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DATE News (chronologically)
03/21/09
f1

Renault KERS analysis
Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) is one of the biggest technical challenges of the season and also one of the biggest unknowns. Renault bring us up to speed with this exciting new technology...

What is KERS?
It’s a system whereby the goal is to store the energy produced under braking in a reservoir (either batteries or flywheel) in order to release it under acceleration. The 2009 technical regulations state that KERS should not deliver power in excess of 60kW, which is equivalent to around 80 horsepower, when the driver presses a button on the steering wheel. He cannot use more than 400kJ per lap.

Is there only one way to recover the energy and reuse it?
When the 2009 KERS system was being conceived, the engineers had a choice between two different approaches. The first consisted of using a carbon flywheel in a vacuum linked via a CVT transmission to the differential. This system stores the mechanical energy, offers a big storage capacity and has the advantage of being independent from the gearbox. However, to be driven precisely, it requires some powerful and bulky actuators, and lots of space. The second option was to rely on an electrical motor, which works by charging the batteries under braking and releasing the power on acceleration. 

Read more & Comment...
03/21/09
Fil

Sebastian Saavedra paces Indy Lights test
Sebastian Saavedra paced the final Firestone Indy Lights Open Test before the start of the 2009 season. Saavedra, driving the No. 27 AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing entry, turned a fast lap of 1 minute 15.6714 seconds, 109.420 mph on the 15-turn, 2.38-mile road course at Barber Motorsports Park.

Saavedra’s teammate, J.R. Hildebrand, was second at 1:15.7648 and Vision Racing’s James Davison was third at 1:15.8599.

Nine cars participated in the test. Other teams opted not to attend the Open Test and use private test days to prepare at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., for the doubleheader season opener April 4-5 at St. Petersburg, Fla.

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03/21/09
formula BMW

Gabby Chaves Goes Wire-To-Wire
Gabby Chaves (EuroInternational) led from start to finish to win the opening round of the 2009 Formula BMW Americas Championship in Puebla, Mexico, but Saturday afternoon’s race was nowhere near as easy as the opening sentence makes it sound.

Polesitter Chaves paced all 14 trips around the 2.09-mile Miguel E. Abed road course, but he had to go hard the entire way as his EuroInternational teammate Giancarlo Vilarinho filled his mirrors on every lap. The two stayed within three car lengths of each other for the whole event, but Chaves was able to hold off his stablemate to score his first win of the year.

“The race was very hard and I had to battle the whole way to get the win,” Chaves said. “It was a great way to start the season and I am happy to get a victory for EuroInternational, but we have more work to do tomorrow.”

Vilarinho started second and made life difficult for Chaves as the two EuroInternational drivers pulled out to a bit of a gap over a hard-charging James Kovacic (Team Apex) who had moved to third after starting sixth. Vilarinho kept the pressure on, but could not get close enough to challenge Chaves and settled for the second spot.

Read more & Comment...
03/21/09
alms

Sebring: Audi 1-2 at 3/4 mark
The all-out sprint at Sebring was still going strong as the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida entered the last quarter of the race. Tom Kristensen in the lead Audi R15 TDI led teammate Mike Rockenfeller by 18 seconds at the nine-hour mark in the season opener for the 2009 American Le Mans Series.

Peugeot’s Sebastien Bourdais was a minute behind Kristensen, the largest gap by far between the lead Audi and the lead Peugeot.

The two diesel-powered manufacturers have been running nose-to-tail all day although on different strategies. Audi’s plan has been to change its Michelin tires each stop while Peugeot has double-stinted its Michelins. However the Audi was able to make up time with its brand new prototype and precision use of traffic.

The two leading cars along with the second Audi were on the lead lap and separated by just 19 seconds.

Luis Diaz led LMP2 for Lowe’s Fernandez Racing and Acura. Diaz was running sixth overall with Adrian Fernandez in the team’s Acura ARX-01b. The duo is shooting for its first victory in the Series.

Corvette Racing’s two Corvette C6.Rs were within 17 seconds of each other in GT1. Jan Magnussen led Oliver Gavin in the Corvette’s final GT1 race at Sebring.

Risi Competizione entered its seventh hour in the lead of GT2 with Jaime Melo behind the wheel of the team’s first Ferrari F430 GT. Melo was a lap ahead of Advanced Engineering Pecom Racing’s Gianmaria Bruni and another lap ahead of Dominik Farnbacher in Panoz Team PTG’s Panoz Esperante GTLM.

The Risi entry had to start the race from the back of the grid after Melo missed the required Thursday night practice.

Comment
03/21/09
tv news
nassprint
irl

Kevin Buckler and Dan Wheldon guests on Wind Tunnel
The featured guests on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on Sunday night, March 22, will be Kevin Buckler, Sprint Cup Team Owner, The Racer’s Group; and Dan Wheldon, IndyCar driver, Panther Racing, 2005 IndyCar Series Champion.

Expert Analysts, Marshall Pruett, Auto Racing Editor, SPEEDTV.com, and Bob Varsha, Formula 1 Host on SPEED, will also join Dave Despain on Wind Tunnel.  Marshall Pruett will recap Saturday’s ALMS season opener, the 12 Hours of Sebring.  Bob Varsha will talk about this week’s controversial rules announcement regarding Formula 1 and how it proposes to crown its champion.

Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain airs live at 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm ET on SPEED. 

Comment
03/21/09
alms

Sebring Hour 6: Peugeot and Audi battle at halfway
The battle between Audi, Peugeot and Acura was living up to expectations halfway through the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. Peugeot’s Franck Montagny moved ahead of Audi’s Allan McNish under a pit stop near the six-hour mark at America’s greatest sports car race.

