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Webber fastest on final Barcelona test day UPDATE
Cumulative times for the day


Driver Team Time Laps
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:22.385 65
2. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.422 67
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.459 92
4. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:22.492 83
5. Alonso Renault 1:22.509 63
6. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:22.874 79
7. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:22.887 80
8. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:23.889 81
9. Piquet Renault 1:23.039 64
10. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.232 74
11. Barrichello Honda 1:23.795 84
12. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:23.800 86
13. Button Honda 1:23.808 85

02/03/08 The remaining seven teams in Barcelona returned to the track on Sunday morning for the final day of testing at the Spanish Grand Prix venue today. Thousands of fans once again braved the cold weather to support their drivers, although the sun did emerge towards the end of the morning. With last night's rain washing the rubber off the track, this morning's times were slightly slower than yesterday's, with Mark Webber in the Red Bull clocking the fastest time by midday. The Australian was less than half a tenth ahead of second-placed man Heikki Kovalainen.

With Williams packing up yesterday evening to return to the UK, there were just 13 drivers present today, With this being the final day of the test, the teams will be keen to wrap up their programs, and get as many miles on their cars as possible. With just one red flag period, caused by BMW's Nick Heidfeld, most drivers were able to complete decent mileage.

Unofficial morning times from Barcelona
1. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:22.385, 45 laps
2. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:22.422, 29 laps
5. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:22.491, 28 laps
4. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:22.492, 29 laps
5. Fernando Alonso (Renault) - 1:22.509, 37 laps
6. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:22.874, 34 laps
7. Sébastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) - 1:22.877, 20 laps
8. David Coulthard (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:22.889, 30 laps
9. Nelson Piquet Jr. (Renault) - 1:23.039, 30 laps
10. Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) - 1:23.232, 30 laps
11. Jenson Button (Honda) - 1:23.822, 31 laps
12. Adrian Sutil (Force India-Ferrari) - 1:23.996, 50 laps
13. Rubens Barrichello (Honda) - 1:24.484, 27 laps


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Ecclestone threat to 'blow over' - Aus GP chief
  • Spanish fans behave badly at Barcelona test
  • Barcelona test notes
  • VW rules out F1 foray in next five years

Ecclestone threat to 'blow over' - Aus GP chief
(GMM)  Australian grand prix chief Ron Walker has played down Bernie Ecclestone's warning about the dubious future of the Melbourne race.

Ecclestone, F1's 77-year-old chief executive, was on Saturday quoted as suggesting the sport may move away from Australia after 2010 because the Victorian government, sponsors and manufacturers would prefer if the annual calendar spot was instead filled by Russia, India or Korea.

The British billionaire also said the only prospect for a new contract would be if Australian promoters agree to reconsider their reluctance to stage a floodlit race at night.

"I think this is just his first shot over the bow in his negotiations with the government on the renewal of the contract," Walker, chairman of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, told the local news agency AAP.

In the Sydney Morning Herald, he is quoted as saying Ecclestone's comments will "blow over" and that the "negotiations will take place in (a) normal fashion".

Walker disagreed with Bernie's assessment that "your guy down there" - premier John Brumby - no longer wants a formula one race at Albert Park.

"The premier's been a great supporter of it ... but it has to add up in the eyes of the taxpayer," he added.

He acknowledges, however, that Brumby's support is not a given.

"All things have a used-by date sticker on them and maybe the government might say, 'Look it's been with us for 13 or 14 years or whatever it's going to be and it's time for a change', but we don't know yet," he said.

The Victorian major events minister Tim Holding said the government will not agree to staging a night race.

"We've made it clear we will not have a night race, Mr. Ecclestone has made it clear he accepts that decision and, in fact, supports it," he told reporters.

"Any claim that the government does not support this event is just plainly wrong."

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Technical talk with Rob White Engine homologation
Rob White is charged with looking after the Renault engine programme and with a freeze currently in effect in Formula One with regard to development of the 2.4 liter V8 engines, he talks of the challenges the new standard ECU bring to the team.

Rob, engine homologation has been in place since last year yet the engine team has had a busy winter preparing for 2008…
"It is a result of the rules changes for 2008 and the years ahead. The introduction of the standard ECU is the most obvious change, but there are many new software tools and programmes that accompany it. We have had to work hard to understand and adapt to the new electronics environment. This has impacted on the team at the factory, as well as the trackside support engineers. It was a big workload, and remains so."

Compared to other teams, do you think you have better optimized the engine controls?
"All the teams have the same hardware and software available, so everybody has the same scope to exploit the standard system. The ability to make the difference depends on how much each team has learned about the new system, and how well it can adapt its previous know-how. We did not all start from the same place, but we all knew about the changes in advance. At Renault, we started working on the problem very early at the factory and subsequently on track, in order to be as well prepared as possible for the start of the season. 

Engine homologation will be in force for at least the next five years. What will be the challenges facing the engine team?
"We are not allowed to develop the engine; the homologated perimeter is extended for this year to include also the engine ancillaries. There remains much to do to assure the reliability of the engine and its performance in the car. These engines remain complicated and sophisticated, and we must remain vigilant concerning component supply and quality, and concerning changes in the way the engine is used in the car."

Has engine homologation been an effective means of achieving greater cost efficiency?
"Homologation offers the manufacturers an opportunity to reduce engine development costs without risk to competitive position. However, the governing body does not set the budget, so the decision on how to allocate the resources available remains with the teams. At Renault, the 2007 engine “freeze” resulted in substantial cost reduction. The extended “freeze” recently announced will result in a further saving."

How is the team approaching 2008?
"Our team showed great strength to confront and solve the performance problems of 2007. We are determined to return to the front, and we have worked tirelessly towards this goal for many months. We have two new drivers, and a technical package that we will be honing over the coming weeks in order to arrive in Melbourne in good shape. Of course the competition will be fierce, but we are optimistic for the new season."  Source Renault


USA's Summerton hits out at Duval
Jonathan Summerton
For the second A1GP meeting running, A1 Team USA’s Jonathan Summerton was left unhappy following a mid-race collision.

In Taupo, Summerton blamed Great Britain’s Robbie Kerr for a Sprint race coming-together.

In Eastern Creek today, it was France’s Loic Duval who was on the end of a Summerton ear-bashing.

The incident occurred on the 22nd lap, after the pair had been involved in several laps of close, wheel-to-wheel racing. Duval attempted to dive down the inside of Summerton at Turn 6, however, he collided with the ‘We the People’ car, causing enough damage to force its retirement.

Duval kept going, but race stewards gave him a drive-through penalty for causing an avoidable incident.

‘I don’t think he did it on purpose, but it was a stupid mistake for how hard he hit,’ Summerton said. ‘It wasn’t like a little tap, it was a smack. I wasn’t trying to block him because I didn’t know he was trying to pass me there.

‘We were holding them off quite well, and we could have held them off until the next pit stop at least.

‘But I went into the braking zone and I got smacked. I guess we have another battle on our hands - it was Great Britain last time and now it’s France.

‘I was expecting him to come over and apologies. I’d feel better if he had, but he didn’t. Nothing was said.'

Duval said he had been caught out by Summerton taking a slightly different line on that corner than the previous lap.

‘I was much faster than him,’ Duval said. ‘The two laps before I was going outside on that corner and he was staying inside. So I just tried to keep the same break points.

‘He came back across the track more compared with before,’ Duval said. ‘I didn’t have the space to do anything. He was in front, so it is up to me to take care of that and I’m sorry for him, but for me it was a racing incident.’


A1GP France set to change driver
Loic Duval
A1 Team France appears destined to be without the services of its star driver, Loic Duval, for the remainder of the 2007/08 season.

Duval has other racing commitments in Japan, which he agreed on before this season began.

There are presently doubts over whether the 25-year-old will be able to make it from Japan to Durban in time to compete in the next round of the championship in South Africa on 24 February, but he has informed the team that he will definitely not be available for selection in the last three meetings.

Read more & Comment...

Williams forced to abandon test
The Williams team abandoned its three-day test session at Barcelona on just the escond day after the team was unable to resolve the front wing problem that caused Kazuki Nakajima to suffer a major accident on Friday.

The team flew in fresh parts for this morning and completed a full day of testing, but at the end of it the team was not satisfied the problem was fully resolved, so is packing up tonight to return to its HQ in Grove.

The team plans to be back in action next week at Jerez.


