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Peugeot fastest on final day at Sebring
The final day of the fourth annual American Le Mans Series wrapped up on Wednesday with Peugeot on top of the timing charts, with a fastest lap of 1:43.771. The driving team of Pedro Lamy, Nic Minassian and Stephane Sarrazin piloted the diesel-powered Peugeot 908 to the fastest time for the second consecutive day of Winter Test.

The Equipe Peugeot Total team's time was 0.136 seconds ahead of another diesel prototype, the Audi R10 TDI. Tom Kristensen of Audi set the team's best time Wednesday during the first session in the in the morning with a time of 1:44.110.

The first of Penske Racing's two Porsche RS Spyders, the No. 7 of defending LMP2 champions Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, was third fastest overall and quickest in class Wednesday. The Porsche set a time of 1:44.610 in the morning session, its best time of the week.  The sister Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder of Patrick Long and Sascha Maassen was second quickest in class with a time of 1:45.214.

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Patron team turns in strong Sebring showing
Patr¢n Highcroft Racing put on a strong performance at the American Le Mans Series Winter Test this week.  Leading the Acura trio for a number of sessions, the team finished the week with a good sense of direction for the annual 12 Hours of Sebring, March 15.

David Brabham in the Patron Acura
Despite a mechanical issue early in Wednesday morning's session, which knocked the car out for the remainder of both that session and the midday session, the crew got the #9 Patr¢n Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b back on the track for the final practice of the day.  David Brabham, commenting on the morning's events, said "the car felt really strong when we got out there today.  The guys had made some good changes overnight.  Then all of a sudden, coming around Turn Five, we had a mechanical problem and I went into the wall.  But the guys did a great job of getting us back out there."

It was the first opportunity for the trio of drivers - David Brabham, Scott Sharp and Stefan Johansson - to drive together in preparation for March's endurance challenge.

Sharp noted the synergy among the team members, saying, "It is so exciting for me to be a part of a young, hungry team like Patr¢n Highcroft Racing.  David, Stefan and I seem to be a great combination and are communicating really well with the crew.  As a result, we're getting a great car every time we hit the track."

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Isuzu leaving the U.S. market
Isuzu Motors America said on Wednesday that it will stop selling vehicles in the U.S. market. The decision is effective as of Thursday, Jan. 31, the company said in a press release.  They sold just 7,098 vehicles in the United States in 2007, down 17.6 percent from a year earlier.


Fiesta Friday at the Grand Prix of Houston
HOUSTON - The Grand Prix of Houston will open with a bang this year when the three-day festival kicks off on April 25 with “Fiesta Friday Presented by Lowe’s”, a celebration of racing and music spotlighting Houston’s vibrant Hispanic community. The event will feature a concert by Los Super Reyes, one of the hottest names in Latin music, and will be sponsored by Fiesta Mart and Lowe’s.

“We are very excited to be introducing Fiesta Friday Presented by Lowe’s to the Grand Prix of Houston,” said Michael T. Lanigan, owner/chairman of the Grand Prix. “With the open-wheel racing tradition in Central and South America and the many popular Latin drivers, the Hispanic community is an important market for us. We also believe that Los Super Reyes is a band that will be entertaining not only for the Hispanic community, but for all of our fans.”

After a day of racing and opening acts featuring top local talent, headlining act Los Super Reyes will bring their energetic sounds to the main stage at JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park. Led by veteran composer/producer and keyboardist Cruz Martinez, Los Super Reyes consists largely of former members of the legendary Kumbia Kings, who became international stars after forming in 1999. Martinez and other bandmates first cut their teeth as band members for Selena, the vocalist widely credited with popularizing Tejano music throughout North America. Once that musical pursuit was put to an end by Selena's untimely death, Martinez and A.B. Quintanilla put their heads together to blend popular urban styles with their native Mexican music, creating Los Kumbia Kings. Martinez’ newest creation Los Super Reyes is continuing to perfect the Kumbia Kings’ irresistible blend of traditional Mexican cumbia sounds with urban hip-hop and dance. The 12-member group has enjoyed major chart success with their 2007 recording industry debut “El Regreso de Los Reyes”, and maintains a busy performance schedule in support of the album.

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track news

Lowes Dirt Track's 2008 Schedule of Events
Reserved seats for the five major events that comprise the 2008 schedule at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway are now on sale. Running from April to November, the schedule includes eight nights of action highlighted by the nomadic World of Outlaws sprint cars and late models.

The four-tenths-mile clay oval opens its season April 18-19 with the third annual Circle K Colossal 100. The two-day event is part of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series and concludes with a 100-lap, $50,000-to-win feature. Dirt late model legend Scott Bloomquist will be chasing his third consecutive victory in this marquee early season event.

The Rite Aid Outlaw Showdown on Friday night, May 23, is part of Coca-Cola 600 Week and features the winged sprint cars of the Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. Dirt-track legend Steve Kinser, two-time series champion Donny Schatz and Danny Lasoski will be among those battling for a $12,000 first-place prize.

Several of the world's top Monster Trucks return to The Dirt Track Saturday night, Aug. 16, for the ninth annual Circle K Monster Truck Bash. The evening of motorized mayhem will see the gargantuan machines compete in a series and elimination races and then battle it out in a radical freestyle competition.

The Southern Showdown on Wednesday night, Oct. 8, kicks off Bank of America 500 Week and features the cars and stars of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. This event features a unique format that rewards passing and carries a possible $20,000 first-place prize.

One of the nation's most successful dirt-track events in 2007, the second edition of the World of Outlaws World Finals is set for Oct. 30-Nov. 1. The three-day extravaganza brings the World of Outlaws late models and sprint cars together with twin $10,000-to-win main events for each division. The Dirt Track features stadium-style seating along the frontstretch and all events are family priced with special children's tickets available for those ages 12 and under. Tickets for each 2008 event can be purchased by calling the Lowe's Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com.


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 and Elliott will try to recapture the magic in 2008
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.

“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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BMW sales rise 14%
Automaker BMW AG said Wednesday 2007 sales soared more than 14% as buyers clamored for its mix of BMW sedans, sporty Mini and luxury Rolls-Royce cars and said it was on track for higher sales this year.

The Munich-based automaker, which is the top seller among premium car manufacturers, said sales rose to 56 billion euros ($82.73 billion) compared with 48.9 billion euros in 2006, beating the 55 million euros that analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected. The bulk of the increase came from its automobile segment, which rose 13% to 53.8 billion euros ($79.48 billion) compared with 47.7 billion euros a year earlier. Sales of its motorcycles decreased by nearly 3%.

The company did not break down its sales figures for the fourth quarter.
“We expect a new record sales volume figure in 2008, with stronger growth in the first half of the year and more moderate growth in the second,” BMW Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer said.

Shares of BMW were up more than 1.9% to 38.16 euros ($56.37) after the results were announced.


Honda reports 38.1% profit jump
Honda, Japan’s second-biggest automaker, reported a 38.1% jump in profit for the October-December quarter on Wednesday, thanks to booming sales in the U.S., Europe and Asia outside Japan.

Honda, which sells nearly half of its vehicles in North America, revised upward its annual profit forecast, appearing to shrug off the looming worries about a U.S. recession and as well as worries about a stronger yen, which erodes exporters’ profits. Like other Japanese automakers with their reputation for smaller fuel-efficient models, Honda Motor Co. — maker of the Civic and Accord sedans and the Odyssey minivan — is getting extra consumer interest because of a recent surge in gas prices.

Honda’s quarterly profit rose to 200 billion yen ($1.87 billion) from 144.8 billion yen the same period the previous year, marking a record for the fiscal third quarter. Cost-cutting also helped boost its bottom line.

Quarterly sales climbed 10% to 3.045 trillion yen ($28.52 billion), the Tokyo-based manufacturer said.


Petty to serve as honorary starter for Daytona 500
Daytona International Speedway officials say seven-time Daytona 500 champion Richard Petty will serve as honorary starter for the 50th running of the historic race on Feb. 17.

Petty will wave the green flag to start the race at 3:30 p.m. EST.

"We are so honored and proud to have Richard Petty drop the green flag to get the most anticipated event in racing history underway," Daytona President Robin Braig said. "Richard and the Daytona 500 are synonymous with NASCAR's biggest, richest and most prestigious race, and we're thrilled to have him get the 50th spectacle under way."


IROC to auction off assets
One of the most exciting stock car slugfests your vintage racing correspondent has ever witnessed was the International Race of Champions event at Watkins Glen in 1986 — the final race of that year’s IROC series. After engaging in a good-natured trash talking session over the track’s public address system, Cale Yarborough and Al Unser Sr., starting first and second respectively, proceeded to pound their equally matched IROC Camaros into equally matched heaps of sheetmetal and chassis tubing.

Lap after lap, the wily old veterans slipped and slithered nose to tail and fender to door around the storied 2.45-mile road course until Yarborough’s car was too crippled to compete and Unser was out of the race altogether — though he’d led the first 15 laps, driving on the ragged edge while keeping Yarborough in his mirrors.

A 23-year-old Al Unser Jr. went on to take the checkered, earning enough points to capture the IROC title and $164,100 in winnings for the year.

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Yet another new Indy Pro team
Team E will compete as a new entry in the Indy Pro Series in 2008 with veteran driver Bobby Wilson behind the wheel.

