Club’s annual Phil Hill Award at the RRDC dinner held in Daytona USA.

Penske was honored for his “outstanding service to road racing,” by RRDC President Bobby Rahal, co-winner of the 1981 Rolex 24 At Daytona, and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner.

Phil Hill, in 1961, became the first American to win the Formula 1 World Championship.  Among his international wins is the 1964 Daytona 2000Km race, precursor to the Rolex 24.

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Raikkonen, Hamilton, nominated for Laureus awards
(GMM)  2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen has been nominated for the prestigious Laureus World Sportsman of the Year title.

Alongside fellow nominees including Roger Federer (tennis), Kaka (football) and Tiger Woods (golf), the Finn was selected following a ballot by the world's media.

Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, has been nominated for the Laureus Breakthrough of the Year award, while Ferrari is in contention for the Laureus World Team of the Year.

The winners, to be unveiled during a ceremony in Russia on February 18, will be selected from a jury of 43 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time.

skip barber

Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out Entry List
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (Jan. 24) - The final list of entrants for the 11th Annual Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out has been released. The Shoot-out, February 1-3 at Sebring International Raceway, will award close to $130,000 in scholarships – paid seat time in the various Skip Barber Race Series championships.

The largest award is courtesy of Mazda and its MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development ladder system; a paid season in the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda, valued at approximately $45,000.

Now in its 10th year, the 2008 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda is a 14-race championship that awards its annual champion one of the largest title bonuses in all of junior-formula racing: a paid season in the following year's Star Mazda Series, worth approximately $350,000. This is the series that launched the auto racing careers of Marco Andretti, Scott Speed, A.J. Allmendinger, Raphael Matos, Gerardo Bonilla, Jonathan Goring and Joel Miller, plus dozens of other drivers succeeding in Grand- Am, the IRL, Champ Car, NASCAR, ALMS, and the SCCA, as well as overseas in series such as A1GP.

Entry List, 11th Annual Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out, Feb. 1-3, Sebring International Raceway: 

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Phoenix Racing Team joins Speedcar Series
On the eve of the inaugural race, Speedcar Series has a new team in Phoenix Racing with Uwe Alzen taking the wheel. The team driver will make his debut at the Grand Racing event on the 25th and 26th of January at the Dubai Autodrome.

Phoenix Racing based at Nurburgring, Germany was founded in 1999 to take part in the German Touring Car Championship. Having participated in the DTM ever since, the team also competes in other racing events including the FIA GT.

Uwe Alzen, the appointed German racer for the team, began his career in 1990 competing in long distance races. He made his mark in 1999 at the Le Mans 24 Hours where he was claimed class victory in the GT3 R. Fresh from his most recent win in the 2007 Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland, Uwe Alzen will now join the ranks of Speedcar. "This is a great opportunity for me and for Phoenix Racing to be a part of Speedcar that we see as having enormous potential. We are also very excited about breaking out of Europe and racing in the Middle East and Asia," we said.

Benoit Lamonerie, General Manager of Speedcar Series, extended his welcome to the team saying, "Phoenix Racing and Uwe Alzen make a valuable addition to our fleet of drivers. The variety of talent that Speedcar Series showcases will make for an interesting season and give people a taste of real motorsports action."


Motorcraft, Bill Elliott and Wood Brothers Team Up in 2008
Three longtime Ford Motor Company icons are teaming up again in 2008: The Motorcraft brand, Bill Elliott and the Wood Brothers.

Motorcraft, a Ford Motor Company brand of automotive parts ranging from filters and spark plugs to engines and transmissions, will be the primary sponsor on the famed Wood Brothers No. 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Ford Fusion for eight races (see schedule below), beginning in April at Texas and culminating with the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The Motorcraft brand will also be an associate sponsor for all other 2008 NASCAR events.

2008 Motorcraft Primary Sponsor NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule
April 6              Texas Motor Speedway
April 12            Phoenix International Raceway
June 15            Michigan International Speedway
July 27              Indianapolis Motor Speedway
August 23          Bristol Motor Speedway
September 14  New Hampshire Motor Speedway
October 5          Talladega Superspeedway
November 16    Homestead-Miami Speedway

“We’re very pleased and proud to continue our long-standing relationship with Wood Brothers Racing. The Woods are synonymous with Ford, and we are delighted to be associated with such a tremendous group of people,” said Geoff Smith, Motorcraft Motorsports Manager. “And, we’re really excited that Bill Elliott is back with the Motorcraft team. He’s a legend. We see NASCAR as a perfect venue to serve as a reward and recognition opportunity for our customers.”