McNish was leading by a half-second in the new Audi R15 TDI when the two cars pitted. The Peugeot 908 HDi took only fuel while the Audi took diesel and tires. That put Montagny up by 14 seconds.

Mike Rockenfeller was third in the second Audi with Gil de Ferran’s Acura ARX-02a still in contention and barely a lap down.

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03/21/09
fil

RLR/Andersen Racing Signs Summerton
RLR/Andersen Racing is pleased to announce that it has signed rising star Jonathan Summerton to drive its No. 9 car in the Firestone Indy Lights series.

Summerton, 20, of Kissimmee, Fla., is one of the drivers rumored to be in contention to join the United States' new Formula 1 team in 2010.

Summerton's first event with RLR/Andersen Racing will be the season-opening doubleheader on the street course at St. Petersburg, Fla. April 4-5. The team hopes to continue to field a car for Summerton in the remaining 13 races, pending the signing of some additional marketing partners it is pursuing.

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03/21/09
automotive

Chevrolet and Corvette Racing introduce a limited edition
Chevrolet introduced the limited production GT1 Championship Edition Corvettes at Sebring International Raceway on Thursday.

Today Chevrolet introduced the limited production GT1 Championship Edition Corvettes at Sebring International Raceway. The GT1 Championship Edition (Regular Production Option GT1) commemorates the success of Corvette Racing and the Corvette C6.R:

  • Eight American Le Mans Series GT1 manufacturers and team championships.

  • Five-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class champions

  • 74 victories in international sports car competition
    • Included in the GT1 Championship Edition package:

      • Graphics inspired by C6.R livery feature Corvette Racing "Jake" mascot, ALMS championships, and driver flags
      • ZR1-style body color full-width spoiler and chrome wheels
      • Custom leather-wrapped ebony interior with exclusive yellow accent stitching
      • GT1 embroidery on leather seats, instrument panel, and center console armrest
      • Special engine cover with carbon pattern and yellow Corvette lettering
      • Windshield banner (owner installed)

      GT1 Championship Edition to be produced in Corvette coupe, convertible and Z06 models in spring 2009:

      • Available in 45U Velocity Yellow (with black headlamps) or 41U Black
      • Specific VIN sequence 300001 series for 45U Velocity Yellow representing the No. 3 Corvette C6.R
      • Specific VIN sequence 400001 series for 41U Black representing the No. 4 Corvette C6.R
      • Production limited to 100 per each color and body style combination (600 total)
      • Coupe and convertible versions also include Z51 Performance Package and NPP Performance Exhaust
      • Optional MX0 6-speed paddle shift automatic on coupe and convertible
      • Optional C2L dual roof package on coupe
      • Optional U3U Navigation System on all models


      Comment
      03/21/09
      alms

      Sebring Hour 3: Peugeot 1-2
      Nic Minassian led after three hours at the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida as Peugeot held the top two spots over fellow diesel challengers Audi. The Frenchman led by a second over Stephane Sarrazin, who in turn was just ahead of Simon Pagenaud in de Ferran Motorsports’ Acura ARX-02a.

      Minassian took the lead on a different fuel strategy in the second hour with all four cars in the same pit window going forward. The top five cars were on the lead lap with Audi’s two R15 TDIs sitting fourth and fifth.

      Jon Field’s Lola-AER stalled with a fuel pickup issue just before the three-hour mark to bring out the race’s second yellow-flag period.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/21/09
      nnw

      Brendan Gaughan wins Nationwide pole
      In only his first Nationwide Series attempt in “Thunder Valley”, Rusty Wallace Racing’s Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet Impala SS) scored his first career Nationwide Series pole this morning in qualifying for today’s Scotts Turf Builder 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

      Gaughan was the 19th of 50 cars to make a qualifying attempt in this morning’s session.  His pole winning lap of 15.209 seconds (126.162 MPH) came his second of two qualifying laps, knocking then provisional pole-sitter Carl Edwards from the top spot.

      His pole win marked the second time in three years that a RWR entry has won the pole position for the spring Bristol event, following up on Steve Wallace’s 2007 pole win.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/21/09
      alms

      Sebring Hour 1: Audi and Peugeot up front
      Mike Rockenfeller in the No. 2 Audi running in 2nd place
      Peugeot's Pedro Lamy and Audi's Allan McNish waged an incredible battle for the overall lead at Sebring at the one-hour mark of the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. McNish in the new Audi R15 TDI got around Lamy in the Peugeot 908 at the 1:05 mark as the two diesel powers locked horns.

      The pairing was six seconds clear of Mike Rockenfeller in the second diesel Audi. The pole winning De Ferran Acura was fading fast, obviously slower on the straights than the Audi and Peugeot.

      In LMP2, the pole-sitting Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b and Luis Diaz held a 35-second lead over Dyson Racing's Butch Leitzinger and his Mazda-powered Lola coupe.

      Johnny O'Connell had gotten around Corvette Racing teammate Olivier Beretta to reclaim the class lead for the GT1 pole-sitting Corvette C6.R. This is the last race at Sebring for the GT1 C6.R.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/21/09
      irl

      IndyCar official impressed with "gorgeous" Barber track
      The three-day IndyCar Series test that begins Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park is more than just a final chance for teams to tune up their road course programs before the start of the season.

      It's an audition of sorts for the track itself, which is hoping to secure a spot on the Indy Racing League's 2010 schedule.

