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Third Day is a Charm for Champ Car Turbo Tour Third Day is a Charm for Champ Car Turbo TourToronto -- The third day of the 2006 Champ Car Turbo Tour started in the air as A.J. Allmendinger, Katherine Legge, Justin Wilson, Mario Dominguez and Alan Sciuto settled in for a nearly three-hour flight to Milwaukee.

The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will make a pair of visits to Wisconsin in 2006, competing at the venerable Milwaukee Mile as well as on the four-mile Road America road course, and both venues combined to host the tour  and announce the “Champ Car Wisconsin” promotion in Milwaukee. Dominguez headed to a grade school to entertain the next generation of Champ Car fans while the rest of the crew went to Miller Park – home of the Milwaukee Brewers – to meet the media. zzzz

Champ Car Wisconsin will allow fans who buy the special ticket package extra perks at both of the festivals of speed in the state.  After the announcement fans put their skills on display for a change, competing in go-karts throughout the morning as the drivers looked on and re-hashed their karting results from the night before. Meanwhile, Dominguez did some racing of his own, running in a Big Wheel against some obviously more-experienced school children!

“What a great experience,” said Forsythe Championship Racing driver Mario Dominguez.  “These kids all could be future Champ Car stars if ‘Big Wheel’ talent means anything.  It is always fun to get out into the community and have special events like this.”

From Milwaukee, it was time for a short flight to Cleveland where drivers competed against each other as well as some lucky fans in slot cars. The race organizers in Cleveland set up a large slot-car track in the downtown Galleria Mall, designing a circuit that mimicked the 2.2-mile circuit at nearby Burke Lakefront Airport. The drivers conducted media interviews while not racing, and a scant two hours later it was time to get back in the air. 

“The slot car track was amazing,” said PKV Racing driver Katherine Legge.  “It was incredible how similar the track was to the real thing at the airport where we landed.  We even had some crashes in Turn 1 on the starts so you know it was authentic.”

A trip from the North Coast to the Great White North was next as another short flight took the Turbo Tour to Toronto for a full night of activities. Dominguez, Sciuto and 2006 Face of Champ Car Brandi Latimer attended the Toronto Raptors NBA game while the rest of the Tour including newest addition Alex Tagliani headed for a media reception at Brant Street Night Club. Following the two-hour media block at the club, the general public was invited to partake in the festivities as fans were able to meet and greet the Champ Car stars, who lingered long into the evening, though there are still two more days to go on the tour, which ends the day Thursday in Houston, Texas.

In total the Champ Car Turbo Tour has touched down in eight cities, traveling nearly 3,000 miles with more than ten hours of time in the air.  Champ Car

Vasser, Moreno and Bell Join Grand Am at Miami GP Vasser, Moreno and Bell Join Grand Am at Miami GPWhen the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve reconvenes for Round 3 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on the weekend of March 23-25, some familiar faces will join the regular Daytona Prototype competitors.
English sports car racing standout Justin Bell, Brazilian hotshoe Roberto Moreno and 1996 Champ Car World Series champion Jimmy Vasser have all been entered for the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami.

Vasser will rejoin GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing and is entered alongside co-drivers Alex Gurney and Bob Stallings in the No. 99 GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing Pontiac Riley. Vasser also co-drove the No. 99 machine with Stallings and Gurney--as well as Rocky Moran Jr.--in the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona, earning a 13th-place Daytona Prototype result and 24th place overall. zzzz

It will be Vasser's first-ever race on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course and will be Vasser's first appearance at the South Florida facility since finishing fourth on the oval in the 2000 Champ Car season-opener. The Californian also won the first open-wheel race at Homestead-Miami Speedway--also on the oval--in 1996.

Moreno returns for his first Daytona Prototype appearance of 2006 standing-in for the suspended J.C. France in the No. 59 Brumos Racing Porsche Fabcar alongside legendary co-driver Hurley Haywood. Moreno, who earned the nickname of "Super Sub" for his ability to run competitively as a replacement for injured drivers in Champ Car competition, made seven Rolex Series starts in 2005 with a best result of 10th in the Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen. Ironically, Vasser and Moreno were Champ Car teammates with Patrick Racing in 2001.

Bell is also replacing a suspended driver in Homestead as he rejoins Derhaag Motorsports and co-driver Randy Ruhlman in the No. 40 Preformed Line Products/Coyote Pontiac Riley in place of Chris Bingham. A two-time Rolex Series GTS class race-winner in 2003, Bell combined with Ruhlman, Bingham and Canadian sports car ace Ron Fellows to finish 14th in the Daytona Prototype class and 29th overall in the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona. It was Bell's second career Daytona Prototype appearance.

Waltrip to return for Busch race Waltrip to return for Busch raceAaron Rents, Inc., the nation’s leader in the rental, sales and lease ownership, specialty retailing and rental of residential and office furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, today announced that for the first time ever, Darrell Waltrip will take the wheel from younger brother Michael Waltrip to race the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine at the upcoming NASCAR Busch Series race at Martinsville Speedway on the evening of July 22, 2006.

NASCAR fans familiar with the Waltrip brothers and their long-standing relationship with Aaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership know that for years, Michael Waltrip has famously and repeatedly turned down older brother Darrell’s requests to drive the Aaron’s Dream Machine.  However, in a surprise announcement made during the final moments of a Darrell Waltrip Roast benefiting the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Tennessee, Darrell’s wife Stevie dramatically handed the three-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion one of Michael’s racing helmets along with her permission to drive the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine during the Martinsville race. zzzz

Despite the fact that Darrell Waltrip completed what he called his “One and Done” race this past October in the No. 12 Toyota Tundra at Martinsville, the driver jumped to his feet to accept the helmet and express his thanks at the opportunity that had eluded him until this point.

“I can’t believe it,” said Darrell Waltrip.  “The Aaron’s ad campaign has been a lot of fun for me over the years, but I seriously thought I would never get to race that car.  I really appreciate Michael and Aaron’s and, of course, my wonderful and supportive wife Stevie, for giving me this opportunity.  Like they say, Dreams Come True at Aaron’s!”

Audis and Dyson Lolas set the pace Audis and Dyson Lolas set the pace
Audi R10 fastest as Sebring practice opens Audi R10 fastest as Sebring practice opensAudi has managed a perfect start in this year’s American Le Mans Series (ALMS). During the first official practice day for the season opener at Sebring, the two 650 hp diesel sportscars set the fastest laps on the 5.954 kilometer circuit. The fastest time of the day was set by Audi driver Allan McNish in the #2 Audi R10 TDI during the morning session.
The starting grid for the 12-hour race will be decided in qualifying on Thursday. The organizers expect another record crowd of over 150,000 spectators during the weekend at the traditional season opener in the US state of Florida. The long-distance classic is the most important sportscar race in the USA and for Audi, the dress rehearsal for the 24 Hours of Le Mans where Audi bids to become the first manufacturer to claim overall victory with a diesel sportscar.
Quotes after the first practice day at Sebring
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Like always it’s very difficult to adapt a new car to a tricky circuit like Sebring. We’ve been here for testing but due to the higher ambient temperatures, we now have completely different circumstances. The team is working towards the race set-up for both cars and is making good progress.” zzzz
Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #1): "We sorted out a few things during testing so that we arrived at Sebring with a good car. Now we have to adapt the Audi R10 TDI to the current conditions and have to deal with circumstances like changing wind direction and force for example. Reacting to these elements was of course much easier with our well known Audi R8. But after the experiences so far, I’m quite optimistic that we will ultimately manage the same with the R10 TDI.”
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): "It has been a good start. We have discovered a lot more things about the car and are satisfied with the steps we’ve already made. I’m happy about the positive feedback our diesel project is experiencing in the USA. A lot of enthusiastic fans talked to me and said they couldn’t believe that a diesel can be so fast.”
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #1): "We are very satisfied because now we know that our car is competitive. The encouraging thing is that we have not suffered the slightest problem with our R10 TDI and so was able to work on our program without interruption.”
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #2): "It’s nice to get back into the cockpit of a race car after such a long time of preparation. With the heavy traffic of the slower ALMS classes on the circuit, I feel at home already. We are still improving our R10 TDI and I’m now looking forward to the qualifying.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi R10 TDI #2): "I was looking forward very much to driving the new Audi R10 TDI with diesel power for the first time here at Sebring on Monday and it didn’t disappoint me. Our new ‘baby’ has excellent power and extremely good aerodynamics. So the guys in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm managed once again to put something very special on four wheels.”
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #2): "Every day we learn more about our car. And now we already know how competitive we are. Our lap times look very good and we are definitely working in the right direction and so will have a well prepared car for the race on Saturday.”
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director, Team Audi Sport North America): "We have worked through our program without any problems so far. But we also learned that the competition will be very hard here at Sebring. Our competitors Porsche and Dyson are very fast so we can expect a very tough race.” Audi
Champ Car Wisconsin ticket deal announced Champ Car Wisconsin ticket deal announcedThe high-speed, open wheel drama of the Champ Car World Series will make two Wisconsin stops during its 2006 season.  Today in a joint announcement made by The Milwaukee Mile and Elkhart Lake’s Road America, a CHAMP CAR WISCONSIN Ticket is now available for motorsports enthusiasts to take in two race weekends in one attractive offer.

The Sunday afternoon, June 4 Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 at The Milwaukee Mile will be the only oval event on the diverse Champ Car schedule.  Driving champion Paul Tracy is looking to replicate his dramatic 2005 victory at The Mile, completing the winning move on a daring outside turn two pass on Jimmy Vasser to streak away to glory last June.

Champ Cars return to Elkhart Lake’s Road America September 22-24 for a 200-mile contest, matching the sprawling four mile circuit in Elkhart Lake with the skilled international cast of drivers.  This will be the final domestic event on the 15-date Champ Car schedule.  Series veteran Alex Tagliani wheeled into victory lane the last time Champ Car raced at Road America, the premier road course in the United States, in 2004.

Included in each CHAMP CAR WISCONSIN Ticket are the following elements:
For The Milwaukee Mile Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 event weekend June 2-4:
-Weekend Pit & Paddock pass
-Sunday reserved grandstand ticket – 200 level
-Saturday qualifying day grandstand admission

For the Road America event weekend September 22-24:
-Weekend Paddock and Admission Pass
-Admission to a hospitality area with refreshments provided

A ‘members only’ CHAMP CAR WISCONSIN premium gift pack Value-priced at $179.00. Approx. retail value is $219.00.  Standard handling fees apply.

“The Milwaukee Mile is committed to offering exceptional value to our loyal fans, and this is yet another way we are providing an attractive option to our Champ Car fans to enjoy 180mph open-wheel excitement at two world-class motorsports venues,” said Milwaukee Mile president & CEO Andy Randall. zzzz

“Road America is pleased to include Champ Car in our action-packed events calendar in 2006.  Teaming up with The Milwaukee Mile offers Champ Car fans the ability to witness the series’ only oval event and Champ Cars skillfully maneuvering around America’s premier road course, Elkhart Lake’s Road America,” said Road America president George Bruggenthies.

A limited number of CHAMP CAR WISCONSIN Ticket admissions will be made available.  Orders can be placed today by calling The Milwaukee Mile ticket office at (414) 453-8277.  This ticket is available through Friday, May 26th, 2006.  For more details, visit the circuit’s websites, www.milwaukeemile.com and www.roadamerica.com.

Rossi challenges Alonso to duel Rossi challenges Alonso to duelMotoGP champion Valentino Rossi has challenged Formula One champion Fernando Alonso to a high-speed duel to see who is quickest.

Alonso said last month he was unimpressed by Rossi's Formula One tests for Ferrari and felt it would be very hard for him to switch from two wheels to four.

"He might finish fifth or even get on the podium some time but I could do the same on the bikes if I was given enough time to practice," the Spaniard told a news conference.

In return Rossi was quoted by British weekly Motorcycle News as saying "I read that if Alonso is able to make some practice then he can put a MotoGP bike on the podium with me," said the 27-year-old Italian.

"Well, I think we should drive a Formula One car, a World Rally car and a MotoGP bike, add the times together and then we will see who is the fastest."

The case of the disappearing grandstands The case of the disappearing grandstandsUPDATE An update on the grandstand situation in St. Petersburg. Grandstands 1, 8 and 25 were never built in 2005, contrary to what the seating chart showed. Grandstand 1 is being built this year, 8 will not be built because it restricts sightlines for grandstand 7. Grandstand 25 is planned for future expansion.

Corporate suites have been increased by 25% this year and are almost all sold out. The Corporate Hospitality Village is all sold out. Bottom line - this race is doing just fine and will be one to possibly keep in a merged series scenario.

03/14/06 St. Pete race organizers said they expect 100,000 people this year compared to last years 60K. Kind of hard to get 40,000 more with 5 grandstands torn down and a 50% reduction in corporate hospitality suites.

(Left) Missing hospitality suites and grandstand. (Center) 2005 St. Pete grandstand layout. (Right) Comparison of 2005 vs. 2006 grandstands.

New Denver race boss New Denver race bossSutton International Motorsports today announced the appointment of Rob Johnson as vice president of Sutton International Motorsports and general manager of the Grand Prix of Denver and the promotion of Jim Freudenberg, previous general manager of the Grand Prix of Denver, to chief operating officer of Sutton Motorsports Productions, a division of Sutton International Motorsports.

Johnson, 38, most recently served as vice president/general manager of the Broomfield Event Center, a 6,000 seat multi-purpose arena being built in Broomfield, Colorado. Prior to his role with the Broomfield Event Center, Johnson served seven years as president of Pikes Peak International Raceway, a 1,200-acre complex in Fountain, Colorado that hosted AMA, IRL, NASCAR and USAC-sanctioned events.

"This was a perfect fit to bring Rob into the Sutton International Motorsports fold," explained Jim Hancock, president of Sutton International Motorsports. "The success of the Grand Prix of Denver created opportunities for Sutton International Motorsports to move into a consulting role on new venue and event development and Jim Freudenberg is the ideal person to oversee that expansion. Fortunately, Rob was able to jump on board and with his experience at Pikes Peak International Raceway, it hasn't taken him long to get up to speed with the Grand Prix of Denver."

"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to join Sutton International Motorsports and the Grand Prix of Denver," said Johnson. "I've always been impressed by their dedication to excellence in all of their motorsports projects and their commitment to making the Grand Prix of Denver a premier event for the state."

Jim Freudenberg is also enthused about the opportunity to expand the role of Sutton International Motorsports. "After the success of the Grand Prix, we were approached about a variety of new event and venue opportunities," explained Freudenberg. "This was the ideal time to create an enlarged role for Sutton Motorsports Productions and move into a new arena that will capitalize on our management strengths."

In addition to his venue related experience, Johnson led the public relations division of Denver-based GBSM where he worked on a variety of projects for clients including Ascent Entertainment (Pepsi Center), Colorado Avalanche, IZZO Systems, Major League Baseball's '98 All-Star Game at Coors Field and All-Star FanFest at the Colorado Convention Center, Pikes Peak International Raceway and Turner Sports (Atlanta Arena). Johnson is a Colorado native who earned his bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Colorado. Johnson is married and has two young sons with a third baby due in May.
TV News
Carl Edwards on TV Carl Edwards on TVCarl Edwards' career will be highlighted on Biography Channel's "NASCAR - Driven To Win."  The show will air tonight at 10:30 p.m.

Edwards will also be making an appearance on the Weather Channel's "Your Weather Today Show," this Friday, March 17th.  He will be on from 7:30 - 9:00 a.m.

A lap around Sepang with Juan Montoya A lap around Sepang with Juan Montoya"Crossing the start line at the Sepang circuit, you reach a speed of 306km/h in sixth gear on the long pit straight before braking dramatically for the tight complex, which incorporates a downhill gradient. The right-hander is taken at 78km/h in first, with your speed dropping slightly for the left turn that follows immediately.

As the track is fairly wide at this point of the track there are often good opportunities for overtaking under braking. Accelerating out, the track leads to the long right-hander of turn three that sweeps you round onto a short straight.

Pushing hard on the throttle, you reach some 251km/h in fifth gear before braking sharply, dropping down to 110km/h in second for the tight right-hander of turn four. On the exit, you quickly flick up through the gears as you approach the flowing left of turn five, which is negotiated at 232km/h in fifth gear.

The tighter right of turn six follows and requires a slight touch on the brakes, bringing your speed down to 216km/h in fourth.

Another quick sprint along a short straight comes next, at speeds of 275km/h, on the approach to the two right-handers of turns seven and eight.

Turn seven is taken at 180km/h, the slightly more open turn of eight sees your speed increase by 10km/h. As you exit the corner, you continue to push hard on the throttle along the straight that leads to the very tight turn nine.

Braking hard as you enter the complex at the back of the circuit, the left-hander, is negotiated in first gear at 76km/h.

On the throttle as you exit, you build and maintain your speed through the long, right-hander of turn ten, reaching some 193km/h in third gear.

Turn eleven, a 90-degree right-hander is taken at 139km/h. Another short burst of power takes you to turn twelve. Keeping your speed through the corner, you then dab the brakes, dropping to 222km/h in fourth for the slower right hand of turn thirteen. Flicking down 2 gears, the sharp right of turn fourteen swings you round almost 180-degrees at some 107km/h onto the straight that runs parallel to the start-finish straight, separated by the massive grandstand.

Powering along the straight and 310km/h in sixth, you then brake sharply to negotiate the hairpin of turn fifteen, at 85km/h in second, which flips you back onto the start-finish straight to begin another lap."

Cosworth Lubricants fly with Toro Rosso team Cosworth Lubricants fly with Toro Rosso teamAt the first race on the Formula 1 schedule, Cosworth announced that LiquidCosworth will be a 2006 sponsor of Scuderia Toro Rosso. LiquidCosworth is the engineering company's lubricants and specialty fluids division.

