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The difference between great and good is in the mind The difference between great and good is in the mindThe top speed of an F1 car is 6mph slower this year, as a result of the switch from 3-litre V10 engines to 2.4-litre V8s, however lap times have remained the same as in 2005 because the cars are faster through the corners than last year, which is helped along by Bridgestone tires.

"The improvement on last year is pretty amazing," says Ferrari star Felipe Massa. "We are nearly 9mph faster through some corners, which is very impressive. Most of that speed comes from the grip generated by the Bridgestone tires, which are softer and grippier than last year, but the aerodynamics are better too. You really feel the difference in the cockpit."

The increased cornering speeds make the cars much more physical to drive. The lateral loads peak at 4g through fast corners which, when combined with deceleration forces of 5.5g under heavy braking, makes physical preparation a vital part of a driver's job description. The best form of training takes place on the track because the drivers agree that no gym exercise accurately replicates the harsh conditions experienced in the car. But there is plenty that the drivers can do to improve their stamina and strength away from the racetrack.

Stamina is improved by increasing the amount of oxygen in the blood (aerobic fitness). It can be most easily achieved by running, cycling or swimming. Strength comes from gym work: press-ups, sit-ups, circuit training and weights.

The neck takes the biggest upper body pummeling because it's not strapped into the car by a six-point harness. Each driver develops his own system to strengthen the neck, but they are all variations on the same theme. A pulley system of weights is attached to an old helmet and they lift them in reps of 10. One neck session will usually last 1.5 hours, which is the length of a grand prix. zzzz

"The forces are certainly higher this year," says Williams star Mark Webber. "With the re-introduction of tire changes this year, we are doing qualifying laps every lap. It's quite tough, but it's our job to be prepared and fitness is one aspect of the job that I enjoy."

Heat is another factor that drivers have to prepare for because cockpit temperatures can exceed 50 degrees Celsius at some races. During the Malaysian Grand Prix, for example, the drivers lose 3.5 liters of water in sweat, which equates to 8.5 percent of their body's water content. To put that into perspective, a water loss of just one percent can affect a person's concentration levels.

To counteract dehydration, every F1 car carries a water bottle, which holds up to one liter of hypotonic fluid (a mineral solution). It is connected to the driver via a straw and is activated by a pump. Drivers also try to increase the volume of water in their bodies by drinking lots of water in the build-up to a race.

"Physical preparation is all very well," says Toyota's doctor, Riccardo Ceccarelli. "But that is only half of what a driver needs. The other half is the brain: there is no let-up for the brain during a race, which is what makes F1 the most demanding sport in the world."

Each driver's mental preparation varies, with some needing to sleep a couple of hours before a race. But Ceccarelli encourages Toyota drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli to treat their brains like they would their muscles: warm them up prior to using them; let them rest at the right times too.

"Anyone with the right level of discipline can get himself physically prepared to drive an F1 car," says Ceccarelli. "The difference between the great and the good is in the mind." Bridgestone

Quotes from first Qatar test day Quotes from first Qatar test dayThe eagerly awaited Qtel Masters of Qatar got underway today with a two-hour Free Practice session at what drivers have described as one of the best motor racing circuits on the world stage. The scorching desert heat generated a midday track temperature of 46-degrees and with temperatures expected to rise even further ahead of Saturday's race, the demanding and unforgiving climate is the only concern at what is an exceptionally challenging, quick and rewarding driver's circuit. All the Masters (except Arnoux who arrives tonight) were in action today undertaking familiarization laps and understanding how best to set-up the 600bhp cars ahead of this weekend's first-ever four-wheeled motor race in Qatar.

Nigel Mansell (Britain): "This is a truly world-class facility and one which we are extremely proud to be racing at and more so given that it's Qatar's first ever four-wheeled motor race. It's extremely fast, technically demanding and is complimented with what can only be described as state-of-the-art infrastructure and facilities. Today's free practice has been about re-acquainting ourselves with these cars and understanding the set-up variables as we prepare for tomorrow's further two free practice sessions."

Christian Danner (Germany): "As one would expect, we were greeted by extremely slippery and dusty conditions given that the last race here was the Moto GP a couple of weeks back. This made finding a balance quite challenging on the car and understeer was a problem for everyone today. As the rubber was laid down, however, the handling characteristics of the car improved considerably and have provided a lot of food for thought as we go into what has to be one of the hottest places on earth to race Grand Prix cars."

Jan Lammers (Netherlands): "I didn't manage as many laps as I would have liked because I slid off and it took some time to clean out the car. Overall though I am happy and pleased with where we are. It's a lovely track which boasts a great layout. It has an excellent variety of corners and is quite a technical track which makes learning it quite hard. I'm sure this place is going to throw up a few surprises over the weekend given that we have no prior experience, data or test mileage to work from."

Emerson Fittipaldi (Brazil): "We certainly didn't expect a circuit this fast or challenging but I am really excited about what this Losail circuit has to offer. It was designed with two-wheeled action in mind as opposed to four but nonetheless it offers a wonderful blend of fast corners, undulations and an extremely long straight. Understeer was unfortunately the biggest issue during today's opening session but we have worked towards improving that and as more rubber gets laid down, the grip factor will improve and allow for what I am sure will be a spectacular race come Saturday." zzzz

Pierluigi Martini (Italy): "A beautiful circuit but one which makes achieving the correct balance very important. There is a wide range of corners here - some very quick and some not so quick. Exiting the faster corners, however, is where a good car balance really pays off and we have been working today on this area. I believe everyone suffered today from understeer issues but I am sure we'll dial these out, especially as more rubber gets laid down. Right now, I feel very privileged about just being here amongst some great friends. We'll see how competitive I am over the weekend but the pressure is very different now to when I was a professional driver. I will still be looking to win of course but with a smile on my face throughout the weekend no matter what happens."

Eddie Cheever (USA): "To start with the track was very slippery, it was hard to maintain the balance and understand what the car was doing. The car had a lot of understeer, but as the track got more rubber on it this improved. Losail is a beautiful circuit to drive on, it is very technical and if you make one mistake you carry the problem for the next five or six corners. If you do go off, the dust and sand can cause serious and time consuming problems."

Eliseo Salazar (Chile): "I like this circuit a lot, it is a very tough circuit and most of the corners are hard to negotiate. Given the desert environment surrounding us, there are no reference points for us and this is made harder because we have not driven here before. We have plenty more mileage to generate tomorrow and come race day, I'm sure everyone will have understood exactly the key points where tenths can be gained - and lost for that matter! The facilities are superb and as in Kyalami the organization is superb. Bring on race day!"


Located 10km outside the capital city of Doha, the Losail International Circuit is surrounded by desert landscape. Built in record time, the track was today met by the immediate approval of the Grand Prix Masters drivers not only for the excellent safety features (the run off areas are more than adequate in an area where space is not an issue) but also for the challenge it proposes. The track has only one true straight, measuring 1068m followed by a series of varied corners which are all linked together and give drivers little chance to rest in the searing heat.

A distinctive feature of the track is the sequence of three fast right corners. Another characteristic is how difficult it is to overtake - not because there aren't enough suitable points but because of the danger of running off the racing line, due to the conditions of the track.


Circuit name: Losail International Circuit
Opened: 2004
Latest modification: 2004
Length: 5,400m
Width: 12m
Pole position: Left
Right corners: 10
Left corners: 6
Longest straight: 1068m

NASCAR Raceday Scanner free this weekend NASCAR Raceday Scanner free this weekendNASCAR.COM is gearing up for the race at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend by offering its Raceday Scanner application free for the Aaron’s 499 NEXTEL Cup Series Race on Sunday, April 30.  Raceday Scanner is a popular component of NEXTEL TrackPass and allows fans to listen to their favorite driver with live race-day communications of all available NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers.

“The ability to hear the raw emotions and thoughts of these drivers competing at 190 MPH is an intense experience.  Offering Raceday Scanner free to fans is a great way for us to showcase this service,” said Scott Bailey, vice president and general manager of business operations for Turner Sports New Media.  “Listening to your favorite driver’s in-car audio while watching the broadcast is the next best thing to being at the race on pit-road with the crew chief, and Talladega is a great race to listen in on.”

The Raceday Scanner shares the same functionality as the “In-Car Audio” feature of NASCAR.COM’s Emmy Award-winning Nextel TrackPass, providing fans with their choice of live race-day audio from any available driver during a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race.  If fans like what they hear this weekend, they will able to purchase Raceday Scanner for every 2006 NEXTEL Cup Series race throughout the NASCAR season on NASCAR.COM for a fee of $4.95 per month or $29.95 per year, with a two-week free trial period for first-time members.  Current NEXTEL TrackPass members automatically have access to the Raceday Scanner at no additional cost.

For more information or to sign up for a free trial of Raceday Scanner, please click the following link: http://www.nascar.com/promos/2006/talladega/index.html

Track News
Marque Madness returns to Mazda Raceway Marque Madness returns to Mazda RacewayMONTEREY, Calif. – Opportunities for car enthusiasts to meet and greet other automobile aficionados will abound during the second annual MarqueMadness “all marque” car festival, held during the U.S. Sports Car Invitational at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 5-7. Providing events in virtually all areas of interest for automotive enthusiasts, MarqueMadness fueled by Shell V-Power makes every car owner a participant rather than just a spectator during the race weekend that features the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. From social opportunities and VIP parking corrals, a popular vote “Funcours” and a judged car show, to laps around the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, MarqueMadness provides an opportunity for everyone.

The focus of the festival will be fun and camaraderie with other sports car owners, including special reserved parking in the Marque Club Corrals, and the MarqueMadness Bar-B-Q Mixer. The Club Corrals provide VIP parking to each participant to park amongst fellow owners. The mixer provides a unique social gathering for all participants with special VIP guests from the motorsports world, including drivers from the Rolex Sports Car Series.

"The idea of MarqueMadness fueled by Shell V-Power was to create an atmosphere for car enthusiasts that allow them to show off their cars, in a casual and social environment," said Jim McCord, the founder of MarqueMadness. "While we will have a car show, MarqueMadness it is more about the 'Spirit of the Marque' and less on the ultimate spit shine." "Funcours" participants will be judged in categories such as "the car I'd most like to drive on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca" and "The One I'd Most Want To Steal". For the purest, there will be other judged categories, with champions crowned based on judges from Club Sportiva. zzzz

The hub of the MarqueMadness festival will be the exclusive trackside VIP Hospitality Tent that will provide food and drink, a live TV feed of the on-track action at the U.S. Sports Car Invitational as well as an exclusive bleacher viewing area at the Andretti Hairpin (turn 2).
“I attended all of the events associated with MarqueMadness last year and look forward to participating this year. A weekend shared with other enthusiasts, attending the race venues and talking to a wide sampling of experience is the hallmark of MarqueMadness,” said 2005 MarqueMadness participant Tony Ripepi.

MarqueMadness is more than the average car show. Participants will have an opportunity to take “Hot & Loud Laps” around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Thursday, May 4th, interspersed throughout the test day for all race series participating in the U.S. Sports Car Invitational. In addition, participants will be treated to parade laps during the Saturday lunch hour.

“One thing that we’ve discovered is that MarqueMadness also provides the perfect venue for corporations and organizations to increase their awareness with the car enthusiast,” said McCord.  “Our title sponsor, Shell V-Power, is supporting the festival for the second year as the V-Power gasoline is designed with the engines of performance cars in mind.  Piloti Driving Shoes, Hooked On Driving, Dinan Cars, and 2Bennett Audimotive are all supporting the all marque festival concept as well.”

“In turn, MarqueMadness supports The Wheelchair Foundation and Rancho Cielo as our charities,” McCord continued. “Fundraising activities for these two organizations will take place during the festival through donations and other events.”

MarqueMadness also has something for those looking for action away from the track.  Two days of Autocross competition will be held at the Marina Airport.  The first day will be Intra-Club Rivals for each club to compete among its own cars – Vipers running against Vipers, Lotuses against Lotuses, and so on. The MarqueMadness guidelines for classes will be stock, street modified, and modified within each club.  The Second Day is dubbed The Shootout.  Depending on overall turnout, the goal will be to invite all drivers from day one to the shootout.  The eventual winners will announced and awards presented on the winner’s circle podium at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday the 6th of May.  Two competition Rallyes are also planned, as well as fun rallye “The Tour de Vin”, a drive to visit and taste at some of the area’s wineries.

For more information on the MarqueMadness festival or to register to participate in the activities throughout the weekend please go to www.marquemadness.com.

More information on the U.S. Sports Car Invitational and all of the events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is available by calling (800) 327-SECA or on-line at www.laguna-seca.com.

Track News
Two-seat IndyCar in Milwaukee Thursday Two-seat IndyCar in Milwaukee ThursdayMIILWAUKEE – In promotion of the “Return To Indy” campaign, the Indy Racing League (IRL) is bringing a street legal two-seat Indy Car to town tomorrow, Thursday April 27.

From 12:00 p.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the corner of Water Street and Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukeeans out and about over the lunch hour will be able to stop by and see the IndyCar up close, with opportunities for passers-by and members of the media to climb in to go for a spin!

One of the famous Klement’s Racing Sausages that foot races at Miller Park during Milwaukee Brewers games will also take a ride in the two-seater, which would make for an excellent photo opportunity.  Klement’s is the official sausage of The Milwaukee Mile.

The IRL IndyCar Series is going to be competing in the 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28, and will race at The Milwaukee Mile on Sunday afternoon, July 23rd in the ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 event.

The car will be driven by Arie Luyendyk, Jr., who will be making an attempt to race in the Indy 500 with Luyendyk Racing fielded by his father, a two-time Indy 500 champion as a driver.  The Luyendyk family lived in Brookfield, Wis. during Arie Jr.’s childhood, and Arie Jr. has been modeling for Abercrombie & Fitch and other high-profile companies in addition to driving race cars.

The two-seater will be making appearing throughout the greater Milwaukee area, promoting the Return To Indy Tour, The Milwaukee Mile IRL race weekend and supporting IRL sponsor Jim Beam’s Drink Smart program.

Portland auction raises money for charity Portland auction raises money for charityThe Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland presented by G.I. Joe’s raised $4780 last week for Champ Car’s Worldwide Charities. The national auction held on www.ticketmaster.com featured one-of-a-kind opportunities for fans to get up close and personal with drivers and receive special event privileges for the Champ Car World Series Race in Portland.

"We are very pleased that Global Events Group has seen an increase in monies raised with this year's Champ Car auction, and we are even more pleased with the increased support we are seeing from the Portland race fans," said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. "Everyone in Champ Car is happy to do anything we can in order to raise funds for such a worthwhile cause,"

The big winner of this year’s auction was Steve Mayo from Wenatchee, WA. Mayo attended his first race Champ Car Race in 1989 and has been going to Portland since the early 90's. Mayo not only won a spot in the VIP Celebrity Karting Race on Saturday night, he also was the winning bidder on the RuSPORT/CDW Pit Crew Membership and the VIP Hospitality passes for the weekend. Steve doesn’t plan to be greedy with his winning items; he is sharing them with several other Shippers Choice Transportation Services, Inc. employees who attend the Champ Car Race in Portland.

Other winning auction items included lunch on Saturday with Champ Car President Steve Johnson and suite passes for the whole weekend, a chance to call part of the GI Joe’s Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland live on the radio broadcast, and new to the race this year; a chance to win a Joe’s East Bank Cabana.

The auction assists several Champ Car Charities including Hole in the Wall Camps, CARA, Canary Foundation and also assist local area youth receive tickets to the race.

The GI Joe’s presents Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland will be held June 16-18, 2006 at Portland International Raceway. Tickets for the event can be purchased at any G.I Joe’s or Ticketmaster locations or online at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information on the event, tickets, VIP fan hospitality packages or motorhome spaces please call 503.821.4344 or email jeremy@globaleventsgrouppdx.com.
Toyota B car debut Toyota B car debutWith four races now into the season, Panasonic Toyota Racing continues on its quest of gaining podium points by making a stop at the Circuit Paul Ricard to prepare for the Grand Prix at Nürburgring. The team started a three-day test program with Jarno Trulli, focusing on collecting data from the new B-car package and with Ricardo Zonta running through a full list of tire tests. Both drivers return for tomorrow's testing.

Ricardo Zonta "This is the first time that we have used this circuit layout, so we had to work on our set-up to adjust to this. In the morning, the track was very dirty, with pollen and dust from the trees, therefore, we also spent a lot of time cleaning the track. Nevertheless, we did a lot of different tire tests and the day turned out to be productive, with my car performing well. Now we have tomorrow and Friday to focus on some long runs."

After competing in his 153rd Grand Prix at Imola, Jarno Trulli joined the test program in Le Castellet at the wheel of the new B-car package.

Jarno Trulli "We had a difficult morning with the track conditions and then we had some delays with my car. The day was very promising, especially with the new car and in general, the testing we got through was good. Tomorrow I hope to put in even more laps to gain a feeling for the new package and to be able to make a better judgment."

Dieter Gass, Chief Race and Test Team Engineer "This is the first day with the B-car and although we had some small issues which caused delays, these were not directly related to the new car. Overall it is good to have the car testing on the track. The team back in Cologne pushed hard to prepare everything in time. This new package is a consequent realization of the change we had with the front suspension. With this being the major new item, this allows up to fully exploit the aerodynamic and mechanical side of the front suspension.

"Yet it is still too early to say anything about the performance, because we did not do enough running with it today. On the other hand, with Ricardo's car we concentrated on tire testing and found some interesting new solutions." Press release, Toyota
Andretti to test at the Glen Andretti to test at the GlenBombardier Rookie of the Year candidate Marco Andretti will test at Watkins Glen International on April 28 in preparation for the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix in June. Andretti, the third generation driver from one of racing's most-storied families, was granted the private test to familiarize himself with the 3.34-mile road circuit. He currently leads the Bombardier Rookie of the Year point standings and finished second in the Indy Pro Series race at the historic road course last September. IRL
Indy Pro rookies get first look at Indy Indy Pro rookies get first look at IndyEighteen Indy Pro Series drivers plan to participate in an Open Test on April 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, preparing for the Freedom 100 next month. The fourth annual Freedom 100 is scheduled for May 26 on the 2.5-mile oval.

