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DATE News (chronologically)
03/10/09
irl
Dixon and wife expecting first child  Two-time Indy Racing League (IRL) winner Scott Dixon is on the fast track to fatherhood! The 28-year-old race car driver — who finished first in last year’s Indianapolis 500 — is expecting his first child with wife Emma Davies-Dixon. Baby-on-the-way is a delivery surprise due in July, according to Scott’s dad Ron Dixon, who adds, “He went from all of a sudden not wanting kids to, yeah, it would be nice to have a kid — so why not now? It’s typical of Scott. If he wants something, he goes and buys it.” Scott and Emma recently returned to the United States after spending time in Antigua, where they had been celebrating their first wedding anniversary
03/10/09
nastruck
Atlanta truck race TV ratings up  The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series broadcast from Atlanta Motor Speedway scored a Nielsen Household Rating of 1.29 (943,000 households), peaking at 1.63 (1,197,000 households. The Nielsen Rating is a 23-percent increase over last year’s 1.05 (753,000 households) and a 61-percent increase over the 2007 Atlanta race (.80).

After 19 of 22 NCWTS races on SPEED saw Nielsen Ratings growth in 2008, 15 in double digits, numbers continue to climb in 2009 on SPEED as Daytona enjoyed a 21-percent increase to open this season.

03/10/09
nassprint
Bowyer's team wins Tissot Pit Road award  The No. 33 Richard Childress Racing team of driver Clint Bowyer won the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

RCR’s No. 33 team is the fourth in four races this season to win the award, which honors the eligible team spending the least amount of time on pit road during a race. Bowyer’s group spent 364.4 seconds on pit road en route to a sixth-place finish. More ...
03/10/09
track news
Honda Grand Prix Pit Notes #8  Honda Grand Prix to launch 2009 IndyCar Series season with assist from Shuttle astronaut.

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is set to launch the 2009 IndyCar Series season on April 5, but that effort will get some assistance this week when Space Shuttle Discovery lifts off Wednesday at 9:20 p.m. from the Kennedy Space Center.

Discovery Pilot Tony Antonelli, who spent a portion of his childhood in the Indianapolis area, will carry a Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg green flag with him when he flies STS-119 to the International Space Station. Antonelli, who considers Indy car racing one of his early influences and current passions, contacted Michael Andretti last fall to inquire about an item he could carry to represent part of his life. Andretti obliged with the offer of the green flag. More ...

03/10/09
nassprint
Crewman suspended for rest of race for going after tire  UPDATE Jimmy Watts, a crew member for the #47 team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been suspended from the next four Sprint Cup Series events (until April 22) for rule violations during last Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Watts was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 9-15-U (crew members must not go on the race track for any reason while the cars are racing or while the cars are running under the yellow flag or the red flag, unless otherwise directed to do so by a NASCAR official). Watts has also been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. In addition, Frank Kerr, crew chief for the #47, has been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31 for violating Sections 12-1 and 9-4-A (crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of the team). NASCAR PR

03/09/09 Jimmy Watts, a crew member for the #47 Marcos Ambrose team, was suspended for the remainder of the race after he ran onto the infield grass -- a prohibited area -- to retrieve a loose tire on [caused] the third caution of the race. ESPN/AP

A quiet and remorseful Jimmy Watts stood outside the NASCAR hauler during the Kobalt Tools 500 to meet with NASCAR officials after he had been suspended for the remainder of the event for running onto the frontstretch grass with the race under green-flag conditions to retrieve a tire from the JTG Daugherty Racing car on lap 67. Watts, a gas man who also works for the Charlotte Fire Department, said he has been in the sport for more than seven years and just made a mistake. NASCAR threw the caution as he chased the tire. The tire had rolled on to the frontstretch grass when it got loose from the JTG Daugherty team of driver Marcos Ambrose and was knocked away by the Yates Racing team. “I saw the tire going away and it was a reaction – the wrong one,” Watts said. Watts said he “certainly did not” think that the tire would roll that far across the grass and by the time he was in the middle of it, he realized he was in a bad position. Watts said he hoped to be back next week but was waiting to talk to NASCAR officials to see if any additional penalties would be issued. SceneDaily
03/10/09
irl
Dixon unveils ticket for 93rd Indianapolis 500  The 2009 Indianapolis 500 ticket was unveiled March 10 by 2008 Indianapolis 500 champion Scott Dixon in a ceremony honoring the Indiana motorsports community at the Indiana Statehouse.

The ticket was unveiled in front of the Indiana General Assembly during the proclamation of March 10 as Indiana Motorsports Day. Indiana lawmakers, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood, Target Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi and executives from the National Hot Rod Association participated in the ceremony.

Each General Assembly member received a small replica of the ticket about 1 foot long.

The ticket features a smiling Dixon wearing the traditional winner's wreath while hoisting a bottle of milk, Dixon's No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar and the 2009 Indianapolis 500 event logo. Indianapolis 500 tickets traditionally honor and feature the previous year's champion. More ...

03/10/09
irl
Hildebrand samples IndyCar Series car  
J.R. Hildebrand
J.R. Hildebrand knew exactly what to expect when he got behind the wheel of an IndyCar Series car for the first time. He's been training for it for the better part of a year.

"There isn't any one thing in particular that a (Firestone Indy Lights) car does differently than an IndyCar Series car," the 21-year-old Firestone Indy Lights driver from Sausalito, Calif., said. "As a driver, what makes a car difficult to get used to is when there is something way different, and the IndyCar Series car was better and faster all around. Driving a Firestone Indy Lights car is a good preparation for driving the Indy car. I didn't feel uncomfortable. I was able to get up to speed, and that shows that the series is a good proving ground for anyone who wants to move up the ladder."

Hildebrand, who will drive the No. 27 ARPRO car for AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing in Firestone Indy Lights this season, became the first driver to participate in the new IndyCar Series bonus testing program, turning laps with Andretti Green Racing at Sebring International Raceway earlier this month. More ...

03/10/09
fil
Mason returns to Firestone Indy Lights  Jesse Mason will return to Firestone Indy Lights with Guthrie Meyer Racing for 2009. The 24-year-old Canadian will drive the team's No. 49 Dallara as a teammate to previously announced drivers Sean Guthrie and Ali Jackson.

"Jesse is going to be a huge addition to our team," team co-owner Jim Guthrie said. "Jesse has the ability to understand and diagnose issues inside the car from his engineering background and that's a valuable asset. We've had some good tests with Jesse this offseason, and we're looking forward to getting this kid out into competition at St. Petersburg." More ...

03/10/09
irl
All four drivers back at AGR  For the first time since 2005, when Andretti Green Racing won the second of consecutive IndyCar Series championships, the team’s four-driver lineup returns intact.

Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Hideki Mutoh and Danica Patrick return to the team after combining for two victories, 21 top-five finishes and 40 top-10s in 68 starts in 2008. After its drivers finished third, sixth, seventh and 10th in the championship point standings, the team has high hopes that having everyone back can lead to another title in 2009.

“Continuity is definitely a nice thing,” said team co-owner Michael Andretti, who has overseen three series titles in the last five seasons. “There’s no adjusting going on. That’s always good because you can hit it strong right away. Everybody knows everybody. That’s definitely a positive for us.” More ...

03/10/09
track news
2009 LB Toyota Pro-Celebrity field announced  
Last year's winners Mike Skinner (L) and Jamie Little (R)
A star-studded field of Hollywood’s elite will attempt to outpace and out-maneuver each other Saturday, April 18 in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, part of the 35th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  The field of 20 drivers will compete in brand new race-ready Scion tCs in what has become the world’s longest-running, most successful celebrity racing event: 

The historic, 10-lap race for charity on a 1.97-mile street circuit through the downtown streets of Long Beach in Southern California is one of six featured events during race weekend.  This year’s field includes the following fiercely competitive entertainment and media personalities:  More ...

