Indy 500 winner Unser pleads guilty to DWI in NM Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving while intoxicated and racing on a New Mexico freeway.
The retired racer entered the plea a day before he was set to go to trial on aggravated DWI, drag racing and reckless driving charges. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail, but a judge deferred that in favor of 364 days of supervised probation.
Unser was arrested in September after he was accused of racing another car in his Suburban and driving over 100 mph near Albuquerque. Authorities say Unser smelled of alcohol, his speech was slurred and his blood-alcohol content was twice the legal limit of 0.08.
Explosion At GM Tech Center From ‘Extreme Testing’ On Battery Officials say two people were hurt and 80 other employees were evacuated following an explosion at the GM Tech Center in Warren.
GM said this incident was unrelated to the Chevy Volt or any other production vehicle, but instead was a result of “extreme testing” on a prototype battery.
Deputy Fire Chief Gary Wilkinson said the explosion happened around 8:45 a.m. Wednesday in the research facility’s Alternative Energy Center. He said the cause of the explosion most likely was related to a lithium battery.
F2000 Set for 2012 The 14 race, seven-weekend 2012 F2000 Championship Series is about to get going, with a 30-car-plus field expected at VIRginia International Raceway this Thursday for testing prior to a three-day race weekend. The big story coming into VIR is the sharp end of the field, with most of the top 2011 pilots returning, joined by a crop of new aspiring drivers, in addition to the proliferation of brand new cars throughout the F2000 paddock.
Last year’s Series Champion, Remy Audette, has graduated to sports cars, leaving the Championship wide open for a new title holder.
Honda previews the Long Beach GP The 2012 season marks the return of manufacturer competition to the IZOD IndyCar Series after six years of Honda serving as single engine supplier. Chevrolet and Lotus now join Honda in providing engines to the 26-car starting field.
After two races this year - the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama - Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon leads the 10-driver Honda-powered contingent. Second-place finishes at both St. Petersburg and Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama have Dixon slotted second in the drivers' championship, just two points behind championship leader Helio Castroneves.
Snake Pit Returns With Live Music, Great Party On '500' Race Day There are even more reasons to party in the Snake Pit during the 96th Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 27, as world-renowned electro DJ and producer Benny Benassi will perform at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Chicago-based electro group Krewella also will perform in the Snake Pit, located inside Turn 3 in the massive IMS infield.
The Snake Pit will be open on Race Day from 7 a.m. until the checkered flag ending the race. Any fan with a Race Day ticket and free Snake Pit wristband will be admitted. Music starts at 8 a.m.
Who Works in Motorsports - 2012 Edition available For the past 8 years, industry professionals, fans and media have been doing just that thanks to the unique concept of Who Works in Motorsports, the indispensable guide for Motorsport information from around the world.
This 2012 edition of Who Works in Motorsports remains the only book published covering the major worldwide players in motorsports, it’s a unique reference tool covering 17 series including: ALMS ,Australian V8 Supercars, Eurocup Clio Cup, DTM, Eurocup FR 2.0, European Le Mans Series, Formula One, FIA GT1/World GT, GP2, GrandAm, WEC, IndyCar, Megane Trophy, NASCAR Sprint Cup, Renault FR 3.5,WTCC and WRC.
Andretti could make history with win at historic Long Beach GP
Mario Andretti made Long Beach when he outdueled Jody Scheckter and Niki Lauda in the 1977 F1 race.
The Long Beach Grand Prix was struggling financially, its long-term viability in doubt, in 1977 when Mario Andretti delivered a dramatic victory. On that day he became the first American to win a Formula 1 race on American soil.
LBGP founder Chris Pook credits Andretti's triumph with saving the event, taking it from shaky to firm ground. The racing event through the streets of Long Beach runs for the 38th time this weekend, by far the oldest race of its kind in America. It has become a festival of fun with speed and sunshine. The American Le Mans Series is the feature event on Saturday, the IZOD IndyCar Series on Sunday.
The Andretti legacy at Long Beach isn't limited to 1977. Pook's organization was having problems turning a profit despite raceday crowds of 80,000 for F1 in the early 1980s. The contract with F1 ended following the 1983 race and F1 deal maker Bernie Ecclestone was being difficult in negotiations, as he's been known to be. Pook looked for a series that would allow the LBGP to make money and signed a substantially less costly deal to bring CART, then in charge of IndyCar racing, to Long Beach in 1984.
Two teams get grid penalty for Long Beach The No. 7 Lotus Dragon Racing and No. 27 Andretti Autosport cars will incur 10-grid position penalties for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 15 as the result of unapproved engine changes pursuant to rules 15.3.1 and 15.6.1 of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook.
The Chevrolet engine in the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car driven by James Hinchcliffe developed an issue during a team test April 9 at Infineon Raceway, which requires a fresh engine to be installed prior to the first practice session April 13 on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach temporary street circuit. Similarly, the Lotus engine in the No. 7 Lotus Dragon Racing car of Sebastien Bourdais was replaced following the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 1.