Among the drivers scheduled are 2005 Freedom 100 winner Jaime Camara, defending Indy Pro Series champion Wade Cunningham, championship contenders Jay Howard, Nick Bussell and Bobby Wilson, Mishael Abbott, the only woman in the series, and rookie Sean Guthrie, son of IndyCar Series race winner Jim Guthrie.

Other drivers planning to test: Matthew Hamilton, Brett Van Blankers, Imran Husain, Jon Herb, Tom Wieringa, Scott Mansell, Alex Lloyd, Jonathan Klein, Geoff Dodge, Tom Wood and Chris Festa. IRL

Ganassi re-signs Jimmy Elledge Ganassi re-signs Jimmy ElledgeChip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today Crew Chief Jimmy Elledge has signed a multi-year contract extension with the organization. Elledge is currently the crew chief for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup rookie Reed Sorenson and the #41 Target team. "Jimmy has been instrumental in the development of our young drivers," said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. "He has incredible patience and leadership skills which are an asset to any organization. I'm pleased to have him as part of the present and future at Chip Ganassi Racing."  "I'm excited about extending my relationship with Chip and Felix (Sabates)," said Elledge. "There are a lot of good people here committed to seeing this team succeed, and if we continue to keep building and working together as one team we'll get there. I'm very pleased with the direction this organization is heading and I'm looking forward to being a part of it. Also, the relationship between Reed and I, and everyone on this team is developing at a rapid pace. We're right on the verge of something very special." Over the past three seasons Elledge worked with CGRFS driver Casey Mears who piloted the red and white Dodge from 2003 to 2005. Elledge led Mears to consecutive pole positions in 2004 at Pocono and Indianapolis, and to five top-10 finishes over the final nine races of 2005. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR
Double test for Ferrari Double test for FerrariFirst day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari, working on two fronts, at Fiorano and Le Castellet.

At the Scuderia's home track, Felipe Massa was in action. The Brazilian, at the wheel of a 248 F1, began a development program on new electronic solutions, concentrating on testing car set-up. Felipe completed a total of 85 laps, (eight on the short version of the track,) the quickest in a time of 57"307.

At Paul Ricard, also at the wheel of a 248 F1, Luca Badoer began three days of testing centered on Bridgestone tire development. The Scuderia's official test driver covered 150 laps in total, on the 3E-SC layout of the track, setting a quickest time of 58"676.

The Scuderia continues testing tomorrow, as follows: Felipe Massa will continue at Fiorano, while Michael Schumacher will be working at Le Castellet. Source Ferrari
Renault dominates Day 2 at Silverstone Renault dominates Day 2 at SilverstoneRenault dominated the second day of testing this week at Silverstone with Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella finishing clearly faster than the rest of the 15-strong field with laps of 1m18.640s and 1m18.975s respectively.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Alonso Renault (M) 1:18.646 94
2. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:18.964 116
3. Button Honda (M) 1:19.378 133
4. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:19.404 72
5. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:19.556 37
6. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:19.643 71
7. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:19.691 108
8. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:20.186 71
9. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:20.482 105
10. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:20.565 51
11. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1:20.671 73
12. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:20.957 24
13. Liuzzi Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:21.661 42
14. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:21.865 84
15. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:21.858 36

San Jose funding controversy in the news San Jose funding controversy in the newsThese two articles appeared today in the San Jose local media regarding the funding controversy behind the San Jose Grand Prix:

San Jose Biz Journal

San Jose Mercury News

Midweek Motorsports Show Midweek Motorsports ShowMidweek Motorsport is back tonight with one of it's favorite guests. Tonight on 0157 Globecast Radio, Allan McNish is the guest on the show.

Send your questions for Allan to studio@0157.org!

Also on Midweek Motorsport, part two of our series of interviews with Nick Jordan, a preview of the 2CV 24 hour race at Snetterton and F1 expert Nick Daman looks back at the San Marino GP. Declan Brennan will join us on the phone from Dublin (Ireland, not Ohio) to talk about the weekend's events on the ovals as well as offering his latest tips on how to beat the bookies, no doubt he will be celebrating picking Kevin Harvick at 20/1 on last week's show.

They may have some more surprises too so you will have to tune in at 0157 on the Sky platform or at www.0157.org and www.radiolemans.com. If you have any comments or questions for the panel or the guests, please email them at studio@0157.org.

Midweek Motorsport is broadcast live from London at 8pm GMT in the UK or 2pm EST in the USA. After transmission, the show is available on demand from www.0157.org and it can be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes

NASCAR hires Scott Warfield NASCAR hires Scott WarfieldScott Warfield will manage public relations for NASCAR Licensing, Aftermarket and Community Affairs, based in Charlotte, N.C., it was announced Monday. In this role, Warfield will be responsible for developing and executing media and public relations programs that bring value to NASCAR's growing roster of licensees and aftermarket partners, provide leadership opportunities for NASCAR executives and help promote the range of charitable programs associated with the newly-created NASCAR Foundation.

"Scott's talent for telling compelling stories and his hunger for identifying and breaking news will advance our efforts to add value to our more than 200 consumer product licensees, our growing family of aftermarket partners and The NASCAR Foundation," said NASCAR Vice President of Licensing and Consumer Products Mark Dyer.

"As NASCAR licensees and retail partners continue to innovate and create more sophisticated marketing programs, there are significant opportunities to publicize these efforts and integrate into NASCAR's compelling business story."

Warfield will report to Andrew Giangola, NASCAR's director of business communications, based in New York.

Warfield comes to NASCAR from Sports Business Journal, where he had been staff writer since May 2004, covering motorsports and major league soccer. Prior to SBJ, he wrote for Triangle Business Journal, based in Raleigh, N.C. Warfield is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, focusing on journalism and economics. NASCAR PR 

Super Aguri signs Montagny Super Aguri signs MontagnySUPER AGURI F1 TEAM is pleased to announce that it has concluded an agreement with former Renault F1 test and development driver Franck Montagny to be its third driver for the forthcoming European Grand Prix, whilst discussions continue regarding further opportunities within the team.

Franck has previously traveled with SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM to the Bahrain and Malaysian Grands Prix in the position of reserve driver. He will now be driving the team’s third car during the free practice sessions on Friday at the Nurburgring next week alongside race drivers Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide. Franck will also be on stand-by as the team’s reserve race driver.

Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal, SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM - “It is good to have Franck with us again at the European Grand Prix. His feedback on the SA05’s performance will be extremely useful to our engineers as he has a high level of F1 technical knowledge.”

Liuzzi unhurt in crash Liuzzi unhurt in crashVitantonio Liuzzi escaped injury in a heavy testing accident at Silverstone on Wednesday.  The Italian, testing for the senior Red Bull team for the second time this year, crashed at the entry to the very fast Becketts complex shortly before one o’clock.  He made a precautionary visit to the circuit medical centre but was uninjured.
NASCAR weekly cheater fines NASCAR weekly cheater finesNASCAR has fined Ronnie Griffin, crew chief of the No. 23 Keith Coleman Racing Chevrolet for Marc Mitchell in the Busch Series, $1,000 for an upper A-frame that did not meet the minimum thickness last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.  The infraction was discovered during opening day inspection, April 20. The team failed to qualify for the Bashas' Supermarkets 200.
Racing News
SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking
Updated 4-26-06

Pos. (LW) Driver (Series) Pts
1. (2) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS) 9.520
2. (1) Fernando Alonso (F1) 9.208
3. (4) Tony Stewart (NASCAR) 8.087
4. (5) Helio Castroneves (IRL) 8.066
5. (3) Matt Kenseth (NASCAR) 7.914
6. (11) Kevin Harvick (NASCAR) 7.531
7. (8) Justin Wilson (CCWS) 7.508
8. (6) Kasey Kahne (NASCAR) 7.431
9. (10) Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) 7.385
10. (7) Mark Martin (NASCAR) 7.369
11. (15) Jeff Gordon (NASCAR) 6.923
12. (25) Dan Wheldon (IRL) 6.808
13. (12) Alex Tagliani (CCWS) 6.793
14. (18) Tony Kanaan (IRL) 6.292
15. (13) Dale Earnhardt Jr (NASCAR) 6.245
16. (NR) Carl Edwards (NASCAR) 6.214
17. (NR) Clint Bowyer (NASCAR) 6.003
18. (20) Dale Jarrett (NASCAR) 5.938
19. (21) Jeff Burton (NASCAR) 5.888
20. (23) Sam Hornish Jr (IRL) 5.881

Dropped out: Kimi Raikkonen (F1), Kyle Busch (NASCAR), Denny Hamlin (NASCAR), Scott Dixon (IRL), Casey Mears (NASCAR)

Provided by STATS Inc.

Red Bull play down Liuzzi-Klien chatter Red Bull play down Liuzzi-Klien chatter(GMM)  Toro Rosso racer Vitantonio Liuzzi will again test for the energy drink owner's senior team, Red Bull Racing, this week, reinvigorating speculation that Christian Klien's F1 seat might be under threat.

The Italian is to drive the 'RB2' at Silverstone, following his first try at the wheel at Paul Ricard (France) earlier in April.

But a Red Bull spokeswoman explained that 24-year-old Liuzzi's second run is about him resuming the 'specific evaluation work' that he had started in the south of France.

And of any possible link with Klien's race ride, she added: ''Christian's driving the car again tomorrow (Thursday) and we currently have no plans to change any drivers.''

Wins hard to come by in Champ Car now Wins hard to come by in Champ Car nowINDIANAPOLIS – The fact that two-time defending Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) stood atop the podium at Long Beach hardly came as a surprise to any race fan that has seen the Flying Frenchman do his business over the last three years.

What was a surprise was the ease with which he dispatched the field, roaring to a 14-second win over second-placed Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) after leading 70 of 74 laps. The margin was the largest in a Long Beach race since 1995, but more impressively came over one of the most talented field ever put together in Champ Car competition.

The 18-car field has combined to score 83 Champ Car victories, 76 poles and five series titles despite the relative youth of the lineup. The average age of the 2006 driver roster, which contains six rookies, is 27.6 and Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) are the only drivers in the field to have made 100 Champ Car starts. Nine members of the 2006 lineup have Champ Car victories on their resumes while 11 of them have podium finishes to their credit, a number that is more impressive when you consider the Long Beach lineup featured six rookies.

And while the results are impressive for a lineup with such little Champ Car experience, a look at the career accomplishments of the 2006 field sheds even more light on the level of talent that this year’s roster brings to each and every race. zzzz

This year’s field has scored 11 titles among what are considered as the top-level junior formula in the world (Champ Car Atlantic, FIA International F3000 and Indy Lights), and has earned 45 victories in 50 poles in those three series alone. Going deeper into the background of this year’s crop of drivers reveals numerous other championships in national F3 series, Formula Fords and various other open-wheel and national karting series.

“It’s just as tough or tougher to win a race here as it has ever been,” said Vasser after the event. “It’s a serious fight because there are a lot of good drivers in the field who have already had successes not only here but in other top series.”

Along with the pedigrees of returning Champ Car stars such as former FIA International F3000 champs Wilson, Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole in the Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) or Indy Lights titlists Oriol Servia (#6 Gulfstream/Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Cristiano da Matta (#11 Sonny’s BBQ Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), the rookies have earned plenty of resume builders before ascending to the Champ Car ranks.

Katherine Legge (#20 Gulfstream/Optium Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and 2005 Champ Car Atlantic champion Charles Zwolsman (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) each scored three Atlantic wins a year ago, while 2004 Formula Ford Festival winner Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing – HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and 2003 Formula Holden champ Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) joined former Formula 1 pilot Antonio Pizzonia (#8 Rotax/Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and 2005 Formula Megane king Jan Heylen (#19 Sonny’s BBQ Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in the rookie class.

The season opener showed the potential of the rookie class as four of the first-year pilots – including three making their Champ Car debuts – finished in the top 10. All but one were still running at the end of the race and all avoided the first-turn melee that took out a quartet of the series’ top drivers.

“It’s a great mix of veterans and young talent. This year, we have a lot of strong rookies that have come into the series,” said RuSPORT’s A.J. Allmendinger. “They’re young drivers that the racing world in general might not be too familiar with, but they have entered the series and are amazingly quick, and they have mixed in very well with the talent that’s been here for the past several years.

That growth continued as the series ventured to Portland for open testing after Long Beach as the field got a chance to test their skills on the permanent road course at Portland International Raceway. The top four rookies were less than 1.5 seconds off the track-record pace set by two-time series champion Bourdais as the gap between the top and the bottom of the grid got event tighter.

“I think in the first couple of races, you’ll see some separation from the top of the grid to the bottom, because the rookies are learning,” Allmendinger continued. “But as we get into the middle of the season, the younger drivers should be able to mix up the grid. It should be very exciting from mid-season on.”

The progress of Champ Car’s next generation will continue at the second round of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season, which takes place Saturday, May 13, as Reliant Park in Houston is transformed into a stage for the 750-horsepower scream machines of the Champ Car World Series. Fans can follow all of the race action on SPEED, which the race beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. In addition, fans can keep up-to-date with every session via the Race Director feature available on the official website of the series, www.champcar.ws. Champ Car

Mansell tops opening test session Mansell tops opening test sessionNigel Mansell topped the first test session for this weekend's 2006 season opener in Qatar.

Mansell's lap of 1:49.315 was just 0.033 seconds quicker than Stefan Johansson. Only two seconds covered the top ten runners.

The main GP Masters race will take place on Saturday. There are two free practice sessions tomorrow, before qualifying on Friday.

Pos Driver Time
 1. Nigel Mansell 1:49.315
 2. Stefan Johansson 1:49.348
 3. Christian Danner 1:49.501
 4. Andrea de Cesaris 1:49.973
 5. Derek Warwick 1:50.336
 6. Hans Stuck 1:50.586
 7. Pierluigi Martini 1:50.770
 8. Ricardo Patrese 1:51.047
 9. Eliseo Salazar 1:51.047
10. Emerson Fittipaldi 1:51.064
11. Jan Lammers 1:51.425
12. Eddie Cheever 1:52.775
13. Patrick Tambay 1:53.094
14. Eric Van de Poele 1:54.672
15. Alex Caffi 1:55.709

Two NASCAR fans electrocuted Two NASCAR fans electrocutedUPDATE Track Director of Public Relations Kristi King told Claire B. Lang XM Satellite NASCAR Radio that Talladega Superspeedway will implement a new rule this weekend following the tragic death of two campers there..."What our new policy is that we put in place today...no metal flag poles of any kind will be allowed on speedway property. That does include the infield and all of the overnight parks beginning this weekend and that goes for all future Talladega superspeedway events." XM Satellite NASCAR Radio 04/25/06 Two NASCAR fans were electrocuted in a campground outside Talladega Superspeedway when a flagpole they were erecting touched power lines.   Donny Lynn Wright, 42, of Remlap and Keith Alan Stell, 39, of Birmingham died Monday, said track spokeswoman Kristi King. Talladega County Coroner Jerry Castleberry pronounced them dead at the scene.

The Aaron's 499 race will be run at the track on Sunday. Fans commonly use poles to fly flags touting their favorite driver.

Witnesses said Wright and Stell were attempting to anchor a flagpole when it was caught by wind and pushed into power lines running along a road outside the track.
"They were trying to pull the flagpole back off the lines," said James Snider, who was sitting about 30 yards away from the victims' camp site. "I heard a loud pop that sounded like a firecracker, and I went running because the power lines fell. They were both lying on the ground, and two women were trying to get to them to get them away from the wires." Daytona Beach News Journal

Injured crew member to return Injured crew member to returnNo. 31 Team Cingular jackman Josh Yost will return to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the first time since he was hit on pit road during last season’s Aaron’s 499, severely injuring his right foot and ankle. Following multiple surgeries to repair damage to the tendons in his ankle, Yost started walking in mid-July, began physical therapy in August, returned to work in the shop at RCR in November and then resumed his role as Team Cingular jackman in the 2006 season opening Daytona 500. RCR PR
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Montoya ruled out of Alonso's seat
English weather mars Silverstone start
Schu will not switch teams - manager
Costa 'never' felt questioned
Lukewarm support for birthday-boy Massa
Ferrari relieved at gap to Monaco
Kimi's future to be clear 'in June'
Rossi goes cold on F1 switch
Briatore critical of Trulli
Schu's Imola win is Nurburgring boost
Schu 'not too old' to prolong F1 career
Schumacher improving his look Schumacher improving his lookAuto racing icon Michael Schumacher is spiffing up his wardrobe to show he's open to change -- just like his Ferrari. Schumacher's new duds sport elasticized knees, perspiration vents at the armhole seams and lighter and thinner advertising patches, the Italian news agency ANSA reports.

Luigi Rossi, a manager at OMP, the company that has been supplying Schumacher's racing suits since 1996, told ANSA the champion driver never asks for the impossible.

"He knows what he wants and thinks like a tailor," Rossi said.

Seven women tailors work on Schumacher's Nomex suits, which run about 1,500 euros ($1,855.96) each. He gets two the Sunday before each race.

Star Mazda Racing For Kids to partner again in 2006 Star Mazda Racing For Kids to partner again in 2006Pacoima, California. Star Mazda Series President Gary Rodrígues and Racing For Kids Executive Director J. Patrick Wright announced today that the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear will continue their relationship with Racing For Kids with the 2006 Racing For Kids Driver Performance Award Program, starting with the upcoming Houston Grand Prix weekend on May 13-14.

“We are extremely pleased to be working again this season with the Racing For Kids organization after a three race partnership in 2005,” Rodrigues said. “Drivers that participated in the hospital visits last season expressed that they got a lot out of the program and it was their enthusiasm that led us to expand to five events this season.”

Racing For Kids® is a national charity designed to use the popularity of motorsports to bring attention and funding to the health care needs of children. The hospital visits form the heart of the program. Each RFK driver visits children in children’s hospitals where they race. They spend time with each sick youngster answering questions about their sport, handing out the distinctive Racing For Kids hats and signing autographs.