Busch to run 3 Nationwide races
Kyle Busch will drive Braun Racing's No. 32 Toyota Camry in the Nationwide Series for three races in 2008, according to a deal announced Friday in Mooresville, N.C. Beringer Vineyards, a renowned winery in Napa Valley, Calif., will sponsor the car.

Busch will drive the No. 32 on Feb. 23 at California Speedway, May 9 at Darlington Raceway and Nov. 8 at Phoenix International Raceway. Busch, who won four times last year, has 11 career victories in the series, all with Hendrick Motorsports.


Renault change mirrors
While it was expected that more and more teams would revert their inboard mirrors to have them located behind the front wheels, somehow it turned out to be the opposite. Renault had its mirrors integrated into the sidepod panels while on the R28 they have made them pointy and very close to the chassis. The wing mirrors are even partly above the cockpit sides and allowed for very short connections between the monocoque and the mirror covers. You can also see from the top view that the mirrors extend exactly as much from the centre of the car as the (yellow) "ears" ahead of the cockpit opening.


Day 2: Toro Rosso duo 1-2 in Barcelona
Formula 1 people are creatures of habit and as it's Saturday, the Toro Rosso boys decided to have a go at a simulated Qualifying session, hence the fact that Vettel and Bourdais topped the time sheets, running on low fuel loads. In fact, the whole day was given over to simulating a race weekend, not just for the benefit of our French rookie driver, but for the entire race team. It was a successful day, both in terms of the dress rehearsal and in terms of continuing to gather data on the interim car, with which the team will start the season and which we forgot to mention earlier, should be referred to as the STR2B.

Saturday Combined times

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:21.679 89
2. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:21.782 88
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.135 80
4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.511 70
5. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:22.833 90
6. Alonso Renault 1:22.938 115
7. Piquet Renault 1:23.002 115
8. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:23.020 75
9. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:23.070 94
10. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:23.322 85
11. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:23.347 34
12. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:23.948 40
13. Button Honda 1:23.959 58
14. Liuzzi Force India-Ferrari 1:24.263 61


Morning test times from Sebring
Test times this morning from Sebring under sunny skies with temperatures around 80 degrees F.

1. Alex Figge 51.097 seconds
2. Franck Montagny 51.214
3. Alex Tagliani 51.228
4. Justin Wilson 51.250
5. Graham Rahal 51.477
6. Bruno Junqueira 51.790
7. Oriol Servia 51.793
8. Paul Tracy 52.106
9. Mario Moraes 52.149
10. David Martinez 52.160
11. Franck Perera 52.502
12. Enrique Bernoldi 52.560
13. Simon Pagenaud 52.595
14. Ernesto Viso 52.923


Robby Gordon: Merger makes team stronger
Robby Gordon believes he made his team stronger through a technological and marketing partnership with Gillett Evernham Motorsports.

Gordon will switch to Dodge immediately and he said Friday afternoon he plans to lean on the three GEM Sprint Cup teams for help.

"I look at it as it's a stronger way for my team to survive," said Gordon, who was 26th in points despite missing a race last year. "Hopefully it's going to make a good partnership going forward. Right now, today, we're probably receiving a few more benefits than they are.

"We've got a decent group of engineers at our place, but having teammates is going to be important, It's going to be nice to have people that we can walk over and say, 'What are you running for shocks? What are you running for springs?' I haven't had this kind of information the last three years.

"We've been able to make it and be competitive, but I think this will take us from the 20s, hopefully back to the teens and maybe even [to] an opportunity to make the Chase."

Short term, Gordon said he believes his team will be ready with its Dodges when practice for Daytona 500 qualifying begins Feb. 9.

"I've never converted a COT before, especially ones that had never been raced," Gordon said. "Our cars were ready. I've got a good group of guys back in the shop, and I'm confident they'll do a wonderful job converting these cars. I think we'll be competitive when we roll out at Daytona."  More at Scenedaily.com


Barcelona banner ban
An interesting incident heightened tension on the second day of the Barcelona test when officials were seen to remove banners showing anti-McLaren slogans during the running this morning, a move apparently instigated by the circuit director as a ‘preventative measure’, citing the need to show respect for competitors as incentive.

Large crowds of Alonso supporters have flocked to the tests in Spain this winter, and although banners have been generally humorous it would appear that these were considered offensive. Reports that Ron Dennis asked for their removal have not been confirmed.


Toro Rosso 1-2 at midday in Barcelona
Testing continued in Barcelona for day two of the three-day weekend test at the Spanish Grand Prix venue. Continuing on from yesterday's seasonably cool weather, today dawn was a crisp and cold one, with track conditions remaining less than ideal. At the top of the timesheets by the end of the morning session were the two Toro Rosso drivers, with Vettel and Bourdais lapping within two tenths of each other.

Further down the field, Williams returned to the track after yesterday's accident. Rosberg managed to complete only 15 laps, with new parts on the FW30 to avoid a recurrence of yesterday's problem, which saw team-mate Kazuki Nakajima crash at turn one.

Unofficial morning times from Barcelona:
1. Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) - 1:21.679, 37 laps
2. Sébastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) - 1:21.782, 49 laps
3. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:22.387, 54 laps
4. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:22.616, 38 laps
5. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:22.833, 49 laps
6. Fernando Alonso (Renault) - 1:23.001, 65 laps
7. Nelson Piquet jr. (Renault) - 1:23.002, 64 laps
8. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:23.020, 54 laps
9. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:23.070, 41 laps
10. David Coulthard (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:23.322, 52 laps
11. Nico Rosberg (Williams-Toyota) - 1:23.951, 15 laps
12. Jenson Button (Honda) - 1:23.970, 27 laps
13. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India-Ferrari) - 1:23.284, 35 laps


Ford statement on Robby Gordon decision
Statement from Doug Hervey, North American Operations Manager, Ford Racing Technology, on the departure of Robby Gordon:

"Robby made a difficult decision to do what he thought was necessary to financially support and stabilize his race team. We were fully prepared to continue our commitment with him this year, and had plans to increase our level of engineering support, before he told us of this decision to partner up with Gillett Evernham Motorsports. As a manufacturer, we're disappointed to be losing him and his team, but understand the difficulties of running a one-car team in the sport today."  Ford Racing


Champ Car Sebring test begins
The 2008 open test season officially gets under way today with various Champ Car World Series teams and drivers turning in their first laps of the year at Sebring International Raceway.

Over the next three days, teams will run on the 1.7-mile “short course” at the famed Sebring track that has been favored by so many Champ Car teams for a number of years.

In addition to teams that plan to test with their previously announced drivers, some teams will use the test to evaluate candidates to compete in the series, which opens April 20 with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Making their debut as Champ Car teammates a week after sharing a car in the Daytona 24 Hours, Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal will turn their first laps of 2008 for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. The two drivers were confirmed for the NHLR lineup on Tuesday.

Certainly we need to keep learning as much as we can about the car and try to hone in on a good set‑up for myself and for Justin,” Rahal explained during Tuesday’s teleconference. “I'll be the first to admit I struggled at Sebring in the Champ Car.  It was quite a tough track for me.  But just go there and learn as much as we can.  It's been a while since any of us have sat in the car, and it's going to be quite the change of pace from what I've been driving recently, but I'm certainly looking forward to it.”

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GBR suffers race engineer set back
A1 Team Great Britain has suffered a serious set back in his preparation for this Sunday’s A1GP races in Sydney, Australia after its race engineer, James Goodfield, sustained a broken leg last night.

The vastly experienced Goodfield, who worked with Colin McRae in Ford’s World Rally Championship team, was hit by a tire gun hose that became disconnected when the Portuguese crew in the next door garage were practicing their pit stops on Friday night.

Goodfield is currently in hospital recovering and is set to be released later today.

Despite the problems, Robbie Kerr still managed to qualify the red, white and blue car eighth and third for tomorrow’s Sprint and Feature races respectively.

‘Being without your race engineer is a big disadvantage,’ Kerr said. ‘We make all the important decisions on how the car should be set up for the race together, but the team pulled out all the stops and now I just want to go out and get a couple of good results for them and James.


Sebring Test news - 1
The following Champ Car drivers are testing at Sebring today:
Coyne - Bruno Junqueira Mario Moraes from Sao Paulo, Brazil previous F3 experience
Rocketsports - Bernoldi
PKV - Tagliani and Servia
Forsythe - Montagny and Tracy
Minardi - Viso
PCM - Martinez and Figge
Newman/Haas/Lanigan - Rahal and Wilson
Conquest - Pagenaud and Perera
Walker Racing - Not here
More to follow....


