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Tony George too busy to celebrate unification
Tony George
Tony George has been vilified by most anyone with an opinion on the Great Open-Wheel Schism of 1996-2008. He had irreparably broken open-wheel racing. He didn't know what he was doing. He was draining the Hulman family trust, as if that was any of their business. Those were among the civil comments.

But thumbing through newspaper coverage of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and indulging on M&Ms as race cars screamed outside his transporter, the founder and chief executive of the Indy Racing League was focused ahead. He doesn't really think he broke open-wheel racing, and he's not taking credit for fixing it after the rival Champ Car series went out of business and some of its teams and race dates were folded into the IRL.

It's just time to get on with the future, he said.

What's the next step for the IRL?

It's just a matter of continuing to assimilate all the teams into one series and try to each week improve and build on the product, try to get everything stable on a platform we can build on. We had a good race last week (at Homestead). I don't know if we could have expected anything more, but I know everyone did an outstanding job under very difficult circumstances. I think this week feels good, and it's building the way we'd like to see it. I think it's still going to be a little challenging as we leave here, but by May, hopefully things will really have found its level and we'll be able to start building.

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A frustrated open wheel fan speaks out
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I am continually amazed by the propaganda and corporate amnesia that has smitten open wheel racing. I read this crap on your web site and other media sources and hope this is all a bad dream and I will awaken soon.

Many of us who worked for the original "Indy Car," CART, and Champ Car have been extremely quiet and underground regarding the hostile takeover by the IRL.  We were asked to remain quiet by those with a higher pay grade and many choosing not to be openly critical in hopes of landing a job with the IRL.

Many hardworking and dedicated people have lost their jobs in motorsports, and the merger has really been vetted out as a true hostile takeover. A merger would take the best of both and blend to form a new and improved product or organization.

That has not happened. The Champ Car teams are forced to use the flying lawn darts/"crap wagons", race at all of the IRL venues with a few exceptions, all of the IRL staff and infrastructure remains intact, and the IRL retains total control for tech and rule making.

I know we will hear the excuse that this is just a transition period and there is a new car in the works that will level the playing field and all the teams will have the same learning curve.

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SAFER Barrier saves McDowell
McDowell's wrecked Toyota
CIA Stock Photo
Rookie Michael McDowell walked away from one of the most terrifying crashes in recent memory during Friday's Sprint Cup Series qualifying session at Texas Motor Speedway and clearly it was the combination of the SAFER Barrier and the HANS Device that saved his life.

McDowell's Michael Waltrip Racing No. 00 slammed headfirst into the first turn wall during his qualifying attempt for the Samsung 500 field. The impact into the SAFER Barrier wall pushed the wall completely back (as it was designed to do) and sent his Toyota through a series of violent barrel rolls down the track's banking before finally coming to rest. (Watch Video)

McDowell climbed from the car unhurt and waved to the crowd which roared its approval.

“I don’t know if it was because of the oil-dry or if there was oil up there,” McDowell said. “The first [qualifying] lap, it just didn’t quite feel right, so I was going to run the second lap. I don’t know if something broke or if we just got into the oil dry. It was hard to see.

“I got down in there and kind of pulled a little bit to the right, and it got a little bit loose and to the left. I just tried to gather it up, and by that time, you’re going so fast, it just hooked and went.

“Once I hit the wall, I knew it was going to be pretty big. There was a lot of momentum there. The first hit wasn’t bad, actually. The second hit was all right, and then we just started tumbling down the track. I’m very grateful and blessed to be here right now.”

McDowell said he never lost consciousness, kept his eyes open and felt “like I didn’t stop flipping.”

“It wasn’t a fun ride, that’s for sure,” McDowell said. “I stand here with a smile on my face because I’m fortunate. … I’m not a doctor, but I’m going to guess that I’m going to be pretty sore tomorrow.”

McDowell had gotten loose and slid sideways before turning sharply toward the wall – “Just wish I didn’t overcorrect there,” McDowell said.

“Honestly, it got away from me so fast that it felt like oil or something broke,” McDowell said. “It’s unfortunate because I don’t want to blame anybody. I’m in the driver’s seat. Maybe I opened up the entry a little bit and got up in the oil.”


LifeLock Sponsoring Carpentier for 8 Races
Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced that LifeLock, the nation’s leading identity theft protection service, will sponsor the #10 Dodge with driver Patrick Carpentier in eight races in the 2008 Sprint Cup Season. LifeLock will sponsor Carpentier at Phoenix on April 12, Talladega on April 27, Richmond on May 3, Darlington on May 10, Charlotte on May 25, Michigan on June 15, Chicagoland on July 12 and Kansas on Sept. 28. Gillett Evernham Motorsports CEO Tom Reddin said the addition of LifeLock to the existing sponsorship lineup at the #10 of Valvoline, Auto Value/All Pro Bumper-to-Bumper, Charter and Cintas mean there are few unsponsored races remaining on the #10 Dodge in 2008. Gillett Evernham PR


Kevin Savoree on the success of St. Pete
Grand Prix managing director Kevin Savoree will use the weekend to broach a new long-term contract with city officials. Sunday's Indy Racing League event is the first under a two-year extension invoked by Andretti Green Promotions and the city last year, and Savoree wants to secure a venue that now defers only to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in terms of popularity with teams.

"As an annual event, you only get a couple shots at this to really start talking about the future," Savoree said. "(Sponsors) like continuity, they like long-term, they like partnership and you can't do that one year at a time. Any organization will fail if their planning is only one year out. You have to have a long-term perspective, so certainly for us, we want to talk to the city about going out into the future."

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IRL forge promotional partnership with Raybestos Brand Brakes
Indy Racing League officials today announced a two-year promotional partnership with the Affinia Under Vehicle Group, manufacturers of Raybestos brand brakes. The partnership designates Raybestos as the preferred competition brake friction of the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights at all road and street course races through 2009. The announcement renews a relationship between Raybestos brand brakes and IndyCar racing that dates back decades.

As part of the partnership, Raybestos will become the preferred brake friction run by every IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights team for every road and street course race on the schedule. The Raybestos Road and Street Course Challenge will award a cash payout to all street or road course race winners throughout the season provided he or she used Raybestos brakes. The payout will be $5,000 per race in the IndyCar Series and $2,500 per race in Firestone Indy Lights. In addition to these individual race incentives, Raybestos brand brakes will award $25,000 to the IndyCar Series driver who achieves the best average finishing position across all 2008 road/street course events. The season-long Firestone Indy Lights award is $10,000.

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GP of St. Pete: Wilson tops opening practice UPDATE Correction: Times below were for opening practice.

04/04/08 Transition team NHLR and driver Justin Wilson topped the speed charts for the 2nd practice session for the Indy Cars on the streets of St. Petersburg Friday.



Driver Diff Gap Best Time Best Speed
1 Justin Wilson (02) ... 63.5210 102.014
2 Vitor Meira (4) 0.2380 0.2380 63.7590 101.633
3 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.2540 0.0160 63.7750 101.607
4 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.4197 0.1657 63.9407 101.344
5 Graham Rahal (06) 0.5979 0.1782 64.1189 101.062
6 Scott Dixon (9) 0.6492 0.0513 64.1702 100.981
7 Marco Andretti (26) 0.6493 0.0001 64.1703 100.981
8 Darren Manning (14) 0.6528 0.0035 64.1738 100.976
9 Buddy Rice (15) 0.7196 0.0668 64.2406 100.871
10 Bruno Junqueira (18) 0.7379 0.0183 64.2589 100.842
11 Dan Wheldon (10) 0.8037 0.0658 64.3247 100.739
12 Franck Perera (34) 0.9164 0.1127 64.4374 100.563
13 Ryan Briscoe (6) 0.9225 0.0061 64.4435 100.553
14 Oriol Servia (5) 1.0460 0.1235 64.5670 100.361
15 Ernesto Viso (33) 1.0847 0.0387 64.6057 100.301
16 Jay Howard (24) 1.3477 0.2630 64.8687 99.894
17 Hideki Mutoh (27) 1.3791 0.0314 64.9001 99.846
18 Enrique Bernoldi (36) 1.8489 0.4698 65.3699 99.128
19 Danica Patrick (7) 1.8535 0.0046 65.3745 99.121
20 Townsend Bell (23) 1.8597 0.0062 65.3807 99.112
21 Will Power (8) 1.9584 0.0987 65.4794 98.962
22 Ed Carpenter (20) 2.4546 0.4962 65.9756 98.218
23 A.J. Foyt IV (2) 2.6407 0.1861 66.1617 97.942
24 Mario Moraes (19) 3.3296 0.6889 66.8506 96.933
25 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 3.9371 0.6075 67.4581 96.060
26 Marty Roth (25) 7.0279 3.0908 70.5489 91.851


Audi wins ALMS pole
Audi has won the pole for Saturday's ALMS race on the 1.8-mile St. Petersburg street circuit. The Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura will start third between the two Penske Porsches in second and fourth place. More later....


Figge and Imperial Capital Bank Reunite with PCM for Champ Car Finale
For the last five years, Alex Figge has piloted a Pacific Coast Motorsports prepared race car.  That ritual will come to an end - at least for now, on Sunday, April 20th when he is strapped into his #29 Panoz Champ Car for the final time.

A race for the record books, the 2008 Grand Prix of Long Beach will be the final race of Champ Car’s 29 years of rich racing history as the Champ Car World Series and the Indy Racing recently merged to create a unified open-wheel racing series in North America.

Figge, 27 of Denver, Colorado, will pilot the #29 Imperial Capital Bank/Panoz. "Obviously things didn't end up the way that PCM and I thought and hoped they would,” said Figge.  “After Sebring in January I was really excited and extremely positive about the upcoming Champ Car season. I think both PCM and I learned a lot in '07 and made huge strides for '08. I was looking forward to a new experience with my engineer Chris Lurch, who was really tuned in to the Panoz and helped me a lot at  Sebring, and Mike Zimicki who I just started working with as a coach and who has a great resume all over the industry. My feelings on Long Beach are bitter sweet...it's my favorite race of the season but in this case also the final race for me and a team that I think was ready to surprise a lot of people this year. Tyler, Michael, and Roy did an amazing job rebuilding after what was a very difficult rookie season. I'm sure the atmosphere of the weekend will be enthusiastic as always and once I'm in the car it'll be back to the business of racing with a group that I'm as close to personally as professionally. And that I'm definitely looking forward to!"

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Rain possible for St. Pete
The St. Petersburg grand prix has enjoyed great weather during its Indy Racing League rebirth. But the law of averages might be coming with an unwelcome guest this time.