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Ford loses $2.7 billion in 2007
Ford Motor Co. today reported a net loss of $2.7 billion, or $1.35 a share, for 2007— a substantial improvement from the record $12.6 billion, or $6.72 per share, loss in 2006. The improvement was made as worldwide revenues improved to $173.9 billion, compared with $160.1 billion in 2006, and the automaker intensified cost-cutting, primarily in North America. The automaker has been executing a plan to close 10 factories and eliminate more than 40,000 jobs, among other efforts.


Glock: TC ban shouldn't affect lap times
Timo Glock
Timo Glock thinks the new ban on traction control won't result in a drop in lap times.  I think the drop (in times) will not be much," he told journalists at the Valencia circuit.  I think that for the first race we will be on the same speed again, because we develop the car. It will be different in the race though.  When you lose the rear tire, you lose rear stability, so I think we will undoubtedly make mistakes, but for one lap it will not be such a big difference."

However, the German did concede that the ban means that driving in wet conditions will be a lot more "difficult" due to the design of the cars.

"The cars are now different," he said. "I think they are much more aggressive in terms of aerodynamics. And when you lose the car it is quite difficult to control it because it is reacting so quickly and so aggressive. Sure, ten years ago I think it was easier to drive without traction control in wet conditions. I mean we have to see how it is in a race, but it will be tough.  With an F1 car today it is quite easy to do aquaplaning compared to ten years ago, and that makes it difficult."


Hamilton to use Alonso behavior as lesson
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton says he will use Fernando Alonso's behavior at McLaren last year as an example of how not to behave in formula one.

The 23-year-old Briton started his career alongside Alonso last year, before the double world champion and Spaniard became alienated from his colleagues and bosses.

Alonso, 26, has returned to Renault for 2008, but rookie Hamilton insists that his former teammate left few positive lessons behind.

"He showed me just how not to behave as an F1 driver," Hamilton, referring to Alonso, told the Associated Press at this week's Valencia test.

The AP report added that Hamilton said he hoped 'he would act more professionally than Alonso if put in the same situation as a reigning world champion working with a rookie teammate'.

Hamilton, who ended the 2007 season with the same points as his highly paid teammate, also suggested that he was proud to establish himself as Alonso's equal.

"He was (the leader) at the beginning, wasn't he, but it changed.  Well, he thought he was at the beginning," Hamilton said.

"But I don't think that should be the case, we should be a team.  It should be equal," he added.


Sepang Day 3: Hayden fastest on Honda
Nicky Hayden completed the first MotoGP tests of 2008 with the fastest lap at Sepang today. The Repsol Honda man rode a stunningly fast lap on qualifiers to top the three-day session. He also set an impressive pace in race trim, riding his best-ever Sepang lap on race tires at 2m 01.6s. The 2006 MotoGP World Champion spent most of the day riding his RC212V equipped with conventional valves after testing Honda’s new pneumatic-valve engine this morning. The Sepang weather was typically tropical today, with ambient temperature at 33 degrees and track temperature at 51 degrees.

Team-mate Dani Pedrosa underwent surgery yesterday in Barcelona to fix the right hand injury he suffered when he crashed here at Sepang on January 22. The Spaniard was diagnosed to have suffered a fracture in the second metacarpal and three diaphysary fragments, the bones in the middle section of the metacarpian. The operation, which fixed the damage with a titanium plate and seven screws, was carried out by Dr Xavier Mir at the USP Institut Universitari Dexeus. The usual recovery period for such an injury is six weeks, but Dr Mir believes Pedrosa should be able to return to riding sooner than that, if all goes well with his recuperation. Hayden resumes testing at Phillip Island, Australian next week, on January 30, 31 and February 1.

Nicky Hayden
“Today’s gone a lot better than the last couple and we’re feeling positive, I feel like I’m a lot closer than I was a year ago here. This morning we checked the pneumatic valve engine, then we just focused on the standard engine and this year’s chassis, working on the general set-up. I used qualifiers for my fastest lap and they worked well. After that we did a batch of front tires because one of my weak points here is that sometimes I struggle when this track gets hot. So I did a batch of tires at the hottest part of the day to improve on that.