Scuderia Toro Rosso's drivers include Scott Speed (the first U.S. Formula 1 driver since Michael Andretti in 1993), Vitantonio Liuzzi, and Neel Jani. Their STR1 racecars are powered by Cosworth V-10 TJ engines built to 2006 specs and are lubricated with Cosworth Performance Engineered Motor Oil SAE 0W-20. (Preparations are underway to make this particular viscosity grade available to all automotive enthusiasts within the next month at www.liquidcosworth.com.) The Cosworth TJ engine proved to be one of the most reliable F1 engines on the grid during 2005 and these attributes of performance and reliability are embodied in the motor oil's formulation. zzzz

Cosworth Performance Engineered Motor Oil adds further luster to the performance genius of Cosworth, and provides an additional “first” – the simultaneous introduction of a new performance product, its use in the elite and competitive state of Formula 1 racing in its inaugural year, and the commercial offering of the exact same product to consumers for use in their cars, whether on the road or track. The product re-emphasizes that the optimization of lubricants and fluids is essential in attaining maximum engine advantage. Cosworth’s new division is further evidence of Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerry Forsythe’s vision to expand the Cosworth brand and capitalize on the expertise of one of the world’s premier engineering companies. The lubricants and specialty fluids are fully developed in-house and formulated to Cosworth specifications. The full line of Cosworth Performance Engineered Products is available online at www.liquidcosworth.com, or by phone at 1-800-355-5880.

2006 also sees Cosworth powering the outstanding WilliamsF1 team on the Formula 1 grid, as well as supplying all engines in the Champ Car World Series and its associated Atlantic Series. Cosworth will continue to develop performance parts for Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Duratec power plants, with additional engines targeted for aftermarket products.

Since its formation in 1958 by Mike Costin and Keith Duckworth, Cosworth has been extracting peak power from motor sport and high performance road car engines. From the exceptionally sophisticated power units of Formula One and Champ Car to upgrade components for street performance enthusiasts, Cosworth is recognized as a leader in applying innovative technology in the search for maximum automotive performance. Press release LiquidCosworth

Hemelgarn Racing teams Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony Hemelgarn Racing teams Nuggets star Carmelo AnthonyINDIANAPOLIS, - Carmelo Anthony has added "race team co-owner" to his impressive list of credentials.  The Denver Nuggets star has partnered with veteran IRL IndyCar® Series team owner Ron Hemelgarn to put rookie driver P.J. Chesson on the track for the 2006 IndyCar Series season. The team will debut at the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 on March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"It's exciting to be a part of the IndyCar Series and partnering with two winners - Hemelgarn Racing and P.J. Chesson," said Anthony. "I hope my involvement with the IndyCar Series brings a wider fan-base and more interest to an already exciting and fun sport."

Anthony, in his third season with the Nuggets, has established himself as one of the premier forwards in the NBA. Anthony was an NBA All-Rookie First team selection in 2003-4, the most valuable player of the 2005 "got milk?" NBA Rookie Challenge, and led Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship as a freshman.

"Every kid has a dream of owning and driving a race car," Anthony said. "I have always had a love for cars especially fast cars, and this is a dream come true. I'll stick to driving the basketball lane and let P.J. handle the fast lane." 
Today's announcement is the product of the Indy Racing League's marketing partnership with Simmons Abramson Marketing, whose principals, Gene Simmons and Richard Abramson brought together Anthony, Chesson and Hemelgarn, to what surely will be considered one of the most unique partnerships in motor sports.  zzzz

A luminous star, Anthony stands in stark contrast to Hemelgarn's silent strength. A private person by his own admission, Hemelgarn steps reluctantly into the spotlight--only by his involvement in, and success at-- racing. In his more than two decades as a race owner, Hemelgarn won the 2000 IndyCar Series championship and 1996 Indianapolis 500 with driver Buddy Lazier, and now, brings a uniquely driven personality to the track in Chesson.

"Success is not measured by how high you climb but by how many people you can bring with you," Hemelgarn said. "Bringing along P.J. Chesson, a proven Sprint car and World of Outlaw standout, and NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony will create excitement, a new fan base and attention to the IndyCar Series. The IndyCar Series ratings will climb, sponsorship dollars will climb and so will the Hemelgarn Racing team. I'm excited to have such an opportunity with this unique partnership."

Chesson started racing go-karts at age 9 and honed his skills on two wheels as a rookie of the year and district champion in AMA motocross. He cut his racing teeth in the dirt racing sprint cars for five years, becoming Dirt Cup Champion and a four-time World of Outlaws winner before starting in the Indy Pro Series in 2004, where he won three of nine starts.

"I've been given an opportunity to make a difference both on and off the track," Chesson said. "I look forward to being a part of the IndyCar Series family, beating the best race car drivers in the world and transcending the most exhilarating sport on Earth."

The Far Hills, N.J. native is popular with fans for his aggressive driving style and his "Take No Prisoners" attitude. He said he is eager to take the next big step in his racing career and fight for Bombardier Rookie of the Year honors.

"I can promise you all that when I show up race weekend, I'll have my spurs in my bag, and they're usually on when I climb in the race car, which means I'm ready to go," Chesson said. "I'm going to do the best I can, and the team's going to do the best they can. We're going to go out there and cause some trouble." IRL

Derek Daly's son Conor lands top karting ride Derek Daly's son Conor lands top karting rideTHREE OAKS, MI–The MRP-Birel AMERICA has announced their 2006 driver line-up today for the Junior-ICA (JICA) and Cadet classes for the Stars of Karting Championship. With seven drivers in the line-up for the two classes, the Birel team looks for several podiums for the 2006 season.

The team will enter three first-year drivers in JICA for 2006.  Brendan Phinny, a front-runner in the Cadet class last season is making a jump up to campaign for the Stars Western Division championship.  Phinny is an 8-time winner in Stars Junior 1 competition and has two IKF Championships in the class as well. He will compete in Stars as well as IKF Region 7 this season.

Alongside Phinny will be Alpine, California’s Taylor Miinch, also moving up from the Cadet class after a strong year finishing 4th in the final points standings. Miinch, with support from Dave’s Performance, will be a threat for podiums at each event this season.

Competing for the Stars Eastern Division championship will be Conor Daly, son of racing legend Derek Daly, who will be making his first Stars of Karting appearance on a Birel at the “Race of Americas”. The Indianapolis based driver will be developing his skills throughout the season with assistance from Motorama Kart Parts and the MRP-Birel AMERICA Engineering team and will bring Cytomax energy drink as a sponsor. Daly is just coming off a well-deserved 3rd place finish this past weekend at the WKA Winter Nationals in his debut event on a Birel. 

“We have a great group of junior drivers to work with this season,” said Team Manager, Chris Lobaugh. “Our focus has always been to help develop young drivers into championship caliber kart racers. We have several in this group that could easily be champions on the top level and we will work very hard to help them achieve that.”

TV News
Weekly Schedule of NASCAR TV Weekly Schedule of NASCAR TV
• Wednesday, March 15 – Unique Whips (10 p.m. ET) … SPEED’s popular celebrity car customizing show takes on NASCAR as Will Castro and his team get a pair of special projects from NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart – including a Cadillac hearse.

• Thursday, March 16 – Beyond the Wheel episodes at 8 and 8:30 p.m. ET.

• Friday, March 17 – NASCAR Live! (4 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. ET, LIVE) from SPEED Stage.

• Friday, March 17 – NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying (5 p.m., ET, LIVE) from Atlanta.

• Friday, March 17 – NASCAR Nextel Cup Series qualifying (7 p.m. ET, LIVE) from Atlanta.

• Friday, March 17 – NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series John Deere 200 (9 p.m., ET, LIVE) from Atlanta.

• Friday, March 17 – Trackside (11:30 p.m. ET, SDD; taped at the SPEED stage at 5 p.m. ET) from SPEED Stage with guests Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and others. zzzz

• Saturday, March 18 – NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series practice (9 a.m., ET, LIVE) from Atlanta.

• Saturday, March 18 – NASCAR Live! (10 a.m., ET, LIVE) from SPEED Stage.

• Saturday, March 18 – NASCAR Busch Series qualifying (1 p.m., ET, SDD) from Atlanta.

• Saturday, March 18 – NASCAR Performance (6:30 p.m. ET; taped Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET) from SPEED Stage with Larry McReynolds and Bootie Barker.

• Saturday, March 18 – Tradin’ Paint (11 p.m. ET; taped Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET) from SPEED Stage with John Roberts, Michael Waltrip and a member of the NASCAR media.

• Sunday, March 19 – NASCAR Race Day (11 a.m. ET, LIVE) from SPEED Stage with John Roberts, Kenny Wallace, Jimmy Spencer and Wendy Venturini.

• Sunday, March 19 – SPEED News (7 p.m. ET) hosted by Bob Varsha, Ralph Sheheen, and Connie LeGrand. Bob Dillner, Robin Miller, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond are regular contributors.

• Sunday, March 19 – NASCAR Victory Lane (8 p.m. ET).

• Sunday, March 19 – Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain (9 p.m. ET).

• Monday, March 20 – Inside NEXTEL Cup ( 7 p.m. ET) with Dave Despain, Michael Waltrip, Brian Vickers, and Ken Schrader reviewing the action from Atlanta.

• Monday, March 20 – 7 Days (8 p.m. ET) SPEED follows a NASCAR insider for a week leading up to race day.

• Monday, March 20 – Back in the Day with Dale Jr. (9 p.m. ET) Dale Earnhardt Jr. adds a modern perspective to classic Car & Track footage.

• Monday, March 20 – NASCAR Past Champions – Richard Petty, Part 1 (9:30 p.m. ET). NASCAR

track news
Atlanta reduces seating capacity Atlanta reduces seating capacityPlagued by empty seats for years, Atlanta Motor Speedway is reducing its overall seating by 11,000 to 113,000 total when it finishes its latest upgrades. Total capacity will be 134,000 if you include campers and standing room only infield numbers.
Michelin Malaysia pre-race report Michelin Malaysia pre-race reportA taxing start to the 2006 Formula One world championship season continues this weekend as the 11 teams complete a swift dash from the sandy expanses of Bahrain to Sepang, Malaysia, where the latest V8 engines will have to complete the second part of their two-race cycle in searing heat and humidity.

Sepang has been ever-present on the F1 calendar since its inauguration in 1999 and this will be the eighth Malaysian Grand Prix. Michelin teams dominated 2005’s corresponding event, when Fernando Alonso (Renault) spearheaded a clean sweep of the top six positions.

The emerging world champion’s success was Michelin’s third at Sepang in the space of four years: Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya swept to a one-two for Williams-BMW in 2002 and Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren Mercedes) notched up his maiden F1 success here the following season. zzzz

“The second race of the season takes place in something of a Formula One hotspot,” said Nick Shorrock, Formula One director, Michelin. “It will be a very demanding weekend for tire manufacturers. Several long straights put quite a strain on rear tires, but sustained ambient heat is the biggest factor. We have done a lot of preparatory work, though, and obtained encouraging results during a pre-season test in hot conditions at the Bahrain International Circuit, where we won last weekend’s opening race. We expect things to be much warmer in Malaysia and will turn to slightly more rigid tire constructions. Given our winning start to the season, I’m confident we will perform very strongly once again.”

“It is obviously quite tricky preparing for hot conditions during the cool of a European winter, but our pre-season test in Bahrain gave us some useful pointers,” added Honda’s Gil de Ferran. “We anticipate that temperatures will be warmer in Malaysia than they were during last weekend’s season-opener in Bahrain, but Michelin has proved it can be competitive in all conditions and we have worked well with its engineers to optimize tires for every type of circuit.”

Michelin has been present in Malaysia since the 1960s, working closely with local partner Syarikat Kit Loong Sdn Bhd. In November 2002, Michelin Malaysia was incorporated as a private limited company, Michelin Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. In Malaysia, Michelin is actively involved in the sales and marketing of the following products: Passenger car tires, Light truck tires, Truck & bus tires Two wheel tires, Earthmover tires. Michelin

Doornbos and Liuzzi make side trip to Singapore Doornbos and Liuzzi make side trip to SingaporeJust one day after the F1 season opener in Sakhir last Sunday, Robert Doornbos was on his way to Malaysia in order to acclimatize himself and make the final preparations for this coming weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Next to an extensive fitness program, Red Bull Racing also organized a surprise PR-event for Vitantonio Liuzzi and Robert Doornbos in Singapore, that he thoroughly enjoyed…

“Hey! I just got back home from a surprise Red Bull PR-event in Singapore, where Tonio and I did plenty of fun things today. Singapore is only an one-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur so it’s pretty close to the circuit here. My day started at 05:45 when I got my wake-up call to catch our flight to Singapore. Shortly after we arrived there we were welcomed by the Asian wakeboarding champion, who gave us a clinic between 09:00 and 12:00 hours. After a short while I actually got to grips with things and was even able to make some airs and do some basic tricks and grabs!” zzzz

“To feed our appetite, we went to the famous ‘Mendosa Beach’ to enjoy lunch. Afterwards Tonio and I had to play a game of volleyball against the Formula Una girls who are selected for the upcoming Malaysian Grand Prix. I honestly don’t understand why the team keeps punishing us for all the good work we deliver, haha!!! ;) Next to this the both of us also gave some interviews to CNN Asia, ESPN and some local media who had been following us all day.”

“Between 14:00 and 15:00 hours we went ‘shark diving’ in a mega aquarium in Singapore called Underwaterworld. As there was also a glazed foot-bridge through the aquarium, everyone could see how tough Formula One drivers really are when in contact with a big shark, haha! Luckily everything went okay, I even touched ‘Jaws’!”

“At the end of the day Tonio and me did a photo shoot with all the people from Red Bull Malaysia and everyone else involved in organizing this great day. At 18:00 hours we took our flight back to KL, where I face quite a heavy fitness program with my trainers tomorrow afternoon. And believe me, it’s really hot here at lunchtime!!!”

“Now I’m going to chase some ‘domestic pets’ from my hotel room before going to bed!” Robert Doornbos

Schumacher enthusiastic after Bahrain Schumacher enthusiastic after BahrainAt times a second place is worth more than a win. This is the general opinion at Ferrari following the season's opening race in Bahrain.

Though Fernando Alonso pushed Michael into runners-up position, no-one felt like it had been a disappointment.

"I never thought that things would have gone so well from the very first race," declared the good-humored, record breaking driver the evening after the race. "If you consider how far behind we were at the end of last season, and how unlikely a win was, the Bahrain result seems phenomenal. We all know how difficult it is to make even the smallest progress in F1 and it is precisely for this reason that it is incredible to see what we were able to put together in order to bridge the gap. It is marvellous to see how the tiring and intense winter work has paid dividends and this, for me and for the entire team, is very pleasing. We couldn't have hoped for a better payback and greater encouragement ahead of the coming race. The motivation derived mainly from the fact that victory was well within our grasp. This was perhaps the only initial, though fleeting, reason to be downbeat." zzzz

After qualifying, Michael was only able to refuel for a lap less that he could have as he was too slow in qualifying (owing to the traffic on the track). He was not the only driver to suffer this fate and, had he been able to refuel a lap later, could have gone on to claim the win. "Naturally, it is a pity but, nonetheless, the positive aspects of the race prevail."

One plus point was that Ferrari proved to have regained it competitive edge. The result obtained increases the desire to challenge for top spot in Malaysia this coming weekend.

"I see no reason why things shouldn't go well. We are all keen to kick on. I really cannot wait for this season's races. It will be a tight one but this is how it should be."

Michael will leave for Malaysia today. Source Ferrari

Williams team impressed with Cosworth Williams team impressed with CosworthDespite lingering rumors that Williams F1 is talking to Toyota about using their engines in 2007 and beyond, the team won't be making the switch from Cosworth because of performance, but because of Toyota giving them a favorable financial deal.

"I personally think they have got the best engine on the grid and whether that gives us a harder time to develop the tire or the set-up or aero, fine," said Williams technical director Sam Michael. "But you have got to take your hat off to them to produce an engine that revs to 19,000rpm and is as solid as a rock. They did a really, really good job."

Actually the engine revs to 20,000rpm in qualifying mode and appears, at least right now, and everyone agree it is the superior engine on the F1 grid right now. We find this rather amusing because all the big auto manufacturers are spending huge sums of money in F1 only to get their posteriors kicked by F1 minnow Cosworth. What's especially comical about the rumors of Williams perhaps switching to Toyota is the fact that in Bahrain they were the slowest 'factory' team in the race and were completely out to lunch....so a switch to Toyota could make Williams financially whole, but an instant backmarker again.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Ferrari got winter wind tunnel boost
Brawn says Ferrari wing is legal
Press heralds Schu revival
Bernie confirms Fuji switch
Newey eyes long future at Red Bull
Rosberg's girl
Toro Rosso to get extra KL 'edge' - Liuzzi
Murray turns down offer to 'call' Oz GP
Familiar faces return to ALMS Familiar faces return to ALMSThis week's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the opening of the 2006 American Le Mans Series, marks the return of several prominent drivers to full-season competition.

Among the most notable are Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz' David Brabham, Guy Smith of Dyson Racing and Risi Competizione's Ralf Kelleners. In addition, Penske Racing's Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr are back for a full season after they won in the debut of the Porsche RS Spyder in October at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Brabham hasn't taken part in a full American Le Mans Series season since 2002, his last season driving for Panoz Motor Sports. But instead of driving a prototype, Brabham is driving the Panoz Esperante GTLM in GT2. In the previous three seasons Brabham competed in 16 races after being in 36 events during the first four years of the Series.

"I've worked with Multimatic Motorsports before, and I know they are a very professional organization," said Brabham, who drove in three Series events last year with Aston Martin Racing. "But for me, the deciding factor was running a full season in America. I really missed racing over here." zzzz

Smith is preparing for his first full season in the American Le Mans Series since 2000. As he did last season, he'll drive the No. 20 Dyson Racing Lola with Chris Dyson. The difference is that after Sebring he'll continue on with the team for all 10 races.

He said he would have liked to have campaigned more in the Series, but he was part of Bentley's Le Mans program that lasted from 2001-03. Smith was part of the winning team at the 24-hour French classic in 2003 with Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen.

 "Yes, the Bentley program limited my involvement. It was all about Sebring and Le Mans," Smith said. "But I'm absolutely prepared to start my first full season in the Series in a long time. There's no doubt that the American Le Mans Series is definitely the premier sports car series in the world. This is where I want to be."