Brooks team returns to Firestone Indy Lights at Long Beach Brooks Associates Racing will make its return to Firestone Indy Lights, fielding its No. 8 car for Welsh driver Alex Jones in the Grand Prix of Long Beach.
"Alex has done a couple very successful tests with the team, and we've been waiting patiently for his managers to complete a sponsorship deal that puts him in the car for the season," team owner John Brooks said. "Everyone's been working hard to put this together and we're thrilled to return to the series at Long Beach. I've run here for 31 years."
John Paul DeJoria, the internationally known co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems and a key investor in the high-end tequila company, Patron Spirits, has become an investor in the Circuit of The Americas.
DeJoria’s involvement in CoTA is testament to the strong commitment the project has received from global business and philanthropic leaders. As a resident of Austin, Texas, and avid motorsports fan, DeJoria’s interest in the facility focused on sports, entertainment, business development and recreational activities began when the project was first announced and the promise of bringing Formula One racing back to the United States became tangible.
Video Replay: Chip Ganassi & Al Unser Jr Crash Indy Michigan 500 1984UPDATE That race had it all including an amazing finish. Here are the last 15 laps and Andretti's post race interview with Gary Gerould. The grandstands were filled to capacity and IndyCar was on top of the world. 11 years later Anton George created the IRL and destroyed it all.
04/11/12 Chip Ganassi & Al Unser Jr. crash during the 1984 CART IndyCar Michigan 500. Both were lucky to survive.
The GP3 Series headed to Silverstone for the final two-day pre-season test before the season commences in Barcelona next month. There was one new face in the line-up for the test and that was British youngster Alice Powell making her maiden appearance in a GP3 car for Status Grand Prix, hoping to impress to land a drive for the upcoming season and become the third female driver of the 2012 season.
The test session began under heavy clouds and cool temperatures as the drivers made their way onto the track to make sure they gained some dry running time with rain predicted. It was Kotaro Sakurai for Status Grand Prix who headed the timesheets for the first 30 minutes before Carlin’s William Buller jumped to the top of the standings. After one hour, it was the duo of MW Arden drivers Matias Laine and David Fumanelli leading the way just before the first red flag of the day occurred when Powell spun at turn 13 getting to grips with her new machine.
Bourdais' management style benefits team and Lotus Lotus Dragon Racing owner Jay Penske pumped his fist as the black and gold No. 7 car zipped past to the checkered flag at Barber Motorsports Park on April 1. High-fives and handshakes followed the ninth-place finish – a season high for the Lotus engine program that was late to the starting gate compared with its competitors Chevrolet and Honda.
“It was a great run and nice to be able to put on such a race for the guys who worked really hard,” driver Sebastien Bourdais said. “It was pretty rewarding. Still, there’s a long way to go to be where we want to be.”
Michelin previews Long Beach ALMS race The official race sanction for the second stop on the 2012 American Le Mans Series says that the Long Beach Grand Prix circuit is 1.968 miles long. That is one way to look at it.
Race team engineers see Long Beach as 10,391 feet, with 11 turns, and multiple track surfaces. To Michelin engineers and drivers, the circuit is 124,692 inches per lap and the goal is to be inch perfect.
To be inch perfect at Long Beach means the driver must place the car exactly right at each braking point, corner entry, apex and exit and be exceptionally precise through traffic.
A key to the plan is the recently introduced MICHELIN front tire that is 1.2 inches (3cm.) taller than its predecessor for the Michelin technical partner GT teams from Aston Martin, Corvette, Flying Lizard Porsche and Extreme Speed Ferrari. The taller tire provides a slightly larger surface for braking, improves consistency, extends tire wear and can widen the window for car setups.
British F3 men ready for the Italian job A matter of days after a successful start to the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series the teams and drivers are already en route for their second showdown of the season, at the Italian Grand Prix circuit of Monza.
Briton Jack Harvey leads the pack overseas thanks to a win and a second place in Saturday’s Oulton Park races, and the Racing Steps Foundation driver will be hoping to build on that success this weekend (14/15 Apr) - not least because Sunday will be his 19th birthday.
Formula Renault 2.0 graduate becomes F2’s first Iranian driver
Kourosh Khani will make his debut in the 2012 FIA Formula Two Championship this weekend at Silverstone (14-15 April), becoming the series’ first Iranian driver.
The 22-year-old steps up to the series from the Formula Renault BARC Championship where he finished fourth last year having secured a maiden win together with a further three podiums.
Last month Khani experienced his first taste of the 500bhp Williams designed F2 car during pre-season testing at Silverstone where he ended the day an encouraging seventh quickest against 18 drivers – a pace he is confident he can maintain this weekend: “I’m very happy and excited to be competing in Formula Two,” said Khani. “I have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, and I’m absolutely delighted that I will be out on track this weekend after a strong outing in testing.
