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DATE News (chronologically)
03/08/07
cc
Newman/Haas now Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing  LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. --- Newman/Haas Racing, owner of seven Champ Car World Series titles has added Chicago-area businessman Michael Lanigan as a partner of the team.

“Paul and I are excited to have Mike Lanigan join us,” said Carl A. Haas, co-owner of Newman/Haas Racing who with actor/race car driver Paul Newman has earned seven titles, 97 wins and 100 poles to date.  “Mike is a longtime open wheel racing advocate and a very successful businessman.  He will be able to contribute not only his enthusiasm for racing, but his business expertise which will open up new opportunities for the team.”

As the President of Mi-Jack Products Inc., the leading U.S. manufacturer of specialized RTG cranes, Lanigan has long been involved in racing since the company’s first endeavor in the 1992 Indianapolis 500 and for over 250 races since then as a sponsor, team owner and race promoter.  Lanigan co-owned Mi-Jack Conquest Racing with Eric Bachelart.  The team competed in the Champ Car World Series from 2003-2006 and in the Atlantic Series in 2006.  Drivers who have competed for the team included Justin Wilson, Nelson Philippe, Andrew Ranger and Graham Rahal among others. More ...

03/08/07
cc
Tristan Gommendy to pilot 2nd PKV car  UPDATE PKV Racing announced today that Tristan Gommendy has signed to be the second driver for the team during the 2007 Champ Car World Series season.

Gommendy, who will pilot the #22 PKV Racing Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone machine, spent the 2006 season driving in GP2 and the World Series by Renault.  The 27-year-old native of France started nine GP2 events for iSport International last year and four for Pons Racing in the World Series by Renault, earning one pole and one podium.

“We are very pleased to have Tristan join PKV Racing,” said PKV Racing co-owner Jimmy Vasser.  “Tristan is an experienced driver who has enjoyed success in European open wheel racing.  I think he will be an excellent addition to our team and with Neel Jani provide PKV Racing with a very competitive pair of drivers.  As with Neel, I look forward to helping Tristan through the learning curve during his inaugural Champ Car season.”  More ...

03/08/07
nascar
Washington politician mocks NASCAR fans  Rep. Larry Seaquist said he has no problem with NASCAR fans, despite having been quoted earlier as saying: "These people are not the kind of people you would want living next door to you. They'd be the ones with the junky cars in the front yard and would try to slip around the law."

Seaquist, interviewed on the Sirius Satellite Radio show "The Morning Drive" on Monday, said he "never said a word against NASCAR fans" in his opposition to a proposed deal to build a 1.2-mile, 80,000-seat race track in his district near Bremerton, about 50 miles west of Seattle.

"I was going after the International Speedway Corporation," the Democrat said. "That's who I had in mind. It's my own fault I wasn't clear enough what I was saying and I apologize to anybody who did take offense. But my concerns are solely about the track corporation, and that's because they're trying to come out here, build a track, make a lot of money and leave the taxpayers in the dirt."

ISC wants to use about $180 million of its money and about $160 million from the state to build the track. The public money would be repaid through tax revenues collected through activities at the track over the course of a 25-year lease ISC would get to operate the facility, said Grant Lynch, the vice president of ISC who is leading the effort to get the deal done. ThatsRacin.com

03/08/07
industry news
Ford rating rises slightly  Ford Motor Co. stock increased nearly 5% Thursday after an analyst with Credit Suisse Group upgraded his rating on the automaker to ‘neutral’ from ‘underperform’.
03/08/07
gp2
Pizzonia fastest in Barcelona test  
Thursday Afternoon times:

Pos  Driver               Team                      Time     Laps
 1.  Antonio Pizzonia     FMS International         1:27.808   34
 2.  Timo Glock           iSport International      1:27.833   28
 3.  Kazuki Nakajima      Dams                      1:27.908   22
 4.  Roldan Rodriguez     Minardi Piquet Sports     1:28.505   30
 5.  Adrian Zaugg         Arden International       1:28.595   32
 6.  Nicolas Lapierre     Dams                      1:28.613   23
 7.  Lucas di Grassi      ART Grand Prix            1:28.689   34
 8.  Pastor Maldonado     Trident Racing            1:28.872   27
 9.  Javier Villa         Racing Engineering        1:28.943   36
10.  Andreas Zuber        iSport International      1:28.964   38
11.  Michael Ammermuller  ART Grand Prix            1:29.065   32
12.  Luca Filippi         Super Nova International  1:29.102   26
13.  Andy Soucek          DPR                       1:29.286   34
14.  Alexandre Negrao     Minardi Piquet Sports     1:29.328   19
15.  Sakon Yamamoto       BCN Competicion           1:29.447   20
16.  Giorgio Pantano      Campos Grand Prix         1:29.490   21
17.  Borja Garcia         Durango                   1:29.557   13
18.  Ricardo Risatti      BCN Competicion           1:29.578   33
19.  Mike Conway          Super Nova International  1:29.704   28
20.  Bruno Senna          Arden International       1:29.829   28
21.  Vitaly Petrov        Campos Grand Prix         1:29.902   30
22.  Kohei Hirate         Trident Racing            1:30.263   25
23.  Sergio Jimenez       Racing Engineering        1:30.286   35
24.  Christian Bakkerud   DPR                       1:30.294   34
25.  Karun Chandhok       Durango                   1:30.339   16
26.  Jason Tahinci        FMS International         1:31.108   21

Morning times: More ...

03/08/07
racing news
Penske not returning to ISC board of directors  Greg Penske, son of team owner and former track operator Roger Penske, will not seek re-election to the International Speedway Corp. board of directors when his term ends in April, according to the company's statement to shareholders.

Greg Penske is the last holdover from the merger between Penske Motorsports and ISC, which occurred in 1999 and brought California Speedway, North Carolina Speedway (Rockingham), Michigan and Nazareth (Pa.) into the ISC portfolio.

A former president of California Speedway, Greg Penske remained as a member of the board beyond the time specified by the merger agreement, said Wes Harris, ISC senior director of investor relations. Greg Penske is president of the Penske Automotive Group in California and also in the last year resigned from the board of directors of Alltel, one of Penske Racing's NASCAR Nextel Cup sponsors.

"He was definitely a valued board member that we're sorry to see go," Harris said. "I think it was more of a time constraint thing than anything else." More at SceneDaily.com

03/08/07
cc
ABC/ESPN announce Champ Car team  UPDATE #2 Added photo of Jon Beekhuis and Rick Benjamin below.

03/08/07 The Champ Car World Series treks through new television territory in 2007, but the viewers will have a seasoned crew guiding the tour as it circles the globe in pursuit of the prestigious Vanderbilt Cup.

Veteran broadcasters Rick Benjamin and Jon Beekhuis will head the Champ Car broadcast team for 2007, backed by a strong pit-road crew featuring Bill Stephens and Cameron Steele with Michelle Beisner returning to take viewers behind the scenes of a Champ Car weekend. The crew will be in place for each of the ABC/ESPN Champ Car events as well as the races on CBS Sports in 2007.

Benjamin returns for his fourth consecutive season as the broadcast host, calling upon his deep knowledge of motorsports to keep viewers up to date on everything that takes place during the race. He will be joined by former Champ Car driver Jon Beekhuis, who moves into the analyst role after serving as the lead pit reporter for the last two seasons. Beekhuis, who has 16 years of Champ Car broadcast experience under his belt, competed for four seasons in Champ Cars before moving behind the microphone. More ...

03/08/07
swc
Johnson to Drive Cadillac CTS-V in Charlotte  Reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will drive Team Cadillac's No. 16 CTS-V in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT race at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Thursday night, May 24, 2007.
03/08/07
cc
New look for Bourdais car  Sebastien Bourdais' McDonald's car is sporting a new larger McDonald's decal on the sidepod of his Newman/Haas Panoz DP01 now. The McDonald's 'M" is now much more prominent and wraps from the side up and over the top of the sidepod as shown in the photo to the right. Now if they would make the red a Ferrari Red the car would be a real eye-catcher.  Talk in the pits by most people we talked to is that the red is nice but it needs to be a notch or two brighter.  When you see the current Ferrari F1 car in person the Day-Glo red they use "knocks your socks off."
03/08/07
f1
tv news
Varsha previews the F1season  SPEED will open the 2007 Formula One season with live coverage of the Australian Grand Prix from Albert Park in Melbourne on March 15 with practice sessions at 11 p.m. ET. In preparation for the season opener, the SPEED Formula One broadcast team of Bob Varsha, Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Peter Windsor preview the upcoming year in Grand Prix racing.

In 2007, the SPEED broadcast team will call four Grand Prix races on FOX – the Canadian Grand Prix (live), U.S. Grand Prix (live), French Grand Prix and British Grand Prix. The remaining 13 events will be live and exclusive to SPEED, including the famed Grand Prix of Monaco.

“We feel that we have assembled the finest announce team, not only on SPEED, but in all of racing,” said Frank Wilson, SPEED VP of Production. “Bob, David, and Steve have tremendous knowledge and chemistry in the booth and pit reporter Peter Windsor can get more out of F1 drivers and team members than anyone in the paddock.” More ...

