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DATE News (chronologically)
03/17/09
atlantic
Conquest Racing to Field Second Car  Conquest Racing today confirmed that British racecar driver James Winslow will be behind the wheel of their #12 Atlantic car at this week’s Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda race at Sebring International Raceway. Winslow will be joining teammate Harald Schlegelmilch who drives the team’s #21 entry.  (See related article)

Winslow, the reigning Australian Formula 3 champion, will be making his Atlantic debut at the 3.7-mile, 17-turn road course which hosts the famed 12-hours of Sebring race. Although this will be his first time aboard an Atlantic car, Winslow is already familiar with the Conquest Racing team.

“I know the team having tested a Champ Car with them before in 2007 and got on with them really well,” said the 25-year-old Winslow. “I'm very confident that Conquest will put out a very strong car at Sebring and I'm looking forward to repaying their faith in selecting me as one of their drivers for this race." More ...

03/17/09
atlantic
36th Atlantic season kicks off in Sebring  The 36th anniversary season of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda gets underway on Friday at Sebring International Raceway as part of the American Le Mans Series Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida festivities.

This weekend’s race is the first of 12 for the Atlantic Championship in 2009, with a $1 million payday awaiting the series champion at season’s end and a $50,000 prize for this weekend’s race winner. The entry list features 21 cars and a deep and talented field of drivers ready for battle.

If times from Tuesday’s promoter test day at Sebring are any indication, 2008 Star Mazda champion John Edwards may be the man to beat on Friday afternoon. Edwards topped the Tuesday time charts with a best lap at 1:53.957 in the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine for Newman Wachs Racing. The 18-year-old from Cincinnati, Ohio returns to the Atlantic Championship this season after a one-year absence during which he claimed the Star Mazda title. Two years ago, Edwards became the youngest driver in Atlantic history at the age of 16 and scored a career-best result of second at Toronto. More ...
03/17/09
alms
Acura's new ARX-02a sports cars debut this weekend  
Acura's new ARX-02a
The initial outing of a new season comes with excitement and nervousness for any team.  Whether it’s football, basketball, baseball, soccer or even auto racing, the debut of a new product in a new year brings a variety of anxious moments before the opening event. 

It will not be any different for the new Acura Motorsports teams coming to this weekend’s 57th annual Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, one of the world’s most prestigious racing contests and American Le Mans Series opener.

The Patr¢n Highcroft and de Ferran Motorsports organizations bring the all-new Acura ARX-02a sports car to the legendary Florida circuit in the quest of the coveted title in the grueling 12-hour endurance race.  The event marks Acura’s debut run in sports car racing’s ultimate division, the LMP1 class.   

Patr¢n Highcroft  Racing’s driver lineup includes 24 Hours of Le Mans winner David Brabham, 2007 Indy 500 champ Dario Franchitti and former IndyCar Series titleholder Scott Sharp, while the de Ferran team features the 2003 Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran, 2008 Indy champion Scott Dixon and young French star Simon Pagenaud. More ...

03/17/09
f1
Ferrari Stockholders Meeting - Profits up  Maranello, March 17th 2009 - The Annual General Ferrari Stockholders' Meeting took place today under the chairmanship of Chairman Luca di Montezemolo.

The Meeting approved the 2008 balance sheet and annual report which, as announced over the last few days, revealed record results across all of the main economic indicators. The first and foremost of these was, of course, profitability with the ROS (Return on Sales) rising to 17.6%. Ferrari recorded revenues of 1,921 million euro (+15.2%) in 2008 with its Brand-related activities (licensing, retail and ecommerce) growing particularly strongly (28%). Investments were up to 18% of turnover too. More ...

03/17/09
nassprint
Q&A with Kurt Busch  
DENISE MALOOF:
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR cam video teleconference in advance of this weekend's racing at Bristol Motor Speedway, which includes Sunday's Food City 500.

Our guest today, joining us from the Penske Racing headquarters in Mooresville, South Carolina, is the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. Kurt comes into Bristol third in the series standings and comes off a victory two weeks ago in Atlanta. He has five Bristol victories in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, and he's tied with Jeff Gordon for the most Bristol wins among active drivers.

Kurt, welcome.

KURT BUSCH: Hey, Denise, it's good to see you and talk to everybody.

DENISE MALOOF: You have such a great start to the season, even though we're so early into 2009. Now you come into one of your best tracks. It's obviously a big, big week for you.

KURT BUSCH: We're definitely pumped up with how our season has started. Daytona is one thing. Then to evaluate where you are in the mile-and-a-half's is another. The third step for this season to get under our belt is short tracks, Bristol and Martinsville. We're hoping we can blend in the setups that we've figured out so far this year into Bristol and into Martinsville.

But that's going to be the big challenge. Nobody knows what to expect because we haven't had much pre-season testing to help us with the short tracks.

But we feel like we've got our homework done. Went down to New Smyrna Speedway in Florida and tried to get used to the short track feel of things again. More ...