Kelleners is back behind the wheel of a Risi Ferrari, which he drove to a historic GT2 victory in 2004. He'll team with Anthony Lazzaro and Jaime Melo in Risi's Ferrari 430 GT at Sebring. Lazzaro and Kelleners won in class at Lime Rock two years ago, ending Porsche's 21-race win streak in the process.

LENDING A HAND: Dyson Racing drivers Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace did a little extra testing prior to Sebring. That normally wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary except they were working with two of the teams Dyson Racing will be competing against this season.

Wallace worked with Highcroft Racing and Leitzinger with Autocon Motorsports as both teams shook down the AER-powered Lola EX257s they purchased during the winter for Dyson Racing.

 "When Rob (Dyson) sells a car, he doesn't just throw it away and say 'Go at it,'" Wallace said. "They (Highcroft and Autocon) are nice people and it was great to work with them. It also means that there are still two very competitive cars in the Series."

Sebring tidbits Sebring tidbitsMarc Lieb, part of the winning BAM!/Alex Job Racing GT2 entry at Le Mans in 2005, is joining the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche for this week. He will team with Johannes van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty. . Konrad Motorsports added three drivers Tuesday for its pair of Saleen S7Rs in GT1.

Terry Borcheller will join Tom Weickardt in the No. 25. Fabio Babini and Jamie Davies are teaming with Paolo Ruberti in the No. 26 entry.

Andrew Davis was added to the Miracle Motorsports' lineup in LMP2.

Champ Car stars Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira had their first turns in the two Panoz Esperante GTLMs of Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz on Tuesday. Bourdais did four laps, the quickest of which was in the 2:04 area.

The world famous Budweiser Clydesdales will take part in the pre-race ceremonies at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Saturday, adding even more horsepower to America's premier sports car endurance race.

The Budweiser Clydesdales were formally introduced on April 7, 1933, to celebrate the repeal of Prohibition. A Clydesdale must be a gelding at least four years of age. He must stand 6 feet at the shoulder when fully mature, weigh between 1,800 and 2,300 pounds. Each horse consumes 20 quarts of feed, 50 pounds of hay and 30 gallons of water per day.

This is the first appearance of the Clydesdales at historic Sebring International Raceway, which originated from a World War II B-17 training base known as Hendricks Field.

The Budweiser beer wagons have been meticulously restored and are kept in excellent repair. The wagons are equipped with two braking systems: a hydraulic pedal device and a hand brake that locks the rare wheels when the wagon is at halt.

formula bmw
Swiss/Italian female to make waves in BMW series Swiss/Italian female to make waves in BMW seriesIndianapolis, IN, USA.  Eurointernational announced today that talented 17 years old Simona De Silvestro, of Lausanne, Switzerland, has signed to drive with the Indianapolis-based team to contest in the 2006 Formula BMW USA Championship.

Simona De Silvestro is the first woman to drive for the Eurointernational Team, after Italian Liliana De Menna and American Kiki Wolfkill raced in the 1999 WGGTS for Eurointernational.  She will compete in the FBMWUSA Championship under the Italian flag and racing license, having double citizenship: Italian and Switzerland.

Said team Owner Arturo Antonio Ferrari, “ I have to thank Paolo Mondini, father of our 2004 FRV6 Champion driver Giorgio Mondini, because he was the one who first brought to my attention Simona and her talent.

"We first met at VIR last week during our FBMW pre-season testing, while testing with some of the best drivers of the FBMW Series.  I could not believe my stopwatch.  After just her second ever lap in a FBMW car, on a  challenging track like VIR, Simona was not only the fastest driver on the track of each of the three testing days, but also impressed our engineer Corrado Cardinali with technical information and feedback on the car's performance.

"She will be the greatest surprise of the upcoming FBMWUSA season. In the next few days three major sponsorship announcements will be made worldwide for Simona's program with Eurointernational in the 2006 FBMWUSA. She will pick up where Edoardo Piscopo left off: Winning….”

After the 2004 season in Europe competing in the top category of Formula A, last year she participated in the Italian Formula Renault 2000 Championship.  She won the Super Course of the Italian Racing Federation “Young Drivers” award while testing the World Series FR 3.5 at the Paul Ricard, France.

"My goal is to eventually drive in F1 or Champ Car and I came to America to reach my first target: win the 2006 FBMWUSA Series," said Simona.  I am very happy to race with Eurointernational, because the Team has a winning history in racing and in FBMW.  I have known Mr. Ferrari's team from its participation in Europe. I feel at home with a European Team and I have already realized during the test how professional and competitive is the work of the entire organization under the management of  Mr. Ferrari and the technical direction of my engineer Corrado Cardinali.”  zzzz

Eurointernational finished the 2005 FBMWUSA season winning one race in each of the last three events with Italian driver Edoardo Piscopo, now Red Bull Junior Driver, who finished fifth in the 2005 Bahrain FBMW World Final last December with Eurointernational.

Simona De Silvestro will carry the traditional number 50 and blue/silver colors on her FBMW car.  She will team David Garza Jr., from Monterrey, Mexico, who will run number 23 and BMW livery. Both drivers will debut at the first official FBMWUSA tests at Road Atlanta on March 27 and 28.  Soon Eurointernational will announce the driver for their third FBMW car in USA.

Corvette team seeks revenge at Sebring Corvette team seeks revenge at SebringSEBRING, Fla. - It's the only blemish in an otherwise spotless record. In Corvette Racing's last 21 races, only once have Corvette drivers not been standing on the top step of the victory podium.

Corvette Racing's C6.R race cars finished second and third in last year's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in their competition debut, the team's only loss since the start of the 2004 season. Now with a pair of new Corvette C6.Rs ready for their racing baptism on March 18 in this year's edition of the classic 12-hour endurance contest, Corvette Racing is aiming to avenge the one that got away.

Corvette Racing's championship driver lineup returns to Sebring intact. The No. 3 Compuware Corvette that scored three consecutive Sebring victories in 2002-04 will be driven by Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis. The No. 4 Compuware Corvette will be driven by the same trio that posted back-to-back wins in Le Mans and Petit Le Mans: Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen.

Running first and second in last year's Sebring race, both Corvette C6.Rs encountered trouble shortly after the eight-hour mark. A brake rotor failure pitched O'Connell into a tire barrier at speed, and hard contact with another car severely damaged the rear suspension of Beretta's Corvette C6.R. Quick work by the Corvette Racing crew got both machines back on the track, but they could not make up enough ground to overtake the race-winning Aston Martin.

This year's season-opening round of the 10-race American Le Mans Series presents formidable challenges for Chevrolet's championship-winning sports car team. The Sebring airport circuit is a punishing course, and the competition in the GT1 class is intense. Recent rule changes have tilted the playing field, making Corvette Racing's task more difficult.  zzzz

"Through no one's fault, we weren't able to capture the crown at Sebring last year - the luck just wasn't with us," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "This year we are fully prepared once again, and we hope to start the season with a better result than last year. We know that overcoming the performance adjustments is going to be a challenge."

Success brings rewards. In the case of Corvette Racing, the team's success in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the ALMS were rewarded with a 55-kilogram (121-pound) weight increase over last season. That's in addition to the 25-kilogram (55-pound) increase mandated for all GT1 entries in 2006.

The bottom line: The new Corvette C6.Rs must weigh 1180 kilograms (2601 pounds), a 176-pound increase over last year. Consequently the yellow Corvettes are now 121 pounds heavier than their Aston Martin and Saleen competitors. Adjustments to engine intake air restrictors have also benefited Corvette Racing's rivals.

"We've demonstrated over the last 12 months our willingness to work with the sanctioning body to help teams that don't have the technology available to them that we have at Corvette Racing," said Fehan. "In the interest of great racing, sometimes adjustments have to be made for those whose car, technology and engineering are not the equal of the Corvette. Providing some rules concessions will help them to be competitive. This will strengthen the ALMS series and ultimately add to the enjoyment of the fans."

"We'll play the hand we're dealt," added Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing road racing group manager. "It will be a tough challenge, but we've got the team, the drivers and the level of preparation that can put a Corvette in the winner's circle in Sebring. The performance adjustments will make everyone on the team push harder in every area, knowing that our backs are against the wall. No one at Corvette Racing likes to finish second."

The new Corvette C6.Rs are virtual duplicates of last year's championship-winning cars, which have been sold to European teams. Minor updates were made to the chassis to improve durability and serviceability. The Corvettes' 7.0-liter LS7.R small-block V-8 engines have undergone extensive testing to ensure reliability throughout the long hours of racing in Sebring and Le Mans.

"Because of the success and popularity that Corvette enjoys globally, there is a market for these cars," Fehan explained. "We sold the C6.Rs that we raced last year and built new ones, which are essentially duplicates of the 2005 cars. The only reason we have new race cars is to meet the market demand from teams that want to buy and race Corvette C6.Rs."

A January test session at Sebring validated the performance of the new cars.

"The test went very well," said Oliver Gavin, who shared the 2005 GT1 drivers championship with his teammate Olivier Beretta. "Every Corvette Racing car I have ever driven has been very, very good straight out of the box. They've got a certain feel to them that's like putting on a pair of comfortable shoes.

"I learned in the test that the additional weight has had an effect on the braking and handling of the car. The braking points have been backed up a little, and the corner exit speed is slightly slower. We're going to have to be more disciplined in our driving style to conserve the tires and brakes though a long run.

"In spite of the extra weight, the Corvette C6.R is still a fantastic machine," Gavin declared. "The team is constantly improving each little part, and that's reflected in the results on the race track. Even though we have won a lot of races, they never sit back and think they've done enough. They're always pushing, always striving to make the car better."

Ron Fellows, a three-time Sebring 12-hour winner with Corvette Racing, agreed: "The new car handles well, but we have to be conscious of brake and tire wear carrying that additional weight. The engineers have found ways to make improvements by fine tuning the chassis."

Just the Facts

* 2006 marks Corvette's 50th anniversary in international road racing. John Fitch and Walt Hansgen drove a Corvette to a ninth-place finish overall and a Class B victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1956, the first step onto the world stage that established Chevy's sports car as a contender in top-level competition.

* Corvette Racing has scored nine straight victories in ALMS competition, a winning streak that began at Road Atlanta in April 2005.

* Johnny O'Connell has a record-tying six victories at Sebring, including an overall win in 1994 and class wins in 1993, 1995, and 2002-04 - the last three with Corvette Racing. O'Connell is tied with racing legend Phil Hill for the most Sebring wins. Hill has three overall victories (1958-59 and 1961) and three class wins (1955, 1962-63).

* O'Connell and Ron Fellows have teamed up for three Sebring class wins with Corvette Racing. They drove to victory with Oliver Gavin in 2002, with Franck Freon in 2003, and with Max Papis in 2004.

* Fellows, O'Connell and Olivier Beretta share the record for the most ALMS career victories with 24.Beretta holds the record for all-time ALMS poles (17) and the record for fast laps (17).

* Corvette Racing holds the ALMS records for most wins by a team (40) and the most 1-2 finishes (26). GM Racing

Howard lands Indy Pro Series ride Howard lands Indy Pro Series rideAs a former Formula Ford national champion himself, Sam Schmidt knows firsthand how valuable driving those cars can be in developing the talent to move to the next level. In 2006, Schmidt will turn to Jay Howard, a two-time Formula Ford champion, to drive for him in the Indy Racing League Indy Pro Series.

Howard, a 25-year-old from Basildon, England, will drive the No. 7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry beginning with the Miami 100 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 26.

"I've been working with Jay pretty closely for about a year and a half," said Schmidt, whose team won the Indy Pro Series championship in 2004. "Toward the end of last season, we helped him get a deal in Formula Mazda to race at Mosport. The results were really good against what I would call stiff competition. He qualified third, and he won the race going away. That was a real indication that he has lots of talent, and with our series going to 50 percent road courses, we will need that type of background to compete for the championship in 2006." zzzz

Howard has groomed himself for this opportunity since he started karting at age 7. After winning seven British karting championships, the outspoken driver claimed the United Kingdom Formula Ford Zetec Championship in 2003. Last year, he moved to the United States and won the Cooper Tires Formula Ford Zetec Championship on the strength of nine victories.

"He's new to the series, but he has a lot of experience," said Schmidt, who won the Formula Ford in 1993. "Last year, he broke a lot of records in the (Cooper Tires Formula Ford Zetec Series) that had been set by Dan Wheldon. That's impressive, and obviously his results at the first Open Test reconfirmed everything. We're excited about having him drive for us this year."

Howard led 17 Indy Pro Series drivers in an Open Test on the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 6. His past success, testing results and confidence lead him to believe another championship is within reach.

"I believe I have the ability to qualify on pole and win every race I enter," said Howard, who now resides in St. Petersburg, Fla. "This is what I have trained for all of my life and, looking at my accomplishments in other competitive professional series, I won't be pleased with anything short of a championship. The Sam Schmidt Motorsports team has gained 19 poles and 11 wins in the past two seasons, so I couldn't be with a better team."

The Indy Pro Series is the premier ladder series for drivers, teams and sponsors striving to compete in the IndyCar® Series and the Indianapolis 500. The 12-race schedule in 2006 features six races on ovals and six races on road courses, including competing on both circuits at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Teams compete for $3 million in prize money in cars that generate 420 horsepower and speeds in excess of 190 mph. The races are telecast to more than 88 million homes in the United States on ESPN2.

TV News
ABC, ESPN Add Sportvision Technology To IRL coverage ABC, ESPN Add Sportvision Technology To IRL coverageABC and ESPN's coverage of the IndyCar Series will include technology that will enhance the viewing experience for the first time in 2006.

Beginning with ABC Sports' coverage of Toyota Indy 300 from Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 26, the IndyCar Series broadcast partners will utilize Sportvision's most advanced tracking system. The technology will be used during all IndyCar Series races on ESPN and ABC Sports, including the Indianapolis 500.

"This Sportvision technology will have a profound impact on viewers of the IndyCar Series on ESPN and ABC Sports," said Rich Feinberg, Senior Coordinating Producer for ESPN and ABC Sports. "From now on, fans will be able to better identify the drivers and will have vital information- the same information that the drivers and their crews have." zzzz

The technology, called the RACEf/x system, has revolutionized motorsports broadcasting by providing viewers with graphic effects and relevant data, enabling them to better follow the action. The patented technology and global positioning system (GPS) will track every car while delivering a broad array of visual effects, thereby making it a lot easier for viewers to easily identify each driver. The most prominent graphic of the system is the "pointer," which will identify the cars and track them as they race at speeds up to 220 mph.

The on-board GPS system also captures all telemetry and positioning including speed, acceleration/deceleration, time behind the leader, exact car position and RPMs. The system will incorporate several data elements that will be unique to IRL coverage, including "G-force" which will indicate the force exerted on the driver.

Viewers can also customize their experience by tracking real-time data of any car competing in the race when following the race live on ESPN.com beginning with the Indianapolis 500.

"We welcome the addition of Sportvision to the telecast in 2006 so that viewers will have a constant visual connection to the racing action and the drivers they root for and against," said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer, Indy Racing League. "The storytelling of not only the race but the racers, participants and teams will be vastly improved as television makes each race more compelling and not to be missed by the casual and diehard fans alike, as well as the new fans we'll be attracting."

Sneak Peek 2006: Andretti Green Part 2 Sneak Peek 2006: Andretti Green Part 2Marco Andretti enters his rookie season in the IRL IndyCar® Series with three teammates capable of winning the series title. He plans to join them soon.

Andretti, the third generation driver from one of racing's most storied families, steps into seat vacated by 2005 series champion Dan Wheldon, and he will be supported by essentially the same crew which backed the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam car in its 2005 championship run.

Andretti has limited experience in IndyCar Series cars, but showed his potential in six starts in the Indy Pro Series in 2005. He won three times and finished in the top three five times.

"Everyone asks what my goals are for my rookie season in the IndyCar Series," Andretti said. "One of my goals for this season is to win a race, and I think that's a realistic goal, to be honest. For the first couple of races, I want to be in the top 10, but I don't want to be knocking on the door of the top-10 and every so often be there. I want to be up with those guys week in and week out, knowing that if they slip, I can move past and get closer to the front."

While Andretti is just learning the ropes, Tony Kanaan enters 2006 with a goal of reclaiming his championship. Kanaan, the 2004 IndyCar Series champion, has never finished worse than fourth in the IndyCar Series point standings and doesn't plan to fall out of championship contention in 2006. zzzz

"Last year, I was the defending IndyCar Series champion, and overall, it was a good year," he said. "I knew that the string of good luck that had been with us in 2004 wouldn't last forever, but we still had what many would consider to have been a very good season. But last year was a wake-up call, so to speak. The competition was much tougher than it had ever been, and the racing was as close as ever. Now, I'm not the champion anymore, and I want to be back on top."

Kanaan won two races in 2005 and captured the MBNA Pole Award for the Indianapolis 500. He recorded 12 top-five finishes en route to his runner-up finish in the point standings. He said finishing up front will be key winning the title.

"My focus has always been on winning races and maximizing points," Kanaan said. "That's the way you earn a championship and that's what I'm looking to do this season. The IndyCar Series has been very competitive, year after year. And with Honda as the sole engine supplier, it's becoming even more so. But that's what it's all about. beating people when they are at their best. That's what I'm looking forward to doing this year."

Car numbers: 11 (Kanaan), 26 (Andretti)
Chassis/engine/tire: Dallara/Honda/Firestone
Drivers: Tony Kanaan, 31, of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil and Marco Andretti, 19, of Nazareth, Pa.
Race engineers: Eric Cowdin (Kanaan), Eddie Jones (Andretti)
Chief mechanic: Jeff Simon (Kanaan), Mike Horvath (Andretti)
Team managers: George Klotz and John Anderson

Kim Green on Tony Kanaan: "Andretti Green Racing's goals are to put teams together that are capable of winning, and provide all those teams with the tools necessary to win races. Team 7-Eleven won the IndyCar Series championship in 2004 and were a close second in 2005 while another of our AGR teams won that year's championship. I would expect to be in a same position in 2006. I don't underestimate how competitive the year will be, but I have total confidence in our team that we can defend our IndyCar Series title in 2006."

