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Oliver Gavin to race in Europe  Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin will make his debut in the European-based Le Mans Series later this year with the French Luc Alphand Aventures team. It will be the first time he’s raced outside the USA (apart from the 24 Hours of Le Mans) since 2004.

A deal has been reached whereby the Northamptonshire-based Briton will join Jérôme Policand and Patrice Goueslard in their Corvette C6.R for the Silverstone and Interlagos rounds of the 2007 Le Mans Series. The 34-year-old will also join with Luc Alphand Aventures for the 24 Hours of Spa at the end of July although it has not yet been finalized with whom he will drive. More ...

'Speedy Dan' Clarke flush with sponsorship for Vegas  Dan Clarke returns to Champ Car competition this weekend, taking his place in Minardi Team USA for the first of sixteen rounds in this premier race series which will visit the USA, Canada, China, Australia and Europe.

The young Brit debuted in the Series last year and quickly made an impression with his feisty, flamboyant style and flashes of brilliance early in his rookie season. As the racing progressed it was soon evident that Clarke, widely known as Speedy Dan, would quickly reach the podium. After knocking at the door of a top three placing in three races less than halfway through the championship, he finally won through and was the first of the rookies to take a trophy, with a third place in Denver, and the first to take a pole position. More ...

Industry News
Chinese buy Ford subsidiary  Ford Motor Co. agreed to sell a driveshaft manufacturing business to a U.S. affiliate of a Chinese company, Bloomberg News reported today. The business, with about 1,200 employees, is being sold to Neapco LLC, a Pottstown, Pennsylvania-based affiliate of Wanxiang Group, Ford said in a statement. Terms were not disclosed.

The driveshafts, which transfer power from a vehicle's engine to its wheels, are now made at a Monroe plant. Neapco will open a new plant using workers from the Monroe factory, Ford spokeswoman Della DiPietro told Bloomberg in an interview.

The Monroe facility is one that Ford took back from its former unit Visteon Corp. in 2005. The automaker agreed to the transaction to bail out Visteon financially and to ensure a steady supply of parts for its North American auto operations. Detroit News

Industry News
Ford heirs worry of plummeting wealth  The value of the Ford family's stake in its namesake, ailing automaker has dropped by half since 2001, and worried heirs have been talking with investment banks about their options, Fortune magazine reported today.

The family's class B stock in Ford Motor Co. was valued at $1.14 billion when Bill Ford took over as CEO in 2001. Some $581 million of that market value has disappeared, Fortune reported. And the shares' dividend payouts -- $28 million in 2005 -- will be zero this year.

Some 47 fourth- and fifth-generation heirs, including Bill Ford, own the shares. They meet twice a year and maintain a family office in Dearborn to handle financial matters.

Anne Ford, cousin to Bill Ford, told Fortune the family still stands behind the chairman, who ceded his CEO title to Alan Mulally in September. Detroit News

racing news
Formula 1600 returns at Canadian GP support race  Race fans attending the Grand Prix of Canada on June 8, 9 and 10 will once again enjoy the action-packed Formula 1600 series as Jacques Dulac, President of Formula Tour 1600, and Martin Spalding, General Manager of Grand Prix of Canada, announced on Monday that the open-wheel championship is back on this year's program of events for the first time since 2003. Series officials expect close to 40 drivers from Quebec, Ontario and the North East of the United States will compete in the series most prestigious event of the 2007 racing schedule. More ...
Atlantic Championship Announces '07 ESPN2 Television deal  One of the world’s top developmental racing series is coming home to the Worldwide Leader in Sports.

The Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda will see all 12 of its 2007 races broadcast this season on ESPN2 as part of Champ Car’s recently-announced multi-year agreement with the ESPN family of networks. ESPN2, which is available in approximately 92 million homes across the United States, will air each Atlantic race on tape-delay, typically within the week following each event. The industry leader in sports programming will capture all of the action this season as the deep and talented international Atlantic field of rising stars strives to fulfill their Champ Car dreams.

The partnership with ESPN2 represents a homecoming for the Atlantic Championship – entering its 34th season in 2007 – as the series first began airing on the ESPN networks in the late 1980s and was last broadcast on ESPN2 during the 2002 season. More ...

Rice's finishes 10th despite broken suspension  Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Buddy Rice was disappointed to finish 10th at St. Petersburg. Then he learned he had raced much of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with a broken front suspension.

"We had a problem with the car early on in the race and we weren't sure what it was," Rice said. "We found out at the end of the race that we broke the upper wish bone in the right front corner.  So, basically, we ran most of the race with that.  I guess for us to finish where we did was pretty good."
Carl Skerlong – Chasing The Dream  It would be fair to say that Mukilteo, Washington, population 19,648, doesn’t yet boast a reputation for churning out world-class professional racing drivers.  The ‘yet’ is something 18-year-old Carl Skerlong plans to rectify with an open-wheel pedigree that to this stage in his career at least, just so happens to mirror that of a certain 2006 Indy Racing League ‘Rookie of the Year’, one with no-less a surname than Andretti.

As background, both Skerlong and the aforementioned Andretti, in this case Marco – son of 1991 Indy Car Champion and Andretti Green Racing co-owner, Michael, and grandson of the legendary Mario, 1978 Formula One World Champion and four-time Indy Car Champion, made their race car debuts in the west-coast based Formula TR Pro Series, running 1.6 and 2.0-liter Formula Renault cars imported from Europe. 

Andretti triumphed in the Formula TR 1600 class in 2004 while Skerlong emulated that feat in his own rookie season in 2005, with 14 wins, before going on to be equally dominant in the 2000 class last year, 16 wins from 19 starts landing him his second straight title.

Not to take anything away from the talents of last year’s Indy 500 runner-up, there can be no denying that the Andretti name, coupled with the fact he graduated directly from the Star Mazda Championship, skipping full-time campaigns in the likes of Champ Car Atlantic or the Indy Pro Series, into one of the IRL’s most coveted race seats co-owned by his father, helped put Marco firmly into the pro-ranks of American open-wheel racing. More ...

TV News
Jimmie Johnson on Live with Regis and Kelly  If you missed Jimmie Johnson's guest appearance on the Live with Regis and Kelly show recently, a replay will be shown on Tuesday, April 3.  The show airs at 9:00 am-10:00 am in most time zones. Please check your local listings. The network varies.
Bridgestone confirms 'white groove' marking  (GMM) F1 tire supplier Bridgestone has confirmed expectations that it will change the method for visibly differentiating the two compounds of tires for the Malaysian grand prix and beyond.

After the 3cm white dot on the softer tire proved too difficult to see in Melbourne, a statement on Monday said: "The (soft tire in Malaysia) will feature a marking along the bottom of the second from inside groove to distinguish it."

The 'white groove' solution was tested last week at Sepang, after simply increasing the size and changing the color of the Australian GP-style sidewall dot proved ineffective.

Bridgestone's head of track engineering Kees van de Grint commented of the new solution: "This has received a positive response from teams and onlookers at the test.

"It is time consuming to apply to the tires but is clearly visible on track."

All teams affected by new floor tests - Bell  (GMM)  All formula one teams will have been affected by the FIA's clarification last week about the underbody regulations, according to Renault technical director Bob Bell.

Following an informal grumble by McLaren after the Australian grand prix, it was believed that only Ferrari and BMW-Sauber would have to redesign their cars' floors to adhere to the new flexibility tests.

But Bell suggested on Monday that the issue could affect "the hierarchy" of performance throughout the grid.

"The new testing methods for the floor will, I am sure, have caused some difficulty for all the teams," he said ahead of this weekend's race in Malaysia, "and how well they respond to that change may well have a larger effect than any other performance developments."

He cautioned, however, that Renault is unlikely to leap up the grid at Sepang, despite a new front wing package being implemented ahead of round two and reports of a general setup 'breakthrough'.

Bell admitted: "At this stage, it is unrealistic to talk about catching Ferrari or McLaren –- but we need to show that progress has been made, and that we are starting to close down the gap."

Chinese Racer Jiang Tengyi Joins Brooks Atlantic Team  Jiang Tengyi, former Team China A1GP driver, has confirmed his plans to compete in Champ Car, beginning with the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic Championship and the Brooks Associates Racing team.

“The Brooks team was highly recommended by Forsythe Racing, a team I hope to race with in Champ Car in the future. Brooks’ philosophy of competition, the top engineering staff (Nick Harvey rejoined the BAR team this season, coming from Forsythe Racing’s 2006 Atlantic effort), the great crew and longevity in the series made it the right choice for me,”  said Tengyi.  The young Chinese driver, from Shanghai, leveraged his karting championship in China to a Formula BMW seat in 2002, followed by Italian Formula Renault, then most recently the A1GP Series.

“We are happy to have been invited to join Jiang Tengyi on the live television link to the Champ Car Grand Prix of China media event at which Tengyi’s U.S. driver development program was presented to the Chinese media and senior political guests by the race promoters,” said Peter Davies of Forsythe Racing.  “Representing Brooks Associates Racing and Forsythe, I was happy to confirm that Tengyi could not be in better hands than with the Brooks team as he steps up to campaign the 2007 Atlantic season as a rookie, and that Forsythe is pleased to support him by placing him into our own Atlantic [non-racing] driver program including fitness, media and engineering training.  We will follow his progress on the track with interest during the upcoming Atlantic season and, subject to his performance and to agreeing final terms with the Grand Prix of China promoters, we hope that Tengyi might graduate to Champ Car at the 2007 Grand Prix of China.” More ...

Earnhardt gets debris in eye  Dale Earnhardt Jr. led at Martinsville until the rain showers came, causing a 33-minute red flag period on lap 357. Dale Jr. climbed back into his car as the leader, but was showered in debris from a stationary jet track dryer. Some of the debris became lodged in Dale Jr's left eye, but he was able to continue. Following the stoppage, the changed track seemed to negate the speed advantage of the Bud car, and Dale Jr. fought back from 11th place after his final pit stop to gain his first top-five tally of 2007. "I got something in my eye when I got back in the car after the rain. The jet dryer was moving really, really slow - and I was helpless just sitting there while it blew (stuff) inside my car for what must have been 15 to 20 seconds. I mean, that's ridiculous. I was sitting there thinking 'Go! Move on! Let me out! Help!' It was crazy. They need to be better about that. Either dry the track before we get in - or keep those dryers moving." Fingerprint inc./Budweiser PR
Sabates to quit NASCAR in 5 years  Felix Sabates plans to sell his 20% interest in the Nextel Cup organization he owns with Chip Ganassi in five years. "I'm leaving," Sabates said. "I've told Chip I'm leaving in five years." Sabates got into stock car racing in 1989. He sold 80 percent of the company to Ganassi in 2001. He doesn't want to stay in the sport so long that he can't get over the pit wall by himself. "I'm going to leave at Richmond because Richmond always falls on my birthday," said Sabates, who is 65. "I'm going to walk over and look at Ganassi and say, 'See ya. I'm gone.' And watch it on TV." ESPN.com
NASCAR takes three cars to research center  NASCAR officials took Kevin Harvick's #29 car to its research and development center to study why the energy-absorbing foam started smoking in his car. It's a problem other drivers, including Matt Kenseth, said they had at Bristol last weekend. NASCAR took Jimmie Johnson's #48-car and #26-Jamie McMurray's car to its research and development center in its continuing process of studying how a race affects the Car of Tomorrow. Both teams are expected to have their cars back today. Roanoke Times
Latest F1 news in brief  
Teams brace for wet Malaysian GP
Hamilton tests McLaren with four mirrors
Fauzy apologizes for Sepang no-show
Enge injured in sports car crash
Renault find more pace for Sepang
Malaysian airline confirms Williams deal
Prodrive blasts into outer space
Shooting sparks safety fears for Bahrain GP
Heidfeld cautious about F1 night racing
Scuderia announce new technical director  Scuderia Toro Rosso is pleased to announce the appointment of Giorgio Ascanelli as the team's Technical Director. For the past five years, Giorgio has been working as Technical Director for Maserati Corse. Prior to that, Ascanelli established excellent F1 credentials, including a long spell as Race Engineer and Head of R & D for Ferrari, with brief stints at Benetton and McLaren. The 48 year old Italian also has one special link to Scuderia Toro Rosso, as he was Gerhard Berger's race engineer when the Austrian raced for the Prancing Horse.

