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News briefs from Melbourne: Sunday  (GMM)  Fernando Alonso refused to clear up a little formula one mystery on Sunday morning at Albert Park.

Is the reigning world champion married or not?  Faced with the question in the paddock, the 25-year-old Spaniard grinned slightly and kept walking.


Spyker's protest on Saturday against Super Aguri at Albert Park was thrown out by the stewards on a technicality; it was lodged too late.  According to sources in the Melbourne paddock, the FIA representatives did not even look at a plethora of photographic evidence compiled by Spyker chief Colin Kolles aimed at proving that the SA07 is a direct copy of last year's Honda.

He is tipped to try again in Malaysia in three weeks. More ...

Webber, Red Bull, clash over helmet  (GMM) Mark Webber has reportedly clashed with his new team Red Bull -- over the color of his helmet.

According to a story in the paddock on Sunday morning, energy drink Red Bull's marketing chiefs baulked at the color green on the Australian's regular design.

Webber, 30, is using a livery with a plain yellow top at the 2007 season opener this weekend.

"We have got to incorporate a little more green on the top of my helmet in the next few races because we are still trying to get the helmet colors finally sorted," he said.

Fans, teams invited to Vegas party  Race fans and race team members attending the Champ Car Vegas Grand Prix in three weeks are invited to the Wednesday night Jensen MotorSport season kickoff party hosted by former actor turned race car driver Frankie Muniz (Atlantic Series) at the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.  Come and kick off the racing season in style.  The invitation is shown to the right and you should RSVP as instructed.
Sciuto to drive for Gelles  AutoRacing1.com has learned that American Alan Sciuto has signed to drive for Gelles Racing in the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic Series.  Last year Alan was the youngest pole-setter ever in the history of the Atlantic series.  He and engineer Gerald Tyler will make a strong combination.  Sciuto will be part of a 4-car Gelles Racing onslaught alongside German Maximilian Götz, Brazilian Luis Mussi, and American Richard Heistand.

Additionally, Gelles has (5) drivers under contract for Formula BMW USA.  They need just one more to finish the ten (10) driver Gelles Racing line-up and our sources tell us it should happen soon.  Their five BMW USA drivers signed so far are as follows:
Robert Thorne – USA – Car #2
Ricardo Zappelini – Brazil – Car #3
Matt Ferris – USA – Car #6
Nathan Freke – Great Britain – Car #9
Maxime Pelletier – Canada – Car #11

Engine change for Massa  (GMM)  Ferrari has made a precautionary engine change to Felipe Massa's car prior to the start of the Australian grand prix.

The Brazilian struck two separate gearbox problems aboard his F2007 on Saturday; first in free practice, where a faulty component was identified and changed.

The same electronic glitch recurred during Q2, however, relocating Massa, 25, to a lowly sixteenth on the grid despite teammate Kimi Raikkonen's pole winning pace.

Only able to drop a maximum of six places, then, Ferrari has decided to give Massa the advantage of a fresh V8 unit for the race.

Sebring: 11 Hour update  
Pos Car Cls Drivers                         Car               Laps
1. 2 P1 E.Pirro, M.Werner, F.Biela Audi R10 TDI 331
2. 26 P2 B.Herta, D.Franchitti, T.Kanaan Acura ARX-01a 327
3. 15 P2 A.Fernandez, L.Diaz, D.Martinez Acura Lola BO6 323
4. 1 P1 R.Capello, A.McNish, T.Kristensen Audi R10 TDI 319
5. 7 P2 R.Dumas, T.Bernhard, H.Castroneves. Porsche RS Spyder 318
6. 9 P2 D.Brabham, S.Johansson, D.Dayton Acura ARX-01a 313
7. 4 GT1 O.Gavin, O.Beretta, M.Papis Corvette C6-R 310
8. 3 GT1 J.O'Connell, J.Magnussen, R.Fellows Corvette C6-R 309
9. 16 P2 B.Leitzinger, A.Wallace, A.Lally Porsche RS Spyder 309
10. 27 P2 F.Lienhard, D.Theys, E.Van de Poele Judd Lola B05-40 303 More ...
Sebring: 10 Hour update  The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is winding down into darkness. With two hours to go, Marco Werner was driving his Audi R10 TDI to an eighth consecutive overall win and second in a row for the diesel-powered car on Saturday. Werner was a half minute ahead of the first of the new Acura prototypes as Bryan Herta continued to peddle the Andretti Green Racing Acura ARX closer and closer to an LMP2 win in its maiden race.

Acura comfortably held the top two spots in class as Luis Diaz in the Lowe’s Fernandez Acura-powered Lola was up by five laps on the third-place class car of Timo Bernhard for Penske Racing in a Porsche RS Spyder.

Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin remained ahead of teammate Jan Magnussen by 11 seconds as last year’s race winners battled for the GT1 class crown in new driver lineups. Gavin is with Olivier Beretta and Max Papis. Magnussen is driving with Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell. More ...

Jeff Burton wins Busch race  Kyle Busch led the most laps, but on St. Patrick’s Day it was Jeff Burton who wiped away superstition in his green race car and had the most luck as he won the Nicorette 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Photos by CIA Stock Photo

Busch’s car was the class of the field all day but a crucial mistake by his usually stellar crew – a missed lug nut on Lap 166 following the sixth and final caution of the race – forced Busch from the lead to 17th position on the restart. Burton had come off pit road second to Busch, moved to the front after Busch’s miscue and held on for the win over teammate and reigning series champion Kevin Harvick. Clint Bowyer finished sixth, giving Richard Childress Racing three drivers in the top 10. More ...

Sebring Hour 7: No. 2 Audi takes lead  
Pos Car Cls Drivers                       Car                  Laps
1. 2 P1 E.Pirro, M.Werner, F.Biela Audi R10 TDI 218
2. 26 P2 B.Herta, D.Franchitti, T.Kanaan Acura ARX-01a 217
3. 15 P2 A.Fernandez, L.Diaz, D.Martinez Acura Lola BO6 211
4. 1 P1 R.Capello, A.McNish, T.Kristensen Audi R10 TDI 206
5. 7 P2 R.Dumas, T.Bernhard, H.Castroneves. Porsche RS Spyder 205
6. 16 P2 B.Leitzinger, A.Wallace, A.Lally Porsche RS Spyder 205
7. 4 GT1 O.Gavin, O.Beretta, M.Papis Corvette C6-R 202
8. 3 GT1 J.O'Connell, J.Magnussen, R.Fellows Corvette C6-R 202
9. 9 P2 D.Brabham, S.Johansson, D.Dayton Acura ARX-01a 200
10. 6 P2 S.Maassen, R.Briscoe, E.Collard Porsche RS Spyder 199  More ...
Engine woes send polesitter to rear  Ryan Newman, who won the pole for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, will now have to start at the rear of the field after his team changed engines in the No. 12 Dodge Saturday morning.

“We made nine laps this morning,” Newman said of the first Nextel Cup practice. “It started tightening up coming off Turn 4 and we had a pretty good amount of oil on one of the spark plugs. Something was wrong.”

Newman ran 193.124 mph Friday night to earn his seventh career pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway. But when he drops to the back before today’s green flag, Jimmie Johnson will move up from the third spot to the head of the field on the inside of Row 1.

“This is the best track if you have to go to the rear,” Newman said. “Obviously we don’t want to do it, but we’ve got a great. …I am not going to complain at all about luck or a break. This stuff happens once in a while. It’s no fun.”
Halfway at Sebring  Marco Werner kept Audi out front through six hours at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the opening round of the 2007 American Le Mans Series on Saturday as Audi goes for its eighth straight victory at Sebring International Raceway and second in a row with the R10 TDI.

Werner, looking for his third Sebring triumph and driving with Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, was a lap up on the leading Acura entry from P2, the Andretti Green Racing Acura ARX with Dario Franchitti at the wheel. Acura’s new prototype led twice in the race’s opening half, making it the 30th manufacturer to lead overall at America’s greatest sports car race.

The second Audi of Dindo Capello, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen lost more than nearly 15 minutes with an ignition issue. The team changed a battery, a starter motor and the entire dashboard before Capello rejoined the race seven laps down. More ...

Sebring Hour 3: Audi still out front  
Pos Car Cls Drivers                                      Car              Laps
1. 1 P1 R.Capello, A.McNish, T.Kristensen Audi R10 TDI 96
2. 7 P2 R.Dumas, T.Bernhard, H.Castroneves. Porsche RS Spyder 95
3. 26 P2 B.Herta, D.Franchitti, T.Kanaan Acura ARX-01a 95
4. 9 P2 D.Brabham, S.Johansson, D.Dayton Acura ARX-01a 94
5. 2 P1 E.Pirro, M.Werner, F.Biela Audi R10 TDI 94
6. 16 P2 B.Leitzinger, A.Wallace, A.Lally Porsche RS Spyder 94
7. 15 P2 A.Fernandez, L.Diaz, D.Martinez Acura Lola BO6 93
8. 27 P2 F.Lienhard, D.Theys, E.Van de Poele Judd Lola B05-40 88
9. 4 GT1 O.Gavin, O.Beretta, M.Papis Corvette C6-R 88
10. 3 GT1 J.O'Connell, J.Magnussen, R.Fellows Corvette C6-R 88 More ...
Sebring 2 Hour recap  Audi led after two hours at Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as Tom Kristensen wove his way back up through the field following two early pit stops. He had taken the top spot shortly after Timo Bernhard in the Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder pitted from the overall lead.