Speed's Bob Varsha offers his insight on F1 Bahrain situation One of the oldest adages in coaching says that you never look past your next game. Yet you could hardly blame anyone in the Formula one paddock this weekend in Shanghai for thinking beyond the Chinese Grand Prix to the race scheduled for the following weekend in Bahrain. Postponed, and finally canceled, last year due to the lethal violence that followed the Bahraini version of the ‘Arab Spring’ pro-democracy movement, the tiny, oil-rich middle- eastern monarchy (and home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet) was placed back on the schedule for 2012. And, despite ongoing brutality as the ruling Sunni minority resists the effort to gain a greater political voice for the Shiite majority, F1 has again left the decision whether to race or not to the very last minute.
Firestone previews the Long Beach GP Race Distance: 167.28 miles/261.21 km (85 laps on the 1.96-mile/3.16-km, 11-turn temporary street circuit).
Television/Radio Broadcast: Live - Sunday, April 15, at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, the IMS Radio Network and Sirius XM Radio 94.
Firestone Firehawk Race Tires Supplied: * Primary (black-sidewall) dry-condition slicks: 692, each entry gets five sets (20 total tires); * Alternate (red-sidewall) dry-condition slicks: 366, each entry gets three sets (12 total tires); * Wet-condition (rain) tires with grooved tread pattern: 468, each entry has five sets of the street-course rain tire available this weekend.
Testing accident forces Toyota to delay start of season TOYOTA Racing regrets to announce that, as a result of a testing accident, it is not able to participate in the WEC Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
During testing at Paul Ricard, on Wednesday 4 April, the TS030 HYBRID was involved in an accident which damaged the team’s only monocoque.
Regrettably this damage is too severe to repair. A replacement monocoque cannot be produced and sufficiently tested to ensure reliability within the limited time available.
SI.com's Bruce Martin was part of a group of journalists allowed to interview Roger Penske at a recent IndyCar race and recorded this Q and A, which are similar quotes as previously published here:
SI.com: You are joining Ford in NASCAR next year. How are things going with that?
Roger Penske: We've had a lot of conversations with Ford leading up to the announcement and are talking to a lot of people in Ford moving forward. ... I have not had a meeting with Jack Roush yet. At the end of the day it's a business and Jack has done a great job. If Ford is successful he will get the benefit and so will we. We have a lot of people calling us wanting to run Dodge. We have a big investment in our engine shop so we are not going to shut the door. That engine shop will operate in some mode because we have transient dynos and things like that. I think we bring a lot to the party. If Dodge is interested in having us build engines as a separate source, then our shop can be available for that.
Matthews Named Grand Marshal for Long Beach ALMS race The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n announced Clay Matthews, three-time All-Pro linebacker for the Green Bay Packers, will be Grand Marshal for the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, April 14.
Matthews, a University of Southern California alumnus and Los Angeles native, was drafted by the Packers in 2009 and set a Packers rookie record for sacks (10) that year. Matthews has been an NFC Pro Bowl selection in each of his three NFL seasons and helped lead the Packers to a Super Bowl championship in the 2010-2011 season.
Bahraini opposition leader predicts “violence” for GP weekendUPDATE #2 Bahrain Grand Prix chairman Zayed Al Zayani has blamed 'armchair observers' and 'scaremongering extremists' for creating alarm over the Sakhir event, which is due to go ahead on 22 April. Amid increasing calls for Formula 1 not to race in the troubled Gulf state, the Sakhir venue issued a statement in which Al Zayani insisted that those with first-hand experience of conditions in Bahrain saw no reason for it to be called off for a second year.
"What has been happening is that armchair observers - who have not been sufficiently interested or committed to investigate the situation for themselves - have been driving this debate, at the expense of those neutral parties who have taken the trouble to investigate the situation at first hand," said Al Zayani.
Alex Job Racing Evora GT Ready for Long Beach Debut The No. 23 Lotus Alex Job Racing/Battery Tender/Yokohama/Lotus Evora GT with drivers Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler are ready to make their American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT Class debut at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend, April 13,14.
Having received the car just three weeks ago, the team is taking advantage of the west coast swing and is in the middle of two days of testing at Button Willow Raceway.
Bill Sweedler, Westport, Conn., has finished on the podium with AJR in each of the last two races at Long Beach, but that was in the GTC Class.
Ganassi trio leads unofficial timing at InfineonUPDATE While they were in California for this weekend's 38th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, 13 IZOD IndyCar Series drivers took advantage of a day of testing on the Infineon Raceway road course April 9.
Honda- and Chevrolet-powered teams on the scenic course:
• Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves, Will Power (Team Penske)
• Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing)
• Charlie Kimball and Graham Rahal (Chip Ganassi Racing)
• Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport)
• Rubens Barrichello, Tony Kanaan, E.J. Viso (KV Racing Technology)
Andries joins Bryan Herta Autosport at Long Beach Rising American racer Nick Andries will make his Firestone Indy Lights debut with Bryan Herta Autosport on the Streets of Long Beach.
Andries, a veteran of Star Mazda Championship competition, finished third in the series last season for Team Pelfrey.
He was the Star Mazda Quarter Master Clutch Performer Award winner for advancing the most places in 2010, scoring four top-10 finishes in a partial season. He also competed full-time in the Skip Barber Pro Series. He was the 2009 winner of Skip Barber Karting Shootout and Skip Barber Summer Series Champion.
