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No-bump zone expanded No-bump zone expandedNASCAR race director David Hoots told drivers before the Aaron's 499 that the entire track - not just the turns - will be monitored for aggressive driving during Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. NASCAR had extra officials in the turns at the season-opening race at Daytona to watch for aggressive driving after criticism that bump-drafting had escalated to an unacceptable level. "The aggressive driving zone has been expanded," Hoots said during the pre-race drivers meeting. "It will start at the start of the race as soon as you go across the start-finish line and will conclude when you complete the race - for all 2.66 miles around this race track and all 188 laps of the race. It will be considered all the way around the track." Hoots asked the drivers to err on the side of caution. "Remember drivers, it doesn't mean that you're given more latitude on the straightaway," Hoots said. "If you think you're getting ready to be too close to or crossing over that line, you need to throttle back and be on the conservative side and don't place yourself in the position of opening it up to our judgment of aggressive driving." NASCAR Daily Scene
Pit stop decides DTM victory at Lausitz Pit stop decides DTM victory at LausitzFascinating battles, an old hand as the race winner and 76,000 spectators made the racing weekend at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz to a huge success. After his victory in the season opener at the Hockenheimring, record DTM champion Bernd Schneider again proved himself to be in excellent shape.

After 48 laps and a distance of 165.216 kilometres, the 41-year old Mercedes-Benz driver won and is now leading with 20 points in the championship standings.

“This was hard work. I did it for my son, who had his birthday on Friday”, a satisfied Schneider said. For Bernd Schneider, it was his 41st DTM victory. Mercedes-Benz scored its 130th win in the most popular international touring car series. Danish Audi-driver Tom Kristensen secured himself second place, 1.428 seconds behind the winner. He finished ahead of crowd favorite (AMG-Mercedes). With his Audi A4 DTM, record Le Mans-winner Kristensen still claimed eighth valuable points in the fight for the championship after fascinating battles in the field.

Kristensen still claimed eighth valuable points in the fight for the championship. The decision in the battle for victory in the second season round of the DTM at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz fell in the pit lane. For a long time, former Formula 1 world champion Mika Häkkinen looked on course for victory. However, he encountered problems on the left rear wheel during his second pit stop while leading the race. His rivals took their chances and caught up. After exciting battles and an overtaking maneuver on the final lap, Häkkinen still secured himself a position on the podium. zzzz

Already at the start, pole-sitter Jamie Green lost his excellent position. The Briton had a bad getaway and saw Häkkinen, Mattias Ekström and Schneider overtaking. Eventually, Green finished in fourth place, ahead of his Mercedes-Benz-colleague, Canadian Bruno Spengler. Alexandros Margaritis was delighted with his sixth position. The Greek was the best-placed driver with year-old machinery. The top ten was completed by Frenchman Jean Alesi (Stern AMG Mercedes) and a trio of Audi-drivers with Martin Tomczyk, Timo Scheider and Pierre Kaffer.

Alexandros Margaritis was delighted with his sixth position. The 2004 DTM champion, Mattias Ekström, was deeply disappointed. Until two laps before the end, the Swede was running in second place, but then, he had to park his car due to lack of fuel. Fellow Audi-driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen also lost valuable time in the pits. During his second stop, there were problems with the left rear wheel. The driver from Mönchengladbach ended the second DTM race of the year in 13th place. The two ladies in the field of 20 drivers, Susie Stoddart and Vanina Ickx, finished 15th and 16th in the Lower Lausitz.

In the points’ standings, Bernd Schneider is leading with 20 points from Tom Kristensen (16) and Mika Häkkinen (11). The third DTM round of the season is taking place at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben on May 21.

Bernd Schneider (winner, Vodafone AMG-Mercedes): “Today, it was hard work. But all in all, it was a wonderful race. I was having great fun and our strategy was right. This is an excellent result.”

Tom Kristensen (2nd place, Audi Sport Team Abt): “This was a great race and a fortunate afternoon. I had great battles with Jamie Green and Bruno Spengler, that were fair throughout. Something like this is just great fun. Making it up from fifth to second is a good achievement.”

Mika Häkkinen (3. Platz, AMG-Mercedes): “It was a challenging weekend and by no means easy going. We found the best possible set-up. In the race, I was having some slight problems, so I am satisfied with my podium finish and the points.”

Mercedes-Benz motor sport director Norbert Haug: It was a very exciting race. Trouble with the pit stop, during which a wheel nut got stuck, eventually cost Mika the race win. Bernd Schneider was fighting in a very cool and dominant way. When you are having problems with one car, it is good when another car is there to take over. Overall, we were a little but better here than Audi.”

Audi motor sport director Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich: “Today, we have seen a very exciting and fair race, during which there were tough battles. Mattias Ekström was safely running in second place. Unfortunately, a mistake happened in re-fuelling during the second pit stop. He just ran out of fuel. At the moment, he is just having bad luck, but we will do everything to turn this around. Because of his good strategy, Tom Kristensen managed to finish the race in second place.”


Pos Driver Make Time
 1. Bernd Schneider AMG Mercedes C-Klasse 1h03:35.042
 2. Tom Kristensen Audi A4 + 1.428
 3. Mika Hakkinen AMG Mercedes C-Klasse + 3.749
 4. Jamie Green AMG Mercedes C-Klasse + 3.889
 5. Bruno Spengler AMG Mercedes C-Klasse + 4.410
 6. A. Margaritis AMG Mercedes C-Klasse + 8.924
 7. Jean Alesi AMG Mercedes C-Klasse + 23.549
 8. Martin Tomczyk Audi A4 + 26.468
 9. Timo Scheider Audi A4 + 27.601
10. Pierre Kaffer Audi A4 + 30.003
11. Frank Stippler Audi A4 + 32.903
12. Stefan Mucke AMG Mercedes C-Klasse + 43.864
13. H.H. Frentzen Audi A4 + 47.436
14. Mathias Lauda AMG Mercedes C-Klasse + 1:05.150
15. Susie Stoddart AMG Mercedes C-Klasse + 1:17.449
16. Vanina Ickx Audi A4 + 1 lap
17. Olivier Tielemans Audi A4 + 1 lap
18. Mattias Ekstrom Audi A4 + 2 laps


 Driver Make Laps
 Daniel La Rosa AMG Mercedes C-Klasse 32
 Christian Abt Audi A4 28

Salignon doubles his money! Salignon doubles his money!Just as he did yesterday, Eric Salignon (Interwetten.com) won a rain-affected race in the closing laps. The day’s plucky but unlucky hero was Ben Hanley (Cram Compétition), who came mighty close to taking victory. Borja Garcia (RC Motorsport) finished on the podium again, and third place went to Pastor Maldonado (Draco Multiracing USA).

After qualifying, several drivers collected penalties for not staying within the bounds of the track. So in the end, it was Davide Valsecchi who started in pole, ahead of Salignon, Pilet, Toccacelo, Barba, Garcia, Rossiter and Kane. Tenth on the grid, Robbie Kerr crashed on the formation lap and did not start the race.

See AutoRacing1.com's exclusive photos

Valsecchi got away well, enabling him to lead into the first corner, in front of Eric Salignon, Patrick Pilet, Borja Garcia, James Rossiter and Enrico Toccacelo. The safety car was brought out after two laps, after Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport) went off.

The race resumed for real four laps later, just before the start of the mandatory pit stop period. James Rossiter got the better of Borja Garcia, whilst Andy Soucek moved past Enrico Toccacelo. Ben Hanley was the first to enter the pits. The RDD driver then could only wait to see if his gamble would pay off. Meanwhile, Garcia and Soucek were engaged in an epic struggle for 5th place. zzzz

On lap 6, Danielsson, Fukuda, Kochem and Bonetti all go for the gamble of an early pit stop strategy. James Rossiter grabbed 3rd place from Patrick Pilet on the same lap. Andy Soucek was the first of the leaders to pit (lap 8). But his pit stop was slow, losing the Interwetten.com team precious seconds in the race for the win.

Davide Valsecchi was handed a drive through penalty on lap 10 for having changed wheels after the ‘5 minute’ board was shown before the start. The Italian came in straight away for his penalty, thus handing the race lead to Salignon, who was followed by Pilet, Garcia, Toccacelo, Pavlovic, Jouanny and Valsecchi, who were all yet to change their tires. Hanley, Rossiter and Montanari led the group of drivers who had already stopped.

Pressed by Garcia, Pilet came in on lap 14. Salignon followed suit a lap later, leaving Borja Garcia in the lead, ahead of Toccacelo and Jouanny. Garcia was the last favorite to come in for his pit stop, doing so on lap 17. The tension was palpable, as Ben Hanley was lapping very quickly at this stage of the race. Montanari’s race came to premature end when he ran into the gravel trap, along with James Rossiter. Patrick Pilet also crashed off.

On lap 18, Hanley moved into the lead in the home straight just as the safety car came out onto the track! Valsecchi lay in second, but was yet to pit. These two were followed by Salignon, Garcia, Maldonado, Kane, Soucek, Pavlovic, Barba, Toccacelo and Jouanny.

The safety car was still on the track as it began to rain! Alessandro Bonetti and Ben Hanley crashed off the track in quick succession. The safety car, having just gone off the track, had to come out again, this time in front of new race leader, Eric Salignon. As the rain continued, the red flag was shown to bring the race to an early end after 25 laps.

Eric Salignon: “I never imagined I would win both races here. But everything worked perfectly and the team and I did our best. It was the right decision to stop the race because it could have been very dangerous.”

Borja Garcia: “It was a difficult race, but the team did a fantastic job during the pit stop. Two podium finishes is a great result for us.”

Pastor Maldonado: “It’s fantastic to finish on the podium because I started on row 11! I got past a lot of cars and the team did a great job for the pit stop.”

Pos Driver Team Time
 1. Eric Salignon Interwetten.com 39:08.295
 2. Borja Garcia RC Motorsport + 0.965
 3. Pastor Maldonado Draco Multiracing USA + 1.621
 4. Steven Kane Epsilon Euskadi + 2.642
 5. Andy Soucek Interwetten.Com + 3.363
 6. Milos Pavlovic Cram Competition + 4.703
 7. Alvaro Barba Jenzer Motorsport + 6.815
 8. Enrico Toccacelo Eurointernational + 7.752
 9. Bruce Jouanny RC Motorsport + 8.510
10. Alx Danielsson Comtec + 9.492
11. Pascal Kochem Eurointernational + 12.066
12. Gregory Franchi Prema Powerteam + 13.872
13. Hayanari Shimoda Victory Engineering + 14.994
14. Tomas Kostka Draco Multiracing USA + 15.937
15. Davide Valsecchi Epsilon Euskadi + 16.784
16. Christian Montanari Prema Powerteam + 1 Lap
17. Ben Hanley Cram Competition + 2 Laps
18. Alessandro Bonetti Jenzer Motorsport + 2 Laps
19. Jerome D'ambrosio Tech 1 Racing + 2 Laps


 Driver Team Laps
 James Rossiter Pons Racing 17
 Patrick Pilet GD Racing 14
 Celso Miguez Pons Racing 12
 Ryo Fukuda Tech 1 Racing 9
 Michael Aleshin Carlin Motorsport 1
 Robbie Kerr KTR 0

Fastest Lap: Ben Hanley, 1:17.934 on lap 17

Talladega race postponed Talladega race postponedNASCAR officials have postponed the Aaron's 499 at Talladega because of persistent rain. The 43 cars started their pace laps, however rain started to fall and the start was aborted.  The race will run at 12 noon Eastern time tomorrow (Monday) and the USA TV broadcast will be on FX, not FOX.
Harvick fails post-race inspection Harvick fails post-race inspectionThe left-rear quarterpanel of Busch Series point leader Kevin Harvick's No. 21 Chevrolet was found to be too low in post-race inspection following Saturday's Aaron's 312 NASCAR Busch Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Busch Series director Joe Balash said penalties are expected and should be announced Tuesday, but Harvick would be allowed to keep his second-place finish. Harvick leads the Busch Series standings by 299 points over Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer.

Because the race was held at a restrictor-plate track, tolerances are smaller and penalties could be higher.

"The tolerance here is a quarter-inch of yellow, and there's another quarter-inch in the red," Balash said. "It was deep in the red." NASCAR Daily Scene 

Melandri over Stoner in Istanbul Melandri over Stoner in IstanbulMarco Melandri was the last-gasp winner of a fantastic Grand Prix of Turkey at the Istanbul Park Circuit, taking victory from Casey Stoner in the closing seconds of the race. Pictured L to R: Stoner (2nd), Melandri (1st) and Hayden (3rd)

Melandri took victory under dramatic circumstances, when it looked as if it would be a straight battle between Stoner and Dani Pedrosa in a repeat of last year’s 250cc race. Pedrosa crashed on the start of the last lap in a heartbreaking moment for the Spaniard.

Stoner was close to becoming the joint youngest winner of a MotoGP, but the Honda LCR rider had to make do with his first podium in the premier class in only his third race. Nicky Hayden, run wide by Melandri when he looked to be shaping up to make an overtaking maneuver, continued his long run of podium finishes. The third place also places him at the top of the tree in the overall classification.

Valentino Rossi was largely anonymous at the start of the race, dropping to 14th after running wide. He made his way up the field diligently to come near to taking third from Hayden’s grasp, taking Toni Elias along for the ride. zzzz

Loris Capirossi was off the podium for the first time this season, ahead of pole-man Chris Vermeulen. The Australian did superbly to hold off the field on the first lap, and pushed his Suzuki to the full in order to avoid dropping down the running. Shinya Nakano, Colin Edwards and Makoto Tamada completed the top ten, on a day which was dry apart from a few light drops of rain during the MotoGP race itself.

38,123 spectators flocked to the Istanbul Park Circuit, and none of them will have left disappointed, with three races of the highest quality at one of the most exciting circuits on the MotoGP calendar.


1. Melandri
2. Stoner
3. Hayden
4. Rossi
5. Elias
6. Capirossi
7. Vermeulen
8. Nakano
9. Edwards
10. Tamada
11. Gibernau
12. de Puniet
13. Roberts
14. Pedrosa
15. Checa
16. Hofmann
17. Hopkins
18. Ellison

Salignon wins race 1 at Zolder Salignon wins race 1 at Zolderhttp://www.autoracing1.com/Images/2006/OtherSeries/WSRZolderRace1.jpgThe Interwetten.com team was rewarded for putting their faith in Eric Salignon (pictured right holding off Montanari). The Frenchman won the first race of the 2006 World Series, holding off the attentions of Christian Montanari (Prema Power Team) right to the chequered flag. The third podium spot was taken by Borja Garcia (RC Motorsport), who coped better on slicks than Alx Danielsson (Comtec Racing) in the closing laps of the race as rain began to fall.

The race got off to a frantic start, as Andy Soucek (Interwetten.com) changed line several times before finally spinning in the middle of the field. The Spaniard was hit by Milos Pavlovic (Cram Compétition), Alessandro Bonetti (Jenzer Motorsport) and Mikhail Aleshin (Carlin Motorsport). A few corners further on, James Rossiter (Pons Racing) took the scenic route through the gravel trap, before making it back on to the track.

The safety car was brought out at the end of the first lap. At this point, Eric Salignon (Interwetten.com) was in control of proceedings ahead of Christian Montanari, Alx Danielsson, Borja Garcia, Enrico Toccacelo, Jérôme d’Ambrosio, Hayanari Shimoda, Robbie Kerr, Colin Fleming and Alvaro Barba. zzzz

The marshals quickly removed the cars from the track and the race resumed two laps later. Salignon and Montanari immediately pulled away. Barba snatched 9th place from Fleming, while Celso Miguez's race came to a premature end in the gravel trap.

Behind the two leaders (pictured right), who were virtually inseparable, a group of three drivers formed featuring Danielsson, Garcia and Toccacelo. Jérôme d’Ambrosio dropped out of the top 10, after making a mistake. And then the talented young Belgian was handed a drive through penalty for not having started from the back of the grid despite stalling during the warm-up lap. As a result, Sean McIntosh (KTR) moved into the provisional points.

Christian Montanari was piling on the pressure on lap 9. But Salignon was holding him off. Alvaro Barba ran into difficulties, allowing Rossiter to get back into the top ten.

The gaps between the first six only really started to widen at the half-way stage. Attention then turned to the five strong group led by Shimoda (6th), Kerr, Fleming, McIntosh, Rossiter and Hanley. Hanley passed Rossiter on lap 19 to take 10th place.

Then rain made an appearance for the last two laps, making conditions extremely hazardous for the drivers. Borja Garcia then managed to snatch 3rd place from Alex Danielsson. Enrico Toccacelo lost 5th place on the final lap, and ended up being overtaken by Rossiter, Fleming, Kerr and Maldonado.

Even Salignon (pictured right), who had by this time built up a comfortable lead, made a mistake, running wide on the final few corners. But the French driver managed to make it back onto the track in front of Montanari and to get past the finishing line in the lead!

Eric Salignon: “We started with cold tires for the first time this weekend. I was trying to stay calm at the start and my strategy paid dividends. The car didn’t have a lot of grip at the start, but then it got better and I was able to pull away.”

Christian Montanari: “Second place is an excellent result. It demonstrates just how hard the team has been working. The points earned are precious."

Borja Garcia: “The car was good at the start but I was hit by another car and picked up a slow puncture one of the rear tires. In the end, the rain worked in my favor.”

The final race result is subject to the outcome of an appeal lodged by Eurointernational with the FIA. The appeal does not however affect the first four places.