      Terry Angstadt, president of IndyCar's commercial division, said the track near Leeds built by George Barber "is a gorgeous facility, a first-class operation." But there are still a few questions to be answered before an Indy race can come to Birmingham.

      He said one of the reasons for choosing Barber as one of two preseason test sites is to answer those questions.

      "The only slight concern we have," Angstadt said, "is how the track handles it when we have 15, 20, 22 Indy cars out there at speed."

      Read more & Comment...
      03/21/09
      f1

      FOTA objection to budget caps 'weak' - Mosley
      Max Mosley
      (GMM)  The first shots in what was previously a cold war have now been fired, with Max Mosley and the formula one teams on opposite sides of the front line.

      At stake is the future of formula one, and the influence and control the stakeholders wield.

      This week, the FIA - backed by F1's commercial executive Bernie Ecclestone - shook the teams with the unilateral ratification of controversial new rules.

      The teams' so-far cohesive FOTA alliance hit back and won the battle over the scoring system shakeup, but the voluntary budget cap for small teams next year is not so easily handled.

      A statement outlined the group's "disappointment and concern", but FIA president Mosley insists he has to act.

      "It was a weak response," Mosley said in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.  "They knew we were considering a budget cap, but I don't think they expected us just to do it like that.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/21/09
      f1

      'Stronger' Mosley leaves scandal behind
      (GMM)  A year after the sex scandal broke, Max Mosley insists the after-shocks do not prevent him from performing fully as FIA president.

      In fact, the 68-year-old Briton is considering contesting a fifth consecutive election, and believes surviving the scandal has actually made him "stronger" because of those who agree he was wronged in the exposure of his private sex life.

      Last year, Mosley had to call off his scheduled visit to the Bahrain grand prix at the request of the royal family, sparking suggestions he will forever struggle to reclaim the credibility his office requires.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/21/09
      f1

      Mosley thought teams wanted scoring change
      (GMM)  Max Mosley on Saturday said he thought the teams supported the FIA's move to the 'winner takes all' scoring system for 2009.

      The governing body called off the rule change after the FOTA alliance of F1 teams said the unilateral and late move contravened the Sporting Regulations and International Sporting Code.

      It is seen as an embarrassing u-turn by the Paris federation, with the Daily Mail newspaper headlining the saga 'F1 farce'.

      But FIA president Mosley told the Daily Telegraph that he was aware installing the new system less than two weeks before the 2009 season required the teams' consent.

      "Bernie (Ecclestone) told me that he talked to all the teams and everybody was happy," the 68-year-old said.

      While the F1 chief executive has championed the 'medals'-style scoring concept, FOTA recently said it only wanted to increase the margin between first and second place by a single point.

      The FIA, however, rejected that proposal and pushed instead for the 'winner takes all' scheme.

      "I was led to believe they all agreed," Mosley continued.  "The World Council was under the impression that they had all agreed."

      Comment
      03/21/09
      f1

      Webber also broke shoulder in bike crash
      (GMM)  Mark Webber has revealed he also broke his shoulder in his cycling crash late last year.

      The Australian driver's recovery to fitness from a badly broken right leg has been well documented ahead of the 2009 season.

      But, as he arrives in his native country ahead of next week's Melbourne season opener, Webber - who is still limping - told local newspaper The Age the full extent to his injuries was not previously disclosed.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/21/09
      f1

      Button unmoved by Brawn's low pit berth
      (GMM)  Jenson Button on Saturday said he is not concerned to hear that his Brawn team will be accommodated at the far end of the pitlane in 2009.

      Early observers at Albert Park have noticed that, despite former guise Honda finishing ahead of Force India last year, Brawn GP drivers Button and Brazilian Rubens Barrichello have been allocated the last pit garages.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/21/09
      irl

      Rahal on cover of Racer Magazine
      Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) driver Graham Rahal, 20, is on the cover of the May issue of Racer Magazine that is on its way to subscribers and will be available on newsstands on April 7.  It is the second time Rahal has been on the cover of the respected auto racing magazine.  A picture of Rahal and his No. 6 NHLR Champ Car in the air after hitting a bump on the Las Vegas street course was displayed on the cover of the August 2007 issue.

      Comment
      03/21/09
      alms

      Audis on top in Sebring warmup
      Audi’s two new R15 TDI prototypes sat 1-2 at the end of Saturday morning’s warmup for the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. The German marque can only hope that the race ends the same way.

      Allan McNish set the fastest time of the 25-minute session in the diesel-powered prototype that he is sharing with fellow reigning 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen. The Scotsman’s lap of 1:45.800 (125.898 mph) gave him a 1.045-second advantage over Mike Rockenfeller in the sister Audi that he will drive with defending Series P1 champions Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner.

      The first of Peugeot’s diesel-powered 908 HDi coupes sat third at 1:47.294 (124.145 mph). Pedro Lamy, Nic Minassian and Christian Klien will drive that entry. The second Peugeot of Sebastien Bourdais, Franck Montagny and Stephane Sarrazin did not make the warmup while the crew worked on a minor hydraulic issue but will be fine for the start of the race.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/21/09
      motogp
      f1

      Rossi names F1 as 'only regret'
      (GMM) In an interview, MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi has named not taking on formula one as his only regret at the age of 30.

      After a spate of test drives, the Italian came close to becoming Michael Schumacher's teammate in 2006, but ultimately decided to stick to two wheels.

      According to the ANSA news agency, when asked in a television interview to reveal his biggest regret, Rossi said he has only one: "Not to have switched to formula one and raced with Ferrari.

