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Australia Practice 1: Williams cars 1-2
In a real surprise the Williams cars of Nico Rosberg and Kosuke Nakajima ran 1-2 in opening practice for the Australian GP in Melbourne.  What's more, both cars set their times on the harder of the two new slick compounds Bridgestone brought to Australia.

The Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen led most of the session after setting fast time on super-soft Bridgestone tires, but right at the end the two Williams cars inched ahead by the slimmest of margins. They were the only 3 cars to get in the 1m26s bracket.



Driver Team Time Laps
1. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:26.687 19
2. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:26.736 + 0.049 21
3. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:26.750 + 0.063 24
4. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 1:27.226 + 0.539 21
5. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.453 + 0.766 15
6. Button Brawn-Mercedes 1:27.467 + 0.780 12
7. Massa Ferrari 1:27.642 + 0.955 24
8. Glock Toyota 1:27.710 + 1.023 24
9. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:27.993 + 1.306 20
10. Alonso Renault 1:28.123 + 1.436 16
11. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:28.137 + 1.450 20
12. Trulli Toyota 1:28.142 + 1.455 21
13. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:28.511 + 1.824 22
14. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 1:28.603 + 1.916 16
15. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:28.785 + 2.098 27
16. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:29.042 + 2.355 18
17. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:29.081 + 2.394 7
18. Piquet Renault 1:29.461 + 2.774 25
19. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:29.499 + 2.812 21
20. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:32.784 + 6.097 4


Webber calls for higher weight limit
Red Bull Racing driver Mark Webber believes the FIA should increase the minimum weight of Formula 1 cars so the bigger drivers will not have a disadvantage anymore compared to the small drivers. While in the past the F1 teams could easily stay under the minimum weight with their cars and increase the weight with weight balance it becomes much more difficult to remain close to the minimum weight with KERS on board. Mark Webber believes the FIA should think about the current minimum weight. Speaking with the official F1 site the Australian said: "It wouldn't be unfair to do that. The smaller drivers don't get a disadvantage but at the moment the bigger guys do, so it would only be fair. And it would save a lot of money, too. At the moment the teams are spending money to make the cars lighter and by increasing the minimum weight to a sensible number, the teams would not have to spend money on saving weight. The weight limit is incredibly aggressive! I am not Pavarotti and still it's not easy.

When asked if Webber is in a disadvantage for the upcoming season he replied: "It makes it harder for teams to make the car work. That is why I said that the weight limit is aggressive. If the weight limit was higher it would make it less challenging, less whatever. I have heard one of the teams say that the taller drivers have a strength advantage. What a lot of rubbish. It's not a strength advantage as all the guys on the grid are strong."


FOTA clarifies GP boycott 'threat'
FOTA has issued a statement this evening, clarifying that comments made by three FOTA officials at a meeting with Bernie Ecclestone had the full support of all ten teams. John Howett, Ron Dennis and Flavio Briatore met with Ecclestone in London on March 18th in order to resolve a financial dispute that has arisen between CVC (owners of F1's commercial rights) and the sport's teams.

During the meeting, it was reported that Briatore and Dennis threatened to stop their cars flying to Australia for the season-opening Grand Prix insisting that they would be able to organize a total boycott of the event by all teams, and FOTA has now stated that this had the full support of all teams. The dispute relates to unpaid revenue from the 2006, 2007 and 2008 championships, likely to be a considerable sum.

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Alonso believes Bernie will change mind
Fernando Alonso believes Bernie Ecclestone, a man usually not for turning, can be persuaded to change his mind regarding the highly controversial 'winner-takes-all' system.

However, none of the drivers appear to be in favor, and the fans have hardly expressed their enthusiasm since it came to light.

That leads double world champion Alonso to wonder how Ecclestone and FIA president Max Mosley can fly in the face of popular opinion.

"I think we can make him (Ecclestone) change his mind," remarked the Spaniard.

"FOTA (Formula One Teams' Association) gave a list of proposals, and they were very clear and very clever in listening to the fans. 

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Graham Rahal Launches new Website
Ahead of the 2009 season-opening IndyCar Series race in St. Petersburg, Florida on April 5th - - site of his historic, record-breaking win in 2008 - - racing driver Graham Rahal launched today his official new website - - www.grahamrahal.com.  The site features a fresh, new look and content as well as an online store that serves as the source for exclusive Graham Rahal memorabilia, apparel and other products.  The site will consistently be updated with news stories, articles by Graham, races results, sponsor information and promotions, photos, wallpapers, online charitable auctions, and other new features.


Gomez joins Alliance Motorsports
Firestone Indy Lights veteran Logan Gomez will return to the series in 2009 as driver of the No. 24 car fielded by Alliance Motorsports. 

The 20-year-old native of Crown Point, Ind., has made 33 career starts in Firestone Indy Lights, recording 18 top-10 finishes, seven top-fives and a victory at Chicagoland Speedway.

“The signing of Logan instantly positions ourselves as a strong contender this year,” said team co-owner Tyce Carlson, who leads the team into its second year of competition. “Logan is a proven and talented driver, and we couldn’t be happier. We have wanted to work with Logan since the first time that we met with him early last year, and we intend to give him our very best.”