BMW Sauber announce Klien and Asmer
The BMW Sauber F1 Team will be launching into the 2008 season with a quartet of drivers. Austrian Christian Klien has been signed up as a test and reserve driver while Marko Asmer of Estonia comes on board as a second junior test driver.

"We wanted a third driver with Formula One racing experience," explains BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen, "as well as an up-and-coming young driver for us to train up to Formula One level. With Christian we have signed on a driver who is familiar with the format of a grand prix weekend and can step into the breach right away should one of our team drivers have to back out. Marko has driven our car four times since 4th December and has made steady progress. He has worked in a concentrated, focused and calm fashion. The feedback from the engineers bears positive testimony to him, and the chemistry between him and the team is right as well."

Christian Klien (born 7th February 1983 in Hohenems, Austria) switched to Formula BMW in 1999 following a career in karting. "That's where I learnt the basics of formula racing," he recalls, "and so joining the BMW Sauber F1 Team is a bit of a homecoming for me. I'm really pleased that I will be part of the team in 2008 and continue to be involved in Formula One."

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Champ Car contingent make Super Bowl picks
The National Football League has a wide appeal and members of the Champ Car World Series community are no different. When they kick off for Sunday night's Super Bowl XLII, it's a certainty that Champ Car team owners, drivers and team personnel will be gathered at the Champ Car Super Bowl party in Sebring in front of a television set, watching the biggest football game of the year.

Several people with close ties to Champ Car have already expressed their favorites for Sunday's game between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.

Carl Haas, Paul Newman and Mike Lanigan, owners of the championship-winning Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing organization, have obvious experience in picking a winner. But the diversity in their selections might come as a surprise to some.

"I will be watching the Super Bowl again this year and expect the New England Patriots to make it a perfect season with another win," says Haas.

"You have to hand it to the Patriots, they look unbeatable...but, on Sunday I will be rooting for the Giants," adds Lanigan.

Read more & Comment...
Tv News

Weekend racing TV highlights
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Saturday, February 2, 2008 All Times ET

AMA Supercross Replay

San Francisco

12:00am-1:00am (R)
1:00am-2:00am (R)
2:00am-3:00am (R)

Bodine Bobsled Challenge Lake Placid, NY

3:00am-5:00am (R)

Super Bikes!

10:00am-10:30am (R) -Black Bike Week
10:30am-11:00am (R) -Bonneville

German Touring Cars Barcelona

12:00pm-1:00pm (9/23/07)
1:00pm-2:00pm (10/14/07)

AMA Supercross Lites

San Francisco

6:00pm-7:00pm (2/2/08)

KONI Challenge Series Daytona

8:00pm-10:00pm (1/25/08)

Two Guys Go to PRI
-Performance Racing Industry Trade Show
Orlando, FL


Sunday, February 3, 2008 All Times ET

Back in the Day with Dale Earnhardt Jr

7:30am-8:00am (R)

American Muscle Car
The Fastest Musclecar Engines of All Time

9:00am-9:30am (R)

Summer Shootout Lowe's

12:00pm-1:00pm -Round 8
1:00pm-2:00pm -Round 9

AMA Supercross


2:00pm-3:00pm (2/2/08)


Drivers Nominated for Qualifying
Australia - A1 Team France continued to dominate the action at Sydney's Eastern Creek Raceway, setting the pace in the third and final practice session this morning in overcast and humid weather conditions, ahead of qualifying for the A1GP Sydney, Australia this afternoon.

Loic Duval, who topped the time sheets during Friday practice having only arrived at the circuit one hour before the session began, clocked the fastest lap at the start of the hour long session this morning and France remained the team to beat. Duval was closely followed by Great Britain's Robbie Kerr in second, who is back at the sharp end of the time sheets after a difficult weekend in Taupo, and India's Narain Karthikeyan in third, who put in a late charge on fresh tires.

Current championship leader New Zealand's Jonny Reid set the fourth quickest time of the session, just ahead of Germany's Michael Ammermüller in fifth. China's Congfu Cheng was on strong form this morning, ending the session in sixth position.

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GM gains; Chrysler, Ford, Toyota U.S. sales slide UPDATE General Motors Corp. today said its January U.S. sales rose 2.1 percent compared to a year ago, fueled by strong demand in its retail segment as consumers snapped up the popular Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac CTS sedans.

For the month, GM delivered 252,565 units, up from 247,464 a year ago. The Detroit-based automaker said retail sales were up 11 percent. Sales of Chevrolet's fuel-sipping Aveo and Cobalt models each were up 65 percent. GM said truck sales were up 3 percent from a year ago.

Chrysler LLC said its January sales of 137,392 units were down 12 percent from 156,308 in January 2007.

Auburn Hills-based Chrysler said sales of its Dodge brand vehicles were up 42 percent, with strong demand for the Avenger, Caliber and Charger models among others. Like its rivals, Chrysler is reducing the number of vehicles it provides to daily rental car fleets; those sales were down 18 percent for the month.

Ford Motor Co. said its U.S. January sales dipped 4.1 percent compared to 2006, despite continued strong demand for its crossover Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX models.

The Dearborn-based automaker sold 159,914 units in January, down from 166,835 a year ago.

Ford's compact Focus sedan also was in demand last month, with sales up 44 percent from a year ago. The company, which is withdrawing from sales to daily rental car fleets, said retail sales were up despite a 16.8 percent reduction in combined sales for its Ford, Mercury and Lincoln brands. Volvo was the only Ford Motor Co. brand that posted a net increase, with sales up 2.9 percent over January 2007.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. said its January U.S. sales of 171,849 vehicles were off 2.3 percent from 175,850 in January 2007.

American Honda Motor Co. sales also were down 2.3 percent for the month, to 98,511 units from 100,790 a year ago.

Nissan North America Inc. said it sold 76,605 units in January, down from 73,680 in January 2007.

Volkswagen AG said U.S. sales at its main brand fell 13 percent to 14,411 vehicles from 16,610 vehicles a year earlier.

Mercedes-Benz USA said its January sale of 18,275 units was a 7.1 percent increase over 17,069 in the same month a year ago.

Kia Motors America said it sold 21,355 units in January, down 5.1 percent from 22,524 a year ago.

Audi of America Inc. said it sold 6,418 vehicles in January, up 0.3 percent from 6,399 units in January 2007. Detroit News

02/01/08 Audi of America, Inc. announced today that its record-setting sales pace continues.  Sales for the month of January totaled 6,418 vehicles, an increase of 0.3% from last year’s figures. GM dealers in the United States delivered 252,565 vehicles in January, an increase of 2.1 percent compared with the same month last year. The company continued its efforts to focus on improved retail sales, showing an increase of more than 11 percent.


Quotes from testing in Fontana
SPEED closed out NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing Friday at California Speedway with a special aired from pit road.  John Roberts hosted the program with analysis from Jeff Hammond and Bob Dillner.  With off-season testing now complete, SPEED turns its attention to 100 hours of NASCAR on SPEED HD from Daytona Speedweeks beginning Feb. 7.  Following are excerpts from Friday’s show, including interviews with Reed Sorenson, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Carl Edward, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, JJ Yeley and Jeff Gordon.

Reed Sorenson:  We worked on a lot of stuff today with our bump stops on the front end and helped out the car quite a bit.  But I think we’ve still got quite a bit of work to do to catch those guys.  I felt like we earned more today than we did in two days at Vegas and did yesterday.  We had a good day today.

Jamie McMurray:  All of the cars were pretty good and our engineering department has really stepped it up with the Car of Tomorrow and the simulation program.  I think Carl (Edwards) really had the best car of our group but all five cars are fast.

Jeff Burton:  I think we learned a lot but the key is going back and applying what we learned so we can come back and be a touch better.  I’m pretty happy with it.  I think the track started getting slick and it’s going to get really difficult.  But that’s what is fun and I hope it gets like that.  As long as it’s difficult for everybody and not just me, it will be good.

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Two Frenchmen to test for Conquest
Conquest Racing, boasting a history of working with young, up-and-coming drivers, announced today that 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Champion Simon Pagenaud and 2007 Champ Car Atlantic runner-up Franck Perera will be participating in the upcoming Champ Car World Series open test at Sebring International Raceway.  [Editor's Note: Both are from France. Could Conquest racing become Team France?]