03/10/09
atlantic
Newcomer Garcia Turns Quickest Lap in Opening Day  
Borja Garcia
In his first-ever Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda test session, Spanish rookie Borja Garcia posted the quickest lap in the first of two days of series-sanctioned testing at Palm Beach International Raceway.

Garcia turned a best lap at 1:08.294 in the No. 6 Condor Motorsports machine to lead the 12-driver field at the test. The 26-year-old Spaniard brings previous experience in GP2, World Series by Renault and Spanish Formula 3 among other European racing series with him to the Atlantic Championship. Beyond it being Garcia’s first time in an Atlantic car, it is also the first time Garcia has ever been to the United States.

“I’m really impressed, especially in the car,” said Garcia. “I think it’s really fun to drive. It’s harder to drive this car for the first time. I really surprised myself because in the first test, I did the best time in the morning and also in the afternoon. I think for me it’s very, very good. We’ll see what happens tomorrow, also, but it’s a good start for me and my team. We’ll see what happens.” More ...

03/10/09
irl
NHL Racing completes first road course day at Sebring  Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) completed their first full day of testing on a road course today at the 1.65-mile Sebring International Raceway since joining the IndyCar Series fulltime one year ago.    The team attempted to test here last year prior to Round 2 in St. Petersburg but rain halted the session after approx. six laps.  Other test days were utilized to test on ovals. 

It was also NHLR driver Robert Doornbos’ first day of testing an Indy car on a road course and he was joined on track by Venezuelan driver Milka Duno who participated in a testing role with the team.  The two drivers completed a trouble-free day and were happy with the progress.

“It was good to be in a race car on a circuit I know again,” said Doornbos after completing approx. 100 miles with a best lap time of 53.8.  “The Homestead oval was a completely new experience for me so it was good to come to not only a road course, but one I knew.  It gave me a chance to use my experience with braking.  The downforce is less than I am used to so that took a little time to get used to.  Our pace was decent but the track was very slippery because not many cars were running.  We made many changes throughout the day and, as rookies get extra miles we were trying to use them in the smartest way possible without wasting them.  The test went well both on track and off as I continue to get to know everyone on the team.” More ...

03/10/09
irl
IndyCar test times from Sebring Tuesday  
Test times today from Sebring where some of the IndyCar teams were testing on the famous Florida road course.  Leading the way was the Dale Coyne team with Justin Wilson at the wheel.

Tuesday Results
Pos
Time Driver Team
1 53.5s Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing
2 53.8s Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan
3 54.2s Dan Wheldon Panther Racing
4 56.2s Milka Duno Newman/Haas/Lanigan
03/10/09
tv news
irl
VERSUS pre-season IndyCar programming  UPDATE #2 VERSUS' IndyCar Series pre-season broadcasts continue March 14 (2 p.m. ET) with "IndyCar Series: Top 10 Closest Finishes." Every Saturday in March, the network will air original IndyCar Series programming as it gears up for its inaugural season of IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights coverage. At 2 p.m. March 21, the focus is "IndyCar Series: Crashes and Conflicts." On March 28, "IndyCar Series: World Tour 2009" will feature a look at the quickly approaching season.

VERSUS will broadcast 12 IndyCar Series races, with ESPN on ABC providing coverage of five others. In addition to race day coverage, VERSUS will air a qualifications show the day before each event and re-air the races on Mondays.

The season kicks off April 4 with the (5-7 p.m. ET) qualifications/season preview show from St. Petersburg, Fla. Race day coverage is 2-5 p.m. (ET) April 5, with the replay from 10 p.m.-midnight (ET) April 6.

A highlights show of the Firestone Indy Lights doubleheader on the streets of St. Petersburg will air from 6-7 p.m. (ET) April 6, and all Firestone Indy Lights races will be featured during one-hour shows on Mondays. More ...

03/10/09
arca
Menards to sponsor ARCA race  Officials from the Automobile Racing Club of America and Toledo Speedway announced today that Menards Home Improvement Stores will sponsor the Spring ARCA RE/MAX Series race event weekend at Toledo Speedway on May 16 and 17, 2009. The Menards 200, race six of the 22-race ARCA RE/MAX Series, rolls off at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 17.

The Menards 200 at Toledo Speedway marks the first time that Menards has provided title sponsorship of an ARCA RE/MAX Series race event and is part of a comprehensive marketing program within the Series. Menards is positioned as the Official Home Improvement Store of the ARCA RE/MAX Series and, along with Ansell Gloves, sponsors the Series' Pole Award Program. Menards and Ansell Gloves are co-primary sponsors of nine-time ARCA RE/MAX Series Champion Frank Kimmel.

Race fans can purchase general admission tickets to the Menards 200 at 29 different retail locations, including all 15 Ohio locations. General admission tickets, which will sell for $25 at the track, can be purchased at Menards at a discounted rate of $15 between April 1 and May 14, 2009.
03/10/09
irl
Extra track time for IndyCar rookie drivers  More than half the IndyCar Series field will receive bonus track time on race weekends this season.

Either 30 or 45 minutes of practice has been scheduled for rookies and entrants outside the top 10 in points before all cars take the racetrack on the first day of an event weekend (outside of the 93rd Indianapolis 500). The bonus begins at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (10-10:30 a.m.) April 17, with all cars scheduled to practice on the 1.97-mile, 11-turn circuit for the first time from 10:30-11:30 a.m.

“We’re trying things that help encourage new drivers in the series, in particular drivers advancing from Firestone Indy Lights,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and operations for the sanctioning Indy Racing League. “With the economy the way it is and limited testing, one of the byproducts is that teams can’t afford to – or through rules – can’t test very often, which makes an owner less inclined to take a chance on an unproven driver or rookie. More ...

03/10/09
fil
Ganassi and Schmidt announce joint Lights deal  Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) and Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) announced today a partnership to campaign 2007 Firestone Indy Lights Champion Alex Lloyd in the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 in the No. 99 Honda Dallara. The CGR development driver made his IndyCar Series debut in 2008 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, qualifying 19th and finishing 25th, and holds the distinction of being the only driver to win on both the speedway’s road course (Indy Lights, 2006) and oval (Indy Lights, 2007) layouts.

NOTES OF INTEREST:

In Good Company: The SSM/CGR partnership provides Lloyd an excellent opportunity in the Indianapolis 500, as CGR is scheduled to field entries for the past two Indianapolis 500 winners Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, respectively. The No. 99 entry will be run out of the SSM stable for the month of May, with the Indianapolis-based team working closely with CGR to ensure that Lloyd – who is under a developmental contract with CGR – receives the benefit of working with engineers and mechanics from both teams.

Familiar Territory: In 2007, the 24-year-old Manchester, England native teamed with Sam Schmidt Motorsports for its most successful season ever. The two combined to win eight races, five poles, and five additional podium finishes in the 16-race championship en route to a record-breaking Firestone Indy Lights title.

Reunited: Lloyd will work with engineers Tim Neff (SSM) and Andy Brown (CGR) on the race program. Previously, Lloyd and Neff won eight Indy Lights races together in 2007, and Brown partnered with Lloyd on his Indianapolis 500 program in 2008. Furthermore, Neff and Brown previously worked together on the open wheel program at Pac West Racing. More ...

03/10/09
f1
Final Tuesday F1 test times from Barcelona  The day started cloudy and the track was initially damp but the tarmac soon dried out and the sun came out shortly before lunch.
 