03/17/09
track news
Cholula Hot Sauce added as LBGP sponsor  There'll be more than just hot race cars scorching the streets of Long Beach April 16-19!

Cholula Hot Sauce - "The Flavorful Fire" - will be adding even more heat to the 35th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach as the race's Official Hot Sauce.

During Sunday's pre-race ceremonies, Cholula will present the IndyCar polesitter with the "Hot Lap Award," a $2,000 check to be donated to the charity of his or her choice.  And, the Cholula brand name will be highly visible throughout race weekend on the Shoreline Drive pedestrian bridge. More ...

03/17/09
alms
Peugeot’s Nic Minassian on top Tuesday in Sebring  UPDATE
Tuesday Times
Pos Car CL CP Driver Lap Time Behind 1st Behind Prior
1 07 P1 1 Klein, Minassian, Lamy Peugeot 1:44.555 --- ---
2 2 P1 2 Capello, Kristiansen, McNish Audi 1:44.814 -0.259 -0.259
3 1 P1 3 Werner, Luhr, Rockefeller Audi 1:45.630 -1.075 -0.816
4 66 P1 4 Dixon, de Ferran, Pagenaud Acura 1:45.714 -1.159 -0.084
5 9 P1 5 Franchitti, Brabham, Sharp Acura 1:48.020 -3.465 -2.306
6 16 P2 1 Lally, Dyson, Smith Lola Mazda 1:51.733 -7.178 -3.713
7 37 P1 6 Ducote, Field, Field Lola AER 1:52.812 -8.257 -1.079
8 3 GT1 1 Magnussen, O'Connell Garcia Corvette 1:58.196 -13.641 -5.384
9 4 GT1 2 Beretta, Gavin, Fassler Corvette 1:59.042 -14.487 -0.846
10 12 P1 7 McMurry, Burgess/Willman Lola AER 2:02.842 -18.287 -3.800
11 95 GT2 1 Bruni, Companc, Russo Ferrari 430 GT 2:02.842 -18.287 -0.000
12 87 GT2 2 Lietz, Henzler, Werner Porsche 911 2:03.684 -19.129 -0.842
13 62 GT2 3 Kaffer, Melo, Salo, Ferrari 430 GT 2:03.740 -19.185 -0.056
14 45 GT2 4 Bergmeister, Long, Lieb Porsche 911 2:03.877 -19.322 -0.137
15 92 GT2 5 Mueller, Milner BMW M3 2:04.521 -19.966 -0.644
16 90 GT2 6 Auberlen, Hand BMW M3 2:05.109 -20.554 -0.588
17 21 GT2 7 Farnbacher, James Panoz 2:05.266 -20.711 -0.157
18 007 GT2 8 Cocker, Bell, Drayson Aston Martin 2:05.746 -21.191 -0.480
19 61 GT2 9 van de Poele, Kroh 2:05.839 -21.284 -0.093
20 40 GT2 10 Carlisle, Darrell 2:06.254 -21.699 -0.415
21 28 GT2 11 Molo, Gigliotti/Cu 2:06.406 -21.851 -0.152
22 44 GT2 12 van Overbeek, Law/ 2:06.530 -21.975 -0.124
23 11 GT2 13 Heniff, Robert 2:07.171 -22.616 -0.641

Peugeot 908 HDi
03/17/09 Official practice starts Wednesday with the race set for 10:30 a.m. ET on Saturday.

The Frenchman, at Sebring International Raceway for the second straight year with the diesel-powered Peugeot 908 HDi, turned in a best lap of 1:44.555. He is teaming with Pedro Lamy and Christian Klien in one of the two Peugeot factory prototype coupes.

Minassian was 0.259 seconds quicker around the 17-turn, 3.7-mile circuit than Audi Sport Team Joest’s Dindo Capello in one of the two brand new Audi R15 TDI prototypes. Making their worldwide event debut, the Audis sat second and third overall with Marco Werner at 1:45.630.

Acura, like Audi, is debuting a new prototype this week. Scott Dixon was the quickest of Acura’s P1 pilots with a lap of 1:45.714 in the de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-02a. More ...

03/17/09
f1
Ecclestone welcomes F1 changes  Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has applauded the decision that will see the world title go to the driver who wins the most races. Lewis Hamilton would have missed out to Felipe Massa last year if such a ruling had been in force instead of winning his crown by a single point from the Brazilian.

At the time Ecclestone suggested an 'Olympic-style' medals system, with drivers awarded gold, silver and bronze, with the championship won by the driver collecting most golds.

The WMSC, the decision-making arm of world governing body the FIA, has agreed to a winner-takes-all F1, although there is no provision to award medals.

Ecclestone, though, was happy enough as he said: "If I need a gold medal to win the championship, I will overtake.

"It's just not on that someone can win the championship without winning a race."

Bemoaning the previous points system, Ecclestone told BBC Radio 5 Live: "If you're in the lead and I'm second, I wouldn't want to risk falling off the circuit or doing something stupid to get two points."