Porsche held two of the top three positions with Butch Leitzinger running third overall and second in LMP2. Next was Tony Kanaan in the Andretti Green Racing Acura ARX, making its race debut in the American Le Mans Series.

The pole-sitting Audi R10 TDI of Frank Biela, Marco Werner and Emanuele Pirro had been running behind the sister car in second before a puncture near Turn 1 forced the car to make its way slowly around the track before finally returning to pit lane. Emanuele Pirro had brought the car up to sixth place at the two-hour mark. More ...

Sebring Hour 1: Audis grab early lead  The 55th running of the famed 12 Hours of Sebring got underway in Florida this morning under sunny skies with the air temperature at 62 degrees F and a track temperature of 67 degrees.  The two Audis jumped to an early lead but one of the Penske LMP2 Porsche's ran into early troubles with a leaking brake line and lost 12 laps. 

Pos Car Cls Drivers                                Car                Laps
1. 1 P1 R.Capello, A.McNish, T.Kristensen Audi R10 TDI 33
2. 2 P1 E.Pirro, M.Werner, F.Biela Audi R10 TDI 32
3. 7 P2 R.Dumas, T.Bernhard, H.Castroneves. Porsche RS Spyder 32
4. 26 P2 B.Herta, D.Franchitti, T.Kanaan Acura ARX-01a 32
5. 16 P2 B.Leitzinger, A.Wallace, A.Lally Porsche RS Spyder 32
6. 9 P2 D.Brabham, S.Johansson, D.Dayton Acura ARX-01a 32
7. 20 P2 C.Dyson, G.Smith Porsche RS Spyder 32
8. 15 P2 A.Fernandez, L.Diaz, D.Martinez Acura Lola BO6 31
9. 8 P2 J.Bach, B.Devlin, R.Matos Mazda Lola B07-40 31
10. 27 P2 F.Lienhard, D.Theys, E.Van de Poele Judd Lola B05-40 30  More ...
TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday  
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Saturday Night
Formula 1 Australia
10:30pm-1:00am (L) SPEED
NHRA Qualifying Gainesville, FL
1:00am-3:00am ESPN2
NASCAR Performance
8:00am-8:30am SPEED
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
NHRA Race Day
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
Tradin' Paint
11:00am-11:30am SPEED
NASCAR RaceDay Atlanta
11:30am-1:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Kobalt Tools 500 Atlanta
1:30pm-6:00pm (L) FOX
NHRA ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals Gainesville, FL
5:00pm-7:00pm (SDD) ESPN2
AMA Supercross Orlando
6:00pm-7:00pm (3/17/07) SPEED
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Atlanta
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Bob Varsha (Formula 1 Host)
Steve Matchett (Formula 1 Analyst)
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
Formula 1 Replay Australia
10:00pm-12:30am (R) SPEED

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

skip barber
Ricky Taylor Wins Inaugural Skip Barber National  Ricky Taylor won his first Skip Barber National Race this weekend at Sebring International Raceway, home of the historic 12 Hours of Sebring race. Friday’s race was only the second professional National race in the 17-year-old’s young racing career.

Ricky, son of sports car driving champion Wayne Taylor, will compete in 14 BFGoodrich Skip Barber National Series Presented by Mazda races over seven race weekends during the 2007 season. The event was held Friday, March 16th at Sebring International Raceway and was the inaugural race of the season. More ...

FIA fines Toyota, Hamilton  (GMM)  Stewards at Albert Park separately issued fines to Toyota and McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton in the hours following Saturday's qualifying session.

Toyota was fined 2000 Euros for the trolley-jack incident involving Jarno Trulli's car.

Hamilton, meanwhile, despite enthusing that he was "overwhelmed" with his second row qualifying effort, must pay 200 euro for exceeding the pit lane speed limit by 1.2kph.

Spyker vows legal action against rivals  (GMM)  Spyker boss Colin Kolles has vowed legal action against formula one rivals Super Aguri, Toro Rosso and Red Bull.

The Dutch squad's team principal informed the media of his decision at Albert Park on Saturday afternoon, after stewards dismissed his official protest against the legality of Super Aguri's new 'SA07' car as a commercial issue rather than the responsibility of the FIA.

"This clarification for us is very important," he said.

Asked if Spyker would now seek arbitration, Kolles answered: "Yes, this is how I see it."

Worryingly for the teams in question, Spyker is apparently backed by Williams, and less overtly by others, including Toyota, McLaren, Renault, the FIA, and - significantly - commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone.

Ferrari, although Toro Rosso's engine supplier, is understood to have adopted a neutral position.

Spyker is seeking that Super and Toro Rosso be allowed to race but not be eligible for points.

The case would be heard by the Swiss based Court of Arbitration for Sport.  It could take several months to reach a conclusion.

track news
Fans can drive around Indy Speedway  Riding in the passenger seat of a 180-mph two-seat IndyCar Series car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just became the second-best "ride of a lifetime," because fans can now get behind the wheel and drive.

Sinden Racing's Indy Racing Experience, which for almost a decade has thrilled thousands with a high-speed ride in the two-seat IndyCar Series cars at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is offering enthusiasts the chance to drive an IndyCar Series car around the legendary 2.5-mile oval.

The single-seat, open-cockpit cars that are part of the Indy Racing Experience stable have Indianapolis 500 history, as each one has competed in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

Participants will be put through a brief training session and then drive four laps around the Speedway behind one of the Indy Racing Experience's professional drivers. More ...

Reader Feedback
Did Allmendinger Retire?  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Did AJ Allmendinger retire from motorsports? I haven't seen his name anywhere. OK just kidding. Hope he's enjoying his money, he certainly has a bunch of free Sundays to go shopping. In Champ Car, the signs said GO AJ! In NASCAR they say GO home AJ. Robert Spratt

Dear Robert, And AJ's lackluster performance continued in Atlanta this weekend. In the truck race he crashed out and in Nextel Cup qualifying he failed to qualifying for yet another race after his engine blew. AJ was doing horrible in Champ Car and lost his ride at RuSPORT. Forsythe Racing picked him up and paired him with engineer Mike Cannon and immediately he was a winner. In a span of several months he went from zero to hero. Now in NASCAR he's managed to revert himself back to zero status. Fellow Toyota driver David Reutimann drives the number 00 Camry. The inside joke in the paddock is that they should trade numbers. As they say, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Mark C.

Team Australia reveals new driver lineup  With only three races to go in the 2006/07 season, A1 Team Australia is undertaking a major examination of the future structure and operations of the team in order to increase its chances of success in next year's A1GP World Cup of Motorsport global series.

As part of the review discussions are being conducted with a range of external parties with the aim of recruiting Australia’s best young talent with the chance to race on a global stage in the A1 Team Australia car.

Kick-starting the structural changes, A1 Team Australia today announced a new driver lineup for the next A1GP event at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit in Mexico City on March 25. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Stewards investigate trolley-jack incident
  • Heidfeld targets podium for BMW
  • Rivals 'expected more' from Renault - Theissen
  • Fisi, Spyker, try to hush Aguri's party
  • News briefs from Melbourne: Saturday 2

Stewards investigate trolley-jack incident 
At the time of writing, stewards at Albert Park were investigating the qualifying incident involving Jarno Trulli and a stray trolley-jack.

The rear of the Italian's Toyota carried the device - which is used to lift the rear of the car during pit stops - the length of the pit lane before it detached and came to rest on the circuit at the immediate end of the pit lane.

After qualifying, leading team members were called to the stewards' room to explain. Race stewards fined Toyota 2,000 euros ($2,665).   More ...

Toyota continues its Truck Series domination  Under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway the American Commercial Lines 200 did not disappoint. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers showed their superb skills on this chilly Georgia night. Mike Skinner’s No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota crossed the finish line first after taking the lead on the last restart on lap 122. He came into the race with the fastest truck and he dominated most of the race bringing Bill Davis Racing back into Victory Lane.   All photos courtesy of Toyota

Mike Skinner started the race on the pole for the third time, and since the start of the race the action never stopped. 

On the first lap the trucks got bunched up and Tyler Walker in the No. 36 360 OTC Toyota got collected in the “accordion effect” and came out with a smashed grill. The field continued to race the first lap until Chase Miller in the No. 4 Open Joist Dodge ran over the bumper bar debris left behind by Walker. Skinner led the field back to the restart after the caution. The drivers tonight were capable of using the several different grooves that the Atlanta Motor Speedway provides making great side-by-side racing throughout the event. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Symonds plays down chance of Renault pole
  • Sutil weighs into customer car argument
  • Singapore denies Melbourne GP steal
  • Protest won't reduce Sunday's GP grid
  • Wurz would be happy with tenth

Symonds plays down chance of Renault pole
Renault's engineering chief Pat Symonds on Saturday afternoon played down the prospect of securing pole position in the qualifying hour at Albert Park.

