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Elliott gets a Whopper of a deal Elliott gets a Whopper of a dealMichael Waltrip Racing announced Friday that it will team with Burger King and NASCAR champion Bill Elliott for a five-race schedule this season. Elliott will pilot the #00 Burger King Chevrolet at Chicago, New Hampshire, Indianapolis, California and Homestead. Waltrip said the team plans to expand to a full-time NEXTEL Cup venture next season, running Toyotas. Waltrip said sponsorship and driver plans for next year were still up in the air. But for now, he's thrilled to have a veteran like Elliott behind the wheel. Burger King also announced donations to both the Speedway Children's Charities and the National Motorsports Press Association. Waltrip quotes of the day: (On fielding Chevrolets for his team despite driving Dodges himself) "I'm like Switzerland, I can drive anything. Chevrolet is the car to beat. They've won two of the first three races. When we were planning this project, in order to lure Mr. Elliott, we wanted to get the best car he could drive. Right now that appears to be Chevrolet. I'll stay in a Dodge, I suppose, but I am going to be in a Toyota truck later this year, and I've got a call in to Ford." AMS Pit Notes
Racing News
Bridgestone launches new racing website for consumers Bridgestone launches new racing website for consumersBridgestone Motorsport is pleased to announce the launch of a new Bridgestone Motorsport consumer Web site: www.bridgestonemotorsport.com.

The new English language site aims to bring motorsport fans across the globe regular news and information about Bridgestone’s involvement in all of its major motor racing activities, namely the FIA Formula One World Championship, the GP2 Series, MotoGP, IRL, Champ Car World Series, Formula Nippon and SUPER GT.

Results and point standings for these championships will also be available, as well as results for a number of other racing activities such as the Indy Pro Series and karting championships.

In addition to regular news, features and interviews, the Web site will offer visitors opportunities to win exciting prizes in competitions, download screensavers and wallpapers featuring Bridgestone teams and read all about Bridgestone’s history in motorsport. zzzz

“This season marks an important milestone in the motorsport history of both the Bridgestone and Firestone brands,” said Al Speyer, executive director of Motorsports, Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC. “This year we are celebrating our 10th season as an official supplier to teams in the FIA Formula One World Championship, beginning our second decade as a supplier to the Indy Racing League, and also marking our fourth season as presenting sponsor of the Champ Car World Series. Our new motorsport Web site is a reflection of this commitment to motorsport worldwide and is intended to demonstrate the passion and dedication that the Bridgestone Motorsport and Firestone Racing teams put into their racing activities. This is a wonderful tool, which makes a wealth of information readily available for the public, as well as for the media and those of us involved in the motorsports industry.”

Holiday Inn Hotels to sponsor Busch team Holiday Inn Hotels to sponsor Busch teamHoliday Inn Hotels and Resorts announced its NASCAR Busch Series debut today as the primary sponsor of the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing (RCR) Chevrolet and driver Jeff Burton. Their schedule will include 10 races this season, beginning May 5 at the Richmond International Raceway. "The Holiday Inn-Richard Childress Racing partnership brings together two dynamic, all-American brands that have each achieved iconic status within their industries," said Mark Snyder, senior vice president of Brand Management for Holiday Inn Hotels and Resorts in the Americas. "Many Holiday Inn guests are already NASCAR fans who appreciate the sense of community NASCAR provides," he added. "We are thrilled to be working with Richard Childress Racing and Jeff Burton to bring the No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet to the starting line of an exciting NASCAR season."
Grand-Am TV rating up 220 percent Grand-Am TV rating up 220 percentThe Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve continues to demonstrate strong television numbers on SPEED in 2006 following the recent Mexico City 250 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. The race’s ratings jumped an unprecedented 220 percent from 2005 to make it one of the most watched races in Rolex Series history. 

The 2005 season was a record-setting year for the Rolex Series with television, attendance and competition numbers up across the board. With the first two races already hitting similar high marks, there is every indication that the trend will continue in 2006.

“With a strong Rolex 24 At Daytona that attracted more viewers and the success of the Mexico City 250, I believe that not only will we match our performance of 2005, we will exceed it,” said Grand American President Roger Edmondson. zzzz

The Mexico City 250, which aired against a Duke versus North Carolina college basketball game and other popular sports programming, had an initial tune-in three times the number of the 2005 event and outperformed last year’s event at every quarter-hour. The race averaged more than a quarter-million viewers and more than 200,000 households, both up more than 220 percent from 2005.

The Rolex 24 At Daytona kicked-off the season in January with an average of more than 350,000 viewers tuning in to the twice-around-the-clock race.  Unprecedented gains were seen in the critical prime time hours, where the six hours of Saturday sports prime time saw a household ratings increase of 6 percent, while part two of the broadcast during the evening prime time hours was up more than 30 percent. Overall, Saturday as a whole was up 18.6 percent.

To date, the Rolex Sports Car Series is averaging more than 250,000 households and nearly 350,000 viewers per race.

Sneak Peek 2006: Marlboro Team Penske Sneak Peek 2006: Marlboro Team PenskeIf preseason testing is any indication, Marlboro Team Penske may be the biggest beneficiary from a switch to Honda Indy V-8 engines this season.

Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. ranked near the top of the time charts during each of the practice days, with Castroneves being the most consistent performer of each day. The team takes that momentum into the 2006 season with the goal of giving team owner Roger Penske his first IndyCar Series championship.

"The start of a season always marks a new beginning with a clean slate," Castroneves said. "We've worked very hard the last few years, and hopefully, it will all come together and pay off this season."

Hornish finished third in points last season with victories on the 1-mile ovals at Milwaukee and Phoenix. The two-time IndyCar Series champion said he feels like he has all the tools necessary to win his third season title.

"With the addition of Honda horsepower, I feel very confident that we'll be competing for wins and the championship right off the bat," he said. " I'm looking forward to another great season with Marlboro Team Penske. I know the cars will be reliable, the pit stops will be great, and hopefully, with a little bit of luck, we'll end the season with a championship."
Castroneves, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, said he's looking forward to Indianapolis, where he'll try to become a three-time winner of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." And like Hornish, he sees himself as a title contender.  zzzz

"I'm definitely optimistic about our competitiveness in 2006," he said. "I think if Marlboro Team Penske works hard all year, we'll be in good shape for the championship. There are so many good drivers in this series, it won't be easy, but that is what makes winning all the better."

Car numbers: 3 (Castroneves), 6 (Hornish)
Chassis/engine/tire: Dallara/Honda/Firestone
Drivers: Helio Castroneves, 30, of Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Sam Hornish Jr., 26, of Defiance, Ohio.
Race engineers: Ron Ruzewski (Castroneves), Tom German (Hornish)
Chief mechanics: Rick Rinaman (Castroneves), Matt Jonsson (Hornish)
General manager: Clive Howell
Team manager: Tom Wurtz

Tim Cindric, President, Penske Performance, Inc.: "2006 should be one of the most competitive seasons for the IndyCar Series as the equality in equipment is going to put even more emphasis on the team and the drivers.  We are anxious to get started and feel we must remain focused at each event as the 14-race schedule will really reward consistency. "

Helio Castroneves 2005 IndyCar Series season
Starts 17
Victories 1
Top 5 8
Top 10 11
Poles 2
Laps led 230
Best start 1st (Pikes Peak, Watkins Glen)
Best finish 1st (Richmond)
Running at finish 12
Points rank 6th
Earnings $1,150,805

Sam Hornish Jr. 2005 IndyCar Series season
Starts 17
Victories 2
Top 5 9
Top 10 12
Poles 3
Laps led 367
Best start 1st (Motegi, Richmond, Milwaukee)
Best finish 1st (Phoenix, Milwaukee)
Running at finish 14
Points rank 3rd
Earnings $1,464,505 IRL

Morrow passes Indy Pro Series rookie test Morrow passes Indy Pro Series rookie testJamie Morrow, a former United Kingdom ZIP Formula winner, Formula Renault racer and Thunder Arabia Formula Ford winner, passed his Indy Pro Series rookie test with Michael Crawford Motorsport on the road and oval circuits at Homestead - Miami Speedway on March 4 and 6.

"Jamie was perfect," said team owner Michael Crawford. "He approached it like a true pro. The Indy Racing League was impressed and cleared him to try the oval, where he ran nice, consistent laps, and did a super job. I talked to Butch Meyer, technical director, on my drive back to Indy. He passed Jamie with flying colors."

"The road track was what I'm used to, but I was still pleased to post a respectable time after just 15 laps, particularly as it was my first time in an Indy Pro car," said Morrow. "As for the oval, I got a real buzz going out on one for the first time. It was absolutely awesome. I'm going to tell other UK drivers to try it. Since the test I've had lots of interest from sponsors, which I'm determined to convert into a budget and get racing in the Indy Pro Series." IRL

Champ Car Out Champ Car OutUPDATE Readers chime in, Dear AutoRacing1.com, A few of the things not mentioned in the Toronto Star article were: First of all TSN's coverage of Champ Car last year was horrendous. You never knew when it would be on. It was rarely shown live and when it was shown (usually after midnight) they would cut sections out of the race to fit more commercials in. The announcers would be discussing something that happened 8 laps before and you would have no idea what they were talking about. No wonder the ratings diminished.

Secondly one of the owners of TSN happens to be ESPN. TSN is going NASCAR nuts, which seems to coincide with ESPN starting coverage next year. Also they are going to air some IRL races this year (also on ESPN). Do they really expect us to believe that the IRL (no races in Canada) will get better ratings than Champ Car (3 races in Canada)?

Once again TSN insults the intelligence of the race fans in Canada. Actually they should be great covering NASCAR then. Bradford Dunlop, Toronto Canada

Dear AutoRacing1.com, Perhaps the Toronto Star article about TSN not picking up Champ Car coverage this year should have been further researched, rather than simply spewing out what I'm sure TSN officials told them. It has nothing to do with "the diminishing" number of Champ Car fans in Canada. Far from it! It is the simple fact that TSN over the last few seasons has owned the rights to broadcast Champ Car races in Canada, (with the exception of the 3 Canadian races which air on Global TV), yet have chosen to tape delay them, even edit the races themselves, eliminating important points of the race. They replay the races at midnight or even 2 am with no reasoning for doing this. While they owned the rights, it meant that all Speed channel broadcasts in Canada were blacked out, when people could have seen the races live and in their entirety. Canadian fans have been so livid that petitions were even put forth to Champ Car asking them that they stop doing business with TSN. So perhaps the article should let Canadian fans know that this is actually a good deal. TSN no doubt, (in my mind, no actual proof), used the sorry excuse of "diminishing" number of fans. Why would a broadcast partner do such things? Let's just remember that TSN's sister company is the ABC owned ESPN. Current home of the IRL and future home of NASCAR. I have my theories and I'm sure others have their own as well. Deke McTeer, MI

Dear AutoRacing1.com, Regarding Canadian Champ Car coverage. A lot of people don't get Speed up here so that is a burn, though most of us live close enough to the border to get CBS/NBC. Are there any rumors about current Canadian race partner Global? Having just spent most of January and February being the CBC's "Voice of the Olympics" (Awesome gig!!!), I was amazed to see how many Champ Car fans, Molson Indy shirts etc. being worn every day by many of the sports people. It's a real shame Champ Car cannot get on Network TV with 3 Canadians doing so well, and so many behind the scenes seemingly loving the product.
I remember the days when you would watch the whole broadcast just hoping for a glimpse of Ludwig Heimrath Jr in the Mackenzie car, back in 23rd place. Jeff Teravainen, Toronto, CN

03/17/06 This Toronto Star article says, The diminishing ranks of Champ Car fans will have to look to Speed Channel for coverage this season.  TSN passed on the series citing diminishing ratings and a schedule that would have resulted in tape-delaying coverage.
Tecate and Roshfrans to sponsor Monterrey race Tecate and Roshfrans to sponsor Monterrey raceToday’s St. Patrick’s Day holiday calls for the wearin’ o’ the green, but Champ Car fans will today celebrate with the red, white and green national colors of Mexico as top Mexican companies Tecate and Roshfrans have signed on as sponsors of the May 19-21 Champ Car event in Monterrey’s Fundidora Park.

Long-time Champ Car supporter Tecate announced today that it will again serve as the title sponsor of the Champ Car event in Monterrey while Roshfrans will take on duties as the race’s presenting sponsor.

The sixth annual Champ Car race in Monterrey will be known as the Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans, and will take place at the 2.104-mile Fundidora Park layout May 21. The event, won last year by Bruno Junqueira, has drawn an average of 220,000 fans for each of the previous five Champ Car events.

“We are very happy that two high-profile Mexican companies have elected to continue their partnerships with the Champ Car World Series,” said Champ Car President and CEO Steve Johnson. “Champ Car fans are well aware of the passion that Mexico has for Champ Car racing, and we are pleased that Tecate and Roshfrans are continuing to help in building that passion.”  zzzz

Tecate has been a major part of Champ Car racing for many seasons, serving as a sponsor not only at events in Monterrey and Mexico City, but also at Long Beach. Roshfrans is the first Mexican company ever to serve as an official series sponsor, and begins its third season as the Official Lubricant of Champ Car. Roshfrans also has lent its name to the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year award in each of the last two seasons.

The Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans will be held on May 21, and can be seen live on SPEED. The 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season gets underway April 9 with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Malaysia: Friday Press Conference Malaysia: Friday Press Conference
Piquet fastest Friday at Paul Ricard Piquet fastest Friday at Paul RicardNelson Piquet Jr has topped this afternoon's final session, but was not able to beat Jose Maria Lopez's new lap record at Circuit Paul Ricard.

Nelson Piquet Jr has once again shown he will be a force to be reckoned with this season by topping the final session of the latest GP2 series test at Circuit Paul Ricard.

