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42 Below making most of first Long Beach GP
Saturday Matt Halliday representing the New Zealand Vodka brand 42 Below (a new sponsor in ChampCar) will have various activities around the Long Beach track, including an interview with a well-known entertainment television show and photo opportunities with the 42 Below girls, who will be giving away t-shirts to the fans throughout the day.  Later in the evening, Halliday along with 42 Below will attend an event hosted by Racer Magazine to mingle among various celebrities attending the race weekend.


Jeff Gordon on pole in Texas
An impending thunderstorm forced NASCAR to cancel qualifying for the Samsung 500 Friday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway.  The field for Sunday's race will be set by the Nextel Cup rule book, putting point leader Jeff Gordon (Hendrick Motorsports) on the pole, with Jeff Burton (Richard Childress Racing) second.

Starting Lineup 

1 24 Jeff Gordon
2 31 Jeff Burton
3 48 Jimmie Johnson
4 17 Matt Kenseth
5 5 Kyle Busch
6 01 Mark Martin
7 11 Denny Hamlin
8 07 Clint Bowyer
9 20 Tony Stewart
10 99 Carl Edwards
11 29 Kevin Harvick
12 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
13 26 Jamie McMurray
14 40 David Stremme
15 19 Elliott Sadler

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ALMS first impressions of Long Beach
The cars and many of the stars of the American Le Mans Series have gotten their first taste of the Long Beach circuit in southern California. Thirty-four drivers entered in Saturday's race came into Friday having never driven on the famed street circuit. Here are some of their thoughts following Friday morning's practice:

Jan Magnussen, Corvette Racing Corvette C6.R
"The track is very small (tight) and it's very bumpy. There's not enough time to set up the car properly, but we'll be OK. I like this course. It's going to be fun."

Sascha Maassen, Penske Motorsports Porsche RS Spyder
"There is not a lot of time to get set up. Ryan will qualify so I gave him the most time in the session. Our team together here doesn't have a lot of experience, but we're coming along quickly and nicely. The car is looking great."

Rinaldo Capello, Audi Sport North America Audi R10 TDI
"The car is ready to go but we still have some time during qualifying to improve it," said Dindo Capello. "But we're still looking good."  "The track is very good. We're going need to get used to it. It's new for us. I didn't get so many laps because of the red flag. After that we made a change so I only got six or seven laps. The car is ready to go but we still have some time during qualifying to improve it. But we're still looking good."

Emanuele Pirro, Audi Sport North America, Audi R10 TDI
"We haven't had enough time on the track, it's barely more than an orientation. It's going to be a big guess. Not a lot of technique involved in the setup, so experience will play a big role. I guess we're going have to introduce ourselves before we can get more time on the track. It's a big car for this track, but every straight here we'll have an advantage."

The Grand Prix of Long Beach, Round 3 of the 2007 American Le Mans Series, is scheduled for 4 p.m. PT on Saturday, April 14. SPEED will provide same-day broadcast coverage from 8 to 10:30 p.m. ET. MotorsTV in Europe, SPEED Latin America and 7TV in Russia will carry the race live. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.


Seen in Long Beach - 3
Top time today was 67.92s, almost a second short of the track record Bourdais set here a year ago.  Does he think there's any chance that can be topped tomorrow?  "I don't know," said Bourdais.  "I think, like I always kind of said, I think that the Panoz is going to be quicker on road courses.  On street courses, with the bumpiness and the fact that the car is a little more ride-height sensitive than the Lola, I think it's going to probably be a little difficult to get to that level of performance.  But we'll have to see.  It's still very early in the season with the new car.  So it's definitely up there.  It's got a different character than the Lola to drive.  I personally don't like it quite as much yet, but hopefully we can get it there."....................Graham Rahal is driving the same car he crashed last Sunday in Las Vegas.  He crashed two cars last weekend, but the car he raced was in better shape and that is the one he was in one Friday.........The 2-seat Minardi F1 car was turning 1m15sec laps on Friday, compared to a fast time of 1m07.9sec for the Champ Cars............Tire wear is not an issue this weekend like it was last weekend in Las Vegas.  "No, I think the tires are going to last well here," said Will Power.  "It's quite the opposite [to Las Vegas] actually.  I don't think the rear tires felt very bad at all - not on my car anyway."  Sebastien Bourdais agreed.  "No, I think tire wear is good -- Bridgestone knows this place.  It was a little bit of a surprise in Vegas they came out with apparently a little bit too soft of a tire.  I guess next year probably the standard car is going to become the option tires, so on and so forth.  But no drama here."  There were tens of thousands of people watching ALMS qualifying Friday compared to the several hundred they had watching the ALMS race in St. Petersburg two weeks ago when they partnered with the IRL.    Mark C.


Seen in Long Beach - 2
Businessman and race driver sponsor Harry Muermans (right) from Holland is here in Long Beach watching both his driver Robert Doornbos who drives for Minardi Team USA as well as his son Dominick Muermans (below left) who is competing in the Atlantic series. Dominick told AutoRacing1.com that he is going to go back to Europe and race 8 races in the Formula Masters series (a European F3 series) before returning back to the USA next year to do a full season in either Atlantic, or if he does well in F3, Champ Car.........Former driver turned TV commentator Jon Beekhuis was a passenger in the Minardi 2-seat car Friday and came away quite impressed. "The braking is amazing. I knew it was going to be hard, and I was ready for it and still I banged my head on the dashboard each time my driver Patrick Friesacher hit the brakes. The car is light that on acceleration and braking the car really snaps your head, but once you hit 3rd gear it feels just like a Champ Car. I can see why they cannot pass in F1. The braking zones are just so short.........We spoke to Minardi Team USA co-owner Keith Wiggins who told us that the 2-seater program will soon be rebranded as a Champ Car 2-seater instead of a Minardi F1 2-seat ride. The cost for a ride? A cool $10,000 for three laps.........Mo Nunn (seen right talking to Max Papis and Robin Miller) was an interested spectator. "I have not been to a race in two years," said Nunn. "I have been doing home remodeling and other things." Asked if he had any interest in getting back into racing and he pulled out his wallet and said, "this isn't thick enough for that," with a smile. Mark C.


Seen in Long Beach - 1
Panoz sent new parts to rectify the fueling issues that the Champ Car teams were hit with in the Vegas GP last weekend. The parts were received during the week and installed by the teams.................Friday saw the largest attendance in quite a few years, however, free tickets were available and many fans took advantage of them. With that being said, your editor tried to buy grandstand tickets for two friends for Sunday and found out that a good number of grandstands were sold out........Are the paddle shifters helping the driver shift faster?  WILL POWER:  "No, I don't think so.  I think it's exactly the same." SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  "It's costing time on the upshift right now, definitely.  I mean, downshift it goes about as quick as I used to do it.  But on the upshift, when you look at the speed trace, it's kind of ugly for sure."  Mark C.


Champ Car announces new sponsor
LONG BEACH, California – Two key ingredients to success in the fast-paced world of Champ Car racing are energy and drive. Champ Car’s newest partners embody both of those characteristics as Mood Brand Energy Sodas join the series as sponsors of both the Face of Champ Car season-long competition and the Champ Car Atlantic Championship.

A cutting-edge manufacturer and distributor of energy sodas worldwide, Mood Brands are the creators of several wildly-popular beverages including Drive, Think, Beach Energy, Play and Chill. Recognizing that Champ Car fans and consumers share and appreciate the quality of its products, Mood Brands joins the series family as an Official Sponsor of the Face of Champ Car – the world’s largest grid girl competition that features Champ Car World Series events as its stage while searching for the one exceptional girl to represent and promote Champ Car. Mood’s Drive Energy Soda is also the Official Energy Soda of the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, North America’s premier open-wheel development series.

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Rain cancels Cup practice
Nextel Cup practice session has been canceled after about 30 minutes because of rain at Texas Motor Speedway. Qualifying is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. EDT.