      "But now I'm 30 and I made my choice then. And while Ferrari is still in my heart, I don't think I'll ever race one."

      Comment
      03/21/09
      alms

      Theissen shows up at Sebring to support Rahal team
      Rahal BMW
      We are very happy to be back here,” Dr. Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director, said with a smile Friday about BMW’s return to the American Le Mans Series. “There was a certain need to be here and I’m very happy to see our car racing again in the Americas.”

      BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen stressed the importance of BMW's presence in North American racing.

      Theissen, along with team owner Bobby Rahal and Martin Birkmann of BMW North America talked about the current pursuit of the BMW Rahal Letterman Team at the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. The partnership sees two BMW M3s entered in the highly competitive GT2 class.

      “We are creating our baseline,” mentioned Rahal, a Sebring Hall of Fame member and overall race winner in 1987. “We are competing with the American Le Mans Series and are in the company of the crème de la crème, the top of the top in manufacturers and sponsors.

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      03/21/09
      f1

      BMW undecided on KERS for Australia
      Although BMW's new KERS is ready to race, team boss Mario Theissen has refused to confirm whether or not they'll be using it in Australia.

      BMW is leading the way in KERS development and is one of the few teams who could yet use it at the Albert Park. But for now Theissen is remaining hush on whether they will.

      "As far as KERS is concerned, our system will be race-ready in Melbourne. We sent the cars out regularly with KERS during testing and the results were very good. Now it's just a matter of weighing up the pros and cons," he said.

      "On the positive side, the drivers would have an extra 82 hp at their disposal for 6.6 seconds per lap. However, the system adds weight to the car and this has an impact on the car's weight distribution and tire wear.

      "We will make a decision on a driver-by-driver, circuit-by-circuit basis."

      Read more & Comment...
      03/21/09
      automotive

      Bankruptcy rumors are killing GM and Chrysler sales
      Because of the rumors of bankruptcy, fewer new car shoppers are considering vehicles from General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC at a time when consumer attention is focused on their request for further U.S. government aid, according to a survey released today.

      The share of car shoppers who say their primary choice would be a vehicle from one of the GM brands dropped by almost 12 percent, while the share for Chrysler dropped by a third, according to the study from CNW Research.

      “There is nothing to stop the slide in intentions for those on the downside of this survey,” CNW said in a monthly research note on the auto market. “But the decisions to cut back on advertising haven’t helped GM or Chrysler. Nor has the talk of bankruptcy, which continues to haunt those brands.”

      Ford Motor Co., the only U.S. automaker not relying on emergency aid from the U.S. government, has seen a nearly 12 percent increase in the share of car shoppers who say it would be their first choice.

      The CNW survey was based on responses from more than 40,000 consumers who say they intend to buy a new vehicle. The study was conducted in January and February, when GM’s sales plunged by 51.1 percent and Chrysler’s dropped by 49.1 percent from year-earlier levels.

      [Editor's Note: This is why the government cannot let these two companies fold and they must get them on sound footing ASAP to stop the bankruptcy rumors or their cash flow will completely dry up and they will collapse sending the USA economy into a depression.]

      Comment
      03/21/09
      automotive

      Hybrid car sales plummet UPDATE Americans are turning away in large numbers from hybrid cars at a time when automakers are preparing to flood the marketplace with even more of them.

      Hybrid sales were off by 10 percent in 2008, and things aren't getting get any better so far this year.

      Nationwide, Toyota Prius sales dropped 30.8 percent last month, compared with February 2007. Toyota Camry Hybrid sales were off for the month by 47.4 percent, Honda's Civic Hybrid sales were off 21.5 percent, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid sales were off 48.6 percent, according to CleanMpg.com, which tracks sales of "green" cars.

      Most analysts believe that slow hybrid sales are mostly due to the drop in gasoline prices, and say all it will take is another spike in gas prices to send consumers shopping for hybrids.

      But there are other factors depressing hybrid sales.

      Fuel economy ratings are improving for cars with conventional engines -- the Honda Fit can get mileage well into the 30s. Even intermediate and large cars have highway ratings as high as 25 to 30 miles per gallon.

      And despite educational efforts by the auto industry and others, there still are some consumers who question the reliability and durability of hybrids.

      The biggest issue, however, is that "there's still a premium for buying a car with a hybrid system," said Jack Nerad, editorial director at Kelley Blue Book. Hybrids can cost as much as $5,000 more than a comparable conventional vehicle. "The engineering is more complicated, there's more components and the battery packs themselves are quite expensive. And in terms of interior space, accommodations and power, you will have to pay more for a hybrid to get comparable performance in all of those areas."

      Read more & Comment...
      03/21/09
      f1

      Brawn GP looks forward to GP debut
      The Australian Grand Prix, Round One of what promises to be an exciting 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship, will take place in Melbourne on Sunday 29 March. The beautiful setting of Albert Park has hosted the Australian Grand Prix since 1996 and the 5.3km (3.3mile) street circuit uses public roads which surround the man-made Albert Park lake, located just south of Melbourne's city centre.

      Albert Park is a technically demanding and high-speed circuit. The cars reach top speeds of 300kph (185mph) and average 225kph (140mph) around the 16-turn lap. The track surface is bumpy, particularly in the braking areas, hard on the brakes and slippery at the start of the race weekend due to the use of public roads, which will take a while to 'rubber in'.

