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USGP: Stoner on pole, Hayden 4th
World Championship leader Casey Stoner secured his third pole start of the 2007 season today at Laguna Seca, topping the timesheet in Saturday’s qualifying session by 0.209s ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa.

Stoner held his concentration during a pause in the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix qualifying run, when a red flag brought proceedings to a halt as Honda Gresini’s Marco Melandri suffered a high speed crash ten minutes in. The Italian skidded across the gravel at high velocity after clipping Kurtis Roberts, but after a brief assessment at Clinica Mobile he returned to the re-started session to remarkably qualify tenth despite his bumps and bruises.

Predrosa and Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen both topped the timesheets at certain points, but eventually had to settle for second and third grid positions respectively as Stoner put in two consecutive hot laps at the death to earn another pole start.

However, 21 year-old Ducati rider Stoner has to break the current MotoGP pole jinx to take victory in Sunday’s race – his two previous pole starts in 2007 resulting in a fourth place finish at Mugello and a fifth at Sachsenring.

Read more & Comment...

Andretti back in F1 car
It appears the 67-year-old Mario Andretti still has some driving ability, too.

The 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner was asked if he'd like to take some turns driving the Minardi F1x2 this weekend, and he jumped at the chance to pilot the two-seater.

"I said, 'Man, sign me up.' I'm still a kid," Andretti said.

On Friday, in his first time in the powerful F1-style car, Andretti spun harmlessly several times on the airport circuit.

"I did test the traction control and it doesn't work," he joked.

By the end of the session, Andretti had the car figured out and he spent more time on the track Saturday, giving rides in exchange for charitable contributions.

Referring to 82-year-old Paul Newman, a Champ Car team owner who also continues to race, Andretti added, "Paul finished fourth in class last weekend at Lime Rock (Conn.), so I guess I've got another 15 years.

"I guess I'll be driving something until they put me in the ground," Andretti added. USA Today


Hamilton cleared to drive
Lewis Hamilton has been provisionally cleared to take part in the European Grand Prix after precautionary scans confirmed that he escaped his horrific qualifying crash without injury.

He will be given a final medical check in the morning before being getting the green light to race.

"Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are very happy to confirm that Lewis Hamilton is completely uninjured following his accident during today’s qualifying at the Nurburgring," said a team statement.

"Following a thorough examination at the on-track medical centre, he was flown to the Koblenz Bundeswehr Hospital where he underwent a full precautionary CT scan which proved to be entirely normal.

"Lewis has no bruises and is highly motivated to race tomorrow.

"As is normal, a final sign-off by the FIA Medical Delegate Gary Hartstein will take place tomorrow morning – which the team believes will be positive."


Large crowd in Mid-Ohio UPDATE One of the vendors told an associate today that the rumor that was going around Mid-Ohio was that Honda had bought 34,000 tickets for the Honda 200 and gave each of their Marysville, Ohio employees 8 tickets.  Honda confirmed to AutoRacing1.com that they did indeed buy free tickets for their employees.

07/21/07 The IRL appears to be gaining strength with improved TV ratings and solid attendance numbers.  The attendance at this weekend's Mid-Ohio race in conjunction with the ALMS is the largest crowd we have seen since the heydays of CART.  Of course we do know that Honda did a massive ticket giveaway to their Ohio employees, but nonetheless the fans showed up and they were treated to an exciting qualifying session.   One factor working in the IRL's favor is the large number of sponsors in the series and the fact they have popular American drivers in Patrick, Andretti, Hornish, and now Hunter-Reay.


Tracy’s woes continue
Champ Car veteran Paul Tracy continues to have a miserable 2007 season and Edmonton has been so far a disastrous weekend for Tracy.

“It’s extremely frustrating, we just can’t get the car right, we have no grip and we have no balance. We thought we had made some improvements in practice but then during qualifying I went out and the car was extremely loose, I spun on my first lap and had a pretty hard shunt. It knocked the wind out of me for a few seconds, I really just had no confidence on the car after that. My crew fixed the car and after the red flag we tried to improve our time but the car was just all over the place and we couldn’t go any quicker. We really just have to put everything behind and us and go out and pick up a bunch of positions tomorrow.”