COTA seeks arbitration in Hellmund lawsuit In March, racing promoter Tavo Hellmund filed a lawsuit against investors Bobby Epstein and Red McCombs and other individuals and companies linked to Circuit of the Americas, the $300 million racetrack in southeastern Travis County scheduled to host a Formula One Grand Prix in November.
The courts are now deciding what — if any — portion of that dispute will be made public.
In addition to damages, Hellmund is seeking to examine the company’s books and records.
Austin Commissioners still have questions Less than a week after Circuit of the Americas asked Travis County to foot at least part of the estimated $8 million bill for road improvements near their race track, county commissioners for the first time discussed their questions and concerns in a closed session today.
Organizers are building a $300 million racetrack and entertainment complex on an isolated site southeast of Austin. Friday, the American-Statesman reported that Circuit of the Americas was asking the county to pay for some road improvements around the track.
“Like most new initiatives, we had a lot more questions than answers,” county Judge Sam Biscoe told the American-Statesman today.
Lotus team upset over use of quotes The Lotus F1 Team has tonight issued a statement clarifying the intention of a report from which quotes attributed to representatives of the team appeared in an official Bahrain Grand Prix press release earlier today, the Enstone team saying it had been meant for confidential use only.
On a further day of frenetic reporting over the situation in the Gulf kingdom ahead of F1’s scheduled return next week, Sakhir organizers took the opportunity to go on the offensive in wake of the increasing stream of negative reports with race chairman Zayed Al Zayani claiming “scaremongering tactics” had created “huge misconceptions” over the situation on the ground in the country.
Conquest teams with Nissan in ALMS Conquest Endurance announced today that it has partnered with Nissan North America to run their LMP2 powerplant for the remainder of the 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron (ALMS) season. The team will debut their new engine at this weekend’s Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach street race.
The NISMO-prepared 4.5L V8 production based engine has set the benchmark in endurance racing and in 2011 it not only took the win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but also the overall LMP2 Championship in the International Le Mans Series. Conquest Endurance’s #37 Morgan chassis and its drivers Martin Plowman and David Heinemeier Hansson will have the only Nissan-prepared engine in the ALMS field.
ALMS Announces Jamie Kimbrough as Director of Public Relations
The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n announced today that Jamie Kimbrough joined its staff as Director of Public Relations. The Stone Mountain, Ga., resident joins the Panoz Motor Sports Group having held senior PR and sports information positions with the American Cancer Society, Fox Sports Net South and Louisiana State University (LSU). As Director of PR with the Braselton, Ga.-based organization, Kimbrough is responsible for managing the public relations, promotions, media relations and digital media staff.
While at LSU, Kimbrough managed relationships with national television partners CBS Sports, ABC Sports, ESPN and TBS. He oversaw public relations in support of LSU’s nationally ranked football program including media interview coordination for players, coaches and administrators. Kimbrough also led successful media campaigns for football players’ All-America and All-Southeastern Conference honors as well as post-graduate scholarship citations.
Magnussen aims for win at Long Beach While he may have a pair of runner-up finishes in the past two years on the streets of Long Beach and a runner-up spot in the opening round of the 2012 American Le Mans Series, Danish Corvette star Jan Magnussen has his sights set on going one better in California this weekend.
Magnussen will team up with his new full-time co-driver, Spaniard Antonio Garcia aboard the #3 Compuware Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 for round two of the championship – the first street race of the season.
While the Corvette fan favorite has been on the podium for the past two seasons at the Long Beach venue, his teammate Garcia will be racing there for the first time.
American Le Mans Series teams will open the Long Beach action with a bright and early 7:16am start on Friday for a two-hour practice session. Qualifying doesn’t take place until 5:20pm later that day.
Ecclestone says F1 teams not worried about Bahrain GP Bernie Ecclestone says Formula 1 teams have not expressed security concerns to him about the Bahrain GP, but suggested the race's contract may not be renewed.
There have been claims that some teams have reservations about making the trip due to political unrest.
Ecclestone told BBC Sport's Dan Roan: "None of the teams have expressed any concern to me - quite the opposite."
On renegotiating the race's contract, F1's boss added: "Maybe we wouldn't renew it. We'll have to look and see."
Michelin to Build $750M Plant in South Carolina Michelin says it will bring 500 jobs to South Carolina with a new plant making tires for heavy machinery and an expansion at an existing plant. The France-based company announced Tuesday that demand for its Earthmover tires has increased so fast that it will invest $750 million to expand its ability to make the massive tires.
The tires are used for heavy equipment in industries like mining and construction.
The new plant will be Michelin's ninth in South Carolina. More than a third of Michelin's 22,000 North American employees work in the state.
Michelin North America Chairman Pete Selleck praised the state's pro-business climate and the productivity of South Carolina employees.
Michelin is the third big tire company to expand operations in South Carolina in the past year.
