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Ireland loses second place  A1 Team Ireland has lost its second place finish in this afternoon’s Feature race in the Vodafone A1GP Algarve, Portugal. Following a stewards’ investigation tonight at the track, Adam Carroll was judged to have passed the Australian car of John Martin under safety car conditions at the second safety car restart of the race.

The team was given a 25-second penalty for the infringement, which drops them three places to fifth position.  Rules state that teams must cross the start/finish line after the Safety Car has pulled off before racing and therefore overtaking can resume.

With Ireland’s demotion, Portugal is promoted to second, Malaysia now scores a podium finish with a bronze medal, and Mexico is promoted to fourth place.  It means Ireland only scores seven points for the race rather than 13, and the championship battle has tightened up immensely. Only six points cover the leading runners, with Switzerland holding the championship lead with 88 points, Ireland two behind on 86 and Portugal on 82.

There are four races to go in the 2008/09 championship, with the A1GP events at Brands Hatch and Mexico City.

Rain postpones MotoGP race  The eagerly-awaited Grand Prix of Qatar that was due to start at 23.00 today under the floodlights of the Losail circuit near Doha had to be postponed because of rain. Just as the Repsol Honda riders and the rest of the grid were about to start the formation lap, heavy rain began to fall in the desert, creating a mirror-like track surface.

The riders have not ridden in full wet conditions under the floodlights that surround the 5.380km (3.343-mile) Losail circuit and the dazzling effect of the lights’ reflection was considered a genuine safety hazard. After much deliberation, with the rain continuing to fall, the organizers decided to postpone the race by a day. So the MotoGP season opener is now planned to start at 21.00 on Monday, with the warm-up at 18.30.

A1GP points standings after Portugal  

Switzerland 88
2 Ireland 86
3 Portugal 82
4 Netherlands 66
5 France 46
6 Malaysia 43
7 New Zealand 36
8 Australia 30
9 Monaco 27
10 Great Britain 24
11 USA 19
12 South Africa 19
13 Brazil 18
14 Italy 15
15 India 11
16 Mexico 8
17 Lebanon 8
18 China 7
19 Korea 4
20 Indonesia 3
21 Germany 2
tv news
Ambrose, Holyfield, McDonald, Miller guests on Wind Tunnel  This Easter Sunday, Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain will feature four distinct guests. 

Marcos Ambrose, JTG Daugherty Racing/Michael Waltrip Racing, the first Australian to race full-time in NASCAR, will be live in the studio.

Evander Holyfield, a multiple world champion in both the cruiserweight and heavyweight professional boxing ranks, who has invested in the new Smith-Ganassi Racing NASCAR Nationwide team, will also be a featured guest. 

Dave Despain will have a phone conversation with Windy McDonald.  Windy has called races at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix for over fifty years.  After this weekend Manzanita will be closed. 

Dave will also have a phone conversation with Robin Miller, expert open wheel analyst, to discuss the potential drivers for this year’s Indy 500.

Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain is aired Sunday night, April 12, 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm ET live on SPEED.

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • License glitch 'not connected' to British GP
  • Sutil - racism causing Hamilton controversies?
  • No adjustable wing for Force India yet - Sutil
  • Ecclestone admits interest in Montreal, New York
  • Whiting says Hamilton apologized for lies
  • Stewart tells Brawn - don't sack Rubens for Lewis
  • Sepang reconsiders F1 night racing

License glitch 'not connected' to British GP
(GMM)  Britain's motor racing authority has played down speculation the Donington circuit is not licensed to host the grand prix next year.

Earlier this month, it emerged that the venue had failed to be granted a racing license by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) because recent renovations compromised driver safety.

But a MSA spokesman subsequently told the Guardian: "It should be understood that this matter is not in any way connected to Donington Park's contract to host the British grand prix from 2010."

He added that the body will "continue to work" with the circuit to address the current issues.

It is expected that FIA officials will inspect Donington this week.

It is also suggested that, despite a conspicuous delay, track boss Simon Gillett is poised to announce details about the debenture funding scheme.

Sutil - racism causing Hamilton controversies?
(GMM)  Adrian Sutil has hinted that Lewis Hamilton's seemingly perpetual run-in with F1's governing body could be a case of racism.

As the latest scandal - dubbed 'lie-gate' by the media - occupies the formula one world, the reigning world champion's closest friend on the grid expressed concern about constant controversies involving Hamilton.

German Sutil, 26, who was the Briton's F3 teammate in 2005, believes Hamilton is "sick" of falling on the wrong side of the FIA's attentions.

"I have no idea how he has got so many punishments," he is quoted as telling his column in the Dutch Formule 1 Race Report.

"Slowly you start to ask yourself why it always happens to him.  Is it his skin color?" Sutil wondered. More ...

Japan rocked by poor USA auto sales  Five of Japan's eight automakers are expected to post significant losses in the next few weeks. Demand for their cars and trucks in the United States, their biggest market, has plunged nearly 35 percent in the past year. Scores of suppliers are on the brink of bankruptcy. Thousands of workers have lost their jobs, and many are losing their homes. These are challenges Detroit has been struggling with for years.

But this is not Detroit.

This is Tokyo, where laid-off auto workers are sleeping in parks, financiers are fretting about the impact of a General Motors Corp. bankruptcy on already weak parts makers, and the heads of once-invincible automakers like Toyota Motor Corp. are watching sales decline and losses mount.

The crisis in the U.S. automobile industry has hit Japan like a tsunami. And everyone in the Japanese auto industry -- the engine of the nation's economy -- is worried that it could get much worse if GM or Chrysler LLC fail. More ...
Strong start to Singapore GP ticket sales  Public grandstand sales for the 2009 FORMULA 1.  SingTel Singapore Grand Prix opened today. This first release consisted of all grandstands except the Bay Grandstand and Walkabout tickets. As of 18:00 hours local time, 20.7% of available tickets had been taken up. The most popular grandstands were the Pit, Padang and Connaught.

The vast majority of sales have come through the improved on-line booking system, authorized overseas sales agents and the hotline call centre. The SISTIC Box Office, at the Indoor Stadium reported relatively low volumes of walk-up customers.

"We are encouraged by the strong response and pleased that the early bird prices are popular with race fans. The improvements to the ticketing system and call centre have ensured that no major transaction issues were reported today," said Michael Roche, Executive Director of Singapore GP.

Given the strong response today we will also be releasing the grandstand at Turn 3 along with Walkabout and Bay Grandstand tickets on 20 April. This grandstand had been on hold pending its realignment to maximize viewing opportunities after the changes to Pit Exit which were announced earlier. The three-day season passes for Turn 3 Grandstand will be priced at S$988 for early bird buyers of the first 50% of tickets sold and S$1188 for regular 2009 rates.
tv news
Portugal A1GP race to be televised   The A1GP race run in Algarve, Portugal on Sunday, April 12, will be shown on Setanta Sports on Monday, April 13, 8:00 am - 11:00 am ET.
Tire graining won't be as bad in Singapore as in Oz  The highly technical and challenging Shanghai International Circuit hosts the third round of the FIA Formula One World Championship where Bridgestone tires will once more be seen in action after just a week’s break from the last race.