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Congress to close 2 million acres
The following is from the AMA...

By a 285-to-140 vote, U.S. House members on March 25 approved a bill that closes more than 2 million acres of public land nationwide to off-highway motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and all other motorized vehicles, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

Following congressional maneuvering that breathed new life into the measure after it was defeated just a couple weeks earlier, the lawmakers approved H.R. 146, known as the Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Acquisition Grant Program. This bill was formerly known as S. 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.

Congress' first attempt to pass this measure, S. 22, was defeated two weeks ago in the House. However, following that defeat, the Senate leadership brought H.R. 146 to the floor, inserted the language from S. 22, and passed the bill on March 19 by a vote of 77 to 20.

It then went to the House for the March 25 vote.

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Enter Indy 500 Race for Cash
A lucky Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series fan has the opportunity to win $50,000 in cash through the Indy 500 Race for Cash contest this spring.

Fans can enter the contest in three ways from Wednesday, April 1 until Sunday, May 24, Race Day for the 2009 Indianapolis 500:

Online: Visit www.indycar.com/raceforcash

Mobile: Text CASH to 234500.

At IMS: Sign up at any one of three kiosks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during track activity for the Indianapolis 500. Kiosks will be located at the INDY Fan Zone display, MotoGP Garage 33 and the IMS Retail tent outside of Turn 4 (May 8-10, 15-17, 20-24).

At Upcoming IndyCar Series events: Sign up at the INDY Fan Zone display or at select locations on site at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 3-5 and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 17-19.

Multiple entries can be submitted, with a limit of one per day. Visit www.indycar.com/raceforcash for contest rules and regulations.

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Nurburgring unable to replace Hockenheim in 2010
(GMM)  Nurburgring boss Walter Kafitz has ruled out stepping in to replace Hockenheim should the German venue drop off the 2010 formula one calendar.

The two circuits currently annually alternate hosting a single German race, but the future of Hockenheim's loss-making event is unclear.

Hockenheim is due to return to the calendar next year, meaning that if it is unable to host the race, Germany will not be represented in formula one for the first time.

Kafitz told the German news agency SID that the Nurburgring will be unable to fill the void because it cannot afford to host the sport every year.

He said he hopes Hockenheim is able to find a solution.

"A negative outcome (for them) would weaken Germany as a location, therefore also (weaken) the Nurburgring," said Kafitz.


F1 teams happy with Stewards decision
The Stewards of the Meeting for the Australian Grand Prix have rejected a protest lodged by Renault, Ferrari and Red Bull and confirmed that the Williams-Toyota FW31 is technically compliant with the appropriate 2009 Formula One Technical Regulations.

Williams’ Technical Director Sam Michael said, ”We are pleased with the Stewards’ decision and we have no further comment to make.”

Toyota Motorsport Chairman Tadashi Yamashina said: "We are pleased with the decision of the race stewards but we prefer not to comment further on the situation. This weekend promises to be a tremendously exciting Australian Grand Prix so we are now looking forward to starting the competition on track with the first practice sessions on Friday."


Latest F1 news in brief - 2
  • Brawn announces first on-car sponsor
  • Stewards say controversial diffusers legal
  • Hamilton becomes GPDA member
  • Comments show Surtees out of touch - Button
  • New role for Wurz, Davidson to be Brawn reserve
  • Button has new model girlfriend
  • Brawn set to shed 275 jobs - report

Brawn announces first on-car sponsor
(GMM)  Melbourne favorite Brawn GP on Thursday unveiled its first commercial sponsor.

The British clothing manufacturer Henri Lloyd will not only supply clothes and shoes to the former Honda team in 2009, its logo will appear on the Mercedes-powered car.

Stewards say controversial diffusers legal
(GMM)  The protest lodged by BMW-Sauber against three formula one teams' diffuser designs was thrown out by the FIA stewards.

It is reported that the paperwork fell foul of a simple technicality, although the other similar protests - signed by Red Bull, Renault and Ferrari - went ahead.

The verdict was expected later on Thursday, but it did not arrive until about midnight.

The stewards cleared the designs, but the protesting teams are likely to now appeal, with a hearing not able to be held until after the Malaysian grand prix.

It is believed a central theme of the arguments against the diffusers is that, despite the loophole, the three teams' interpretation contravenes the spirit of the downforce-reducing rules.

"If this is ruled to be legal there will be much more scope than has been made use of so far by the three teams," BMW-Sauber team boss Mario Theissen said.

It is also rumored that, should the diffusers ultimately be allowed, BMW will be unable to design one due to limitations of the gearbox dimensions.

Another whisper in the Albert Park paddock is that even this diffuser issue can be traced back to F1's power struggle.

Renault and Red Bull have outlined how, when they asked the FIA about designing a diffuser with a similar concept, the answer was that it would not be allowed.

It is has therefore been suggested that by clearing Brawn, Williams and Toyota's designs, the FIA was able to cause tension within the FOTA team alliance.

Toyota's team president John Howett said: "We used the consultation process with the FIA technical department and we are satisfied that they verified our interpretation."

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said the row is not a threat to FOTA's unity.