2012 Toyota Grand Prix Showcases Upgrades To Indy Cars At this year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, race fans can enjoy exploring the new sights, new sounds and new eats.
“I often compare it to a scavenger hunt,” said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “What we like is to have people come here, and every year they [are] looking for things that either they haven’t done before or we’ve added that are new, that complement their experience.”
The 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach expects to attract 170,000 people to this weekend’s – April 13-15 – events. Long Beach is the third stop for the IZOD IndyCar series. (Photograph by the Business Journal’s Thomas McConville)
The 38th annual street race will host the third event of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Racing Series, featuring autos with a variety of new engines and an upgraded chassis. Joining Honda, which has been the only engine supplier for IndyCar over the past decade, are Chevrolet and Lotus. “Not only that, but the engine itself, which used to be a big, 3.5-liter, normally aspirated engine, has changed,” Michaelian said.
Watkins Glen names new grandstands Five names that were a big part of the history of Watkins Glen International – Argetsinger, Stewart, Riesbeck, Seneca, and Bodine – will adorn five new grandstands at the storied road-racing facility.
The late Cameron Argetsinger helped organize the first race at The Glen and designed both the original 6.6-mile street layout in 1948 and the original 2.3-mile permanent course.
The other grandstands are named for: former Formula One star Jackie Stewart, a two-time winner of the U.S. Grand Prix; Jim Riesbeck, who spearheaded Corning, Inc.'s decision to revive the track in the early 1980s after the departure of the F1 race; and NASCAR drivers Geoff, Brett and Todd Bodine, who grew up in nearby Chemung, N.Y.
VIP Pit Passes Now on Sale for IndyFest, RC Cola is the Official Soft-Drink Milwaukee IndyFest, a two-day festival of IndyCar racing, music and entertainment June 15 -16 at the Milwaukee Mile, has announced RC Cola, a soft-drink brand of Dr Pepper Snapple Group, as the Official Soft Drink of IndyFest, and have placed a limited number of VIP pit passes on sale now.
RC Cola Pit Lane
RC Cola will sponsor the RC Cola Pit Lane as well as turns one and two at the Milwaukee Mile. RC Cola is also the primary sponsor for the No. 26 Chevrolet entry driven by Marco Andretti in the IZOD IndyCar Series, and will be the Official Soft Drink of IndyFest. DPS products will be poured exclusively at the event. RC Cola has been served in the United States since 1905, which neatly aligns with the history of the Milwaukee Mile, which began hosting races in 1903.
Winning at Long Beach would be big for Schmidt and Pagenaud Singer Dierks Bentley recently reached No. 1 on the country charts with his song titled "Home." IZOD IndyCar Series team owner Sam Schmidt would also like to reach No. 1 with his own version of "Home" – his home race that is.
When the IZOD IndyCar Series cars line-up on the grid for this weekend’s Toyota Long Beach of Grand Prix, Schmidt will be watching from the pit box of the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports team. Though he is a focused and competitive team owner, you can guarantee Schmidt will briefly let his mind drift back to his teenage years when he sat in the Long Beach grandstands as a fan.
Though he now lives in Las Vegas, Schmidt grew up in the San Fernando Valley and went to 10 consecutive Long Beach Grand Prix races with his parents. The Southern California native not only visited Long Beach as a racing fan, Schmidt also ended up living there as a newlywed.
Pat Fry: I wasn’t expecting to have one driver leading the championship
Even before the F1 winter testing in February had come to an end, the media and “F1 experts” were already talking about Scuderia Ferrari being “in crisis.” This phrase is hardly new, having been used countless times in the 62 year history of the most successful team in the sport. However, in interviews with the press, the drivers and senior management did not deny the fact that the F2012 was displaying some shortcomings in overall performance, particularly on the aerodynamic front and in terms of top speed.
There were positives too, such as the F2012′s inability to get tires up to temperature quickly - apparently having been solved. However, the opening round in Melbourne showed that the Ferrari did not have the measure of the fastest cars. However, just seven days after he finished fifth in the Australian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso stood on the top step of the Sepang podium and got down from it leading the drivers’ championship. How could this happen? A miracle? An accelerated one week development program?
Nothing of the sort as the team’s Technical Director Pat Fry explained. “Our position is down to a combination of circumstances, especially the fact that Fernando had two very good races,” began the Englishman. “In Melbourne, after an issue in qualifying, Fernando’s good start and good first corner made up for a lot of things. The weather conditions at the last race worked in our favor, as our car worked well there and he made the most of the opportunities that came his way. We got the pit stop calls right and the pit crew did a fantastic job, so that every time Fernando came into pit lane, we either gained places or extended the lead still further. For Fernando, it’s great to be leading the championship, something I would have not expected just a few weeks ago.”
“I certainly wasn’t expecting to have one driver leading the championship. From quite early on in testing, we realized we had quite a few issues we needed to sort out. Everyone at the factory has been working hard at that, as we still have a long way to go. I think our dry qualifying performance is still around 8 tenths off the best while we want to be the best ourselves. Damp low grip conditions suit our car and flatter some of the issues we have with the F2012 at the moment. You could see that in Melbourne on Friday and again in the race in Malaysia.”