03/08/07
track news
ga
Playboy bunnies entertain fans at Homestead  HOMESTEAD, FL. – Homestead-Miami Speedway’s tropical landscape is home to birds, fish, and the occasional alligator. It’s not often, however, that a bunny is spotted.  That’s all going to change on March 24, 2007 when the famous Playboy Rabbit Head logo appears at the Speedway and beautiful Playmates arrive on site to add to the heart-pounding excitement.

For the first time ever, Playboy will partner with Homestead-Miami Speedway to offer two exclusive entertainment options: the Champions Club presented by Playboy and the Playboy Paddock area.

The inaugural Champions Club presented by Playboy will be held in the luxurious third floor of the Turn One Tower.  This exclusive air conditioned club area features a private dining area with gourmet buffets and full liquor bar, plasma TV’s, private elevator access, reserved parking, and more. The sophisticated Playboy package, offered to our mature guests (21 and over, please) at the cost of $275 will include: More ...

03/08/07
irl
AAA Hoosier Insurance names Fisher  AAA Hoosier Motor Club announced today that it has signed IndyCar driver Sarah Fisher to a 3-year contract; making her the official spokesperson for AAA Hoosier Insurance, effective immediately.

"We're extremely excited to have Sarah representing AAA Hoosier Insurance," said Gary Michelson, AAA Hoosier Motor Club's senior vice president for insurance and marketing. "As a driver, her track record speaks for itself but as a person, she exemplifies the characteristics that we cherish as an organization; honesty, integrity and a strong commitment to the community. Sarah is a local personality with deep Midwestern roots. We eagerly look forward to being a part of her success."

03/08/07
irl
Dreyer and Reinbold files first Indy 500 entries  Dreyer & Reinbold Racing filed the first entries March 7 for the 91st Indianapolis 500, naming 2004 Indy winner Buddy Rice and fan favorite Sarah Fisher as drivers for its two entries.

The 91st Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Entries must be postmarked by midnight Wednesday, April 4.

Rice, from Phoenix, will drive the No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, with a backup car entered. Fran Reilly is the chief mechanic.

Fisher, a native of Commercial Point, Ohio, will drive the No. 5 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, with a backup car entered. Andy O'Gara is the chief mechanic.

03/08/07
cc
Rahal announcement delayed  The Graham Rahal announcement as the second driver for the Newman/Haas Racing Champ Car team is held up by the lawyers. Paul Newman said, "as far as I'm concerned the deal was done two weeks ago, but the lawyers are holding things up with wordsmithing." New team co-owner Mike Lanigan told AutoRacing1.com that "there is still a chance the deal will be done by the end of this weekend."
03/08/07
cc
Drivers testing at Laguna Champ Car test  Here is the official list of drivers testing at Laguna Seca the next two days.

Car No. Driver             Country      Team         
1       Sebastien Bourdais France       Newman/Haas
2       Graham Rahal       USA          Newman/Haas
3       Paul Tracy         Canada       Forsythe
4       Zolt Baumgartner   Hungary      Minardi USA
5       Will Power         Australia    Team Australia
8       Alex Tagliani      Canada       Rocketsports
9       Justin Wilson      England      RuSPORT
11      Katherine Legge    England      Dale Coyne
14      Robert Doornbos    Holland      Minardi USA
15      Simon Pagenaud     France       Team Australia
19(Fri) Andrew Ranger      Canada       Dale Coyne
19(Sat) Bruno Junqueira    Brazil       Dale Coyne
21      Neel Jani          Switzerland  PKV Racing
22      Tristan Gommendy   France       PKV Racing
28      Ryan Dalziel       Scotland     Pacific Coast
29      Alex Figge         USA          Pacific Coast
34      Matt Halliday      New Zealand  Conquest Racing

03/08/07
cc
Tagliani reunites with Rocketsports  EAST LANSING, Michigan – After successful runs together back in 2003 and 2004, Rocketsports Racing is proud to announce the return of Alex Tagliani to the team for the 2007 Champ Car World Series season with the hopes of picking up with where they left off – in victory lane.

Rocketsports driver Tagliani returns for his eighth season in the Champ Car World Series, behind the wheel of Rocketsports’ #8 Panoz DP01.  A true Champ Car veteran, the 34-year-old driver began racing in the series back in 2000, when it was known as CART.  He has made 117 starts, earning five poles and 14 podium finishes.  His return to the team reflects the positive relationship that was established during his two-year run. 

“It is really good to be returning to Rocketsports,” said Tagliani when he returned to the team’s East Lansing-based shop for a seat fitting.  “That is because it is nice to come back and see familiar faces, people that I worked with in the past and enjoyed. More ...

03/08/07
cc
Newman/Haas announces Lanigan as new partner  Paul Newman, co-owner of Newman/Haas Racing, announced that Mike Lanigan of Mi-Jack has become a partner in Newman/Haas Racing. Paul alluded to the fact that both he and Carl Haas are getting long in tooth and it was an effort to do some succession planning. More to follow.
03/08/07
cc
Redback backs San Jose GP  San Jose GP president Dale Jantzen announced today that Redback Networks, a networking arm of Ericsson, will take a major sponsorship position for the San Jose GP and the track will be known as the Redback Raceway. More later....
03/08/07
cc
Mazda joins Champ Car  The Champ Car World Series today entered an agreement with Mazda North American Operations that will see the famed manufacturer become The Official Vehicle of the Champ Car World Series for 2007.

Mazda will be able to showcase its performance cars as part of the Champ Car Pace Car Program, and will have its trucks, SUVs and crossover vehicles featured as part of the world-renowned Holmatro Safety Team, Champ Car’s fast-response safety squad.

“This is a natural extension to our existing involvement with Champ Car as we enter our second season as the engine supplier for the Cooper Tires Atlantic Series,” said Robert Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality for Mazda North American Operations, and the man responsible for Mazda’s North American motorsports programs through its MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development arm.  “We look forward to expanding our relationship with the Champ Car team, and this is a great way for us to support one of the best open-wheel racing series in the world.” More ...

03/08/07
track news
cc
JAG Flocomponents gets naming rights for Houston GP  JAG Flocomponents was introduced today as the naming-rights sponsor of the racetrack for the Grand Prix of Houston, which will now be called “JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park”. Grand Prix officials also announced that as a result of the JAG sponsorship, major upgrades will be made to the facility for 2007, including significant improvements to the track surface.
 
“We are very pleased to welcome JAG Flocomponents to the Grand Prix of Houston family,” said Chuck Kosich, General Manager of the Grand Prix of Houston. “The support of the business community is vital to the success of our event, so we are delighted that JAG has chosen to make this investment in the Grand Prix. The support of JAG Flocomponents will allow us to make investments in our event that bring us closer to our goal of establishing the Grand Prix of Houston as one of the finest street races in the world.”
 
JAG Flocomponents, a leading manufacturer of valves for the energy and petrochemical industries, becomes the largest current sponsor of the Grand Prix of Houston as part of the multi-year agreement that includes not only the track sponsorship but also a full range of marketing and corporate hospitality benefits for JAG.  More ...
03/08/07
motogp
Rossi and Edwards 1-2 in opening practice  Fiat Yamaha Team riders dominated day one practice at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar, where the MotoGP series starts its 2007 season this weekend.  "It was a very good beginning for all of the team; it's a new season and we have a new sponsor and livery so it's good to start with both Colin (Edwards) and I at the top," said Valentino Rossi.

Colin Edwards, teammate of Rossi in the Yamaha's works team, took second fastest overall with a laptime of 1'56''665.

1. Rossi
2. Edwards
3. Stoner
4. Hopkins
5. Checa
6. Pedrosa
7. Melandri
8. Capirossi
9. Elias
10. Nakano
11. Barros
12. Vermeulen
13. de Puniet
14. Roberts
15. Hayden
16. Hofmann
17. Jacque
18. Guintoli
19. Pitt
20. McWilliams
21. Tamada

03/08/07
cc
Holmatro Becomes The Title Sponsor of Safety Team  Long a key component of the Champ Car Safety Team, Holmatro Rescue Tools have taken the next step for 2007, becoming the title sponsor of what will now be known as the Holmatro Safety Team.

The Holmatro Safety Team is the longest-running and most-celebrated quick-response safety team in all of motorsports, providing at-track support at every Champ Car race since its 1984 inception. The program has expanded dramatically over the years in terms of staff, equipment and technology in an effort to provide Champ Car participants the finest and most adept care in sports. The staff of 40 professionals and specially equipped vehicles is unique to the sport, placing the Holmatro Safety Team at the forefront of motor racing safety. More ...

03/08/07
cc
Minardi Team USA names Baumgartner  Minardi Team USA is pleased to announce that Zsolt Baumgartner has been appointed official test and reserve driver for the 2007 season. The 26-year old Hungarian racer, who previously competed for Minardi in the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship, will join Dutch driver, Robert Doornbos, for the two-day Champ Car World Series Spring Training session, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, commencing today. He will also be present at the majority of Champ Car weekends this season.

Baumgartner is best known to American audiences for having scored the hard-trying Minardi F1 Team’s sole World Championship point of the 2004 season, at that year’s United States Grand Prix. He has continued to be a regular driver for the team’s exciting two-seater program since that time. More ...