      The first race of the year is always a technical challenge as the new cars run competitively for the first time, a task made more difficult for the Brawn GP team as the BGP 001 car has completed just seven days of pre-season testing.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/21/09
      f1

      Mosley admits deffuser debate will not subside
      The 2009 season kicks off in Australia on Sunday week, but 'diffuser-gate' is likely to drag on at least until the teams return to Europe after the first two races.

      The three teams in question - Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams - have all taken advantage of grey areas in article 2.4 of the technical regulation, with noticeable results in testing, and it is understood that two other teams have now written to the FIA with their concerns, supplying data to back up their objections.

      So who will the FIA side with?

      "It's a very clever device and you can make a very good case for saying that it's legal and a very good case for saying that it's illegal," Mosley remarked of the diffuser. "It's going to be difficult.

      "What's actually happened is that teams are saying 'We think it's illegal for this and this reason.'

      "If there had been more time before the detailed objections to the system were sent in, I would probably have sent it to the FIA Court of Appeal before Australia. And actually I have given thought to that this week. But there isn't time. It wouldn't be fair. I think the thing will probably come to some sort of a head in Australia.

      "One possibility is that all the teams agree that it is illegal, and therefore all the teams shouldn't have it from Barcelona. But then those teams who say it is legal will say 'Why should we do that?' And those that say it's illegal will say 'Why should we lose an advantage for four races?'

      "And so probably what will happen is it will end up going to the stewards, who will make a decision. That will almost certainly be appealed by whichever side is disadvantaged. And then that will go to our Court of Appeal and be hammered out."

      "It's not straightforward. I have an open mind on it at the moment - I can see it going either way. I really can. But somebody has to make their mind up and fortunately it's not my job." Daily Telegraph

      Comment
      03/21/09
      formula BMW

      Gabby Chaves Leads First Round
      Picking up where it left off a year ago, EuroInternational locked up the front row for the first race of the 2009 Formula BMW Americas season Friday as teammates Gabby Chaves and Giancarlo Vilarinho swept the top two spots in qualifying at Autodromo Miguel E. Abed in Puebla, Mexico.

      Chaves vaulted to the top of the time charts on his first lap and stayed there for the entire session to score his first Formula BMW Americas pole and the 30th for EuroInternational. Chaves lowered his time around the 2.09-mile road course on seven of his first eight laps, eventually posting a best time of 1:37.028 (74.688 mph) to take the pole.

      “It was really good,” grinned Chaves. “I think that all through the testing our team was quick and consistent and while I don’t want to say we expected this, we knew we were in a good spot to do well if we did things the right way. I was just happy to get it done for the team. We made a gear change before the session and it took a little time for us to sort it out, but once we did we just kept getting better and better.”

      Read more & Comment...
      03/20/09
      starmazda

      Christodoulou Wins Star Mazda Round 1 at Sebring
      A trio of European rookies took the top three spots in this afternoon's Round One of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the 57th Annual 12 Hours of Sebring.  Adam Christodoulou, the rising open-wheel racer from Milton Keynes, England, started from the outside of the front row and drove twenty flawless laps to victory at the wheel of the #11 JDC Motorsports Mazda.  Finishing second by a margin of 0.504 sec. was fellow Englishman and long-time rival, pole-sitter Richard Kent of Birmingham, driving the #33 Andersen Racing / Traka / Allied Interior Products Mazda.  Rounding out the top-3 was Conor Daly, son of racing legend Derek Daly, a former F1 and Indy car racer as well as two-time winner of the 12 Hours of Sebring.  Daly, the 2008 Skip Barber Pro Series champion, is racing the #22 Andersen Racing / College Network / Indeck / Cytomax Mazda with sponsorship from the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/20/09
      atlantic

      Edwards wins Atlantic race in Sebring
      Two years after becoming the youngest driver in the history of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, John Edwards scored his first career Atlantic victory and a $50,000 winner’s paycheck in Friday’s season opener at Sebring International Raceway.

      Driving the No. 36 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development/Nuclear Clean Air Energy/NEI/Entergy machine for Newman Wachs Racing, Edwards started second and charged into the lead on the race’s standing start ahead of polesitter Jonathan Summerton. From there, the Cincinnati, Ohio resident never looked back, cruising to a 4.731-second victory over rookie Frederic Vervisch. Edwards’ victory eclipsed a previous best result of second, which he achieved at Toronto in his rookie Atlantic season of 2007. Last year, Edwards competed in Star Mazda and took the series championship.

      “It was an incredible feeling just pulling into pit lane and seeing all of the cameras coming to me,” said Edwards. “It was a great race. I have to thank my engineer, Nick Harvey, and the team for putting the car together, because it was really easy to drive, almost, in the first few laps and that’s where I gained the gap. Luckily, I had the teammates racing behind me, so I got to pull out a little more of a gap. From there, I just kept looking forward and pulling a gap.”

      Vervisch was the first of two Genoa Racing drivers to finish on the podium, coming home with a second-place trophy from the first Atlantic race of the career. The Belgian, driving the No. 17 Genoa Racing machine, had the best result for a driver making his series debut since Canadian Robert Wickens also finished second in his Atlantic debut in Las Vegas two years ago.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/20/09
      f1

      FIA agrees to call off new scoring system
      (GMM) F1's governing body has agreed to call off the immediate implementation of its newly announced 'winner takes all' scoring system, amid the determined opposition of the teams.

      The FOTA team alliance on Friday said it had gathered in the wake of the World Motor Sport Council's announcement this week "to question the validity of this decision".

      It had been becoming clear to observers that the scoring rule change, and the voluntary budget cap for 2010, was part of the wider political battle over the future of the sport.