Canadian Triple Crown Set For Showdown In Edmonton
The table is now set for the final Champ Car Canadian Triple Crown Showdown at the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton. With Will Power on pole position, Sebastien Bourdais starting second and Justin Wilson third on the grid, the top three teams in the Triple Crown standings are in good position to take home the honors of Triple Crown Champion. However, with Graham Rahal starting fourth, Bourdais and his Newman/Haas/Lanigan racing teammate seem to have a slight advantage on putting their hands on the Inuksuk trophies created by renowned Inuit Artist Ohito Ashoona.

Currently sitting atop the standings heading into tomorrow’s race are the Team Australia duo of Will Power and Simon Pagenaud with a finishing average of three. Trailing the pair, in second place, is the driver combination of Alex Tagliani and Justin Wilson from RSPORTS with an average of six. Close behind in positions three to five and only separated by an average of 1.5 positions are Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in third (7.25), Minardi Team USA’s drivers Dan Clarke and Robert Doornbos in fourth (8.25) and Tristan Gommendy and Neel Jani of PKV Racing in fifth (8.75).

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Edmonton: Matos on pole for race 2
Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda points leader Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) again added to his championship lead by taking the pole position for Sunday's second race of the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton doubleheader.

On his final qualifying lap Saturday morning, Matos posted a time of 1:05.750 (108.027 mph) to knock Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport/Continental Cartage Inc.) off the top of the time charts and secure another bonus point toward the championship. He now leads Perera by 31 points, 229-198. Matos will also start second alongside Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) in this afternoon's first race of the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton doubleheader.

"It was unbelievable," Matos said. "I knew that we had a strong car and when it was red flag, we made some modifications in the car. The car responded pretty well to the changes we made. I was able to put a really good lap in the end. I'm just so happy that we've been improving a lot through the weekend. I think we finally found a good balance for the car. I can't thank Sierra Sierra enough. I think we're going the right way towards the championship. You've just got to keep focused and see what happens."

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Edmonton: Matos beats Perera in race 1
Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) got sweet revenge in Saturday’s first race of a Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda doubleheader at the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton and extended his lead in the championship standings with his fifth victory of the season.

As an Atlantic rookie a year ago, Matos started from the pole position in Edmonton and appeared to be on his way to his first victory in the series when disaster struck and he crashed with eight laps remaining in the race. A year later, Matos returned with five career Atlantic victories in his pocket and added another one on Saturday after claiming the lead from his Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) with 20 laps remaining and leading the rest of the way to beat Frenchman Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport/Continental Cartage Inc.) by 2.247 seconds.

It was Matos’ fifth victory of the season and he now leads Perera in the championship standings by 33 points, 259-226, with three races remaining on the schedule. Matos has now finished on the podium in four consecutive Atlantic races and in seven of nine races overall, and has finished inside the top-six positions in all nine starts this season.

Perera wound up second, breaking his Canadian victory streak after back-to-back wins at Mont-Tremblant and Toronto, but it was his fifth consecutive podium result dating to a third-place run in the second race of a doubleheader at Portland in June. The Condor Motorsports rookie is also the only driver in the series to have finished inside the top five in every race this season, and he extended his lead in the Rookie of the Year standings to 25 points over Canadian Robert Wickens (#3 Red Bull/INDECK).

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Mutoh to make Indy Car debut in Chicago
At a press conference today, Super Aguri Panther Racing announced it will field a third IndyCar Series entry for its Indy Pro Series standout Hideki Mutoh for the season-ending race at Chicagoland Speedway.

The 24-year-old Mutoh currently leads the Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year standings in the Indy Pro Series. He claimed his first career victory on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in June and has posted eight top-five finishes and 10 top-10 finishes in 11 starts.