We hadn’t really tested any tires for Michelin here until today and we wanted to do a long run. That run was decent, probably the best thing I’ve done all week. I did the best lap I’ve ever done round here on race tires on lap 18, a 2m 01.6s. At the end of three long days that wasn’t too bad. I used a 16.5 on that run but I’ve also been trying some 16 rears here. 

Now we go to Phillip Island which is quite a different track with some long corners, some high-speed stuff and a lot of changes of direction. The big thing there is tires so it’ll be really important to do some more tire work with Michelin there. We will also do some more work with the pneumatic-valve engine. I’ve got faith in Honda, so hopefully they can make us proud. I think it’s going to be a good season, there’s a lot of guys going fast, a lot of guys motivated. It’s an exciting time, everyone’s at zero.”
Lap Times

Pos Rider Team Time
1 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda 2.00.326
2 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro 2.00.660
3 Jorge Lorenzo Fiat Yamaha 2.00.766
4 Colin Edwards Yamaha Tech3 2.01.179
5 John Hopkins Kawasaki 2.01.198
6 Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha 2.01.425
7 Andrea Dovizioso JIR Team Scot 2.01.447
8 James Toseland Yamaha Tech3 2.01.745
9 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki 2.01.748
10 Loris Capirossi Rizla Suzuki 2.01.778
11 Randy DePuniet Honda LCR 2.01.873
12 Shinya Nakano Honda Gresini 2.02.032
13 Alex DeAngelis Honda Gresini 2.02.198
14 Marco Melandri Ducati Marlboro 2.02.725
15 Anthony West Kawasaki 2.02.978


Kovalainen admits low fuel boost at Spanish test
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen has revealed that his best time in Valencia testing on Wednesday was set by carrying a low fuel load.

The Finnish driver, at the wheel of a new McLaren MP4-23, set a fastest lap of the twisty eastern Spanish venue of 1.11.000 -- nearly seven tenths quicker than the nearest Ferrari, and a full second clear of his teammate Lewis Hamilton.

To the German specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport, however, the 26-year-old said he is not seeking any false glory.

"Of course you are always pleased to be in the front, but tests do not mean so much," Kovalainen, who is replacing Fernando Alonso at the British team in 2008, said.

"Everyone is following their own program. Yesterday I was fourth, but I am not that bad either."

Asked to explain the seven tenth gap to Ferrari's Felipe Massa on Wednesday, he admitted: "I had less petrol in the tank. We wanted to get a feel for how the car is when it is light."

Kovalainen also would not delve into the subject of which 2008 car seems quicker so far; the MP4-23, or its expected main rival this season, Ferrari's F2008.

"I dare not say," he insisted. "Personally, I have a good feeling. The car is fast, and now that I have a better seat, I feel comfortable behind the wheel."


Porsche has stellar record in Rolex 24
As one of the races that has shaped Porsche motorsports history, the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona has defined success and molded champions for some of the sport’s best drivers. 

For 2008, the Porsche contingent includes five Porsche-powered Daytona Prototypes and 30 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars running in the GT class, with 133 drivers representing the finest sports car drivers in the world.  According to Paul Ritchie, president of Porsche Motorsport North America, the pride of running a Porsche combined with the Daytona 24 Hour tradition gives this event special meaning for both the manufacturer and every Porsche team.

“Our greatest drivers, representing the best sports car drivers in the history of auto racing, built their careers with wins at the 24 Hours at Daytona.  From our first overall win here in 1968 to our GT win last year, Porsche has been the leading manufacturer at Daytona, and the effort of our customer teams this weekend promises to bring another good result,” said Ritchie, who took over the president’s position on January 1.

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Video: Hummer HX Concept vehicle
Click image to watch video
The HUMMER HX concept may ride similar to its predecessors but there are big differences – including its size and fuel source. The vehicle, which made its debut at the 2008 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, is smaller than the brand’s current models, measuring 171 inches long, 81 inches wide and 72 inches tall. The HUMMER HX concept also downsized its fuel-consumption, running on a 3.6L V6 engine that can burn E85. General Motors reports three designers, fresh out of school, sketched the vehicle before it was put into production. The vehicle also features a built-in, forward-facing camera that drivers can use to record their off-road excursions, and then replay on the monitor located inside the SUV. While the HUMMER HX concept does not include a radio, it does contain speakers that enable drivers to plug in their MP3 players or other similar devices.