03/08/07
tv news
motogp
SPEED Signs MotoGP - USGP on FOX  SPEED signed a new multi-year deal with Dorna Sports for broadcast rights to the world’s most prestigious motorcycle racing series, the MotoGP World Championship, continuing a successful relationship that began in 1997, when the series was known as the FIM World GP 500. As part of the new deal, the 2007 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix will air live on FOX in 2007 with SPEED broadcast talent, giving the series unprecedented exposure for its lone U.S. event.

The interest in MotoGP in the United States is rapidly on the increase, and with Kentucky’s reigning MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, runner-up for the inaugural SPEED Performer of the Year in 2006, defending his No. 1 plate this season, there is an added edge for race fans as he looks to hold off the challenge of seven-time World Champion and motorcycle racing legend Valentino Rossi. More ...

03/08/07
racing news
Congratulations to the Fittipaldis  Racing great Emerson Fittipaldi and his new wife Rossana gave birth to Emerson Jr. Last night.  Congratulations to both.
03/08/07
industry news
BMW sales up worldwide in February  The BMW Group increased its sales by 2.8% in February this year. In total, 97,416 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce vehicles were delivered to customers (previous year: 94,781).
03/08/07
TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday  
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

NASCAR Busch Final Practice Las Vegas
1:00pm-2:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Las Vegas
2:30pm-4:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Las Vegas
4:00pm-5:00pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Las Vegas
5:00pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Las Vegas
6:00pm-8:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying Las Vegas
8:00pm-9:30pm (L) SPEED
AMA Supercross Daytona
9:30pm-12:30am (SDD) SPEED

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

03/08/07
nascar
More proof NASCAR does not help sell cars  On the heels of Ford having to deep-six their Taurus after years of racing it in NASCAR because of lackluster sales comes word that Chevy will now deep-six their Monte Carlo after years of winning races and championships in NASCAR.  Bottom line - racing in NASCAR does not equate to selling cars - the proof is now there to say this theory is now 'fact.' 

Inside Line has confirmed with supplier sources that production of the Chevrolet Monte Carlo will cease at the end of the 2007 model year. That means the last Monte Carlo will roll off the line sometime this summer. In recent years, the Monte Carlo has been one of General Motors' biggest successes on the NASCAR stock-car racing circuit. But the two-door companion to the Chevrolet Impala sedan has not resonated with the buying public. Edmunds.com

03/08/07
f1
Honda signs Conway  The Honda Racing F1 Team is pleased to announce the signing of an agreement with British F3 champion Mike Conway.

22 year old Mike, the reigning British F3 and Macau GP champion, will join the Honda Racing F1 Team with immediate effect and will have the opportunity to drive the Honda RA107 Formula One car at a test session later in the year.

Rising star Mike dominated the British F3 season in 2006, ending the year as Champion with ten race wins. He capped an excellent year by taking victory at the prestigious Macau Grand Prix in November and the award for National Racing Driver at the 2006 Autosport Awards in December, to go alongside his previous championship success in Formula Renault in 2004. Mike will be making the step up to the GP2 series this year as he competes with the Super Nova team. More ...

03/08/07
f1
Latest F1 News in Brief  
First F1 equipment lands in Melbourne
Teams still in action this week
Toyota people 'not good enough' - Niki Lauda
Ralf offers plane for Toyota's last test
'Too much optimism' about Ferrari pace
Heidfeld still worried about BMW reliability
Hill suggests DC lacks right work ethic
Kimi says tire rule to be 'terrible' at Monaco
03/08/07
f1
Q and A with Fernando Alonso  
Signing the world champion indicates expectations – on both sides. You have worked with and grew into the team over the winter: will it be a season that delivers- for both sides?
"It has been a really motivating this winter for me. I felt a little nervous at first, but that is just human nature, I didn’t know the car, I didn’t know the team. Now I am very comfortable with the MP4-22 and over the winter I have made it my business to get to know every single member of the team. You never know what might happen in Formula 1, there are new rules, new cars, new tires this year with the Bridgestone Potenzas. Until we start racing, who can tell."

Casually you said that the 3rd title is on your agenda. Already in 07?
"I do want to win more world titles, this is my aim during my career. To win one may have meant you had the best car that year, to win two I feel is a great achievement. But to win another, all the big names in the sport and the drivers we remember, won three or more world titles. If you ask me which is more important: winning three titles with one team or with two different teams, then the answer is easy. Will I win the Drivers’ Championship this year, who can say at this moment. I will fight hard with the team to try, but we will have to wait and see." More ...
03/07/07
cca
Rookie Perera leads first day of Atlantic Testing  Much like the fast Frenchmen that have come before him recently in both the Champ Car Atlantic Championship and the Champ Car World Series, it didn’t take rookie Franck Perera long to make an impact on the test track.

The 22-year-old native of Montpellier, France made the most of his first time driving an Atlantic machine as he topped all 23 drivers testing Wednesday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the first day of the final pre-season open test for the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. After just putting together a deal to test for the veteran Condor Motorsports Atlantic squad over the weekend, Perera came out blazing on the 2.238-mile classic road circuit. He led the morning session by more than two-tenths-of-a-second over his closest competitor and he followed that up by unofficially breaking the series track record while pacing the final session of the day.

Perera posted an impressive lap of 1:16.634 (105.133 mph) in the early afternoon, a time that easily surpassed the official track record of 1:16.986 (104.653 mph), established by A.J. Allmendinger during his Atlantic championship-winning season of 2003. The performance harkened back to the dynamic debuts of both three-time reigning Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais and defending Atlantic champion Simon Pagenaud – also both of France – who turned heads while turning remarkable lap times at their first testing performances in their respective series. More ...

03/07/07
F1
Kovalainen tunes up  Home is where the heart is, or so they say. In that case, Heikki Kovalainen belongs on the back of a rather powerful four-stroke snowmobile!

Just ten days ahead of his Grand Prix debut at the wheel of the new Renault F1 R27, the young Finn is relaxing and training near his home town of Suomussalmi in northern Finland ahead of what promises to be a long, demanding season.

While the 25 year-old may live day to day in Oxford, and drop by unannounced several times a week at the team’s Enstone factory, his roots are firmly in the northern part of his home country – just south of the Arctic Circle.

Out in the snowy, forested countryside, as the mercury hits “15” (the Finnish leave off the ‘minus’ because it’s always below zero in these parts in the winter), the snowmobile is the vehicle of choice – and, as you can imagine, Heikki’s been riding the powerful machines since he was a small boy.

In addition to regular ‘oversteer practice’ on the ski-doo, he has been training hard on his cross-country skis – a perfect workout as he finishes off his physical preparation before the first race of the season. And of course, keeping track of the Finnish team’s progress in the Nordic Skiing World Championships in Sapporo, Japan.  More at F1Technical.net

03/07/07
f1
Fisichella doesn’t measure up to Alonso  Jacques Villeneuve recently commented upon Giancarlo Fisichella’s performances over the last two years with Renault. During the same period, that is, during the 2005 and 2006 Championships, the Italian driver had two wins while his teammate Fernando Alonso brought home fourteen.

Approached in Canada by Montreal radio FM 103.3, Villeneuve forwarded the following opinion concerning Fisichella : « He didn’t measure up to Alonso, that’s all. Too bad, next. That’s how it is, that’s life. »

He then detailed his opinion on the requirements that come naturally with a F1 driver’s career : « When you’re at the top, because the top of motor racing is Formula One, you measure up or you don’t measure up. That’s life. It’s not a question of being mean or not mean, that’s how it is. »

Villeneuve’s comments can be added to those of others who also wonder about the long-term collaboration between Renault and Fisichella.
Indeed, the Italian will have to perform better than ever this year if he wishes to prolong his contract.  More at F1-Live.

03/07/07
f1
Bridgestones demand smoother driving style  The FIA's new tyre regulations were one of the reasons for the BMW Sauber F1 Team's extensive test programme in Spain and Bahrain. Robert Kubica reveals the conclusions he has drawn from pre-season testing.

All the teams involved at the pinnacle of motor racing will contest the 17 rounds of the 2007 Formula One season with control tyres supplied by Bridgestone. During the extensive pre-season testing programme, the BMW Sauber F1 Team coped well with the Japanese manufacturer's tyres. Robert Kubica gives view regarding the Bridgestone Potenza tyres: "The Bridgestone tyre construction is quite different to what we had last year. You have to adapt your driving style. But I feel this is already behind us now. I drive more smoothly with less steering angle and it's okay," he reveals.

While the tests in Spain were held in cool and sometimes wet conditions, Bahrain offered the BMW Sauber F1 Team the first chance of running in really hot conditions. Robert is happy with what was achieved in these tests: "We did a complete race simulation with both cars which worked fine," he says. "It was a good step forward. We are getting better in terms of reliability. Hot conditions should not be a big problem for the performance of the car. It responds well. We just will have to watch the set-up and make sure to limit the stress for the tyres."

03/07/07
nascar
Stewart doesn't like changes   Tony Stewart doesn't like the changes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The two-time NASCAR champion thinks they were unnecessary and will make for a boring race this weekend.

``I thought they screwed up a really nice race track,'' Stewart said Wednesday. ``They had a track that every year was getting better and better, and the racing was getting better and better.''

During reconstruction of the 1 1/2 -mile oval since the Nextel Cup race there last March, the banking was increased from 12 to 20 degrees. The pit lane was moved closer to the front stretch grandstands, making for a smoother transition from corner to straightaway.

