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Honda backed AGR #27 called Honda Formula Dream Project
2008 begins a new era for Andretti Green Racing's #27 machine, now known as the Honda Formula Dream Project Dallara/Honda/Firestone and under the control of IndyCar Series rookie Hideki Mutoh.

Kevin Savoree, President and Chief Operating Officer, Andretti Green Racing:
"The program centered around the 27 car is very unique, but is also very much in sync with the development philosophy at Andretti Green. Honda Formula Dream Project works to develop young Japanese drivers and now we have Hideki in a position to hopefully challenge for rookie of the year honors in the IndyCar Series. Andretti Green has shown a willingness to invest in potential when it comes to young drivers and that has resulted in some great things for us. Hideki could be our third rookie of the year winner in six years and that makes this an exciting new program for our race team."

John Lopes, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Andretti Green Racing:
"Andretti Green is very fortunate to have one of the strongest marketing platforms in American motorsports today. The introduction of the new brands that are represented on Hideki's car takes us to an even more global level than we were before and that is exciting. Japan is an important market for our sport and we're looking forward to taking our brand more definitively into that part of the world."


Detroit Big Three and Toyota post double-digit March sales drops
Detroit's Big Three automakers and Toyota all posted double-digit U.S. sales declines in March, mostly on sliding demand for trucks and sport utility vehicles.

General Motors Corp. said it delivered 282,732 vehicles in the month, down 19.1 percent from 349,866 a year ago. Hardest-hit were full-sized trucks, offset by demand for smaller sedans, crossovers and the popular Cadillac CTS.

Chrysler LLC sold 166,386 units in March, down 19.4 percent from 206,435 in 2006. The Chrysler Sebring, Jeep Compass and Dodge avenger bucked the trend, posting increased sales for the month.

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BAM Racing withdraws from Texas
One week after announcing a sponsorship program with Microsoft Small Business and qualifying seventh at Martinsville, BAM Racing's #49 Toyota was withdrawn from this weekend's Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. No details were available as to the reasons behind the decision by owner Beth Ann Morgenthau, who has operated a team in NASCAR's premier series since 2002. The #49 was 42nd in owner points following a 37th-place finish at Martinsville, having made three of six races this season. Driver Ken Schrader finished 21st at Las Vegas and 41st at Bristol earlier in 2008. NASCAR.com


Rains puts NHLR behind the eight ball
McDonald’s driver Justin Wilson and Hole in the Wall Camps driver Graham Rahal were ready for three hours of testing an IndyCar Series car on a road course for the first time today at the 1.669-mile Sebring International Raceway but rain brought the test to a close after 10 laps for each.  It was the first time for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) to run an Indy car on a road or street course prior to this weekend’s Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

“It was good to get to run the cars on the road course at Sebring,” said Brian Lisles, general manager of Newman/ Haas/Lanigan Racing.  “Of course we would have liked to have been able to run much longer but unfortunately the weather didn’t allow us to take advantage of the fact that the IndyCar Series officials kindly arranged this track time for us.”

After missing the two day test at Sebring for teams transitioning from the Champ Car World Series on March 19-20, the IndyCar Series offered the team the opportunity to run from 4 to 7 p.m. today at Sebring during a Firestone Indy Lights test.  NHLR was able to shake down their cars from 12:30 – 1:00 p.m. during the lunch break and test from 4 to 7 p.m.  Wilson ran 10 installation laps at lunch while Rahal ran six.  Once they were given the go-ahead by IndyCar Series officials at 4:20 they got on track at approx. 4:30 p.m.  Each driver made two five-lap runs while dark clouds were forming and until the rain began after 5 p.m.  The team abandoned hope of running again at approx. 6:15 p.m. 

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track news

TMS to get first retractable roof UPDATE April Fool's................


• Alluring Project Requires Incredible Logistics For Oval Of Landmark Significance
• Expansive Project To Dome TMS Expected To Cost $900 Million
• Timetable For Completion Is 2011 Samsung 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race
• AFD Construction Of Fort Worth To Handle Roof Design

Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage announced plans today for construction of a massive retractable roof that is scheduled for completion by the 2011 Samsung 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race traditionally held in April.

The expansive project is expected to cost $900 million to transform the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval into the first major domed speedway in the history of motorsports.

“The Houston Astrodome was known as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World,’ so it is only fitting that Texas – and Texas Motor Speedway – will be the future home of the ‘Ninth Wonder of the World,’ ” Gossage said. “This will be a massive undertaking, but it will be a landmark project in the world of motorsports.”

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ALMS drivers discuss St. Pete race
The head of the grid at this weekend's Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg presented by XM Satellite Radio has no shortage of storylines. Audi, Acura, Porsche and Mazda all are represented in one of the deepest prototype fields in American Le Mans Series history. The LMP1 and LMP2 classes also will see three different types of fuel - clean diesel, cellulosic E85 and E10. Plus the Series' independent teams hope to continue their strong showing from the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Add all that plus a second consecutive stop to the famed St. Petersburg street circuit and you have all the ingredients for a classic. Just ask the drivers.

Adrian Fernandez, Lowe's Fernandez Racing
Acura ARX-01b (LMP2)
"I think this car has a lot more potential. We're still learning about the new chassis, but it's definitely an improvement over the last year. And I think having the three Acura teams together makes big sense. So we're very happy with the change and we just have to keep working on it. I think that St. Petersburg is going to be a good race track for us."

Timo Bernhard, Penske Racing
Porsche RS Spyder (LMP2)
"St. Pete is one of my favorite street circuits. When I came here last year for the first time, I had read about a lot of things but actually had never been there. And when I did the first couple of laps I already felt that this street circuit is very special because it's not a typical street circuit with a 90-degree right or a 90-degree left. It has some influence from a normal track, I would say. You have some quick corners; the last 'S-corner' is nearly flat with our car or sometimes flat, so it's different. That's what I like about it."

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Matos and Luyendyk Jr. Test at Sebring
AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing drivers Raphael Matos and Arie Luyendyk Jr. participated in the Firestone Indy Lights Open Test at Sebring International Raceway on Monday, March 31st. 

The test was conducted on the 1.67-mile Sebring International Raceway short course.  Matos led the first day of testing by turning out a lap of 57.1938 seconds (105.116 mph) on the circuit's course.  Luyendyk Jr., was fourth fastest with a lap time of 57.8757 seconds (103.878 mph). 

Raphael Matos, #27 AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing Dallara/Firestone:
"The test went really good and I am very pleased with the results. Our first test in Phoenix got rained out so I was so glad to be able to test in Sebring. We were able to do all the different setups we wanted to try and we were the quickest.  We will have two races in St. Petersburg.  I won those two races back in 2006 in Indy Lights so I want to see if history can repeat itself.  I cannot wait to race in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this weekend."

Arie Luyendyk Jr., #26 Andretti Green Racing/AFS Racing Dallara/Firestone:
"It was a very positive test for me and the team.  It was very important for me to get some testing done on a road course so I am glad we were able to test in Sebring. Our time was pretty good but we didn't concentrate on the time, but rather on the setup for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. I've raced on St. Petersburg's street course and it is a fun race.  I am looking forward to getting onto the podium with my teammate."


Vasser to drive 3rd KV Racing Technology entry at Long Beach
KV Racing Technology co-owner Jimmy Vasser confirmed today that he will climb back into the cockpit of  an open-wheel car having committed to compete in a third KVRT entry at this year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 18-20 on the streets of Long Beach, California.

Plantronics, which announced last week that they would partner with KV Racing Technology for the 2008 IndyCar Series season, will assume the primary role on Vasser’s car for this race.

Vasser, the 1996 Series Champion, who last drove a Champ Car on April 9, 2006, coincidentally at Long Beach, will drive the KV Racing Technology #12 Plantronics Cosworth/DPO1/Bridgestone entry in what will be the Champ Car World Series final race. 

“I been out of the car for two years, but it will be a lot of fun and a great honor to take part in the Champ Car World Series’ final race,” said Vasser.  “It will also be great to compete in front of all the southern California fans that have been so supportive of me throughout my career.”

Vasser is one of the most recognized names in all of open wheel racing.  The 1996 Series Champion joined KV Racing Technology in the dual roles of owner and driver in 2004.  Vasser, who drove Champ Cars for 14 seasons plus one race, owns some of the finest credentials in U.S. open-wheel racing history.  In addition to his championship in 1996, the native of California was runner-up in 1998 and placed third in the standings in 1997.  Vasser stands among the leaders in most of the career statistical records including wins, 10, podium finishes, 33, poles, nine, laps led, 988, and earnings $12,093,244, (sixth all-time and one of just eight drivers to earn more than $11 million in series competition).  He has started 232 Champ Car events (11th all-time) and holds the series record for consecutive starts with 211.  A determined and consistent competitor, Vasser was running at the end of 145 of his last 188 starts (dating to Milwaukee in 1995) and finished in the top-10 in 132 of his 232 starts.  He was a perennial championship contender having placed in the top-10 in the championship standings in nine of his last 11 seasons.  Vasser continues to drive competitively in Sports Car events.  Off the track, Vasser is the owner of three auto dealerships, a vineyard in Napa, California and various real estate properties in North America. 

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Mosley apologizes over lurid reports
Max Mosley

Max Mosley, the president of Formula One's ruling body, the FIA, believes he was the victim of covert set-up regarding lurid allegations made against him and is taking legal action against the newspaper that published them.

"From information provided to me by an impeccable high-level source close to the UK police and security services, I understand that over the last two weeks or so, a covert investigation of my private life and background has been undertaken by a group specializing in such things, for reasons and clients as yet unknown. I have had similar but less well-sourced information from France," Mosley said.

"Regrettably you are now familiar with the results of this covert investigation and I am very sorry if this has embarrassed you or the club. Not content with publicizing highly personal and private activities, which are, to say the least, embarrassing, a British tabloid newspaper published the story with the claim that there was some sort of Nazi connotation to the matter. This is entirely false.

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tv news

IndyCar Series Opener Scores Record Rating on ESPN2
It looks like the merger of Champ Car and the IRL is beginning to get some positive results.  ESPN2 earned its highest rating ever for an IndyCar Series race for coverage of Saturday night’s event from Homestead-Miami Speedway, the opening race of the 2008 season and the first event since the recent unification of American open wheel racing. The race also marked the debut of ESPN’s full-season coverage in high definition.

ESPN2's race averaged a 0.8 household coverage rating and 815,070 household impressions, making it ESPN2's highest rated IndyCar Series race ever and the most viewed IndyCar Series race on ESPN or ESPN2 in almost three years. The rating was up from the .7 for last year’s Homestead telecast, previously ESPN2’s highest rating ever for an IndyCar Series event.


Speed to drive #24 for BDR
Red Bull Racing Team development driver Scott Speed is going NASCAR trucking in the #24 Bill Davis Racing Toyota. Speed will take his direction from veteran NASCAR crew chief Richard "Slugger" Labbe, who coached the careers of Dale Jarrett, Michael Waltrip, and most recently, Jacques Villeneuve. Speed's part-time run in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts with Kansas Speedway on April 26, followed by Charlotte, Dover, Michigan, Bristol, Talladega, Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas, Phoenix and Miami. The rookie scored big in his `08 teammate lineup pairing with former NCTS champion Mike Skinner and veteran Johnny Benson. Skinner's relationship with Red Bull Racing Team dates back to 2006 as a test driver for the startup Cup team, and includes his current status as an interim driver in the #84 Red Bull Toyota, and mentor to AJ Allmendinger. Speed's NCTS seat time is part of a driver development program aimed at getting the Red Bull driver ready for top-level competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In addition to his Truck duties, Speed will continue to build his stock car resume racing the #2 Red Bull Toyota full-time in the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series. Red Bull Racing PR


Ganassi Racing Partners in Integra Indy Lights Effort
Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) and newly created Integra Motorsports announced today a partnership to campaign Marc Williams in the Firestone Indy Lights Series beginning at this weekend’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Williams will pilot the No. 9 Cool Blue Water Dallara as part of the Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Inc. driver development program, adding another level of global appeal to its stable of 12 drivers representing six countries over six series. 