The WFLA, Channel 8 weather forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of rain today and 50 percent Saturday and Sunday. On weather.com, the chance of precipitation Sunday is 60 percent.

Both the IRL Indy cars and American Le Mans Series sports cars will run in the rain if necessary. But that's a scenario nobody is hoping for.

"From simply a setting and background standpoint, rain would be really disappointing," IRL present Brian Barnhart said. "It's such a beautiful setting with the harbor, the ambiance and the fans."


Reutimann doesn't anticipate driver switch
David Reutimann
David Reutimann faces another weekend where he has to qualify on speed, and he is not looking forward to it. Reutimann said Thursday he wouldn’t anticipate that Michael Waltrip Racing would put him in the car driven by #00-Michael McDowell if he doesn’t make the field. If Reutimann misses the race, the team could replace McDowell with Reutimann, but Reutimann said that hasn’t been discussed. “The #00 is the car that Michael McDowell drives, and as far as I know, if I don’t get in, I’ll be watching,” Reutimann said. “I wouldn’t want to do that. My job is to get the 44 car in. If I can’t get that car in, then I don’t need to be in the race."  SceneDaily.com


Bahrain GP: Friday Press Conference
Participating: Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari), John Howett (Toyota), Christian Horner (Red Bull).

Q. A question to you all. Your feelings about your performances so far this year in the first two races.

Stefano Domenicali: As always we need to be very cautious. We have seen the reaction of the team after the very difficult race we had in Australia. The performance seems to be there. We saw the performance of the other teams which was different from race to race.

I am expecting to see this kind of variation in terms of performance all through the year. There will be certain tracks for sure where we will have some teams that will be performing better than the other. We need to be very cautious. At the last race we showed that the performance was really there and we hope to keep the pace.

Q. It was a temporary circuit in Australia whereas in Malaysia it is a permanent circuit. We go to more permanent circuits than temporary circuits. Do you feel that you are at an advantage at a permanent circuit than on a temporary circuit?

SD: If you look retrospectively we are more competitive on a permanent circuit. But don't forget that we won races in Australia. That shows as I said we will have a situation where everything varies from time to time. As you know the performance in qualifying is making the difference above all on these kinds of tracks.

Q. John, your feelings?

John Howett: We were encouraged by the performance in Malaysia. It was more or less where we think we should be competing based on the winter test evaluation. We didn't do a particularly god job in bringing the cars home in Australia, but certainly that second bunch behind the two quick teams is very tight.

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Mosley sues tabloid for unlimited damages
Max Mosley is claiming unlimited damages from the News of the World over its sexual revelations about the International Automobile Federation (FIA) president.

"Lawyers representing Mr. Mosley have today served proceedings against the News of the World claiming unlimited damages," a spokesman for the FIA said in a statement on Friday.

Mosley has come under pressure to resign from some Formula One carmakers and motorsport federations as a result of the sex scandal reported in last Sunday's edition of the tabloid.

Mosley has called an extraordinary meeting of the FIA's general assembly to discuss what the sport's governing body called "the widespread publicity following an apparently illegal invasion of the FIA president's privacy".


More layoffs for slumping Motorola
Motorola sponsored Danica Patrick
Beleaguered cell phone maker Motorola Inc. (Danica Patrick sponsor) said it is laying off another 2,600 workers, bringing the company's total employee cuts to more than 10,000 since last year.

Motorola will take a pretax charge of about $104 million in the first quarter for severance costs from the new layoffs, the company said in a filing Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Schaumburg-based company said $113 million in severance charges will be partly offset by $9 million in reversals for accruals from prior periods that are no longer needed.

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Roger Penske and Paul Newman pen joint letter to fans
Roger Penske
Once bitter rivals in the early days of the Indy Racing League, actor Paul Newman and team owner Roger Penske have joined forces in the spirit of unity.

While Penske was first to come back to Indy and break ranks with the former CART Series, Newman was steadfast in his opposition of two open-wheel series during the split that lasted from 1996 through 2007, remaining loyal to CART and later Champ Car.

Paul Newman
Now that open-wheel racing is united with Champ Car having ceased operation and joined IndyCar, Newman hopes to heal old wounds by inviting disenfranchised fans back to the Indianapolis 500.

A letter was recently sent out to Indy 500 ticket holders who have not been back since 1998. The letter is co-authored by Newman and Penske promoting the unified IndyCar Series and inviting fans to return to the biggest race of the season.

These are exciting times for open-wheel racing in the United States, the letter opens:

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Raikkonen voices support for Mosley
(GMM)  Reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen on Friday refused to join in the widespread condemnation of FIA president Max Mosley.

The Ferrari driver was a rare sympathetic voice in the Sakhir paddock, as Mosley's support in the formula one and motoring worlds erodes in the wake of the highly publicized sex scandal involving prostitutes and allegedly Nazi themes.

But Raikkonen, 28, is quoted as saying by the Mirror: "It's his personal life and he can do whatever he wants and it's not really my business or anyone else's to put their noses in."

After the German and Japanese manufacturers in F1 distanced themselves from Mosley, meanwhile, other teams have so far failed to follow suit.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said on Friday "it would be inappropriate for me to comment" in anticipation of the emergency FIA meeting.

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Memo Gidley TV Interview
Memo Gidley
Memo Gidley, Northern California’s best-known and most accomplished racing driver, is the subject of an extended interview on the upcoming episode of the KTVU FOX Channel 2 TV show “Trackside at Infineon Raceway.” 

Set to air at 10:00 am PT, Sunday, April 6 on San Francisco Bay area station KTVU, the interview covers his career from his earliest days in karting to his current status as co-driver of the #77 Kodak Doran/Dallara Ford prototype in the Grand-Am Rolex series.  Also included in the interview are photos from throughout his career and video footage of his team’s debut of the new Doran/Dallara prototype at last weekend’s GAINSCO Grand Prix of Miami.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to be on a show that’s this popular with so many people in the Bay Area where many of my fans live,” says Gidley, who was born in La Paz, Mexico to an American mother and Canadian father but has made his home in Novato, California.  “I had a great time chatting with anchor Mark Ibanez and hope to be on the show several more times during the season.”

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Stewart: Mosley should resign
According to former Formula 1 champion Sir Jackie Stewart FIA president Max Mosley should resign immediately after the Briton was seen naked with five prostitutes in a sextape that was published by British newspaper News of the World.

Stewart told German TV channel Premiere: "This is untenable really. For a head of a global federation it is simply not possible to keep his position. It is not only bad for motorsport in general but also bad for the whole motorsport industrie.

"We have a world of different cultures and you can not accept such things to happen. I don't think a head of a federation can survive such a thing and simply just keep his position. It is now up to the FIA and to Mosley himself. He has to do the right thing for the sport now. If he would be in a commercial company he would already be gone…"


Bahrain GP: Bourdais outpaces Vettel
Sebastien Bourdais was relieved to suffer no repeat of the Friday dramas that disrupted his preparations at each of the first two grands prix. Mechanical problems cost the French rookie vital track time in both Australia and Malaysia, but he took advantage of a trouble-free opening day in Bahrain to set the ninth fastest time.

“I got into a good groove this morning with no real problems and we carried on the same way this afternoon,” he related.

“It meant I got quite a bit of running done which is a ‘first’ for a Friday this season for me. So I’m happy about that.”

Bourdais expressed measured enthusiasm for the Sakhir track, though he admitted F1 cars, with their grooved tires, were ill at ease in the hairpins.

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St. Pete: Penske Porsche on top in opening practice
Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas apparently haven’t lived down their high from winning the 12 Hours of Sebring three weeks ago. Penske Racing’s dynamic duo set the fastest time in the first practice for the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg presented by XM Satellite Radio with thanks to Bernhard’s lap of 1:03.819 around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn circuit.

Bernhard and Dumas scored Penske’s first overall victory at Sebring with the Porsche RS Spyder. The defending LMP2 class champions came up 0.116 seconds short last year at St. Petersburg in class, losing out to Sascha Maassen and Ryan Briscoe with Audi Sport North America’s Dindo Capello and Allan McNish taking the overall win.

Bernhard was 1.262 seconds ahead of Patr¢n Highcroft Racing’s Acura ARX-01b of David Brabham and Scott Sharp, who were at 1:05.081 (99.568 mph). Luis Diaz and Adrian Fernandez were next in the Lowe’s Fernandez Acura, third overall.

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Dutch motorsport federation wants Mosley to resign
After the German national motoring association, the Dutch motor sport federation has requested Max Mosley to resign after the revelations made by the British newspaper 'News of the World'. The KNAF has declared that it will push for Mosley to step down if the matter is put to a vote.

Arie Ruitenbeek, President of KNAF, declared to the 'BBC': "Because of his high-profile position, this can't be accepted. I have not received my invitation yet (FIA meeting), but we will go and will vote for him to resign."


Ford's Mulally rewarded heavily for failure
Only in America would a CEO get rewarded for such huge losses that his company had in 2007.  Ford Motor Co. today reported that CEO Alan Mulally earned total compensation of $21.7 million 2007, his first full year at the helm of the troubled automaker.

That includes $2 million in base salary and $7 million in incentive bonuses.

Mulally also received more than $11 million in stock and stock-option related awards, and $1.4 million in 'other' compensation. That included $752,203 for personal use of Ford's aircraft, $298,346 in tax reimbursement and $109,000 in temporary housing and relocation costs. 

Ford posted a $2.7 billion loss in 2007, an improvement over its $12.6 billion loss in 2006. Revenue for 2007 was $17.2 billion.


Kovalainen 'taken apart' in 2007 - Dennis UPDATE (GMM)  McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen has taken issue with team boss Ron Dennis' recent claim that he was "taken apart" by the Renault team as he tackled his rookie season in 2007.

Dennis said last month that his Mercedes-powered outfit can take the credit for rebuilding the 26-year-old Finn.

"Heikki is a guy who was systematically taken apart last year and we have systematically put him back together again," Dennis, whose relationship with Renault boss Flavio Briatore is famed for its acrimony, said at Sepang.

But Kovalainen said in Bahrain that he thought Dennis had exaggerated.

"I felt I did some very good races last year and unfortunately some people just don't see that," Kovalainen, who finished ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton in Malaysia and is on the Briton's pace at Sakhir, added.

"I never had any doubts about myself.  I don't think I was broken or destroyed at any point.  I had all the support at Renault, and I feel the same here."