Pos Driver Team Time
1. Eric Salignon Interwetten.com 29:50.132
2. Christian Montanari Prema Powerteam + 2.381
3. Borja Garcia RC Motorsport + 13.335
4. Alx Danielsson Comtec + 19.504
5. James Rossiter Pons Racing + 28.583
6. Colin Fleming Carlin Motorsport + 29.376
7. Robbie Kerr KTR + 30.332
8. Pastor Maldonado Draco Multiracing USA + 30.397
9. Enrico Toccacelo Eurointernational + 31.212
10. Ben Hanley Cram Competition + 32.005
11. Ryo Fukuda Tech 1 Racing + 46.803
12. Pascal Kochem Eurointernational + 48.830
13. Michael Aleshin Carlin Motorsport + 52.107
14. Tomas Kostka Draco Multiracing USA + 52.522
15. Gregory Franchi Prema Powerteam + 56.072
16. Matteo Meneghello GD Racing + 59.089
17. Bruce Jouanny RC Motorsport +1:00.449
18. Alessandro Bonetti Jenzer Motorsport +1:19.951
19. Jerome d'Ambrosio Tech 1 Racing +1:27.823
20. Milos Pavlovic Cram Competition +1:31.099
21. Patrick Pilet GD Racing + 1 Lap
22. Steven Kane Epsilon Euskadi + 1 Lap
23. Edwin Jowsey Comtec + 1 Lap
24. Hayanari Shimoda Victory Engineering + 2 Laps
25. Sean McIntosh KTR + 2 Laps


 Driver Make Laps
 Andy Soucek Interwetten.com 13
 Alvaro Barba Jenzer Motorsport 9
 Celso Miguez Pons Racing 3

Fastest lap: Pastor Maldonado, 1:17.781 on lap 12

Starting Grid

Pos Driver Make Time
 1. Christian Montanari Prema Powerteam 1:17.122
 2. Andy Soucek Interwetten.Com 1:17.238
 3. Eric Salignon Interwetten.Com 1:17.992
 4. James Rossiter Pons Racing 1:18.178
 5. Borja Garcia RC Motorsport 1:18.274
 6. Enrico Toccacelo Eurointernational 1:18.410
 7. Alx Danielsson Comtec 1:18.571
 8. Jerome d'Ambrosio Tech 1 Racing 1:18.851
 9. Robbie Kerr KTR 1:18.920
10. Hayanari Shimoda Victory Engineering 1:18.967
11. Steven Kane Epsilon Euskadi 1:18.992
12. Colin Fleming Carlin Motorsport 1:19.042
13. Alvaro Barba Jenzer Motorsport 1:19.051
14. Alessandro Bonetti Jenzer Motorsport 1:19.125
15. Gregory Franchi Prema Powerteam 1:19.201
16. Tomas Kostka Draco Multiracing USA 1:19.403
17. Sean McIntosh KTR 1:19.438
18. Celso Miguez Pons Racing 1:19.440
19. Ryo Fukuda Tech 1 Racing 1:19.511
20. Ben Hanley Cram Competition 1:19.513
21. Michael Aleshin Carlin Motorsport 1:19.683
22. Pastor Maldonado Draco Multiracing USA 1:19.923
23. Patrick Pilet GD Racing 1:19.937
24. Pascal Kochem Eurointernational 1:20.079
25. Milos Pavlovic Cram Competition 1:20.447
26. Matteo Meneghello GD Racing 1:20.562
27. Bruce Jouanny RC Motorsport 1:20.807
28. Edwin Jowsey Comtec 1:21.242

Valsecchi takes pole for race 2 in Zolder Valsecchi takes pole for race 2 in Zolder
Pos Driver Time
 1. Davide Valsecchi 1:34.603
 2. Eric Salignon 1:38.109
 3. Patrick Pilet 1:35.164
 4. Enrico Toccacelo 1:38.832
 5. Alvaro Barba 1:35.453
 6. Borja Garcia 1:38.908
 7. James Rossiter 1:35.535
 8. Steven Kane 1:40.386
 9. Andy Soucek 1:35.548
10. Robbie Kerr 1:40.646
11. Christian Montanari 1:35.823
12. Ben Hanley 1:40.826
13. Pascal Kochem 1:36.013
14. Michael Aleshin 1:41.715
15. Ryo Fukuda 1:36.467
16. Alx Danielsson 1:41.843
17. Milos Pavlovic 1:37.118
18. Jerome D'ambrosio 1:42.813
19. Bruce Jouanny 1:41.698
20. Alessandro Bonetti 1:43.890
21. Tomas Kostka 2:29.696
22. Pastor Maldonado 1:44.628
23. Celso Miguez 3:31.958
24. Hayanari Shimoda 18:30.421
Second pole of season for Green Second pole of season for GreenQualifying for the DTM at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz Saturday was highly exciting. The top position changed by the second. "I am really happy. Today, my team chose the right strategy," the pole-sitter cheered. In a heart-stopping final, Mercedes-Benz-driver Jamie Green claimed his second pole-position of the season.

The Brit lapped the 3.442 kilometres long track in 1.19.390 minutes. Green had already been fastest in qualifying for the DTM race in the lower Lausitz region in September last year. In total, it was the fourth pole-position of his DTM career.

His fellow Mercedes-Benz-driver and former F1 world champion Mika Häkkinen is lined up alongside the 23-year old for tomorrow's race. The Finn was 0.24 seconds down. Third fastest time in the final session of the best eight drivers of the new shoot-out qualifying in slight drizzle was set by Mattias Ekström with the Red Bull Audi A4 DTM.

The winner of the season opener at the Hockenheimring, Bernd Schneider (Vodafone AMG Mercedes), was fourth ahead of Audi-driver Tom Kristensen. Next was a trio of Mercedes-Benz drivers. French driver, Jean Alesi, was in sixth position with the best-placed car from last year, followed by Canadian Bruno Spengler and Greek Alexandros Margaritis in seventh and eighth place respectively. zzzz

Former runner-up in the Formula 1 world championship, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, didn't make it into the seven minutes' final session with his Veltins Audi A4 DTM and will now be starting from tenth position behind fellow-Audi-driver Christian Abt into the second round of the DTM season over a distance of 48 laps.

On Sunday, the two ladies in the 20 car field, Susie Stoddart (AutoScout24) and Vanina Ickx (Futurecom TME), will be starting from 18th and 20th place respectively.

As Dutch driver, Olivier Tielemans, had come off the track with his car in the first session and had to be recovered, action was interrupted for nine minutes. After that, the clerk of the course decided to combine the first and the second session of the three-way "shoot-out qualifying". Thus, all drivers had the opportunity to make it among the best eight in 20 minutes.

Jamie Green (1st place, Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes):

"Because of the weather, the final session was particularly difficult. In these conditions, you don't know before every corner how slippery it will be. I am happy that my team sent me out so early, because like that, my tires became quite warm and I could make it to pole."

Mika Häkkinen (2nd place, AMG-Mercedes):

"Conditions in qualifying were very difficult. Especially then, you just can't make one single mistake. Fortunately, I was out in time, so that my tires became more or less warm. Tomorrow's race will be hard. I am happy with the result."

Mattias Ekström (3rd place, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline):

"These changing conditions are enough for the remainder of the season. But it made qualifying interesting. Sometimes, you win in such conditions, sometimes, you lose. For me, third place is okay."

Norbert Haug Mercedes-Benz motorsport director:

"When you make it with six cars into the top eight, it shows a good team performance. And here at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, we saw again that the concept with the cars from last year is working out. In this qualifying session, our strategy was right and we were out on the track at the right time."

"All in all, the two makes were at the same level. Had Mattias Ekström had another lap, it would certainly have been close. But Jamie Green set the pace throughout this qualifying session. I hope that he can convert it into a good result tomorrow. Pole-position surely is a good result, but tomorrow's race is yet another issue."

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Audi motorsport director:

"Too bad that we just got third and fourth place. We only have a team result from ninth through 14th place. Here, we still have to get better. But tomorrow is another day and the race is tomorrow. We will concentrate and try to make the best out of it. Mattias Ekström and Tom Kristensen are two drivers who are really quick. The new qualifying format has proven to be more than right. Today, it was again as exciting as it comes." DTM

Stewart goes for wild ride Stewart goes for wild rideTony Stewart escaped unscathed from this horrifying accident in the Busch Series race at Talladega Saturday.  Stewart took full responsibility for the accident as he cut down in front of the No. 22 car of Kenny Wallace too soon.  The front bumper of the No. 22 hit the rear of Stewart's Chevy sending Stewart spinning and when he hit the grass infield his car went sailing. Photo by CIA Stock Photo
Late Surge Gives Bodine Gateway Win Late Surge Gives Bodine Gateway WinMADISON, Ill – Todd Bodine drove his Lumber Liquidators Toyota Tundra to its second victory of the season and fifth in the last eight races to capture Saturday night’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Ram Tough 200 at Gateway International Raceway. Bodine, who led three times for 66 laps, dropped from the lead to mid-back two-thirds of the way into the 200-mile, 160-lap race following a pit stop for fuel and four tires. The strategy proved to be a winning one as Bodine roared back to the front with Germain Racing teammate Ted Musgrave in tow.

He caught leader David Reutimann on the 147th lap then held off Musgrave’s charge in a three-lap shootout following the race’s record, 13th caution. Bodine edged Musgrave by 0.433 second – about two truck lengths.

With a track-high 50 laps run under caution, Bodine’s winning average speed was just 84.966 mph – well below the slowest of eight previous series races at the 1.25-mile track. He won $63,925 from a total purse of $596,350. zzzz

The performance, before an estimated 40,000, also gave Bodine the series points lead for the first time in the 42-year-old New York native’s career. He heads Musgrave by 12 points following the fifth of 25 scheduled events in the 2006 season.

“I didn’t have it (strategy) figured out. (Crew chief) Mike (Hillman Jr.) did a great job making the calls,” he said. “We needed to be there at the end. These trucks work as a team. It showed here tonight”

Reutimann, who led twice for 63 laps, claimed third as Toyota trucks swept the top five positions. Former Gateway winner and three-time series champion Jack Sprague was fourth with Johnny Benson taking the No. 5 spot.

Pole starter Erik Darnell, who took the No. 1 position by virtue of owner points after rain washed out qualifying, was among a half-dozen drivers knocked out of the race by accidents.

Four drivers – Bodine, Musgrave, Reutimann and Dennis Setzer – swapped the lead seven times.

Front Row Motor Sports joins partnership Front Row Motor Sports joins partnershipFront Row Motor Sports owner Bob Jenkins, and Jeff Stec have formed a limited partnership to campaign the #61 Ford Fusion for the remainder of the 2006 NASCAR season. Greg Conner and the balance of the #61 team members will be integrated into the Front Row Motorsports organization beginning this week with the running of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup veteran Kevin Lepage will continue to pilot the #61 car. “The #61 team has gotten off to a good start this year by making 6 of the first 8 races. By combining resources and sharing knowledge, we are confident that we can improve each of our teams,” states Front Row Motorsports owner Bob Jenkins. “We are looking to upgrade both our qualifying and race day efforts. We are excited about the opportunities this presents our team and the advantages we can gain by working together.” Front Row Motor Sports PR
The best test of driver talent The best test of driver talentMany readers of AutoRacing1.com are asking frequently: "Which major racing series provides the best test of driving ability? In our opinion  three basic reasons make “Champ Car” the most logical answer.

1.) Every Champ Car driver has the same basic equipment. All drivers in the Champ Car World Series use a Lola chassis with a spec Ford Cosworth engine and Bridgestone tires. Technology is limited to prevent the team from making adjustment while the car is moving. No Champ Car team has a monumental technical advantage over another (unlike Formula 1, where Michael Schumacher went from World Champion in 2004 to backmarker in 2005 – not because he forgot how to drive, but because his combination of chassis-engine-tires proved to be inferior last year). Fine-tuning is an essential element of racing and Champ Car drivers must become exceptionally sensitive to a car’s performance. In Champ Car racing, every successful race driver must master a.) the ability to understand how a car is performing, and b.) the ability to communicate the car’s performance to his engineer to help the crew make adjustments to improve the handling and road-holding of the car. Since there is limited information to be gained from telemetry (unlike Formula 1), these skills are part of driving ability and mastering them is crucial to Champ Car success.

2.) Champ Cars are relatively difficult to drive. Compared to Formula 1, Champ cars are heavy. Compared to IRL Indy Cars, the road holding is poorer (no foot-to-the-floor driving for entire laps at a time). Taken with the fact that every Champ Car driver has the same basic technology package, each competitor must somehow either stay ahead or pass his rivals. In short, the driver behind must try to get ahead using a portion of the pavement that he would not normally want. And he has to do it without abusing his tires or exceeding the road-holding limits of his machine. Learning this art improves driving ability. Champ Car drivers must also properly manage equipment that becomes less effective as each race progresses. From the very beginning of racing into the 1980s, drivers often had to be careful to save their brakes so they would not use them up before the end of a race. While carbon-fiber brakes and alloy pads have all but eliminated this issue, Champ Car drivers have a variation of that challenge with the “Power-to-Pass”; when to use the allocated 60 seconds of extra horsepower is a skill and management of that resource is another part of a driving ability.

3.) The diversity of tracks in the Champ Car series cultivates different driving skills. The Champ Car series has the most diverse collection of tracks in motorsports. Champ Car races on permanent road courses (where gear shifting, braking, and quick reactions can improve speed), street circuits (combining all of the skills need to be fast on permanent road courses with a need to be precise because of the narrowness of the course and the nearness of safety barriers which could break a suspension with even a moderate impact) and oval tracks (where maximizing a road holding package and driving smoothness become the essential traits of success). Again, since all Champ Cars begin every race weekend with essentially identical equipment, the successful Champ Car drivers are the ones who master all of these skills the best.

There are similarities to be found in track-and-field competition; if Formula 1 (short sprints under 200 miles on road courses) can be equated to the 100 meters or the 120-meter high hurdles and stock car racing (mostly 500 miles on oval tracks) can be equated to the 10,000 meters, Champ Car racing is the decathlon. To win in Champ Cars, a driver must master multiple skills that are necessary in each different form of the sport. Where the winner of the Olympic Decathlon is considered the best athlete in the world, the winner of the Champ Car World Series can rightly be called the best driver in the world. Lino Man

A new BMW Pit Lane Park A new BMW Pit Lane ParkThe BMW Sauber F1 Team looks forward with heightened anticipation to its home race, the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring next weekend but before the fifth race of the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway, there are a number of items on the agenda to be ticked off, the first being the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park.

This exciting new vision will be opened this week and fans will be offered taxi rides around the grand prix circuit courtesy of F1 drivers…

“We’ve got something special lined up for the Nürburgring: the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park will be celebrating its debut there,” said Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director. “You could say this high-tech adventure park brings a piece of the pit lane right to the spectators: it’s an adventure complex where fans can experience Formula One close at hand, and it’s going to be something very special – something fans have never seen before in F1.”

Another exciting item on the schedule is Formula BMW German, which will once again turn the spotlight on its young racing talent under the gaze of their F1 heroes.

Busch: Truex Makes It Three in a Row at Talladega Busch: Truex Makes It Three in a Row at TalladegaMartin Truex Jr. showed his championship mettle by holding off a pack of challengers with three laps to go to capture his third consecutive Aaron’s 312 at Talladega Superspeedway. The two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion – whose No. 8 Chevrolet carried the familiar black paint scheme of Dale Earnhardt on Dale Earnhardt Day – recorded his 13th career victory while becoming the only series driver to win in his first three starts at the 2.66-mile superspeedway.

Truex hung on to win the race after a late caution brought out by Busch Pole winner J.J. Yeley caused the field to take the green flag with only three laps to go. Truex held off a charge from NASCAR Busch Series points leader Kevin Harvick and Hendrick teammates Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers. Harvick finished second after starting 19th and stretched his lead to a commanding 299 points over Clint Bowyer, who finished fifth. Busch and Vickers worked together to lead a combined total of 40 laps and finished third and fourth, respectively.

The race was slowed by four cautions including a caution on lap 67 brought out by Tony Stewart. Stewart slid down the track in front of Kenny Wallace, turned sideways and became airborne. After Stewart’s car settled upside down on the frontstretch he was hit by rookie Danny O’Quinn Jr. Both drivers were able to walk away from the wreck however neither was able to return to competition.

Greg Biffle, the 2003 series champion, gained two spots in the point standings moving from 10th to eighth after finishing sixth in the race. Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Mark McFarland was the highest finishing NASCAR Busch Series regular with a career-best seventh-place finish. McFarland was followed by Johnny Sauter and Paul Menard who finished eighth and ninth, respectively. With his eighth-place finish Sauter moves into the top 10 in series points into the 10th position.. Carl Edwards finished the day in 10th.  zzzz

The NASCAR Busch Series rolls into Richmond next Friday May 5 to race under the lights in the Circuit City 250 presented by Funai.


Fin Car Driver Laps Status
1 #8  Martin Truex Jr. 117 Running
2 #21  Kevin Harvick 117 Running
3 #5  Kyle Busch 117 Running
4 #157  Brian Vickers 117 Running
5 #2  Clint Bowyer 117 Running
6 #16  Greg Biffle 117 Running
7 #88  Mark McFarland* 117 Running
8 #00  Johnny Sauter 117 Running
9 #11  Paul Menard 117 Running
10 #60  Carl Edwards 117 Running
11 #9  Scott Riggs 117 Running
12 #1  Mike Wallace 117 Running
13 #22  Kenny Wallace 117 Running
14 #99  Michael Waltrip 117 Running
15 #01  Jay Sauter 117 Running
16 #10  John Andretti* 117 Running
17 #41  Reed Sorenson 117 Running
18 #138  Jason Leffler 117 Running
19 #47  Jon Wood 117 Running
20 #77  Burney Lamar* 117 Running
21 #36  Tim Sauter 117 Running
22 #66  Ken Schrader 117 Running
23 #43  Aaron Fike 117 Running
24 #27  David Green 117 Running
25 #12  Tracy Hines* 117 Running
26 #59  Stacy Compton 117 Running
27 #06  Todd Kluever* 117 Running
28 #4  Mark Green 117 Running
29 #14  Steadman Marlin 117 Running
30 #20  Denny Hamlin 116 Running
31 #90  Stephen Leicht 115 Running
32 #0  Kertus Davis 115 Running
33 #25  Ashton Lewis 115 Running
34 #18  J.J. Yeley 110 Off Track
35 #34  Paul Tracy 98 Running
36 #64  Jamie McMurray 97 Out of Race
37 #35  Regan Smith 97 Running
38 #50  Danny O'Quinn Jr.* 68 Out of Race
39 #33  Tony Stewart 66 Out of Race
40 #72  Donnie Neuenberger 42 Out of Race
41 #49  Derrike Cope 42 Out of Race
42 #05  Justin Ashburn 36 Out of Race
43 #228  Randy MacDonald 1 Out of Race

West Virginia ‘Miracle Miner’ and family VIP guests at Talladega West Virginia ‘Miracle Miner’ and family VIP guests at TalladegaAaron Rents, Inc. today announced that West Virginia miner Randal McCloy Jr. and seven members of his family are attending the Aaron’s Dream Weekend at Talladega Superspeedway as special guests of Aaron’s Sales and Lease Ownership President Ken Butler.