Stellar GT2 field set for next ALMS round Stellar GT2 field set for next ALMS roundTwenty-five lead changes, 16 cars, 11 teams, five world-class manufacturers and 12 hours make for thrilling racing. It gets even better over the course of a 10-race schedule. That's what awaits fans of the American Le Mans Series during the next six months of competition in the Series' GT2 class.

The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring offered a glimpse at what drivers are calling the deepest, most competitive GT2 field in the eight-year history of the American Le Mans Series. In the season opener, prestigious marques BMW, Ferrari, Panoz and Porsche all led at one point with Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz' No. 50 Panoz Esperante GTLM taking a scant 5.365-second win over the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Risi Competizione's No. 62 Ferrari F430GT was another 50 seconds back, marking the first time in Sebring's 54-year history that the top three finishers in class ended the 12 Hours on the same lap.

Now it's on to Houston for the Lone Star Grand Prix, the second round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series. The nine-turn, 1.7-mile temporary street circuit at Reliant Park will make the GT2 class even more action-packed.

"It's probably the most competitive class not just in terms of numbers but also in diversity of manufacturers," said Multimatic's Scott Maxwell, who drove to a Sebring class win with David Brabham and Champ Car star Sebastien Bourdais. "We had three cars on the lead lap in the latter hours, sometimes as many as four or five. It is hard to tell right now who has the advantage. I think it will sway back and forth as we go to different venues. We could be the guys to beat one weekend and someone else could have an advantage the next." zzzz

The GT2 class always has been one of the most competitive in the American Le Mans Series. Eleven different teams have won races since the Series' formation in 1999, including three different winners in both 2004 and '05. Given the close finish at Sebring 2006 likely will produce similar results, especially when Lexus enters the fold later this year.

 "We are pleased with the car's performance," said Risi Competizione Team Managing Director Giuseppe Risi. "We knew going in that GT2 would be the most competitive class. What could be better? A great car and some great competition."

"It's a hard thing to win a race in this Series," added Flying Lizard's Johannes van Overbeek, who will drive the No. 45 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with Wolf Henzler. "This year, the depth of the teams, the quality of the cars and the quality of the drivers. I don't know of any other series that has the depth of quality cars and drivers. There are probably five or six cars that could win. Some tracks will suit some cars, some tracks other cars. That number could shift wherever we race. The only thing we can do is work as hard as we can and do the best we can in preparing for each race."

The next round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the Lone Star Grand Prix, scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT on May 12 in Houston. It will be broadcast at 1 p.m. May 13 EDT on CBS Sports, the first of five straight Series events on network television. Qualifying is set for 6:15 p.m. CDT on May 11. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at www.americanlemans.com, which also will have IMSA Live Timing & Scoring. ALMS

Rocketsports delays Pastorelli test Rocketsports delays Pastorelli testAlthough the rain and snow showers missed the Milwaukee area today, the Rocketsports Racing team was unable to run their scheduled one-day test with Nicky Pastorelli due to cold temperatures.

In order to efficiently run a Champ Car at the Milwaukee Mile, both the track and ambient (air) temperatures have to be at least 50 degrees.  The main issue today was that the ambient temperature did not reach that marker on the thermometer, causing dangerous conditions on the track.  The team opted to delay their test with Pastorelli, who will be running on an oval for the first time in his career, due to this reason. 

The cold temperatures of Southern Wisconsin stopped all Champ Car rookies attending this practice session from making laps around the one-mile oval.  Rocketsports has rescheduled their test session for tomorrow, as the weather is forecasted to be warmer with temperatures in the mid-60’s and sunny skies.

Inclement Weather Postpones Milwaukee Rookie Test Inclement Weather Postpones Milwaukee Rookie TestINDIANAPOLIS -- The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford  2006 rookie class was prepared to lap the historic Milwaukee Mile for the first time today but Mother Nature had other plans as cold temperatures postponed the test until Wednesday.  Dan Clarke (#14 CTE-HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), Nicki Pastorelli (#8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Charles Zwolsman (#34 Mi-Jack Conquest Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) are all expected to take to the track as weather outlook for Wednesday is more favorable with temperatures predicted to be in the mid-60's.

Katherine Legge (#20 Gulfstream/Optium Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) is the only other driver scheduled to run in Milwaukee today, will  not  return to The Mile tomorrow  as she will be heading to Europe  for  another challenge, traveling to the Italian coast to test a P1 powerboat with teammate Jimmy Vasser,  later this week. Champ Car

Montoya tops opening day of Silverstone test Montoya tops opening day of Silverstone testUsing a new Mercedes engine with more HP, Juan Montoya knocked Jenson Button off the top of the time sheets late in the day at Silverstone as a 3-day test began with most of the F1 teams represented.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:21.087 41
 2. Button Honda (M) 1:21.118 59
 3. Kovalainen Renault (M) 1:21.232 86
 4. Alonso Renault (M) 1:21.309 32
 5. Davidson Honda (M) 1:22.085 68
 6. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:22.216 91
 7. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:22.228 36
 8. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:22.256 108
 9. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1:22.258 58
10. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:22.712 58
11. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:23.350 84
12. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:23.358 38
13. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:23.770 15
14. Mondini MF1-Toyota (B) 1:24.471 25
Dale Jr. to honor father this weekend Dale Jr. to honor father this weekendThe No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevy will have a new look for this weekend’s NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. The usually red No. 8 will be predominantly black with white lettering and silver and red stripes in honor of the life and career of the late Dale Earnhardt. Harold Hinson Photography / Budweiser Racing photo
Champ Car’s first sweepstakes winner Champ Car’s first sweepstakes winnerDean Lamb sat down in front of his television to watch the season-opening Champ Car World Series event two weeks ago with more than a passing interest, as the CDW company that he works for kicked off its first full season as the primary sponsor of the RuSPORT machine driven by Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).

Lamb's next Champ Car race is going to be a lot different as he will experience all of the sights and sounds of America's top open-wheel racing series as an insider, after winning the first round of this season's Champ Car Live Fast Sweepstakes presented by Bridgestone.

Following each Champ Car race broadcast, the season-long Live Fast Sweepstakes will award one lucky fan with a VIP trip for themselves and a guest to the next race on the Champ Car schedule. In addition to complimentary travel and lodging, winners will "Live the Champ Car Life" with all-access credentials along with hospitality suite passes and a ride in one of the Champ Car Fast Lap Pace Cars. Lamb, who was selected from thousands of entries from fans who collected the Sweepstakes password 'Jimmy' from watching the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, will also receive a new set of Bridgestone Pole Position tires as part of his prize. Zzzz

Fans can enter the Live Fast Sweepstakes simply by watching the Champ Car race broadcast to get the code word for that race, allowing the viewer to enter the sweepstakes via the official website of the Champ Car World Series, www.champcar.ws . Along with the First Prize winners each week, 10 Second Prize winners will be awarded a Champ Car Fan Pack as well as a paid subscription to Auto Week magazine. At the end of the year, every fan that enters the Live Fast Sweepstakes will be entered into the Grand Prize drawing for a trip to the season finale in Mexico City as well as the keys to a new Ford Mustang GT.

The second round of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season will take place Saturday, May 13, as Reliant Park in Houston is transformed into a stage for the 750-horsepower scream machines of the Champ Car World Series. Fans that follow the SPEED broadcast of that event, which begins at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, can get the Live Fast Sweepstakes code word that will award one lucky viewer a trip to the following week's Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey. Visit www.champcar.ws for additional Live Fast Sweepstakes information, including complete rules and regulations.

Alonso widens his title lead Alonso widens his title lead(GMM) He might not have won, but Fernando Alonso may well be grinning as he leaves Imola on Sunday night.

With only Michael Schumacher ahead of him in the San Marino grand prix, Renault's Spaniard actually stretched his commanding lead in the drivers' world championship over closest rivals Giancarlo Fisichella and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen.

Before Sunday's race, Alonso's gap to the next-best man was 14 points. At the chequer, Schumacher closed up his own deficit but the gap to Alonso is fifteen points.

''Looking at the championship,'' he said, ''this is perfect, and I know we will be stronger again at the Nurburgring (in two weeks).''
F1 news tidbits F1 news tidbits(GMM)  Williams' departed chief designer has re-emerged at BMW-Sauber.  42-year-old Jorg Zander, who left the formerly BMW-powered Williams team late last month apparently for 'personal reasons', will assume the same post at his new Hinwil-based employer in July, a statement on Tuesday said.

BMW, steadily building up its new works team, did not previously have a chief designer, and Zander will be accountable to technical director Willy Rampf.

''His experience will be an important asset to us,'' said Mario Theissen, no doubt also referring to German countryman Zander's earlier stints at Toyota and BAR-Honda.

Also on Tuesday, ten teams were shaping up to test at three separate tracks this week.

With the exception of Super Aguri, every team will be in action either at Silverstone (England), Paul Ricard (France) or Fiorano (Italy).

It all comes down to tires It all comes down to tiresIn a tire war situation, almost nothing else matters, such is the influence the tires have on the overall lap time. As Ron Dennis points out, Ferrari wasn't really that much faster at Imola than the next Bridgestone shod cars.

“I think the important thing to keep in perspective on this performance from Ferrari is that really the difference between them and the next Bridgestone runner, which is not so far,” he explained. “I think that tires are important and the primary reason for the performance of their cars here is the excellent job that Bridgestone have done. But you can't forget the good job Michelin have done – we have had a superior tire in the first few races and this is part of the tire war.”

This is why a tire war is ludicrous. It should be about racing, not who makes the best tires......and the tire marbles off line at Imola at the end of the race were quite noticeable.

Imola happenings Imola happenings“It feels like coming home,” said an FIA official on his first day in the Imola paddock. And so it did to the majority of Formula 1 people, assuming they have spent more than about five years working in the sport. Creatures of habit, they feel the new venues like Bahrain and Malaysia just don’t have the emotion or charisma of the older European circuits.

You will often hear F1 people say they love Imola because the atmosphere is crazy and we have discovered there might actually be a very good reason for that. In the past, Imola was famous for having more than its fair share of Lunatic Asylums and after the first race back in Europe, with all the madness that involves, it looked as though they would do good business if they opened up a new hospital somewhere near the track.

Was Toyota’s former Technical Director Mike Gascoyne on a secret visit to Imola? The Englishman who left the Japanese team after the Australian GP is known by his nickname of “The Rottweiler” because of his somewhat fierce and aggressive nature. It seems hat whoever was running the Toyota merchandising stall in the public area at Imola has an excellent sense of humor. At night, every company’s stand was protected by a security guard and a German Shepherd dog: all except Toyota that is, where the German Shepherd had been replaced by the biggest Rottweiler in the world.

Earlier in the week, the race organizers had been jokingly accused of re-writing history in that the poster for the event featured a drawing that depicted Michael Schumacher in the Ferrari just ahead of Alonso in the Renault. That never happened, but the promoter obviously felt a Ferrari had to be in front to draw the crowd. Then, as this year’s race drew to a close, it seemed they had psychic powers after all – Schumacher in front of Alonso. zzzz

After this race, it’s been suggested that the arrival on track of Super Aguri driver, Ide, should be accompanied by the scary music from the film “Jaws.” The poor lad certainly seems out of his depth and n t he first lap of the race he managed to tip the MF1 of Christijan Albers into a frightening series of rolls. Then he appeared to have retired in the pits only to reappear a few laps later, like a shark returning from the deep ocean.

The Imola circuit is like a lovely old house that’s been badly maintained, with some areas – like the toilets – virtually neglected completely. The paddock had been slightly extended for last weekend and Red Bull is partly to blame for that, along with other teams who have now produced giant “motorhomes” as there simply was not enough room to fit these new palaces into the previous space that’s not to say the area behind the pits is any better than it used to be, with an awkward triangular shape, tapering to a point at the far end.

This means that motorhomes don’t necessarily line up behind their team trucks. Facing the longest walk were members of the MF1 team, as they had a new and very strange looking hospitality unit that was a good half kilometer from their garage. The predominantly male workers in the paddock did not seem to mind, as MF1 had employed some of the prettiest catering staff, who had to tackle the journey up and down several times a day, thus causing a bit of a diversion. The team had clearly been able to warn its drivers before the weekend that they faced some long walks, as Christijan Albers turned up with a motorized skateboard to commute from one end to the other.

It’s not just the trucks and motorhomes that get bigger with the passing years. You also have the journalists. No, they don’t physically get bigger as individuals, but there are more of them than had ever been catered for when the circuit buildings first went up. The media room is really tiny and to make matters worse, as this was the first race of the year in Europe, the usual hardcore of regular F1 writers was swelled by those who never venture outside the old continent. The guys who look after Red Bull Racing’s wheels and tires are now on first name turns with almost every one of those journalists, as the stairs to the Media Centre were squeezed in alongside our trucks.

Another unusual factor about the venue for the San Marino GP is that at times, it seemed as though half the world was sneezing. The paddock backs onto a small river, the banks of which are lined with trees that, at this time of year, are heavy with a very strong pollen and allergic reactions left a lot of people with runny noses and watery eyes.

Now, all this is about to change and along as the future of the San Marino Grand Prix is assured for the next few years, then the bulldozers are due to move in within the next few months to produce a brand new circuit designed, inevitably, by Hermann Tilke, the German architect responsible for the majority of new tracks on the calendar. Let’s hope he finds some way to leave the sneezing trees and other idiosyncrasies alone. Red Bull

Imola: Fastest race laps Imola: Fastest race laps
1  Fernando Alonso Renault 1:24.569
2  Michael Schumacher Ferrari 1:24.624
3  Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.027
4  Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.096
5  Ralf Schumacher Toyota 1:25.316
6  Jenson Button Honda 1:25.347
7  Giancarlo Fisichella Renault 1:25.353
8  Jacques Villeneuve Sauber-BMW 1:25.438
9  Mark Webber Williams-Cosworth 1:25.488
10  Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:25.528
11  Vitantonio Liuzzi STR-Cosworth 1:25.679
12  Nick Heidfeld Sauber-BMW 1:25.996
13  Rubens Barrichello Honda 1:26.129
14  Scott Speed STR-Cosworth 1:26.248
15  Nico Rosberg Williams-Cosworth 1:26.418
16  Christian Klien Red Bull Racing 1:26.759
17  David Coulthard Red Bull Racing 1:26.855
18  Tiago Monteiro MF1-Toyota 1:27.160
19  Jarno Trulli Toyota 1:28.039
20  Takuma Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:29.100
21  Yuji Ide Super Aguri-Honda 1:31.032
22  Christijan Albers MF1-Toyota No Time
Industry News
Ford shares hit 3-year low Ford shares hit 3-year lowFord Motor Co. shares hit their lowest levels in three years, dropping nearly 5% Monday, continuing a slide after the automaker reported a $1.2-billion loss on Friday.

Ford shares slipped 36 cents to $6.96 on the New York Stock Exchange to the lowest levels since March 2003 during the start of the war in Iraq.

On Friday, Ford shares dropped nearly 8% after the Dearborn-based automaker reported its worst results in more than four years, raising concerns about its financial performance over the remainder of the year.

Ford's North American automotive operations and its Ford Credit financial services unit posted weaker-than-expected results, Wall Street analysts said. More at Detroit Free Press

Industry News
Chrysler to expand Ethanol lineup Chrysler to expand Ethanol lineupThe Chrysler Group is expected to announce today it will broaden its lineup of models that can burn ethanol fuels, part of a growing march of politicians and automakers hailing ethanol as a salve for the nation's rising energy bill.

Two prominent U.S. senators sent letters to the six largest automakers on Monday encouraging them to build more vehicles capable of running on E85, a mixture of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. President George Bush is to speak today to the Renewable Fuels Association, the trade group for the ethanol industry.

Ethanol -- the same kind of alcohol people put in their tanks at happy hour -- has been winning more converts in Congress as gas prices reach $3 a gallon around the country. Political supporters proclaim ethanol as a renewable energy source, typically made from corn, which recaptures the carbon dioxide released by burning other fuels.

Chrysler Group President Tom LaSorda said in January that the company would make one-fourth of all vehicles it sells ethanol-friendly by the 2008 model year. Chrysler already offers ethanol-ready engines in the Ram, Durango, Caravan, Grand Caravan, Town & Country, Stratus and Sebring.  More at Detroit Free Press

New designer for BMW Sauber New designer for BMW SauberThe technical division of the BMW Sauber F1 Team is expanding: as of 1 July 2006, Jörg Zander will take up tools in Hinwil, Switzerland as head of design, a position that gives the 42-year-old responsibility for the design of the racing car. He will be accountable to Willy Rampf, Technical Director - Chassis. BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen commented on his new colleague: "The development of the BMW Sauber F1 Team continues to move forward, and that includes adding a chief designer to our staff line-up. We are certain that in Jörg Zander we have found the right man for this pivotal position. His experience will be an important asset to us."

Jörg Zander looks ahead to his new task with keen anticipation: "The BMW Sauber F1 Team is in its set-up phase, which presents a major challenge. It isn't just a matter of technology but of laying down the structures and processes as well. Drawing on my experience, I would like to do my bit to support the team on its way up."

Jörg Zander was born on 15 February 1964 in Ratingen (Germany). After a degree in mechanical engineering at Cologne's University of Applied Sciences, he devoted himself exclusively to motor racing at the end of 1990, starting with the design and race deployment of rally cars, touring cars and GT models.

Zander launched his Formula One career with Toyota Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, where he was appointed head of chassis and hydraulic engineering in 1999. In 2002 he moved to BAR-Honda to become chief engineer for mechanics and transmission, and in September 2005 was appointed head of design at Williams Grand Prix.  BMW

Dan Clarke lets his hair down Dan Clarke lets his hair downDan Clarke may not have been born when the famous Pink Floyd band hit the charts with the Dark Side of the Moon album in 1973, but he is a great fan of their music through a unique motor racing-music tie-up. One of his sponsors on the #14 CTE-HVM Champ Car is The Australian Pink Floyd Show, the leading tribute show for this iconic band.

In a quick Easter break back home Clarke was able to catch up with the musicians before a show at Britain’s Royal Albert Hall in London. The Australian Pink Floyd Show will be touring the USA in autumn 2006 and are expected to schedule a trackside visit to watch Clarke in his rookie season of Champ Cars.