Simon Pagenaud
Pagenaud, from Poitiers, France, had an excellent rookie season in the 2007 Champ Car World Series with Team Australia. He scored six top-fives including three consecutive fourth-place finishes in the Canadian Triple Crown events with a best starting position of second. Pagenaud also won the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic title on the strength of six podium finishes and nine top-five finishes. Earlier in his career, the Frenchman competed in the World Series by Renault recording eight top-10 and three top-five finishes in 2005.

Franck Perera
Perera, a 23-year-old native of Montpellier, France, hopes to enter the Champ Car World Series as a rookie after an outstanding season in the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, where he finished in the top five at every 2007 race. Perera scored eight consecutive podiums to end the season, including three victories (Mont-Tremblant, Toronto and Road America) with two coming from pole position. He also completed every lap of the 12-race season and led 116 of them. He ended the season only 31 points out of first place.

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Gordon to team with Evernham team
Gillett Evernham Motorsports today announced a technical, manufacturing and marketing services agreement with Robby Gordon Motorsports which will race Dodges in the 2008 Sprint Cup season. Gordon's team will use Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge engines when practice begins next week at Daytona International Speedway. BAM Racing and Petty Enterprises also use Gillett Evernham Motorsports engines and receive technical assistance. Gillett Evernham Motorsports fields cars for drivers #9-Kasey Kahne, #19-Elliott Sadler and #10-Patrick Carpentier in the Sprint Cup Series as well as a Nationwide Series entry. "I feel this agreement with Gillett Evernham Motorsports helps make the learning curve of the COT little bit easier to navigate," said Gordon whose 28th-place finish in owner points was the best of any single-car team in 2007. "I like what they have going on over there and I think both organizations will benefit. As an owner I want to do what is best for my employees and sponsors." Gordon's move to Dodge comes after one year with Ford. "Ford has been very good to me, and this move is not a reflection on our relationship at all," said Gordon. "Ford was planning on supporting me, and even increasing its engineering support for my program in 2008. However, I felt that I needed to make this move to help put my team in a more stable financial situation in terms of marketing and sponsorship help." Based in Charlotte North Carolina, Robby Gordon Motorsports is home to the No. 7 Dodge. With sponsorship from Jim Beam, Menards, Mapei, and Camping World Robby Gordon will run the entire 2008 Sprint Cup series schedule. Gillett Evernham Motorsports PR


Another strong sign that NASCAR's in trouble
Struggling merchandise company Motorsports Authentics lost $42,975,000 for the fiscal year ending Nov. 30, 2007, according to an annual financial statement International Speedway Corp. has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  ISC and its track-operating rival, Speedway Motorsports Inc., own 50 percent each of Motorsports Authentics.

The two companies also split an additional "impairment charge" - a write-down in the value of the company - by $69,499,000.

Before ISC's filing with the SEC, it had been estimated that Motorsports Authentics would lose between $40 million and $50 million.

The remainder of the annual financial filing contains mostly previously announced financial information.

According to the filing, NASCAR events resulted in 85.8 percent of ISC's total revenues. That compares to 87.6 percent in 2006 and 86.2 percent in 2005.

ISC also revealed that its "Daytona Live!" mixed-use entertainment complex, which will be built across the street from Daytona International Speedway and include new headquarters for ISC and NASCAR, could be delayed for environmental reasons. Monitoring wells have shown the possibility of a past gasoline spill on the property.

Speedway Motorsports has not yet filed its annual financial report with the SEC. Sporting News


CLARITIN to sponsor Edwards for selected races
Schering-Plough (NYSE:SGP), makers of the non-drowsy allergy medication, CLARITIN®, today announced a first-time sponsorship deal with NASCAR star and allergy sufferer Carl Edwards for the 2008 Sprint Cup racing season. Edwards, a member of the Roush Fenway Racing team and 2007 Busch Series champion, will drive the No. 99 CLARITIN Ford Fusion during selected spring races, and CLARITIN branding will appear on his No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion and firesuit throughout the season.

Edwards, who takes CLARITIN to treat his allergy symptoms, will serve as spokesperson for the CLARITIN "Clear to Drive" campaign. He will also be featured in the CLARITIN brand's new advertising campaign. Additionally, a sweepstakes launching later this year will give five lucky NASCAR fans the opportunity to win a trip around the track with Edwards, and one will win a Ford Mustang.

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Pantano signs with Racing Engineering
Racing Engineering will participate in the 2008 GP2 Series with two proven GP2 race winners, Javier Villa and Giorgio Pantano (right).

According to the Spanish outfit, this line-up underlines Racing Engineering's ambitious goals for 2008 as it continues with partners Repsol and Telef¢nica.

With Javier Villa and Giorgio Pantano, Racing Engineering presents its most ambitious driver pairing since the Spanish squad began competing in the category widely regarded as the stepping stone to Formula 1. Both have already demonstrated their capacity to win races in GP2, and together they make an excellent team, being the right mixture of youth, speed and experience, the ideal ingredients to aim for the top positions in Racing Engineering's fourth season in this championship.

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FMS International confirms Soucek
Fisichella Motor Sport International is delighted to announce that Andy Soucek will race for the team in the 2008 GP2 Series.

Andy, who was born in Madrid in 1985, has previous GP2 experience in 2007, achieving a second and a third place in Spa and Valencia Grand Prix. In 2006, the 22-year-old tested for the Toyota F1 Team. In 2008, Andy will focus on his GP2 series with Fisichella Motor Sport International.

Andy began his racing career in 1997, competing in karts for five years, before making the move up to formula racing in Spanish Formula 3 Toyota in 2002, until he won the Championship in 2005.

He competed in the World Series in 2006, finishing fourth in the championship after fighting until the last race for the Championship, he recorded one race win and seven further podiums. While competing in the World Series that year, Andy also tested for the Toyota F1 Team.

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Remington to sponsor 2 Cadillacs in SPEED World Challenge
Remington livery on Cadillac CTS-V
Remington Shaving & Grooming is proud to announce it’s first-ever sponsorship of a race team competing in the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge. The brand will be the primary sponsor of two Cadillac CTS-V race cars being campaigned in the 2008 SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT series.

Team Remington Cadillac will feature two champions on its roster in pursuit of the SPEED World Challenge GT Manufacturers Championship.

The 2005 season Drivers Champion, Andy Pilgrim, will pilot the #8 Cadillac CTS-V for his fifth season.

“I’m really looking forward to this season,” said Pilgrim. “It’ll be my 10th year with GM Racing, and I was very excited when they asked me to work with Team Remington Cadillac for 2008. We will have a lot of challenges this year for sure - with a new team, and especially with the new Toyo tire, but we’ll be ready.”

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Viso ready for Minardi test at Sebring
Ernesto Viso at his previous Minardi test
Following his test for Minardi Team USA two months ago, Ernesto Viso will again climb behind the wheel of one of the team’s DP01 chassis at the first official Champ Car World Series test of the 2008 season, this weekend, February 2-4, at Sebring International Raceway.

The Venezuelan was quickly up to speed during his previous test with the team, also at the famous central Florida track, posting lap times that impressed all. He adapted rapidly to the turbocharged power and downforce of the latest Champ Car, both of which were new to him, and gelled with the team and engineers.

Viso is a race winner in the highly competitive GP2 Series, and has carried out testing work in F1.  He is undoubtedly a very capable young driver and made no secret of his desire to compete in the Champ Car World Series following his earlier test with Minardi Team USA. “I think it would be a positive move for me and my career to be in Champ Car in 2008,” he said at the time.  “I’m really hopeful that it will happen.”

Clearly, the intervening two months have not diminished Viso’s enthusiasm for Champ Car, as he readied himself for this weekend’s test with the team.

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Barcelona: Hamilton fastest on Friday UPDATE
Afternoon times:


Driver Team Time Laps
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.263 82
2. Alonso Renault 1:22.889 61
3. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:22.983 65
4. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:23.015 98
5. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:23.270 52
6. Paffett McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.349 45
7. Piquet Renault 1:23.367 44
8. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.387 89
9. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:23.453 12
10. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:23.491 60
11. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:23.547 52
12. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.836 54
13. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:23.955 35
14. Barrichello Honda 1:24.125 53
15. Wurz Honda 1:26.975 26

02/01/08 Testing got underway in Barcelona this morning, for another major test ahead of the start of the season in March. With Ferrari and Toyota heading to Bahrain for six days of testing over the next fortnight, and Super Aguri still in financial difficulty, only eight teams turned up this morning, with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton topping the times in his MP4-23.