The Enstone based team has surprised many observers with its long-run and even its single lap pace so far in Melbourne.

Giancarlo Fisichella's best time was bettered only by the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen in the final practice session prior to qualifying at 2pm.

But Symonds told 'Premiere': "We are not counting on pole position. Our focus is on putting our cars in the first few rows and then having a good race.

"We are looking better than a lot of people thought. Perhaps second place is a little flattering, because Fernando (Alonso) made a mistake on his fastest lap -- and Ferrari is clearly ahead." More ...

No Doornbos in Melbourne  Robert Doornbos has not traveled to Australia to be Red Bull's official reserve driver.

No details are available but it is believed that team boss Christian Horner simply told the Dutchman not to fly from America, where he is preparing to race in the Champ Car series.

Michael Ammermuller, Doornbos' replacement as reserve, watched official practice from the Red Bull garage on Saturday morning.

Melbourne: Raikkonen leads final practice  Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen set a blistering pace in the final hour of pre-qualifying free practice at Albert Park on Saturday morning.

In an otherwise extraordinarily close pecking order, the Finn was a full four tenths clear of Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault.

Like Fisichella, Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), and - incredibly - Super Aguri driver Anthony Davidson, posted times in the 1.26.4 bracket.

Christijan Albers posted just seven laps on Saturday morning because he pulled into the Spyker garage with a broken gearbox.  Nico Rosberg's Williams broke down in turn three.

Pos  Driver        Team               Time              Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:26.064           14
 2.  Fisichella    Renault            1:26.454 + 0.390   18
 3.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:26.467 + 0.403   12
 4.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:26.491 + 0.427   17
 5.  Massa         Ferrari            1:26.547 + 0.483   14
 6.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         1:26.753 + 0.689   18
 7.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   1:26.786 + 0.722   10
 8.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:26.937 + 0.873   13
 9.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:27.266 + 1.202   12
10.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    1:27.322 + 1.258    9
11.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:27.390 + 1.326   13
12.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         1:27.753 + 1.689   19
13.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:27.887 + 1.823   13
14.  Trulli        Toyota             1:27.897 + 1.833   16
15.  Barrichello   Honda              1:28.039 + 1.975   16
16.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:28.061 + 1.997    5
17.  Button        Honda              1:28.119 + 2.055   21
18.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:28.208 + 2.144   12
19.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:28.332 + 2.268   15
20.  Speed         Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:28.485 + 2.421    9
21.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:28.678 + 2.614   19
22.  Albers        Spyker-Ferrari     1:30.547 + 4.483    7

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday  

Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Friday Night
Formula 1 Qualifying Australia
11:30pm-1:00am (SDD) SPEED
American Le Mans Series 12 Hours of Sebring
9:30am-11:30am (L) Coverage continues at 2:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying Atlanta
11:30am-1:00pm (L) SPEED
11:30am-12:00pm ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice Atlanta
1:00pm-2:30pm (L) SPEED
2:00pm-2:30pm ABC
* Check local listings for your time zone
NASCAR Busch Series Nicorette 300 Atlanta
2:30pm-6:00pm (L) Incl Preshow ABC
American Le Mans Series 12 Hours of Sebring
2:30pm-10:30pm (L) SPEED
Formula 1 Australia
10:30pm-1:00am (L) SPEED

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

Melbourne damp for Saturday practice  (GMM) Stewards declared the Albert Park circuit wet for the start of the final pre-qualifying practice on Saturday morning.

Runners were mostly running Bridgestone's intermediate tires, because although much of the Melbourne layout appeared dry, it is actually spitting in parts of the track.

With more than a quarter of the 60 minute session complete, most runners had completed installation laps but no times were logged.

Race and qualifying engines, the same that will also be required to complete the Malaysian grand prix in three weeks, are being used this morning.

The weather is expected to clear up by qualifying at 2pm local.

New Acura Sports Car Teams Prepared For Sebring  SEBRING, Fla. - Friday's limited on-track activities and heavy rains plagued the final day of practice for Saturday's 55th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring but the Acura teams were still busy prepping their new sports cars for the manufacturer's American Le Mans Series debut on the famed 3.7-mile road circuit.

The three Acura factory-backed efforts - Lowe's Fernandez Racing, Highcroft Racing and Andretti Green Racing - all took the opportunity to go through their entire machines as they prepared for one of the world's toughest race events. Only the Fernandez squad put it's Acura car on the track Friday as the Highcroft and Andretti Green contingents worked in their paddock areas on proper race setups.

Luis Diaz and Adrian Fernandez swapped driving chores in the short 25-minute warm-up with the No. 15 Lowe's Acura Lola B05/40 posting the fourth-fastest speed of the practice session. More ...

Vegas Grand Prix announces all-star lineup  Vegas Grand Prix organizers announced today that the entertainment lineup for the Vegas Grand Prix Friday Night Street Party on April 6 will include hit country duo Big & Rich with Cowboy Troy, alternative rocker Chris Cornell, rock amalgamation Army of Anyone and up-and-coming indie band the Teddybears. "This will be an amazing night. We're presenting one of the most eclectic concert lineups downtown Vegas has ever seen," said Dale Jensen, partner in DDB Ventures, the company that owns Vegas Grand Prix. "We're not joking when we say the Vegas Grand Prix is a giant street party where a race breaks out."

Located on the Third Street stage of the Fremont Street Experience, the evening will be free and open to the public. This follows a day of racecars whizzing down the streets of downtown Las Vegas for practice runs and qualifying laps. The concert series includes shows by the five concert acts, motorcycle jumpers, outdoor bars and easy access to all downtown casinos. Also taking place is an autograph session with the Champ Car starting lineup beginning at 5:15 p.m. The concert begins at 6 p.m. Friday and concludes at 11 p.m. that night. More ...

Video on the PCM Champ Car team  Plexus Communications produced this demo video spotlighting the new PCM Champ Car team. They are now working on getting the project funded.
Gordon loses another Cup sponsor  Robby Gordon has lost his second primary sponsor for his Nextel Cup team in as many weeks.  Gordon had obtained a partial sponsorship, including this weekend’s race at Atlanta, from Motorola but NASCAR refused to allow Gordon to keep the sponsor decals on the hood of his No. 7 Ford Friday because of a conflict with series sponsor Sprint Nextel.  They can be an associate sponsor, but not a primary.

Although Motorola has a relationship with Sprint Nextel, it was through Motorola’s relationship with wireless competitor Verizon that the sponsorship deal was made.

“It’s going to have an effect on our race team. I didn’t anticipate anything like this, I can promise you that,” Gordon said. “NASCAR has tried to work with us on this. Supposedly this has to do with NASCAR’s deal with Nextel and there is something there which will not allow this to happen.

"I'm having a hard time understanding how Nextel and Motorola are competitors because that's the reason we can't use the sponsorship," Gordon said. "They have been an associate sponsor on my car for the first three events, and they can remain as an associate sponsor on my car; they just can't be a primary sponsor on my car.

It's a NASCAR decision, yes," Gordon said. "This is the first time I have ever been involved in something like this. I've never been told no [on] a sponsor because we never felt we've gone after a sponsor that wouldn't be approved. I didn't even imagine that Motorola wouldn't be approved. They're the official radio of everybody in the garage area. It's just mind-boggling, and I'm having a little bit of a hard time on it."

Pirro fastest in Friday AM session at Sebring  Emanuele Pirro was the quickest driver in Friday morning’s session for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring as Audi kept up a streak that has seen it at the top of every timing report this week for the American Le Mans Series season opener. The Italian, a winner at Sebring for Audi in 2000, turned in a lap of 1:48.138 in his Audi R10 TDI.

Pirro, teaming with Marco Werner and Frank Biela set the time on his first flying lap of the session. He was more than a second ahead of the sister car of Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen, the next quickest car in class. It was the same car badly damaged in a crash during Thursday’s night session with Dindo Capello at the wheel. Crews rebuilt the car and had it ready at the start of Friday morning. More ...

Mobil 1 extends Sebring sponsorship  Exxon/Mobil and Sebring International Raceway jointly announced today Mobil 1 is continuing as the title sponsor of America's premier sports car race through 2010, extending one of the longest running name/title sponsorships in the motorsports industry. This year's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring marks the 12th consecutive year Exxon/Mobil has been the title sponsor of the legendary race.

"Mobil 1 and Sebring are eager to extend this very successful marketing partnership well into the future," stated Sebring President and GM Tres Stephenson. "We are proud of our association with Exxon/Mobil and look forward to future races with the prestigious Mobil 1 brand sponsoring America's premier sports car racing event."

Aussie race draws 72.5K on Friday  A crowd of 72,500 saw Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen keep Ferrari ahead of the chasing pack as the world’s elite drivers took to the track on day two of the 2007 FORMULA 1™ ING Australian Grand Prix.

“It’s fantastic to have the season under way,” said Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Tim Bamford.

“The excitement is building ahead of Sunday’s race, and today’s on-track action certainly underlined the value of the new-look Friday with its extended Formula One practice sessions. We’re delighted with the way the event is taking shape.”