Clarke says, “I’ve known these guys for a few years and when I had landed my Champ Car drive, it was a great opportunity to promote the upcoming tour through a fast-moving billboard. I met up with the guys in their home environment on stage at the Royal Albert Hall last week, and I hope to see them again in my more familiar surroundings at a race circuit.”

Dan Clarke to only turn left this week Dan Clarke to only turn left this weekDan Clarke, one of the newest recruits to the Champ Car World Series, will lose his oval virginity this week at the Milwaukee Mile, a one-mile oval in Wisconsin. Clarke will join the other rookie Champ Car drivers for a one-day test at the circuit, in preparation for the Champ Car World Series event to be held at the venue in early June.

Clarke has only competed in one Champ Car race weekend so far, at the Long Beach street race, and has completed two test sessions, one in Sebring and the other in Portland, both of these at permanent road courses. The oval track testing is a completely new experience for the young Brit and he’s facing it with a mix of excitement and trepidation.

“The only time I’ve been round in circles in a car is on the English roundabouts, and in celebratory doughnuts but never anti-clockwise. I just hope I don’t get dizzy!” jokes Clarke. “Seriously, it’s a huge challenge. I don’t have any pre-conceived ideas of what it’s going to feel like; I’m just going to go out there and give it my best shot. My team has plenty of experience of ovals, so I’ll be relying on them to give me all the advice I need and I’ll work with them to learn the art of oval running as quickly as possible. I’m quite excited to be driving on an oval, after all, there’s not many racing drivers who get this chance. It’s probably one of the more ‘extreme’ types of motor racing and as I’m definitely an adrenalin junkie, it should suit me.

“It’s very different on the ovals. The car is set up to always steer left; the first four gears are to get you out of the pits and then you spend a few laps building up speed going through the others; it could take up to 40 laps or more before I will feel any sensation in the car like understeer or oversteer. It can be very ‘numb’ as opposed to normal circuits, so I will have to be patient. The message to myself for the day is ‘Chill out dude!’

The Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 Champ Car race takes place on June 4 this year, with practice and qualifying on June 2 and 3. This fourth event in the 15 event Champ Car calendar is the only race to take place on an oval circuit, with the remainder of the calendar comprising permanent road courses and temporary street circuits.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Trulli vows to 'block' Schu
Schu ruled out of title hunt
Honda heads won't roll, says boss
Italy heralds Schu, Spain blasts Renault
McLaren hope for power boost
Montoya may struggle to find top ride - Wurz
Vasselon to take Gascoyne's top job
More cracks appear in Alonso-Renault bond
Good news for Ferrari
Red Bull need urgent 'step' - Coulthard
Only Ferrari has signed new 'Concorde'
Ide deserves 'second chance' - Albers
Speed starting to enjoy F1 perks Speed starting to enjoy F1 perksLife as an elite Formula One driver sometimes has its perks. Not only does Californian Scott Speed drive a fabulous car on the racetrack - his Scuderia Toro Rosso Cosworth - he also has a cool car to drive around Europe.

Red Bull drivers David Coulthard, Christian Klien, Tonio Liuzzi and Speed all have Maserati Gran Sport coupes to drive around Europe. An Austrian Maserati dealer loaned them the cars for the year. The drivers could choose the color of their cars, and Speed picked red.

Speed also tried his new motor home for the first time. Most F1 drivers stay in hotels on race weekends, but 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve, David Coulthard, Jenson Button and one or two others stay in their own motor homes at the track at the European races.

"The advantage is that you have less stress," Speed said. "You have your food exactly as you want it. You can travel light - your clothes are already there. It is easier, but we will see how it turns out. This is the first time we tried it." zzzz

Speaking of stress, Speed and Coulthard have smoothed things over following their run-in at an officials' meeting after the Australian Grand Prix.

"It is water under the bridge," Speed said. "I am over it."

Speed went into the San Marino Grand Prix weekend with loads of confidence.

"The confidence level is much higher," he said. "To go through the first three races without any huge mistakes or big crashes means that the confidence is building exponentially.

He was 23rd quickest in practice Friday, April 21.

"It's really hard to tell what our real performance level is at the moment," he said. "It's hard to compare with the others. The balance of our car is not too horrible. I think we are pretty close to where we need to be. It's the usual compromise on setup here to deal with the curbs, but our car is handling them quite well, although I don't know how we stand down the straightaways right now."

In qualifying on Saturday, April 22, Speed set the 18th-fastest time and just missed being in the group of 16 drivers that moved on to the second round of the session.

"I would have easily made it into the second part of the session, but I got held up at the chicane by someone trying to get a good lap," he said. "It's unfortunate, but that's the nature of qualifying this year, and we have to deal with it.

"The team is improving every day, as the whole setup was new at the start of the year. Now we have three races under our belt and are back close to home, the improvement in the way everyone is working is clear to see, and there's still more to come."

Speed finished 15th in the race Sunday, April 23.

"I might have passed (Nick) Heidfeld if I had not gotten so badly held up around the pit stops," he said. "I was unlucky in that I let Michael (Schumacher) by a couple of corners before he pitted so I lost about five seconds there, and then when I came out of the pits I had a bunch of traffic. The car's pace was good; we were quicker than Heidfeld and quick enough to keep up with our 'senior' Red Bull team! To add to my bad luck, my drinks bottle didn't work all race."

The next race is the European Grand Prix in Germany on May 7. Speed's home race, the United States Grand Prix, is July 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


2006 USGP tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 United States Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, July 2.

Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time. USGP

Tire testing at Indy Monday Tire testing at Indy MondayNASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne and Elliott Sadler took part in a private Goodyear test April 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, helping the tire company prepare for the 13th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

Each driver was picked to represent the three manufacturers in NEXTEL Cup: Chevrolet (Stewart), Dodge (Kahne) and Ford (Sadler). The trio will test again April 25.

The drivers focused on assisting Goodyear in finding the right combination of tires to bring back for the race on Sunday, Aug. 6.

Stewart, who was raised and resides in Columbus, Ind., fulfilled a lifelong dream by winning the 2005 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard by .794 of a second over Kahne. It was a career-best finish for both drivers at the challenging 2.5-mile oval.

Defending NEXTEL Cup Series champion Stewart took the most nonchalant view of this early test at the famed Brickyard.

"We just tested like we always do every week," Stewart said. "It's no different than anywhere we go every week, you've just got to go do work. It's awesome to be here in the spring and not be sweating like crazy, and be able to do a tire test before it gets busy in the month of May here." zzzz

Asked if the test gives him an advantage toward defending his Allstate 400 victory, Stewart said: "We spent all day running sets of tires that they wanted us (Goodyear) to run. We didn't really get a chance to work on the car like the open test session (in July) would be. We just go out and do consistent 10-lap runs, give them feedback."

Kahne said the test is crucial for his Evernham Motorsports team.

"We can get a lot (of information)," he said. "We don't know which tire we'll choose (at the race) so we're not sure there, but we have a new team and to throw different setups at it in the morning, use it through out the day, it's been a good test for us."

Sadler, who has frequently expressed his love of IMS and desire to win the race over the years, was excited about the possibilities for the 2006 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

"We had a good time today," Sadler said. "I think Goodyear has brought us a lot of good possibilities to come back with, something fun to race with. We tried a lot of different constructions, a lot of different compounds.

"All in all, we saw great tire wear. Goodyear was happy what they saw, and we're happy what we saw. It was a great day at Indy.

"Indy is such a big race for us. Other than the Daytona 500, it's the biggest race for the drivers, and everybody wants to kiss the bricks. It's a big race for our sponsors, and we have so many fans here and so much heritage here - we're concentrating on this race a lot. To be able to bring a car that we're probably going to race here, a couple months early get some laps, take it home and fine-tune it and test it again, I think it's kind of an advantage for the three teams here today."

Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet, led 44 laps during the 2005 race, and Kahne led 39 laps in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge.

Sadler also led 39 laps in his No. 38 M&M's Ford, but his result left a bad taste in his mouth. After posting the 10th-fastest speed among 46 drivers in July 2005 testing, he won the pole for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. On Race Day, Sadler ran sixth or better all day long but pitted on Lap 150 because he thought a tire was going flat. He finished a disappointing 32nd, one lap down from winner Stewart.

"I want to come back and run good here," Sadler said. "I've always qualified good at this racetrack, just haven't finished where I want to finish. To come here and get the pole was cool. That was one of the special moments in my racing career, but we want to add to that this year."


Tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, Aug. 6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.

Reserved seats start at just $35. IMS

Honda scratching head over slow race pace Honda scratching head over slow race paceHonda hopes Silverstone tests this week will help them solve the mystery of its disappearing Formula One race pace.

Briton Jenson Button has qualified in the top three for all four F1 grands prix so far this season, only to struggle on race day, while Brazilian Rubens Barrichello has scored a mere two points.

"The Renault is unlocking more pace than all the Michelin runners at the moment and that's an issue with the set-up of the cars," said team boss Nick Fry.

"One team has found a way of using them (the tires) better than the rest. What the rest of us have got to do is unlock that potential.

"We think we know exactly what the issue is but Formula One cars are incredibly complicated and it is not something that you can change overnight. We took some small steps between Australia and here and at Silverstone we will be doing more experiments."

Racing News
Tiger Woods wins stock car race Tiger Woods wins stock car raceHUNTLY, New Zealand -- Tiger Woods hunkered behind the wheel of his vehicle, its motor coughing noisily. One of the world's most visible athletes was suddenly unrecognizable under a flame-retardant suit, helmet and tinted visor.

On Monday, the world's best golfer became a celebrity stock car racer.

Woods, in New Zealand for the wedding of caddie Steve Williams, won the second of two celebrity stock car races on a dirt track in this small coal mining town 55 miles south of Auckland -- even after starting at the back of the field.

Woods was a designated "blocker" in the first race, which also included several full-time V-8 circuit drivers. He started on the outside of the first row for the race in this branch of motorsports where crashes are not only legal, but often encouraged.

His job was to prevent other cars from passing and reaching front-runners on his team, and Woods didn't finish among the leaders in the 12-lap race.

In the second of two celebrity races organized by Williams through his Steve Williams Foundation to raise funds to provide sporting careers for disadvantaged youth, Woods forced his way from the back of the grid to the front.

He took the lead on the sixth of 12 laps over a 400-meter oval, and, despite a crash into the wall which left his car sparking and tires smoking, he held on to win. More at SI.com/AP

Hemelgarn adds Bucknum to Indy 500 entry Hemelgarn adds Bucknum to Indy 500 entryRon Hemelgarn has announced the addition of Jeff Bucknum to the Hemelgarn lineup for the 90th running of the Indy 500. This will be the second Indy appearance for Bucknum who was an impressive first day qualifier last year and was very competitive until being taken out in a late race incident, finishing 21st. Bucknum will compete in the #92 Honda powered Dallara.

“I watched Jeff closely last year and was very impressed with his performances. He was thrown into a pressure cooker in qualifying at Indy and never put a wheel wrong, getting his entry into the field as the gun went off on the first day,” said Hemelgarn. “That’s tough for anyone, let alone a rookie. Then my good friend AJ Foyt picks him up for two events, Infineon and the Glen. If that’s not a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.”

Bucknum has high expectations for 2006 and beyond. “I had four experiences in IndyCars last year plus a full season in ALMS Prototypes. I loved my IndyCar events and spent the off season examining how to approach this season,” stated Bucknum. “I clearly wanted to return to IndyCars but it had to be based on quality. My discussions with Ron convinced me Hemelgarn Racing will provide exactly that, quality, and an opportunity to win.” zzzz

“We are also looking for events after the 500 with Hemelgarn but those plans are still developing. Our activities this year are to build for a full schedule for 2007,” continued Bucknum. “That is not to say we don’t expect good results this year because we do. But this plan will allow us to build a quality team this year and get ready for a full-on assault for 2007. Ron knows how to win and this package gives us many of the tools to get those results. I could not be happier.”

“Jeff is capable and deserves and opportunity to compete against the world’s best drivers and teams,” said Hemelgarn. “The fact that we could put this together on such short notice is a testament to Jeff, our team manager Lee Kunzman, Honda Performance Development, the IRL and many others. It’s a giant task but we are up to the challenge.”

Hemelgarn Racing has a 28 year history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and achieved the ultimate victory in 1996. Hemelgarn Racing gained the overall IRL Championship in 2000.

track news
Cancer patient has dream day at Long Beach Cancer patient has dream day at Long BeachLONG BEACH, Calif. -- Powerful medicine can come in many forms. 

For 12-year-old auto racing fan Nathan Crookston, it took the form of a 120-mph ride in a pace car and meeting Champ Car stars Paul Tracy and Mario Dominguez.

Nathan has a rare form of Ewing's Sarcoma, which is the second most common type of bone cancer in children and adolescents. In Nathan's case, however, the cancer was in the muscle of his leg; there are only about 1,000 similar cases per year in the United States. Since April 2005, he has been undergoing three-week treatment cycles - alternating between three and six days of chemotherapy at Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles - then two weeks of recovery.

That was all but forgotten - and Nathan's dream of a day at the races came true - April 8 at the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Thanks to "The Dream Maker" Terry Randal, the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach and Forsythe Championship Racing, Nathan and his family got the "red carpet" treatment all day at the Grand Prix.

He met many of the celebrities competing in the 30th Anniversary Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, enjoyed VIP access to the racing paddocks and Lifestyle Expo and took two laps around the 1.97-mile race circuit in a pace car at 120 mph.

He also visited behind-the-scenes with Tracy, Dominguez and the entire the Forsythe Racing squad. zzzz

"It was really great, I had a lot of fun," said Nathan. "I loved going around the track in the car. It was awesome to see how everything is set up at the track. And I got to meet Paul Tracy!"

"I really enjoyed having Nathan and his family as our guests," said Tracy. "We got to spend some time together and chat for a while. Nathan had a huge smile on his face the whole time, he is a great kid and a huge Champ Car fan! I would really like to thank The Dream Maker and Terry Randal for creating such an unforgettable experience for Nathan, the Forsythe Team and myself."

"He had a blast," said Kymmer Crookston, Nathan's mother. "He didn't know until that day he was going to ride in a pace car. His eyes lit up when he was told about it. The timing was perfect - it was in between his chemo treatments when he was feeling good. It was important for him to have something to look forward to. It was truly an absolutely perfect day, and [Nathan's father Kim] and I had a good time too."

There's even more good news for Nathan: He just finished his year of chemo treatments and is looking forward to having a long, healthy life.

"This was an absolutely top-notch day for Nathan," said Randal. "I'd call it a '10.' We were out there with him for 10 or 11 hours and everybody was so nice and helpful. We like to get kids in the middle of the action as much as we can, and we were able to do that at the Grand Prix. It's a day Nathan will never forget."

Randal, who works at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia, started The Dream Maker after helping a friend's child with a wish ... and it grew from there. The non-profit organization today grants wishes to children who are facing life-threatening illnesses and, in just four years, Randal estimates The Dream Maker has granted about 160 wishes in that time.

"We've never been turned down," said Randal. "We're a small organization that can get children's wishes granted quickly and with a personal touch. We basically do the same thing the Make-A-Wish Foundation does, but we're not competing with them. They do good work and we do good work."


Andretti auction - 2-seater ride at Indy Andretti auction - 2-seater ride at IndyThe Michael Andretti Foundation will be auctioning off the opportunity for one lucky winner to take a 2-seater IndyCar ride with Michael Andretti at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The ride will take place on Friday, May 12, one day before Andretti makes a run at the pole position for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 as part of his return to the famous Brickyard. The auction will be available for bidding on eBay beginning tomorrow, April 25, for one week and will conclude the evening of Tuesday, May 2.

The Michael Andretti Foundation is a 501(c)(3) foundation that was established to help people who have shown need and to help promote programs for better health, education and welfare of America's children and citizens. For more information about The Michael Andretti Foundation, visit www.andretti.com.

TV News
Andrettis to appear on Wind Tunnel Andrettis to appear on Wind TunnelMark your calendar: Mario, Michael, and Marco Andretti will be interviewed via satellite from Indianapolis on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on Sunday, May 7 at 9 p.m. ET.

The trio will discuss the upcoming Indianapolis 500, at which Mario’s son Michael will come out of retirement to drive one of his Andretti Green Racing team’s Dallara-Hondas alongside his son. Marco, meanwhile, is looking forward to his rookie Month of May as an IndyCar driver at the Speedway. Marco finished 12th in the most recent IndyCar race, the Indy Japan 300 at Motegi, Japan.

Three drivers pass IndyPro rookie test Three drivers pass IndyPro rookie testThree drivers pass Indy Pro Series rookie test: Sean Guthrie, Alex Lloyd and Tom Wieringa passed the Indy Pro Series rookie test April 23 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Guthrie turned 18 on April 18 and will take over the wheel of the No. 41 Guthrie Racing car owned by his father Jim, the 1997 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year. Guthrie Racing leads the Indy Pro Series entrant points on the strength of Raphael Matos' two victories at St. Petersburg earlier in the month.

Lloyd, the 2003 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year, recorded 10th and third-place finishes at St. Petersburg for AFS Racing and recently signed with the team to complete the season in the No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. machine. He was required to pass the rookie test at Chicagoland because he has never competed on an oval. The remaining 2006 schedule features five races on ovals and four races on road courses.

Wieringa drove in Toyota Atlantics in 1999 and 2000 and used to own the Sigma Autosport team that fielded cars in CART and Toyota Atlantics.

The France family does it right The France family does it rightBe it NASCAR or be it Grand-Am, when it comes to landing sponsors and getting them to activate that sponsorship, they have no equal.  Kudo's to Ruby Tuesday's who has already activated their Grand-Am sponsorship of the Rockenfeller/Long car including a racing-oriented commercial, as well as in-cars, etc.  Evidently that's a two-year deal with options for years 3 and 4.  Playboy is another sponsor that has activated in Grand-Am.

In the open wheel world we see very little, if any sponsors who activate their sponsorship, particularly in Champ Car.  The only sponsor in recent memory who truly activated their Champ Car/CART sponsorship was Target with their Alex Zanardi/Jimmy Vasser ads.  They were funny and went a long way toward making those drivers popular.  Simple Green also did a lot with their sponsorship.