Team E, based in Odessa, Fla., is owned by Florida businessman Neil Enerson.

"I met Neil a couple of years ago doing some karting work, coaching his son," said Wilson, who won the Stars of Karting championship in 2003. "Neil went to a few races (in 2007), saw the marketing potential of this series, how it's taking off. We started talking about running a car, went through the numbers and put it all together."

Enerson, who owns a natural gas utility, was impressed with Wilson and the opportunities offered in the Indy Pro Series.

"The Indy Pro Series is the best series to be in," Enerson said. "It's the best bang for the buck and the easiest sell sponsorship-wise. Now is a good time to make this jump. It's a lot to take on, but it's something I want to do and something I can do."

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Schmidt tabs Davison as second driver
James Davison
Australian James Davison has signed with Sam Schmidt Motorsports and will compete in the Indy Pro Series during the 2008 season.

The 21-year-old Davison finished second in the Star Mazda Championship in 2007, winning a race at the famed Mosport circuit in Canada. His accomplishments were rewarded by Sam Schmidt Motorsports in October when the team invited him to test in Sebring, Fla.

"From the beginning, we've been impressed with James," team owner Sam Schmidt said. "He's a very eager driver, and we'll do our best in providing him with the tools that he needs to take his career to the next step."

"This is an opportunity of a lifetime that I've worked very hard for," Davison said. "I'm joining the number one team in the Indy Pro Series, and I'm going to give it everything I've got."

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Helio, Danica, Marco ready for "Super" weekend
IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti will make appearances at several events surrounding Super Bowl XLII in the greater Phoenix area.

Castroneves, a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion, plans to attend annual Super Bowl parties hosted by Playboy, Sports Illustrated, Maxim and ESPN: The Magazine.

Patrick, who will be featured in GoDaddy.com's commercial during the game broadcast, will attend GoDaddy's party as well as the game. Patrick and Andretti will both attend the Stars in the SKYE party.

Following the Super Bowl, Castroneves heads to New Orleans where he will serve as a Monarch in the Krewe of Orpheus' annual Lundi Gras parade on Feb. 4 - the day before Mardi Gras officially begins. The procession, highlighted by 36 floats, will parade along its traditional Uptown route culminating with Orpheuscapade - a black-tie affair featuring live music and dancing.

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Fauzy replaces Yoong at Malaysia
Fairuz Fauzy will replace Alex Yoong at A1 Team Malaysia for this weekend’s races at Eastern Creek, Australia.

The news brings to an end the longest run of consecutive starts by any single driver in A1GP. Yoong, also A1GP’s most capped driver, has started the last 45 successive races, taking four victories in that period.

The team did not go into detail as to why the move had been made, but it did say that with Fauzy eligible for the Friday morning rookie session, it was hoped than an advantage would be gained by running the same driver all weekend. Previously this season, rookie Aaron Lim has supported Yoong by running in the rookie session.

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Germany switches to Ammermuller
Michael Ammermuller
A1 Team Germany has recalled Michael Ammermuller to its squad for this weekend’s races in Eastern Creek, Australia.

Christian Vietoris became A1GP’s youngest ever winner with his win in the Feature race in Taupo, however despite such a strong performance, the team’s Zhuhai Sprint race winner Ammermuller will return to race instead.

The strategy of changing around winning drivers is reminiscent of the one A1 Team France used on its way to the 2005/06 title, when Alexandre Premat and Nicolas Lapierre were swapped every meeting, regardless of whether they had finished on the top step of the podium.

It is in stark contrast to the strategy Germany itself used to win last season’s title, when Nico Hulkenberg drove the all but two of the races himself.

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Jonathan Summerton back, but no USA rookie
Jonathan Summerton
Jonathan Summerton will again race for A1 Team USA at this weekend’s meeting at Eastern Creek in Australia – but will not have the advantage of a rookie driver.

The 19-year-old had his best meeting of the season last time out in Taupo, finishing in seventh in the Sprint race. He also finished 8th on the track in the Feature race, but was later docked 70 seconds because of a mandatory pit stop violation.

Summerton shot to fame in the corresponding Sydney meeting last season, topping the times in the rookie practice session.

‘We're gelling as a team,’ Summerton said. ‘We've been progressively more competitive in each round. Our qualifying at Taupo was a sure sign that we found the set-up more quickly and that's what we needed to do. We just need to make the car a little better and we can challenge for a podium at Eastern Creek.

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Kimball signs with Prema
Charlie Kimball
Prema Powerteam is extremely pleased to announce American driver Charlie Kimball will joining their Formula 3 team to compete in the 2008 F3 Euro Series.  Kimball will race along side returning driver Renger Van der Zande.

Kimball, originally from Southern California, has forged a high-profile Formula racing career: after debuting in the USA with Formula Barber Dodge and Formula Ford 2000, he grabbed the Formula Ford New Zealand title in 2004.  He successfully transitioned across to Europe to enter the British Formula Ford Championship earning two race victories and a number of podiums.  In 2005 he competed in British Formula 3 where he finished second in the championship, accruing 5 race victories and 2 lap records.  Kimball also became the first American in 13 years to win a British Formula 3 race.  In 2006 he competed in the F3 Euro Series, earning a victory in Zandvoort, the first win in the series by an American.  Kimball competed in the World Series by Renault in 2007, a campaign that was cut short  when Kimball was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

For the 2008 season, Kimball has returned his focus to the most valuable development series in Europe, joining Prema's ranks in a Mercedes-powered Dallara 308. The team welcomes Kimball, creating one of their strongest driver line-ups to date.

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Eurointernational to run 2nd Brazilian entry
Popular Brazilian club and former FIFA World Club Champions Corinthians are the latest team to join Superleague Formula – the new championship featuring the colors of the world's leading football on 750 horsepower single seaters.

The Sao Paulo-based squad is the 11th team to secure its place on the Superleague Formula grid. Corinthian's black and white Menard V12-powered Panoz car will form a fierce rivalry with the red and black machine of Rio de Janeiro opposition, Flamengo.

Corinthians becomes the second club announcement of the week after Spain's Sevilla was revealed as a Superleague Formula entrant on Monday.

Corinthians earned the FIFA World Club Championship crown in 2000, taking the first ever title awarded when they toppled Vasco da Gama on penalties (4-3) at Rio's Maracana Stadium.

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Faces in the crowd at Sebring test
A collection of the American Le Mans Series’ new and returning faces gathered at Sebring International Raceway this week for the fourth annual Winter Test, a prelude to the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. Each spoke to the challenge of America’s greatest sports car race and - in most cases - contesting the full American Le Mans Series season.

Patrick Long
Patrick Long, Penske Racing
Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2)
“I had some guest appearances in the RS Spyder program last year. This (full-time ride) is a very different role. Coming in as a third driver, I had to try to emulate myself to the setup of the car for the other drivers. Now I will have more input on the setup to my liking. This year, there are no excuses. It just means that I have to do more in the preseason. I have to be ready to start the run for the championship at Sebring.

“To come into Penske is a great, great honor; it’s the pinnacle for me. I’m only 26, and they’ve asked me to carry the Penske Porsche banner and carry on the winning tradition. I have to play my part in the team’s success. This is the opportunity of my career.”

Acura vs. Porsche?
“This is one of the huge hungers we have - win at Sebring. We’ve gotta get points on the board for the championship. We want to run up front and challenge the Acuras and the Dyson Spyders, but keep our eye on the bigger picture. It will be a challenge but I’m looking forward to it.”

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Rosberg wants to be in top team by 2010
Nico Rosberg
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg has given notice that he only intends staying at Williams beyond 2009 if the British team is in the hunt for victories.

It emerged late last year that the 22-year-old German had extended his contract through to the end of 2009, with considerably improved financial terms.

But Rosberg told the national German daily Die Welt on Wednesday that, in 2010 and beyond, he wants to move forwards.

"After 2009, I see myself in a top team.  Hopefully this will be Williams, but if not, I will go somewhere else," he said.

Williams' new car for 2008, the FW30, has been impressive so far in testing, and Rosberg thinks the team could become the third force behind 'big two' Ferrari and McLaren in 2008.

"We need to be attacking and beating Renault and BMW," he said of the Grove team's goals this year.


Success by efficiency - Theissen
In only the second year of its existence, the BMW Sauber F1 Team is already the third power on the Formula One grid. For BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen this is clear proof of the team's efficient approach.

Over the course of its second Formula One season, the BMW Sauber F1 Team scored a total of 101 World Championship points. Furthermore, the drivers, Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, added points to the team's tally in every single round of the season. "Despite still being in the early stage of our development, we established ourselves as third power on the Formula One grid. That was quite an achievement."

As Theissen sees it, the team's efficiency is the reason for this success. "I regard us as a team that works outstandingly efficiently. The same applied to the Sauber Team. And we succeeded in retaining this efficiency in-spite of having grown significantly," adds the Motorsport Director.

By late 2007, the BMW Sauber F1 Team had completed its set-up phase. Today, some 430 experts are working in Hinwil, along with 300 colleagues in Munich. "Everybody is aboard, the new factory has been completed and all the machines are running," concludes Theissen. Source BMW Sauber


Q and A with Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton
On the final day of the test in Valencia last week, McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton took some time out to answer questions from the media about the progress of the Woking based squad over the winter testing period.