Michigan race picks up title sponsor  One of the largest banks headquartered in the state of Michigan will take center stage at Michigan International Speedway on June 17 for the running of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Citizens Bank 400 on Father’s Day weekend.

The strategic alliance between MIS and Citizens Bank, a subsidiary of Citizens Republic Bancorp, also makes Citizens Bank the “Official Bank of Michigan International Speedway” in 2007.

“We’re proud to have one of the largest banking corporations in the state of Michigan sponsor our NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race on Father’s Day,” Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis said. “It’s only fitting that they are teaming up with the largest sporting event in the state. The bonus for us and for race fans is that they are Michigan-based and have numerous locations throughout Michigan, including MIS’ hometown of Brooklyn.”

Citizens Bank will have in-market, promotional rights and benefits for the June NEXTEL Cup Series weekend, as well as premium signage around the MIS property during the campaign. More ...

Rain delaying track activities at Atlanta  Rain has delayed the start of track activities Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  Practice for the Craftsman Truck Series was scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m. EDT, but the track was still wet.  The National Weather Service's Web site predicts a 60 percent chance of showers, with the rain dissipating after 2 p.m.
Red Bull four weeks behind - Webber  (GMM)  Red Bull's Christian Horner and Mark Webber agree that the Austrian owned squad is as much as four weeks behind its rivals.

"Yep," Australian Webber gloomily confirmed in the FIA press conference on Friday when asked about Horner's apparent admission at the season opener.

"Four weeks gone, they're under the bridge.  When it's gone in this game, it's gone," he said.

Webber, 30, sat out the meat of the final practice session on Friday after a gearbox glitch, but his teammate David Coulthard was tenth.

Webber said the Adrian Newey-penned RB3 is going to struggle for at least a few races in the early portion of '07.

He explained: "You don't just roll out a car and it's quick, you've got to work with them."

Melbourne: Friday Press Conference  

Jenson Button (Honda)
Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
Heikki Kovalainen (Renault)
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)
Mark Webber (Red Bull)

Q: Lewis, a pretty good day, third fastest, how was it for you?

Lewis Hamilton: It's been a fantastic day for me. To go out, first time here for me in Melbourne, to go out of the pits, go out of the garage, down the pit straight for the first time, it was living my dream, so it's been quite a decent day. Obviously it rained at the beginning so it was quite slippery and to learn a circuit when it's wet is pretty tough, especially here with it being a street circuit and there's a lot of white lines around. But it went pretty smoothly, especially in the second session we made some steps forward and we're looking pretty strong.

Q: Could you have imagined being third fastest?

Lewis Hamilton: No, not really. As I said, it is a steep learning curve. This is testing so it's not really... tomorrow is what matters so we will see what happens tomorrow.

Q: Has the whole weekend been fairly daunting, because there's a big build-up here? More ...

Bernhard lucks into LMP2 class pole  The Sascha Maassen/Ryan Briscoe/Emmanuel Collard Porsche RS Spyder (pictured right), prepared by Penske Motorsports, went fast enough to grab the class pole, but that lap was disallowed as Maassen was detected on the course with his headlights off, a violation of International Motor Sports Association rules. By the time Maassen got back on the track to try to regain his position, he ran into track traffic and could only secure a sixth position on the grid.

Therefore, Timo Bernhard, from Hamburg, Germany, captured the LMP2 class pole position and set a class qualifying record for Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in his #7 Porsche RS Spyder prepared by Penske Motorsport. More ...

Super Aguri team signs Russian sponsor  SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM is pleased to welcome SS United Group Oil & Gas Company Limited as a major team sponsor.

SS United Group Oil & Gas Company Limited (SUG) is an oil trading company which has an extensive network for the supply of petroleum products and advanced energy technology in China, Russia, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia. SUG is based in Hong Kong and is a joint venture between SS United Oil & Gas Company Limited (SUC) and Saha Regal Best Company Limited, a Thai investment company established in 1996, primarily involved in development of major infrastructure projects in Thailand and Indochina.

SS United Group is a private company and has expanded its oil trading activities across South East Asia and the Middle East.

Industry News
GM to return to huge financial losses  General Motors Corp. said it would offer no-interest loans for a period of three years and $1,000 cash rebates on many 2006 and 2007 model-year vehicles.

The automaker's new Silverado pickup trucks are included in the incentive program, which runs through April 3. GM, which swung to a profit in the fourth quarter, saw U.S. sales increase nearly 4% in February. The automaker said it had reduced incentives too much in January, leading to a 20% decline in U.S. sales.

So in essence GM has to give cars away at zero profit or else sales decline 20%.  So much for NASCAR helping them sell cars.  Despite dominating NASCAR for the past two years, it's clearly not equating into car sales.  In fact the Monte Carlo, which it races in NASCAR, is selling so poorly Chevy, like Ford with the Taurus, will be ditching that nameplate and switching to the Impala.  That's right Chevy is going to race a grandmother car in NASCAR.  Toyota is doing the same with its Camry nameplate.  We wonder if NASCAR can help kill off that one too.  After all, the Toyota Camry teams seldom even qualify for a race.  Yeah that sells cars.  Right.  If you believe that, we have a bridge we would like to sell you.

Primetime ESPN2 telecast to kick off 2007 IndyCar Season  The longstanding and historic relationship between the IndyCar Series and ESPN continues in 2007 with ESPN2's live primetime telecast of March 24 event from Homestead-Miami Speedway. ESPN is in its 12th year with the IndyCar Series and ESPN on ABC will celebrate its 43rd year at the Indianapolis 500 in May. The entire 17-race season for the IndyCar Series will appear on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN on ABC. The 2007 television schedule will include seven events on ESPN on ABC, five on ESPN and five on ESPN2. More ...
Ethanol activation centered around IndyCar Series partnership  While the IndyCar Series and its teams tune up their Honda engines for a new era of motorsports -- the introduction of 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol -- the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council (EPIC) has been fine tuning its first-ever national marketing campaign around its partnership with the IndyCar Series. The first and only motorsports series to run 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol, the IndyCar Series is at the forefront of this push for renewable energy. This decision makes the IndyCar Series, the cutting-edge leader in motorsports safety and technology, a leader in renewable and environmentally responsible fuel produced in the U.S. As part of its marketing activation EPIC has planned:

* Mobile Marketing Unit: EPIC's mobile marketing unit will travel to all 16 domestic IndyCar Series events in 2007 and will be located at in each track's midway area. The interactive unit is designed to educate consumers with videos, show cars and child-friendly exhibits. It also will make appearances at selected fairs and environmental festivals across the country. More ...

IRL to bolster staff  The Indy Racing League seems to be expanding, especially with three new races this season and interest from international sites regarding future events.

But it isn't growing to the level officials desire.

That's the driving force behind what's expected to be a significant buildup this spring in those pitching the value of the Indianapolis-based series to potential teams, sponsors and customers. League president Brian Barnhart said the IRL needs more manpower to close deals.  More ...

tv news
NASCAR Announces Expanded Grand National TV Coverage  NASCAR today announced an expanded and comprehensive television broadcast package for 2007 with the NASCAR Grand National Division, which includes the Busch East Series and West Series.

The television package features live coverage in high definition by HDNet, which began a partnership with NASCAR three years ago with its coverage of the NASCAR Grand National Division and thus provided NASCAR its first live television package for the series.

“NASCAR is proud to continue its relationship with HDNet and SPEED in providing coverage of the NASCAR Grand National Division to a national audience,” said NASCAR Managing Director of Racing Operations George Silbermann.  “NASCAR fans across the country will be able to follow the next generation of our sport as the NASCAR Grand National Division moves into a new era as a developmental series for up-and-coming future stars of NASCAR.” More ...

Andretti gets some 100% throttle test time  IRL team owner Michael Andretti spent Wednesday testing one of his Andretti Green Racing Dallara/Hondas on the 2-mile California Speedway. Andretti, who finished third in last year's Indianapolis 500, plans to compete in the 91st edition on May 27. "It's a test the IRL gave him to knock some of the cobwebs off," said Marco Andretti, Michael's 20-year-old son, and Indy 500 runner-up to Sam Hornish Jr. last year.
Sister squads embarrass Japanese giants  (GMM)  Japanese giants Toyota and Honda endured an embarrassing day at Albert Park on Friday as the first official action of the 2007 formula one season kicked off.

All four of the hugely-financed works cars were outpaced after the three hours of free practice running by their satellite squads; Toyota by Toyota-powered Williams, and Honda by Super Aguri, who this season are using a development of the year-old works racer.

"Our position today is a clear indication that there is a lot of work to be done to close the gap to where we want to be," said Honda's Jenson Button, whose best time was fractionally off the pace of Takuma Sato, the slower of the impressive Super Aguri duo.

Aguri's Sporting Director Graham Taylor, however, played down the pace of the newly launched SA07.

"I think we're showing ourselves to be in higher positions than we really are," he said on Friday, "because of the decisions we made to accommodate for the green track.

"We are, however, very pleased."

So, too, are Williams; whose Alex Wurz was nearly two full seconds clear of Ralf Schumacher's works Toyota.