This appointment means that Alex Hitzinger is now free to concentrate on his original role, heading up the Advanced Technologies Department for Red Bull Technology, having additionally deputized as Toro Rosso Technical Director for the past few months.

Racing News
Quotes of the Week  
JOHN BARNES, Co-owner, Panther Racing IRL team
"We would make it where we would race on Saturday to replace a Busch or ARCA race, and they [NASCAR] would race on Sunday," Barnes said. "I have no problem being second fiddle to them, I just want to get in front of their fans and show them what real racing is all about."  (Recommending the idea of having IRL-NASCAR Nextel Cup combined events.  Barnes thinks that even if the IRL event was positioned as a support race, Indy-style racing would benefit)

MARINO FRANCHITTI, ALMS driver, Andretti Green Racing
"It's typical Ryan.  My brother [Dario] said he was brain dead and he does stuff like that and he never learns.  You tell him and you tell him.  I give people their own chance.  I left him a little bit of room on the inside.  You could see....  I saw the replay while I was sitting there waiting to get towed.  He hardly had a wheel on us.  Wiped us out."  (A very disappointed Marino Franchitti commenting on Ryan Briscoe stuffing him into the tire barrier during the St. Petersburg ALMS race after Marino had such a promising start by leading the race) 

GIL DE FERRAN, Sporting Director, Honda F1 team
"I think Marco [Andretti] is one of the bright young stars," de Ferran said. "He has shown tremendous potential at an early age. The people he's racing against are very good. We would be remiss if we weren't looking at promising talent from around the world.  Marco is very mature and a very intelligent guy. He's very much in control of his world and his situation and that impressed me a lot. He's a tremendous talent in the car but his attitude and his head impressed me the most."  (Commenting on Marco Andretti's recent tests in the Honda F1 car) More ...

AJ wins!  NASCAR NEXTEL Cup rookie driver AJ Allmendinger got a handle on NASCAR’s shortest and flattest track to take his first stock car victory this weekend.  Utilizing several restarts, AJ took as much practice as he could get to pick the best line around the half-mile track, but it wasn’t until he selected the loaded No. 48 car of Jimmie Johnson that he found his way to victory. “Everyone tells you Martinsville is hard on your legs and feet because of all the braking, but my thumbs are what cramped the most,” Allmendinger said later.

While he prefers to play Madden NFL 07, often beating fellow team members on his PSP or PS3, AJ knew he needed to master Martinsville on NASCAR 07 before he had any real chance for the April Fool’s Day edition of the Goody’s Cool Orange 500. But on Sunday’s race day, AJ had less good fortune, struggling with the handling of his real race car while keeping an eye in the rear view mirror.  Qualified at 40th, AJ completed his second-ever NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race two spots better running in 38th.  Toyota PR
Ford drivers penalized  Marcus Gronholm and fellow Ford runners, Mikko Hirvonen, Jari-Matti Latvala, Henning Solberg, Matthew Wilson and Gareth MacHale have all been handed 5 minute penalties after failing post-event inspection at the Rally de Portugal.

After technical scrutineering all the 06 spec Ford Focus WRC runners were found to have rear side windows not conforming to the regulations and as such they were each given a five minute penalty and a reprimand.

“The Stewards initially received a written report from the FIA Technical Delegate which stated that the rear side windows (right and left) of Car No.3, Entrant BP-Ford World Rally Team, crew Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen did not comply with the homologation form of the car.

“The Stewards subsequently received another report from the FIA Technical Delegate which stated that the identical windows of cars No.4, No.9, No.10, No.16 and No 23 did not conform with the homologation requirements also. More ...

Alex Lloyd makes it three-in-row  Alex Lloyd completed a sweep of the Indy Pro Series doubleheader on the streets of St. Petersburg, matching the effort last year by Guthrie Racing's Raphael Matos.  Lloyd, who inherited the lead when race leader Jonathan Klein was penalized for blocking on Lap 20, has won all three races this season and will look to tie the record of Thiago Medeiros for consecutive Indy Pro Series victories at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in May.

Results Sunday of the Indy Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg - Race 2 event April 1 at the 1.8-mile Streets of St. Petersburg, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, laps completed and reason out (if any) and money earned:
1. (6) Alex Lloyd, 40, Running $22,000
2. (9) Wade Cunningham, 40, Running $17,000
3. (1) Bobby Wilson, 40, Running $13,500
4. (5) Hideki Mutoh, 40, Running $11,000
5. (7) Robbie Pecorari, 40, Running $10,500
6. (10) CR Crews, 40, Running $10,000
7. (24) Phil Giebler, 40, Running $9,750
8. (23) Jaime Camara, 40, Running $9,500
9. (15) Joey Scarallo, 40, Running $9,000
10. (22) Ken Losch, 40, Running $8,750 More ...

Loeb wins in Portugal  Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has won the Rally de Portugal, the fifth round in the 2007 FIA World Rally Championship. Marcus Gronholm was runner-up in his BP Ford, after losing time on day two due to poor tire choices, which meant he was unable to keep up with Seb. The turning point came on SS12 and SS13, when he lost more than 20 seconds in total. After that there was no way back. Mikko Hirvonen took the final place on the podium in the sister Focus, 2 minutes or so adrift. Citroen number two driver, Dani Sordo meanwhile took fifth, followed by Stobart Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala, OMV Kronos Citroen's Daniel Carlsson and Gigi Galli, who took the ‘privateer win' in eighth.

Top-10 Standings

Pos Driver Make Time
 1. Loeb Citroen 3h53:33.1
 2. Gronholm Ford + 37.1
 3. Hirvonen Ford + 2:08.1
 4. Solberg Subaru + 3:13.9
 5. Sordo Citroen + 5:05.3
 6. Latvala Ford + 5:44.9
 7. Carlsson Citroen + 8:13.2
 8. Galli Citroen + 9:39.6
 9. Solberg Ford + 11:12.4
10. Stohl Citroen + 12:46.0

track news
Big plans for Zhuhai circuit  MALAYSIA's LBS Bina Group Bhd has entered into a potentially lucrative RM5 billion joint venture to build a golf course, motor racing circuit, and other properties in Zhuhai, China.

Managing director Datuk Lim Hock San said LBS Bina will jointly develop the project with a Zhuhai City Government-owned company.

The Chinese partner will provide the land while LBS Bina will pump in the capital, Lim told a group of Malaysian journalists at the Lakewood Golf Club South Mountain in Jing Ting, Zhuhai, recently.

The Zhuhai City Government has approved the construction of condominium, high-end apartments, commercial and residential properties on a 80.8ha of land surrounding the golf course.

"When the approval was given, we realised that the land for property development was scattered around the golf course. We proposed to them that we relocate one of the 18-hole courses to the mountain area and convert the site for property development," he added. More ...

St. Pete GP making enemies with local businesses  While hundreds of thousands of people will be watching the St. Petersburg Grand Prix in person and on television this weekend, some of the people closest to the action may not see any of it.

Event organizers told businesses lining the race way they'd have to pay a fee, or a tarp would be put up blocking their view. Some businesses are not happy with paying the fees to watch the race, which will be as close as 12 feet in front of some of the stores.

Sam Martin owns the Courigans Irish Pub in downtown St. Petersburg. He said event workers put up a tarp along the safety fence in front of his business so his patrons couldn't see the race for free from outside his pub.

Martin said the only way organizers would remove the tarp is if he agreed to pay a $3,200 fee. He said they originally wanted $4,500 but he negotiated that rate down.

Martin said he is not paying and that he and his customers would deal with the tarp. "I'm a small business. I struggle to get by. I work here seven days a week,'' Martin said. "At 11 a.m. I open and I close and I'm here 90 percent of the time. So, I don't think I should have to pay to be inconvenienced to see a race that runs right past my front door." baynews9.com

Bahrain GP ticket sales up in ’07  UPDATE Advanced sales for the 2007 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix on April 13-15, the third round of this year’s FIA Formula One World Championship, are 20 per cent up on last year with over 100,000 fans expected to flood the Home of Motorsport in the Middle East over the three days of the race, to see a host of entertainment both on and off the track.

“Ticket sales have been phenomenal in recent weeks,” said Steven Umfreville, Commercial Director. “Normally we don’t see the sales start to rise until almost the week before the race, but there has been a sustained increase of sales that’s been carried from New Year until now. Sales of seats in the Oasis Complex and Main Grandstand are particularly busy, so if people want to be in these seats they had better hurry.”

The BIC’s grandstands offer an array of different vantage points, all overlooking several areas of the circuit. The Turn 1 grandstand offers a view down the length of the 1km main straight and the drama of seeing the Formula One cars brake down from over 310km/h to almost walking pace in under 100 meters for Turn 1 before the blast out through Turns 2, 3 and 4. More ...
IRL doctor wants to replace safety fences  The orthopedic surgeon repairing the shredded feet of race car driver Pablo Perez in Indianapolis says safer fences are the sport's next innovation frontier. The journey is under way.

Indy Racing League president Brian Barnhart confirmed Saturday that he has commissioned the University of Nebraska's Midwest Roadside Safety Facility in Lincoln to build a smooth barrier to replace the fences at race tracks that include the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Think of a hockey rink with a clear shield on top of the wall.

"It's something that needs to be done," he said. "What we have now is a system of fence and posts, and it's not made to protect the competitors."

But Perez is the latest example of gruesome injuries from striking a fence. Perez's car was launched into the air last weekend by tire-to-tire contact in the Indy Pro Series race at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. The nose snagged in the fence, ripping the front end apart and exposing his feet. Amputation was considered. More ...
Shortsighted IRL team owner makes outlandish statement  One of the Indy Racing League's longtime team owners is pushing the idea of IRL-NASCAR Nextel Cup combined events.

John Barnes, an owner and the general manager of Panther Racing, thinks that even if the IRL event was positioned as a support race, Indy-style racing would benefit.

"We would make it where we would race on Saturday to replace a Busch or ARCA race, and they would race on Sunday," he said. "I have no problem being second fiddle to them, I just want to get in front of their fans and show them what real racing is all about."

Terry Angstadt, the IRL's new president of its commercial division, said the IRL would not allow itself to be presented as a support race.