Kovalainen disagrees with new boss
03/25/08 (GMM)  Ron Dennis thinks McLaren can take credit for rebuilding Heikki Kovalainen following the Finn's difficult debut season for Renault in 2007.

At the Malaysian grand prix last weekend, 26-year-old Kovalainen outperformed Lewis Hamilton in only his second race for the Mercedes-powered team.

Team boss Dennis makes no bones about his belief that Renault, led by outspoken Italian Flavio Briatore with whom there is no love lost, did no favors to Kovalainen last year before replacing him for 2008 with Nelson Piquet Jr.

"Heikki is a guy who was systematically taken apart last year and we have systematically put him back together again," the Briton is quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.

Dennis said Kovalainen, whose F1 debut was dismissed as "rubbish" by Briatore, "lost his motivation" in 2007 as he was "misguided" in how to go about things like physical preparation.

He also refutes suggestions that, amid McLaren's rumored interest last year in drivers such as Nico Rosberg, Kovalainen was only the second or third choice to replace Fernando Alonso in 2008.

"He was miles ahead of any other option," Dennis insists.

"Then when we spoke to him you could just see that look which says it is in there if we could just get his self-belief back, get him into a position where he knew what he had to do."


Genoa Racing strong in MSR Houston test
Genoa Racing put in another strong performance at the final official series test at MSR Houston with a strong one-two punch in the form of young American racing standouts Dane Cameron and Alan Sciuto.

After posting the fastest overall times on both series test days several weeks ago at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Cameron, last season’s Pro Mazda champion, showed his strength again posting times in the top five while making the final pre-season testing adjustments in preparation for the season opener at Long Beach. Former Karting phenom and Atlantic front-runner Sciuto placed his Genoa race car squarely in the top five as well in his first outing with the team.

Genoa spent the majority of the testing fine-tuning their team chemistry and communication that showed in impressive gains from session to session with both drivers each day. Unfortunately for Sciuto, he suffered from an illness and was unable to complete the second test day, ending up 5th quick overall.

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Dennis says Hamilton shunt driver error
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton's high speed crash in Friday afternoon practice was probably caused by driver error, McLaren boss Ron Dennis has said.

Dennis told reporters in the Bahrain paddock that the 23-year-old championship leader lost control after letting his car run too wide on the curbs on the exit of turn seven.

The Mercedes-powered team's principal added that the telemetry does not indicate that the incident could have been caused by a car defect.

He said Hamilton, who sustained some slight bruising in the shunt, will be back in action on Saturday morning.


Another motoring club to side against Mosley
(GMM)  The sex scandal is going from bad to worse for Max Mosley, as another national motoring club indicated its flagging support for the FIA president on Friday.

The Israeli car club (MEMSI) president, Yitzhak Milstein, said the details of the 67-year-old Briton's alleged Nazi death camp-themed romp with prostitutes had "shocked" him.

"Once the whole thing is clarified - and there is a better idea on how true the story is - we will make our conclusions known.

"And they will certainly match the severity of the matter," he is quoted as saying by the BBC.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, however - a long time associate and friend of Mosley's - confirmed on Friday that his support for the FIA president still stands.

"I'm happy with Max, I don't have any problems at all with Max," he said.


Mosley meeting to occur in about one month
Mosley might not be smiling in one month.
(GMM)  It will take about a month to organize the meeting that is likely to seal the fate of beleaguered FIA president Max Mosley.

A spokesman for the governing body confirmed the approximate timeline, which will have to take into account preparations to fly 222 FIA delegates into Paris, and accommodate them, so they can rule on Mosley's future amid the sex scandal.

Some estimates put the cost of the meeting at about $2 million.

Mosley's support base continued to erode on Friday afternoon, as the president of the Dutch motor sport federation indicated which way he will vote in Paris.

KNAF (Knac Nationale Autosport Federatie) president Arie Ruitenbeek told the BBC: "We will go and will vote for him to resign."

Also on Friday, the British Sport Industry Group also rounded on Mosley's behavior.

"He is without doubt not suitable to continue within our industry and I call for his immediate resignation," chairman Nick Keller said.


Bahrain GP: Massa leads Ferrari 1-2 in Friday practice
Felipe Massa

Spending time testing here in February seems to have paid off for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, as its two drivers topped today's time sheet, with last year's Bahrain winner, Felipe Massa ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. However, it is possible that the performance of the F2008 on this desert track simply reflects its current level, as the only other team to have taken part in the winter test, Toyota, has both its cars down in 14th and 15th places.

The Ferrari duo were also quickest, in the same order in the morning, when the Brazilian completed 20 laps and the Finn 15. This afternoon, they both did a further 30 laps. Yesterday, as the official Safety Cars went around the circuit, clouds of dust were thrown up by their wheels, but since then, organizers had done a good job of cleaning the track, helped by plenty of action from other race categories, so that the surface was not as dirty as expected, although still leaving quite a bit of dust on what is a "green" track surface, as it sees so little running during the year.

Behind the Prancing Horse duo came the Silver Arrow duo in the shape of the McLaren-Mercedes of Heikki Kovalainen third and Lewis Hamilton fourth. However, the Englishman's day had a setback, as he lost control of his car running wide over a curb, before hitting the barrier and damaging his car. In fifth spot was the Malaysian GP runner-up Robert Kubica in his Sauber-BMW, while the top six was rounded off by Nico Rosberg in the Williams-Toyota.

The Bahrain circuit is proving to be a very pleasant venue this weekend, as the very hot weather that had been expected has not materialized and enjoyable mid-twenties temperatures and a cooling dry breeze are the order of the day so far. However, in this desert environment, the situation can change quickly and the forecast for the next two days suggests that these gentle breezes could become strong winds. This can really complicate the situation, firstly by blowing sand back on the track, secondly by upsetting the aerodynamic balance of the car and thirdly by affecting the choice of gear ratios. However, whatever happens, the conditions are identical for all 22 cars and drivers.

Afternoon Times


Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Massa Ferrari 1:31.420 0.000 30
2. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:32.327 0.907 30
3. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.752 1.332 30
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.847 1.427 26
5. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:32.915 1.495 29
6. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:33.022 1.602 34
7. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:33.048 1.628 27
8. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:33.098 1.678 33
9. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:33.197 1.777 37
10. Piquet Renault 1:33.247 1.827 37
11. Button Honda 1:33.710 2.290 33
12. Alonso Renault 1:33.755 2.335 26
13. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:33.782 2.362 34
14. Trulli Toyota 1:33.822 2.402 38
15. Glock Toyota 1:33.856 2.436 30
16. Barrichello Honda 1:33.966 2.546 35
17. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:34.023 2.603 36
18. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:34.388 2.968 35
19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:34.405 2.985 34
20. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:34.787 3.367 30
21. Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:35.288 3.868 24
22. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:35.712 4.292 25


Hamilton unhurt in huge practice crash
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton emerged unhurt from a high speed crash during afternoon practice for the Bahrain grand prix on Friday.

The 23-year-old McLaren driver and championship leader lost control of his MP4-23 under acceleration out of turn seven, hitting the barriers at an estimated 200kph.

The impact smashed the right side of his single seater, and he returned to the Sakhir pitlane on the back of a recovery motorcycle.  It was the only major incident of the three hours of free practice today.

Also towards the end of the final ninety minute practice session for the day, Fernando Alonso collided with Force India's Adrian Sutil, causing the pair to spin.

The Spaniard seemed to lock the rear wheels of his Renault, causing him to misjudge an overtaking maneuver on his German rival.

Hamilton finished the session in fourth place, behind his McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen, but the pair both trailed Ferrari's Felipe Massa - who was also fastest in the morning - and Kimi Raikkonen.


A1GP looks to Middle East for growth
A1GP World Cup of Motorsport will return to the Middle East with the series seeking to hold a race in the region within the next three years revealed series CEO, Pete da Silva when addressing delegates at the inaugural Motor Sport Business Forum Middle East held at the Bahrain International Circuit this week.

Da Silva took the opportunity to speak of the importance of the Middle East and Asia to the future growth of the series while also discussing A1GP's development since its inception in 2004. Representing 22 nations, including emerging motorsport markets such as China, India, Indonesia, Lebanon and Pakistan, da Silva highlighted the unique role the series was able to play in developing motorsport talent in emerging markets, providing an international platform for new drivers to compete on a level playing field.

The introduction of the A2GP feeder series, announced last year as part of the series partnership with Ferrari, has been designed to further aid the growth of motorsport in regions such as the Middle East. The series, currently under development, will provide valuable regional exposure for young, prospective drivers, competing for the ultimate prize of a place in their national A1GP team.

'The Middle East is an important region which is rapidly expanding its motorsport facilities and role within the industry. This week's forum has highlighted its hunger both for top level series to visit the region, as well as the need for the lower tiers which can be used to grow the talent and expand the opportunities for young drivers in the region. With A1GP and, in time, A2GP we're well placed to service this demand and aim to continue our commitment to developing our sport in emerging markets', commented Pete da Silva.

The Motor Sport Business Forum Middle East featured key figures from the motorsport industry including Ron Dennis, McLaren Group Chairman and CEO, and David Richards, Chairman of Prodrive and Aston Martin giving keynote speeches on each of the two days. Other speakers were the team principals of Force India, Red Bull Racing and the Honda Racing F1 Team, Martin Whitaker CEO Bahrain International Circuit; Talal al Zain, Mumtalakat; Shaik Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa and Pau Serracanta i Marcet, Dorna Sports (Moto GP).


Germany motoring body joins Mosley censure
(GMM) The German motoring body ADAC on Friday became the next organisation to condemn the Max Mosley sex scandal.

A statement issued by the body called for the FIA president to "very carefully reconsider his role".

ADAC, or Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club, is Europe's largest automobile club, with more than 15 million members.

It said motorists the world over "should not be burdened by such an affair".

"It is in the interests of this world organisation to carry on with its duties without the burden of this affair," the statement continued.

Mosley, who has already apologised to motoring bodies, has convened a forthcoming emergency meeting of his governing body, and ADAC called on the "appropriate FIA process to take care of this matter".

ADAC joins the Bahrain royal family, and manufacturers BMW, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Toyota and Honda, in distancing themselves from the sordid tale.


IRL finally penalizes Kanaan
Indy Racing League officials changed their minds Thursday and decided to penalize Tony Kanaan for disobeying race control instructions at the end of last weekend's IndyCar Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

IRL president Brian Barnhart said Kanaan, who was leading the Gainsco Indy 300, will be held out of the first 30 minutes of today's practice for not pulling out of the racing line prior to the restart with three laps to go.