While the Scuderia’s Spanish double world champion has his name at the top of the points table, team-mate Felipe Massa has yet to score a point, struggling more with the car balance. “The car is quite difficult to drive and Fernando has managed to get the most out of it, while with Felipe, we have struggled to find the right balance to keep him happy,” admitted Fry.
“In addition, in Malaysia, we had Felipe on intermediates after the red flag but we had a lot of understeer and so we took the gamble of an additional pit stop which did not work out. The fact the tires were only graining and not worn out was about the only call we got wrong from the pit wall at the last race. It was a set-back for Felipe, one of a few unfortunate circumstances for him.”
“If I was asked to rate the overall performance of the Scuderia so far, I’d mark it differently depending on different sections of the company,” continued Fry. “The team, the mechanics at the track have worked very well: in Melbourne we had the quickest pit stops and in Malaysia the speed of the pit crew and the strategy saw us gain position or time on others every time we pitted. However, ranking the actual performance of the package, I’d rate it much lower. Another plus is the way the team is responding, dealing with the stresses of trying to play catch-up. The Manufacturing department, working on some of the more aggressive requests we’ve made, has responded very well. So, it’s been a great team effort, but we haven’t done a good job in getting the car out on track to be quickest from the start.”
Technical development of a 1 car usually moves along two paths: the first one follows a plan set out even as the car is first being designed and built, while the second feeds off lessons learned during testing and races. At the moment, because of the performance shortfall, the Scuderia is also having to move down a third path, which involves trying to speed up development and introduce updates earlier than planned.”
“We are constantly working on improving the issues we have,” said Fry. “New parts are coming through and we are trying to get them to the race track as quickly as possible – We will have five updates for China, some are quite visible others less so. Then there will be a bigger upgrade package for Spain. It would be nice to have them earlier, but we have already brought forward some parts we were developing for Spain and we should have them in China.”
Naturally, Fry’s main focus is within his own team, but he can allow himself a quick assessment of the F1 hierarchy after the opening back-to-back races.
“I was slightly surprised by Red Bull’s comparative lack of pace. McLaren were relatively quick but I would have put these two teams the other way round if you’d asked me a month ago. Mercedes also seem quick, but they have similar rear tire degradation to the past, so while they are good in qualifying, their race pace drops away and Lotus is the other team that has done a good job, looking quick from the very first test in Jerez.”
There have been eight Chinese Grands Prix to date and Scuderia Ferrari has won three of them, starting with Rubens Barrichello’s victory in the event’s inaugural year, 2004. Then, 2006 and 2007 saw victories for Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen respectively. Fernando Alonso won from pole in 2005, although not at the wheel of a red car and the Spaniard was also on the podium for the two following years in second place. Felipe Massa has also enjoyed the view from the spectacular podium at the Shanghai International Circuit, coming home third in 2007 and doing one better the following year.
The Shanghai circuit is just under five and a half kilometers in length and the facility itself is built on an epic scale as a testament to China’s desire to be the biggest economic powerhouse on the globe. It is one of designer Hermann Tilke’s more challenging track layouts, with many long corners that generate high lateral g-forces, so good overall balance and stability under braking are important aspects of the car package.
Pirelli is providing its Soft and Medium compound tires, but the smooth surface means tire wear is not usually a problem here, although with few races held during the season, the track can be rather dirty for the first day of practice.
“Shanghai is a good mixture,” confirms Fry. “There are long low speed corners where you need a good front end and there’s a requirement to brake and turn in at the same time, so carrying speed through the first corner into the second is particularly interesting. There are some reasonably high speed corners too and a 1.3 kilometer straight with the DRS zone at the end of it should make it interesting for the race.”
The Chinese Grand Prix has often been affected by rain and no doubt that would suit the plans of the Scuderia, given Alonso’s wet weather performance in Malaysia…
BMW Team RLL brings GT points lead to the Streets of Long Beach Following a four-week intermission after BMWTeam RLL's GT class victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring American Le Mans Series curtain-raiser the second act of the team's ALMS GT class title defense will be set in the streets of Long Beach, California on April 14th.
Last year Joey Hand and Dirk Muller had starring roles as Long Beach race winners and, ultimately GT class driver's champions. This year's story has begun much as the last with Hand and Muller sharing a second consecutive Sebring 12 Hour victory - this time supported by Jonathan Summerton, of Kissimmee, Fla., as third driver. Only two hours long the Long Beach race is not only the shortest of the season, but the tight confines of the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit sets a stage for high drama and conflict.
Kia Motors Posts 13.4% Global Sales Growth in March Kia Motors Corporation announced today its global sales figures (export sales, domestic sales and sales from overseas plants) for passenger cars, recreational vehicles (RVs) and commercial vehicles for March 2012, recording a total of 245,238 units sold. This figure represents a year-on-year increase of 13.4%.