"This is a sporting and competitive issue, it's nothing personal against the teams, it's simply looking to clarify regulations and our interpretations and others has been different."

Howett agreed that there are no hard feelings.

"It's part of the sport we're in," he said.

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Weekly NASCAR cheating report
NASCAR announced today that the crew chief, owner and driver for the No. 72 NASCAR Nationwide Series team have been fined and penalized for using unapproved fuel this past weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

In addition to having the qualifying time disallowed for the No. 72 Ford driven by Benny Gordon, crew chief Andy Punch has been fined $10,000 and suspended for the next four NASCAR events (from April 4-29) and placed on probation until Dec. 31. NASCAR said the team was cited for using a gasoline that violated the rule that it must not be blended with alcohols, ethers or other oxygenates and it must not be blended with aniline or its derivatives, nitro compounds or other nitrogen-containing compounds.

"In general, fuel is a big deal – fuel, tires, big engines, things of that nature are big," NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said Wednesday. "It’s not the intent. It’s what’s right and what’s wrong. The fuel was out of spec of what was served at the race track for the competitors, and we just have to react on that."

Team owner Frank Varischetti was penalized with the loss of 50 owner points, while Gordon also was docked 50 driver points.

The infractions were reported after qualifying, and Gordon did not compete in the race.


Pre-season Q&A with Frank Williams
Frank Williams
As the 2009 Formula One World Championship season will finally get underway this weekend, Williams F1 Team Principal Frank Williams talks about his hopes for this year and talks about the long-term future of the team with the global crisis.

How are you feeling about the season ahead?
"The car is looking good. You might see a few surprises, but it won’t be anything too dramatic once we get it down to the grid at Melbourne."

Are you optimistic?
"Cautiously so because we haven’t really seen what anyone else has done yet."

And what about your drivers for this year?
"We have Nico Rosberg for the fourth season, which is good, and Kazuki Nakajima for the second year. Kazuki is very quiet and the best mannered young man I have ever met but, in a racing car, he’s very aggressive and I think he could have a terrific future. We have two very ambitious drivers. If the car’s good enough, they’ll be good enough."

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Australia: Team personnel preview quotes
The new era of Formula One racing begins this weekend, with the sport set to debut the new aerodynamics, slick tires and KERS after months of development work in the factory and on the test tracks. Here to give us their opinions of the upcoming weekend are various Team Personnel, starting with those at McLaren.

Martin Whitmarsh
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren-Mercedes (Team Principal):
“We go into the start of the 2009 season fully aware that we do not yet have the technical package that will allow our drivers to fight at the front. In Formula 1, there is nowhere to hide: that's what makes our sport so demanding and yet so endlessly fascinating. And as a team that goes grand prix racing with the expectation of winning races and challenging for world championships, we therefore go to Melbourne with realistic expectations. Nonetheless, we begin our season with huge determination to re-assert ourselves at the front and we will not rest for a moment until we have done that. Most importantly, we haven't forgotten how to win.”

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Philippe Passes Rookie Test at Kentucky Speedway
Again driving Genoa’s #36 Firestone® Indy Lights™ car, Richard Philippe passed his rookie test with flying colors. The test was attended by a total of 7 cars from Genoa, Sam Schmidt Motorsports, AFS/AGR, Herta, and Anderson.

The track was in fair shape. However, recently emerging from winter hibernation, it had not been ground yet, and so it was bumpy. The wind picked up throughout the day, and was quite gusty in the afternoon. Lap times were a bit sparse, but all the drivers/teams appeared to be lapping within 0.2 seconds of each other, well under last years’ pole speeds. Everyone appeared to have plenty of downforce, in deference to the conditions and to the imminent start of the season.

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Massa blasts Formula 1 'a complete mess'
Felipe Massa
Ferrari star Felipe Massa has slated Formula 1 as being in ‘a complete mess’ and a state of disarray heading into the opening race of the 2009 world championship in Melbourne this weekend.

“I am unhappy with the situation currently going on in Formula 1,” Massa is quoted as having said by PA Sport. “One week we have some news and then the next everything changes. We need consistent rules, a consistent way of working, to make things a little more serious.

“To be honest, when I saw the points proposal from FOTA (the Formula One Teams’ Association) which increased the difference between first and second place, for me it was the best for the sport. Then suddenly [the FIA] came out with a completely different story and it was a complete mess. Nobody liked it, to be honest. I think for sure the winner needs a better advantage from first to second – but not in terms of victory, in terms of points.

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A lap around Albert Park
Albert Park circuit
One of the most popular circuits in Formula One, Albert Park has been hosting the Australian Grand Prix since 1996 when it moved from Adelaide.

Well liked by the drivers, teams and fans alike, Albert Park is one of four tracks on the current calendar - along with Monaco, Valencia and Singapore - which is raced through the streets of the host city.

With 16 turns, including 10 right-handers, the circuit is 5.303km in length, the 58 laps making up a race distance of 307.574km, and the lap record of 1:24.125 was set by seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher in 2004.

Only a couple of kilometers from Melbourne's central business district, the track is laid out in a region that also includes the man-made Albert Park Lake as its centerpiece, a football stadium, a golf course and a water sports complex.