Changes to the calendar mean that the Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix takes place just six months after the last event here. That race was won by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton using a hard-hard-medium tire strategy. This season the move to slick tires means new tire allocations for races, so China will see the medium and super soft tires allocated – the same tires as used in the Australian Grand Prix - giving the teams and drivers a tough challenge for tire management.

Shanghai has two long straights and sixteen corners of varying types over its 5.45 km. Heavy braking, extreme lateral loads and high demands on traction are just some of the factors that Bridgestone’s medium and super soft compound Potenza tires will encounter. More ...

Team Falken lands Cleveland Golf sponsor  Team Falken Tire and Cleveland Golf announced a partnership that will see one of the PGA Tour’s leading forces as the premiere sponsor of the Falken Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The team will make its American Le Mans Series debut this week at the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. Bryan Sellers and Dominic Cicero will drive the Porsche on the streets of Long Beach starting Thursday.

Both Cleveland Golf and Falken Tire take pride in leading innovation and technology practices within each of their respective fields. Cleveland Golf, a force in the PGA tour, embraces many of the same product development ideologies which Falken Tire Corporation applies to their Azenis RT Slick tires used for American Le Mans Series competition. Team Falken Tire’s efforts in the prestigious American Le Mans Series clearly reinforce their belief that the heat of competition ultimately produces the highest quality product for the end consumer. More ...
Miller Wins Action Packed Race  
Remy Audette could not catch Chris Miller and settled for a close 2nd
Janice Eakin
Chris Miller got around Remy Audette during round two of the 2009 F2000 Series and went on to take the checkers by just a tenth of a second over Matthew Inge in a highly competitive race at VIR. At the drop of the green it was all Canadian Remy Audette as he was able to get by Matthew Inge for second and then drafted past Chris Miller on the back straight and took the lead.

Audette pulled a gap to more than three seconds while Miller and Inge had to work their way around Tim Minor who had drafted his way into second on the opening lap. Then Audette was balked by lapped traffic going into turn 13 halfway through the race and Miller pounced, getting by him on the entrance to the front straight. A few corners later Audette made a mistake and went off the track at Oak Tree, allowing Matthew Inge to move into second. More ...

Morgan-McClure Motorsports set to return at Talladega  Morgan-McClure Motorsports is back. The team will return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway on April 26 and will attempt to make the Aaron’s 499 with driver Eric McClure, sources said Friday at Nashville Superspeedway. The team will again field the #4 Chevy, with sponsorship from Hefty brand. If the Talladega race weekend goes well, a source said the team could attempt to make more races later in the season. Scene Daily
Stoner wins pole in Qatar  
After a dominant performance in the first MotoGP qualifying session of the year Casey Stoner will get away from pole at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar.

The 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner will attempt to make it three consecutive season-opening victories in Qatar on Sunday having qualified in pole position at the floodlit Losail International Circuit on Saturday.

The superb Australian who blitzed his opponents in the opening races of the year in 2007 and 2008 was in hot form again in the first qualifying session of the new single tire supplier era, setting a 1’55.286s best time near the end of the session, to keep him nearly half a second ahead of the chasing pack. More ...

Hayden doubtful after spectacular crash  
In stark contrast to his pole-setting new team-mate Casey Stoner in Qatar, Nicky Hayden is suffering a nightmare weekend at the Losail International Circuit and may not be able to race on Sunday after a heavy crash in qualifying.

Trying to improve on his 16th place on the grid at the end of Saturday night’s 45-minute qualifying practice at the floodlit desert circuit the 2006 World Champion suffered a spectacular highside that has left him battered, bruised and doubtful for his Ducati Marlboro debut.

The American is suffering severe pain in his back and after undergoing some initial x-rays at the circuit medical centre, he was taken to the local Ahmad public hospital in Doha for further checks. Hayden required three stitches in a cut on his chest and a decision on his participation in the race will be made on Sunday. More ...

St. Pete IndyCar TV Rating plummets  UPDATE #3 Yet another reader adds, Dear AR1.com, I too think the Versus coverage was the best in recent memory, and I'm going to be selfish and say I'm glad IndyCar has a partner who at least puts a decent effort for the few fans this sport has left.  Thing is though, Versus is also in the same position as IndyCar in many ways.  Versus is still relatively new, and years ago I began theorizing that Tony George had taken this sport so far down that for it to recover, you essentially have to reintroduce the sport as something new, so there is a common link and challenge between the two entities.  At least IndyCar would have a few thousand of diehards to start with, which the Versus ratings showed there are indeed only a few thousand core fans left.  Now obviously Versus needs to expand the households it reaches, but that's a long term goal at best.  Short term Versus needs to get more of the households it already reaches to tune into ICR.  For that, the IRL really needs to step up as a partner and pump money in advertising beyond just during race broadcasts where all you are doing is preaching to the choir.

Versus has created quite a base between hockey, rodeo, hunting & fishing, now motorsports, but all these are niche sports and no matter what they do, will attract only a limited audience.  So they need something bigger, perhaps football, college sports, and then some gimmicks for niche sports like IndyCar such as "tune in to have a chance to win $1 million" or something like that.  Then there is how broadcasting as an industry is in the midst of a revolution as telecommunication companies look to get in the cable TV industry, and now Comcast is looking to expand into telecommunications.  So much can and will likely change over the next few years with broadcasting and telecommunications that will ultimately expand the reach of smaller channels like Versus.  The problem all comes back to TG as RIGHT NOW he needs to make long-term financial commitments to the series' rebuilding process especially if he wants it to be making a profit by 2013, the year he will fold the sport if it doesn't.  Unfortunately, he doesn't seem interested in running the sport now that he got what he wanted (classic spoiled brat behavior).  So I want to see the press hound the guy on why all of a sudden he's cutting the investment at a time it needs it most, now that he got what he split the sport to obtain.  Instead of dissecting whether Versus was a good move or not, hound TG why after everything he put the sport through in order to gain 100% control, is he no longer interested in running it.  I'll take the quality broadcast over the crap ESPN was putting out there in a heartbeat, but I sure wish the sport had the leadership who knew how to turn a lemon into lemonade, which the IRL currently lacks.  If it's he can't afford to do it, then divest ownership, let's say to the team owners.  Andy Fogiel, Lansing, MI

04/10/09 A reader writes, Dear AR1, Re your piece on the Versus coverage, I was also asking myself the question you did regarding quality of production vs. installed households. That was before I watched qualifying and the race. Wow. Those guys, and girl, nailed it....first time. I really am hard pressed to find a single element that stood out as a negative. (Actually there was one...and quite significant at that.....it overran its time slot!)

In every other respect the production was world class...... and very classy. The reporters on both sides of the glass sounded like they had been together for a several seasons already........just think how good they will be after just a few races.  All aspects of the camera action were topnotch especially the in-car HD footage.  I really liked the clean and uncluttered graphics after years of crap spread across the screen.  The bumpers and opening credits are way cool.  And....are you listening Speed F1 guys.....I really appreciate the scrolling position updates. More ...

industry news
Bruton Smith's total pay jumps about 60% at Sonic  As chairman and chief executive of Sonic Automotive, Bruton Smith received more than $4.2 million in compensation last year, a nearly 60 percent increase over 2007.