Pos Driver Team Car Time Behind Laps
1. K. Räikkönen Ferrari F60 1:20.314 +0.000 55
2. K. Nakajima Williams FW31 1:20.907 +0.593 61
3. R. Barrichello Brawn GP BGP 001 1:20.966 +0.652 106
4. J. Trulli Toyota TF109 1:21.182 +0.868 110
5. M. Webber Red Bull Racing RB5 1:21.347 +1.033 62
6. N. Heidfeld BMW Sauber F1.09 1:21.615 +1.301 116
7. A. Sutil Force India VJM-02 1:21.834 +1.520 76
8. F. Alonso Renault R29 1:21.937 +1.623 106
9. H. Kovalainen McLaren MP4-24 1:21.991 +1.677 75
10. S. Bourdais Toro Rosso STR4 1:23.039 +2.725 14
03/10/09
gp2
Alvaro Parente signs for Ocean Racing Technology  
Alvaro Parente
Ocean Racing Technology have recruited Alvaro Parente to take part in their 2009 GP2 Main Series campaign. The Portuguese driver has joined Indian racer Karun Chandhok to form a fast and experienced line-up. Tiago Monteiro and Jose Guedes had previously revealed that they were looking to find a fast and reliable Portuguese pilot and their negotiations with Parente proved successful and very pleasing for the Ocean Racing Technology team.

"Alvaro Parente is a fast and focused driver and he has a knack to adapt to a new team, car or championship. We are delighted to welcome him on board and we think that together with Karun and the team's great work we will have what it takes to be competitive right from the start of our maiden year in the GP2 Main Series. We have analyzed several options with the aim to put our confidence in the best driver and the fact that Alvaro is Portuguese is a plus for our team," explained Tiago. More ...

03/10/09
f1
Mid-Day Tuesday F1 test times from Barcelona  
Pos Driver Team Car Time Behind Laps
1. K. Räikkönen Ferrari F60 1:20.314 +0.000 44
2. R. Barrichello Brawn GP BGP 001 1:20.966 +0.652 57
3. J. Trulli Toyota TF109 1:21.326 +1.012 54
4. F. Alonso Renault R29 1:21.937 +1.623 58
5. N. Heidfeld BMW Sauber F1.09 1:21.965 +1.651 84
6. A. Sutil Force India VJM-02 1:22.141 +1.827 41
7. H. Kovalainen McLaren MP4-24 1:22.328 +2.014 42
8. K. Nakajima Williams FW31 1:22.381 +2.067 40
9. M. Webber Red Bull Racing RB5 1:22.517 +2.203 29
10. S. Bourdais Toro Rosso STR4 1:23.039 +2.725 14
03/10/09
f1
Monday test pace genuine - Ross Brawn  (GMM)  Ross Brawn insists Jenson Button's sterling pace at the wheel of the new BGP001 on Monday was genuine.

Despite the Brackley based team sitting out most of the winter amid uncertainty about its future, the rebranded 'Brawn GP' car had heads turning at Barcelona as it went against every other rival car.

Button topped the morning session with the Mercedes-powered machine and was bettered only by the impressive BMW, Ferrari and Toyota by close of play at the Spanish venue.

But was the pace genuine or had the team drained the fuel tanks, possibly in a bid to entice sponsors?

"If everyone knew how much fuel we had on board, they would be surprised," Brawn told Auto Motor und Sport, who said the Briton was 'smiling' as he gave his answer.

"Even our engine partner Mercedes didn't believe it when we told them," he added.

Long before team owner Honda Motor Co. announced its departure from the sport, Brawn and his team colleagues were predicting a strong 2009 for what was intended to be the RA109 car.

"On the basis of our simulations, we knew what (test) lap times this car would do theoretically at Jerez, Bahrain and Barcelona.  When we saw the times of the competition, we were surprised they were not quicker," Brawn revealed.

Most teams wrap up their 2009 pre-season programs this week, but Brawn GP will conduct a final three days of testing at Jerez next week.

03/10/09
alms
Q&A with Simon Pagenaud  
Simon Pagenaud in new Acura
Simon Pagenaud (pictured right) makes his Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring debut (21 March) racing for de Ferran Motorsports. The 24-year-old Frenchman joins Team Principal Gil de Ferran and reigning Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar champion Scott Dixon in the new no.66 XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a. Here are his thoughts about the latest challenges faced by him and the team as well as his thoughts about the race itself.

Last year you joined de Ferran Motorsports to race its LMP2 class Acura ARX-01b in the final eight rounds of the 2008 American Le Mans Series. This year the team is stepping up to the premier LMP1 category with one of Acura's new Acura ARX-02a prototypes - how have your preparations been going?

"I'm pretty happy with the progress we've made, especially during the most recent test. The Acura ARX-02a is becoming more and more reliable and competitive. We haven't yet shared the track with either the Peugeot or Audi that will be our main opposition at Sebring, so it's hard to know exactly where we stand."

How does the new XM Radio de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a compare to the LMP2 Acura you raced last season?

"It's clearly a step forward. There's not a huge difference in terms of engine power, but the levels of downforce are much larger and that makes a big, big difference in the high-speed corners. The wider front tires require a slightly different driving style, too. When you get used to these changes, it's really quite exciting." More ...

03/10/09
track news
Cale added to Bristol's Special race; DW withdraws  
Cale Yarborough
Cale Yarborough, one of the most successful drivers in the history of Bristol Motor Speedway, has been added to the lineup of stars for the Scotts “Saturday Night Special” at Bristol Motor Speedway, March 21. Darrell Waltrip, Bristol’s all-time winner with 12, has had to pull out of the race because of a scheduling issue that has arisen. “It seems crazy, but I am busier now than I was when I was a driver,” Waltrip said. “I have some commitments to Fox Sports that have come up since we began talking with the folks at Bristol about this race. I was looking forward to getting out there with some of those guys again; and some of them for the first time. After years with Junior Johnson as my boss, I was excited about rubbing fenders with him. But, sometimes things are unavoidable.”

A $100,000 purse to be paid to the charity of choice by each driver will be up for grabs. Competing in late model stock cars, $25,000 will be donated to the charity of choice of the winning team as well as taking home that big Bristol trophy. The second-place team will have $10,000 given to the charity of its choice and $5,000 will go to the designated charity of the other entrants. Other drivers expected to compete are Harry Gant, David Green, Jack Ingram, Junior Johnson, Terry Labonte, Sterling Marlin, L.D. Ottinger, Phil Parsons, David Pearson, Jimmy Spencer and Rusty Wallace. The Saturday Night Special will take place after the completion of the Scotts Turf Builder 300 Nationwide Series race and will be followed by a 100-lap UARA late model event. Tickets, which include all three races, start at $45 and are available by calling the BMS ticket office at 423-989-6900 or by visiting bristoltix.com. BMS PR

03/10/09
lms
Senna to test LeMans car  UPDATE Bruno Senna enjoyed a full day of testing at Paul Ricard with Le Mans Series team 'Oreca Matmut'. At the track in the South of France Senna turned his laps in the No. 10 machine without any major problems. "Coming here I've discovered a totally different world, and I feel I'm a better driver for it," Senna said. "This test has been very enriching. The team asked me to help with the set-up and I managed tire work and fuel consumption.  I did my first-ever night stint! It's all very different to what I've known before, and I really appreciated this experience. I liked it and I'd love to do it again! While my aim is still to do Formula 1, I said to myself that long-distance racing could be something really great."

03/08/09 Bruno Senna will gain new experience today at the Paul Ricard Circuit when he accepts an invitation to drive a Le Mans prototype car for the first time. Hugues de Chaunac has extended the invitation for Bruno to test for Team Oreca Matmut as they continue their preparations for the Le Mans 24 Hour race on 13-14 June.