If two or more drivers finish the season with the same number of wins, the title will go to the driver with the most points, based on the current system

The remainder of the standings, from second to last place, will be decided by the current points system, with the constructors' championship unaffected.

The WMSC rejected an alternative option from the Formula One Teams' Association to change the points awarded to drivers finishing first, second and third to 12, nine and seven points respectively.

But the WMSC have only tinkered with F1 for now, with Ecclestone adding: "The decision was unanimously agreed by the World Council.

"But we will leave all points in all of the other championships as they are at the moment."

03/17/09
ga
Grand-Am, Camp Boggy Creek Partner for Inaugural Road Rally  Have a passion for sports cars? Have a desire to support a worthy cause? You can do both this October, and have fun in the process.

The inaugural Grand-Am Sports Car Road Rally, a four-day, three-night journey through the mountains of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, will take place Oct. 15-18, less than a week following the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The rally is an all-inclusive package that includes hotel accommodations, meals, fuel, apparel, ride and drive at Virginia International Raceway and more.

The event, which will visit some of the most luxurious resorts in the area and provide participants with some of the most beautiful scenery in the U.S., will benefit and bring awareness to Camp Boggy Creek, the official charity of Grand-Am. Camp Boggy Creek enriches the lives of children who have life-threatening illness by creating camping experiences that are memorable, exciting, fun, empowering, physically safe and medically sound. More ...
03/17/09
fil
Donoso signs with Brian Stewart Racing  Pablo Donoso, who claimed a win in his rookie season in Firestone Indy Lights in 2008, has signed with Brian Stewart Racing for the 2009 season. Donoso, who won the second race at Infineon Raceway and earned his first pole position at Milwaukee, will drive the No. 33 car for veteran team owner Brian Stewart.

"Pablo is not afraid to step on the gas, and I think we can do a good job for him and help him fight for the championship," Stewart said. "He's got the experience of a full season in the car and is a very good driver. I got to know him last year, and I like him. I couldn't be happier to add a driver of his ability, especially at this time of year."

Donoso, who is managed by former IndyCar Series competitor Eliseo Salazar, finished seventh in points in 2008 despite competing with three teams. The 22-year-old native of Santiago, Chile competed with Stewart's team on the ovals at Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway. More ...

03/17/09
irl
IndyCar Weekly will air live on indycar.com  IndyCar Weekly, a radio show hosted by Mike King, lead announcer for the IMS Radio Network, will air live on indycar.com beginning March 30.

The show will be broadcast every Monday through mid-October from 7-8 p.m. (ET). Many weeks IndyCar Weekly will follow the Firestone Indy Lights race show and IndyCar Series race replay that will air on VERSUS from 4-7 p.m.

IndyCar Weekly, which will feature special guests, listener Q&As and timely news from the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights, will be produced for IMS Radio Network affiliates’ replay during the week. It’s also available via Podcast and archived for listening on demand on indycar.com.

“It’s more interactive; that’s the best part about it,” King said. “We want to carry over that momentum from the weekend broadcast. We found last year when we opened up the lines of communication between the broadcast booth and listeners and they were able to e-mail us questions we made instant connections. Now to be able to feature Davey Hamilton in a segment that’s live and to be able to have a driver from the IndyCar Series or Firestone Indy Lights on live, it just makes it that much more interactive.” More ...

03/17/09
nassprint
Ginn says DEI owes Hendrick 80 percent of $1.5 million  Former team owner Bobby Ginn contends that he owes only 20 percent of the $1.5 million that Hendrick Motorsports is seeking from Ginn Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. because of the termination of Ginn’s engine contract with Hendrick in 2007, according to court documents.

Hendrick Motorsports is suing DEI and Ginn in North Carolina Superior Court over the termination fee resulting from the merger of DEI and Ginn in July 2007.

DEI claims Ginn Racing and Ginn are responsible for a $1.5 million fee that was due Nov. 15, 2008. Ginn states in a recent filing that because a new entity was created that was 80 percent owned by DEI and 20 percent owned by Ginn, that DEI is responsible for 80 percent of the fee due Hendrick. More ...

03/17/09
f1
Ferrari boss blasts budget caps  
Luca di Montezemolo
Formula One stands on the brink of upheaval as the FIA have today been accused of potentially abandoning the sport's principles.  The strong words come from Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari president and chairman of the Formula One Teams' Association, the body who have adopted a positive stance in the face of the current climate.

"With regard to the decisions taken today by the FIA World Council, FOTA would like to express its disappointment and concern at the fact that these have been taken in a unilateral manner," said di Montezemolo.

"The framework of the regulations as defined by the FIA, to be applicable as from 2010, runs the risk of turning on its head the very essence of Formula One and the principles that make it one of the most popular and appealing sports.

"Given the timeframe and the way in which these modifications were decided upon, we feel it is necessary to study closely the new situation.

"We will do everything, especially in these difficult times, to maintain a stable framework for the regulations without continuous upheaval that can be perplexing and confusing for manufacturers, teams, the public and sponsors."

"Back in December when we met the teams in Monaco, we would have agreed all this was unnecessary," explained Mosley. More ...