"I'm pleased with my times over the two days, but there is still a lot of work to do, said Piquet. “We were consistent, and luckily we managed to do some more work than the last test but we are not there yet. Hopefully we will have good reliability in the next test at Barcelona and we can do some more. It's always good to put in some good times, it gives us a bit of confidence, and it's good for the team, who are working really hard to get us competitive for the start of the season."

The Brazilian, driving for Piquet Sports, put in a 1:12.716 to head the times from the ART Grand Prix car of Lewis Hamilton. Third quickest this afternoon was Andreas Zuber for Trident Racing, giving the newest additions to the GP2 series family a big reason to smile.

Behind the top three, Hiroki Yoshimoto put in a great run after a troubled session to take fourth, ahead of the equally impressive Adrian Valles in the Campos Racing car. Yesterday's pace-setter Alex Premat could only muster sixth place this afternoon for ART Grand Prix, with his countryman Nicolas Lapierre in seventh for Arden International. zzzz 

Fairuz Fauzy continued his wonderful test with eighth for Super Nova International, while Adam Carroll finished ninth for Racing Engineering with Ferdinando Monfardini tenth for Dams.

But it was Jose Maria Lopez who leaves this test with the biggest smile on his face. A new lap record under his belt will give him and his Super Nova International team a great deal of pride and confidence as we leave France, destined for Spain.

The times were close once again this afternoon, with the top 18 drivers covered by just one second. With this kind of proximity, the GP2 series looks now towards its next test in Barcelona on March 28-29 with great expectations.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1 PIQUET Piquet Sports 1:12.716 38
2 HAMILTON ART Grand Prix 1:12.736 34
3 ZUBER Trident Racing 1:12.851 63
4 YOSHIMOTO BCN Competicion 1:12.888 26
5 VALLES Campos Racing 1:12.988 35
6 PREMAT ART Grand Prix 1:12.995 38
7 LAPIERRE Arden International 1:13.135 31
8 FAUZY Super Nova International 1:13.195 33
9 CARROLL Racing Engineering 1:13.243 30
10 MONFARDINI DAMS 1:13.272 40
11 AMMERMULLER Arden International 1:13.491 25
12 LOPEZ Super Nova International 1:13.528 16
13 BRUNI Trident Racing 1:13.530 54
14 DI GRASSI Durango 1:13.531 27
15 PLA DPR Direxiv 1:13.540 42
16 PERERA DAMS 1:13.547 33
17 GOMMENDY iSport International 1:13.634 29
18 NEGRAO Piquet Sports 1:13.670 21
19 FILIPPI FMS International 1:13.785 39
20 HERNANDEZ Durango 1:13.834 35
21 VILLA Racing Engineering 1:13.885 24
22 PICCIONE DPR Direxiv 1:13.898 49
23 VISO iSport International 1:14.170 30
 Source GP2 Series / Piquet Sports

tv news
Gene Simmons on Wind Tunnel Gene Simmons on Wind TunnelGene Simmons, co-founder of the rock band KISS and recent addition to the IndyCar Series marketing effort, will be Dave Despain's featured guest on Wind Tunnel this Sunday on SPEED at 9 p.m. ET. As one of the most recognizable rock stars in history, Simmons and his marketing company have teamed up with the IRL with the intent of enhancing the series image and broadening the fan base. So how is Simmons going to turn 'I am Indy' into a household phrase? We'll find out this Sunday.
track news
More on plethora of sponsors for Houston GP More on plethora of sponsors for Houston GP
DIRECTV to sponsor RCR car DIRECTV to sponsor RCR carRichard Childress Racing (RCR), along with DIRECTV, will unveil a new look for the No. 07 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS Friday, March 24 in Victory Lane at Bristol Motor Speedway. The No. 07 DIRECTV Chevrolet will make its debut the following weekend in the DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville Speedway, with Clint Bowyer behind the wheel. The car will compete this season the first weekend in April in the DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville, in June at Pocono Raceway and round out 2006 in October for the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Richard Childress Racing
Ford to help reduce Midget costs Ford to help reduce Midget costsTwo of the most successful and longest-running USAC series engine manufacturers, Ford Racing and Esslinger Engineering, Inc., of El Monte, Calif., have joined forces to further enhance the value and performance of the only OEM production-based USAC Midget engine currently competing in the series.

The new engine, badged the Esslinger-Ford, will cost $27,500 for the dirt engine and $28,500 for the pavement engine, thousands of dollars less than other OEM-supported Midget engines currently available to competitors.

"We want to make Midget racing more affordable for everybody," said Hank Dertian, Ford Racing USAC Engine Program Manager. "With Esslinger Engineering we have the ability to share technical and engineering resources to help teams running Esslinger-Ford's stay competitive." Zzzz

The Esslinger-Ford engine has a direct link to Ford production engines. The base 2.3-liter, overhead cam engine was available in the Ford Mustang and a derivative of the engine was most recently found in the Ford Ranger. Ford has produced millions of these stock engines over the years.

Esslinger Engineering has been developing race parts for the 2.3-liter Ford engine for over 30 years. In addition to its success in the USAC Midget Series, the engine has competed in a wide variety of race series including road racing, desert off-road and drag racing.

"The Essslinger-Ford will be the only single-overhead cam engine running in the series. The engine runs a lot of the Ford parts, and of everything out there it's the only one that's based on a production engine," said Dan Esslinger, president of Esslinger Engineering.

"We started in 1974 developing this engine and have worked on its evolution to this point. The resources and technical support we will gain with Ford Racing involved will really help in the development as we go on. Midget racing is our passion and we know it's very important to Ford as well. We want to see the sport grow and improve and keep moving drivers along to bigger and better things. This partnership will also help the racers with the contingency program, especially at the bigger races where a lot of money is put up."

There are several USAC Midget teams running the Esslinger-Ford engine. Two new teams that are part of program for 2006 are the East Enterprises/Klatt Motorsports team and the Western Speed Racing team.

In addition to Ford's support of the USAC Midget Series, Ford continues to be a major force in USAC's Ford Focus Midget Series. The Ford Focus Midget Series is an affordable and competitive national racing program that's proven to be an important feeder series for the USAC Midget and Sprint Car ranks. For its contributions to the sport, Ford Racing was awarded the prestigious Jim Blunk award at the 2005 USAC Awards Ceremony.
Corvette Team ready for Aston Martin Corvette Team ready for Aston MartinCorvette Racing's new Corvette C6.Rs qualified third and fourth in the GT1 class for Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the season-opening round of the 10-race American Le Mans Series. Reigning GT1 co-champion Oliver Gavin turned the third quickest time in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette at 1:56.770 (114.070 mph) and three-time Sebring winner Ron Fellows was fourth fastest at 1:57.854 (113.021 mph) in the No. 3 Compuware The 20-minute qualifying session was interrupted by a red flag that limited the Corvettes to three flying laps. The GT1 pole went to the Aston Martin DBR9 of Pedro Lamy with a 1:55.286 lap time that surpassed the 1:57.052 track record set by Fellows in 2004.

"It's unfortunate that qualifying was cut short because we had three more hot laps that we were going to put on the tires before the start of the race," said Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan. "The red Recent performance adjustments in weight and restrictor sizes announced by series officials have affected the relative performances of the Corvettes and their competitors. The C6.Rs now weigh 121 pounds more than their rivals and have smaller intake restrictors.

"Last year we qualified on the pole and we didn't do that this year - no excuses," Fehan commented. "The lap times have been close throughout Gavin perceived the impact of the performance adjustments on his qualifying run.

"We ran as hard as we could and that was the best we could produce," said the Briton, who qualified his yellow Corvette C6.R 14th overall. "The lap times were coming down and perhaps we could have run a bit quicker had the Traffic was a factor for Fellows: "I caught traffic four times in two laps, and then the red flag came out," the Canadian reported. "We just didn't get an opportunity to get a good one. The track did seem slippery, and that's something we'll have to address in the race to make sure that we have enough grip." Zzzz

With warm temperatures and sunny skies in the forecast, the season-opening race promises to be another classic "Sebring is an unusual place because it changes from hour to hour," Fehan noted. "We know that when it gets hot, it's going to get slippery, and there will be a lot of cars on the track. That's why Corvette Racing focuses very hard on developing a setup that will perform well in a wide variety of conditions. We've spent the majority of our track time this week working on that."

The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the first round of the 10-race 2006 American Le Mans

Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GT1 Qualifying: Pos./Drivers/Car/Time/Speed 1. Bright/Lamy/Sarrazin, Aston Martin DBR9, 1:55.286, 115.539 mph 2. Enge/Kiesa/Turner, Aston Martin DBR9, 1:56.030, eller/Belloc, Saleen S7R, 2:00.291, 110.731
Monteiro hurts his back in Malaysia Monteiro hurts his back in MalaysiaTiago Monteiro was back in action today for Midland F1 Racing at the Sepang International Circuit. The track is very demanding on cars and drivers with its long, fast corners and hot and humid atmospheric conditions. A “high down-force track”, says Tiago.

During the overcast morning, Tiago Monteiro finished 14th fastest with a best lap of 1.39.899. He finished ahead of Midlands third driver Giorgio Mondini and team mate Christijan Albers (17th, 1.40.608). Monteiro managed his time despite a fuel system problem which stopped his car after only eight laps. In the afternoon session Monteiro improved his time to 1.39.416. “I had to stop just after we put fresh tires on. My back was blocked. A nerve pinched. It was hurting terribly. So I did not take advantage of the new set of tires. The physio, Alex, treated me about one hour after the session. But it still hurts.”

Tiago continues: “On Thursday I jogged around a few laps of the track in the hot conditions, Montiero explained. It brought back good memories of last year when I finished 12th after a very tough race. I’m confident we have some good pace in the car and despite the reliability problem today. Overall it was a good first day and its all looking positive for the rest of the weekend.”

Champ Car trying to make a move Champ Car trying to make a moveUPDATE A reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read Dave Kallmann's article and viewed it more of a criticism of the continuing dismal promotional efforts by The Milwaukee Mile and Road America than being critical of CCWS' Turbo Tour.  Kallmann has been a longtime supporter of all forms of racing in Wisconsin and has been very supportive of CART and CCWS over the years.
The only notification of the CCWS Turbo Tour being in Wisconsin that I am aware of was a brief email from The Milwaukee Mile asking those registered on their Web site to notify them if you wanted to attend, then they would notify you if your name was selected.  How inviting is that....
I have been attending open wheel champ car events--first USAC, then CART and now CCWS--at The Milwaukee Mile since 1974 and at Road America since 1982.  Promotion of these events has diminished at an increasing rate.... and, not surprisingly, so has their attendance.  These promoters clearly need to step it up.  Mark S. Graham, Naperville, IL

03/17/06 [Editor's Note: Based on this article, it seems this author was not too impressed with the Turbo Tour.]  Champ Car barnstormed Wisconsin this week, and a lot of people missed it. That's not to say the "Turbo Tour" has been a failure. Far from it. The six-day blitz of 14 North American race markets with a changing assortment of drivers aboard series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven's jet can only be seen as a positive.

"We've gotten to get to a lot of cool places and meet a lot of very nice people," said rookie Katherine Legge, "zombified" at the tour's mid-point Wednesday at Miller Park. 

"And to promote the series. That's what it's all about. We're extremely keen to transfer the passion we have to Champ Car over to the fans and the people in the areas we're racing in."

This is just how it is for Champ Car, an underdog in the American motorsports marketplace in the 21st century, just like everything else that isn't named NASCAR.

In a way, it's too bad the tour came together so quickly that Wisconsin's host tracks, the Milwaukee Mile and Elkhart Lake's Road America, didn't have the time they might have liked to organize a fan element to the Miller Park stop Wednesday. It's too bad that the visit came on a day when local TV was wrapped up in advancing the NCAA basketball tournament. It's too bad - although not entirely unpredictable - that Mile ambassador Gilbert Brown's radio interview would focus 95 percent on his former employer, the Green Bay Packers, to the near exclusion of his new one.

A small core of die-hard Champ Car enthusiasts certainly exists. There don't seem to be a lot of casual fans anymore, however, or many new ones. That's what the series needs.  More at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Bruton sees no benefit from black driver Bruton sees no benefit from black driverBruton Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports, the parent company of Atlanta Motor Speedway, said Thursday he salutes Bill Lester's efforts to become the first black driver in 20 years to race in Nextel Cup, but he doesn't expect black fans to flock to the track to watch him.  ''I don't see it happening,'' Smith said. ''Look at your other sports, the NBA, NFL. Black people are playing, but they don't rush in and buy the tickets.''  Today, Lester will try to qualify for Sunday's Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.   Smith said he does see potential growth for NASCAR among Hispanics. ''They have a propensity to really love racing,'' he said. "They love it. They always have. If we had a couple of Mexican drivers, you would absolutely see a change.'' Salt Lake Tribune
A good start for Renault at Sepang A good start for Renault at SepangThe Renault F1 Team Engine Technical Director, Rob White, is in Malaysia at the 'Sepang International Circuit' that is the venue of this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix. White explains what went on during Friday practice.
Rob, how was the day for the team?
"It was trouble-free. We ran through the program without any bad surprises, and we are pleased with the level of performance this afternoon. As is now typical, we limited our running during the morning, then had a solid start to the weekend in P2. We primarily evaluated the engine mapping, and it all went well."

Is this a tough circuit for the engines?
"The heat makes it hard. The engine’s operating temperatures must be monitored closely, and we adjust the amount of air used for cooling in order to balance the effects of the high ambient temperatures. When the car is running then everything is well under control. What can sometimes be a problem are the starts, and pit-stops. That’s when the car is at a standstill and must start running again as soon as possible. We need to take those parameters into account."

Fernando is using the same engine as in Bahrain, while Fisico has a new unit. Will the cars follow different programs?
"Not at all, they are very similar. Giancarlo would have done the same mileage today with an old engine."