Stewart in no rush to sign contract extension
Tony Stewart, who has spent his entire NASCAR Cup Series career at Joe Gibbs Racing, says he is in no rush to begin talks regarding a contract extension with the successful racing operation. "Right now I just want to get started with this year," Stewart said Tuesday. "I'm really not concerned about the end of '09 right now because we've still got to get through '08. Obviously, it's a topic with the team here, and they want to get it taken care of, but right now I want to see how the beginning of this year goes. Get halfway through the season before we even worry about talking about it again." Stewart's contract ends after the 2009 season. A change in manufacturer - the team will field Toyotas in 2008 after a long, successful stint with General Motors products - is of a more pressing concern to the 36-year-old Stewart. "There's nothing that has to be done right now anyway," he said of contract talks. "I'm here. It's about now to me; it's not about what's going to happen. Right now ... we've got a big change with a new manufacturer coming in, let's worry about running good and winning races and worry about the rest of it later." Stewart and crew chief Greg Zipadelli have been paired together since Stewart departed the open-wheel ranks to make the move to NASCAR. SceneDaily.com


View Daytona 500 in NYC
View the 50th running of the Daytona 500 live in HD on the big screen at ESPN Zone in Times Square at 42nd Street and Broadway (1472 Broadway) in New York City on Sunday, February 17th from 2:00pm/et until the conclusion of the race. The race is scheduled to begin at 3:21pm/et. This event is open to the public, and there will be a minimum charge of $10 per person per hour for table service. Fans will be able to compete in lap leader and trivia contests for official Sprint Cup Series apparel and other great prizes. The first 50 people in NASCAR apparel receive $20 ESPN Zone gift certificates. This offer begins at 2:00pm/et, and the certificates are limited to one per household- same day use only. Also, anyone dressed in NASCAR apparel receives a free game card valued at over $15.


NASCAR announces 2008 Cup broadcast schedule
Broadcast times for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season have been announced, with NASCAR working to standardize start times and better accommodate fans. Eighteen races on the schedule will have a 2 pm. EST Sunday start time, up from 15 in 2007.

The complete Cup television schedule, with start times for broadcasts, is as follows:

Feb. 9, Daytona International Speedway, 8 p.m., Fox
Feb. 17, Daytona International Speedway, 2 p.m. Fox
Feb. 24, California Speedway, 3:30 p.m., Fox
March 2, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, 3:30 p.m., Fox
March 9, Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1:30 p.m., Fox
Mar 16, Bristol Motor Speedway, 1:30 p.m., Fox
March 30, Martinsville Speedway, 1:30 p.m., Fox
April 6, Texas Motor Speedway, 1:30 p.m., Fox
April 12, Phoenix International Raceway, 8 p.m., Fox
April 27, Talladega Superspeedway, 1:30 p.m., Fox
May 3, Richmond International Raceway, 7 p.m., Fox
May 10, Darlington Raceway, 7 p.m., Fox
May 17, Lowe's Motor Speedway, 7 p.m., Speed
May 25, Lowe's Motor Speedway, 5 p.m., Fox
June 1, Dover International Speedway, 1:30 p.m., Fox
June 8, Pocono Raceway, 12:30 p.m., TNT
June 15, Michigan International Speedway, 12:30 p.m., TNT
June 22, Infineon Raceway, 3:30 p.m., TNT
June 29, New Hampshire International Speedway, 12:30 p.m., TNT
July 5, Daytona International Speedway, 6:30 p.m., TNT
July12, Chicagoland Speedway, 6:30 p.m., TNT
July 27, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 1 p.m., ESPN
Aug. 3, Pocono Raceway, 1 p.m., ESPN
Aug. 10, Watkins Glen International, 1 p.m., ESPN
Aug. 17, Michigan International Speedway, 1 p.m., ESPN
Aug. 23, Bristol Motor Speedway, 7 p.m., ESPN
Aug. 31, California Speedway, 7 p.m., ESPN
Sept. 6, Richmond International Raceway, 7 p.m., ABC
Sept. 14, New Hampshire International Speedway, 1 p.m., ABC
Sept. 21, Dover International Speedway, 1 p.m., ABC
Sept. 28, Kansas Speedway, 1 p.m., ABC
Oct. 5, Talladega Superspeedway, 1 p.m., ABC
Oct. 11, Lowe's Motor Speedway, 7 p.m., ABC
Oct. 19, Martinsville Speedway, 1 p.m., ABC
Oct. 26, Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1 p.m., ABC
Nov. 2, Texas Motor Speedway, 3 p.m., ABC
Nov. 9, Phoenix International Raceway, 3 p.m., ABC
Nov. 6, Homestead-Miami Speedway, 3 p.m., ABC


Childress-Howard Motorsports to Field Grand-Am entry in '08
WELCOME, N.C. -- Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and Howard Motorsports have joined forces as Childress-Howard Motorsports (CHM) to field a Daytona Prototype team for a limited number of events in the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.