What has been your approach to this test in Valencia and what is your feeling about the car?
It is good. It feels very similar to the first couple of days we had in Jerez earlier this month. It is great to see that the reliability is very strong, and we are taking some positive steps forward with the progress of the overall package.

You have made some comments that you must win the World Championship?
No, that is not correct. I want to win, I want to work harder than ever and I want to do whatever I can to win for sure.

In which areas has this car improved the most?
That is for me to know and for you to find out.

It is a new car though – what do you like best about it?
It is definitely a step forward, which is always a positive. When I first tested it in Jerez, straightaway I realized that this is better. It is an evolution of last year’s car so it’s very similar; it feels almost the same when you are in the cockpit. But when you are driving you have better downforce, better grip, more power, the car is more consistent and it looks after the tires differently.

What is the significance of your teammate and Ferrari being ahead of you on the time sheets?

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Edwards tops Day 1 at Phillip Island
Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards continued his impressive pre-season form today by setting the fastest time at the start of a three-day test session at the Phillip Island circuit.

Just six days after an exhausting but successful test at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, Edwards clocked his best lap of 1.29.566 on the first of two Michelin qualifying tires he tried shortly after 1pm.

Evaluating new Michelin tires and the latest electronics upgrades from Yamaha, the American’s best time on race tires today was a 1.30.832 set in a seven-lap run this afternoon as the Texan completed 77 laps in close to perfect conditions. That was the third fastest time on race tires with reigning world champion Casey Stoner quickest in race trim..

Pos Rider Team Lap Time
1 Colin Edwards Yamaha Tech3 1:29.566
2 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro 1:30.178
3 Alex DeAngelis Honda Gresini 1:30.688
4 Andrea Dovizioso Jir Team Scot 1:30.701
5 James Toseland Yamaha Tech 3 1:30.864
6 Marco Melandri Ducati Marlboro 1:30.869
7 Shinya Nakano Honda Gresini 1:31.111
8 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda 1:31.226
9 Loris Capirossi Rizla Suzuki 1:31.274
10 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki 1:31.317
11 Randy DePuniet Honda LCR 1:31.436
12 John Hopkins Kawasaki 1:31.623
13 Anthony West Kawasaki 1:31.786
14 Sylvain Guintoli Alice Team 1:32.484
15 Toni Elias Alice Team 1:32.573


GM: U.S. sales must grow
General Motors Corp. Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer Fritz Henderson said Tuesday that the automaker can't depend solely on emerging markets to achieve a financial turnaround: GM must fix its business at home.

While GM's sales in foreign markets rose to 59% of its sales last year and the automaker reported sales growth in every region except North America, Henderson said emerging markets can't carry GM. We’ve got to get the job done in the United States," Henderson said while addressing a luncheon meeting of the Automotive Press Association on Tuesday at the Detroit Athletic Club. "We've improved a lot from 2005, but if you look back at 2005, our results were a disaster, any way you look at it."

GM lost about $12.4 billion in 2005 and 2006.

While the automaker has cut $9 billion in annual fixed costs since 2005 and says a new UAW contract is expected to cut its labor costs by another $5 billion by 2011, the job is not done.

GM is scheduled to report 2007 earnings, and likely its largest loss ever, on Feb. 12. The automaker recorded a $39-billion net loss, primarily because of a tax accounting rule, in the third quarter of the year. More at Detroit Free Press


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Zuber disappointed by Honda snub
  • Super Aguri, Honda, clash over drivers
  • New car not a winner, Honda figures admit
  • Barrichello still not eyeing retirement
  • Button retracts Honda quit threat
  • Barrichello involved in Beckham sport project
  • De Ferran to make race return with own team
  • Brawn plays down espionage in F1
  • De la Rosa opposes driver equality in F1
  • Brawn to take pitwall back seat at Honda
  • Bahrain to build new grandstand for F1 race

Zuber disappointed by Honda snub
(GMM)  Mike Conway and Luca Filippi have been handed 'Young Driver' status by the Honda formula one team.

The news means the pair, from Britain and Italy respectively and both active GP2 racers, will test for the Japanese squad in 2008, as the testing agreement allows for addition mileage for inexperienced drivers.

The announcement, coinciding with the launch of the RA108 at Brackley on Tuesday, is a blow to Andreas Zuber, the 24-year-old Austrian GP2 driver who also tested alongside Conway and Filippi in recent winter tests.

"I would not be a professional if I said I was not disappointed," he is quoted as saying by the Austrian press.

The Austrian press speculated that Filippi's family links with the influential Italian company Nord Diesel group will not have hindered his Honda appointment.

Zuber added: "I think my performances in my (Honda) test days will have caught the attention of other teams.

"I will make every effort to get more formula one test drives by performing strongly in GP2," he said.

The Spanish newspaper Diario AS, meanwhile, reports that the 16-year-old Spanish single seater driver Roberto Merhi travelled to Brackley last Friday for talks with Honda.

Super Aguri, Honda, clash over drivers
(GMM)  Super Aguri and parent team Honda have reportedly clashed over Super Aguri's deliberations about its 2008 driver lineup.

Leafield based Super Aguri is yet to name its drivers for the forthcoming season, amid rumors that it is considering dropping Anthony Davidson to hire a driver with links to a potential buyout consortium.

The team is undoubtedly struggling financially at present, and it is believed that talks with Narain Karthikeyan could help to secure the investment of the Indian telecom Spice Group.

Honda's F1 chief executive Nick Fry re-pledged the manufacturer's support to Super Aguri on Tuesday, but admitted that the satellite outfit run by Aguri Suzuki is a distraction.

"The intent for 2008 is that Aguri will be on the grid but clearly what Ross (Brawn) and I need to do, and are doing, is ensure that doesn't detract from our primary job.

"At this stage, the intent is that they will be on the grid with Honda engines and support.  Exactly how much of that support comes from here is being worked on at the moment," Fry added.

The news agency Reuters also reports that the support is conditional on Honda continuing to have input into Super Aguri's driver lineup.

Fry said Davidson, the British 28-year-old, is a driver of an "appropriate standard" for Super Aguri.

"I would not personally be convinced that the driver you mentioned (Karthikeyan) would be of an acceptable standard for us," he added.

Super Aguri's managing director Daniele Audetto confirmed that Honda must "approve" the team's choice of drivers.

He refers to Davidson as "Honda's preferred driver".

"But we are also looking for a strong partner.

"If they bring a lot of money and they want a driver from wherever, then he has to be good and accepted by the FIA," the Italian said.

New car not a winner, Honda figures admit
(GMM)  Honda's newly launched 2008 car is not a race winner and does not yet feature the touch of the team's high-profile new appointment, Ross Brawn.

Those were the key messages as the Japanese squad set modest ambitions for the RA108 single seater as it was unveiled to the press at an event in Brackley on Tuesday.

Honda embarrassingly scored just six points all season with the abysmal 2007 'earth car'.

The RA108 is the first step towards racing away from its flawed predecessor, Honda's key figures admitted at the launch.

Jenson Button confessed that it might be 2010 before Honda can realistically mount a challenge for the title.

"I want to be challenging for the world championship, which could be in 2009, but if it's not, it's not.

"It will be the following year," the 28-year-old Briton said.

New team boss Brawn is famous in the paddock for leading Ferrari's near-faultless technical charge throughout the Michael Schumacher era.

But, standing before the predominantly white RA108, he said on Tuesday: "This car -- I've had very little influence."

Brawn also said he feels no pressure from Honda's Japanese paymasters to produce a quick fix.

"We'll change things and if they see progress over the next few years they'll be happy," he insisted.

Button and his veteran Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello tested the RA108 for the first time at Valencia last week and said it is better than the evil-handling 2007 racer.

"I think we will get a better read at Barcelona (this weekend), but the good thing is that there is nothing that is wrong," said Button.

"It is not as quick as the Ferraris and McLarens or whoever but there is nothing wrong with the car.

"It's predictable, you know what it is doing, we just need to improve it a lot," he added.

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Carpentier and Kahne swap cars
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Trading places took on new meaning for Gillett Evernham Motorsports teammates Patrick Carpentier (No. 10 Valvoline Dodge) and Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) Tuesday morning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Each driver hopped in the other’s seat for a few laps – a crucial learning exercise for Carpentier, a 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.

“It's been wonderful,” he said of Kahne’s willingness to help. “They've been working with me, helping quite a bit.”

One of three open-wheel veterans debuting in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this season, Carpentier hopes he’s on the fast track to experience.

“We'll see how it goes this afternoon, but it really helps me in the way I describe the car,” Carpentier said of Kahne’s driving comparison. “If his car is really different, I'll say, ‘Maybe that's what I need to have and get used to. I have to get a bit better car.’ He's pretty nice to just say, ‘Stop this test.’ Get in the car, says what he thinks about it. It's always helpful.”

Both GEM teams – along with teammate Elliott Sadler (No. 19 Best Buy Dodge) and the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup field – were completing their second day of testing at Las Vegas, part of NASCAR Preseason Thunder, NASCAR’s annual preseason test sessions.

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Sebring testing: Peugeot fastest on Day 2
The Peugeot 908 fielded by Equipe Total Peugeot was fastest on the second day of the American Le Mans Series 2008 Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway. The No. 07 Peugeot set the fastest lap at 1:42.801 during the morning session, a time faster than last year's 12 Hours of Sebring record qualifying time of 1:44.974.