The 19-year-old New Plymouth, New Zealand native would like nothing more than to follow Target IndyCar driver and fellow countryman Scott Dixon’s footsteps, and has emerged as a bright young racing star. He posted two top-10 finishes in six Firestone Indy Lights starts in 2007.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Williams. “Working with a team like Target Chip Ganassi Racing that is seen on a global level is really just an absolute dream come true. I intend on making the most out of this opportunity. Integra Motorsports is ready to get the job done and I think we are all excited about contesting the remainder of the Firestone Indy Lights season.”

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Petty team desperate for sponsor
Since 1949 Petty Enterprises has forged a legacy as the most successful organization in American motorsports history by forming lasting partnerships with trusted sponsors based on the Petty family principles of hard work, integrity, dedication and charity. These core values have produced some of the most enduring and successful partnerships in all of sports. In 2009 primary sponsorship of the famed No. 43 Dodge will become available for only the second time since "The King", Richard Petty partnered with STP in 1972—a relationship that continues to this day. Petty Enterprises‘ current partner, General Mills, has been the primary sponsor of the No. 43 for the past nine seasons and will continue through the end of the year.

"We value our relationships with all of our sponsors," said Robbie Loomis, Executive Vice President, Operations. "We appreciate everything that General Mills has helped us accomplish over the past nine seasons both on and off of the track, and we wish them well in their future plans.

The No. 43. driven by "King" Richard and his record 200 wins is synonymous with success not just at the highest levels of motorsports, but across all sports. 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte, continues that tradition today.

"Bobby is one of the most marketable and popular drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series," said Brian Moffitt, Vice President, Marketing. "He and his family share the ideals and values of the Petty organization and he remains a key component to the long-term future of Petty Enterprises. While there is substantial sponsorship interest in Bobby and Petty Enterprises we will carefully consider our options to ensure the continuation of our rich tradition and to build on current momentum. Prospective partners are well aware of the special power of the "Petty" brand, as numerous surveys and marketing groups have identified Richard Petty as one of the most iconic brands in all of sports."

"I am proud of our organization‘s rich tradition." said Richard Petty "We look at bringing in fresh resources and new partners as a real opportunity to further grow and improve the Petty organization. Especially those who share in the same core values of integrity, dedication and winning that have come to define Petty Enterprises."


More St. Pete GP news
Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg To Reach International Audience
In addition to the live national broadcast of the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg on ABC this Saturday (airs 1 p.m. until 3 p.m.), the American Le Mans Series feature race will be aired throughout Europe on MotorsTV in England and Europe in four languages (English, French, German, and Greek).  MotorsTV reaches more than 45 million viewers in 31 European countries.  The race will also air on Fox/SPEED Latin American Networks to its audience of more than five million households in Mexico, Central and South America in both Spanish and Portuguese.  And, three different anthology programs with a dedicated American Le Mans Series element produced by Greenlight-TV will be distributed to more than 489 million homes worldwide in an edited format after the race.  The three Greenlight-TV programs are entitled Motorsports Mundial, Planet Speed and Max Power.  Additionally, DSF, one of Germany’s largest terrestrial networks, will air a race highlights and feature program on April 13 throughout the country and Sport Italia, a major Italian sports network, will also be broadcasting a similar program.

Michael Andretti Foundation Gala Set for Friday Evening
The Michael Andretti Foundation Gala, hosted by Progress Energy and Danka, will be held at 7 p.m. Friday evening at the Progress Energy Center for the Arts.  Among the racing celebrities expected to appear at the event are Danica Patrick, Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Hideki Mutoh, Bryan Herta, Christian Fittipaldi, Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson, Franck Perera and Enrique Bernoldi.  Proceeds from the event will benefit All Children’s Hospital Pediatric Trauma Unit, The Bayfront Baby Place and the Mayor’s Mentors and More program, conducted by the City of St. Petersburg.  Tickets for the event are $150 each and are available www.andrettifoundationgala.com or by calling 727.562.5631.  Since its inception in 2003, the Michael Andretti Foundation has provided close to $1 million to various charities.

USSOCOM Parachute Team Scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Honda Grand Prix
The United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) Parachute Team will make three appearances this weekend at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  The USSOCOM Parachute Team is composed of volunteers from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and U.S. government civilians assigned to USSOCOM. These highly qualified members are selected for the team after a rigorous training program. Formed in 1991, the Team represents the most elite of the United States armed services, its Special Operations Forces (SOF). Jumps by the team may include carrying a flag or passing a baton while descending in freefall, all while wearing burning smoke canisters attached to their boots to allow viewers to see them better.


RCR to field 4th Cup team in 2009
Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and General Mills have agreed to terms on a multi-year partnership for the world’s sixth-largest food company to sponsor the No. 33 Cheerios®/Hamburger Helper® Chevrolet Impala SS beginning with the 2009 NASCAR Cup Series season.

  The driver for the No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet Impala SS will be announced at a later date.

  “RCR is honored to represent General Mills and its Cheerios, Hamburger Helper and many other brands in the NASCAR Cup Series,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “The partnership is another step in RCR’s continued association with blue-chip global brands and companies. General Mills has a great history of activating its NASCAR programs so our focus now turns to the short list of drivers we feel will help continue that tradition as well as be at the same competitive level on the track as our current drivers and teams.”

  The 2009 season will mark General Mills’ 13th year of sponsorship involvement in NASCAR as well as Richard Childress’ 40th anniversary in the sport. RCR has earned 11 NASCAR championships, including six in the Cup Series with the legendary Dale Earnhardt, four in the Nationwide Series, and one in the Truck Series. Next year will be the first time RCR will run a fourth fulltime NASCAR Cup Series team.


Coca-Cola named IndyCar sponsor
The IndyCar Series today announced a major multi-year agreement with Coca-Cola North America that will make Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most recognized brands, an official sponsor of the IndyCar Series through 2010.

The agreement builds on Coca-Cola North America’s relationship with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500, which dates back decades. Through this expanded association, Coca-Cola will develop retail marketing programs to help enhance the IndyCar racing experience for fans throughout the season.

This new partnership follows the announcement last year of a 10-year sponsorship agreement between Coca-Cola North America and International Speedway Corporation (ISC), owner of five tracks on the IndyCar Series schedule. Coca-Cola also has relationships with several other tracks on the schedule, making it the leading soft drink at the majority of the tracks where the IndyCar Series will race in 2008.

“Coca-Cola is truly a global brand, and we’re thrilled to have them on board with the IndyCar Series,” said Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League’s Commercial Division.

“Coca-Cola’s enormous brand recognition and marketing capabilities create some very exciting activation opportunities as we go forward. This announcement also adds to the sponsorship momentum that we’ve been building over the last several months. The growing number of partnerships we’re making with quality organizations like Coca-Cola and others is really helping to build an exciting future for the IndyCar Series.”

“This new association with the IndyCar Series allows Coca-Cola to build on our long and successful history with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500,” said Beatriz Perez, senior vice president, Integrated Marketing, Coca-Cola North America. “By joining forces with the entire IndyCar Series, Coca-Cola will be able to create customized programs designed to bring IndyCar fans closer to their favorite sport.”


Mosley plans to fight on amid sex scandal
(GMM) Max Mosley is not currently planning to step down as the president of world motor racing's governing body, the FIA.

His spokesman is telling enquiring members of the media on Tuesday that, while Mosley may not attend the Bahrain grand prix as planned this week, he does not intend to simply succumb to the burden of the Nazi-themed sex scandal that erupted on Sunday.

Indeed, 67-year-old Mosley is already fighting the English tabloid News of the World via his lawyers, and his first victory is the removal of the undercover video from the newspaper's website of his alleged escapade with prostitutes.

Still photos allegedly depicting Mosley with the prostitutes in a downstairs London flat have also been removed from the story, it has emerged.

But his fellow F1 powerbroker, Bernie Ecclestone, warned Mosley against too much bravado, as it emerges that several of the car manufacturers involved in the sport are among the senior voices that are very unhappy.

"I don't think it's going to be easy," Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, told The Times when asked about Mosley's predicament.

"And if he starts to sue, from what I understand, the chances of him winning would be slim and, the trouble is, it's just a lot more ink for the press," Ecclestone added.

"If Max was in bed with two hookers, they'd say 'good for you' or something like that, but this, as it is, people find it repulsive. I think that's the problem."

An unnamed leading figure from one of formula one's Japanese teams confirmed that riding out the storm might not be an option for Mosley.

"It's a credibility and judgment issue -- fantasising about one of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century is obviously completely inappropriate," he said.


Ferrari plans aero update for Bahrain
Ferrari has not been idle on the car front since Sepang and last Saturday, tester Marc Gene evaluated some aerodynamic elements in a secret test session at Vairano. 

"The plan for this year is that we should have continuous updates throughout the season," revealed Ferrari technical director Aldo Costa. "We aim to improve the package step by step with changes coming for almost every race and in Bahrain we will run some new aero parts."


Singapore promising feast of technology
The world's first Formula One night race in Singapore will be a feast of hi-tech gadgetry, organizers say, featuring electronic flags and with around 1,500 lighting projectors illuminating the city.  But the iconic checkered flag will not be lost, with organizers sticking to the black-and-white fabric symbol to signify the race end.

The Sept. 28 night race will see the introduction of electronic flag displays to replace those traditionally waved by race officials, Valerio Maioli, the race's lighting designer, told Reuters in an interview.

Colored flag signals are an important part of Formula One as they are one of the few ways teams can inform drivers of circuit conditions.

The new system will use electronic boards along the track to display the different flag colors.

"It is a more centralized system and I think it makes it more efficient," Maioli said.

The electronic flags would work well at the night race because of the brightness of the display board, he added.

Maioli said the installation of the lights was likely to stretch into early September.

"The lighting installation is proceeding very well .... the only possible area of delay will be the short stretch in front of the Bay Grandstand as the area is being used for National Day celebrations," he added.

Using public roads that snake around Singapore's financial district, the track will be four times brighter than a typical sports stadium, organizers said.


Honda introduce new steering Wii
Honda Racing F1’s Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello will soon be spending more time in the pitlane, thanks to a development of the standard ECU fitted to each car in 2008. The ECU, developed jointly by Microsoft and McLaren and referred to as the Cross Bionic Operator Extender (X-BOx), allows a simple wireless controller to be attached.  RealHondaF1.com have found that it’s that development that could see Honda gain a significant advantage over the rest of the field.

Honda’s development team in New Zealand have been working hard on the ‘X-BOx’ ECU, integrating such a wireless controller. The Auckland based squad have come up with the Key-Wii, a combined system allowing multiple uses. Once the Key-Wii is inserted in to the pit mounted control panel, the driver can choose to use traditional controls as they do now, or move to a wireless system that measures movement as you move the controller through the air.

With such a system, assuming a powerful and clear signal is achieved, a driver could control the car from a distance of up to three miles, more than enough to keep control of a car on any current circuit.

The system is expected to be tested as early as next week, with the team using the Friday practice sessions of the Bahrain Grand Prix as a live test. A special recording device, the X-BOx Live, will allow the FIA to have instant access to the data, despite the team presenting the system for approval some months ago.

"This is really development for 2009," explained Ross Brawn to RealHondaF1.com. "In its current state it’s not ready to race, but that’s why we’re performing these live tests. If it works as intended, it will be of huge benefit to the team, and maybe the sport as a whole."

Aside from offering drivers a choice of control, the system will also allow them to avoid sitting in the car at all. With wireless controls, the driver could remain seated in the motorhome throughout the Grand Prix weekend. This will see clear benefits, with the car balance being greatly improved thanks to the removal of 70kg of weight. Unless Juan Pablo Montoya’s driving.