Las Vegas officials contend the reconfiguration will create more side-by-side and competitive racing.

``Tony and I would probably have to agree to disagree, and I think the race fans will disagree as soon as Saturday and Sunday roll around,'' Las Vegas general manager Chris Powell said. ``I think the competition is going to be much better with this added banking.''

But Stewart expects the cars to run ``in one or two lines'' Sunday in the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. He said the groove didn't move much during two days of testing with Cup and Busch cars in January.

``It's going to make for a worse race in my opinion,'' Stewart said.

Track owner Bruton Smith had the opinions of the fans in mind when he changed the facility

``It didn't bother Tony when the cars got strung out and the fans were yearning for more side-by-side racing. That wasn't a problem for Tony, and I can understand that perspective,'' Powell said. ``But Bruton Smith puts the race fans first, and that's what he was doing with this new configuration -- looking for better competition and more side-by-side racing.''  More at Yahoo Sports.

03/07/07
nascar
NASCAR’s Busch Series at crossroads  Juan Pablo Montoya's historic win in Sunday's Mexico City Busch Series race brought some much-needed attention to NASCAR's junior circuit.

In order to survive, it's going to need much more.

NASCAR started the Busch Series in 1982, as an evolution of its old Late Model Sportsman Division. The new circuit was created as an option for short track stock car drivers and teams to race at the national level. The inaugural season consisted of 29 races with a field of drivers that mainly consisted of short track standouts, with names like Tommy Ellis, Jimmy Hensley, Sam Ard, Jack Ingram and Tommy Houston grabbing the headlines.

But times have certainly changed. Today's Busch Series is nothing more than a "Nextel Cup Lite" circuit, dominated by drivers and teams from NASCAR's top division.

NASCAR needs to be thinking of ways to fix the Busch Series. Rather than serving as its No. 2 circuit, a developmental training ground for drivers and teams with Cup Series aspirations down the road, today's Busch Series is a glorified Nextel Cup test session.

With a limit on testing, the Cup side has invaded the Busch Series like never before, using it as a way to gleam information and data Saturday that can be transferred over to Sunday's race.

While the cars are different, the characteristics of the track are the same from day to day, and what better way to learn how to tweak your Cup ride than to run in the Busch race the day before. The infiltration of Cup drivers into the Busch Series has gone on for some time. Promoters and television networks want the top stars in the preliminary show to sell tickets and raise ratings.

But it's now way out of hand.  More at CBS SportsLine.com

03/07/07
Industry News
Ford to sell Aston Martin by Friday  Iconic luxury division, will be sold by the end of the week, sources said at the opening day of the Geneva Motor Show, according to The Daily Telegraph.
"It's a done deal. All that remains is to cross the t's and dot the i's," said a senior source, according to the newspaper.

Aston Martin owner Ford is expected to sign the deal early on Friday in Detroit, The Telegraph said. The sale will see ownership of the 86-year-old British GT maker transfer to a consortium of business interests from the U.S. and the Middle East, headed by Prodrive founder and world rally championship owner David Richards, the newspaper said.

Prodrive, which runs Aston Martin's works racing team and has worked with the company for many years, has emerged ahead of the remaining bidders, Doughty Hanson and Syrian property businessman Simon Halabi, The Telegraph said.
The price is rumored to be in the region of GBP500 million, about half what Ford was asking when it first put the company up for sale six months ago, The Telegraph said.

03/07/07
nascar
Kentucky Lt. Governor Supports NASCAR  Kentucky Lt. Gov. Steve Pence stopped by the 1.5-mile track Wednesday as part of an effort to drum up support for the track's campaign to land a Nextel Cup race date.

"Let NASCAR know that the state cares about this," Pence said in a statement from the track. "That's one of the reasons I'm here, to let the people on Ryan Newman's team know that the state does care about this and they want to see a Nextel Cup race here. I like to hear and talk to guys like Ryan Newman because they believe a Nextel Cup race would work here.

"All the drivers who test here now say it's a great track. So if the state gets behind it with all its effort, the fans get behind it, and we have a few drivers who say it's a great place to race, it will happen eventually.

"You know, there's always some resistance. If we do what [track owner] Jerry Carroll is doing, and that's to keep plugging along day by day, eventually, there will be a Cup race here."

Kentucky is home to Busch Series, Craftsman Truck Series, ARCA and IRL events but not a Nextel Cup race. Cup teams, however, have made Kentucky a home away from home, as testing at the facility is unlimited because the track is not on the Cup schedule.  Full article at SceneDaily and Inside Racing News.

03/07/07
f1
Penultimate day of testing for Toyota  Panasonic Toyota Racing completed its penultimate day of testing before the start of the 2007 season at the Circuito Permanente de Jerez on Wednesday where regular drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli took the wheel for the private test in Spain.

“Today went quite well and we did a lot of useful work,” Ralf said. “The first race of the season is very close now so we tried a few different set-ups which went well. We are making progress and it was good to be able to do a lot of laps today without any problems with the car. We now have only one day of testing left before the season starts so we need to make the most of the opportunity and really push to be ready for Melbourne.”

Both drivers helped the team put the finishing touches to the TF107 prior to the Australian Grand Prix with the day’s program focusing on running with a Melbourne-specification aerodynamic update on the car for the first time. More ...

03/07/07
tv news
Sir Stirling Moss on Wind Tunnel  Widely known as the best driver to have never won the Formula One World Championship, legendary racer Sir Stirling Moss, will be Dave’s guest on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on SPEED.

Beginning his racing career at the age of 18, Moss went on to win nearly 40 percent of the races he entered, including 16 wins in Formula One and a win in the highly prestigious Mille Miglia in 1955. Over the course of his 14-year driving career, he claims to have driven some 84 different cars …from Lotus and Cooper, to Maserati and Mercedes, where he was a teammate to the legendary Juan-Manuel Fangio. And for four consecutive years, 1955 – 1958, he finished second in the F1 World Championship. His racing career ended in 1962 when he nearly died in an accident at Goodwood in England. More ...

03/07/07
nascar
Sadler happy to get Crew Chief back  Elliott Sadler's No. 19 Evernham Motorsports team will be bolstered this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by the return of team director Josh Browne, who was forced to sit out two races as a result of a NASCAR suspension.

Browne was suspended during Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway when NASCAR found drilled-out spoiler fasteners on Sadler's No. 19 Nextel Cup Dodge.

The team was docked 25 owner and driver points and fined $25,000. More ...

03/07/07
irl
Rice joins Racing for Kids lineup  2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice has joined the Racing For Kids' team of celebrity drivers that will visit sick children in hospitals across the country during the 2007 racing season, according to J. Patrick Wright, RFK executive director.

Racing For Kids (www.racingforkids.org) is a non-profit organization founded in 1989 to use motorsports to focus public attention and funding on the healthcare needs of children. In 2006, Racing For Kids visited 2,200 sick children at 24 hospitals around the United States and in Japan and donated more than $200,000 to children's hospitals across the country, raising its total annual donations to close to $5 million. More ...

03/07/07
irl
Key quotes from Danica Patrick  2005 IndyCar Series Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick (pictured right) and two-time Indy Pro Series race winner Alex Lloyd were guests on today's Indy Racing League teleconference.

Patrick discussed expectations for the 2007 season resulting from her move to Andretti Green Racing.

Q. How pivotal is this season for you? How different does this season feel compared to the first two?

DANICA PATRICK: "You know, I will say honestly that I feel, as the races go on, and of course the seasons go on, I feel more pressure to do well, to perform, but I know there's also circumstances that come into it, as well.

"If it was as simple as one more season should give you better results, then that should have happened from season one to season two. But the circumstances were that we had an engine advantage the first year. We had a chassis advantage in certain places the first year. The team was in much better condition than it was the second year.

"You know, all those things play into your results. While I drove better and more flawlessly and more aggressively and with more knowledge, it didn't translate as much because of all of those circumstances.

"So when everything is right, when the season comes together with a good car, a good engine, a good team, good everything, good me, then the success will come. But there's just so many moving parts in racing."

03/07/07
track news
Vegas to finish infield project tonight  With the NASCAR Nextel Cup UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 set for Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS), the track is expected to complete its $30M infield renovation project by tonight, when the venue hosts a VIP reception. LVMS GM Chris Powell said of the new interactive fan areas, “Anybody who doesn’t have the opportunity to give the fans this kind of access is going to be a level below where Las Vegas is.”  NASCAR.com
03/07/07
nascar
NASCAR Mexico TV rating plummets  ESPN2's broadcast of the Telcel-Motorola Mexico 200 Busch Series race garnered a 2.3 TV rating with 2,142,000 households watching, according to the network.  ESPN's Spanish-language telecast garnered a 0.2 rating with 196,000, meaning the total households watching were 2,337,000.  Those numbers were down 34.3 percent over 2006's race, which was shown on the Fox network. Last year, the Fox broadcast had a 3.5 rating with 3,821,000 households.
03/07/07
alms
BK Lola Mazda breaks cover  The new Mazda-powered Lola for B-K Motorsports is on its way to Sebring following a Sunday shakedown at Snetterton in the eastern UK. The Wisconsin-based LMP2 team completed 26 laps in soggy conditions before the car was packed up and shipped to the U.S. for next week’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the opening race for the American Le Mans Series.