"I got a good feeling for the car this morning," said Stephane Sarrazin. "We've worked on set up and balance a little since yesterday and had a new set of tires this morning.  This is a very difficult track.  I've driven here before but in a GT [class car], but the prototype handles differently on this bumpy surface.  I really didn't expect to post the time we posted this morning."

The diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI set the second fastest time as Allan McNish piloted the No. 1 Audi around the 3.7-mile circuit in 1:43.639. Tom Kristensen, Dindo Capello, Mike Rockenfeller and McNish will continue their efforts during the final day of testing on Wednesday.

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Montoya fastest in Vegas testing
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series sophomore Juan Pablo Montoya placed his name at the top of the list as testing came to a close at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today. Montoya's No. 42A Texaco/Havoline Dodge blazed a lap of 28.914 sec./186.761 mph during the afternoon session of NASCAR Preseason Thunder Las Vegas,  eclipsing the track record of 29.212 sec./184.856 mph set by Kasey Kahne in 2007.

A.J. Allmendinger's Toyota was second at 29.071 sec./185.752 mph.  Casey Mears' Chevrolet was third at 29.135 sec./185.344 mph.  Carl Edwards, fastest in the morning session, was eighth at 184.729 mph.

Turn 3 doubled as Calamity Corner today.  Michael Waltrip, Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton left their marks on the Turn 3 fence but no injuries were sustained.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series (formerly Busch Series) will test at LVMS Wednesday and Thursday.

1. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 186.761
2. AJ Allmendinger, No. 84 Red Bull Racing Toyota, 185.752
3. Casey Mears, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 185.344
4. Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 185.217
5. Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge, 185.058
6. Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 185.008
7. Scott Riggs, No. 66 Haas CNC Racing Chevrolet, 184.824
8. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 184.729
9. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 184.653
10. Tony Stewart, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 184.603
11. David Reutimann, No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 184.521
12. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 184.451
13. Ryan Newman, No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge, 184.250
14. Brian Vickers, No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota, 184.106
15. Mark Martin, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 184.080
16. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 184.068
17. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 183.974
18. Michael Waltrip, No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 183.849
19. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 183.830
20. Dale Jarrett, No. 44 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 183.730

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Edwards fastest in Tuesday morning testing
Tuesday morning's speeds from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series test at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway:

1. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 184.256
2. David Reutimann, No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 183.986
3. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 183.892
4. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 183.830
5. Tony Stewart, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 183.692
6. Brian Vickers, No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota, 183.648
7. Ryan Newman, No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge, 183.461
8. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 183.324
9. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 183.299
10. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 183.237
11. David Reutimann, No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 183.119
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 183.107
13. Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 183.082
14. Tony Stewart, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 183.007
15. Casey Mears, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 182.914
16. Jamie McMurray, No. 26 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 182.902
17. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 182.852
18. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 182.815
19. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 182.482
20. David Gilliland, No. 38 Yates Racing Ford, 182.439

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Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton Announces New Partnership
Edmonton, AB, Canada —The Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton, the Champ Car World Series event held July 18-20 in Canada, has forged a new relationship with Northlands that ties the Canadian Triple Crown race to Capital EX, Edmonton’s signature summer celebration.

A comprehensive event management, sponsorship coordination and general operations agreement has been forged that will build on the international success of the three-year-old event, officials announced Tuesday in Edmonton.

“We felt it was time to move the Grand Prix onto a bigger stage by getting Northlands involved and leveraging their expertise in producing and promoting Edmonton’s largest events,” said Jim Haskins, President of the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton.

In 2007, the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton attracted more than 167,000 spectators. The Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) estimated that hosting the 2007 Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton injected $24.8 million dollars in expenditures into the Greater Edmonton economy.

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Cellulosic Ethanol to Premiere at Sebring
KL Process Design Group to Supply Cellulosic Ethanol to American Le Mans Series Sebring, Fla. (January 29, 2008) – In a technological breakthrough in both the renewable fuels arena and racing, KL Process Design Group (KL) of Rapid City, SD, will supply the American Le Mans Series with cellulosic E85 racing ethanol for the 2008 season. The fuel, produced from waste wood, will be used for the first time during the season opener — Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 15, 2008. Consumer E85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. Cellulosic ethanol is produced from biomass such as wood waste, switchgrass or citrus. Corvette Racing will be the first team to use the cellulosic-based flex-fuel ethanol in competition.

“This is a groundbreaking achievement not only in motorsports, but also in the drive to relevant fuel technologies,” said Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the American Le Mans Series.

“The American Le Mans Series was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the only motorsports entity to meet the criteria for ‘green racing’. Introducing cellulosic E85 racing ethanol to our series with one of our most noted championship teams does nothing but reinforce our commitment to be the global leader in green racing.”

The trend toward renewable fuels in racing has been driven in large part by the Omaha, Neb.- based Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC). Through the marketing partnership with EPIC, the American Le Mans Series will drive awareness of ethanol among consumers through its use of both E10 and E85 ethanol.

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Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing announces driver lineup
Wilson joins Graham Rahal at Champ Car's top team
During a teleconference held today, David Higdon announced the formidable Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing lineup for the Champ Car World Series.  Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing is proud to announce that Justin Wilson will be joining Graham Rahal for the 2008 season.  Both drivers will be participating at the first Champ Car test of 2008 at Sebring this weekend. 

"I am extremely pleased and proud to be joining Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing," said Wilson. "For the entire time I have been competing in Champ Car, they have been the strongest team.  Sebastien (Bourdais) has left pretty big shoes to fill, but I have big feet!  Joking aside, I am excited to have the opportunity to add to the results that Sebastien and other drivers before me have achieved for the team.  I am hoping to learn my environment quickly and let the results take care of themselves.  I am confident that, with a team like this behind me, we can be championship contenders for 2008."

"Paul, Mike and I are excited about our lineup of Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal," said Carl Haas, co-owner with Paul Newman and Michael Lanigan, of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. "Graham ran well for us in his rookie season last year and showed the potential to win races.  Over the past three seasons, Justin has consistently been one of the strongest challengers for the championship and we are now looking forward to having him represent us and again being a contender for the title."

Justin and NHLR begin testing this weekend at Sebring, Florida, in the first of three open tests before the Champ Car season opener at Long Beach on 20th April.


Record purse announced for the Daytona 500
The 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 17 - the most anticipated event in racing history - will carry a record purse of more than $18 million. The posted awards for "The Great American Race" on Sunday, Feb. 17 will be $18,689,238.The posted awards for the 2007 Daytona 500, which was won for the first time by Kevin Harvick in a photo finish over Mark Martin, was $18,386,023. The winner of this year's Daytona 500 will collect a minimum of $1,445,250. The second, third, fourth and fifth-place finishers in the Daytona 500 will receive a minimum of $1,044,400, $752,400, $598,450 and $471,500 respectively. The last-place finisher in the Daytona 500 will also be well compensated with a minimum of $233,865. The winner for the inaugural Daytona 500 back in 1959 - Lee Petty - collected $19,050 and the last-place finisher - Ken Marriott - earned $100. Other purses for DIRECTV Speedweeks 2008 events are:

*ARCA 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race: $283,552

*Budweiser Shootout: $1,217,154 with the winner pocketing $215,000 *Gatorade Duel At Daytona: $1,350,000, $675,000 for each race *Chevy Silverado 250 Craftsman Truck Series race: $875,448 *Camping World 300 presented by Chevy Nationwide Series race: $2,640,772 Tickets to any of the DIRECTV Speedweeks 2008 events are available by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. DIS PR


SPEED World Challenge adds race in NJ
SPEED World Challenge cars at Road Atlanta last year
SCCA Pro Racing has added a brand-new East Coast venue and classic American road course to the 2008 SPEED World Challenge schedule.

Following Round Six at Mosport International Raceway, the series will cross the border and head east to the brand-new New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, N.J., home of Thunderbolt Raceway. The 14-turn 2.25-mile road course will host the penultimate round of the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Championship and a SPEED GT doubleheader, September 26 – 28. The series’ inaugural event at New Jersey Motorsports Park will be held in conjunction with the ARCA/RE/MAX Series.

“The New Jersey Motorsports Park 2008 schedule features a terrific assortment of events – there’s something for everyone,” Joe Volpe Director of Motorsports, New Jersey Motorsports Park said. “I’m sure our fans will love watching the ‘all-or-nothing’ sprint racing SCCA SPEED World Challenge provides.  It will be great to provide spectators with an event that features such a diverse field, including Lotus, Scion, Mazda and Cadillac, to name a few. We’re thrilled to host a race in this series.”

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Gil de Ferran forms ALMS LMP2 team
Gil de Ferran
Acura Motorsports will enter a fourth Acura ARX-01b sports car in the LMP2 class of the 2008 American Le Mans Series, company officials announced today. The newest Acura entry will be campaigned by De Ferran Motorsports, a newly formed team owned by former Indianapolis 500 winner and two-time CART Champ Car champion Gil de Ferran.

In addition to ownership of the Acura factory-backed organization, de Ferran will return to the cockpit as the team’s primary driver of the ARX-01b. A co-driver of the De Ferran Motorsports machine will be announced in the future.

Acura entered sports car racing in 2007 by fielding Acura-powered LMP2 prototype cars from Andretti Green Racing, Highcroft Racing and Lowe’s Fernandez Racing on the 12-race American Le Mans Series tour. The three-car contingent marked the first factory motorsports program in Acura’s 20-year history.