When asked if it will make the difference between points and wins, Brawn would only comment "Wii’ll see."  April.....Fool's


Renault needs major aero improvement
Renault engineering director and F1 veteran Pat Symonds says the single biggest area his team must improve with its current car is the aerodynamics. He is under no illusions that his team is in the thick of the fight between BMW, Williams and Toyota behind McLaren and Ferrari.

"In Australia we thought that McLaren had a big advantage, but when we got to Malaysia we were not quite so sure and Ferrari had the upper hand," Symonds said. "That suggests we are likely to see something similar to last year where the performance of teams swings from one circuit to another as the strengths and weaknesses of the cars become apparent. Behind those cars there is a big bunch of teams that are all very closely matched, but I think we have to believe that BMW, Toyota and maybe even Williams are ahead of us and we therefore have a lot of work to do."

"Ultimately there is one area that is most dominant in terms of performance and that is the car's aero package," he added. "But the situation is very different to last year, and I think that is a point we need to emphasize because last year our aero performance was not what we believed it to be and that was because we had a very specific problem in correlation between the wind tunnel and the car. This year our correlation is perfectly reasonable, it's just that our aero performance is not where we want it to be, and I believe that is because we are still suffering the penalty of the development time we lost while getting the correlation back. We've tried desperately to catch up by starting work on the 2008 car earlier, but clearly we haven't done all the catching up that we need to do. What we can do now is redouble our efforts in that area and concentrate on improving the aero performance."


McCumbee to replace Petty for Texas
Chad McCumbee will replace Kyle Petty in the No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

McCumbee will have to qualify on speed as the team is outside the top 35 and does not have a guaranteed position. Petty failed to qualify for the race at Martinsville Speedway last Sunday, the first race Petty failed to qualify for since the 2004 season.

“Everyone at Petty Enterprises believes in Chad and his abilities,” Petty said in a statement. “Texas gives us a chance to get another good look at Chad without throwing him to the wolves. He should be relaxed because he knows he can get the job done there.”


GP of St. Pete news
Drifting Exhibition Returns to Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

For the third year, the WDC Drift Exhibition will return to entertain race fans at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Ten teams are scheduled to hit the 1.8-mile Honda Grand Prix race circuit this week. Drifting exhibitions are set for Friday, April 4 at 12:20 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. and Sunday, April 7 at 9:15 a.m. Drifting is rapidly becoming one of the most popular attractions in motorsports and has grown from an underground, alternative racing phenomenon to a competitive international series of events held all around the world.

Entertainment Stars Attracted to Motorsports

Stars of the entertainment world appear to have a strong interest in motorsports and several big stars currently have ownership positions in teams that will be racing in St. Petersburg this week, including:

Paul Newman (actor) -- Newman/Haas/Lanigan
Patrick Dempsey (actor) -- Vision Racing
David Letterman (television star) -- Rahal Letterman Racing
George Foreman (boxer) -- Panther Racing
Jim Harbaugh (football) -- Panther Racing

Popular Air show Performances Return to Honda Grand Prix

The Michael Mancuso Airshow returns to the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with performances set for 12:45 p.m. on Friday, April 4, 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, April 5 and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 6, just prior to the start of the Honda Indy St. Pete. Michael Mancuso has flown more than 500 air show performances and competed in the IAC Aerobatic Competition for five years. Mancuso's breathtaking performances have been a highlight of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg since the event first started in 2005.

Two other highlights of the air activity at this year's event are scheduled on Sunday, April 6. At the conclusion of the national anthem on Sunday, a KC-135 from McDill Air Force Base will fly over the track and Air Tran will have a new Boeing-737 flyover Sunday just prior to the start of the pre-race laps for the Honda Indy St. Pete.


Danica's Weight Sparks Debate
The IRL implemented variable steering and paddle shifters this year to help weaker drivers like Patrick, yet didn’t implement a weight rule that made all car/driver combos equal......indicating the IRL still wants to help her win a race.
If Danica Patrick scores her first major-league victory in Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, some probably will point to her advantage of being lightweight.  They just won't be able to do as vigorously as NASCAR driver Robby Gordon did when he sparked a major debate over it three years ago.

The Indy Racing League has adopted a formula this season that brings drivers closer in weight. Patrick, who is easily the league's lightest driver, has criticized the change. But others say it doesn't go far enough.

"There's no weight limit in football, no height limit in basketball,' said Patrick, arguing that athletes in other sports keep whatever advantage their physical attributes give them. "If you're taller, you're going to be able to jump higher and dunk the ball. If you're bigger and stronger, you're going to be able to do certain things."

Patrick, who finished second in the IRL's most recent street course race last fall at Detroit, also points out that most Indy car drivers are diminutive, suggesting there isn't much of a difference. But at 5-foot-2, 100 pounds, she is 20 pounds lighter than the next lightest driver, Milka Duno, and 93 pounds lighter than the heaviest, newcomer Justin Wilson, according to media guide figures.

"I feel it's the first step of making things fair," Wilson said of the change. "They haven't gone all the way, but this definitely gets it closer in line with the rest of motorsports."

Graham Rahal, who is 175 pounds, believes the IRL should have taken the approach of the disbanding Champ Car and brought all drivers to the weight of the heaviest driver.

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racing news

Foyt Says Firestone Is 'Just As Bad' as Goodyear
Tony Stewart doesn't think much of the job Goodyear is doing in NASCAR, and A.J. Foyt is no fan of Firestone's performance in the Indy Racing League.
Asked before Saturday night's Gainsco Indy 300 what he thought of Stewart's rant about Goodyear a few weeks ago after NASCAR's Atlanta race, Foyt took aim at the IRL's tire supplier.

"Firestone's just as bad," he said. "We've got junk for tires. They've got one heat cycle, and they screwed us up the other day for qualifying; they fall off two or three tenths."

Foyt, who will compete in next weekend's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as a team owner for Darren Manning, was a Goodyear driver through much of his legendary racing career. Arch-rival Mario Andretti ran on Firestones. Stewart raced Firestones in the IRL when both tire companies were in the league.

"I have no love for Firestone, they have no love for me," Foyt said, adding that the tires made by Bridgestone Firestone in Japan are "a lot better" than those built domestically. Tbo.com


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Massa may not use new engine in Bahrain
  • Silverstone erects more seats for GP
  • Pressure mounts for Mosley to resign
  • Mosley to cancel planned Bahrain visit
  • No Alonso turmoil at Renault says Piquet

Massa may not use new engine in Bahrain
(GMM)  Ferrari will probably not fit a new engine to Felipe Massa's car for the Bahrain grand prix this weekend.

The Brazilian driver spun into retirement at Sepang just over a week ago, allowing him to use a fresh V8 at the next race without incurring a penalty.

But "at the moment, we will probably run Massa with the same engine he used in Malaysia, even though we could change it," technical director Aldo Costa revealed.

Costa did not go into more detail, but using the Malaysia-spec engine could be advantageous for two reasons.

Costa did say the Maranello based team still has "a close eye" on engine reliability, following the two race failures in Australia.  Massa's Sepang-spec unit proved reliable both in Saturday practice, qualifying, and in the race until he spun, so it is basically a known quantity to the team.

Secondly, using the Malaysia unit as scheduled in Bahrain would clear the way for a fully tweaked engine specification to be debuted in Massa's car in Barcelona, where all teams are planning significant updates for their 2008 packages.

Test driver Marc Gene conducted a straight line test with the F2008 at Vairano last week.

Silverstone erects more seats for GP
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton fever in Britain has prompted Silverstone to erect more grandstand seating for July's grand prix there.

The Northamptonshire-located circuit announced in a statement that "overwhelming demand" for tickets means that race day is now "close to selling out".

Managing director Richard Phillips is quoted as saying Silverstone Circuits Ltd has reacted by adding 2200 extra seats.

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Martinez Joins Forsythe-Pettit Racing for Long Beach
David Martinez announced today that he has been selected by Forsythe-Pettit Racing to compete in this year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will take place April 18 – 20 in the streets of Long Beach, California.  The 34th edition of this historic race will serve as a celebration of Champ Car’s history as it transitions into one unified open wheel series in North America.  Today’s announcement also separates Martinez as the only Mexican driver in the world competing in a premier open wheel series. 

Over the last two years Martinez has developed a strong relationship with the Forsythe-Pettit team both on and off the track.  The Monterrey native has made all three of his Champ Car starts with the 2003 championship winning team, finishing in the top-10 in Mexico City (2006) & Surfers Paradise (2007), and narrowly missing a top-five result in Mexico City (2007) due to a mechanical failure. 

The 26 year old has kept himself busy during the off season following a strict physical conditioning and karting routine at his home town, he also logged over 400 trouble-free miles of testing with the DP01 at Champ Car’s pre season test in Sebring International Raceway last February. 

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Danica Patrick wins Kids Choice Award
Danica Patrick
While Danica accepted a sixth-place finish March 29 in the season-opening GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, 2,740 miles away in Los Angeles she was the winner of another contest.

The Andretti Green Racing driver was named the "Favorite Female Athlete" during the 21st Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards show. Winners in 18 categories of entertainment were determined by 88 million votes on the channel's official Web site. Also in the category were tennis players Venus and Serena Williams and WNBA player Cheryl Ford. Indycar.com


Fans stay away from Martinsville in droves
Just a look at all those empty seats in these grandstands, and it’s clear that yesterday’s Goody’s 500 should be a wake-up call for NASCAR executives and the France family, which owns Martinsville Speedway.

It may have been the first race of spring, but it was the coldest Sunday of the Sprint Cup season. There were many holes in the 62,000-seat grandstands at the Martinsville track, and those backstretch grandstands were even empty and covered with advertising banners to boot.

This being the heart of stock-car-racing country - they’ve been racing right here over the North Carolina border since 1947 - that poor crowd has to be a significant blow to NASCAR, and to this track, at least in its current flat, low-speed configuration.

With some five million people within two hours of this track, NASCAR executives certainly can’t blame this market for such a low turnout.

And, yes, the weather was unseasonably cold. But just a few days earlier it was 70 degrees and sunny, and tracks in the NASCAR heartland shouldn’t have to be so dependent on a good walk-up crowd to prosper. Winston-Salem Journal

track news

Silverstone to build extra grandstands
Silverstone today announced that it will be building an additional 2,200 grandstand seats in response to the overwhelming demand for tickets to this year's British Grand Prix, taking place at Silverstone on 4-6 July. Interest in F1 in the UK has exploded since Lewis Hamilton burst onto the scene last year. 

Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, commented, "Interest in this year's British Grand Prix has been overwhelming and we are having to build additional grandstand seating to accommodate the high levels of demand. Race day tickets are almost sold out, so fans are now switching to single-day tickets, in prime viewing locations, for Friday and Saturday. Last year's qualifying was one of the highlights of the weekend and, available from £69, Saturday-only tickets provide an unforgettable taste of the drama and excitement that Formula One has to offer."


History on Dixon’s side
Scott Dixon after winning at Homestead
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1
In winning the season opener on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval, Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon may have put himself in the driver’s seat for the 2008 IndyCar Series championship. Drivers who have won the Homestead opener have gone on to win the series championship four times, including Dixon as a rookie in 2003.
In addition to that long-term history, Dixon is proving to be the man to beat in the IndyCar Series based on his short-term history. In the 18 races since the start of the 2007 season, the New Zealand native has finished first or second 11 times.
"Finishing second, with ('07 titlist) Dario (Franchitti) leaving, you'd sort of think that I'm a (title) contender," said Dixon, who edged Andretti Green Racing's Marco Andretti by 0.5828 of a second at Homestead-Miami. "I think every year there's a crop of five, six or seven of us that have a great shot at it. And I think you saw all of us racing at the top.
"It's going to be a tough championship. I think Homestead definitely helps. It puts you off to a great start. It's a tough place to race; not a place I've done particularly well since it changed to the banked oval. I loved it when it was a flat circuit or a flat track.
"For our campaign for 2008, that was exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted to come out of the blocks fast and hard. I don't think we had a car that was enjoyable to drive throughout the race. But we had to fight on. That's how we got to win championships."
Dixon moved to the point on a Lap 197 restart, following an incident that knocked race leader Tony Kanaan's No. 11 team 7-Eleven car from contending at the end.
"As I keep saying, for a bad day we still come away with maximum points," said Dixon, the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award winner. "That's what we've got to do. We've got to hit the start hard and gain as many points as possible, because I think last year that's how we lost it."
It will be Dixon's final reference to last year's title chase, which left him a half-mile short of being the reigning champion entering 2008.