Most of that gain, however, was from nearly $2.4 million in exercised stock options, according to a company filing Thursday with federal regulators. Without that, Smith received about $1.8 million – about 30 percent less than in 2007, when he got a much bigger bonus but didn't exercise any options. The Observer counts salary, bonuses, stock awards, gains from exercised options and perks as total pay.

A Charlotte-based Fortune 500 company, Sonic is one of the nation's largest auto dealers, with 164 franchises in 15 states. The company and its competitors have been battered in the recession, which has severely curbed vehicle purchases.

Sonic last week reported a fourth-quarter loss of $685.6 million, compared with a $23 million profit a year earlier. Executives said the loss wasn't in operations but in assets that now have a much lower value than what Sonic paid.

British F3
Max Chilton and Walter Grubmuller grab F3 poles  Max Chilton and Walter Grubmuller were the men to beat at Oulton Park today (Sat), Carlin Motorsport driver Chilton claiming pole position for Monday's opening round of the Cooper Tires British F3 International Series and Hitech Racing's Grubmuller ending the second session on top of the timesheets.

In qualifying 1, young Brit Chilton pipped his Australian team-mate Daniel Ricciardo to the pole by nearly three-tenths of a second in the closing moments of the session to establish a Dallara-Volkswagen 1-2. "I was surprised," said Max, who turns 18 later this month. "I knew it was a good lap, but I didn't realize until I saw the time that it had been that quick and that it was good enough for pole. I'm very pleased of course; it's a great start to my season." More ...

Texas Samsung 500 TV ratings  UPDATE The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, televised live last Sunday by Fox, earned a 4.7 Nielsen final rating, down 13 percent from last year’s rating of 5.4.

04/06/09 NASCAR on Fox posted a 4.2/10 Sunday for Sprint Cup racing from Texas. The 4.2/10 is down -11% compared to last year's 4.7/10 for the same race. Once again FOX had trouble getting viewers to the set, as tune-in at the green flag was down half a rating point compared to last year (-13%, 3.4/9 vs. 3.9/9). That half-point decline at the start matches the half-point decline for the entire race, showing that the build of the rating through the race was normal. More positively, yesterday's race was far and away the day's highest-rated sports event, it delivered FOX's best NASCAR rating in a month, and the year-to-year decline of five-tenths of a point is an improvement over the average of nine-tenths for FOX's previous races this season. Season-to-date, NASCAR is now averaging a 5.1/10 in the metered markets, down -15% compared to last year's 6.0/12.
Algarve Practice 3: Doornbos keeps Netherlands on top  
Robert Doornbos
A1 Team Netherlands continued to set the pace in the final free practice session ahead of this weekend’s Vodafone A1GP Algarve.

Robert Doornbos set the fastest ever A1GP lap around the circuit with a 1m 30.115-second tour, nearly three quarters of a second quicker better than anyone else.

Teams are allowed to trial one complete ‘PowerBoost lap’ in advance of being allowed to use it in one qualifying segment this afternoon. Doornbos used his to perfection, to send shockwaves through the rest of the paddock with his pace. More ...

New evidence emerges that Hamilton was lying through his teeth  UPDATE FIA race director Charlie Whiting, Speaking to Autosport, said: "I was distinctly uncomfortable about Lewis' demeanor on Sunday (in Australia). It was completely clear he was telling lies.

"On Thursday (in Malaysia) I would say he was just doing what he was told to do. The fact he came and apologized to me in Sepang sums it up pretty much.  He came to me and wanted to talk to me privately, and just said he wanted to apologize for everything he'd done, and he wouldn't do it again, that sort of thing."

"We got into a little bit more detail of what happened when Trulli passed Lewis," added Whiting.

"Lewis did his best to fudge it, I would say, without responding completely and directly.  I reminded him that I had asked him twice in Melbourne, 'Did you consciously let him (Trulli) past?' And he'd said no, Trulli had just passed him.  I then said when the team asked you to let him past, you said 'I've already let him past'.

"I said to him if you had been surprised by that, surely you would have said, 'He's passed me!' instead of 'I've let him past'.  Lewis didn't really have an answer for that. They were trying very hard to get off the important bit of the subject, and trying to divert the stewards' attention elsewhere.  That's the impression I got anyway."

04/09/09 New evidence emerged on Thursday shedding further light on the McLaren ‘liegate’ scandal with the publication of the first account of what took place at the fateful second stewards hearing in Sepang.

A report on autosport.com revealed to what extent Lewis Hamilton and former sporting director Dave Ryan stuck to their initial story that Jarno Trulli had taken it upon himself to overtake the McLaren in Australia.

The pair refused to back down from that stance despite being presented with radio conversations and media interviews suggesting they were lying about deliberately letting Trulli through in the closing stages in Melbourne.

In an interview with autosport, an unnamed FIA source related: "First of all, Lewis heard the radio exchange. It appeared that the strategy was to be extremely vague and not be very direct with the answers. Then the interview where he said, ‘I was told to let him through’ was played.

"At that point they both got very uncomfortable, but still denied that’s what had actually happened. It was a bit surreal."

Stoner on the pace in Qatar  
As the first day of action at the opening round of the season concluded under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit on Friday evening the winner of the last two MotoGP races at the Qatari track, Casey Stoner, was the paceman again onboard his superb Desmosedici GP9.

Despite running off track at one stage, Stoner was in charge from early in the session with his 1’57.053 best time coming on the 12th of his 17 laps and keeping him 0.386s ahead of second fastest rider Valentino Rossi. Australian Ducati Marlboro rider Stoner was the form rider of the 2009 preseason and he will take some beating this weekend in Qatar.

World Champion Rossi was once more the closest man to his young rival Stoner, the Italian registering his quickest time (1’57.439) towards the end of the session. A race winner previously at the desert circuit, the legendary Fiat Yamaha rider will look to start his title defense with another victory on Sunday. More ...

Q&A with boss of Toyota GP of Long Beach  The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach celebrates its 35th anniversary.  Jim Michaelian has been part of it since the beginning.

"We had a staff of about five people that first year with added help that came on for the race," says Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "It has grown since then and we have thousands of volunteers that have assisted us putting this race on. A lot of people have contributed to our success."

It will be the first time unified open-wheel racing will compete on the 1.96-mile, 11-turn circuit, though 12 drivers who are entered for the April 19 race have competed there.

"There is no doubt we were delighted when unification occurred last year," Michaelian says. "IndyCar has been very receptive. They have the resources and manpower and financial resources to commit to the promoters and we have had a significant amount of dialogue leading up to the race. Some of the individuals from the IRL attended our race last year, some of them flying in after the Motegi race. So far, it's been a very good marriage."  More ...

Dollar General Launches “Ticket to the Indy 500” Sweepstakes  Dollar General is celebrating its sponsorship of Sarah Fisher Racing (SFR) in the Indy 500 by offering customers a chance to win a trip to the race and meet IndyCar driver Sarah Fisher. The discount retailer is partnering with AMP and Frito Lay to bring customers the “Ticket to the Indy 500” sweepstakes, which begins April 11 and ends May 10, 2009.