Mutoh's red and white No. 60 car will be sponsored by the Honda Formula Dream Project, a long-range program aimed at developing the talented drivers who compete in world-class racing events. Blair Perschbacher, the race engineer on Mutoh's No. 55 car in the Indy Pro Series, will also be making the move to the IndyCar Series. Mutoh will test his car at Kentucky Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Infineon Raceway to prepare for his debut.

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Glock powers to Race One victory
Timo Glock brought delight to his home fans at the Nurburgring today by putting on a crushing display in race one, easily winning from Lucas di Grassi and Kazuki Nakajima after putting his nose in front at his pitstop and then romping away before slowing in the closing laps, winning the race by 2.2 seconds and reigniting his recently stuttering championship challenge.

But Glock didn't have everything his own way: a slow getaway at the start by the poleman allowed fellow front row starter di Grassi to take an early lead at the first corner, with the German just holding onto second ahead of a charging Giorgio Pantano, Pastor Maldonado and Nakajima.

Behind them chaos reigned as new returnee Sebastien Buemi seemingly forgot to brake for turn one, his car a battering ram in the side of Luca Filippi before the Swiss driver became briefly airborne as he rolled over the Italian's right rear: the rest of the field had to find the best line they could around the stricken pair, who were both out of the race almost immediately.

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Edmonton: Wilson tops practice 3
Returning to the site of his last Champ Car victory, it was no surprise to see Justin Wilson at the top of the timesheet at the end of the final practice session before the second round of qualifying this afternoon. The driver of the CDW racing machine recorded a top lap of 58.931 (120.527 mph).

Lining up behind the 2006 Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton Champion was Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing teammates Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal. Yesterday Bourdais captured the provisional pole in his McDonald's car, but today he will have to contend with his teammate Rahal who is hoping to improve where his Medi|Zone car will start for Sunday's main event. Team Australia driver Will Power lined up in fourth while Forsythe Championship Racing's Paul Tracy had to settle for fifth in his Indeck car.

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Hunter-Reay smokes his teammate
Proving that Champ Car made a grave error in not holding onto to him and never giving him the good ride they promised him to show his stuff, American Ryan Hunter-Reay beat his experienced Indy Car teammate Scott Sharp by a massive 1.5 sec. in qualifying Saturday at Mid-Ohio....this despite making his first-ever IndyCar Series start with no testing and about 72 hours of notice before strapping into a 675-horsepower Indy Car on one of the most technical road courses in the country.

Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) jumped into the car this weekend without a second of testing and posted the team’s best road-course qualifying result of the season on a Chamber of Commerce weather day at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Hunter-Reay snapped off a quick lap of 1:08.8743 (118.024 mph) around the 2.258-mile road course to qualify 10th for this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by Westfield Insurance. The Floridian broke into the 68-second range in Saturday morning’s practice, then posted his best lap of the weekend when it counted the most, thrilling a large crowd that poured into the 45-year-old facility.
"We're doing a great job for our first weekend out here together," Hunter-Reay said. "The Ethanol car is very strong, the team has worked extremely hard and things are progressing well for us. We're jumping in the deep end with no testing but I've learned a lot from Scott (Sharp) and the engineers, and I've run here a lot so all that put together has really helped us."
Scott Sharp (#8 Patrón Dallara/Honda/Firestone) did not fare as well today, and will start 15th after posting a time of 1:10.236 (115.743 mph). Sharp, who had nearly gotten into the 68-second bracket in morning practice, suffered a slight bobble through the vital first turn of the track, putting him off of what he and the team was hoping for.
"We're not very happy with that lap. I was expecting a lot more out of it,” Sharp said. “I got a little loose in Turn One, lost about five mph on my exit speed and that cost me throughout the entire lap. We'll try and make the car better for tomorrow and make up some ground in the race."  In part from RLR Press Release


Hamilton must wait for all-clear
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton must wait until another medical check on Sunday morning before discovering if he can race in the European grand prix.

His team McLaren, however, has given him the all-clear after a precautionary CT-scan check at the nearby Bundeswehrzentralkrankenhaus military hospital in Koblenz.