With Victoria winning the contract to host the race in 1993, the roads that were to be used were rebuilt in the lead-up to make sure that the surface was as smooth and consistent as possible.

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Braking data for Australia
To the right is the Brembo ID Card of the Melbourne circuit, offered by Brembo.

The card contains some very interesting information and data about the circuit and the technical features of the braking systems.


Portuguese GP2 team on pace in preseason
Álvaro Parente
Karun Chandhok
Ocean Racing Technology continued its pre season program at the Barcelona circuit in Spain this week ahead of their debut season in the GP2 Main Series. The Portuguese team was constantly on the pace and recorded the best time of the day in three of the six half day sessions.  Álvaro Parente and Karun Chandhok progressed in two areas, being qualifying and race pace and Parente is pleased with the way the team is working.

"These three days have been productive and very satisfying for me. The car is much better than it was during the last test and I feel confident. The car is really fast in qualifying trim and its behavior is consistent and reliable in regard to race set-up. I feel at home with the team and now I'm looking forward to returning to Barcelona for the season opener," Parente said.

Karun Chandhok also confirmed the progress of the Portuguese team's single seater. The Indian driver covered a great number of kilometers as well as collecting  lot of data that will prove crucial in the upcoming championship. Karun recorded the sixth best time on Tuesday, however he was well on his way to the best overall time of the day before a red flag and traffic slowed down his dash.

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TEAC signs on with V8 Supercar team
TEAC, the electronics manufacturer, has signed a two-year deal to become a major sponsor of the Ford Performance Racing V8Supercars team. The company will receive prominent branding space on both the rear spoiler and the front of the team's two cars, driven by Mark Winterbottom and Steve Richards.

V8 Supercar events are held in all states of Australia as well as rounds in New Zealand and Bahrain. It is the most popular motorsport in Australia, and has a large following in New Zealand.

"The audience figures and profile complement that of our target buyer and the event allows us to present our products in a high-tech, high-performance environment, which clearly reflects what we sell," said TEAC senior product and marketing manager, Daniel Seow. "I'm confident we’ll be able to execute some really exciting marketing with this partnership."


Brawn GP announces new partnership
Brawn GP is pleased to confirm its first new commercial partnership of the 2009 Formula One season with the announcement of an agreement with British clothing manufacturer Henri Lloyd as Official Supplier of Clothing and Footwear Technology. 

Henri Lloyd is widely regarded as one of the market leaders in technical sailing and lifestyle apparel, and has pioneered the development of fabrics, garment design and product development for over 45 years. The company's extensive knowledge and experience of innovative fabric technology has been applied to Brawn GP's team clothing for the 2009 season to create a uniform able to adapt to the various climatic environments which the team will encounter at the seventeen races on the Grand Prix calendar.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Hockenheim future verdict shifts to May
  • Car numbers 18 and 19 dropped for 2009
  • Singapore race keeps naming sponsor
  • Toyota ready to fight diffuser protest
  • KERS for Heidfeld, but not Kubica, in Aus
  • Spaniard was first choice for Red Bull role
  • Ross Brawn at war with old team Ferrari
  • Button unveils bright yellow helmet

Hockenheim future verdict shifts to May
(GMM)  The future of Hockenheim's formula one race is to remain unresolved until the end of May, when a summit has been scheduled to take place in Stuttgart.

German news sources report that F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is slated to attend, as well as stakeholders including Mercedes and BMW, and German state prime minister Gunther Oettinger.

A final decision about the loss-making event had been expected to be made earlier this week, but the circuit owners instead vowed to push for the Stuttgart meeting.

Should the town of Hockenheim's projected 6 million euro loss for the 2010 event not be covered, the organizers will not apply for a spot on the calendar.

"We are examining all the options," mayor Dieter Gummer said, "and the result remains completely open.  But by the summer we need to know because the (2010) race would need to be planned."

As Hockenheim currently alternates the German race annually with the Nurburgring, representatives of the Rhineland-Palatinate state will also attend the May 20 meeting.

Car numbers 18 and 19 dropped for 2009
(GMM)  The car numbers 18 and 19 will not appear on the 2009 formula one grid.

Previously, the Honda team was due to be assigned the numbers for this season, but the FIA's decision to consider Brawn GP a new entrant meant the Brackley camp had to move to the bottom of the pitlane.

Therefore, Force India was assigned the higher car numbers, but had already prepared for its 2009 campaign on the basis of using the numbers 20 and 21.

The FIA has thus agreed to allow the Silverstone based team to revert to its original numbers, with Brawn GP again moving to the tail of the field with the numbers 22 and 23.

As an aside, for traditional reasons of superstition, drivers are never assigned the number 13.

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track news

ISC to make another run at Kansas City Casino
International Speedway Corp., the Daytona Beach-based stock-car racing giant, has already cut ticket prices to try drawing fans back to a sport reeling from the loss of big-money sponsors, decreased television ratings and failed plans to expand into the New York area and Washington state.

The company, whose stock price has dropped 50 percent in the past year, closing Tuesday at $21.72 a share, is expected to make a second run next week at a new revenue source: casino gambling.