“Dollar General together with our friends at AMP and Frito Lay are pleased to bring the excitement of the Indy 500 to our customers through the ‘Ticket to the Indy 500’ sweepstakes,” said Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s division president and chief merchandising officer. “We look forward to sending the lucky winners to the race so they can enjoy the festivities and help Dollar General cheer Sarah on to victory.”

“Ticket to the Indy 500” sweepstakes will award 10 grand prize packages that each include two tickets to the Indy 500 on May 24, 2009 and a meeting with Sarah Fisher prior to the race. Also, one $100 Dollar General gift card will be awarded each day during the sweepstakes period. More ...

Audette Takes Pole with New Track Record  Remy Audette took pole for today's race at VIR in dominating fashion under very overcast skies with a lap of 1:54.708, breaking the previous F2000 qualifying track record of 1:55.067. The Canadian out of Quebec had the field gapped by more than half a second, as Chris Miller could only manage a 1:55.307, which will put him next to Audette on the front row for this afternoon's 2:30pm start.

Audette, driving the #21 for Audette Racing, turned three laps under the track record all within a tenth of a second of one of another, “It was a good run. We did a lot of laps with very good times. The car was very good. It's going to be a good race, now we'll just have to see if it rains or not,” Audette commented after the session.

Chris Miller, who paced yesterday's session in the JDC Motorsports Van Diemen couldn't match the 1:54.532 he turned in practice, “We had the pace but I just couldn't put a lap down,” said Miller. “We lost radio contact so I couldn't talk to the team about changes. But we are starting on the front row so it should be a good race”

Matthew Inge was able to put the #02 St. Clair Motorsports entry third on the grid. “The track didn't have as much grip as yesterday. Chris Miller and I were running together. There was a car off here and there. It was hard to get a clear lap with the cautions and the traffic,” explained Inge. “But Chris and I were able to put together a good lap right at the end of the session” More ...

Doornbos tops Friday A1GP practice  Vodafone A1GP Algarve, Portugal got underway this morning with New Zealand’s Earl Bamber setting the early pace in the rookie session and the Netherlands’ topping the timesheets in afternoon practice

Round Six of the 2008/09 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport began today in Portugal as the A1GP Powered by Ferrari cars took to the new 4.69-kilometre Aut¢dromo Internacional do Algarve for the first time with the drivers giving it great reviews.

Robert Doornbos looked strong on his return to A1 Team Netherlands’ posting a 1-minute 31.962seconds early on in this afternoon’s first official practice session.

New Zealand continued its consistent pace this afternoon with Earl Bamber back behind the wheel of Black Beauty to record the second quickest time of the day. Fresh from his podium success in South Africa, Monaco’s Clivio Piccione put in a great last lap to move up to third as the checkered flag came out which pushed Italy’s Vitantonio Liuzzi down to fourth on his A1GP debut. More ...

New Zealand set early pace  A1GP  A1 Team New Zealand’s Earl Bamber got his weekend in the Algarve off to a good start, by topping the timesheets in the opening rookie session. Bamber lapped the new Autodromo Algarve circuit in 1m 34.147 seconds, as the track dried from morning rain.

France’s Nicolas Prost was second quickest, half a second behind with a similar margin back to Switzerland’s Alexandre Imperatori.

The major talking point of the session was that it was stopped for a lengthy period after a huge accident befalling Brazilian female Ana Beatriz.

She went straight on at the first turn, scrubbing off little speed before heading into the tires head first. The safety cell of the A1GP Powered by Ferrari car stood up well to the crash, and Beatriz was able to walk from the car unaided, without serious injury. More ...

McLaren to introduce new parts at China  The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 Team has had a horrible start to the 2009 Formula One season. Not only on track the Woking-based outfit is struggling, but off-track the team got involved in yet another scandal. Still the team needs to focus on the upcoming challenge: the Chinese Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton: “I really enjoy racing in Shanghai – the track is a good blend of fast and slow stuff and it throws up a few nice challenges for the drivers. Finding the right set-up is important, you need speed and balance through the high-speed corners but decent mechanical grip for the hairpins. We got it spot-on last year, and while I don’t expect us to enjoy that sort of performance advantage this season, I think we’re all looking forward to a good showing. Hopefully, some of the upgrades we’ve added to MP4-24 for this race will have a benefit: it would be very encouraging if we could qualify a little further up the grid and be regularly challenging for points.”

Heikki Kovalainen: “The best corners on the Shanghai International Circuit are Turns Six and Seven – the fast, sweeping left- and right-handers. The left is almost flat in sixth before you shift down a gear and change direction at very high speed. It’s difficult to find the ideal set-up because of the variety of different corners: there’s some heavy braking, fast esses and high-speed changes of direction, which require a good aero package, and some slower corners where mechanical grip is important. It’s all about compromise – it’s a real challenge for the drivers and the engineers. But at least you can overtake – mainly into Turns Four, 10 and 13 – so I hope we’ll see some great racing this weekend.” More ...

Honda sold F1 team for $2 to Brawn  A Honda official has confirmed that their F1 team was sold to Ross Brawn for just $2 last month, to ensure the team stayed in the sport, according to a report in a Japanese newspaper on Friday. It had been widely speculated that Honda were willing to offload the team, which sports some of best facilities in F1, for a nominal fee to ensure the survival of the squad and the guarantee of the 700-strong workforce.

“Since our withdrawal [in December], it was out top priority to sell the team on condition it continues its F1 activities,” an unnamed Honda official told the Yomiuri Shimbun. “The price was not a problem.”

“We could not sell the team to partners who had sought to disband it and sell its assets on a piecemeal basis,” he continued. “We also needed to protect the jobs of hundreds of people and we think it was a good conclusion.” More ...

Same tires at China as in Australia  The highly technical and challenging Shanghai International Circuit hosts the third round of the FIA Formula One World Championship where Bridgestone tires will once more be seen in action after just a week’s break from the last race.

Changes to the calendar mean that the Sinopec Chinese Grand Prix takes place just six months after the last event here. That race was won by Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton using a hard-hard-medium tire strategy.

This season the move to slick tires means new tire allocations for races, so China will see the medium and super soft tires allocated – the same tires as used in the Australian Grand Prix - giving the teams and drivers a tough challenge for tire management.

Shanghai has two long straights and sixteen corners of varying types over its 5.45 km. Heavy braking, extreme lateral loads and high demands on traction are just some of the factors that Bridgestone’s medium and super soft compound Potenza tires will encounter. More ...

Hamilton to face FIA probe alone - report  (GMM)  Lewis Hamilton may be alone when he faces the World Motor Sport Council in Paris next Tuesday, a source at F1's governing body FIA has suggested.

The Guardian reports that Dave Ryan, the former sporting director who attended the Australia and Malaysia stewards hearings with the reigning world champion, will not be compelled to answer to the inquiry probing McLaren's alleged dishonesty.

"The FIA has jurisdiction only over its license holders and their employees," the source is quoted as saying by the British newspaper.

Ryan was initially suspended and then sacked by the Mercedes powered team, after Hamilton claimed he was "misled" by the long serving McLaren staffer.

"We cannot compel Dave Ryan to attend or give evidence if he feels unwilling to do so.  We have yet to hear precisely who will be representing the McLaren team in attending the meeting," the FIA source added.