Unofficial morning times from Barcelona:
1. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:22.433, 21 laps
2. Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India-Ferrari) - 1:23.015, 39 laps
3. Fernando Alonso (Renault) - 1:23.125, 31 laps
4. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:23.266, 22 laps
5. Nico Rosberg (Williams-Toyota) - 1:23.453, 12 laps
6. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:23.657, 20 laps
7. David Coulthard (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:23.668, 19 laps
8. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:23.718, 11 laps
9. Gary Paffett (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:23.827, 16 laps
10. Kazuki Nakajima (Williams-Toyota) - 1:23.955, 35 laps
11. Nelson Piquet Jr. (Renault) - 1:24.046, 20 laps
12. Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) - 1:24.227, 27 laps
13. Rubens Barrichello (Honda) - 1:24.794, 11 laps
14. Alexander Wurz (Honda) - No Time, 1 lap


Rocketsports lands primary sponsor for Bernoldi
Sangari livery for Bernoldi car
Brazilian Champ Car driver Enrique Bernoldi announced today that he will bring a very important partnership to the Champ Car World Series for his first year of competition in the series in 2008. Sangari is excited to support Bernoldi and become a partner with Rocketsports Racing.

Sangari is part of a group which is represented in 14 countries. The Brazilian company has more than 40 years of dedication developing solutions for the improvement of the education by using science education and technology.

Enrique Bernoldi

“We decided to sponsor Enrique because he has great competitive potential, besides being a very charismatic person,” said Ben Sangari, owner of the company.

“Although we are a multi-national company, we do not have business in USA. Recently, we made a partnership with the American Museum of Natural History and we opened an office in North Carolina. Therefore, it is very important to initiate the process of construction of Sangari’s brand and Champ Car has a great visibility in the North American territory,” Sangari continued.

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Ecclestone: UK government should back Silverstone
Ecclestone said that most Grand Prix now were supported by their national governments and that this kind of support is what Silverstone needs if it is to remain on the Formula One circuit.

Speaking at a business breakfast, for Norwood, a leading UK charity supporting children and families living with disability and social difficulties, Ecclestone said that Silverstone needed to raise the standard of facilities and help drive the image of Formula One. “It would be nice if we could point to Silverstone and say we had the best in the world.”

Reflecting on his Formula One career, Ecclestone said his most important act had been to co-ordinate the TV rights for the sport. “Before the TV stations just did what they wanted, showed the races they wanted. We came in, organized the TV, told the broadcasters to carry every race and that the host country would produce a global signal and suddenly we got enormous audiences.”


Phillip Island: Stoner again fastest
MotoGP testing continued today at Phillip Island in Australia. After yesterday's rainfall, today's conditions were perfect: sunny with ambient temperature at 19 to 22 degrees C and track temperature at 35 degrees C.

The teams will continue its preseason work at Sepang, Malaysia, next Tuesday and Wednesday, February 5 and 6.

Lap Times

Pos Rider Team Lap Time
1 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro 1:28.777
2 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda 1:29.734
3 James Toseland Yamaha Tech 3 1:29.754
4 Andrea Dovizioso Jir Team Scot 1:29.780
5 Colin Edwards Yamaha Tech3 1:29.795
6 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki 1:30.216
7 Alex DeAngelis Honda Gresini 1:30.438
8 Shinya Nakano Honda Gresini 1:30.728
9   Toni Elias Alice Team 1:30.966
10 Randy DePuniet Honda LCR 1:30.978
11   Sylvain Guintoli Alice Team 1:30.983
12 Marco Melandri Ducati Marlboro 1:31.377
13 Loris Capirossi Rizla Suzuki 1:31.508
14 Anthony West Kawasaki 1:31.957


Williams stop testing after Nakajima crash
(GMM)  Williams stopped German driver Nico Rosberg's test program on Friday after his Japanese teammate Kazuki Nakajima crashed heavily in the team's 2008 car.

Nakajima was unhurt when his Toyota-powered FW30 speared at high speed into the barriers at turn one of the Circuit de Catalunya, the venue for a three day weekend test outside Barcelona.

A Williams spokesman told the British news agency Reuters that Rosberg's sister car was also sidelined while the team investigated the technical fault that caused Nakajima to crash.

"It was related to a front wing mounting issue which will be fixed and the car will be running again tomorrow," he said.


Red Bull tests radical fin as Barcelona test starts
Red Bull debuted  this new fin above the engine
(GMM)  Red Bull tried a radical bodywork innovation on its new 2008 car, the RB4, as the three day weekend group test at Circuit de Catalunya kicked off on Friday.

Photographed while circulating in the hands of Mark Webber, the prominent rudder-like fin extends the rear of the car's engine cover towards the rear wing.

Elsewhere on the Barcelona circuit, runners faced a lengthy red flag period after Williams' Kazuki Nakajima emerged unhurt from a high speed crash at the first corner.

The rookie Japanese's heavily damaged car, the Toyota-powered FW30, was returned to the pits under a tarpaulin cover on the back of a flat-bed truck, amid suggestions that he had suffered a technical failure.

Also of note, Rubens Barrichello - who suffered a fiery glitch aboard the RA108 - gave Honda's tweaked 2008 livery its track debut, and BMW-Sauber continued to test its radical front nose 'horns' for the new F1.08.

Eight teams are testing at the circuit; all except Ferrari and Toyota, whose next outing will be in Bahrain, and the embattled Super Aguri squad.

track news

Renderings of new Watkins Glen media center
Interview Room
On the heels of an exciting Rolex 24 at Daytona and notwithstanding the cold temperatures and the typical snow accumulation affiliated with the Northeast in January, the construction of the new media center at Watkins Glen International is in high gear and on schedule for completion for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series weekend, The Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, June 6-8. 

Floor Plan
The new 17,600-square foot building consists of a dedicated workroom that can host over 180 members of the media on a deadline, a dedicated photographer’s workroom, a press conference/large meeting room, radio station and sanctioning body workrooms and a lounge/cafeteria. The two-story building is set back approximately 125 feet to the east of the previous press tower which was demolished this past December. Both the first and second floors of the new building are already in place and the construction of the peaked roof began earlier this week.

Help celebrate the 60th Anniversary of racing in The Glen by purchasing your tickets for the 2008 season now! Tickets can be purchased at The Shop, located at 2 North Franklin Street in downtown Watkins Glen. Gift Certificates worth cash value toward any ticket at Watkins Glen International can be purchased at the Information Center of Corning located in Centerway Square on Historic Market Street. 


Andretti gets a ride
John Andretti
Some late moves at #49 BAM Racing, for whom John Andretti did well to get into six of the 10 Chase races last season, and 10 of the last 14 overall, put the Indiana veteran on the sidelines. But Andretti was at Las Vegas and California with two former Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolets -- one new and one previously raced -- carrying Front Row Motorsports' #34. Andretti said the team was using engines from Joe Gibbs Racing's former Chevrolet inventory before JGR switched to Toyota. Andretti said at least some early season rides were in the offing. "I didn't have many laps on the new Las Vegas, so I figured it was an opportunity to work on the new car, and stay up to date, and hopefully we can do some good," Andretti said. "Hopefully we can get it going and make the races. Who knows? You never know what's going to happen in Cup, but Bob [Jenkins, team owner] went and bought a lot of Gibbs engines and some cars from DEI. I like working with Bob, I did some stuff with he and John Carter last year so we're going to try to come out and do some good." NASCAR.com


TMS replaces billboards referencing Earnhardts
Four identical Texas Motor Speedway billboards referring to the strained relationship between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his stepmother, Teresa, will be replaced within the next two weeks. The flap is over ads featuring a picture of the driver and the wording "Reason #88: Step-Mom." TMS president Eddie Gossage said Thursday night that the billboards, part of a series of similar ads to promote the Sprint Cup weekend at the track in April, will be changed after a request from Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, the driver's sister and business manager. "The first thing I told her when I answered the phone was if you guys are uncomfortable with it, all you have to do is say the word," Gossage said. "We had a very pleasant talk." #88 is a reference to Earnhardt's new car number with Hendrick Motorsports, the team he went to after last season when he decided to leave Dale Earnhardt Inc., his late father's company that is run by Teresa Earnhardt. He left DEI after months of contentious negotiations with his stepmother. Earnhardt will still be displayed on the billboards, but the wording will change to "Reason #88: New Car Smell." Gossage said Elledge thought the new slogan "was cool, and Dale Jr. loved it."