      In implementing the 'gold medals'-style system championed by Bernie Ecclestone, the FIA seemed to have deliberately ignored FOTA's separate proposal, where the points difference between first and second places is simply increased from 2 to 3 points.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/20/09
      fil

      Davey Hamilton / Kingdom Racing Join Forces
      Last month, veteran Indy 500 driver Davey Hamilton, announced the formation of a team set to run the entire 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season.  The team has confirmed that Kingdom Racing, co-sponsor of Hamilton’s 2008 Indy 500 ride, will come on board as a partner for the entire 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season as well as Davey’s bid for a 9th Indy 500 this May.

      Kingdom Racing made history as the first “faith-based organization” to ever compete in 100 years at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and was originally formed by Houston businessman George Del Canto with a distinct mission: “Deliver God’s word through motorsports”.  Since last year’s Indianapolis 500, Del Canto has been working towards expanding the team platform with an ultimate goal of competing full-time in the IndyCar series.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/20/09
      track news

      New Jersey Motorsports Park Continues Improvements
      New Jersey Motorsports Park this week continued improvements of Thunderbolt Raceway, reconfiguring the entrance and exit of pit lane and adding additional paved runoff at the end of the long front straight. The changes come on the heels of additional curbing added around the facility over the winter.

      Following last season, over 1500 feet of Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA)-approved step curbing was added to Thunderbolt Raceway. The curbing, installed to the outside of existing curbs, was added at the entrance and exit to almost all of the track's 14 turns with additional apex curbing added to appropriate corners.

      Drivers on the track beginning with the first club event on March 21 will notice changes entering and leaving pit lane. Additional pavement has been added to the entrance and the exit of pit lane.  Barriers have been moved to widen the entrance, allowing for an easier pass through for both competitors and safety trucks and equipment. The pit lane exit has been extended around turn one and moved further from the hot track, with the divider between the racing surface and pit lane transition extended and more defined.

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      03/20/09
      racing news

      Emotive and Allan McNish Announce Exclusive Partnership
      Today Emotive and Allan McNish announced their exclusive partnership at the 57th running of 12 Hours of Sebring endurance race. The strategic alliance will involve McNish's participation in various Emotive-produced automotive events, including the all-new Jim Russell Racing Drivers School and Jim Russell Championship Series, the Audi Driving Experience, and the Audi Sportscar Experience. The partnership highlights Emotive and McNish's dedication to the development of driving skills.

      The alliance creates the appropriate forum for McNish to share his wealth of driving knowledge with young racers - gained from more than 20 years of racing, including two wins at Le Mans and Sebring, as well as winning the ALMS Championship three times.  The addition of McNish solidifies Jim Russell as the leader in racing instruction with the best cars, finest coaches, most relevant curriculum and state-of-the-art facility.

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      03/20/09
      alms

      Kristensen tops final Sebring practice
      Tom Kristensen
      Tom Kristensen set the quickest practice lap for the first this week at Sebring International Raceway in the final one-hour session prior to Saturday’s 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida, the opening round of the 2009 American Le Mans Series.

      Audi’s Great Dane set a time Friday morning of 1:45.200 (126.616 mph) in the brand new Audi R15 TDI that is making its worldwide debut. Kristensen, a four-time overall Sebring winner and 24 Hours of Le Mans record-holder with eight victories, is teaming with Allan McNish and Dindo Capello. The trio is the reigning Le Mans winning group.

      The second Audi R15 TDI sat second, just 0.089 seconds behind. The entry of Mike Rockenfeller, and defending Series LMP1 champions Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner was at 1:45.289 (126.509 mph) as Audi sat 1-2 for the second time this week.

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      03/20/09
      nassprint

      Biffle pulls out of race with injured ribs
      Greg Biffle has pulled out of the Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway because he bruised his ribs.  Biffle says he was hurt while boating with friends. He says he jumped from the dock to the boat, and his foot slipped on a wet spot on the dock. He says he banged his right side on the side of the boat.

      Matt Kenseth will replace his Roush Fenway Racing teammate in Saturday's race. Biffle is third in the Nationwide standings.

      He is still on schedule to drive in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol. Biffle is 10th in NASCAR's premier series.

      Comment
      03/20/09
      f1

      Hamilton latest F1 driver to whine about rules changes
      Lewis Hamilton is the latest driver to complain about the budget caps.  Why?  Because the filthy rich driver might actually have to take a pay cut.  Imagine that!
      (GMM)  World champion Lewis Hamilton on Friday made clear he does not back the FIA's latest rule changes.

      The regulations, including the voluntary budget cap for 2010 and the immediate change to the scoring system, have been widely condemned by multiple teams and drivers (because they may actually have to take a pay cut.  We sob for the millionaires).

      In a statement provided by his team McLaren, the 24-year-old Briton said: "I think it's a shame what's happening to F1.

      "It's hard to believe these recent decisions will improve things for the trackside spectators and TV viewers, who should always be our number-one priority, but I guess we'll have to wait and see," Hamilton added.

      The motive behind the scoring system change, with the driver with the most victories to be crowned 2009 champion, is to increase drivers' motivation to win rather than encourage settling for strong points placings.

      If retrospectively applied, Hamilton would have lost the 2008 title to Felipe Massa, and Bernie Ecclestone - the champion of the original 'medals' concept - has named the Briton for employing go-steady tactics on occasion under the former regime.

      But Hamilton insists: "Whatever the points system, I know all F1 drivers will always race our hearts out.

      "For the first time in recent years we have the teams, drivers, sponsors and fans all working together for the good of our sport -- now we just need the governing bodies to listen to us and help us."