Championship leader Hamilton, 22, returned to the Nurburgring from hospital on Saturday afternoon, and in a McLaren statement said he was "absolutely fine" and wants to race despite the 250kph qualifying crash.

Ron Dennis told reporters that there is "no medical reason" that will keep him out of the car.

But FIA medical delegate Gary Hartstein will have the final say, when he examines the British rookie at 9.30 on Sunday morning.

"I'm feeling fine," Hamilton told reporters in the paddock.

"I'm very fortunate, very lucky I haven't got any bruises -– although I'm sure tomorrow I'll wake up with some."


Penske Porsche tops Mid-Ohio warm-up
The No. 7 Penske Motorsports finished in a familiar place after Saturday’s warm-up for the Acura Sports Car Challenge – first place. Romain Dumas placed the No. 7 Porsche at the top of the chart with a lap of 1:10.166, 0.139 seconds ahead of the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Lola, the best of the hometown Acura-powered entries.

Dumas and Timo Bernhard will start from pole position this afternoon and are in search of their third overall win of the season. They lead the LMP2 championship by 9 points over Sascha Maassen and Ryan Briscoe, who were third in the warm-up.

Emanuele Pirro was the quickest driver in LMP1 and sat fourth overall in the Audi R10 TDI he is sharing with Marco Werner. The reigning Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans champions held a 0.151-second edge over teammates Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish, defending class winners and Series champions.

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Massa honors Brazilian dead
(GMM) Felipe Massa honored the memory of his countryman on Saturday following Brazil's worst ever air disaster.

After qualifying third at the Nurburgring, the Ferrari driver told reporters that had had driven with black marks on his racing gear in deference to the 191 people who were killed at Congonhas airport in Massa's native Sao Paulo on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old had a black mark on his helmet and was wearing a black band on his left arm.

"It's a difficult moment for my country," he said.


Hamilton airlifted to hospital
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has been airlifted to a nearby hospital following his horror 250kph crash during Nurburgring qualifying on Saturday.

Two hours after decelerating violently due to a wheel failure in the Schumacher-S complex, the McLaren rookie emerged from the medical centre still on a stretcher and was loaded into a waiting helicopter.

It is understood that he was flown to the Bundeswehrzentralkrankenhaus in Koblenz.

Hamilton, 22, was no longer wearing an oxygen mask but he still had an arm-drip attached, and possibly a heart-monitor.

His concerned father Anthony is believed to have followed Lewis to hospital.


Lloyd wins Indy Pro pole
Qualifying Saturday for the Mid-Ohio 100 Indy Pro Series event on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver and speed: 
1. (7) Alex Lloyd, Dallara, 110.188
2. (24) Stephen Simpson, Dallara, 109.840
3. (5) Andrew Prendeville, Dallara, 109.130
4. (51) Richard Antinucci, Dallara, 108.911
5. (1) Bobby Wilson, Dallara, 108.724
6. (27) Wade Cunningham, Dallara, 108.230
7. (38) Ryan Justice, Dallara, 108.132
8. (13) Robbie Pecorari, Dallara, 108.083
9. (55) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara, 107.985
10. (11) Jaime Camara, Dallara, 107.963
11. (23) Logan Gomez, Dallara, 107.657
12. (6) CR Crews, Dallara, 107.435
13. (53) Mike Potekhen, Dallara, 106.788
14. (12) Sean Guthrie, Dallara, 106.273
15. (2) Jonathan Klein, Dallara, 106.186
16. (3) Brad Jaeger, Dallara, 105.323
17. (52) Ken Losch, Dallara, 105.040
18. (15) Joey Scarallo, Dallara, 105.015
19. (9) Chris Festa, Dallara, 104.725
20. (8) Doug Boyer, Dallara, 103.812
21. (4) Tom Wieringa, Dallara, 101.091
22. (34) Jon Brownson, Dallara, 98.950
23. (44) Daniel Herrington, Dallara, 109.113*

* - Herrington was moved to the back due to causing two full course cautions.