Butler extended the invitation to the McCloy family a month earlier when he learned they were NASCAR fans.  Aaron’s is the entitlement sponsor of this weekend’s races, and as such is able to provide Randy and his family with access to events such as the Victory Lane Celebration, the Driver Meeting, Driver Introductions and more. 

As part of his ongoing recovery process, McCloy’s doctors have encouraged him to spend as much time with his family as possible and to enjoy as much rest and relaxation as he can.  According to Ken Butler, “Aaron’s is honored to have Randy and his family as our special guests for Dream Weekend.  They are wonderful people who obviously have been through a lot and they seem so thrilled to be here for their first NASCAR event.”

Aaron’s Dream Weekend continues with the running of today’s Aaron’s 312 Busch Series race.  The race will be carried live on FOX starting at 3:00pm Eastern time.  The Dream Weekend will conclude with Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race with live coverage on FOX beginning at 3:00pm Eastern time.

Loeb leads Rally Argentina Loeb leads Rally ArgentinaSebastien Loeb leads the Rally Argentina after two legs with a 19.8 second lead over Petter Solberg.

Mikko Hirvonen had been driving a conservative rally behind the leaders and moved into third when teammate Gronholm stopped. But shortly afterward the second Ford dropped a cylinder, and had to retire.

Rookie takes pole in wet Istanbul Rookie takes pole in wet IstanbulRiders, teams and spectators were joined this morning by the unwelcome presence of rain at the Istanbul Park Circuit in Turkey. Almost simultaneously starting to fall as the 125cc riders took to the track, the rain guaranteed that the day would be unpredictable as the wet weather served as the great equalizer between bikes.

MotoGP rookie Chris Vermeulen used the adverse conditions to his advantage, putting in fast laps at the midway stage and riding with control and poise for his first ever MotoGP pole position. After a problematic race in Qatar, the Rizla Suzuki rider is in a strong position to place well in Sunday’s race. His quickest lap of 2’04.617 was slower than yesterday’s free practice leading riders in the dry.

The young Australian didn’t have it easy though. In front of a respectable audience in the Turkish grandstand, American Nicky Hayden battled for the top spot throughout the last half hour. In the closing moments of the session, the Repsol Honda rider was seemingly on course to take the lead with both he and Vermeulen on hot laps. However it wasn’t to be for the Kentucky kid, as he went off-road to his obvious annoyance. Sete Gibernau also made a late surge. His final lap of the Istanbul Park track resulted in his demoting team-mate Loris Capirossi to fourth, with both Ducatis having opened the day well as the two fastest riders in free practice.

To add to Suzuki’s joy, John Hopkins’ steady run ensured that both of their riders will start tomorrow on the front two rows. Randy de Puniet, one of the few riders to remain without points so far this season, put in the sixth fastest time of the session, ahead of Casey Stoner. LCR Honda’s sole rider suffered two crashes during free practice as the weather hindered his final chance of becoming MotoGP’s youngest race winner tomorrow. Shinya Nakano clocked the eighth fastest time of the qualifying session, ahead of Americans Colin Edwards and Kenny Roberts Jr. Edwards suffered a contusion of his left shoulder after falling in the morning.

World Champion Valentino Rossi is still yet to earn a pole position in 2006, and as in Jerez will start the race off the front two rows of the grid having qualified eleventh.

1. Chris Vermeulen (Rizla Suzuki) - 2'04.617
2. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda) - 2'04.823
3. Sete Gibernau (Ducati Marlboro) - 2'05.003
4. Loris Capirossi (Ducati Marlboro) - 2'05.540
5. John Hopkins (Rizla Suzuki) - 2'05.570
6. Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki Racing Team) - 2'06.102
7. Casey Stoner (Honda LCR) -2'07.277
8. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki Racing Team) - 2'07.294
9. Colin Edwards (Camel Yamaha) - 2'07.344
10. Kenny Roberts Jr. (Team Roberts) - 2'07.345

Mansell leads all the way Mansell leads all the wayBritain's Nigel Mansell took 1st place today at the Losail International Raceway in Qatar at what many have described as the hottest race in living memory. The Doha desert heat produced almost unbearable conditions as a track temperature of 58 degrees was recorded at the start of the event. A cock-pit temperature of 77 degrees was recorded with the highest previously known to be 68 degrees! Mansell, who started from pole, led the incident packed race from the beginning and recorded his second consecutive victory following his win at the inaugural round in South Africa. Germany's Christian Danner finished in second place and Belgian debutant Eric Van de Poele came home in 3rd.

Eddie Cheever (USA) was fourth, Warwick (Britain) fifth and also making his GP Masters debut was Pierluigi Martini who finished in 6th. The six fastest laps overall were split by a mere tenth of a second in a race that produced drama in the way of overtaking, safety cars, retirements and at times four cars running abreast down Losail's 1068m main straight. Out of the15 that started, 12 cars finished with De Cesaris (Italy), Salazar (Chile) and Stuck (Germany) retiring.

(1st) Nigel Mansell: "A brilliant result but an incredibly tough race out there today. It was a tactical race right from the very start and the pace was really quick out there. I was pleased with the set-up strategy we had adopted on the car because as you saw, I had problems going with turns one and two but the last four corners is what we specially set the car up for and that's what ultimately won me the race. About three laps into the race, I suffered a seat installation problem which must have been caused by the high g-loadings but in the end, it came good. These guys were catching me down the main straight and as you saw, I was weaving around the place to avoid anyone getting a tow off me. The first re-start after the safety car was great as I caught everyone unaware and got a great head start. A fantastic weekend all round and my congratulations to everyone involved in staging a truly stunning event. Qatar has made us all feel extremely welcome and we very much look forward to racing here again in the near future."

(2nd) Christian Danner: "It's great to finish 2nd behind Nigel but unfortunately, it could have been better today. Eddie (Cheever) who was in second place at the time seemed sound asleep when the safety car went back in and Nigel by that point had got a huge lead on the re-start. I saw it coming and knew exactly what Nigel was doing but there was nothing I could do. I did have a chance to maybe beat Nigel today but I never really got into a rhythm with my car. It took a few laps before the grip really kicked in and by then, we had a safety car period again. I am, however, very happy with what we have all achieved this weekend and second place will do me - this time." zzzz

(3rd) Eric Van de Poele: "It's been nearly fifteen years since my last grand prix and to be on the podium again today was simply awesome! I can still hardly believe it. The race was certainly not short of action and there were so many battles going on up and down the pack but I was lucky as on each lap I found less and less cars in front of me. My race set-up was also the correct one as we put on more wing to compensate for understeer. This worked a treat and really played to my advantage on this super fast and enjoyable circuit. This track really has proved its worth this weekend and for sure more cars need to come racing here. We'll certainly be back I hope and in the meantime, my thanks to everyone at GP Masters for producing this amazing show."

(4th) Eddie Cheever: "I was really in with a great chance today but it all went to pot after the first safety car with what has to be the worst green flag drop I have seen in 30 years of racing. During the safety car, I was really looking forward to making a charge towards the last ten laps but the green flag dropped way too early. Nigel put his foot down and got a massive advantage on me. I couldn't believe it! I don't blame Nigel for taking full advantage of what was clearly a shocking judgment call from the marshal. Nigel did what any driver would do and today he got away with it. The car felt really good and I made up a lot of places today to prepare myself for what would have been a serious charge towards the front but there you go. Happy I am not!"

(5th) Derek Warwick: "The car was fantastic today and had loads of grip from the start. It was clear that Nigel was having problems and we were all backed up behind him. Pierluigi then went on the inside of me at one of the corners but I kept the pressure up. He ran wide at the hairpin and I went up the inside and cut straight back but spun! From there it was simply flat out playing catch-up. I passed about four or five cars and got a good jump after the two safety car incidents. I kept up the fight and in the end managed to get my own back on Pierluigi. Fifth place is what came at the end of the day but had it not been for the spin, a podium position would have definitely been mine today. It's been a great weekend of racing and no doubt we'll look to settle some scores at Silverstone in a few weeks from now."

(6th) Pierluigi Martini: "A great experience for me and one which I hope to re-create very soon with this superb GP Masters series. I was extremely happy in the car today and drove a really enjoyable and hard race. I remained close at all times to the front runners but was losing some speed down the main straight. I also made a mistake during the safety car period and lost position but in the bigger scheme of things, I am very happy to have finished 6th given that I never ever thought I would be racing grand prix cars with these guys again. Nobody appears to have lost any of the speed, competitiveness or tenacity from yester-year and that's what is so amazing. Thank you to everyone who has worked so tirelessly on my car this weekend and congratulations to GP Masters and QMMF for pulling off a historical event in this fabulous country."

Pos Driver Time
 1. Nigel Mansell 52:06.000
 2. Christian Danner + 0.562
 3. Eric van de Poele + 1.174
 4. Eddie Cheever + 3.016
 5. Derek Warwick + 3.420
 6. Pierluigi Martini + 5.710
 7. Jan Lammers + 7.044
 8. Stefan Johansson + 8.339
 9. Rene Arnoux + 9.068
10. Riccardo Patrese + 9.423
11. Patrick Tambay + 15.506
12. Emerson Fittipaldi + 29.788


 Driver Laps
 Hans Stuck 19
 Eliseo Salazar 11
 Andrea de Cesaris 8

Fastest lap: Pierluigi Martini, 1:49.116 on lap 23

Biodiesel sportscar entry planned Biodiesel sportscar entry plannedFrench team, Welter Racing, has announced plans to enter the 2008 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a diesel based LMP2 prototype. The car will run on Diester fuel, which is a mix between diesel fuel and colza (vegetable oil), i.e. Biodiesel. The exact engine specifications will be released at a later date. The team will continue to run their 4 cylinder Peugeot engine until 2008. The team has one entry for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans for their conventional model.
JV on the new F1 qualifying system JV on the new F1 qualifying systemDuring the course of the still young 2006 Formula One World Championship season, the new three-part qualifying system has so far been able to stand the test. What makes it particularly exciting is the drop-out system, which eliminates the six slowest drivers per session. The only criticism so far has concerned the length of the final top qualifying session.

Jacques Villeneuve understands the criticism. "The drop-out system is good, but I am not sure about the last 20 minutes, where you have cars running around slowly to burn fuel. The fans will have to decide if that is good or not."

Following the first two parts of qualifying, the recorded lap times are erased. According to Jacques, this signifies a particular challenge for the drivers. "You're in a strange mental situation," the Canadian explains. "You have to be fast enough to drive a fast lap but the recorded time doesn't count for the top qualifying. You don't know how fast to go. Sometimes you take a huge risk but it doesn't really count because it is only to get you into the next qualifying round. It would be a bit better if you could keep your lap time." Source BMW Sauber f1

Industry News
Dover Motorsports reports $4.3M loss Dover Motorsports reports $4.3M lossDover Motorsports Inc. reported 2006 first quarter revenues of $801,000, a significant decrease from first quarter 2005 revenues of $3.1 million.  Dover, Del.-based Dover Motorsports (NYSE: DVD), which owns and operates Memphis Motorsports Park, also owns racetracks in St. Louis, Dover, and Nashville.

In a statement, company officials said that the decrease resulted from schedule changes to the NASCAR calendar. No major racing events were held during the first quarter of 2006, while last year the NASCAR Busch Series race in Nashville was scheduled during the first quarter. The event was scheduled for April 15 in 2006.

Dover reported a net loss of $4.3 million, or -12 cents per share for the quarter, but said that fewer outstanding shares in 2006 will benefit earnings per share. In the first quarter of 2005, Dover reported a net loss of $3.9 million, or -10 cents per share.

The rescheduling of the Nashville race also resulted in a $2.1 million decrease in marketing expenses for the first quarter of 2006, the report said.

Dover Motorsports Inc. is a U.S. motorsports event promoter. The company and its subsidiaries operate four motorsports tracks in three states and promote NASCAR, IRL and NHRA events.

Toyota hires Waltrip to be their front man Toyota hires Waltrip to be their front manToyota has been taking it on the chin lately in the NASCAR Cup garage, with car owners like Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske and Jack Roush openly irate at what they've claimed are Toyota raids on their crewmen and engineers during the past few weeks.

And drivers like Ricky Rudd, idle at the moment, say they've talked with Toyota people who have inquired about driving jobs next season, when the Camry brigade is due at Daytona, and some testing this summer.

But Toyota executives have had no presence in the Cup garage to make their own case.

However, that apparently is about to change, according to Jim Aust, Toyota's vice president for motorsports.

So yesterday Michael Waltrip announced he would become Toyota's official NASCAR at-the-track Cup spokesman. And Waltrip, who concedes he has preferred to hide out in the drivers' motorcoach more so than his own Cup rig, says he'll now be the trackside point man for Toyota.

First order of business for Waltrip yesterday: to put as much distance as possible between Toyota executives and NASCAR racing decisions about crewmen and drivers.

Waltrip insists the media "had got it all wrong" about what Toyota is doing behind the scenes. Waltrip's spin - that Toyota officials aren't doing all the footwork for drivers and crews but rather the soon-to-be Toyota teams, of which there are but three at the moment: Waltrip's, Bill Davis', and the still mysterious but extremely well-financed Red Bull operation.  More at Winston Salem Journal (Related story)

NASCAR/ISC looking at Daytona office upgrades NASCAR/ISC looking at Daytona office upgradesAs it continues planning for a $100 million redevelopment of its office park, International Speedway Corp. is considering building a 15-acre office complex on Dunn Avenue. ISC has applied to the St. Johns River Water Management District for a storm water drainage permit for the project, but that doesn't mean it will do the project, yet, company spokesman Lenny Santiago said.

"If we decide to go forward with the project, it's easier for us if we've already filed the permits.

"It's part of our ongoing process as we're looking at the Speedplex project," Santiago said.

ISC already owns the land, acquiring it in 2000 as part of a 45-acre purchase.

The Speedplex redevelopment will include office towers for ISC and NASCAR as well as retail buildings, a multiplex cinema and residential condos. More at Daytona Beach News Journal

ALMS Notebook ALMS NotebookChampion Racing, which has won the Series’ championship the last two seasons with Audi R8, steps into a respected factory role at Houston for the remainder of the year. The entrant will be known at Audi Sport North America Team Champion, marking a significant embracing by Audi of Champion Racing as a factory-supported effort. … Audi drivers Allan McNish and Dindo Capello will make an appearance May 10 at Momentum Audi in Houston where invited guests will get an exclusive viewing of Audi’s first SUV, the Audi Q7, as well as its new luxury performance sedan the RS4. …

On Monday May 8, Risi Competizione will do a little community outreach at its dealership – Ferrari of Houston. Special guests will be the Salvation Army Grid Kids, who are disadvantaged youth from Salvation Army centers hosted each race by the American Le Mans Series as part of its official charity involvement. …

Liz Halliday, whose second-place finish at Sebring earlier this spring made her the highest finishing female in the 54-year history of that prestigious sports car race (surpassing the likes of Lynn St. James and Janet Guthrie), will appear live May 7 on Houston NBC affiliate KPRC-TV’s “Sports Sunday” show. … Halliday is also an aspiring 2008 Olympic equestrian who lives and trains outside London when not racing. This weekend she is competing with both her horses in a One-Day event at Henley-on-Thames. She will compete in dressage with “Oscar” and in dressage, show jumping and cross country with “Harry”. …

Patrick Long participated in a media tour for Michelin recently in Houston. Long, the United States’ only Porsche factory driver and one of the leading stars of the American Le Mans Series, will drive for his defending GT2 champion Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing in Houston. Earlier this year at Sebring, he drove one of Penske Racing’s LMP2 Porsche RS Spyders. … Long also will be a guest on SPEED’s “Wind Tunnel” at 9 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 30. … The Lone Star Grand Prix street race, will be the seventh street race in the Series’ eight-year history. Prior races include two at Trois Rivières (Quebec, Canada), one in Washington D.C., two in Miami and one in Adelaide, Australia. Lucas Luhr, who drives for Penske Racing, has won in class at all six of those events, the only driver to hold that distinction. …

Obscure Fact of the Week: Chris Dyson was a standout baseball player in high school. His first hit as a varsity player was quite memorable. It came on Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, home of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
NASCAR to test new soft bumper this weekend NASCAR to test new soft bumper this weekendIn a move to discourage the overly-aggressive bump drafting that has raised some issues at restrictor-plate races, NASCAR has modified the front bumper for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega.

•  The steel plate that has been in the front bumpers for the restrictor-plate races has been removed, resulting in a bumper modeled after one used at other tracks where the speeds are similar, such as California Speedway, Michigan International Speedway and Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

•  The front bumper retains its safety and aerodynamic features, but without the reinforcement of the steel plate, which allowed drivers to hit the rear bumper of another car with considerable force.

track news
Talladega and Daytona similar, but different Talladega and Daytona similar, but differentOne of two superspeedways on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup schedule that requires restrictor plates, Talladega mimics Daytona International Speedway’s length and banking, but the Alabama track differs from its Florida predecessor.

• Drivers are firm in describing the two tracks, citing Daytona more demanding of handling and Talladega more demanding of horsepower.

• Talladega’s banking is a bit more extreme – 33 degrees in the turns compared with 31 degrees at Daytona. Talladega also is longer – 2.66 miles compared to Daytona’s 2.5 miles. 

• A major change is coming to Talladega following Sunday’s Aaron’s 499. The track will be re-paved in time for the October race weekend and crews will begin removing fencing and SAFER barriers on Monday, May 1.