Kanaan had a damaged car after contact with rookie Ernesto Viso and was nursing it around the track to finish as high as possible.

Barnhart approved Kanaan's driving so long as he could keep up with the race's pace car. But when the race was about to restart and it was clear Kanaan couldn't maintain a competitive pace, Barnhart wanted the 2004 series champion to pull onto the track's deceleration lane as the field came to the green flag.

Kanaan chose to remain in the middle of the track as the cars came through the fourth turn. The scramble behind him created a dangerous situation.

Barnhart, who is in charge of all on-track activities, shared his disappointment with Kanaan.

"We were pretty upset with him," said Barnhart, who initially said there would be no penalty. More at IndyStar

tv news

Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears airs Saturday
Race fans who missed original airings of the television series Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears, chronicling the move of Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Hendrick Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series, will have a chance to watch again. ESPN2 airs a one-hour episode Saturday, April 5, at 1:30 pm ET leading to live coverage of the Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. The series provides viewers with a behind-the-scenes look at the personal, corporate and competitive ramifications involved with the five-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver award recipient leaving Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the team founded by his late father. Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears is produced by Earnhardt Jr.’s Hammerhead Entertainment, a division of JR Motorsports, in cooperation with Hendrick Motorsports and is presented by the National Guard. The final two episodes air on ESPN in prime time the week of the July 27 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, ESPN’s first live Sprint Cup event of the season.


Earnhardt Chevy to sponsor Kennedy in Florida series
Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet will sponsor Ben Kennedy in the Florida-based Advance Auto Parts Pro Truck Series. Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and son of International Speedway Corp. president Lesa France Kennedy, will run the #96 Silverado based out of Mark Martin Performance in Daytona Beach. Kennedy will race more than 25 events at New Smyrna Speedway and Orlando Speedworld. DEI PR


Ferrari dominate Bahrain practice
Benefiting from off-season testing at the track, Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen topped the speed charts as Ferrari dominated their McLaren rivals in first practice ahead of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.

1. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari 1:32.233
2. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari 1:32.350
3. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1:32.415
4. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.705
5. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.868
6. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1:33.121
7. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1:33.333
8. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota 1:33.539
9. David Coulthard Britain Red Bull-Renault 1:33.788
10. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault 1:33.815
11. Timo Glock Germany Toyota 1:33.929
12. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1:33.950
13. Nelson Piquet Brazil Renault 1:33.981
14. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1:34.106
15. Sebastien Bourdais France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:34.235
16. Sebastian Vettel Germany Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:34.321
17. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Ferrari 1:34.892
18. Jenson Button Britain Honda 1:34.915
19. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda 1:35.174
20. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Ferrari 1:35.429
21. Anthony Davidson Super Super Aguri-Honda 1:36.145
22. Takuma Sato Japan Super Aguri-Honda 1:36.536


Nationwide qualifying at Texas canceled due to rain
Mother Nature intervened with NASCAR again on Thursday, as the Nationwide Series' early start to the weekend was relegated to just one practice session.

Two practice sessions and qualifying was scheduled at Texas Motor Speedway, but rain prevented much of the on-track activity to take place. Drivers got in one practice session, but qualifying never got under way.

Kevin Harvick meets the media after being awarded the top starting spot in Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly 300 race. Rain cancelled qualifying so per the rule book, the field is set by owner points.
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR
The lineup for the O'Reilly 300 will be set by 2008 owner points, putting Kevin Harvick on the pole in his own No. 33 Chevrolet. Clint Bowyer will start on the outside of the front row in Richard Childress Racing's No. 2 Chevrolet. RCR teammate Jeff Burton, driving the No. 29 Chevrolet that Scott Wimmer won in last time out at Nashville, will start directly behind Bowyer. Defending series champion Carl Edwards will roll off third in Roush Fenway Racing's No. 60 Ford.

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Herbert to lead the pack in Bahrain
Johnny Herbert took pole position on the grid of the first Speedcar Series race at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The qualifying session determined the starting grid for the first of two race days that begin tomorrow.

For most of the 45 minute qualifying, Johnny stayed ahead on the time board. The Briton was ousted by Stefan Johansson on a couple of laps before quickening his pace to record the fastest time of 2:07.007.

New entrants Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jacques Villeneuve performed fairly well considering that it was their first driving experience in the Speedcars, placing 10th and 14th respectively.

The qualifying session classification is as follows:


Driver Team Time
1 Johnny Herbert Speedcar Team 2:07.007
2 Stefan Johansson Speedcar Team 2:07.028
3 Nicolas Navarro First Centreville 2:07.375
4 Uwe Alzen Phoenix Racing 2:07.810
5 Gianni Morbidelli Speedcar Team 2:07.843
6 David Terrien UP Team 2:07.911
7 Jean Alesi Speedcar Team 2:08.115
8 Marchy Lee Speedcar Team 2:08.766
9 Hasher Al Maktoum UP Team 2:09.082
10 Heinz-Harald Frentzen Phoenix Racing 2:09.214
11 JJ Lehto Speedcar Team 2:09.420
12 Ukyo Katayama Speedcar Team 2:09.688
13 Klaus Ludwig G.P.C. Team 2:09.964
14 Jacques Villeneuve Speedcar Team 2:10.276
15 Fabien Giroix First Centreville 2:10.306
16 Ananda Mikola Speedcar Team 2:10.310


Latest F1 News in brief
  • Schu tests Ducati MotoGP at Mugello
  • Trulli denies Sepang exhaustion
  • Toro Rosso to test new car in Barcelona
  • Alonso breaks silence on McLaren breakdown
  • McLaren to support Hamilton for title - Alonso
  • Bridgestone may color F1 tires in 2009
  • Mosley sex scandal was 'trap' - Theissen

Schu tests Ducati MotoGP at Mugello
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher's motorcycle racing foray continued on Thursday, when he tested for the Italian MotoGP team Ducati at Mugello.

The retired seven time formula one world champion got the call-up after the team's regular test rider, Vittoriano Guareschi, fell on day two of the three day test and knocked his coccyx (tailbone).

But Schumacher, the 39-year-old German, insisted: "I repeat it very clearly that I have no intention at all to step into any kind of MotoGP competitions."

His successor at Ferrari, reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen, commented at the Bahrain circuit on Thursday that he had heard about Schumacher's MotoGP tests and would like to do the same one day.

"I never tried road racing.  I have done motocross often and that is more normal for me," said the Finn.

"For sure I want to try the MotoGP bikes once, but we'll see," Raikkonen added.

Trulli denies Sepang exhaustion
(GMM)  Jarno Trulli on Thursday denied that he was on the verge of exhaustion after finishing fourth in the recent Malaysian grand prix.

The Toyota driver is believed to have stayed in the cockpit of his car long after driving it into the Sepang circuit's parc ferme, after successfully fending off Lewis Hamilton's late-race advances.

Trulli, 33, admits he was hot and tired in Malaysia but insists it was nothing out of the ordinary following a hard race.

"It was hot for everyone," he said, explaining that he often needs to take his time to recover.

"I took it easy because I know the way I am.  When I have to get out (the car) I just have to take a little bit more time compared to the others because, physically, my body reacts in a different way.

"We have made some studies during the years and I just have to take it easy.  I didn't have to get on the podium, so I took my time," Trulli said.

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Select quotes from GP of St. Petersburg media luncheon
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): “It's a place that I enjoy very much. Since unification there are more cars on the racetrack, which can create a different strategy during a race like St. Pete, depending on yellows and other things like that.  We need to keep doing our homework. As a team with a successful history at this track, we don't want to change too much because we want to keep winning.”
DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “It’s great to be back. It’s important for me to do very well in this race because it is my home race. I want to do well just because of the home crowd support, and the last couple of years have been somewhat of a weak race for me. I think I finished seventh or eighth here the last couple of years (actually 9th and 16th) after a crash in practice right before qualifying last year and a bad qualifying the year before that. For me, it’s important to do well. And to kick start your championship campaign, it’s very important also to get as many points in the bag and really work on going all out for Indianapolis.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 06 Hole in the Wall Camps): “We went to Sebring (this week), but it started to pour, so we only got about 16 laps in. It’s going to be tough for us, but again this is just another race car. We keep telling ourselves that. In only 16 laps, our times were only about a second off the quickest of the (IndyCar Series) test, so I think we should be OK. I certainly don’t expect to run first this weekend, but I think a top-five is a reasonable finish for us.” 

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Transition drivers back to more comfortable setting
The nine drivers transitioning to the IndyCar Series should feel a bit more comfortable this weekend. Gone is the wide open, side-by-side racing at 210 mph on a high-banked oval. Back is the quick acceleration and heavy braking on the twists and turns of a narrow street course.
The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be a fresh opportunity for transitioning teams and drivers to measure themselves against the competition in the Honda-Dallara combination used by all cars in the IndyCar Series.
“I'm excited about going to St. Pete,” said Oriol Servia, who finished 12th at Homestead-Miami Speedway March 29 to lead all of the transitioning drivers. “I think there's a little bit too high expectations for the transition guys just because it's our kind of track. At the end of the day, we're still fighting these big teams that know this car for five years. We're still quite a bit behind. The lap times we did at (an Open Test at) Sebring, what we learned in the car was very promising. At least we know in a street race, when we go soft at the front what it means to a car. Still we're here kind of guessing a lot.”

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Stoddart calls for Mosley's removal
After statements from four of the F1 manufacturers, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Toyota, Paul Stoddart revealed his own thoughts on the Mosley case. The former Minardi F1 Team owner declared to BBC Radio that he believes Mosley should resign as FIA President.

Stoddart said: "He has to go, he absolutely has to go. Anyone in public office cannot survive a scandal like this. He is dragging the FIA down into the gutter.

"He is the head of the FIA. You cannot have someone in his position in which his role is to meet leaders all over the world."


Aerodynamic compromise for Bahrain
This coming Friday, the BMW Sauber F1 Team will embrace the third Grand Prix weekend of the year. Willy Rampf, Technical Director for the team from Munich and Hinwil, is expecting the "Bahrain International Circuit" to provide a more accurate representation of the performance level, and gives us some details on the set-up of the car.

"Our two strong performances in Australia and Malaysia confirm that we are on the right track with our development of the F1.08 and have taken a leap forward", says Rampf. "But I would not like to commit myself to any hierarchical order at the moment. For that we will have to wait another race or two."