In March, Kia posted year-on-year sales increases in all regions of the world with an exception of Kia's home market of Korea – 29.4% in North America (64,133 units sold); 19.3% in Europe (54,106); 19.1% in China (40,427 units sold); 8.0% in general markets (44,522 units sold); and a -8.8% decrease in (42,050 units sold) in Korea.
Chevrolet Sponsors RRDC Evening with Jim Hall at LB Chevrolet, the brand that helped define Jim Hall’s iconic image as an ingenious designer and innovator of sports cars in the 1960s and ‘70s, has come on board to support the RRDC Evening with Jim Hall presented by Firestone on Thursday, April 12. This is the Road Racing Drivers Club’s fourth annual West Coast banquet prior to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Calif.).
From 1962, after the first Chaparral was built by Hall and Hap Sharp in Midland, Texas, to 1970, Hall’s engineering genius, backed by behind-the-scenes help from General Motors technicians, turned out a series of dramatic race car inventions that have left a lasting impact on auto racing. Having access to GM’s wind tunnel to refine the aerodynamics, and powered by Chevrolet engines ranging from an aluminum 283 and 327 cu. in. V8 to a 427 V8, Hall’s Chaparrals campaigned the USRRC and Can-Am Series in the 1960s, winning the 1964 USRRC championship. Competing in World Championship Endurance Racing against the might of Ford and Ferrari, the Chaparral 2D won the 1966 Nurburgring 1000, marking the first time an American car had won a major European race in 45 years. That victory was followed by the Chaparral 2F winning the 1967 BOAC 500.
The new Audi R8 LMS ultra enjoyed an extremely successful Easter weekend by claiming victories in the FIA GT1 World Championship and the FIA GT3 European Championship.
Impressive premiere: On its first outing in the FIA GT1 World Championship the Audi R8 LMS ultra, fielded by private team WRT, enjoyed a pair of one-two race results in France. Stéphane Ortelli (F)/Laurens Vanthoor (B) won the qualifying race at Nogaro on Saturday as well as the main race on Monday - on both occasions from their team mates Oliver Jarvis (GB)/Frank Stippler (D). Stippler also celebrated his 37th birthday on Monday.
IndyCar changes pit rules under caution Pit road will be open from the outset of non-emergency full-course cautions on road and street courses, potentially cutting the number of laps under yellow, INDYCAR president of competition Beaux Barfield announced.
The procedure begins at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 15 and will be employed for the remainder of the IZOD IndyCar Series season. Also beginning at the 38th annual race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit, lapped traffic will move to the rear of the field during any restarts in the final 20 laps of road/street course events.
"The pits have historically been closed during full-course yellows to make sure that not only the field is under control but in order before opening the pits," said Barfield, the IZOD IndyCar Series Race Director. "As such, it leads to this rush when all 26 cars come in at the same time. It can be exciting but it definitely is a contributing factor to some of the pit lane issues that we've had in the recent past."
Baja TV races on Digital Download SCORE International and Aura360 have announced the release of digital versions of the popular SCORE Baja television broadcasts. Previously the titles have only been available on DVD and today marks the first time the full programs have been distributed digitally. All titles can be downloaded or streamed as rentals.
The shows, which include the BajaUnlimited Series, the 2010 SCORE Baja 1000, the Extremey Award winning SCORE Baja 500 and more are available at www.motonetwork.com .
Tony Kanaan and Rubens Barrichello give a thumbs up on decision. Both lobbied for it.
Rubens Barrichello, who has competed in two IZOD IndyCar Series races, isn't eligible for Rookie of the Year honors but will receive some benefits accorded to first-year drivers the remainder of the season.
Barrichello's status has been "re-evaluated based on team request," INDYCAR president of competition Beaux Barfield said.
Barrichello enters this weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach coming off an eighth place in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, where he tested in the weeks leading up to the 90-lap race April 1. He'll join rookies and entrants outside the top 10 of the championship standings in Group A (10-10:30 a.m. local) on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit, and continue in Group B (10:30-11 a.m.).
Ortsbo to broadcast live from Long Beach On Saturday, April 14, live from the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Ortsbo, the world's leading real-time language translation platform, and INDYCAR will host the first "Ortsbo Live & Global: IZOD IndyCar Series" of 2012 featuring drivers Rubens Barrichello - @RuBarrichello and Tony Kanaan - @TonyKanaan).
The live Q&A will be hosted by James Hinchcliffe - @Hinchtown, IZOD IndyCar Series 2011 Sunoco Rookie of the Year and GoDaddy.com driver. Using Ortsbo's proprietary, instant live subtitling technology on the Live & Global platform, viewers around the world can watch the Q&A in real-time through an online broadcast video stream with multi-lingual closed captioning in any one of Ortsbo's 53 languages.
Motorsports This Week on ESPN NASCAR Nationwide Series in Texas After a two-week schedule break, the NASCAR Nationwide Series returns to action Friday night, April 13, at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. ESPN2 will have a live telecast of the 300-mile race starting with NASCAR Countdown at 8 p.m. ET with the race’s green flag at 8:30 p.m. Also, ESPN2 will air NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying earlier in the day at 5 p.m. All NASCAR programming on ESPN and ESPN2 is also available on computers, smart phones and tablets with the WatchESPN app and WatchESPN.com.