Kim Green on Marco Andretti: "It is exciting to see another Andretti in the IndyCar Series. Marco brings an unbelievable family legacy with him. Thus far in pre-season testing, he has handled the pressure of the situation very, very well. He couldn't ask for better introduction into the IndyCar Series racing than he has, not only with the crew and engineers he's working with, but also his three teammates who have been very open with information, all of whom want to help Marco transition into IndyCar racing successfully. For a young driver, the absolute ultimate is the opportunity to race with and against his dad. That should provide for a very exciting Month of May and overall, a very exciting season.

Tony Kanaan 2005 IndyCar Series season
Starts 17
Victories 2
Top 5 12
Top 10 14
Poles 1
Laps led 375
Best start 1st (Indianapolis)
Best finish 1st (Kansas, Infineon)
Running at finish 14
Points rank 2nd
Earnings $1,553,805

Marco Andretti 2005 Indy Pro Series season
Starts 6 (Series had 14 events)
Victories 3
Top 5 5
Top 10 5
Poles 3
Laps led 102
Best start 1st (St. Petersburg, Indianapolis (Road), Infineon)
Best finish 1st (St. Petersburg, Indianapolis (Road), Infineon)
Running at finish 6
Points rank 10th

NASCAR TV ratings continue downward trend NASCAR TV ratings continue downward trendUPDATE Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler earned a final 6.2 national rating from Nielsen Media Research and a 12 share, drawing 10.3 million viewers. The 6.2/12 for this year's race is 3.1 percent lower than last year's final 6.4/14 for the race.

03/13/06 Fox’ coverage of NASCAR’s Nextel Cup UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 garnered an overnight TV rating of 5.4/10 share that was down 6.9% from a 5.8/12 last year.   Last weekend's Busch telecast from Mexico City was down significantly and the Fontana race was also down.

Lottery to sponsor Kansas race Lottery to sponsor Kansas raceKansas Speedway and Kansas Lottery officials announced the expansion of a unique partnership that should further bolster tourism and economic development in the state.

The Kansas Lottery Indy 300, scheduled for Kansas Speedway on July 2, promises to be one of the most exciting races on the IRL IndyCar® Series schedule in 2006, and has become synonymous with close finishes and non-stop thrills over the past five years.

“The Kansas Lottery has been an exceptional partner since day one,” Kansas Speedway President Jeff Boerger said. “Together, we’ve enjoyed a growing partnership that has created tremendous economic impact and excitement.”

This is the third year the Kansas Lottery has sponsored a race at Kansas Speedway. The lottery also hosts the ARCA RE/MAX Series Kansas Lottery $200 Grand on July 1. The lottery is currently selling a special “Kansas Lottery $200 Grand” instant scratch ticket which offers players a chance to win up to $10,000 instantly, as well as a chance to win one of 45 grand prize packages for the July 1-2 races. During the Kansas Lottery $200 Grand, two of the 45 players will get a chance to win $200,000 if they correctly pick the finishing order of the top three drivers. IndyCar.com

Turbo Tour Continues to Fly Sky High on Day 2 Turbo Tour Continues to Fly Sky High on Day 2Denver, Colo. -- Katherine Legge set the tone early on Day Two of the 2006 Champ Car Turbo Tour and kept the momentum going through another busy day for the stars of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

Legge did an early-morning media appearance in Portland as the groundbreaking Turbo Tour left the Rose City and headed for Edmonton. The Turbo Tour Gulfstream G550 landed at Edmonton’s City Centre Airport, which for a few breathtaking days in July is magically transformed into Finning International Raceway, for the Grand Prix of Edmonton.

“Our stop in Edmonton was incredible,” said RuSPORT driver A.J. Allmendinger.  “The event was great with us landing directly on the race track and then with me winning the RC car race was just icing on the cake.  I can’t wait to come back here in July when it’s just a little bit warmer.”

Drivers, along with Face of Champ Car winner Brandi Latimer and Champ Car President and CEO Steve Johnson, greeted the media in thick Eskimo-style jackets, as is befitting someone traveling to Edmonton in early March! Allmendinger and Legge battled alongside Justin Wilson, Mario Dominguez and Alan Sciuto in radio-controlled race cars before conducting a number of interviews with the media of Western Canada.

Denver had a racy feel even before the plane landed at Denver’s Centennial Airport. Drivers donned their firesuits and were greeted by the site of waiting go-karts, and the quintet of racers happily took over the driving chores at “The Track at Centennial” for the first time on the Turbo Tour. zzzz 

“I’m really excited about this new go-kart track near my house,” said RuSPORT driver Justin Wilson who resides near Denver.  “I joined the tour last night and it is what I was expecting, very busy but very fun.”

After the karts were rolled away, the Tour headed to dinner with Centrix Financial CEO Bob Sutton, who hosted a sponsor event with the drivers. With two days down and three on the calendar still remaining, the drivers headed back to the hotel to rest for tomorrow’s three-stop adventure.

In total the Turbo Tour has touched down in five cities, traveling more than 2,600 miles with more than six hours of time in the air.

Vasser will drive 3rd PKV entry Vasser will drive 3rd PKV entryTo clairify any confusion, Jimmy Vasser will drive a 3rd PKV entry at Long Beach, he will not replace either regular driver.
NASCAR hands down Busch penalties NASCAR hands down Busch penaltiesUPDATE Update to correct title of this news item. 03/14/06 NASCAR announced Tuesday that Eddie Buffington, crew chief of the No. 14 Dodge driven by Tracy Hines in the NASCAR Busch Series, has been penalized due to rules violations at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Buffington was fined $2,500 for violating Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-CC (unapproved rear end gear ratio) of the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series Rule Book.  The infraction was discovered during opening-day inspection on March 10.
Racing News
Loss of Riley a blow to Indianapolis racing industry Loss of Riley a blow to Indianapolis racing industryRiley Technologies LLC of Indianapolis, Indiana, announced today that it would move its entire operation to Mooresville, North Carolina, effective in September of 2006 (which is a major blow to the City of Indianapolis as they are trying to attract more motorsports business.)
“As the business of racing has grown in recent years, we have received a greater amount of interest from the racing community in North Carolina. Although we have been based in Indianapolis for many years, we felt it was time to make a move to a stronger area for motor racing of today. We feel we have found that in the Town of Mooresville, the County of Iredell and the State of North Carolina,” said Bill Riley, President of Riley Motorsport.
“We are looking forward to strengthening our ties with the NASCAR community, as well as the Grand American Daytona Prototype and Silver Crown teams,” said Bob Riley, President of Riley Technologies.
Riley Technologies plans to build a building from the ground up of nearly 40,000 square feet. Additionally, Riley will complete the building with the latest equipment and technology available. The company has offered for all current 35 employees now based in Indianapolis to move to Mooresville, nicknamed “Race City USA”. They expect to add more employees to the North Carolina operation once they are in location and their growth plans are more complete. zzzz
Riley Motorsports, a division of Riley Technologies that spearheads the championship-winning No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley Mk.XI team in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype class, plans to base the team operations from the new location as well.
As a part of this move, Riley Technologies plans to partner with deBotech to increase their composite manufacturing capability. DeBotech is a local composite manufacturer currently in Mooresville. They will be relocating to a facility adjacent to the new Riley Technologies manufacturing and technical center.
"We are pleased that Riley Technologies has committed to base their racing operations in our great town,” said Mayor Bill Thunberg, Mayor of Mooresville. “The Mooresville region has become a power center in the motorsports community. We are delighted to add Riley Technologies to the list of racing-related companies that see the value and potential of doing business in North Carolina and in the Town of Mooresville.”
Riley Technologies captured both the 2004 and 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Chassis Constructor Championship. In addition to their involvement in Grand American, Riley Technologies also build cars for the American Le Mans Series, the USAC Silver Crown Series, and the Japanese GT Championship Series.
British driver Hall joins Atlantic Series British driver Hall joins Atlantic SeriesCharles Hall, from Sheffield, England, has joined Transnet Racing for the 2006 Yokohama Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, which officially starts on April 7-9, on the streets of Long Beach, California. Hall will drive the number 16 car, with sponsorship from Accent Cards International: The International Pre Pay Debit Card www.accentcard.com, and OmniSource.  Corporation: America’s leader in metals recycling operations.

“I am delighted to have signed with Transnet Racing,” said Charles. “Having undertaken a full day test with the team I am more than happy with the way in which everybody calmly and professionally allowed me to have a faultless days testing. I feel ready to re start my career and believe that with the expertise that Alex (Garcia) and his team undoubtedly bring, we will be championship contenders.

“It has been a long road back but with the advent of the new Atlantic Championship and the fantastic prize fund, I have a clear goal to aim for,” he commented. “All being equal I will now be able to restart my career where I left off at the end of 2003.”

Alex Garcia, Transnet team owner and manager, and a former driver in the Atlantic Series until two years ago, will have two Atlantic machines on the grid, featuring the new Swift 016a chassis, powered by a 300-horsepower Mazda-Cosworth engine and capable of reaching speeds of up to 175 mph.

“Charles was highly recommended by a friend of Transnet who had worked with him in the past,” explained Garcia. “I invited him to test one of our Swift 014’s; and to spend a few days at the shop with the team. Charles was great to work with and from the moment he came to the shop it was clear to me that he would fit right into our Team environment.  He impressed all of us during his test with great speed and good solid feedback to our engineers.” zzzz

Since he was a kid in his native country, Hall always displayed an impressive ability to race and win. Having won races in the British Formula 3 Championship, Formula Opel Championship, and the UK Formula Renault 2000 Championship in 2000.

In 2003, Charles won the Fran-Am Winter Championship in Florida, and was the runner-up in the Formula Renault 2000 Pro Series, winning amongst others two of the last three races of the season, during the Phoenix race weekend finishing second to Andrew Ranger by 11 points in the championship.

Also in 2003, Charles had a one off opportunity to race in the Renault V6 Championship in Monaco, where he qualified third on the grid. Having driven the car only once before, during a test at Paul Ricard the previous Saturday, he moved to P2 during the race until a puncture ended his magnificent race. He also had a one off outing in the Ascari World Sports Car at Monza, collecting the car in fourth place, and finishing 2nd. another great result.

His promising career was put on hold in 2005. Having agreed to drive with iSport International in the new GP2 Championship, he was the unfortunate victim of a road accident caused by a drunk driver, leaving him with left injuries, which prevented him from taking his seat.

Showing great mettle and determination, Charles worked hard during the course of the year to regain full racing fitness, attending the Formula Medicine Clinic in Italy, while logging many training miles in an F3 car. Completely recovered and more motivated than ever, Charles is now committed to race for the Atlantic Series championship in what is shaping out to be a very competitive 2006 season.

Commenting on his expectations for the upcoming Atlantic Series season, Garcia concluded, “This year will be one of the most competitive in the Series history due to the depth in driver as well as team talent. I am pleased with the new car and engine program.

They will make the Series everything that a driver development series should be and I commend the Champ Car World Series and the Series owners for the choices they have made in this regard”.

New sponsor for Takuma Sato New sponsor for Takuma SatoTakuma Sato today announced a new personal partnership with Japanese athletic clothing brand DESCENTE. The arrangement will involve Takuma being the public face of the brand for its forthcoming Autumn/Winter 2006 and Spring/Summer 2007 sportswear campaigns. These campaigns will concentrate on the brand's core product lines of professional athletic sportswear and training clothing.

Announcing the collaboration, Takuma commented…
"I am obviously so happy to be working with such a great brand as Descente. They have a great reputation for quality and high performance sports kit and that's exactly what I need for all my fitness training. I am looking forward to working with them on the new collections later this year"
Descente President Mr. Kunio Tajiri commented..
“We are so pleased at this partnership with Mr. Takuma Sato, one of the greatest Formula one driver in the world. We are supplying him with our high performance and smart products. We believe that these products will surely be helpful for his fitness training and make him do the great performance. We are really looking forward to working with him this year and hope he has a great season in the Formula One races.” 

The deal is initially a one-year contract with the option to extend further after the initial period.

Takuma Sato is currently about to start his fourth complete season of Formula One, now driving for the newly-established and all-Japanese team Super Aguri Formula 1 team based at Leafield, England.

Fernandez Super Aguri file first Indy 500 entries Fernandez Super Aguri file first Indy 500 entriesDelphi Fernandez Racing and Super Aguri Fernandez Racing filed the first entries for the 90th Indianapolis 500, naming Scott Sharp and Kosuke Matsuura as the drivers for their respective entries.

The 90th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Entries must be postmarked by midnight Wednesday, April 5.

Sharp, from Jupiter, Fla., will drive the No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, with a Panoz/Honda/Firestone entered as a backup car. Don Lambert is the chief mechanic.

2001 Indianapolis 500 pole winner Sharp will attempt to make his 12th Indianapolis 500 start. His best finish was seventh last year. Sharp is the 1996 IndyCar® Series co-champion.

Matsuura, a native of Japan who lives in Indianapolis, will drive the No. 55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone, with an identical backup entered. Tony Leith is the chief mechanic.

RuSPORT conducts first off-season test RuSPORT conducts first off-season testWith the help of an outstanding driver from the Champ Car Atlantic Series, RuSPORT completed its first on-track test session of the 2006 season, at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C.

Tonis Kasemets, a veteran driver from Estonia, joined RuSPORT for the three-day test in Kershaw and enabled RuSPORT to achieve its goals, while simultaneously maximizing the amount of test time allowed by the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

In the interest of promoting Atlantic drivers and the Atlantic Series itself, Champ Car rules permit teams to use a driver who competed in the Atlantic series the previous year for a specific number of test days. Kasemets took the majority of the workload in the cockpit in Kershaw, driving for two of the three days that RuSPORT was on the track.

“The first test of the season is always very important,” said RuSPORT president Jeremy Dale.  “The team did a great job getting through its extensive test program, and Tonis made a significant contribution to that effort. In addition, we were able to test quite a bit of the new IT equipment that our new partner, CDW, recommended and provided to us through our partnership. Overall, the test was a big success.” zzzz

RuSPORT drivers Justin Wilson and A.J. Allmendinger also participated in the test session, and were pleased at the quick progress the team was able to make.

“I was happy to be on the track again,” said Allmendinger. “It seems like it’s been a long winter, and I’m ready for the Champ Car season to start. The team has been working hard during the off-season, and we’re hoping to keep building on last year’s momentum.”

“It was good to finally get back into a Champ Car,” said Wilson, driver of the CDW/RuSPORT No. 9 car. “Thanks to the hard work of our crew, and Tonis’s help, we were able to get up to speed quickly and really start the work we needed to get done. After the successful test in Kershaw, I’m really looking forward to the next test in Fontana.”

"I want to thank RuSPORT for choosing me to test their Champ Car,” said Kasemets. “It was an unbelievable experience and I learned a lot.  The team worked well together, they were very well prepared and the car ran flawlessly for two days. I hope I get the opportunity to do it again.”

RuSPORT continues its winter testing program during the week of March 27, on the infield course at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

PKV Racing confirms Vasser for LB, others PKV Racing confirms Vasser for LB, othersPKV Racing announced today that team co-owner Jimmy Vasser will drive the #12 Gulfstream/Bell Micro PKV Racing entry at the 2006 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and possibly selected other races during the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.

Vasser, 40, completed his 14th Champ Car season and second with PKV Racing in 2005. He has made 231 starts including an on-going record 210 consecutive starts. The 1996 Series Champion and 1998 runner-up is a perennial championship contender having finished in the top-10 nine times including nine of the last 11 years. Vasser, who placed sixth in the championship last year, his highest showing since 2000, has been the subject of retirement rumors since early last season. However, the highly respected native of California made it clear from the beginning that his decision to “step aside or not” would be made in “consultation with PKV Racing co-owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Dan Pettit and that it would be what is in the best interest of the team.”

Commenting on the decision to campaign the #12 Gulfstream/Bell Micro PKV Racing machine at this year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and possibly other races, Vasser said, “With an all-new driver lineup at PKV Racing for 2006, and the fact that Oriol (Servia) does not have enough time to fully acclimate himself to the team, we felt it necessary for me to run this event and maybe some selected races in the future. This way I will be able to help Oriol with his transition to PKV Racing and help with the development of Katherine (Legge) especially during the early stages of the season. Besides, after all, it is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Grand.” zzzz

Kalkhoven said, “We gave Jimmy the option of driving not only to help mentor our two new drivers, but because of his wonderful history in racing and the fact that we believe he remains very competitive. The fans in California should be able to cheer again for their native son and they will be able to do that when he races in Long Beach this April.” Kalkhoven went on to say, only half in jest, “I still contend that it is likely that Jimmy could make more comebacks than the Rolling Stones.”

Pettit noted that, “I am pleased and proud that Jimmy will run selected races for PKV Racing in 2006. He has been absolutely invaluable in the development of the team and his racing knowledge and skill have been essential in advancing us to the level of competitiveness we currently enjoy. I look forward to the opportunity to see Jimmy race the #12 Gulfstream/Bell Micro PKV Racing car again.”

Vasser, who joined PKV Racing in 2004 in the dual roles of owner and driver, stands among the leaders in most of the career Champ Car statistical categories including wins (10), podium finishes

(33), poles (9), laps led (988) and earnings $12,076,744 (sixth all-time, second among active drivers, one of eight drivers to earn more than $11 million in series competition). Vasser is known for being one of the most durable drivers in the paddock. In addition to his Champ Car record streak of 210 consecutive starts, his 231 career starts rank 11th all-time and place him second among active drivers. A determined and consistent competitor, Vasser has finished 145 of his last 187 races (dating to Milwaukee in 1995) and placed in the top-10 in 132 of his 231 events including 66 top-five showings and 33 podium finishes.