Headquarters for De Ferran Motorsports will be in the Indianapolis area, and veteran racing executive John Anderson has been named the team’s general manager. Sponsorship of the De Ferran Acura will be announced in the future.

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All-You-Can-Eat Ticket Package available at Darlington
Fans still in search of tickets for the May 10th Sprint Cup Series Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington Raceway can now purchase an all-you-can-eat food and beverage ticket package to the new Colvin Grill. Ticket packages start at $60 for adults and $55 for children age 12 and under and can be purchased by calling 1-866-459-RACE. Each package includes seating in the Colvin grandstand and unlimited hamburgers, hot dogs, snack items and soft drinks in the Colvin Grill. Additionally, fans who have already purchased tickets for the 2008 Dodge Challenger 500 or plan to purchase tickets in a grandstand other than Colvin may add the all-you-can-eat package to their existing ticket for only $15 per adult and $10 per child under 12. Each fan who takes advantage of this unique offer will receive a special wristband valid for admission to the Colvin Grill adjacent to the Colvin grandstand outside of turn 2 at Darlington Raceway. The grill will open two-hours prior to the scheduled start of the Dodge Challenger 500 on May 10th and will close at the scheduled start time of the race. Fans are encouraged to act quickly as only a limited number of Colvin Grill ticket packages are available. Darlington Raceway PR


ZZ Top will perform a special concert at California Speedway
Legendary blues rock trio ZZ Top will perform a special concert on Sunday, February 24, during the pre-race festivities at California Speedway’s 2008 Auto Club 500, Speedway President Gillian Zucker announced today. The concert will be free to all those in attendance for the 2008 West Coast Premiere of NASCAR. Fans who have pit passes for the race will be able to view the concert from the best seats in the house, on the track itself. To purchase tickets to the Auto Club 500 and ZZ Top’s pre-race concert at California Speedway, please call 800-944-RACE or log on to www.californiaspeedway.com. California Speedway PR


Mazda teams up with BP and Yokohama
B-K Motorsports Lola B07/46-Mazda MZR-R
MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development used the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Winter Test to unveil their 2008 colors, reflecting the addition of two new partners.  BP and Yokohama Tire Corporation have joined the B-K Motorsports Lola B07/46-Mazda MZR-R LMP2 team with multi-year partnerships.

This is not just a sponsorship arrangement - both partners will be key contributors to the team’s overall program with both technical and marketing collaboration.  BP is a global energy leader with extensive experience with alternative and future fuels and lubricants.  With the “greening” of the ALMS series, BP’s direction will complement the Mazda program.  Yokohama has a storied history in motorsports and has multiple past collaborations with Mazda for production and motorsports programs.  Mazda and Yokohama have enjoyed joint success and are looking to build on that foundation.

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MP & Silva and ONE O ONE secure TV rights deals for Speedcar
MP & Silva, the exclusive agency for Middle East and Asia-Pacific, signed distribution deals with several key regional broadcasters, STAR Sports, Al Jazeera Sports Channel, Showtime, Dubai Sports Channel, and Indonesian terrestrial network, TRANS TV.

Other terrestrial broadcasters will also be joining from the first official race on February 16 and 17 at the Sentul International Circuit in Jakarta, Indonesia. Over 50 territories across Middle East and Asia will be covered by the concluded deals, which include China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and most countries in Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The series, which will span across countries in the Middle East and Asia, will feature top drivers, such as ex-Formula One drivers, Jean Alesi, Johnny Herbert, and Stefan Johansson, as well as up-and-coming young aces from Asian countries, such as Narain Karthikeyan and Ukyo Katayama.

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tv news

Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC
NASCAR Now Returns Monday for Second Season

NASCAR Now, ESPN’s daily NASCAR news and information program, returns to the air for its second season Monday, Feb. 4, at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The program includes highlights, opinion, debate, analysis and the latest news from drivers, crew chiefs and insiders both on and off the track.

The program airs for 30 minutes at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday of the opening week, and the Monday edition will expand to one hour beginning Monday, Feb. 11. The show also has a one-hour edition at 10 a.m. on the morning of each NASCAR Sprint Cup race and a Sunday night weekend wrap-up edition.

NASCAR Now is hosted by Nicole Manske, Ryan Burr and Allen Bestwick and originates from ESPN’s high definition studios in Bristol, Conn. Contributors include analysts Tim Brewer, Brad Daugherty, Boris Said and Tim Cowlishaw, along with NASCAR insiders Terry Blount, Angelique Chengelis, David Newton and Marty Smith, as well as D.J. Copp, a member of Bobby Labonte’s NASCAR team.

NASCAR Now viewers also benefit from frequent contributions by the NASCAR on ESPN team including Rusty Wallace, Dr. Jerry Punch, Andy Petree, Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro, Shannon Spake, Dale Jarrett and ESPN Deportes’ NASCAR commentators  Andrés Agulla and Alex Pombo.
ESPN Classic Airing Classic Daytona 500 Races

In advance of the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, ESPN Classic will be televising six of the best Daytona 500 races of all time every Monday at 2 p.m. ET through Feb. 11. On Monday, Feb. 4, ESPN Classic will air the 1999 Daytona 500.

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Honda announces 2008 young guns
At the launch of the Honda Racing F1 Team's 2008 racecar today, the team announced that Mike Conway and Luca Filippi will form its Young Driver line-up for the coming season.

As part of the team's commitment to the development of young motorsport talent, the two GP2 drivers were invited to take part in a Young Driver Program evaluation in November and December last year. Each driver had the opportunity to drive the 2007 Honda race car as the team took a closer look at their potential to assist with future testing requirements.

Under the new sporting regulations for 2008, the team has a number of Young Driver evaluation days which will be used to allow Luca and Mike to develop their skills in the car and assist the team with its testing requirements, in conjunction with their racing activities in the GP2 series.

Luca Filippi, 22, is currently racing with Meritus in the GP2 Asia series and in 2008 will be competing with ART Grand Prix for his third year in GP2. Luca finished in 4th position in the 2007 GP2 championship with Super Nova International. He began his racing career in his home country of Italy, winning the Italian Formula 3000 championship in 2005 before graduating to GP2.

Mike Conway, 24, was Luca's team-mate at Super Nova International last year, and has been part of the Honda Young Driver Program since March 2007. After his debut season in GP2 last year, Mike will race for Trident Racing this year. Prior to GP2, Mike won the British Formula 3 championship and the Macau Grand Prix in the 2006 season, in addition to winning the Formula Renault UK title in 2004. Mike was also given the opportunity to be evaluated in the all-new RA108 during its initial shakedown in Valencia last week.

To reflect Honda's increasing involvement in motor sport and its commitment to supporting emerging motorsport talent, the Honda Racing F1 Team also confirmed that it will reward the winner of the 2008 Formula Master series with a drive in its RA108 race car in the future. A junior racing formulae, Formula Master runs alongside the FIA World Touring Car Championship for eight European based rounds.

Ron Meadows, Sporting Director for the Honda Racing F1 Team with responsibility for Honda's Young Driver Program, commented, "We are very pleased to confirm today that Mike and Luca form our Young Driver line-up in 2008. Both drivers greatly impressed us with their performance and commitment in the tests at the end of last year and, after a thorough evaluation, we have decided to reward them with the opportunity to work closely with the team this season. In addition, we have today announced our new partnership with the Formula Master series and the opportunity for their champion to spend a day with the team. Honda takes its commitment to developing promising young talent in motor sport very seriously and we look forward to working closely with these young drivers and helping them to progress to the very highest levels of our sport."

Mike Conway commented, "I am really pleased to be continuing my association with the Honda Racing F1 Team and very much looking forward to this year. I have already learnt so much from working with the team and it will be very rewarding to be able to contribute to the development of the car this year. I drove the RA108 in Valencia last Friday which was fantastic so I'm looking forward to the next opportunity."

Luca Filippi said, "It is a great opportunity for me to be a part of the Honda Young Driver Program and I am really looking forward to working with the team this year. I am hoping to learn a great deal from the team's engineers and drivers, which will help not only in driving the F1 car but also for my racing in the GP2 series. I would like to thank the Honda Racing F1 Team for their faith in me and I'm looking forward to my chance to drive the RA108."


IBEW Sponsor Teen Driver's Run at NASCAR History
The National Labor Management Cooperation Committee, a joint entity of the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), announced that it has signed on as sole sponsor of 19-year-old racing phenom Alli Owens, powering her quest to become the first woman to successfully climb the ladder in stock car auto racing. The sponsorship will run through the 2008 racing season featuring Alli in the ARCA Remax Series. PR Newswire


No Indy double for Hornish
Sam Hornish Jr.
Sam Hornish Jr. said Monday it's doubtful he'll be able to race in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600 on May 25. In making the switch from open-wheel to stock car racing, his focus, he said, must remain on NASCAR and the Coca Cola 600.

"If it was up to me, I would," said Hornish, the 2006 Indy 500 champion. "It really depends how things are going over here. I think Roger (Penske) and I have talked about it a couple of times. There's obviously nothing set.