Slow curves and a very long start-finish straight, which ends with a tight chicane: these are the characteristics of the 5.412km circuit in the emirate on the Arabian Peninsula. Rampf believes this requires a compromise in the aerodynamic set-up: "On the one hand the many slow corners require high down force, on the other hand top speed is very important. Good traction also has a high priority, especially along the narrow section after the start/finish line. In Bahrain we will be driving with relatively soft tire compounds, which will play an important role in the race strategy", says the German. Source BMW Sauber


Barnhart defends Firestone after Foyt bashing
Firestone builds "the highest quality, best racing tire in motor sports, and it's one of the most consistent tires I've ever seen put on a car," Indy Racing League president for competition and operations Brian Barnhart said Thursday.

Barnhart asked if he could respond to comments from team owner A.J. Foyt in Sunday's Tampa Tribune. Foyt, asked what he thought about NASCAR driver Tony Stewart blasting Goodyear after the Atlanta race last month, said Firestone "is just as bad" and "we've got junk for tires."

Firestone is the exclusive tire supplier in the IRL, and Goodyear is NASCAR's exclusive tire. Barnhart said he "couldn't disagree more" with Foyt, and he believes Firestone's "performance, safety and reliability are outstanding."

Foyt raced on Goodyear tires during his legendary career, and he remains loyal to the company. He said no matter which company is supplying the tires, they're going to be better some weeks than others. "But it's the same tire for everybody, so you've got to live with it," he said.

Barnhart conceded IRL teams had several "cut tires" during last weekend's season opening event at Homestead. The likely culprit, he said, was a seam between the concrete pit wall and the asphalt pit lane.


Wirth Returns to Brooks Associates Racing
Longest-Running Atlantic Series Competitor Brooks Associates Racing (BAR) welcome Andreas Wirth back to the fold for the 2008 Atlantic Championship.

Thrilled to be making his return to the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda with Brooks Associates Racing for 2008, 23-year-old German driver Andreas Wirth has plenty to prove.  Having endured a full season outside the cockpit in 2007, Wirth is more than a little eager to re-fire the engines and get back to his passion of racing... full-throttle!

Explaining his hiatus, Wirth said, "It was really disappointing not having a full-time ride in 2007 – especially after having finished third in the Champ Car Atlantic Series in 2006 – but that's just racing.  Anyone that follows racing knows there have been a lot of issues in the open wheel series, and unfortunately that means more challenges for guys like me trying to climb the ladder.  Don't get me wrong though, I'm not making any excuses. There were a lot of options for '07 – I had lots of opportunities – but sponsorship is always a factor."

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Schumacher gets surprise Ducati test opportunity
Michael Schumacher on the Ducati
A private Ducati test session at the Mugello circuit in Italy saw seven time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher get a surprise opportunity to test the Ducati Desmosedici GP8 MotoGP bike on Thursday.

After a crash for regular Ducati test rider Vittoriano Guareschi, which left him in discomfort but not seriously injured after a blow to the coccyx, the Ducati Corse Development Team allowed Schumacher to undertake a sustained period of testing, which saw him back on the Desmosedici following a ride in Valencia after the last race of the 2007 MotoGP season in November.

In cool temperatures and under cloudy skies, Schumacher, who took part in a motorcycle race at Misano last weekend, completed 42 test laps of Mugello with a best time of around 1'58, at a track where the best lap in a MotoGP race is just over the 1’50 mark.

Schumacher commented, `It was a nice surprise yesterday when I received the sudden offer to come to Mugello today and despite the difficult weather conditions it was again big fun to ride the Ducati. But I repeat very clearly that I have no intention at all to step into any kind of MotoGP competition.´


Bahrain GP: Thursday Press Conference
Participating: Nico Rosberg (Williams), Jarno Trulli (Toyota), Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes).

Q. Nico, this is a circuit of which you have got some pretty good memories. Nico Rosberg: Yes, really good. I have had some great races here dating back to 2004 if I am not mistaken when Lewis and I were actually standing on the podium after the race. It was the Macau/Bahrain challenge at the time, so even then it was great times. I have had many great races here.

Q. You won the GP2 title here as well.

NR: Yes. Wining the GP2 title here was fantastic and one of the most important steps in my career on my way to Formula One. I really enjoy the track.

Q. Two very different results so far in the races. Obviously you hope it is going to be the first one rather than the second one when you had problems getting heat into the tires? Do you think that is going to continue during the year?

NR: No. The first race we definitely benefited from other people making mistakes and having reliability issues. In the second race we struggled in qualifying mainly. Our race pace was more or less what we wanted it to be which was behind BMW to have the chance to finish seventh or eighth.

But in qualifying we really struggled and we think it is mainly due to the asphalt change and we have been working hard to try and understand the reasons for that. Anyway, here in Bahrain and in the next couple of races I think we should be back to where we want to be.

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Hot Rod Fuller unhurt in car fire
NHRA Top Fuel driver Rod Fuller was uninjured following a harrowing car fire to his personal vehicle near his home in Las Vegas on March 31. Fuller was traveling less than 45 mph at the time of the incident.

Fuller was returning from a short trip in his 2001 Lamborghini Diablo when the car caught fire. The cause of the accident is undetermined. He was less than one mile from his home in Southwestern Las Vegas at the time of the accident. Fuller, a six-time NHRA Top Fuel winner, was not injured and will next compete at the Ninth annual Summitracing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, April 11-13. Fuller won the fall NHRA Las Vegas race at LVMS last October.

"I get back from a race and I usually take a little cruise in that car," Fuller said. "I had just filled up at the gas station near my house and was going less than 45 mph. It was a beautiful day and I had the window rolled down when I saw and felt a flame and smelled smoke. I didn't get the car fully stopped and unhooked the seat belt and jumped out. The car rolled another 10-15 feet and it exploded. I'm fine, there are no injuries. I'm just very fortunate. I feel lucky to be a race car driver and that I didn't panic.

"We don't know why it happened, but think it was related to the fuel system. It was very scary. I was shaken up, but I'm doing fine."


ALMS St. Pete race live on ABC Saturday
Franchitti's Acura clashes with a Penske Porsche in last year's race
The American Le Mans Series launches one of its most extensive telecast ventures ever this weekend in conjunction with the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg presented by XM Satellite Radio. In the U.S., ABC will broadcast the race live Saturday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. In Europe, in addition to live coverage on MotorsTV, new telecast partners in Germany's DSF, Europe's trans-terrestrial Eurosport2 and Sport Italia will provide special produced highlight coverage for the first time.

The additions of DSF, Eurosport2 and Sport Italia to the international lineup gives the American Le Mans Series one of the most extensive international television packages in sports with more than 600 million homes worldwide capable of viewing American Le Mans Series races.

"This just further signifies the growth and popularity of the American Le Mans Series on a global scale," said Scott Atherton, Series President and CEO. "It is an excellent tribute not only to our world-class style of racing, but to our auto manufacturers, teams, drivers and corporate partners who are all helping make this series one of the most exciting and widely watched motorsports series in the world."

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Revised 2008 Atlantic Schedule
In the five weeks since open-wheel unification was announced, officials from the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda have been hard at work on several fronts, including shoring up its schedule for the 35th Anniversary season in 2008.

Those efforts bore fruit today as Atlantic Championship Managing Director Vicki O’Connor unveiled an 11-race schedule at a news conference to confirm the return of the series to the Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières—one of Canada’s most beloved events and a historic venue for Atlantic racing—after a five-year absence. The Atlantic Championship will headline activities in Trois-Rivières on Sunday, August 17 for the first time since the 2003 season, when A.J. Allmendinger claimed the victory en route to his series championship.

“It seems fitting that, in this 35th Anniversary season, Atlantic will return to an event where it has such a rich history,” O’Connor said. “We have vivid memories of the great racing and outstanding fan support we enjoyed over the years at Trois-Rivières, and we’re looking forward to reacquainting ourselves with those fans this summer. It is certainly a popular destination for our teams and drivers, and is a wonderful centerpiece for our 2008 schedule.”

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Mosley calls Extraordinary FIA meeting as pressure grows
Expect Mosley to file a huge lawsuit against News of the World
Max Mosley called on the FIA Thursday to hold an Extraordinary General Assembly meeting as soon as possible as the fall-out continued from newspaper revelations that he was engaged in sex acts with prostitutes that involved Nazi role-playing. The moves comes as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Honda all called on the FIA to address the issues arising out of the article published in the News of the World last Sunday.

"The full membership of the FIA will be invited to attend the meeting at which the widespread publicity following an apparently illegal invasion of the FIA President's privacy will be discussed," said motorsports' ruling body in a statement.

"The FIA has noted that Mr. Mosley is preparing legal proceedings against the newspaper in question.

"It is anticipated that the meeting will take place in Paris. It will be held on the earliest practicable date. No further comments will be made by the FIA regarding the matter at this stage."

Earlier Thursday, BMW and Mercedes-Benz issued a joint statement, calling the content in the article "disgraceful" and demanding a response from FIA.

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Hamilton slams Mosley over 'Spankgate'
Lewis Hamilton slams Mosley over 'Spankgate'
Lewis Hamilton slammed motor racing chief Max Mosley over his 'Spankgate' sex orgy with five prostitutes.

“The key is to set a good example, said Hamilton in reference to the claims against Mosley. "We all, especially the young people, we’re always looking up to at least someone to show us the way. Setting a good example is the best way of saying it.”

Hamilton was recently caught speeding and this set a bad example for his fans, so he is beginning to realize his actions also must set a good example.

“I think everyone makes mistakes. I’m young and this is part of my life that for me, in my position, and being a potential role model for lots of young kids, setting a good example is one of our top priorities.

“That’s something I’m going to continue to do. I have said that I’m happy to do whatever I need to do to help and to show to them that I support the rules."


IRL announces DIRECTV sponsorship
New Logo with DIRECTV notation
DIRECTV, the nation's leading satellite television provider, adds another notch in its HD belt as the Premiere Official Sponsor of the IndyCar Series. Beginning with the April 6 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, all IndyCar Series events will be carried in DIRECTV HD, delivering unprecedented detail and realism to a sport already defined by speed, history and pulse-quickening close finishes.

As the Premiere Official Sponsor for the IndyCar Series, DIRECTV will be recognized in the series logo to reinforce that each respective race event is carried "in DIRECTV HD". DIRECTV will also receive extensive branding placements throughout each IndyCar Series race, including in-car camera mounts, placement on all driver uniforms and cars, and branding throughout pit road. The Fan Zone at each track will also feature DIRECTV co-branded interactive kiosks where race fans can learn about the racing history, components of each car, and get updated stats on each driver and race.