Matos wins provisional pole
Not only did Sierra Sierra Enterprises racer Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) show his overall speed on Friday in the opening round of Atlantic qualifying at Long Beach, the Brazilian also proved he doesn’t need a lot of time to reach his maximum output. Pictured right Raphael Matos and third quickest Alan Sciuto

Matos, the winner of last weekend’s season-opening race in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda at Las Vegas, got up to speed quickly after a late red caution flag. Matos needed just two laps on the 1.968-mile Long Beach street circuit to clock a fast time of 1:16.765 (92.292 mph), claiming the provisional pole for Sunday’s Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

After scoring his second career Atlantic win last weekend, Matos remained red hot to begin Round 2. The 25-year-old, who finished second at Long Beach in 2006, paced a spirited morning practice on Friday and then he jumped to the top of the leaderboard early in the 35-minute afternoon qualifying. Matos found himself atop the scoring sheets when he became the first driver to dive below the one-minute, 17-second barrier. A red flag came out to bring qualifying to a halt with 11 minutes remaining in the session, however, after Junior Strous (#16 Shell/Best Box/HTP/Red, White & Bluezz USA)  went into the tire barrier in Turn 1.

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Bourdais tops Dominguez in opening Long Beach practice
Pos Driver # Lap Time Leader
1 S. Bourdais 1 1:08.857
2 M. Dominguez 7 1:09.145 0.288
3 W. Power 5 1:09.506 0.649
4 S. Pagenaud 15 1:09.749 0.892
5 A. Tagliani 8 1:09.756 0.899
6 P. Tracy 3 1:09.858 1.001
7 B. Junqueira 19 1:09.971 1.114
8 J. Wilson 9 1:09.984 1.127
9 N. Jani 21 1:09.985 1.128
10 T. Gommendy 22 1:10.139 1.282
11 R. Doornbos 14 1:10.497 1.640
12 G. Rahal 2 1:10.520 1.663
13 M. Halliday 42 1:10.604 1.747
14 K. Legge 11 1:10.780 1.923
15 R. Dalziel 28 1:10.848 1.991
16 D. Clarke 4 1:10.974 2.117
17 A. Figge 29 1:11.068 2.211


Fernandez tops opening ALMS practice
Adrian Fernandez reacquainted himself quite well with the circuit at Long Beach on Friday as the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura-powered Lola posted the fastest time in an ultra-competitive opening practice session for the American Le Mans Series. The Mexican star turned in a lap of 1:13.929 in the LMP2 entry, a razor-thin 0.005 seconds ahead of Emanuele Pirro in the first of Audi’s diesel-powered R10 TDI.

The first six cars were within 0.437 seconds of each other, setting the stage for what should be an electric qualifying session later this afternoon. Three separate manufacturers were represented in the top six: Acura, Audi and Porsche.

“It’s always nice to be back at Long Beach,” said Fernandez, who will make his 14th career Long Beach start Saturday. He will drive this weekend with Luis Diaz. “The car has been good since St. Petersburg. Hopefully we can keep it there. Long Beach brings so many good memories. A lot of fans always come.”

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Filippi storms to first pole of the year
Luca Filippi has powered his way through an intense first qualifying session for the year to claim his first ever GP2 pole this afternoon in Bahrain. In doing so, he also took the first two points of the 2007 season.

The easygoing Italian put in a stunning lap on one of the tightest qualifying sessions yet seen in the series to take the top spot with a time of 1.40.873, less than a tenth ahead of Xandi Negrao and Andi Zuber.

The pace was furious from the start, with the order changing almost by the second over the opening laps. Javier Villa and Kohei Hirate were squabbling with each other at the top of the timesheets early in the session, before being joined by Mike Conway Lucas di Grassi.

With most drivers putting in times in the 41s the fighting was brought to a brief halt when Filippi took the top spot just as most drivers returned to the pits for a change of tires, changing the game plan for everyone involved.

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Champ Car Las Vegas TV Rating UPDATE The final TV rating for the Vegas GP Champ Car race on NBC last Sunday was a 0.8/2 share.

04/10/07 The overnight TV rating for Easter Sunday's Vegas GP Champ Ca race on NBC was a 0.9/2 share up against the final round of the Masters Golf Tournament.

TV News

Weekend USA TV reminders
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Formula 1 Practice Bahrain
7:00am-8:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Fort Worth
1:00pm-1:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Fort Worth
1:30pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
Survival of the Fastest Martinsville
3:00pm-3:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Live! Fort Worth
4:00pm-5:00pm (L) SPEED
Champ Car Atlantic Las Vegas
5:00pm-5:30pm (4/8/07) ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Fort Worth
5:00pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
6:30pm-7:00pm ESPN2
Trackside Fort Worth
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
Formula 1 Plus Malaysia
12:00am-1:00am SPEED
Formula 1 Qualifying Bahrain
7:00am-8:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Fort Worth
11:00am-11:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Fort Worth
11:30am-12:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Fort Worth
12:30pm-1:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice Fort Worth
1:00pm-2:30pm (L) SPEED
Champ Car Long Beach Practice on Race Director
1:15 pm (L) Practice 3
WEBCAST - Race Director
2:00pm-2:30pm* Check local listings for your time zone ABC
NASCAR Busch Series O'Reilly 300 Fort Worth, TX
2:30pm-6:00pm (L) Incl Preshow ESPN2
Champ Car Long Beach P4 and Q2 on Race Director
5:00pm (L) Practice 4
5:20pm (L) Qualifying 2
WEBCAST - Race Director
NHRA Qualifying Las Vegas
6:00pm-8:00pm ESPN2
NASCAR Performance
7:00pm-7:30pm SPEED
Tradin' Paint Fort Worth
7:30pm-8:00pm SPEED
American Le Mans Series Long Beach
8:00pm-10:30pm (SDD) SPEED
GP2 Championship Series Bahrain
5:30am-7:00am SPEED
Formula 1 Bahrain
7:00am-9:30am (L) SPEED
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
NHRA Race Day
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
NASCAR RaceDay Fort Worth
11:30am-1:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Samsung 500 Fort Worth, TX
1:30pm-6:00pm (L) FOX
Champ Car Atlantic Long Beach on Race Director
1:35pm (L) WEBCAST - Race Director
Champ Car Long Beach
4:00pm-6:00pm (L) NBC
4:00pm-6:00pm (L) WEBCAST - Race Director
Superbike World Championship Spain
5:00pm-6:00pm (SDD) -Race 1
6:00pm-7:00pm (SDD) -Race 2 SPEED
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NHRA SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals Las Vegas
7:00pm-10:00pm (SDD) ESPN2
NASCAR Victory Lane Fort Worth
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Drive –Premiere Cross-country road race
8:00pm-10:00pm The Starting Line/Partners * Check local listings for your time zone FOX
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Guest co-host: Ron Lemasters, Jr. (Motorsports writer)
Featured Interview: Jacques Villeneuve (1997 F1 World Champion)
Expert Analyst: Robin Miller (Open wheel racing)
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED

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


Williams play down Bahrain disadvantage
(GMM) Alex Wurz has played down Williams' disadvantage this weekend of having sat out the major pre-season test at the same venue for the Bahrain GP.

The Austrian was a promising sixth quickest in the afternoon practice session, although he later admitted to reporters that the time was probably flattered due to a low-fuel run on new soft Bridgestone tires.

Most formula one teams tested here for six days prior to the season opener, but Wurz said on Friday: "I think that we are now just about there with the others."

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SunTrust official bank of Stars of Karting
A new season begins this weekend for the young racers who participate in the Snap-On Stars of Karting presented by the IRL IndyCar Series, and SunTrust is proud to play a role in helping shape the careers of its highly talented array of competitors as Official Bank of the series for a second year.

Having staked its claim as the “Official Bank of Motorsports” by virtue of its diverse portfolio of high-level racing partnerships within the Indy Racing League, NASCAR, Moto-ST and Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, SunTrust’s involvement with the Stars of Karting series reflects the company’s commitment to also help develop racing and business opportunities for the professional racing world’s future stars. Earlier this year, as part of its nationwide support of youth racing, SunTrust presented a $1,500 scholarship toward participation in the Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shootout to Caleb Loniewski of St. Louis.

“From the highest levels of professional racing to the entry-level Snap-On Stars of Karting series, SunTrust is committed to bringing its resources and initiatives to all corners of the racing community,” said Craig Kelly, Corporate Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, SunTrust Banks, Inc. “Whether it’s entry-level motorsports or the top divisions of sports car, motorcycle racing or the premiere venues of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, the IRL IndyCar Series or the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, SunTrust is there.”