In 2005, Vasser finished in the top-10 in nine of the 13 races with four top-five showings including two podiums, back-to-back third place performances at Las Vegas and Australia. He qualified in the top-10 in 12 consecutive races and 12 of the 13 events last year including capturing the first and only pole in PKV Racing’s history, at Milwaukee. As a result of his performance in 2005, Vasser helped PKV Racing established a number of team records. In addition to earning the team’s first pole, Vasser scored the team’s highest season ending finish (sixth). He also teamed with Cristiano da Matta to set team records for best combined qualifying, first and fourth at Milwaukee and best combined finish, first and sixth at Portland. They both qualified in the top-five a team record two times (Milwaukee and Las Vegas) and in the top-10 in a team record 11 races, including a team record six consecutive races. At least one of them placed in the top-six in a team record nine of the 13 events including five consecutive races.

Vasser has made 14th starts in Long Beach. He has qualified in the top-10 eight times with three top-three starting positions including a pole, in 2002. In 14 previous races he has finished in the top-10 a total of ten times including nine of the last ten years with five top-five showings including three podium performances and a win in 1996 in route to the Series Championship.

Vasser joins PKV Racing teammates Oriol Servia, who is entering his seventh Champ Car season and is coming off a career high second place showing in the standings and rookie Katherine Legge, who is considered a rising star after capturing three races, and becoming the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America, in route to a third-place showing during her rookie season in the Atlantic Championship Series last year. PKV Racing

Dan Wheldon website relaunched Dan Wheldon website relaunchedDan Wheldon, the reigning Indianapolis 500 and Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series Champion, officially relaunched his updated website today at www.danwheldon.com
Fisi escapes penalty despite V8 change Fisi escapes penalty despite V8 change(GMMf1NET)  Giancarlo Fisichella will have a fresh engine fitted for the Malaysian grand prix, but - unlike Jacques Villeneuve and David Coulthard - he will avoid slipping ten places down the race grid.

In a Renault race preview, the luckless 33-year-old Roman confirmed that his V8 problem in Bahrain - culminating in a loss of about fifty horse power and ultimately a total hydraulics failure - had necessitated a new engine.

But Fisichella, who turned the TV airwaves blue in a fit of live in-car radio frustration during a pit stop, added: ''We know that it was not a problem with the V8 itself.''

F1's rules allow that a fresh engine be fitted for the next event after a car retires -- so long as the reason for retirement was not an engine failure itself.

Renault engine boss Denis Chevrier revealed that Fisichella's errant engine had been sent back to Viry (France) for analysis, even if a 'peripheral component' caused the fault.

Speedy Speed Speedy SpeedDid anyone notice that Scott Speed (Pictured right, on left) had the 9th fastest lap of the Bahrain race, ahead of his teammate and directly behind the two McLarens? Not too shabby for a debut F1 start on a new track in what amounts to a Minardi.

USGP Press Release
Scott Speed's Formula One debut began with a spectacular party and ended with a solid 13th-place finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Speed, from Manteca, Calif., became the first driver from the United States to race in a Grand Prix since Michael Andretti in 1993. While this race marked Speed's F1 debut, he had driven before on the Bahrain track. Last September, he raced in the GP2 series season finale at the track. And then he tested an interim version of his F1 car last month at the track.

"Having tested here in an F1 car certainly makes life a lot easier than if you haven't tested before," Speed said. "I think Montreal, Malaysia and Australia, tracks I do not know, will be a lot more difficult in terms of learning the track procedures, compared to Bahrain where I already have a bit of track experience. It's a big help."

On Friday, his first official day on the F1 tour, Speed set respectable times that put him in the middle of the practice pack. zzzz

"It sure feels a lot different coming here with the new car after we tested here with the old one," he said. "This one definitely handles differently. Everybody is seeing quite a lot of oversteer at the moment because the track is dirty."

On Saturday, Speed qualified 16th after making it through the first round of F1's new knockout qualifying system.

"I'm used to qualifying with all the other cars out on track at the same time," he said, "but all the same it did feel a bit different, this being F1, with a bit more pressure. The first part of the session went very well, although I got a bit held up at the end of it by Jacques (Villeneuve). Then, in the second part, the tire temperatures were not quite where we wanted them, and I got pulled in to the weigh bridge, which meant I didn't get a second run in. So, maybe we could have gone a bit quicker in the second part, but now we can play with the fuel load, which puts us in a strong position for the race."

Speed finished 13th his first Grand Prix. While his teammate, Vitantonio Liuzzi, finished 11th, Speed set the fastest race lap of the pair.

"I'm pleased to have got through to the checkered flag in my first Grand Prix without making any mistakes," Speed said. "The balance of my car was not quite right during the first stint, but we were able to fix that at the first pit stop. After that, I think our pace improved and was good."

Like many of the drivers and crewmembers, Speed was so busy that he had little time for sightseeing in Bahrain.

"I didn't really venture too much outside the hotel, circuit, race car and then back to the hotel," he said. "I am normally so busy that is all I have time to do. We are staying at a nice beach resort, so I wouldn't go anywhere else if I could anyway! I was here for a couple of days doing some training in the hot weather, and it was really nice. It was the first time I have tasted salt water and been on the beach since I can remember."

On the Sunday night after the race Speed flew to Dubai and then the following morning he flew on to Kuala Lumpur to start training in the tropical humidity for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

"I need to try to acclimatize to the humidity, which is going to be quite a difference to Bahrain," he said. "It is hot in Bahrain, but it is an easy hot: It is dry; it is no problem. The heat does not bother me. It is the humidity."

All in all, Speed's F1 debut went well. His first season in F1 is a learning one, and by completing a full Grand Prix distance he gained valuable experience. IMS

Renault Bahrain debrief Renault Bahrain debriefFernando Alonso took his first victory of the 2006 season yesterday in Bahrain. A great result by the World Champion while his team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella had a difficult weekend.

One for the boys
The final laps in Bahrain on Sunday were nerve-wracking for the Renault F1 Team. Much like last year in Imola, when Michael Schumacher hounded Fernando all the way to the checkered flag, we knew that our man was in control of what he was doing – but the last twenty laps still seemed to take an unusually long time!

As soon as Fernando crossed the line, though, his first words were for the team: "This race is yours," he told the boys (and girls) on the radio. "The pit-stops today were great, absolutely fantastic."

Indeed, the race had been a classic tactical dog-fight between Fernando and Michael Schumacher, and the second pit-stop was crucial moment – both in the handful of laps before the number 1 Renault stopped when the track was clear, and in the stop itself. zzzz

So why was Fernando so eager to thank his mechanics? Well, his car made it out of the pits 1.1 seconds quicker than Schumacher – which put him in position to take the lead into turn 1. Overall, the Renault spent 52.822 seconds in the pits yesterday, compared to 54.383 for the Ferrari. The strategy of going for long stints meant there was less fuel to put in the car at the final stop, and some slick work from the mechanics helped win the race. It was a performance that showed the true team nature of Formula 1, and put the Spaniard in pole position for the season.

Determined to bounce back stronger
Giancarlo Fisichella endured a difficult weekend in the number 2 Renault in Bahrain. He suffered a mysterious problem with an ancillary engine component in qualifying, that robbed him of approximately 50 bhp, and in spite of the team's best efforts to resolve this overnight, and the initial belief that it had been cured, the problem recurred in the race.

The performance deficit Fisico had to contend with was clear from the speed traps: he was the second slowest car, at 297.3 kph compared to a quickest speed of 308.3 kph for Fernando. In the circumstances, the Italian did a quite exceptional job to set the lap-times he did, as Pat Symonds made very clear after the race: "We have apologized to Giancarlo for the engine problem, which left him something like fifty horsepower down from his maximum. But when you take that into account, he was driving an exceptional race."

As for Fisi, he was able to rationalize the experience quite neatly: "Last year, I won the first race then had a difficult season. This year, I hope it will be the other way round – a bad race then a lot of good results!" Starting with this weekend in Sepang. Source Renault F1 Team

Q and A with Alonso Q and A with AlonsoFernando Alonso took the victory in the first Grand Prix of the 2006 season in Bahrain, a great way to defend his 2005 title.

Fernando, how was your race?
“I made a good start, and it was important for me to make up some positions. I was third at the first corner, then I passed Massa and crossed the line second. We knew Schumacher would be quicker on the first stint because we had more fuel, so I had to be patient and attack at the right point. Thanks to the fantastic work of the mechanics at the second stop, we did it!”

Did you attack all race long?
“Not really. I was quite cautious at the beginning of the stints, so I could look after the tires and push hard in the later laps. The strategy worked: it allowed me to catch Schumacher before the final stop, and come out ahead of him. In the third stint, I was pretty relaxed. The performance of the two cars was similar and Michael couldn’t have got past me."

Felipe Massa nearly hit you when he went off early on…
“I know! He made a mistake and I was lucky: he could easily have hit me, and that would have been the end of my race.”

It’s a good start to the season for you, isn’t it?
“For sure! Four teams are competitive at the moment: Renault, Ferrari, McLaren and Honda. We got the best start, and the best way of starting 2006. What could be better? One thing’s for sure. This will be a very, very interesting for all fans of Formula 1.” Source Renault F1 Team

SRO announces ’06 FIA-GT calendar SRO announces ’06 FIA-GT calendarSRO, promoter of the FIA GT Championship, Friday announced the 2006 calendar, which will be submitted to the FIA World Motor Sport Council on March 22nd. Further to requests from a number of teams to reduce the necessary running budget for this season, the FIA GT Championship has opted to concentrate on European rounds, before going global in 2007. SRO has also chosen circuits which are well-suited for GT racing, with event promoters dedicated to attracting and entertaining the public.

May 07 Silverstone 
May 28 Brno 
July 02 Oschersleben 
July 30 Spa-Francorchamps 
Aug 20 Paul Ricard 
Sep 03 Dijon 
Sep 17 Mugello 
Oct 01 Bucharest 
Oct 15 Adria 
Nov 17 Dubai

The 2006 FIA GT Championship will start off with the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy at Silverstone in early May, in a real festival of GT racing, the highlight of which will see the presentation of the historic Tourist Trophy itself to the overall winners, 101 years after it first took place. Later that month, teams and drivers will head east, to the Czech Republic and the magnificent Brno Automotodrom, for the seventh year in succession. This hilly circuit is a near guarantee of an exciting race.

In early July, the Championship heads north, to the Motorsport Arena in Oschersleben, Germany - a circuit which holds special significance to the FIA GT, having been the first international series to race there in 1998. A busy summer will start with the traditional high point of the Proximus 24 Hours of Spa; this legendary event is the leading GT-only long-distance race, and is much appreciated by the numerous spectators who flock to the challenging circuit every year. zzzz

In August, SRO is very pleased to announce that the FIA GT Championship will be the first major international series to race at the Paul Ricard circuit since its outstanding renovation in 2001. It is now one of the most amazing circuits in the world, in a truly stunning location. In the heat of the summer, when the world flocks to the French Riviera, this will be an opportunity to present a very exclusive event, dedicated to GT and Supercar enthusiasts. The use of the 5.8 km configuration, with the unbroken length of the ‘Signal’ straight, will allow the powerful GT cars to reach close to their maximum speeds.

The Championship will remain in France in early September, heading north, when the FIA GT cars and drivers will make a welcome return to the beautiful circuit of Dijon, last visited back in 1998. This round will mark the 100th race in the history of the FIA GT Championship - a real cause for celebration ! A fortnight later, the Championship will return to another location last visited at the height of the old GT1 era : the Italian circuit of Mugello. Last visited in 1997, the track, nestled in the Tuscan countryside, is popular with teams, drivers and press alike.

This will be followed by the much-anticipated city circuit of Bucharest. The event has been postponed from its original April date to October 1st, in order for the ambitious project to be fully completed. Crowds of around 80,000 are expected for this unique race, on the track circumnavigating the impressive Parliamentary buildings in central Bucharest. The FIA GT Championship last raced on a city circuit in 1997, in Helsinki, and this is a fitting return to the streets for its tenth season.

Returning to Italy in mid-October, the Championship will visit the recent circuit of Adria for its penultimate round of 2006. The circuit, with its innovative indoor paddock and floodlight track, has already hosted successful international meetings.

The grand finale will be held at the Dubai Autodrome in the United Arab Emirates, on November 17th. For the third visit to the popular track, we trust that the Championship will be as open and as exciting as it was in 2005.

Despite Dubai being the only overseas trip for 2006, the objective of the FIA GT Championship is still to go global in 2007.
Agreements already in place will see the season start in Interlagos in early March, with the Mil Milhas Brasil, continuing to China to visit a re-homologated and upgraded Zhuhai circuit. This event, originally planned for late 2006, has been postponed in order to balance the large number of international motorsport events currently held in China at the end of the year.

The 2007 season will then head back to Europe for the now traditional Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy at Silverstone. Dubai will remain the Middle Eastern round, while SRO is actively working on an event in Australia to complete this world-wide calendar.

An increased transportation budget will be available to help teams, in order to ensure that costs are no higher than before.

Scuderia Ecosse announce 2006 plans Scuderia Ecosse announce 2006 plans2005 British GT Champions, Scuderia Ecosse, have announced that the team's main Endeavour in 2006 will be the FIA GT Championship, where they will run two cars in the GT2 category, which is looking extremely competitive. The team will enter the same line-up as in 2005 : reigning British Champions Nathan Kinch and Andrew Kirkaldy will share one Ferrari 430, while Tim Mullen and Chris Niarchos will race the other.

 "This is a huge year for Scuderia Ecosse," Team Principal Stewart Roden said. "We had a lot of success with the Ferrari 360s - 19 wins in two years -so we are sad to see them go, but we have exciting times ahead with Maranello's latest gem ! One of our biggest strengths is people power : I have a great team here, and our strength lies in continuity. By keeping the same team and the same drivers, we cut out all the acclimatization time and can get straight down to business!"

Menard to run Cup race for DEI Menard to run Cup race for DEIDale Earnhardt Inc. will enter a car for Busch Series driver Paul Menard in this weekend's Golden Corral 500 Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Menard was scheduled to drive in seven Cup races in 2006 but failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 after blowing a tire in his Gatorade Duel event. If Menard makes the field, it will be his first oval race in Nextel Cup. Menard's previous two Cup races were at Watkins Glen. Menard is 17th in the Busch Series points standings. NASCAR Daily Scene
Newey plans for the long haul Newey plans for the long haulAdrian Newey says he plans to stay at Red Bull for the long haul as he attempts to turn them into Formula One winners.

"I am expecting more than three years," he said.

"There is no point going beyond a three-year contract but the goal is more long-term than the immediate three years.

"Red Bull really is a serious team. The Red Bull budget is not the biggest in Formula One by a long way but the works teams tend to be slower in how they spend the money."

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Massa 'lost control' in Alonso incident
Williams looking 'strong' - Todt
Todt scoffs at illegal wing chatter
Williams to race 'aggressive' upgrade
Toyota set for another struggle
Kimi-Alonso duo would be 'nice' - McLaren
More violence in Bahrain
'I could've won' - Kimi
DC aims fire at 'unfair' FIA penalty
Montoya struggled in Bahrain - Haug
Lauda hails grand start to F1 '06
Champ Car Turbo Tour - 1st Day Summary Champ Car Turbo Tour - 1st Day SummaryDay One of the groundbreaking Champ Car Turbo Tour saw the stars of the Champ Car World Series streaking up the West Coast like a comet, covering Long Beach, San Jose and Portland in a 12-hour span today.

“The first day has been a tremendous success,” said Champ Car President Steve Johnson.  “Our promoters and drivers worked extremely hard today and we exceeded our expectations.  We are just one day into the tour but the cooperation we have had is exceptional and I’m looking forward to visiting the rest of our fine venues in the coming days.” 

The day started with a busy morning in Southern California, where the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will open the season in three weeks with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (photos).  Drivers fulfilled media requests in a number of ways, whether by phone, in person, or like Mexican star Mario Dominguez, who took viewers of Univision’s “Despierta America” show around the Long Beach circuit. (Right, Brandi Latimer, Face of Champ Car)

The Turbo Tour Gulfstream G550 touched down in San Jose in time for a mid-day press conference at the San Jose Fairmont Hotel where Paul Tracy, A.J. Allmendinger, Katherine Legge, Mario Dominguez and Alan Sciuto fielded questions from the media after being joined by Oriol Servia, who just signed on with PKV Racing as Legge’s teammate.  The group then broke off to go to a sponsor reception at McCormick & Schmick’s where they were greeted by bottles of wine featuring their likeness.  zzzz

“It has been a long time since Mexico City and we had a group of drivers together,” said 2003 Champ Car champion Paul Tracy.  “We did a lot of work today and it was pretty exhausting but when you visit three cities in a day you have to know you’re going to work hard.”

The Turbo Tour then beat San Jose rush-hour traffic blazed up the coast toward Portland, where a large following of Champ Car fans awaited. A myriad of media opportunities scattered the drivers, as well as Champ Car President and CEO Steve Johnson throughout the Rose City, but all returned to participate in a Fan Forum in front of a full room of Portland race fans. RuSPORT’s Justin Wilson joined the Turbo Tour in Portland, as did Champ Car Director of Technology Scot Elkins.

With the first day of the 2006 Champ Car Turbo Tour behind them, the stars of the Champ Car World Series headed to the Marriott Waterfront for a well-deserved rest – but not before setting their alarm clocks early as another full day awaits on Tuesday.

The Turbo Tour team will head to Edmonton and Denver tomorrow with the drivers donning “Eskimo” jackets in the great white north before participating in a media go-kart race in Denver. Champ Car

Formula BMW
Gelles Racing news Gelles Racing newsAll (4) Gelles Racing Tractor/Trailers will be matching their respective series.  Of course, they are still waiting for final photographs of the Gelles Atlantic car to substitute for the spec series car but what a great look!   This team owner gets it.


ISC asks to extend Daytona lease ISC asks to extend Daytona leaseUPDATE For the next half century , the International Speedway Corp. will pay an average annual rent of $750,000 for use of the famed racetrack, under a deal negotiated Monday afternoon.  The agreement was struck between representatives of ISC, which owns and operates Daytona International Speedway but not the land it sits on, and the Daytona Beach Racing and Recreational Facilities District, the public board that serves as the Speedway's landlord. It will be finalized at a meeting March 28.