An ISC spokesman said the company would submit a bid to the state of Kansas by April 1 to develop a casino-hotel and a dining-retail-entertainment complex next to its speedway in Kansas City.

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track news

US Census Bureau recognizes IMS 100 years
As home to three of the most prestigious races in the world, the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been recognized by the U.S. Census Bureau for its place in automotive and motorsports history.

In 2008, Indianapolis Motor Speedway executives announced a three-year celebration called the Centennial Era marking the 100th anniversary of the legendary facility in 2009 and the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 in 2011.

On May 24, 33 drivers will take the green flag to start the 2009 Indianapolis 500, which will be the first race in the Centennial Era.

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A1GP names top-10 races
As A1GP approaches its 75th race in Portugal next month, A1GP.com thought it would be a good time to take a look back at the greatest drives and performances in the history of the sport.

What makes a great drive? Well, the reasons are argued over by A1GP fans worldwide, and superb bravery, outstanding achievement and triumph in the face of adversity are things that are all commonly mentioned. One thing is for certain however - everyone thinks they know a great drive when they see one.

After much debate here at A1GP.com towers, here are our top ten:

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Despite dwindling field, ALMS touts opening numbers
Winning Audi team
Quite appropriately, the American Le Mans Series 100th race generated record-breaking performances both on and off the track. The 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida saw the fastest race ever recorded in event history. But it also featured exponential gains in other areas including Web site traffic, ticket sales and television ratings.

Those performances go alongside the speed and distance records posted by Saturday’s race winners in America’s greatest sports car race.

Americanlemans.com Attracts Unprecedented Numbers
The new americanlemans.com saw record-setting numbers from the Wednesday through Sunday period with landmark figures in page views, visitors, retention and global reach.

Most telling was the total number of page views in the report period, up an incredible 1,506 percent from 2008 totals - or 16 times the number of hits – for a total of 5.4 million views. Site visits were up 82 percent (unique visitors more than doubled) with page views per visit up 781 percent. The average viewer also spent more than 14 minutes longer per visit compared to last season.

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Red Bull announce new partners
In what can be seen as perfect timing, with just a few days to go to the F1 season opener in Melbourne, Red Bull Racing is pleased to announce it has teamed up with Casio Computer Co. Ltd to act as brand ambassador for its Edifice line of analogue watches.

The Edifice range reflects elements of speed and intelligence and even features carbon fiber on some models, so there are obvious links with Formula One and Red Bull Racing. Throughout the season, fans will be able to clock the Casio logo on various elements of Red Bull Racing's branding, including the drivers' race suits.

Edifice has been designated as the official Red Bull Racing team watch for the year, which seems to have gone down well with our drivers, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, but when asked for a quote they were too busy pressing all the chronograph and function buttons to comment - like we said 'speed and intelligence!'

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IZOD to start Indy promotion but driver rideless UPDATE New York-based Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. will roll out its new Izod/Indy race-inspired clothing collection in Macy’s stores nationwide in April. The launch will be accompanied by a national multi-million dollar advertising campaign as well as an Indianapolis 500 sweepstakes. Izod is the official apparel of the Indy Racing League, Firestone Indy Lights and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Problem is, the poster boy for the campaign, IRL driver Ryan Hunter-Reay is not confirmed for the series yet. Hunter-Reay lost his ride when his former sponsor, an American consortium of ethanol producers, pulled out of the series after last season.

HVM Racing recently announced Hunter-Reay will do some testing for the team, but a deal to give him a full-time ride is still being negotiated. Lack of sponsorship for Hunter-Reay is still a problem. A Phillips-Van Heusen official said it would be a “significant problem” if Hunter-Reay is not on the track this year, but still, Izod is fronting little to no money to sponsor his car.

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Unser Jr. to be Long Beach Grand Marshal
Unser Jr. (C) winner of Toyota GP of Long Beach in 1991 with Eddie Cheever (L) and Bobby Rahal (R)
It's safe to say that nobody had a better time racing through the streets of Long Beach than Al Unser Jr., the newly appointed Grand Marshal for the 35th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 16-19.

The Albuquerque, N.M.-native ran 15 Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) races on the streets of Long Beach, winning six times, including a remarkable four straight from 1988-91, and holds the overall record for laps led here, with 545.

Along with another famed driver, Bobby Rahal, he will be inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame on Thurs., April 16 at 11 a.m., and will also compete in the Sat., April 18 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, an event he won here in 1985.

"I'm so honored that the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach has asked me to be Grand Marshal," said Unser. "We had such good fortune throughout my career at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, and I feel so blessed to be put in the Walk of Fame and to be able to run in the Pro/Celebrity Race. I'm just thrilled to come back to Long Beach and this great event."

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Robertson hopes to continue form at St. Pete
It’s something special when an entire pressbox cheers for your car. It was so loud that had he not been so focused in the opening laps of the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, David Murry might have heard it himself.

The roar from the Sebring media center came after Murry moved the Robertson Racing Ford GT MK 7 into third place, passing Jörg Bergmeister in one of Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs. It marked the first time since the car’s debut at Sebring a year ago that the Doran-built entry ran in podium position on pace.

It also whetted the team’s appetite for more, and the next chance is next week’s Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg, the first street race of the season.