"We would love to make our series better, and we will open the thought waves of doing that," he said. "But at the same time, I think we are a tier one series, and certainly it would be hard to argue that the Indianapolis 500 is not a cornerstone event, if not the premier motor sports event in the world." More ...

More bad news for A1GP in Mexico  The State Government of Nuevo Leon (owner of Fundidora Park) is suing Julio Jauregui (owner of the Mexican A1GP team) for the lack of payment of $250,000.00 USD for rent of the race track used in the 2006 A1GP race. Jauregui admits he has not paid but says he had a verbal agreement with state officials to exchange the $250,000.00 USD for promotion of the Monterrey Forum of Cultures during the event and is going to countersue them.  A trail of red ink was left behind after this year's poorly attended A1GP race in Mexico City as well.  J.J. Arrambide
Minardi Announces Two-Seater Program  UPDATE For the more timid race fans, Tommy Kendall has announced that he will give Champ Car fans a unique experience with rides in his infamous Chicken Mobile at selected events. 

03/29/07 Minardi Team USA co-owner, Paul Stoddart, is today pleased to announce that the Minardi two-seater team will appear at a number of Champ Car World Series race weekends in 2007.

This will mark the first occasion the exciting vehicles have been seen in North America.  As a result, the former Minardi F1 Team Principal is looking forward to introducing a new audience to the sights and sounds of these amazing machines in action, and to providing a select group with the chance to gain a very personal insight into the levels of performance available in top-level, single-seater race cars.

“The program we have agreed for the coming season with Kevin Kalkhoven and the senior management of the Champ Car World Series is incredibly exciting,” comments Paul Stoddart.  “It will give up to 50 lucky individuals attending each nominated race the opportunity to have a driver’s-eye view of the track on which the Champ Car stars will be battling it out later in the weekend. More ...

Industry News
Aston Martin workers to strike  Staff at Aston Martin in Warwickshire have voted to go on strike in a dispute over pay. The car company was recently sold by Ford to British businessman David Richards. Members of the Transport and General Workers' Union have rejected a two-year pay deal worth up to 6.75 per cent. The package was worth 4 per cent in the first year, and inflation plus 0.5 per cent in the second year, plus a 'merit' payment of an average of 2.25 per cent. The union has 656 members at the plant. After almost two decades owned by Ford, Aston Martin made its first profit in 2005. It is estimated to have made operating profits of £40m last year.
Enge stable after serious accident  Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing driver Tomas Enge (a native of the Czech Republic living in Monaco) is in stable condition at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, Fla. following a serious accident on lap 87 of the Sports Car Challenge at St. Petersburg. Enge suffered serious trama, the extent of which is not known at this time, but was awake and alert during the rescue process. Despite a fire that erupted after the car made hard contact with the outside wall in Turn Four of the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street course, he sustained no burns. He will undergo further tests and reviews over the course of the night. More ...
TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday  
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
NHRA Race Day
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
Tradin' Paint Martinsville
11:00am-11:30am SPEED
American Dragster
11:30am-12:00pm ESPN2
NASCAR RaceDay Martinsville
11:30am-1:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Goody's Cool Orange 500 Martinsville
1:30pm-6:00pm (L) FOX
IRL St. Petersburg, FL
2:30pm-5:00pm (L) ESPN
Superbike World Championship Donington Park
3:00pm-4:00pm (SDD) -Race 1
4:00pm-5:00pm (SDD) -Race 2 SPEED
NHRA O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals Houston
4:00pm-7:00pm (SDD) ESPN2
AMA Supercross Irving, TX
6:00pm-7:00pm (3/31/07) SPEED
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Martinsville
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Mark Kent (Director, GM Racing)
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED

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

Toyotas again dominate in Truck race  Veteran Mike Skinner literally wore out the field Saturday as he drove his Toyota Tundra Toyota to victory in a record-breaking performance at Martinsville Speedway.

Starting from the Budweiser Pole, Skinner gave up the lead just once when pitting under caution and led a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series record 246 laps – including the final 172 – to capture the Kroger 250.

The victory, worth $54,200, was Skinner’s third in a row making the Susanville, Calif. driver the first to string three consecutive wins on two occasions.

Skinner, 49, was the first of four drivers to “three-peat” in 1996 – a season after becoming the series first champion. More ...

Briscoe stuffs Franchitti in the wall  What a first hour of the inaugural Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg. As the first hour drew to a close, Marino Franchitti went from leading his first race with Andretti Green Racing to into the tire wall in Turn 10 following contact with Penske Motorsports' Ryan Briscoe. That gave the overall lead to Audi's Allan McNish, who had a busy opening.

McNish's day began by going from third to first on the opening lap and then back down the field after officials ruled he passed pole-sitter Romain Dumas before the start line. Following a stop-and-go penalty, it took McNish only 15 minutes to regain the lead.

Luis Diaz assumed the P2 lead when Franchitti brought the damaged Andretti Green Racing into the pit following the contact with Briscoe. Diaz, in the Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura-powered Lola, was ahead of Dyson Racing's Andy Wallace and his Porsche RS Spyder.

Oliver Gavin led GT1 for Corvette Racing following a broken halfshaft for Jan Magnussen in the sister car. Jaime Melo in the GT2 pole-sitting Risi Competizione Ferrari was ahead of Tom Milner in Rahal Letterman Racing's Porsche, which started from the final row.

Wheldon crashes  2005 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg winner Dan Wheldon was forced to a backup car after he found the tire barrier in Turn 3 on Saturday. Wheldon said he damaged the car by brushing the tire barrier at the exit of Turn 2.  "My outside right front clipped the tires at the outside of (Turn) 2, he said. "It damaged the suspension and put me into the wall."
Lloyd wins again in Indy Pro Series  Alex Lloyd ran wire-to-wire to win Saturday's Indy Pro Series race in St. Petersburg, Florida. There were no passes for the lead and Lloyd won by 1.6 seconds despite three caution flags.

Results Saturday with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, laps completed and reason out (if any) and money earned:
1. (1) Alex Lloyd, 40, Running $23,000
2. (4) Hideki Mutoh, 40, Running $17,000
3. (8) Jonathan Klein, 40, Running $13,500
4. (6) Stephen Simpson, 40, Running $11,000
5. (3) Jay Howard, 40, Running $10,500
6. (13) Bobby Wilson, 40, Running $10,000
7. (7) Robbie Pecorari, 40, Running $9,750
8. (14) Chris Festa, 40, Running $9,500
9. (9) Wade Cunningham, 40, Running $9,000
10. (10) CR Crews, 40, Running $8,750
11. (11) Mike Potekhen, 40, Running $8,500
12. (18) Brad Jaeger, 40, Running $8,000
13. (15) Andrew Prendeville, 40, Running $7,750
14. (12) Logan Gomez, 40, Running $7,500
15. (20) Joey Scarallo, 40, Running $7,000 More ...

Reader Feedback
Champ Car must stay the course  A reader writes, First time on the site and I found your article, “Champ Car must stay the course”, exceptional. It was not only very entertaining, insightful and encouraging to read for a Champ Car fan, but it inspired others who aren’t even fans yet, like my wife and many of her colleagues, to take notice of Champ Car and I think this is its biggest draw.

I agreed with many points made in this article, particularly lauding the efforts of Kevin Kalkhoven, the urgency to address the communication void presently in Champ Car and the need to build the image of a crown race as all the other series have done. I think the method this article used is better, to convey public opinion to Champ Car, the loyal fan base and its partners both current and future, than resorting to slanderous and degrading articles and attacks, of late, written by once highly-regarded scribes. Personally, their recent actions resemble snakes slithering about, in the chaos, biting everyone in their paths as they try to seek refuge on the battlefield as the war wages on and the battles intensify in the War of American Open Wheel.

Your article is an excellent read, these are truly exciting times and I have a renewed confidence for a great season of the Champ Car World Series in 2007. Frank Petti

The finish from Jaime Melo’s seat  It was two weeks ago today that the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring saw its closest finish in its now 55-year history. Jaime Melo and his Risi Competizione Ferrari beat Flying Lizard’s Jörg Bergmeister and his Porsche by 0.202 seconds. The battle begins anew today at the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg. Here are Melo’s thoughts on Sebring and his prediction for today’s street race.

Q: You obviously knew the Porsche was coming strong on the last few laps. The slide at the hairpin really tightened it up. Did you believe all along that you would be able to hold off Jörg?

I didn’t know. It was very hard because I had no brakes and he was quicker than me at that time. I just tried to drive quickly and defensively.

Q: Jörg has said he thought the pass coming out of the final turn was dangerous. Do you disagree? Why or why not? How would things have been different if the roles were reversed? More ...

Audi tops ALMS warm-up times in St. Pete  Allan McNish and Audi turned in the fastest lap of Saturday morning’s 25-minute warm-up for the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg as the American Le Mans Series prepares for its first street race of the season. The LMP1 pole-sitter turned in a time of 1:04.729 in the diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI he will share with Rinaldo Capello.

The warm-up served as a preview for what will be a fantastic clash this afternoon between Audi, Porsche and Acura. Andretti Green Racing’s Bryan Herta was second overall and first in LMP2 at 1:04.985 in his Acura ARX, the same car that was runner-up overall and the class winner at Sebring two weeks ago. Third overall and second in P2 was today’s overall pole-starting Porsche RS Spyder of Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard of Penske Racing. More ...

Lloyd takes pole in St. Pete  Qualifying Saturday for the Indy Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg event on the 1.8-mile Streets of St. Petersburg, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, and speed: 
1. (7) Alex Lloyd, 96.514
2. (12) Phil Giebler, 96.171
3. (44) Jay Howard, 95.611
4. (55) Hideki Mutoh, 95.486
5. (6) Matt Jaskol, 95.279
6. (24) Stephen Simpson, 95.181
7. (13) Robbie Pecorari, 95.123
8. (2) Jonathan Klein, 94.718
9. (27) Wade Cunningham, 94.645
10. (8) CR Crews, 94.540
11. (53) Mike Potekhen, 94.420
12. (23) Logan Gomez, 94.373
13. (1) Bobby Wilson, 93.864
14. (9) Chris Festa, 93.603
15. (5) Andrew Prendeville, 93.299
16. (54) Micky Gilbert, 93.212
17. (4) Sean Guthrie, 93.192
18. (3) Brad Jaeger, 93.136
19. (11) Jaime Camara, 92.910
20. (15) Joey Scarallo, 91.338
21. (52) Ken Losch, 88.518
22. (34) Jon Brownson, 85.594
23. (51) Richard Antinucci, 61.337
24. (40) Tom Wieringa, no speed
Halliday chooses Porsche SuperCup over Champ Car  Chalk up another driver who could not afford to buy a seat in Champ Car.  After a promising test with Conquest at Mazda Raceway earlier this month, today's Telegraaf newspaper says Matt Halliday (NZ) will be racing in the Porsche SuperCup (F1 package) this year in Franz Konrad's team alongside Porsche SuperCup specialist Patrick Huisman (40) from Holland.
F1 should keep European 'backbone' - Webber  (GMM) Mark Webber did a lap of Singapore's proposed grand prix street layout on Saturday but warned that the "backbone" of the sport should remain in Europe.