Under the original 50-year lease, the Speedway pays the district about $10,000 a year through next year. In 2007, a 25-year extension was scheduled to kick in that would have bumped the lease payments to $20,000 a year through 2032.

The new lease will run from 2007 until 2054, with lease payments starting at $500,000 and increasing by about 2 percent each year before maxing out at a little more than $1 million in 2054. During the entire lease term, the payments will average $750,000. Orlando Sentinel

[Editor's Note: $20K per year to $750K per year - ISC had a real bargain there all these years.  If the current deal was $20K per year through 2032 and now all of a sudden ISC is willing to pay $750K per year for years 2007 thru 2032 (i.e. $730K more per year) and just tear up the old deal means there is more to this than meets the eye.] 

03/07/06 International Speedway Corp. goes before its landlord today, requesting for a lease extension while it also has asked the state to exempt it from a regional review of a mixed office-retail-residential complex.

The board of the Daytona Beach Racing and Recreational Facilities District convenes at 3 p.m. to hear a report from a consultant about the value of the land on which ISC's Daytona International Speedway sits. The company has asked to extend its lease to 2054 and freeze the annual rent at $500,000.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will be in the law office of Cobb & Cole, 150 Magnolia Ave., Conference Room A.

ISC contends the longer lease is necessary to guarantee racing will continue at the Speedway for decades to come. That stability, in turn, will help attract tenants and investors for a proposed redevelopment of the Speedplex Office Park across the street from DIS.  More at Daytona Beach News Journal

Portland ticket sales up Portland ticket sales upPortland promoter Mike Nealy reports that ticket sales are up over previous years for the June Champ Car race at Portland International Speedway.
Changes for Williams Cosworth before Malaysia Changes for Williams Cosworth before MalaysiaFollowing a strong showing at the opening round of the season in Bahrain, where both Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg finished in point scoring positions, the WilliamsF1 Team are now looking to maintain the momentum at the second round of the Championship, the Malaysian Grand Prix, to be held at the Sepang circuit on Sunday 19th March. This year’s event will be the eighth Grand Prix hosted by Malaysia at the Sepang track, located just south of the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. The visually dramatic track, with its blend of wide, sweeping corners and fast straights, always promises compelling racing and a contest for both the drivers and the cars given the high ambient temperatures and humidity. Engines in particular will face a severe test having completed one race distance, as well as being new V8 technology.

Between the races
With the Malaysian Grand Prix falling just one week after Bahrain, Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Alex Wurz all headed straight to Kuala Lumpur on Monday. Regarded as one of the most physically demanding races on the calendar, the drivers will spend the days in the lead up to Sepang acclimatizing themselves to the high temperatures and extreme humidity common to Malaysia. Nico Rosberg will also be making an appearance on behalf of team sponsor, Oris, the premium timepiece maker, on Wednesday with a visit to the opening of their new store in the country’s capital, while Mark Webber will be undertaking some physical humidity training.

Making the car go fast
Despite Nico Rosberg claiming the fastest lap and team mate, Mark Webber, securing the fourth quickest time of the Bahrain Grand Prix, the FW28 will benefit from several upgrades in Malaysia as part of an aggressive development program that will continue throughout the season. As such, the team has developed aero upgrades for the cars’ sidepods, as well as for the chimney winglets. The cars will also run with several revised mechanical components, all aimed at raising the overall competitiveness of the FW28s for the forthcoming Grand Prix. zzzz

Sepang from a technical perspective
A state of the art, purpose-built facility, the fluid design of the Sepang circuit lends itself to challenging racing. Each 5.543km lap of the 56 lap race poses specific technical challenges for the drivers and their engineers as they battle to create a perfectly balanced set-up to contend with the complex mix of corners, high speed directional changes and blisteringly fast straights. Although a characteristically smooth track, Sepang offers little grip so a high downforce configuration will be paramount in the cars’ set-up.

As in Bahrain, climatic conditions will undoubtedly come into play this weekend and could potentially cause a lottery outcome in both qualifying and the race. The acute temperatures and high humidity levels, coupled with the constant threat of heavy downpours, will push the drivers and their cars to the limit. The oppressive heat in the cockpit will test a driver’s physical and mental fitness levels to the extreme while they suffer an anticipated fluid loss of over a liter per hour during the race itself. The engines, which will be on their second outing, will also be put under intense strain in Malaysia. Although Sepang is not traditionally regarded as a power circuit, the time actually spent at full throttle being relatively low, containing oil temperatures in the drive train, while not sacrificing aerodynamic efficiency, is imperative for engine durability.
Mark Webber

“Malaysia is always a big test for the car and a big test for the drivers. Traditionally, it’s a really warm race and the weather can be really inconsistent as well. The circuit is absolutely amazing, there are all types of corners, and it’s a track I really enjoy driving a Formula One car on. It’s the second race of the year, and I hope we can get another good result after the strong start we made in Bahrain.”
Nico Rosberg

“I haven’t driven at Sepang before so it’s a new circuit I’m going to have to learn quickly, although I will do a few more laps in the practice sessions than in Bahrain in order to prepare myself. I’ve driven it on the simulator, though, and from that I think it’s going to be a track I’ll enjoy. It’s going to be very hot out there, so it should be a good race for us and, in particular, for our tires. By the time I get out to Malaysia, I won’t have as much time to train as I’d like, and I have a marketing commitment for Oris on Wednesday, so I’ll have to acclimatize quickly but I can’t wait to get in the car again.”

Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1
“Malaysia has the highest average annual rainfall of all the circuits we race on, completely opposite to Bahrain, where we have just raced. With ambient temperatures reaching 40°C and high humidity levels, daily tropical thunderstorms are normal at this time of the year. High temperatures have an influence on car set-up, as well as tire selection, because they usually cause higher degradation in lap times.

Sepang has three slow speed corners and four straight sections, which reward engine power. There are also low drag levels. It is a challenging circuit for the drivers, with plenty of direction changes through medium to high speed corners. It is also clear from past races that overtaking is possible in a couple of places around the track. We will have a couple of aerodynamic improvements for the FW28 in Malaysia, the updates part of our planned development programmed. Bridgestone will bring two different tire compounds for us to choose from, which have been tested extensively. With the high speed corners, the loading will be quite high on the tires so it’s important to make the correct choice. Our qualifying and pit stop strategy will be interesting now we’ve seen the results from the new format in Bahrain, and it is bound to spring a few surprises again. We are going to Malaysia aggressively after the excellent performance of the FW28 at the last race and, with our partners Cosworth and Bridgestone, we intend to deliver.”

Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth
“The Malaysian Grand Prix is one of the toughest for F1 engines. The high ambient temperatures are at the limit of what we experience during a race season and this places maximum demands on both the engine and car systems. Fortunately, Cosworth and Williams have no significant installation concerns with the CA2006 engine in the FW28 chassis. This year will also be particularly challenging as this will be the first time any of the new V8 engines goes into a second race weekend. Engine reliability will be a significant factor, both in terms of the starting grid line up and the race result in Malaysia.”

Fastest laps of the Bahrain GP Fastest laps of the Bahrain GP
1. Nico Rosberg – Williams Cosworth - (Lap 42) 1:32.408
2. Michael Schumacher - Ferrari - (Lap 38) 1:32.523
3. Fernando Alonso - Renault - (Lap 21) 1:32.534
4. Mark Webber – Williams Cosworth - (Lap 25) 1:32.660
5. Jenson Button - Honda – (Lap 39) 1:32.729
6. Felipe Massa - Ferrari - (Lap 28) 1:32.739
7. Juan Pablo Montoya – McLaren - (Lap 21) 1:32.771
8. Kimi Raikkonen – McLaren - (Lap 29) 1:32.864
9. Scott Speed – STR - (Lap 45) 1:33.108
10. Christian Klien - Red Bull Racing - (Lap 40) 1:33.212
11. David Coulthard - Red Bull Racing - (Lap 26) 1:33.376
12. Vitantonio Liuzzi – STR - (Lap 26) 1:33.480
13. Jacques Villeneuve – BMW - (Lap 20) 1:33.694
14. Nick Heidfeld – BMW - (Lap 26) 1:33.772
15. Rubens Barrichello - Honda - (Lap 14) 1:33.840
16. Ralf Schumacher - Toyota - (Lap 25) 1:34.112
17. Giancarlo Fisichella - Renault - (Lap 15) 1:34.320
18. Jarno Trulli - Toyota - (Lap 24) 1:34.852
19. Tiago Monteiro - MF1 - (Lap 41) 1:35.940
20. Takuma Sato - Super Aguri - (Lap 17) 1:37.104
21. Yuji Ide - Super Aguri - (Lap 11) 1:38.302
Rosberg gets accolades Rosberg gets accoladesUPDATE It was a very impressive Formula One debut by Nico Rosberg, who impressed everyone up and down pitlane and earned the awe of many fans as he set the fastest lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix, not once, but twice!

What a lot of people don’t realize is that this is the first time since Jacques Villeneuve, who was also racing for Williams, a rookie driver has accomplished this feat in their debut race! Surely this is a sign of even greater things to come, especially as the year Villeneuve accomplished the same thing, the Grove based squad was at their peak, winning the championship, ten years ago in 1996.  Williams is far from that today, but now with Cosworth power they are improving.

And of course pole position for a rookie was done 18 years earlier (1968) by Mario Andretti at Watkins Glen - which was his first F1 race as well.  Mario didn't get the fastest race lap though. His clutch only lasted 32 laps, but he did lead the race from Jackie Stewart for awhile and made such an impression on Colin Chapman that he would later hire him in 1976 and go on to win the World Championship in 1978, exactly 10 years after winning pole in his maiden F1 race.

03/12/06 Nico Rosberg received many accolades on Sunday after a sensational start to his Formula One career in Bahrain. The 20-year-old Williams driver recovered from a first corner tangle with Nick Heidfeld to storm back to seventh place, setting the fastest lap in the process.

"It was unbelievable, to have a fastest race lap under normal conditions in your first ever grand prix I don't think anybody has ever had that. Phenomenal," his father Keke Rosberg the 1982 World Champion told Reuters.

"He always thinks I'm so negative. I'm not, I'm pragmatic - those first corner incidents are the ones you do not want to have," the former champion said.

"But he had a fantastic day after that and I'll buy him dinner tonight."

"I think it's the best performance of any young driver that I've seen for a very long time," added three times champion Jackie Stewart. zzzz

"I can't remember a performance in a first grand prix that was so impressive," he told Reuters. "I had a sixth place in my first grand prix but he came from the back and I certainly didn't get fastest lap.

"His judgment, the manner in which he went about it...it's a rare commodity today but as a racing driver he knows how to pass and carries it out."

The young Rosberg was more modest.

"It's great that I was able to add some excitement to the race," he told reporters. "It's very special for me on my debut and it was fun also to drive. The car felt great and the overtaking was a lot of fun.

"I always heard that it was impossible to overtake in F1 but it worked out fine for me."

"Nico's race was stunning after the early error," said Williams co-owner Patrick Head.

"We could tell he was pretty good from the testing last year and whatever, but that sort of fighting quality you only actually see in the race.

"Nico obviously has massive potential. We've made very certain that our contract is good and safe," he added, alluding to the contract battle last year between Williams and BAR over Jenson Button.

BMW team adds three drivers BMW team adds three driversBMW of North America, LLC and BMW Team PTG announced today that Ian James, Bryan Sellers and Martin Jensen have been added to the BMW Team PTG driver lineup for the 12 Hours of Sebring. Bill Auberlen, Joey Hand and Justin Marks have already been named as drivers for the 2006 season. James, a 2005 BMW Team PTG driver and 2004 ALMS LMP2 champion will share the No. 21 BMW Team PTG M3 with Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand. James scored one win and three podium finishes last season with BMW Team PTG. Sellers and Jensen will co-drive the No. 22 BMW Team PTG M3 with Justin Marks.
Hinchcliffe impressive in his Champ Car testing debut Hinchcliffe impressive in his Champ Car testing debutOAKVILLE, Ontario -- James Hinchcliffe (Hinch) no longer has to try to imagine what it's like because now he has done it. Tested a Champ Car that is. And when that first experience of driving this 750HP beast is with his Forsythe Championship Racing team, Hinch must have had the urge to pinch himself, but was too busy in the cockpit for that.

"Wow, the car was unreal," explained a still-smiling Hinch, "When you hit full throttle the first time, you just think 'I have got to get me one of these!. It was overwhelming at first, but then after a few laps you start to get used to it. The power, the brakes, the aero, everything was unreal. It truly is a great piece of machinery."

Hinchcliffe was able to assist and impress his Forsythe Championship Racing team engineers and mechanics by providing detailed feedback throughout his testing duties. The test took place at the 17 turn, 2.38 mile road course known as MSR Houston. zzzz

Phil LePan, Team Manager at FCR commented on Hinch's first outing, "From our point of view the test was very successful. Everyone on the team was very happy and impressed to see how quickly James became comfortable in the car. It didn't take long for him to really start pushing the limit and set some very respectable lap times."

Hinch added, "It was amazing to get the chance to drive it and I have to thank Forsythe and all the crew for giving me the opportunity.  It was certainly a day I will remember for quite some time."

Hinch's next outing will be in his brand new #3 Emexis/INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016.a/Yokohama at the Champ Car Atlantic Series open test at Fontana on March 21 and 22.

About Hinchcliffe
Canadian racer, James Hinchcliffe, 19, finished 3rd in the 2005 Star Mazda Championship. Six podiums, three poles and three wins capped a tremendous season where Hinch beat some pretty famous race car drivers - check the stats. In 2004, Hinch was named Formula BMW USA Rookie of the Year. Hinch pretty much kicked butt in karting as well. For 2006, Hinch will be driving the #3 Emexis/INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016.a/Yokohama in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. Visit www.jameshinchcliffe.com for more information on Hinch.

Scenes from Champ Car Turbo Tour - Long Beach Scenes from Champ Car Turbo Tour - Long BeachThe Champ Car Turbo Media Tour kicked off in Long Beach, California this morning and AutoRacing1.com was there to capture the event in photos.  After meeting with the media, Paul Tracy, Alan Sciuto, AJ Allmendinger, Mario Dominguez, Sebastien Bourdais, Katherine Legge, and the rest of the tour jetted off to San Jose, CA (2nd stop) and then Portland, Oregon the 3rd stop this evening.

Tuesday sees the tour stop in Edmonton and Denver.  Wednesday is an even busier day in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Toronto.  Thursday sees more media stuff in Toronto and then they jet down to Houston.  Friday it's south to Mexico City and Monterrey, in Mexico before landing in San Diego Friday evening so everyone can catch commercial jets back home for the weekend.

The plan in each market is for drivers to meet local print media, do radio and TV interviews and get the word out for this year's race in each respective market.

For example, in the Los Angeles/Long Beach market Mario Dominguez did appearances on KWHY,  KMEX and KALI radio shows while Paul Tracy did the KTLA Sunday night sports news show in Los Angeles.

KUMHO steps up its commitment to ALMS KUMHO steps up its commitment to ALMSRANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA  After enjoying a successful inaugural season with the American Le Mans Series in 2005, KUMHO Tire USA is stepping up its commitment to the series in 2006 and 2007. 

In 2005, KUMHO entered the ALMS by joining defending class champion Miracle Motorsports in the LMP2 category. The team captured three class wins, including a win at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and also ran well at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Miracle finished second in the LMP2 class championship, while KUMHO finished second among five tire manufacturers in the LMP2 tire championship.

For 2006 and 2007, KUMHO will again be back on track with Miracle Motorsports, but the company will also have a greater marketing presence within the series itself. For the ten ALMS races that are broadcast on CBS this season and next, KUMHO will have an in-car camera on the Miracle Motorsports car. Additionally, KUMHO commercials will air during the CBS race broadcasts, and select broadcasts will feature the “KUMHO Track Description” at the start of the race. zzzz

At the track, the KUMHO brand will be promoted by public address announcements at each event, commercials on the ALMS radio broadcasts, and logo placements on all ALMS transporters, trailers and equipment. KUMHO will sponsor the year-end ALMS Championship Awards Banquet and will be included in all ALMS promotional materials, such as media guides, fan guides, etc. And KUMHO will receive tickets to each event to entertain dealers and customers.

“We were very pleased with our success on the track last year, and we were pleasantly surprised by the exposure that KUMHO received from its participation in the ALMS,” said Mike Leverington, director of marketing for KUMHO. “The ten ALMS races drew an average on-site crowd of over 60,000 people, which was an increase of nearly 13 percent from the previous year. The Joyce Julius Sponsors Reports showed that the race broadcasts provided KUMHO with nearly $800,000 in brand exposure on CBS and Speed Channel. And our first trip to the 24 Hours of Le Mans put the KUMHO name in front of 230,000 spectators and a worldwide television audience of 385 million households.”

ALMS president Scott Atherton is pleased to have KUMHO back with the series as a manufacturer and as a sponsor. “To classify KUMHO’s first year in the American Le Mans Series as a success would be an understatement. It’s rare that any manufacturer can boast about winning a prestigious endurance classic like the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on the first try. That speaks volumes about the world-class quality of KUMHO. Their achievements raised eyebrows throughout the motorsports world, and to be associated with a premier brand like KUMHO gives us a great sense of pride.”