Tata gains marque coveted by China
Tata Motors Ltd. comes away from its $2.3 billion deal with Ford Motor Co. with an array of European nameplates. In addition to Jaguar and Land Rover, the Indian automaker has acquired the rights to the Rover name coveted by Chinese manufacturers, the old Lanchester brand, and it shares the name Daimler with German automaker Daimler AG.

Tata executives have not disclosed plans for all the brands.

So far, they have stressed that they will respect the identities of Jaguar and Land Rover, two of Britain's stateliest marques, and keep the carmakers separate from Tata's more down-market vehicle operations.

Auto experts say Tata is likely to explore uses for the other brands. Jaguar has considered setting up a separate Daimler line of cars above the Jaguar range, and that idea still has merit, said Wesley Brown, a partner at Iceology, a Los Angeles-based marketing consultancy.


Overheard in Homestead - 2
There was a lot of good news in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 in the GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Not only did we see the Dallara and Lola Daytona Prototypes in competition for the first time, plus the Level 5 Crawford-built Ferrari in GT, there was plenty of talk in the paddock about cars we should see in the near future.

Another Dallara at Mexico

Doran Racing will field the No. 77 Ford Dallara for Burt Frisselle and Gabriele Gardel in the April 19 race at Mexico City, putting three of the new Dallaras in the field.

Kevin Doran said the new car will be similar to the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley, that led 20 laps Saturday before being taken out in an accident. While the bodywork is identical, the No. 77 Kodak Ford Doran is very different underneath, with the car bodied after racing in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

"We're reasonably happy with our first run here, but it's not very balanced yet," Doran said Saturday morning prior to the race. "It's still pretty quick, with good top speed. Now, we have to learn what the car wants."

While Doran didn't know of any additional Dallaras coming into the series, he wouldn't be surprised to see more of them.

"I imagine if they run as well as we expect them to, there will be more Dallaras running at the end of the season," Doran said. "But, that's just my prediction."

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Hamilton fined for speeding
McLaren F1 driver Lewis Hamilton was fined 578 euros (914 dollars) by a French court on Monday for speeding.

The 23-year-old Briton, who finished runner-up in the world drivers' championship in his debut season last year, had already been banned for a month after being caught speeding at 196km/h (122mph) in a Mercedes by police on a motorway near the northern town of Laon on December 16 last.

The speed limit on French motorways is 130km/h (85mph).


Martinsville TV ratings flat
NASCAR on Fox tallied a 4.9/10 yesterday for racing from Martinsville. Yesterday's 4.9/10 is flat with last year's Martinsville rating [4.9/11], but in this case that's good news given the dramatically tougher competition faced by this year's race. Yesterday's race came against a pair of NCAA Regional Finals, including the strong Davidson-Kansas game, while last year's race aired on the Final Four weekend and faced no NCAA basketball. By matching last year's rating, FOX maintains its streak of seven straight NASCAR events this year that have been at least flat with last year in the metered markets (this excludes the Fontana race because of rain). Los Angeles has emerged as the surprise market of the year for NASCAR. Yesterday's race earned a 2.8/7 in LA, a 65% gain over last year's 1.7/5. For the season-to-date, Sprint Cup racing on FOX is averaging a 6.2/12, including Fontana, a 5% bump over last season's 5.9/12. Fox PR


Rahal to be Grand Marshal at Long Beach
The Grand Marshal for the 34th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach provides the perfect bridge between the end of the Champ Car era and the beginning of the IndyCar Series years.

Bobby Rahal raced in a Champ Car on the streets of Long Beach a remarkable 15 times, from the first Champ Car race in 1984 until 1998, finishing second four times.

His son, Graham, will race the Champ Car finale at Long Beach April 18-20 for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.  Bobby will jet back from Japan Saturday after watching Ryan Hunter-Reay and his IndyCar team, Rahal Letterman Racing, compete at Twin Ring Motegi.

And, next year they'll BOTH be back ... Bobby as a team owner and Graham as a driver when the IndyCar Series makes its debut at the 35th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach!

Whether as a driver, team owner or executive, few have made his mark on a sport more than Bobby Rahal.  He won three Champ Car titles (1986, 1987 and 1992) and the 1986 Indianapolis 500. He's raced in Formula One, NASCAR, Can-Am and IROC, and took home wins at the 1981 Daytona 24 and the 1987 12 Hours of Sebring.

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Jean-Marie Balestre dies
The controversial Jean-Marie Balestre has died at the age of 86. For 13 years, until he was toppled by Max Mosley, he was the most powerful man in the motor sport world, as president of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA).

Balestre was a passionate racing fan and a man who did much for the sport. It has been argued, notably by the late Ayrton Senna, that in the end Balestre was corrupted by his powers and that he manipulated the outcome of the 1989 Formula 1 World Championship in favour of Alain Prost. That was a radical claim, for Senna had much to do to win the title, but there is no doubt that Balestre's interventions did Prost no harm at all. In the end Senna was forced to back down. Even the sport's biggest name could not challenge the FIA President.  More at Grandprix.com


Chandhok eyes F1 by 2009
Karun Chandhok
With an f1 race on the horizon, India's need for a driver in Formula 1 will end next year, if Karun Chandhok has any say in the matter.  The 24-year-old is hoping that an impressive season in this year's GP2 championship will help him secure a much sought after role within one of the 11 teams on the F1 grid.

"2009 is the deadline I have set for myself," Chandhok, who has previously tested with Red Bull, told The Asian Age. "I am hoping to win two or three races this year in GP2 series. That will put me in a good position to go to the negotiating table with Formula 1 teams.

"I have met with over half the teams already, Force India being one of them. The response has been positive. Now I have to put the results on the table."


More Jewish groups condemn FIA boss
Stirling Moss called for Mosley's resignation
More Jewish groups in Britain on Monday condemned the head of motor racing's Formula One after he was pictured in a tabloid newspaper allegedly participating in an orgy with prostitutes dressed as Nazi guards.  The News of the World published photographs on Sunday which showed Max Mosley spanking and being whipped by five girls.

Mosley, 67, the president of the FIA which governs Formula One, is shown brandishing a whip and wearing ankle chains.

Mosley's father Oswald Mosley was a friend of Adolf Hitler and led a British fascist party in the 1930s which led to him being interned by the British government during World War II.

Jewish representatives accused Mosley, who is one of the most powerful men in world sport, of insulting the victims of the Holocaust.

Stephen Smith, director of the Holocaust Centre, told The Times newspaper: 'This is an insult to millions of victims, survivors and their families.

'He should apologize. He should resign from the sport.'

Karen Pollock of the Holocaust Educational Trust told the Times Mosley's behavior was 'sick and depraved'.

Stirling Moss, the British former world champion racing driver whose father was Jewish, said Mosley had no choice but to resign.

'I don't see how he can continue. I hope he can, frankly, because I think he's very good at what he does. Straitstimes.com


Roush Fenway working on driver extensions
Greg Biffle’s contract extension with Roush Fenway Racing is nearly complete, and the team is working on extensions for David Ragan and Carl Edwards. Using Biffle’s words from earlier in the week, Roush Fenway Racing President Geoff Smith said that the contract with Biffle is 90 percent along.

He said the fact that Biffle is running second in points has not accelerated the deal.

“We wanted to get it done over the winter,” Smith said Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. “We like to get them done so they don’t become a distraction of the team in terms of the race season.”

The contracts for Edwards and Ragan, as well as those with the companies sponsoring their cars, end after the season is over. Smith indicated that the team would like to sign the sponsor and driver at the same time. He said the team also is working with a sponsor to finalize the Biffle deal.

“For us, there’s a money equation that has to be met,” Smith said. “The sponsor has to pay [a certain amount] in order for us to pay the driver and so forth. We close all of that out at the same time.” More at Scenedaily.com


Burton: Rookie McDowell needs to 'learn some manners'
Jeff Burton is considered a leader and mentor in the Sprint Cup garage.
And the Richard Childress Racing driver left Martinsville Speedway on Sunday as the leader  – the points leader – and looking to become the teacher – to Michael Waltrip Racing rookie Michael McDowell.
Burton finished third in the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 but felt as if he got held up by the lapped car of McDowell in trying to catch eventual race-winner Denny Hamlin.
McDowell was making his Sprint Cup debut.
“We had something [for Hamlin],” Burton said. “We started coming back on him, and then that kid in the 00 [McDowell], he’s going to learn some manners or I’m going to teach them to him. He can choose it however he wants it but it will be one way or the other.”
McDowell, a former sports-car racer who shined on the ARCA circuit last year, understood Burton’s frustration.
“When the 11 [of Hamlin] got underneath, I let him go and I ran with him for seven laps on his bumper,” McDowell said. “When the 31 [of Burton] put a nose in there,  I let him go. I never held him up. But I guess he was a little bit upset. I understand that.”
McDowell said he planned on going to talk with Burton. He wanted to explain he was trying to keep pace with David Gilliland, who was on the same lap as him.
“If I felt I was holding him up, I would have moved,” McDowell said. “At the same time the 11 was trying to pass [Gilliland].  More at Scenedaily.com


KERS is a big question mark - Theissen
The new Formula One season has just got underway with two splendid races in Australia and Malaysia. However, the BMW Sauber F1 Team is already looking ahead to the coming year. Great technical changes await.

On the one hand, the aerodynamic aids for the racing cars in the 2009 Formula One World Championship will be cut significantly. For example, the dimensions of the front and rear wings are to be changed to make it easier for drivers to follow and overtake cars in the future. Additional winglets are a thing of the past. On the other hand, the engineers are working hard on KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), which will store brake energy and convert it into additional engine performance in 2009.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen explains: "It is mainly these two areas everybody is working on. The new aero package is totally different to what we are racing today. And then KERS, where there is an even bigger question mark because it is new technology, which we will use only nine months from now."

For this reason, KERS is a real challenge for all engineers working on the engine in Munich - but one the team is relishing. Theissen says: "I am really excited about this project because I am sure we will leap-frog current technology. We will provide a step change for future road car technology and this is a position we wanted to be in for years and it really enhances what we do in F1."  Source BMW Sauber


Interview with BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen

Mario Theissen
How do you review the situation after the first two races of the season?

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "Naturally we're extremely pleased with the way the season has started off for us. Two second places by Nick and Robert in Melbourne and Sepang, Robert on the front row of the grid in Australia, Nick claiming the fastest race lap in Malaysia, plus 11 points in one race and 19 in the championship - that's an outstanding achievement and a strong basis for the coming races. It demonstrates we have been making steady progress since the roll-out in mid-January. I wasn't just gratified by our good results, but above all by the performance and pace we managed in both races."

The BMW Sauber F1.08 didn't come up to expectations in the first tests. How did the engineers deal with that?
Theissen: "It was the first real acid test for our young team. Since the first outing in Valencia the day after the launch, we refused to be diverted at any stage and systematically continued along our planned path. Measured data and driver feedback were compared, causes analyzed and a whole package of measures adopted - with success. In the weeks following the launch of the F1.08, we not only brought the car up to speed but also learnt a great deal in the process. In retrospect these were extremely productive and motivating weeks. Willy Rampf and the entire team deserve a huge compliment for never once losing sight of the goal even under extreme pressure."