The source also gave a damning account of Hamilton and Ryan's explanations to the race stewards, claiming the pair repeatedly insisted that Jarno Trulli was not deliberately allowed past, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

"It appeared that the strategy (Hamilton and Ryan's) was to be extremely vague and not be very direct with the answers.  Then the interview where he (Hamilton) said 'I was told to let him past' was played," the source explained.

"At this point both got very uncomfortable, but still denied that's what actually happened."

Johnny O’Connell going back in time at LB  
Johnny O’Connell
Other drivers may have more starts at Long Beach but no one in the American Le Mans Series goes back further there than Corvette Racing’s Johnny O’Connell. The American Le Mans Series’ leader in career starts (among other categories), O’Connell is entered in one of Corvette Racing’s two Corvette C6.Rs…22 years after racing for the first time on southern California’s famed street circuit.

O’Connell placed 17th at Long Beach in 1986 as part of a Formula Mazda race. Three years later he made his first Indy Lights start there (with a best showing of fifth in 1990) before posting the same result in a 1996 Trans-Am Long Beach race.

O’Connell and Jan Magnussen will attempt to repeat their GT1 victory from a year ago in Corvette Racing’s final American Le Mans Series appearance in the class. The team is planning to debut its GT2 Corvette in August at Mid-Ohio.

Also of note, Scott Sharp will return to Long Beach 20 years after his first race there (in Trans-Am). Patr¢n Highcroft Racing’s American star won in LMP2 last year with David Brabham, and the pairing is shooting for a repeat – this time in LMP1 with the new Acura ARX-02a. Sharp also has raced at Long Beach with CART. More ...

More than a full field expected at Indy  The entry list for next month's Indianapolis 500 will be announced early next week and it could have more than 40 car-and-driver combinations, including a ride for Scott Sharp with Panther Racing that was confirmed Thursday.  Brian Barnhart, the chief steward of the race, said he believes the final count will "end up about in the 35 to 36 category. And that will make for a pretty good field."

Sharp's deal to drive the No. 16 car with Patron sponsorship is the first of several that could be finalized in the next few days.

  • There were 22 cars at last weekend's season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Fla. All are expected at Indy.
  • Tomas Scheckter at Team 3G.
  • John Andretti at Dreyer & Reinbold 
  • A.J. Foyt IV at Foyt Racing.
  • Paul Tracy at KV Racing.
  • Sarah Fisher at Sarah Fisher Racing
  • A second car at Sarah Fisher Racing.
  • Alex Lloyd at Schmidt/Ganassi partnership.
  • Buddy Rice, Bruno Junqueira or Oriol Servia at Rahal Letterman Racing More ...
Kvapil open to other opportunities  
Travis Kvapil
While his first goal would be to see Yates Racing revive the #28 car, Travis Kvapil said he didn't think the Yates Racing team would keep him from other opportunities. "Obviously I want to be racing," Kvapil said.

"I don't like sitting on the couch. I don't like not being there, not competing. It's really hard to watch it on Sunday just knowing that I feel like I should be out there. It has just not worked out. I want to race, and if there were other opportunities that came up, we'd have to look at them as they come and cross that bridge when it comes. The Yates group told me if something did come up, they wouldn't necessarily hold me back from competing, we'd just have to work it out." Kvapil said he wouldn't rule anything out, but would like to find something at the Cup level where he feels as if he still has a lot to prove.

He isn't too concerned about sitting out as far as his abilities deteriorating while he is out of the seat. If Yates Racing does find sponsorship, Kvapil said the team wouldn't need much time to get ready to get to the track.

"In a matter of two or three days we could probably be ready to go to the race track," Kvapil said. "They took my handful of race cars and pushed them over in the corner and the hauler is all ready to go. They didn't scavenge any parts or pieces from the 28 bunch to go to any other team. The 28 is ready to go. we'd have to hire a few people back right away, but a number of people we had on the 28 came from within the company already, so they're there." Scene Daily
Allmendinger being paid "creatively"  
AJ Allmendinger
How and when A.J. Allmendinger is getting paid by troubled Richard Petty Motorsports depends on how creative your definition of "creative" is. "I am definitely getting paid," Allmendinger said in response to garage-area rumors to the contrary. "But we've had to be creative about it, for sure." Is he plowing all his race winnings back into the financially strapped team? "No, no, definitely not," he said. "We've just got to be creative about it."

Sponsorship for six more races was announced this week from Hunt Brothers Pizza, which Allmendinger called "awesome news" in that it assures he'll race through the Sept. 12 event at Richmond, Va. "We've all been kind of taking every week as it comes," said his business manager, Tara Ragan. "We're pretty organic. There isn't even a hard, fast rule for compensation." Bottom line, "I'd rather be on the race track running strong than sitting at home," he said. ESPN Insider
track news
Donington moves into next phase of construction  Donington Park's track developments are set to move into their next phase this coming week, as the governing body the FIA prepares to inspect the circuit's modifications so far. The Derbyshire venue is improving facilities and extending its race track in readiness for the British Grand Prix, which it will host for the first time in 2010."We are working with the world's best," the venue's chief executive, Simon Gillett, told Autosport.

"When you work with the likes of Hermann Tilke to run your FIA submissions and track safety, you have got to say that you are betting on the right horses."

Donington, meanwhile, has hosted just one Formula One race to date, the European Grand Prix of 1993, in which McLaren's Ayrton Senna demonstrated a brilliant drive to win in the wet by 83 seconds. The 'new' venue will feature luxury properties built on-site, as well as adding and improved grandstands and car parks. A momentous occasion in February saw the removal of the landmark Dunlop bridge, which be given a new home elsewhere, albeit not over the track itself.
Small F1 teams supportive of FIA cost cutting measures  Formula One (F1) teams Red Bull Racing and Force India F1 are supportive of the cost-cutting regulations imposed by the sport’s governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA).

“I think everyone has acted responsibly and, in a difficult financial climate, I feel we are moving in the right direction. However, we still have a lot of work to do,” he told StarBiz during the second leg of the 2009 F1 Grand Prix over the weekend.

The new cost-cutting measures imposed by the FIA for the 2009 season include prolonged engine life, reduction in the cost of the engines by about 50% for independent teams, cut in manpower and reduction of in-season testing.

Horner said: “I think it helps create a level playing field so that we have the same tools at our disposal and it’s not just an arms race about who has the most money.”

"The current global financial crisis was likely to have a bigger impact on teams backed by auto manufacturers rather than a consumer product company (like Red Bull)."

For Force India F1, one of the smallest teams in terms of budget size and manpower, operating with limited resources was a norm, said director of business affairs Ian Phillips.

“Our culture has always been to achieve a lot more on a small budget and we have been very good at getting US$2 worth of business out of US$1,” he said.

"Force India, with 275 employees, will maintain its 2008 budget of US$120mil for the current season."

racing news
Earthquake hits home for Max Papis  Sitting what seems like a world away, NASCAR driver Max Papis feels the weight of his country bearing down on him.  It is painful for him to sit here and watch an earthquake do so much damage to a country he loves. 