“The fact that a relative newcomer can enter into a major racing series and immediately compete side-by-side with highly regarded brands such as Michelin and Pirelli is a testament to the American Le Mans Series platform,” noted Atherton. “Historically, racing has been seen by manufacturers and suppliers as an opportunity to demonstrate the superiority of their product and an opportunity to improve the breed. The American Le Mans Series still provides this at the highest level of the sport, and as long as companies such as KUMHO continue to embrace it, it will continue to grow and prosper.”
Established in 1960, KUMHO TIRE CO., INC., of Seoul, South Korea, had 2005 sales of $2.2 billion. KUMHO manufactures and distributes a complete line of tires for passenger cars, light trucks and heavy-duty trucks. KUMHO has manufacturing facilities in Korea and China and operates technical centers in Birmingham, England, and Akron, Ohio. ALMS

Evernham joins search for missing woman Evernham joins search for missing womanEvernham Motorsports president and CEO Ray Evernham announced today that the decklid of Jeremy Mayfield's No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger will feature a photograph of 24-year-old Jennifer Kesse, missing from the Orlando, Fla., area since Jan. 24, during Sunday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Kesse was reported missing when she failed to show up for work on Jan. 24. Two days later, police officers found her car abandoned in an apartment complex just one mile away from her condo. Shortly thereafter a massive search effort commenced throughout central Florida to find the five-foot eight-inches, green-eyed female with sandy-blonde hair. NASCAR team owner Evernham attended high school with Kesse's mother Joyce, and felt compelled to help when he heard of the disappearance. "I'm very loyal to my friends and family in New Jersey," Evernham said. "When someone I went to high school with calls and asks for help, I'm going to do what I can to get the word out. Hopefully someone will see the decal on our race car and provide information that can help solve this case." Since the search for Kesse began, the Orlando Police Department has received more than 1,000 leads, but officers are still hopeful that someone out there has additional information that can lead to a break in the case. There is an $115,000 reward for information leading to her safe return. For more information about Jennifer Kesse, please visit http://www.jenniferkesse.com. Anyone with information concerning her disappearance, please call 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).Evernham Motorsports
Sneak Peek 2006: Championship Contenders abound at AGR Sneak Peek 2006: Championship Contenders abound at AGRDario Franchitti and Bryan Herta watched and supported teammates Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon as they won the last two IRL IndyCar® Series titles. Now they are hoping for success of their own. Both drivers return to race teams that had very little turnover during the off-season. That consistency has both drivers confident in their 2006 outlook.

"Andretti Green Racing has proven to be one of the very best auto racing teams in the world, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of the team," Herta said. "I'm very glad to have the continuity of having XM Satellite Radio return as a sponsor and essentially the same group of engineers and mechanics working with me. This will be our third year with XM Satellite Radio. I think we made great strides last year and we hope to build on that."

Herta won three poles and scored his second career victory with a dominating performance at Michigan International Speedway in late July. He hopes to build upon those results this season.

"My expectations are the highest they have ever been as we head into the 2006 season," he said. "Right now, my focus is on winning races, and I really want to win the Indianapolis 500 this year. If I can accomplish the first two goals, then I think we will be in a great position to challenge for the championship. zzzz

Franchitti and his crew will sport new sponsors - Klein Tools and Jim Beam - in 2006, while veteran team manager John Anderson, who oversaw Wheldon's 2005 season, moves over to call his races.

"I'm very excited to be driving the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car in 2006; a car that has won the IndyCar Series championship," Franchitti said. "Both Klein Tools and Jim Beam have been a part of Andretti Green since the beginning and have shown tremendous dedication to our program. I'm looking forward to working with my new and old teammates, challenging them for the championship and putting Klein Tools and Jim Beam back into victory lane several times in 2006."

Like Herta, Franchitti is also aiming for success on the IndyCar Series' biggest stage and aiming for his first victory on a road and street course.

"I'm looking forward to Indianapolis because it is such a large part of our season, but I'm also looking forward to St. Petersburg," he said. " I enjoy the challenge of street courses and it was such an amazing event last year. We had a very fast car and I was driving well there last year, but we had a mistake with the fuel tank, which I believe cost us the win."

Car numbers: 7 (Herta), 27 (Franchitti)
Chassis/engine/tire: Dallara/Honda/Firestone
Drivers: Bryan Herta, 35, of Valencia, Calif. and Dario Franchitti, 32, of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Race engineers: Martin Pare (Herta), Allen McDonald (Franchitti)
Chief mechanic: Jeff Grahn (Herta), Dave Popielarz (Franchitti)
Team managers: George Klotz and John Anderson

Kim Green on Dario Franchitti

"I expect Dario to be a championship contender; that's why he's here. He's going to have a slight change in color scheme this year and I know he's looking forward to spending more time with the guys from Klein Tools and the guys from Jim Beam.

"When you look back on 2005, Dario drove very, very well and could have easily had three race wins coming out of Indy. He was very strong but the combination of Dario and the team didn't maximize our opportunities when we had very good race cars.

"Certainly Dario is as motivated as ever. I think his other three teammates are going to make it hard on him and I think his teammates will also be championship contenders. There is no doubt that there will be some very strong opposition in the IndyCar Series that I think will make it the most competitive season since its inception."

Kevin Savoree on Bryan Herta
"Entering the 2005 season for the XM program, we had a goal to improve on what we accomplished in 2004. We wanted to run up front, win some races and collect some poles. Looking back, Bryan certainly accomplished those goals. For the 2006 season, we want to continue to push ourselves to achieve more and I expect Bryan and the XM Satellite Radio team to challenge for the championship.

Dario Franchitti 2005 IndyCar Series season
Starts 17
Victories 2
Top 5 8
Top 10 13
Poles 1
Laps led 448
Best start 1st (California)
Best finish 1st (Nashville, California)
Running at finish 14
Points rank 4th
Earnings $1,324,555

Bryan Herta 2005 IndyCar Series season
Starts 17
Victories 1
Top 5 4
Top 10 9
Poles 3
Laps led 248
Best start 1st (Phoenix, St. Petersburg, Michigan)
Best finish 1st (Michigan)
Running at finish 14
Points rank 8th
Earnings $1,251,805 IRL

Fusion Racing w/MSR Announces Associate Sponsor Fusion Racing w/MSR Announces Associate SponsorAfter the team took a strong podium finish earlier this week in Mexico City, Fusion Racing with MSR Managing Partner Dennis Bainbridge announced today that Quantex Capital Corporation, a US based equity investment firm, will be a significant associate sponsor on the #6 Riley-Lexus for the 2006 season.

Quantex is a publicly traded company (QCPC:NBQ Pink Sheets), which owns a substantial holding in Samlex America, a niche oriented manufacturer and distributor of a variety of commercial, industrial and consumer power supply products such as inverters, converters, regulators and chargers. In recent weeks they also signed a memorandum of understanding to purchase 51% of Samlex Europe, a company with similar products but operating in the European market. zzzz 

Quantex president Evan Baergen said considering the business of Quantex's largest holding, he felt the sponsorship was a good way for the company to get its message out and attract potential investors.

"Samlex produces and distributes many power supply products that people can utilize in their daily lives and part of our goal is to get investors to relate to what our businesses do. This is a great opportunity to let people know about Quantex and the companies we have invested in," Baergen said.

Bainbridge added the sponsorship was a great fit with the title sponsor of the car being Canadian-based wealth management and investment banking group Graydon Elliott.

"We felt that both sponsors would benefit from this right from day one and everyone is looking forward to a great season of racing and working on new opportunities for their businesses," Bainbridge said. MSR

Q and A with Renault's Pay Symonds Q and A with Renault's Pay SymondsPat Symonds was a happy man at the end of a scintillating Bahraini Grand Prix yesterday as his man Fernando Alonso won from Michael Schumacher.

Pat, what did you think of that?!
"It was a fantastic race. I think it really showed what this Renault team is made of. From the driver onward, everybody played a vital part in this win."

It all came down to Fernando’s second pit-stop…
"Yes, obviously things were very close there. From the start of the race, and indeed in the pre-race briefing, we had said that those laps would be critical. We had built our strategy around slightly longer stints to give ourselves a chance of victory, so those laps with a clear track were the vital moments."

And it worked to perfection!
"The team completed a fantastic final pit-stop, one second faster than Ferrari. The strategy worked… just"

What about Giancarlo’s race? It wasn’t quite so positive…
"We have apologized to him for what happened yesterday. The engine problem he had suffered in qualifying had not gone away, and his performance was seriously compromised. He lost some fifty horsepower, and in fact drove a really excellent race. But he was eventually halted by an hydraulic leak."

What did you think about Michelin’s performance under the new regulations?
"The tactics we employed were built around the fact we wanted to exploit the excellent performance of the tires in slightly longer stints. Michelin have done a lot of development this winter, and the results speak for themselves. Our congratulations to them."

After such a close-fought race, what do you expect in six days’ time in Malaysia?
"We all spend a lot of time during the winter speculating on the pecking order, and this year, there were no major surprises at the front of the field. I think we will see a much closer fight for the championship this year, that may well full involve three or four teams." Renault

Finlay to back Cameron in Cooper Tires F2000 series Finlay to back Cameron in Cooper Tires F2000 seriesFinlay Motorsports, a professional racing organization currently competing in the Rolex Sports Car Series and the Grand Am Cup Series, announced earlier today plans to support Dane Cameron in the Cooper Tires F2000 Series.  With additional support coming from the Jim Russell Racing Schools and Red Line Oil. “With the rapid growth of Grand American Sports Car racing, we believe it is essential to have a driver development program in place,” explained Rob Finlay.   “I’m excited to place Dane with Cape Motorsports, they have had great success in the past grooming champions.”

Dane Cameron is the son of Finlay Motorsports engineer Rick Cameron, and nephew of Steve Cameron, the Finlay Motorsports Team Manger and driver coach.   “Dane has had to work hard to get this opportunity,” stated Steve Cameron. 

“I wasn’t about to bring Dane on board with the team unless he truly displayed the talent required to be an asset to Finlay Motorsports.” The 17-year old Kart racing “phenom” from Sonoma, California will drive anything on wheels.  In 2005, Cameron embarked on an ambitious program of racing both karts and cars, while attending school at Sonoma Valley High School.  Clinching the 2005 SCCA Formula Russell Championship with six victories, seven pole positions and finishing on the podium a total of 10 times.  He also competed in several ICC Pro 125 shifter class events in the ESPN Russell Karting Championship and few Snap-On Stars of Karting races. zzzz 

In 2006, Cameron has been given the chance to compete in the highly competitive Cooper Tires Formula 2000 Series driving for Cape Motorsports.  
The eight race series will share venues with the American Le Mans Series, Grand Am, Champ Car and SCCA Pro Racing.  The season opener is set for May 11 – 13 at Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia. Schedule:
May 11 – 13 Road Atlanta
May 19 – 21 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
June 16 – 18 Portland International Raceway
June 23 – 25 Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport
July 7 – 9 Toronto, Canada
September 1 – 3 Mosport International Raceway
September 22 – 24 Road America

A1 Grand Prix
Herta struggles at Laguna Seca Herta struggles at Laguna SecaAndretti Green Racing driver Bryan Herta endured a long day at the office aboard the Team USA car over the weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, where the A1 Grand Prix series held its maiden race in the United States.

Herta was off to a promising start March 10 as he paced practice in damp conditions at the northern California circuit. From then on, however, the team struggled to make progress with the car's setup and Herta was limited to the 17th spot in the 22-car grid in qualifying.

A1's weekend format boasts a "sprint" and a "feature" event, the grid for the latter being determined by the finishing order of the former. In the rainy sprint, Herta drove a smart race to climb to ninth at the end. In the feature, a drying track and a bad pit stop call dropped the American to 14th. Again Herta climbed all the way back to ninth, but with just three minutes to go - the race finished in the one-hour time limit - he ran into the back of Ralph Firman's Irish entry and retired.

"The whole weekend just went horribly wrong," Herta said. "We lost the car's handling on Saturday and dug ourselves into a big hole in qualifying. We recovered some positions in the sprint but the car never worked right.

"I'm really disappointed for the people who supported me here; I wish I could have given them a better result."  Team Mexico's Salvador Duran won both races.

Hanson passes rookie test Hanson passes rookie testHanson passes Indy Pro Series rookie test: Troy Hanson passed his Indy Racing League Indy Pro Series rookie test March 10 at Nashville Superspeedway.  Hanson, a Hollywood, Calif. resident, participated in the recent Open Test on the road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway before completing more than 100 miles at Nashville.

"Nashville is a tricky place to make an oval debut, but Troy took it in stride," said Indy Pro Series team owner Michael Crawford. "Troy proved to be smooth and consistent as he acclimated to the 1.33-mile concrete oval. He turned some very quick laps as he put the Hollywood Poker/Dallara through its paces."

Hanson has competed in the Grand American Cup Series and in the Rolex Sports Car Series. He also has hosted motorsports and celebrity segments on SPIKE-TV's "Super 2NRtv."

"I want to thank Hollywood Poker, Michael Crawford and the team, as well as (Indy Pro Series technical director) Butch Meyer for making all this come together." Hanson said. "I am really looking forward to racing in the Indy Pro Series this year, and I think we have everything it takes to put forth a competitive effort."

Engine problems ruined Montoya's race Engine problems ruined Montoya's race"I think we had some issues over the weekend with Montoya's engine," explained McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh.

"We have a number of different modes of operation with the engine. We have economy, super economy and full mode and certainly in the lesser modes of control there was something in the engine that we were trying to track down all weekend that gave him a slight element of disadvantage.

"It's the same engine this weekend but we have got a bit more time to study it now. We cannot change the mechanics of the engine but we are allowed to change the software and the mapping.

"With a bit of detailed analysis maybe we can find something there to give him more confidence in the operating regimes of the engine."

Roush to field third Truck at Atlanta Roush to field third Truck at AtlantaRoush Racing announced today that it will field a third NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 17 for driver David Ragan. A Georgia native, Ragan will drive the No. 50 Ford F-150 in the John Deere 200 on Friday night, March 17.

"Fielding a third truck in Atlanta will enable David to run in front of his hometown crowd, friends and family," said team owner Jack Roush.  "It will also gain him some additional seat time in preparation for his stint driving the No. 6 Scotts Ford F-150.  We're looking forward to getting David a jump-start on his 2006 schedule."

Forums Up Forums UpUPDATE Our forums are now back up.  A power failure for 8 hours took the entire building down.  Again, we apologize for the inconvenience.

03/13/06 Our discussion forum service is currently down due to technical difficulties.  We hope to have service restored today.  We apologize for the inconvenience.

Johnson’s success should spark debate on penalties Johnson’s success should spark debate on penaltiesChad Knaus was ejected from Daytona 500 activities back in February and suspended for a major rule violation. Jimmy Johnson won the Daytona 500 without him. Johnson also finished second at California with Knaus sitting at home. Yesterday, Johnson edged Kenseth at the finish line to win the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with interim crew chief Darian Grubb once again calling the shots. After only three races, the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet now sits in the points lead, with a 166 point advantage over Jeff Gordon and a whopping 236 point lead over last year's champion Tony Stewart. Knaus is eligible to return to the track for the Bristol race. In the meantime, he has been in constant contact with his team and Jimmy Johnson. With today's advanced communication technology, being at the track may not be the factor it once was. Given the great results Jimmie Johnson has posted during his crew chief's suspension, it would seem logical for NASCAR to reopen the debate as to what infractions draw point penalties, and whether driver or team suspension is the next course of action for major infractions. Doug Belliveau
Mosley happy with new F1 rules Mosley happy with new F1 rulesFIA President Max Mosley told ITV Sport presenter Steve Rider that he thought the new F1 rules package, and particularly the revamped three-part qualifying format, had been a resounding success.

"Well I enjoyed it," he said.

"I thought it was non-stop action which is what we are looking for.

"Particularly at the circuit even more than at home, I thought it was very exciting and hope and think that it will go on like that all season now."

"It's a relief and I think everybody is pleased," he said before the start of the race.

"It's so good to see four different teams all really, really close. Nobody quite knows how much fuel everyone is running.

"It's exactly how it should be."

Reiser Wins Crew Chief of the Race Award Reiser Wins Crew Chief of the Race AwardLAS VEGAS, NV - The tag team of Matt Kenseth and Robbie Reiser had a near-perfect afternoon this Sunday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  Unfortunately for the No. 17 DEWALT team, a late-race caution allowed Jimmy Johnson to pass Kenseth on the final lap and kept them from sealing their day with a win.  Reiser may not have brought his driver a victory, but he still performed in award winning fashion, as he was voted the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Race.

A panel of voters; including Tony Eury Sr., a member of the local media and a WYPALL® Wipers representative; all agreed that Reiser deserved Crew Chief of the Race accolades for keeping Kenseth up front nearly all race long.  As the current record holder of laps led at the track, Kenseth added to his total this weekend, leading a race-high 146 laps of the UAW–Daimler Chrysler 400.  “Robbie (Reiser) did everything right today,” said Eury Sr.  “His car was the class of the field. Matt (Kenseth) was driving away from everybody.  If it hadn’t been for the last caution, they would have won for sure.” zzzz

“It was a good race for us today,” said Reiser following the event.  “When you have that good of a car, you hate to finish second.  Everything was falling into place, but the last caution let Jimmy (Johnson) catch up with us and get by us there at the end.  The crew did an awesome job today and Matt drove a great race. If we keep preparing cars like that, we’ll definitely win some more races.”

For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, Reiser was presented with $1,000.  At the end of the season the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Year.  This was Reiser’s second win, which puts him ahead of Darian Grubb, who has one win, in the standings.

Industry News
Toyota to take over Subaru plant Toyota to take over Subaru plantUPDATE Toyota Motor Corp. said on Monday it would use Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.'s plant in Indiana to build its popular Camry sedan in a move that gives Toyota cheap access to production capacity and helps Fuji cut losses at an underused plant.

Toyota, Japan's top automaker, and Fuji Heavy, the maker of Subaru cars, had been exploring ways to cooperate in production and development since Toyota became Fuji Heavy's top shareholder in October after Fuji Heavy dissolved its capital alliance with General Motors.

Toyota, which now owns 8.7 percent of Fuji Heavy, said it planned to build about 100,000 Camrys a year at the Lafayette, Ind., plant, which has had excess capacity since the withdrawal of Fuji's former joint venture partner, Isuzu Motors.

03/11/06 Toyota Motor Corp. and Indiana officials are expected to announce plans Monday to use a Subaru plant in Lafayette, Ind., to make Toyota Camrys.

Details haven't been revealed, but Toyota has been looking at the plant to expand its assembly operations in the United States. The Indiana plant is a separate issue from a Toyota facility being courted by Michigan officials. The Indiana assembly plant will piece together the final vehicles. The plant that Michigan and other states are seeking would build engines for an assembly plant.