You mentioned a package of measures. What precise modifications have been made to the car?
Theissen: "During the first tests we very quickly established that the F1.08 is a far more complex car than its predecessor. It wasn't a case of an individual component in the car not working. The key factor was that, in the first tests, individual elements weren't interacting with each other perfectly. We rectified that step by step. It was a matter of fine-tuning the overall package, which we managed to improve through dozens of minor alterations. On the aero front we optimized the interplay of the front wing, deflectors and underbody, and in terms of mechanics, for example, we modified the front suspension slightly. These are all changes you can't see but which all add up to a significant improvement in performance. And, of course, with each test we were able to gather new data that now enables us to find the right set-up for varying conditions."

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Renault pace won't affect sponsor talks
  • Trulli happy with post-Schumacher Toyota
  • McLaren to equip simulator for night racing
  • Fry surprised by Super Aguri rumors
  • De la Rosa back to work after birth of daughter

Renault pace won't affect sponsor talks
(GMM)  The Dutch bank ING is currently undecided about whether to extend its formula one sponsorships, primarily the title backing of Renault, beyond the end of next year.

The Amsterdam-headquartered company entered the sport last year, and also advertises trackside and through naming rights at a few grands prix.

ING was delighted with the results of the 2007 season, which - after Vodafone - reportedly made it the second most visible sponsor.

But even though Renault has so far failed to replicate its past successes while ING has been on board, the company's global sponsorship chief denies that this will color its considerations about the future.

"There is no relationship between race results and visibility -- the brand visibility is not dependent on the performance of the ING Renault F1 team," Isabelle Conner told the Australian newspaper.

She also revealed that ING is spending "between $50 million and $100m" on F1 annually.

Trulli happy with post-Schumacher Toyota
(GMM)  Jarno Trulli has made it clear that he does not miss his former Toyota teammate Ralf Schumacher.

The Italian was partnered at the Japanese squad with Schumacher for three seasons until 2007.

His current teammate is German newcomer Timo Glock.

"I think I am listened to a little bit more now," Trulli, who is 33, is quoted as saying by the Cologne newspaper Express.

Trulli finished fourth at the recent Malaysian grand prix; a rare positive result following the difficult 2006 and 2007 seasons.

"The car is now the way I want it to be and we are exactly where I wanted us to be," Trulli explained.

"Behind BMW we are the fourth power," he claimed.

"I will not criticize Ralf Schumacher," Trulli continued to the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell, "but he had his opinions about the kind of racing car he wanted."

The TF108, however, is less to Schumacher successor Glock's liking, as he comments that Trulli has a "really very unique" driving style.

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Leslie and Lloyd reported killed in plane crash
Former British Touring Car racer David Leslie and sportscar team boss Richard Lloyd were among five people killed in a plane crash in Kent this afternoon, according to sources close to Autosport.


Bahrain GP will not be affected by Mosely scandal
Preparations for the forthcoming Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix will not be affected by a "Nazi sex games" scandal involving Formula One boss Max Mosley, officials here said yesterday. Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) chief executive officer Martin Whitaker said the next leg of the championship would go ahead "without a hitch" regardless of developments in the UK. He was speaking after the British tabloid News of the World published footage that reportedly showed Mr Mosley in compromising positions with five alleged prostitutes.

The newspaper reports that Mr Mosley was due to officiate at the race in Bahrain this weekend, while sources told the GDN yesterday that he had been a regular visitor to the BIC since it began hosting the Grand Prix five years ago.

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Ecclestone backs Mosley after lurid affair claim UPDATE #2 (GMM)  A spokesman for F1's governing body says FIA president Max Mosley is consulting with lawyers after he was alleged to be at the centre of a racist sex scandal.

The British tabloid News of the World depicted the 67-year-old, in hidden camera footage filmed at a London apartment, engaged in a Nazi death-camp role play orgy with five prostitutes.

"As far as the FIA is concerned, this is a matter between Mr. Mosley and the newspaper," a spokesman said.

"We understand that Mr. Mosley's lawyers are now in contact with that newspaper and the FIA has no comment," he added.

Especially in the context of the recent racist scandal involving Lewis Hamilton, and Mosley's hard-line response, Jewish groups condemned the Briton's alleged actions.

"As Mr. Mosley has condemned the racism in motor sport, he should live up to the standards he sets," Holocaust Centre director Stephen Smith told the Times newspaper, calling on Mosley to apologize and quit.

In other British newspapers, Mosley's fellow F1 powerbroker and long time friend, Bernie Ecclestone, rejected the notion that Mosley should step down.

"I find it difficult to believe," the F1 chief executive is quoted as saying by the Guardian.

"It's his business but it sounds to me like a set-up.  Has he in any way damaged F1?  No."

Mosley's father was the notorious British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, whose wedding was attended by Adolf Hitler, but Ecclestone denied that Max is also racist.

"Knowing Max it might be all a bit of a joke rather than anything against Jewish people," he said, according to the Daily Mail.

"Assuming it's all true, what people do privately is up to them," Ecclestone told the Times of London.

03/30/08 Formula One's governing body kept its distance on Sunday from sexual allegations in a British tabloid newspaper about its president Max Mosley.

"This is a matter between Mr. Mosley and the paper in question," an International Automobile Federation (FIA) spokesman said.

"We understand that Mr. Mosley's lawyers are now in contact with that newspaper and the FIA has no comment."

The News of the World reported in a front page story that FIA president Mosley, 67, had taken part in a 'sadomasochistic orgy' with five prostitutes that reportedly involved Nazi role-playing.  See related story and video of Mosley

Max Mosley
Formula One ruler Max Mosley last night won the influential backing of Bernie Ecclestone after a lurid Sunday newspaper expose left him battling for his job.

While several senior figures within the sport privately questioned how Mosley can continue as FIA president, the man who has worked closest with him in transforming F1 into a billion dollar enterprise remained loyal.

Reacting to reports claiming that Mosley — the son of notorious fascist Sir Oswald — enacted Nazi death camp scenes with five prostitutes, Ecclestone said: "I find it difficult to believe. It's his business but it sounds to me like a set up. Has he in anyway damaged F1? No."

Ecclestone also brushed aside the Nazi overtones, saying: "Knowing Max it might be all a bit of a joke rather than anything against Jewish people."

The FIA could force a vote of no-confidence in Mosley. For now, he has engaged his lawyers and intends to be in Bahrain for Sunday's grand prix, dismissing all talk of resignation. Daily Mail


Many challenges ahead for Champ Car transitional teams
A cynic might say that Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, Michael Andretti and Tony George have the remains of Champ Car right where they want them: under their feet and out of sight.

To be sure, the unified Indy Racing League is anything but a level playing field right now for the ex-CC teams that scrambled to compete here at Homestead/Miami Speedway.  More at SPEEDtv.com.


Observations from Homestead - 1
Ernesto Viso was the only former Champ Car driver to hit the wall, and he covered 183 of the 200 laps before a tire deflated, which caused him to spin. Will Power banged into Justin Wilson on an early restart, but they didn’t cause a yellow flag. Otherwise, the ex-Champ Car drivers had a clean night on a high-banked oval in unfamiliar cars.  The only Champ Car driver to crash was Graham Rahal and he crashed in testing before the race weekend.  In fact it was the IRL regulars who looked bad with Jay Howard and Dan Wheldon crashing on their qualifying runs and Milka Duno crashing out during the race and taking out Ryan Briscoe. So all-in-all the Champ Car drivers may not have been super fast because the cars they used do not have the millions of dollars of aerodynamic upgrades that the top IRL cars have, but at least they did not crash as much as the IRL regulars and this wasn't their forte - road course.

All the IRL staff, drivers and team members had nothing but kind words to say about the transition drivers so they appear to be doing their best to make the newcomers feel welcome.

It was encouraging to see a decent crowd (around 25,000) at the start of the race, but then about 1/3 of the people left the grandstands during the race, we assume because the noise was hard on their ears (let's hope the new car in 2010 or 2011 is turbocharged).

We predict you will see bumping in 2009 as we anticipate the number of full-time regular cars to grow to around 30.  Don't be surprised if you see more of the Champ Car teams who did not make it into the IRL now, put together deals for 2009 because they will have the Indy 500 to sell to sponsors.

Hats off to the IRL media staff as they run a first-class operation, the best we have seen in racing to date.    Mark C. reporting from Miami


Pedrosa wins big in Spain
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa scored a dominant victory in front of 131,000 sun-drenched fans at Jerez today, his team-mate Nicky Hayden running in the leading pack for much of the race to finish a strong fourth.

Pedrosa took over the lead from holeshot man Hayden at turn two and stayed out front for the rest of the 27 laps, setting a red-hot pace that put him and his Repsol Honda RC212V almost four seconds ahead at half distance. The Spaniard crossed the finish line 2.8 seconds in front of Valentino Rossi, having smashed both lap and race records. Pedrosa’s fifth premier-class success continues an amazing run of Jerez results, following runner-up finishes with Repsol Honda in the 2006 and 2007 MotoGP races and victory in the 2005 250 event aboard his Honda RS250. The 22-year-old received his winner’s trophy from King Juan Carlos, a keen motorcycle fan. Pedrosa’s latest Jerez success was a poignant moment for his mentor Alberto Puig who became the first Spaniard to win a premier-class GP when he won the 1995 Jerez event riding a Honda NSR500.

“This is my first MotoGP win at Jerez and I’m very happy about today’s performance because it comes after a difficult winter during which we couldn’t test so much after I crashed and broke my right hand in January. To score good results in two complicated races and lead the championship is very important. I got a good start, not spectacular like in Qatar, but effective, so I was able to take the lead. I did my best, I focused on not making mistakes and I was able to manage the race all the way to the finish and get a win in front of the Spanish fans. The crowd gave me incredible support, I hope they enjoyed the race, and it was an honor to get my trophy from the King. Today we are happy but we know that we have to keep working because Yamaha and Ducati are very competitive. We stay here for two days testing that will be crucial in helping us continue development of the RC212V in preparation for the next races.” 

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Singapore tests night race lights
(GMM) Singapore on Sunday trialled the lighting system for F1's first ever street race, to be held in the Asian city-state later this year.

A stretch of the circuit was illuminated with the same lights that will be used when official action kicks off in Singapore in late September, the Chinese broadcaster CCTV reported.

The report said sixteen of the lights were turned on along the city stretch on Sunday evening, simulating the effect of the night event.

On race day, 1500 such lights will illuminate the entire circuit in Singapore's Marina Bay area.

The lighting will measure 3000 lux, which is almost four times brighter than a typical sports arena.

Even so, officials will alert drivers to on-track cautions with coloured trackside digital lights, to complement the usual flag marshals and signs.


IRL "Side-By-Side" Commercials Leave NASCAR Fans Screaming
The email began to arrive once the IRL action got underway from the Homestead, FL track. It was not about the good pictures from ESPN or the good action from a series trying to survive.

What NASCAR fans had seen, apparently many for the first time, was the TV commercial breaks in the live IRL coverage. They had experienced the "missing link" in the TV coverage of NASCAR. They had seen ESPN's "side-by-side" commercial breaks.

The network runs the commercials in a big box on the right side of the screen. At the same time, they keep the live coverage of the race in another smaller video box on the left side. They also include a top three scoring graphic that immediately changes if there is a pass on the track. Simply put, it is fantastic.

The question of why NASCAR cannot do this has been addressed by everyone from NASCAR to the TV networks. From what I understand, it all hinges on the coverage of the Sprint Cup Series.

Unlike the IRL, NASCAR's top series is split between three TV networks during the season. Fox, TNT and the ESPN/ABC combined media company comprise the coverage of the February through November season.

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Oriol Servia: Bringing it home
Oriol Servia at Homestead
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1.com

To a man, the eight drivers who competed in their first IndyCar Series race after transitioning from Champ Car were appreciative of their crew's efforts to prepare for the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300.

Back at ya, team members said for bringing back the cars in one piece. Well, all but the No. 33 HVM Racing car of Ernesto Viso, which was involved in a single-car crash late in the 200-lap race on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval.