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Marlboro is back
With no tobacco restrictions in Bahrain, Marlboro has the logos all over the Ferrari cars and drivers this weekend.  As F1 races more abroad (i.e. out of Europe and the EU) where Marlboro can advertise their cancer sticks, it makes a lot of sense for Marlboro to stay on as a Ferrari sponsor much to the chagrin of the EU and other counties in the WTO who have placed a ban on tobacco (cancer) advertising. 

industry News

Magna confirms it's eyeing Chrysler
Magna International Inc. confirmed today that it "continues to review potential alternatives regarding the future of the Chrysler Group."

The Canadian automotive supplier has been believed to be considering a bid for Auburn Hills-based Chrysler Group. Chrysler parent DaimlerChrysler AG said in February that "all options" were on the table for the struggling U.S. automaker.

Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda investment company has submitted a proposed $4.5 billion bid for Chrysler. Other potential bidders include Cerberus Capital Management and a partnership of private investors Blackstone Group and Centerbridge Partners.

Magna's press release today said "There is no assurance that any transaction will result from Magna's current involvement."


Muniz moves from Malcolm to racing
He spends his time repping barbells these days - grunting, growling and groaning in hopes that he'll keep growing. He's near the bottom of his new line of work's totem pole, surrounded by peers whose experience and success far surpass his own.

As far as the weekend goes, well, that's no retreat. In fact, it's often the acme of his stress level - a time he spends running around at 90 mph.

Hey, can't beat retired life.

Former TV and movie star Frankie Muniz isn't your typical 21-year-old. He'll begin sentences like, "Well, I was buying a NASCAR team ...," and blushingly corrects suggestions that he owns three homes by saying he has five.

But after seven seasons of playing the lead in the sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" and starring as Agent Cody Banks in two films, Muniz has turned his back on acting to race full-time in the Atlantic Championship Series, a Champ Car support series, which is coming to Southern California this weekend for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

"Any actor or musician wants to be like a football or basketball player, just like every football or basketball player wants to be an actor," the 5-foot-6 Muniz said. "I've always wanted to be a race-car driver. I'm officially retired from acting. I won't say I'm never coming back, because I don't want to hear it from people if I do. But I'd like to be a racecar driver for the rest of my life."

The racing seed was planted in the New Jersey native when he competed in, and won, the 2005 Toyota Pro/Celebrity race in Long Beach. Then, in one of his more nerve-wracking auditions, his current team owner, Eric Jensen, had him come out to test a car.  More at SanLuisObispo.com


Bahrain Practice 2: Kimi barely tops Lewis
Kimi Raikkonen continued to set the pace in the second practice session at Sakhir.

But Ferrari's advantage at the circuit in Bahrain appears to have been reduced in the time since the pre-season test here, as no fewer than the top six runners logged a best time within half a second of each other; a gaggle led by Lewis Hamilton and also featuring the BMWs and a Williams.

Another five tenths covered the next six, while a gap of just two seconds from pole included at least one driver from every team on the grid, including backmarkers Spyker and Toro Rosso.

The session was not without incident, however, and the most dangerous involved David Coulthard narrowly missing a mechanic in the pit lane.

Pos  Driver        Team                     Time           Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     Ferrari              (B) 1:33.527         22
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes     (B) 1:33.540 + 0.013 33
 3.  Kubica        BMW Sauber           (B) 1:33.732 + 0.205 37
 4.  Massa         Ferrari              (B) 1:33.772 + 0.245 28
 5.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes     (B) 1:33.784 + 0.257 30
 6.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota      (B) 1:33.973 + 0.446 26
 7.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber           (B) 1:34.076 + 0.549 34
 8.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota      (B) 1:34.189 + 0.662 34
 9.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault     (B) 1:34.359 + 0.832 32
10.  Trulli        Toyota               (B) 1:34.366 + 0.839 33
11.  Barrichello   Honda                (B) 1:34.391 + 0.864 28
12.  Kovalainen    Renault              (B) 1:34.585 + 1.058 33
13.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda    (B) 1:34.595 + 1.068 29
14.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault     (B) 1:34.677 + 1.150 24
15.  Fisichella    Renault              (B) 1:34.796 + 1.269 34
16.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda    (B) 1:35.001 + 1.474 35
17.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B) 1:35.268 + 1.741 38
18.  R.Schumacher  Toyota               (B) 1:35.427 + 1.900 29
19.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari       (B) 1:35.582 + 2.055 31
20.  Speed         Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B) 1:35.687 + 2.160 34
21.  Albers        Spyker-Ferrari       (B) 1:35.835 + 2.308 30
22.  Button        Honda                (B) 1:36.079 + 2.552 19


Andretti to be reunited with two Ferraris
Mario Andretti will be reunited with two Ferrari cars which helped shape his career when he plays a central role in the inaugural GPlive event at Donington Park in May.

In addition to getting behind the wheel of the Ferrari 312B, which gave him his first grand prix victory in 1971, the US legend will also meet up with the car which started his passion for grand prix racing over 50 years ago.

The 1971 Ferrari 312B and the ex-Alberto Ascari 1953 Ferrari 500 racers will form part of a stunning display of cars from the Donington Grand Prix Collection which will be demonstrated on track during the weekend-long celebration of grand prix racing. No fewer than seven of the rarest cars from the Museum will be in action, with a further six on display in the GPlive paddock, which will allow Andretti - and fans - a close-up view of the Scuderia's history. In the case of the ex-Ascari car, it will be a machine Andretti has not seen for 54 years.

The two Ferraris both mark important milestones of the incredible Andretti story. Born on the Italian-Yugoslav border in 1940, Mario and twin brother Aldo were penniless refugees when they climbed the fence at Monza in 1953 to watch their hero Ascari win the Italian Grand Prix. After his family emigrated to America in 1955, Andretti made his name in oval racing, before switching to Formula One with the Lotus and STP March teams. He was then invited by Enzo Ferrari to drive for the Scuderia in 1971.

He won the first grand prix of the season, at Kyalami in South Africa, in a three-liter flat-12 Ferrari 312B identical to the car he will demonstrate at GPlive. It was the first of twelve GP victories Andretti scored in the course of his F1 career, culminating in the 1978 world title, which he won with Lotus. He also notched victories in the Indianapolis and Daytona 500s as part of an amazing record that 111 wins in all categories.


Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE More news briefs added below
  • Williams to turn 65 on Monday New
  • F1 to consider cockpit roll-cages - Schumacher New
  • Speedy Schumacher fined at Sakhir New
  • Slow Button on fire in Bahrain New
  • Kubica disputes Sepang clash apology
  • FIA tests mirror visibility in Bahrain
  • Heidfeld pours cold water on Hamilton hype
  • Davidson recovered from quiet 'flu
  • Downbeat Barrichello targets top twelve
  • News briefs from Bahrain

Williams to turn 65 on Monday
(GMM) Sir Frank Williams has vowed to try and let his birthday pass without a mention when he flies back to Britain from Bahrain on Monday.

The eponymous boss of F1's Grove based team, who has traveled to the Persian Gulf to oversee this weekend's event, is turning 65.

"I hate all celebrations," Williams, who has been confined to a wheelchair since 1996, smilingly told the news agency 'sid'.

Williams' current driver Nico Rosberg, whose father Keke won the title for Sir Frank in 1982, commented: "This man is easy to admire.

"He is still a really big F1 fan, but he can be difficult as well," the German racer fondly said.

"If you've just done a bad session he doesn't have to say a lot -- you can see it on his face."

After briefly working as a driver and a mechanic, Williams founded Frank Williams Racing Cars in 1966, finding success once he had teamed up with current team co-owner and technical expert Patrick Head a decade later.

He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999.

F1 to consider cockpit roll-cages - Schumacher
(GMM) F1 could consider enclosing the cockpits of formula one cars to improve safety.

That is the revelation in Bahrain of Toyota racer Ralf Schumacher, who is also a director of the safety-oriented Grand Prix Drivers' Association.

He told the news agency 'sid' that discussions about cockpit safety have moved higher up on the GPDA's agenda following the incident in Melbourne last month involving Alex Wurz and David Coulthard.

"We are thinking about how to make the cockpits safer," Ralf admitted.