Are you confident for the rest of the weekend?
"Yes. We started 2006 with a win, and we are competitive again this weekend. Four teams could win the race this weekend, but we are determined to be at the top of the tree." Renault

France family unloading ISC stock France family unloading ISC stockUPDATE There has been no "material change" in Brian France's ownership status in International Speedway Corporation, ISC investment relations director Wes Harris said Thursday.  ISC's annual shareholder statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission lists France as having 0.03 percent of voting power in ISC, down from 0.78 percent a year earlier.

Harris said France has not disposed of any stock, and the difference is from a change in the way the information is presented. "We tried to adjust the presentation to better reflect the direct ownership of the entities that are listed," Harris said. "He maintains the same amount of direct ownership that he did in the past."

The same is true with ISC President Lesa France Kennedy, who was listed as having 1.34 percent voting power this year, compared with 2.9 percent a year earlier, Harris said. NASCAR Daily Scene

03/15/06 NASCAR Chairman Brian France has sold most of his stock in ISC, the publicly traded track operating company controlled by his family, but an ISC spokesman said March 9 there is nothing unusual about the action.  France didn't own much of the stock, relatively speaking, in the first place. According to its annual filing of stockholders to the Securities and Exchange Commission, ISC reported March 6 that Brian France had 8,930 shares of Class A stock and 8,033 of Class B stock (.03 percent of the total voting power). In last year's report, he had 237,078 shares of Class A and 235,181 of Class B (0.78 percent voting power). The stock sales happened sometime before Jan. 31.

His sister, ISC President Lesa France Kennedy, also has given up some of her stock. She had 417,404 shares of Class A and 391,718 shares of Class B (1.34 percent of the total). At the end of last year, she owned 888,812 of Class A and 867,407 shares of Class B (2.9 percent in voting power).

With ticket prices being so high and little room for growth, perhaps the France family sees flat earnings for ISC going forward and figure they had better unload the stock now.  Alternately perhaps they are liquidating with plans for a major purchase......such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway rumored sale.  However, that rumor was said to be not true by a track spokesperson.

Lester on mission to alter NASCAR scene Lester on mission to alter NASCAR sceneBill Lester could not stand sitting behind a desk. He walked away from a six-figure job to pursue his dream of being a race car driver, not even thinking about the chance to leave his mark on history.

''I'm a racer,'' Lester said. ''But now I realize that I have a unique opportunity and responsibility to make a change.''

Today, Lester will attempt to become the first black driver in nearly 20 years to qualify for a race in NASCAR's top series. He's a long shot to make the 43-car field for the Nextel Cup race Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway but hopes that his presence will inspire others to follow.

''There are a lot of black people out there who are closet NASCAR fans,'' Lester said. ''They feel uncomfortable about coming to the racetrack because it's hard to identify with anyone there. I'm in a position to change that.''  More at Sun Times

Rahal calls IRL drivers insane Rahal calls IRL drivers insaneEchoing what he said in a recent AutoRacing1.com article, Graham Rahal once again expresses how insane it is to race open wheel cars on high speed ovals.

"Those guys are insane on ovals," he said. "It takes someone equally as insane, and I'm not at that point."  Rahal will race in Atlantics this season with an eye toward the GP2 series -- the feeder program for Formula One -- in 2007. He wants to be in F-1 the following year, and by the way he drove in last weekend's A1GP race in Monterey, Calif., he just might get there. Indy Star

Ferrari engine woes continue Ferrari engine woes continueAfter suffering numerous blow ups with their Ferrari engine during preseason testing, the Red Bull team continues to experience problems while the Cosworth engines they gave up are now the best on the F1 grid.  But the problems are not limited to just Red Bull.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn admits there are concerns over Michael Schumacher's engine for the remainder of the Malaysian GP weekend.

Red Bull driver David Coulthard suffered a failure after crossing the line in Bahrain after Ferrari engineers reportedly weren't quick enough to inform the team that there was an issue. Had he stopped a little earlier, he would have been classed as a retirement, and eligible for a 'free' new engine instead of getting a ten-place penalty.

Inspection of Felipe Massa's engine after the race revealed a similar problem, and he has also had to undertake a change and accept a penalty. The double failures have forced the team to pay even closer to the engine in Michael's car, which was obviously used hard in both qualifying and the race.

We're just keeping a very close eye on it," said Brawn. "Obviously we've had some problems, and we need to monitor the situation very carefully, because we don't fully understand the issue yet. We'll just watch it, and make a decision before the race.

"There was failure on David Coulthard's engine, and Felipe's looks like a very similar problem. It's frustrating, because the engine has been very good over the winter, and the guys have done a great job on it. We started running the engine early, it worked very well, and it's been reliable, so this is very frustrating to have this problem at this stage."

BDR plans full season with Lester BDR plans full season with LesterBill Lester’s #23 Waste Management Team is scheduled to compete at Atlanta Motor Speedway, at Michigan Speedway in June and at California Speedway in September. More races are expected to be added to the 2006 schedule as additional sponsorship and Lester’s commitments in the Craftsman Truck Series permits, with an eye on the entire NEXTEL Cup schedule in 2007. Atlanta’s Championship Group handles program management and business development, and is expected to announce additional program details over the coming months. Bill Davis Racing
Dodge headed for another difficult season Dodge headed for another difficult seasonDodge's John Fernandez is tired of taking it on the chin from Ford's Jack Roush and Chevrolet's Rick Hendrick, and he has stepped into the ring himself. Last season's NASCAR scorecard wasn't pretty: Dodge had three wins in 36 races.

And this season hasn't been any better, with Ford drivers Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle and Chevy drivers Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart leading the pack after three races.

So Fernandez, Dodge's NASCAR director, has packed away his suits and ties, and his smile, and is rolling up his denim sleeves. By the look on his face, something is going to change.

Ryan Newman, NASCAR's Mr. Friday, could easily put his Dodge on the pole in qualifying here this evening. But if it's the 2004 Intrepid that he has been running this season - a car model that DaimlerChrysler no longer promotes - it might not be a pretty scene.

It is, all in all, an embarrassing situation. Detroit uses NASCAR to sell cars. But they want to sell 2006 models, not something from the used-car lot.

Why are Dodge executives allowing teams to run outdated two-year-old models?

More important perhaps, why are NASCAR executives, such brilliant marketing types in so many other areas, not handling this affair with more flair and finesse? That they aren't has given rise to very pointed questions about how much behind-the-scenes Daytona-Detroit politics is really at work here.

Even the addition of Kurt Busch, coming over to Roger Penske from the Roush camp, hasn't helped Dodge, except to point out the technical problems that Dodge still seems to be suffering. Busch raised hopes by winning the pole at California Speedway but was not a factor once the race started; and his hometown advantage last weekend in Las Vegas wasn't much help.

Teammate Newman hasn't shown much muscle, either, though he could be the man when qualifying begins at 7:10 tonight for Sunday's Golden Corral 500. But on race day, Kasey Kahne has been Dodge's top man so far.  More at Winston Salem Journal

Racing News
Derek Daly Academy now American Racing Academy Derek Daly Academy now American Racing AcademyWe are proud to announce the creation of the new American Racing Academy at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Entertainment Capital of the World). Our small, but motivated team is excited about running a racing school in one of the most dynamic cities on earth. Our freshly painted “Cobalt Blue” Illusion F2000 open-wheeled racers and performance tuned BMW Roadsters are ready for corporate programs and individual students. We are also seeking corporate sponsorship and business agreements to promote mutually beneficial product marketing. In addition, we have teamed up with LRS Formula USA to make available real F-1 cars to the public. It’s an exciting time to be in Vegas!  Check out our programs at: www.racingschool.com and www.racingschools.com American Racing Academy
Alonso helping F1's popularity Alonso helping F1's popularityAccording to this London Times article, Fernando Alonso's championship is a big part of F1's recent growth. Business F1 magazine estimates that sponsor income has jumped 25 per cent in Formula One to an astonishing $2.5 billion (about £1.4billion) this year, with blue-chip companies such as Intel and Johnnie Walker joining teams and carmakers in helping to push team budgets to record levels.
You have to feel for the drivers You have to feel for the driversWatching Friday's F1 practices in Malaysia in an air-conditioned office wearing cotton shirts while many complained about the heat, there was full respect for our drivers out on track who, wearing the regulation four layers, faced huge physical exertion and constant high level g-forces.

In air temperatures of around 35°C, David, Christian and Robert each wore a layer of Nomex fireproof underwear (with mandatory long trousers, sleeves and collar), a Nomex balaclava, a lined racing helmet, gloves, socks, boots and a three-layer Alpinestars racing suit (one layer of ventilated felt between two layers of ventilated Nomex).

Try walking the length of the paddock in all that kit, let alone driving an F1 car round a circuit! On track, the extreme heat can cause the car's cockpit temperature to rise to 55°C and, as the heat gets trapped there, for the drivers it's a bit like sitting in an oven. Red Bull Racing

Toyota trying to catch up Toyota trying to catch upAfter its disappointing performance last week in Bahrain, Panasonic Toyota Racing today began its quest for improvement during free practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix. On a hot but cloudy day at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur, Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli put in their first laps of what promises to be a challenging weekend. Both drivers put in more laps than usual for a Friday as Toyota seeks to learn how to make the most of its new package. Ralf and Jarno completed their programmes of tire comparison and set-up work and will now look to continue the learning process over the rest of the weekend.

Jarno Trulli said, "We spent the two sessions trying to collect more data on our new package. Our grip level is not yet there and although we look slightly more competitive than in Bahrain we still have work to do. Our challenge is to get the car and tires working together. For that we need to carry out a detailed analysis, but of course there has been no chance to test since Bahrain so we will have to continue that work this weekend. I am sure we have not seen the true potential of our car yet. We understand the problem but the solution is not straightforward. We are obviously looking to have a better race than we had in Bahrain but the important thing for us is to spend these early race weekends getting to the root of the problem."

Racing News
U.K. promotes motorsports in Korea U.K. promotes motorsports in Korea[Editor's Note: It's an American company, Champ Car, that is trying to race in Korea, yet it's UK companies that are promoting racing in Korea.]  Auto industry executives from Korea and Britain got together in Seoul yesterday to share ideas on how to exploit and promote business opportunities in motorsports on the peninsula.

Motorsports in the U.K. is a $9 billion a year industry, of which some 60 percent is exported. Still in its infancy here in Korea, analysts say the world's fifth largest auto producer has huge untapped potential.

Cheung Seok-tae, managing director of sports management and consulting company SMS Korea said currently in Korea there is a lack of facilities, drivers and teams.

"Another problem," he said, "is a lack of understanding by the senior management of the car companies here about motorsports." zzzz 

Cheung said this lack of understanding makes it difficult to persuade them to get involved. "We hope events like this will help improve the situation," he said.

With one of the most advanced motorsport industries in the world, the U.K. government is eager to introduce British companies to the opportunities here. "The U.K. Trade and Investment has sponsored this event since 2004," said Song Young-ju, the trade and development officer at the British Embassy in Seoul. "We're obviously keen to promote U.K. motorsport expertise into the Korean market."

The seminar was opened with a presentation by Chris Aylett, the chief executive of Britain's Motorsport Industry Association. Britain has the world's most successful motorsport industry, commanding 80 percent of the global market.

Aylett said, "We want to share the dream with Korea."

The seminar gave representatives of Korean auto manufacturers and advanced engineering companies, auto importers, racing teams, and sports marketing companies the opportunity to network with their counterparts from the U.K. and other European countries.

The half-day event is the third of its kind and was organized by the British Embassy, the U.K. Motorsport Industry Association, SMS Korea and AMG. Korea Herald

track news
Repaving of Lowe's Motor Speedway complete Repaving of Lowe's Motor Speedway completeContractors have finished repaving the racing surface of the 1.5-mile oval at Lowe's Motor Speedway and Jeff Black, the Speedway Motorsports, Inc., paving engineer overseeing the project, says the result is "the best of any track we've ever done."

Sunmount Corp., of Roanoke, Texas, completed work on the racing surface Monday night and Goodyear is scheduled to conduct a tire test March 28-29.

"Everything is right on schedule," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway. "The weather has been very cooperative and the paving is finished between the inside white line and the outside wall."  zzzz 

With paving crews now working on the aprons and pit road, workers have begun re-installing the SAFER barriers which were removed when the $3.5-million project started in early January.

The repaving of the racing surface required in excess of 10,000 tons of asphalt which included a special polymer that increases the material's softening point. The new surface was applied in two layers, a two-inch binder went down first followed by a 1.5-inch finish layer.

An additional 4,000 to 6,000 tons of asphalt will be used to repave the aprons and pit road.

This marks the third time the entire 1.5-mile oval has been repaved since Lowe's Motor Speedway opened in 1960. The first new layer of asphalt was applied in 1973 and the entire track was paved again prior to the 1994 season. In between, the track's corners received fresh coats of asphalt in 1979 and 1987.

Nearly 100 NASCAR teams are expected to participate in six days of testing on the new surface during early May. Nextel Cup cars will be on track May 1-3 with Busch Series teams slated to test May 8-10.

MF1 announces first major Chinese sponsor MF1 announces first major Chinese sponsorMF1 Racing - the Formula One team owned and operated by the Midland Group - is pleased to announce a major partnership with MINGYA, a leading Chinese real estate developer. The company's website address - MINGYA.CN - will feature prominently on the engine cover of the Midland MF1Toyota M16 and the team's race overalls for the remainder of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship season.

"MINGYA is happy to form this partnership with MF1 Racing," said Chen Jiaming, Managing Director of the project. "This fresh, ambitious F1 team can help MINGYA promote its Chinese property projects and golf resorts around the world. We will use the URL of our real estate project - MINGYA.CN - as our brand, since the aim is to attract as many possible visitors to the website and to promote the Nanchang area.

"MINGYA is proud to be one of the first Chinese companies to become a major F1 sponsor. The Chinese economy is booming, and many companies are ready to have a global presence. MINGYA expects more Chinese companies to step into F1 shortly, since the medium is perfect for promoting brands worldwide. zzzz

"In China, we will stage events together with MF1. MINGYA.CN will also promote MF1 Racing in China during the Chinese GP and at the Millionaire Fair in Shanghai on April 26th."