Renault can aim for top in '07 - Briatore  (GMM) Team boss Flavio Briatore on Friday said he was "content" with Renault's position despite both cars breaking down at Albert Park with fuel pressure problems.

Rookie Heikki Kovalainen was stranded down in 18th position after breaking down quite early, but teammate Giancarlo Fisichella only ground to a stop after setting the fourth best time of all.

The Italian's best time in the first sector, meanwhile, was the quickest of the entire field.

"The car is quite good; we are not worried," Italian Briatore said.

"Fisichella stopped on a really quick lap, so he could have been nearly as quick as the Ferraris.

"Everyone forgets that we are the world champions," he emphasized, "and we have a good car; you will see.

"We know that Ferrari are fast, but if we can sort a couple of things out then we can ride along right at the front in this season."

Barron gets IRL ride  Greg Beck said he sought "a driver for the first race that makes sense" for the resurrected IndyCar Series team. He turned to Alex Barron, who has made 59 series starts. Barron will drive the black No. 98 CURB/Agajanian/Beck Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone in the prime-time XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on March 24. Barron will have to take refresher laps next week before joining the first practice session.

"We thought he would be a good fit with the project we're working on," said Beck. "He's a former race winner and just a good guy all around." More ...

Slow Ilmor MotoGP team suspends participation  Mario Illien has announced that his MotoGP team will not be attending the next round of the series although engine development work will continue while the team tries to track down financial backers.

"We discussed the situation in great detail internally and obviously it was an extremely difficult decision for us to make," says Mario Illien. "Once we went through all the options, we decided that the best course of action for the sake of the project as a whole would be to put the racing side of things on hold and continue developing. My heart is still very much in the team‚ we have had fantastic support from the public and the media with some great coverage worldwide. I would also like to say how enormously proud I am of what we managed to achieve in a short space of time‚  we have a good group of people who have worked incredibly hard over the past few months. Both riders, Jeremy McWilliams and Andrew Pitt have given their best during a difficult development time ‚ I couldn't have asked for more than that."

Friday: F1 News in Brief - 3  Kimi Raikkonen in Melbourne arguably only failed to beat teammate Felipe Massa's fastest Friday time after an incident late in the afternoon session.

The Finn, four tenths slower than Brazilian Massa on the actual time sheets, set the quickest two sector times of the entire session in the dying moments of the day's track action, only to be baulked in the last few corners by world champion Fernando Alonso.

Indeed, if you add up both Massa and Raikkonen's best sector times, Massa's ideal lap of 1.27.2 was beaten by about a tenth by Kimi's theoretical best. More ...

Melbourne Friday: Massa leads Ferrari 1-2  Felipe Massa led a Ferrari one-two in the second practice session in Melbourne Friday afternoon.  Like he did the entire off-season, Massa was faster than his much heralded Ferrari teammate Raikkonen, who replaces Michael Schumacher. 

Race rookie Lewis Hamilton was third for McLaren, ahead of Fisichella (Renault), Nick Heidfeld (BMW) and Williams' Alex Wurz.

World champion Fernando Alonso is seventh.

True to the prediction for changeable weather, light rain started falling during the final free practice session in Melbourne on Friday.

It caught a few spinning drivers out, but lap times were not overly affected.  Air temperatures hovered around a cool 20 degrees (C). More ...

Steelback getting positive feedback  Steelback President and CEO Frank D'Angelo says the attention he's getting is overwhelming after it was announced his company is the new sponsor of the Champ Car Toronto Grand Prix.

He says he believes this summer event will put the Tiverton brewery on the map.

D'Angelo says they've been trying to break into the sports market for the past year and a half.

D'Angelo says last year they were involved with the Grand Prix but only on the beverage side and this year they took the opportunity to become the corporate sponsor.

The Steelback Grand Prix is considered the single largest sporting event in Ontario.

Friday: F1 News in Brief - 2  
  • Williams to 'survive', boss says
  • News briefs from Melbourne: Friday 2

Williams to 'survive', boss says
(GMM) Sir Frank Williams, one of the last true independents in formula one, has ruled out following Eddie Jordan and Paul Stoddart through the exit if 2007 is not a significant step forward for his Grove team.

"Oh, we'll survive for a long time yet, but it is not acceptable for (team co-owner) Patrick (Head) and myself to be happy with the way things are," he said.

With the new Toyota powered FW29 car, Williams has made a step forward over the winter and Sir Frank refused to rule out a return some time soon to the winner's rostrum.

"It is certainly possible," Williams told the newspaper The Independent.

"I'll have a better answer for you in six months' time." More ...

Friday: F1 News in Brief - 1  
  • Schu flies to Frankfurt as F1 flies without him
  • Button writes off title before first race
  • BMW plays down Friday practice disadvantage
  • BMW boast '90 per cent' reliability
  • News briefs from Melbourne: Frida

Schu flies to Frankfurt as F1 flies without him
(GMM) Michael Schumacher was not brooding in his Swiss mansion as, across the globe in Australia, the first formula one season since 1991 prepared to dawn without him.

On Thursday evening, the eve of official practice at Albert Park, the retired seven time world champion traveled to Frankfurt (Germany) for a sponsor event with his long time manager Willi Weber, according to reports in the German press.

While 38-year-old Schumacher appears to not be missing grand prix racing, it seems his old on-track rivals are not missing the German.

"I think I will not miss him," said Fernando Alonso, who was locked in the heat of a controversial title fight with Schumacher mere months ago.

Williams' Alex Wurz once locked wheels with Schumacher on the streets of Monte Carlo, and explained in Melbourne: "Personally I won't miss him, but then I wouldn't miss any one of these guys ..." More ...

Dane Cameron breaks record  Sebring, Florida - Dane Cameron, of Sonoma, California, charged to the pole position for the opening round of the 2007 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at Sebring International Raceway this afternoon, posting a time of 1:59.986 (111.03 MPH) in the #19 JDC Motorsports Pro Formula Mazda to shatter the year old record previously held by Brad Jaeger.

Cameron, who has topped the time sheets in every session of the weekend, was pleased with his effort so far, "We've been the fastest so far in practice the past couple of days and managed to come in first today,” Cameron said. “It was pretty close out there. Towards the end, we lost some grip, but I couldn't have a better spot to start from for tomorrow. I just need to get out front, stay out front and try to get a win.” More ...

Audi's McNish fastest in damp darkness  Audi’s Allan McNish posted the fastest time in a damp 90-minute session Thursday night at Sebring International Raceway. The practice may have proven costly however as the No. 1 Audi R10 TDI sustained heavy damage in a crash about an hour into the session with teammate Dindo Capello at the wheel.

Capello was not injured but the extent of the damage wasn’t immediately known Wednesday . The car returned to the paddock missing two wheels with the most of the damage concentrated on the left side of the car. The team continued to inspect the wreckage during the night.

Once again, Audis were 1-2 in a practice session as the No. 2 entry of Emanuele Pirro, Marco Werner and Frank Biela were 0.109 seconds behind. Given the flooding rains that roared through Sebring, teams weren’t concerned about top speeds. Rather they were focusing on getting their drivers the required number of nighttime laps to qualify for Saturday’s race. More ...

Alonso fastest at drying Albert Park  (GMM) Defending world champion Fernando Alonso got his 2007 campaign off to a flying start at Albert Park on Friday morning.

Even for F1's revised format for opening practice, however, it was an atypical session, with the circuit only drying up enough for dry tires and competitive laps right at the very end of the 90 minute sitting.

Even so, the Spaniard's McLaren was a whopping 1.5 seconds clear of second best man Felipe Massa, in his red Ferrari, but Alonso lapped the Melbourne layout 23 times compared to the Brazilian's meagre seven.

Massa's teammate Kimi Raikkonen, in contrast, was a lowly nineteenth, and the 2006-style excuse of saving mileage is not applicable this year as teams are now allowed to change their engines ahead of Saturday practice without penalty.

For most of the hour and a half, cars flicked up spray after heavy rain left early risers scrambling for cover just south of Melbourne city's central business district.

BMW's test driver Sebastian Vettel was third quickest at the end of the morning, ahead of GP2 champion Lewis Hamilton, who this year is Alonso's rookie teammate.

A worrying omen for Toyota was the pace of Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli; albeit split by Scott Speed's Toro Rosso, the highly paid pair brought up the very rear of the times..