They can't use low TV ratings as an excuse.  Grand-Am has low TV ratings but the France family marketing folks know how to pitch the sponsors to get them to activate.

Busy times for fledgling Aguri Busy times for fledgling Aguri(GMM) It's a busy time at Super Aguri's Leafield factory.

The fledgling team, hard at work on a new car and planning to run a 'Friday' driver for the first time from Nurburgring, is also contemplating a possible replacement for struggling Yuji Ide.

Financial director Wayne Humphreys told Reuters that the goal for the SA06's debut is the French GP in July; but he suggested that - in spite of expectations - it is not an entirely new racer.

Admitting that the basis of the car is similar, he insisted: ''(But) it's unrecognizable as an Arrows.

''We're just waiting for Honda to confirm the availability of some of the gearbox components.''

31-year-old Ide, meanwhile, will almost certainly be given one more chance to shine at the Nurburgring, but countryman and GP2 driver Hiroki Yoshimoto is being lined up as a ring-in.

Rocketsports to test Pastorelli at Milwaukee Rocketsports to test Pastorelli at MilwaukeeFresh off testing in Portland with Rocketsports Racing, former Formula 1 test driver Nicky Pastorelli will head to the Milwaukee Mile rejoining the team in the #8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone Champ Car for a one-day run on the famed one-mile oval in West Allis, Wisconsin on Tuesday.

Pastorelli was a test driver with Jordan in 2005, and also the first driver to be officially introduced in the “Young Driver Program” initiated by Midland F1 to help promising junior drivers develop their talent in preparation for entry to Formula One. A true road racer, the 23-year-old will experience his first oval track during the “all rookie” test in Milwaukee. Other Champ Car teams that are running rookies in the 2006 Champ Car field will be joining Rocketsports at this test to taking advantage of the extra time before the actual race event, which will take place June 3-4.

“I am curious to see what it is like driving on an oval,” said Pastorelli about his upcoming test with the team at the Milwaukee Mile. “I have never raced on an oval in my career, so this will be a first for me. I have heard many different stories about running on ovals; some people say they have had a fantastic experience, while others have said it was horrible. I am really looking forward to finding out myself. I am happy that the rookies in Champ Car get this chance to have a day of testing in preparation for the event coming up in June because it will be interesting to see how they do as well.”

The team will have one more opportunity to test at the Milwaukee Mile in June. In the past, Champ Car has assigned a specific date prior to the Milwaukee event for all Champ Car teams to go testing. This year, Champ Car has designated the test day to be on Friday, June 2, before the actual race weekend activities commence. The Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 will be a two-day event with the race returning to a Sunday date.

NHRA great Ronnie Sox dead NHRA great Ronnie Sox deadRonnie Sox, voted No. 15 on the National Hot Rod Association's list of top 50 drivers, died Saturday at his home in Richmond of prostate cancer, according to his son Dean. He was 67.

Mr. Sox won five world championships and more than 50 national events in the NHRA, International Hot Rod Association and American Hot Rod Association. To celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2001, the NHRA announced its top 50 drivers including Mr. Sox. He was invited to the White House by President Richard Nixon in 1972 and honored as the winningest racer of that era, according to Dean.

Mr. Sox was long-time racing partners and friends with Buddy Martin in the famous Sox and Martin race team.

Mr. Sox was diagnosed with an advanced stage of prostate cancer on Sept. 11, 2001 and was given a year to live, according to Dean Sox. He had back surgery in December for a pinched nerve, and chemotherapy treatments were put on hold. Those treatments resumed in early January.

Survivors include his wife, Alecia Diane Sox; his father, Willard Miloe Sox; three sons, Dean Sox, Jeff Sox and Mike Page; a daughter, Rhonda Poleo; two brothers, Tommy Sox and David Sox; a sister, Sandra Binkley; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The pitstop that cost Alonso the race The pitstop that cost Alonso the raceTo stop or not to stop? Pat Symonds talks strategy after the San Marino Grand Prix.

The paddock was alive with speculation about ‘tactical errors’, bluff and counter-bluff, and fuel loads after yesterday’s race. Did Renault throw away a race win with a tactical mistake? Or did they do everything they could to try and steal the win from Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari? Clearly, we believe the latter – and we asked Pat Symonds to explain exactly why…

Pat, let’s start at the beginning. How did the first stint go for Fernando?

PS: To be honest, the first stint unfolded pretty much as we expected. We saw Michael pulling away from everybody, as we had predicted – although perhaps not as fast as we had thought. It also became clear during that stint, that the tire degradation was very low. That meant we knew the longer first stint we had planned, would allow us to pull back some time on Michael – as, indeed, proved to be the case [NB: ALO was 13.563s behind when MSC stopped, and 11.272s behind after ALO had stopped].

And what about the second stint of the race?

PS: That was when things became very surprising. Michael’s tire degradation was suddenly dreadful – and it very soon became clear that we were significantly quicker than him, and running much faster. It took Fernando less than ten laps to close the gap and start pressuring him.

Presumably, then, the logical thing to do would have been to run longer again and pass him at the stops?

PS: Yes, that would – but by the middle of the second stint, we are already locked into our strategy. We make the decision about our second stop during the first stint, and at that point, we had no idea that Michael would have the problems he did. So we followed our optimum pattern, which was to do a shorter second stint in order to improve our track position relative to Michael. Unlike the television predictions, which had us stopping on lap 47 I believe, our measurements said we would stop only a lap later than Michael in all likelihood, or possibly even on the same lap.

In reality, though, you stopped Fernando early… zzzz

PS: Yes, exactly. Fernando pitted two laps earlier than we had planned. Had we been certain of going significantly further than Michael in the second stint then obviously, the option would have been to stay out – and it would have probably worked. But we didn’t have that extra fuel, and we would probably have run only a lap longer than Michael. During that lap, he would have been on new tires and we saw in qualifying that they were particularly strong on those opening ‘golden’ laps. So we didn’t think it would work for us and obviously, simply following Michael in and out of the pits was not an option. So we got creative, and took the only other option available to try and get the win – to bring Fernando in early…

Was it easy to know which lap to stop on?

PS: We had to judge it so that we didn’t stop too early, and drop into Massa’s clutches. So as soon as we saw we were clear, we discussed it with Fernando and gave him a choice: if he was able to overtake Michael, he should stay out; and if not, then he should pit. He pitted, we went for it, and we missed out by just 0.7s when the stops cycled through.

So what was the key?

PS: The really significant thing was that on the free lap after Fernando pitted, Michael showed he had some performance in reserve. On the lap we pitted, he did a lap of 1:25.7 – where his average speed in the ten previous laps, was 1:27.4. The lap-times during the second stint had not suggested he had that performance in reserve.

Is it frustrating to get beaten by such a fine margin?

PS: I think that’s what motor racing is all about to be honest. Hats off to Michael and Ferrari, because they pulled a blinder! From our point of view, we could have run our planned strategy and still finished second. But it would have been an unsatisfying second place, because there would have been a ‘what if’ factor because we hadn’t explored every option available to us. As it was, we tried everything we could – and it didn’t come off because we saw two cars with very equal levels of performance, battling for the win.* As I said yesterday, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” But in this case, nothing lost either. [NB: the ‘ideal’ laps for each driver – produced by adding together their best three sectors, and which indicates the ‘ultimate’ potential performance of the cars – were 1:24.524 for Fernando and 1:24.502 for Michael].

Renault fills gap in Asia with new series Renault fills gap in Asia with new seriesThe newly introduced Formula V6 Asia by Renault into Asia is the ideal platform for Asian drivers to prepare themselves for a future in Formula One.  According to ex-Formula One driver, Alex Yoong, the all new series is the "missing link" which will make it easier for drivers to step up to Formula One.

"It is not easy or cheap to race in Europe and many aspiring drivers have difficulty finding sponsors. This is where the Formula V6 Asia can help out."

"I have given the engineers and crew of Motorsport Asia some feedback on the set-up and I am delighted to be of service to them. I strongly believe this Formula V6 Asia by Renault will be an exciting addition to AFOS."

Following the "Shakedown" by Alex, teams have arrived to prepare for a specially arranged workshop session. The official handover of the cars and a test session took place today, Monday, 24th April 2006. Former A1GP drivers Karun Chandhok of India and Ananda Mikola of Indonesia, along with China Formula Renault 2000 Champion, Hanss Lin of Taiwan, were some of Asia's biggest names in racing that were seen at the circuit with their teams.

Ho-Pin Tung wins, leads German F3 Championship Ho-Pin Tung wins, leads German F3 ChampionshipOSCHERSLEBEN - Ho-Pin Tung has done a great job for the championship standings during the season opener in the German Formula 3 Cup Series. The Dutch born Chinese driver took the lead in the championship standings by winning the first race. In the second race Tung fought from an eleventh starting position back to the sixth position at the end of the race. By finishing both races in the points, Tung now leads the championship. 

[Editor's Note: We have long maintained that Ho-Pin Tung is one Chinese driver capable of competing in the Champ Car Atlantic and Champ Car Series, especially important if they are to race in China.  We see that he chose German F3 instead.  If and when Champ Car goes to China, they had better have a Chinese driver on the grid.]

After Ho-Pin Tung was recently confirmed by JB Motorsport, the native of Shanghai came to Oschersleben on Thursday with only having done a roll out with the JB Motorsport Lola for this season. But although the Dutch born Chinese driver was able to test his car for just one hour at Friday, he was able to impress a lot of people by driving the second time in first qualifying.

HO-PIN: “I’m happy with my position, but I had very little grip. I was the whole session fighting with my car. I’m glad I was able to put one good lap together. Especially looking at my limited time in the car and effective practice time I have had, because we had to give some parts of the car the right mileage and we also had some problems. Although I only had one our track time, I was by far the fastest Lola-driver. On wet we have to work on the car, to gain more grip.”

Ho-Pin Tung started his race very strong and took with his JB Racing Lola the lead before the first turn. After the five lap safety car period he was able to create a gap to the in second position driving Dominik Schraml. After this he was in control of the race and took the checkered in first position. This victory is an important milestone for Lola, as it was their first victory outside the UK since their return to Formula 3 racing.

HO-PIN: “I really had a great start. After the safety car I was able to create a gap with the rest of the field easily and could consolidate already with eight minutes remaining to make sure I would be able to give Lola and JB Racing their first victory this season.” zzzz

Before the start of the qualifying for the second race it had rained at the Oschersleben track, which resulted in a slowly drying track during the session. These track conditions appeared to be a problem for the JB Motorsport Lola, with Ho-Pin and his team mate Ferdinand Kool struggling throughout the whole session and finishing 11th and 12th..

HO-PIN: “On wet we’ve got a problem with the car. We know what it is, but can’t solve it quickly. This could take a couple of races, but we know what it is and hopefully we can find a solution as soon as possible. Until then, we hope for good weather conditions!”

Luckily for Ho-Pin Tung the race at Sunday took place under dry circumstances. He started his race at the eleventh starting position and got a very good start, immediately catching some other drivers in the opening lap. He was attacking very fiercely and going through the field rapidly until he made a mistake on lap three, went through the grass but luckily could continue his race. After this Tung had to fight his way back to the head of the field, in which he succeeded to finish on the sixth spot.

HO-PIN: “I had a good start and won one position. I wanted to attack during the first couple of laps, when the whole field is still very compact, but during braking for the hairpin just after the Triple chicane I made an mistake and went off-track, losing some positions. After that I had some great fights and am pretty happy with sixth position. To finish sixth after having started from P11 is not a bad thing, especially given the fact the overtaking is very hard at Oschersleben. I am very happy to have scored some points and to head to Hockenheim in leading position!”

Results Race 1, Recaro Formula 3, Saturday April 22 2006, Oschersleben:
02. Renger van der Zande, SMS Seyffarth Motorsport, +02.243
03. Dominik Schraml, Swiss Racing Team, +08.068
04. Riccardo Azzoli, Target Racing, +09.058

Results Race 2, Recaro Formula 3, Sunday April 23 2006, Oschersleben:
01. Joey Foster, HS Technik Motorsport, 25:16.490
02. Nico Hülkenberg, JK Racing, +00.486
03. Harald Schlegelmilch, HS Technik Motorsport, +05.602

Championship standings after 2 races:
02. Joey Foster, HS Technik Motorsport, 12 points
03. Nico Hülkenberg, JK Racing, 10 points

Ho-Pin Tung PR

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
McLaren criticize Raikkonen
Button heads off for Honda crisis talks
'New' Imola to host more exciting races
Schu says 'no' to latest rumor wave
How Schu's win nearly slipped away
Imola win 'not worth the risk' - Briatore
No 'GPMA' deal sealed at Imola
Ferrari play down need for 'seamless' 'box
Alonso frustrated with F1 media
Honda make u-turn over fiery Button issue
Neal and Jordan win at Mondello Park Neal and Jordan win at Mondello ParkMatt Neal (Droitwich) and an emotional Mike Jordan (Sutton Coldfield) shared the victories in today's three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at the Mondello Park circuit in Ireland. Two wins and then a third have catapulted reigning Champion Neal from fifth into the lead of the Drivers' standings, following a heavy crash in Brands Hatch's opening meeting of 2006 two weeks ago.
Newcomer Jordan and his Team Eurotech Racing with John Guest squad were left to celebrate their first-ever BTCC race victory in only their second race meeting in Britain's premier motor racing championship. The sensational achievement was broadcast live across the UK on the nation's biggest commercial terrestrial television channel ITV1.

Team Halfords Honda Integra driver Neal leaves Mondello with a two-point lead over fellow independent squad Team RAC's Colin Turkington. SEAT's James Thompson, who led the standings prior to Ireland but crashed out of today's third race, has fallen to third, just ahead of team-mate Jason Plato. zzzz

Neal said: "It's been an amazing weekend. My car was wrecked at Brands Hatch and my team have done a fantastic job to rebuild it to such a high standard. I've got thank them for that." But despite three strong performances, Neal remained cautious as the BTCC prepares to head for its next three rounds at Oulton Park, Cheshire on Sunday 14 May.

"As championship leader, I'll have maximum success ballast on my car at Oulton, although it's a circuit I enjoy and I've been the heaviest there before and still won," added Neal. "But the championship is so close and there are so many competitive cars on the grid. Turkington is obviously having a great run, but I still consider Plato as the big title threat. I know how quickly things change. Remember, I was fifth coming to Ireland..."

Jordan, meanwhile, appeared shocked by winning race three after his Integra had struggled for pace in the day's opening two rounds. Jordan said: "The car would not perform and we traced the problem to a suspension problem. We fixed it for race three and it was rock solid. Talk about changing fortunes! But this is just fantastic for the team and our sponsors."

Round 4, 14 laps (30.47 miles)
Weather/Track: Sunny/Dry

Champion Neal opens 2006 account
Starting from pole position, Neal kept cool under pressure throughout from Plato to open his 2006 victory account. Despite setting a new race lap records, Neal was just 0.500s clear of Plato's SEAT Leon at the finish.

"Jason had his headlights on, trying to distract me, and at the end I was really pushing hard," said Neal. "One mistake and I knew he'd pounce so I concentrated on keeping it tidy. But it wasn't comfortable."

Third and fourth, split by just six tenths of a second, were the two championship leaders arriving at Mondello, Thompson and Turkington, their cars handicapped by the two heaviest amounts of success ballast. Neal's team-mate Gordon Shedden and Tom Chilton, in VX Racing's Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch, completed the top six.

1. Matt Neal (GBR), Team Halfords/Honda Integra, 25m04.534s
2. Jason Plato (GBR), SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Leon, +0.500s
3. James Thompson (GBR), SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Leon, +9.678s
Fastest Lap: Neal, 1m46.094s (NEW LAP RECORD)

Round 5, 14 laps (30.47 miles)
Weather/Track: Sunny/Dry

Neal doubles up
Race two's result was almost a mirror image of race one, Neal leading all the way from pole position and Plato, who this time set the fastest lap, shadowing his every move in second. Turkington was right behind in third. The result moved Neal to the top of the championship standings ahead of Turkington and the tying Plato and Thompson.

Thompson, who had led the championship going into the race, retired at the opening bend after a collision with Shedden. The latter went on to finish fourth, but officials excluded him for his part in Thompson's retirement - one of two incidents that led to safety car periods.

This elevated Motorbase Performance Honda Integra driver David Pinkney to a best-ever finish of fourth, Eire's big home hero Gavin Smith's Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch to fifth and James Kaye's Synchro Honda Civic to sixth.

Further behind, Mark Proctor's Fast-Tec Honda Civic crawled across the line in ninth with a blown engine. But Shedden's exclusion promoted him to eighth and, with it, pole position for race's three reversed starting grid.

1. Matt Neal (GBR), Team Halfords/Honda Integra, 34m09.627s
2. Jason Plato (GBR), SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Leon, +0.998s
3. Colin Turkington (GBR), Team RAC/MG ZS, +1.681s
Fastest lap: Plato, 1m46.544s

Round 6, 14 laps (30.47 miles)
Weather/Track: Sunny/Dry
Maiden BTCC win for Jordan
With Proctor unable to repair his car's engine in time to take up pole, Jordan, lining up in second, effectively inherited the position... and he took full advantage to achieve his first ever BTCC race victory.

Aided by Smith and Neal tussling over second, Jordan quickly built up an unassailable lead. Courtesy of a clash between Neal and Smith, the opportunisticTurkington muscled his way into second but was unable to catch the fleeing Jordan who drove on to an emotional victory.

Neal recovered to hold off Thompson for third, although there might have been podium finishes for Team RAC's Robert Collard and Vauxhall's Fabrizio Giovanardi had they not clashed and run off the track. Giovanardi at least recovered to finish fifth. Plato, lying fourth early on, was eighth after a false start earned him a pit lane drive-through penalty.