"This is an encouraging deal for many reasons," said MF1 Racing's Managing Director, Colin Kolles. "Not only are we gaining a partner who supports our ambition to become even more competitive, we are also opening doors to an important market in China. Hopefully, more Chinese companies will realize the promotional value that F1 can bring to their businesses globally."

In 2006, MF1 Racing became the first team to compete in the Formula One World Championship with a Russian motorsport license. The team, which is based in Silverstone, UK, is owned by Russian-Canadian businessman Alex Shnaider and currently employs Christijan Albers from the Netherlands and Tiago Monteiro of Portugal as its two race drivers.
Nanchang Mingya European Resort, situated along the national highway, is approximately 2.5 km from the Nanchang city government in the Honggutan New Zone, a highly-anticipated new community. Mingya European Resort is going to function as "the green lung of the region". From the nearby Changbei airport, it's about a one-hour flight to Shanghai, two hours to Beijing and ninety minutes to Hong Kong.

The entire project boasts a breathtaking landscape that will cover an area of 3.6 million square meters. Upon completion, the resort will consist of 350,000 square meters of apartments and European-style villas, as well as unparalleled lifestyle facilities including: a shopping mall; a bilingual school; a Western hospital; a five-star hotel; premium sports facilities (tennis, basketball and squash courts, an 18-hole golf course with adjacent clubhouse, a 3-level swimming pool, and a Jacuzzi). The community will also boast two helicopter aprons, the first ones of their kind in China.

The deal was facilitated by GR8industries.com.

Searing action at Sepang - Davidson Fastest Searing action at Sepang - Davidson FastestIt was a busier afternoon in Malaysia, as 37C temperatures left F1 drivers sweating in Friday practice.

'Friday' men Anthony Davidson (Honda) and Alex Wurz (Williams) actually led the pace, but it was Bahrain winner Fernando Alonso setting the best time of the race drivers, with Felipe Massa behind.

Afterward Davidson said, "Obviously I'm pleased to end Friday at the top of the timesheets for the second race in a row. It hasn't been quite as straightforward a day as we hoped, due to the problem I had with the rears locking. This caused me to spin and lose a lot of time in the second session. Overall I think we ended the day in better shape and have some good information to work with to improve the car."

Drivers completed more laps than in the morning; Ferrari's Massa comfortable with 22 for his new V8 unit, while Jarno Trulli tried to get on top of Toyota's problems by doing 23 laps for 11th best.

Davidson might have ended on top, but Honda wanted the Briton to do a bigger tire assessment before he dropped it in a gravel trap.

Juan Pablo Montoya (14th) also had a spin, as did Toro Rosso's erratic Vitantonio Liuzzi, fifteenth quickest of the 28 cars.

Afternoon Times

Pos No Driver Team Time/Retired
1 36 Anthony Davidson Honda 1:35.041
2 35 Alexander Wurz Williams-Cosworth 1:35.388
3 1 Fernando Alonso Renault 1:35.806
4 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:35.924
5 3 Kimi Räikkönen McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.132
6 2 Giancarlo Fisichella Renault 1:36.182
7 5 Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1:36.617
8 12 Jenson Button Honda 1:36.661
9 17 Jacques Villeneuve Sauber-BMW 1:37.045
10 11 Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:37.270
11 8 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:37.317
12 16 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-BMW 1:37.418
13 38 Robert Kubica Sauber-BMW 1:37.457
14 4 Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.463
15 20 Vitantonio Liuzzi STR-Cosworth 1:37.590
16 14 David Coulthard RBR-Ferrari 1:37.603
17 7 Ralf Schumacher Toyota 1:37.695
18 40 Neel Jani STR-Cosworth 1:37.831
19 21 Scott Speed STR-Cosworth 1:37.926
20 9 Mark Webber Williams-Cosworth 1:38.081
21 10 Nico Rosberg Williams-Cosworth 1:38.205
22 39 Giorgio Mondini MF1-Toyota 1:38.256
23 15 Christian Klien RBR-Ferrari 1:38.644
24 19 Christijan Albers MF1-Toyota 1:38.918
25 37 Robert Doornbos RBR-Ferrari 1:39.105
26 18 Tiago Monteiro MF1-Toyota 1:39.416
27 22 Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:41.549
28 23 Yuji Ide Super Aguri-Honda 1:43.164

FIA check more wings at Sepang FIA check more wings at Sepang(GMMf1NET)  The rear wings of Honda and Renault cars were inspected by the FIA's Charlie Whiting and Jo Bauer on Friday in Malaysia.

The duo checked Ferrari's wing a week ago in Bahrain, following suggestions that it might contravene the regulations by 'flexing' at high speed.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Inside Grand Prix Malaysia
12:30am-1:00am SPEED
Formula 1 Qualifying Malaysia
1:00am-2:30am (L) SPEED
Art Mann Presents -The Long Beach Grand Prix 
2:30am-3:00am (R)  HDNet
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Atlanta
2:30am-4:30am (R) SPEED
NASCAR Past Champions -Darrell Waltrip 
4:30am-5:00am (R) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Atlanta
9:00am-10:00am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Atlanta
10:00am-10:30am (L) SPEED
ALMS 12 Hours of Sebring
10:30am-1:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying Atlanta
1:00pm-2:30pm (SDD) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Happy Hour Atlanta
2:00pm-3:00pm (L) FX
ALMS Sebring
2:30pm-6:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series  Atlanta
3:00pm-6:00pm (L) FX
NASCAR Performance 
6:30pm-7:00pm SPEED
Speed News 
7:00pm-7:30pm SPEED
ALMS Sebring
7:30pm-11:00pm (L) SPEED
SportsCentury -Tony Stewart 
9:00pm-10:00pm (R) ESPN Classic
Tradin' Paint (Nextel Cup) 
11:00pm-11:30pm SPEED

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

F1 Trivia F1 Trivia
1. For which team did Malaysia's Alex Yoong drive when he appeared before his countrymen on the Sepang circuit in 2002?
a. Arrows
b. Jordan
c. Minardi
d. Prost
e. Sauber

2. In October, 1999, Michael Schumacher returned to the track at the Malaysian Grand Prix after an absence of several months while he recuperated from a broken leg. At the start of which Grand Prix that year was he hurt?
a. Austria
b. Europe
c. France
d. Great-Britain
e. Luxemburg

3. Which former driver, present this weekend as part of the management personnel of a team, scored his last F1 points at the Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999?
a. Gerhard Berger
b. Gil de Ferran
c. Johnny Herbert
d. Keke Rosberg
e. Aguri Suzuki

4. Which Brazilian driver contested the 98th and final F1 Grand Prix of his career on the Sepang circuit in October, 2000?
a. Enrique Bernoldi
b. Luciano Burti
c. Pedro Diniz
d. Tarso Marques
e. Ricardo Rosset

5. It happened on March 19...
a. In 1962, the birth of Italian driver Nicola Larini.
b. In 1982, Nelson Piquet and Keke Rosberg - first and second at the finish in Brazil - were disqualified.
c. In 1992, the last Mexican Grand Prix.
d. In 2001, Michael Schumacher earned his 34th pole, dropping Jim Clark to second place in the ranking.
e. In 2003, Fernando Alonso earned his first pole position

Answers: 1) c ; 2) d ; 3) c ; 4) c; 5) a – b, March 21, 1982, c, March 22, 1992, d, March 18, 2001, e, March 22 2003.

14 Houston GP sponsors announced on CC Tour 14 Houston GP sponsors announced on CC TourHouston, Texas -- Day Four of the 2006 Champ Car Turbo Tour kicked off early again as the always-eager Canadian media hosted a number of drivers on morning shows. A.J. Allmendinger, Katherine Legge, Justin Wilson, Mario Dominguez, Alan Sciuto and Face of Champ Car Brandi Latimer scattered throughout the city conducting interviews on morning radio shows.

Everyone was funneled back into the Turbo Tour Gulfstream G550 by 10 a.m. as the festivities took a decidedly southward turn. From the windy chills of Toronto, the Tour went to the heat of the Southwest, jetting to Houston, Texas, site of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston, May 11-13.

“It was my first day on the Turbo Tour and now I’m really excited about the 2006 Champ Car season,” said Team Australia Alex Tagliani.  “Even though I’ve only been to two cities on the tour but it has been a lot of fun.  First in Toronto where Team Australia had its best race last season and where the new promoter is doing a great job.  Then coming to Houston where we had another new promoter who put on an excellent event today.” zzzz

The drivers made their first appearance at Reliant Stadium – home of the NFL’s Houston Texans – for a press conference where 14 sponsors were announced for the 2006 event. The press function was then followed by a first for most of the drivers, as they visited with rodeo star 7-time National Bronc Champion Dan Mortensen, who carried the Champ Car livery into competition that night at Reliant Park. The drivers got a Behind-The-Chutes look at rodeo life, marveling at the size of the broncs and bulls that the rodeo cowboys rode later that evening.

Mario Dominguez, Alex Tagliani, Katherine Legge and A.J. Allmendinger joined some of the cowboys as the evening’s festivities started, participating in the pageantry of the Grand Entry Parade. The Turbo Tour spent the remainder of the event at a little safer distance from the hard-charging action, watching the rodeo with sponsors from a suite.

“Today was an excellent example of collaboration between the Grand Prix of Houston and Champ Car,” said Robert Dale Morgan, Executive Director of the Grand Prix of Houston.  “From a press conference where we announced 14 sponsors for this years race to the Champ Car drivers autograph session in the Ford Truck area outside the stadium to a behind the scenes tour at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo today was a great way to start the 2006 Champ Car season.”

Four days and nine cities behind them, the stars of Champ Car have one night remaining on the 2006 Turbo Tour after traveling nearly 5,000 miles, wrapping the groundbreaking endeavor up with Friday’s visits to Mexico City and Monterrey. Champ Car

'Barrichello Sr' at Sepang 'Barrichello Sr' at Sepang(GMMf1NET -- Mar.17)  An important guest is watching over Rubens Barrichello's second GP for Honda -- his father.

In Malaysia, Barrichello Sr told a pitlane TV reporter for 'Premiere' that despite Rubens' difficult debut a week ago in Bahrain, his 33-year-old son had been right to leave Ferrari.

''The pressure was immense at Ferrari, but here it is more relaxed,'' Barrichello said.

Wurz William Cosworth easily fastest in Sepang Wurz William Cosworth easily fastest in SepangAlex Wurz led the way in the opening practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix. In what was a typically pretty mundane first Friday session, the Williams Cosworth driver set the pace around the 5.543km Sepang circuit with a best time of 1:34.946s, nearly eight-tenths clear of the field.

Pos No Driver Team Time/Retired
1 35 Alexander Wurz Williams-Cosworth 1:34.946
2 38 Robert Kubica Sauber-BMW 1:35.733
3 36 Anthony Davidson Honda 1:35.997
4 4 Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.709
5 14 David Coulthard RBR-Ferrari 1:37.042
6 5 Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1:37.043
7 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:37.557
8 37 Robert Doornbos RBR-Ferrari 1:37.604
9 7 Ralf Schumacher Toyota 1:37.826
10 15 Christian Klien RBR-Ferrari 1:38.448
11 40 Neel Jani STR-Cosworth 1:38.668
12 8 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:38.837
13 21 Scott Speed STR-Cosworth 1:39.599
14 18 Tiago Monteiro MF1-Toyota 1:39.899
15 39 Giorgio Mondini MF1-Toyota 1:40.092
16 20 Vitantonio Liuzzi STR-Cosworth 1:40.123
17 19 Christijan Albers MF1-Toyota 1:40.608
18 22 Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:41.072
19 23 Yuji Ide Super Aguri-Honda 1:43.449
20 3 Kimi Räikkönen McLaren-Mercedes
21 1 Fernando Alonso Renault
22 2 Giancarlo Fisichella Renault
23 17 Jacques Villeneuve Sauber-BMW
24 16 Nick Heidfeld Sauber-BMW
25 9 Mark Webber Williams-Cosworth
27 11 Rubens Barrichello Honda
28 12 Jenson Button Honda

Forsythe drivers get another taste of a Champ Car Forsythe drivers get another taste of a Champ CarLast week at MSR Houston Raceway south of its namesake city, Forsythe Atlantic drivers James Hinchcliffe (pictured right) and Leonardo Maia got their first taste of what they’ve been chasing their whole lives; the ground shaking power and enormous grip of a Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone Champ Car.  Following the Forsythe Driver Development Program path of their teammates Andreas Wirth and Richard Philippe who got their chance behind the wheel of an INDECK Champ Car in February at Sebring, all four of Forsythe’s Atlantic “Track Pack” have now seen for themselves what their future may hold.

Neil Micklewright, VP of Operations for Forsythe Championship Racing: “One of the big reasons we got re-involved in the Atlantic Championship for 2006 is the need to groom and evaluate talented young drivers as we prepare for the growth we expect in the Champ Car World Series, especially with the new chassis being introduced for the 2007 season.  After seeing what our guys have accomplished in their Atlantic tests and in their recent test days in the Champ Car, we may have a dilemma on our hands as there’s not much to choose from.  All four are incredibly gifted and bloody quick.  They each took to the Champ Car like ducks to water and were right on the pace immediately.  These aren’t easy machines to get on top of but our young drivers were impressive.  It’s going to be a very interesting season in the Atlantic Championship this year and we’ll just have to wait and see who rises to the top.  It is a dilemma, but a good one.” zzzz

Andreas Wirth (German - #37 INDECK/Wirth Solar Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Yokohama): “What should I say?  IMPRESSIVE - just impressive, that's the word to describe how it feels to drive a Champ Car. It is awesome. The power is unbelievable and the braking as well. It is a dream. It showed me again where I want to be in the future. You can't really compare it to an Atlantic car. I would say the only thing which comes close is how the car handles. I mean how you steer and how it feels in terms of balance, but the rest is just another world. You have to be so careful on throttle especially when the tires are not on temperature yet.  It is awesome if you drive out of the pits and have wheelspin until 4th gear!  The Ford-Cosworth power is just so amazing, it’s beyond words.  I'm really, really thankful and appreciate the opportunity from Forsythe Racing that they let me drive their Champ Car.  It is a huge experience and it helps you to drive an Atlantic car because it slows everything down a bit!  For sure, I hope that I will spend a lot more time in this car in the future!”