      Comment
      03/20/09
      starmazda

      Richard Kent wins Star Mazda pole
      Proving that his pace in testing earlier in the week was a true measure of his capabilities, Englishman Richard Kent put the #33 Andersen Racing / Traka / Allied Interior Products Mazda on the pole for tomorrow's Round One of the 2009 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear.  His time of 2:00.286 was well shy of the unofficial track record he set in testing earlier in the week, but still put him well clear of Adam Christodoulou, who will share the front-row for tomorrow's standing start thanks to a lap of 2:00.426 in the #11 JDC Motorsports Mazda.

      "It seems to me that the track has gone quite a lot slower; when we go out right after the ALMS alms cars, we seem to lose a lot of grip and I don't know exactly if it’s the rubber on the track or just a coincidence with the heat," says the racer from Milton Keynes, England.  "Whatever, there certainly wasn't as much grip on offer, so we had to use the second set of tires, but its all good; we did what we wanted to do with winning the pole, now we've got to focus on winning the race.  Conditions tomorrow in the late afternoon should actually be a bit better, qualifying was at 1:30 right in the heat of the day, but we set our unofficial track record in the heat earlier in the week, so we've got a fast car for whatever the conditions are and we'll just be ready for whatever comes.  One thing I can tell you, it's going to be a long race."

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      03/20/09
      track news

      New corner names for Singapore Grand Prix circuit
      Three of the corners on the Marina Bay street circuit which will host the 2009 FORMULA 1™ SingTel Singapore Grand Prix, now sport new names, following a competition created in conjunction with the Singapore newspaper, Today.

      In response to the 'It's Your Turn' contest, close to 1,800 names were submitted for the corners formerly known as Turn 1, Turn 7 and Turn 10. While Today is a national newspaper, entries were received from as far afield as Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Canada.

      The panel of judges took into account names that were punchy, have a strong local connection and are easy to pronounce. Getting to the eventual winners was a tough task, but in the end, Arthur Lim, a greetings card designer, won the top prize which consists of two grandstand tickets, a pit lane walkabout and a trackside hotel room during the 2009 FORMULA 1™ SingTel Singapore Grand Prix, from September 25 to 27.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/20/09
      irl

      Conquest latest team to ditch Barber test
      Part of the reason could be due to the fact IndyCar does not race at Barber so there is nothing to be gained, but Conquest Racing has become the latest team to pull out of the final IndyCar Series preseason group test at Barber Motorsports Park this weekend.  HVM, Foyt and 3G have already decided to use their allocated testing miles in private sessions instead, and now Conquest has announced it will do likewise.  Money is also an issue - Conquest is still trying to put its 2009 sponsorship package together.

      Comment
      03/20/09
      f1

      Williams 'no better than mid-field'
      Williams formula one driver Nico Rosberg has admitted his team are looking at finishing in the middle of the field this year, despite setting the fastest time of the final week of testing.

      "Now that we've reached the end of testing, I think that we are probably in a strong mid-field position, but we will have to wait until Melbourne to be certain," the German driver explained.

      "There's great potential for development over the year with the new rules. If we take the right direction with that development from the outset, it will help us make good steps forward, so we will be pushing hard to make that happen."

      "We've had a successful run of winter testing," teammate Kazuki Nakajima said.

      "We've managed to put a lot of mileage on the car, mainly because we haven't experienced any reliability issues.  The team have done a lot of work on the car throughout this process and it's looking quite good, but we will have to wait to see where everyone really is.  I'm really excited about going to Australia and can't wait to get there now."

      Comment
      03/20/09
      nascar

      Bristol Goodyear Tire Notes
      Teams in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series will be running the same combination of left- and right-side tires at Bristol this weekend . . . this will be the first time Goodyear has brought this combination to the track in 2009, though this is the same tire set-up that NASCAR teams ran at both Bristol (both series) and Pocono (Sprint Cup only) in 2008 . . . Bristol is unique in that teams will be required to run inner liners in only their right-side tires this weekend . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. The estimated pit window is every 130-140 laps, based on fuel mileage (Sprint Cup). Goodyear PR

      Comment
      03/20/09
      nassprint

      NASCAR, no request from Kentucky for date
      NASCAR has not received an official request to realign a Sprint Cup race to Kentucky Speedway, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said today. Speedway Motorsports Inc., in its annual report filed Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, indicated that it had asked for NASCAR to realign a Cup date to the track at the earliest possible time, and it also said it would consider “all options” if NASCAR denied a request. Poston, however, said in an email that no formal request has been received. NASCAR Chairman Brian France has said NASCAR would not consider a realignment request for the track until a federal antitrust lawsuit filed by Kentucky Speedway’s founders is resolved. SMI bought the track in December and a condition of the sale allowed the founders to continue with the case, where SMI is still considered a co-conspirator. NASCAR traditionally begins its sanctioning process for the upcoming year in April or May. Without a settlement, which is not expected, the case won’t be resolved until May at the earliest and possibly much later into the year. SceneDaily

      Comment
      03/20/09
      nassprint

      Martinsville has prime seats left
      With the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway just a few days away, there are some prime seats remaining in the Clay Earles Tower, which overlooks the second turn and the first spots along pit road, and in the Richard Petty Tower, between turn four and the start-finish line. Tickets in the Clay Earles Tower in the second-turn area of the track are $72. Seats remain in most all areas of Martinsville Speedway, ranging in price from $35 to $77. Tickets for children 12 and under are just $10 in select areas. Half-price tickets for all college students with a college ID are also available for a savings of $30. Also, tickets to the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Series race on March 28 are now available for $30 in advance and $35 on race day. To purchase tickets for either the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 or the Kroger 250 and may be purchased by calling 877.722.3849 or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com. Martinsville Speedway PR