After a low-speed morning run in a Porsche road car, the Red Bull driver said the circuit "looks exiting" but also apparently expressed concern at the recent news that traditional venue France could be struck off the 2008 calendar.

Imola and Hockenheim, meanwhile, are missing from the schedule this year.

"My opinion is that we still need to keep the backbone of where the sport was born, which is over there (in Europe)," the 30-year-old Australian was quoted as saying by the Evening Echo.

Webber added: "We need to keep a lot of that (traditional) feeling for it although we also have to be absolutely open to fresh ideas."

He expressed hope, however, that some of the defunct European events might bounce back in the future.

Referring to the dwindling European races in favour of the expanding markets in Asia and the East, Webber said: "That's just the way it goes.

"(But) I think we will see some venues pop out and the odd one will come back."
Button ’not excited’ about Honda progress  (GMM)  Jenson Button has warned Honda's fans to not expect a major improvement at the upcoming Malaysian grand prix.

Both the 27-year-old Englishman and his teammate Rubens Barrichello finished the 2007 season opener a lap down, despite chiefs for the Japanese squad setting a pre-season target of wins and a tilt at the world title.

Team principal Nick Fry optimistically proclaimed after Melbourne that the RA107 can be "up there with Renault and BMW" in less than one month.

Button, however, told reporters at the Sepang test this week that the Brackley-based team had made a step forward, but in the newspaper Daily Mirror he warned: "It is a small improvement.

"We are not getting excited about it.

Honda's 2007 car has been fitted with new bodywork parts for Malaysia, and senior technical director Shuhei Nakamoto said he hoped it would improve the braking stability problem.

He said: "We are confident that the RA107 is fundamentally a good car.

"We will use the next few races to improve to a more competitive level."

formula bmw
Q and A with Henry Surtees  Following in the footsteps of the only man to have won World Championships on two and four wheels would prove too much for some, but Henry Surtees is taking it all in his stride. At 16, Henry is about to embark on his first season in Formula BMW, and can’t wait for the first race of the season at Brands Hatch this weekend.

You raced Ginettas last year, how did your season go?

I won the first three races and I was leading the championship for about the first third of the season, but I had a bit of bad luck and had some engine trouble which put me to the back. I ended up finishing third, but I still think that had it not been for that I could have won the championship. Formula BMW is quite a contrast.

What are your hopes for the season?

Of course I want to have a strong start to the season, and I want to win the Rookie Cup or even the Championship. It might be an ambitious target, but you have to aim high. As a racing driver, you want to win in everything you do. I know I’ve got a good team under me. I like the people here and we work well together. More ...
Further tests rule out Locatelli brain damage  Roberto Locatelli was yesterday showing signs of improvement during his second day at the Bellaria de Bologna Medical Centre, though he still remained in an induced coma. A third CAT scan has again ruled out again any type kind of brain damage to the Italian - and although recent tests have revealed new, unrelated injuries, none of them are serious.

As Clinica Mobile’s Doctor Claudio Costa explains: "The tests have confirmed an improvement of his condition, although a contusion in the thorax has been detected which affects the left lung, plus a fracture of the tibia and the fibula just below the right knee and some related ligament damage. However these injuries do not require surgery. With regard to the surgery on the left ankle undertaken in Cadiz, we believe that no further medical intervention will be required on the injury." More ...

racing news
Start Your Engines For The Great American Run  Following in the high-octane wheel tracks of the hugely successful Cannonball Rally, a cavalcade of outrageous cars, daredevil drivers and madcap thrill seekers will make history in just four months time when the lights go green for the Great American Run.

Set to be the largest motor event in North America, four-hundred drivers will set off from four different destinations, slugging it out on a coast to coast race to one final destination in an epic extravaganza of man against machine. The limited entrance quota is almost fulfilled, meaning few chances remain to be in with a chance of walking away with a limited edition Cannonball Rally 600bhp Saleen Mustang and automatic entrance into next year’s $1 million event.

With one hundred drivers per route, the Great American Run start line spans four cities – Miami, FL; Atlanta, GA; Washington D.C. and New York City, NY. More ...

Vegas Grand Prix gunning to get it right  Paul Tracy has been around open-wheel racing long enough to know what to expect from next weekend's inaugural Vegas Grand Prix.

"It doesn't seem to matter how well they plan and prepare for these things, there are always some last-minute things that come up," Tracy said. "I don't think I've ever been to one of these (first-time street races) where practice has started on time."

Left, the Fremont Street Experience is lit up with Vegas Grand Prix lights

Chris Kneifel, who is responsible for setting up the 2.44-mile, 12-turn course in downtown Las Vegas, insists Tracy and the other drivers will be rolling onto the circuit at 8:50 a.m. - sharp - next Friday for the first Champ Car practice.

"In terms of this racetrack, there aren't going to be any problems," Kneifel said. "We're going to be ready and it's going to be ready when we're supposed to be ready." More ...

Shane Lewis Targets Indianapolis 500  Sports car racing veteran Shane Lewis will attempt to qualify for this year’s Indianapolis 500, piloting an IRL IndyCar Series entry for Michael Crawford Motorsports.  The native of Lancaster, California made his Indy Pro Series debut at Homestead-Miami last weekend for the team, showing instant speed on the oval. 

Lewis will now test the Michael Crawford Motorsports IndyCar Series machine in April to earn his IndyCar Series driver license. Once that milestone is met, Lewis will move- on to the hallowed grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway where he will, for the first time, strap-in and lap the 2.5-mile oval as part of the Rookie Orientation Program just days before official practice opens for all at the Speedway. Once cleared through ROP, Lewis will begin the month-long process of filling one of the 33 positions on the grid for the 500, the final mile marker on the “Road to Indy” and on the way to making his dream of being an Indy 500 starter come true. More ...
Marco Werner talks about street circuits  Only two weeks after the season opener at Sebring, the American Le Mans Series returns to Florida. In St. Petersburg, along the Gulf Coast near Tampa, the Audi R10 TDI will be contesting its first "city" race this coming Saturday. Marco Werner heads for St. Petersburg as an early leader in the LMP1 championship standings. He is considered a specialist on street circuits. However, the 1.8-mile temporary track near the St. Petersburg pier and waterfront is new to him and his teammates.

St. Petersburg is a city circuit – so it's right up Marco Werner's alley…
"Actually, I do like street circuits, and I'm looking forward to racing on one for a change again. On the other hand, we saw at Sebring how close the competition was between the LMP1 and the LMP2 cars. But the advantage of our R10 TDI tends to start from the midpoint of long straights – and these normally don't exist on street circuits. On account of the higher weight compared to the LMP2 cars, things will be very difficult for us in St. Petersburg, and the other city races this season."

But generally you enjoy city races?
"I've always enjoyed them. With the Audi R8, I was very successful on city circuits in 2003, and in Monaco I won in Formula 3. That's why I'm basically looking forward to St. Petersburg." More ...

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday  

Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Champ Car China/Forsythe Announcement
8:30am-9:00am (L) Webcast
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Martinsville
10:00am-11:00am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Kroger 250 Martinsville
3:00pm-5:30pm (L) FOX
5:30pm-6:00pm  Check local listings for your time zone ABC
NHRA Qualifying Houston
7:00pm-9:00pm ESPN2
American Le Mans Series St. Petersburg, FL
8:00pm-11:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Crash Science - Motorcycles (racing)
10:00pm-11:00pm (R) Check local listings National Geographic
NASCAR Performance
11:00pm-11:30pm SPEED

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

Spyker confirms changed Friday plans  (GMM) Spyker has confirmed that it has changed its original plans to run test drivers in Friday free practice for next week's Malaysian grand prix.

Because of the dispute with Super Aguri, Dutchman Giedo van der Garde has failed to secure an FIA Super License, and Malaysian local Fairuz Fauzy will now also not power onto the Sepang circuit.

Silverstone based Spyker has designed what it describes as a "major aero upgrade" for round two of the championship, after the F8-VII - and Christijan Albers in particular - struggled for pace in the Australian season opener.

A statement read: "As the (team) did not participate in the extended Sepang test ... it will now use the two 90-minute Friday practice sessions to test the new parts in representative race conditions.

"Both race drivers ... will be installed in the car on Friday to acclimatize to the new mods and the challenging Malaysian climate conditions."

EMCO Gears returns to sponsor Rolex race  EMCO Gears, Inc. which has served as title sponsor of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve event since 2004, today announced that it is renewing its commitment to the Rolex Series event at Mid-Ohio for another three years.

The 2007 EMCO Gears Classic will be Round 7 of a 14-race schedule for the Rolex Series Daytona Prototype class and Round 8 of a 13-race slate for the Rolex Series GT class. The split-class event will see Daytona Prototypes do battle on Saturday, June 23 followed by the GT race on Sunday, June 24, with both events to be televised on SPEED.

"The split format allows EMCO Gears to be part of providing two great days of exciting racing from the splendid venue of Mid-Ohio," said EMCO Director of Racing Dan L. Cota. "The two days of television coverage only proves that the Grand-Am Rolex Series is the premier road racing series of the Americas. In Canada, Mexico and the USA, it is unrivaled door-to-door racing excitement. EMCO Gears' sponsorship of the Mid-Ohio event is something the entire work force at our company is very excited about. Serving as a title sponsor of a Grand-Am event is a great honor."

Wilson tops Indy Pro practice  Bobby Wilson led practice for the Indy Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Wilson led the 24-car field with a time of 1:07.7336, 95.669 mph in his No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing entry. Robbie Pecorari, Stephen Simpson, Phil Giebler and Alex Lloyd rounded out the top five.

Rank Car Driver Name Time
1 1 Wilson, Bobby 01:07.7336
2 13 Pecorari, Robbie 01:07.8605
3 24 Simpson, Stephen 01:07.9098
4 12 Giebler, Phil 01:07.9193
5 7 Lloyd, Alex 01:07.9424
6 2 Klein, Jonathan 01:08.2254
7 55 Mutoh, Hideki 01:08.3442
8 6 Jaskol, Matt 01:08.4397
9 44 Howard, Jay 01:08.4544
10 27 Cunningham, Wade 01:08.5217
11 53 Potekhen, Mike 01:08.5223
12 11 Camara, Jaime 01:08.5733
13 23 Gomez, Logan 01:08.6194
14 51 Antinucci, Richard 01:08.8691
15 8 Crews, CR 01:09.0822
16 5 Prendeville, Andrew 01:09.1260
17 4 Guthrie, Sean 01:09.1536
18 9 Festa, Chris 01:09.4437
19 54 Gilbert, Micky 01:10.3415
20 3 Jaeger, Brad 01:10.5731
21 52 Losch, Ken 01:11.1563
22 34 Brownson, Jon 01:12.2122
23 15 Scarallo, Joey 01:12.9840
24 40 Wieringa, Tom 01:14.1941

Castroneves tops practice 2 in St. Pete  Helio Castroneves (right) turned his fastest lap of the day minutes before the checkered flag fell to lead practice as IndyCar® Series teams began preparations for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 1.

Castroneves, the defending winner of the event, lapped the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street circuit in 1 minute, 1.6016 seconds, 105.192 mph, in his No. 3 Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara. Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan, a podium finisher in each of the two previous events in St. Petersburg, was second-quick with a lap of 1:01.6892, 105.043 mph.