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All-Star race to feature 10-lap shootout
The 25th running of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race will feature a 10-lap shootout as its final segment, Lowe's Motor Speedway officials announced today.

The event, which is set for May 16 at the track outside Charlotte, will consist of four segments. It will conclude with the 10-lap sprint and offer a $1 million payout to the race winner.

The opening segment will be 50 laps, with a mandatory green-flag pit stop on lap 25. At that point, teams must pit for four tires. The second segment is 20 laps, with the caution flag displayed at the end of the segment for an optional pit stop. The third segment is 20 laps with a 10-minute break at the end. Teams may make normal adjustments to their cars during this break. The finishing order after the third segment determines the final starting positions for the fourth and final segment, which is the 10-lap shootout.

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Andersen Racing Announces Major Karting Expansion
Andersen Racing co-owner Dan Andersen announced today that the Palmetto, Fla.-based team is immediately expanding its karting operations to the national level, including participation in the Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the IndyCar Series, and has named noted karter Wes Phillips as its new director of competition karting.

Phillips, 28, was the Rotax national champion in 2005, and he's a multiple-time Rotax Max Americas team member. He's also a very respected coach, working with notable drivers such as Brett Smrz, Jacob Neal, Alexander Rossi and J.R. Hildebrand.

Phillips' karting business, The Circuit Group, which is based in American Canyon, Calif., will now come under the Andersen Racing umbrella, which includes karting, Formula BMW Americas, Star Mazda and Firestone Indy Lights teams as well as the operation of Andersen RacePark, a 1-mile road course test track at its headquarters. It is the development team of Rahal Letterman Racing, which competes in the IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series.

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GM and Saab to swap technology
General Motors Corp. and its unit Saab Automobile have agreed to swap technology for at least five years in an effort to make the loss-making Swedish brand more attractive to buyers, a news report said Wednesday.

Saab's finance director, Lars Hagerborg, told financial daily Dagens Industri that the Swedish car maker will be able to use GM's platform technology in exchange for Saab's safety, chassis and engine technology.

"GM will be a vital partner for Saab during at least five to 10 years, during which we, with a new owner, will have access to a large part of the technology we need," Hagerborg was quoted as saying.


Our car is legal says Michael
With all the talk of illegal cars, protests and unfair performance advantages for three of the teams currently contesting the 2009 Formula One championship season, Williams, Toyota and Brawn GP, Williams design guru Sam Michael has spoken out in defense of their 09 contender, claiming it is every bit inside the FIA regulations.

According to Michael, the other teams are only complaining about their rear diffuser because they didn’t put in enough effort in regard to studying the new rules and now find themselves out of the loop…

"Our team is very much within the regulations. I don't know what the fuss is about," he said. "People are complaining rather than putting their hands up and saying, 'We didn't think of it because we weren't looking at the rules hard enough'."

As previously reported, Red Bull has announced their intention to protest the diffusers if the cars in question pass scrutineering at the Albert Park circuit tomorrow.


BMW still yet to make KERS decision - Klien
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber may wait until the day of qualifying to decide if it will use new KERS technology in the Australian grand prix, its test driver said on Wednesday.

Christian Klien, also reserve driver for the Swiss based squad in Melbourne and elsewhere on the 2009 calendar, confirmed to the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung that the team will make decisions about KERS on a race-by-race basis this season.

While team boss Mario Theissen is a staunch supporter of the newly allowed braking energy re-use technology, the power boost advantage is at some circuits offset by the extra weight and the impact on tire wear.

Austrian Klien, 26, said: "For Australia we will decide only on Friday, or perhaps even Saturday."


Aus GP's champions snub 'pathetic' - Jones
(GMM)  Australia's most recent world champion has slammed the organizers of the Melbourne race.

Alan Jones, who won Williams' first title in 1980, said he is not invited to the Australian grand prix by his native country.

"I write to Bernie Ecclestone and get a ticket issued from Britain.  It seems he is more inclined to do things for you than home-grown folk," the 62-year-old, who heads the Australian A1GP team, told the Melbourne newspaper Herald Sun.

Jones further criticized the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) for overlooking the 50th anniversary of the first formula one championship won by an Australian driver.

Sir Jack Brabham, now 82, won his first of three titles in 1959.  He and Jones are the only Australian world champions.

"He is an icon and a national treasure, and to overlook him in that fashion is pathetic," Jones said.

Brabham has turned down his invitation to attend this weekend's event, claiming it was only made after a PR company working with his son David approached the AGPC.

"The fact is, they wouldn't have issued an invitation if they hadn't been prodded and they certainly wouldn't have done anything for the 50th anniversary," Brabham's wife Margaret said.

To Jones' criticisms, AGPC chairman Ron Walker replied: "I am not going to respond to Alan Jones' gripes about the grand prix."


Davidson Brawn GP test driver
Anthony Davidson will act as the test driver for the Brawn GP team this year - in addition to his role as a commentator with BBC Radio 5. The former Super Aguri F1 driver had been linked with the former Honda team for years and it is no surprise that he has been chosen to fulfill the role rather than it going to a younger driver.