He explained: "Ideally we would like to stop the cars from leaping over each other, but we could also think about higher cockpit sides or (roll) cages."

Speedy Schumacher fined at Sakhir
(GMM) Toyota driver Ralf Schumacher was the first driver in Bahrain to be asked by the stewards to dip into his wallet after speeding in the pit lane.

During the Friday morning practice session at Sakhir, the German broke the 60kph limit by 7.2kph, incurring a fine of (US) $1,400.

Slow Button on fire in Bahrain
(GMM)  Jenson Button's nightmare season continued to worsen in Bahrain on Friday.

While lapping amongst the slowest runners in the afternoon free practice session, the Honda racer pulled over on the exit of turn two with a fiery engine failure.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa then slid on the spilled oil and spun, although avoiding the barrier.

Button, however, avoids an engine penalty as all competitors are only required to fit their race-spec power plants for the start of Saturday practice and qualifying. 

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IMG expands its empire
Champ Car Australia race promoter The IMG agency acquired Quintus, the sports and entertainment company. The acquisition follows the recent purchase by IMG of a number of other companies including CSI Sports, BSI Speedway, Tennis Week and Art + Commerce.

Among its portfolio, key Quintus events include the BlackRock Masters Tennis, the showpiece and climax of the BlackRock Tour of Champions at the Royal Albert Hall, the Michelob ULTRA London Triathlon (the world's largest triathlon with more than 10,000 entrants), and the Microsoft UK Challenge (part of the Intelligent Sport Challenger World corporate team building series).

The deal also sees the return of Quintus CEO and one of its founders, Peter Worth, to IMG. Peter worked at the company for 11 years in the 1970's and 1980s, during which time he managed Bjorn Borg and headed IMG’s European sponsorship sales division.

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ART Grand Prix and Bahraini Prince announce merger
ART Grand Prix is proud to announce the arrival of a new prestigious shareholder in their company, the Crown Prince of the Bahrain Kingdom, Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al- Khalifa.

The capital  of ART Grand Prix will now be distributed between Fréderic Vasseur and  Nicolas  Todt  to  the value  of 35% each,  while  Shaikh  Salman  bin Hamad Al- Khalifa will receive the other 30% of the company shares.  

The  new   deal  reached  by  ART/ASM  will   not  change  anything  in  regard  to  the organization and roles within the company.  

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Glock tops opening GP2 practice
Timo Glock (pictured right) has opened the 2007 racing season in style by claiming the fastest time in free practice at the first round in Bahrain.  The German set a best time of 1.42:223 on his second flying lap, a time no one was able to touch: Luca Filippi came closest, albeit six tenths off Glock's pace, with Xandi Negrao third a further tenth behind.

With the tension in the pitlane pushing the already baking temperatures up ahead of the session, there was a exhilarating sense of release as midday came and the drivers could finally get out on track in race conditions for the first time this year.

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Ferrari quickest on Sakhir’s slippery sand
Ferrari returned to the top of the time sheets on the opening morning of Bahrain action on Friday.

Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa (pictured right), nearly a full second quicker than the McLarens despite the Woking based team's one-two in Malaysia just five days ago, dominated the first 90-minute session of practice on a particularly 'green' Sakhir circuit.

It is believed that the Sakhir circuit was slippery not only due to the sandy surrounds but to recent rain, resulting in numerous off-track moments on Friday.

Pos  Driver        Team                    Time              Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            (B)  1:33.162           21
 2.  Massa         Ferrari            (B)  1:33.679 + 0.517   17
 3.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   (B)  1:34.110 + 0.948   17
 4.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   (B)  1:34.161 + 0.999   15
 5.  Trulli        Toyota             (B)  1:34.896 + 1.734   26
 6.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         (B)  1:35.076 + 1.914   30
 7.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         (B)  1:35.248 + 2.086   24
 8.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B)  1:35.292 + 2.130   23
 9.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    (B)  1:35.375 + 2.213   19
10.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    (B)  1:35.398 + 2.236   20
11.  Button        Honda              (B)  1:35.445 + 2.283   24
12.  Kovalainen    Renault            (B)  1:35.474 + 2.312   21
13.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             (B)  1:35.573 + 2.411   24
14.  Fisichella    Renault            (B)  1:35.697 + 2.535   17
15.  Speed         Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B)  1:35.726 + 2.564   22
16.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  (B)  1:35.856 + 2.694   15
17.  Barrichello   Honda              (B)  1:35.911 + 2.749   20
18.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  (B)  1:36.243 + 3.081    6
19.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   (B)  1:36.483 + 3.321   18
20.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   (B)  1:36.513 + 3.351    7
21.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     (B)  1:37.084 + 3.922   27
22.  Albers        Spyker-Ferrari     (B)  1:38.258 + 5.096   29


Great Britain Top Friday’s Practice
Shanghai, China - A1 Team Great showed it was still on form following its Mexico Feature race win by topping the timing sheets in today's practice session for the A1GP Shanghai, China this weekend. With regular driver, Robbie Kerr back behind the wheel, A1 Team Great Britain clocked a time of 1.35.573, just three hundredths of a second faster than second placed New Zealand. On only his second A1GP race weekend, France's Jean Karl Vernay set the third fastest time completing the circuit in 1.35.680.

Commenting on his performance, Robbie Kerr said: 'Things look good. Oliver (Turvey) did an excellent job in the car and came back with some really useful data and some knowledge of the circuit for me so I could I could learn from that and go out there and perform well. When we first went out, the car was immediately competitive and we were second quickest straight away but we just needed to make a few more improvements throughout the session and change a couple of things and ended up at the end of the day going quickest.'

Talking about the new chicane that joins turns four and eight on the shortened circuit, Kerr continued: 'The curbs do seem to be quite low but they bounce the car around a lot and you need to keep it stable through there to enable you to get on the power. It's definitely a challenging part of the circuit to optimize the attack but obviously you've got to be in control at the same time and keep it really well balanced.'

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Long Beach home race for Figge and PCM
Many of the Champ Car drivers have experience driving at Long Beach, but Alex Figge and Ryan Dalziel may be the only drivers who have experience driving something other than an open wheel car at the famed street circuit.  Figge and Dalziel raced here last year in the Grand Am series, driving the #89 Playboy/Vonage/Riley. While this weekend will be just his second Champ Car start, Figge has five Atlantic races under his belt at Long Beach.  His best finish was fifth in 2003.

Alex Figge on the LBGP: “It’s going to be great to represent Imperial Capital Bank at their home event, which also happens to be the home race for our team.  It will be a special weekend for us and I am looking forward to returning to the beach, which is a track I have raced on several times.  I learned so much last weekend.  There are a lot of elements to a Champ Car weekend, a lot to process.  Overall, I am pleased we finished and collected 15 points but it wasn’t pretty.  It was a tough race and I learned a ton.”


Shanghai: Vietoris tops Rookie 2 practice
1 Christian VIETORIS GERMANY 1:36.236 -
2 Jean Karl VERNAY FRANCE 1:36.695 +0.459
3 Oliver TURVEY GREAT BRITAIN 1:37.102 +0.866
4 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 1:37.263 +1.027
5 Renger VAN DER ZANDE NETHERLANDS 1:37.436 +1.200
6 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 1:37.537 +1.301
7 Marcel FASSLER SWITZERLAND 1:37.581 +1.345
8 Alan VAN DER MERWE SOUTH AFRICA 1:37.776 +1.540
9 Kevin LACROIX CANADA 1:37.976 +1.740
10 Ian DYK AUSTRALIA 1:38.189 +1.953
11 Aaron LIM MALAYSIA 1:38.236 +2.000
12 Michele RUGOLO ITALY 1:38.308 +2.072
13 Joao URBANO PORTUGAL 1:38.512 +2.276
14 Allam KHODAIR LEBANON 1:38.550 +2.314
15 Moreno SOEPRAPTO INDONESIA 1:38.666 +2.430
16 Daniel GAUNT NEW ZEALAND 1:38.691 +2.455
17 John O'HARA IRELAND 1:39.489 +3.253
18 Filip SALAQUARDA CZECH REPUBLIC 1:39.554 +3.318
19 Bia FIGUEIREDO BRAZIL 1:39.985 +3.749
20 Sergio PEREZ MEXICO 1:40.126 +3.890
21 Congfu CHENG CHINA 1:40.359 +4.123
22 Nur ALI PAKISTAN 1:40.791 +4.555