"I think if we're to a point where we feel confident with how we're doing over here, (if) it's not going to hurt us, that we would try it," he continued. "But I would say it's still way more not going to happen than could happen. So we'll just see how the first couple months of this season play out. Hopefully, if I don't get to race there this year, maybe next year." Yahoo! Sports


Richards questions F1's budget cap
Dave Richards
Dave Richards has questioned whether the F1 teams could operate under a budget cap after Max Mosley announced he was pushing ahead with the plans.  As of next season Mosley would like to see all the teams have their annual expenditure capped, excluding the cost of engines, driver salaries and funds used for marketing and promotion.  The proposal has won the support of most F1 teams and the FIA President is confident that it can be pulled off, even going as far as to predict that F1's costs will be halved.

"Ideally I want to bring budgets back to where they were in the early 1990s," he said. The total turnover of all the F1 teams is between two and three billion euros - I will be disappointed if we can't halve that."

However, Prodrive boss Richards says he doubts a budget cap in viable.

"I don't believe it is going to work," he told Autosport. "I don't think it is a viable proposition. I have seen it in Australia where it has been abandoned. Maybe it plays to my strengths because I started life as an accountant, but I got out of accountancy to go into motor racing and I don't want to go back there. I think budget capping is an excuse for poor technical regulations. With proper technical controls, you should be able to manage the costs of F1. It is also about sporting regulations as well.

"It is a bit like a government trying to control a situation through measures that are inappropriate. At the end of the day, you should make sure in motorsport that there is a level playing field as best you can. But you cannot fight market forces and try and artificially influence that the best guys aren't going to come to the front."


Bell to run 12 Hours of Sebring
Rob Bell, one of Britain’s leading young sportscar drivers, will take the start for the first time at the famed 12 Hours of Sebring, one of the blue riband events of American sportscar racing.  Driving a Ferrari F430 GTC for Tafel Racing, the team will compete for the GT2 Class crown.

Bell partners with 2007 FIA GT Series GT2 class Champion Dirk Müller and Dominik Farnbacher, who has 14 Series GT2 starts with two podiums, both career-high second-place finishes driving for Tafel in the last two races of '07. Bell is making his American Le Mans Series debut but drove the Ferrari F430 GT to the ’07 title in the highly competitive European Le Mans Series.

In the second Tafel Racing Ferrari  will be a driver that has often shared drives with Bell, Allan Simonsen. He joins Jim Tafel and Pierre Ehret in the sister car.

Bell says of his forthcoming Stateside endurance race, "Tafel Racing is a new team to me but I have seen how professional they are when I raced against them in some Grand- Am races in '06. I know the team is in slightly unknown territory with the switch to Ferrari but they have good knowledge of ALMS and what it takes to win races. I'm looking forward to driving with Dominik and Dirk. Between us I think we have good speed, experience and understanding of the 430.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • New stewards system to be quicker - Mosley
  • Hamilton quit threat not serious - Mosley
  • Superlicense cost increase to cover driver safety - Mosley
  • Mosley annoyed by early cheating claims
  • STR and RBR cars to be 'similar' - Vettel
  • Kubica among Poland's richest sports stars
  • Hamilton tests McLaren at Menorca
  • Bernoldi to race Champ Cars in 2008
  • Schu is happiest husband - survey

New stewards system to be quicker - Mosley
(GMM)  F1's governing body decided to shake up the stewarding system for 2008 to speed up the trackside decision-making process, Max Mosley told reporters in London on Monday.

It emerged recently that the FIA would not in 2008 nominate a replacement for outgoing permanent race steward Tony-Scott Andrews, who commenced the role just two years ago.

Instead, three officials will be selected for each formula one race, to be assisted by permanent FIA delegate Alan Donnelly.

"The idea is that he will be non-voting.  There will be three stewards that vote but Alan's job will be first of all to make an interface between them and the race control and the press and so on," Mosley, the FIA president, said.

"Secondly, it will be to try and keep some sort of momentum so that we get the decisions quickly -- there is no excuse for taking as long as it has," he added.

It is believed that the FIA overhaul was motivated by Mosley's concern about the handling of the 'cool fuel' affair late last year, as well as the controversy about the incident involving Lewis Hamilton surrounding the collision of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in Japan.

Mosley said Donnelly's job will be to "keep the pressure on to get things done quickly".

Hamilton quit threat not serious - Mosley
(GMM)  FIA president Max Mosley has advised Lewis Hamilton to distance himself from the sport's politics rather than quit because of those issues.

Amid the highly controversial 2007 season, and caught in a storm about his driving behind the safety car in Japan, the McLaren rookie warned that "if this is the way it's going to keep going then it's probably not somewhere I really want to be."

But speaking with reporters in London on Monday, Mosley insisted that the politics of a multi-million dollar sport like formula one are complex.

"My advice to Lewis would be to put the money in the bank and don't worry about the politics.  As long as he keeps driving quick he will be all right," the 67-year-old Briton said.

Mosley suggests that Hamilton got caught up in a moment of frustration rather than having issued a serious threat to quit.

"I'm sure when he said what he did it was the emotion of the moment.  You can understand him saying 'I'm fed up of this' which he is entitled to say, but I don't think it would be a considered judgment," he added.

Mosley also said he did not believe that the FIA's pursuit of McLaren for espionage last year tainted Hamilton's title hopes.

"I don't think we did anything (wrong), and I don't think it had any real effect on Lewis," he insisted.

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Hamlin fastest in first session of Vegas Cup test
Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin paced the opening NASCAR Sprint Cup test session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Monday.

1. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 178.265 mph
2. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 178.259
3. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 178.153
4. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 178.053
5. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 178.042
6. Mark Martin, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 177.983
7. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 177.959
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 177.901
9. Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 177.895
10. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 177.889
11. Tony Stewart, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 177.883
12. Martin Truex Jr., No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 177.743
13. Brian Vickers, No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota, 177.561
14. Dale Jarrett, No. 44 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 177.509
15. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 177.503
16. David Reutimann, No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 177.462
17. Casey Mears, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 177.311
18. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 177.171
19. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 176.974
20. Ryan Newman, No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge, 176.916

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What is Mosley smoking?
Lewis Hamilton
According to FIA President, Max Mosley, McLaren superstar Lewis Hamilton (who choked down the stretch and lost the 2007 world title to Kimi Raikkonen) has the potential to override Michael Schumacher’s legendary run in  the pinnacle of Motorsports before he too decides to hang up his racing gloves once and for all.

After narrowly missing out on becoming the first driver in history to secure the crown in his debut season, missing out on the crown by one solitary point to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen in Brazil last season, Mosley is confident that he will have a lot more chances to take the title before his time in F1 comes to an end….

"Lewis will get plenty of turns, unless something goes dramatically wrong, he will win several world championships,” he was reported as saying. “If he races for as long as Michael did then he may very well beat his record."

There were rumors that Lewis may quit the sport after the politics that almost destroyed his rookie season, however, he has recently recommitted to the team for the next five years for a reported massive amount of money and Mosley gave the young Brit the following advice…

"My advice to Lewis would be to put the money in the bank and don't worry about the politics. As long as he keeps driving quick he will be all right. You can understand him saying 'I'm fed up of this' which he is entitled to say, but I don't think it would be a considered judgment."


Dover to erect Monster Monument

The Monster Monument will stand 46-feet-tall amongst race fans in the (Photo Credit: Dover International Speedway)

How big is big? Check out the dimensions on the Monster Monument.

The Monster Monument will tower over several other interesting structures.

Fans will walk through a new archway and up a colorful walkway as they make their way towards the Monster Monument, new FanZone, souvenir haulers and frontstretch grandstands.

Located outside Turn 4 of the one-mile oval, Victory Plaza will welcome race fans who are entering the facility from Leipsic Road, the various RV lots, and the parking areas located on the east side of the Speedway.


Audi fastest in opening test day at Sebring
Audi topped the speed charts on Monday
The first test session of the American Le Mans Series’ Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway began just how the 2007 season ended - with Audi in front. The German manufacturer’s diesel-powered R10 TDI sat the fastest overall time Monday at Sebring, a 1:43.821 in the first of the day’s three sessions that was more than a second off last year’s overall pole time.

Defending Series LMP1 champions Allan McNish and Dindo Capello, along with four-time Sebring champion Tom Kristensen and Mike Rockenfeller, are entered in the Audi for the three-day test. Their car bettered Marco Werner’s pole run of 1:44.974 by 1.153 seconds.

Series teams are using the Winter Test as a warm-up and practice for this year’s 56th Mobil Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida, set for March 15 at the historic central Florida circuit.

Diesel cars held the top two spots on the day with the Peugeot 908 of Nic Minassian, Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin only 0.153 seconds back of their P1 rivals. This is the first time the two diesel prototypes have been on the same track since the 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans, an Audi victory by 10 laps.

The Peugeot suffered a significant oil leak during Monday’s second session and did not return to the track for the final test period.

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Ganassi team Rolex 24 postscript
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) became the first team in history to win three straight Rolex 24 at Daytona’s after Scott Pruett  crossed the finish line in the No.01 TELMEX/Target Riley. Pruett, along with CGRFS NASCAR Sprint Cup teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti, and his Rolex Series full time co-driver Memo Rojas, combined to lead 252 of the race’s 695 laps in an event that featured Rolex Series and Rolex 24 records for car leaders (15), driver leaders (25) and lead changes (60). The two-time defending race champions stayed out of trouble, and more importantly the garage, to march to a two-lap victory.