B-K Motorsports is entering its third season of Series competition, all coming in P2. Following its debut at Road Atlanta in 2005, the team won its first race in LMP2 at Mid-Ohio. Jamie Bach and Ben Devlin will pilot the Lola-Mazda for the full 12-race championship and will be joined by Rafael Matos at Sebring and Petit Le Mans.

The car will be on Kumho tires and utilize the new Mazda MZR-R four cylinder turbo engine.

The 2007 American Le Mans Series opens with the 55th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 17 at Sebring International Raceway. The green flag will fall shortly after 10 a.m. with SPEED providing live coverage. The race also will be broadcast by American Le Mans Radio with IMSA Live Timing & Scoring available at americanlemans.com.

03/07/07
track news
St. Pete GP news  
Michael Andretti Foundation Gala to Benefit the Children of St. Petersburg

The Michael Andretti Foundation will host a gala event on Friday, March 30 to benefit a number of children’s charities in the St. Petersburg area.  Among the drivers expected to attend the event are Marco Andretti, Bryan Herta, Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, David Brabham, Stephan Johansson, Duncan Dayton, Ryan Briscoe and Bill Auberlen.

The event will feature a live painting performance by renowned motorsports artist Bill Patterson and the live auction will include a Danica Patrick racing suit and an original piece of artwork from acclaimed glassworks artist Dale Chihuly.  A silent auction will include a number of unique motorsports items donated by teams competing in this year’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“It was important to all of us that we find a way to give back to this great community,” said Michael Andretti.  “We wanted to do something for the children of St. Petersburg and we were inspired by the work Racing for Kids has done with local organizations.  We hope this can become an annual event in St. Petersburg.” More ...

03/07/07
irl
IRL and sponsor to honor Foyt  Four Indianapolis 500 wins. Seven national championships. Sixty-seven victories. A.J. Foyt has accomplished more in his career than any driver could imagine.

The 2007 season marks Foyt's 50th anniversary season of participation in Indy car racing. To help celebrate this milestone, the IndyCar Series, A.J. Foyt Racing and ABC Supply Co., the primary sponsor of Foyt's IndyCar Series team, have developed initiatives for fans and customers to enjoy.

"I really appreciate all that the IRL and ABC Supply are doing to make this season even more special for me," said  Foyt, the 500-Mile Race's first four-time winner and the only man to win Indy, the 24 Hours of LeMans and the Daytona 500.

"I feel real fortunate to have made a living from being a race driver. It's been very successful for me and I've had a lot of fun. Even though I'm crippled today from race cars, I don't know of anything I'd change because, all in all, the good's offset the bad. I wouldn't trade careers with anyone." More ...

03/07/07
track news
Fire destroys historic Glen track building  Watkins Glen, NY – The Glen Club at Watkins Glen International, caught fire yesterday evening and was extinguished around 6:00 am this morning. The track was closed at the time of the fire and no one was injured, however the historic building is considered a loss. The club was located on the inside of the track midway up the famed Esses.

An investigation is still taking place to determine the cause of the fire however, the fire will not affect the 2007 race season at Watkins Glen International. The first race weekend will take place, June 8-10 during the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.

“It is sad to see the loss of such an important piece of our history, but we are thankful no one was injured. The loss of this building will in no way affect our ability to host racing events like the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race,” stated Craig Rust, President of Watkins Glen International. “We are already reaching out to our displaced Glen Club customers and will immediately begin to construct a plan to replace the club.”

 The Glen Club offered a VIP experience to fans, customers and sponsors during racing events held at WGI and was also available for rental during non-racing events.  The history of the Glen Club dates back almost 50 years to a tent called the “Paddock Club” in 1958.  The Club grew to an open-sided building in 1959 and was then upgraded by enclosing the building, adding a small kitchen and renaming it the “Onyx Club” in 1967. It underwent substantial improvements and was re-named the “Glen Club” in 1985 when the track re-opened under new management.

03/07/07
irl
TV News
Marty Reid to anchor IRL TV broadcasts  Veteran ESPN motorsports commentator Marty Reid will lead the network’s coverage of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 in 2007, his second season as lead announcer. The season will begin with a live primetime telecast from Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday night, March 24, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

Booth analyst Scott Goodyear and pit reporter Jack Arute will also return to the coverage team this season, with pit reporter Vince Welch returning to a fulltime role after working selected races the past two seasons. Joining the team as pit reporter will be Indianapolis native Brienne Pedigo.

ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN on ABC will have coverage of all 17 events on the IndyCar Series schedule, and ABC will cover the Indianapolis 500 for the 43rd year on May 27, extending the second-longest relationship in television history between a sporting event and television network.  More ...

03/07/07
cc
A1GP
Halliday to test with Conquest Racing  New Zealand's Matt Halliday, who is currently driving in A1GP, will test for Conquest Racing during the two-day test at Laguna Seca, the team announced on Wednesday. The test, which begins on Friday, will mark Halliday's return with Conquest, as he drove for the team in 2001 in the Indy Light series.  Photo courtesy of A1GP

"I have good memories of my days with Conquest Racing when they were competing in Indy Lights in 2001 and I'm really excited about testing the DP01 car with them in Laguna Seca. It seems like a really fun car to drive," said Halliday.

"I can't thank Conquest Racing enough for giving me this opportunity and I hope it develops into a ride for the season."

"I'm delighted to be able to continue our relationship with Matt. He did a good job with us back in Indy Lights and I know that he has what it takes to do well in Champ Car," said team boss Eric Bachelart.

"He's a very talented driver and we're really happy to be testing him but we would like nothing more than to be able to work things out and keep him for the entire season."

03/07/07
alms
First race for new Audi R10 TDI  UPDATE Added photos of Audi's new paint scheme below.

03/07/07 The 2007 Audi R10 TDI, which was unveiled to the world’s public on Monday evening in Munich, contests its first race on Saturday (17 March) at Sebring (USA). The 12-hour race in "Sunshine State” Florida is the opening race and one of the highlights of the American Le Mans Series, and also dress rehearsal for the Le Mans 24 Hours for Audi Sport’s team.
 
It is not only the new design that distinguishes the further developed Audi R10 TDI from its successful predecessor that started its winning streak exactly one year ago and remains unbeaten since then. To ensure that it remains the car to beat in 2007, innumerable details were optimized on the LM P1 Prototype.
 
The Audi R10 TDI will certainly not have things all its own way its second year of competition. The 150 kilogram lighter LM P2 cars are allowed to race in the American Le Mans Series with more engine power than at Le Mans. At the same time, diesel powered cars must manage with a nine-liter smaller fuel tank in the future – as stipulated by the Automobile Club de l‘Ouest (ACO) regulations. More ...
03/07/07
skip barber
Daly completes 2 Day advanced School  In preparation for his race car debut in Moroso Motorsports park, Florida, March 24th-25th, Conor Daly completed a 2 day advanced course at the Skip Barber Racing School in Sebring, Florida on Monday/Tuesday March 5th-6th. The Sebring International Raceway holds a special significance for Conor as it was where his Dad, Derek Daly, won the 12 hour of Sebring endurance race in 1990 & 1991.

Conor had an interesting “moment” during the first session of day two when he had a front suspension failure at just over 100 MPH while entering turn one. He returned to the pit lane, jumped into another car, and continued his lapping session.   He turned in the fastest times in his class.

03/07/07
nascar
Pruett and Montoya statements on Mexico accident  The following are statements from Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates drivers Scott Pruett and Juan Pablo Montoya:

Scott Pruett:
“Sunday’s race brought out a wide range of emotions from me. Although I am still upset that I did not win the race in Mexico City or finish 1-2, I do feel a lot better. I spoke to Juan Pablo and he apologized and I do know that what happened was not intentional on Juan’s part. He and I have worked great together in the past – winning the 24 Hours - and I know we will work together in the future. Racing is an emotional sport and that is part of its beauty. I have been in racing for a long time and sometimes these things happen. I have moved on and now just look forward to getting back to racing.”

Juan Pablo Montoya:
“As I said for the last couple of days, I am very sorry about what happened with Scott and I am really disappointed that we did not finish 1-2. I think that we had the best cars in the field and I know Scott, Brian and the whole 41 team deserved better. I feel bad that the whole situation happened and told Scott that I was sorry about it. I completely understand Scott’s frustration as I would feel the same way. I am now just looking forward to Las Vegas.”