Gordon and Earnhardt the ones to watch this weekend Gordon and Earnhardt the ones to watch this weekendBetween them, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) and Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) have won eight of the last 12 Talladega Superspeedway events. Heading into Sunday’s Aaron’s 499, they remain the most obvious favorites among the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series field – and for good reasons.

• Gordon, currently sixth in the series standings, has won the last two Talladega spring races. He has four victories and 14 top-10 finishes in 26 career starts there. Gordon also has four top-10 finishes in eight races this season. 

• Earnhardt, currently seventh in the standings, last won at Talladega in the fall of 2004. He has five wins and two second-place finishes in 12 career starts at Talladega, including a streak of four consecutive wins beginning with the fall 2001 event through the spring 2003 event. He has three top-10 finishes in eight races this season.

• Gordon and Earnhardt both have 1,045 points heading into Talladega, but Gordon earns the higher ranking because of more second-place finishes this season (one). Neither driver has won in 2006.

• Both Gordon and Earnhardt appear to have put dismal 2005 seasons behind them. Both also are working with new crew chiefs – Gordon with Steve Letarte and Earnhardt reunited with former crew chief Tony Eury Jr. Gordon finished 11th last season, his worst finish since his rookie season of 1993 (14th). Earnhardt finished a career-worst 19th.

Bridgestone always evolving Bridgestone always evolvingWith the Monaco Grand Prix a month away, Bridgestone’s technicians are busy developing a tire specifically for the tricky street circuit. The technical requirements of Monaco are unlike any other track in the world - even Melbourne, which is run on public roads at Albert Park. The Principality’s asphalt is such that it requires a one-off tire, in the same way that its slow-speed corners – average lap speed 98mph – require high downforce aerodynamic packages from the teams.

“You have to use a very soft tire compound at Monaco,” says Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager of Bridgestone. “The track is very smooth and it is not a permanent circuit, so it’s very difficult to simulate the conditions because they change from one year to the next.”

Much of Bridgestone’s factory-based development for the race is done using data from previous years. Their on-track preparation is carried out at Paul Ricard, where Toyota and Ferrari have been this week, which, in terms of asphalt smoothness, is more similar to Monaco than any other track in Europe.

“We have to use very soft compounds at Monaco,” continues Suganuma. “The result is that the fronts wear very quickly at other tracks – even Paul Ricard – because the speeds are much higher. It’s quite difficult to get meaningful results during testing, which is why we also use data from previous years as well.” zzzz

Tire testing for other races is easier than for Monaco because permanent circuits have, quite literally, more common ground. The asphalt doesn’t vary much from track-to-track and, where it’s not possible to test at a circuit before a race, Bridgestone can use another track with similar asphalt characteristics to carry out their preparations.

For example, prior to the San Marino Grand Prix, Toyota, Williams and Ferrari tested at Vallelunga, near Rome. The asphalt is of a similar quality at both racetracks, which allowed Bridgestone to evaluate accurately its race tires, even though the lap time is much shorter at Vallelunga and the average lap speed much slower.

“With the tire war, the tires are constantly evolving,” says Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn. “Tires are a very important aspect to our testing and, when we’re thinking where to test, we take Bridgestone’s advice into account.”

Formula 1’s sporting rules limit the number of GP venues that can be used for testing. All test tracks must be FIA-approved, but only Barcelona, Silverstone and Monza can be used during the season. Pre-season tests also took place at Bahrain and Imola this year, but the teams have not returned since the World Championship kicked off on 12 March. Bridgestone

Richards planning on showcasing British talent Richards planning on showcasing British talentDave Richards says he plans to showcase British talent with his Prodrive F1 team.

"We needed radical change that allows us to come to the sport with a fresh approach," Richards was quoted as saying in the Telegraph. “When we entered the World Rally Championship no one had heard of Subaru. Teams like Toyota and Ford would go around the world with 150 people and 30 trailers. We flew everybody in and out in two helicopters. In the new era I think F1 teams are going to have to look at how they manage their business.”

"There will be a Prodrive team, just as there is a McLaren and a Williams team that have often had close relationships with manufacturers. That would be my desired route. We have had approaches from two or three manufacturers over the last 18 months saying that if we got an entry would we then like to go and speak to them. So let's see if they are still standing there now."

"At Subaru we gave opportunities to young British drivers, taking first Colin McRae, then Richard Burns to the world rally title," Richards said. "That is a goal of mine in Formula One."

Rain falls on Istanbul Park Circuit Rain falls on Istanbul Park CircuitMotoGP riders, teams and spectators have been joined this morning by the unwelcome presence of rain. Almost simultaneously starting to fall as the 125cc riders took to the track, light drops have thus far not affected the session. It is hoped that there will be a swift turnaround in conditions, although the grey skies filled with heavy cloud cover bode ominously for the day ahead.
2005 winner Bessette moves up from Atlantics to Rolex Sports Car Series 2005 winner Bessette moves up from Atlantics to Rolex Sports Car SeriesColumbus, OH - Team owner Mike Shank announced today that he has signed rising Canadian racer Antoine Bessette to compete in the Laguna Seca and Phoenix rounds of the Rolex Sports Car Series in the No.6 Mears Motor Coach Lexus/Riley. Bessette will be teamed with American Mike Borkowski.
Bessette won two races on his way to third in the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2005, and was tabbed as the recipient of the Gilles Villeneuve award, although Shank already had his eye on the Canadian well before then.
“I’m am excited about having Antoine join us,” said Shank. “I’ve seen him race in several different series over the years, and he comes from where we do in Atlantics. He is clearly talented, and we were impressed with how quickly he came to grips with the car in testing, so we are looking forward to having him race with us for the next two events, and we could be working together beyond that as well.” zzzz 
Bessette, who first started racing in his native Quebec in rally cars and in ice racing, has a strong record in open-wheel racing, establishing himself as a winner in Formula Ford, Formula Renault and Toyota Atlantic competition.
“I feel that for me, racing in Rolex is the next logical step in my career, and it is clear that Michael Shank Racing is a very competitive team with well-prepared cars, so I am excited about this opportunity,” said Bessette. “The Daytona Prototypes are much heavier than the cars I have been racing, but they also have a lot of power, so it is a lot of fun. The prototypes are all so evenly matched, that the driver makes a big difference. I really enjoyed testing the car, and now I am eager to race it!”
Bessette will get the chance to build up his seat time next week as he will test with the team at Miller Motorsports Park, which will host the season finale Rolex event on Labor Day weekend.
track news
Sullivan named Grand Marshal Sullivan named Grand MarshalMonterey, CA – Danny Sullivan knows Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as a race car driver, winning twice at the “dry lake” during his years racing in the Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) series. During the U.S. Sports Car Invitational May 5-7, he’ll get a different perspective while being honored as the event’s Grand Marshal.

Sullivan, who reportedly is building a home at nearby Pebble Beach, was selected as Grand Marshal to represent Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 50 Years of Racing during the U.S. Sports Car Invitational featuring the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series, Grand-Am Cup, SCCA Mazda MX-5 Cup and Historic Stock Cars. The Daytona Prototypes and GT cars of the rapidly-growing sports car series are returning for their second season on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s world-renowned 2.238-mile, 11-turn permanent road course.

“Danny Sullivan has a long and successful relationship with Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as a winning driver with CART and we are so pleased he will come to Laguna Seca as our Grand Marshal for the U.S. Sports Car Invitational,” said Laguna Seca CEO/General Manager Gill Campbell. “I’ve known and respected Danny for a long time. It’s a true pleasure to have such an accomplished race car driver and exemplary human being take part in what has developed into an incredible event.” zzzz

Sullivan won twice from the pole in CART at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 1988 and 1990 which was after the track was lengthened from 1.9 miles to 2.214 miles with the two additional turns in the inner portion of the track. The track change occurred prior to the 1988 season. Sullivan was also runner-up consecutive years in 1986 and ’87. The native of Kentucky finished in the top10 eight of the 10 times he raced at the dry lake in his illustrious CART career. He was series champion in 1988 driving for Penske Racing.

More information on the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series can be found at www.grandamerican.com.

Tickets are on sale now for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 50th Season of Racing including the U.S. Sports Car Invitational featuring the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series May 5-7, the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix July 21-23, the 33rd Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races August 18-20 and the Monterey Sports Car Championships featuring the American Le Mans Series October 20-22.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Inside Drag Racing  
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
NASCAR RaceDay Talladega
11:00am-1:00pm (L) SPEED
NHRA 2Day Bristol, TN
11:30am-12:00pm ESPN2
American Dragster  
12:00pm-12:30pm ESPN2
AMA Supercross 250cc Seattle
12:30pm-1:30pm CBS
Formula 1 San Marino
1:00pm-3:30pm (R - Originally broadcast on CBS) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup  Talladega
1:30pm-6:00pm (L) FOX
Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race Long Beach
3:30pm-4:00pm (R) SPEED
MotoGP World Championship  Turkey
4:00pm-5:00pm (SDD) SPEED
AMA Superbike  Fontana, CA
5:00pm-6:00pm -Day 1
6:00pm-7:00pm (L) -Day 2 SPEED
Speed News Sunday  
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NHRA Bristol, TN
7:00pm-10:00pm (SDD) ESPN2
NASCAR Victory Lane Talladega
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Patrick Long (Grand-Am Rolex)  
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED

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

Industry News
BorgWarner positioned to grow with diesel's popularity BorgWarner positioned to grow with diesel's popularityBorgWarner Inc., the world's biggest maker of parts for automatic transmissions, said first-quarter earnings fell 21% as an increase in sales couldn't offset higher spending on taxes.

Net income declined to $61.3 million, or $1.06 a share, from $77.6 million, or $1.36 a share, Auburn Hills-based BorgWarner said Thursday. The company spent $26.6 million on taxes this quarter, compared with a $23-million tax gain last year. Revenue rose 6.6% to $1.16 billion.

Sales outside the United States grew 21%, excluding currency changes, as more automakers purchased the company's turbochargers and timing switches for diesel engines. BorgWarner repeated its forecast that net income will rise as much as 5.5% this year.

"Revenue, margins and the company's general fundamental outlook remain best in class," Goldman Sachs analyst Robert Barry said in a note to clients. "BorgWarner remains our top-rated name and is a stock we think is easy to own."

BorgWarner CEO Tim Manganello has been expanding the company's engine division, which includes products that help improve the efficiency of diesel engines. Manganello has said that changing emissions standards will drive consumer demand for diesel passenger vehicles, which generally are 30% to 40% more fuel efficient than those powered by gasoline.

Inside of racing, and out, Frances push their weight around Inside of racing, and out, Frances push their weight aroundI thought the relationship between Daytona Beach's mayor and the city's most famous business could not get much blurrier.

I need stronger glasses.

Mayor Yvonne Scarlett-Golden jetted off to Miami earlier this month on a private NASCAR plane, though a NASCAR spokesman says she has since reimbursed the company an undisclosed amount of money.

Scarlett-Golden will not say why she found it necessary to visit South Florida, escorted by an on-duty Daytona Beach police sergeant.

Was the 80-year-old mayor playing the ponies at Calder, shopping the Miracle Mile or seeking medical treatment related to a condition that put her in the hospital back in January?

What does it matter when you have at your disposal a corporate jet provided by a company whose executives and their associates have dumped many thousands into Scarlett-Golden's mayoral campaigns?

Here is why it matters.....More at Orlando Sentinel

Petty looking for sponsor Petty looking for sponsorKyle Petty said Friday his No. 45 Dodge team had one of its sponsors back out in the past week and the team in searching for a replacement that would cover about six to eight races on the Cup schedule this season.  "We thought we had everything done for the year and now we're missing one. One of our partners backed out," Petty said. "What that means at this point in time is we are looking for a sponsor. What that means to what we're doing overall, I'm not sure yet. We're not going to stop running, whether we have a sponsor or not, we're still going to the race track." ThatsRacin.com
Yeley wins Busch pole Yeley wins Busch poleJ.J. Yeley really loves the big ovals.  On Friday, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver added the Busch Series pole for the Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway to the one he earned in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway -- the first of his Busch career.


Pos. Driver Speed Time
1. J.J. Yeley 184.751 51.832
2. C. Bowyer 184.002 52.043
3. D. Hamlin 183.931 52.063
4. O'Quinn Jr. 183.829 52.092
5. B. Vickers 183.765 52.110
6. A. Fike 183.540 52.174
7. C. Edwards 183.385 52.218
8. S. Leicht 183.255 52.255
9. Ky. Busch 183.224 52.264
10. K. Davis 183.146 52.286 
"We've been really close to getting the pole," said Yeley, who is also racing full time as a rookie in Nextel Cup. "We've been second a few times and somebody knocks me off.

"It is ironic, but this car is very good, an awesome car. When you jump out of the Cup car and get into a Busch car, these cars are much easier to drive. You can get out of the Cup car and you feel like King Kong getting into the Busch car."

Yeley, fourth in the Busch season points, turned a fast lap of 184.751 mph in his Gibbs Chevrolet. That was considerably quicker than runner-up Clint Bowyer's 184.002 in a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

Gordon, not Jeff, fastest in final Cup practice Gordon, not Jeff, fastest in final Cup practiceTalladega, Ala.-- Robby Gordon and the No. 7 Menards/Turtle Wax® IceTM Chevrolet led the 48-car final practice at the 2.66-mile tri-oval with a fast speed of 194.141 mph.

“I know it’s just practice, but we were 17th during the first practice and first during the final run,” Gordon said. “We worked on race practice the whole time like you can when you’re inside the top-35 because you’re not so pressed to focus on qualifying. I’ve just really got a good handling race car. We had a good car at Daytona and ended up finishing 13th. We brought the same car here with a little better body.”

With the string of bad luck behind him, Gordon is certain today’s showing is a positive reflection on the direction his team is headed. 

“I think we’re going to be really good,” he said. “The team’s really starting to come together. We’re prepared when we show up at the race track. I think we were the first car on the track during practice as well. So when you can do things like that, be organized and prepared like that, you’re going to be fast.”

Although this week marks NASCAR’s first attempt at discouraging overly aggressive bump drafting with the removal of the reinforced front bumpers on each car, Gordon hasn’t put his bumper to use -- yet.

“I have not used my bumper,” Gordon said. “I’ll be saving that for the last 10 laps.”

Qualifying for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 is slated for 10:40 a.m. CDT and will be broadcast on SPEED Channel.

Pos Car # Driver Time Speed
1 7 Robby Gordon 49.325 194.141
2 10 Scott Riggs 49.348 194.050
3 99 Carl Edwards 49.569 193.185
4 11 Denny Hamlin # 49.572 193.174
5 24 Jeff Gordon 49.598 193.072
6 16 Greg Biffle 49.692 192.707
7 41 Reed Sorenson # 49.697 192.688
8 66 Jeff Green 49.699 192.680
9 43 Bobby Labonte 49.715 192.618
10 26 Jamie McMurray 49.738 192.529
11 21 Ken Schrader 49.798 192.297
12 * 32 Travis Kvapil 49.804 192.274
13 88 Dale Jarrett 49.823 192.200
14 6 Mark Martin 49.828 192.181
15 12 Ryan Newman 49.837 192.146
16 45 Kyle Petty 49.848 192.104
17 5 Kyle Busch 49.887 191.954
18 31 Jeff Burton 49.894 191.927
19 48 Jimmie Johnson 49.905 191.885
20 1 Martin Truex Jr. # 49.942 191.742 zzzz
21 07 Clint Bowyer # 49.953 191.700
22 9 Kasey Kahne 50.001 191.516
23 22 Dave Blaney 50.015 191.463
24 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 50.023 191.432
25 2 Kurt Busch 50.025 191.424
26 20 Tony Stewart 50.028 191.413
27 19 Jeremy Mayfield 50.052 191.321
28 17 Matt Kenseth 50.078 191.222
29 96 Tony Raines 50.101 191.134
30 25 Brian Vickers 50.110 191.100
31 18 J.J. Yeley # 50.118 191.069
32 * 09 Mike Wallace 50.166 190.886
33 14 Sterling Marlin 50.236 190.620
34 42 Casey Mears 50.302 190.370
35 * 27 Kirk Shelmerdine 50.559 189.402
36 38 Elliott Sadler 50.934 188.008
37 01 Joe Nemechek 51.019 187.695
38 * 78 Kenny Wallace 51.178 187.112
39 * 61 Kevin Lepage 51.325 186.576
40 * 4 Scott Wimmer 51.384 186.362
41 * 55 Michael Waltrip 51.477 186.025
42 * 34 Chad Chaffin 51.528 185.841
43 * 40 David Stremme # 51.562 185.718
44 * 95 Stanton Barrett 51.719 185.154
45 * 00 Hermie Sadler 51.778 184.943
46 * 92 Chad Blount 51.835 184.740
47 * 89 Morgan Shepherd 51.966 184.274
48 * 49 Brent Sherman # 52.178 183.526
49 29 Kevin Harvick No Time

Merchandise on sale for Talladega Nights Merchandise on sale for Talladega NightsNASCAR and Sony Pictures this weekend will begin selling merchandise for the upcoming film “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” which stars Will Ferrell as driver Ricky Bobby, who drives for the Wonder Bread team.  NASCAR-licensed film goods will be available at-track for the first time this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, where Ferrell will be the grand marshal for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499.  Ricky Bobby Wonder Bread hats, T-shirts, die-cast cars and other items will be sold from a hauler on the track’s souvenir row. NASCAR
Q and A with Renault's Bob Bell Q and A with Renault's Bob Bell
Bob, the Renault F1 Team has so far scored 51 points of a possible 72 in the world championship – a scoring rate of 71%. How pleased are you after four races?

"We are delighted with our results so far, but I think the points tally is only part of the story. We are plainly in a very strong position, and in terms of pure competitiveness, I think we are stronger at this stages than we were in 2005."

What was the mood after Imola, having come second to Ferrari?
"It was a contrast to last year, when we won. In 2005, the team was on a high after four consecutive wins, but there was a real concern about the tires after that race. This year, Michelin did a strong job, and those worries were not there. The performance of the car in the race, was such that we were not at a disadvantage relative to our competitors. We are in better shape, and the mood reflects that."