  • The win marks the 90th overall for Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Inc. since Chip Ganassi created his own one-car IndyCar team in 1990.
  • Franchitti becomes the first driver to ever capture the 12 Hours of Sebring, the Indianapolis 500, an open wheel title and the Rolex 24 At Daytona consecutively, accomplishing the feat in less than a year. Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt are the only others to win the four titles, but neither did so in succession.
  • Pruett and Montoya’s back to back wins marked the first time drivers earned repeat victories in the race since 1986 and 1987 when Derek Bell, Al Unser, Jr. and Al Hulbert accomplished the feat. Montoya became the first driver in Rolex 24 history to win each of his first two starts in the 24-hour race.
  • The No.01 never fell out of the top-five overall after the fifth hour of the race, and led the final 101 laps and three hours and 19 minutes.
  • CGRFS led 1,257 laps, more than 60 percent of the laps, in the past three years. In the last two years, the team led 720 laps out of a possible 1363 (53%).
  • Lexus becomes the first manufacturer to win three consecutive Rolex 24’s in more than 20 years when Porsche last registered the feat from 1985 to 1987.

The team’s second entry (No.02 Target/TELMEX Riley) with drivers Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, Alex Lloyd and Salvador Duran led 34 of the first 87 laps, dominated the early goings and recorded the overall fastest lap of the race. The team continued to run in the top-two into the fifth hour before changing weather conditions contributed to an off-track excursion with the car which led to substantial damage to the front end.  The team re-joined the race 12 laps down, but could never climb higher than 11th and eventually retired early in 18th-place after an incident.

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Superleague signs another team
The Spanish-based organizers of new Superleague Formula championship have scored a home victory – signing two-time UEFA Cup champions Sevilla FC to the motor racing championship which will kick off in August this year.

The southern Spain club emerged as a leading contender for European honors in recent years, taking back-to-back UEFA Cup championships in 2005-06 and 2006-07. They also claimed the 2006 UEFA Super Cup crown, beating Spanish rivals FC Barcelona 3-0 in the final.

Sevilla’s Superleague Formula car will be unveiled Thursday next week at the club’s home ground, Estadio Ram¢n Sánchez Pizjuán by coach Manolo Jiménez and club captain Javi Navarro with the entire playing squad on hand.

The racing team selected to run the Sevilla entry also will be revealed at next week’s unveiling.

While the Spanish media get their opportunity to see the Seville car on February 7, Sevilla fans will also get their own unveiling when the car is revealed prior to the game against FC Barcelona the following weekend.

Sevilla joins leading European rivals AC Milan, PSV Eindhoven, FC Porto, Olympiacos, Borussia Dortmund, RSC Anderlecht, Galatasaray, FC Basel and Brazilian club, Flamengo.

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George will win OW's game of Monopoly
In this SPEEDTV.com article Robin Miller hammers Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe for treating Champ Car like a hobby instead of a real business, which has resulted in the series being run into the ground. He also predicts that Tony George will win the open wheel war in the USA because Tony holds all the aces in the deck.  Will Champ Car yank his hard card again?  Will there be a 2008 season?  There appears to be a lot of uncertainty, but we will have some answers for you over the next days and weeks as we investigate the behind the scenes dealings for you.


SPEED to televise Gatorade Duels
SPEED will deliver 100 hours of High-Definition programming from Daytona Speedweeks, with a special broadcast of the Gatorade Duel at Daytona on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. ET.  Krista Voda and Jeff Hammond will host SPEED coverage of the “Duel”, with Hammond being joined in the booth by Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip for race coverage. Steve Byrnes, Dr. Dick Berggren and Matt Yocum will report from the pits. This racing season also marks the launch of SPEED HD and the new wide-screen version of SPEEDtv.com, giving television and web viewers the opportunity experience the Gatorade Duel at Daytona like never before. 

SPEED is the nation's first and foremost cable television network dedicated to motor sports and the passion for everything automotive. From racing to restoration, motorcycles to movies, SPEED delivers quality programming from the track to the garage. Now available in more than 78 million homes in North America, SPEED is among the fastest-growing sports cable networks in the country and, the home to NASCAR on SPEED and an industry leader in interactive TV, video on demand, mobile initiatives and broadband services

February 14th at 2 p.m. ET with a prime time replay at 9 p.m. ET.

SPEED television network.  Check local listings.


GAINSCO Auto Insurance sponsors season opener
GAINSCO Auto Insurance will sponsor the IndyCar Series 2008 season-opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 29.

The 200-lap GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 will be contested under the lights on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval and will be telecast live on ESPN2.

"It's a great opportunity for us," said Andy Jordan, the senior vice president of corporate marketing  for the company that has its roots in south Florida. "We have well over 1,000 (independent insurance) agents in the Florida marketplace. To get them up close to racing is a passion of GAINSCO's and what our sponsorship activation is all about. We hope it will build the event in the Miami market for years to come."


Innovations will add to safety in 2008
Safety continues to drive innovation at the IndyCar Series. The series will introduce paddle shifting and a variable assist steering rack for the 2008 season. Both will increase driver safety.

A new paddle shifting system mounted on the steering wheel will replace the manual shift lever that was previously located next to a driver's leg. The system will be mandatory at every track except Indianapolis.

"We're using technology to enhance the way we go racing and to increase the safety of our competitors," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series.

Various drivers tested both components at times during 2007, including a post-season Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

"Obviously technology is advancing, so that's where it's coming from," 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice said. "I think it's definitely going to make it easier to drive, because you don't have to take your hands off the steering wheel. It's a different technique than when you had the lever. Some of these spots where you couldn't shift, because maybe the g-loads or something, you'll be able to drive it and shift and not take your hands off the wheel, so obviously from a safety aspect of things it will be better."

The variable assist steering rack is a mechanical system that fits the existing steering housing. It will be an optional addition for all teams in 2008. The system eases the steering effort the farther the wheel is turned.

"The steering rack will help at tracks like Sonoma where there's a bunch of elevation change and the steering locks up in some places," Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe said. "It should make it safer and you might tweak more speed out of the car."

All teams will have the systems in place for the first Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway Feb. 27-28.


Hospitality suites selling quickly in Singapore
Sales for phase one of the corporate hospitality packages for the 2008 FORMULA 1TM SingTel Singapore Grand Prix have been extremely strong since launch on 28 November. All the Sky Suites at the Pit Grandstand, Pit Exit and Turns 1 and 2 have completely sold out in addition to the Club Suites at the Pit Entry. Over 70% of the total hospitality suites for the 2008 inaugural race have now been sold.

The take up rate has been very strong with over 9300 places sold. 126 suites, accommodating 50 guests each, as well the initial release of 3000 tickets for the Paddock Club has been snapped up by the teams and major corporations eager to entertain their valued clients at one of the most anticipated races in the FORMULA 1™ calendar. The corporations cover a wide spectrum of sectors, including banking, finance, legal, lifestyle, maritime and construction. 

Final preparations are underway to launch the public sale of the 65,000 grandstand and general admission tickets. The release date will be announced shortly.  A three-day pass for grandstand seating is expected to start from approximately S$275. These passes will include a separate ticket for each race day at a special package price with significant savings over buying individual day tickets. A three-day pass can be used by three different people over the three days, however, tickets will not be interchangeable on the same day.


Bell Motorsports to run Aston Martins
Jim Bell, one of the elite names in the history of sports car racing, announced today a shared venture with prominent businessman Michael Fux to launch a GT1 program with an Aston Martin DBR9 in the American Le Mans Series. The move will see Miami-based Bell Motorsports going head-to-head against stalwart Corvette Racing, which has won seven consecutive class championships.

The debut of the Bell Motorsports DBR9 at the Series’ fourth annual Winter Test in Sebring revitalizes a rivalry that saw Corvette edge Aston Martin for the GT1 championship in 2006 in the last race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The Bell Motorsports Aston Martin DBR9 will make its competition debut March 15 at the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. Aston Martin has won six times in the American Le Mans Series with a debut win for the DBR9 at Sebring in 2005.

“To be able to announce Aston Martin’s return to GT1 in the American Le Mans Series is special enough,” said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series, “but for that effort to involve Jim Bell and new partner Michael Fux truly makes this news particularly satisfying. Jim has been involved with the American Le Mans Series since the inaugural Petit Le Mans and has proven record of success in many forms of motorsport. The combination of Jim’s experience and the potent Aston Martin DBR9 will no doubt keep Corvette Racing on its toes all season.”

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A1GP Heads to Australia for Round Six
Sydney, Australia - The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport 2007/08 title race is closer than ever as the thrilling nation versus nation series enters the second half of the season. Remaining in the Southern Hemisphere, the championship heads to Australia's Eastern Creek International Raceway near Sydney for round six on 1-3 February.

THINK Greener Racing: The series made history last time out in Taupo as all 22 national teams competing in the fifth round of the championship took to the track with biofuel in their tanks. The historic event marked A1GP as the first truly global motorsport series to race with biofuel in its tanks and is the cornerstone of an ambitious series of initiatives to help reduce its environmental footprint.

This weekend's A1GP Eastern Creek event is a landmark event for host nation Australia too, as New South Wales will become the first Australian state to host a motorsport event with cars running on biofuel. Premier Morris Iemma praised the initiative and said New South Wales was leading Australia in using ethanol blended fuels.