Overall, the top four drivers were quicker than Dario Franchitti's 2006 track record. Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon was third while Franchitti was fourth. Marco Andretti was fifth, and 2005 winner Dan Wheldon was sixth.

Single-car qualifying will take place Saturday afternoon followed by the Firestone Fast Six, a 10-minute shootout among the top six cars for the pole position.

Pos Car Driver Team Time To 1st
1. 3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske 1:01.6016
2. 11 Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing 1:01.6892 0.0876
3. 9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 1:01.8767 0.2751
4. 27 Dario Franchitti Andretti Green Racing 1:02.0060 0.4044
5. 26 Marco Andretti Andretti Green Racing 1:02.5648 0.9632
6. 10 Dan Wheldon Chip Ganassi Racing 1:02.6648 1.0632
7. 55 Kosuke Matsuura Super Aguri Panther Racing 1:02.7769 1.1753
8. 6 Sam Hornish Jr Team Penske 1:02.7824 1.1808
9. 2 Tomas Scheckter Vision Racing 1:02.7835 1.1819
10. 14 Darren Manning AJ Foyt Enterprises 1:02.8449 1.2433
11. 4 Vitor Meira Delphi Panther Racing 1:02.9049 1.3033
12. 7 Danica Patrick Andretti Green Racing 1:03.0078 1.4062
13. 15 Buddy Rice Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 1:03.7456 2.1440
14. 17 Jeff Simmons Rahal Letterman Racing 1:04.0690 2.4674
15. 8 Scott Sharp Rahal Letterman Racing 1:04.2465 2.6449
16. 22 A J Foyt IV Vision Racing 1:04.7126 3.1110
17. 20 Ed Carpenter Vision Racing 1:04.7866 3.1850
18. 5 Sarah Fisher Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 1:06.8229 5.2213

Penske Porsches 1-2 in St. Pete qualifying  Penske Racing placed both of their Porsche RS Spyder LMP2 cars on the front row for this weekend's ALMS race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida ahead of the LMP1 Audi.  Full report later.....

Pos Car Cls Driver Best Lap Best Speed Car Make/Model Team
1 7 P2 Romain Dumas 1:03.039 102.79 Porsche RS Spyder Penske Racing
2 6 P2 Ryan Briscoe 1:03.189 102.55 Porsche RS Spyder Penske Racing
3 1 P1 Allan McNish 1:03.415 102.18 Audi R10/TDI Audi Sport North America
4 15 P2 Adrian Fernandez 1:03.432 102.16 Lola B06/43 Acura Lowe`s Fernandez Racing
5 26 P2 Bryan Herta 1:03.746 101.65 Acura ARX-01A Andretti Green Racing
6 9 P2 David Brabham 1:03.807 101.56 Acura ARX-01A Highcroft Racing
7 2 P1 Marco Werner 1:04.139 101.03 Audi R10/TDI Audi Sport North America
8 20 P2 Guy Smith 1:04.376 100.66 Porsche RS Spyder Dyson Racing Team
9 16 P2 Butch Leitzinger 1:04.845 99.93 Porsche RS Spyder Dyson Racing Team
10 12 P1 Chris McMurry 1:08.536 94.55 Lola EX257 AER Autocon Motorsports
11 37 P1 Clint Field 1:08.844 94.13 Creation CA06/H001 Judd Intersport Racing
12 8 P2 Jamie Bach 1:08.991 93.93 Lola B07/40 Mazda B-K Motorsports
13 4 GT1 Olivier Beretta 1:09.531 93.20 Chevrolet C-6R Corvette Racing
14 3 GT1 Johnny O`Connell 1:10.212 92.29 Chevrolet C-6R Corvette Racing
15 31 GT2 Tomas Enge 1:12.025 89.97 Ferrari F430 GT Petersen/White Lightning
16 62 GT2 Jaime Melo 1:12.246 89.69 Ferrari F430 GT Risi Competizione
17 71 GT2 Robin Liddell 1:12.738 89.09 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Tafel Racing
18 73 GT2 Dominik Farnbacher 1:12.937 88.84 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Tafel Racing
19 45 GT2 Joerg Bergmeister 1:13.217 88.50 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Flying Lizard Motorsports
20 44 GT2 Lonnie Pechnik 1:13.438 88.24 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Flying Lizard Motorsports
21 21 GT2 Joey Hand 1:13.440 88.24 Panoz Esperante GTLM Panoz Team PTG
22 54 GT2 Terry Borcheller 1:14.400 87.10 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Team Trans Sport
23 22 GT2 Ross Smith 1:17.622 83.48 Panoz Esperante GTLM Panoz Team PTG
24 61 GT2 Jose Maria Lopez  No Time  Ferrari F430 GT Risi Competizione
25 18 GT2 Ralf Kelleners  No Time  Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Rahal Letterman Racing

Thienes Joins Condor Motorsports Atlantic Team for 2007  Veteran racer Brian Thienes has joined Condor Motorsports and will compete for the team in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

The Condor team tested with Thienes in January and was impressed by his professionalism on and off the racetrack. Thienes, 44, is an accomplished race car driver who also runs a successful civil engineering and land surveying company, Thienes Engineering.

Although he's is at a different stage in his career than most of the young rising stars in the series, Thienes thrives on the challenges of competing against the young lions in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship. Though he was only able to participate in limited testing in the off-season due to his hectic work schedule, Thienes prepared for the upcoming 2007 Atlantic season through exercise and racing go karts to keep his driving skills sharp and he did compete for the team at the final pre-season test at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He remains committed to improving his racing talent and the Huntington Beach, California native looks forward to driving the #19 Condor Motorsports car this season alongside teammates, speedy French rookie Franck Perera and Dutchman Junior Strous. More ...

tv news
GM motorsports boss on Wind Tunnel  The director of General Motors’ racing programs, Mark Kent, will be the featured interview on Wind Tunnel this Sunday April 1. In addition to overseeing GM’s involvement in NASCAR, Kent oversees their racing operations in ALMS with the Corvette program, Grand American Rolex Series with the GTO and Pontiac engine programs, SCCA where they race their popular Cadillac CTS-V, and the NHRA where they sponsor teams in the Funny Car and Pro Stock categories.
FIA switches from US dollar to Euro  Formula One’s governing body, the FIA, has responded to global market forces by adopting the Euro currency instead of the traditional US dollar. With the world’s richest superpower watching its currency tumble, the FIA has decided it was no longer viable to issue penalty fines in dollars and switched to the Euro in time for the season’s opening race in Melbourne, Australia. According to Red Bull, the FIA earned €6,000 Euro alone in speeding fines after penalizing several drivers for speeding in the pitlane. The switch to the European currency meant the FIA earned $8,000 instead of the $4,500 had they issued the fines in dollars. Originally the two currencies had been on a parity but since its inception the dollar has been progressively slipping to a now almost record low.
Champ Car to webcast major China announcement  Tune in to see Champ Car history in the making as the Grand Prix of China along with Forsythe Racing will make a major announcement on Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. ET. Watch the Webcast Here!   The press conference and webcast will feature journalists in China speaking with the Forsythe team representatives in the United States. To view the live press conference log on to www.champcar.ws.
NASCAR TV ratings continue fall  UPDATE Fox's broadcast of last Sunday's Food City 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway drew a final Nielsen Media Research rating of 5.1 and a 12 market share, down 17.7% from the 6.2 Fox drew for the race last year.....this despite all the Car of Tomorrow hype.

03/26/07 Despite all the hype with the Car of Tomorrow, Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Food City 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway earned a 4.9 overnight rating  and an 11 market share, down 7.5 percent from the 5.3 the race drew overnight in 2006 and 12.5 percent lower than the 5.6 overnight figure in 2005.
Dixon leads opening Indy Car practice  
Pos Driver Name Best Time Best Speed
1 Scott Dixon (9) 1:2.3478 103.933
2 Tony Kanaan (11) 1:3.0621 102.756
3 Dario Franchitti (27) 1:3.1164 102.667
4 Sam Hornish Jr. (6) 1:3.1322 102.642
5 Helio Castroneves (3) 1:3.1502 102.613
6 Darren Manning (14) 1:3.2216 102.497
7 Dan Wheldon (10) 1:3.3484 102.291
8 Marco Andretti (26) 1:3.6222 101.851
9 Tomas Scheckter (2) 1:3.7507 101.646
10 Vitor Meira (4) 1:3.7820 101.596
11 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 1:3.9814 101.279
12 Danica Patrick (7) 1:4.0875 101.112
13 Jeff Simmons (17) 1:4.1448 101.021
14 Scott Sharp (8) 1:4.1991 100.936
15 Buddy Rice (15) 1:4.4329 100.570
16 Ed Carpenter (20) 1:5.0238 99.656
17 A.J. Foyt IV (22) 1:6.2354 97.833
18 Sarah Fisher (5) 1:6.7877 97.024
Tagliani gets Wal-Mart backing  Canadian driver Alex Tagliani and RSPORTS are excited to announce a partnership with the Tide@Wal-Mart Victory Lap Charity Program for the 2007 Champ Car World Series season.
Enhancing their commitment to sick kids as part of a joint national fund-raising program for the Children’s Miracle Network, Procter & Gamble and Wal-MartCanada announced yesterday during a special press conference in Montreal their association with Tagliani and RSPORTS. Along with partners Tide, Folgers, Kellogg's, Duracell, Gillette, Pringles, Old Spice, Jig-A-Loo, George and Fido, P&G and Wal-MartCanada have joined forces to support the championship aspirations of Tagliani and RSPORTS in the Champ Car World Series.

Tagliani will be one of the spokespersons for the Victory Lap Charity Program, a cross-Canada fund-raising effort on behalf of the Children’s Miracle Network, an instrumental force in providing medical care and preventative education to help millions of youngsters overcome disease and injuries of all types. Now in its fifth year, the Victory Lap tour, which in 2006 included a special ticket-sales campaign for the Champ Car race in Montreal, raised some $209,000 last year. More ...

Q and A with Martin Whitmarsh  

Q. Did the performance of the MP4-22 in Melbourne meet your expectations?

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren F1 CEO: The Australian Grand Prix this year was a good experience as it generated a lot of positive feeling within the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team. We had good reliability, no real problems over the course of the weekend and that was extremely satisfying for everybody. The performance of both drivers was also very gratifying, their whole approach was motivational and there is the belief that there is more to come in the future.

However Vodafone McLaren Mercedes goes to each Grand Prix to win, we didn't and therefore it fell short of our expectation in that regard. To come away leading the Constructors' Championship with a very strong second and third showing was a solid start to the year, and it is the basis upon which we can now build a Championship assault.

Formula One now is more competitive than it has ever been, with a lot of well funded teams and there are high expectations. By comparison to most we came away from Australia with a more positive feeling and we know we will be improving the car race on race. Clearly at the moment we are primarily focused on closing the gap to Ferrari, who have done a good job over the winter, but they are within our grasp. More ...

Q and A with Norbert Haug  

How do you consider the team's performance at the season opener in Melbourne?