The announcement was made and the No. 2 CHM Pontiac Crawford was unveiled this evening at the RCR facility during its stop on the NASCAR Media Tour. The team will utilize the driving talents of Andy Wallace and be powered by a Pontiac engine in a Crawford DPO3 chassis.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved in the Childress-Howard Motorsports program," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "

Rick Howard, president of Howard Motorsports of Denver, N.C., began competing in the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Class in 2004. In 47 events, the team has won six races and earned 20 podium (top three) finishes. This is the second time Howard has teamed up with RCR – he was involved with the Mom ‘N' Pop's / Western Steer Family Steakhouse program that was an associate sponsor of Dale Earnhardt's legendary No. 3 GM Goodwrench team from 1991-96.

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Busch Joins Castroneves in Dream-Team Pairing For Rolex 24
Kurt Busch
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Kurt Busch, 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion, and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves are racing stars who share at least three common aspects in their lives:

Each has a need for speed; each drive race cars owned by Roger Penske; and, in this weekend's Rolex 24 At Daytona sports car race, each will share a Daytona Prototype with yet another Penske racing-family member, Ryan Briscoe.

It's just about at this point where the similarities between Busch and Castroneves end, though.

Busch was born in Las Vegas, Nev.; Castroneves in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

One usually drives a fender-free, open-cockpit, needle-nosed Dallara-Honda that only rarely wears a "rubber doughnut" by the end of any race; the other expects that badge of honor to be found on his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge -- especially after a night of short-track racing.

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track news

Catalunya busy with new safety upgrades
All track activities at the Circuit de Catalunya until the 30th of January are focused on the adaptation to the new safety measures required by the FIA and the FIM for the annual homologation of the layout, a requirement that all international circuits in the current calendar must now fulfill.

Additionally, the pit lane is being re-paved, something that was not performed in 2005 when the entire track underwent an complete asphalt makeover. The surface of the pavement is 10,000m2, with the same quality and characteristics of the track. The area that locates the variation from National track to Grand Prix track will also be paved.

The modifications are as follows: 

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Former Arrows owner in trouble in America
  • Heidfeld concerned about new BMW racer
  • Williams determined to keep increasing budget
  • Webber happy with new Red Bull
  • 22,000 at Valencia on Wednesday
  • Fry excuses Barrichello for pointless 2007
  • Missing luck soured '07 title charge - Massa
  • Massa says Ferrari enjoying 'smooth' pre-season

Former Arrows owner in trouble in America
(GMM)  Former Arrows F1 part-owner Prince Malik Ado Ibrahim, who claimed to be of Nigerian royalty, has escaped conviction in America on charges of stealing $750,000 from the father of a driver in his NASCAR team Maverick Motorsports.

Ibrahim, with his failed marketing concept 'T-Minus', is thought to have owned up to 25 per cent of Arrows in 1999, in a short-lived venture that was later linked with the team's demise in 2002.

He was arrested in May last year on charges of theft and deception, according to the American Dallas Morning News newspaper, but remains in custody on charges of perjury.

Heidfeld concerned about new BMW racer
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld has expressed concern about BMW-Sauber's 2008 car.

After the Swiss based team proved F1's third force in 2007 with its predecessor, the newly launched F1.08 single seater has not performed ideally in pre-season testing so far, 30-year-old Heidfeld revealed.

"Last year, at this stage, things seemed better to me," he is quoted as saying at Valencia by the Daily Mail.

BMW chiefs, including team boss Mario Theissen, have targeted a maiden win for the German team this season, which begins in Australia on March 16.

Heidfeld says it is too early to rule out an improvement before then.

"I cannot yet say this car is worse, because I think we know what areas we have to work on," he explained.

For the past two days, BMW's 2007 car has lapped faster than the new contender as they ran simultaneously at Valencia.

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