Furthermore, the multi-year sponsorship gives DIRECTV a large presence on the IndyCar website (www.indycar.com) including, branding on the IndyCar Race Control feature, the daily poll, and IndyCar Fantasy Racing.

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tv news

Homestead-Miami Firestone Indy Lights race to be televised
The Firestone Indy Lights race run at Homestead-Miami on March 29, 2008 will be shown on Thursday, April 3, 4:30 pm – 5:00 pm ET on ESPN2.

Racing news

Penske Racing Launches New Web Site Design
Penske Racing, the championship motorsports organization with winning teams competing in NASCAR, the IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series, today announced the launch of its new official Internet web site –  www.PenskeRacing.com.  This fully-integrated web site, focusing on all areas of Penske Racing competition, features new designs, enhanced graphics and information, multimedia capability with audio and video webcasts and an exclusive media section designed to assist members of the press in their coverage.

“The new PenskeRacing.com site enables us to share with our fans, our sponsors and the media the full scope of our motorsports organization, with winning teams in NASCAR, the IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series,” said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Performance. “The complete redesign of the site allows us to post the latest information, results and statistics on the drivers and teams, celebrate our latest victories with the fans and give web users a true glimpse into the 40-plus year history of Penske Racing, which includes 14 Indianapolis 500 victories, multiple NASCAR wins, including the 2008 Daytona 500, and much more.”

Highlights of the new PenskeRacing.com site include:

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Red Bull blocked McLaren move - Vettel
Sebastian Vettel
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel on Thursday confirmed that Red Bull blocked his chance to switch to formula one title challenger McLaren in 2008.

The 20-year-old German looks set to become a hot commodity on the driver market, following his impressive early career as a BMW Sauber test driver and Toro Rosso racer.

His contract, however, is strictly controlled by Red Bull for the next few years, and his bosses were not willing to negotiate when Mercedes-powered McLaren came knocking for a replacement for Fernando Alonso this year.

"Obviously it was a great chance, and you don't get these chances very often in life," Vettel told the British online publication Metro.

"Right now there are two teams you can win the championship with and that's one of them.  But I'm confident enough that this chance will come again, with whatever team that may be.  It would have been nice, but in the end I'm not sad," he added.

When asked specifically if Red Bull stood in the way of his McLaren chance, Vettel answered: "Yeah".

"But I don't think I'm being held back, I'm happy still," he added.


Mosley replies, as more carmakers join condemnation
(GMM)  Max Mosley on Thursday responded with disappointment to news that carmakers involved in formula one had denounced his involvement in the sex scandal.

Germany's BMW and Mercedes-Benz were the first to slam the FIA president's allegedly "disgraceful" behavior, that at the weekend was revealed by the British tabloid press.

Mosley, who in a letter to FIA affiliates this week did not deny his escapades with five prostitutes, responded: "Given the history of BMW and Mercedes-Benz, particularly before and during the Second World War, I fully understand why they would wish to strongly distance themselves from what they rightly describe as the disgraceful content of these publications," he said, no doubt referring to the Nazi elements of News of the World's reportage.

"Unfortunately, they did not contact me before putting out their statement to ask whether the content was in fact true," the 67-year-old added.

"No doubt, the FIA will respond to them in due course, as I am about to respond to the newspaper in question."

But Mosley's support base subsequently only dwindled further, when F1's Japanese contingent - manufacturers Honda and Toyota - also slammed his conduct.

"Toyota Motorsport does not approve of any behavior which could be seen to damage formula one's image, in particular any behavior which could be understood to be racist or anti-Semitic," one statement read.

"When all the facts are known, it will be for the FIA to decide whether Mr. Mosley has met the moral obligations which come with the position of FIA president."

Honda reacted similarly, expressing concern that F1 and its stakeholders' reputations are "being damaged".

"We request that the FIA gives this matter careful consideration and reaches an immediate decision in the best interests of F1 and motorsport," it added.


Pressure mounts in 'Spankgate'
The McLaren/Ferrari controversy was called 'Spygate' so it's safe to say that the Max Mosley Nazi-style orgy with five prostitutes, two of whom spanked his bare posterior while he begged for more can be called 'Spankgate.'

The pressure on Mosley following accusations about his private life has been increased by four of the car makers in Formula One.

The German companies labelled Mosley's behaviour "disgraceful" after he was said to have taken part in a "Nazi-style orgy in a torture dungeon". They said they "strongly distanced" themselves from the FIA president. Mosley has apologised for any embarrassment caused, but denied any Nazi connotations to his behaviour. A joint statement from BMW and Mercedes demanded a response from the FIA, which represents the interests of motoring organisations and car users as well as motorsport.

Honda and Toyota released their own statements, both emphasising that high standards of conduct were required of senior figures in sport and business, and demanding that the FIA gives the matter "careful consideration".


Toyota criticizes Mosley scandal in statement
"Toyota Motorsport does not approve of any behavior which could be seen to damage Formula 1's image, in particular any behavior which could be understood to be racist or anti-Semitic. Senior figures within any sport or business, including motorsport, must adhere to high standards of behavior. When all the facts are known, it will be for the FIA to decide whether Mr. Mosley has met the moral obligations which come with the position of FIA President."


DirecTV to begin IRL campaign this weekend
DirecTV's deal to become quasi-presenting sponsor of the IRL is close enough to fruition, league commercial division president Terry Angstadt told the Times, that the satellite television provider will begin its marketing effort this weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The six-year deal will pay the IRL $3-million annually.

Angstadt said the agreement would not mean a name change for the series but would slightly alter the logo. The league is still pursuing title and presenting sponsors, Angstadt said. A title deal would be worth about $10-million a year.


Variable-ratio steering at St. Petersburg
You won't see Danica Patrick making a big fuss over the IRL's new variable rate steering like she did with the weight rules change.  Why?  Because the variable steering was implemented primarily to help her given she is not as strong as the male drivers and her poor little arms were tiring on the road courses causing her to fade as the race wore on.  Not a peep out of her on the paddle shifters and variable rate steering.  Not a peep
Last week, the IndyCar Series introduced paddle shifting to its cars. This week, the variable-ratio steering rack complements the package on the streets of St. Petersburg [in an effort to help weaker drivers such as Danica Patrick, call it Danica-Steering if you like].

Call it the VR for short. Its purpose is to diminish the amount of effort needed by the driver to turn the steering wheel on road/street circuits such as the 14-turn St. Pete course. Multiple drivers utilized the VR in competition and testing last year, and feedback was obviously positive.

"People felt that it would be a benefit in terms of reducing the overall fatigue levels during an event," said Les Mactaggart, senior technical director for the sanctioning Indy Racing League. "A majority of teams ordered them for the season."

The system is optional, and don't call it power steering.

A standard steering rack is a metal bar with a series of evenly spaced teeth that links to the front wheels of the car. A pinion controlled by the driver turning the steering wheel catches on the teeth of the steering rack, causing the wheels to turn in the corresponding direction based on the load and movement of the driver.

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Motorcraft Primary Sponsorship Debut
Wood Brothers Racing will unveil Motorcraft’s black, white and red paint scheme as the primary sponsor for this weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Bill Elliott will drive #21 Ford Fusion in the Samsung 500 on Sunday, April 6th. Geoff Smith, Motorcraft’s Motorsports Manager, explained why Motorcraft chose to debut their primary sponsorship at Texas Motor Speedway. He stated, “Motorcraft is excited to launch our 2008 sponsorship season in Texas this weekend.  Texas is a very large and important market for Ford and Motorcraft parts. The Texas NASCAR race will afford us the opportunity to continue to grow our brand image given NASCAR's popularity and exposure.  We will provide trackside hospitality to reward local dealer and distributor contest winners who will attend the race as our guests.” “Team 21” is looking forward to racing a newly built chassis. Crew Chief, Mike “Andretti” Smith commented on this week’s preparation. He noted, “We went to Ford [Racing] this week to work on the 7-post shaker rig with the actual Texas race car. We think we came up with something really good.” He admited that they will focus on both qualifying and race runs during the initial practice on Friday because they are using a setup that is different from what they have tried at other tracks that resemble Texas, such as Atlanta.  For more information on Motorcraft , please visit www.motorcraft.com.


Interstate back on the #18
The green and black colors of Interstate Batteries will be back on the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch at Texas this week.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Dennis quiet in face of Mosley sex scandal
  • Young driver confirms 2008 Toro Rosso debut
  • Ralf keeps mind open to F1 return
  • Schumacher rejects latest MotoGP rumors
  • Young Belgian to test Force India in 2008
  • German F1 carmakers denounce Mosley sex scandal

Dennis quiet in face of Mosley sex scandal
(GMM)  McLaren boss Ron Dennis this week would not be drawn on the sex scandal that has turned the tables on FIA president Max Mosley.

Dennis, the 60-year-old Briton, spent the recent winter pre-season fighting for his future in formula one, following the humiliating 2007 espionage scandal that cost his team the constructors' title and a $100m fine.

But with the circumstances apparently having now gone full circle, after some last year accused Mosley of waging a McLaren "witch hunt", Dennis declined to comment when he appeared at the Motor Sport Business Forum in Bahrain on Wednesday.

Mosley this week openly questioned the origin of the covert investigation into his private life, writing in a letter to FIA affiliates that he had been pursued for "reasons and clients as yet unknown".

But all Dennis would say, when asked by a journalist whether he thought there was no such thing as bad publicity, was "no".

Dennis closed the questioning by insisting that the forum was not the appropriate place to discuss the matter.

Young driver confirms 2008 Toro Rosso debut
(GMM)  New Zealand racer Brendon Hartley on Thursday confirmed that he recently conducted the secret track debut of Toro Rosso's new car, the STR3.

It emerged this week that, with the Italian team's race drivers Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais overseas for the Malaysian and Bahrain grands prix, the task of shaking down the car fell to the highly rated Red Bull junior driver.

Hartley, 18, drove the Ferrari powered STR3, that is based on Red Bull's Adrian Newey penned RB4, at the Vairano circuit in Italy.

The current British F3 competitor, who last year became the youngest ever winner of the Formula Renault 2.0 Euro Cup, has also driven a Renault-powered Red Bull F1 car in a demonstration in Saudi Arabia, after familiarizing himself with the machine over a few laps at Silverstone.

"There's been a lot happening in the last few weeks that I haven't been able to speak about," Hartley is quoted as saying by the New Zealand Press Association.

"The formula one testing with Toro Rosso was a confidential development session for a car that is yet to be publicly launched," he added.