Friday AM Times

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Alonso McLaren-Mercedes 1:29.214 23
 2. Massa Ferrari 1:30.707 + 1.493 7
 3. Vettel BMW Sauber 1:30.857 + 1.643 22
 4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:30.878 + 1.664 14
 5. Button Honda 1:31.162 + 1.948 15
 6. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:31.401 + 2.187 21
 7. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:31.528 + 2.314 9
 8. Kovalainen Renault 1:31.571 + 2.357 20
 9. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:31.661 + 2.447 16
10. Barrichello Honda 1:31.737 + 2.523 12
11. Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:31.782 + 2.568 7
12. Fisichella Renault 1:32.011 + 2.797 14
13. Wurz Williams-Toyota 1:32.194 + 2.980 18
14. Albers Spyker-Ferrari 1:34.043 + 4.829 26
15. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:34.627 + 5.413 8
16. Sutil Spyker-Ferrari 1:35.055 + 5.841 10
17. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:37.249 + 8.035 12
18. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:39.221 + 10.007 6
19. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:39.242 + 10.028 7
20. R.Schumacher Toyota 1:39.550 + 10.336 9
21. Speed Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:41.763 + 12.549 9
22. Trulli Toyota 1:44.130 + 14.916 11

New team to field 3 cars in ALMS  CET/Solaroli Motorsports, located in Jacksonville, Florida, will make its debut in the American Le Mans Series this summer with two 2007 Porsche RS Spyder prototypes and a 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

Al Solaroli, the owner of the team and president of Combustion Engine Technology, innovators with proprietary engine technology for the marine industry, the military and OEM manufacturers (www.cetengines.com), becomes the third American Le Mans Series customer team to campaign the latest Porsche LMP2 prototype. Dyson Racing purchased two Porsche RS Spyders earlier in the year, and will debut those cars this weekend at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Penske Motorsports ran the initial two 2006 Porsche RS Spyder entries last year, with Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr capturing the LMP2 drivers championship. The Penske-prepared RS Spyders have also returned to defend their title for 2007. More ...

Melbourne: Thursday Press Conference  Participating: Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes), Anthony Davidson (Super Aguri), Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Alex Wurz (Williams).

Q. Alex, it must be great to get a full time Grand Prix seat?

Alex Wurz: Yes, but hopefully it's the last time in the back row.

Q. You're tall enough to sit in the back row, you see.

AW: OK, if that's the reason, I'm happy to be here. But of course I'm happy to be here, coming back to racing. It's been a few years but somehow they've been erased from my brain and I'm here to attack, same as Anthony next to me. I can't tell you more than that. I'm quite excited.

Q. In fact you haven't raced here since 2000, but you have had a couple of seventh places here.

AW: But this was with the old point system where seventh was the first loser. Anyway, that was some time ago and I've moved on since then. I've had some very interesting years with McLaren where I moved on a lot. More ...

A wet start in Melbourne  (GMM)  Australia may be in the midst of its worst drought in 100 years, but formula one drivers found a wet track when they pulled out of their garages on Friday morning for the first official action of the 2007 season at Albert Park.

A few spots fell on the paddock late on Thursday, before it rained quite heavily in the early hours of this morning.

Lap times were pretty slow in the opening section of Friday's revised format, which is run over 90 minutes from 10am.

Weather reports predict more passing showers, some heavy, throughout the day, but it is expected to be completely dry for qualifying on Saturday and Sunday's grand prix.

All 22 race cars had ventured onto the circuit after three quarters of the morning session, where it became clear that Robert Kubica had been asked by BMW to sit out the session to make way for test youngster Sebastian Vettel.

Pole Kubica is expected to resume his cockpit this afternoon, when another 90 minutes of practice kicks off at 2pm.

Bill France Jr. hospitalized  UPDATE Former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr. has been diagnosed with a virus, according to ESPN.com's Marty Smith. France is already showing signs of improvement after being admitted to Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach, Fla. on Wednesday.  France, 73, is under the care of his personal physician. He has struggled breathing recently as a side effect of extensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments for cancer since 2000. He has been relying on a motorized scooter to get around.  "My health hasn't been too good," France said during media day before the Daytona 500 in February. "It's a good thing I [turned the sport over to others]. I have a hard time going to events. I'm sucking air all the time."

03/14/07 Former NASCAR chairman Bill France Jr., who has vehemently hated Champ Car for years, was hospitalized Wednesday night at Halifax Medical Center, where he was under the care of his personal physicians. He suffers from cancer and his health appeared to be declining in recent months.
Panoz DP01: Praised, Proven and Ready to Race  The new Panoz DP01 Champ Car received praise right from the start after making its on track debut in Sebring last August with Roberto Moreno in the cockpit. Now, nearly seven months later and with the entire Champ Car field having had the chance to put vital miles on their new race cars, the future of open-wheel racing continues to receive acclaim.

The DP01 Champ Cars were put through their final testing paces last week in Monterey, California where the Champ Car World Series preseason open-test schedule came to a close. Over the past three months, the teams took part in seven days of testing in both dry and wet conditions, and completed over 6000 laps combined, for a total of more than 13 000 miles, and not one of them encountered any major problems.

“Considering this is a brand-new car, straight out of the box, the experience not only of Minardi Team USA, but also of the other teams present has been very positive,” said Minardi Team USA Co-owner Keith Wiggins. “As you would expect, there have been a few minor issues to sort out, but Champ Car has every reason to be very pleased.” More ...

skip barber
Skip Barber Sebring qualifying  In qualifying at Sebring International Raceway for round one of the 2007 BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda, Beau Debard nipped Timmy Megenbier by .163 of a second to take pole. Halfway through the 25-minute session, Debard put up a 2:25.928 -- he was the only one of the 25 drivers in the 25s on Sebring’s 3.7-mile circuit –.while Megenbier turned a 2:26.091 on his last lap. Joel Miller’s 2:26.167 was good for third on the grid, alongside Ricky Taylor (2:26.586), son of sports car star Wayne.

1. Beau Debard, Verdi, Nev., 2:25.928
2. Timmy Megenbier, Melrose Park, Ill., 2:26.091
3. Joel Miller, Hesperia, Calif., 2:26.167
4. Ricky Taylor, Apopka, Fla., 2:26.586
5. Steven McAleer, Glasgow, Scotland, 2:27.180
6. Jeff Oleen, Bethesda, Md., 2:27.307
7. Tyler Dueck, Abbotsford, B.C., Canada, 2:27.447
8. Kyle Lawrence, Fort Gratiot, Mich., 2:27.563
9. Carlos Llano, Colombia, 2:28.103
10. Josef Newgarden, Henderson, Tenn., 2:28.111
11. Jeff Kaiser, Santa Clara, Calif., 2:28274
12. Jonathan Gore, Franklin, Tenn., 2:28.389
13. Dom Bastien, New Canaan, Conn., 2:28.789
14. Julien Gerbi, Nice, France, 2:28.847
15. Dick Lippert, Wichita, Kan., 2:28.949
16. Taz Smith, Jacksonville, Fla., 2:28.957
17. A.J. Riley, Wilton, Conn., 2:28.990
18. Juan Pablo Contreras, Guatemala, 2:29.288
19. Juan Carlos Sistos, Mexico, 2:29.346
20. Ben Searcy, Tuscaloosa, Ala., 2:29.593
21. Brandon August, Corona, Calif., 2:30.891
22. Lee Carpentier, Great River, L.I., N.Y., 2:31.068
23. Frederic Greiling, Paris, France, 2:31.419
24. Greg Berdette, Argentina, 2:32.714
25. Stephen Kalogridis, New Port Richey, Fla., 2:36.819

track news
Vegas track build going smoothly  Work on the 2.44-mile Vegas Grand Prix temporary street course is on schedule and showing signs of progress around downtown Las Vegas. Like watching a child take his first steps, spectators can now see the course taking shape with the addition of barriers and grandstands along Grand Central Parkway adjacent to the World Market Center.

With the 10-man track construction crew working from 7 p.m. until the wee hours of the morning, the layout is also drawing the attention of onlookers. The April 6-8 event featuring the Champ Car World Series, Champ Car Atlantic and Historic Grand Prix races is already sparking memorable stories nearly four weeks from when the green flag drops.

Block and fencing has started to take shape not only along Grand Central Parkway but also along Main Street, Bonneville Avenue and Ogden Avenue.

“We're doing just fine,” said Circuit Manager Chris Kneifel, a former open-wheel racer who has been building tracks since 2001. “We're doing our best to play in the sandbox together. I’d definitely have to say that we have high marks after week one, and we're going to have an even better week this week.” More ...

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday  

Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Thursday Night
Formula 1 Practice Australia
11:00pm-12:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Atlanta
12:00pm-12:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Practice Atlanta
12:30pm-1:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Atlanta
1:30pm-2:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Final Practice Atlanta
2:00pm-3:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Atlanta
3:30pm-5:00pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Atlanta
6:00pm-7:00pm SPEED
6:30pm-7:00pm ESPN2
2007 IndyCar Series Season Preview
7:00pm-8:00pm ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Atlanta
7:00pm-8:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Atlanta
8:30pm-11:30pm (L) SPEED
Formula 1 Qualifying Australia
11:30pm-1:00am (SDD) SPEED

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

Grand Prix Arizona Online Fantasy Racing Game  The press release is going out soon, but here's an early heads-up about the new online fantasy racing game presented by Grand Prix Arizona.  The game follows the top five series in motorsports:  NASCAR Cup, Busch and Trucks; Formula 1, and -- of course! -- Champ Car.  The 'official' game period (for prizes and points) begins with the Vegas Grand Prix weekend and runs through the Dec. 2 Grand Prix Arizona.   You can register and play a few pre-season rounds now, just to get the hang of it.  Go to www.grandprixarizonafmfl.com and check it out!
Franck Perera Joins Condor Motorsports  INDIANAPOLIS – His first time competing in a Champ Car Atlantic machine was magical. Now, Franck Perera will get a chance to make magic all season long with Condor Motorsports.