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TAG Heuer inaugurates museum with Hamilton
At an event hosted by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton, TAG Heuer inaugurated the world’s first 360 Degree Watchmaking Museum, celebrating 150 years of innovation, precision, performance and prestigious sports embedded in the legendary Swiss brand’s unique heritage.

More than 250 journalists, retailers and VIPs from around the world took part in this exclusive event, which was proudly introduced by Jean-Christophe Babin., TAG Heuer President & CEO.

Jean-Christophe Babin “This museum celebrates TAG Heuer’s unrivalled sports heritage and constant daring quest for technical innovation and precision,” said Jean-Christophe Babin. “Its dramatic architecture and awesome technology reflect the unique sports and glamour DNA that has driven our brand for a century and a half.”

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McLaren drivers spent day at Woking
Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen, Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett spent the day together at the McLaren Technology centre, Woking, on Wednesday as part of their preparation for the 2008 Formula 1 season.

The day started with an early engineering meeting; this gave the engineers and all four drivers the opportunity to discuss how testing had gone so far. They were also debriefed on the new developments planned for the MP4-23 in the run up to the Australian Grand Prix.

Heikki also got an opportunity to witness the race team practicing pit stops, “The team are so dedicated. It was really interesting for me to see them practicing a pit stop.”

With their racing commitments fulfilled for the day the drivers then spent some time with the McLaren Marketing team. This included a photoshoot involving all four drivers, as well as individual shots for Partner use throughout the year.


Development work on KERS has already begun
To date, the teams have not yet contested a single round of the 2008 season. Nonetheless, the BMW Sauber F1 Team already is working on new technologies for 2009. With the introduction of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems, KERS, Formula One is to break new ground.

The principle: surplus energy that is created by a Formula One car while driving will no longer go unused. In future, it will be transformed into a propelling force. According to Theissen, this represents a special challenge. "We are very excited by the new energy recovery systems," he admits. "Just imagine: currently they don't even exist in their final specification, but in just 14 months, we are going to use them for racing."

Already, the BMW Sauber F1 Team engineers are making progress when it comes to developing the new systems, says Theissen. "We are working flat out on connecting the combustion engine with an electric motor and an energy store. It's a very exciting phase for a drive system engineer."

Theissen knows that BMW production cars will also benefit from the developments made for Formula One. "It's interesting to see the that the hybrid specialists are already knocking on our door. They are aware that the engineers in Formula One can develop at significantly higher speed," he says.

The advantages for both racing drivers and the day-to-day driver are clearly there to see: while the Formula One drivers can use the stored energy for a short boost of extra power, BMW drivers can look forward to even lower consumption and emission values, thanks to the new, energy saving technology.


Gordon paces Thursday PM in Vegas
Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon led the afternoon NASCAR Sprint Cup test session at California Speedway Thursday.

1. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 180.505 mph
2. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 179.888
3. David Reutimann, No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, 179.703
4. Mark Martin, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 179.677
5. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet, 179.252
6. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet, 179.180
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 179.100
8. David Gilliland, No. 38 Yates Racing Ford, 179.002
9. Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge, 178.642
10. Kurt Busch, No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge, 178.620

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • McLaren let Hamilton down - Ecclestone
  • No Tokyo 'deadline' for Honda - Fry
  • Renault expect no driver status problems
  • New Renault one second behind - Alonso
  • Alonso returns fire after Hamilton jibe
  • Photo leak reveals new Williams livery

McLaren let Hamilton down - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has accused McLaren of last year fouling countryman Lewis Hamilton's attempt to become F1's first ever rookie world champion.

The sport's chief executive said it was the British team run by Ron Dennis, rather than 23-year-old Hamilton himself, that spoiled the young Briton's chances to succeed Fernando Alonso as reigning title winner.

It was not clear what Ecclestone, 77, was specifically referring to; McLaren's involvement in the espionage scandal, the spat with former teammate Alonso, strategy errors such as the decision to leave Hamilton on worn tires in China, or the technical fault in Brazil.

"Lewis could have won the championship last season, but the team let him down," Ecclestone said in an interview with the Spanish sports daily Marca.

Ecclestone also said he was happy to see Alonso back at Renault after a tumultuous single season with McLaren in 2007.

"I think he is going to be more at home there, because the truth is that he was not happy at all where he was," the Briton said.

No Tokyo 'deadline' for Honda - Fry
(GMM)  No executive deadline has been set for Honda to succeed in formula one, according to the team's British chief executive, Nick Fry.

After embarrassingly becoming the sport's least competitive works manufacturer in 2007, Fry said Honda chiefs in Tokyo have not imposed a timeframe by when the team must be back at the front of the field.

"Honda are determined to succeed," he said earlier this week.

"There is and has never been a timeframe associated with Honda's involvement.  They assume they will carry on ad infinitum, as far as we can tell," Fry added.

He admitted, however, that there is a growing sense of impatience about Honda's determination to win again, after the last success was Jenson Button's maiden triumph in Hungary two years ago.

But Fry insists that the impatience of Honda executives is no different to that of the Brackley based team itself.

"I think people make the mistake sometimes of trying to separate out the company ... and the team," he said.  "They are the same.

"The attitude of Honda of being impatient is only a reflection of the views of the rest of us," Fry added.

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Toyotas continue to flex muscle in Vegas
Denny Hamlin posted the fastest times in the Thursday morning NASCAR Sprint Cup test session at California Speedway.

1. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 182.523 mph
2. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, 181.800
3. Ryan Newman, No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge, 181.511
4. Kyle Busch, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 181.470
5. Mark Martin, No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet, 181.456
6. Ryan Newman, No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge, 181.173
7. Kyle Busch, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 180.582
8. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, 180.578
9. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, 180.537
10. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, 180.496

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Stockholders reject deal to buy NHRA
Stockholders of HD Partners Acquisition Corp. on Thursday rejected the firm's $122 million plan to buy the National Hot Rod Association drag-racing series and four racetracks.

HD Partners announced last May that it wanted to buy the NHRA's professional racing assets: the Powerade Drag Racing series, the TV contract with ESPN, four NHRA racetracks and a long-term lease on the track in Pomona, California, and the NHRA headquarters building in Glendora, California. NHRA was to keep its amateur racing assets.

In a statement, the NHRA said it would continue its operations and was not looking for another potential buyer in the near future.

track news

Daytona 500 grandstand seats sold out
Officials from Daytona International Speedway have announced that all grandstand seats for the Feb. 17 Daytona 500 have been sold in what they say is the earliest sellout for the 500 in the race's history.

Infield tickets are still available for the 50th running of the Daytona 500, track officials say, as are seats for all other Speedweeks events.

"The anticipation of the 50th running of the Daytona 500 - NASCAR's biggest, richest and most prestigious race - has been at a fever-pitch level throughout the year," track President Robin Braig said in a news release.


Allstate 400 news tidbits
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will use a new qualifying format this season, including at the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on July 25-27, that will increase drama and excitement.

All cars outside the top 35 in owner's points will attempt to qualify consecutively at the end of the session, facing similar track and weather conditions. The top 35 in Sprint Cup Series owner's points are guaranteed starting spots in every race.

The new procedure provides a more equal opportunity for cars outside the top 35 to qualify and also makes it easier for fans to follow the tense process of which cars earn a coveted starting spot.

In the past, all cars received their position in the qualifying order through a blind draw, and cars outside of the top 35 faced varying track and weather conditions based on their position in the order.


ESPN/ABC broadcasting final 17 races: ESPN once again will kick off television coverage of the last half of the Sprint Cup schedule with the 15th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 27.

ESPN will broadcast six races, ending with the event Aug. 31 at California Speedway. ABC will broadcast the final 11 races of the season.


Brickyard champ Jarrett moving to broadcast booth: 1996 and 1999 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Dale Jarrett will join the ESPN NASCAR broadcast team as an analyst this season.

Jarrett will be the race analyst and will be joined in the broadcast booth by Dr. Jerry Punch and Andy Petree for the final 17 races of the Sprint Cup season, including the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on July 27.

Jarrett, Petree and Punch were all high school classmates at Newton-Conover High School in Newton, N.C.

Former Brickyard standout Rusty Wallace will serve as the lead analyst during ESPN's NASCAR studio programs.


People Magazine Coverage of PCM Announcement
Frankie Muniz and ex-fiancée Jamie Gandy (inset)
Photo by: Roger Walsh / Landov; WENN / Landov
It appears Frankie Muniz isn't quite over his ex-fiancée Jamie Gandy.  The actor (who recently ran into her at West Hollywood nightclub Hyde), poured his heart out to PEOPLE Wednesday at a press conference to talk about his new job as a driver for 2008 Pacific Coast Motor Sports team.