"I would like to thank Oreca and Mr. de Chaunac for this opportunity. It will certainly give me an insight into an area of my profession I have not seen before. While I do not want to be distracted from my target of driving in F1, there are a number of opportunities that will certainly improve my performance when that time comes. This is one of them and I am looking forward to the challenge”, said Bruno Senna.

Bruno will share driving duties in one of the Courage-Oreca LC70s with former F1 race winner Olivier Panis, Le Mans 24 Hour winner Stephane Ortelli as well as Oreca endurance regulars Nicolas Lapierre and Soheil Ayari. With a great deal of experience of testing GP2 on the shorter Paul Ricard circuit layout, Bruno will tackle the full length 5.8kms circuit during the official Le Mans Series test for the first time. More ...

03/10/09
f1
Q&A with Force India's James Key  
James Key
Following last week’s initial test in Jerez, Force India moved to Barcelona this week, where Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil aim to put further miles on the VJM02 as the team prepares for the first race in Australia. We asked technical director James Key for an update on how the test program is going.

Q: What is the plan for the Barcelona test this week?

‘To carry on from where we left off in Jerez and get as much running in as we can. We hope that the weather will be good, and we are able to continue the program we started in Jerez, namely to get into a flow of set-up changes and directions. We need to learn more about the tires and we’ve got a few new bits to put on the car as well. We are starting a bit later, so we’ve had to compress our program a bit.’ More ...

03/10/09
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • No 'plan B' for Button in 2009
  • Bourdais admits US return was possible
  • Hartley named 2009 Red Bull reserve
  • Senna still has future in F1 - Barrichello
  • Mosley to face parliament over UK press
  • Heidfeld drops below 60kg for 2009
  • Innovations flow as test period nears end
  • Points change not yet on FIA agenda
  • Brawn GP can be 2009 surprise - Haug
  • Hamilton to receive MBE on Tuesday
  • 'Mixed emotions' as Brawn becomes team owner

No 'plan B' for Button in 2009
(GMM)  Jenson Button and Toro Rosso did not have talks about teaming up in 2009, Franz Tost insisted on Monday.

While a spokesman for 29-year-old Button said other options existed following the withdrawal of the carmaker Honda, Toro Rosso chief Tost denied speculation that one of them was a move to replace Sebastian Vettel.

"To be honest, Jenson was never a choice for us," said Tost, despite the fact that confirmation of Sebastien Bourdais' contract was announced only recently.

"As far as I know Jenson Button has an agreement with Honda and therefore there was never any negotiations with Jenson Button or his management," the Austrian added.

Briton Button, an impressive fourth quickest in the new Brawn GP car as all teams began testing at Barcelona, seemed to confirm Tost's comments by admitting that his "plan B" for 2009 was to "not race" this year.

He has accepted a more than 50 per cent cut to his contracted retainer, with Ross Brawn's team to survive fundamentally on money provided by the departed Honda.

Button said he is relieved the team has not folded.

"What would I do sit at home?  There's nothing out there for me at the moment.  In five or six years, if this sort of thing happened, then I might walk away and look to do something else.  But that's not my aim at the moment," he said.

Also attending Brawn's maiden test on Monday was Brawn himself, Button's father John and teammate Rubens Barrichello. More ...

03/09/09
automotive
GM puts on show for Auto Task Force  "We were pleased to host the Task Force so they could experience firsthand the new products and technologies that are an integral part of GM's near- and long-term competitiveness. We look forward to continuing to support the efforts of the Task Force as they move quickly to address their critical tasks. We believe today's visit provided a constructive glimpse of GM people, their passion for their work, and the future products and technologies that are an integral part of our viability plan."  GM Statement
03/09/09
miscellaneous
Not-Racing news  The winner of a pancake-eating contest dropped dead after gorging himself on 43 of the cream and banana stuffed desserts. Boris Isayev, 48, from west Russia, collapsed to his knees and died on stage after stuffing himself with pancakes in a competition to mark the end of the region’s ‘Pancake Week’.

"He had really enjoyed the pancakes but then he started foaming at the mouth and went down like a sack of stones," one witness said.  "We have seen people fainting during such contests before," she added.

Onlookers tried to revive the man, but he died on the stage, reported the Sunday Mirror. Witnesses apparently described Isayev as “the most active participant in the contest" adding that he "ate all the types of pancakes on offer and won fairly.”

The exact cause of death is not clear but doctors believe he choked after a piece of pancake got lodged in his throat.

03/09/09
automotive
Unused cars pile up in Europe  Faced with a shortage of storage space, Japanese car manufacturer Toyota is currently hiring a ship in the Swedish port of Malmo to store thousands of unsold cars the depressed EU market does not seem to want.

"It's an emergency measure that we had to take due to storage space issues," Toyota press spokeswoman Anne Gaublomme told EUobserver.

The decision to store 2,500 cars aboard a vessel owned by car transporting specialists Wallenius Wilhelmsen was made last month when the Malmo port facility reached its limit of 12,000 cars.

"We hope to keep the time of this measure as short as possible, as we are continuously adapting our production level," said Ms Gaublomme.

03/09/09
track news
Indianapolis 500 VIP eBay Auction  Today the Humane Society of the United States launched an eBay auction where fans can bid on one or more of Indianapolis 500 Speedway VIP packages!

The packages are offered by Mari Hulman George, HSUS supporter and Chairman of the Board of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This is a rare event offer that is generally not open to the public. The proceeds from the auctions will benefit The HSUS’s Equine Protection efforts.

Here are the links to the VIP packages, including detailed descriptions to what is included in each:

Indy 500

Red Bull MotoGP

Allstate 400 at the Brickyard

They can all be seen on this page.

03/09/09
nnw
National Stock Car Commission upholds cheaters penalties  Does a team really think they will win an appeal with NASCAR?  Too funny.  On Monday, the National Stock Car Racing Commission unanimously upheld the recent penalty assessed NASCAR Nationwide Series team RAB Racing. The appeal concerned three penalties issued by NASCAR stemming from opening-day inspection at Daytona International Speedway.

The infractions concerned a violation of the rule governing roll bars in which the main roll bar was not round.

The penalties assessed were:

• A loss of 100 series owners points for Jay Robinson;

• A loss of 100 driver points for John Wes Townley;

• A $15,000 fine and probation until Dec. 31 for crew chief Blake Bainbridge. 

The team argued that the modifications to the roll cage did not violate NASCAR rules in that the tubing was originally round.  More ...
03/09/09
f1
McLaren get radical with new floor  The McLaren team, struggling for lack of pace this offseason, ran a radical new aerodynamic modification on the MP4-24 in Barcelona Monday.  The car, driven by Heikki Kovalainen, is sporting a new floor which is missing certain parts in an attempted bid to improve airflow to the rear end of the vehicle. The new device, if successful, should allow the McLaren to improve its straight-line speed. The design aims to aid smoother airflow which first passes through the car via the front wing.

By cutting out the 'triangle', the edge of the diffuser of the car (aerodynamic device located under the rear wing) is effectively moved backwards, thus allowing greater airflow to the rear wing; with this greater amount of airflow subsequently creating more rear-end downforce, the team can afford to reduce the size of the car's rear wing which, in turn, results in less drag and greater top speeds on straight sections of the circuit.