James Hinchcliffe (Canadian - #3 Emexis/INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Yokohama): “The Champ Car was phenomenal!  It was such a cool experience that words don't really do the car justice.  It has so much downforce, such good braking, and the power is just ridiculous.  Compared to the Atlantic car, it has what you would think would be logical steps in terms of braking and downforce.  The car handles the high speed corners unbelievably well and the Bridgestone tires are very predictable.  But the power is a massive step forward.  Really nothing anyone tells you can prepare you for what happens the first time you hit full throttle - just awesome.  I am so thankful that Forsythe gave us the opportunity to test it, and big thanks to the guys for putting up with all these ‘kids' driving their cars!”

Leonardo Maia (American - #7 INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Yokohama): “It was nothing less than a highlight of my life to mash that throttle for the first time.  The sound, the smell of the methanol, the way you have to modulate the throttle depending on the gear and the loads on the car – just amazing.  The team helped make things really relaxed and provided an environment for us all to succeed, and it was a day I’ll never forget for sure.  The Atlantic car is an amazing machine, but I don’t think there’s an adjective in the dictionary that I can really use to describe what the jump to a Champ Car is like.  It’s a beast, just an amazing beast.  I can’t thank Forsythe enough for giving me this chance.”

Richard Philippe (French - #33 INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Yokohama): “An Atlantic car is a very strong car, but there is such a big difference with a Champ Car it isn’t even funny.  There’s just so much more of everything.  Both cars have four wheels, but that’s about the only similarity!  The power is the biggest thing, but the brakes are amazing too.  There’s so much more downforce you can really stand on the brakes.  For me, the best thing was getting comfortable in the car.  I tested a Champ Car with Nelson’s team a few months ago (older brother Nelson Philippe, 2005 driver for Mi-Jack Conquest Racing) but we didn’t get a chance to do a proper seat fitting or even get the pedals exactly right.  This time I had a proper seat and everything was adjusted perfectly, so it didn’t take as long for me to quit thinking “Oh my God, this thing is so bloody fast” and stop holding on for dear life.  This time I was able to relax a bit after about three laps, calm down and chill, control my breathing and get into a groove.  It was great and I look forward to next time!”

Forsythe Championship Racing’s Atlantic squad will join many other teams in Fontana, California next week (March 21-22) for an open test on the infield road course at California Speedway.  It will be everyone’s first taste of the new-for-2006 Swift 016.a chassis and 2.3-liter Mazda-Cosworth engine with 300 horsepower (up from 240 in the previous Atlantic chassis) and the newest version of Yokohama’s Advan racing slicks.  Then, it’s just down the road to the first event of the season, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9 as Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.  For more information, please visit the official website of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship at www.champcaratlantic.com.

Bridgestone could shine in Sepang heat Bridgestone could shine in Sepang heat(GMMf1NET) Although paddock wisdom suggests that Michelin might wield the quickest tire, Williams' Mark Webber reckons Bridgestone could have a say under the hot Malaysian skies.

With the Japanese supplier usually happier to tackle cooler venues, Bridgestone-clad Webber said on Friday: ''Bridgestone changed their philosophy this year quite a lot, because they want to catch up.''

The 29-year-old Australian, meanwhile, warned observers not to read too much into the outcome of Friday morning's practice session, in which he was one of nine drivers who didn't set a lap time.

''The times are not too quick yet,'' Webber told TV network 'Premiere'.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in briefUPDATE
Schu worried about health of V8
No engine change for Montoya, says Dennis
A quiet morning in Malaysia

Alonso says no to Rossi's challenge
F1 mag found guilty of libel
Indian set for cockpit return
Toyota expect better weekend
DC applauds Heidfeld penalty
DC's 'sex in a sauna'
Renault find Fisi's 'F-word' glitch

Andersen Racing's Jaeger Earns Pole Andersen Racing's Jaeger Earns PoleSEBRING, Fla., March 16 - In his first Star Mazda event with Andersen Racing, Cincinnati's Brad Jaeger set a new track record and earned the pole for Friday's season opener in preliminary action Thursday at Sebring International Raceway here.

The Vanderbilt University engineering student won the pole in the Andersen Racing No. 2 with a lap in 2:01.002 for an average speed of 110.081 miles per hour at the 3.7-mile road course. That was 0.087 of a second faster than the driver who will start second, Ryan Justice. Since official track records can only be set during qualifying or a race, Jaeger's time beat Dan Dileo's two-year-old mark of 2:02.022 to rewrite the record book too.

KUMHO sponsors Petit Le Mans sweepstakes KUMHO sponsors Petit Le Mans sweepstakesConsumers will have a chance to win an all expenses paid trip to the 2007 Petit Le Mans, thanks to the KUMHO Petit Le Mans Xperience Sweepstakes.

The sweepstakes runs through October 31, 2006 and is being promoted by nearly 4,000 KUMHO retailers across the U.S. Consumers can also sign up at ALMS races and on the KUMHO Web site (www.kumhotireusa.com).
The grand prize is a trip for two to the 2007 Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, including airfare, accommodations at the luxurious Chateau Elan Winery and Resort and VIP tickets to the 10-hour, 1000-mile race. In addition to the grand prize, ten first place winners will each receive a set of four KUMHO ECSTA SPT ultra high performance tires. 100 second place winners will receive an MP3 player, and 1000 third place winners will receive a KUMHO travel bag.  zzzz

“Last year was our first year of ALMS competition. and we enjoyed good success on the track and good exposure in front of fans and on television,” said Mike Leverington, marketing director for KUMHO Tire USA. “We’ve committed to the series as a participant and a sponsor for at least two more years, and now we want to get our dealers involved in the series. We brought some dealers to ALMS races last year, and they were thrilled with what they saw. The ALMS provided great exposure for the KUMHO brand, and our success on the track was a testament to the quality and performance capabilities of our tires.”

Michael Schumacher: "We can now be confident" Michael Schumacher: "We can now be confident"With temperatures in the high thirties, even the ice cool Michael Schumacher had to take a break from the media scrum that surrounded him as he spoke to the media for the first time since finishing second in last Sunday's opening race. "I was very happy with the result in Bahrain. We were not expecting to be in a position to fight for the win, even if we thought we could be up there looking to finish on the podium," said the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver. "It was very close and we just missed the win, but we can now be confident for other races this season."

A year can make a big difference in terms of car performance as Schumacher reminded his audience. "Last year we had one of our worst races of the season in Sepang and this year we have good reason to be optimistic that we can leave here happy. Tires will be a key factor this weekend and that is the big question mark. But I think we should be strong here on this front. As for the engine, all we can do is open the vents on the bodywork more to improve cooling." On the engine front, Felipe Massa needed an engine change after the first race and David Coulthard's Ferrari engine also had to be replaced. "Naturally, I am a little bit concerned, admitted Michael. "But we have checked everything and to date, it is looking good. So there is no reason to be worried." zzzz

Schumacher's best memory of Bahrain was the return to form which seems to have been confirmed. "Driving the new car was great. It was good to be back fighting again and I liked the new qualifying format. I think those people who were on the podium and Jenson Button, who finished fourth in Bahrain, will be the ones fighting for the championship this year. The fact that we tested in Bahrain in February obviously helped a bit in that we immediately found the right set-up. But the question is did the others have more potential in their cars or not: I don't think so, so the testing we did was not really an advantage in the race. So there is no real reason to be less confident here in Malaysia, other than there are five cars that are very close here, so a little mistake could make the difference between first and tenth. It will be interesting to see."

Indy Pro Series restricts Troy Hanson Indy Pro Series restricts Troy HansonCorrection: It was incorrectly reported that Troy Hanson had passed his Indy Pro Series rookie test.  Hanson only has been cleared to compete in the road/street events in the series.
GT2 Pole position for Multimatic Panoz GT2 Pole position for Multimatic PanozPanoz veteran David Brabham has given the new Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz squad the perfect start to its 2006 American Le Mans Series assault by clinching the GT2 class pole position at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Brabham stopped the clock at 2 minutes, 3.563 seconds to topple the Risi Ferrari 430 of Ralf Kelleners and steal pole position aboard the #50 Panoz Esperante GTLM.

Teammate Gunnar Jeannette was equally impressive, recording the third fastest GT2 time aboard the #51 car - just over 1/10th of a second behind Brabham.

Sneak Peek 2006: Rahal Letterman Racing Sneak Peek 2006: Rahal Letterman RacingAfter an up-and-down 2005, Rahal Letterman Racing hopes to regain its championship contending form this season.

2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and 2005 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick return to the Hilliard, Ohio-based team with Bombardier Rookie of the Year candidate Paul Dana and sponsorship from Team Ethanol joining this season.

"Everyone is optimistic prior to the first race of the season, but I think there are a number of positives as we head into the 2006 season," team co-owner Bobby Rahal said. "I expect Buddy to recapture the form that made him a title contender in 2004 and I expect Danica will take another big step forward. There are a lot of expectations that are placed on her by the media and the fans, but the amazing thing is those expectations are less than she places on herself. Paul will be trying to make up for the lack of experience in the IndyCar Series. My charge to him will be the same as any rookie driver. Finish races and maximize your experience. The more laps you turn, the better prepared you will be for the next race." zzzz

Rice, who won three races in 2004, couldn't find Victory Lane last year and struggled with numerous mechanical failures. Though he recorded a pair of top-three finishes last season, he is ready to turn the page.

 "I was never happier to see a season end than I was last year," Rice said. "I was really frustrated by the tough run of luck we had last season, but a few months away from the daily grind, and I am ready to go. I feel like we can return to the form that made us a championship contender in 2004."

Patrick, meanwhile, enters the year trying to maintain the momentum of her successful rookie campaign, which included a rookie-record three pole positions and fourth place finishes at Twin Ring Motegi and Indianapolis.
"When I look back on last season, it is hard not to get excited for this year," she said. "We had a great season, winning three pole positions and leading several races. I asked myself what is the next step, and logically, I know it is winning races. That said, Homestead will only be my 18th IndyCar Series start. The stat came out last season that it took on the average 33 starts for a driver to win their first IndyCar race. I won't make my 33rd start until next season. All I can say is that nobody wants me to win more than I do."

Dana, who began 2005 as one of Patrick's rivals for Bombardier Rookie of the Year, saw his promising season cut short by a back injury sustained in a crash while practicing for the Indianapolis 500. The graduate of the Indy Pro Series returns in 2006 with confidence after moving to a top-line team.

 "It is literally a dream come true to be driving for Rahal Letterman Racing," he said. "As a young driver, you dream about an opportunity like this with a championship caliber team. I am certainly behind my teammates in terms of experience, but even though I didn't run a lot of laps last season, I did log a lot of time in the pits, and I learned a lot of things just by watching. I am really excited for the first race and to get my second rookie season underway."

Car numbers: 15 (Rice), 16 (Patrick), 17 (Dana)
Chassis/engine/tire: Panoz/Honda/Firestone
Drivers: Paul Dana, 30, of St. Louis, Danica Patrick, 23, of Roscoe, Ill., and Buddy Rice, 30, of Phoenix.
Race engineers: Jeff Britton (Rice), Ray Leto (Patrick), Al Bodey (Dana)
Chief mechanic: Ricardo Nault (Rice), Ed Daood (Patrick), Jim Prescott (Dana)
Chief Operating Officer: Scott Roembke
Team manager: Steve Dickson

Buddy Rice 2005 IndyCar Series season
Starts 16
Victories 0
Top 5 2
Top 10 4
Poles 0
Laps led 17
Best start 2nd (Kansas)
Best finish 2nd (Infineon)
Running at finish 9
Points rank 15th
Earnings $699,100

Danica Patrick 2005 IndyCar Series season
Starts 17
Victories 0
Top 5 2
Top 10 7
Poles 3
Laps led 63
Best start 1st (Kansas, Kentucky, Chicagoland)
Best finish 4th (Motegi, Indianapolis)
Running at finish 12
Points rank 12th
Earnings $1,098,755

Paul Dana 2005 IndyCar Series season (With Ethanol Hemelgarn Racing)
Starts 3
Victories 0
Top 5 0
Top 10 1
Poles 0
Laps led 0
Best start 21st (Homestead-Miami)
Best finish 10th (Homestead-Miami)
Running at finish 1
Points rank 27th
Earnings $119,800 IRL

Luhr gives Porsche LMP2 pole at Sebring Luhr gives Porsche LMP2 pole at SebringSEBRING, Fla.- The #6 Sascha Maassen/Lucas Luhr/Emmanuel Collard Penske Porsche RS Spyder, which has had a successful week of practice sessions, has earned the LMP2 class pole for Saturday's 54th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Lucas Luhr, the German driver now living in Monaco, turned the fast qualifying lap, which not only broke the class record at Sebring, but was faster than the last year's LMP1 pole time. Luhr, the American LeMans Series GT2 class champion in 2002 and 2003, was also on the winning GT2 team at Sebring here last year, but is glad to be in a prototype for 2006.

"The Penske team has been very pleased with the performance of the Porsche RS Spyder all week, and we have shown that performance by earning the pole for the race. But no one in the paddock will tell you that they are confident they will finish the 12 Hours of Sebring - it's a long, hot, bumpy event," said Luhr. zzzz

Luhr also mentioned that, although he has had much success here - five class wins - he will look forward to his first Sebring in an open cockpit race car, as his GT2 cars were very hot during the daytime hours.