Shanghai: Vietoris tops Rookie 1 practice
1 Christian VIETORIS GERMANY 1:37.264 -
2 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 1:37.365 +0.101
3 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 1:37.569 +0.305
4 Jean Karl VERNAY FRANCE 1:37.730 +0.466
5 Marcel FASSLER SWITZERLAND 1:37.956 +0.692
6 Kevin LACROIX CANADA 1:38.250 +0.986
7 Renger VAN DER ZANDE NETHERLANDS 1:38.585 +1.321
8 Michele RUGOLO ITALY 1:38.717 +1.453
9 Allam KHODAIR LEBANON 1:39.051 +1.787
10 Joao URBANO PORTUGAL 1:39.063 +1.799
11 Oliver TURVEY GREAT BRITAIN 1:39.089 +1.825
12 Ian DYK AUSTRALIA 1:39.240 +1.976
13 Moreno SOEPRAPTO INDONESIA 1:39.249 +1.985
14 Congfu CHENG CHINA 1:39.472 +2.208
15 Daniel GAUNT NEW ZEALAND 1:39.625 +2.361
16 Filip SALAQUARDA CZECH REPUBLIC 1:39.885 +2.621
17 Aaron LIM MALAYSIA 1:40.049 +2.785
18 Alan VAN DER MERWE SOUTH AFRICA 1:40.842 +3.578
19 John O'HARA IRELAND 1:40.852 +3.588
20 Nur ALI PAKISTAN 1:45.674 +8.410
21 Sergio PEREZ MEXICO 1:46.144 +8.880
22 Bia FIGUEIREDO BRAZIL 2:03.025 +25.761


Ragan wins Busch pole
Top-10 Results Qualifying – O’Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway
Race 8 of the NASCAR Busch Series
1. #6 David Ragan 28.263
2. #60 Carl Edwards 28.518
3. #5 Kyle Busch 28.614
4. #24 Casey Mears 28.743
5. #9 Kasey Kahne 28.770
6. #20 Denny Hamlin 28.792
7. #99 David Reutimann 28.806
8. #06 Mark Martin 28.837
9. #29 Jeff Burton 28.882
10. #17 Matt Kenseth 28.888


Andretti's F1 win at Long Beach holds test of time
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- In the spring of 1977, Mario Andretti was a 37-year-old race-car driver whose career had taken him to a crossroads. I was a 12-year-old boy who had just moved to Indiana and discovered car racing -- Formula 1, surprisingly enough, given that I lived an hour from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Our paths indirectly intersected on the afternoon of April 3.

On that day, Mario drove a Lotus 78-Ford to victory in the third Long Beach Grand Prix, arguably the most significant of his 12 F1 race wins. It was a classic race, with Andretti, Jody Scheckter and Niki Lauda rarely separated by more than a few feet.

Formula 1 races rarely were broadcast in America in those days, so it was a unique treat for young Oreo to be able to see the action as it happened, live on CBS, rather than wait three months for Rob Walker's report in Road & Track. To this day, I credit that Long Beach '77 telecast as one of the most significant milestones in the long, strange trip that brought me to where I am today -- in Long Beach, to report on the 33rd annual version of the classic street race.

Thirty years down the line, I'm a 42-year-old motorsports reporter, a career that gave me the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to ask Mario -- now a 67-year-old certified living legend -- to reminisce about Long Beach '77. It was an important race for both of us.

"It's an event that was obviously very important to me personally," Andretti said. "I was a proponent of Long Beach to begin with. That was the beginning of a wave that was unlikely to really be successful -- street racing in modern times. Street racing was becoming a thing of the past, being phased out in other parts of the world. I raced in Barcelona, Spain, through Montjuich Park, and at Monte Carlo, obviously. But this was a new wave that made you say, 'Is [race co-founder] Chris Pook crazy or what?'

"Yet it was so appealing to me. And having competed in the first one, the Formula 5000 race, I was there from the beginning."  More at ESPN.com

tv news

ESPN2’s NASCAR Now Expanding
NASCAR Now, ESPN’s first daily news and information show totally dedicated to NASCAR, is expanding its Monday evening edition to one hour, beginning April 16. The expanded format will provide more time for recaps and analysis of the weekend’s NASCAR races. The Monday program will air from 6-7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

NASCAR Now will air on ESPN2 for 30 minutes at its regular 6:30 p.m. ET time slot Tuesday through Thursday next week, with no Friday edition due to the live NASCAR Busch Series race at Phoenix International Raceway that evening on ESPN2. In addition, the weekend edition will air at 10 a.m. Saturday, rather than its usual day of Sunday, due to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series running that night at Phoenix. Reports from Phoenix will be included in Saturday’s program. Sunday night’s edition of the program will air at midnight.


Chastain Motorsports reunites Indy 500 run
Ten years after he formed Chastain Motorsports to field a car in the Indy Car Series, Indianapolis entrepreneur Tom Chastain is reunited key members of the team for a 10-year anniversary Indianapolis 500 program.

Veteran crew chief, Darrell Soppe, who held the same position on Chastain's original team will once again head the program and be reunited with the team's original driver, Stephan Gregoire.

Chastain was one of the original team owners who joined the Indy Car Series when a totally new Indy Car chassis was first introduced in 1997. In its two seasons of competition, Chastain Motorsports became known for its distinctive "blue car" and achieving results that far surpassed its resources. With Gregoire at the wheel, the team finished in the top 10 in half of its races and came within a fraction of a second of victory in finishing second when Tony Stewart won his first IndyCar Series race at Pikes Peak in 1997. Chastain's new car will once again sport its distinctive blue livery as well as its original number, 77. 

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Happy Birthday Ryan
Ryan Dalziel turns 25 today, April 12, 2007.

PCM and Ironclad the Local Angle:  Long Beach is the home race for Oxnard based Pacific Coast Motorsports and also for Ironclad, Ryan’s primary sponsor, they are based in El Segundo, California.

Long Beach Race Winner: When Dalziel takes the green flag this weekend, it will be his fourth start at the beach.  He’s raced here in both Atlantic and Grand Am, but it will be his first time racing here in the Champ Car.  Dalziel won from the pole position here in 2004 while racing for Sierra Sierra Enterprises in the Toyota Atlantic series and he counts that victory as one of the most memorable and important of his racing career.

Scotland’s Most Eligible Bachelors:  The Scotsman recently ranked Ryan as #6 on the list of Scotland’s 50 most eligible bachelors.

Ready for Rebound: Dalziel finished the Vegas Grand Prix with mixed emotions as he was running third when his gearbox problems manifested.  Dalziel spent 16 laps in the pits getting his #28 DP01 serviced by his California based crew.  They sent it back out on track and he finished 11th.  It was bittersweet for Dalziel as he felt he had a top-five run going, however unlike many of his competitors he was able to finish, and gained two positions by getting back out on track.

Ryan Dalziel on the LBGP:  “I love Long Beach.  It is definitely my favorite event.  Lot’s of energy here and it is going to be fun racing for the home team.  I’ve got good memories as I won here in Atlantic from pole in (2004), it is a prestigious event and having won here is special.  I am ready to make up for the problems we had during the race last weekend and get the Ironclad car back into the top-ten and finish there.”


Sakhir is a very tough circuit for engines
Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen will both have new engines in their F2007 for this weekend's third round of the World Championship, which is a positive element given that the races in Malaysia and Bahrain are two of the toughest on the calendar in terms of the stresses to which the V8s are subjected.

However, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's somewhat disappointing performance at Sepang was not directly linked to the effects of heat on the engine, as the Head of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro's engine department, Gilles Simon explains. "We had tested in Sepang the week before the race and the data showed that the car had a good ability to keep cool, which means that the package does not lose much efficiency when the rear of the car is opened up more to improve cooling," began the Frenchman. "So, we did not really have problems with engine cooling. However, on Kimi's car, the engine previously used in Melbourne had overheated because of a leak from a joint between the radiator and engine and so, in Sepang, we had to ensure his engine ran cooler to compensate for this. Felipe's engine was able to run hotter than his teammate's."