03/09/09
automotive
Mitsubishi Motors Closes California Design Studio  Mitsubishi Motors Corp., seeking cost savings to combat lower U.S. sales, closed its California automotive design studio to consolidate car development. Mitsubishi, based in Tokyo, informed employees last week of plans to shut the studio in Cypress, California, eliminating about 30 jobs, spokesman Moe Durand said today. A total of about 60 design-related positions were cut, including those in California, some jobs at an engineering facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and at a studio in Frankfurt, Durand said.
03/09/09
alms
irl
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Concert News  
Puddle of Mudd
The quartet "Puddle of Mudd" will bring its distinct, hard rocking sound to the Tecate Light Rock-N-Roar Concert on Saturday, April 18 at the 35th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Puddle of Mudd made  their major-label debut in 2001 with Come Clean, which sold more than five million copies (and spawned no less than four radio hits, including Blurry, which hit No. 5 on the Billboard Top 100), then followed that up with their gold-certified Life on Display.

Their newest effort, Famous, was produced by former Black Flag drummer Bill Stevenson.

And despite all their platinum albums, awards and sold-out shows, "Puddle of Mudd" - originally from Kansas City, Mo. - have retained their "organic" approach to songwriting.

"If it sounds good and it makes your skin goose bump-up, then you're probably onto something," says frontman Wesley Scantlin.  More ...

03/09/09
Formula BMW
Jensen MotorSport announces BMW drivers  Jensen MotorSport is pleased to announce that Freddy Zebede and Barrett Mertins will drive for the team in the 2009 Formula BMW Americas championship.

Freddy Zebede is an eighteen year old from Panama City, Panama. Freddy enters his second season of racing in North America, having competed in the Skip Barber regional championship in 2008. Freddy will drive the #24 car in the 2009 Formula BMW Americas championship.

Barrett Mertins is an eighteen year old from Alexandria, Virginia. Barrett is entering his first season of car racing. Barrett will drive the #13 car in the 2009 Formula BMW Americas championship. More ...

03/09/09
fil
Hinchcliffe to drive for Sam Schmidt Motorsports  Canadian James Hinchcliffe will contest the full Firestone Indy Lights season in the coveted No. 7 machine fielded by series powerhouse Sam Schmidt Motorsports, team officials announced March 9. Hinchcliffe, 22, earned the ride after competing against a group of championship drivers in a multi-round shootout.

"I don't think the word 'excited' does justice to how I feel about joining Sam Schmidt Motorsports for 2009," Hinchcliffe said. "I really am honored to have such a successful team put their confidence in me. We have such a good group of people and I'm really looking forward to teaming up with Bia (Ana Beatriz) and Gustavo (Yacaman). I have never been looking forward to any racing season as much as I am this year."

The native of Toronto is no stranger to the formula car world having won races in the Atlantic Championship and competed for Team Canada in the A1GP Series. He's also recognized out of the cockpit having been a television personality for broadcast teams in A1GP as well as the former Champ Car World Series. More ...

03/09/09
alms
SPEED readies 12 Hours of Sebring coverage  Among the pantheon of the world’s most prestigious auto racing events, the 12 Hours of Sebring resides as one of its sturdiest pillars. This year’s edition, the 57th annual, should be another golden brick in that illustrative building, as a very attractive field of racers and manufacturers will open the 2009 American Le Mans Series season on SPEED with more than 10 hours of live coverage beginning at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday, March 21.

SPEED will once again preview the new season with a live pre-race show on Thursday, March 19, at 7 p.m. ET, followed by Project LMP1: Acura’s Next Challenge at 8 p.m., ET, an hour-long presentation chronicling the car manufacturers’ run-up to its Sebring debut in the LMP1 category.

Along with Acura, many premiere entries will be competing at Sebring this year; including BMW’s factory re-entry through Rahal-Letterman Racing and two brand new GT2 category BMW M3 racers, Audi’s new diesel-powered R15 LMP1 mount and Mazda’s innovative closed-top LMP2 machine. More ...

03/09/09
f1
Final Monday F1 test times from Barcelona  After early showers the track started off partly wet but there was no further rain and in spite of cool temperatures the tarmac soon dried out.  Nick Heidfeld turned the fastest lap of the day.  Jenson Button, who may have been running light in the morning to encourage potential sponsor to sign on the dotted line, or to get the British media in a euphoric tizzy, fell back to 4th in the final standings.

On the first day of the Barcelona test Nick Heidfeld concentrated on race related procedures, i.e. pit stop practice, to fine tune the working relationship between the driver, engineers and mechanics. Heidfeld also did a couple of practice starts.

"The weather was perfect for today's program", Heidfeld said after completing 92 laps. "We could try a lot of different set-up solutions and even do some aero work."

Pos Driver Team Car Time Behind Laps
1. N. Heidfeld BMW Sauber F1.09 1:20.339 +0.000 92
2. K. Räikkönen Ferrari F60 1:20.908 +0.569 80
3. J. Trulli Toyota TF109 1:20.937 +0.598 118
4. J. Button Brawn GP BGP 001 1:21.140 +0.801 82
5. N. Piquet Jr. Renault R29 1:21.662 +1.323 124
6. S. Bourdais Toro Rosso STR4 1:22.158 +1.819 96
7. M. Webber Red Bull Racing RB5 1:22.246 +1.907 115
8. A. Sutil Force India VJM-02 1:22.452 +2.113 127
9. K. Nakajima Williams FW31 1:22.813 +2.474 111
10. H. Kovalainen McLaren MP4-24 1:22.948 +2.609 87
03/09/09
atlantic
Conquest Racing Signs Harald Schlegelmilch  Conquest Racing today announced that it had signed Latvian Harald Schlegelmilch to an Atlantic ride for the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season opening race at Sebring International Raceway on March 20. The Conquest Atlantic team will also take part in the Series’ two-day open test which gets underway tomorrow at Palm Beach International Raceway.

“We’ve had a lot of success in the Atlantic Championship in the past and we look to build on that success with Harald at Sebring next week,” stated Eric Bachelart. “We’re anxious to get out on track with him at the test this week. He has good experience in open-wheel cars in Europe and I think he will be competitive aboard our Atlantic car. We have a history of introducing drivers to North American racing and we’re happy to welcome Harald to our team.” More ...

03/09/09
tv news
Motorsports This Week on ESPN  
NHRA Gatornationals Finals Sunday on ESPN

The annual ACDelco Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., is one of the biggest events of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season, and coverage of final eliminations action airs on ESPN on Sunday, March 15, at 3 p.m. ET. ESPN2 will continue to be the television home of the NHRA for the remainder of the season, including coverage of Gatornationals qualifying that airs Sunday at 2 a.m., re-airing at 10 a.m. Finals coverage re-airs Monday, March 16, at 1 p.m. on ESPN Classic.

The traditional East Coast opener and the season’s first of 17 events for Pro Stock Motorcycle riders, this event is one of the sport’s most revered with a rich tradition of history-making performances. This hallowed quarter-mile has entertained spring-break-loving fans for decades with such notable occasions as the first 260-mph Top Fuel and Funny Car runs in 1984 and the first 270-mph and 300-mph Top Fuel passes, in 1986 and 1992, respectively (all on the quarter-mile). Its 675-foot concrete launch pad is one of the longest on the tour.

Paul Page anchors ESPN2’s coverage with analysis by 22-time NHRA winner Mike Dunn. Gary Gerould and Dave Rieff report from the pits. Rieff and Dunn host NHRA RaceDay on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN2 to set the stage for that day’s eliminations action.

Other NHRA action on the ESPN Networks this week includes highlights from the 2003 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway on Monday, March 16, at 3 p.m. on ESPN Classic.  More ...

03/09/09
nassprint
Many empty seats in Atlanta Sunday  Big patches of empty seats under the Atlanta Motor Speedway press box on Sunday prompted Jeff Gordon to say he was "a little baffled.''  "I know there's a lot of race fans around here,'' Gordon said. "I've been hearing that they were going to have some empty seats. It's hard to say. It's really hard to say. ... This place should be packed.''