Announcers: Booth: Lap-by-Lap announcer Allen Bestwick; analysts Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree. Pit reporters: Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro, Vince Welch. NASCAR Countdown: Nicole Briscoe (host); Jarrett, Brad Daugherty (analysts).
Team boss hopes Bahrain called offUPDATE Bernie Ecclestone: “It is business as usual. There are some clashes with police, isolated in villages. Some of these clashes are very small — 10 or 15 people — but it gets blown out of proportion and made to sound as if the whole nation is rising up. Seriously, the press should just be quiet and deal with the facts rather than make up stories.”
Zayed Al-Zayani: “Whatever story we have tried to put out has always been overshadowed by conflict or political issues in the country, with people getting arrested, killed or injured, or whatever. But the worst is behind us now. There’s a genuine move towards progress, getting the country back on track.”
Daytona 500 winners to return for Champions Lunch Roush Fenway Racing’s two-time DAYTONA 500 Champion, Matt Kenseth, is set to return to the site of his historic win this week for a rescheduled fan event celebrating the team’s victory. The win in the 54th “Great American Race” also earned a milestone victory for Roush Fenway Racing as the organization earned its 300th NASCAR win in the process.
Originally scheduled as the Champion’s Breakfast for the morning of February 27, 2012, the event had to be rescheduled after rain showers forced the DAYTONA 500 to be run Monday night on February 28th. The event is open to fans and includes a fan forum question and answer event with Kenseth, team owner Jack Roush, and crew chief of the No. 17 Best Buy team, Jimmy Fennig.
Construction is Underway for the 2012 Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle GP The massive undertaking of transforming Belle Isle Park into a world-class racing and entertainment facility has officially begun. Construction is well underway as barrier walls, grandstands and flooring is already being put in place in preparation for the return of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, June 1-3.
The green flag has waved on the assembly of the 2.1-mile, 14-turn Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit with tons of materials and hundreds of workers to set to arrive on the island over the next eight weeks as Detroit readies itself for the “fastest weekend of the summer.”
Q and A with Lotus F1 team principal Eric Boullier
Despite the frustrations of the opening two races, Lotus team principal Eric Boullier focuses on the achievements of the team so far this year, and a positive outlook for the remainder of the 2012 Formula 1 world championship season.
How’s your report card for the team now we’re two races into the season? Eric Boullier: It’s been something of what an Englishman might describe as a curate’s egg. Parts of the season have been satisfying. They include the pace of the E20, which is clearly there in both qualifying and race trim. Both drivers have put in strong qualifying performances – Romain in Australia and Kimi in Malaysia. Kimi has shown that it’s not taken him long to remember what’s required of a Formula 1 driver and is right on the pace as shown in two strong races from where he’s started on the grid. Also, our tire degradation looks promising, as well as the car’s reaction to set-up changes.
Can IndyCar and NASCAR learn from The Masters Social media was dominated on Sunday by the saga of the final round of The Masters golf tournament. The stories of the day had been set-up during the three previous rounds of play and ultimately came down to a putt to win on extra holes under darkening skies.
While the story of Bubba Watson's win is a good one, there was another story being discussed on Twitter, Facebook and websites. CBS Sports was again presenting the tournament in a fashion that is rarely seen in today's sports television environment. Across the board, it was a hit.
It's been a rough go this season for the TV surrounding the IndyCar and Sprint Cup Series. Despite a new IndyCar, a popular NASCAR and IndyCar champion, an Earnhardt in contention and the spectacle of high speed racing in High Definition there seems to be something missing.
Let's take a look at what CBS Sports did with The Masters and see if IndyCar and NASCAR TV can benefit from some of the fundamentals the network used to cover the tournament.
CBS treated TV viewers as intelligent adults. On-air conversation from analysts, reporters and hosts was informative and focused. The commentary served as a backdrop to the action, allowing the athletes to take center stage.
IndyCar dealing with life after Danica Danica Patrick competed for seven years in the IndyCar series. She wasn't one of the top drivers; her best championship-points finish was fifth. She also finished sixth, seventh, ninth, 10th twice and 12th.
She was, however, the most popular face in the series. She's beautiful, a master self-marketer and a decent enough driver. Like it or not, she was the one so many fans wanted to see.
A good example is what happened in the three years she toiled in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will be run this weekend.
Long Beach GP: A festival of events The 38th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach roars into town this week, and race officials are ready to satisfy the need for speed for the annual influx of 175,000 fans.
"There's a large menu of activities to please everybody, whether you're a hardcore race fan or not," said Grand Prix spokesman Chris Esslinger. "It's a three-day festival of entertainment."
Hard-core fans have their pick of six different races, including the 36th Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race and the big race on Sunday.
Off the track, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Mexican-pop group Belanova headline outdoor concerts, while younger race fans can watch BMX demonstrations or practice their need for pseudo speed on race simulators.
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