03/17/09
f1
Jean Todt resigns from Ferrari  
Jean Todt
Former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt has severed all ties with the Maranello company.

Todt had previously held a number of posts after resigning as CEO last year, but he has now decided to quit Ferrari altogether.

The Frenchman was instrumental in resurrecting the fortunes of the previously ailing team after joining them in 1993, overseeing Michael Schumacher's rise to dominance.

Praising Todt's contribution, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said: "Jean Todt has been one of the leading protagonists of the Ferrari story of the last 15 years.

"Skill and passion have always characterized his work and have won him my personal respect and affection, the one of the company as a whole, and of the Prancing Horse enthusiasts everywhere.

"I would like to wish him the very best for the future which I hope will prove extremely satisfying both personally and professionally. More ...

03/17/09
irl
KV Racing to test at Barber  KV Racing Technology will participate in two tests in preparation for the start of the 2009 IndyCar Series season beginning with a two-day open test at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama on March 22 and 23 followed by a day at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida on March 25.

KVRT previously tested at Homestead – Miami Speedway on February 24-25 where driver Mario Moraes, #5 KV Racing Technology – Votorantim Honda/Dallara/Firestone, was sixth on the combined speed charts. 

With the first two events of the 2009 season on street circuits, at St. Petersburg, April 5 and Long Beach, April 19, the tests at Barber and Sebring, both road courses, are extremely important to KVRT as they prepare for the start of the 2009 season. More ...

03/17/09
f1
Jerez Day 3: Button puts Brawn back on top  Jenson Button concluded the Brawn GP team's pre-season program in Jerez this afternoon, topping the timesheets on the final day of testing ahead of the new Formula One season.

Button's best lap of 1:17.844 was about half a second faster than the time set by Spain's two-time world champion Fernando Alonso when he broke Brawn's impressive testing form on Monday.

With seven valuable days of running completed with the BGP 001 car in Barcelona and Jerez, the team will now return to its Brackley base to complete the final preparations for the first race in Melbourne on 29 March.  It cannot be overstated how key Ross Brawn was to the success of Ferrari during the Michael Schumacher days as he has taken an underperforming Honda team into now what appears to be the fastest car in F1, all in one year.

JENSON BUTTON
"We have had a very useful test in Jerez this week, particularly today where we have been able to fine-tune the set-up of the car to my liking ahead of the first race. Even after such a short testing program, I feel that we are ready for the challenge ahead in Melbourne, however we will still need every minute of the Friday practice sessions to make the most of our first race weekend."

ROSS BRAWN, Team Principal
"The conclusion of this week's test in Jerez brings our short pre-season testing program with the BGP 001 to a successful conclusion. Our program to date has been dominated by the requirement to prove the car's reliability however we are also pleased with the competitive lap times that we have seen from the car over the past two weeks. The test in Jerez has been particularly useful and allowed the drivers to complete valuable chassis set-up work and evaluate the Bridgestone Potenza tire compounds which we will use in Melbourne. I would like to thank the team and our drivers for all their hard work over the past few weeks as we look forward to the first race and the opportunity to finally see the car in action in a competitive environment."

Tuesday Test Times
Pos Driver Team Car Time Behind Laps
1. J. Button Brawn GP BGP 001 1:17.844 +0.000 95
2. N. Rosberg Williams FW31 1:18.071 +0.227 71
3. N. Piquet Jr. Renault R29 1:18.382 +0.538 107
4. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-24 1:19.121 +1.277 89
03/17/09
f1
FIA press release on F1 changes  The World Motor Sport Council met in Paris on 17 March 2009. The following decisions were taken:

FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

A number of measures were agreed to help reduce costs and increase interest in the FIA Formula One World Championship.

2009 Formula One Regulations

Points

The WMSC accepted the proposal from Formula One Management to award the drivers' championship to the driver who has won the most races during the season. If two or more drivers finish the season with the same number of wins, the title will be awarded to the driver with the most points, the allocation of points being based on the current 10, 8, 6 etc. system.

The rest of the standings, from second to last place, will be decided by the current points system. There is no provision to award medals for first, second or third place. The Constructors’ Championship is unaffected.

The WMSC rejected the alternative proposal from the Formula One Teams’ Association to change the points awarded to drivers finishing in first, second and third place to 12, 9 and 7 points respectively. More ...

03/17/09
transam
Sunoco Named Official Fuel of Trans-Am  Sunoco Race Fuels has been named the Official Fuel of the Muscle Milk® SCCA Trans-Am® Series, bringing two classic motorsports brands – Sunoco and Trans-Am—back together in 2009.

Throughout the rich history of the Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series, Sunoco has been there—not only as an official sponsor, but most famously as the sponsor of Mark Donohue’s Championship-winning Penske Racing Chevrolet Camaro in the late 1960s.

“Sunoco is excited to be involved again with Trans-Am,” Sunoco Race Fuels National Sales Manager Bill Corwin said. “Our history goes back to the Sunoco Blue Camaros of the 1960s. I remember the thrill and excitement of Trans-Am glory days and know that a new generation of race fans will get a chance to experience a fantastic series." More ...