Norbert Haug, vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
: We are happy with the performance of Fernando and Lewis. Finishing second and third they scored 14 out of 18 possible points. However, Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen were faster on this occasion and we therefore have to improve further. During the tests from 27th until 29th March we worked on further optimizing our technical package.

Q. How do you judge Fernando's performance in his debut race for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes?

NH: Finishing second in both qualifying and race Fernando achieved the best possible result considering our immediate competitive level on that day. With his faultless performance he proved how he became a double World Champion. He is working professionally and focused and is motivating the entire team.

Lewis also secured a podium finish. Were you surprised?

NH: Lewis started his Grand Prix career in an impressive way. For more than ten years, no Formula 1 rookie ended up on the podium in his first race. For about ten years, Lewis has been supported by McLaren and Mercedes-Benz, and he showed his talent winning the Formula 3 Euro Series on the supporting program to the DTM and subsequently the GP2 title. As a driver, he may not always do everything right this season, but the team will back him all the way. More ...
F1 copies Champ Car again  Hot on the heels of F1 copying Champ Car on minimum engine use between rebuilds, option tires, and the proliferation of street racing, comes word that F1 is going to mandate a standard ECU on all cars and ban traction control starting in 2008., a la Champ Car.

Traction control has been banned from Formula One from the start of next year in a move supported by all teams and rubber-stamped by the FIA.

A meeting of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council earlier this week approved a complete ban on traction control.

Article 9.3 of the newly amended rules states: "No car may be equipped with a system or device which is capable of preventing the driven wheels from spinning under power or of compensating for excessive throttle demand by the driver.

"Any device or system which notifies the driver of the onset of wheel spin is not permitted."

Without at standard ECU a ban on traction control is impossible to police. However, the move to a standard ECU in 2008 means that it will be easier for the FIA to police engine management systems and hence traction control.

The width of next year's F1 cars, meanwhile, has been reduced by 200 millimeters, while the reintroduction of slick tires has been delayed and the engine 'freeze' rules slightly relaxed.

Penske Porsche leads P2 parade in St. Pete  Porsche and Acura flexed their muscles in the opening practice for the inaugural Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg as Penske Motorsports drivers held the top two spots overall in Friday morning’s hour-long session for Saturday’s race.

Sascha Maassen was the quickest driver in one of Penske’s Porsche RS Spyders. The defending LMP2 class co-champion posted a best time of 1:05.331 (99.187 mph) for a 0.025 gap over the sister car of Romain Dumas. Both of the Penske cars were reporting a level of high-speed understeer during the first half of the session but obviously corrected the problem in the latter half. More ...
No Singapore GP announcement on Friday  Singapore officials are now unlikely to announce on Friday that an agreement has been reached to stage a grand prix in the Asian island-state.

But the Trade and Industry minister, Mr. S Iswaran, told the publication Channel NewsAsia on Friday that a final decision about the highly speculated night-time street race on a city circuit next year is due "soon".

The 2008 Singapore GP would be a jointly private sector and government-funded event, he suggested.

Asked about the timing of any impending announcement, he said: "How soon, I can't say as of now, but it would be sooner rather than later (when) we will come out with an announcement."

The race's private investors also denied that an announcement was due on Friday.
Davidson fit enough to race - spokeswoman  (GMM)  Japanese squad Super Aguri expects Anthony Davidson to be fully fit for the Malaysian grand prix next week, a spokeswoman said on Friday.

The Leafield based team's managing director Daniele Audetto, however, admitted that English rookie Davidson, 27, is "still suffering a little" from the muscular injury he sustained in a clash with Adrian Sutil at the Melbourne season opener.

Davidson completed Aguri's fourth day of testing at Sepang on Friday, doing 68 laps and logging the third quickest time of the twelve runners in action.

Sporting director Graham Taylor said: "It was pleasing to see that Anthony is well on the mend from his Melbourne injury."

NASCAR expands rear height tolerances  NASCAR will give teams a half-inch tolerance instead of a quarter-inch on the minimum height requirement of the rear of the car during post-race inspection at car of tomorrow races, Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby told reporters Thursday.

Greg Biffle was outside the quarter-inch tolerance after a fifth-place finish at Bristol, but NASCAR won't penalize him because of the lack of benefit to the car to be that low.

Darby also said that although it was procedural measurement with the car of tomorrow, it was never specified in the rulebook. He says NASCAR will continue to explore the minimum height of the rear of the car before making a steadfast rule.

Although NASCAR will eventually have a rule in place, "scientifically it doesn't make sense why you would" have a car that low, Darby said. He added that the car of race-winner Kyle Busch "was a breath away of being outside the original tolerance. We felt like we needed to adjust it."

Darby also said that the minimum right-side weight was changed from 1,650 pounds to 1,700 pounds. Scenedaily.com

An Interview with Super Aguri's Managing Director  
Q. The 2007 season is underway and the team appears to have made significant progress during the winter period, what was the team’s reaction to its performance in Melbourne?

Daniel Audetto: We were positively surprised! Our good, hard work completed during the winter testing, our better knowledge of the Bridgestone Potenza tires and the addition of Anthony Davidson to the team has paid off. It goes without saying that Takuma showed a strong performance during the Australian race weekend too.

Q. How much pressure is there to repeat the performance attained in Australian Qualifying? Will you be disappointed if you only make it as far as Q2?

DA: We know that a couple of the top teams had a few problems during the Qualifying sessions in Australia, so we believe that our grid positions were not an indication of our true performance. However, we are very happy that we made it for the first time into Q2 with both drivers and then into Q3 with Takuma, but to be in the top 15 in Malaysia after Qualifying would be great. More ...

Heidfeld - Ferrari still 'way ahead'  (GMM)  Friday's extended testing in Malaysia ended without a red car on top, but Nick Heidfeld thinks Ferrari is nonetheless still "way ahead" of its formula one rivals.

The BMW driver had an engine problem and was sixth quickest at humid Sepang, however he insisted that his Hinwil based squad it still among the cream of the pecking order in 2007.

Heidfeld, 29, told reporters: "Ferrari are still way ahead of everyone.  Then there is McLaren, and then there is us."

Afternoon rain on Friday again hindered the pre-grand prix test near Kuala Lumpur; but struggling rookie Heikki Kovalainen enjoyed a moment in the right kind of spotlight by setting the quickest time.

The next group test takes place at Barcelona late next month.

Renault rookie finally shows some form  After a disastrous debut in the Australian GP, Finnish Renault rookie Heikki Kovalainen topped the test times on the final day of pre-Malaysian Grand Prix testing in Sepang on Friday.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Kovalainen Renault (B) 1:35.767 55
 2. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:35.808 72
 3. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:36.787 68
 4. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:37.002 104
 5. Montagny Toyota (B) 1:37.206 78
 6. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) 1:37.318 70
 7. Button Honda (B) 1:37.326 37
 8. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:37.448 43
 9. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:37.338 42
10. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:38.542 56
11. Klien Honda (B) 1:39.176 25
12. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:39.303 24

Trying to shine in NASCAR's shadow  

The din of race cars made casual conversation nearly impossible. Within the motor coach lot at Homestead-Miami Speedway reserved for drivers and Indy Racing League officials, Mari Hulman George sat at a picnic table on a Friday afternoon, in the shade from a canopy attached to son Tony's rolling residence.

Audible above the drone, the matriarch of the family that has owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1945 clapped and cheered toward a television tucked in a compartment under the coach. She nervously scrawled notes on a pad.

The IRL's IndyCars weren't on the track. This was Grand-Am practice and there were no video feeds. So what on the screen could so enrapt the woman most recognizable for saying "start your engines," at open-wheel racing's most storied event, the Indianapolis 500?

"He's fifth right now," she smiled to a well-wisher.

During a momentary lull in race traffic, the familiar but out-of-place drawl of a NASCAR broadcast team came clear, describing Busch Series qualifying at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Hulman George could be forgiven suspending her loyalties for her grandson, Kyle Krisiloff, who at 21 is trying to build a NASCAR career. But another point was made. On the first weekend of the IndyCar season, NASCAR remained omnipresent.

Split loyalties

The question is open: Can open-wheel racing can regain the toehold it held nationally until the early 1990s, either in its current fractured state - with IRL and Champ Car competing - or potentially reunited? Those who have toiled in the obscurity of NASCAR's long shadow would very much like see the sun again. The IRL possesses a timely commitment to 100 percent ethanol fuel, a diversity in drivers and ownership that NASCAR covets, and the quiet hope that all trends - including NASCAR's explosive growth - are cyclical. Open-wheel racing's leaders may be in the best position in years to seize back some of its legacy.  More at SPTimes.com

This is only possible in NASCAR  James Hylton isn't ready to let go of the steering wheel just yet. Hylton, 72, who came within a few laps of qualifying for the Daytona 500, wants to give the Nextel Cup Series another try -- this time at Talladega Superspeedway in April. "We've still got the car we ran Daytona with, the same car," Hylton said. "We've prepared this car for Talladega, which is not a real big jump. Unless something drastic happens, we'll be at Talladega, because we're set up to go there." He's in talks with the sponsor of that car Daytona car, Retirement Living TV, to back him again in the April 29 event at Talladega. He had originally hoped to try to make last weekend's event at Bristol Motor Speedway, but couldn't get a Car of Tomorrow built in time. Yet the two-time winner and former rookie of the year in 1966 on NASCAR's premier circuit is still buzzing over the publicity generated by his attempt to make the Daytona 500. NASCAR.com 

[Editor's Note: Only in a sport with 100% throttle no talent required racing (like NASCAR's Daytona and Talladega or the IRL's oval tracks) can a 72 year old athlete driver hope to make the field.]

New Poll  Our last poll is over and the results show that out of 2107 responses 68% of you say that Champ Car and the IRL should merge, while 32% say they should remain separate. All of our archived poll results can be found here.

Our latest poll, found on our Home Page, asks Who will win the Champ Car season opener - the Las Vegas Grand Prix?

Mercedes drivers presented with new cars  Shortly before 8:00 h this morning, Dr. Dieter Zetsche welcomed the DTM drivers for the 2007 season in front of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart and presented the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class C 350 company cars to every driver. The advantage of all drivers will never be bigger this season, as the market launch of the new C-Class will take place two days afterwards on 31st March 2007 in the Mercedes-Benz subsidiaries and their partners.

Line-up with two new drivers: Like last year, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz team comprises one female and nine male drivers. Bernd Schneider, five-times and reigning champion, is scheduled to head the line-up. The Newcomer is Paul di Resta, 2006 Formula 3 Euro Series Champion with a Dallara Mercedes, who gets his chance in the Mercedes-Benz support programme of young talent and who is the youngest driver in the field at 20 years old. Gary Paffett is well known as the 2005 DTM champion and Formula One test driver for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. More ...

Airline launches video game to star Danica  AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AAI), announced today that it has teamed up with IndyCar superstar Danica Patrick to launch a brand-new online game called AirTran Raceway, the first-ever video game to star Patrick.  The airline, a sponsor of Andretti Green Racing and Danica Patrick, will reward online gamers with airline tickets for logging the fastest time at www.airtranraceway.com.  Players can choose to race "Digital Danica" on four different track options - all of which are set at an airport - and in a number of airport-themed racing vehicles such as a supercharged luggage truck.