The Indiana plant and the engine plant indicate Toyota's rapid growth in the U.S. market. Last year, U.S. sales increased 10% to more than 2.2 million vehicles and the company is expected to receive another boost this year from a redesigned Camry, the best-selling car in the U.S. market.  More at Detroit Free Press

Rocketsports to test Brazilians this week in Houston Rocketsports to test Brazilians this week in HoustonThe sounds of the Rocketsports Racing Champ Car firing up is enough to get anyone enthused for the upcoming season, but that is not all that the East Lansing-based team is doing to prepare for the Champ Car season opener in Long Beach. The team will head south to the home of Champ Car’s newest hosting race city, Houston, Texas for a two-day test placing Brazilian’s Enrique Bernoldi and Antonio Pizzonia (pictured right) behind the wheel of its 750-hp machines.

MSR Houston (Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land Road Course) is a “driver’s” track where the team and drivers can come to experience the excitement of driving on the challenging 2.4-mile road course with 17 turns. The two-day test starting on Tuesday, March 14 will be run to evaluate the drivers’ ability to adapt in the car. The team will work with both drivers to ensure they are comfortable behind the wheel before proceeding on finding a good car setup for each individual driver.

Both drivers, Bernoldi and Pizzonia, are well-experienced drivers. Both have solid racing pedigrees that have brought them to the ranks of Formula 1. They are looking for a shift in their careers and a new challenge which has brought them to the States to get behind the wheel of a Rocketsports Champ Car.

Bernoldi started kart racing in 1987 at the age of nine and won a variety of regional and national kart titles before heading to Europe at the age of 17 to try his hand at car racing. In 1995 he entered the Italian Formula Alfa Boxer and finished fourth in the series in his first attempt and the next year entered the European Formula 3 Championship. He dominated the series, winning nine of the 11 championship races. He spent two years competing in the British F3 Championship before moving to F3000. He got his first taste of F1 in 1999 testing for Sauber at Magny-Cours. His performance earned him a test drive with the Swiss team, and he eventually made his F1 race debut with Arrows in 2001. In 2003 Bernoldi entered the Formula Nissan World Series finishing sixth in the championship during his first season, followed by a third place finish in his second year of competition in the series. In 2005, he returned to the F1 scene as a test driver for BAR Honda. zzzz

“This is the beginning of a new challenge for me and my career,” Bernoldi said about his upcoming test with Rocketsports Racing. “I was not racing last year; my only time behind the wheel was as a test driver for BAR in Formula 1, so I am excited for this new opportunity. I am motivated to be racing again and that is the reason I am here. I hope that I can learn the car and the track quickly so that I can focus on getting to know the team and the overall feeling behind the wheel of a Champ Car. It will be difficult because this is a different kind of car, one that I am not familiar with, but I am looking for to this test and think that it will be a great experience with Rocketsports.”

Pizzonia started racing when he was 10 and after winning the local championships he began to commute to Sao Paulo on the weekends to race in more competitive Sao Paulo championships. By the time he was 15, he had won the Brazilian national title. This led to the decision to go to the United States to compete in the Barber Dodge series and then in 1997 he moved to Britain to race in Formula Vauxhall Junior. He was the champion in 1998 and moved up to Formula Renault and won the title in 1999. This led to a test with the Williams F1 team. He raced in Formula 3 the following year, winning the title during his rookie season and earning another F1 test with the Benetton team. In 2001 he signed a long-term deal with Williams becoming a member of the Petrobras Junior Team in Formula 3000 and in 2002 his responsibility with the team expanded making him also a test driver in the Williams F1 machines. In 2003 he ran part of the F1 season, under a new squad, Jaguar, before returning to Williams in 2004 as a test driver and replacement in some of the races for Ralf Schumacher. He retained his duties for the team in 2005.

“I am very excited to be here,” said Pizzonia in regards to his first experience in Champ Car. “This is going to be a new challenge for me because the Champ Car is a different car compared to what I am used to driving. I have not been in a car for a while; the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix was the last time, so I am ready to start driving again. It is going to take a little bit to get used to the car, but I am ready for the challenge and looking to have some fun!” Rocketsports

Industry News
Kia to build its first U.S. factory in Georgia Kia to build its first U.S. factory in GeorgiaKia Motors Corp., South Korea's second-largest automaker, will build a $1.2 billion factory in West Point, Georgia, choosing a site near its parent Hyundai Motor Co.'s U.S. plant to tap growing sales in North America.  Kia's Chief Executive Chung Eui-Sun and Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed an agreement in Seoul today to build the plant, which will be Kia's first in the U.S., on the border with Alabama, the company said in an e-mailed statement. Production is scheduled to begin in 2009.

``The plant will be close to Hyundai's Alabama assembly line so they can share costs and maintain a close cooperative operation,'' said Chung Doo Sun who helps manage the equivalent of $700 million won at Hyundai Wise Asset Management Co. in Seoul. Chung owns shares in Hyundai Motor. He doesn't own Kia Motors shares. More at Bloomberg.com

Midland MF1 Racing retains media Midland MF1 Racing retains mediaArqiva has renewed its official media partnership with the Midland MF1 Racing team for the second year running.  It will deliver SNG services throughout the year, including the 2006 British Grand Prix.

The UK-based content management and delivery company will provide facilities for distribution of interviews with the team’s drivers and exclusive footage to broadcasters.

“SNG is the ideal solution for special sporting fixtures and Arqiva’s partnership with Midland F1 will provide broadcasters with improved access to the team,” says John Dunlop, head of marketing services for Arqiva Satellite Media Solutions.

Gulf Air extends title sponsorship of Bahrain GP Gulf Air extends title sponsorship of Bahrain GPGulf Air has extended its title sponsorship for the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix until 2010, following an agreement with Allsport management.

“Formula 1 Grand Prix is the most prestigious motor sport event which shares its popularity with high profile events such as the Olympics and the football World Cup,” says Gulf Air President and Chief Executive James Hogan.

“This year’s event overshadowed the success of the previous races in Bahrain and we are delighted and proud to be the title sponsors for the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix once again.”

Stoddart regrets quitting F1 Stoddart regrets quitting F1(GMMf1NET) Paul Stoddart says he 'enormously' regrets quitting formula one.

The 51-year-old entrepreneur sold Minardi to Red Bull last year, setting up full time in Australia with his new 'OzJet' airline.

But, with $10m in losses and often just one or two passengers for his three checkered-flag liveried Boeing 737 jets, Stoddart announced on Monday that he had decided to shut it down.

''Absolutely,'' he told the ABC's ''Lateline' program in Sydney. ''I wish I had not started an airline and I wish I had stayed in formula one. Absolutely.''

Kyle Busch is making no Friends on the Track Kyle Busch is making no Friends on the TrackLast week, Kyle Busch took out race leader Michel Jourdain Jr. with his aggressive driving, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of the hometown Mexican fans. This week in Vegas, he drew the ire of 2005 Champion Tony Stewart. Tony Stewart led six times for 54 laps in Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but a flat tire just nine laps short of the finish took a sure top-five and replaced it with a 21st place finish. The race went sour for Stewart with roughly 80 laps to go in the 270-lap contest. It was then when Stewart was doggedly pursuing Kyle Busch for second - a pursuit that would leave Stewart frustrated with Busch. "With 80 laps to go he's holding us up and we all have another pit stop to make," said Stewart. "Work on your car and go on. There's just an etiquette. I'm frustrated with it and I honestly think I have every right to be. There's absolutely no reason to hold a driver up when there's 80 laps to go." "If I might have aggravated Stewart a little bit, I apologize to him for that," said Busch after the race. "If I slipped up and slid in front of him one time or whatever, it was my mistake. But all I can do is go out there and drive my race car to the best of my ability and to the best it's capable of doing for me. And that's what happened today." For now, Busch continues to have solid results. But you have to wonder if his moves on the track are going to eventually catch up with him. Doug Belliveau
St. Petersburg not enamored with race St. Petersburg not enamored with raceAccording to this St. Petersburg Times article, many in St. Petersburg are not enamored with the event.  The fact that it has been a money loser up until now does not help.
Am important ’home’ race for BMW Sauber Am important ’home’ race for BMW SauberAfter the initial stocktaking at the season opener in Bahrain, there’s no opportunity for the Formula One teams to catch their breath.

The second of 18 races in the championship – the Petronas sponsored Malaysian Grand Prix – is lined up for this coming Sunday.

The BMW Sauber F1 Team is looking forward to the home race of its main sponsor Petronas and bracing itself for the rigors of a race in tropical conditions.

On Tuesday and Wednesday prior to the Grand Prix, drivers Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve as well as BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen and Peter Sauber will have several PR appearances including the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur. zzzz

Nick Heidfeld
“The Malaysian Grand Prix is unusual mainly for its high temperatures and extreme humidity. Basically I don’t have a problem with that. Last year I started from tenth place and made it onto the podium – for me it was one of the most exciting races ever. I had some tough duels and a lot of fun. We have experienced some incredible cloudbursts in Sepang, but I can live with that as I basically enjoy driving on a wet track."

"So far, I’ve managed quite well in Malaysia whatever the conditions. I also know the country quite well by now.
To get acclimatized I have often taken a brief holiday there before the race, and there has also been plenty on the Petronas agenda – that’s Malaysia’s oil and gas company, who were also our sponsors back in the years when I was driving for Sauber. When you see the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, you get some idea of how important this company is for the country.”

Jacques Villeneuve
“Malaysia will be a very busy Grand Prix for the BMW Sauber F1 Team because it’s the home race of our main sponsor Petronas. The track is quite interesting and physically very demanding because of its long high-speed corners that generate high lateral g-forces. All this takes place in high ambient temperatures with an extreme humidity, which means that you really need to be physically well prepared. I am confident for the race.”

Robert Kubica
“Sepang is another circuit I don’t yet know, but after the positive experiences in Bahrain I hope I’ll have this race track sussed just as quickly. My aim is, of course, to support the team as best I can, and it will be important for me to clock up plenty of laps and run through the planned schedule completely."

"The Bahrain race weekend has demonstrated very clearly that it is important to gather extensive data already on the Friday. I have never driven in such an extreme climate as in Malaysia, and so I will also gain valuable experience in that respect. I can’t wait to see Kuala Lumpur, and especially the Petronas Twin Towers that I’ve heard so much about. It’s going to be another interesting weekend for me in many ways.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director
“Having taken initial stock following the first race of the season, we are now looking forward very much to visiting the home of our main sponsor Petronas. There can’t be many cities as closely associated with a company as Kuala Lumpur, watched over as it is by the Petronas Twin Towers."

"As part of its Asian strategy the BMW Group has raised its involvement in Malaysia, which includes a sales subsidiary, a parts distribution centre and an IT centre. In Sepang the engines have to put up with huge thermal loads, and fuel temperatures also rise to critical levels."

"Every team prepares for the heat with extra or larger engine air-cooling intakes in the sidepods as well as apertures in the form of slits, flues or exhaust vents. The aerodynamics and engine experts always have to aim for a compromise.”

Willy Rampf, Technical Director Chassis
“Sepang is an interesting track with a good mix of slow corners that require optimum grip and fast sections demanding maximum stability. Turns 9 and 11 in particular are tricky, with drivers braking into the corner with heavy lateral g-forces. It means you have to take great care with the car’s set-up, which requires a lot of work on the electronics."

"As a result of the lower output of the V8 engines, the aerodynamic settings have taken on even greater importance. The two long straights allow an opportunity for overtaking, so you have to find the right compromise between sufficient downforce and an optimal top speed. The combination of fairly abrasive asphalt and high temperatures means the tires are subject to extreme loads." Source BMW Sauber

Speed Finishes Mid-Pack in Bahrain Grand Prix Speed Finishes Mid-Pack in Bahrain Grand PrixThe inaugural race of the 2006 season got off to a great start with American Scott Speed immediately advancing a few positions at the beginning of the race. (Right - Scott Speed (L) with teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi(R), photos  courtesy Red Bull)

Both Scuderia Toro Rosso cars completed the grand prix and were void of any mechanical abnormalities that affected their performance, other than some oversteer in Scott's STR01-01 car that was later corrected during a scheduled pit stop.

"I had a great start and felt that my driving style throughout the race was very balanced and consistent lap after lap," remarked Scott Speed. "Other than some tire pressure adjustments and oversteer corrections we made during the first pit stop, the STR01-01 performed very well."

To spectators, the Bahrain Grand Prix marks the beginning of the 2006 season, but to Scott it reflects the end of a 13 year journey.

"Ever since I was eleven I've been competing in motor sports so one day I could be a starting Formula 1 driver," said Scott. "It's nice to finally see all the hard work and efforts by me as well as the people who have helped me along the way, pay off."

Scott is just one of twenty-one other starting drivers from around the world competing in the pinnacle of motor ports, Formula 1. Scott finished the Bahrain Grand Prix in 13th position and looks to improve his results for next weekend's Malaysia Grand Prix by making some adjustments to the rear end stability of his car.

British GP 'super-lap’ with Button offer British GP 'super-lap’ with Button offerTo coincide with this weekend’s opening round of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship, Silverstone has announced that all fans purchasing a ticket for the 2006 FORMULA 1™ Foster’s British Grand Prix, between 10 March and 1 May, will be entered into a prize draw to win the ultimate experience for any F1 fan - a lap around Silverstone’s world famous Grand Prix circuit with British hero and fans’ favorite Jenson Button, one of the strongest contenders for this year’s FIA Formula One World Championship.

The joint promotion between Silverstone, Button and his Honda Racing F1 team, further endorses the Formula One circuit’s commitment to providing added value for fans attending one of the biggest sporting events of the year. Having been approached by Silverstone, Button was equally keen to show his appreciation for the British fans, who have supported him so passionately at his home race. zzzz

Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, commented, “We are very excited to be able to offer this opportunity to fans buying British Grand Prix tickets between 10 March - the start of the new F1 season - and 1 May. Jumping in a Honda car with Jenson Button and being taken for a flying lap around Silverstone really is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Our Grand Prix circuit is renowned for being one of the fastest and most challenging in the world, and what better way to experience it than charging through Copse alongside one of the quickest and best drivers in Formula One? At Silverstone we are always looking to add value and entertainment for the fans; the lap ride opportunity with Jenson reaffirms this and clearly demonstrates our commitment to providing the best experience possible. We hope to be able to make a few more exciting announcements in the not too distant future.”

Jenson Button added, “The British Grand Prix is always a very special occasion for me. It’s my home race and I have such fantastic support from the British fans. I’m feeling great ahead of what should be a strong season for the Honda Racing F1 Team and we’ll be going to every race with the objective of challenging for wins. That will certainly be the case at Silverstone, which is a race I would love to win in front of such a huge home crowd. It would be such an incredible feeling. In the meantime, I’m glad to give something back to the fans together with Silverstone and I look forward to thrilling the three lucky winners with a hot-lap of the circuit in a Honda sports car.” Silverstone

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
No deal after F1 summit
F1 moves to hot, wet Malaysia
Rookie Rosberg in dream debut
Luckless Fisi fuming
Clutch cost Button win - Fry
Massa sparks Ferrari inquests
FIA rule cost Schu victory
Toyota in crisis after Bahrain shocker
FIA slap Nick
DC cops penalty for Malaysia
Renault deny Ferrari 'flex' protest
Stoddart's airline to make long pit stop
Mosley rules out 'knockout' tweak
FIA to leave V10s alone - for now
Hockenheim puts faith in soccer boss
V8s make F1 one second slower
40,000 at Sakhir
Schu rules out Todt's job
Alonso move not for money - Dennis
17-year old Graham Rahal shows promise 17-year old Graham Rahal shows promiseGraham Rahal, driver for A1 Team Lebanon this weekend, ably demonstrated his potential today at Laguna Seca, running in second place for nearly half the Feature race distance, until a spin put him off track. In the Sprint race he also ran well, sitting comfortably in ninth spot until his retirement due to an incident with the German car.

Rahal started from the pit lane at the back of the grid for the Feature race, with the A1 Team Lebanon crew showing their excellent teamwork repairing fairly extensive damage from the earlier Sprint race. The team opted to start the race on dry tires, one of only three teams to opt for these. Within the first two laps all teams except Lebanon pitted during a safety car period, most having started the race on wet tires.

Rahal was at the front for the restart and the soon-to-be A1 Grand Prix champions, France, just behind. The French car quickly took Lebanon, but it was the only car that managed to pass Rahal for the ensuing 15 laps, with Rahal showing his natural talent as he lapped quickly ahead of the grid of older, experienced drivers. Unfortunately damage from the earlier race affected the steering of the car as the race progressed. Although Rahal struggled on, these problems caused two spins for the young driver, the second one putting him out of the race. Nonetheless, the A1 Team Lebanon had already made his mark and impressed everyone with his race pace. zzzz

The grid for the Sprint race was formed in bright sunshine, but just five minutes before the start of the race, a torrential downpour saw all the cars change from dry tires to wet. Without any wet practice sessions prior to the race, none of the teams had a chance to prepare their cars for these conditions.

A1 Team Lebanon started from their best grid position of the season so far, on the sixth row. Rahal attacked at the start, passing the cars of Germany, Australia and South Africa before the end of the first lap. Italy caused a safety car period soon after the start with the Team Lebanon driver lying eighth. He dropped a few places after running wide, but recovered well to be just outside the top ten in eleventh spot, a position he retained until an incident with the German car under the safety car put Team Lebanon out of the race.

Rahal summed up his day saying, "The sprint race was really difficult; there was so little visibility I could only really follow by the red brake lights of the car in front. We had a great start though and passed a few cars, but the wet weather really created problems. We damaged the car in the incident with Germany, which gave the team plenty of work between the races, but they managed to fix it for us."

"I have to thank the Team Lebanon boys for working so hard to get my car back out for the Feature race. We had a great start, ended up running up front and on the pace, and quicker than many of the regular race-leading cars. It was always going to be difficult to start from the back and get to the front, but we did it. I was happy with our performance, but not happy that we didn't finish. We'll be back trying our best again in China."

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