Bosses expect Hamilton to race
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton nearly fainted before a drip, oxygen mask and surgical neck collar were attached to him on Saturday, but McLaren's championship leader is still expected to race on Sunday.

"It's early days but that's very much our hope and the indications suggest that that's the case," team CEO Martin Whitmarsh answered when a reporter for British broadcaster ITV asked if the 22-year-old would be fit to drive on at the Nurburgring.

Hamilton's silver car speared violently into the 'Schumacher-S' barriers at an estimated 250kmh and he had to be physically supported by medical crews when they arrived at the scene.

Long-lens photography then showed him with his eyes apparently closed as he was stretched into an ambulance.

But Whitmarsh said: "The good news is that he seems to be well, conscious and talking, so hopefully it's nothing serious and he can have a strong race tomorrow."

Team principal Ron Dennis explained that his countryman would be kept at the Nurburgring's medical centre for at least two hours of observation.

"But the early indication is that he has no injuries," he said.

Asked about Hamilton's participation in the grand prix tomorrow, Dennis added: "It's far too early to say but at the moment he doesn't appear to have pain anywhere, no broken bones.

"We won't be able to decide until after a few hours' observation, but so far, so good."

Read more & Comment...

Hamilton not seriously injured, Kimi on pole
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has had a drip inserted and was wearing an oxygen mask as he was transferred to the medical centre at the Nurburgring on Saturday.

The championship leader's high speed crash during qualifying at the scene of the European grand prix, caused by a faulty wheel gun, has not caused him any serious injuries but he will be under observation for a couple of hours, reports from the venue in Germany suggest.

22-year-old Hamilton's McLaren speared into the barriers at nearly unabated speed, and he was clearly in some leg pain as he rested on the cockpit sides before medics arrived.

He was treated at the scene for some time before being stretched into an ambulance wearing a neck collar.

Such was the speed of the impact that it damaged the conveyor-belt layer on the tyre barrier and took more than 30 minutes to repair.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen ended the session with pole. If Hamilton starts the race on Sunday, it will be from tenth on the grid. Qualifying report to follow.


Hamilton crashes UPDATE (GMM) The final portion of qualifying was delayed at the Nurburgring after Lewis Hamilton shunted heavily into the tyre barriers in the newly-renamed 'Schumacher-S' curve.

The rookie Briton, having set the quickest first sector time of the session, emerged from his damaged McLaren shaken and was attended by medics before being stretchered into an ambulance -- showing a thumbs-up to the cameras.

"We had a failure of the right-hand wheel-gun, so effectively the wheel wasn't properly put on," team boss Ron Dennis told ITV.

"But that's not a mechanic's fault, we're not quite sure what has failed."

The session faced a lengthy delay as circuit workers repaired the damaged barrier.

07/21/07 McLaren's Lewis Hamilton suffered what appeared to be a blown tire and crashed heavily in final qualifying for the European Grand Prix on Saturday. The session was red flagged but Hamilton appears to be ok.

industry news

BMW buys Husqvarna Motorcycles
BMW will acquire the renowned motorcycle company Husqvarna Motorcycles. Dr. Herbert Diess, General Director of BMW Motorrad, and the Italian industrialist Claudio Castiglioni signed a contract on 19.07.2007 in Italy. The contractual agreement will come into full effect upon final approval of the EU cartel authorities. Both parties agreed that the purchase price was to remain confidential.


Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • F1 chiefs want new US venue
  • Comic relief by Speed at 'Ring
  • Button tells Lewis to forget spy saga
  • Renault would have Alonso back - Symonds
  • Hamilton annoys GPDA stalwarts New
  • Barrier annoys Schu's Swiss neighbors New
  • Kimi's manager shows interest in Hamilton New
  • Heidfeld to return to Zurich to see new son New
  • McLaren won't copy Ferrari wheels - Haug New

F1 chiefs want new US venue
(GMM) The bosses of carmaker-backed formula one teams have urged Bernie Ecclestone to reinstate a US grand prix as soon as possible.