Patrick, who had a busy off season including cameos in a rap video and a commercial in the Big Game, spent studio time modeling, recording sound bites and shooting countless emotions for the AirTran Raceway game.  A virtual version of Patrick delivers comments on her competitor's racing skills - or lack thereof - during head-to-head races.  More ...

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday  UPDATE Danica Patrick is scheduled to appear on MTV's Big Ten on Friday. The program airs at 9 a.m. ET.

03/29/07 Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Survival of the Fastest (NASCAR) Bristol
10:00am-10:30am  SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Martinsville
10:30am-12:00pm (L) SPEED
1996 NHRA ATSCO Nationals Phoenix
11:00am-12:00pm (R) ESPN Classic
NASCAR Live! Martinsville
12:00pm-1:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Practice Martinsville
1:00pm-3:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Martinsville
3:30pm-5:00pm (L) SPEED

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

Indy Car Homestead TV rating  UPDATE This year's ESPN2 rating of 0.7 on ESPN2 isn't bad since last years TV rating on ABC was a 0.8/2 share.  It represents a drop from last year of 12.5% but that would be expected when going from network TV to cable TV.

03/29/07 ESPN2's flag-to-flag coverage of the XM Radio Satellite Radio Indy 300 on March 24 at Homestead Miami Speedway earned a .7 rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, making it the highest-rated IndyCar Series race ever on ESPN2.

The race was the fourth-highest IndyCar Series cable rating since 2000 and the highest cable rating since June 2005.

This weekend, coverage of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg moves to ESPN. The first street race of the season presents a different challenge to the crew who will call the race.

"From a technical standpoint, the tall buildings in St. Petersburg cast shadows on the race track and the cars are going from bright sunshine to shade then back to sunshine," said Marty Reid, who will call the April 1 race along with Scott Goodyear. "Our guys have to work really hard on shading the cameras, and our video guys make sure the picture doesn't suddenly go to black. The buildings also interfere with in-car radio systems so just like the race teams we have to make sure we have strong repeaters so we can hear all the way around the track."

ESPN's telecast of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (ET).

track news
Large purse for Samsung 500  Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage announced that the April 15 Samsung 500 Nextel Cup Series race will have a $7 million purse, the third-largest purse of the season.  The total posted awards will be $7,253,642.  "Part of what places the Samsung 500 alongside the other prestigious events on the Nextel Cup schedule - like the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 or the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte - is the purse," Gossage said. "This isn't just another race. When you focus the spotlight nice and hot, interesting things happen. People rise or fall facing the challenge, and either way it is dramatic to watch. People do crazy things for money."
Rahal to drive MEDI | ZONE Champ Car  LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. – Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) announced today that 18-year-old American Graham Rahal will join the team for the 2007 Champ Car World Series season. MEDI | ZONE will be the primary sponsor of the No. 2 race car.

“It’s an honor and dream to drive for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing,” said Graham Rahal, 18, who finished second in the Champ Car Atlantic championship last season and is in the midst of his senior year of high school in New Albany, Ohio. “My dad always told me it was his dream to drive a car for Mr. Newman and Mr. Haas and now I’ve got a leg up on him. I’m looking forward to working with our new sponsor MEDI | ZONE and to spread the word on wellness and living a healthy lifestyle.”

MEDI | ZONE is a leader of medically supervised weight loss, weight maintenance, wellness and performance programs, products, and services as well as the exclusive provider of the leading cutting edge health, wellness and performance systems by Dr. Barry Sears, the best selling author of the Zone Diet series. MEDI | ZONE delivers comprehensive knowledge and experience in the fields of health, human performance and endurance. It is the first racing sponsorship for the company and will also be the official “Official Health and Wellness Program” for the Champ Car World Series. MEDI | ZONE owns and operates medically supervised weight loss, weight maintenance, wellness, and performance centers. More ...

Dyson hoping to take Sebring lessons to St. Pete  “It was a typical Sebring, a real rollercoaster of events,” said Dyson Racing’s Guy Smith of the team’s return to its Porsche roots for the first race of the 2007 American Le Mans Series season. The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring was both encouraging and challenging, as the team’s pair of Porsche RS Spyders ran at a good pace, but on-track contact with other cars and too much time in the pits put victory out of reach.

Dyson Racing, one of sports car racing’s top independent teams over the last 20 years, gets its next crack at victory at this weekend’s Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg.

“We were very encouraged by the pace of the Porsche RS Spyders at Sebring,” said Chris Dyson, Smith’s teammate in the No. 20 entry. “The cars are clearly quick enough to take P2 victories this year. Unfortunately, we suffered a few mechanical issues and some on-track incidents, so we weren’t able to contend for the class win.”

Contact with another car sent Dyson into the pits for a 24-lap radiator, water line and side pod replacement in the first hour of the race. Butch Leitzinger in the #16 Porsche was also the victim of a fellow competitor and made an extra stop to repair body damage. Then a flat tire with Andy Wallace at the wheel of the No. 16 damaged the bodywork, and the entire rear diffuser had to be replaced.  More ...

Forsythe Racing announces Dominguez as 2nd driver  UPDATE Wheeling, Illinois - Forsythe Championship Racing is proud to announce that it has secured the services of veteran Mexican Champ Car Driver Mario Dominguez to pilot the #7 Telmex/INDECK Cosworth/Bridgestone/DP01 for the first three rounds of the 2007 Champ Car World Series.  This will be the second time that Dominguez and the Forsythe Team join forces, as the Mexico City native competed with the blue and white team for the full 2005 Season and four events in 2006, securing two podiums finishes, and a career first Pole Position for Dominguez at the Houston Grand Prix. 

Dominguez is one Champ Car’s most experienced drivers and will begin his sixth full Season of Champ Car competition in the Series.  In his 78 starts he has captured two Victories, one Pole Position, 11 Podiums, and has finished among the top 10 in the Championship four times.  He has also become one of the most recognizable sports figures among Latin American fans both in Mexico and in the United States.

Forsythe Championship Racing would also like to welcome back Telmex, Latin America’s leading communications company and new sponsor Cabicorp, developers of Promenada at Rainbow, a residential and commercial real estate development in Las Vegas as sponsors on the #7 Champ Car.

About Telmex:
Telmex is the leading communications company in Latin America with operations in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru and United States.  It invested over $29 billion USD between 1990-2005 to ensure the growth and modernization of its infrastructure, developing a 100% digital platform which operates one of the most technologically advanced fiber optic networks in the world, including subterranean cable connections between 39 countries.

Telmex and its subsidiaries offer the widest range of voice, data and video, internet access and integral solution services to all telecommunications segments; from public telephony, rural and residential, to client services for small and medium companies, to large national and international corporations. More ...

US RaceTronics Offers a New and Exciting Fan Program  The Champ Car Atlantic Championship has the best fans, and US RaceTronics (USRT) is proud to participate in a series with those kinds of fans.  Just days before the start of the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season, USRT is happy to announce that it has launched a new and exciting Fan Program accessible on its website for all of its fans throughout the 2007 season.

The USRT Fan of the Month will officially launch April 1, 2007 and continue until October 31, 2007. Participants can enter the drawing once a month at www.usracetronics.com and select the USRT Fan Zone link.  From there, each participant can navigate their way to the USRT Fan of the Month area which will link the user to the actual entry form and they can then enter their information.  At the end of each month the participants are entered into a random drawing and the selected fan will be notified and have their photo and info posted on the US RaceTronics website.  Each winner will also receive free USRT merchandise.  The only rules are that each fan can only enter once a month can only be selected as USRT Fan of the Month only once each season, and must have their parent’s approval if they are under the age of thirteen. More ...

John Force Racing to skip Houston  UPDATE "We fully support John's decision not to take his team to Houston this weekend out of respect for the crew and the Medlen family. I've had the chance to spend the last couple of days with the team this week, and it's clear they need a little time to grieve, and emotionally heal before they get back to racing. All of us at Ford Racing look forward to them getting back to the track in Las Vegas in two weeks time, and I know they will be extremely focused on winning the championship this year for Eric."   Dan Davis, Ford Motorsports Boss

03/28/07 John Force Racing, Inc., still is evaluating what occurred in the accident that caused the severe closed head injury which resulted in driver Eric Medlen's death.

The JFR crew chiefs, headed by Eric's father, John Medlen, will be working closely with the NHRA, the PRO and the team's vendors to evaluate the series of events that caused the tire blow-out and an extreme vibration beyond anything previously recorded in the sport.

"It is our sincere desire to provide a summary of the information taken from this accident to all parties," said John Medlen. "That is what Eric would have wanted."

In the near future, JFR will attempt to implement safety measures needed to prevent this type of tragedy from recurring. More ...

Mathiasen Motorsports moving to Indy  Encino, California- Champ Car Atlantic team Mathiasen Motorsports announced today that it has opened its new racing facility just outside of Indianapolis, Indiana. The address of the new facility is 1632 Northfield Drive, Suite 1000, Brownsburg, Indiana.
All racing operations for the team during the upcoming 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered By Mazda season will be run out of the new facility. The team will continue to maintain its shop in Van Nuys, California and its home office in Encino, California 
“The majority of our crew live in Indianapolis and we wanted to have a presence in the racing capital of North America. We will now have access to more vendors and individuals that specialize in providing services to open-wheel race teams like ours and it also helps to be closer to the Champ Car headquarters,” said team owner Ray Mathiasen. “This is another major step forward in our quest to win the Atlantic championship in 2007 and to provide a solid base to continue building our racing program in future years.” For additional information on the team and its new Indianapolis facility, contact Alain Clarinval, team manager, at (970) 227-9808.
Bernie says no to recalling second German race  (GMM) With the ink still wet on reports that France will not hold a grand prix in 2008, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has dashed Germany's prospect of regaining a second race.

Hockenheim and the Nurburgring now have to alternate the annual honor, but even with the axed Magny Cours opening up a vacant slot next year, Ecclestone ruled out bringing back the 'European grand prix'.

"Both (circuits) had to accept that it is difficult for one country to have two nearly identical events," the 76-year-old Englishman told the news agency 'sid'.

Ecclestone explained: "It is better for them now because they only have to find 120,000 race-day spectators rather than 250,000."

He therefore ruled out taking his circus to a completely new German circuit; such as the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, which has hosted Champ Car, DTM and Superbike races.

"No. Not for formula one," Bernie said.

Still no FIA license for van der Garde  (GMM)  Uncertainty about the eligibility of Giedo van der Garde to drive on Fridays could have convinced the Spyker team to alter its plans for the 2007 season.

The Dutch racer is the subject of a contractual tussle between Silverstone based Spyker and Super Aguri, who claim to have lodged a valid contract with van der Garde with the FIA's Contracts Recognition Board.

The dispute means that rookie van der Garde, 21, has not been granted a Super License, which is mandatory for any participant in official activity at grands prix.

The Dutch magazine Formule 1 Race Report said the situation should become clearer "in the next days", but probably not before a new plan is devised for the Malaysian grand prix.

Local driver Fairuz Fauzy was tipped to drive next Friday at Sepang alongside van der Garde, but Spyker is understood to have scrapped that plan altogether.

Given that team racer Christijan Albers struggled so much in Melbourne, and also due to the fact that Spyker was the only team to sit out Malaysian testing this week, it is believed that the Dutch squad will tackle Friday at Sepang with Albers and his teammate Adrian Sutil in the cars.