Perera, a 22-year-old native of Montpellier, France, has reached a contract agreement to compete with the Condor team in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. The announcement comes on the heels of Perera’s dynamic Atlantic debut last week at Champ Car Spring Training in Monterey, California, and it immediately makes the talented racer a top contender for this season’s series title.

In his maiden voyage in the 300-horsepower Mazda-Cosworth/Swift Atlantic on Cooper Tires Perera demonstrated an uncanny ability to clock consistently fast times and blazing speed on the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track. The fab Frenchman paced all four testing sessions (two on each day of the test) and unofficially shattered the series track record several times at the 2.238-mile circuit before finally posting a final quick lap of 1:16.067 (105.917 mph) while testing for the Condor team. More ...

47.5K for first day in Albert Park  A first-day crowd of 47,500 basked in Melbourne’s Albert Park sunshine as the stars of Sunday’s 2007 FORMULA 1™ ING Australian Grand Prix spoke out ahead of one of the most eagerly-awaited stars to a new season in years.

“I’m still here,” joked Renault veteran Giancarlo Fisichella, who needs to pick up where departed World Champion Fernando Alonso, now with McLaren, left off for the Anglo-French outfit.

“For me,” added the 34-year-old Italian, winner here in 2005, “it’s a good opportunity this year as the person who has been here before. We have better reliability than the other front-runners at the moment, which is good ahead of these first races.” More ...

Rahal IndyCar team lands Gehl  Rahal Letterman Racing (RLR) and the Gehl Company, the Wisconsin-based leading manufacturer compact equipment for construction and agricultural markets, announced today an expanded multi-year marketing and promotional partnership for the IndyCar Series season and for this week’s American Le Mans Series Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Gehl, which first partnered with RLR last season, has also been involved in motorsports as a personal sponsorship of Graham Rahal and with longstanding relationships with the Champ Car World Series and with selected events in the IndyCar Series.  Gehl will expand the partial season integrated marketing program that was established with RLR’s IndyCar Series program in 2006.  Gehl will now become a full-season associate partner with corporate identification appearing on both the Team Ethanol entry of Jeff Simmons and the Patrón Tequila entry of Scott Sharp. More ...

Sebring Day 4: Audi stays quickest  Rinaldo Capello became the latest driver from Audi Sport North America to top the timing charts at Sebring International Raceway. The Italian, a three-time winner of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, posted a lap of 1:45.026 in Thursday morning’s practice session. Capello set his time late in the session in the Audi R10 TDI he is sharing with Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen.

The trio won last year’s race by four laps in the maiden race for the diesel-powered prototype. Audi has been on top in each session so far this week and is showing no signs of letting up. Teammate Marco Werner, in the second R10 TDI, was second quickest at 1:45.038 as Audi remained the only cars this week to break the 1:46 barrier. Both cars were comfortably under McNish’s qualifying record of 1:45.828 set last year. More ...

track news
SMI sees decline in ticket sales  Speedway Motorsports Inc. saw a decrease in admissions revenue in 2006 from 2005 of over $2M.  Talking to financial analysts Wednesday concerning the company's 2006 results, Humpy Wheeler talked about the decline in admissions revenue of $177.35 million in 2005 to $175.2 million in 2006 for the SMI tracks (Lowe's, Infineon, Texas, Atlanta, Bristol and Las Vegas).

"The major decline was something that everybody has experienced, particularly those with over 100,000 seats," Humpy Wheeler said. "The higher-priced premium seating, we're not having any problem selling at all. It's the seating where you can't see the pit road. Pit stops have become quite important with the fans as well as TV."

Series high 25 cars entered for IPS opener  
Car Driver Birthdate / Birthplace / Resides Car Name Entrant Name
1 Bobby Wilson 10/6/81 Oconomowoc, Wis./Ocala. Fla. Ocala Gran Prix Brian Stewart
2 Tom Wood 12/17/56 Calgary, Alberta/Calgary TMRXtreme Coil Drilling Team Moore
3 Brad Jaeger (R) 7/10/85 Cincinnati/Cincinnati Brian Stewart
4 Sean Guthrie 4/18/88 Albuquerque, N.M./Albuquerque U.S. Pro Car Crafter
5 Andrew Prendeville (R) 10/5/81 Chatham, N.J./Morristown, N.J. RLR
6 TBA TBA Michael Crawford Motorsports Michael Crawford Motorsports
7 Alex Lloyd 12/28/84 Manchester, England/Indianapolis Lucas Oil / Isilon
8 Shane Lewis (R) 8/8/67 Lancaster, Calif./Jupiter, Fla. Michael Crawford
9 Chris Festa 9/5/85 Atlanta/Atlanta CGR Indy Pro Series CGR Indy Pro Series
10 Pablo Perez (R) 12/11/82 Buenos Aires, Argentina/Buenos Aires
11 Jaime Camara 11/5/80 Goiania, Goias, Brazil/Miami Osofresh Andretti Green
12 AJ Russell (R) 4/3/83 Clovis, Calif./Clovis Playa Del Racing Playa Del Racing
13 Robbie Pecorari (R) 5/12/87 Aston, Pa./Aston Cabo Wabo Tequila Team KMA
15 Joey Scarallo (R) 11/29/78 Adelaide, Australia/Smithtown, N.Y. RLR/AndersenRacing
23 Logan Gomez (R) 12/16/'88 Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point Isilon Systems / Lucas Oil
24 Stephen Simpson (R) 1/8/84 Poole, Dorset, England/Cape Town, South
27 Wade Cunningham 8/19/84 Auckland, New Zealand/Auckland Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc.
34 Jon Brownson (R) 10/8/53 Breckenridge, Colo./Breckenridge SWE
38 Ryan Justice (R) 7/3/85 Canby, Ore./Portland, Ore. Lucas Oil / SSM Sam Schmidt Motorsports
40 Tom Wieringa (R) 6/7/52 Chicago/Oak Brook, Ill. U.S. Pro Car Crafter Racing Special
44 TBA TBA SpeedWorks SpeedWorks
52 Ken Losch (R) 6/5/60 Ontario, Canada/Paradise Valley, Ariz.
53 Mike Potekhen 8/15/79 Silverthorne, Colo./Tempe, Ariz. Centerpointaz.com Apex
54 Micky Gilbert (R) 12/4/70 Golden, Colo./Golden Mile High Motorsports Mile High Motorsports
55 Hideki Mutoh (R) 10/10/82 Tokyo/Indianapolis Honda Formula Dream Project
Ferrari misses Schu, says president  (GMM) Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo admits that it feels "strange" to be contemplating the start of a new formula one season without Michael Schumacher in a red car.

The Italian doesn't hide his disappointment that 38-year-old Schumacher, who won five consecutive titles for Maranello based Ferrari, decided to hang up his helmet at the end of last year.

"It is even more strange to remember that he was a main contender for victories only five months ago," Montezemolo told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday.

He explained: "Schumacher was never difficult, never political. Of course we miss him.

"But that's life; that's sport. You also have to know how to look into the future."

Ferrari will go into Friday's first practice sessions in Melbourne as the favorite for victory, despite also losing key technical figures including Ross Brawn and Paulo Martinelli over the winter.

Driver Felipe Massa said at Albert Park on Thursday: "The people who took a little bit more responsibility for this year were already important last year.

"So hopefully we can achieve our targets without Michael, without Ross, without Paolo. I pretty much think that the people can do the job."

Montezemolo refused to weigh into the debate about whether Brazilian Massa, arguably the champion of the winter test period, or team newcomer Kimi Raikkonen will have the upper hand in 2007, but he ruled out artificially naming a new 'number one'.

"Only the timing clocks will decide that," he said.

Wallace says LMP2 competition stiff  Coming into 2007, Andy Wallace already had driven for some of the best manufacturers in sports car racing history: Audi, Bentley, Zytek, Creation, Jaguar, Toyota…the list goes on and on. This year he finally adds Porsche to his résumé as Dyson Racing embarks on the new season with a pair of Porsche RS Spyders.

“We’re very, very happy with the new Porsche,” said Wallace, who has been the fastest Dyson driver this week at Sebring. “It handles very well. You press the button and it starts the first time. Everything is great.”

So is the competition in the American Le Mans Series’ LMP2 class. In addition to Porsche RS Spyders from Dyson Racing and Penske Racing, Acura has three new prototypes on the grid and there also is a new Mazda-powered effort with B-K Motorsports’ Lola. So it naturally should make for a sterling race and season, Wallace said. More ...

ABC to air four NASCAR specials  ABC News is set to air at least four one-hour documentaries charting the behind-the-scenes drama of the NASCAR season this summer. The shows are set to focus on a range of issues, including the marketing of the motorsport.

Michael Bicks, a veteran of more than 20 years with ABC News, will serve as executive producer of what's being called NASCAR in Primetime.

Bicks emphasized he had been talking to NASCAR about this project for about two years, which predates ABC/ESPN's NASCAR rights deal. The news and sports divisions work independently, he said. ESPN is in the first year of an eight-year deal to televise NASCAR. They are doing everything they can to hype NASCAR in an attempt to avoid the financial bloodbath NBC experienced on their NASCAR deal. However, if NASCAR TV ratings keep falling rivers of red ink appear inevitable.