But when talk moved to romance, Muniz, 22, explained: "I am not engaged anymore. I'm still with her ... kinda."

"It's a very awkward situation," he adds. "But we're best, best, best friends. And if there was anyone in the world that I wanted to be with, it'd be her. With the racing, it's very difficult, the traveling around."

Muniz, who appeared at the Hard Rock Café in Universal City for Wednesday's press conference, is in his third year as a professional racecar driver, and second year with the team. But what does he think of his fellow celebrity racecar drivers?

Frankie Muniz
"I don't want to sound conceited, but I don't think there has been an actor or celebrity-turned-racecar driver that has made it as high up on the racecar circuit as I have," he says. "So I don't think there's anyone who can keep up with me. And that's just me being honest.

"I want to race Michael Schumacher, seven-time world champion. And I can compete with him."  People Magazine


88 entries for 24 Hours of LeMans
The 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours is already a huge success before the race has even begun! The closing date for entries was 23rd January and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest received no fewer than 88 forms, an increase of 16% in relation to 2007 when the number of cars allowed to start went up to fifty-five.


Sebring race voted best of 2007
Throughout its history, the American Le Mans Series has been filled with memorable and celebrated moments. With the start of its 10th season on the horizon with the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida, the Series announced its Greatest Moments as chosen by fans through Internet voting.

Quite appropriately, the most exciting finish on the Series’ premier stage was chosen as its Greatest Moment - the climatic GT2 finish at Sebring in 2007 with Risi Competizione’s Jaime Melo and the Ferrari F430 GT beating Jörg Bergmeister in an all-out drag race on the final lap by just 0.202 seconds. It is the closest finish in the history of the 12 Hours.

“It’s a great honor to have been voted the American Le Mans Series’ No. 1 greatest moment, especially because this accolade comes from the fans,” said team owner Giuseppe Risi. “Since Risi Competizione has been involved in the Series, we have raced with and against some of the greatest names in motorsport and enjoyed a level of competition that is, in my opinion, the best in the world. I warmly applaud the American Le Mans Series for giving us and the Ferrari marque the opportunity to offer to fans the type of entertainment that was seen at Sebring last year. I hope we can repeat our victory in 2008, though I have to say I think we would all prefer the winning margin to be a little greater!”

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Renault team announces new sponsors
The ING Renault F1 Team is delighted to welcome a range of new partners to the team, ahead of the 2008 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Pepe Jeans, Universia and Sanho Human Services will join the team as partners, Avus has joined the roster of official suppliers, while a range of leading technology firms – APC, Appro, CD adapco and NetApp – will make a decisive contribution to the brand new CFD Centre, which is due to come on-stream at Enstone in 2008.
Pepe Jeans, Universia and Sanho Human Service will all join the team as official partners for the new season. Pepe Jeans and Sanho Human Service will enjoy on-car branding, while Universia will be present on the driver overalls.

The team’s roster of official suppliers has been boosted by the arrival of Avus as the team’s supplier of wheel rims. This area of the car has been the subject of intensive technical development in recent seasons, and the new relationship with Avus will allow the team to make further advances in this domain.

The team is also pleased to announce a range of CFD Partners, who will all play integral roles in the successful commissioning of the new CFD centre of excellence currently under construction in Enstone. APC will provide racking, including cooling and power supply, for the servers that will equip the centre; APC’s energy-efficient solutions have already been used successfully in the team’s data centre, which provides storage for 121 million MB of data on 112 servers. Appro is a leading developer of innovative, high-performance servers, cluster-solutions and workstations; their solutions will be critical in providing the computing power that will drive the CFD Centre. CD-adapco’s leading CFD code - STAR-CD - plays a critical role in the team’s aerodynamic development, and NetApp will provide customised data storage solutions for the Centre, allowing the team to manage and access the large amounts of data that will be generated during the development process. 

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Di Grassi to be main Renault tester in 2008
(GMM)  Lucas di Grassi will be Renault's primary test driver this season, the French team confirmed on Thursday.

At the launch of the outfit's 2008 campaign in south-west Paris, it emerged that di Grassi, the 23-year-old Brazilian who finished second in last year's GP2 championship, will "conduct the majority of the team's development work" alongside racers Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr this season.

It was previously announced that French-Swiss rookie Romain Grosjean, the reigning 2007 F3 Euroseries champion, would become Renault's test driver in 2008.

A Renault team statement on Thursday, however, clarified that the 21-year-old will get his "first taste of F1 at a number of tests during the year" while continuing to contest the GP2 series.


USTCC Awards Banquet & Go-Kart Challenge
Top3 USTCC Champions: From L to R: Ali Arsham (2nd place), Curt Simmons (1st place Co-champion) Pete Bovenberg (1st place Co-champion) and Becky Arsham (3rd place).
Ryan Cristobal
Fremont, Ca. – United States Touring Car Championship teams, staff, friends and family gathered at Le Mans Karting in Fremont, California on Saturday, January 19th, to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers for the 2007 USTCC Season.

USTCC TV/Final Drive host Jennifer Grossman emceed the evening to recognize all of the exceptional individual and group on and off-track performances through out the 2007 season and highlighted the night by the presentation of the yearly coveted USTCC Drivers’ Championship and Manufacturers’ Championship trophies.

Curt Simmons, driver of #49 Sunnyvale Dodge/Cornwell Tools/MBO Motorsports Dodge Neon SRT-4 took home his first USTCC Drivers Championship with a total of 585 points, 104 points ahead of the second overall finisher Ali Arsham.  Simmons, scored six consecutive podium finishes, bagged a pair of wins and a series record of four straight second place finishes within six starts out of seven races of the 2007 season. 

Simmons behind the wheel of his SRT-4 racing machine also spearheaded Dodge’s claim to the 2007 USTCC Manufacturers Championship title, another USTCC first.  This marks the first time ever an American brand has managed to win the USTCC manufacturers’ title. 

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TV News

NASCAR Now Returns Monday for Second Season
With the 2008 NASCAR season about to begin, NASCAR Now, ESPN’s daily NASCAR news and information program, returns to the air Monday, Feb. 4, at 6 p.m. on ESPN2. In addition to new hosts, the program will have enhanced features in 2008.

NASCAR Now includes the latest news, highlights, opinion, debate and analysis 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 expands to one hour beginning Feb. 11. ESPN2 also will air a one-hour edition at 10 a.m. on the morning of each NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

NASCAR Countdown host Allen Bestwick joins NASCAR Now as host of the Monday edition. Nicole Manske, who recently came to ESPN after two years with a motorsports news program on SPEED, and ESPNEWS anchor Ryan Burr, a host in 2007, will host the other days on a rotating basis. Manske and Burr also will travel to NASCAR race weekends during the season to report for NASCAR Now and for other ESPN programming including SportsCenter and ESPNEWS.

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Phillip Island Day 2: Stoner on top
Thursday morning rainfall at Phillip Island today gave the MotoGP riders the opportunity to evaluate their 2008 machines for the first time in the rain. The rain stopped at lunch time but the track wasn’t dry enough to continue with dry track testing until 3.40pm when the riders returned to action on slicks. 

Defending champion Casey Stoner was fastest on his Ducati.

Pos Rider Team Lap Time
1 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro 1:29.938
2 Alex DeAngelis Honda Gresini 1:30.449
3 Andrea Dovizioso Jir Team Scot 1:31.074
4 Shinya Nakano Honda Gresini 1:31.316
5 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda 1:31.373
6 James Toseland Yamaha Tech 3 1:31.451
7 Marco Melandri Ducati Marlboro 1:31.478
8 Loris Capirossi Rizla Suzuki 1:31.545
9 Randy DePuniet Honda LCR 1:31.575
10 Colin Edwards Yamaha Tech3 1:31.593
11 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki 1:31.774
12 Anthony West Kawasaki 1:32.242
13 Toni Elias Alice Team 1:32.246
14 Sylvain Guintoli Alice Team 1:32.431
15 John Hopkins Kawasaki 1:42.130

Phillip Island Circuit Length: 4.445 km

Lap Record: 1.30.332 Marco Melandri 2005 (Honda)
Circuit Best lap: 1.29.020 Nicky Hayden 2006 (Honda)


Edwards to appear in Under Armour ad
Carl Edwards
Roush Fenway Racing driver Carl Edwards will appear on advertising's largest stage this Sunday, February 3 - Super Bowl Sunday in a 60 second Under Amour spot, the brand's first-ever Super Bowl Commercial. The commercial, showcasing several professional athletes will mark the first time audiences will see Under Armour's new performance trainers.