1. Mike Jordan (GBR), Team Eurotech Racing with John Guest/Honda Integra, 25m12.335s
2. Colin Turkington (GBR), Team RAC/MG ZS, +01.056s
3. Matt Neal (GBR), Team Halfords/Honda Integra, +12.604s
Fastest lap: Robert Collard (GBR), Team RAC/MG ZS, 1m46.670s

Leading BTCC points after Mondello Park (provisional):

1. Matt NEAL 64pts
2. Colin TURKINGTON 62pts
3. James THOMPSON 56pts
4. Jason PLATO 51pts
5. Tom CHILTON 37pts
6. Gavin SMITH 30pts
7. Mike JORDAN 28pts
8. Gordon SHEDDEN 20pts
9. Fabrizio Giovanardi 18pts
10. David Pinkney 13pts

1. SEAT 134pts
2. Vauxhall 88pts

1. SEAT Sport UK 102pts
2. Team Halfords 79pts
3. Team RAC 72pts
3. VX Racing 69pts

Albers escape big accident Albers escape big accidentUPDATE Midland driver Christijan Albers blasted Formula One rivals Super Aguri "taking too many risks" in their desperation to get ahead of his team. The Dutchman's car rolled five times before coming to rest upside down in the gravel after being hit on the first lap of the San Marino Grand Prix by Super Aguri's struggling Japanese rookie Yuji Ide. 

"With all due respect to the Super Aguri drivers, they are being much too aggressive in trying to jump ahead of us at the start so that they can hold us up during the race, as they've done in the past," said Albers, who climbed out of the car unhurt. 

"They are taking too many risks, and we saw today how dangerous this can be. 

"I don't understand the tactic because I would have conceded the position to Ide had he been in a position to take it," he added. 

"Instead, he just pushed me off the road from behind." 

04/23/06 A spectacular first lap accident at the Villeneuve chicane at Imola today saw Christijan Albers in the MF1 in spectacular roll across the gravel trap. The safety car was deployed immediately as the car came to rest upside down, but after a short time the marshals were able to get Albers out of the car and he walked away seemingly unharmed.
Ferrari point finger at Bridgestone Ferrari point finger at Bridgestone(GMM) Ferrari's Ross Brawn has pointed the finger at Bridgestone after Michael Schumacher only narrowly fended off the advance of Renault driver Fernando Alonso at Imola.

Germany's Schumacher won the race by the margin of two seconds, but Alonso would probably have stood victorious had Imola been more conducive to passing.

''I had a bit of (tire) graining,'' Schumacher pointed out, ''as had been the case in free practice and now we must work out what caused it.''

Brawn, technical director, backed his driver's view, explaining that the mid-race struggle was 'probably because of the tires, (as) we could not maintain the pace we had in the first stint'.

Ide looks to keep Aguri seat Ide looks to keep Aguri seat(GMM)  Super Aguri's Yuji Ide looks set to keep his race ride for the Nurburgring, despite remaining in the headlines for all the wrong reasons again at Imola.

The struggling Japanese rookie was slammed by MF1's Christijan Albers after the Dutchman was tipped into a roll on the first lap, but his pace - although still a second or two shy of teammate Takuma Sato - looked a little bit better.

Ide said: ''I want to keep my rhythm and do better in the next race.''

Leafield based debutants Super Aguri carry F1's wooden spoon at present, and delays in the brand new 'SA06' car mean that the situation is likely to be similar in the short term.

Team chief Aguri Suzuki said on Sunday: ''I regret that we have not been able to provide our drivers with a new car as yet.  Until we introduce the SA06, we will face a hard time.''

Suspension failure caused Enge crash Suspension failure caused Enge crashTomas Enge faced an uphill battle this weekend at Twin Ring Motegi: Unfamiliar car, little time to prepare, immense travel and bad weather. His effort ended prematurely Saturday when two mechanical failures led to a spin and crash in the early laps of the Japan Indy 300.

Enge was braking to enter the pits to repair a water leak when the front wishbones collapsed on the No. 51 Cheever Racing IT Honda/Dallara on the 25th lap of the 200-lap race. The car spun and crashed, leaving Enge with a 19th-place finish in his role as a fill-in for team owner Eddie Cheever Jr.

“Suddenly I got a call from my team to come into the pits immediately, so I started to brake for the pit lane entrance on the backstretch,” Enge said. “Something broke on the front suspension. From that point, I was just a passenger.”

Crew members noticed a drop in water pressure from telemetry readings in the pits. Enge was told to pit for repairs. When he dropped to the apron and prepared to enter the pit lane, the top front wishbones inexplicably collapsed under braking.

New lid won't break Trulli duck New lid won't break Trulli duck(GMM) Not even a new helmet design and countrymen in the grandstands could change Jarno Trulli's luck, as the Italian retired his Toyota on lap-5.

The 31-year-old's chrome helmet featured new white detail for the first time at the 'Enzo e Dino Ferrari' track, but it was no help as he went tumbling into Vitantonio Liuzzi (Toro Rosso' with broken steering.

''A lot of bad luck seems to be coming my way at the moment,'' he rued.

Trulli said: ''It's frustrating, because whatever I do, something goes wrong.''
IRL winner on hand at Phoenix IRL winner on hand at PhoenixHelio Castroneves, winner of Saturday’s IndyCar race in Japan, jumped on a plane with car owner Roger Penske and teammate Sam Hornish Jr. to make the 14-hour flight back in time to watch the NASCAR event at Phoenix Saturday night. “This is a nice relaxing day off for me,” Hornish said. “I get to watch, I don’t have to drive.”
Matt Neal wins race 1 at Mondello Park Matt Neal wins race 1 at Mondello ParkMatt Neal has won the first of today's three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at the Mondello Park circuit in Ireland.

Reigning Champion Neal, driving a Team Halfords Honda Integra, started from pole position and held off the SEAT Leon of Jason Plato to earn his first win of 2006.

Neal also set a new lap record to achieve a perfect score.

Plato, in second, was followed home in third by teammate and current championship leader James Thompson, who was under pressure throughout from Colin Turkington's fourth-placed Team RAC MG ZS.

Montoya misses Champ Car life Montoya misses Champ Car lifeIn this London Times article Juan Montoya talks about his current uncertainty over his McLaren future, and how he longs for the days when he was in Champ Car where relationships were not so strained. He also reveals how he met his wife Connie. Excerpts:

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren’s Colombian firecracker, is showing remarkable patience, not a virtue for which he is noted. An earnest Chinese television presenter is concentrating hard on her questions and he is leaning forward, willing her on, saying all the right things. Oh, that it should always be thus.

Five years ago Montoya burst on to the Formula One scene amid a flurry of hype and expectation, hailed as the “next Senna”. Ayrton Senna was his childhood hero, so it was a fitting aspiration. Since then it has been a rollercoaster ride, and, as with most things associated with Montoya, the highs have been spectacular and the lows dreadful. In only his third race, in Brazil in 2001, an audacious overtaking move on Michael Schumacher saw him leading until Jos Verstappen, in an Arrows, “ran out of brains and ran into the back of me”. Montoya got out of the car, waved to the crowd and went back to the pits. “People asked why I wasn’t pissed off,” he says. “There was nothing to be pissed off about. It wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t do anything.”

After that he was tipped to be a world champion, but it hasn’t happened. Recently, disappointment has outweighed the good times. In 2003, after a spat with his Williams team over the radio, he signed for McLaren for the 2005 and 2006 seasons. He repaid them by missing the races last year in Bahrain and San Marino because of a “tennis injury” (a motorbike accident was denied) then had an iffy season with a “difficult to handle car”, culminating in an early exit in Japan and a tussle with a drain cover that forced him to retire in China.

One can only hope that, unlike his car, his career does not go down the drain. This is a driver who can thrill and tantalize like few others. He talks of needing the stability (i.e., a long-term contract) he was used to in his CART/Champ Car days in the US, during which he ran away with the title in 1999. “In Champ Cars you can be with a team 10 years and build a better rapport with your engineers and that helps you win,” he says.

But time is running out. “I had a chat with Ron (Dennis, McLaren’s team boss) and he said he’s not going to make a decision on drivers yet,” Montoya says. “He said to me, ‘Look, in a way I want you to stay, and so what you do now and what we do together will be the deciding factor’, but I have to say I race for me, not for someone else. It’s a personal thing.” So the next few months will be critical.

“The main difference between Champ Cars and F1? The atmosphere. In Champ Cars the drivers used to play on the PlayStations or open the side of a motor home and watch a movie together. You’d race hard, but you were also friends, and it was nice to have that.”

He spent his first F1 season running around the paddock like a friendly Labrador, sniffing out new friends, but his overtures were snubbed. In the end he found solace in fellow Latinos Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa. As he says: “It’s hard to make friends with guys whose job you might take.” Or who might take yours.

So he created his own family inside the paddock: dad Pablo, wife Connie and best mate Rick. “You can live in a soap opera or you can live a normal life, and I like to have as normal a life as possible, and I like having somebody around in the evenings to have dinner with.”

A few years ago too many family dinners became a problem for Montoya, whose girth saw him dubbed “burger king”. He denied that his weight affected his driving, but he has committed himself to a fitness and diet program.

His son Sebastian arrived a year ago, and his second child is due in September. “I like having kids around, I want to see them grow up, so Sebastian travels with us, the next one will as well.” He met his Colombian wife, Connie, at a Champ Car race when her boyfriend sent her to get his autograph. Big mistake. He pursued her relentlessly, even though she asked him not to call her because her boyfriend was not happy. “I left it for a while, then one day I called her. Her mum answered and said she was in Miami and had split up with her boyfriend. I was also in Miami, so I called her immediately.” More at London Times

Renault confident of race pace Renault confident of race paceFernando’s chassis race engineer Rod Nelson is feeling confident for tomorrow, as they aim for a podium finish.

Rod, how has your weekend been until now?
"Pretty good. The track was dirty yesterday and all the drivers were complaining they had no grip, especially where it had been resurfaced, but Fernando was quickest at the end of the day. We made some set-up changes this morning to suit the conditions, and found a pretty good balance."

Is Fernando happy with qualifying?
"From the outside, fifth position might seem a bit disappointing, but this is the result of our strategic decisions before qualifying. In those conditions, Fernando put in a very, very good performance."

What will he need to make up ground in the race?
"Firstly, a good start. If he can pass Massa on the way to the first corner, that would be a positive move. But he has to watch his mirrors if he manages it, because Massa has been known for some optimistic braking! After that, we will have to see the pace of the Hondas. 
I am not sure how fast they will be in the race, and for us, the risk will be of getting stuck behind them for too long and to not be able to catch Schumacher afterwards. They may be running quite light, so I think we are in good shape… We are aiming for the podium, for sure."

In your opinion, what will be the priority tomorrow – out-scoring McLaren, or fighting Ferrari for the win?
"Out-scoring McLaren, without a shadow of a doubt. They are the ones who are the biggest danger for the championship."

So you don’t expect Ferrari to be fighting at the next races?
"Not yet. Ferrari have always been very quick at Imola and they have confirmed it again today. Schumacher will be going for the win tomorrow, but I am not sure he will be able to do it regularly in the coming races, at least…" Source Renault

Viso wins race 2 at Imola Viso wins race 2 at ImolaErnesto Viso made the most of his second row start by muscling his way by the two BCN drivers, who had lined up on the grid in front of him, after an early safety car period to claim his first GP2 win in race two at Imola.

Looking strong all race, Viso made short work of Timo Glock and former teammate Hiroki Yoshimoto before powering off into the distance, with second placed Nelson Piquet Jr the only man able to run at a comparable pace. Yoshimoto drove strongly to come home a distant third.

Polesitter Yoshimoto had a strong start as the lights went out, with teammate and fellow front row starter Glock slotting in behind him, just ahead of a fast starting Viso and Nicolas Lapierre, who had muscled his way by Piquet on the run down to Tamburello.

Behind them Adrian Valles had failed to get off the line, and an unsighted Lucas di Grassi was unable to avoid a collision. With debris all across the front straight there was no alternative but to bring out the safety car. With emotions high the cars started to slow, but Michael Ammermüller failed to pull up in time – he ran into the back of Alex Premat, spinning the Frenchman out of the race, and the German limped back to the pits and retirement. zzzz

The field was funneled through the pitlane twice as the front straight was cleared of debris, but Yoshimoto controlled the pack masterfully to hold his place at the front as the race went live on lap four.

Further back Piquet was immediately making amends for his poor start by reclaiming fourth from Lapierre, while Gimmi Bruni ran wide at Rivazza to drop down from sixth to twelfth position.

Ahead of them Viso was all over the back of Glock at the restart, and it took him just one lap to dispose of his rival. Piquet, who was right behind the pair, spent one lap on the German's tail before repeating his move from race one, muscling his way up to third at the final chicane.

Yoshimoto was the next man in the pair's sights, and Viso was soon harassing the Japanese driver. The former teammates know each other's strengths and weaknesses intimately, but despite his best efforts Yoshimoto saw Viso power past on the run down to Tamburello, with Piquet also by him 3 corners later, the BCN clearly no match for his rivals' cars.

In clear air at last Viso and Piquet set about alternating fastest laps, with Yoshimoto unable to do anything about their pace and dropping back towards his teammate.

Glock had his mirrors filled by the Arden of Lapierre, who was looking for a way past and seemed to put his car alongside the German at every corner. Glock, however, was unwilling to concede another position, and the pair were in a stalemate.

Immediately behind them a train of cars was forming, with Luca Filippi in sixth right on the tail of Lapierre, followed immediately by Felix Porteiro and Andreas Zuber.

Glock, playing a perfect wingman role for his teammate, was unflappable – lap after lap Lapierre looked to pass, and lap after lap Glock firmly but cleanly shut the door in front of him. Something had to happen, and on lap 23 it did – Lapierre, looking for the inside line at Variante Alta, ran too deep under braking and had to run across the grass, leaving the path clear for Filippi and Porteiro to scamper through and into the points, with the now chastened Frenchman lining up behind them.

Further back Lewis Hamilton was making the most of his race after starting from the back of the grid, showing his potential by forcing his way through the field. He would end the race in tenth, with no points but a warning sent to his competitors.

But up at the front Viso and Piquet were untouchable. Piquet looked to be the faster of the pair, but two small mistakes meant he was unable to quite get onto the tail of the man in front.

As the checkered flag dropped Viso had done enough; thanks to the fastest lap of the race on his penultimate tour he took victory by just half a second from Piquet, with Yoshimoto following the pair across the line 24 seconds later.

Glock scored his second set of points of the season with a well deserved fourth place, while Filippi and Porteiro scored for the first time with fifth and sixth position respectively.

Pos Driver Team Time
 1. Viso iSport International 45:17.116
 2. Piquet Jr. Piquet Sports + 0.596
 3. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion + 25.001
 4. Glock BCN Competicion + 28.901
 5. Filippi FMS International + 29.278
 6. Porteiro Campos Racing + 30.351
 7. Lapierre Arden International + 31.502
 8. Zuber Trident Racing + 31.809
 9. Monfardini DAMS + 32.449
10. Hamilton ART Grand Prix + 33.366
11. Negrao Piquet Sports + 35.826
12. Carroll Racing Engineering + 39.654
13. Hernandez Durango + 40.089
14. Perera DAMS + 40.399
15. Fauzy Super Nova International + 41.753
16. Piccione DPR + 43.206
17. Gommendy iSport International + 49.138
18. Villa Racing Engineering + 65.304
19. Lopez Super Nova International + 2 laps
20. Pla DPR + 2 laps


 Driver Team Laps
 Tahinci FMS International 19
 Bruni Trident Racing 12
 Ammermuller Arden International 1
 Premat ART Grand Prix 0
 Valles Campos Racing 0
 Di Grassi Durango 0

Fastest lap: Viso, 1:34.431 on lap 24

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Schu will never leave Ferrari - Todt
JV wants 2007 contract
Schu not 'fair', says Trulli
Heidfeld denies stomach to blame for shunt
Klien cops whopping speed fine
Schu aims to plug Alonso's gap
Ferrari praise for racy Rosberg
Todt has decided about future
Families expanding in F1 paddock
McLaren duo told to not clash
Again, Flav bamboozles Schu rumor
Glock: The level of competition is bloody high Glock: The level of competition is bloody highWe talk to Timo Glock on the occasion of his first GP2 series points in today's race
GP2 Series: You scored your first points in GP2 today – how was it for you?
Timo Glock: It was a strange race today because we had to start from the pitlane after I stalled the car, and we had a little problem with the clutch. The lights switched to green and I could start, but everyone was gone completely and I had to try and catch up, which I did in a few laps, and then we were lucky with the safety car because I could stop when it was out. That meant we could catch up a bit to the other guys, and then I had to try and make a way through the field, overtook a couple of guys although Fairuz Fauzy did a strange thing because he was a lap down and he blocked me completely when I tried to overtake him, and then he took Gommendy out I think, and I don't know what he did, but that's racing.

So we finished seventh, luckily, but it will be tough tomorrow because we're not on the pace of the top guys, so we'll have to find something overnight. We start second tomorrow, so I'll have to stay out of trouble with my teammate! I'll just try to have a few good laps with a clear run and try to get away from the rest of the field, but it will be difficult.

GP2 Series: Still, you came from dead last up to seventh at the end, so there must be something in the car…
Timo: Yeah, the pace wasn't too bad, but we've still got to find … well, I have to fight too much with the car at the moment, and it's still not perfect over the curbs or on turn in. It was tough, and we got up to seventh, but we still don't have the pace of the top guys, and we have to find that and work hard. zzzz

GP2 Series: The pace hasn't really been there too often until now – is it something that you've found out about with your driving, or in the car, or something else?
Timo: We had a lot of trouble at the beginning with the tests, and we couldn't really test in Barcelona because of a sensor problem and we lost a couple of days, and that makes it difficult because the others are going round and round to find out about the new set up and everything else on the slick tires, and that's still a problem – I just can't get it right in qualifying at the moment, and maybe the car is 100% but I can't really get it out of the tires. That's what I've got to find out, and we're working on it and getting closer step by step, and then we'll have to see what happens in qualifying at the Nurburgring. We have an idea of what we have to do, but the thing is to get it out of the tires.