20 cars entered for IndyCar opener  With Milka Duno and Davey Hamilton rumored to be entering the series soon, the Indy Car car count will swell to 22.

Car Driver Hometown Car Name
2 Tomas Scheckter Cape Town, South Africa Vision Racing
3 Helio Castroneves Sao Paulo, Brazil Team Penske
4 Vitor Meira Brasilia, Brazil Delphi Panther
5 Sarah Fisher Commercial Point, Ohio Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
6 Sam Hornish Jr. Defiance, Ohio Team Penske
7 Danica Patrick Roscoe, Ill. Motorola
8 Scott Sharp Norwalk, Conn. Patron Sharp RahalLetterman Racing
9 Scott Dixon Auckland, New Zealand Target Chip Ganassi
10 Dan Wheldon Emberton, England Target Chip Ganassi Racing
11 Tony Kanaan Salvador, Bahia, Brazil Team 7Eleven
14 Darren Manning North Yorkshire, England ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing
15 Buddy Rice Phoenix Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
17 Jeff Simmons Hartford, Conn. Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol
20 Ed Carpenter Indianapolis Vision Racing D
22 A.J. Foyt IV Hockley, Texas Vision Racing
25 Marty Roth Toronto Roth Racing
26 Marco Andretti (R) Nazareth, Pa. NYSE Group
27 Dario Franchitti Edinburgh, Scotland Canadian Club
55 Kosuke Matsuura Aichi, Japan Panasonic Panther
98 TBA TBA CURB Records

Departed Webber admits Williams progress  (GMM)  Mark Webber admitted on Thursday that Williams appears to be in better shape than Red Bull going into the 2007 season.

The Australian had hoped to bolster his standing on the grand prix grid after two disillusioning years with a flagging Williams camp, but his old team has stepped up over the winter with its new FW29 challenger while Red Bull struggled with the Adrian Newey penned RB3.

Webber, 30, said of Williams: "I don't think they're going to win races but they look like they've made a good step forward."

He has been playing down Red Bull's chances of a strong showing at Melbourne all week, but indicated that it is still early days for the Milton-Keynes based setup.

"It doesn't happen overnight," Webber said.  "David (Coulthard) and I are working as hard as we can to get the car to get the aerodynamics a little bit better to win some lap time back."

Williams lauds Webber's replacement  (GMM) Williams' technical director Sam Michael has refused to admit that the Oxfordshire based team is missing departed driver Mark Webber.

Webber, who switched to Red Bull for 2007 after two disappointing seasons with the team, has been replaced by Alex Wurz.

"In terms of real tangible benefit to the team, Alex is the best guy I've ever worked with," Michael, who like Webber is Australian, told reporters at Albert Park.

Michael revealed that "no fewer than two or three" elements of the Toyota-powered FW29 - which has been one of the stars of the winter pre-season - are the fruits of Wurz's own ideas.

Austrian Wurz, 33, raced three full seasons for Benetton until 2000 until he became arguably F1's most respected test driver for the McLaren team.

He said on Thursday: "Generally I think we're in good shape, better than we have been last year at the same time."

But Wurz also expressed frustration at the endless pre-season chatter prior to the first official track action.

"Tomorrow the bullshit stops and the checkered flag drops," he grinned.

British F3
Maro Engel completes Carlin F3 squad  Carlin has signed Maro Engel to compete in the 2007 British F3 championship.  The last minute signing brings the championship winning team to five entries this year, with Engel joining the existing line up of Sam Bird, Alberto Valerio, Niall Breen and former teammate Mario Moraes. Engel put in a strong performance last season with Carlin, to record eight podium positions, including four second places and one win to finish fifth in the championship.
Don't change Fontana banking  California Speedway president Gillian Zucker was in Las Vegas this past weekend, making her rounds through the garage during the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400, and hopefully she took a good look at what was happening on the track.

Last year, Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials spent millions of dollars reconfiguring their track, increasing the banking in the turns from 12 to 20 degrees. The hope was that would lead to closer racing. But nothing happened. This Nextel Cup race was as lackluster as all of the rest that have been held at the 1.5-mile oval. Yeah, there was some passing at the back of the pack, but who really wants to see Kenny Wallace and Jeff Green battle for 25th?  More ...

NASCAR Busch Ratings up...but really down  UPDATE The TV ratings for the Busch race from Mexico City on ESPN and ESPN2 were down 34.3 percent, according to Nielsen Media Research. What happened to all of those 75 million fans that NASCAR claims it has? While ESPN2's ratings are horrible, hence why the Busch Series has seen a drop in ratings this year, not an increase, SPEED Channel's are even worse, if that's possible.

03/14/07 [Editor's Note: Let's be clear, last year the Las Vegas Busch race was on cable TV and this year on Network TV, so of course the rating would be up.  The ESPN2 broadcasts have seen TV ratings plummet from last year (on a competing cable channel to ESPN2) so this press release is very misleading.]

After four races of ESPN's new NASCAR agreement, the Busch Series is averaging 2,234,000 households, including a big jump from last year's audience for Saturday's race from Las Vegas, the first of six in 2007 to be aired on ABC. The broadcast earned a 2.4 rating and averaged 2,699,000 households, an increase of 58% compared to the same race in 2006 (1,713,000 homes). Also, ESPN2's three races are the network's top three ratings of 2007. The telecast of the season-opening event from Daytona International Speedway was ESPN2's most-viewed auto racing telecast ever with 2,200,600 household impressions (2.4 rating). It was the seventh-most-viewed telecast overall in ESPN2 history, with a larger audience than anything the network aired in 2006. ESPN's eight-year NASCAR agreement provides benefits far beyond the race telecasts and television alone. This past weekend, the motorsports section of ESPN.com enjoyed 79% more traffic than the same weekend a year ago (739,000 page views, up from 414,000). For the season to date, racing content has generated nearly double the number of page views per day than 2006 (up 98%, from 199,000 to 393,000). The NASCAR Busch Series will continue Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway on ABC with NASCAR Countdown at 2:30pm/et. ABC will also televise the March 24 event from Bristol Motor Speedway. ESPN PR

Industry News
GM looks ripe for a profit in 2007  Armed with billions in savings from a massive restructuring program and with a promising vehicle lineup, General Motors Corp. might record a profit this year, though the outlook in North America -- its largest and most important market -- remains uncertain.

The world's largest automaker reported Wednesday a fourth-quarter profit of $950 million, marking its second quarterly profit in the past two years and showing significant progress in its turnaround.
The profit, most of which came from the sale of its financial unit GMAC, compares with a $6.6-billion loss in the fourth quarter a year before. GM North America improved from a $3.15-billion loss to break-even for the quarter.

Industry News
Ford continues to sputter  Ford Motor Co. received more bad marks on its latest internal report card, but Ford Americas President Mark Fields told employees Wednesday that he is still confident the company will achieve its turnaround goals for the year.  Ford distributed the report card to employees following Fields' weekly Webcast. The document, a copy of which was obtained by The Detroit News, shows Ford's February retail sales in the United States were worse than the company projected they would be just one month ago.
racing news
British Racer in remission shows his colors  A 19-year-old British racing driver, backed by Eddie Jordan, has launched his 2007 campaign with an innovative sponsorship and fundraising plan, set to help thousands battling childhood cancer. Alex Waters is himself in remission after a battle with skin cancer in 2006 and, now that he is able to continue pursuing his own motor racing ambitions, he wants to give something back to those that helped him through his ordeal.

Facing the age-old racer dilemma of raising sponsorship to continue his career, talented Alex has devised a plan that he hopes will not only help to propel him through the motor racing ranks, but will also raise much-needed funds for the charity CLIC Sargent. He has already gained support from Eddie Jordan, who has been involved with CLIC as a patron for many years, and is backing Alex for success.

CLIC Sargent is the UK's leading children's cancer charity, and is the only organization to offer all round care and support to the ten families who find out each day in this country that their child has cancer. CLIC provides specialist medical and holistic care during treatment, both in hospital and at home, and also provides after- treatment care, both helping survivors and supporting those bereaved. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
Bridgestone to review white-circle markings
Spyker signs two title sponsors
Alonso checks out Albert Park on foot
Late car means slow start for Speed's STR
Kovalainen shrugs off major crash
Kubica rubbishes 'BMW brawl' report
Toyota could be '07 backmarker - Sutil
No Friday drive for de la Rosa in Australia
Aguri to run without tester on Friday
Alonso slams brake on night racing
New title sponsor for Spyker  Today at a press conference at the opening Grand Prix of the season in Melbourne, Australia, the Spyker Formula One Team, Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, and Aldar, Abu Dhabi's leading integrated property development company, announced a major new long-term title partnership that will see the team rebranded Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team for the next three seasons.

Both the Etihad Airways and Aldar logos will have primary presenting branding on the team's cars and driver overalls from Australia onwards.

Etihad Airways was established in July 2003 with Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE, as its hub. In less than four years Etihad's network has grown to reach across Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle-East and North America to an unprecedented 37 destinations. Etihad's excellence of service has also been recognized by the World Travel Awards, with the airline voted the World's Leading New Airline for the past three consecutive years. More ...

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