Observers estimated the stands were no more than two-thirds filled for the NASCAR event, and total capacity is about 125,000. The listed attendance was 94,400.

There were hopes attendance would be boosted by great weather, but one week after a snowstorm, not even temperatures in the high 70s could fill the seats.

It was more proof of the economic downturn's impact on sports. More ...

03/09/09
f1
Button tops morning test times in Barcelona  (GMM) Following months of uncertainty and engine silence, the team formerly known as Honda made a loud statement on Monday as the final group test of the 2009 pre-season began.

At the end of the morning session at the Circuit de Catalunya, where every team on the grid circulated, Jenson Button was clearly the fastest runner at the wheel of the Mercedes-powered BGP001.

The significant of test times is often overstated, but the Brackley based team - now renamed Brawn GP following a buyout - has always been bullish about its hopes for 2009 as the foundations of the car took place at the factory prior to Honda's decision to quit the sport.

Part of the reason for the impressive pace could simply be the switch to Mercedes-Benz power, with last year's Honda believed to have boasted up to 60 horsepower less.

Despite this being Brawn's first test since the Honda pullout, Button's best lap, after 30 tours of the Spanish layout, was quicker than his fastest lap of the grand prix at the same circuit last year.

Moreover, he was nearly seven tenths faster than the next quickest car, Jarno Trulli's impressive Toyota. The new Toro Rosso was fifth fastest and immediately on the pace of the sister Red Bull. 

Morning Times

Pos driver team car time diff laps
1. J. Button Brawn GP BGP 001 1:21.140 30
2. J. Trulli Toyota TF109 1:21.794 +0.654 50
3. N. Piquet Jr. Renault R29 1:22.008 +0.868 40
4. A. Sutil Force India VJM-02 1:22.452 +1.312 47
5. S. Bourdais Toro Rosso STR4 1:22.660 +1.520 53
6. M. Webber Red Bull Racing RB5 1:22.679 +1.539 52
7. K. Nakajima Williams FW31 1:22.813 +1.673 42
8. K. Räikkönen Ferrari F60 1:22.869 +1.729 25
9. N. Heidfeld BMW Sauber F1.09 1:23.605 +2.465 26
10. H. Kovalainen McLaren MP4-24 1:24.289 +3.149 57
03/09/09
f1
Toro Rosso built own car for 2009  
STR4
(GMM) Toro Rosso has expanded its Faenza facility and built its new STR4 for the first time, it emerged on Monday.

In the Circuit de Catalunya pitlane, the Italian based squad unveiled the Ferrari-powered car, and began testing it with Sebastien Bourdais at the wheel, insisting it is not a clone of sister team Red Bull's RB5.

"With any F1 car, the packaging revolves around an engine and peculiarities from the drivers and, as we run a different engine to our sister team, it involves a different fuel system and fuel tank," team boss Franz Tost said.

"Therefore, ours is completely different to the Red Bull Racing car and is designed here by us."

The STR4, however, is visibly identical to the RB5, having been designed by Adrian Newey and his team at Red Bull Technology.

But the 'customer car' issue remains highly contentious in F1 circles, with the practice to be phased out completely for 2010 by the precise definition of the term 'constructor'.

Team manager Gianfranco Fantuzzi insists that, unlike in previous years, the STR4 was produced almost entirely at Faenza.

"We have now made the actual chassis in-house, whereas last year it was produced by Carbotec in Austria," he said, revealing that the process involved re-commissioning the old Minardi autoclave and hiring more staff.

A new building, to become a machine shop, is also under construction, Toro Rosso said.

03/09/09
wsr
Mansell and Molina in 2009 World Series by Renault  
UK based racing team USR has confirmed their driver line up for the 2009 World Series by Renault Championship with the highly experienced Spaniard Miguel Molina being joined by Greg Mansell, the 21-year-old son of 1992 F1 World Champion Nigel Mansell. 

Greg Mansell spent last year in the United States, where he competed in the Formula Atlantic championship, and now returns to European competition. Mansell last raced in European single seaters two years ago when he competed in the British Formula 3 Series, scoring three podium finishes against some the best young driver’s in the world.

This will be Miguel Molina’s fourth season in the World Series by Renault Series and is joining USR after driving in 2008 for Prema Powerteam.  Molina scored two wins, one pole position and two further podium finishes with the Italian team last year, accumulating 79 points to finish 4th overall at the end of the season. More ...

03/09/09
nassprint
Roush Fenway looking for sponsors  Roush Fenway Racing President Geoff Smith should only be negotiating to renew the one NASCAR Sprint Cup sponsorship he has open – the #17 Ford and DeWalt – for 2010. But Smith’s organization is working on helping nearly all of its Cup sponsors (#26-Crown Royal, #16-3M and #99-Aflac) find other companies willing to pony up the money to buy some races for 2010 and beyond even though they have contracts obligating them for the entire season. Smith said the companies have requested help, and it’s imperative in these economic times that the organization find more sponsors willing to share some of the costs. DeWalt, whose contract is up after the 2009 season, has also indicated it wants a partner. The only sponsor that has not requested a partner is UPS [for #6 David Ragan]. A new sponsor could be on one of those cars by the end of 2009 if there is a commitment for future years, Smith said. More ...
03/09/09
nassprint
Newman slowed by faulty engine  Ryan Newman ran solidly in the top-15 for most of Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga., but engine issues during the final 100 laps of the event slowed down his #39 Haas Automation Chevy and thwarted his team’s march to a top-10 result. Newman was relegated to a 22nd-place finish in his 15th career Sprint Cup start at AMS. “Our Haas Automation Chevy was pretty good today,” said Newman after the race. “We had some handling issues, but Tony Gibson (crew chief) and the guys adjusted on the car and gave me a really competitive machine. At the end, I think we maybe had a top-10 car, but we lost a cylinder and that put us behind. We were right in cycle to be the next guy for the ‘lucky dog’ and we just lost that cylinder and that set the tone for the rest of our day.” At lap 225, Newman radioed his crew that he had an engine problem, as his V-8 powerplant had missed several times as he drove down the backstretch, ultimately dropping a cylinder. Newman was able to nurse the engine and maintain a spot in the top-20 until the final caution flag of the day waved at lap 321. Under the caution, Newman reported that the motor had lost yet another cylinder. On the final restart, he couldn’t get his car up to speed quickly enough and lost four more spots, whereupon he finished 22nd, three laps down. SHR/True Speed Communication PR
03/09/09
f1
Force India won't run KERS at opening race  The Force India team will not be using the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) at this month's Australian Grand Prix, driver Adrian Sutil confirmed. The team completed its first laps with its 2009 contender in Jerez last week and will not be ready to use it in the first races without having even tested the device. No, we won't be using it for the first races, so we didn't test it in Jerez - we just concentrated on the main things," Sutil confirmed. "It's not a real disadvantage to do the first races without it as we can see some of the other teams have had issues. At least you know what you have and you just run without KERS. There could be some reliability issues if you run it without fully understanding it."

McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen, on the other hand, did no agree though with the German and does believe that KERS could bring extra speed on track. "It is certainly going to be an advantage to begin with, as it potentially gives you a big benefit from the start to the first corner, and then obviously for overtaking," the Finn said last week.

03/09/09
f1
Full F1 test begins today in Barcelona  All ten teams will be present this week for the final group test of the 2009 pre-season.

Including Brawn GP and its drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, the entire field has congregated for a four-day session at the Spanish Grand Prix venue Circuit de Catalunya, located about a half hour drive from the Barcelona CBD in the Montmelo suburb.