"What I can share is that it was a privilege to be invited to drive the new car for the first time," Hartley said.

Read more & Comment...
Skip Barber

Skip Barber Racing’s First Sports Car Series Debuts
The first-ever races of the inaugural Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge championship are this weekend, April 4-6, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

This new series, announced late last year, is conducted in the same manner as the long-running (since 1976) open-wheel Skip Barber Race Series: Providing a fleet of identically prepared race cars made available to drivers for a set race-weekend fee.

But rather than using the traditional Formula Skip Barber single-seaters, drivers in the MAZDASPEED Challenge compete in MX-5 Miata race cars that are race-prepped in the same manner as those used in the SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Series.

‘‘The Skip Barber MAZDASPEED Challenge is an important new rung on the Mazda-driven motorsports ladder,’’ said Skip Barber President George Ayres.

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Crown Prince of Bahrain bars Max Mosley
Max isn't smiling nowadays
Max Mosley, the chief rule-maker in world motorsport, is not attending the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend because he has been told by the Kingdom’s Crown Prince not to show up after revelations of his part in a sado-masochistic orgy with five prostitutes.

Mr. Mosley, who is fighting to save his career, had told friends that he would not be going to the race because he is too busy with his lawyers trying to assemble a case for invasion of privacy against the News of the World which on Sunday ran a lurid exposé of his bizarre sexual activities.

But The Times can reveal that Sheikh Salman Bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain, has written to Mr. Mosley informing him in no uncertain terms that he would not be welcome in the desert kingdom, an embarrassingly clear sign that Mr. Mosley’s reputation has been severely damaged.

“In light of the allegations, I suspect you may be deliberating on your planned attendance at the Grand Prix here in Bahrain later in the week,” the Crown Prince told Mr. Mosley in a letter sent to him on Tuesday. “I therefore felt it important to convey the position of Bahrain and its people.”

Read more & Comment...

Big crowd expected for Bahrain GP
Bahrain is in top gear to handle tens of thousands of fans and their families pouring into the country for the F1 festival. Police patrols have been beefed up, emergency services are at the ready and extra staff have been drafted in at the airport and causeway, to speed through fans arriving for the Bahrain Gulf Air Grand Prix.

More than 90,000 people are expected to attend the race and the festival of entertainment around it, over the three days. More than 300 police will control traffic to and from the three-day event, which starts tomorrow at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC).

"They will be equipped with vehicles, motorbikes and cranes in the case of accidents," said a General Directorate of Traffic spokesman.

"An office will be set up in Sakhir to register any accidents and become the central point to direct efforts during the event.

"A team of traffic police has also been formed to work at the King Fahad Causeway, to facilitate the procedures for vehicles entering the country for the event."

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Mathiasen Motorsports signs Bomarito
Mathiasen Motorsports announced today that they have signed Jonathan Bomarito to drive the #26 Swift for the 2008 Cooper Tires presents the Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda.  This partnership comes on the heels of their impressive performance at the final pre-season testing session at MSR Houston, in which the team ran the fastest lap in three of the four sessions and clocked an overall fast lap over a half second quicker than the next competitor.

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A1GP launches Global Village
A1GP is unveiling a new off-track concept for its events - the A1GP Global Village.

The new event concept is geared towards delivering extra entertainment for A1GP fans and spectators on the race weekend, all as part of the admission ticket.

The initiative starts at A1GP Brands Hatch, Great Britain on 2-4 May 2008, and will be used at further A1GP events next season. It will host a range of interactive activities, including the chance for fans to change a tire on a real A1GP car with the fastest getting the chance to walk the grid right before the start of the Feature race – a money can’t buy prize.

It will also include displays of race cars, official A1 Team merchandise shops and a unique atmosphere to eat and drink.

So whether it is relaxing with friends and refreshments, admiring the Retro Race display, getting involved with activities or finding out more about A1 Teams and competing nations, Global Village is a hub of entertainment that is inclusive and has something for the whole family in between A1GP track entertainment.

To learn more about the A1GP Global Village click the button on the right, or head to a1gpglobalvillage.com

Racing News

SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, How does this work?  More of a passing poll for promoting amusement than a credible rating system, SPEEDTV’s Driver Ranking System is a joke.

Never-won-a-race Danica Patrick one slot behind 4-time Champ Car Champion and now F1 driver Sebastien Bourdais and AHEAD of F1-phenom Lewis Hamilton? Amusing. There is one race in the books and Ed Carpenter finished in front of Danica and he is not listed?  August Bodi

Updated 4-2-08

Pos. Driver (Series)

1. Scott Dixon (IRL) 11.140
2. Kimi Raikkonen (F1) 8.634
3. Jeff Burton (NASCAR) 8.050
4. Marco Andretti (IRL) 7.833
5. Tony Kanaan (IRL) 7.684
6. Jeff Gordon (NASCAR) 7.321
7. Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) 7.260
8. Dan Wheldon (IRL) 7.224
9. Denny Hamlin (NASCAR) 7.223
10. Kevin Harvick (NASCAR) 7.207
11. Helio Castroneves (IRL) 7.168
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR) 7.103
13. Tony Stewart (NASCAR) 6.938
14. Sebastien Bourdais (F1) 6.897
15. Danica Patrick (IRL) 6.686
16. Greg Biffle (NASCAR) 6.667
17. Clint Bowyer (NASCAR) 6.440
18. Lewis Hamilton (F1) 6.322
19. Kasey Kahne (NASCAR) 6.236
20. Carl Edwards (NASCAR) 6.160

Provided by STATS Inc.
Current year results, last 10 races, last five races and last race are factored in equally, with an adjustment factor to compensate for the series different scoring systems. In addition, a competition difficulty factor has been included to balance the competitive depth of each series.


Update For the Fans: Walker Racing
Given the unfortunate developments with our Team Australia program, our focus in the short term is the Atlantic Series. We have every reason to believe that this year's Mazda Atlantic Series will be as competitive as ever. Our team line-up from drivers to team is the strongest we have had as we begin our third year in the series.

Not that this is good news by any means, but being forced to shut down our efforts to join the merged IndyCar Series, in the short term has allowed us time to really look at the future and where it is for us to direct our efforts over the next five years. In addition to the Atlantic program, we are looking at sub-contracting to other race teams/series for work to keep our core loyal employees until I can build another program for 2009.

IndyCar clearly is the most logical as a primary program, given the expected pending future growth. ALMS has also experienced some changes that are very attractive if a team can manage to align itself with a car manufacturer. As for A1GP, with the changes being talked about and the schedule aspect of the series, it is an attractive program to us. So, as you can see, there are plenty of exciting racing programs. However, as is in any business, developing the financial resources and the investment is the hardest part, but then if it was easy, then everybody would be doing it.....Right?

Lastly, I have been asked by many of you to comment on Mr. Gore's press statement. I will simply say this, Craig and I know what really happened, and if it's necessary for me to produce existing documents that will speak the clear truth, then I am more than happy to produce them. Going legal is never the best option in my mind, as often nobody wins, and it's an unfortunate end to a partnership that was one of the brighter and more successful programs of the Champ Car World Series over the last three years. However, it's better to have the truth come out with legal process than to be reduced to trash talking and defamatory statements in the media. I will just let the facts and written documents speak for me.


Bridgestone St. Petersburg GP Preview
Race Distance: 180 mi./289.68 km (100 laps on the 1.80-mi./2.897-km temporary street circuit).

Television/Radio Broadcast: Live - Sunday, April 6, at 2:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN, IMS Radio Network and XM Radio 145.

Firestone Firehawk Race Tires Supplied:

  • 1,142 dry-condition slicks; each car receives 10 sets (40 tires) for the race weekend.  Firestone Fast Six qualifiers receive one additional set of slicks for that session only.
  • 436 wet-condition grooved tires; each car receives four sets (16 tires) of rain tires.

Both the dry- and wet-condition tire specifications feature return performances from the identical specs used at St. Petersburg in 2007. These are the "softest" race tires, in both tread compound and sidewall construction, that Firestone will select for any IndyCar Series circuit this season.

From Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing: "The 2008 season got off to a rousing start last weekend at Homestead and we expect the momentum to continue growing this weekend at one of our favorite stops, St. Petersburg. Firestone has been the Official Tire and associate sponsor of this event for as long as the series has been coming to St. Pete. In fact, the aptly named 'Firestone Turn' at the end of the front stretch was the place where the IndyCar Series first made a right turn back in 2005. Andretti Green Promotions has done a tremendous job building the grand prix into one of the series' marquee events, and Firestone is proud to have played a role. The racing is always exciting here, and we're eager to see the return of the 'Firestone Fast Six' and the new qualifying format that will debut Saturday. Add to that a Firestone Indy Lights doubleheader and it all bodes for a tremendous weekend."

Firestone "Tire-ific" Move of the Race: This $10,000 prize will be awarded after each IndyCar Series race to the driver who best utilizes his or her Firestone tires to make a bold, dramatic move during the event. It could be relying on the Firehawks' great grip to execute a daring pass, or having the confidence in the tires' durability to run an extra stint on a set to improve position. After each race, Firestone Racing officials will submit the top three "Tire-ific" candidates to www.indycar.com, where fans will be able to cast their votes during the ensuing week to determine the winner. The winner from last week's Homestead race (nominees are Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter and Dan Wheldon) will be named in St. Petersburg pre-race ceremonies Sunday.


Kalkhoven has yet another skiing accident
Perhaps it would be better if IndyCar team owner Kevin Kalkhoven stayed off the ski slopes.  Over a year ago he suffered a badly separated shoulder from a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado and recently he fell again at Aspen, breaking his ribs and puncturing a lung.


Paul Tracy released from contract
Paul Tracy
According to this SPEEDTV.com article, Forsythe Championship Racing has met the terms of their contract.  “According to my legal advice, Gerry has terminated the contract I had so that makes me a free agent,” said Tracy on Tuesday night. “I’m more than willing to drive at Long Beach for him and I told the team that but they haven’t confirmed it yet.

“I know this, I don’t want to watch any more races on television, I want to be in them.”

“We met with Monster Energy Drink last week and gave them a proposal with a budget, so it’s on their table,” said Tracy of the company he signed a personal services contract with last year. “They’re trying to see what they might be able to do (in the IRL) but it’s difficult because they’re already in the second quarter of their budget. 

“But they seem to like me so I’m hoping for the best.

“I definitely want to run Indy again and I’d like to run at least one race before May but I’m running out of time,” he said.