"It was a long day in the office, but that means we achieved our first goal, which was to finish the race with no damage to the car," said Oriol Servia, who led the group with a 12th-place finish in the No. 5 KV Racing Technology car. "But it was also long because we did not have the speed that we were hoping for. We knew we were going to struggle. It's just tough when you are in the middle of it.

"We did what we had to do, we gathered a lot of data and we have to take this process step by step. The KV Racing Technology team did a great job. They have all worked hard and the car ran well until the end. We knew it was going to be like this. You hope for a miracle to happen, but we will leave the miracle for the Month of May."

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McLaren to be positioned in last garages at Bahrain
(GMM)  McLaren has been shuffled down to the very end of the Sakhir pitlane ahead of this weekend's Bahrain grand prix.

Despite brokering a deal to occupy the fifth garage slots in Melbourne and Sepang, it has emerged that the Anglo-German squad is to receive the lowliest pit allocation in Bahrain, for as yet unexplained reasons.

Mercedes-powered McLaren finished last in the 2007 constructors' championship last year, due to its espionage penalty, meaning that Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen have to race with the highest numbers; 22 and 23.

But before the season began, Bernie Ecclestone agreed to spare McLaren the indignity of also having the farthest pit slots, so that one of F1's 'Big Two' teams can still have access to first class circuit facilities this year.

Organizers of the Bahrain grand prix, however, revealed on Sunday that Formula One Management has ordered the promoters to arrange for McLaren to be housed next to Force India, the local newspaper Gulf Daily News said.

McLaren Group is part owned by Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, which is wholly owned by the Kingdom of Bahrain.


After slow start Wilson looking forward to St. Pete
Justin Wilson gives a thumbs up after his IRL debut
Ron McQueeney
Running in his first oval race for two years, and only the 6th of his career, Justin Wilson took the #02 McDonald's Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing car to a 15th place finish in his IndyCar Series debut.

On the early race restart, Will Power came into contact with Wilson after drifting down from the high line, resulting in a flat right rear tire on the #02 car and terminal damage to Power's own front suspension. By the time the tire was replaced, Wilson lost three laps to the leaders.

After a race Wilson had this to say about the incident with Power: "I got caught out on the restart.  You can race as soon as they shout 'Green' and it had been green for about four seconds when they started to close down on me.  I had a car on the left, I was in the middle and there was a car on the right.  I was the meat in the sandwich.  Will Power was on the right and I'm not sure why he was coming down as much as he was, but it just got too tight. The contact caused a puncture and we lost three laps, then it was pretty much a case of trying not to lose much else and hang on".

Speaking about his car, Wilson said: " The McDonald's car was working really well.  I was very pleased that we were quicker than a lot of people.  Everyone has worked so hard over the last four weeks.  It's good to complete our first IndyCar Series race and now I'm a lot more confident. I think our race pace is far better than our qualifying pace.  I know we have work to do but this gives us something to build on.  We will go to Sebring on Tuesday to get an idea of how these cars feel on a road course, then we go to St. Petersburg and do something we are more familiar with.  We should be further up the order."


Some don't buy Rahal's reason for sitting out
Some IndyCar teams didn't swallow Newman/Haas/Lanigan's reason for pulling Graham Rahal's entry from Saturday's season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway — that a testing crash crippled its only race car. Enough spare parts and cars not set up to run on the streets of St. Petersburg on April 6 were supposedly available from other teams, so the former Champ Car driver could make his second career start on an oval.

"We would have liked to have been able to help with that but nobody asked," Team Penske president Tim Cindric said.

Added team owner Roger Penske: "We would give anybody (anything). We've got wings and stuff we'd help them, no problem."

Rahal Letterman Racing, co-owned by Rahal's father, former driver Bobby, also had said it would have helped.

Also, series CEO Tony George, owner of the Vision Racing team that is mentoring Newman/Haas/Lanigan, said Friday that he had an unused extra car.

Rahal, 19, one of nine drivers moving to the IRL, said missing the GAINSCO Indy 300 and beginning preparations for St. Petersburg could be "a blessing in disguise." Transitioning Champ Car teams are trying to schedule more tests. Tampabay.com


Perera top rookie at Homestead
Franck Perera talks to reporters at Homestead
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1.com
It was quite a learning experience for the larger than normal rookie Indy Car class at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway Saturday night.  Conquest Racing's Franck Perera, who graduated from the Champ Car Atlantic series, continued to demonstrate his talent ending up top rookie in 14th  position and second of the transition teams behind Oriol Servia, who counts over 20 oval starts and ahead of Justin Wilson.

“It’s nice to finish the race," said Perera. "It was very tough, very long. I think it is the longest race I did in my life. It was good because I could fight with Oriol (Servia) who is also on one of the transition teams. I’m happy I brought the car back for the guys they did such a good job and it’s good for Conquest, now we can concentrate on the road course next week. I learned a lot tonight even if it was difficult out there with all the traffic. You don’t really know the driving style of the other drivers and when they come in a group they are so quick. But I was always staying in the clear line to not get in their way. Now we have to work on gaining more speed.”


Theissen warns BMW will be strong in Bahrain
BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen has warned rivals that his team will be at least as competitive as it has been in the first two rounds of the season and is highly motivated to go do even better in Bahrain.

"Our bottom line after the first batch of overseas races looks pretty good: we're very happy with our two second places in Melbourne and Sepang, our first fastest race lap in Malaysia and 19 points in the championship," Theissen said.

"So, after a brief pit stop back home, we will be heading for Bahrain well motivated," he added. "We aim to keep up the same level of performance as we've shown so far."

racing news

Ronnie Bremer signs for Mercedes in DTC
Ronnie Bremer with the Mercedes he will drive in the Danish Touringcar  Championship (DTC)
Ronnie Bremer has been announced as the sole Mercedes driver in the growing Danish Touringcar Championship. The new car is a brand new Mercedes C class model W204, owned by KP Racing, a new professional racing outfit domiciled in Herning, Denmark.

Ronnie Bremer has long been considered as KP Racing’s favorite choice of driver, however, the recent speculations over whether or not to continue his engagements in the United States, have delayed Ronnie Bremer’s confirmation somewhat. For a while it looked as if Ronnie Bremer was going to rejoin the Champ Car World Series, however, the outlook has changed due to the amalgamation of the series into the IRL series.

Ronnie Bremer says: “I must say that it was a hard and necessary reality check that led me to sign a contract with KP Racing: Despite the fact that I had recently secured the financial backing to continue in the Champ Car series, the conditions required as well as provided in the IRL were not in line with my situation. Therefore, when I was contacted by KP Racing and informed about the exiting project of bringing Mercedes back into the Danish Touringcar Championship, I immediately took notice of this opportunity. I consider Mercedes as being a pinnacle car as well as brand, and for me to be associated with Mercedes and KP Racing is big deal. I will do my very best to provide the driving necessary to maintain and further Mercedes’ huge traditions in the international motorsport.


Miss America named Grand Marshal at St .Pete
Kirsten Haglund, Miss America 2008, will be the Grand Marshal for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 6. Haglund, 19, from Farmington Hills, Michigan, is the National Goodwill Ambassador for the Children's Miracle Network. Miss Haglund will participate in pre-race activities and will give the "start your engines" command.

tv news

Danica Patrick to appear on Oprah's Big Give show UPDATE A reminder that this program will be shown Sunday night, March 30.

03/26/08 Danica Patrick will compete in the season-opening GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300 race on March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  The following night, Sunday, March 30, Danica will appear on "Oprah's Big Give" at 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm ET on ABC.  Please check local listings for your time zone.

tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below.

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Art Mann Presents... Midwest Mayhem Indianapolis
Indy 500 -Special Guests: Mario Andretti, Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon 
1:00am-1:30am (R) HDNet
Rolex Sports Car Series Replay
GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami Homestead-Miami 
2:00am-5:00am (R) SPEED
NASCAR Now Update 
7:30am-8:00am ESPN2
Only listed on ESPN2's schedule
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
NASCAR in a Hurry 
11:00am-11:30am SPEED
NHRA Raceday Houston 
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
NASCAR Raceday Martinsville 
11:30am-1:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup Goody's Cool Orange 500 Martinsville
1:30pm-6:00pm (L) FOX Sports
MotoGP 250 Spain 
2:00pm-3:00pm (SD) SPEED
MotoGP World Championship Spanish Grand Prix
3:00pm-4:00pm (SD) SPEED
NHRA O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals Houston
4:30pm-7:00pm (SD) ESPN2
Star Mazda Sebring 
5:00pm-6:00pm (3/14/08) SPEED
Documentary: Birth of a Racer (2007)
Profiling Michael Czysz, who is building a superbike
  capable of competing at the MotoGP at Laguna Seca 
5:00pm-7:00pm Discovery HD Theater
Check local listings for your time zone
SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Martinsville 
8:00pm-9:00pm (SD) SPEED
Oprah's Big Give -Featuring Danica Patrick 
9:00pm-10:00pm ABC
Check local listings for your time zone
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Featured Interview: Zak Brown (Just Marketing International)
Featured Interview: Jeff Burton (NASCAR)  
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED

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Vision Racing cars moved to back
The two Vision Racing Indy Cars that qualified 2nd and 3rd for tonight's IRL GAINSCO Insurance IndyCar 300 season opener in Homestead failed post-qualifying technical inspection (illegal wickerbill) and will start at the back of the grid.  That means that Danica Patrick, who qualified 4th, will now move up and start on the outside of the front row.


Pruett team wins Homestead Grand-Am race
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas made it two-for-two in the No. 01 Telmex Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley by winning today's Grand-Am Daytona Prototype race at Homestead Miami Speedway.  Joey Hand was 2nd in his Crawford Porsche 1.9 seconds behind.  More to follow......


Dale Coyne announces sponsor for Junqueira
Bruno Junqueira's Z-Line Designs#18 IndyCar
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1.com
Dale Coyne Racing is proud to announce Z-Line Designs as the primary sponsor on Bruno Junqueira’s number 18 IndyCar for the entire 2008 season.

“We are pleased to have Z-Line Designs enter the world of IndyCar racing in this very exciting new season of racing,” commented team owner Dale Coyne. “Jim Sexton and all of his people have been very enthusiastic about the merged series, and this sponsorship is proof that things are going in the right direction for our sport and its valued partners.”

Bruno Junqueira, the talented Brazilian, will pilot the red and black Z-Line Design HD Furniture car for the entire season included the famed Indianapolis 500. “It is good to have a quality sponsor like Z-Line Designs involved,” quoted Bruno. “We hope to make this an exciting year for everyone.”

Z-Line Designs is one of the world’s leaders in manufacturing of office and home entertainment furniture. With a strong network of distribution both in the United States and abroad, Z-Line looks to expand its market base through aggressive motor sports involvement. “This is a great opportunity to get into this prestigious level of racing in the US,” commented Jim Sexton, owner and CEO of Z-Line Designs. “We have seen great results from our previous motor sports marketing efforts and with the merger, IndyCar racing is the place to be.”

Z-Line Designs has evolved it’s motor sports program, from their initial sponsorship of the Grand Am Rolex series with Finlay Motorsports to the current NASCAR Nationwide series with Joe Gibbs Racing. Z-Line Designs is excited to add the IndyCar Series with Dale Coyne Racing of the program.

The Z-Line IndyCar, will debut this weekend at the Gainsco 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida. The series will then move to St. Petersburg, Florida, Long Beach, California and Kansas before the historic month of May and the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 all a part of the 2008 18 race season.

About Z-Line Design Formed 10 years ago by its founder Jim Sexton, Z-Line Designs has become the nation’s leading import manufacturer of ready-to-assemble furniture for home office, home entertainment and home décor. Z-Line’s award winning furniture has set the trend and the standard for quality and unique designs in its market. For more information on Z-Line Designs please visit www.z-linedesigns.com 


Injured Sadler's availability to race at Martinsville uncertain UPDATE #2 Elliott Sadler says he is still 50-50 on whether he will be able to drive the entire 500 laps in tomorrow's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

“I feel a lot better today than I did yesterday,” Sadler said. “My back is a little sore. I am going to ice it down right now and take some anti-inflammatory medicine and just try to get it best that I can.