GP2 Series: You came here with a certain level of expectation after doing quite well in Formula One and Champ Cars, but how have you found the level of competition so far in GP2?
Timo: It's bloody, bloody high level at the moment! When you look at the timesheets there are only hundredths from position to position, and it is pretty tough to get everything you have to get in qualifying, and when you are at the back of the race it is really hard to make a way through – there are a couple of possibilities on strategy, but you have to really be in the top five to fight for the win – that's the key.

GP2 Series: Do you think you're coming to terms with everything here now?
Timo: Yeah, we're getting closer and closer from weekend to weekend, but the problem is if you only have half an hour of practice and half an hour of qualifying then that's it really hard, and it's difficult to make some progress. We need another test I think, but that's not until June. It's difficult to make progress when you can't go testing and there's not enough time on the weekends, but we have to keep working hard and try to get closer every weekend.

Imola: Bruni wire-to-wire Imola: Bruni wire-to-wireTrident Racing’s Gimmi Bruni has won this afternoon’s GP2 series race in Imola from the Arden International pairing of Michael Ammermüller and Nicolas Lapierre. The Italian rose above a safety car period, black flags, collisions and high drama to record his first win of 2006.

Gimmi made a perfect getaway from pole as Lewis Hamilton and Hiroki Yoshimoto flew past José María López to take second and third. Gimmi instantly started pulling out a gap over Lewis, as Nicolas came into the pits for his stop and José’s car stopped on the straight early on.

The action was intense the length of the field, with Lucas di Grassi making a stunning getaway to sit 14th from last on the grid by lap four. His run was not to last long however, as he ran deep into the Villeneuve chicane on lap eight, and slammed heavily into the barriers as he tried to get back on track. With debris scattered across the circuit, the safety car was deployed.

The top nine drivers all took their chance to stop. Lewis was out first, using the opportunity to take a drive-through penalty for jumping the start. Exiting the pits, he saw the Campos Racing cars passing the safety car as it waited to pick up the leader, and the Briton followed them through. It would prove a costly mistake. He pitted on the next lap for new tires, but as the safety car came back to the pits, Lewis was black flagged for passing it after his initial stop. zzzz

So Bruni led again, and the Italian was now followed by Hiroki, Nelson Piquet Jr, Alex Prémat, Nicolas and Michael. Hiroki was soon passed by Nelson and the Japanese driver then suffered a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane, while the Arden boys both got past Alex. Further back a queue was forming behind Luca Filippi who was driving a great race in eighth to fend off all challenges. A rash lunge from Ferdinando Monfardini saw the two Italians neatly pirouette off at Villeneuve however, and Andreas Zuber inherited the final points position.

Ahead of the battle for eighth, Ernesto Viso was harassing Adam Carroll for sixth, and the normally unflappable Ulsterman spun off and out under pressure. Meanwhile Tristan Gommendy made a move on Andreas for eighth and made it stick, only to see his race end in the gravel after a coming together with the lapped Fairuz Fauzy. With Andreas also out, Hiroki took eighth and pole for tomorrow’s race just behind his team-mate Timo Glock who took seventh. Sixth went to Viso, with Nelson falling back to fifth at the checkered flag, narrowly missing out to Alex in fourth.

Gimmi took the win by 10.9 seconds from Michael, who had passed his team-mate Nicolas in the final laps to steal second position. And Gimmi’s perfect race was capped with fastest lap, giving him the maximum points from the weekend so far.

1st Gimmi Bruni – Trident Racing. 1:01:13.889
“I was focused all race, and we did a very good pitstop, where the team did a really fantastic job I need to say thank you to them because that's why I'm here and I won. I just drove for fun!”

2nd Michael Ammermüller – Arden International. + 10.907
“We started at the back and we finished second. It's a really good feeling to know we can make the podium in the first race. My race pace was good and I’m just really happy.”

3rd Nicolas Lapierre – Arden International. + 14.514
“I'm disappointed to have lost a position, but I was still on the podium so I have to be happy about that too.”

Pos Driver Team Time
 1. Bruni Trident Racing 1h 01:13.889
 2. Ammermueller Arden International + 10.907
 3. Lapierre Arden International + 14.514
 4. Premat ART Grand Prix + 15.713
 5. Piquet Jr. Piquet Sports + 16.772
 6. Viso iSport International + 19.669
 7. Glock BCN Competicion + 47.806
 8. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion + 48.208
 9. Valles Campos Racing + 52.315
10. Porteiro Campos Racing + 69.547
11. Filippi FMS International + 83.448
12. Monfardini DAMS + 83.703
13. Villa Racing Engineering + 87.070

 Driver Team Laps
 Zuber Trident Racing 30
 Gommendy iSport International 30
 Fauzy Super Nova International 29
 Carroll Racing Engineering 26
 Tahinci FMS International 25
 Hernandez Durango 25
 Negrao Piquet Sports 13
 Perera DAMS 13
 Di Grassi Durango 7
 Pla DPR 7
 Lopez Super Nova International 1
 Piccione DPR 0

Fastest lap: Valles, 1:35.261 on lap 13

McDowell wins qualifying race McDowell wins qualifying raceAmerican Michael McDowell passed Germany's Mike Rockenfeller on the final lap to win the first-ever qualifying race for the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype class at Virginia International Raceway.

In rainy conditions, Rockenfeller slowed on course just after taking the white flag--which signified that there was one lap remaining in the 30-minute race--momentarily believing that he had just received the checkered flag and the race was over. That opened the door for McDowell to sweep past Rockenfeller in turn one and go on to score the victory.

As a result, McDowell's No. 19 Playboy/Uniden Racing Ford Crawford co-driver Guy Cosmo--who is substituting for the injured Memo Gidley--will start from the pole position in Sunday's VIR 400. Rockenfeller's No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche Crawford co-driver Patrick Long will start from the outside of the front row.  zzzz

Rob Finlay will start third in the No. 5 Essex Racing Ford Crawford owing to co-driver Michael Valiante's third-place finish in the qualifying race. Germany's Jörg Bergmeister finished fourth in the No. 75 Krohn Racing Ford Riley, giving 17-year-old co-driver Colin Braun a fourth-place starting position in the VIR 400.

Bergmeister's performance also allowed him to retake the Daytona Prototype points lead, as previous points leader Scott Pruett--who started the qualifying race from the pole position in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley--encountered ignition problems and wound up 22nd. Bergmeister now leads Rockenfeller by four points, 133-129.

Christian Fittipaldi finished fifth in the No. 39 Cheever Racing Porsche Crawford, giving co-driver and team owner Eddie Cheever a fifth-place starting spot. Germany's Wolf Henzler won the GT class qualifying race in a Porsche, and co-driver Robin Liddell will start the VIR 400 from the GT class pole.

Saville to Run with Andersen Racing Saville to Run with Andersen RacingFAIRFIELD, N.J.- Andersen Racing is pleased to announce that Phil Saville of Oak Brook, Ill. will drive one of its race cars at three races in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear: Montreal, Quebec June 23-25; Trois-Rivieres, Quebec Aug. 5-6 and Braselton, Ga. Sept. 29-30.

The Montreal race is part of the prestigious Formula One weekend at the Gilles Villeneuve circuit.  The Grand Prix of Trois-Rivieres is a popular street race that also features the Grand-Am Cup endurance sports car series. The event in Georgia is part of the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Motorsports Park, one of the biggest races of the year for the American Le Mans Series.  zzzz

All of the Star Mazda races are televised in one-hour, tape-delayed programs on the SPEED Channel.

Saville will begin his new role with the Fairfield, N.J.-based team right away, as he'll participate in a two-day test with his new teammates at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio on May 4-5.  Additional test dates on his schedule with the team include July 6-7 at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City, Utah and at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville, Ontario Aug. 23-24.

Saville's car will be sponsored by New York Jewelers of Chicago, the fine jewelry and diamonds business that he's owned for 26 years.  It offers the largest and finest selections of loose diamonds, jewelry and watches in the Chicago area. Additional sponsorship will come from NVG Residential, which specializes in the conversion of high-rise apartments into condominiums.  Headquartered in Chicago, quality construction, enhanced lifestyle and home value are the hallmarks of the NVG Residential name. A third supporter will be the Mac Marketing & Advertising Corp., also of Chicago, which specializes in real estate advertising.

Neal takes pole in Ireland Neal takes pole in IrelandReigning Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion Matt Neal has qualified on pole position for the first of the championship's three rounds at Ireland's Mondello Park circuit tomorrow (Sunday).

Neal, driving his Team Halfords Honda Integra, needed to set the BTCC's fastest ever lap time around Mondello of 1m45.333s to achieve pole. Just fractionally slower than him, setting times of 1m45.388s and 1m45.494s, were the SEAT Leons of past BTCC champions Jason Plato and James Thompson.

Between them, Thompson and Plato won all three opening rounds at Brands Hatch a fortnight ago. Thompson currently leads the standings with Plato fourth and Neal, who crashed heavily in Brands' third race, playing catch-up in fifth.

"I'm over the moon," said Neal. "I didn't know if I'd see a pole position this year. This is a great way to bounce back from Brands Hatch. My car feels absolutely fantastic but now there's the scenario of what weather we'll get tomorrow and how to keep those SEATs behind me. It could be quite entertaining..." zzzz

Plato added: "I can't grump because I've gone faster than I did in practice this morning. There really was nothing left to come from my car, although we seemed to be just lacking that little something on the corner apexes. The Hondas are strong, but it's very close. It's going to be a very tough race."

Thompson, meanwhile, had to abort his two early runs on new sets of tires following accidents involving Martyn Bell and Fiona Leggate that twice caused the qualifying session to be stopped briefly. Thompson was still down in 15th with just minutes to go before he finally got a clear run.

Thompson said: "My two hot laps were spoilt by those stoppages. It just wasn't working out for me and I ended up doing my qualifying time on used tires. I'm really disappointed. I don't like being third."

Neal's rookie team-mate Gordon Shedden was a hugely impressive fourth fastest and the Team RAC MG ZS of Northern Ireland's Colin Turkington, currently second in the points standings and a winner at Mondello for the past two years, was fifth.

Italian Fabrizio Giovanardi rewarded his VX Racing crew for rapidly curing a power steering problem on his Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch with the sixth fastest time for his first ever race at Mondello. Ninth fastest was Vauxhall's Gavin Smith who is looking to become the first Irish driver in history to win a round of the BTCC.

Tomorrow's three races, rounds four, five and six in the championship, are scheduled to start at 10.55, 13.20 and 15.50. Britain's number one commercial terrestrial television channel ITV1 will be at Mondello to broadcast live coverage of the action.
Leading BTCC qualifying times, Mondello Park:
1. Matt Neal (GBR), Team Halfords/Honda Integra, 1m45.333s
2. Jason Plato (GBR), SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Leon, 1m45.388s
3. James Thompson (GBR), SEAT Sport UK/SEAT Leon, 1m45.494s
4. Gordon Shedden (GBR), Team Halfords/Honda Integra, 1m45.526s
5. Colin Turkington (GBR), Team RAC/MG ZS, 1m45.568s
6. Fabrizio Giovanardi (ITA), VX Racing/Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch, 1m45.960s
7. Tom Chilton (GBR), VX Racing/Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch, 1m46.009s
8. Robert Collard (GBR), Team RAC/MG ZS, 1m46.307s
9. Gavin Smith (IRL), VX Racing/Vauxhall Astra Sport Hatch, 1m46.406s
10. David Pinkney (GBR), Motorbase Performance/Honda Integra, 1m46.890s

Imola: Saturday Press Conference Imola: Saturday Press Conference
1. Michael SCHUMACHER (Ferrari), 1m22.795s
2. Jenson BUTTON (Honda), 1m22.988s
3. Rubens BARRICHELLO (Honda), 1m23.242s
Industry News
Increased profits for Ferrari Increased profits for FerrariThe Ferrari S.p.A. board met today to approve the 2005 financial year figures and to increase from 11 to 13 the number of members of the Board of Directors, naming two new advisors, Christopher Gent, Chairman of GlaxoSmithKline plc and Paolo Monferino, CEO of Iveco.

The main figures for the financial year are: revenues of 1,289 million Euro, an increase of 9.7% and the trading profit of 157 million Euro, an increase of 13.8% over the previous financial year.

Ferrari has turned to a positive net financial position with a balance of 13 million Euro.

A total of 5,409 cars were delivered to their owners, an increase of 8.7%.

Welcoming the new directors to the company, President Luca di Montezemolo was pleased to announce the record-breaking results, the growth in the emerging markets and the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the new Ferrari models. Ferrari

Alonso backpedals on ’no help’ claim Alonso backpedals on ’no help’ claim(GMM) Fernando Alonso has backpedaled on his claim to the Spanish press at Imola that Renault 'never helped' him in his F1 career.

After qualifying fifth at Imola on Saturday, the 24-year-old - to depart for McLaren at the end of the year - was quoted in a post-session review as confirming that he has 'always enjoyed total technical support' from the team.

Alonso continued: ''Renault is known everywhere as a team that treats both of its drivers fairly and equally.''

As for why the championship leader is slumped back on the third row, engine boss Denis Chevrier coyly explained that the team had made 'certain deliberate decisions' that may be proved right or wrong on Sunday.

Montezemolo: "I’m too old for this!" Montezemolo: "I’m too old for this!"Another pole and another record were the high points of qualifying day at the "Enzo e Dino Ferrari" circuit, as Michael Schumacher set the quickest time in the final section of the session, with Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro teammate Felipe Massa, lining up on the second row in fourth place.

Michael drove a fantastic lap to take pole, even though the time he set on light fuel in the second part of the session was naturally quicker. Schumacher has literally re-written the Grand Prix record book, leading the table for points, wins, fastest laps and so forth. But one record had still to fall; that set by the late Ayrton Senna for the most number of pole positions. At Bahrain's Sakhir circuit at the opening round of the season, Schumacher equaled the Brazilian's record and today he beat it. Later, Michael admitted that the significance of what he had done had not really sunk in yet. Making a rare visit to a race track was Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo (right) and as the pole lap was completed, the team in the garage dedicated it to their leader, who was genuinely moved and overcome with emotion. "I am too old for all this," he joked afterwards.

Schumacher shares the front row with the Honda of Jenson Button, who has been consistently quick this year. The Englishman's team-mate, Rubens Barrichello on the other hand, had suffered so far this season in his new home, but today, Rubinho, still popular with the Imola crowd after his long career at Ferrari, found his form again, setting third quickest time. This means two Brazilians share the second row as Felipe is alongside. "Our" Brazilian never really got a clean lap in the final runs and was a bit disappointed with not breaking into the top three. Championship leader Fernando Alonso took his Renault to fifth spot and shares row three with the Toyota of Ralf Schumacher. Ferrari

Simmons destroys two Rahal cars in Japan Simmons destroys two Rahal cars in JapanRookie Jeff Simmons had a problematic weekend crashing twice. He crashed in final practice Friday. The second time came on lap 40 of the race when Simmons was caught in a chain reaction crash and badly damaged the No. 17 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Honda/Panoz.  (Photo by Dana Garrett/IRL)

“I got a good restart and I was really close to PJ [Chesson] so I couldn't see what was going on ahead of him. When I saw him check up I got on the brakes as hard as I could, but I still got into the back of him and then I spun around the next thing I knew I was going backwards and then I flipped over somebody and rolled it. Everyone in the stands probably saw it better than I did. It is really disappointing for everyone on Team Ethanol. This is never the way you want to start anything. Crashing two cars in one weekend is something I have never done before. As disappointed as I am right now we will move past this and start to focus on Indianapolis.”

BMW team disappointed BMW team disappointedIt was a disappointing qualifying session for the BMW Sauber F1 Team, as neither Jacques Villeneuve nor Nick Heidfeld made it into the top ten on the grid for the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola this afternoon. Jacques Villeneuve, the quicker of the two, managed to finish 12th overall, the French/Canadian disappointed with the result as he was a mere two tenths off the fifth placed time of Fernando Alonso and he knew there was still that much more to come from the F1.06.

“I am very disappointed because less than two tenths of a second was P5 and I know there was that time in the car,” he said. “The second lap was quick, but the yellow flags caught us out. That really does your race and finishing P5 or P12 in the session means the difference between finishing on the podium or not. It is a little bit rough but we are at the wrong end of the tenths today big time.”

Meanwhile, teammate Nick Heidfeld who has been suffering with a stomach complaint here this weekend will start from seventeenth on the grid after an accident prematurely ended his session. To top it off, his car has been damaged significantly, giving the team a lot of work to do before tomorrow’s race. zzzz

“I really wanted to make it into the top ten and tried everything I knew, but lost the rear of the car and went into the tires, which unfortunately has damaged the car quite badly,” he said. “All in all qualifying was disappointing, especially as I felt good after the results of the three free practice sessions yesterday and today. With new tires I just could not get the necessary grip, but the positive side is I fell well again yesterday after my stomach problems yesterday.”

“It was a very exciting qualifying session with very close gaps between the drivers’ times, but unfortunately we had to watch the breathtaking final 20 minutes as spectators,” added Mario Theissen. “Jacques missed the top ten by just over a tenth of a second, whereas Nick never managed to get the lap time we expected. He complained about lack of grip and on his last lap tried too hard and lost control of the car. The times are closer than we have seen before, as between fifth and Jacques. 12th position there is only seventeen hundredths of a second.”

“Obviously we expected more from qualifying. We knew it would have been very hard to make the top ten in this close competition. Now we have to adjust our race strategy accordingly, but we are confident we can repeat the performance we found in our long runs on Friday,” said Willy Rampf. BMW Sauber

Industry News
$1.2B Ford loss sends chills through Detroit $1.2B Ford loss sends chills through DetroitA day after General Motors Corp. showed signs of turning itself around, Ford Motor Co. showed Friday that it may have a ways to go.

At least that was Wall Street's reaction to Ford's first-quarter loss of $1.2 billion, a worse-than-expected performance that sent its stock almost 8% lower and raised concerns the troubled automaker may have a less profitable year as a whole.

GM, by contrast, gained more than 10% on Thursday and only partially gave back that gain Friday after dramatically narrowing its first-quarter losses.