According to Spanish media, a large crowd is assured due to the confirmed presence of Fernando Alonso, and the outstanding questions that remain about the likely pecking-order for the season that begins in 20 days.

03/09/09
automotive
GM freezes wages in Canada till 2012  To cut costs, auto giant General Motors (GM) on Sunday froze wages and pensions for its Canadian workers until 2012. 

The struggling company, which will get $3 billion out of the $4-billion package announced by the Canadian government, said it had reached an agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union to avail of government money. The Canadian government had made it mandatory for GM to cut costs and wages to be eligible for the package.

The Canadian plants of the three auto giants - GM, Ford and Chrysler -account for about 20 percent of their total production in North America. The Canadian package for the ailing auto companies is proportion to the American package. More ...

03/09/09
f1
Bourdais drives new Toro Rosso STR4  
Sebastien Bourdais pulls out of garage with new STR4 Monday morning
Toro Rosso/Red Bull
This morning, at the Circuit de Catalunya, outside Barcelona, Scuderia Toro Rosso's contender for the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship was unveiled in the pit lane, before beginning a four day test program alongside every other team entered in the series.

At nine o'clock, as soon as pit lane was opened, Sebastien Bourdais took to the track for the initial installation lap. After that, it was back to the garage for the usual checks.

Codenamed the STR4, the car is a joint venture between Red Bull Technology and Toro Rosso and once again this year, it is fitted with a Ferrari V8 engine.

"In 2008 our performance exceeded our expectations," commented team principal, Franz Tost. "It's going to be tough to live up to that this year. Within the team we can rely on a good level of stability, as all the key players on the technical side have been in place for some time now. Further stability comes courtesy of the input of Red Bull Technology. From Red Bull Racing's first test in Jerez it appeared the chassis was competitive and that Adrian Newey and his team had come up with a very promising package. This year marks the third year of our collaboration with Ferrari, which, on both a human and technical level, works very well. In 2008 we lined up two F1 novice drivers, but Bourdais now has 18 grands prix under his belt, and this year's rookie, Buemi, has already shown well in winter testing."

Sebastien Bourdais, who shook down chassis 01 at the Adria track last week, drives today and tomorrow in chassis 02, before handing over to Sebastien Buemi for the final two days.

03/09/09
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Seven teams in race for Melbourne win - Webber
  • FIA must rubber-stamp Brawn engine deal
  • Rubens suffered critics amid winter silence
  • Button had 'options' to leave Honda - spokesman
  • All ten teams set for final group test
  • Webber not worried about lagging pace
  • Haug plays down McLaren pace fears
  • Hamilton names Vettel as 2009 rival

Seven teams in race for Melbourne win - Webber
(GMM)  Mark Webber admits he has never encountered such a close pre-season as the winter of 2009, with as many as seven teams in the reckoning to win in Melbourne in less than 20 days.

"It is really difficult to read who is doing what," the Australian driver said in an interview with Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper.

"I think it is too close to call," the Red Bull driver explained while at home in Britain.

32-year-old Webber said the F1 community expected the sweeping rules changes for this year to leave bigger than usual gaps between teams.

But the opposite is true, according to analysis of recent tests, and Webber reveals that several teams have shown race-winning pace over the crucial 'long runs'.

"It is literally us, Toyota, Williams, Ferrari and BMW.  We have all, at certain times, done the business," he explained.  "And the Renault as well.

"You would expect McLaren maybe to have done a bit more, going by the testing over the last few years.  But apart from that, we all know they are more than capable of turning up in Melbourne and spanking everyone," said Webber.

Webber's young German teammate Sebastian Vettel was the quickest of all in qualifying trim at the Jerez group test last week, and deeper analysis has shown the new Ferrari to have a slight edge with race levels of fuel.

FIA must rubber-stamp Brawn engine deal
(GMM)  Norbert Haug has let slip that F1's governing body is yet to formally rubber-stamp Brawn GP's customer engine deal with Mercedes-Benz.

Vijay Mallya, head of the newly Mercedes-powered Force India team, revealed last week he could have objected to the Brawn arrangement because of FIA rules limiting each manufacturer to working with just two teams.

"The FIA, I believe, have given special dispensation to Mercedes to supply an engine only to the former Honda team for one year," the Indian billionaire had said.

Haug, in charge of Mercedes' motor racing programs, confirmed the news but clarified that the dispensation is yet to be put in place officially.

The matter will presumably be on the agenda for the World Motor Sport Council meeting on March 17, which takes place less than ten days before official scrutineering in the Albert Park pits.

"Hopefully the (Brawn) team will get the approval of the FIA," Haug is quoted as saying by Auto Motor und Sport. More ...

03/08/09
tv news
Official Launch: SpeedcastTV.com  
Leading motorsports webcaster Speedcast Productions has launched a groundbreaking new website.  SpeedcastTV.com will feature live and on-demand video from dirt and paved short tracks, road racing, karting, and more.  The site will also include breaking news, driver profiles, user forums and live chat.

“There is an incredible variety of great racing out there, from sports cars to late models, from karts to hydroplanes” said Speedcast founder, Clark Cambern, “but you can only see a few of those races on television, and most are tape-delayed.  We wanted to create a place where fans could experience high-quality live and on-demand video of the racing they love, anytime, anywhere.” More ...

03/08/09
racing news
Quotes of the Week  UPDATE A reader writes in response to Nigel Mansell's belittlement of Lewis Hamilton's F1 title, Dear AR1.com, Nigel Mansell WAS, IS and ALWAYS will be a big Whiner. He never got out of his car and had anything good to say about it, or his crew or the opposition.......it was always how good he was, and how he managed to somehow drag his car to the finish line. He had great talent, but after that he is just a WHINER.

And his comments about Lewis Hamilton are another great example of this. Does he know that when Fangio won the world F1 championship in 1954, there were 34 drivers, so that makes his championship 24% more credible than Nigel's!  Sometimes I'm ashamed to say he is from my country.  Stefan Dwornik, Bicester, Oxfordshire, England

03/08/09
"We would've finished first or second, or wrecked trying. We obviously had the better car there at the end. Kurt (Busch) and I were running the same line, so it wasn't going to be easy to pass him. On the last lap, you can stick it off in there wide open to run it against the wall and hope for the best. You can't do that until then." Brian Vickers, NASCAR driver, Red Bull Racing Team, No. 83 Toyota Camry, talking about his battle with Kurt Busch at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday

"Formula One is becoming ridiculous.  Maybe we (the FIA) could turn things around completely and grant technical freedom while imposing limits to the budgets.  What happens when people have to be made redundant [referring to job cuts in large car companies]?  Can it still be justified to invest so much money in Formula One?  Nobody can rule out the possibility of having a fax landing on the desk of a racing team's headquarters saying: Sorry, that's it."  Max Mosley, FIA President, claiming that Formula 1 possesses a 'culture of wastefulness', and warning teams that more manufacturers could find themselves in the same position as Honda if rising running costs are curtailed in the immediate future.

"At the moment he [Nelson Piquet Jr.] would not win the world championship in a Renault or a Ferrari.  He is a mysterious character. His last name is not going to make him any faster. I have tried once again to develop a young guy into an established driver. This year will show us whether we chose the right young guy." Flavio Briatore, Managing Director, Renault F1 team More ...

03/08/09
lms
Enge writes off new Aston Martin  UPDATE Here are some photos of the crash.

03/08/09 One of the two new Lola-Aston Martin coupes has been all but written off during the first day of testing for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The 007 Lola-Aston was destroyed by Tomas Enge in the sixth-gear Signes corner at Paul Ricard during official Le Mans Series testing.