Other teams have been talking a lot about development, while Renault seems to have been rather discreet in this area. How is the development going?
"We are doing the normal things, and putting new parts on the car at every race. The work at the factory is diligent, the level of performance is increasing every weekend. The lap-times show that, but equally, we are not taking any advantage for granted."

This is the second year of stable regulations – is it harder to find improvements?
"Yes, and I think we are seeing that up and down the grid. You can see in the visual evolution of all the cars, that people are finding it harder to make big gains, and there are more small developments going on the cars. That’s normal when the regulations are stable."

Yet the lap speeds are similar to last year with 200 bhp less, much of which is down to the tires. After seeing Ferrari bounce back in Imola, what is your opinion on the balance of power between the tire manufacturers?
"Overall, I think the advantage will remain with Michelin this year. Ferrari are clearly very quick, and you can never write off Michael or the team. They will be pushing us all year long. But from the next races, I expect the balance to swing back in Michelin’s favor." zzzz

Looking at the R26, how did the team maintain its advantage from 2005?
"The R26 is a logical development of last year’s car, and we chipped away at the basic factors that improve performance: we made parts lighter and stiffer, and tried to improve the drivability too. We have pushed our processes hard, to improve the efficiency of the wind-tunnel. But there’s no magic to it. You have to work hard on the basics, and take no advantage for granted."

Yet the engine is brand new. Many teams spoke of a radical change from the engine, yet at Renault, the emphasis was on continuity…
"Viry had a very calm approach to the new engine regulations, and they have produced an excellent engine. There was no sea change from V10 to V8, just a rational approach to the engineering challenge. It was a matter-of-fact program that has delivered the results we wanted."

So what is the secret of the R26?
"I am not sure there is one! What we do have, though, is a very benign, consistent car. It was something we concentrated on from 2004 to 2005, and have built on again this year. We work very hard to improve the feel and drivability of the car, to give the drivers total confidence to put it right on the limit, lap after lap. We know that with the R26, the level of performance on a single lap, can be maintained consistently on a 20-lap run."

Looking to the coming pair of races in Germany and Spain, what are you expecting?
"I suspect they will be Michelin races, and that our main competition will come from the Michelin teams, which means McLaren and Honda. We are not writing off Ferrari, of course, but we have tested strongly in Barcelona, and the car was very quick at the Nürburgring last year."

Finally, what will be the team’s approach?
"We have to go out there and be aggressive. The car is strong and both drivers will be using the uprated B-spec engine. There is no change in our approach: we will be racing to win." Renault

Carfax to sponsor Busch race Carfax to sponsor Busch raceNASCAR racing fans will witness history in the making this summer on the Busch Series schedule.  Carfax (www.carfax.com) and Michigan International Speedway (MIS) announced today that Carfax will be the title sponsor of the August 19 “Carfax 250” NASCAR Busch Series race at MIS.  As the first NASCAR sponsorship of any kind for Carfax, the company is looking to make a lasting impression on the millions of racing fans around the country.

“There’s an obvious synergy between Carfax and NASCAR racing that makes this relationship with MIS work so well,” said Larry Gamache, communications director for Carfax.  “NASCAR fans are car fans and car fans use Carfax Reports.  This is an exciting week for us – we launched our new Vehicle History Report and now we can’t wait until the first wave of the green flag at the Carfax 250.”

Consumers can celebrate the company’s entrance into the sport through an online sweepstakes Carfax launched today called Picking Up the Pace.  The two-part sweepstakes features grand prize drawings for two fun-filled race weekends at MIS and a ride in the official pace car during each race. For the chance to be a winner and part of racing history simply log on to www.carfax250.com and fill in the entry form.  Contest details, prizes and terms and conditions are all available on the Web site.

“We are certainly thrilled to partner with a strong automotive related company like Carfax,” said MIS President Brett Shelton. “At the same time, we are also very excited to add another partner with automotive ties to strengthen our position as the home of NASCAR racing in the backyard of the automotive capitol of the world.  We look forward to a long relationship with Carfax as an instrumental part of NASCAR racing at MIS.”

Ralf tops Michael on final test day Ralf tops Michael on final test dayToyota and Ferrari were busy testing this week at Paul Ricard HTTT. The three-day test was conducted on the short 3.254 km 3E SC circuit.

Both teams and five drivers adapted their test program to the irregular weather conditions. The session took place under a sunny sky, sometimes cloudy and was interrupted Thursday afternoon by a spring rain shower.

Toyota based their session on a double test program. While Brazilian Ricardo Zonta concentrated during on Bridgestone tire tests for the coming European Grand Prix, analyzing and correcting the data results from the Imola race, Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher (Friday) tested the different set-ups and balance of the new car TF106B. With two cars, the team completed over 2000 km during three days.

Ferrari worked on Bridgestone tire development program with Michael Schumacher and Luca Badoer (Wednesday). The German driver set the overall best lap time of 58.
297s, breaking Pedro De La Rosa’s lap record set on the same track solution on April 15th 2005.

1 . R. Schumacher - Toyota TF106B - 58.840 (+ 0.000 ) - 101 laps
2 . M. Schumacher - Ferrari 248 F1 - 59.087 (+ 0.247 ) - 156 laps
3 . R. Zonta - Toyota TF106 - 59.163 (+ 0.323 ) - 153 laps.

* Times courtesy of Paul Ricard HTTT, Source Paul Ricard HTTT

Spengler takes over for Mercedes-Benz Spengler takes over for Mercedes-BenzOn his final lap, Bruno Spengler (Daimler-Chrysler-Bank AMG Mercedes C-Klasse) claimed top position at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz. In the second test on Friday, the young Canadian completed 27 laps in dry conditions, the fastest one of them in 1:17.628 minutes. Bernd Schneider, the winner of the season opener at Hockenheim, was second with his Vodafone AMG Mercedes C-Class, 0.160 seconds down. Mattias Ekström was third with the Red Bull Audi A4.

Fastest in the morning, third in the afternoon: Mattias EkströmFastest driver with year-old machinery was Alexandros Margaritis with his Easy Rent AMG Mercedes C-Class, leading a quartet of Mercedes-drivers in fourth through seventh place. The Greek was followed by Jamie Green (Salzgitter AMG Mercedes C-Class), Jean Alesi (stern AMG Mercedes C-Class) and Mika Häkkinen (AMG Mercedes C-Class). Three Audi works-drivers completed the top ten: Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4), Tom Kristensen (Siemens Audi A4) and Frank Stippler (S line Audi A4) ranked in eighth through tenth place.

During the second test, Olivier Tielemans completed the highest number of laps with the Futurecom Audi A4. With 40 laps, equaling 137.68 kilometers, the Dutch driver completed almost an entire race distance. On Sunday, the 20 DTM drivers have to tackle 48 laps on the 3.442 kilometers long track. zzzz

Christian Abt only managed to do twelve laps. The driver from the Allgäu had damaged the underfloor of his Playboy Audi A4 while running over a curb. With a lap time of 1:19.954 minutes, Abt eventually was ranked 18th.

For the first time, Vanina Ickx decided the battle of the ladies in the DTM in her favor. With the Orig. Zubehör Audi A4, the lady from Belgium was ranked 16th with a lap time of 1:19.487 minutes. Susie Stoddart (AutoScout24 AMG Mercedes C-Klasse) was 20th in the second test on Friday. Fastest DTM rookie was Daniel la Rosa (TrekStor AMG Mercedes C-Klasse) in 15th place.

Pos. Driver / Team Time Gap
1. Bruno Spengler, Daimler-Chrysler-Bank AMG-Mercedes, AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:17.628
2. Bernd Schneider, Vodafone AMG-Mercedes, AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:17.788 00.160
3. Mattias Ekström, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi A4 DTM 1:17.960 00.332
4. Alexandros Margaritis, Easy Rent AMG-Mercedes, AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:18.103 00.475
5. Jamie Green, Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes, AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:18.113 00.485
6. Jean Alesi, stern AMG-Mercedes, AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:18.127 00.499
7. Mika Häkkinen, AMG-Mercedes, AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:18.277 00.649
8. Martin Tomczyk, Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline, Audi A4 DTM 1:18.281 00.653
9. Tom Kristensen, Audi Sport Team Abt, Audi A4 DTM 1:18.330 00.702
10. Frank Stippler, Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Audi A4 DTM 1:18.340 00.712
11. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Audi Sport Team Abt, Audi A4 DTM 1:18.527 00.899
12. Timo Scheider, Audi Sport Team Rosberg, Audi A4 DTM 1:18.559 00.931
13. Pierre Kaffer, Audi Sport Team Phoenix, Audi A4 DTM 1:18.715 01.087
14. Stefan Mücke, TV-Spielfilm Mücke Motorsport, AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:18.748 01.120
15. Daniel la Rosa, TrekStor AMG-Mercedes, AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:18.816 01.188
16. Vanina Ickx, Futurecom TME, Audi A4 DTM 1:19.487 01.859
17. Mathias Lauda, Junge Gebrauchte AMG-Mercedes, AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:19.863 02.235
18. Christian Abt, Audi Sport Team Phoenix, Audi A4 DTM 1:19.954 02.326
19. Olivier Tielemans, Futurecom TME, Audi A4 DTM 1:20.341 02.713
20. Susie Stoddart, AutoScout24 AMG-Mercedes, AMG-Mercedes C-Klasse 1:22.370 04.742 DTM

Rocketsports signs Pastorelli for rest of year Rocketsports signs Pastorelli for rest of yearAfter three most-recent Champ Car tests, Nicky Pastorelli of Holland has demonstrated that his driving skills are enough to match the demands of running with the top drivers in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford and Rocketsports Racing is proud to announce the signing of Pastorelli to run in its #8 entry for the 2006 season.

Born in The Hague, Netherlands, the Italo-Dutch driver comes from mixed parentage. His father is Italian and his mother is Dutch. He was first introduced to the sport of karting at the age of ten. He drove his first laps at an empty parking lot. Pastorelli fell in love with the sport and less than a year later he was making practice laps at the professional Strijen Circuit.

In 1993, he started in the Mini League followed by Junior League, in which he had his first successes. At the age of 14, Pastorelli became a member of Peter de Bruin’s karting team. He stayed there for several seasons and drove the ICA and Formula A Leagues. In 2000, he moved to the Formula Arcobaleno League. Competing in six out of eight races, he won the pole position five times, earned three wins, and finished third in the Dutch Championship. In 2001 he entered the Formula Renault 2000 European Championship before moving into the Euro 3000 Series in 2003, where he earned two second place finishes and finished fifth in the championship. He was crowned the Superfund Euro 3000 Champion and earned his first chance to drive a Champ Car with Walker Racing at Sebring. Pastorelli was a F1 test driver in 2005 with Jordan, and was 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. zzzz

The 23-year-old was a guest of Rocketsports in Long Beach. Although he was sidelined in Long Beach, he did know what it was going to feel like being behind the wheel after just completing a test with Dale Coyne Racing in Fontana with a majority of the Champ Car field. “What a weekend it was!” said Pastorelli on being a special guest of the Rocketsports team. “The race weekend at Long Beach was a really fantastic experience. The whole event was excellent and very busy with large crowds of spectators during the whole weekend. They perfectly know how to entertain the racing fans there at Long Beach. It was also a great opportunity for me to get to see the Rocketsports crew in action to get a feel for what it would be like driving for them if the opportunity presented itself.”

Pastorelli’s enthusiasm in the pits was strong, as he explained how much fun it is to drive a Champ Car and how bad he wanted to be driving out there in Long Beach. Rocketsports then invited him to test with them in Portland a few days after the Long Beach event, followed by a most-recent test in Milwaukee where Pastorelli turned laps on an oval for the first time in his career.

“I am very excited to join the Rocketsports Racing team,” said Pastorelli on his announcement to drive the #8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone Champ Car. “I have enjoyed working with the team and getting to know them, along with the car. They have helped me out a lot and I know that I can learn a lot this season by working with them. Houston will be a good opportunity for me to make my Champ Car debut because since it is a new venue to all the teams and drivers, it will be a level playing field and technically I won’t be “a rookie” on that course. Every driver will be in the same situation as me, learning the track and finding a good race set-up. It will be a great challenge, one that I really looking forward to in addition to the other events that I will be racing in this year with Rocketsports.”

Pastorelli will attempt to make his first Champ Car start in Houston, Texas on May 13. Champ Car is making its return to the Houston market after last competing on the downtown streets in 2001. The new edition of the Champ Car Houston Grand Prix will take place at Reliant Park, site of the Houston Texans’ Reliant Stadium as well as the historic Houston Astrodome. The event will be held under the lights, marking the second time that Champ Car has run a night race on a temporary circuit. Rocketsports

TV News
NASCAR Phoenix TV rating NASCAR Phoenix TV ratingUPDATE The final rating for last weekend's Phoenix NASCAR Nextel Cup race was a 4.8 with a 9 share, down 5.9 % from last year's final 5.1/10 share.

04/24/06 Fox's broadcast of Saturday night's Subway Fresh 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway earned a 4.1 overnight rating from Nielsen Media Research and a 7 market share.  The rating is 8.9 percent lower than the 4.5/8 Fox earned overnight in 2005.

F1 San Marino GP TV rating F1 San Marino GP TV ratingUPDATE The final rating for last weekend's San Marino GP from Imola on CBS (Tape Delayed) was a 1.1 with a 3 share.

04/25/06 The overnight rating of the F1 race on CBS from San Marino last Sunday was a 1.2/3 share, which is pretty good for a tape-delayed open wheel race in the USA these days.  It appears F1, which is not hindered by a split, has become more popular than Champ Car and the IRL in the USA and they only have one race a year in the USA.  It should be noted (1) No NASCAR (NASCAR race was Sat. night); (2) It was followed by Golf, not run concurrently; (3) No other racing or "MAJOR" sport event up against it.

Hayden tops in Turkey Hayden tops in TurkeyNicky Hayden led a Honda charge with the fastest time of the first day of practice in Turkey, with a 1’53.623 lap of Istanbul putting him at the head of a five-rider group of riders for the Japanese factory. Second position in the table was Australian Casey Stoner, who suffered a late crash in the second session after heading the first, with Marco Melandri, Dani Pedrosa and Toni Elias.

Colin Edwards came in sixth as the fastest non-Honda rider, with World Championship leader Loris Capirossi close behind. John Hopkins, Sete Gibernau and Makoto Tamada completed a top ten which was only split by eight tenths of a second. Reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi dropped to eleventh and went off the track during the session, whilst Australian Chris Vermeulen experienced another setback when his GSV-R had a technical problem in the final minutes.

Australian Casey Stoner, the MotoGP rookie who seized pole position at the previous round in Qatar, was on top in the morning session and also led for most of the afternoon before sliding off with 20 minutes remaining.  The Honda LCR ended up in the gravel but the 20-year-old was unhurt.

Grand Prix of Turkey MotoGP – Day One
1. Nicky Hayden - Repsol Honda 1'53.623
2. Casey Stoner - LCR Honda 1'53.861
3. Marco Melandri - Fortuna Honda 1'53.971
4. Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda 1'54.001
5. Toni Elías - Fortuna Honda 1'54.022
6. Colin Edwards - Camel Yamaha 1'54.042
7. Loris Capirossi - Ducati Marlboro 1'54.055
8. John Hopkins - Rizla Suzuki 1'54.227
9. Sete Gibernau - Ducati Marlboro 1'54.279 

Track News
Hill elected new BRDC president Hill elected new BRDC president1996 F1 champion Damon Hill has been elected as the new president of the British Racing Drivers' Club at their annual general meeting. He replaces outgoing president Jackie Stewart who was in charge of the organization which owns Silverstone for the past six years. In that time Stewart had many clashes with Bernie Ecclestone. Stewart had recommended plans to lease Silverstone to property developers St Modwen for 150 years in order to fund a rebuilding project that would bring the venue up to modern day standards. The plans have been met by some stern opposition.
Mansell romps to GP Masters pole Mansell romps to GP Masters poleUPDATE DOHA, QATAR: It's hard to remember a grand prix race that has ever been hosted with a track temperature of 60 degrees but that's exactly what greeted 15 drivers today as the 2006 Qtel Masters of Qatar qualifying session got underway this afternoon at 15:00 hours local time. The blistering heat of the desert was reflected by the even more blistering pace of the Masters and as was the case at the inaugural round in South Africa, Britain's Nigel Mansell starts tomorrows race from pole position with a fastest lap time of 1.46.926s followed by Christian Danner (2nd, Germany), Derek Warwick (3rd, Britain), Ricardo Patrese (4th, Italy), Pierluigi Martini (5th, Italy) and Emerson Fittipaldi (6th, Brazil). The 5.8km Losail International Raceway will host Qatar's first ever four-wheeled motor race and with Mansell obliterating the Moto GP qualifying time from three weeks ago by almost 9 seconds, tomorrow's 24 lap race promises to be nothing short of an ultimate test of endurance and speed.

Mr. Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah (President, QMMF): "I would like to welcome the Masters to Qatar and to the Losail International Raceway circuit. It has been our dream to host such great and iconic names from grand prix racing and we are extremely happy to have this opportunity. GP Masters adds huge value to our racing vision here in Qatar and it really is a dream come true for everyone at QMMF. We hope for a long future together and look forward to a good and action packed race here tomorrow."

(1st) Nigel Mansell: "I am of course delighted to be on pole for tomorrow's race but it got a bit worrying out there today for a moment as one of my earlier best laps was aborted because of a red flag. In the end, however, it came to me and it was simply awesome. The heat, however, was something else! It will be one hell of a race tomorrow, especially when you consider how close the lap times today were with just under a second being the difference between P1 and P6. Again, I want to thank and express my congratulations to everyone responsible for bringing this show to Qatar. Both GP Masters and QMMF have done an amazing job and we are extremely proud to be contesting Qatar's first ever grand prix race tomorrow."

(2nd) Christian Danner: "I feel very happy and have no complaints. In fact, I am as happy today as I have been all the way along as part of this fantastic series. The track changed from this morning and it was therefore difficult to rely completely on that knowledge. I pushed very hard throughout the session and at one point came off the track but that's the good thing about it in that the safety margin is very high and there are no walls to smash into! Qatar has made us all extremely welcome and tomorrow we will aim to deliver a first class racing event in what are for sure very tough and fast conditions."