03/07/07
nascar
Siegel says DEI, Junior still working on deal  Max Siegel, president of global operations for Dale Earnhardt Inc., said business dictates that contract negotiations with Dale Earnhardt Jr. be resolved soon. And what exactly does that mean in terms of a timetable? "If I had a goal, it would be by May," Siegel said in a telephone interview. "That's probably what makes sense." Siegel said dialogue among DEI owner Teresa Earnhardt (who founded the company with her late husband, Dale Earnhardt) and her stepchildren (Kelley Earnhardt Elledge and Dale Earnhardt Jr.) has been open and candid. Elledge is business manager of her brother's JR Motorsports and his negotiating partner. "I wanted to cut through all of the clutter to see what needed to be addressed," Siegel said. "We've done that. The tone of the conversation last week between me and their team was very positive. Everyone is working on a solution to keep Dale Jr. at DEI. Everyone would argue the continuation of this business is a top priority. If not, [Dale Earnhardt Jr.] could have walked away and driven for anyone else." He said Elledge and Dale Jr. have been very much involved with infrastructure issues at DEI the past few weeks, so much so that Siegel described their involvement as "diligent" and "refreshing." It is that future that Siegel is eager to begin expanding. He comes from a music and entertainment background and sees the potential in digital entertainment and developing original programming, to name a few things on the to-do list he intends to explore. More at ESPN.com
03/07/07
PF2000
Full Field for Pacific F2000 Opener  A full field of 24 Formula Ford 2000 cars has been attracted to this weekend’s opening round of the 2007 Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook Tires. The entry comprises an intriguing mix of talented youngsters and experienced veterans who will fight for supremacy in a pair of 30-minute races around the 2.88-mile combined oval/road course at California Speedway as part of VARA’s Route 66 Classic Formula Festival. The event will also feature a selection of vintage Champ Cars and Indy Cars as well as an appearance by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser. More ...
03/07/07
cc
Sheriff slaps Pagenaud with speeding ticket  Team Australia has assisted officials of the Grand Prix of Phoenix in conducting a noise level test in Arizona today, as new Aussie Vineyards recruit Simon Pagenaud received a shock speeding ticket as part of the proceedings.

Team Australia is geared up for a busy and successful 2007 racing season, but the green and gold Champ Car squad took some time out today to assist officials with a noise test ahead of December’s Grand Prix of Phoenix in Arizona.

The team kicked off the start to a hectic week as they participated in the Grand Prix of Phoenix noise test, which took place today in downtown Phoenix. Team Australia was asked by Champ Car and the Grand Prix of Phoenix promoters Dale Jensen and Bradley Yonover of DDB Ventures to conduct a demonstration to see if the noise of 750 horsepower Champ Cars would disrupt the MSCO 911 call centre. More ...

03/07/07
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
Drunk Kimi enjoys night in karaoke bar
Hill tells Button to quit Honda
Britain now open to GP 'share' talks
FIA introduce variation of 'red tire rule'
Spyker tone down orange livery for 2007
Stoddart to commentate at Australian GP
Report ranks F1's teams ahead of '07 opener
No F1 car for Alonso's Santander demo
03/07/07
cca
Muermans’ son to race in Atlantics  UPDATE We have now learned that that Dominick Muermans will compete in the new Formula Masters series this year. He will only race in the first 2 (two) Champ Car Atlantic races this year with Jensen Motorsport.  Only for this year though. He studies at a business school in London and will finish at the end of this year. He was planning to move to the US after finishing his studies anyway, the main reason being that his girlfriend is from Houston, TX.  Next to that he will - most probably - join the Champ Car Atlantic Series in '08.

03/07/07 AutoRacing1.com can reveal that wealthy Dutch businessman Harry Muermans (pictured right), who backs Champ Car driver Robert Doornbos, will be keeping an extra keen eye on the Champ Car Atlantic series in 2007.

Why?  Because his son, Dominick Muermans (pictured left), will be driving alongside Frankie Muniz for Jensen MotorSport.  He hails form Gelleen, Netherlands and will drive the No. 22 Jensen MotorSport entry.  The team will also run a third car for Tom Sutherland.

03/06/07
f1
New F1 Tire Regulations  Below are the changes the FIA has made with regard to F1 tires, and how many of each type a team gets for a weekend.  The rules are now very similar to Champ Car with regard to marking the softer compound tires a different color, but the teams get more tires to use for the weekend than Champ Car.  Changes to the regs are marked in purple

25.1 Supply of tires : a) Any tire company wishing to supply tires to Formula One teams must notify the FIA of its intention to do so no later than 1 January preceding the year during which such tires will be supplied.

Any tire company wishing to cease the supply of tires to Formula One teams must notify the FIA of its intention to do so no later than 1 January of the year preceding that in which such tires were to be supplied. More ...

03/06/07
f1
Spyker presents new livery  As the Spyker Formula One Team completed its final kilometres of pre-season running today at Silverstone Circuit, UK, it unveiled a brand-new car color scheme with the luminous orange and black replaced by a more subdued, pearlescent orange and tungsten that will be the definitive team look for the season.

"We trialed the very bright color in the first three tests of the year. Whilst the bright orange was a very distinctive color when you saw it in front of you in the garage or on the track, the color didn’t transfer well when filmed,” commented team principal Colin Kolles. “It’s important for the Spyker brand that the color is uniformly represented by all media and we’re confident this will be the case with the new color scheme.”

In another ‘first’ for the team today, Spyker reserve and test driver Markus Winkelhock got his debut run in the new F8-VII. “We ran a 50km shakedown of the third chassis today and completed the final control system tests. We didn’t have any issues during the day; it was mainly about making sure that the third chassis was reliable. As it’s such a short run today, it’s difficult to make an accurate comparison of the 2006 and the 2007 cars, but I can tell the new car is more stable – it also looks fantastic.”

In addition to the systems checks on the car, the team completed several race pit stops with tire changes and refueling as preparations for the Australian Grand Prix continue apace.

03/06/07
racing news
Students vie for Bernie Ecclestone trophy  It is not only McLaren, Ferrari, Renault and their rival F1 teams that are heading to Melbourne to race their Formula One cars. Two American student teams: ‘Team Turbo’, from Bloomsburg Area High School and ‘Team Inferno’, from Breckinridge Middle School, Roanoke, Virginia will represent the USA, fighting for the Bernie Ecclestone Trophy and the title of F1 in Schools World Champions at the event to be held during the F1 Grand Prix week, at the Telstra Dome and the F1 Experience, Albert Park, in the city of Melbourne, Australia. ‘Team Hybrid’, from East Cobb Middle School, Marietta, Georgia is a team which has collaborated with a UK school for this event and will be a joint USA/Scotland entrant.

Twelve countries: Australia, Germany, USA, Canada, Kuwait, Malaysia, South Africa, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Singapore will be lining up on the grid of this innovative educational initiative, all racing for glory, which brings with it the Bernie Ecclestone Trophy and coveted Automotive Engineering scholarships to The City University, London, UK, for each member of the winning team. More ...

03/06/07
irl
Ritmo Named Official Timepiece Of IndyCar Series  The IndyCar® Series today announced a multi-year partnership with Ritmo Mundo, the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based maker of watches, clocks and watchcases that has been acclaimed for offering a wide selection of timepieces that blends tradition with trends.

The five-year partnership makes Ritmo the official timepiece of the IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series and includes a licensing agreement for IndyCar Series-branded Ritmo timepieces that can be expanded to include driver-branded timepieces in the near future. More ...

03/06/07
cc
Sheriff gives thumbs up for Phoenix race  UPDATE #3 Based on a successful result from today’s sound measurement, the day’s final test run scheduled for 3 p.m. has been cancelled.  Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Dale Jensen, Grand Prix Arizona Co-Owner, were on-site for the 10:30 a.m. run and jointly declared the test a success.

Quote from Sheriff Joe Arpaio

 “I am thankful and grateful to the owners of Grand Prix Arizona for what I didn’t hear today.”

Quote from Dale Jensen 
“We’re happy it was a successful test. As the Sheriff says, ‘The proof will be on race day.’ I plan on being with him in the call center when the first car turns the corner to make sure our test was indeed successful. We are appreciative to the Sheriff and his staff for the cooperation they provided.”

Today’s test runs were designed to measure the sound generated by the high-performance Champ Cars and their effect on the operation of his 911 call center.

03/06/07 The three open-wheel racecars were shrieking Tuesday morning as they zoomed down Madison Street past the Maricopa County 911 emergency center.  But inside the command center at First Avenue, visitors were able to talk in a whisper.

The first tests of noise mitigation for the Champ Car World Series coming this fall to downtown Phoenix streets were deemed a success by race promoters and sound experts, although county Sheriff Joe Arpaio said he would reserve judgment until race day. advertisement 

"We couldn't hear any of the noise," Arpaio said. "However, when you have 20 cars racing out there, it might be a little different."

Arpaio had expressed concern that the noisy racing events Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 would cripple operations at the command center. A noise-mitigation specialist lined the center with heavy rubber window coverings and thick curtains, as well as stacking a noise barrier wall made of steel shipping containers around a corner of the building. Arizona Republic [Note: Try that with an IRL or F1 car.  In both cases the noise is deafening]

03/06/07 Here is a video clip of today's test on the streets of Phoenix. More ...
03/06/07
PF2000
PR1 enter 3-car team in Pacific F2000  Fresno-based PR1 Motorsports announced their driver line-up for the Pacific F2000 Series today.  PR1 will once again enter into the series running a 3 car team.  Their drivers will be Patrick Barrett, Thomas Merrill and Shaun Modisette.

This is the fourth year the team has entered into the Pacific F2000 Series.  PR1 Motorsports has captured 2 championships in the Pacific series and another in the Cooper Tires Zetec Championship.  PR1 is looking to secure another championship with the incredible list of drivers they have secured. More ...

03/06/07
cc
Champ Car names Cathie Lyon  INDIANAPOLIS – The Champ Car World Series announced today that it had moved director of the Champ Car Fast Lap team, Cathie Lyon, to the position of Director of Partner Services.

Lyon, who has been a vital part of the Champ Car World Series since 1989, will take over responsibility for partner services, and will be working closely with all of the series sponsors, partners and suppliers.