Toro Rosso happy with Ferrari power - owner
(GMM)  Toro Rosso owner Dietrich Mateschitz has indicated he has no plans to seek a new engine supplier for the Faenza based team.

After using Cosworth power for its debut season in 2006, the former Minardi team switched to Ferrari, clearing the way for sister team Red Bull to use Renault engines.

2009 is therefore Toro Rosso's third consecutive season with the Maranello built power plants, following the recent signing of an option in the existing contract.

"Who better to supply a private Italian team with engines than Ferrari?" billionaire Mateschitz told La Gazzetta dello Sport.


All Renault staff had pay cuts - Briatore
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet are not the only Renault team employees to have taken a pay-cut for 2009, according to boss Flavio Briatore.

"Fernando has had a salary cut, like everyone at the factory," the Italian told the Daily Express.

While Piquet is one of F1's lowest paid drivers, Alonso's more than 30 per cent cut reportedly shed nearly 5m (euros) from his contracted 2009 retainer.

Renault has already shed 50 jobs at its Enstone base, Briatore told the newspaper.

"It is sad but we were in a bubble in F1 and now to preserve the business and the majority of the jobs we need to take action," he said.


HVM to test at Sebring
HVM Racing will run private test sessions on March 25 and 26 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., with team driver E.J. Viso and former HVM driver Ryan Hunter-Reay sharing time in the No. 13 PDVSA HVM Racing Honda Dallara.  Plans to test Hunter-Reay in a second car were changed when an additional car could not be obtained in time for the test.

“As planned, we are testing in Sebring in preparation for the first two events,” said Keith Wiggins, Team Owner.  “We’ll have two great drivers testing for us, and that should give us good feedback to develop a pretty good package for St. Pete and Long Beach.”

The team continues to work with Hunter-Reay while it pursues opportunities to be able to give him a ride for the 2009 season, but no agreement has been reached.


Unser Jr. sister dies
Mary Unser Tanner in Surfers Paradise 2008
We are sad to announce the passing of Al Unser Jr's sister Mary Unser Tanner.  She left our world on Monday the 23rd of March.  Arrangements are being made for her at.

Riverside Funeral Home
225 San Mateo NE
Albuquerque, NM 87108

Donations in lieu of flowers to;

The Barrett House for Battered and Homeless Women
10300 Constitution NE
Albuquerque, NM 87112

Visitation to be held at the Riverside Funeral home on Thursday the 26th from 7-9 pm.  Services to honor her life will be held on Friday the 27th at 11 am. 

Calvery Chapel of Albuquerque
4001 Osuna Rd. NE


Dodge recall
The 2008 and 2009 Dodge Ram and 2009 Dodge Journey are being recalled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, each for a different reason. The Ram's windshield wiper motor isn't adequately protected from water, so it could fail completely due to water intrusion. Initial numbers suggest 72,138 Rams are affected. The fix is a stop at the dealership to have some vented wiper motor housings installed.

Some 16,852 Dodge Journeys that do not have the optional 115-volt auxiliary power outlet are also being recalled. The unused electrical connector for that optional component could potentially cause a fire. It's the second fire-related recall for the Journey, and akin to the unused connector issue that affected the Town & Country and Grand Caravan. Dealers will remove the fuse and reroute the wiring. Full info on both recalls is available below.

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GM layoffs begin
General Motors Corp. began white-collar layoffs Tuesday, telling about 160 workers at the Warren Technical Center that their last day will be April 1.  The move is just the beginning of GM's plans to cut 3,400 salaried jobs in the United States this year. Worldwide, GM plans to cut 47,000 workers by the end of the year.  The job cuts are part of GM's sweeping restructuring efforts to make the company viable.  GM's restructuring plan was presented to the U.S. Treasury last month as a condition of the $13.4 billion in government loans keeping the company afloat.


Ford's Mulally gets insane salary despite losses
Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally saw his total compensation cut by 37 percent last year, according to documents filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but the package was still worth more than $13.6 million in cash, stock and stock options.

Most of that -- $8.7 million -- represents stock options that are worthless at the current share price. The automaker said Mulally has yet to receive any stock options that he could cash.

Ford said it will reduce Mulally's salary by another 30 percent for 2009 and 2010, and eliminate merit pay increases and bonuses for U.S. salaried workers because of the challenges facing the company and the auto industry.

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Massa supports old F1 points system
Felipe Massa has spoken out in favor of the 2008 points system that saw him lose the world championship to Lewis Hamilton at the last race. The new system proposed by the FIA last week would have seen the Brazilian crowned champion by dint of his larger number of wins last year. But after pressure from the teams, the FIA today confirmed the ”winner takes all” system would not be introduced until 2010 and the Ferrari driver told the BBC that he was satisfied with that.

“To assign the title to the driver who wins the most races is not correct. I’m really not interested in the fact that with such a system I would have won the title last year. I’m interested in what’s right for our sport.”

Massa went on to reiterate concerns made by other drivers in recent days, notably Mark Webber, about consistency not being rewarded under the proposed new system.

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Williams: Ross Brawn makes us look like amateurs
As a former employee of his, Sir Frank Williams is very proud of what Ross Brawn has achieved in Formula One. With his most recent venture being the Brawn GP Formula One team, and their 2009 contender the BGP001, which topped the time sheets almost on its first track outing late in the pre-season test sessions.