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NASCAR ATT hearing date set
The preliminary injunction hearing in the AT&T vs. NASCAR lawsuit over the sponsorship of the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Nextel Cup car driven by Jeff Burton will be April 26 in U.S. District Court in Atlanta.

NASCAR had asked the court to delay the injunction hearing, but U.S. District court Senior Judge Marvin H. Shoob denied the request Thursday.

AT&T is seeking an injunction to put its logos on Burton's car. NASCAR has forbidden the AT&T logos because of its agreement with Nextel to sponsor NASCAR's premier series.

Cingular, which is Burton's current sponsor, merged with AT&T in December, and AT&T is phasing out the Cingular name. Cingular had been grandfathered in as a sponsor when the Nextel-NASCAR contract was signed in 2003.

AT&T claims that none of the annual contracts teams sign with NASCAR to get a car number forbid Cingular from changing its name on the car, so it should not be forbidden from making the change. NASCAR argues that Cingular and RCR knew that they couldn't make a change and that NASCAR has the right to reject any paint scheme.  Scenedaily


Toyota sponsors America's premier road race
Toyota has been a major part of the Grand Prix of Long Beach since providing the pace car for the inaugural event in 1975. That first race was a Formula 5000 event, and the prestigious Formula One series added Long Beach to its schedule the following year. CART took over the race in 1984.

Long Beach is home to the first Toyota manufacturing plant in America.

"Toyota is the very essence of what a sponsor should be," said race President Jim Michaelian. "We're delighted to maintain a relationship with them, as Toyota has been very instrumental in what we like to call America's premier road race."


Harvick and Martin to race at Iowa
Kevin Harvick and Mark Martin will race at Iowa Speedway this year. Harvick, driving for Richard Childress Racing, will race in the track’s first NASCAR race, the NASCAR Grand National East-West Sunday, May 20. Martin, driving for Ginn Racing, will race Friday night, July 13, in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race. The announcement was made by Iowa Speedway Vice President and General Manager, Craig Armstrong


Atlantic Driver Matt Lee Penalized
Champ Car Atlantic Championship driver Matt Lee (#44 Integrated Structures) of Conquest Racing has been penalized five championship points by Atlantic officials following infractions committed at last weekend's Las Vegas Grand Prix -  Round 1 of the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

Lee, a 17-year-old rookie from Syosset, New York, finished 10th in Sunday's season opener. He originally earned 11 points for the finish, but following the penalty, Lee will now carry a six-point total into this weekend's Round 2 at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Lee is now ranked 15th in the series standings entering the weekend. Champ Car

Industry News

Porsche to expand Panamera plant
Stuttgart/Leipzig. Preparation for the production of the new Porsche model series Panamera is running at high speed: Today, Dr. Ing. h.c. F. Porsche AG, Stuttgart celebrated its topping out ceremony for the further expansion of its Leipzig plant. Among those present included German Federal Minister of Transport Wolfgang Tiefensee, the Minister President of Saxony Georg Milbradt, Leipzig's mayor Burkhard Jung and the Porsche Executive Board member Michael Macht as well as 300 guests and construction workers who together placed a garland on the roof of the new Panamera production facilities. With an area of 25,000 square meters, the facilities form the basis of the expansion. An adjacent logistics center with an area of 23,500 square meters has also been created. In addition, the existing assembly facilities, in which the Cayenne is already being manufactured, will be expanded to include a pilot and analysis center as well as an apprentice workshop. In total, investments for the buildings and production equipment amounted to 150 million Euro.

Michael Macht, Porsche AG Executive Board member responsible for Production and Logistics: Since our decision for Leipzig in 1999, we have written a flawless success story. No one at Porsche doubts that this expansion was a good investment." Thanks to a well- polished production concept, the company is in a position to produce premium vehicles at the Leipzig plant in relatively small quantities at a competitive price. According to Porsche management, the proven production concept will also be used for assembly for the four- seater Gran Turismo Panamera, which will be introduced to the market in 2009.

German Federal Minister of Transport Wolfgang Tiefensee assessed the assembly of the Panamera in Leipzig as further proof that Eastern Germany is an excellent investment location. The excellent infrastructure and the well educated work force are the advantages for this location that Porsche in Leipzig can utilize", the minister emphasized. At the same time, he also noted that the sports car manufacturer also stands for social responsibility. This increasingly includes the responsibility for climate protection, which the company perceives will further reduce fuel consumption in its vehicles: The development of a hybrid drive for the Cayenne and Panamera models built in Leipzig can prove to be future oriented," the minister explained.

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Bahrain: Thursday press conference
  • Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes)
  • Heikki Kovalainen (Renault)
  • Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber)
  • Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
  • Jarno Trulli (Toyota).

Q. Heikki, I'll start with you. Obviously you were very pleased to score your first world championship last weekend in Malaysia, but has the car been cured of its problems?

Heikki Kovalainen: In one week I think not, unless there has been a miracle we don't know about. Clearly we are behind the top pace and obviously we are not happy about that. The whole factory is trying to understand the cause, but this weekend the gap to the leaders will be about the same. Hopefully, though, we'll score points again.

Q. Perhaps the point I should have made is that there are fewer high-speed corners here than in Malaysia and you looked better in testing here than you did at Sepang.

HK: The test before Sepang was pretty good, too, and we thought we'd made a good step, but looking back other teams had made an even bigger step because there was a bigger gap between us and the leaders in Sepang than there was in Melbourne. As you said, there are fewer high-speed corners, which should help us a little bit, but in any case I think we shouldn't think about that too much and just get on with it.

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WTCC to go 'green' in 2009
The World Touring Car Championship is to run solely on bio-fuels from 2009 after the FIA World Motor Sport Council gave its unanimous support to the initiative to make the WTCC a ‘green' series.

The series will introduce bio-ethanol – which has already been pioneered in the British Touring Car Championship in recent seasons – alongside petrol and diesel in 2008 before switching exclusively to bio-fuels in 2009.

All stakeholders involved in the WTCC, including car manufacturers and sponsors, will take part in the development program leading up to the switch, which will include analyzing the different bio-fuels currently available on the market. The aim of that analysis will be to identify the best possible alternative bio-fuel source possible, which will then be submitted to the FIA technical department for final approval. With the close relationship between touring cars and their road-going equivalents we believe that the WTCC is the logical platform to raise public awareness of bio fuels,” Jacques Behar, chairman and CEO of championship promoter KSO, said. “Alternative fuels will also play a major role in motor sport's future and it is our goal to be at the forefront of this technology."


Inaugural Vegas Grand Prix deemed a success
LAS VEGAS - As predicted when the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix was announced last September, organizers held a race and one incredible party broke out through the streets of downtown Las Vegas this past weekend, April 5-8. 

Vegas Grand Prix events got underway on Thursday, April 5, at the Bombay Sapphire sponsored charity gala held at the Bellagio Resort with headline entertainment from singer Jon Bon Jovi and Friends Big & Rich with Cowboy Troy, along with comedian and "Tonight Show" host Jay Leno.  Walking the red carpet for the spectacular event and staying throughout the weekend were actors Jason Priestley and Tiffani Thiessen of "Beverly Hills 90210" fame, David Cubitt "Medium," Kathryn Morris "Cold Case," singer Chris Cornell and many more. Former Vice President Dan Quayle and NFL great Boomer Esiason also attended the gala and enjoyed the entertainment.  The silent and live auctions during the gala, which included items such as a weekend in London as a guest of Bombay Sapphire mixologist James Moreland, raised money for Keep Memory Alive, the foundation for the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute, via Vegas Grand Prix's charitable organization, the Jenyon Foundation.

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Bridgestone Long Beach fast facts
Champ Car World Series
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Streets of Long Beach, Calif.
April 13-15, 2007 - Round 2 of 16

Race Details: Timed event -- 1 hour, 45 minutes. Track distance is 1.968 miles (3.167 km).

Television Broadcast: Live -- Sunday, April 15, at 4 p.m. EDT on NBC.

Bridgestone Potenza Tires Supplied:

* 546 primary (black-sidewall) dry-condition slicks; 176 alternate (red-sidewall) dry slicks; 304 wet-condition (rain) tires.

* Each car receives seven sets of primary tires, two sets of alternates and four sets of rain tires for the race weekend.