Rocketsports and RuSPORT confirm joint effort  EAST LANSING, Michigan – Champ Car teams Rocketsports Racing and RuSPORT announce that they will collaborate on efforts in the 2007 Champ Car World Series season with a technical and operational merge under the umbrella name of RSPORTS.
As the 2007 season approached, the two winning teams had decided separately that they would be scaling back their respective operations to one car each. After confirming that Alex Tagliani would return to the Rocketsports team to drive the #8 LXN2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone the team was excited to enter their fifth year in the Champ Car World Series. On the other side of the paddock, fourth-year Champ Car team RuSPORT was pleased to announce the return of Justin Wilson to drive the #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone. However, in the highly competitive arena of Champ Car competition, single car teams are rarely successful because of the lack of information and data at their disposal. Two drivers can develop and exchange much more information, which can be the difference between dominating a race and merely participating. More ...
30 cars expected on Vegas grid  The future of Champ Car racing will be clearly on display next week in Las Vegas as the rising stars of the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda take the first green flag of the season at the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix.

Race winners and championship contenders from across the globe will highlight the power-packed 2007 field as the series young guns begin their quest for the coveted Atlantic title and the $2 million bonus designed to help the champion move up to the pinnacle of American open-wheel racing – the Champ Car World Series – in 2008.

Fans attending the much-anticipated season-opening race on the downtown street circuit in Las Vegas April 6-8 will get a chance to see one of the most diverse and talented classes in the 34-year history of the Atlantic Championship. That’s a bold statement for a series that has produced such stellar racers over the years as Jacques Villeneuve, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jimmy Vasser, just to name a few. But one glimpse of the current Atlantic field reveals a special season awaiting series fans in 2007. More ...

Peugeot, Bourdais Turn Fastest Lap in Le Mans Test  Development and reliability work continued on the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP's program during the pre-season Le Mans Series test session at Paul Ricard HTTT where the new car was making its maiden official outing. The two-day workout in the south of France ended with the car at the top of the timesheets despite some technical problems.

Since the 908 HDi FAP's unveiling at Mortefontaine, near Paris, on January 10th, Team Peugeot Total has worked without letup: in parallel to the new car's test program which began at the start of the year, three chassis have now been completed and the car's workout at Paul Ricard was its sixth and final run before the 2007 Le Mans Series kicks off at Monza on April 14-15.

The single car present at Paul Ricard covered a total of 174 laps over the two days, equivalent to a little more than 1,000km, including the fastest lap of the test with a 1m 43.705s in the hands of three-time Champ Car Champion Sébastien Bourdais.

"It was a positive couple of days for us," says Peugeot Sport Director Michel Barge. "Sébastien's schedule means he hasn't been able to drive since early February and the session enabled us to give him some more time in the car. The same goes for Pedro Lamy who had been sidelined since hurting his Achilles tendon in February. On top of that, we come away with the fastest time which is encouraging." More ...

Teams extend rain affected test  (GMM)  Formula one teams have decided to prolong the Sepang test for another day after heavy rain affected proceedings on Thursday.

Grey clouds and a drenched track greeted the ten teams at the venue near muggy Kuala Lumpur in the morning, and once it had dried a heavy afternoon downpour left drivers once again throwing up huge plumes of spray.

Only Toro Rosso will not test on Friday, while a hopeful BMW-Sauber statement said: "(Tomorrow's) weather forecast looks encouraging."

For the record, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton ended Thursday atop the time sheets despite a breakdown.

Nick Heidfeld offered the most spectacular moment of the day when smoke and oil trickled out of his BMW before it caught fire alongside reluctant marshals at the side of the track.

Oliver Jarvis – Savoring Success  London, England – Great Britain can finally count itself on the list of winning nations in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport following a break-out performance in Round 9 of the 2006-07 season in Mexico City last Sunday.

With A1 Team Great Britain’s on-track charge led by 23-year-old Oliver Jarvis, the rookie racer from Burwell, Cambridgeshire duly delivered a ‘Best of British’ routine as he dominated the opposition around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez to score the team’s first A1GP victory after nearly two seasons of competing against its rival nations.

Jarvis, runner-up in the 2006 British F3 Championship, led the team to the top step of the podium in just his second A1GP outing, his previous venture in China last November rewarding the British squad with its first podium of the season. While Robbie Kerr went on to score further podiums in Malaysia, Indonesia and South Africa, to add to his haul of seven from the inaugural A1GP season, Oliver’s faultless performance, combined with some slick teamwork in Mexico City, saw the team celebrate its maiden win having come so close on several occasions. More ...

Vickers to race despite burns  Brian Vickers is recovering from first- and second-degree burns to his feet and buttocks suffered during Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.  A team spokesperson confirmed today that Vickers will race in this weekend’s Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway.  An exhaust pipe located under the seat of Vickers’ No. 83 Team Red Bull Toyota broke during the race, and heat poured into the drivers compartment.
Hamilton fastest on wet Thursday in Sepang  Rain hit the Sepang circuit today at both the early morning and late afternoon session were slowed due to a wet track as F1 teams continued their pre-Malaysia GP testing.  The drivers did get some dry track time in the middle of the day.  McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton led the way.  After rain in the early morning the track dried out quickly but had lost some of its rubber and grip developed during the first two days of testing.

Pos  Driver        Team                    Times     Laps
 1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   (B)  1:35.918   57
 2.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   (B)  1:36.138   62
 3.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             (B)  1:36.700   69
 4.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B)  1:36.712   56
 5.  Massa         Ferrari            (B)  1:36.947   64
 6.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    (B)  1:37.070   71
 7.  Button        Honda              (B)  1:37.472   92
 8.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  (B)  1:37.606   44
 9.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         (B)  1:38.551   35
10.  Kovalainen    Renault            (B)  1:39.654   20

Schumacher backs night racing for F1  (GMM) Toyota driver Ralf Schumacher has backed the concept of night racing in formula one's Asian region.

Singapore is imminently set to join the 2008 calendar as a floodlit grand prix, and officials for the race in Melbourne are also seriously considering Bernie Ecclestone's proposal to create a better TV screening time for European fans.

It emerged on Wednesday, meanwhile, that the Malaysian grand prix could be held under dark skies, with Sepang chairman Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir saying the idea would make "commercial sense".

He is quoted as saying by AFP: "It is cooler to race here (at night) and we think we can get more people to come and watch."

31-year-old Schumacher joins rivals Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen in agreeing that safe floodlit racing would make a good addition to the formula one recipe.

The German said: "Things like lighting, flag signaling, flying medical helicopters at night and other things would all throw up problems that need to be overcome.

"But it has been done elsewhere and if the logistics can be solved, I don't see why we shouldn't do it."

Retired Schu to return to soccer pitch  (GMM)  Just five months after racing in formula one for the last time, retired seven time world champion Michael Schumacher has reportedly returned to the gym.

The 38-year-old German, though, is not reinvigorating his renowned fitness in preparation for a cockpit comeback, according to 'Express'.

Instead, the Cologne based newspaper says Schumacher is limbering up to return to the football field for his local Swiss club FC Echichens, which is struggling at the bottom of the third division.

Former Ferrari racer Schumacher has reportedly vowed to train twice per week with his fellow players, to help boost the fortunes of the beleaguered soccer squad. He could then play twice in April.

Doornbos to combine F1 with Champ Car in 2007  (GMM)  Champ Car team Minardi has finally satisfied lengthy speculation that Dutch driver Robert Doornbos will race in the American series next year.

Minardi, run by ex-grand prix team owner and Doornbos' former F1 boss Paul Stoddart, announced on Wednesday that the 25-year-old has signed a contract to join the Indianapolis-based squad in 2007.

The Minardi statement clarified that Doornbos will combine his new racing role "with testing commitments for the Red Bull Racing F1 team".

The Champ Car season kicks off in Las Vegas next week.

Doornbos raced in F1 for Minardi in 2005.

He said: "It's obviously a different team from the one I last drove for, in formula one, but there is still the same, close-knit, family feeling about it that I like."

Renault engineers set up own venture  (GMM)  Two former Renault engineers are likely to be at the forefront of the implementation of new technology in formula one in the near future.

Jon Hilton and Doug Cross, previously based at the French squad's Enstone (UK) base, have left Renault to form a new company called Flybrid Systems, which is based at Silverstone.

We understand that Hilton, who has also worked for Arrows, was technical director of Renault's Engine Division in the UK.  Cross, also with experience at Toyota, was design manager.

Flybrid, combining the words flywheel and hybrid, will design and develop regenerative braking energy systems for use in the sport from 2009 onwards.

All of Flybrid's staff also worked for Renault.

A working prototype of their F1 design should be ready before the end of 2007.

FIA agrees to excuse $2.5m Turkey fine  (GMM) F1's governing body has excused the Turkish motor sports federation, TOSFED, for refusing to pay half of the $5m fine handed down after the grand prix podium debacle last year.

MSO, the actual organizers of last August's Istanbul race, paid $2.5m to the FIA last October, after Felipe Massa was handed his winner's trophy by a controversial political figure.

The record fine was imposed because the FIA said its "neutrality" had been compromised.

But the MSO refused to pay the remaining $2.5m because it said it had not had any role in the decision to let the disputed leader of northern Cyprus present the trophy.

Associated Press reports that TOSFED spokeswoman Sinem Erdogdu confirmed on Wednesday that the FIA had annulled the balance of the fine after a meeting in Paris, but said she did not know the reason for the decision.

The news has not been confirmed by the FIA.

Martinsville pre-race news and notes  DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Martinsville Speedway is the smallest race track in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and thus finds itself bursting at its .526-mile seams this week, due to an overload of news making developments.

To start, Sunday’s Goody’s Cool Orange 500 will be the second race of this season’s 16-race “rollout” of the “Car of Tomorrow,” following the “COT” debuting race on March 25th at Bristol Motor Speedway.
But that’s only part of this week’s picture.

Martinsville also offers the second half of a “back-to-back short-track experience” for competitors, a scheduling situation once commonplace in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing. The two-week slugfest was created two years ago via a schedule adjustment, giving teams a unique early-season challenge.
Along those lines:

  • Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) is likely up to the challenge. He has seven career Martinsville victories – tops among active drivers and third-best all-time behind Richard Petty (15) and Darrell Waltrip (11). Fuel to his personal fire: Gordon comes in this weekend atop the series standings for the first time since winning the Daytona 500 to start the 2005 season.
  • Sunday’s race, on paper, has the potential to be a high-profile showdown. The last 10 Martinsville races have been won by former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champions, only one of which – Rusty Wallace – is no longer active. Last year’s winners were Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) (in the spring) and Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) (fall); in 2005, Gordon won both events. And how about last year’s spring race top-five finishers: Stewart, Gordon, Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) and Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet).
  • Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) is back, coming in this week 10th in the series points. After his superb 2005 season, last season was a disappointment even though Edwards ended up 12th in the final standings – because he never cracked the top 10. Edwards returned to the top 10 two weeks ago, after the Atlanta Motor Speedway race.
  • David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Ford) left Martinsville Speedway last October with mixed emotions after his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup debut. More ...
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