The Czech driver had just jumped to the top of the timesheets in the afternoon session when he spun and sustained significant chassis damage on impact with the guardrail.

Asked by autosport if the monocoque had been written-off, Aston Martin Racing team principal George Howard-Chappell said: "It looks pretty grim, but the main thing is that Tomas is okay." Enge confirmed that he had made a mistake at Signes.

"I went on the curb on the exit, the car bottomed out and I spun," he said.

"If you spin at when you are traveling at such a high speed, you might need even more run-off than this track has to offer."
03/08/09
nassprint
Plane crash kills 3 en route to Atlanta  Three people believed to be en route to Sunday's race were killed in a plane crash near Carrollton, Ga., AGC.com reported.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen as saying the 1975 Cessna 182 crashed about 9 a.m. into a pond about three miles southwest of the State University of West Georgia in Carrollton.

The small plane, a four-seater, left McCollum Field in Kennesaw and was registered to four men, including one from Roswell. Bergen told the Atlanta newspaper site the pilot had filed no flight plan. More ...

03/08/09
nassprint
Greener Paint for Penske  PPG Automotive Refinish announced they are assisting Penske Racing in converting their state-of-the-art, racecar painting facility in Mooresville, NC to the environmentally-friendly PPG Envirobase High Performance waterborne coatings system. The conversion began with the painting of the #2 Miller Lite and #77 Mobil 1 Penske Racing Dodge, which made their debut this weekend at the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The #2 Miller Lite Dodge features the PPG Automotive Refinish logo on the deck lid for today's race. To address the environment, NASCAR, the sport's sanctioning body, is developing an industry-wide green initiative led by Dr. Mike Lynch. The initiative will address environmental issues including reducing air emissions, lubricants recycling, building efficiencies and land preservation. It will include the sport's various stakeholders and will seek to mobilize the NASCAR fan base in this important issue. Penske Racing PR
03/08/09
nassprint
Gordon promises 'white-knuckle' race  The tires Goodyear has supplied for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway were supposed to have more grip than they did last year, according to the spec sheet provided by NASCAR's exclusive tire maker.

You could have fooled Jeff Gordon, who slipped and slid through a harrowing practice session at the 1.54-mile racetrack -- but Gordon doesn't fault Goodyear. According to the four-time Sprint Cup champion, Goodyear faces an almost impossible challenge at Atlanta.

"I believe that this track and this car -- especially with the temperatures we had today -- is possibly the most difficult track in the world to build a tire for," Gordon said Friday afternoon, when track temperatures exceeded 90 degrees before cooling for qualifying. "So I certainly credit Goodyear for their efforts, but it's almost beyond what they can do -- or any tire manufacturer.

"I think this is such a tough place, especially with this car. We all knew going into this car it was going to be tough on tires, and we have our hands full. It is really going to be a white-knuckle, hold-on-tight survival-type of race. I'm actually kind of excited about that. I think that is going to make things really interesting this weekend." Sporting News

03/08/09
automotive
GM rolls out another electric car  
Opel Ampera

The Opel Ampera electric extended-range vehicle made its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show Tuesday, March 3, 2009.

The five-door, four-seat Ampera will go into production in late 2011. The Ampera will also be offered with right-hand drive in the United Kingdom by Opel's sister-brand, Vauxhall.

The Ampera is an extended range electric vehicle based on the Voltec technology used in the Chevrolet Volt. Equipped with a 16 kWh Li-ion battery pack, the five-door, four-seat hatchback has a battery-powered range of up to 60 km (37 miles) (MVEG cycle). An on-board gasoline/E85-fueled engine-generator extends the Ampera’s range to more than 500 km (311 miles). More ...

03/08/09
nassprint
Drivers concerned about the tires at Atlanta  While none of the drivers for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 seem particularly satisfied with the tire they’ll be racing, none of them seem eager to point the finger at Goodyear, either. And some of them are really looking for the challenge. "We have our hands full,” Gordon said Friday. “It’s gonna be a white-knuckle survival kind of race. I’m actually kind of excited about it.” That’s probably because Gordon remembers how much fun it was to race last weekend at Las Vegas, where slipping and sliding through the corners was commonplace. Polesitter Mark Martin said the track layout at Atlanta will only exaggerate that feeling. “This thing is so big and so sweeping that when you’re sliding for life from turn 4 to turn 1, you’re sliding for life for a long time,” Martin said. Three-time Atlanta winner Carl Edwards was practical about situation, noting that all 43 drivers were facing the same challenge. “It doesn’t matter to me what the tires were like as long as we all have the same tires,” said Edwards, who was second fastest in the final practice session. “It’s easy to have a positive attitude when you’re fast. We got the car driving pretty well, but it’s still a pretty slippery race track. It’s gonna be pretty fun and a good race.” More ...
03/08/09
motogp
Pedrosa hopes to be fit by first race  
Dani Pedrosa and Doctor Xavier Mir
Injured Repsol Honda Team rider Dani Pedrosa spoke to the press at 10am Saturday morning in the USP Institut Universitari Dexeus hospital. Seventy-two hours after entering hospital in Barcelona Dani Pedrosa was given permission to go home. Pedrosa, who had an operation on Wednesday afternoon to repair two injuries, spoke to the press at 10am after leaving the USP Institut Universitari Dexeus hospital.

Alongside the Repsol rider was Doctor Xavier Mir, head of the Hand Surgery and Microsurgery Unit in the USP Institut Dexeus, and he explained in detail the extent of the injuries suffered by the rider from the Repsol Honda Team, and the surgery involved. Afterwards it was Pedrosa himself who described how he fell in Qatar and his state of mind at this very moment.

Both Dr. Mir as well as Dani Pedrosa gave a positive message to the journalists, although neither of them wanted to give a definite date for the rider’s return to sporting activity. But at the same time they emphasized the fact that the operation was a great success and they are both optimistic about a rapid recovery. Doctor Bartolomé Ferreira, who operated on Pedrosa’s knee, was not able to attend the press conference owing to his professional obligations. More ...

03/08/09
f1
Q&A with Adrian Sutil  
Adrian Sutil
Q: You had a long wait to get your hands on the VJM02. What were your first impressions?

Adrian Sutil: I'm quite happy because we could do some good testing in Jerez. At first we had a few problems with the car, but then we sorted it out and could do some good running. It was the first proper time on circuit, so we still need time to understand everything but the overall feeling was very good, definitely.

Q: You've had a strong engine in the past, but now you have a McLaren gearbox as well as the Mercedes engine. How encouraging is that?

AS: I think we did the best possible thing during the winter with this new co-operation. It was a great deal and I think very positive for the future. It's a World Champion team, we can learn from them. We can really focus and concentrate on areas that really enhance performance, like aerodynamic development.

Q: Does the gearbox actually feel better, or is it just different?

AS: It's quite similar. Our gearbox last year was quite good, so there was not such a big change but I think from a reliability point of view the McLaren gearbox will be much better. More ...

03/08/09
racing news
Legends of Riverside Racing Film Festival  

One of the highlights of the "Legends of Riverside" weekend is a demonstration (and you'll get to play on it yourself) of the best racing simulator ever, The CXC Motion Pro II.  Designer / owner Chris Considine will be on hand to showcase the finer points of it's operation and you can challenge the likes of our veteran racer attendees to see who's faster at a variety of world class racing circuits.

And our "host" hotel has history of it's own.  The brand new, just opened Hampton Inn, just off Day Street in Moreno Valley, is located about where Riverside Raceway's Turn Two used to be.  There isn't a vestige of the racetrack remaining but the view of Box Springs Mountain will remind you of your location.  Plus we get a special rate on rooms; just mention that you're there for "Legends." More ...

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