* In a normal dry-condition race, each car must use at least one set of primary and one set of alternate Potenzas. The primary and alternate tires' construction is identical, but the alternates possess a tread compound with better grip ("softer"), making them faster but possibly not quite as durable.

* Bridgestone Motorsport is bringing its softest, or highest-grip, primary, alternate and rain Potenzas to tackle this twisting temporary street circuit. The primary specification is new to Long Beach, but is a race-proven tire used at five other street circuits in 2006 and Las Vegas last weekend. The alternate spec boasts a newly developed compound and makes its racing debut this weekend.

Quote from Al Speyer, Executive Director, Bridgestone Motorsport: "Everyone in Champ Car, including Bridgestone, enjoys returning each year to the flagship race in Long Beach. The people here have set the standard on how to run an event well, and we're pleased that Bridgestone again will be the Official Tire for the grand prix. Bridgestone also continues supplying tires for the popular Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, this year utilizing the Potenza RE-01R favored by many sports-car enthusiasts. We introduced the Champ Car alternate tire concept at Long Beach in 2004 and it has been embraced ever since. Both the primary and alternate tires have performed quite well here in the past. We expect that to continue in 2007 and contribute to another memorable Long Beach grand prix."  Bridgestone


PIR awards Phoenix Sheriff
Phoenix International Raceway officials say Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio will serve as the honorary pace-car driver for the April 21 Subway Fresh Fit 500 Nextel Cup race at the track.

"We are thrilled to have Sheriff Arpaio drive our pace car in the Subway Fresh Fit 500," PIR President Bryan R. Sperber said. "With approximately 100,000 fans watching, the pressure will be on, but we are confident that he'll be a star behind the wheel."

Known as "America's toughest sheriff," Arpaio is serving his fourth term as Maricopa County sheriff.  [Editor's Note:  Perhaps a reward for this Sheriff who gave Champ Car such a hard time over noise in the downtown area before approving their street race.]


Heidfeld, Rosberg, keep quiet about F1 futures
(GMM)  Both Nick Heidfeld and Nico Rosberg on Thursday were not keen to talk about their futures in F1.

The German pair, who drive respectively for BMW-Sauber and Williams, have enjoyed promising starts to the 2007 campaign, but both are reportedly not guaranteed seats next year.

Heidfeld, 29, is understood to have a contract 'option' to stay at BMW in 2008 but he has also been linked with a move to Toyota.

He said in Bahrain: "I am satisfied at BMW."

"Nick is in the form of his life and is doing a terrific job right now," his manager Werner Heinz added.

Heidfeld insisted he is not pushing BMW for an early decision about next year, despite reports suggesting the contrary.

"No, there is no specific time limit," he insisted.  "It is still very early in the season -- there is still plenty of time left."

Rosberg, meanwhile, earned the praise recently of Williams' technical director Sam Michael, amid suggestions that other teams might also have an eye on the former GP2 champion.

"That's a nice question to hear," he smiled on Thursday when asked about his promising future, "but I have nothing to say.  I am with Williams and I hope that together we can progress as a team.  I prefer to think about now than (think about) the future."


No hard feelings as Massa, Hamilton, shake hands
(GMM) Felipe Massa on Thursday showed that the off-track pressure has not got to him after messing up his quest to win last weekend's Malaysian grand prix.

Scarcely four days since their battle at Sepang, Massa expressed no hard feelings towards Lewis Hamilton by shaking his hand before putting the McLaren rookie in a playful headlock.

After Malaysia, Hamilton actually apologized for enticing Massa into the gravel, but the Brazilian, Massa, said in Bahrain: "I would have done the same thing as him.

"For sure when Lewis is behind I will not give him an easy time either, but he did a very good job. This was not dirty driving."


No Fridays testers in Bahrain
(GMM)  Not a single test driver is likely to appear on Bahrain's Sakhir circuit during free practice on Friday.

After BMW confirmed that Sebastian Vettel is occupied in the Renault World Series this weekend, it has also emerged that Williams' Kazuki Nakajima will sit out his regular F1 duties while he races in the opening round of the GP2 season.

Meanwhile, Spyker's original Friday plans this year were shelved partly due to the contractual tussle involving Giedo van der Garde, and Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger has ruled out nominating a test driver for this year.


Grand Prix has grown this year
LONG BEACH - Two months before the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Dwight Tanaka's crew of 40 begin laying down the foundation for a city within a city destined to thrive for three days.

That's 2,100 concrete blocks for the 1.97-mile race track, each block measuring 12 feet long and weighing 10,000 pounds apiece. An assortment of cranes, forklifts and semi-trucks erect four miles of debris fence. As the weekend draws closer, portions of the city's downtown area are shut down in phases. More structures are added: 17 grandstands, 65 hospitality suites, nine pedestrian bridges, and seven diamond vision boards.

And all it took was a year of planning that began almost immediately after the conclusion of last year's 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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Industry News

Goodyear looking to move headquarters
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. will establish, in a campus-like setting, new buildings for its global headquarters and North American headquarters adjacent to its Akron (Ohio) Technical Center on existing Goodyear property.   Developer Stu Lichter of Industrial Real Estate Group (IRG) has presented a proposal to Goodyear and the City of Akron that would include the purchase of Goodyear's existing property for redevelopment in exchange for constructing two new buildings for Goodyear adjacent to its Akron Technical Center in a long-term lease deal.

The project also would fit with Goodyear's business needs, according to Joe Gingo, Goodyear's executive vice president and chief technical officer.

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NASCAR Toyota star charged with hit-and-run UPDATE #4 Photos of Waltrip's wrecked car. He is lucky he's not dead. The witness who discovered Michael Waltrip's overturned car initially thought no one survived the accident until the NASCAR driver wiggled out the back window.
The witness, an 18-year-old college student at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, requested anonymity during a phone interview Wednesday with The Associated Press for fear of reprisal from Waltrip's fan base.

But she said she lives near the two-time Daytona 500 winner in Sherrills Ford, and stumbled upon the accident when she was returning home around 2 a.m. ET Saturday. She saw an overturned Toyota Land Cruiser in a ditch and rushed over to check on the occupants. She didn't see anyone in the car and no one answered her shouts, so she called 911 for help.

"After I got off the phone I was walking around the car again and somebody stuck their foot out the back driver side of the window," she said. "That's when Michael Waltrip got out. He wiggled out the back window. I knew immediately it was him. He just got out the back driver side window and stood up."

The witness said she asked Waltrip how long he'd been in the car and he told her about 10 minutes. He was bleeding from his forehead and had some cuts on his fingers and arms," she said. "I told him 'You are really lucky you are alive. I didn't think anybody was alive in there.' We sort of talked for a minute or two, and I told him 911 was on the way, and he just turned around and started walking home.

"I didn't know what to say or what to do. He had a T-shirt and sweat pants and socks on, he might have taken his shoes off in the car, but I wasn't sure. And he just turned around and started walking home in his socks." More from AP article 

[Editor's Note: OK, now we know Waltrip was lying and was probably drunk as a skunk. The woman told him 911 was on the way and then he must of said to himself, 'I had better get the heck out of here now' and fled the scene. And who drives a car with no shoes on and then walks a mile home in his socks?]

04/11/07 “I got out and someone had pulled up and said she would call 911,” said Waltrip, who said he was on his way home from Charlotte when the wreck occurred. “I said that I was fine, and I just decided to go home and then figure out what to do.”

The crash was reported, however, and trooper B.L. Buchanan arrived at the scene shortly before 2 a.m. Buchanan said the witness recognized Waltrip. Buchanan knew Waltrip lived nearby and went to Waltrip’s home around 2:30 but got no response at the door. He went back to the wreck, had the vehicle towed and went off duty at 5 a.m.

Waltrip said he went to the pool house to take a shower after the wreck. [Editor's Note: Why would he do that? Maybe he was inside and so drunk he never heard the bell or chose to not answer it] and didn’t know the trooper had come to the house that night. Waltrip’s wife, Buffy, in Charleston for the weekend, was called about the incident and called Waltrip Saturday morning to tell him he needed to contact Buchanan when the trooper came back on duty at 8 p.m.

Buchanan said he was unable to make any determination about whether alcohol was involved because of the lapse of time between the wreck and when he talked to Waltrip. “That’s why the law requires you to remain there at the scene,” he said.