03/17/09
f1
Q&A with Max Mosley on F1 Budget caps  
Max Mosley
The World Motor Sport Council agreed a radical addendum to the current Formula 1 Technical Regulations to come into force for 2010. The aim is to make it easier for new teams to enter and also allow existing teams to participate on much reduced budgets should they so choose.

The new approach gives teams a choice. They can either run under the current Technical Regulations (as modified in consultation with FOTA) or have greater technical freedom but be subject to a stringent and rigorously enforced expenditure cap.

In essence, this is a choice between (i) the current freedom to spend and continued adherence to the existing technical constraints and (ii) a new degree of freedom to innovate technically but with a severely restricted budget. The technical freedoms accorded to the low-budget teams will be adjusted from time to time to keep their median performance on a par with the median performance of the unlimited-expenditure teams. The regulations for the unlimited-expenditure teams will remain stable and fixed. More ...

03/17/09
f1
Sato's manager critical of Red Bull  (GMM)  With Takuma Sato's F1 career likely over, his manager has taken a parting shot at Red Bull.

The Japanese driver tested several times over the winter for the energy drink company's Ferrari-powered secondary team Toro Rosso, but the race seat ultimately fell to incumbent Sebastien Bourdais, with 32-year-old Sato also failing to agree a deal as reserve driver.

At the end of the saga, Sato's manager Andrew Gilbert-Scott is unimpressed.

"What they said and what happened often did not match up," he is quoted as saying by the Swiss specialist publication Motorsport Aktuell.

"I tried to arrange a discussion with Dietrich Mateschitz, but he didn't want it," Gilbert-Scott added.  "It was always 'get sponsors, get sponsors!'.

"Everything was confusing, not open, disappointing."

Gilbert-Scott also alluded to the link between Bourdais' appointment and the surname of the Frenchman's manager Nicolas Todt, whose father Jean headed the Ferrari team until 2007.

He is now exploring options for Sato, who contested 93 grands prix between 2002 and last year, in America.

"We are looking at IRL or sports car projects in the United States," Gilbert-Scott revealed.

03/17/09
f1
FIA introduces voluntary budget cap for 2010  (GMM)  The FIA on Tuesday announced that a voluntary budget cap will apply in formula one next year.

Following a meeting in Paris of the World Motor Sport Council, the body said the annual limit, set for now at 33m euros, will be "an alternative to running under the existing rules" which will remain unchanged until 2012 according to a deal reached with the FOTA alliance.

The budget cap is clearly designed to make the sport accessible to existing and new independent outfits, while allowing the bigger teams to keep spending bigger amounts of money.

The catch for the non-capped teams will be less technical freedom than the capped teams, who will be able to run a more efficient (standard) underbody, moveable wings, and engines without rev limits or frozen development.

Capped teams will also have no limits on testing, and FIA president Max Mosley said a bigger-capacity KERS is a possibility.

"The FIA has the right to adjust elements of these freedoms to ensure that the cost-capped cars have neither an advantage nor a disadvantage when compared to cars running to the existing rules," a statement read.

The 33m figure will cover "all expenditure of any kind", including driver and team boss salaries, and only excluding the motor home and FIA fines.

"These rules will encourage clever engineering -- success will come to the teams with the best ideas, not only the teams with the most money," said Mosley.

He said "very intrusive audits" and the fear of "severe penalties" will deter capped teams from overspending, and that the number of teams allowed in F1 will be increased from the current 12.

"We understand that FOM will pay the cost-capped teams on the same basis as other teams and will also provide $10 million plus the standard transport package for the 11th and 12th teams starting in 2010," added Mosley.

03/17/09
f1
F1 drivers required to be more accessible  Formula 1 will become more accessible to fans and media under new rules ratified by a meeting of the FIA World Council in Paris today.

Drivers will have to make themselves available for autograph signings in their designated team space in the pit lane on the first day of practice. Drivers who are knocked out in qualifying must be available for media interviews at the end of each session and all drivers must do the same during and after the race, depending on what has happened to them. During the races each team must have at least one senior spokesperson available for interviews by officially accredited TV crews.

In order to improve the quality of F1's presentation the FIA will publish car weights after qualifying. The tires will have different nomenclature with wet tires becoming known as intermediates and extreme weather tires becoming wets.

03/17/09
f1
Wins to decide 2009 champion - FIA  (GMM)  The World Motor Sport Council on Tuesday rejected F1 teams' unanimous proposal to tweak the formula one points system.

However, the governing FIA did adopt a variant of Bernie Ecclestone's 'medals' idea, to be implemented immediately, where the winner of the most grands prix is crowned 2009 world champion.

Unlike on Olympic rostrums, there will be no actual medals awarded, with the existing 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 points system still applying to both the drivers' and constructors' tallies.

But, using the example of the 2008 season, if the winner of the most races (Felipe Massa) lags his closest rival (Lewis Hamilton) in points, the former would win the championship according to the new system.