F1's chief executive failed to conclude a new deal with his Indianapolis counterparts earlier this month, meaning that manufacturers including Honda, Toyota and Mercedes-Benz can no longer race within the boundaries of arguably their biggest market.

"We're very disappointed that we won't be at Indianapolis," Honda's Nick Fry told Reuters at the Nurburgring.

"It would be nice not only for it to continue but to add another grand prix in the United States."

Ecclestone is aware of the significance of America, but so far his unsuccessful negotiations for alternate events in Las Vegas or New York mean that the 2008 calendar will probably not feature a US grand prix.

Toyota team president John Howett added: "A decent street circuit or a very good race circuit close to a major city would be ideal."

Comic relief by Speed at 'Ring
(GMM) Scott Speed provided some comic relief at the dreary Nurburgring on Friday.

After a torrential storm washed out GP2 practice at the scene of the European grand prix, Toro Rosso's American racer revealed how he dealt with visitors to the team's motor home who kept using toilets that are reserved for the drivers.

"I got p-ssed with people using our bathroom so I made this cool notice and pinned it to the door," he said.

"It said: 'Are you one of the ridiculously good looking drivers of Toro Rosso? Are you a hot bird accompanied by one of the ridiculously good looking Toro Rosso drivers? If not, then this bathroom is NOT for you'.

"Actually, if anyone asks, I'm saying it had nothing to do with me, because the note is signed off, 'Management.' And I'm just the driver right?"

Read more & Comment...

Toyota drivers lead final Busch practice
Toyota drivers swept three of the top four positions in the final Busch Series practice at Gateway International Raceway, with David Reutimann the fastest in preparation for Saturday's Gateway 250.  Reutimann, in Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 99 Toyota, turned a fast lap of 135.632 mph. Dave Blaney, in Braun Racing's No. 10 Camry, was second fastest at 135.501.


Tracy’s woes continue
Toronto's Paul Tracy is getting more frustrated by the minute. The longtime Champ Car World Series star, a former champion, has one win this year - last month at Cleveland - but is a distant 12th in the season points after seven of 16 races.

Friday was another miserable day as Tracy was 12th of 17 drivers in the opening practice and, instead of improving, slipped all the way to 15th in provisional qualifying.

"Well, today was pretty much a disaster," Tracy said. "I can't really say much about the car or about the track because I've barely done any laps. I haven't even had a chance to really get up to speed.

"In the morning I went out and did a few laps and then suddenly something broke on the suspension and it took a while to fix, so we were just sitting in the pits. Then, we went out again and had some type of electrical problem, so we had to come back in, but the session was already over anyway."

Things looked a lot better for the 2003 series champ when he was fastest in the 10-minute warm-up for qualifying.

"The car actually felt pretty good," he said. "It was definitely something we could work with. But we never got the chance to. After only four laps during qualifying, we had a short in the electrical system and the whole car shut off.

"My crew tried to repair it in the pits, but there was a lot of damage. So, obviously, it's a pretty poor start to the weekend. Hopefully, tomorrow well get to do more laps and see what we got." Autonet.ca


Airport track attracts hundreds of thousands
Three years ago, the event didn't even exist. Today the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton is one of the hottest weekends on people's summer schedules.  A smash hit in its 2005 debut when more than 200,000 people ventured to the City Centre Airport track over three days, the Champ Car weekend is Alberta's only opportunity to witness some of the best open-wheel racing in North America.

It's far more than just Champ Car's Friday and Saturday qualifying and Sunday race. On the track there are also the Atlantic series with races Saturday and Sunday, the NASCAR Canadian Tire series racing Saturday and the Northern Alberta Sports Car Club presenting its 50th anniversary GT invitational on Sunday.

The cars hit the track each morning with 8 a.m. practice kicking off a full day of practice, qualifying and racing.