(3rd) Derek Warwick: "You come here for only one thing and that is pole position but starting from the second row will do me. I will simply have to chase Nigel into the first corner and hope for an opening somewhere. Nigel did a stunning job today to set that pole time and even though the grip level was somewhat worse than this morning, this track really is up there as one of the most demanding we have ever seen. P3 is a much improved start position from my first race in South Africa and I hope I can carry that form into tomorrow." zzzz

(4th) Ricardo Patrese: "What a great afternoon and one I am very proud and happy to be a part of. Again, I was surprised by the pace of these gentlemen and as for the heat, it was something else out there today it really was. We had to adapt quickly to the changing track conditions compared to the morning but in the end, second row is fantastic and I know we are in for a really hard battle tomorrow. The atmosphere at this circuit today was great and as in South Africa, the desire to beat each other tomorrow will be no different. A truly amazing pace was set today and I know I'm in for a tough time tomorrow from these guys."

(5th) Pierluigi Martini: "Given that I only entered the series for the first time last week, I could not have asked for better than P5 amongst these great names. Just fantastic! My lap times got better and better over the session and apart from one small mistake, I don't think I could have pushed any harder out there today in what are very unforgiving conditions at a very quick race track. It will be a wonderful but testing race tomorrow."

(6th) Emerson Fittipaldi: "What a beautiful job they have done with this track and without doubt one of the most demanding race tracks I have ever driven during my career! It's very technically demanding and to be honest, I wish I had a GPS system on my car! It will be a historical first race for Qatar tomorrow and the world will be watching, especially Brazil given the free-to- air TV deal we announced alongside Brazilian broadcaster SBT last week. I want to thank everyone at QMMF and all the lads who have worked so hard to get my car prepared after the issues we had yesterday. I also want to congratulate Nigel for grabbing the P1 spot today. What a blinding pace he showed out there! He clearly has no respect for age!"

04/28/06 Nigel Mansell easily outdistanced the other F1 retirees to win the pole position for Saturday's Grand Prix Masters race in Qatar. Full story to follow
Pos Driver Time
 1. Mansell 1:46.926
 2. Danner 1:47.281 + 0.355
 3. Warwick 1:47.342 + 0.416
 4. Patrese 1:47.445 + 0.519
 5. Martini 1:47.717 + 0.791
 6. Fittipaldi 1:47.822 + 0.896
 7. Cheever 1:47.894 + 0.968
 8. Johansson 1:48.208 + 1.282
 9. De Cesaris 1:48.343 + 1.417
10. Stuck 1:48.423 + 1.497
11. Van De Poele 1:48.711 + 1.785
12. Salazar 1:49.832 + 2.906
13. Lammers 1:49.920 + 2.994
14. Arnoux 1:50.514 + 3.588
15. Tambay 1:50.516 + 3.590
VISA renews with Wallace VISA renews with WallaceRusty Wallace, Inc. is pleased to announce the renewal of their marketing partnership with Visa. The partnership, started in 2003 continues to grow. As Wallace will continue to provide support to Visa through unique fan, based promotions targeted to the passionate NASCAR fan.

“Again I am happy to be partnering with Visa,” said Wallace. “Visa has developed so many wonderful opportunities for NASCAR fans through their special offers and promotions and I am happy to be associated with a company that gives back to the greatest fans in world.”

Visa has been a proud sponsor of NASCAR since 1999, and is an official sponsor of the DAYTONA 500, Daytona International Speedway and Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte.

“Michael Lynch (Sr. VP Event & Sponsorship Marketing, Visa) and Amy Fritsche (Manager, Event & Sponsorship Marketing, Visa) of Visa have done a great job strategically aligning unique programs for NASCAR fans,” said John Paysor, VP of Marketing and Sponsorship Rusty Wallace, Inc. “RWI is thrilled to assist Visa in executing the creative agenda set forth for their cardholders and look forward to another year of successful partnering.”

Carlin F1 plans remain on track Carlin F1 plans remain on trackWhilst Carlin Motorsport have not been selected by the World Motor Sport Council of the F.I.A. to enter the Formula One World Championship in 2008, the team is continuing with its expansion plans with F1 in mind for 2009 and beyond.

Trevor Carlin:  “The opportunity to try to enter the F1 World Championship in 2008 was too good to miss and whilst I am disappointed that we didn’t get a place this time around, we have been encouraged by the invitation from the Secretary General to leave our intention to enter on the table and stay in touch with them in the case of a vacancy arising.

We intend to keep our business plan for F1 on course and the initial financial package for 2008 remains in place with discussions for secondary funding continuing.” Carlin Motorsports

Honda renews with NGK Honda renews with NGKThe Honda Racing F1 Team is pleased to confirm a Team Partnership with NGK Spark Plugs. 

Established in 1936, the Japanese company has established a world-leading reputation for quality and innovation in all its product areas, ranging from spark plugs and related products for internal combustion engines to new technical ceramic products. NGK Spark Plugs are widely used across all forms of motorsport including Formula One, touring cars, rally cars and motorcycle racing. 

As part of the agreement with the Honda Racing F1 Team, NGK Spark Plugs branding features on the rear wing end plate of the RA106 race car throughout the 2006 season. 

Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer of the Honda Racing F1 Team, commented: "We are delighted to have NGK Spark Plugs within our portfolio of team partners and we are excited about developing our association with such a well-respected brand within the motorsport industry. NGK's strong racing heritage and experience will undoubtedly benefit the team and we look forward to working closely with them in the future." 

Kazuo Takiguchi, Senior Managing Director of NGK said: "Since 1964 when Honda began its F1 challenge, we have been supplying spark plugs for their engines. Today we are very proud to become a Team Technical Partner of the Honda Racing F1 Team." Honda F1

Champ Car Trio Tests Powerboat P1 in Italy Champ Car Trio Tests Powerboat P1 in ItalyINDIANAPOLIS -- Driving through city streets at more than 150 miles per hour may be old hat for Champ Car team owners Paul Newman, Kevin Kalkhoven, and Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford rookie driver Katherine Legge, but this week they experienced the sensation of speed at a whole new level as they joined the Powerboat P1 World Championship during a test session in Italy. Photos

The Champ Car crew hit the open seas traveling more than 100 miles per hour with Great Britain's Legge, who recorded the highest finish by a woman in Champ Cars on her debut earlier this month, steering reigning champion Hannes Bohinc's Wettpunkt boat and admitting, "It was very nerve-racking, but great!"

"I think all racers have a need for speed. It's an adrenalin thing. It wasn't easy, but I just did what I was told by Hannes and I had 100 per cent faith in him because he's the best at what he does. When we came back the last time the speed was unbelievable. You get much more of an impression of speed on water than you do on land.'  zzzz

Austrian boat owner and throttleman Bohinc was similarly impressed with Legge, who finished eighth in the Long Beach race. He said, "it took her about five minutes to understand it and that didn't surprise me because she is a racing driver and didn't do stupid things. She was very good."

Kalkhoven, who recruited 25-year-old Legge for his PKV Racing team, had a ride with Bohinc's great Italian rival, Mario Invernizzi, in the Kerakoll boat and was so overwhelmed he may even explore the prospects of putting on a double-header show with P1 boss Nathan Knight.

"It's completely insane, which makes it brilliant," Kalkhoven enthused. "How those guys can race those things for an hour and a half I don't know. I'd really love to do a race to feel what it's like. The physical effort and mental concentration needed is just incredible."

Newman/Haas co-owner Paul Newman, who still races at the age of 81, also jumped at the chance to ride with Invernizzi. Newman said, "That was great. I like anything to do with motors. I've never been on one of these before and really enjoyed it. I'd love to do it again".

The trio will head back to the United States to prepare for Champ Car’s first ever night race on a temporary street circuit as the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford heads to Houston, Texas for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston from May 11-13.  Live coverage of the event begins at 9:00 p.m. ET on SPEED.

FIA confirms Prodrive for 2008 FIA confirms Prodrive for 2008UPDATE Today, Prodrive was confirmed as one of the 12 teams which have gained entry to the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship.

“This is wonderful news for everyone in the company,” said David Richards, chairman of Prodrive. “We have won World Rally Championships, British Touring Car titles and the GT1 class at Le Mans, and have been saying for some time that we would also like to be in Formula One with our own Prodrive team. We are now one step closer.”

While this will be the first time Prodrive competes in Formula One, David Richards and his management team have extensive experience of the series having managed the BAR F1 team from 2002 to 2004 – taking it to second place in the 2004 manufacturers’ championship. David Richards was also team principal for the Benetton F1 team in 1998.

The FIA is introducing new regulations for Formula One, which will come into effect for the 2008 season. Richards said: “We are confident that the new regulations will not only allow Prodrive to be competitive on an affordable budget, but will also make Formula One more exciting and, ultimately, even more entertaining for spectators and TV audiences around the world.”

Prodrive has already made plans to house its Formula One team in a new purpose-built operation in Warwickshire. This is part of a larger development to support the UK’s automotive and motorsport industries and is still subject to planning permission. Should this be granted, construction would commence at the end of this year. In the meantime, Prodrive will run the F1 program from its existing facilities.

“An entry is just the beginning. We now have less than two years to build a team and put two competitive cars on the starting grid for the first race of the 2008 championship. The task is enormous and the expertise and experience of the established teams well recognized. However, Prodrive has more than 20 years of motorsport experience and all of us relish a challenge,” said Richards.

04/28/06 (GMM) David Richards' 'Prodrive' will be F1's twelfth and final team in 2008, the governing body confirmed on Friday morning.

While contenders including Trevor Carlin, Paul Stoddart and Jean Alesi's 'Direxiv' were also in the running, FIA president Max Mosley explained that the former BAR and Benetton boss' company had the 'best combination of financial backing, technical capability and motor sport experience.'

Prodrive, given the nod after a fax vote of the World Council, also runs a team in the FIA-run World Rally championship. See this Q&A with Mosley for a complete explanation.

Q: Why was Prodrive chosen to be the 12th team?

Max Mosley: "Prodrive has the best combination of financial backing, technical capability and motor sport experience and is well known to the FIA through its participation in the World Rally Championship. Also, Prodrive's chief executive, David Richards, has experience as a Formula One team principal." zzzz

Q: What was the process the FIA went through to reach this decision?

Mosley: "After the World Motor Sport Council decided that entries for the 2008 Championship would open on 24 March 2006 and close on 31 March 2006 we informed all of the current teams as well as other organizations we knew to be interested. We also issued a press release to inform anyone else who might want to tender an entry.

"We soon received applications from the 11 current Formula One teams as well as another 11 teams. Where necessary, we wrote to teams to ask for further information about their financial position and experience in running motor sport operations.

"Once we had gathered all the information we informed the World Council of the list of potential entries. A fax vote ensued and Prodrive was chosen as the 12th team.

"The World Council concurred that there was no reason not to accept the current teams as they are already in the championship and have confirmed their ability to compete effectively. Prodrive was chosen mainly because of its financial position, capabilities and experience."

Q: Were you surprised by how many teams wanted to enter the championship?

Mosley: "I was delighted but not entirely surprised. Formula One is the pinnacle of motor sport and thanks to the new regulations brought in for 2008 it is potentially open to more teams. What pleased me most was the high caliber of entries received. With this kind of demand Formula One has a bright future."

Q: Why do you think there was such a significant response?

Mosley: "Hopefully because of the new rules we've introduced to the sport. The 2008 Sporting Regulations have reduced the cost of competing and should improve the sporting spectacle at the same time. It makes for a very attractive prospect."

Q: Will there be room for more teams in future or is 12 the maximum?

Mosley: "The limit of 12 teams was imposed for safety reasons and circuit facilities, pit garages, etc, are designed for this number. It would be very difficult to enlarge the facilities and we would also have to look very carefully at the safety issue. The number is unlikely to increase."

Q: What have you said to the teams that didn't make it this time?

Mosley: "We informed all the teams that were not successful, although we did not tell them which teams were. We asked them to keep in touch in case a vacancy occurred."

Formula BMW
David Farias Joins Jensen MotorSport David Farias Joins Jensen MotorSportJensen MotorSport is pleased to announce that David Farias will join the team for his first year of competition in the 2006 Formula BMW USA championship.

David (16), who lives in Mexico City, will drive the #20 race car for Jensen MotorSport starting at the Carolina MotorSport Park official series test on April 29th and 30th. David’s first race competition will occur at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the weekend of May 19th-21st.

David has achieved some impressive results in Mexican kart championships over the past few years, David finished 2nd in the 125cc national class in 2005, and 2nd in the 80 cc national class in 2004.

Jensen BMW Team Manager Remco Mutsaerts states, “David was impressive while testing for our team.. He is quick and learns well. He is a terrific addition to our team this year.”

Jensen MotorSport is competing in several race series in 2006, including Formula BMW USA and ChampCar Atlantic. The team also works with our corporate partners to leverage the power of racing to fulfill their marketing objectives.

For more details about David’s racing plans for 2006, contact Graeme Young via e-mail at team@jensenmotorsport.com

EuroSpeedway ticket sales up EuroSpeedway ticket sales upOave announced advance ticket sales for Sunday's DTM race at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz are the event's best yet.

Event organizers ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg have said that more than 25,000 tickets have been sold, more than at the same point last year with 3,200 tickets going over the last week, in the run up to the race in the Niederlausitz region, a forty percent rise from 2005.

Last season 78,000 spectators passed through the gates over the race weekend at the EuroSpeedway and Hans Werner Aufrecht, Chairman of DTM organizers ITR e.V was understandably elated at the leap in popularity.

"Never before have we experienced such interest at a EuroSpeedway round," said Aufrecht, "I'm convinced that the fans are going to witness a fantastic DTM weekend."

Mansell lowers Qatar lap record Mansell lowers Qatar lap recordNigel Mansell lowered the lap record at the Losail International Circuit - as the sand is getting cleaned from the track lap times continued to tumble in the final GP Masters free practice session in Qatar.

Pos Driver Time
 1. Mansell 1:46.375
 2. Van de Poele 1:46.514 + 0.139
 3. Warwick 1:46.555 + 0.180
 4. Danner 1:46.751 + 0.376
 5. Johansson 1:47.017 + 0.642
 6. Stuck 1:47.293 + 0.918
 7. Lammers 1:47.304 + 0.929
 8. Patrese 1:47.321 + 0.946
 9. De Cesaris 1:47.379 + 1.004
10. Cheever 1:47.541 + 1.166
11. Fittipaldi 1:47.575 + 1.200
12. Martini 1:47.618 + 1.243
13. Salazar 1:48.400 + 2.025
14. Tambay 1:50.406 + 4.031
15. Arnoux 1:50.985 + 4.610

Industry News
Chrysler Group makes profit, but it's down Chrysler Group makes profit, but it's downChrysler Group showed for the first time on Thursday signs it could be slowing down.

A drop in profits raises questions about the automaker's ability to continue its success without the use of costly props, such as cash-back rebates and rock-bottom financing, as it launches 10 new models this year.

As parent company DaimlerChrysler announced its financial performance Thursday for the first three months of 2006, the Chrysler Group reported that operating profits fell 50% from the year before.

Chrysler's financial picture still is much better than that of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. Chrysler made $144 million in the first quarter and parent company DaimlerChrysler made $363 million, a far cry from the $323-million and $1.2-billion first-quarter losses by GM and Ford, respectively.

Chrysler Group Chief Executive Tom LaSorda highlighted the positive: "Despite an intensely competitive market, Chrysler Group was able to deliver our 11th consecutive quarterly profit in the first quarter," he said in a statement.  More at Detroit Free Press

Exide announces new NASCAR sponsorship Exide announces new NASCAR sponsorshipExide Technologies (NASDAQ: XIDE)(www.exide.com), a global leader in stored electrical energy solutions and the Official Battery of NASCAR, announces a new NASCAR sponsorship for 2006. The Company's new affiliation with Toyota Motor Sports and Bill Davis Racing broadens its already strong presence with America's fastest growing spectator sport.

This year, Toyota celebrates its 24th year of participation in American professional auto racing. In 2004, Toyota added a new page to its motorsports history by becoming a regular competitor in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) -- becoming the first new manufacturer in elite NASCAR competition in more than 50 years. Powering all of Toyota's American racing programs is TRD (Toyota Racing Development) U.S.A., the North American racing arm for design, development and assembly of Toyota's factory racing engines. As the Official Battery Company of Bill Davis Racing and TRD, Exide will be a contingency sponsor of all nine Toyota Tundra truck teams competing in the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the primary sponsor of the Bill Davis team racing truck (#23), driven by Johnny Benson for three Craftsman Truck Series races - Michigan, Bristol, and Homestead. Fans can track the team's progress weekly on www.exide.com. zzzz

"Exide produces top-notch products that have been part of the NASCAR community for a long time, and I look forward to driving with Exide into victory lane!" said Benson.

Exide, an original equipment supplier to Toyota since 1988 and affiliated with NASCAR since 1993, markets its leading brands of automotive batteries through automotive aftermarket parts distributors and professional installers nationwide.

"Our new Toyota Motor Sports sponsorship further enhances the marketing opportunities of the officially licensed batteries of NASCAR," said Jim Jelin, Vice President of Marketing and Retail Sales for Exide Technologies.

The premium NASCAR(R)-branded products, distributed through Exide's customer partnerships in North America, are available in 19 different automotive types, to fit most cars, vans, sport utility vehicles and pick-up trucks on the road today. The new Exide(R) NASCAR(R) Extreme(TM) is backed by a full 40-month free replacement, 108-month limited warranty and 40 months 24/7 roadside assistance protection. To locate an authorized Exide dealer, call 1-800-START-IT, or log onto www.exide.com.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Alesi's team to charge ahead for 2007
Engines go silent on testing week
Ron Dennis on British 'rich list'
No 'B' car for Honda
Close field leaves BMW surprised
Rossi ponders his possible F1 teammates
Montoya backs Wurz's speed boost claim
Ban Yuji Ide, says F1 legend
Odd names on the F1 grid
TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
NASCAR Live! Talladega
11:00am-12:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Talladega
12:00pm-3:00pm (L) FX
NASCAR Busch Series  Talladega
3:00pm-5:30pm (L) FOX
IHRA Drag Racing Rockingham
4:00pm-5:00pm SPEED
Speed News Saturday  
7:30pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck  Madison, IL
8:00pm-10:30pm (L) SPEED
NHRA Qualifying Bristol, TN
10:00pm-12:00am ESPN2
Tradin' Paint (NASCAR)  
10:30pm-11:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Performance  
11:00pm-11:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Grand National Division -West Series Stockton, CA
11:00pm-12:30am (L) HDNet

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

An eventful week for Alex Lloyd An eventful week for Alex LloydIt's an eventful week for Indy Pro Series driver Alex Lloyd.