On Monday, just a day after Papis ran his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, an earthquake rocked L’Aquila, which sits about 75-miles northeast of Rome.  The disaster hit close to home for Papis because as a 12-year old boy, he ran his first Italian Championship go-kart race in the area.  Papis has a big heart and it broke when he received word of the tragedy that struck his native country. 

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated Monday’s earthquake at about 6.2-miles deep.  The quake is the deadliest to strike Italy in decades, leaving buildings in piles of stone and people frightened.  The death toll continues to mount and people are struggling to find a place to sleep at night. More ...
Indy 500 remains affordable event  As sporting venues around the United States slash ticket prices to attract fans in this struggling economy, the Indianapolis 500 still remains the most affordable premier sporting event in the U.S. - without reducing ticket prices!

A general admission ticket onto the grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" is still the best value in sports.

For just $20, a fan can purchase a general admission ticket to the expansive infield of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch the Indianapolis 500. Combined with the fact that IMS food concession prices are among the lowest in major league sports, the entire day becomes very affordable for a "500" fan. More ...

IndyCar Star Hits South Beach  IndyCar Series driver and Miami resident Raphael Matos recently took a break from training and prep for the 2009 IndyCar season to meet with members of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) at Santo’s Restaurant on South Beach’s trendy Lincoln Road. Matos—who earned a full-time IndyCar Series ride after winning the Firestone Indy Lights Champion last year—did a live Q&A with Miami’s business movers-and-shakers and previewed the Oct. 9-10 IndyCar/Grand-Am “SpeedJam Championships” at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“You see exciting racing here because of the [18-to-20 degree variable] banking,” Matos said of racing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “It allows you to race side-by-side, and I’ve never seen racing that close in my life!” More ...

Yamaha and Petronas extend collaboration into MotoGP  Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd has signed a three-year agreement with PETRONAS that will see the Malaysian national oil and gas corporation become an important new Official Sponsor and Premium Partner of the Fiat Yamaha Team.

Under the new partnership, the Fiat Yamaha Team will carry the PETRONAS branding on the team’s liveries, including on the bikes of riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo as well as team equipment and material.

The two parties are also partners in sporting collaborations in motorcycle championships in the Asia Pacific region for over eight years.

The partnership will lead to the future extension of the existing business relationship in Malaysia into the South-East Asian region for the development and production of Yamalube engine oil for Yamaha OEM vehicles.

For PETRONAS, the latest collaboration with Yamaha will enable it to continue building the position of its international lubricants business through a strategic partnership with another globally successful manufacturer and brand. More ...

Interview with Nick Heidfeld  
Q: Does the work on Friday change for the drivers with the new regulations in place ?

Heidfeld: ''Not too much. Theoretically you would like to do a lot more than in the past. Especially at the next races when the updates arrive. But you only have a limited amount of time. Accordingly you simply try to better make use of the time you have. But like you've already seen in Melbourne, at the start of the practice session there were no cars on track either. There it was certainly a lot worse because the track was so dirty. But you don't learn a lot going out on a circuit that is as slow as it was at the beginning.''

Q: Isn't that contradictory. Shouldn't you be out on track every minute ?
Heidfeld: ''No, it's not contradictory. You cannot draw conclusion when the track is two seconds slower and ten minutes later two seconds faster. Like that it's impossible to make comparisons.''

Q: Not even on the basis of calculations and data ?
Heidfeld: ''What you need are clear results, this year more so than last year. If you weren't sure last year then you would simply go out another time. Now you have to make sure that in the shortest possible time you come up with clear results. Because it may happen that you only test a part once. You say 'yes' or 'no' to it and then you consequently will always use it, or never again.'' More ...
China auto sales hit record 1.11 million in March  China's auto sales hit a monthly record of 1.11 million vehicles in March, exceeding U.S. sales for the third month in a row, as tax cuts and rebates for small car purchases lured buyers back into showrooms, according to industry figures.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said sales rose 5 percent in March from a year earlier, when sales totaled 1.06 million, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.

The data confirmed earlier, partial industry estimates suggesting sales remained robust in China, the world's second biggest auto market, despite deteriorating conditions in most major markets. More ...

Patron, Panther Racing Scott Sharp team up for Indy 500  Panther Racing announced today it has reached an agreement with veteran driver Scott Sharp and the Patr¢n Spirits Company to enter a car in the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. Sharp last competed in the IndyCar Series in 2007 with Rahal-Letterman Racing, and is currently having a successful tenure in ALMS, where he is a member of Patr¢n Highcroft Racing.  Sharp will drive the No. 16 Tequila Patr¢n Panther Racing Honda Dallara.

“We’ve been having conversations about having Scott drive for us for the last four years,” Panther owner John Barnes said. “As a team, we’re excited to get this program finalized early so we can be prepared to make a strong run at the Indianapolis 500 this year with the support of Scott and Patr¢n. We certainly feel like Scott is a very capable and experienced driver, and he and Dan Wheldon will really be a force during the month.” More ...

Waltrip team signs Truex's younger brother  Michael Waltrip Racing has signed the 17-year-old brother of NASCAR Sprint Cup regular Martin Truex Jr. as a development driver.

Ryan Truex will begin his new association this weekend in the NASCAR Camping World East series season-opener at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina. Last season, Truex finished 11th at Stafford Speedway in his CW East debut and only career start while driving a car prepared by Dale Earnhardt, Inc.

"Pairing with a racing organization like Michael Waltrip Racing and having (sponsor) NAPA Auto Parts on my Toyota is a great opportunity for me," Truex said. "MWR is really coming on strong this year in the Cup Series and I hope to learn a lot from just being there each week." More ...

Across the Atlantic  IndyCar Series drivers Marco Andretti and Robert Doornbos and Firestone Indy Lights driver Ana Beatriz will cross the Atlantic Ocean this weekend to compete in the A1GP event in Algarve, Portugal.

Andretti will make his fifth start for Team USA, while Doornbos will make his third start for Team Netherlands. Beatriz is the rookie driver for the practice sessions for Team Brazil.

ABC, VERSUS to provide complete Indy 500 TV coverage  UPDATE
VERSUS’ MAY SCHEDULE FOLLOWS (All times ET, subject to change):
Date Time Event
Saturday, May 9 12-6:30 p.m. (LIVE) Pole Day
Sunday, May 10 12-6:30 p.m. (LIVE) 2nd Qualifying Day
Saturday, May 16 12-6:30 p.m. (LIVE) 3rd Qualifying Day
Sunday, May 17 12-6:30 p.m. (LIVE) Bump Day
Monday, May 18 4-5 p.m. Danica: Five Years Running
Tuesday, May 19 4-5 p.m. IndyCar Series Top 10 Closest Finishes
Wednesday, May 20 4-5 p.m. IndyCar Series Crashes and Conflicts
Thursday, May 21 4-4:30 p.m. Top 10 Indy 500 Moments
Friday, May 22 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. (LIVE) Miller Lite Carb Day
Friday, May 22 4-5 p.m. Indy 500: Foyt, Mears & Unser
Saturday, May 23 5-6:30 p.m. IPL Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade
Saturday, May 23 6:30-7 p.m. Indy 500 Preview Show
Sunday, May 24 4:30 p.m. (LIVE) Indy 500 Post-Race Show

04/08/09 ABC and VERSUS will provide comprehensive live coverage of the 2009 Indianapolis 500, with ABC broadcasting "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" for the 45th consecutive year and exclusive cable partner VERSUS offering more than 30 hours of practice and qualifying action.