Luhr's pole effort put his entry third overall on the grid behind the LMP1 Audi R-10s, and two- tenths of a second ahead of the #7 Penske Porsche RS Spyder team car of Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas/Patrick Long, qualified Thursday by Bernhard.

In the GT2 class, the Bell Microsystems Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, entered for Graham Rahal/Klaus Graf/Mike Rockenfeller, and qualified by Rockenfeller, is fourth on the grid behind the two Panoz entries and the Ferrari 430. Porsche has won the GT class at Sebring every year since 1992.

The next fastest Porsche in GT3 was the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Jorg Bergmeister/Tim Bergmeister/Nic Jonsson, followed by the Flying Lizard Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Johannes van Overbeek/Jon Fogarty/Marc Lieb.

The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, round one of the ten-race American Le Mans Series, will be held at Sebring International Raceway on Saturday, March 18 from 10:30 AM EST to 10:30 PM. The race will be telecast live on SPEED TV starting at 10:30 AM EST, and in Europe on Motors TV. The live SPEED broadcast will start at 10:30 AM, and go to 1:00 PM. The network will then broadcast the event from 2:30 PM - 6:30 PM, and then from 7:30 PM to 11:00 PM (all times are EST).

Also, a live web radio broadcast can be heard on the new-look American Le Mans Series web site - www.americanlemans.com. The ALMS site will also carry live scoring for the event.

Audi R10 TDI takes pole position on début Audi R10 TDI takes pole position on débutThe new Audi R10 TDI has written a piece of motorsport history making its début at Sebring (USA): For the first time ever, a diesel powered car has claimed pole position in a sportscar race. In Thursday’s qualifying session, Scotland’s Allan McNish broke the track record by over two seconds, impressively underlining the performance of the modern Audi TDI technology.
Setting the second-best time, Marco Werner guaranteed that both new Audi R10 TDI prototypes will start from the front row on Saturday at 10:43 a.m. local time (4:43 p.m. in Germany). Because of an electronics problem, the German could record only one timed lap moving from last spot to second position shortly before the end of qualifying.
The 12 Hours of Sebring is the most prestigious sportscar race in America, the season opener of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and for Audi Sport, first and foremost, a test race for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 17/18 June. In qualifying, the Audi R10 TDI proved to be fast. It will, however, be an even bigger challenge to survive the 12-hour distance on a track which is especially tough for the material. zzzz
Quotes after qualifying at Sebring
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "In qualifying, Allan McNish has achieved an impressive track record with the new R10 TDI. That said, we know we still have a lot of work to do before Le Mans because we had a sensor problem with the number #1 car. Marco achieved second place despite that with a single lap, which was a strong performance. The whole team has worked hard.”
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #2): "This is the best result we could dream of in qualifying. Now Audi and the R10 TDI are in the motorsport history books with the first diesel car on pole position in a sportscar race. Congratulations to Allan (McNish) who did a fantastic lap. And congratulations to Audi who proved once again that if they start something new they know what to do.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi R10 TDI #2): "An all Audi front row shows clearly the potential we have in our hands with the Audi R10 TDI. It’s perfect to have the new diesel technology on pole on its début. But nevertheless the race is long. Today we could see with our ‘sister’ car how dangerous the smallest problem can be.”
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #2): "Although qualifying doesn’t mean so much in a 12-hour race, it is great to start from pole position on the début of the Audi R10 TDI and the TDI technology. The car ran fantastically well. I was able to push from the very beginning and set the time within three laps. So I could save the tires for the race itself.”
Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #1): "We already came to Sebring with a good car and since then made further steps forward. Today we had bad luck because we suffered from some electronic problems which seem to have appeared overnight and stopped us in qualifying. But we will sort this out during the next practice sessions.”
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): "Our priority now is to fix the electronics problem which stopped us this morning and prevented Marco (Werner) to do a better qualifying lap. Despite that he managed to put our R10 TDI in to second place so that we have a good position for the race. And I’m sure that our technicians will find the problem for the race.”
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #1): "After a week without any troubles the problem came just in time for qualifying! Now we have to search for the reason. Thank goodness we still have some time until the race on Saturday. We are lucky to have both cars on the front row although my lap was very difficult.”
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director, Team Audi Sport North America): "The problems with the #1 car were a little strange. A few minutes before qualifying everything seemed to be all right but then Marco (Werner) lost a lot of time in the pits. That he still managed to do such a strong lap deserves great credit. We put bets on Allan’s lap time before qualifying, but even the best one was more than one second over his real time.” Audi
Premat fastest at Paul Ricard Premat fastest at Paul RicardAlexandre Premat has set the quickest timed lap of the first day of testing at Circuit Paul Ricard in the #1 ART Grand Prix car. The Frenchman set a lap of 1:12.887 to narrowly miss out on pipping the quickest ever lap set on the 3D track solution of the circuit in a GP2 series car. That honor still rests with his team-mate Lewis Hamilton who set a 1:22.838 in the afternoon session of the first day of our first 2006 test on February 22nd.

Second quickest in the afternoon session was this morning's quickest driver Jose Maria Lopez who toured the circuit in a time which almost exactly mirrored his morning time, showing how consistent he and the Super Nova team are shaping up to be this year. He was joined in the top three this afternoon by fellow RDD driver Lucas di Grassi, the Brazilian placing his Durango just 0.020 behind the Super Nova. Nelson Piquet Jr continued the fine form being shown by his Piquet Sports team with the fourth quickest lap, while Adrian Valles gave the Campos Racing team a reason to smile with fifth.

Lewis Hamilton ran his ART Grand Prix car to the sixth fastest time, with Franck Perera seventh for Dams. Ernesto Viso ran home eighth for iSport, with Nicolas Lapierre ninth for Arden International and Adam Carroll tenth for Racing Engineering. zzzz

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1 PREMAT ART Grand Prix 1:12.887 38
2 LOPEZ Super Nova International 1:13.200 30
3 DI GRASSI Durango 1:13.220 41
4 PIQUET Piquet Sports 1:13.221 43
5 VALLES Campos Racing 1:13.260 32
6 HAMILTON ART Grand Prix 1:13.272 20
7 PERERA DAMS 1:13.300 37
8 VISO iSport International 1:13.382 26
9 LAPIERRE Arden International 1:13.699 12
10 CARROLL Racing Engineering 1:13.759 28
11 FILIPPI FMS International 1:13.799 38
12 BRUNI Trident Racing 1:13.810 33
13 FAUZY Super Nova International 1:13.860 34
14 GLOCK BCN Comepticion 1:13.869 40
15 GOMMENDY iSport International 1:13.907 22
16 PLA DPR Direxiv 1:13.907 34
17 PORTEIRO Campos Racing 1:13.907 37
18 AMMERMULLER Arden International 1:14.008 20
19 MONFARDINI DAMS 1:14.310 31
20 TAHINCI FMS International 1:14.436 35
21 HERNANDEZ Durango 1:14.599 14
22 NEGRAO Piquet Sports 1:14.647 30
23 VILLA Racing Engineering 1:15.054 33
24 PICCIONE DPR Direxiv 1:15.102 12
25 YOSHIMOTO BCN Comepticion 1:15.372 16
26 ZUBER Trident Racing 1:15.451 35

Audi tops final Sebring practice Audi tops final Sebring practicePedro Lamy turned the best GT1 lap of the session in the No. 009 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin DBR9. Lamy's time of 1:55.918 was a half second quicker than the No. 007 sister car of Tomas Enge, Darren Turner and Nicolas Kiesa.  

In the last practice session before today's qualifying session at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Audi Sport North America's diesel-powered No. 2 Audi R10 TDI continued to give the German manufacturer a strong hold on the top of the speed chart. Allan McNish set the fastest time of the hour-long session with a 1:48.016 lap around Sebring International Raceway.

The R10 TDI is making its worldwide race debut in the opening round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series. McNish, who will team with Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello, was 1.154 seconds better than the No. 6 Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder of Lucas Luhr. The German's time was the best among the LMP2 entries, only 0.3 seconds ahead of the No. 7 sister car.

It marked the first time that the two Aston Martins were 1-2 in any session this week, knocking Corvette Racing's two Corvette C6.Rs to third and fourth. zzzz

The debut of Risi Competizione's Ferrari F430GT continues to go exceptionally well. Ralf Kelleners set the best GT2 time of the session in the No. 62 entry at 2:03.867. The No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche was second, followed by the No. 50 Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz Panoz Esperante GTLM.

Qualifying for the 54th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is set for 2:35 p.m. EST this afternoon.

The American Le Mans Series begins its 2006 season with the 54th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The 12-hour endurance classic is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. EST on Saturday at Sebring International Raceway. It will be televised live on SPEED Channel in North America and MotorsTV in Europe. In addition, Greenlight-Television will distribute the race worldwide to more than 510 million households. American Le Mans Radio will have flag-to-flag coverage available at www.americanlemans.com, along with IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.
 Practice 3
 Pos Cl Pos Car No. Class Drivers Time Speed
 1 1 2 LMP1 Capello/ Kristensen/McNish 1:48.016 123.31
 2 1 6 LMP2 Maassen/ Luhr/Collard 1:49.170 122.01
 3 2 7 LMP2 Bernhard/ Dumas/Long 1:49.419 121.73
 4 2 1 LMP1 Biela/ Pirro/Werner 1:49.511 121.63
 5 3 20 LMP1 Dyson/ G.Smith 1:50.994 120.00
 6 3 37 LMP2 C.Field/ Halliday/J.Field 1:51.720 119.22
 7 4 33 LMP2 Barazi/ Vergers/Julian 1:52.921 117.95
 8 5 41 LMP2 Binnie/ Timpany/Sutherland 1:53.210 117.65
 9 6 10 LMP2 Lally/ Gue/A.Davis 1:53.299 117.56
 10 4 9 LMP1 Dayton/ Knoop/Fisken 1:53.816 117.03
 11 1 009 LMGT1 Bright/ Lamy/Sarrazin 1:55.918 114.90
 12 5 12 LMP1 Lewis/ McMurry/Willman 1:56.015 114.81
 13 2 007 LMGT1 Enge/ Kiesa/Turner 1:56.681 114.15
 14 7 8 LMP2 Bach/ Cosmo/Matos 1:57.204 113.64
 15 3 3 LMGT1 Fellows/ O'Connell/Papis 1:57.587 113.27
 16 4 4 LMGT1 Gavin/ Beretta/Magnussen 1:57.621 113.24
 17 5 26 LMGT1 Ruberti/ Babini/J.Davies 1:59.936 111.05
 18 6 25 LMGT1 Weickardt/ Borcheller/TBA 2:02.985 108.30
 19 1 62 LMGT2 Kelleners/ Melo/Lazzaro 2:03.867 107.53
 20 2 23 LMGT2 Rockenfeller/ Graf/Rahal 2:03.903 107.50
 21 3 50 LMGT2 Maxwell/ Brabham/Bourdais 2:03.908 107.49
 22 4 31 LMGT2 J.Bergmeister/ T.Bergmeister/Jonsson 2:04.046 107.38
 23 5 45 LMGT2 van Overbeek/ Fogarty/Lieb 2:04.222 107.22
 24 6 51 LMGT2 Jeannette/ Milner/Junqueira 2:04.602 106.90
 25 7 21 LMGT2 Auberlen/ Hand/James 2:05.036 106.52
 26 8 44 LMGT2 Law/ Neiman/Pechnik 2:05.060 106.50
 27 9 80 LMGT2 Tomlinson/ Dean/Kimber-Smith 2:05.141 106.44
 28 10 22 LMGT2 Marks/ Sellers/Jensen 2:05.762 105.91
 29 11 86 LMGT2 Bleekemolen/ Hezemans 2:05.908 105.79
 30 12 85 LMGT2 Kox/ Crevels 2:05.922 105.78
 31 13 55 LMGT2 Ehret/ Nielsen/Farnbacher 2:06.218 105.53
 32 14 78 LMGT2 Pumpelly/ Thornton/Patterson 2:10.621 101.97
 33 15 56 LMGT2 Vonka/ Casadei/McCormick 2:17.350 96.97
 34 6 16 LMP1 Weaver/ Leitzinger/Wallace 2:40.841 82.81
 35 16 79 LMGT2 Sugden/ Matthews/Henzler -.--- -
Fastest Drivers:
P1 Allan McNish
P2 Lucas Luhr
GT1Pedro Lamy
GT2Ralf Kelleners

Taylor named Grand Marshal for Homestead race Taylor named Grand Marshal for Homestead raceMiami Dolphins superstar Jason Taylor has been named Grand Marshal for the March 26 Toyota Indy 300 presented by XM Satellite Radio at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The standout defensive end will give the command for Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon, Helio Castroneves and all of the stars to the IRL IndyCar® Series to start their engines for the opening race of the 2006 season.  After the race, he will present the winner’s trophy in Gatorade Victory Lane.

“I’m thrilled to serve as Grand Marshal for the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway,” said Taylor. “To have the opportunity to witness some of the best drivers on the planet race side-by-side at over 220 mph in my own backyard is certainly one of the most exciting parts of being associated with a great company like Toyota.”

Testing at Kentucky Testing at KentuckyThe ongoing evaluation of the Dodge Intrepid versus Charger NEXTEL Cup Series race platforms continued at Kentucky Speedway Tuesday with Penske Racing South driver Kurt Busch the #2 Miller Lite car. Busch visited the 1.5-mile tri-oval to work with spring packages and further explore techniques for enhancing the performance of the 2006 Charger template. "We come here to test because this is the closest track that we can run that gives us information for other racetracks. This place is definitely is the caliber of a Cup facility. Northern Kentucky, the Cincinnati area, everybody wants a Cup race here. We're studying the way the rear and front springs come down to the racetrack. You don't want the car to hit the racetrack, you just want to make sure you get the car as low as you can. This place is flat and smooth. We're trying to get things right for our next race. We had it right at Daytona, but we've struggled in the last two races so we're just coming back and touching up on things," Busch said. Ryan Newman also participated in the test. Kentucky Speedway PR
Pizzonia and Bernoldi impress in Rocketsports test Pizzonia and Bernoldi impress in Rocketsports testAs the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season opener quickly approaches, its speed cannot compare to the speed that was demonstrated by former Formula One test drivers Antonio Pizzonia and Enrique Bernoldi when they strapped into a 750-hp Champ Car for the first time with Rocketsports Racing during a two-day test down in Houston, Texas.