Wednesday: He put five laps on the No. 1 Dean Van Lines Special Brawner/Ford - the 1966 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter driven by Mario Andretti (right) - on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "A thrill," he said.

Thursday: He climbed in his No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers Inc. car for more laps on the 2.5-mile oval in an Indy Pro Series Open Test in preparation for the Freedom 100 on May 26.

Friday: He will marry Samantha Robinson.

Hopefully, plenty of photos will be on CD for Lloyd to review the week.

The 21-year-old native of Manchester, England, drove the 1966 car (4.2-liter V-8 turbo) as a test in advance of Andretti recording some laps with son Michael and grandson Marco on The Star and Careerbuilder.com Opening Day at the historic oval May 7.

"I loved it; the noise, everything," said Lloyd, who quickly adjusted to the clutch in the middle and only four gauges on the dashboard (oil temperature, RPMs, oil pressure and water temperature). "Obviously, I was going slowly, but there's a tremendous amount of power there. You have to have so much respect for the drivers who used to drive these cars. To go around here at those speeds is just unbelievable."

Andretti put the car - built by Jim McGee and Clint Brawner - on the pole with a four-lap average of 165.899 mph in his second '500.' He finished 18th, knocked out with a valve issue, and won $25,121.

"It felt really comfortable," said Lloyd, the 2003 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year award winner. "Obviously, it would be a different story when you were going flat out. It was really good fun and a great experience to be driving a car that was on the pole 20 years before I was born."

Lloyd and Robinson have been engaged for two years and planned to marry next year. But concerns about Robinson's visa status prompted the couple to move up their plans.

"A week ago it was planned for a year's time and now it's Friday," Lloyd said. "But it's actually worked out well. We've done more in two days than people do in six months. We have a gorgeous location, and if the weather is nice it will be perfect.

"It's been quite a week already. I got to drive this car, test tomorrow and get married on Friday."

Klien brushes wall Klien brushes wallJonathan Klein, driver of the No. 27 Klein Tools car for Andretti Green Racing, brushed the wall exiting Turn 1 on his fourth lap of the morning. The car sustained damage to the rear suspension, which the team repaired in the morning. Klein was the first driver on track in the afternoon session. He finished the day ninth quick, completing 86 laps. Klein returns to Dayton, Ohio where he is a freshman at the University of Dayton. Final exams are scheduled for next week. IRL
Age not a factor in Indy Pro test Age not a factor in Indy Pro testINDIANAPOLIS - They are at opposite ends of the age continuum, separated by 35 years of life and auto racing experience.

But Sean Guthrie, who still has pieces of his 18th birthday cake on the kitchen counter, and Tom Wieringa, 53, both came to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for an Indy Pro Series Open Test as rookies. They returned to their respective race shops with knowledge that will bolster their efforts for the Freedom 100 on May 26.

Eighteen drivers totaled 1,604 laps without incident on the historic 2.5-mile oval on a cloudless day in central Indiana. Reigning Indy Pro Series champion Wade Cunningham topped the speed chart at 188.575 mph (47.7263 mph) in the No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing car. Jay Howard(right), who started from the pole in the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway, was second (188.239 mph).

Both Guthrie, son of 1997 IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Jim Guthrie, and Wieringa passed their Indy Pro Series test last week at Chicagoland Speedway. So, in their second time in the 425-horsepower cars, they turned laps on the tight, flat oval with a long history. It didn't faze either of the drivers.

"It was a great day," said Wieringa, an Oak Brook, Ill., resident who owned the Sigma Autosport team in CART for several years. "Michael Crawford Motorsports did a great job setting up the car. Unfortunately, we didn't get a tow all day long. I tried. Basically, I was out there by myself all day. I think we've got the fastest car out there." zzzz

Wieringa had a quick lap of 186.824 mph - fourth on the chart (right behind Cheever Racing's Chris Festa at 186.847).

"We actually had high expectations," Wieringa said. "I'm usually pretty good on ovals, but the car was set up really nicely before I came - the fit and finish on it, the way they prepared it. I was pleased before I even came, so I thought we'd do well."

Guthrie didn't know what to expect, but his father was impressed with the effort. The 2005 Star Mazda series driver was seventh quick on the chart at 186.715 mph.

"He did better than I ever did; he has good DNA, I think," said Jim Guthrie, who entered the Indy Pro Series this year with the expressed intent to have his son compete. "I don't have to look for another driver. He's OK. He made me really proud today."

Said Sean, who graduates from Sandia Prep High School in Albuquerque next month: "They just kind of said watch out for this place, it might bite you. But we were pretty confident the whole day. They gave me a really good car, so it was easy. This track will be one of my favorites because it is half road course and half oval. It's a pretty cool place."

When the green flag drops for the Freedom 100 on May 26, Guthrie will be the second-youngest driver (18 years, 38 days) in Indy Pro Series history. Marco Andretti (18 years, 22 days) was younger when he debuted at St. Petersburg last year.

Wieringa, on the other hand, will become the oldest race starter in Indy Pro Series history. The Star Mazda competitor will be 12 days shy of his 54th birthday. Currently, the oldest race starter is Gary Peterson (53 years, 64 days at Texas in 2004).

Cunningham returned to the car for the first time in a month after an emergency appendectomy prevented him from competing in the two races on the St. Petersburg (Fla.) temporary street course April 2-3. He was quickly up to speed.


WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing, quickest): "We came here last year, so we had a reasonable setup like everyone else. We just worked through our program like we normally do, and we got a lot accomplished. We have more testing to do when we come back for the race. Everything is not definitive. I'm reasonably happy with the day. We just need to take what we learned here and apply it to the race."

(About being fast in a draft and running by himself): "The car is normally pretty good and never far away. We just worked on a few things and were able to run in a draft. The car is pretty quick by itself, and that's the way things have gone this year, so I'm pretty happy."

JAY HOWARD (No. 7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports, 2nd quick): "As always, you've got to keep it off the walls. That's the main thing. We had a few issues in the morning. Took care of them by 11 o'clock, so we got our first run at 11. Got a couple of stints in before lunch. Got in a couple of good rounds. I think on our own we were fastest, but Wade was following (Chris) Festa around. When you're keeping an eye on everyone and seeing what they do on their own, I think we're fastest, so that's good."

(About Indianapolis Motor Speedway) "I love the oval much better than the high banks like Homestead, for example. There you just have to be patient and pick your line and that's it, whereas here it's flat and it slows around a bit. You definitely get the sensation of speed."

CHRIS FESTA (No. 51 Cheever Racing, 3rd quick): "We're real happy. We did a bunch of things on the car today to see what we could figure out. We were quick right out of the box. We went flat on the third lap of the morning and just right then we had a pretty good package. We just went tuning on that. We think we found a couple of things at the end that maybe picked us up a bit. We're going to go look at it for the rest of the month, and then come back and win the race."

TOM WIERINGA (No. 9 Michael Crawford Motorsports, 4th quick): (About motivation to race) "I'm not exactly a spring chicken anymore, so I think the motivation is just to stay in good shape and keep sharp and to do something worthwhile. I love racing. The whole body-machine interface really interests me a lot. Whether it's skiing, I'm a ski racer in the winter, or racing cars, I just love. And the engineering part of it is interesting as well. It's neat working with these guys. They really are good."

ALEX LLOYD (No. 26 AFS Racing, 5th quick): "We didn't do a lot of running, but we did what we needed to. I got to grips with it pretty quickly. Indianapolis is a fantastic place. It's unbelievable to be here, and I can't wait to see it on the Sunday of the 500. I think that will be incredible. Today went well. We tried a few different things. I just wanted to get used to the ovals because I haven't done much running (on them) at all and get experience. I've done that today, and hopefully that will put us in decent position for the race." IRL

Red Bull/Toro Rosso test report Red Bull/Toro Rosso test reportRed Bull Racing made the short trip from Milton Keynes to Silverstone for a three day test this week. Coulthard drove on all three days, Klien on the first and last and, on the middle day, Liuzzi was borrowed from Toro Rosso to complete a program he had begun at Paul Ricard prior to the San Marino Grand Prix. On Tuesday Coulthard had an engine problem and Klien a gearbox issue. On Wednesday it was Coulthard's turn to have gearbox problems while Liuzzi smashed his Red Bull into the barriers at Becketts at around 270 km/h. The team had a more productive day on Thursday, but Klien suffered an engine problem.

"Hidden beneath the problems visible on the surface, these three days have produced some very valuable data which should see us move forward in development terms in a few races time," said team boss Christian Horner. "The problems we experienced are all part and parcel of a development program as we pursue more performance from the car."

Williams Silverstone test summary Williams Silverstone test summaryWilliams Cosworth completed a three-day test program at Silverstone today, with Mark Webber and Alex Wurz. Webber and Wurz covered a total of 99 and 107 laps respectively. The Australian was tenth fastest today (1’20”422) and Wurz thirteenth (1’21”190).

Mike Condliffe, Test Team Manager, WilliamsF1
“Mark and Alex were driving today in cloudy and cool conditions. It was very difficult to get comparable runs in during the morning session as there were plenty of red flags and a short spell of rain. We continued with our compound tests, however, as well as putting some very useful mileage on some revised clutch parts to prove their reliability. Alex also tried the alternative brake materials that were tested yesterday, and both cars tried different wing settings as this was our first test with the V8s on this circuit.”

Simon Corbyn, Head of F1 Race Engineering, Cosworth
“Silverstone was a crucial evaluation of the latest CA2006 developments prior to the first in-season race engine upgrade. We had no issues associated with the new components at this week’s test. As per Cosworth convention, the race versions of the upgraded engines will be designated ‘Series 4’. As you’d expect, race engines have the tightest controls on build specifications, procedures and component lifing.” Source Williams

Racing News
Racing notables to be inducted tonight Racing notables to be inducted tonightLowe’s Motor Speedway President Humpy Wheeler, Roush Racing Owner Jack Roush and drivers Harry Gant, Janet Guthrie and the late Dale Earnhardt will be inducted into the Int’l Motorsports HOF in Talladega, Alabama tonight.
Industry News
GM, DaimlerChrysler, BMW Premiere Unprecedented Hybrid Technology GM, DaimlerChrysler, BMW Premiere Unprecedented Hybrid TechnologyVienna - The state-of-the-art full hybrid system, whose components are being co-developed by General Motors Corp., DaimlerChrysler and the BMW Group for production beginning next year, represents a major automotive industry milestone due to the unprecedented fully integrated combination of electric motors with a fixed-gear transmission.

As a result of its low- and high-speed electric continuously variable transmission (ECVT) modes, the system is commonly referred to as the 2-mode hybrid. However, the sophisticated fuel-saving system also incorporates four fixed gear ratios for high efficiency and power-handling capabilities in a broad variety of vehicle applications. During the two ECVT modes and four fixed gear operations, the hybrid system can use the electric motors for boosting and regenerative braking.

In summary, the four fixed gears overlay two ECVT modes for a total of six operating functions:

Input-split ECVT mode, or continuously variable Mode 1, operates from vehicle launch through the second fixed gear ratio.

Compound-split ECVT mode, or continuously variable Mode 2, operates after the second fixed gear ratio.

  1. First fixed-gear ratio with both electric motors available to boost the internal combustion engine or capture and store energy from regenerative braking, deceleration and coasting.
  2. Second fixed-gear ratio with one electric motor available for boost/braking,
  3. Third fixed-gear ratio with two electric motors available for boost/braking.
  4. Fourth fixed-gear ratio with one electric motor available for boost/braking.

The result is trend-setting hybrid technology that provides superior fuel economy, performance and load carrying capability.

The full hybrid system being co-developed by General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and the BMW Group has an overall mechanical content and size similar to a conventional automatic transmission, yet this full hybrid transmission can operate in infinitely variable gear ratios or one of the four fixed-gear ratios.

A sophisticated electronic control module constantly optimizes the entire hybrid powertrain system to select the most efficient operation point for the power level demanded by the driver.

Key Advantages

When compared to conventional hybrid systems, this avant-garde hybrid technology, relying on both the ECVT modes and the four fixed gear ratios, provides advantages in combined (city and highway) fuel economy, dynamics and towing capability.

Traditional hybrid systems typically have only one torque-splitting arrangement and no fixed mechanical ratios. These systems are often called "one-mode" hybrids.  Due to their less capable mechanical content, one-mode hybrids need to transmit a significant amount of power through an electrical path that is 20 percent less efficient than a mechanical path. This requires usually substantial compromise in vehicle capability or reliance on larger electrical motors, which can create cost, weight and packaging issues. zzzz

General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and the BMW Group have conceived a full hybrid system featuring four fixed mechanical ratios, within the two ECVT modes, to reduce power transmission through the less efficient electrical path. Consequently, the electric motors are more compact and less dependent on engine size.

This combination of two ECVT modes and four fixed gear ratios eliminates the drawbacks of one-mode hybrid systems to allow for efficient operation throughout a vehicle's operating range, at low and high speeds.  It also allows for application across a broader variety of vehicles. It is particularly beneficial in demanding applications that require larger engines, such as towing, hill climbing or carrying heavy loads.

Existing internal combustion engines can be used with relatively minimal alteration because the full hybrid system imposes no significant limitation on the size or type of engine.  It enables the three global automakers to package internal combustion engines with the full hybrid transmissions more cost-effectively and offer the fuel-saving technology across a wider range of vehicles.

Initial applications are suitable for front-engine, rear- and four-wheel-drive vehicle architectures, but the full hybrid system has the flexibility to be used in front-engine, front-wheel-drive architectures in the future as well.

Global Hybrid Cooperation

General Motors, DaimlerChrysler and the BMW Group have formed a cooperative effort called the Global Hybrid Cooperation, which is actively developing this next generation hybrid powertrain system.  In an alliance of equals, all three partners are pooling expertise and resources to jointly and efficiently develop hybrid technology. Each company will individually integrate the full hybrid system into the design and manufacturing of vehicles in accordance with their brand specific requirements.

In Troy, Michigan, the "GM, DaimlerChrysler and BMW Hybrid Development Center" houses together engineers and specialists from all three companies to develop the complete hybrid system and the individual components -- electric motors, high-performance electronics, wiring, energy management, and hybrid system control units. In addition, the "GM, DaimlerChrysler and BMW Hybrid Development Center" will be responsible for system integration and project management.

A key factor in ensuring optimum development is the focus on a flexible system design that can be scaled to the size, mass and performance needs of the various vehicle concepts and brands. The extensive sharing of components and the collaborative relationship with suppliers will enable the alliance partners to achieve economies of scale and associated cost advantages that will also benefit customers. Currently full hybrid systems are under development for front- and rear-wheel-drive passenger cars, and light-duty truck and SUV applications. GM

Martini leads 2nd practice in Qatar Martini leads 2nd practice in Qatar
Schumacher fastest at Paul Ricard Schumacher fastest at Paul RicardFormula One teams Ferrari (Michael Schumacher) and Panasonic Toyota Racing (Jarno Trulli / Ricardo Zonta) continued their tests on the 3E SC - short track solution (3.254 km) at the Paul Ricard HTTT despite cloudy skies and a rain shower in the afternoon.

Michael Schumacher joined the Ferrari team for two days to continue the tire program. Panasonic Toyota Racing continued their preparation for the European Grand Prix with Ricardo Zonta and tested on the new B-car package with Jarno Trulli, who completed the greatest number of laps (136).

German Michael Schumacher achieved the best lap time in 00:58.297, improving of 19/100 yesterday’s best time (Ricardo Zonta) on the same track solution.

Both F1 teams will be present tomorrow for their last test day. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) and Ricardo Zonta (Panasonic Toyota Racing) will remain present while Ralf Schumacher will take over from Jarno Trulli at the wheel of the Panasonic Toyota Racing car.

1. M. Schumacher - Ferrari 248 F1 - 0'58"297 (+0"000) - 78 laps
2. R. Zonta - Toyota TF106 - 0'58"601 (+0"304) - 91 laps
3. J. Trulli - Toyota TF106B - 0'58"885 (+0"588) - 63 laps

Press release Paul Ricard circuit
track news
Kentucky Speedway inks sponsor for IRL race Kentucky Speedway inks sponsor for IRL raceKentucky Speedway today announced that it has signed Meijer, Coca-Cola and Secret as new title and presenting sponsors, respectively, for its August 13 IRL IndyCar Series race, which will be called the Meijer Indy 300 Presented by Coca-Cola and Secret. The three companies are associate sponsors of the No. 16 Argent Mortgage Rahal-Letterman Racing entry driven by Danica Patrick, who will be featured in radio, TV and print ads leading up to the event. Kentucky Speedway
Atlantic race TV rating increase Atlantic race TV rating increaseINDIANAPOLIS   – While Forsythe Championship Racing driver Andreas Wirth (#37 INDECK/Wirth Solar) and the rest of the 2006 Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda field were doing double time in the first race of the season, Atlantic racing fans were more than doubling their numbers to witness the action on the streets of Long Beach.

Wirth seized his second career Atlantic win while leading all 32 laps of the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic race at the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 9. The 21-year-old German racer’s impressive drive highlighted an entertaining season-opening race that featured several on-track incidents and fierce battles throughout the talent-rich 28-car field. The increased level of series competition and the anticipation over the debut of the new-look Atlantic Championship, featuring the 2006 Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016.a/Yokohama racing package, are believed to be two of the major reasons behind a dramatic increase in television ratings for Round 1.