Confirmed - Mosley calls off Bahrain visit
(GMM) A spokesman for F1's governing body on Wednesday confirmed that FIA president Max Mosley has called off his scheduled visit to Bahrain this week.

"He will not go for personal reasons," the spokesman told the German news agency DPA.

The confirmation follows the widely reported revelations in the British tabloid media about 67-year-old Mosley's private sex life.

tv news

Jay Leno mentions Mosley scandal in monologue
Jay Leno joked about Max Mosley's scandal in his monologue on The Tonight Show on Tuesday night.  Leno said that Mosley was asked to step down after a video surfaced showing him in a sex orgy with five hookers at once.  Jay said that shows how strong the Euro is against the dollar.  Our governor can only afford one hooker at a time, and they get five.  Leno said we have to do something about the economy because this is ridiculous that they get five hookers instead of one!


Growth forcing IRL to alter qualifying format UPDATE The IndyCar Series will enhance its popular Firestone Fast Six qualifying format for road and street courses beginning with the series’ visit to St. Petersburg, Fla. April 4-6. Single-car qualifying, which previously preceded the Firestone Fast Six shootout, will be eliminated on road and street courses in favor of group sessions that will progressively narrow the field to the fastest six, who will then enter a 10-minute shootout for the pole.

Qualifying procedures explained
Preparations for qualifying at road and street courses will begin with two Friday practice sessions in which all cars will participate together for a total of 2 ½ hours. On Saturday morning, the cars will be randomly divided into two groups for a final practice session. Each group will get 30 minutes of practice time.

Qualifying begins Saturday afternoon with the two groups competing for 20 minutes each. The fastest six cars from each group will advance to another round of qualifying while positions 13 down will be established for the race by the fastest laps turned by the remaining cars.

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Soft and medium compound for Bridgestone at Bahrain
After the extreme heat of the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, Bridgestone’s medium and soft compound Potenza Formula One tires face another hot test at the desert during the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir.

The 5.41 km Hermann Tilke designed circuit features a diverse 15 turns. It is one of the toughest circuits on brakes visited during the course of the season, and the weather conditions are usually hot and dry, meaning that cars and drivers face a severe test. In addition, the desert location means the circuit often starts the weekend quite sandy, but with the running cars soon cleaning the track.

Finding traction is crucial in Bahrain with the circuit layout seeing a number of tight corners leading on to short straights. With no traction control in 2008, and the high demands for traction, this circuit could be the best illustration so far of just how well teams and drivers have adapted to the latest rules.

Where traction is not optimized, spinning the wheels or sliding can occur. Apart from looking dramatic, this causes additional heat in the tires. Tire management and minimizing unnecessary tire heat – in the already hot conditions - is therefore an important consideration for competitors here. 

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Speedcar Bahrain entry list released
Speedcar Series has released its final driver entry list today for the race weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix between Friday and Sunday, April 4-6, 2008

The latest additions to the driver lineup are '97 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, former F1 driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Le Mans 24 Hours winner, Klaus Ludwig who also drove for the Series in Indonesia.

Driver Car no Country Team
Hasher Al Maktoum 85 UAE UP Team
Jean Alesi 27 FRA Speedcar Team
Uwe Alzen 08 GER Phoenix Racing
Heinz-Harald Frentzen 80 GER Phoenix Racing
Fabien Giroix 17 FRA First Centreville
Johnny Herbert 69 GBR Speedcar Team
Stefan Johansson 07 SWE Speedcar Team
Ukyo Katayama 06 JPN Speedcar Team
Marchy Lee 50 CHN Speedcar Team
JJ Lehto 90 FIN Speedcar Team
Klaus Ludwig 12 GER G.P.C. Team
Ananda Mikola 18 INA Speedcar Team
Gianni Morbidelli 10 ITA Speedcar Team
Nicolas Navarro 71 FRA First Centreville
David Terrien 20 FRA UP Team
Jacques Villeneuve 96 CAN Speedcar Team

The weekend after Bahrain will see the final Speedcar Series event of the inaugural season in Dubai on April 11-12.


Sprint Cup Series testing at Kentucky Speedway
Some Sprint Cup drivers are scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday, April 2 Infield, including Jason Keller of Gillett Evernham Motorsports Research & Development Team; #84-Mike Skinner; #01-Regan Smith of DEI; #45-Chad McCumbee of Petty Enterprises; #34-John Andretti of Front Row Motorsports. Fans can view test sessions from the designated area outside the Fan Center in Turn 3. The Fan Center is located off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 North. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary. Kentucky Speedway PR


Richards: Middle East to take pivotal motorsports role
The Middle East will play a pivotal role in the future of the motor sport industry, former Formula One team boss David Richards told a business forum in Bahrain yesterday.

Richards, chairman of Prodrive and the sportscar maker Aston Martin as well as being a former principal of the Benetton and BAR F1 teams, was giving a keynote address before Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

“From next year, this region will have six world class racing circuits,” forum organizers quoted him as saying. “It shows that the Gulf has become a significant focal point for the motor sport industry.

“The business model of a stand-alone circuit is gone forever,” added Richards, who fronted a group that bought luxury carmaker Aston Martin from Ford last year with Kuwait’s Investment Dar taking a 50% stake. “This area of the world is looking at motor sport as a proper sustainable business plan and we should all pay attention.” Bahrain became Formula One’s first Middle Eastern circuit in 2004 and Abu Dhabi will host a race next year.

Dubai also has a modern circuit while Qatar plans to upgrade its Losail track, which hosted a night-time MotoGP race in March, to a Formula One standard.

Abu Dhabi has linked its circuit with a Ferrari World amusement park, Bahrain is planning a technology centre at Sakhir and Dubai’s Autodrome is part of the Emirate’s Motor City development.

Abu Dhabi’s government-owned Mubadala Development Company has a 5% stake in Ferrari and also sponsors the champions along with Etihad Airways, while rivals McLaren are 30% owned by Bahrain’s Mumtalakat Holding Company.


Barrichello not ready to retire
Barrichello not ready to slow down just yet
(GMM) Rubens Barrichello thinks he has another two or three seasons of formula one racing in him.

The 35-year-old is already the most experienced driver on the grid, who - according to some statisticians - will equal Riccardo Patrese's all-time record of 256 grands prix this weekend in Bahrain.

But the Brazilian, whose Honda contract runs out at the end of the year, told the online magazine GPWeek that 2008 is not his F1 swansong.

"It's not my final year," Barrichello said. "I want to finish my career with more than 300 grands prix and slick tires, all that!"


Raikkonen seeking Sakhir victory
Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen heads to Bahrain as the pre-race favorite after dominating the Malaysian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver does not have a particularly good track record at the Hermann Tilke designed circuit. Raikkonen finished third in his last three Grand Prix at the circuit and was an early retirement from the inaugural event in 2004. This year Raikkonen is hoping to record his first victory in Bahrain.

"Time and again something has gone wrong," Raikkonen said of his Bahrain record. "Sakhir is one of those circuits where I really want to win -finally. Obviously, we should have speed enough to fight for the top place in Bahrain, too. I have a good touch with that circuit and Ferrari has traditionally been strong there."

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BMW not ready for title yet - Heidfeld
Nick Heidfeld
Nick Heidfeld has played down suggestions that BMW Sauber might be ready to join the fight for the 2008 title.

The Hinwil-based team's 2008 contender, the F1.08, has placed second in both Grand Prix so far this season, and in Malaysia team-mate Robert Kubica's race pace was better than the McLarens.

But German driver Heidfeld told the news agency SID that BMW is still not on the level of the top two teams, including Ferrari, which was beaten by BMW in Australia last month.

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Locals queue up for Valencia GP tickets
Long queues characterized the opening day of ticket sales for this year's inaugural Grand Prix on the streets of Valencia, Spanish media say.

The nationwide sports daily Marca said the first quota of internet ticket sales for the late August event, to be held on the streets of the Spanish port city, sold out in less than one hour.

It was also reported that the high demand put strain on the ticketing system, turning the intention to book a three day seat for the European Grand Prix, for between 195 and 480 euros, into a 'lottery'.

Another daily, El Pays, published photos of long queues of people scrambling to be among the 112,771 capacity crowd at the 5.5km layout between 22-24 August.

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Bahrain pits is McLaren penalty
McLaren's demotion to the bottom of the pitlane pecking order in Bahrain is an unofficial sanction by the governing body, a major German newspaper claims.

It emerged last week that, despite settling into the fifth allocation of garages at the opening two races of 2008, the Mercedes-powered team would be relocated to the farthest end of the pits for the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.

McLaren's higher pitlane residence in Australia and Malaysia was the result of a deal with F1 Chief Executive Bernie Ecclestone, despite the team's exclusion from the 2007 constructors' championship.

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Mosley apologizes, Denies 'Nazi' sex orgy
Max Mosley has apologized for his involvement in the sex scandal that broke this week, but vows to retain his role as FIA President.

In a letter to members and affiliates of the Paris-based global motoring body, and obtained by the media, the 67-year-old Briton claims to have been the victim of a two-week illegal 'covert investigation' into his private life.

The English tabloid News of the World on Sunday revealed video evidence of Mosley cavorting with five prostitutes in an apparent Nazi-themed orgy.

"Not content with publicizing highly personal and private activities, which are, to say the least, embarrassing, (the newspaper) published the story with the claim that there was some sort of Nazi connotation to the matter. This is entirely false," he wrote. 

Mosley said he will sue the News of the World for invasion of privacy and insists that his desire to stay FIA President is supported by his allies who believe his private life "is not relevant to my work."

"I am grateful and with your support I intend to follow this advice," he said. Source: GMM


New Toro Rosso makes test debut
Toro Rosso's 2008 car, the STR3 that is based on Adrian Newey's 2008-spec Red Bull single seater, has made its track debut.

With race drivers Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais overseas for the Malaysian and Bahrain Grand Prix, the task of shaking down the single car fell to Red Bull junior driver Brendon Hartley.

Hartley, 18, drove the Ferrari powered STR3 at the Vairano circuit in Italy, apparently alongside the Maranello-based works team, which conducted straight line tests with Marc Gene in a F2008 last week.

The STR3 in Hartley's hands was painted dark blue, not yet decked out in Faenza based Toro Rosso's familiar blue and Red Bull-style livery. 

Hartley, a New Zealander and one of the most highly rated of the Red Bull junior program, last year became the youngest ever winner of the Formula Renault 2.0 Euro Cup. He is racing in British F3 in 2008.

Vairano was not his debut at the wheel of a Formula One car. Hartley demonstrated a Red Bull racer in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital, last month.

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