The first test-day was spent on getting the drivers familiar with the Champ Car and the 2.4-mile road course at the MSR Houston facility. It had been a long time since both of the drivers were in a racecar, so the team took things slowly by giving them plenty of time to get acquainted with the car on-track, while working with the drivers on the operation of the car. The team made small changes to the car to suit their driving styles and by the second day the drivers were feeling more confident. The team was able to evaluate the drivers on their consistency and their feedback, which gave them the overall impression that these guys have what it takes to be competitive drivers in the Champ Car World Series.

Pizzonia ran 65 laps on the first day and logged 54 laps during the second test day. Completing a total of 119 laps (258 miles), Pizzonia posted his best time around the 2.4-mile course running a lap in 71.7 seconds.

“We had two good days and it was great fun”, said Pizzonia on his first Champ Car experience. “The Champ Car is quite different compared to what I am used to driving. They are a little bit bigger and heavier than a Formula 1 car, but the power is not much different. The Rocketsports team worked real hard and they were a great bunch to work with. We were able to put together some good laps times, so I am very happy with how things went these past two days and really had a fun experience thanks to Rocketsports.” zzzz

Bernoldi also ran a total of 119 laps (258 miles), which included a break down of 44 laps on day one and 75 laps on day two. He recorded his fastest time of a 72.1 in less favorable conditions.

“We were fortunate to have two nice days,” stated Bernoldi about the Houston test. “The second day I would say was the best because I spent more time in the car, which made me feel more confident driving it. The feeling with the car was a bit different for me, so I had to learn how it works and learn the track during the first day of testing. The second day went smoother because I was working with the Rocketsports engineers, really learning about the car and gaining more knowledge. However, during that day the weather was a bit windy and the temperatures were dropping, but we were able to run some good lap times and improve overall. I feel the set-up work that we did resulted with positive feedback and I had a good time. I would like to thank the Rocketsports team for a wonderful experience and opportunity.”

Both drivers recorded lap times that sat very close on the timing sheets to the best times recorded by Champ Car teams that have tested previously on this track, which resulted in a very positive test for the Rocketsports team.

“This was the most enjoyable tests that I have done in a while,” said Team Manager Phil Howard as he reflected on the two-days with Pizzonia and Bernoldi at the new Houston venue. “I was very excited the whole time and left the test with an overwhelming feeling about these two. They are both extremely professional and talented. I can definitely see them as potential race winners in Champ Car.”

Howard, along with the rest of the team, was very impressed by the Houston facility. “It was an amazing facility, the road course is such a great track and the Champ Cars looked very impressive running on it,” said Howard. “This is a course that challenges a driver, making it an excellent place for a team to really evaluate the potential of any driver behind the wheel of a Champ Car. The people were very friendly and helpful. They were really excited seeing the Champ Cars running there and genuinely enthusiastic about the series. It truly was a great experience running there and I look forward to going back with the team in the future.”

Team Owner Paul Gentilozzi agreed with Howard’s excitement. "It is exciting to have the opportunity to test two drivers with the talents of Enrique and Antonio”, said Gentilozzi. “They have been associated with some of the Elite Formulas 1 teams and have a great understanding of open wheel cars. It really showed in their quick learning skills and resulting performance. The times run were on the level with former series championship drivers, that tells us that they can run up front when it counts. I sincerely hope that we get that chance."

The team will return to the Texas market, along with the rest of the Champ Car lineup, on May 11-13 for the inaugural Grand Prix of Houston. The Houston event, which will be staged on a 1.7-mile street course circuit around Reliant Park, is the second stop on the 15-event Champ Car 2006 season schedule. The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season kicks off on April 7-9 in Long Beach, California for the 32nd Annual Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Ryan Justice Sets Pace in Final Practice Session Ryan Justice Sets Pace in Final Practice SessionIn the final practice session ahead of qualifying for Round One of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, Ryan Justice, of Portland, Oregon, set the fastest time of the morning in his Northwest Autosport Mazda, lapping the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway circuit with a time of 1:58.965, to top the charts for the third consecutive practice session. Justice, a Business Administration and Marketing student at Loyola-Marymount University, has served notice to the paddock that he will be a driver to be reckoned with in this his third season of Star Mazda competition.
Joining Justice in the top three ahead of Thursday afternoon's qualifying session were Jon Branam, of Miami Beach, Florida, who posted a time of 1:59.299 in his 3-Dimensional Services Mazda and Matt Varsha, from Atlanta, Georgia, who turned in a time of 1:59.312 in his Red Line Oil/Classic Mazda sponsored Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda. zzzz
Thirty-six drivers participated in the session with the top 24 drivers posting times below the existing track record of 2:02.022 set by Dan DiLeo during qualifying for the event in 2004. With favorable weather conditions expected for the rest of the day DiLeo's official track record is expected to be surpassed once qualifying begins at 12:50 PM Eastern Time. Round One of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is slated to start at 2:35 PM Eastern Time on Friday, March 17th.
Pos No. Name Best Tm In Lap Diff Gap Best Spd
1 38 Ryan Justice 1:58.965 9 - - 111.966
2 12 Jon Branam 1:59.299 7 +0.334 +0.334 111.652
3 45 Matt Varsha 1:59.312 9 +0.347 +0.013 111.640
4 2 Brad Jaeger 1:59.423 7 +0.458 +0.111 111.536
5 14 Adrian Carrio 1:59.512 10 +0.547 +0.089 111.453
6 3 Daniel Herrington 1:59.650 11 +0.685 +0.138 111.325
7 23 Logan Gomez 1:59.783 4 +0.818 +0.133 111.201
8 18 Rob Bunker 1:59.873 7 +0.908 +0.090 111.118
9 4 Charles Hollings 1:59.946 9 +0.981 +0.073 111.050
10 9 Gerardo Bonilla 2:00.073 8 +1.108 +0.127 110.933
11 69 Ron White 2:00.266 7 +1.301 +0.193 110.754
12 15 John Pew 2:00.549 10 +1.584 +0.283 110.494
13 46 Jonathan Ziegelman 2:00.613 10 +1.648 +0.064 110.436
14 33 Andrew Bentley 2:00.828 9 +1.863 +0.215 110.239
15 77 Brian Thienes 2:00.868 10 +1.903 +0.040 110.203
16 92 Carl Sklerong 2:00.921 5 +1.956 +0.053 110.155
17 53 Mike Potekhen 2:01.007 6 +2.042 +0.086 110.076
18 28 Russell Walker 2:01.074 4 +2.109 +0.067 110.015
19 31 Casey Neal 2:01.208 9 +2.243 +0.134 109.894
20 86 Charles Anti 2:01.340 10 +2.375 +0.132 109.774
21 87 Doug Peterson 2:01.350 9 +2.385 +0.010 109.765
22 22 Ramiro Scuncio 2:01.521 7 +2.556 +0.171 109.611
23 60 Mark Patterson 2:01.980 9 +3.015 +0.459 109.198
24 93 John Faulkner 2:02.056 6 +3.091 +0.076 109.130
25 40 Mark Pavan 2:02.242 8 +3.277 +0.186 108.964
26 71 Steven Hickham Jr. 2:03.017 6 +4.052 +0.775 108.278
27 85 Jay Poscente 2:03.102 7 +4.137 +0.085 108.203
28 24 Jon Brownson 2:03.119 7 +4.154 +0.017 108.188
29 52 Ken Losch 2:03.212 6 +4.247 +0.093 108.106
30 25 Thomas Wieringa 2:03.248 12 +4.283 +0.036 108.075
31 17 Steve Hickham 2:03.806 10 +4.841 +0.558 107.588
32 91 Michael Guach 2:04.484 6 +5.519 +0.678 107.002
33 56 Dan Tomlin III 2:06.128 4 +7.163 +1.644 105.607
34 67 Richard Haskell 2:06.548 7 +7.583 +0.420 105.257
35 58 Dan Tomlin Jr. 2:07.954 9 +8.989 +1.406 104.100
36 8 Ross Smith -.--- 0 - - -
37 29 Phil Fogg Jr. -.--- 0 - - -
Purnell wins high court decision over magazine Purnell wins high court decision over magazineTony Purnell (pictured right), the former head of the Jaguar Racing Formula 1 team, successfully obtained a ruling yesterday in his High Court libel action against Business F1 magazine and its editor Tom Rubython. Mr. Justice Eady held that an attempt by the magazine and Mr. Rubython to justify an allegation made in the magazine that Mr. Purnell bribed an F1 journalist could not be sustained and should be struck out. Mr. Purnell was awarded his costs of the application and he was granted an injunction preventing BusinessF1 from repeating the allegation.

The only issue for the Jury to consider at the forthcoming libel trial is the level of damages that should be awarded to Mr. Purnell.

Dominic Crossley of the law firm Steeles who acted for Mr. Purnell said the following: "Mr. Justice Eady made it very clear that the serious allegations printed in Mr. Rubython's magazine Business F1 could not be proven to be true by Mr. Rubython and the magazine.

Mr. Purnell was determined to show that the material Business F1 had published was untrue and he is rightly delighted at the outcome".

F1 news tidbits F1 news tidbits
'06 rules not behind Ferrari refire - Schu
Michael Schumacher has denied that the return of in-race tire-changing has spurred Ferrari and Bridgestone back into form this year.

''As I've said before, we had some problems with the tires last season,'' the German said in Malaysia on Thursday.

He added: ''But our real problem was purely a performance problem.''

Schu ok with quali tweak
F1's new 'knockout' qualifying format could be tweaked to make it better, Michael Schumacher admitted in a media scrum in Malaysia.

''As long as the changes are to make things simpler, then perhaps we could (tweak the format),'' he told reporters.

Alonso warns Renault to not relax
Bahrain winner Fernando Alonso has urged Renault to work flat-out to enable him to defend his championship.

''We have to keep improving the car,'' the Spaniard said in Malaysia on Thursday afternoon.

He added: ''We need more horse power, we need to constantly improve the car. Every team is going to improve a lot, so this is not the time to relax.''

Malaysia tech file Malaysia tech fileThe Renault F1 Team explains the demands of the Sepang circuit for chassis and engine.

Sepang is what can be termed a ‘complete’ circuit in its demands on the chassis. It has high-speed corners, rapid changes of direction (particularly turns 5 and 6), and slow hairpins. In order to achieve optimum performance for these contradictory requirements we must, as always, find the correct compromise on the car set-up.

Suspension: The car must be stable and well-balanced in the fast corners, and in the braking zones for the slow corners. We will use relatively stiff settings to achieve this, while still maintaining them soft enough to have good traction in the slower corners.

Aerodynamics: We use medium high downforce to optimize the car performance in the high-speed corners and under braking.

Tires: This will be a key factor and will play a significant part in our set-up choices with the car. The quick corners coupled to high ambient temperatures put the tires under significant loadings, and the rear tires work particularly hard at this circuit. Tire degradation will be a key parameter.

Cooling: Given the high temperatures expected in Malaysia, the effective general cooling of the car will be a key to success this weekend. zzzz

Performance: With 72% of the lap spent at full throttle, Sepang is now one of the most demanding engine circuits of the year – this is the third highest value encountered all season, and represents a significant change to the V10 era. This is because of the high number of high-speed corners on the circuit. Given that the V8 engines have less power than their predecessors, this means that the drivers will spend more time on the throttle than last year.

Operating Range: The operating range of the engine is not particularly demanding at this circuit, as the engine is rarely used at very low revs. However, the high speed sections can pose their own particular problems, particularly through turns 5 and 6. The drivers use partial throttle openings at high revs on this part of the circuit, and if this is not properly managed, it can result in a phenomenon named ‘blow-by’ which can damage both the pistons and piston-rings, with gas escaping from the combustion chamber.

High Temperatures: More so than in Bahrain, we will once again have to contend with the acoustic offset caused by the high temperatures. The higher temperatures, and thus lower air density, modify the intake acoustics, and mean that maximum power is produced at higher engine speeds than at lower temperatures. This means the operating range is pushed higher than usual.

Cooling: If we need to use higher engine revs in order to extract maximum performance from the engine, this will require an increase in the already significant cooling capacity at this circuit. As always, the compromise on cooling will be between keeping the oil and water temperatures within their specified limits, and sacrificing a minimum amount of performance in order to achieve this. Renault

Scenes from Toronto Turbo Tour Scenes from Toronto Turbo TourA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com,  I attended the Toronto Turbo Tour Fan Fair last night in Toronto.  Thought you might like some photos.  I spoke at length with Justin Wilson.  He is a great guy!  Katherine Legge showed a lot of maturity.  She spoke very well and seemed very comfortable with everything.  Tagliani was cool.  He said to me that although his signing was just announced, he has actually been signed for quite some time. Bruce Davidson


Alonso talks about win and race ahead Alonso talks about win and race aheadThe world championship leader talks about last week’s win and the race ahead.

You began the season with a win – that’s a nice way to start!
FA: Yes it was! But it’s only one race. A championship is about 18 rounds, and like in 2005, we need to be consistent, and score points when we can. We have to be fighting for the podium this weekend.

Giancarlo had reliability problems in Bahrain. Are you worried?
FA: No, I’m not. We know what happened with Fisi and we have an answer. It won’t happen again. We have run thousands of kilometers without any problems during the winter, and I am very confident.