“We are very fortunate to have someone with Cathie’s abilities and knowledge on our staff and we are confident that she will be a great addition to our partner services department,” said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. “Her deep experience with Champ Car and her interaction with our partners through the Fast Lap program, will allow her to jump right in and do a great job.” More ...

03/06/07
alms
Lowe's becomes official partner of ALMS  The American Le Mans Series announced today that Lowe's has become the "Official Home Improvement Store" for the world's leading sports car series. It is an arrangement that not only emphasizes the Series' continued alliance with premium brands, but one that also embraces Acura's new LMP2 entry of Lowe's Fernandez Racing.

The agreement includes elements such as at-track promotions, in-market activation, television inventory and program features, at-track signage, a website co-promotion and a show car program. At track, Lowe's will unveil the Lowe's Fan Experience at six races this year - St. Petersburg, Houston, Lime Rock, Mid-Ohio, Detroit and Atlanta's Petit Le Mans - that will provide fans another way to get closer to the action of the American Le Mans Series. The Lowe's Fan Experience will include a special component for kids, who will be allowed to build their own scaled model of the Lowe's Fernandez No. 15 race car. In addition, Lowe's will use its in-market stores for various promotions that will include other American Le Mans Series corporate partners such as Klein Tools, the Series' official hand tool. Several in-market Lowe's stores will play host to Klein Tools Pit Stop demonstrations this year during race week, beginning Saturday March 10 in Orlando prior to the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring (March 17). More ...

03/06/07
cc
Kalkhoven Joins Board of Rocket Racing League  LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Bringing the experience of racing and the knowledge of advanced technology to the competition of rocket-propelled race-craft, entrepreneur Kevin N. Kalkhoven has joined the board of the Rocket Racing League™ (RRL). The RRL is a first-of-its-kind aerospace sports and entertainment league formed by Granger Whitelaw, two-time Indy 500 champion team partner, and X PRIZE founder Peter Diamandis, renowned space travel enthusiast.

Kalkhoven, a qualified commercial pilot that also flies jets himself, has been recognized as one of America's Top 50 CEOs by Worth Magazine. As a co-owner of the Champ Car World Series and owner of PKV Racing within the league, Kalkhoven is intimately familiar with racing and the operation of an international racing league. In January of 2004, Kalkhoven, along with fellow team owners Paul Gentilozzi and Gerald Forsythe, purchased the assets of CART to ensure the future of the Champ Car World Series and has continued to support the advancement of the sport. Kalkhoven also participated in the 2004 X PRIZE Cup. Beyond racing, he has shown success as a venture capitalist and technology enthusiast, having served as CEO and chairman of Uniphase Corporation, a manufacturer of industrial lasers for the fiber optics telecommunications industry. Kalkhoven led the growth and merger of Uniphase with JDS Fitel, taking the company public and growing it from $35 million to $100 billion. More ...

03/06/07
cca
Conquest Racing Atlantic Team ready to attack final test  With the first round of qualifying for the Vegas Grand Prix taking place in exactly one month, the Conquest Racing Atlantic Team is well aware of the importance of the final pre-season open test of the season which gets underway tomorrow at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. Matt Lee and Giacomo Ricci will be behind the wheel of their #44 and #18 Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Cooper Atlantic cars logging miles on the 2.238 mile road course.

With no testing between this open test and the start of the Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season in April, American Matt Lee is looking to this two-day test as a final preparation for the season opener; a season-opener that, according to the drivers, can’t get here soon enough. More ...

03/06/07
cc
Mi-Jack selling interest in Mi-Jack Conquest Racing  Indianapolis, Indiana – Mi-Jack Products, a long time sponsor and team owner in the Champ Car World Series, announced today that it has agreed in principal to sell its ownership in the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team to current partner and former Indy Lights Champion, Eric Bachelart.

Mi-Jack Products and the Lanigan family started their association with Eric Bachelart in 1992 when they first sponsored him as a driver. They remained a sponsor for the following years and became a co-owner of Bachelart’s Conquest Racing team in 2002. That same year, the team, which was renamed Mi-Jack Conquest Racing (MJCR), switched from the Indy Lights Series to the Indy Racing League. In 2003, Mi-Jack Conquest Racing joined the Champ Car family as a one car team and grew to a two car team in 2004. This past season MJCR added a two car effort in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship. For 2007, after so many years together, both co-owners mutually agreed that it was time to part ways. More ...

03/06/07
lmes
Peugeot reveals LeMans 908 HDi livery  Peugeot unveiled the full livery that their 908 HDi diesel powered 24 Hours of LeMans race car will carry in 2007. Photo courtesy of Peugeot Sport
03/06/07
alms
Team Cytosport joins ALMS with ex-Dyson Lola  Just a few days after the announcement that Dyson Racing would change from the LMP1 Lola B06/10 AER to the LMP2 Porsche RS Spyder there were talks about the Lola being entered in the American Le Mans Series by another team. Intersport Racing was the main candidate for the car, but when they decided to go for the Creation CA06/H news regarding the ex-Dyson cars faded…until today! It was announced today that the Lola B06/10 will be entered in the American Le Mans Series by Team Cytosport. The team, lead by US racing veteran Greg Pickett, will not take part in the first two rounds of the season. Several test sessions will take place in California and Arizona before joining the series at Long Beach. Pickett will be driving the car himself, together with experienced German driver Klaus Graf and the team will most likely do eight out of twelve races.

Greg Pickett, who started racing in 1975, was successful in, the now defunct, TransAm-Series. During a period of almost four decades Pickett won numerous races. He is also the founder and CEO of Cytosport, a company in dietary supplements.

Klaus Graf is also a known face in the US-racing. He drove several NASCAR races before clinching the 2005 TransAm Series title. Before this, he drove sports cars as well, in 1998 he drove a Lanzante Motorsport Ferrari 333 SP in the FIA Sportscar Championship before joining Panoz as a works-pilot from 1999 up until 2001.

“I am very pleased that I could make this deal with Greg,” admits Graf. “The Lola is a fast and thoroughbred car in which we can get good results in the overall standings of the ALMS races.”

03/06/07
cc
alms
Tecate back with Toyota GP for 5th year  As the Official Beer Sponsor of the 33rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Tecate will once again be doing much more than simply quenching the thirst of adult race fans April 13-15.

On Thursday, April 12, Tecate will sponsor  "Thunder on Pine," the pre-race warm up celebration on Pine Avenue in downtown Long Beach that features a wide variety of motorsports displays, live music, and exhibits.

Throughout race weekend, fans will enjoy the "Tecate Cool Zone," a musical entertainment festival that begins Friday evening, when the finest in Latin music will be featured at the fourth annual Tecate "Fiesta Friday" Concert, held on the concert stage adjacent to the Long Beach Convention Center. 

Last year, Fiesta Friday featured El Tri, Mexico's original Spanish rock-and-roll band.   This year's headliner will be announced soon. More ...

03/06/07
wtcc
Monteiro signs to drive for SEAT  Tiago Monteiro has signed to drive for the factory SEAT team in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) thereby ending his open wheel career forever. Open wheel drivers simply don't go down to saloon cars and then back up to faster, harder to drive open wheel cars. Even though Monteiro says he wants to get back to F1 we doubt that will ever happen now.

Press Release

SEAT Sport has reinforced its already formidable team line-up with the signing of Tiago Monteiro. The Portuguese driver will join the team after the opening round of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, making him the fifth official SEAT Sport pilot – alongside Jordi Gené, Michel Jourdain Jr, Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini.
 
Although not racing, Monteiro will travel to Curitiba in Brazil for this weekend’s opening rounds of the WTCC, in order for him get to know all the components of the team and gain knowledge of the format of a hectic WTCC race meeting. He will make his WTCC race debut at Zandvoort in The Netherlands (May 5/6), rounds 3/4 of the series. More ...

03/06/07
usac
USAC Silver Crown Series to Race at Darlington  USAC will return to race at Darlington Raceway following a 51-year absence, track and series officials announced today, with the Silver Crown Series presented by K&N Engineering to take to the track for the first time ever later this season.

The decision was made following a successful two-day test session held last week at the track “Too Tough To Tame.” The 50-lap race, which will encompass all laps being run under the green flag, will be run under the lights on Thursday evening, May 10. Caution laps are not included in the 50-lap total.

USAC cars last competed at Darlington Raceway in 1956, when Pat O’Connor piloted his Sumar Special to victory on the Fourth of July. More ...

03/06/07
cca
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas Sponsors Muniz  The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas has signed on as a sponsor of Jensen MotorSport’s #13 car driven by Hollywood actor turned professional race car driver Frankie Muniz for the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix taking place April 6-8.

The exciting partnership will include Muniz’ car and helmet decked out in a special edition paint job featuring the Hard Rock’s purple and gold color scheme and an exclusive Drivers’ Party held at the hotel’s Body English Nightclub to wrap up Sin City’s first Champ Car street race.

“The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is an institution in Las Vegas,” says Jensen MotorSport President Eric Jensen. “It’s known for hosting hip, young celebrity clientele which makes sponsoring Frankie a perfect fit; and the team is thrilled to be aligned with such an established brand.” More ...

03/06/07
speedcar
Successful test for Speedcar Series  The first testing day of the brand new Speedcar Series has been hailed a success by drivers and engineers.