According to ratings information provided by Nielsen Media Research, the broadcast of the Atlantic Long Beach race – aired on tape-delay on the SPEED cable network at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 16 – more than doubled the ratings numbers from the 2005 series season opener at Long Beach. This year’s telecast garnered a final rating of .2 with a 1 share, reaching an estimated 161,000 households and 241,000 viewers.

The 2005 Atlantic season opener at Long Beach produced a .1 rating with a 0 share while reaching an estimated 77,000 households. Last year’s event was also an exciting race that featured three lead changes in the final seven laps and a historical result with current Champ Car driver Katherine Legge becoming the first woman to claim victory in a major North American open-wheel race in her Atlantic debut.

“There’s been a great deal of excitement and anticipation for the rebirth of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship in 2006 and from looking at the numbers it’s clear that our fans were anxious to see the new breed of rising racing stars in action at Long Beach,” said Vicki O’Connor, Managing Director of the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. “All of the Atlantic competitors put on a great show and the racing and the television broadcasts should become even more entertaining as the rivalries begin to develop and the teams and drivers fight for the championship and the $2 million prize this season.”

The Atlantic Championship returns to action May 11-13 at the Grand Prix of Houston’s Fast Trac 100 event. All of the Round 2 racing from Houston will be seen on SPEED at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 20. Fans can also see all of this season’s races on demand by visiting the official series web site, www.champcaratlantic.com.

Seat to Compete in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race up for Bid at Charity Ball Seat to Compete in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race up for Bid at Charity BallTORRANCE, Calif. - Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., the Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach are joining forces to support local charities in Southern California through a jointly hosted charity ball during the 2007 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race week.

On Wednesday, April 11, the Toyota Charity Ball in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach and the Grand Prix Foundation will feature silent and live auctions, including a chance to bid in person or online for a seat to compete in the 2008 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.   The highest bidder will win an opportunity to train and race alongside a select group of notable celebrities and professional drivers on the famed 1.97-mile, 11-turn street circuit in downtown Long Beach.  All proceeds from the charity auction will be split between the Grand Prix Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach.

"Being able to provide the unique opportunity to compete in the 2008 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race is another example of Toyota's commitment to community outreach and philanthropy," said Les Unger, Toyota national motorsports manager.  "The winning bidder will have the experience of a lifetime while supporting a great cause."

In past years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach and the Grand Prix Foundation have hosted separate charity events, promoting similar causes.  In partnership with Toyota, the Grand Prix Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach have merged the two events to create one charity ball that will benefit up to five local charities. zzzz

"The Grand Prix Foundation board was unanimous in its approval to team with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. to put on the 2007 Charity Ball," said Rick Duree, president of the Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach. "We look forward to a long and prosperous alliance with those two great organizations to benefit local charities."

"We are excited about the opportunity to partner with Toyota and the Grand Prix Foundation to raise funds to provide additional services to larger numbers of youth in Long Beach," said Don Rodriguez, executive director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach. "Our Annual Gala has become one of the largest events in town and this partnership will bring the message of youth development to an international audience."

The 33rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, once again featuring the Champ Car World Series, will take place on the streets of downtown Long Beach April 13-15, 2007.


Ingersoll Rand inks deal with NASCAR Ingersoll Rand inks deal with NASCARIngersoll Rand Security Technologies (IRST) has signed a four-year deal to be NASCAR’s “first official provider of security products,” according to Anthony Schoettle of the Indianapolis Business Journal Under the deal, IRST gets signage at NASCAR races and a “presence on TV broadcasts, plus will be allowed to use NASCAR marks in its own promotional materials.” IRST accounted for $2.1B of Ingersoll Rand’s $10.6B in annual revenue in ’05. IRST President Dave Sylvester said the deal “gives us more visibility, especially with Fortune 100 companies, and that’s a really critical part of this deal for us.” Security experts said that IRST could bring in more than $100M in “NASCAR-related business, and that doesn’t include any work IRST might drum up through networking with other sponsors.” IRST has already made a “safety and security manual for NASCAR and now the company will begin installation of high-tech security equipment in NASCAR corporate headquarters and three other primary facilities.” NASCAR officials said that track operators “would be encouraged to work with IRST.” IRST has installed equipment at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), which hosts the Brickyard 400, and company officials “plan talks with IMS officials in hopes of gaining future work.” IRST has also “just completed a security overhaul” at Shea Stadium and has installed equipment at Conseco Fieldhouse, the RCA Dome and European venues, “especially soccer stadiums” Indianapolis Business Journal
Speedy Dan Clarke the fastest rookie Speedy Dan Clarke the fastest rookieDan Clarke, the young British racing driver racing in the USA-based Champ Car World Series, was given his first taste of driving a Champ Car on an oval race track yesterday and came through the experience with flying colors, recording the fastest time of the oval ‘new boys’.

Testing at the one mile Milwaukee Mile oval in Wisconsin, Clarke clocked a fastest lap of 22.44 seconds, an average speed of 165.561 mph. He enjoyed his oval debut, surprising himself with his natural affinity with this style of racing.

“I didn’t know how I’d feel about driving on an oval, with concrete walls so close to me and the margins of error so small, but when I had got over the weird feeling of driving in a car that always wants to turn left, it gave me quite a buzz.

“I am lucky to be with a team which has strong oval racing experience, so the car setup was close to perfect right from the start. I think this made my debut much easier than it could have been, and I was able to get up to racing speed quicker than some of the other drivers and didn’t have to contend with setup issues or a bad handling car; I was able to concentrate on learning how to drive on the track. Of course I’m pleased to have been the fastest of the rookies; it builds your confidence. It’s the first goal you set yourself, so now it’s on to the next one.

“It’s one thing to drive on a track with two or three other cars as I have done today, but I still have to experience 17 other cars, all racing for position, as we will be in June. The effects on my aerodynamics, the sensation of drafting, racing through corners three abreast, the effects of driving different lines – there’s still plenty of new stuff to come and I know that I still have plenty to learn. It’s good that this test has been such a positive experience for me, it’s really fired my enthusiasm for the race and I’m really looking forward to the challenge of an oval race. I had to have the oval initiation, it’s done; now it’s on to the next event and I’m now focusing on being as prepared as possible for Houston.”

Clarke will return to Milwaukee Mile from June 2 – 4 for the fourth round of the Champ Car World Series. His next stop on the 15 race calendar is Houston, Texas, for a night race taking place on May 13.

TV News
Patrick Long on Wind Tunnel Sunday Patrick Long on Wind Tunnel SundayPatrick Long, driver of the No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford Daytona Prototype in the Grand American Rolex Series will be a featured guest on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain this Sunday, April 30.
Direxiv rejected, but not giving up Direxiv rejected, but not giving upOne day before FIA officially confirms the 12 teams for the 2008 championship, the list of contenders who did not make the cut are starting to come forward. Japanese company Direxiv say their application has been rejected but they are not about to give up their Formula One plans.
Industry News
Feedback on Stupid American’s article Feedback on Stupid American’s article
KUMHO and Mazda join forces KUMHO and Mazda join forcesRANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA…KUMHO TIRE U.S.A. has agreed to supply tires for Mazda North America’s team in the American Le Mans Series. B-K Motorsports, which runs Mazda’s rotary-powered Courage in the ALMS LMP2 class, will race on KUMHO tires for the first time at the Lone Star Grand Prix in Houston on May 11 and 12.

KUMHO previously announced that its 2005 ALMS partner--Miracle Motorsports--decided to focus only on endurance races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “We will continue to supply tires to Miracle for endurance events, but we wanted to find another team with which we could contest the full ALMS season,” said KUMHO motorsports manager Rudy Consolacion.

We’re excited about the opportunity to work with Mazda,” noted Consolacion. “Like us, last year was Mazda’s first year in the series, and they’re committed to developing their engine and chassis package and are eager to help us develop our tires. And like KUMHO, Mazda has a strong following among amateur racers because the company is involved in grassroots racing at so many levels, such as Spec Miata, Formula Mazda and Star Mazda.”

“We’re very pleased with this new partnership,” said John Doonan, manager of motorsports team development for Mazda North America. “Both KUMHO and Mazda are in somewhat of a development phase with ALMS programs. We believe this new partnership will take both companies to new heights in professional sportscar racing.” zzzz

Mazda’s B-K Motorsports team finished third in the LMP2 championship last year, with drivers Guy Cosmo and Jamie Bach winning ALMS rookie of the year honors. Cosmo and Bach are back with B-K again this year, and Marcus Haselgrove—who won two LMP1 championships as an engineer with Champion Audi--has joined B-K Motorsports as technical director and team manager.

“I’m thrilled about the opportunity to work with KUMHO because of what the company wants to do with development of the tires,” said Haselgrove. “It’s an exciting program to be involved with and is also a lot of responsibility. It’s huge to actually get to help develop a race tire. The development will obviously help KUMHO and will also help us.”

Consolacion is equally excited about the opportunity to work with Mazda, Haselgrove and the rest of the B-K team. “Mazda has succeeded at every level of motorsports in which it has participated,” he said. “Marcus brings great experience from Champion Audi, a team that has won Le Mans, Sebring and ALMS championships. He brings a wealth of knowledge that will help us as we continually develop our tires. And Guy and Jamie are fast, young drivers who are back for a second season in the car, so they’ll provide consistency behind the wheel.”

 Consolacion added that the team will test before the Houston event and has scheduled further development tests throughout the season. “LMP2 is a very competitive class with teams such as Intersport Racing and the Roger Penske-prepared Porsches. Acura is coming into the class next year, so LMP2 will be a great proving ground for Mazda and KUMHO.”

Formula BMW
Kevin Lacroix joins Team Australia BMW team Kevin Lacroix joins Team Australia BMW teamSaint-Eustache, Quebec –Kevin Lacroix will have a busy weekend. Wednesday and Thursday, he is taking to the track his Star Mazda rotary powered single seater for two days of extensive testing with Johnny Walko Racing (JWR), preparing for his maiden race in Houston in two weeks. He will fly overnight to South Carolina to join Haberfeld and Walker Racing who will be testing their Team Australia Formula BMW USA racers at Carolina MotorSports. This team just joined the ladder development series in North America with two rookie drivers and they will use the experience of the 2005 runner-up to get more speed out of their cars.  

“Testing with JWR has been going very well, says Kevin. The car is a lot of fun to drive and I got to speed very quickly when we tested at BeaveRun. In the next two days, we’re going to get down to specific tuning: this car has different tires and reaching the proper setup means working with my engineer and the crew. But I know we’re going to be ready for Houston.

I was happy to get a call from Derrick Walker to join their Team Australia BMW team for the weekend. I want to thank him for his trust. The FB02 is a fine racing machine that needs a little time to understand and I’m going to work with Martin Bates and their two drivers David Rangel and Marco Santos to nurse their setups and get to full speed.’’

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for Friday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
NASCAR Live! Talladega
3:00pm-4:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice  Talladega
4:00pm-5:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying Talladega
5:00pm-8:00pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Talladega
8:00pm-9:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice  Talladega
9:00pm-10:00pm (R) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying Talladega
10:00pm-1:00am (R) SPEED

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

Van de Poele fastest in first ’official’ practice Van de Poele fastest in first ’official’ practiceEric van de Poele (right) topped Friday's first free practice session for the Grand Prix Masters series at Qatar.

The Belgian's lap of 1:47.739 lowered the track record from Nigel Mansell's best, set in testing yesterday, by more than one a half second.

Pos Driver Time
 1. Van de Poele 1:47.739
 2. Danner 1:47.774
 3. Mansell 1:48.093
 4. Stuck 1:48.146
 5. Cheever 1:48.343
 6. Martini 1:48.359
 7. Lammers 1:48.370
 8. De Cesaris 1:48.481
 9. Warwick 1:48.538
10. Patrese 1:49.389
11. Fittipaldi 1:49.466
12. Johansson 1:49.747
13. Salazar 1:50.417
14. Tambay 1:51.654
15. Arnoux 1:52.535

Pastorelli completes oval test Pastorelli completes oval testUPDATE Briton Dan Clarke (right) driving for CTE Racing- HVM was fastest with a time of 22.44 seconds, ahead of Team Australia's Will Power who recorded 22.50 seconds for 2nd quick on the day.  Pastorelli was slowest on the day at 23.9 sec. indicating that the Rocketsports team continues to struggle with setup woes at Milwaukee.  As we have long said, ovals are all about the car.  A driver cannot carry a car on an oval like he might do on a road or street circuit.   Rocketsports, which has a long history in road racing in various divisions, has yet to find what it takes to run at the front on the ovals, but since there is just the one oval on the Champ Car circuit, it may not be their highest priority. 

04/26/06 EAST LANSING, Michigan – After sitting at the track in cold temperatures yesterday anxiously awaiting his first run on an oval, Nicky Pastorelli was able to strap into the #8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone and test today with the Rocketsports Racing team as they worked on preparing for the upcoming event at the famed Milwaukee Mile in early June.

Pastorelli had a lot of work to do in one day, as he had to acclimate himself with an oval track and figure out what kind of set-up on the car best suited his driving style.  The main goal was to give him enough time on the track during the test at the renowned one-mile oval so that he felt comfortable in the car. Photo courtesy of Champ Car 

Running over 185 laps, Pastorelli recorded his fastest lap around the Milwaukee Mile at 23.9 seconds.

“It was good that we had the opportunity to run on the oval in Milwaukee, as it was a very nice day and warmer than it was yesterday – the day we were scheduled to run,” said Pastorelli in regards to the test.  I think that the test went well because I was able to get an idea of what it is like to run on an oval.  The Rocketsports team helped me out a lot in terms of getting acquainted to driving on an oval and we ran as many laps as we could so that I could get enough practice.  The main goal of this test was for me to experience an oval and help the team prepare for the upcoming race here in Milwaukee in June, and we were able to accomplish both goals in one day.”

Next up for the team is Round Two of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford in Houston, Texas.  The return to the Houston market is well anticipated, as the series last competed on the downtown streets of Houston in 2001.  The new edition of the Champ Car Houston Grand Prix will take place at Reliant Park, which will offer a 1.7-mile temporary street circuit.  The event will be held on Saturday night, May 13, under the lights as the only night race on the 2006 Champ Car World Series schedule. Rocketsports

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Breakfast with Michael Andretti at Indy Breakfast with Michael Andretti at IndyNAZARETH, PA - The Michael Andretti Foundation (MAF) will once again be hosting "Breakfast with Michael Andretti", a fun filled program where fans are VIP's while enjoying an inside look at the activities that take place at Indy Racing League events with Andretti Green Racing (AGR).  The MAF will be hosting this program on Wednesday, May 24th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

As a participant in the program, guests will enjoy a full-service breakfast served at the Team hospitality area by the Andretti Green Racing (AGR) chefs. Special guests will entertain participants throughout the morning.  This is your opportunity to meet and talk with Michael, the AGR drivers, three time Indy 500 winner, Johnny Rutherford who will join the breakfast as a special guest and other well known racing personalities. The cost is $100 per person and is tax deductible. Space is limited.

All proceeds from the fundraiser will be donated on behalf of The Michael Andretti Foundation to The CARA Charities, Shirley Bettenhausen Children's Fund at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, IN. This fund provides for the purchase of a toy for each child upon admission to the hospital. Fans can reserve a spot at this event by sending an e-mail to: foundation@andretti.com.  Specific schedules & information pertaining to the event will be posted on the Andretti website at: www.andretti.com. Please note that this event is subject to change.

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.

Warmer weather greets rookies in Milwaukee Warmer weather greets rookies in MilwaukeeUPDATE Added photos from the test to the report below. Briton Dan Clarke lapped the 1.032-mile Wisconsin track at an average of 165.561mph in his CTE Racing-HVM Lola Ford to record a time of 22.44 seconds, beating Team Australia's Will Power who recorded 22.50 seconds.

04/26/06 MILWAUKEE  – The diverse worldwide racing series that spawned the members of the 2006 Champ Car rookie class took them to some of the world’s great tracks, but rarely included racing on any ovals.

But in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, drivers must master a number of different circuit types if they are to challenge for titles. This year’s lineup includes one of the country’s oldest and trickiest oval tracks in the Milwaukee Mile, where the Champ Cars will do battle on June 4, and today most of the rookie class got a chance to experience life in a circle for the first time.

“It was pretty impressive,” said reigning Champ Car Atlantic titleholder Charles Zwolsman. “After today, I have a lot more respect for the guys that race on ovals, it’s definitely not as easy at it looks. I took it easy at first to get used to the track and the more laps I put in, the more confident and comfortable I felt. We accomplished everything we wanted to do today and now I am ready for the real test in June. With more traffic on the track, it will be a whole new experience, but I am looking forward to it.”

Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing’s Zwolsman joined Team Australia rookie Will Power, CTE Racing – HVM’s newbie Dan Clarke and new Rocketsports signee Nicky Pastorelli in their first oval testing sessions, running on the mile oval on the grounds of Wisconsin State Fair Park.

“This was my first time on an oval so it definitely was a different feel.” said Power. “We came here to learn how to do well on an oval.  This morning was more of a test to get a feel for the track; I got a better grip on the speed and of how to drive smoothly on an oval course.  After lunch I was able to push harder, and make changes to the car to make drive it more consistently.  We ran on 2 sets of tires, so it wasn’t a massive test, but enough to get a good start for the race in June. It was a very good worthwhile test, and now I know.”  zzzz

No official times were available from the test, but the day’s mission was more about getting accustomed to life in circles than it was about topping time charts. Pastorelli, who tested two weeks ago with Rocketsports at Portland International Raceway, made his first oval runs as well, running more than 100 laps in his first outing.

“It was good that we had an opportunity to test here,” Pastorelli said. “I think it went well. I was able to get an idea of what it feels like to run on an oval. The Rocketsports team did a nice job of helping me get comfortable and I think it will help me when we come back here in June.”

The entire 18-car field will have a chance to test the venerable Mile on Friday, June 1, running the day prior to the opening of the Champ Car race weekend, which culminates with a 225-mile event on Sunday, June 4. The event can be seen live on CBS Sports beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern time. Champ Car

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