'This is a fantastic initiative by A1GP,' he said. 'I wholeheartedly commend its move towards ensuring that the environmental impacts of the series are as minimal as possible. Biofuels, such as ethanol, are much healthier for our environment than conventional fuels. In October last year I introduced a two percent ethanol mandate which will ensure that ethanol makes up a minimum of two percent of total fuel sales in NSW.'

Host nation celebrates Australia Day: A1 Team Australia's recently confirmed lead driver, John Martin, was in Sydney at the weekend to help kick start his nation's annual festivities in and around Hyde Park. Australia Day falls on 26 January and is the biggest day of celebration in the country, observed as a public holiday in all states and territories.

A1 Team Australia currently lies 18th in the championship standings, having scored four points so far this season, finishing ninth in the Sepang Feature race and the Taupo Sprint race. Martin has experience of the Eastern Creek circuit from his Formula Ford days and is aiming for a strong result in front of his home crowd this weekend.

'I just need to qualify better so I don't end up in the mess down the field,' Martin said. 'Hopefully Eastern Creek will be better for that and we can qualify towards the front and we'll see what happens. I've been to Eastern Creek before so I know the circuit which is a bit of a bonus - I don't have to learn that as well and it should be a good weekend for us.'

Martin finds the track challenging to drive but incredibly enjoyable too:

'It's a great track to challenge you into a fast left hander at the end of the main straight and the lift over the bridge as power down is awesome. The overall balance with the combination of left and right hand turns will keep the engineers on their toes as much as the drivers.'

A1GP engines hit quarter of a million miles: A1GP engines, built by Zytek Motorsport, have now covered a combined total of a quarter of a million racing miles. The historic landmark was reached over the weekend at A1GP Taupo, New Zealand, round five of the 2007/08 season. Since the inception of the series in 2005, A1GP engines have raced an impressive 255,173 miles and not failed once.


Rocketsports announces Bernoldi
Enrique Bernoldi in his Lucky Strike Honda F1 team drivers suit
Brazil's Enrique Bernoldi, who competed in Formula One racing for two seasons, will contest the 2008 Champ Car World Series with Rocketsports Racing, it was announced Monday.

The 29-year-old native of Curitiba, Brazil, becomes the latest driver to be announced for the 2008 season. The announcement was made by team owner Paul Gentilozzi.

"I am very excited about my opportunity this year in Champ Car with Rocketsports Racing," said Bernoldi, who tested with Rocketsports in 2006. "Racing in the United States is something that I have always wanted to do and I think that Champ Car is the best series for me to have the opportunity to do so. I like the variety of circuits that are on the schedule. There is a range of street and permanent courses which will be fun and similar to what I have been racing on in Europe.

"I know that Rocketsports is willing to help me learn as much as I can, as we are all in it for the same reason--to win! Paul Gentilozzi is not only a team owner, but a driver. He will be able to understand what I need to know as a driver, since he has that kind of mentality, so that will be a huge factor to help me progress quickly this year. I think that Rocketsports is a good team. I was impressed by the team when I tested with them two years ago. Unfortunately we were not able to get a deal together that year, but I am excited to have the opportunity now."

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Monte Carlo rally to switch from WRC to IRC
In the deal announced by Michel Boeri, the President of the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM), and Jacques Behar, the President of Intercontinental Rally Challenge promoter Eurosport Events, the 77th Monte Carlo Rally will open the IRC series in January next year, at the start of a season that will take in between 10 and 12 rallies over three different continents.

René Isoart, the Clerk of the Course for the ACM, commented: "With the new alternation system put in place by the FIA, we looked at a number of possibilities in order to keep the organization of the Monte Carlo Rally going. The IRC is the perfect solution. In its debut season, this series has demonstrated all its dynamism, value and potential. The idea won us over, so we are very happy to join this intercontinental series in 2009 and benefit from some exceptional media coverage that highlights the fundamental values of rallying: a healthy majority of amateurs, some stunning landscapes, a diverse field, close competition, and the emphasis firmly on the talent of individual drivers and co-drivers."

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Audi announces 2009 LMES lineup
AUDI AG enters the 2008 motorsport season and Le Mans Series (LMS) with a high-caliber driving squad and the most successful Le Mans team ever. Audi Sport Team Joest enters two of the latest generation Audi R10 TDI for Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) and Alexandre Prémat (France) and Mike Rockenfeller (Germany) in every race of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) organized endurance championship.

For the first time since entering endurance racing exactly ten years ago Audi now contests a European based sportscar series as a factory team. "Previously the European fans have only been able to see the R10 TDI in action at the 24 Hours of Le Mans," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "We are absolutely delighted that we have been able to create a base together with the ACO over the last few months which will see our diesel sportscars on the grids in the classical European 1000-kilometre races. The Le Mans Series already boasted an extremely attractive field last year. The Audi factory involvement surely will further increase the value of the championship."

Every round of the European based Le Mans Series is between five and six hours in length and are therefore genuine endurance races in which speed, reliability and low fuel consumption are decisive – all criteria that are of particular importance for Audi.

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track news

No smoking at Bristol grandstands/suites
The 1/2-mile Bristol oval packs in over 130,000 fans twice each year
In accordance with a new Tennessee state law, all grandstand, terrace, suite, and restroom areas at Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway now are non-smoking. This became effective October 1, 2007. The General Assembly of the State of Tennessee passed the "Non-Smoker Protection Act" in May and Governor Phil Bredesen signed it into law in June 2007. The Act prohibits smoking in most public facilities, including "sports arenas." Guests may still smoke in our concourse area, but grandstand, terrace and suite seating areas will be non-smoking.  BMS Website


Ferrari and Toyota head to Bahrain
After completing a three day testing session at Spain’s Valencia circuit last week, both Ferrari and Toyota will travel to the Bahrain International Circuit to begin a scheduled program starting on the 4th February, at the Sakhir circuit, running until the 6th and then back again at the same venue from 9th to 11th.


Toyota made more cars than GM in 2007
Toyota may have fallen short of General Motors in global vehicle sales last year, but it's beaten its U.S. rival in another measure—global vehicle production.  In the latest neck-and-neck numbers race between the world's top two automakers, Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it had made a record 9,497,754 vehicles worldwide in 2007, up 5.3 percent from the previous year.  That's about 213,000 more automobiles than the 9.284 million that GM made last year.


George scraps offer to help merge series
Tony George:  am Indy
The window of opportunity has closed for Champ Car World Series teams to receive Tony George's financial assistance to join the Indy Racing League for 2008, George said Sunday.

George, the IRL's chief executive officer, said that in meetings last fall with Champ Car's leadership, he offered to help its teams pay for IRL cars on the condition they participated in his series for at least two seasons. When none came forward in a timely manner, George chose to scrap his plan.

"Teams started coming to me in December and January, and there's not much I can do at that point," George said. "I needed to know earlier so we could get the cars ordered."

Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven said George never formally made an offer to either him or partner Jerry Forsythe.

"I never, ever saw an offer from Tony George," Kalkhoven said. "We never received anything in writing."  (See related rumor that we reported as 'false' last week for the same reason)

Champ Car's machines are different from the IRL's and not able to be integrated. George said the two-year stipulation was made because the IRL will introduce new cars for the 2010 season.

"For me to make the investment, it makes sense to do it for two years, not one," George said.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Alonso not enough for Renault revival - Hamilton
  • Rosberg impressed at Monaco rally
  • Jack Brabham honored in Australia
  • Ralf S. eyes 4.2m luxury yacht
  • McLaren drivers to be equal in 2008 - Dennis
  • Dennis rules out tilt at FIA presidency
  • McLaren tests on Spanish island
  • Schu attends GP2 event in Dubai
  • Montoya wins second Daytona crown
  • Rodriguez to unveil 2008 plans soon
  • New Red Bull 'not innovative' - Anderson
  • Title will not thaw 'iceman' Raikkonen

Alonso not enough for Renault revival - Hamilton
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has echoed predictions that Fernando Alonso's return to Renault in 2008 will not necessarily bring the French squad back into contention for the world championship.

To the German news agency SID, the 23-year-old McLaren driver predicts that his Woking based employer and Ferrari are likely to again set the pace this year.

Hamilton shared a turbulent relationship with double world champion Alonso in 2007.

Asked to outline his main rivals for the forthcoming season, Hamilton said: "The two Ferraris, possibly the BMW-Sauber team.

"Maybe even Renault if they have a good enough car."

He denied that he included Renault simply because Spaniard Alonso is returning to the team that - not factoring in McLaren's exclusion for espionage - finished just fourth in the 2007 constructors' title.

"With their previous drivers, Renault would have learned a lot last year," Hamilton explained, referring to Giancarlo Fisichella and his own new teammate at McLaren, former Renault rookie Heikki Kovalainen.

"They are a great team that have been working hard with their new car.  Whether it will be enough for them, we shall see," Hamilton said.

Rosberg impressed at Monaco rally
(GMM)  Monaco resident Williams driver Nico Rosberg was a fascinated spectator as the Monte Carlo Rally concluded on Sunday in the city's port.

In an interview with 'n-tv', the 22-year-old seemed impressed.

"I would say that world rallying is almost equivalent to formula one," Rosberg said, adding that he was amazed by the rally drivers' speed through his vantage point at Ste Devote, also a formula one corner, despite the fewer safety measures.

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