GM's vehicles are making more of an impact on consumers in the North American market than Ford's, according to analysts who follow the auto industry. GM's profitable new SUVs are selling and its upcoming pickups will challenge those of Ford, analysts said.

Ford Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford said he knows the news has not been good, but he expects Ford's Way Forward turnaround plan to succeed eventually.

"All operations except North America were profitable, and in North America, our Way Forward plan is gaining traction," Ford told journalists during a conference call.

"We have said we intend to restore automotive profitability in North America by no later than 2008, and we remain committed to deliver on our promise."  More at Detroit Free Press

Ferrari chief showers Kimi with praise Ferrari chief showers Kimi with praise(GMM)  Ferrari's president has refused to confirm that Kimi Raikkonen will wear red overalls in 2007 -- but he did sing the Finn's praises.

Luca di Montezemolo (right) said coyly at Imola: ''If somebody at Ferrari has done something (regarding Kimi), for sure I will not tell you.''

But the suave Italian, who is also president of carmaker Fiat, could hardly find enough compliments - 'young', 'quick', 'tough' - to shower on McLaren's 26-year-old driver.  ''He's one of the three best drivers in formula one,'' di Montezemolo added.

''Next year, I really don't know.  We'll see.''

He also explained that Michael Schumacher is likely to make up his mind about 2007 prior to Monza, and admitted that MotoGP ace Valentino Rossi is similarly weighing up his future.

MF1 makes a big impression MF1 makes a big impressionAfter working out of the freight equivalent of suitcases for the first three races, Imola sees a return to normality as all the teams bring their trucks and transporters into the paddock. The first European race of the year is always interesting, as it sees the debut of any new equipment the teams have invested in over the winter.

There's no question that MF1 Racing has made a big impression this week with its stunning line-up of three brand-new vehicles in the Imola paddock. Painted dark grey, they carry only subtle branding - in stark contrast to the huge photos of its drivers staring from the side of trucks of a certain German-Swiss team! In short, they look cool.

The new trucks are the result of a shuffle around within the team. Quite simply, the test team trucks inherited from Jordan had reached the end of their useful life - they had in fact started life at McLaren in the Senna/Prost era! So the team decided to pension them off and switch the former race trucks to test duty. Although they were only introduced in 2000, it was also felt that it was the right time to update the race team equipment.

The three new vehicles are of the 'pump-up' design first introduced to F1 by McLaren. When they're parked in the paddock the top section lifts up via a complex hydraulic system to create two levels. The top half becomes extra workshop or office space, and the team's engineers now have a much-improved working environment. zzzz

The trucks were built by Schuler, a famous German coachbuilder whose F1 client list also includes Toyota and BMW, and they are towed to the track by brand new MAN tractor units. Unfortunately, the tight squeeze in the Imola paddock means that MF1, like most of the teams, has had to leave the tractor units in a car park outside, so the full effect won't be seen until Nurburgring.

Here team manager Andy Stevenson explains how the three vehicles are used…

"The first one is the Technical Support Truck. Downstairs is all the IT back-up, all the servers, all the racks, all the radio base stations, all the repeaters, all the equalizers. Also downstairs is a workshop is dedicated to Toyota. We transport the engines in there, and if they have any jobs they need to do, it's their workshop. Upstairs is the engineer's office, with a table that seats 12, for the engineers and drivers to do their briefings and debriefs. The middle section is an office for the Toyota engineers, and then the end section is the management area. We have the capability to do video conferencing back to the factory.”

“All the trucks are equipped with JVC plasma screens. We can see all the screens that we can see on the timing stand out on the pit wall. There's a very nice music system as well - which we typically don't use! (Wink, wink) The next one along is the Workshop Truck. Downstairs is used for storage of spares, and it's also the machining centre, where we have a lathe to do small modifications. Upstairs is the hydraulic and gearbox workshop. We have a tail lift at the bottom so that we can take gearboxes or any other heavy parts up to the top floor, so they can be worked on. The front part is used for an electronics workshop, so any bits that they need to work on can be taken in there to a clean environment.”

"The third one we're calling the Support Truck. Downstairs carries the majority of the spares for all the cars, so we will have suspension, uprights, fuel cells, and so on. Upstairs is where we keep all the carbon spares, such as floors, noses, wings. At the front end is a small office which we're using for marketing at the moment, but it in the future it will be an 'overflow' office for when we bring extra guys from the factory."

The strange thing is that none of the three trucks actually carries the cars to the circuits! The pump-up design makes that impossible, so the cars travel separately in a fourth truck that unloads them in the pitlane and is then parked outside for the rest of the weekend.

Stevenson admits it was hard for the team to get used to the concept after years with a more standard arrangement, but he insists there are huge advantages to be gained from the new set-up. It always takes time to pack the main trucks and maneuver them out of the paddock after the race - huge traffic jams are created because everyone else is doing the same thing - so the cars actually get away quicker by going out of the front of the garages and straight to the motorway.

"Because of the design of the trucks, you can't actually transport cars in them. So we have a fourth one which is the actual transporter, which carries the three cars, the toolboxes, and basically the equipment which is used to maintain the cars. At first I wasn't sure if it was a good idea, but in fact it makes it very convenient for getting cars to the circuit late, and away from the circuit early. We bring the truck down the pitlane - or even on the track - after the race, and just roll everything in. For example, we're running the T-car at Silverstone next week, and we can get it out of here earlier than we otherwise would. The truck is very sparse inside, but it's absolutely perfect for the job."

That's not the end of the story, for there is also a fifth truck that carries stuff such as garage equipment, which is the first to arrive and the last to leave the track.

The new trucks are packed with high technology, and the guys are still getting used to them. But even the most simple of problems can cause a headache, as they found when trying out the systems back at Silverstone last week.

"It was basically something as simple as a drained battery! The batteries charge themselves, and there's a huge fuse system in the back of each truck. As they were driving it over from Germany, for whatever reason, a fuse flipped, and the battery wasn't being charged. It was parked outside the factory for two days, and when we went to pump it up, the battery was flat. Because there are so many safety systems on it we couldn't pump it up until the battery was charged!"

You can bet that won't happen again... MF1

Battle of the Motorhomes Battle of the MotorhomesTwelve months ago, the cynics in the Formula 1 paddock found it difficult to look blasé when confronted by the sheer size of the Red Bull Racing Energy Station, when it made its debut in Imola. Yesterday they were equally shocked, when they realized that the Energy Station had now doubled in size, to accommodate Scuderia Toro Rosso under the same roof as its older brother.

“We are a bigger family now, so we need more space” explained Tonio Liuzzi in an official press conference.

It’s ironic that the most sophisticated hospitality units in the world of sport end up making their debut in the most old-fashioned and chaotic paddock of the year, but that’s the way it goes. Although the Energy Station is still the biggest unit among the teams, given that it covers the space available to two squads, it is no longer the only state of the art facility as other teams have joined in this race that every year seems as fierce as the actual competition on the track.

BMW-Sauber have a domed tented structure that looks light and airy and very impressive, Honda has also gone for the open-plan glass effect, even that most tradition of teams, Williams, has come up with something newer and bigger. But, the prize for the most unusual building in the paddock has to go to Midland, whose hospitality unit goes completely the other way, with no windows at all. Very strange and a bit sinister. Red Bull

Trouble for Montoya, Rosberg Trouble for Montoya, Rosberg(GMM) Juan Pablo Montoya failed to turn a flying lap in Saturday's pre-qualifying practice session, but Mercedes' competition boss thinks the Colombian driver will not need to have a fresh V8 engine installed.

Norbert Haug was quoted as saying that Montoya's McLaren, worked on by mechanics throughout the sunny session following an installation lap, is suffering from a fuel feed glitch.

''We're not sure exactly what it is,'' said the Mercedes man, ''but I'm sure we'll fix it before qualifying.''

An engine change would cost Montoya ten places on Sunday's starting grid.

Also in strife in the final practice session at Imola, whose skies are beaming more lovely sun onto the asphalt, was Williams' Nico Rosberg, who crashed into the tire wall after falling foul of the reprofiled 'Varianta Alta' chicane.

The German rookie emerged unscathed but his FW28's suspension did not. Countryman Michael Schumacher, however, maintained his grip at the top of the timesheet, his Ferrari '248' trailed by world championship leader Fernando Alonso and the second Renault driven by Giancarlo Fisichella.

Sick Heidfeld decides to race Sick Heidfeld decides to race(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld almost opted to sit out this weekend's San Marino GP.

Struggling with a stomach complaint, BMW-Sauber's German driver - however - decided just before the first practice session on Saturday to plug ahead with qualifying day -- a blow to Polish reserve Robert Kubica who would have substituted.

Imola: Schumacher tops final practice Imola: Schumacher tops final practiceMichael Schumacher set the fastest time in the final free practice session for Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix.

Schumacher lapped the Imola track in 1:23.787, the fastest time of the weekend so far, to beat defending World Champion Fernando Alonso by almost three tenths of a second.  His fast time led to a big cheer from the Tifosi.  Schumacher is aiming for a record 66th pole later in the afternoon to eclipse the mark he shares with late Brazilian champion Ayrton Senna.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. M. Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:23.787 14
 2. Alonso Renault (M) 1:24.068 + 0.281 15
 3. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:24.377 + 0.590 21
 4. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:24.383 + 0.596 17
 5. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:24.626 + 0.839 12
 6. R. Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:24.667 + 0.880 21
 7. Button Honda (M) 1:24.850 + 1.063 23
 8. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1:24.916 + 1.129 13
 9. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:24.984 + 1.197 13
10. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:24.994 + 1.207 15
11. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:25.041 + 1.254 20
12. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:25.205 + 1.418 14
13. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:25.575 + 1.788 15
14. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:25.662 + 1.875 19
15. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:25.701 + 1.914 9
16. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) 1:25.803 + 2.016 22
17. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:25.806 + 2.019 15
18. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:26.476 + 2.689 18
19. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:27.019 + 3.232 11
20. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:28.267 + 4.480 18
21. Ide Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:29.330 + 5.543 20
22. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1

Ferrari in no hurry on seamless shift box Ferrari in no hurry on seamless shift boxRoss Brawn says that Ferrari has no immediate plans to introduce a seamless shift gearbox, despite the fact that one is already under development at Maranello.

"It seems to be a popular topic," the Briton admitted, "but my information is that Renault don't have one, and we don't have one. I would say 0.4secs is a bit optimistic too. There is a gain in a seamless shift gearbox, but it's not as huge as people think.

"We'll introduce it when we're happy with the reliability. We're not happy with that yet, and we're not able to run the mileage we want. It's in development, but we put a few other things as a priority.

"For instance, this new rear suspension [introduced for Imola] needs a completely different gearbox case, so therefore we had to chose that as a priority over making a new seamless 'box.

"One of the difficulties with the gear change is the instability you can cause in the engine if you don't manage the gear change well. You can set the engine off into a violent oscillation that will cause problems. But there's one in the system, and it will come through when it's reliable."

Lucas di Grassi sent to back of grid Lucas di Grassi sent to back of gridLucas di Grassi will start today's race from the back of the grid after his car was found to be in breach of GP2 regulations. Lucas di Grassi has had his qualifying times stripped from him and will start today's race from last on the grid after the Stewards of the Meeting found his Durango to be in breach of GP2 series Technical Regulations.

A statement from the Stewards noted that:

"The Stewards received a report from the GP2 Technical Representative which stated that upon examination of the side skirts fitted to Car 22, driven by Lucas di Grassi, they appeared to be of a type other than that supplied by Dallara and accordingly requested a Team Representative...

"The Competitors Representative having examined the side skirts taken from the car and read the relevant sections of the Technical Representatives Report advised the Stewards that the fitment of these skirts was inadvertent and not a deliberate act to gain an advantage."

Following the Competitors Representative's acceptance that the car was in breach of GP2 Technical Regulations, the Stewards decided "that all qualifying times for Car 22 be deleted but that his competitor may start Race 1 from the back of the grid."

Toyota raiding Cup teams Toyota raiding Cup teamsToyota executives are wide open in building their Nextel Cup tour operations, and now they're raiding teams right and left, according to car owners. Don Miller, of the Roger Penske team, said that Toyota has picked up five Penske men already: "They just offer them $20,000 more than they're currently making, and get them."

Ganassi has been so upset at losing crewmen to Toyota that he has sent the company a "cease-and-desist" letter. That move has many here writing off Ganassi for any Toyota-NASCAR deal.

Like Roush, Ganassi has been shaking up his operation. "Change is inevitable in this sport," lead driver Casey Mears said. "For the right or wrong reasons, sometimes it makes guys step up to the table. We'll find out what kind of leaders we've got.

"We'll just have to see how it plays out the next couple of weeks." Winston-Salem Journal 

[Editor's Note:  Now NASCAR will find out what it's like to have the deep pocket Japanese manufacturers in their series.  Toyota is not there to lose. 

In addition, driver Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick is the No. 1 target of Red Bull Racing, a new Cup organization that plans to field two Toyota teams in 2007, multiple sources confirmed Friday.

In fact, Red Bull has put off extensive effort on its second team while it awaits the outcome of its courtship of Harvick, sources said.]

Harvick makes it two-in-row Harvick makes it two-in-rowKevin Harvick picked up his19th career NASCAR Busch Series victory with a win in the Bashas' Supermarket 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. It was Harvick’s second straight victory of 2006 and his eighth top 10 finish in nine starts for the year. This team also won the Atlanta race earlier this season with Jeff Burton behind the wheel.

The race was slowed by ten caution periods with Denny Hamlin, who came into the event second in points, getting caught up in a late race incident dropping him to third in points. The big story of the race was the run by pole sitter Jason Leffler. The Busch Series regular led 78 laps, the most of any NASCAR Busch Series driver this season. He was in contention for the lead throughout the race, consistently running in the top five, until a tap by Clint Bowyer on lap 189 sent Leffler spinning into the Turn 3 wall. Leffler came back to finish 16th in his crumpled mount. Bowyer originally was to be held on pit road for one lap due to rough driving but the penalty was amended sending Bowyer to the rear of the field instead.

The final caution flew on lap 197 when Bowyer clipped the damaged car of David Gilliland going into Turn 1 sending both cars into the wall. This set up a green-white-checker shootout for the win between Harvick and runner-up Reed Sorenson. Despite his good jump on the restart, Sorenson was not able to beat Harvick to the checkered flag. Carl Edwards came home third with Kurt Busch and Mark Martin rounding out the top five. zzzz

Kevin Harvick maintains the point lead by a margin of 289 markers over Clint Bowyer. Denny Hamlin drops to third with J.J. Yeley in fourth and Carl Edwards 341 points out of the top spot for fifth. David Green was the top finishing NASCAR Busch Series regular coming home in ninth spot.

The NASCAR Busch Series takes on the ultra-fast Talladega Superspeedway next Saturday April 29 for the Aaron’s 312.

Fin Driver Laps Status
1 Kevin Harvick 206 Running
2 Reed Sorenson 206 Running
3 Carl Edwards 206 Running
4 Kurt Busch 206 Running
5 Mark Martin 206 Running
6 Greg Biffle 206 Running
7 Matt Kenseth 206 Running
8 Casey Mears 206 Running
9 David Green 206 Running
10 Jamie McMurray 206 Running
11 J.J. Yeley 206 Running
12 Kyle Busch 206 Running
13 Michael Waltrip 206 Running
14 Danny O'Quinn Jr. # 206 Running
15 Mark Green 206 Running
16 Mark McFarland # 206 Running
17 Paul Menard 206 Running
18 Mike Wallace 206 Running
19 Burney Lamar # 206 Running
20 Ashton Lewis Jr. 206 Running
21 Clint Bowyer 206 Running
22 Jason Leffler 206 Running
23 Jon Wood 205 Running
24 Tim Sauter 205 Running
25 Ken Schrader 205 Running
26 Stacy Compton 205 Running
27 Regan Smith 205 Running
28 Kenny Wallace 204 Running
29 Ryan Moore 204 Running
30 Joel Kauffman # 204 Running
31 Aaron Fike 204 Running
32 Elliott Sadler 203 Running
33 David Gilliland # 197 Accident
34 John Andretti # 192 Running
35 Ron Hornaday Jr. 183 Running
36 Johnny Sauter 172 Accident
37 Scott Riggs 172 Accident
38 Mike Bliss 155 Running
39 Denny Hamlin 134 Accident
40 Jerry Robertson 127 Accident
41 Kertus Davis 115 Rear End
42 Todd Kluever # 92 Accident
43 Tracy Hines # 24 Vibration

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Renault 'never helped me' - Alonso
Honda coy on level of Aguri backing
Spanners in the works at Imola
Symonds slams Honda 'arrogance'
Davidson speeds towards Super Aguri for 2007
Aguri still on ground level only
Two Franchitti crew members injured at Motegi Two Franchitti crew members injured at MotegiOn his final pit stop Saturday at Motegi, Japan, Dario Franchitti came into his pit box too fast and ran over two of his crew members, one of which was his refueller. Both members are being tended to by the IRL safety crew. The mishap caused Franchitti to lose a lap and any chance of winning the race.
Another major accident at Motegi Another major accident at MotegiOn the lap 41 restart at Motegi Scott Sharp got sideways in Turn 4 and collected PJ Chesson and Jeff Simmons who barrel rolled down the front straight - end over end, over end, over end.  Simmon's car is totally destroyed and Sharp and Chesson are also out.  Simmons is out of the car and appears OK.  Just another in a long line of destroyed machinery as a result of IndyCar oval track incidences.  The IRL is just lucky the car didn't fly into the front straight grandstand.

Buddy Lazier spun and did a 360, but did not hit anything.

Polesitter Helio Castroneves leads Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti as they circle behind the pace car, which had led the most laps.

Enge, Carpenter crash hard at Motegi Enge, Carpenter crash hard at MotegiUPDATE Carpenter is also out of his car and appears OK. 04/22/06 Tomas Enge and Ed Carpenter have crashed hard in Turn 4 on lap 26 at Motegi, Japan in the Honda Indy 300. The leaders had already lapped both drivers. Enge is out of his car and appears OK. Medics are still tending to Carpenter in his car. Both cars sustained heavy damage and are pretty much totaled.
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