“Right now, I feel like I can go maybe halfway. There is a 50-50 chance of going the whole way.”

03/28/08 Elliott Sadler said he will qualify his Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge today but is still questionable for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

“I was in a lot of pain right there,” Sadler said after taking a handful of laps Friday. “Dennis is going to practice the car for us tomorrow one practice, and I might do the second practice. But right now, we’re looking at starting the race and probably putting Dennis in there right now.

"We’ll see how I feel in a couple of days. I got in a couple of laps, and I’m in a lot of pain right now, but I got in a couple of laps, so I can qualify the car, and if I am able to go Sunday, we can start where I qualify instead of having to go to the back.”

03/28/08 Elliott Sadler was held out of the start of Friday's practice in the No. 19 car after injuring his lower back during his regular workout routine and aggravating it further playing golf. Truck series driver Dennis Setzer practiced in the car for Gillett Evernham Motorsports and was put on standby for Friday's qualifying and the rest of the weekend.

Mark McArdle, GEM's director of competition, said Sadler suffered the injury on Wednesday. He said a decision on whether to put him in the car for Friday's qualifying or at any time after that would be handled on an hour-by-hour basis.

He hopes Sadler will be well enough by Sunday to drive in the 500-mile race at Martinsville Speedway. "I don't think anything is assured," McArdle said. "Elliott is pretty uncomfortable in any sitting position." Sadler attended Friday night's NCAA East Regional basketball games in Charlotte, N.C., to watch top seed North Carolina defeat Washington State. He said earlier in the week he planned to attend Saturday's regional final and, if UNC wins, fly between Dallas (site of next week's Sprint Cup race) and San Antonio (site of the NCAA Final Four) next weekend.

Asked whether Sadler still would attend Saturday's game, McArdle said, "If I had to answer that on his behalf, I don't think he would be able to. I don't think he could sit for that long, but he might be able to stand and cheer." ESPN.com


Lorenzo smashes Jerez lap record
Home hero Jorge Lorenzo continued his impressive rookie assault on the MotoGP class with an outstanding pole position in Jerez today, smashing the existing pole record by almost a second aboard his Fiat Yamaha M1 in front of thousands of Spanish fans. The youngest rider on the grid produced a masterful qualifying display to take his second consecutive pole position and his 3rd at this circuit.

After topping the time sheets yesterday, Lorenzo continued gradually refining his set-up throughout this morning's free practice and the early part of the afternoon session, before setting the fastest lap so far on the first of three Michelin qualifying tires with 20 minutes remaining.

He bettered himself once again soon after before an inch-perfect final lap on his third soft tire saw him improve another half a second to consolidate pole position. Dani Pedrosa was over half a second slower in second place whilst third spot was filled by Yamaha Tech 3 rider Colin Edwards for the second race running. Lorenzo's team-mate Valentino Rossi had looked on course to join him on the front row before an electronic problem caused him to abandon his final hot lap, and he will start from fifth for tomorrow's 27-lap race.

Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden delivered impressive qualifying performances today, Pedrosa going second quickest, Hayden just a fraction of a second behind his team-mate in fourth. That session backed up similarly strong showings during free practice.

Urged on by the vast and boisterous Jerez crowd, Pedrosa kept trying to the very end, completing qualifying just behind fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo.



Rider Bike Tire Time Gap
1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha (M) 1:38.189 0.000
2. Daniel Pedrosa Honda (M) 1:38.789 × 0.600
3. Colin Edwards Yamaha (M) 1:38.954 × 0.765
4. Nicky Hayden Honda (M) 1:39.061 × 0.872
5. Valentino Rossi Yamaha (B) 1:39.064 × 0.875
6. Randy de Puniet Honda (M) 1:39.122 × 0.933
7. Casey Stoner Ducati (B) 1:39.286 × 1.097
8. James Toseland Yamaha (M) 1:39.334 × 1.145
9. John Hopkins Kawasaki (B) 1:39.439 × 1.250
10. Loris Capirossi Suzuki (B) 1:39.484 × 1.295
11. Shinya Nakano Honda (B) 1:39.559 × 1.370
12. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki (B) 1:39.704 × 1.515
13. Andrea Dovizioso Honda (M) 1:39.767 × 1.578
14. Alex de Angelis Honda (B) 1:40.037 × 1.848
15. Anthony West Kawasaki (B) 1:40.088 × 1.899
16. Toni Elias Ducati (B) 1:40.286 × 2.097
17. Sylvain Guintoli Ducati (B) 1:40.939 × 2.750
18. Marco Melandri Ducati (B) 1:41.027 × 2.838


Battistini wins Indy Lights race
Dillon Battistini

Results Saturday of the Miami 100 Firestone Indy Lights event March 29 at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, laps completed, reason out (if any) and money earned:

1. (2) Dillon Battistini, 67, Running $32,500
2. (5) Richard Antinucci, 67, Running $25,000
3. (13) Brent Sherman, 67, Running $20,000
4. (11) Arie Luyendyk Jr., 67, Running $16,400
5. (15) Chris Festa, 67, Running $15,900
6. (4) Andrew Prendeville, 67, Running $15,400
7. (6) Ana Beatriz, 67, Running $14,900
8. (1) Raphael Matos, 67, Running $15,700
9. (9) Wade Cunningham, 67, Running $13,900
10. (23) J.R. Hildebrand, 67, Running $13,400
11. (3) Sean Guthrie, 67, Running $12,400
12. (14) Logan Gomez, 67, Running $11,400
13. (18) Al Unser III, 67, Running $10,400
14. (21) Juan Manuel Polar, 67, Running $10,000
15. (16) Micky Gilbert, 67, Running $9,500
16. (12) Cyndie Alleman, 67, Running $9,000
17. (8) Bobby Wilson, 67, Running $8,500
18. (22) Tom Wieringa, 67, Running $8,000
19. (19) Jake Slotten, 66, Running $5,000
20. (17) Nathan Freke, 66, Running $4,000
21. (10) Pablo Donoso, 66, Running $3,000
22. (7) James Davison, 58, Running $2,000
23. (20) Jon Brownson, 55, Running $1,000

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New digital flagging system to debut in F1
A digital flag-off system will be yet another first for the Formula One Grand Prix and will be used in the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix in September.

A panel of LED-like lights, flag masters will be able to trigger it off with a flag button.

The prototype was revealed by the lighting consultant Valerio Maioli in a preview on Saturday of the lighting system for F1's first night race.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran was at the preview and he said the lighting is a crucial part of the race.

'We want to make sure that the lighting system is done in a manner that is safe for the drivers and the spectators at the same time we want it to enhance the experience for everyone,' he said.

'There have been a couple of trials in Europe and this is the first time they are actually setting up something on our streets. By the looks of things it is quite promising.'

A 64-metre stretch along St Andrew's Road in front of the Padang was awashed with light from 16 lighting projectors installed on aluminum trusses supported by three towers.

Members of the public will be able to see the structure from 7pm till midnight daily till April 6.

The set up is just a fraction of the 1,500 lights for the track which will be four times brighter than that needed for a typical stadium. Straitstimes.com


Villeneuve to attend Bahrain GP
(GMM)  1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve will attend the Bahrain grand prix next weekend.

The 37-year-old French-Canadian, who lost his BMW Sauber seat in 2006 and headed to North America to begin an abortive NASCAR career, has been signed up to contest the last two rounds of the Dubai based Speedcar stock car series.

The penultimate round takes place as a formula one support event at Sakhir next weekend, before the series - featuring identical 620 hp cars - wraps up in Dubai a week later.

"Speedcar will give me more road racing experience with this kind of car which will be useful in future NASCAR road courses events, and it's also a great excuse to meet race fans," Villeneuve is quoted as saying in a statement.

He joins fellow ex-F1 stars in the series, including Jean Alesi, Johnny Herbert, Stefan Johansson, JJ Lehto and Gianni Morbidelli.


New sponsor for KV Racing Technology
KV Racing Technology today announced that Plantronics, Inc. has joined its growing team of corporate sponsors.  Plantronics will sponsor the KV Racing Technology #5 Honda/Dallara/Firestone entry driven by Oriol Servia during the 2008 IndyCar Series season.

“We are very pleased to have Plantronics join KVRT,” said co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven.  “Plantronics is an outstanding company and knows what it takes to build a winner.  I for one want to welcome them on board as we begin a new era in open wheel racing.”

“KV Racing Technology and Plantronics share a deep commitment to technology innovation and developing products that truly inspire people,” said Don Houston, senior vice president of Worldwide Sales at Plantronics.  “We look forward to creating a winning legacy with the KV Racing Technology team.”

Plantronics will be the primary sponsor on the KV Racing Technology #5 car for the first three events of the season, the Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300, March 28-29, at Homestead Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida; The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, April 4-6, on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 18-20 on the streets of downtown Long Beach, California.  Following the first three events they will be an associate sponsor for the remainder of the season.

Oriol Servia, who spent the last eight seasons in the Champ Car World Series, will be contesting his first IndyCar Series.  The 33-year-old native of Pals, Catalonia, Spain, previously drove for the team during the 2006 season and for two races in 2007.  He has placed in the top-10 in the championship standings in four of the past five seasons with a career high second place showing in 2005.  A resident of Miami, Florida, Servia has earned 70 top-ten finishes including 34 top-five showings with 16 podium performances, one victory (Montreal 2005) and the pole (Surfers Paradise 2005) in 125 career starts. 


Conquest Racing sponsor Opes Prime in trouble
Opes Prime figures heavily on the Conquest Racing cars
Clients of Opes Prime are about to get taken to the cleaners.

When they struck their securities lending contracts with Opes, as was the case with Tricom, they signed away legal title to their shares.

Opes' bankers ANZ and Merrill Lynch own them now, and when large licks of stock began to cross through the market this morning it quickly became evident the banks were selling. They are not mucking around either.

Opes' clients have gone from bull-market heroes to unsecured creditors of ANZ's receivers Deloittes. The banks are the secured creditors, they rank ahead in a wind-up, and they won't be hanging about eking little lines of stock into the market to finesse their sales.

There is $1.05 billion in loans, split $650 million ANZ's way and $400 million Merrills, and though the banks reckon their loans are covered by the value of the shares, what precisely is the value of a small mineral explorer when there is a large line of stock to dispose of? There are two answers to this question - one, less than it was before and two, what a buyer in a falling market is prepared to pay for it.

This is where Tricom and Opes departed from accepted market practice. They made margin loans over speculative stocks - stocks which had no immediate prospect of earning a dollar - to unsophisticated retail investors. Not to put too fine a point on it, margin lending to mums and dads over tin-pot stocks is a bloody disgrace. Flicking their stock on to short sellers, is worse.

Still, the regulators allowed it.

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Tony George, Brian Barnhart and Terry Angstadt transcript
Yesterday we presented a story with the highlights from this press conference.  Below is the full transcript.

THE MODERATOR: Tony, we'll start with you. If you would, just reflect on the past 30 days. I know you were working hard at this for a lot more than 30 days, but in particular, what you've been through the last 30 days.

Tony George
TONY GEORGE: Yeah, it has been about 30 days. Thank you all for being here. It's been about 30 days since we were here to announce, officially announce, unification. Since that time, it's been, you know, going pretty well, I think. I don't know what more we could possibly do. I know everybody involved with the league has worked very hard to try and help manage the traffic and the logistics involved in trying to get the equipment to the Champ Car teams coming on board. I know the Champ Car teams have had a really big challenge in trying to organize themselves to be here this weekend.