But Waltrip insists that he did not go home to avoid being tested for intoxication. “Alcohol was not a factor at all in my accident,” he said. “I didn’t go home to avoid anything. I just went there trying to figure out what to do.” Charlotte Observer [Editor's Note: And if you believe that story we have a bridge we would like to sell you.]

04/10/07 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Sounds to me like Waltrip was drunk as a skunk. He left the scene to get some sleep and get his blood alcohol level down before talking to the police. How much longer is Toyota going to put up with this cheating clown? Arthur Rosenberg, Newark

04/10/07 Michael Waltrip is charged with reckless driving and failure to report an accident after a crash on Molly's Backbone Road in Catawba County. The Highway Patrol says Waltrip was driving about 70 miles per hour in the 55 mile-per-hour zone when he went off the right side of the road in a curve around 1:50 a.m. Saturday. His car then traveled back across the pavement and off the left side of the roadway, sliding sideways and striking a utility pole as it overturned. The car then rolled over and came to a rest on its side. Troopers said a witness saw Waltrip crawl out of the vehicle and leave the scene. When a trooper went to his home around 2:30 a.m. no one was there, but when he went back at 8 p.m. he found Waltrip, who admitted he'd fallen asleep at the wheel. Waltrip, with scratches on his face and some deep cuts on his finger, spoke with Eyewitness News about the crash. He said he was on his way home to Sherill's Ford from Charlotte. "I was almost home. I relaxed a little bit and ran off the road," he explained. "I woke up with gravel hitting the car and I tried to correct but it was too late. The seasoned driver says he instinctively got out of his car, and then decided to walk home because he often runs the route and was only a mile away. Waltrip will be in court in Newton on May 14. WSOCTV.com

04/10/07 Michael Waltrip has been charged with reckless driving and hit-and-run after hitting a telephone pole and rolling his car about a mile away from his home over the weekend.

Waltrip, who suffered scratches to his face and cuts on his finger, said he fell asleep at the wheel when he wrecked early Saturday morning.

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Bourdais hoping Long Beach stays good to him
The 2006 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was the beginning of a four race win streak for Sebastien Bourdais last season and the bulk of his seven for the season.  He not only repeated his 2005 win here last year, he scored the maximum points after setting the fastest time in both qualifying sessions, setting the fastest race lap and winning the event.  He is hoping to return to that sort of weekend on the 1.968-mile course on the streets of Long Beach.

“You need something – I wouldn’t say you need luck – but you need things not to be against you in order to win a championship,” added Bourdais, who drove his motor coach from Las Vegas to Long Beach in order to see more of the United States.  “Even more this year, that will be the case while we work on the reliability of these new cars.”

Bourdais has the rare opportunity to win four consecutive championships this year if he can again capture the Vanderbilt Cup. He would be making history as no Champ or Indy Car driver has ever won four straight championships. Four in a row is very rare in professional sports.  In fact it has never been done in either NASCAR or the NFL and it hasn’t been accomplished in the last twenty years in the NBA, NHL or MLB.   Bourdais and his McDonald’s team are putting in long hours in attempt to accomplish this goal.

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Rahal understands significance of Long Beach
A total of eight rookies will compete in the Champ Car race in Long Beach, but only three have never raced on the track: Robert Doornbos, Neel Jani and Tristan Gommendy.  Four other rookies in addition to Graham Rahal competed in the Atlantic series here and hope to have a slight edge.  Rahal may not have been born when the first Champ Car race was run on the streets of Long Beach but he understands the significance of the event. 

“Long Beach is a historic event,” said Rahal, 18.  “In a lot of ways it’s like Monaco or any of these types of events.  Number One, being next to the ocean is awesome; people love it.  The atmosphere of the city is great; they really get into the event.  That’s why the race has become so popular.  It’s been around so long that a lot of people not only enjoy going to the race but they also know when it’s going to happen and that they can count on it each year.  For me, it’s an exciting event to go to.  It’s tough to compare it to the Indy 500 but it’s got to be up there with the best events.” 

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Earnhardt opens retail store
The first-ever retail store exclusive to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his JR Motorsports brand officially opened its doors Tuesday afternoon as part of a company-wide grand opening at his team’s new 66,000-square foot facility. The store, fittingly called JR Nation, consists of more than 500 items of merchandise, including shirts, hats and collectables fashioned less like traditional track gear and more to Earnhardt Jr.’s style. It is located at the entrance to JR Motorsports, easily accessible to guests visiting the shop.

“I’m very proud of this store, and I think the fans are going to really like what we have in it,” Earnhardt Jr. said Tuesday at the grand opening. “The shirts and hats are not flashy and over-the-top like you sometimes see at the race track. It’s more subdued and cool. I had a lot of input in how I wanted this apparel to look, because I didn’t want to sell anything I wouldn’t wear myself.”

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Audi R10 TDI competes in “Monaco of USA”
  • American Le Mans Series debuts in Long Beach
  • Most important street race in America
  • US VIPs intrigued by Audi Diesel sportscar

While the wraps are officially being taken off the 2007 DTM season in Dusseldorf on Sunday, the American motorsport fans are looking with mounting interest towards Long Beach (USA) this coming weekend: In the Californian coastal town close to Los Angeles the most important and traditional street race in USA will take place. The event has been held since 1975 and was earlier the scene of the US Formula 1 Grand Prix. The 33rd running this year welcomes the American Le Mans Series for the first time – and, as a result, also the Audi R10 TDI.
The revolutionary Audi Diesel sportscar and its winning streak have hogged the headlines in the USA for more than one year. Most of the fans – including the many celebrities visiting Long Beach this weekend from Los Angeles, Malibu or Beverly Hills to see the race – are excited about the appearance of the powerful 650 hp Le Mans Prototype in the "Monaco of USA”.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Midland cars added to 'Hall of Fame'
  • Webber 'excited' about Red Bull progress
  • Off and on track, Heidfeld gains upper hand
  • Honda cannot write off 2007 - Eeckelaert
  • Hamilton on cusp of F1 history
  • F1 drivers welcome traction control ban
  • Schu won't be Massa 'mentor'
  • Villeneuve defends poor album sales

Midland cars added to 'Hall of Fame'
(GMM) Two formula one cars raced under the defunct Midland ownership have been added to the museum of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame.

According to the Canadian Automotive Collection, the cars are "significant ... in Canadian motorsport history" because they contested grands prix under the ownership of departed team owner Alex Shnaider, a naturalized Russian.

But one forum writer on the 'Inside Track' website wondered: "These are significant cars in Canadian motorsport history. Really? Why?"

In the grey, black and red colors, F1's Silverstone based outfit raced as Midland for less than a year before selling to Dutch owners who rebranded the team as Spyker.

One of the cars, meanwhile, is painted in the bright yellow Jordan livery of 2005, representing Midland's first year of F1 ownership.

The museum is located in Ontario.

Webber 'excited' about Red Bull progress
(GMM) Mark Webber has enthused about his tenth place finish for Red Bull in last Sunday's Malaysian grand prix.

"I'm not excited about finishing tenth," he insisted to the Australian press. "I'm excited about the potential we're beginning to tap into and the direction we're moving in."

In Australia, 30-year-old Webber's lapped Renault-powered RB3 powered to just thirteenth, but at Sepang Webber was the last car to finish on the lead lap, ahead of the two lapped Hondas.

Moreover, unlike his veteran teammate David Coulthard, Webber qualified for the coveted 'top ten shootout' at both events.

He said: "To get a car home on the lead lap is so much further ahead than where we were two months ago -- we must continue this progression."

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Slim overtakes Buffet as 2nd richest
Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim has quietly overtaken investor Warren Buffett as the world's second-richest man and is close to wresting the top spot from Bill Gates, Forbes magazine reported Wednesday.  Yet he can't commit to sponsoring Mario Dominguez for a full year with his Telmex company?

In the two months since Forbes calculated its 2007 wealth rankings, the 67-year-old Slim's fortune rose $4 billion to $53.1 billion, while Buffett's holdings slipped to $52.4 billion as of March 29.

In an article on its website, Forbes attributed part of Slim's "amazing run" to a 15% increase in the stock price of Carso Global Telecom, part of a larger rally in Mexican stocks. Slim's America Movil cellphone company also soared on news of a possible acquisition of Telecom Italia.

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