      Comment
      03/20/09
      nnw

      Tickets on sale today for Montreal race
      Stock-Car Montreal announced that tickets for the NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented by Dodge will go on sale this Friday, March 20. The NASCAR Nationwide Series returns to Montreal for the third consecutive year at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on Saturday August 29 and Sunday August 30, 2009. The Montreal race will be held on an off weekend from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The promoters of this year's NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented by Dodge have decided not to increase ticket prices for grandstand seating and general admission. Two-day grandstand tickets will still retail from $95 to $165 each, while general admission tickets are on sale at $55 each for two days. Tickets for Saturday admission only are available at $30 each. As of Friday March 20 at 9:00 a.m., fans may purchase tickets for the NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented by Dodge by dialing (514) 397-0007 or ordering their tickets online at http://www.circuitgillesvilleneuve.ca Stock-Car Montréal PR

      Comment
      03/20/09
      f1

      Montezemolo reiterates displeasure
      During the recent Presidential visit to Ferrari’s Maranello factory, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo was once again asked to comment again the current political situation in Formula One after the latest decisions taken by the FIA World Council.

      "I really think it's absurd, severe and dangerous that one week before the first Grand Prix Formula 1 is in such a situation, which is very bad for its credibility, its security, the teams, the car manufacturers, the fans, the journalists and the sponsors who invest,” he said.

      “I hope for a responsible climate, which has been started by us, the teams, with a cost reduction of 50%. It's important to have a serene climate and to avoid continuous changes, creating uncertainty for those who work and making decisions for the future difficult."

      Comment
      03/20/09
      f1

      BIC chief backs new rule
      Bahrain International Circuit general manager Martin Whitaker believes the rule change in determining the 2009 drivers' title can be positive for Formula One.

      Motorsport's governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), announced earlier this week that this season's drivers' title will be awarded on basis of most wins and not on points as per the previous years.

      The move has received plenty of criticism so far, including reactions of disappointment and concern from the Formula One Teams' Association and especially following what was arguably the most thrilling ending to an F1 championship in 2008.

      "Sports is all about winning, not necessarily consistency, so I think this change is of huge relevance," Whitaker said on the sidelines of a media event held at the Bahrain International Circuit's (BIC) Sakhir Tower.

      "You'll have to be consistent to win, anyway, so I certainly believe it adds excitement to the championship, and the racing will be more spectacular, most especially following all the new features to the cars this year.

      "I'm afraid we won't get much closer than the exciting ending we had last season, when the title was decided literally in the last 500 meters of the last Grand Prix. But we never know, it could once again go down to the wire."

      Comment
      03/20/09
      f1

      Mosley to again skip Bahrain GP
      Max Mosley
      (GMM)  Max Mosley will once again not attend the Bahrain grand prix, circuit boss Martin Whitaker has confirmed.

      A year ago, in the midst of the FIA president's sex scandal, the Gulf Kingdom's royal family asked the embattled Mosley to stay away despite his scheduled visit.

      Whitaker, however, told the local Gulf Daily News that the 68-year-old's confirmed absence in 2009 is nothing to do with the sadomasochistic saga.

      Whitaker's on Thursday was also a rare voice of support for the new 'gold medals' system of scoring for the 2009 F1 season.

      "Sports is all about winning, not necessarily consistency, so I think this change is of huge relevance," he said during a media event at the Sakhir venue.

      The track is scheduled to host round four of the 2009 world championship late next month.

      Comment
      03/20/09
      f1

      Ecclestone tells opposed teams to 'wake up'
      Bernie Ecclestone
      (GMM)  Many of F1's leading teams are clearly opposed to the voluntary budget cap for 2010, but chief executive Bernie Ecclestone believes the FIA should take the concept even further.

      "Maybe the 30 million (British pounds per team per season) is a little too low for that," the 78-year-old conceded.

      Following this week's announcement about the controversial 2010 rules, the obvious division between the teams' alliance FOTA and the sport's governing body grew much bigger.

      Ecclestone, representing F1's commercial rights, is making clear whose side he is on, although he said he is open to meeting with the teams to discuss their concerns.

      "The teams must wake up," he told the Milan daily Il Giornale.  "The truth is that they are run basically by engineers.  They all want to prove they are smarter than everyone else so what happens?  The costs go up.

      "The teams have reacted badly because they haven't yet read what the technical regulations for 2010 will be.  I have said it for years: we must reduce the money the teams have to spend to be competitive," Ecclestone added.

      Read more & Comment...
      03/20/09
      f1

      Winter over, F1 intrigue moves to Melbourne
      (GMM)  Any attempt to establish a pre-season pecking order prior to the Melbourne season opener would have to be torn up following the last day of winter testing.

      Although only two teams were circulating at the Jerez circuit on Thursday, Kazuki Nakajima's fastest time was clearly the quickest of the entire final test, faster even than the dominant Brawns earlier this week.

      "I think that we are probably in a strong midfield position, but we will have to wait until Melbourne to be certain," said Nakajima's Williams teammate Nico Rosberg.

      Moreover, the struggling (or sandbagging) McLaren team also seems to have made strong gains this week, and on Thursday Heikki Kovalainen was slower than the Williams but hot on the heels of the earlier Brawn pace.

      Read more & Comment...
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