It's been, you know, tough on everybody. But it's going pretty well. I think that by May, things will start to really find the right level, and I think everyone's anxieties will start to leave them and we'll be able to get on with a great Indianapolis 500.

It's going to be challenging and interesting, though, I think in the next few weeks, going from this superspeedway to the streets of St. Petersburg. Then we try to pull off the Motegi, Long Beach weekend, then we'll be pulling it all back together and focusing on the rest of the season.

I'm really appreciative of the effort that everybody's put in, all the teams, both on the IndyCar side, who have pitched in to help ensure that we had some equipment available, to the Champ Car teams, who have been by and large very appreciative of the efforts. And certainly, as I said, the league, who has played traffic cop trying to pull it all together. Couldn't be more proud of the job everyone's done.

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Security company wants Gordon to stop using its logos UPDATE Robby Gordon response:

"We are disappointed by Vanguard's decision to present our issues to the media.  But given the inaccuracies and misleading statements recently published by Vanguard, we want to make sure that the public is aware of important information pertaining to the 2008 Dakar event.

"The organizer of the Dakar races, ASO, will present the 2008 Dakar Series race in Central Europe beginning April 19, 2008.  As with the originally planned Dakar event, the race in Europe will be a cross country endurance off-road event that will traverse threatening and difficult terrain in multiple stages.  The race will be covered by international media, and the coverage will be carried by media outlets throughout the world.  ASO describes the 2008 Dakar event, dubbed the Central Europe Rally, as follows: "The demands on competitors of the Central Europe Rally will be equivalent to those of the Dakar.  The quality of competition also guarantees strong media interest."

"Team Dakar USA major sponsors Hummer, Monster Energy, and Toyo Tires will all participate in the 2008 Dakar Series race in Europe, as will virtually all of the major competitive teams.  Robby Gordon of Team Dakar USA, the only American driver ever to win a stage race in the Dakar, is pleased with the level of support and interest that the new 2008 Dakar event has received thus far.  "We are very excited about the race and our chances in Europe.  ASO has promoted the race.  Our sponsors are generally pleased and our cars are fast. We expect to put on a great race and do well." 

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Alonso resigned to being a backmarker in 2008
Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso has fuelled further speculation that he is set to leave Renault at the end of the year after admitting that he does not see the French team improving on its so far disappointing mid-field pace.

The double world champion had a torrid time in last week’s Malaysian Grand Prix, barely scraping into the last qualifying session and spending most of the race languishing down in eighth place behind Renault customers Red Bull. The result was a far cry from his dominant victory in Kuala Lumpur a year ago with McLaren.

After the race the 26-year-old told his official website that he did not believe things would get much better for the Enstone-based outfit.

“The race was more or less as I expected,” he confirmed.

“Being among the first eight I knew it was difficult and if Massa did not retire we would not score. That is the situation and there were not surprises.

“The car will maintain its performance more or less the same during the whole year.”

“When the car doesn’t go you feel powerless,” rued Alonso hinting at a less than adequate straight line-speed from his R28.

“Either in Australia or in here where we had to fight closely, we lack of final speed, you approach to the car you have ahead but in any straight you will neither overtake nor reaching so you remain behind waiting for the failure but nothing more.”

Alonso’s concern over straight-line speed comes at inconvenient time for his engineers with a five-year freeze on engine development now in force.

“In Barcelona there will be some improvement,” explained Alonso, but he warned: “it will be the same for all teams, so the same way will be for the championship.

“It happened past year and happens every year. We are not going to see great surprises the rest of the year. Step ahead and improve two or three tenths is our aim”.

Elsewhere Alonso has refused to deny rumors that link him with a Ferrari drive in 2009.

“It’s early to talk about moves and rumors, but Massa has had two bad races with mistakes and that has kicked off speculation. It’s logical, but as I said, it’s too early,” he told Spanish sports newspaper Diario As earlier in the week.

“I always try to be in the best car. I’m at Renault now because I wanted to go back to winning, like in 2005 and 2006. If not this year, then next year. But I have an option to leave so I can still be in the best possible car, and it is clear that Ferrari’s is one of the best."


Matos wins pole for Indy Lights race
Champ Car Atlantic champion and Miami-resident Raphael Matos claimed the SWE Pole Award for Saturday’s Firestone Indy Lights Miami 100, showing just how good this road-racer is even on oval tracks.

Rafael Matos
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1.com
RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc.): “It feels great to win the pole. The team worked so hard during the winter and through the preseason. This just proves to everybody that we can get the job done. It feels great to start up front. It's really important at this track. I hope we can keep it clean and finish the race well to collect points.” (Did you have doubts that you could win the pole on a oval): "You always think that this is so different from what I'm used to doing, but I have such a great team supporting me. It's good that I had the confidence in my car and I can trust my car. And at the end of the day, I'm trying my best. But when you have good people in the team, you get good results. I'm very happy that I was able to deliver the results for the team. They deserve it.”

DILLON BATTISTINI (No. 15 Panther Racing): “I joined this team last week. It’s my second day on ovals and in the Firestone Indy Lights car. The last time I drove this car was my rookie test. So to put that performance in, the team has done an awesome job.”

SEAN GUTHRIE (No. 4 Car Crafters Guthrie Racing): “The whole car all weekend has been a great experience to drive, no bad habits at all. So the car is very good. We’re really happy. Since the start of the season, Guthrie Racing said that we wanted to finish top three at all the ovals. That’s our goal. If we can start there now, we have a great opportunity.”

Qualifying Friday for the Miami 100 Firestone Indy Lights event on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver and average speed:
1. (27) Raphael Matos, Dallara, 186.899
2. (15) Dillon Battistini, Dallara, 186.541
3. (4) Sean Guthrie, Dallara, 186.089
4. (5) Andrew Prendeville, Dallara, 186.054
5. (7) Richard Antinucci, Dallara, 185.993
6. (20) Ana Beatriz, Dallara, 185.802
7. (11) James Davison, Dallara, 185.786
8. (17) Bobby Wilson, Dallara, 185.776
9. (33) Wade Cunningham, Dallara, 185.480
10. (43) Pablo Donoso, Dallara, 185.312
11. (26) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara, 185.158
12. (18) Cyndie Allemann, Dallara, 185.043
13. (16) Brent Sherman Ken Losch, Dallara, 184.786
14. (23) Logan Gomez, Dallara, 184.769
15. (24) Chris Festa, Dallara, 184.254
16. (54) Mickey Gilbert Potekhen, Dallara, 184.114
17. (8) Nathan Freke, Dallara, 184.015
18. (21) Al Unser III, Dallara, 183.581
19. (6) Jake Slotten, Dallara, 183.480
20. (34) Jon Brownson, Dallara, 182.923
21. (3) Juan Manuel Polar, Dallara, 181.117
22. (9) Tom Wieringa, Dallara, No Speed
23. (25) J.R Hildebrand, Dallara, No Speed


Cristiano da Matta Begins Professional Racing Comeback UPDATE GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing team owner Bob Stallings and GAINSCO Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing Andy Jordan confirmed in a press conference the highly-anticipated announcement that Cristiano da Matta and Jimmy Vasser will race a second team Pontiac Riley at the upcoming Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, May 17.

AutoRacing1.com spoke to da Matta Friday in Homestead and he clearly was happy to have the chance to be back in a race car, but he's not quite ready to step back into an IndyCar just yet.  Grand-Am will be a good test for the former Champ Car champion and F1 driver, who survived a near-fatal accident while testing at Road America on August 3, 2006 when he hit a deer.

“The only thing I remember was the deer crossing the race track,” da Matta said Friday. “For whatever reason, that (memory) hasn’t been deleted. He was just crossing from my left to my right; I tried to make it (past the deer) to the left side and didn’t make it.”

Jimmy Vasser introduced da Matta to Stallings during da Matta’s rehabilitation. Stallings offered da Matta the ride, and the last hurdle was cleared last week when da Matta completed a testing session near Dallas.

“In the very beginning this really was a project for a human being,” Stallings said. “We wanted to see him come back and get in a race car just for him. But I’ll tell you something — after the test, it kind of changed into something else. Even though I’m happy for him as a human being, I now know that he has been a champion before and he is going to be a champion again. And I want him to be a champion in the Rolex Series in a Bob Stallings racing car, and my guess is that’s going to happen very soon. He was absolutely awesome on the track.”

Cristiano da Matta
03/25/08 After being out of a race car for more than 19 months while recovering from a critical 2006 accident, championship-winning race car driver Cristiano da Matta didn't mind waiting another two days before his highly anticipated return to competitive driving in a test with GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing last week in Texas.

Nearly 24 straight hours of rain washed out da Matta's scheduled test last Tuesday and Wednesday at the new Eagles Canyon race track Northwest of Dallas, but the delay didn't bother da Matta in the least. After his devastating testing accident at Road America in August of 2006 when his Champ Car hit a wandering deer at full speed, da Matta persevered through several surgeries and months of grueling rehabilitation to literally rebuild him self back into racing shape.

"After what I have been through to get back to this point, what's two more days?" said da Matta, who finally took to the track on Thursday and quickly shook off any doubts – including his own – that he was still the champion driver he used to be.

"After the test, I realized 'I still know how to do this, I remember this very well,'" da Matta said. "The biggest thing I felt after the test was just a sense of relief. For me, it was a big, big relief, bigger than big. Even though I had opinions and approval from the best doctors and I felt great in go-karts and even on video games as far as my skills, I still had that last little question mark on my mind. That worried me quite a lot. After being away for so long, and driving being my work and something I like, I was concerned that I would not be able to do it as well."

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Villeneuve signs up with Speedcar Series
Jacques Villeneuve
Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve will race with Speedcar in the last two rounds of the Series' inaugural season. He will take to the grid for the upcoming race at the Bahrain Grand Prix on April 4-6 followed by the final round in Dubai a week later on April 11-12.

Jacques is the most recent addition to the long line up of former Formula One drivers participating in Speedcar Series that include Jean Alesi, Johnny Herbert, Stefan Johansson, Ukyo Katayama, JJ Lehto and Gianni Morbidelli.

The 37 year old Canadian driver won the 1997 World Championship in only his second Formula 1 season. Jacques sports a F1 track record of 165 races, 11 wins and 23 podium finishes over a decade long career from 1996-2006. He is also notable for being only one of 5 drivers, including Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Mario Andretti and Emerson Fittipaldi to have won both the F1 World Championship and Indianapolis 500. Jacques has since moved on to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and more recently the NASCAR Series.

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Q and A with Hamilton, Kovalainen, Whitmarsh and Haug
Race three of the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship takes place in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team arrives at the Bahrain International Circuit leading the Constructors’ table with a total of 24 points. Lewis and Heikki are first and fourth in the Drivers’ standings with 14 and 10 points respectively.

The Bahrain Grand Prix is the first Formula 1 World Championship race to be held in Middle East, the track was officially opened on 17th March 2004 prior to the inaugural race, which took place on 4th April 2004. This race, which was won by Michael Schumacher, was given the award for the 'Best Organized Grand Prix' by the FIA.

Lewis Hamilton

The Bahrain International Circuit was purpose built for Formula 1 with the aim of creating exciting racing. Can you talk us through the track layout, specifically the overtaking opportunities?
"Bahrain is a really cool circuit; it is quite different to any other because you are literally driving round the desert. There are no trees or buildings as you are driving round, just desert. I really like the track, there are a lot of opportunities to overtake for example turns one, four, seven, and ten. With all the straights you can do a lot of slipstreaming and then make sure you get good exits. So in terms of racing it is a very good track. The layout is a great design, starting off with a very long straight, then down to a very tight first gear corner and then you accelerate through a slight kink before going up another long straight. It is a curvy circuit with lots of kinks and gradient changes that are quite large in some areas. Also the wind plays a big part bringing sand onto the track that means any part that is off line is very slippery. It is very hot in Bahrain, as with Australia and Malaysia, so it is ideal that these three are together at the beginning as they are all very physically demanding and you can prepare for them all at one time."

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