And "if two or more drivers finish the season with the same number of wins, the title will be awarded to the driver with the most points," the FIA said in a statement after a meeting in Paris.

Also on Tuesday, the FIA rubber-stamped a number of measures to enhance spectators' enjoyment of the sport via the media.

For instance, the weights of cars will be published after qualifying, and mandatory driver autograph sessions and interviews will take place at races.

Also, Brawn GP's name change was officially accepted.

03/17/09
f1
Gauteng backing moves from Renault to BMW  UPDATE (GMM)  The commercial backing of the South African province Gauteng has moved from Renault to BMW-Sauber ahead of the 2009 season.

It was announced on Tuesday that the GO-GP.ORG logo will feature on the front wing endplates and nose of the 2009 car, as well as the drivers' helmets and overalls, at the start of what team boss Mario Theissen described as a "long-term" deal.

"We will be working closely with BMW and our other motor sport partners to restore the prominence of South Africa in formula one and our local motor sport industry," Gauteng's Mandla Nkomfe said.

The logos were not visible when BMW-Sauber concluded its 2009 pre-season test program with the F1.09 at Barcelona last week.

03/17/09 The BMW Sauber F1 Team will go into the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship with another new Official Partner. The GO-GP.ORG logo will travel with the team around the world as an invitation to the Gauteng Province in South Africa. More ...
03/17/09
f1
TSN cancels popular F1 pre-race program  The good news today is that The Sports Network (TSN) will broadcast all Formula One races and qualifying sessions live this year, starting a week from Sunday with the Grand Prix of Australia.

The bad news is that a couple of familiar faces and voices will be missing from the broadcasts.

For years, TSN's F1 coverage has featured a 30-minute pre-race show hosted by Vic Rauter that included expert commentary and analysis from Gerald Donaldson, a Canadian journalist and author of some two-dozen books on Formula One.

Rauter would introduce the race and talk about the circuit, the point standings and so on and then conduct a telephone interview direct from the paddock with Donaldson, who would fill viewers in on the latest news, gossip and controversies.

After the race, they'd do a review before wrapping things up. More ...

03/17/09
nassprint
U.S. Army returns on the #39 Chevy  If there were a time to exemplify Army Strong this would be it for Ryan Newman and the #39 Stewart-Haas Racing team as they prepare for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The race will mark the return of the U.S. Army primary paint scheme for Newman's Chevy, which last ran in full Army colors at the Feb. 15 season-opening Daytona 500. "So far, it's been a challenging time," said Newman, who is 32nd in points after the first four races. "To be honest we've had fast cars. We know where we're at performance wise and it's a lot better than what our finishing results show. We've just had too many hiccups and unforced problems that have stalled our momentum. I am looking forward to getting back in the Army Chevy. Driving the Soldiers' car is an added inspiration." It's been feast or famine for Newman in 14 career starts at Bristol. He has produced top-10 results in half of the races, but has also finished in the 30s six times and once in the 20s. His best Bristol result was runner-up to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the 2004 summer race. Newman has two poles and nine top-10 qualifying efforts at Bristol. His two poles came in the spring races of 2003 and 2004. U.S. Army Racing PR
03/17/09
f1
BMW says KERS is race ready  BMW say their new energy storage and power boost system (KERS) is ready for the start of the season on 29 March.

The technology stores energy that would have been wasted while braking and allows drivers a boost of an extra 80bhp for seven seconds each lap.

BMW are the first team to say their system is ready - but have not decided whether to use it.

"Our KERS is race-ready," said team boss Mario Theissen. "Now it is just a matter of weighing the pros and cons." More ...

03/17/09
irl
Q&A with Kevin Savoree on St. Pete GP  Indycar.com caught up with Kevin Savoree for five questions regarding the event and Andretti Green Promotions.

Q: How valuable is that as a promoter to have the city government behind this project?

A: Mayor (Rick) Baker has been the biggest cheerleader. I think as much, too, he had a vision. I think the City Council sees that because if they didn't I don't think we would have gotten the extension that we were able to sign last year. I think that consensus of support that we have there goes to the city. You've got a lot of great race fans there and they turn out for the event. It starts with the mayor, goes to the City Council and the population of the area loves that car race. They love that event."

Q: How big is the effort of turning that area into a street course suitable for racing every year?

A: For a couple months we create a lot of jobs in that economy. There are hundreds of truckloads of freight brought in. There are thousands of man-hours. We move and install 2,000 concrete barriers and miles of track fence and tens of thousands of grandstands. That's a big, big job and that is just the track part. You also have the marketing and the spin and all the folks that are involved in that. It's a big project but we are heading down the home stretch. More ...

03/17/09
f1
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Attention shifts to final winter test
  • Crisis puts F1 Paddock Club 'at risk'
  • Rivals clear of Red Bull pace - Webber
  • Drivers unmoved as F1 goes economy-class
  • McLaren calm amid rear diffuser saga
  • Career wasted, De la Rosa could leave F1 after 2009

Attention shifts to final winter test
(GMM)  On the Spaniard's last day of pre-season testing at Jerez, Fernando Alonso on Monday broke the recent shock dominance of the Brawn team.