What’s at stake this weekend?
FA: It will be a difficult race for everybody, physically and mechanically. The priority will be to cool the engine properly. Our rivals are very close, and it will be close – Renault, Ferrari, Honda and McLaren are right up there. In the past, Sepang has been good for Renault and Michelin, so we have a good chance. zzzz

Who will be the biggest rivals among these teams?
FA: It is hard to say. I think it will all depend on the tires. If the Bridgestones are competitive, our main rivals will be Ferrari. If the Michelins are better, we will look to McLaren and Honda. In 2005, only McLaren and Renault were fighting for the title, and a bad weekend meant you finished P4. This year, a weekend when you are not at the maximum and you will finish 7th or 8th. So we need to work harder, be more concentrated, and develop the car more, especially when we get back to Europe.

Do you like the new qualifying session?
FA: It is a difficult, complex exercise. You need to do a lot of laps without making any mistakes. That puts the teams under a lot of pressure, the mechanics, engineers and drivers, but I think it is a good show for the fans. As always, you need to be in the top 5 to have a chance of winning. We saw it last week: Kimi was very quick but he started last. He couldn’t go for the win.

Ever since Bahrain, you seem very chilled out. Why?
FA: I am always relaxed. I try to do my best in the car, and not to worry too much about everything else apart from driving the car. This weekend, the car will be very competitive again and I will try to do my best.

Valentino Rossi has apparently challenged you to a ‘duel’ on bikes, and in F1 and WRC cars. Have you heard?
FA: I read it in the press as well. I don’t think it’s true. However, if it is, I don’t think I will have the time to do it now. I am concentrating totally on F1, sorry. Renault

Renault favored in Malaysia Renault favored in MalaysiaThe Renault F1 Team arrived in Sepang buoyant after winning the opening race of the season. The team have been ranked as favorites for the second round of the year, in the knowledge that the sweeps and curves of the demanding Malaysian circuit have always smiled on cars wearing the famous diamond badge.

Indeed, last year’s R25 was both quick and consistent in the stifling conditions, with Fernando Alonso taking pole and a comfortable win in 2005. However, the picture is quite different in 06, with up to four teams in the fight for the win. In Bahrain last week, Fernando Alonso squeaked home ahead of Michael Schumacher with just 1.2s to spare. McLaren are a major threat because although neither MP4/21 was in the hunt for the win last weekend, Kimi Raikkonen went from last place to the final podium place, which showed the potential of the silver cars. And finally, Honda will have their say too: Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello were not fighting for the win last weekend, but they believe the heat of Sepang will suit them. zzzz

As for the race, it will be a tough one for all the drivers. The Malaysian GP is traditionally the hardest of the year, and temperatures at 11:00 this morning were already at 37°C. The track was baking at 45°C, and in this harsh environment, a driver’s physical conditioning can be a determining factor. From mid-race, any loss of concentration linked to dehydration can see the drivers lose pace, or make mistakes…

The final key point will be reliability. Most of the new V8 engines arrive in Bahrain having completed 57 demanding laps of Sakhir. And they now have to face extreme conditions, where the effective cooling capacity of the cars will be critical. The teams all ‘open up’ their bodywork to ensure the engine stays within acceptable operating temperatures, and they must do it with great precision: too open, and the engine stays cool but you cost yourself vital aerodynamic performance; too closed, and the engine might fail. It’s just another one of the compromises to be made this weekend as the teams chase performance. Renault

Brumbaugh Added To Team Lexus Driver Lineup Brumbaugh Added To Team Lexus Driver LineupCOLUMBIA, SC – Team Lexus has named Andy Brumbaugh as the primary reserve and test driver for the 2006 ALMS season.  Brumbaugh will also be the lead third driver for the longer races.  He joins the stout driver lineup of Chuck Goldsborough, Townsend Bell, Jean-Francois Dumoulin and Terry Borcheller.

Team Lexus has served as Lexus' factory team since 1999. After a successful run in the Grand Am Cup series with two championships and numerous wins, pole positions and podium finishes, the team makes the move into the ALMS GT2 class in 2006 with a two-car IS 350 team prepared under the new "S2" standard.

“Andy drove for us in 2004,” said team owner Chuck Goldsborough.  “He came to us with little sports car experience but I knew of him from his karting and open-wheel championships.  He worked hard, was very professional and learned quickly.  Before the end of the season he was as fast as anyone on the team and was the top qualifier for a number of races.  He is just plain fast!” zzzz

As it enters ALMS competition, Team Lexus will be debuting the new Lexus IS 350 racer that is based upon the all-new 2006 IS 350 luxury sport sedan introduced last fall. The second-generation IS marks the third different Lexus model prepared for road racing competition in the U.S. following the GS 400 and the IS 300. The ALMS will hold 10 North American events in 2006 with five being televised on CBS and five on Speed Channel. The majority of the races are "sprint" races of two hours and 45 minutes in length. The longest event is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, the oldest sports car race in America.

Another first for Kubica Another first for KubicaBMW Sauber F1’s official test driver Robert Kubica is eagerly looking forward to the Malaysian Grand Prix this coming weekend where once again, he will support the Hinwil based squad in the Friday free practice sessions, the Sepang circuit representing virgin soil for him.

Over the course of his motor racing career thus far, Robert has had the opportunity of visiting the majority of the circuits that form the Grand Prix calendar however the Sepang track is a completely new venue for the 21-year old.

"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," he says.

In his first appearance last week in Bahrain, the young Pole delivered in fine style and even set the fastest lap time in the first free practice session so now he is determined to make a contribution to the team's success in Malaysia.

"The Bahrain race weekend has demonstrated very clearly that it is important to gather extensive data on the Friday. Quite obviously, it's my goal to support the team as well as I can and it will be important for me to clock up plenty of laps and run through the planned schedule completely," he said adding that when it comes to Malaysia's special weather conditions, with its extreme humidity and heat and as he has never driven in such an extreme climate as Malaysia, he will gain some valuable experience. BMW

Lopez quickest as testing resumes in France Lopez quickest as testing resumes in FranceJose Maria Lopez has topped the times for Super Nova International on the first morning of testing at Circuit Paul Ricard. With temperatures up nearing 15 degrees and not a hint of wind around the track, the second test session of the 2006 GP2 series season began under perfect conditions this morning at Circuit Paul Ricard, France. With only four test sessions in total before the first race weekend of the season in Valencia on 8-9 April, everyone was eager to get out on track at 09:00 and the morning session saw a flurry of activity all around the circuit.

The quickest man of the morning was Jose Maria Lopez who topped the timesheets with a 1:13.126. The Argentine ran a total of 29 laps this morning, two less than both the second and third placed drivers. Those positions went to Xandi Negrao, who continued the promising pace that he and the Piquet Sports squad had shown here in February, with Lewis Hamilton third for ART Grand Prix.

The times this morning were once again incredibly close, with the top 18 drivers eventually covered by less than one second. ZZZZ

Following the top three this morning was Tristan Gommendy for iSport in his best GP2 series session to date. His team-mate Ernesto Viso ran in the sixth fastest time with Nelson Piquet Jr forming the meat in the iSport sandwich in fifth. Hiroki Yoshimoto finished seventh for BCN Competicion, with Alex Premat eighth in the #1 ART Grand Prix car, Fairuz Fauzy a promising ninth for Super Nova International and Nicolas Lapierre tenth for Arden International.

Testing resumes at 14:00 local time.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1 LOPEZ Super Nova International 01:13.126 29
2 NEGRAO Piquet Sports 01:13.266 31
3 HAMILTON ART Grand Prix 01:13.405 31
4 GOMMENDY iSport International 01:13.472 27
5 PIQUET Jr Piquet Sports 01:13.599 34
6 VISO iSport International 01:13.611 38
7 YOSHIMOTO BCN Competicion 01:13.664 17
8 PREMAT ART Grand Prix 01:13.743 34
9 FAUZY Super Nova International 01:13.837 33
10 LAPIERRE Arden International 01:13.882 33
11 PERERA DAMS 01:13.909 24
12 DI GRASSI Durango 01:13.929 24
13 ZUBER Trident Racing 01:13.964 41
14 VALLES Campos Racing 01:14.047 29
15 FILIPPI FMS International 01:14.076 28
16 PORTEIRO Campos Racing 01:14.080 23
17 BRUNI Trident Racing 01:14.102 20
18 CARROLL Racing Engineering 01:14.106 23
19 GLOCK BCN Competicion 01:14.206 21
20 PLA DPR Direxiv 01:14.272 33
21 PICCIONE DPR Direxiv 01:14.517 30
22 HERNANDEZ Durango 01:14.803 36
23 VILLA Racing Engineering 01:15.164 17
24 TAHINCI FMS International 01:16.090 37

Bridgestone Malaysia Preview Bridgestone Malaysia PreviewAfter the encouraging start to this season’s FIA Formula One World Championship in Bahrain last weekend which saw Bridgestone’s teams come away with pole position, points, a podium and the fastest race lap between them, Bridgestone Motorsport is eager to capitalize on the results of round one.

Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher arrives in Malaysia in second place in the championship and will undoubtedly be aiming for the top step of the podium at this weekend’s 56-lap Malaysian Grand Prix. The WilliamsF1 team drivers Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg will again be making the most of having Friday test driver Alex Wurz to do their tire ground work and after their strong points scoring performances in Bahrain, will be aiming for the podium this weekend too.

Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli had a less encouraging start to their season but will be working closely with Bridgestone’s engineers to solve their grip problems and get their season properly underway. The MF1 Racing and Super Aguri teams will also be looking to build on their Bahrain performances.

The 2006 tire regulations permit each driver seven sets of dry tires, four sets of wet weather tires and three sets of extreme wet weather tires.
Combined with the increased number of teams running with Bridgestone in 2006, approximately 1,200 Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tires have been sent from the Technical Centre in Kodaira City, Tokyo, to Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit. zzzz

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Motorsport
“The Bridgestone Motorsport team has come away from the Bahrain Grand Prix greatly encouraged. I also think the new qualifying format has really spiced things up for the teams and fans. From our point of view we know there is still a lot of hard work to come yet but it was a fantastic way to start the season. I am very impressed with the potential amongst our five teams and anticipate seeing some great drives from them this year."

"Considerable efforts have been made this winter by our engineers both in the UK and Japan to give our teams competitive tires and although some teams are still un-tapping the potential of the Bridgestone tires, I am confident that we have several strong team-tire manufacturer packages this year. Having seen Michael Schumacher on the podium in Bahrain, our aim this weekend is to put a Bridgestone driver on the top step and as many drivers in the points as possible.”

Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager
“For Malaysia we will need high performing tires for a hot and humid climate on a circuit which is very demanding on the rears. Having seen our performance in Bahrain we are confident that the specifications of Bridgestone Potenza F1 tires the teams have chosen will cope with these demands. Good consistency from the rear tires is a key factor at the Sepang circuit. The track, which has a smooth surface and therefore requires compounds from the medium to soft range, is an exciting mix of high and low speed corners."

"The issue here, however, is how to keep the tire temperatures down in the tires. The drivers will need good balance, traction and grip through the slow speed corners and for that they will want lower tire temperatures. This is not easy when a slow speed corner follows a heat generating high speed corner. To assist our teams we shall be providing them with the same series of new tire constructions and compounds which performed so competitively in Bahrain.” Source Bridgestone

Sepang: Thursday Press Conference Sepang: Thursday Press Conference
Toyota still scratching their head Toyota still scratching their headToyota still have not figured out what went wrong with their cars in a miserable start to the F1 season in Bahrain last weekend, Ralf Schumacher said on Thursday.

"I think it's pretty simple to see that we have a lot of work to do," Schumacher told a news conference at the Malaysian Grand Prix on Thursday.

"Having said that, everything is possible. It's a different track, different weekend, so let's see how it works out here.

"The car was a bit difficult to drive but that had to do with a combination of car and tires," added Ralf, who won in Malaysia with Williams in 2002.

"The track conditions should be a bit better for us so it should be a lot better here. At the same time we have to admit that we still have to understand the reasons for Bahrain, and it still hasn't happened yet."

Brands A1GP to become season finale in 2007 Brands A1GP to become season finale in 2007The British round of the A1 Grand Prix championship will once again be held at Brands Hatch on the Grand Prix circuit as the three year deal continues, though for the second, 2006/7 season, it has been agreed that this will be held at the end of the A1GP calendar in April 2007.

MotorSport Vision Chief Executive, Jonathan Palmer, said: "A1 Grand Prix was a huge success for both Brands Hatch and A1GP last September and we are eager to build on the event and make it bigger still for next season's race. Originally A1GP confirmed 27 August with us and our race calendar was obviously finalized around this date with the race being supported by the F3/GT championship. Following A1GP personnel changes in December we have been working closely with the new Chief Executive, David Clare, to find a way of helping in his quest to move to a later date. We were however anxious to respect the agreements made with all the clubs, events and races on our 2006 calendar so have agreed with David that the second season will end, rather than begin, at Brands Hatch.

"We are all very excited by this as the race will now take place at the traditional time of one of the great Brands Hatch single seater races, the Race of Champions. British fans can follow the build up through the winter racing drought as the 2006/7 A1GP title chase reaches a climax and look forward to kicking off the 2007 year with another spectacular event".

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
JV's BMW boost in disguise
Rossi dares Alonso to back-up boast
Max repeats 2008 warning to teams
F1's never looked healthier - reports
Mondini enters 'MF1' spotlight
Toyota ask Bridgestone for softer tires
Peter Sauber in Malaysia
'Schu will win' - manager
German GP is on - spokesman
Heidfeld praised despite FIA slap
TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for Friday

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Formula 1 Practice Malaysia
1:00am-2:00am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Atlanta
4:00pm-5:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Qualifying Atlanta
5:00pm-6:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Atlanta
6:30pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Atlanta
7:00pm-9:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck  Atlanta
9:00pm-11:30pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Atlanta
11:30pm-12:30am (L) SPEED

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

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