Williams praised his fellow countryman when speaking to the 'Daily Express': "Ross started to work for us as a junior in the little wind tunnel; he just made his own career and pulled himself up by his bootstraps, and now has great knowledge from his time at Ferrari."

"It is no accident that their new car is absurdly superior - they are making the rest of us look like amateurs. In Australia they will disappear on the basis of what we have seen in testing. I just hope we can be up there, too," he added optimistically.


Johnson’s No. 48 Crew Claims Tissot  Win in Bristol
Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 team took top honors by winning the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

The weekly competition, which recognizes the over-the-wall pit crews, has had different winners in each of the first five Cup races of 2009.

Johnson’s crew was awarded the Tissot win after its Lowe’s Chevy Impala SS spent the least amount of time on pit road (235.745 seconds) during the 503-lap race at the famed half-mile Bristol oval. The quick stops lifted the three-time Cup champion to a solid third-place finish.

“Bristol is one of the most challenging as far as pit road goes,” said No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus. “There’s a lot that goes on and there’s not a lot of room to work. The 48 crew did a good job and the fact that they were consistent all day getting Jimmie out of the pits helped the No. 48 Lowe’s Impala to a third-place finish.”

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racing news

Heidi Steele Named Dirt Sports’ 2008 Driver of the Year
Heidi Steele
Off-road champion Heidi Steele has made history…again. First, the Yokohama Tire Corporation-sponsored racer cemented herself in off-road history last year by being the first woman to win two major truck championships in one season – the Best in the Desert and SCORE. Now she’s been named Dirt Sports magazine’s 2008 Driver of the Year, becoming the first female to win the coveted award.

“This is a truly amazing and unforgettable feeling,” said Steele of San Clemente, California, who is married to off-road champion and TV commentator Cameron Steele. “To be recognized and honored with such a prestigious award among the many talented drivers in off-road racing is truly unbelievable. I am grateful that Dirt Sports has taken more and varied factors into consideration for the Driver of the Year award, including winning two championships in one year and the challenges of competing in a more limited class.  This award gives hope and inspiration to so many drivers that you can be recognized for your racing abilities regardless of the class you may race in.”

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track news

Honda Grand Prix Pit Notes #10

Nashville Recording Artist and Local Talent Highlight

Expanded Live Music Lineup at 2009 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
For the first time, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will offer live music on all three days of its event weekend, highlighted by Nashville recording artist Michelle Murray and a host of local talent. Among the bands performing are Kings County, and Orlando-based alternative band; R&B band The Soul Power Review; country act Jo Dell and Ace Factor, a popular local dance band.

All concerts will be held on the GTE Federal Credit Union/Auto Advisers Stage in the Honda Plaza, located adjacent to the Mahaffey Theater.  Performance times are:

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Trulli no fan of F1 'twilight' races
  • Renault slices a third off Alonso's pay
  • Raikkonen 'chubby, lazy' in 2008 - Coulthard
  • FIA to consult teams over 2010 scoring change
  • Red Bull ready to protest over diffusers
  • Hockenheim future still unclear after meeting
  • Warm and dry, but Buemi expects GP rain
  • Fisichella expects no points from early races
  • FIA raises Albert Park pitlane speed limit
  • Coulthard appointed Red Bull reserve

Trulli no fan of F1 'twilight' races
(GMM)  Jarno Trulli on Wednesday made clear he is not a big fan of the move to 'twilight racing' in formula one.

This weekend's action in Australia, and again in Malaysia in just over a week, will take place notably later than usual for the benefit of European television audiences, but not late enough to necessitate expensive floodlighting.

Qualifying and the races are scheduled for 5pm local, meaning that by the end of the sessions, the sun will be low in the sky.

"I don't know about it," veteran Trulli, who drives for Toyota, told the Melbourne newspaper The Age.

"I've never raced before this late in the afternoon.  I don't know what the light is going to be.  In Singapore it was totally dark, with lights.  This will be different again.

"In truth, I prefer the sunny day time," the 34-year-old Italian added.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa this week also referred to the later timetables for the opening races of the 2009 championship.

"The first race is always a bit like a leap in the dark, but I can't wait.  As the race starts at 5pm let's hope that it won't also end in the dark!" the Brazilian joked.

Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella said: "It may be a bit darker at the end of the race, but I don't think this will change a lot for the drivers."

Renault slices a third off Alonso's pay
(GMM)  The cut to Fernando Alonso's 2009 retainer represents more than a third of his originally contracted pay, it has emerged.

Renault team boss Flavio Briatore on Tuesday revealed that the Spanish driver, and his teammate Nelson Piquet, agreed to reduce their salaries in reaction to the global recession.

The Milan magazine 'Chi' said the Italian did not mention figures, but the British newspaper Daily Mail claims that 27-year-old Alonso's reduction was from about 13m (euro) in the original contract, to just over 8.5m.

The newspaper did not say how much Brazilian Piquet was due to earn this season, but it is claimed the 23-year-old was one of the sport's lowest earners who will now be paid just 270,000 (euro).

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