However, on the second day of the final winter test outing, Alonso's Renault was only fractionally faster than the Mercedes-powered BGP001 driven mainly by Rubens Barrichello.

Moreover, it is believed that while the R29 was fuelled light for a qualifying simulation when it clocked its fast time, the Brawn was laden with fuel for the entire session.

"This has been the first time we have run on a really hot track and the information we have from today will be very useful for the first few races," said Alonso, whose winter program is now complete.

Jenson Button managed only 12 laps in the Brawn before a gearbox problem struck, but the Briton still managed to outpace the struggling McLaren driven by reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.

The MP4-24 was wearing a number of subtle aerodynamic changes, but the most attention centered on the rear of the car, where one side of the diffuser was notably fitted with what is presumed to be a device to record data.

Mercedes' Norbert Haug, however, admits that there will be no quick fix in the quest to return to contention for race wins.

"Expect us to fight back even if it takes some time," the German said.  "However, it might take us a few races to significantly improve."

Williams' Nico Rosberg brought up the rear at the wheel of the FW31, which after the advice of the FIA's Charlie Whiting no longer features the prominent cockpit cowling fins.

The other teams concluded their winter programs last week. More ...

03/17/09
transam
Rocketsports announces 2-car entry in Trans-Am  Rocketsports Racing, defending Trans-Am Series Champions, is pleased to announce their return to the Muscle Milk SCCA Trans-Am Series in 2009 with a two-car assault and a combination veteran/rookie driver line up. It has been a two-year hiatus since RSR’s own Paul Gentilozzi was crowned as the Trans-Am Champion, as the series will return this year with a planned eight-race schedule for the series which held its first race in 1966.

Trans-Am veteran Tomy Drissi will run the #5 X-Men Origins: Wolverine Jaguar XKR. He has driven a Rocketsports-built Jaguar XKR since 2000, which drove him to his first Trans-Am victory (Long Beach, 2000) and Trans-Am’s Most Improved Driver honors in 2000. In 77 Trans-Am starts from 1999 – 2006, Drissi has earned 40 top-ten finishes, 16 top-fives, 10 podiums, one pole and a win. The Hollywood, California native has been a part of RSR’s Trans-Am Series squad since 2002. More ...
03/17/09
track news
Centennial Era Concours d'Elegance coming to IMS in June 2010  
Some of the world's finest classic and antique automobiles will take center stage at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Centennial Era Concours d'Elegance on June 18-20, 2010.

Speedway President and COO Joie Chitwood announced the one-time event during the Judges Breakfast on Saturday, March 14, at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in Amelia Island, Fla.

The Concours d'Elegance will be a featured event during the Speedway's Centennial Era, honoring the 100th anniversaries of the opening of the fabled facility in 1909 and the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911. The event will celebrate the significance of vehicular transportation and competition to Indianapolis. More ...

03/17/09
irl
50 Years Later, Indy Roadsters Make Return To DIS  
Photos courtesy DIS
On Thursday, Daytona International Speedway turned back the clock 50 years.
 
On the 50th anniversary of the first and only time that USAC open-wheel championships cars competed at Daytona International Speedway, five-time Rolex 24 At Daytona champion Hurley Haywood paced eight restored Indy Roadsters around the storied 2.5-mile tri-oval for parade laps at speeds near 100 mph.
 
The special visit to “The World Center of Racing” is a prelude to this weekend’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance outside of Jacksonville .
 
In attendance, but not driving, was Jim Rathmann, the 1960 Indianapolis 500 winner and the driver that captured both open-wheel events at DIS back in April 1959.
 
Rathmann’s first victory was in a 100-mile race that was completed in just over 35 minutes with an average speed of 170.261 mph, which, at the time, was the fastest race ever run on a closed course.  Later that day, he won a second race, this time only 50 miles, with an average speed of 160.694 mph. More ...
03/17/09
alms
McNish and Audi top first Sebring test session  The teams will be back on track for a single 90-minute session tomorrow from 1.30pm - the first hour with GT cars joining the prototypes on track and the final 30 minutes as an LMP1 and LMP2 session only.