Former Formula One drivers Jean Alesi, Johnny Herbert, Stefan Johansson, and Gianni Morbidelli, were joined by American stock car racers Mike Bliss and Tony Avy, to test three of the championship's 600bhp cars at the Virginia International Raceway, USA, on Monday (March 5th), completing over 90 laps in total.

The inaugural championship is scheduled to begin in November, with 24 identical cars competing on tracks across Asia and the Middle East.

The drivers were delighted with how the first test had gone, Jean Alesi said: "It is one of the few cars I have dreamt of driving, and it's like I expected - lots of fun and really powerful! For me it's a real pleasure, and having fun in a car is so important for drivers. When you have fun with the car you have a fun championship."  More ...

03/06/07
f1
Puma official supplier for Red Bull  Puma, the world's third-biggest maker of sportswear and equipment, said Tuesday that it had signed a deal with the energy drink company Red Bull to become official supplier for its four motor sport teams in the next few years.

"Puma and Red Bull announced that they have agreed to team up for the next several years," the companies said in a statement. "As of the 2007 race season, Puma will become the official supplier of all four Red Bull Motorsport teams: Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso, Red Bull NASCAR and Red Bull Air Race."

The deal would enable Puma to strengthen its position in the motor sport category. Both Formula One teams - Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso - would be equipped with fire-proof Puma racing and team suits, boots and accessories, the statement said.  

In addition, Puma would also supply track suits, boots, clothing and accessories to the Red Bull NASCAR team starting this race season.

Furthermore, the German firm would provide the Red Bull Air Race team with team and pilot suits as well as shoes and accessories.

"Our new partner Red Bull fits perfectly to the Puma brand: Red Bull always delivers a convincing performance on the race track and like Puma combines sport with lifestyle," said Puma Chief Executive Jochen Zeitz.

Puma are also involved with BMW Sauber, Renault, Ferrari and Williams.

03/06/07
nascar
Wood to make Nextel Cup debut  The UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will mark Jon Wood’s first official Nextel Cup start in the #21 Air Force Ford. Regular driver Ken Schrader will step aside, but still compete in a second Nextel Cup entry, the red #47 Ore-Ida/Kingsford/Clorox Ford. The UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 will mark the first time that the Wood Brothers/JTG Organization will have two entries in the same event. The team also has plans to duplicate the double entry later next month at the Texas Motor Speedway. The ESPN Network has committed to filming an “All Access” feature story on Jon Wood and the week leading up to his Nextel Cup debut, which is slated to air on Sunday, March 11th during their NASCAR Countdown pre-race show. Check local listings for viewing times. Wood turned the 16th fastest overall lap at the open test in January at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Wood and the entire Wood Family are on tap to take a private guided tour of the Nellis Air Force Base on Thursday, March 8th with Director of Competition Michael McSwain and Co-Team Owner Jodi Geschickter are scheduled to fly in assorted Air Force aircraft. Wood Brothers/JTG Racing PR
03/06/07
nascar
MWR Tests at Kentucky  Michael Waltrip Racing drivers Dale Jarrett and Michael Waltrip attempted to place their early-season performance and off-track problems in the past by fine tuning their #55 and #44 race machines during a one-day test at Kentucky Speedway March 2.

The much-heralded Michael Waltrip Racing trio of Jarrett, Waltrip and rookie David Reutimann in the team’s No. 00 entry were expected to be a strong link in Toyota’s Nextel Cup foundation, but have struggled out of the gate with personnel suspensions and race finishes outside the top 10. The overall average team finish through the first two series races of the season stands at 32 entering this Sunday’s race on the newly-configured 1.5-mile track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“It’s not time to panic yet, it almost is. We’re going to make a few subtle changes and ramp up everything we do. Hopefully, we’ll show some steady improvement. We haven’t done a good job at the racetrack,” Waltrip said. It didn’t get any easier for the team Friday in Kentucky where Jarrett and Waltrip plowed through wind gusts as powerful as 32 mph while turning test laps. “I enjoy the track. A lot of people say it’s not a whole lot like anywhere we run, but it’s not a whole lot unlike a bunch of places we run,” Waltrip said. “It’s crazy how little time you get during a race weekend to learn and how much you try to squeeze into that little bit of time. Now, we’re able to relax and really, really tear apart the car, run, talk about it, analyze it and make it change. It’s a good way to learn systems and processes. More ...

03/06/07
Industry News
Cerberus, Chrysler meet  DaimlerChrysler AG met with officials from Cerberus Capital Management Monday at the automaker's Auburn Hills headquarters, the Detroit Free Press reports.

The meeting with Cerberus, a big-name private-equity group, kicks off a week of presentations with potential buyers interested in the Chrysler Group, said a person familiar with the plans. A meeting with Blackstone Group is expected later this week, the person said. Word of the presentations came as DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche indicated Monday that the German-based company might also sell the profitable Chrysler Financial unit if the Germany-based company decides to sell or spin off the Chrysler Group.

Responding to a question from an industry analyst at the Merrill Lynch Global Automotive Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Zetsche said company officials "have the option to do the same with the financial arm, or not."

03/06/07
cc
track news
Vegas businesses making room for Grand Prix  Michelle Dell knows the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix will bring business to her Hogs & Heifers Saloon on Third Street.

Just the wind from 750-horsepower Champ race cars roaring down Ogden Avenue on Easter weekend should blow a few people into her bar half a block from the 2.4-mile course.

She expects the race, scheduled for April 6-8, to be bigger than the National Basketball Association's recent All-Star Weekend, which catered to an out-of-town, corporate and celebrity crowd. Local residents were shut out by exorbitant ticket prices. A customer at Hogs & Heifers said NBA All-Star Weekend was a good reason to stay away from the Strip.

Vegas Grand Prix is expected to attract 150,000 spectators, about one-fourth of them locals, during a three-day festival of speed and entertainment. Ticket prices start at $44 in advance for the race.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has yet to estimate the race's economic impact on the city. The Nextel NASCAR race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway drew 158,000 fans in 2006 for a nongaming economic impact of $129.3 million and the NBA All-Star Game brought 85,000 visitors who spent an estimated $90.6 million.

"I'm here in support of the event," Dell said at a meeting between downtown business owners and residents and organizers of the 2007 season opener for the Champ Car World Series. "It's a fabulous event for downtown Las Vegas. I have one concern as a business owner, which has to do with construction time heading up to the weekend. My only concern is what downtown will look like."

It won't be pretty, Champ circuit manager Chris Kneifel conceded, but he promised to make it as painless as possible.

Placement of concrete barrier walls started Thursday at Grand Central Parkway and F Street. Certain segments of downtown streets will be closed from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., Kneifel said. More at Las Vegas Review Journal

03/06/07
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
Spyker's Sutil targets Albers scalp
Doornbos promised 6 test days in 2007
Ralf denies return of old back injury
Kimi vs. Massa to heat up in 2007
Dennis responds to 'control freak' jibe
Massa has powerful ally in '07 says Ecclestone
Rev limit makes passing harder - drivers
Tractor firm to again sponsor Ferrari in '07
03/06/07
f1
As season approaches Honda scrambling  UPDATE (GMM)  Honda's 2007 car will be "fundamentally revised" in time for the Malaysian grand prix, according to press reports.

The specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport claims that the Japanese carmaker must endure the season opener this month with the currently uncompetitive RA107, but that for the Sepang test a raft of new parts - including updated bodywork and suspension - will be ready.

Round two of the championship will be held at the same circuit near Kuala Lumpur in April.

Auto Motor und Sport said Honda's Brackley based chiefs were disappointed with the Melbourne-spec aerodynamic package, which was fitted to the car in Bahrain last week and appeared to have upped the car's speed.

Indeed, the RA107 is now apparently a full second per lap faster than when it was launched, but it is still up to a second behind the leading pace.

Driver Rubens Barrichello is quoted as saying that one of the main problems is braking.

"We are having to start stopping the car clearly earlier than the others," the Brazilian said, adding that the 2007 machine is too unstable under braking.

03/05/07 Honda are due to make a major update to the RA107 before the Malaysian Grand Prix, the second race of the season, according to reports elsewhere.

"There will be a big upgrade at the Sepang test, and also a revision to the suspension," Honda Racing F1's Senior Technical Director, Shuhei Nakamoto, told autosport.com. "At the moment we are ahead of Red Bull and Toyota, but behind the rest. I know BMW have been using a non-2007 wing (in testing) so they lose one or two tenths, but we will still be behind."

While it’s fair to say that the RA107 has failed to set the timesheets alight, the long-run pace of the car isn't far off the pace, with Nick Fry telling RealHondaF1.com that they expect to be around half a second a lap behind the leading McLaren and Ferrari cars.

"There's certainly more to come," Fry told RealHondaF1.com. "We've taken a bigger step in the longer runs that will give us more potential for improvements, but in the shorter runs it's a bit more difficult to set up. In terms of last week, one lap times were a big problem, but long run times you're probably right, we're probably half a second at least from where we should be.

"Realistically, where I believe we are is that we'll be in a position to score points in Melbourne," he continued. "We want to be winning races certainly, and I think we'll be winning races in the second half of the season, but what I'll say to your readers is 'please don't expect us to win in Melbourne as we probably won't.'"

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