ABC, which has televised the Indianapolis 500 annually since 1965, will start its coverage with a pre-race show at noon (ET) Sunday, May 24. Live race coverage starts at 1 p.m.

Brent Musburger will serve as host of the ABC telecast. Marty Reid will serve as the lead announcer, with 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever Jr. and "500" veteran Scott Goodyear as analysts. Jack Arute, Vince Welch, Jamie Little and Brienne Pedigo will serve as pit reporters. More ...

DEI announces two appointments  Teresa Earnhardt, President and CEO of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. today announced the appointments of two executive leaders. 

Jeff Steiner was named Executive Vice President and General Manager responsible for the oversight and management of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the Dale Earnhardt Foundation, and special initiatives relating to Earnhardt properties.  Steiner began his role at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. on April 1, 2009.

Chad Warpula was appointed to the position of Executive Vice President and General Counsel for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Warpula will oversee the newly formed Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates joint venture and handle all legal matters for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, and Earnhardt-Childress Racing.  Both executives will report to Earnhardt. More ...

FIA official crashes F1 Renault car  (GMM)  An official of F1's governing body FIA on Thursday had a high speed crash at the wheel of a contemporary grand prix car.

On the occasion of Renault's 'roadshow' event in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates' automobile club president Mohammed bin Sulayem - also FIA vice president for sport - shunted last year's R28 single seater.

On the main straight of the Dubai Autodrome, the car swung to the right under power and struck the concrete barrier, necessitating a visit for the 14-time Middle East rally champion to the medical centre.

Earlier, bin Sulayem had successfully driven the car on a closed road.

"Fortunately he was uninjured and the car will be taken back to be repaired," said a Renault spokesman.

In Dubai for the roadshow event is Fernando Alonso's teammate Nelson Piquet.

At 60, Niki Lauda to be father again  (GMM)  At the ripe age of 60, former triple world champion Niki Lauda is set to be a father for the fourth time.

The Austrian great's new wife, 30-year-old Birgit, is pregnant, according to the daily Osterreich newspaper.

"I don't comment on private matters," he said.  "But let me tell you there will be no pictures of the baby for the media -- and not a single statement by me."

Last August, Lauda married Birgit Wetzinger, a former stewardess with one of his own airlines.

He already has three sons: Matthias (28), a racing driver, Lukas (30), Matthias' manager, and 27-year-old Christoph.

IndyCar drivers test at Kansas Speedway  IndyCar Series drivers Danica Patrick, Dan Wheldon, Ryan Briscoe, Will Power, J.R. Hildebrand, and Mike Conway held a closed test session at Kansas Speedway today.

The drivers were working to improve their cars and technique for the upcoming Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway on April 26. This is the last IndyCar race before the Indy 500, and the first oval track on the IndyCar schedule this season.

Patrick, the 2005 pole winner, was pleased with the track overall and looking forward to the upcoming race at Kansas.

“The racing is good here. We can race side by side and that’s something very important for good racing. We go to some of the other mile and a half’s and they’re not really as good for that, so I think the racing here at Kansas has been proven to be very close over time,” Patrick said. More ...

IndyCar Series and NeuLion Announce New Partnership  NeuLion, Inc. (CA:JTV: news , chart , profile ) announces the launch of a new online video portal dedicated to the IndyCar Series. The Indycar.com Media Center gives auto racing fans across the globe an opportunity to tune into their favorite multimedia content and on-demand programs online.

Powered by leading sports technology company NeuLion, the Indycar.com Media Center is an all-in-one online media solution for both the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights. This is the first and only dedicated online network that gives IndyCar Series fans worldwide one central location to access all things entertainment.

Over the weekend was the 2009 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, FL where NeuLion streamed practice and races on Friday 4/3, Saturday 4/4 and Sunday 4/5. There were 10 scheduled live events totaling close to 15 hours of live streaming race content over three days. The Media Center uses the latest NeuLion technology and service to deliver popular Up to Speed segments, race highlights, vintage races, 2008 archives, podcasting and all other video assets. The Media Center will also provide live online event streaming of IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights practice and qualifying sessions.  More ...

Q&A: McLaren's Lewis Hamilton  Lewis Hamilton has had a tough week off-track in the run-up to last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, and although the MP4-24 continued to lag in the midfield pack, the 2008 world champion was still able to rescue a point on race day. He now looks back on the hectic race and looks forward to the forthcoming Chinese and Bahrain Grands Prix.

Q: A tough race for you Lewis, are you satisfied with your result in Malaysia?
Lewis Hamilton: Yes, it was a tough afternoon. In the dry, we knew our car wouldn't have the pace to run at the front - and that was clear in the opening laps when we didn't have the downforce to match the frontrunners, and we also knew that he lack of downforce would also have affected us in the rain too. I'm satisfied that I pushed hard for the whole race, and even though seventh isn't the greatest reward, it shows that the team never gives up and that we are still capable of scoring decent results.

Q: How were things going when the track was dry?
LH: I pushed very hard in those opening laps. I had a very heavy fuel load, so I was quite pleased that I was able to stay in touch with some of the lighter cars, who were already faster than me. But I paid a price for that as my rear tires started to go off and I wasn't able to keep guys like Vettel behind me. I could see the skies starting to darken so I knew the rain was coming - it was just a question of when? More ...

Ali confirmed for Indonesia A1GP  A1 Team Indonesia has confirmed that Zahir Ali is going to be given another chance to impress by racing this weekend in Portugal.  As first revealed by A1GP.com last month, team officials were so impressed with Ali’s debut in South Africa, that they were already planning to give him another chance this season. And that chance will come immediately, at this weekend’s Vodafone A1GP Algarve.

The 21-year-old secured Indonesia’s best finish for more than 36 races with ninth place in the Feature race in Gauteng, a mature and assured drive from someone who, until that point, had extremely little mileage around at the Gauteng circuit. The team had rested regular driver Satrio Hermanto to give Ali his shot

“Looking at his excellent performance at the last race I think Zahir deserves another chance to drive for the team,” said A1 Team Indonesia Team Principal, Bagoes Hermanto.

“I hope Zahir can optimize his chances to grab another points score for the team. I also hope that the driver rotation strategy will result in a better team performance in the remaining races and shorten the process of the team’s evolution into one of the best on the grid.”

Roush team hopes to have lug nut issue resolved  Roush Fenway Racing general manager Robbie Reiser said the organization is working on solving the problems teams experienced keeping lug nuts secured on wheels during stops in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Lug nuts from three of the organization’s Fords – those of Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards – came off during pit stops in the Samsung 500, causing each driver to lose precious track position.

“They all came probably at the worst situation,” Reiser said. “They were all within 65 laps to go, so it killed their track position.”

Edwards’ problem came at perhaps the worst time. Edwards was leading before the final caution, but after a lug nut came off on the ensuing pit stop, he restarted 11th. Edwards ended up 10th.