Pos Car CL CP Driver Best Lap Behind Behind Prior
1 2 P1 1 McNish, Capello/Kristensen Audi 1:43.596 --- ---
2 1 P1 2 Werner, Luhr/Rockefeller Audi 1:44.159 -0.563 -0.563
3 08 P1 3 Bourdais, Sarrazin Peugeot 1:45.002 -1.406 -0.843
4 07 P1 4 Klein, Minassian/L Peugeot 1:45.095 -1.499 -0.093
5 66 P1 5 Dixon, de Ferran/Pagenaud Acura 1:45.105 -1.509 -0.010
6 9 P1 6 Franchitti, Brabham, Sharp Acura 1:45.871 -2.275 -0.766
7 16 P2 1 Lally, Dyson/Smith Mazda 1:50.864 -7.268 -4.993
8 3 GT3 0 Garcia, O'Connell/ Corvette 1:59.638 -16.042 -8.774
9 4 GT3 0 Fassler, Gavin/Ber Corvette 1:59.958 -16.362 -0.320
10 95 GT2 1 Bruni, Companc/Rus 2:04.007 -20.411 -4.049
11 87 GT2 2 Lietz, Henzler/Wer 2:04.415 -20.819 -0.408
12 62 GT2 3 Salo, Melo/Kaffer/ Ferrari 2:05.078 -21.482 -0.663
13 61 GT2 4 van de Poele, Krohn Ferrari 2:05.311 -21.715 -0.233
14 92 GT2 5 N/A 2:05.329 -21.733 -0.018
15 90 GT2 6 Auberlen/Hand 2:05.331 -21.735 -0.002
16 45 GT2 7 Lieb, Bergmeister/ 2:05.522 -21.926 -0.191
17 21 GT2 8 Farnbacher/James 2:06.213 -22.617 -0.691
18 28 GT2 9 Molo, Gigliotti/Cu 2:06.242 -22.646 -0.029
19 44 GT2 10 van Overbeek, Law/ 2:06.454 -22.858 -0.212
20 40 GT2 11 Murry, Robertson/R 2:06.681 -23.085 -0.227
21 007 GT2 12 Cocker, Bell/Drays 2:07.424 -23.828 -0.743
22 11 GT2 13 Feinberg, Holt/Hal 2:13.931 -30.335 -6.507
03/17/09
irl
alms
Honda Grand Prix Pit Notes #9  
New Mufflers for ear-splitting IndyCar engines 
Repeat visitors to the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will quickly notice one big change for 2009:  a quieter, sweeter sounding Honda Indy V-8 engine.  Don’t worry; the normally aspirated, 650-horsepower powerplants still sound like proper racing engines turning in excess of 10,000 rpm.  But the ear-splitting and sometimes painful roar of years gone by has been replaced by a mellower note in 2009.

"We've replaced the former exhaust system on the engines with a completely new design.  It gives them a much sweeter sound," said Roger Griffiths, Race Team Manager for Honda Performance Development, the official racing arm of American Honda.  The IRL engines have always made a piercing noise, and when Honda joined the League in 2003, its power plant was just as ear-splitting as all the others, thanks to the rulebook at the time.  But in more recent years, Honda has been supplying engines to the entire IndyCar Series field, so in 2007 HPD began investigating ways to make the sound more “fan friendly” without impacting performance.

"Honda was the prime mover in working to get a more acceptable level of exhaust noise, and embarked on a fairly extensive R&D program in 2008," said IndyCar Senior Technical Director Les Mactaggart said. "It sounded favorable and a big improvement over what we had, and hopefully it will give us the opportunity to make the cars more fan-friendly at the areas where the spectators are in close proximity to the track (such as St. Petersburg, Edmonton and Toronto)."

"We ran the silencer for the first time in a test session at Phoenix, and it worked so well, I immediately called [former HPD President] Robert Clarke, who was in Japan,” Griffiths recounted.  “It was 3 a.m. [there] and I woke him up. I held my cell phone out by the track and asked him if he could hear the engine, and he said he couldn't. More ...

03/17/09
alms
First impressions of Sebring  
Dirk Müller, BMW Rahal Letterman Racing Team
BMW M3 (GT2)

“We are still doing some development, and that is going along nicely. It’s almost like a different program now. It’s nice having our car to be able to work on. There is no grip yet this early in the week. The car has the same power (as the previous M3 in 2001) but is 100 kilograms heavier. But the technology has improved immensely since that time, of course. It still feels like a BMW and did when I first sat in it.”

Sebastien Bourdais, Team Peugeot Total
Peugeot 908 HDi (LMP1)

“It’s already been three years since I was here last and won (in GT2 with Panoz). This race always has been one of the toughest races of the season. It’s always the first test or the last test, depending on what your program is. It will be a big fight for sure with Audi and Acura, and it’s very good preparation for Le Mans. One of the biggest issues for us is trying to get our air conditioning unit running in our car and make sure it works. It already is very tight inside the car as it is, and now we have to add the ventilation system.”

Dindo Capello, Audi Sport Team Joest
Audi R15 TDI (LMP1)
“This is my fourth time debuting an Audi prototype. To describe how this car is different, it’s enough to look back over time and see how the technology has changed. It has improved so much over the last 10 years. You can compare cornering speeds and I’m certain we are 20-25 kph faster today than we were going through Turn 1 in 1999. And from an aerodynamic point of view, this also is so much more advanced. With the weight distribution of the car we have gained a lot of agility, which was not a strong point for the R10 TDI. I remember when I saw this car for the first time, I thought it was the most beautiful and best race car Audi ever produced.” More ...

03/17/09
f1
Williams Hybrid Power F1 KERS System  

Mechanical KERS more efficient than electrical KERS

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