"I am really looking forward seeing the commercial. I'm going to the Super Bowl and I hope that they show the commercials at the game," said Carl Edwards. "The scale of the production was huge and I'm looking forward to seeing the end product."

Edwards continued, "To be associated with so many quality athletes under the Under Armour brand is very exciting and I'm looking forward to a great future with them."


Childress named to N.C. Sports Hall of Fame
Richard Childress, the owner of Richard Childress Racing in Welcome, NC will be inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in May. Childress is one of eight honorees in the Class of 2008. The NASCAR team owner won six Winston Cup championships with Dale Earnhardt Sr. behind the wheel, the Busch Series Grand National championship in 2001 and 2006 with Kevin Harvick and the Truck Series title in 1995 with Mike Skinner. His team became the first in NASCAR history to win the championship in all three national series. His teams have also won two Daytona 500s. Childress was inducted into the Davidson County Sports Hall of Fame in October. He also owns Childress Vineyards in Lexington, NC. The eight inductees will be enshrined at the 45th annual induction ceremony in Raleigh on May 15. They will be introduced at an afternoon news conference at the N.C. Museum of History. Formal induction will come during an evening banquet at the North Raleigh Hilton. Banquet ticket information is available from the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame in Raleigh at (919) 845-3455 or at the Hall’s Web site, www.ncshof.com. The museum is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from noon until 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the museum is free. Lexington Dispatch


Hershey to Honor Dale Earnhardt
The Hershey Company is offering racing fans a taste of history with the debut of four Collector Edition bars this month featuring iconic images of racing legend Dale Earnhardt. The bars coincide with this year’s 50th Anniversary of the Daytona 500 and the 10th Anniversary of Earnhardt’s historic 1998 Daytona 500 victory. The promotion invites fans to show their respect for the racing legend by visiting www.hersheys.com/dale. The Hershey/Dale Earnhardt Web site gives fans the opportunity to make a donation to the Dale Earnhardt Foundation and also allows visitors to post their name, message and picture online for other fans to view. These individual pictures will become the pieces of a large fan photo mosaic designed to look like Earnhardt, which will be displayed throughout the year. Hershey will notify fans of the exact location of their image within the mosaic. The final mosaic, along with a check representing the funds earned from the promotion, will be unveiled and presented to The Dale Earnhardt Foundation on “Dale Earnhardt Day,” April 29, 2008, at Dale Earnhardt, Inc., in Mooresville, NC. Hershey PR


Peugeot fastest over 3-day Sebring test
The diesel powered Peugeot made its debut at LeMans last year
Peugeot Sport took part in the three-day test organized by the American Le Mans Series at Sebring, Florida (Monday January 28 to Wednesday January 30), where three drivers took turns at the wheel of the 908 HDi FAP. Thanks to previous participations in the 12 Hours of Sebring, Pedro Lamy and Stéphane Sarrazin had prior knowledge of the circuit but it was a completely new venue for Nicolas Minassian.

The objective of the long session was to put the 908 HDi FAP through its paces round this notoriously difficult track and over its bumpy, concrete surface which is a telling test for the car's mechanicals and tires alike. The three days also came on top of the program of endurance tests that Peugeot Sport has planned with a view to working on the 908's reliability in preparation for June's Le Mans 24 Hours. In the course of the Sebring test's eight separate sessions, the 908 HDi FAP covered 233 laps – equivalent to 1,386km – without encountering the slightest problem, with the exception of an oil leak on the first day.

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Ford plans to pump up incentives
Ford Motor Co. will sharply increase incentive spending this year to counter aggressive pricing by competitors and ensure that demand for older vehicles like the Ford F-150 and Mercury Milan remains strong as the automaker prepares to launch newer versions later this year.

Senior Ford executives told key dealers about the plan during a meeting in Dearborn earlier this month, according to people who attended the session. Many dealers have chafed at Ford's push to reduce profit-sapping incentive spending, even at the expense of market share.

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Designer layoffs set at Chrysler
Chrysler LLC plans to lay off 119 salaried UAW design workers today at the technology center in Auburn Hills and at the Plymouth Road Office Complex in Detroit.

This is part of the group that was expected to be laid off around Christmas but saw a reprieve.  UAW Local 412, Unit 80 warned members Wednesday that layoffs would go into effect Monday.

"The UAW fought and fought to get this unjust layoff stopped! We will continue to fight the fight and get our impacted people back as soon as possible," Michael Norscia, unit chairman, said in an e-mail obtained by the Free Press.

Chrysler spokeswoman Michele Tinson confirmed Wednesday that the employees will be told of the layoffs today and said the action was volume-related.

In addition, 770 UAW members at Warren Truck Plant and about 1,000 at Toledo Machining will be offered buyout and early-retirement packages Monday.

Earlier this week, about 13,000 UAW members in metro Detroit were offered buyout and early-retirement packages, all part of Chrysler's efforts to reduce its hourly workforce by 10,000 as announced in November.


PCM Returns to Atlantic Competition with Skerlong and Muniz
Muniz and Skerlong pose next to their Atlantic cars
Hollywood, CA  - Pacific Coast Motorsports, a two-car team in the Champ Car World Series announced tonight that they will expand their racing team with a two-car entry in the Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Series Powered by Mazda.  PCM also announced their all-American driver line-up, Carl Skerlong and Frankie Muniz.

Pacific Coast Motorsports Champ Car driver Alex Figge acquired the Bakersfield-based US RaceTronics Atlantic team.  The team will be based at PCM’s Oxnard, California headquarters and will compete under the Pacific Coast Motorsports banner.  Former US RaceTronics team owner, Shane Seneviratne will manage the Atlantic program.

Hard Rock cafe in Hollywood, CA
PCM team director Tyler Tadevic made the announcement under the famous Hard Rock guitar at a media event at the Hard Rock Cafe at Universal Studios tonight in Hollywood.  Attended by a large contingent of entertainment and sports media, Tadevic commented on the team’s desire to return to their racing roots, “We’re really proud to be returning to the series where we won the 2004 championship, and we are looking forward to continuing our winning tradition.  As a graduate of the series, Alex is a believer of the product; this is an important program to him.  Shane has a history of running championship winning teams and we saw this as a terrific opportunity to return to Atlantic competition.”  Tadevic continued, “We feel we’ve got two exceptional young drivers on board.  They’re both quick and very professional, we’ve got an exciting season ahead of us.”

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Teams to fund budget cap accountants
  • FIA confirms 8pm night sessions for Singapore
  • BMW on track for better season - Theissen
  • Wurz happy to race if needed in 2008
  • Klien still jobless for 2008 season
  • 'Paper slams Hamilton for mixed messages
  • Hamilton plays down winter test defeat
  • Piquet Jr has 'no chance' - Lauda

Teams to fund budget cap accountants
(GMM)  F1 teams' financial experts will meet in Paris with the FIA on Thursday to determine an appropriate budget cap for the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.

It is expected that the budget limitations will phase in over the initial three year period, with FIA president Max Mosley to preside over a special department of 30 forensic accountants to police the cap.

Mosley will headhunt the experts from the UK's customs and tax department and its equivalents in Italy, Germany, Japan and France, according to a report in the Financial Times.

The teams will fund their salaries to the tune of about $3m per team per season.

"The first reaction from the team principals will be that it is intrusive and they do not want people poking around their factory.

"But when you think about it, they will be happy with the budget cap and happy to spend less because it keeps them in business," Mosley said.

The Briton said he was emboldened to seriously explore the budget cap issue after the FIA's forensic investigation of McLaren last year as part of the espionage scandal.

"The experience with McLaren taught us that if you can deploy the resources and you have sufficient expertise, you can find almost anything and the chances of someone doing work we could not find traces of is very small," he said.

FIA confirms 8pm night sessions for Singapore
(GMM)  Practice and qualifying sessions for the Singapore grand prix will also take place significantly later than usual, the governing FIA confirmed on Wednesday.

Friday practice for the island state's inaugural street race, set for late September this year, will take place at 4pm, preceding a night session at 8pm, it was revealed in the sport's official timetable for the 2008 season.

On Saturday, the Singapore practice session will take place at 5pm local time, preceding qualifying at 8pm.

Sunday's race will also take place at 8pm, where in Singapore in September it is almost completely dark.

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