“Matt and Greg definitely had cars that could’ve finished 1-2,” Reiser said. “We fight this thing every week because everybody’s trying as hard as they possibly can to beat somebody off pit road. You get weekends where everybody just tries too hard.

“That’s kind of what we went in to – just everybody trying to go as fast as they can, and they knocked some lug nuts off the car all at the same time. It was right there at crunch time, and it cost us big.” Scenedaily.com
JDC Motorsports Set to Challenge for F2000 Championship  JDC MotorSports commences its 2009 F2000 Championship Series campaign this weekend (April 10-11) with the season-opening doubleheader at Virginia International Speedway. After a lengthy off-season, the Minnesota-based squad is anxious to get back racing, confident that it can build on a successful inaugural 2008 season in the series, which featured four podium finishes and fourth place in the title chase. American Chris Miller rejoins JDC MotorSports in 2009, and will be partnered by Mexican rookie Alejandro Munoz.

A native of Edina, MN, Miller enters the 2009 edition of the F2000 Championship Series among the favorites to contend for the series title. The 19 year-old racer impressed many in his first full-season of formula car racing last year, showing the speed, skill and consistency of a future motorsports standout. After earning a podium finish in his first-ever series race, held at VIR, Miller proceeded to finish inside the top-10 at every round until the season-finale, ending the year fourth overall via four podium finishes, seven top-fives and 11 top-10s. Returning to the cockpit of his No. 85 Miller Milling/Redline Oil/JDC MotorSports Van Diemen RF06/Zetec car, the teenager is posed to use what he has learned over the past year to make multiple trips to victory lane. More ...

track news
Nashville Superspeedway unveils All Access program  Nashville Superspeedway unveils its All Access program for this weekend’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Nashville 300, giving fans an “unprecedented behind-the-scenes” look at the race, track officials say.

Nashville officials will provide access to the infield and other areas of the track to All Access ticket holders. Track officials say that the program should help return “some of the ‘grassroots’ elements that have made NASCAR so popular among motorsports fans.

“All Access will provide race fans with a prerace opportunity to access areas of the infield that have been restricted in the past, all of which was once commonplace in the sport of NASCAR,” Nashville Superspeedway Vice President and general manager Cliff Hawks said in a news release. “I feel very strongly that the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Series need new elements that will elevate interest and help each series reconnect with fans.” More ...
Fernandez a familiar face at Long Beach  
Luis Diaz and Adrian Fernandez
No driver entered in the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach can match Adrian Fernandez’s level of experience at North America’s most famous street circuit. Between 1992 and 2003, Fernandez was a staple at Long Beach in the open-wheel ranks and is making his mark again in sports cars and the American Le Mans Series.

Going the other way, the race has certainly made its mark with Fernandez over the years.

“You have to love this race with the fans and the atmosphere,” said Fernandez, who will drive with Luis Diaz in Lowe’s Fernandez Racing’s Acura ARX-01b. “The city is all about the race. I have been coming to Long Beach for so many years that it feels like a ‘home’ event for me. It is a challenging circuit especially with the limited amount of practice time. You need to roll out to pit lane with a good-handling race car. The race is always exciting with four classes of cars all battling for the same piece of real estate. This track doesn’t have much forgiveness if you put a foot wrong, and that’s what makes finishing well here so special.” More ...

8 of 10 F1 teams to testify  The FIA has revealed that eight of the ten Formula One teams will speak at the International Court of Appeal hearing into the sports diffuser row next week in Paris.

The governing body had already announced that the Court of Appeal would meet on Tuesday 14 April to discuss the issue after Red Bull, Renault and Ferrari appealed against the decision taken by stewards at the Australian Grand Prix to reject a protest over the diffusers fitted to the Brawn, Williams and Toyota cars.

The following hearing of the International Court of Appeal will take place in Paris: More ...

Singapore reveals new ticket deals  The initial phase of ticketing for the 2009 FORMULA 1™ SingTel Singapore Grand Prix has begun, with an early bird release offering significant savings over regular ticket prices.

All grandstands, except for the Bay Grandstand, were released for sale via selected channels during part one of the ticketing launch. This will be followed by part two on 20 April 2009, where the Bay Grandstand and three-day Walkabout tickets will also be released for sale.

In all, a total of 72,000 tickets will be released. The early bird release consists of up to 50% of the available inventory for grandstand and walkabout passes. Once the early bird allotment in each area is taken up, the balance in the respective category will be offered at the regular 2009 rates.  More ...

Dunlop sponsors Townsville V8 Supercar race  Tire brand Dunlop will sponsor the Townsville round of the V8 Supercars Championship as part of its launch of the new passenger road tire, the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx.

The event is expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors, as well as being broadcast throughout the country. It will be the first V8 Supercars event in North Queensland. V8 Supercar events are held in all states of Australia as well as rounds in New Zealand and Bahrain. It is the most popular motorsport in Australia, and has a large following in New Zealand. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Honda scuttled Super Aguri team sale
  • FIA incompetence triggered 'lie-gate' - Stewart
  • FIA should drop 'lie-gate' - Ralf Schumacher
  • Confirmed - Schu to skip next two F1 races
  • Sepang wants twilight concept scrapped
  • Quitting could destroy Hamilton - Stewart
  • TWG to address Williams car concerns
  • Coulthard thinks FIA will approve diffusers

Honda scuttled Super Aguri team sale
(GMM)  The former administrators of the now-defunct Super Aguri outfit claim the formula one team could have been rescued.

Insolvency experts PKF are pursuing Honda for more than $400,000 in fees, saying they were dismissed as administrators last year after planning to sell the Leafield based squad as a going concern.

According to the UK financial press, PKF had lined up a buyer for Super Aguri but the plan was rejected by Honda, the team's major creditor that was owed millions.

Honda ultimately appointed another insolvency group to oversee the team's voluntary liquidation.

"Any insolvency practitioner will say that (administration) was the only route for Super Aguri as there were buyers for it," said PDF partner Philip Long.

"Honda didn't want Super Aguri exposed to the marketplace," he added.  "Smaller unsecured creditors voted for our proposals and fees."

FIA incompetence triggered 'lie-gate' - Stewart
(GMM)  The out-of-control 'lie-gate' scandal is the result of unprofessional stewarding in formula one, according to regular FIA critic Sir Jackie Stewart.

The Scot, seemingly perpetually locked in a war of words with FIA president Max Mosley, said the entire affair could have been avoided if the governing body's officials on duty in Melbourne were better organized.

Stewart, a former triple world champion and ex-team owner, said McLaren rightly radioed race control during the Melbourne race for quick clarification about whether Lewis Hamilton should or should not give the place back to Jarno Trulli.

"But he (Charlie Whiting) was apparently unavailable, trying to sort out the Sebastien Vettel problem," the 69-year-old, referring to the German's crash with Robert Kubica, told the Scottish newspaper the Herald.

Stewart added: "It seems strange that only one person has the authority to deal with these inquiries which could be result-changing in a multi-million pound sport.

"As it is, we now have a potentially serious state of affairs for McLaren."

He believes McLaren will be harshly penalized, now that the affair has spiraled into formal admissions and sackings by team figures, and incontestable fraud to be assessed by the World Motor Sport Council later this month. More ...

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