In keeping with the city's reputation for partying through major events, the festivities have been going on since Tuesday and will continue at various sites through Sunday.

At 10 a.m. today, the Turn 1 Club Stage and the Winners Circle Stage both open at the City Centre Airport with activities and bands through the day.

From Whyte Avenue to downtown to the race track, there's plenty of live performances, entertainment and refreshments well into the evening.

Parking is extremely limited at the track and there's no parking on the streets around the airport. So if you haven't already obtained a pass from one of the nearby companies that offered their lots, then the best way to get there is Park 'N' Ride. Edmonton Transit will operate from 11 sites throughout the city plus Sherwood Park and St. Albert. Cost is $3 each way. Go to www.grandprixedmonton.ca for the locations of the pick-up sites.

With the temperature for the weekend forecast to be in the 30 C range, dehydration and sunstroke can become real dangers. Edmonton Sun


IRL won't change restart rules
The Indy Racing League will not adopt NASCAR's system of putting lapped cars at the rear of the field on late restarts in spite of some calls to do so.

While acknowledging a change might make finishes more exciting, IndyCar Series chief steward Brian Barnhart said the system "seems to be artificial."

The IRL's current procedure of the pace car picking up the leader and the other cars following in their natural order came under scrutiny near the end of last weekend's race at Nashville Superspeedway when second-place Dario Franchitti could not make a move on leader Scott Dixon because there were four lapped cars between them.

Franchitti wasn't happy with the situation, but he didn't call for a rule change. Danica Patrick, who was two cars behind Franchitti, was furious with the lapped car in front of her but likewise didn't call for Barnhart to make adjustments. In fact, of the dozen Indy-car drivers contacted by The Star this week, only three said they favored the Indy Racing League going to NASCAR's system of putting lead-lap cars together when restarts occur in the final 10 laps.

"I was actually thinking about that during the caution during (the Nashville) race," Scott Sharp said. "Without the lapped cars, it would have been a much better show because the leaders would be up there fighting it out amongst themselves." More at Indy Star


Petty has choice words for Ginn
Leading a parade of more than 200 motorcycles for a week can put a person out of touch with racing, and that was the case for NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Kyle Petty on Friday. Understandably oblivious to the news emanating from the stock car world, Petty reacted with surprise when told fellow veterans Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemechek had been released from their rides with Ginn Racing.

“I can’t believe that because they’re both really good race car drivers,” Petty said during a fuel stop for the Kyle Petty Charity ride on Friday.

“I think the rumor had been coming that they were going to shut down the 13 car (Nemechek’s ride).”

Marlin, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, is being replaced in the No. 14 Ginn Chevy by young gun Regan Smith. Smith had shared the No. 01 Ginn Chevy with veteran Mark Martin while youngster Aric Almirola, released by Joe Gibbs Racing, will share the No. 01 with Martin. Nemechek’s car is being parked due to a lack of sponsorship.

“Sometimes that’s what happens when you get somebody that invests in a sport that doesn’t really know anything about the sport,” said Petty.

“I’m not slamming Bobby Ginn, but that team’s been pretty much a fiasco ever since he’s invested in it. He should probably listen to the people that run the team and were in charge of the team. To let someone like Sterling go is a crying shame, I’ll say that right now. I only wish he had let him go five or six races ago and I would have let him drive my car while I was doing the Turner stuff, that’s how much I think about Sterling.” More at USA Today


European GP: Kimi again fastest
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen turned the fastest lap in the late stages of practice 3 Saturday morning to beat McLaren's Lewis Hamilton by 2/10ths of a second.  Fernando Alonso was 3rd fastest in his McLaren.  Robert Kubica beat Ferrari's Felipe Massa for 4th in his BMW. 

Pos  Driver        Team               Time     Behind  Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:31.396           18
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:31.627 + 0.231   12
 3.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   1:32.039 + 0.643   11
 4.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         1:32.039 + 0.643   18
 5.  Massa         Ferrari            1:32.217 + 0.821   18
 6.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:32.344 + 0.948   16
 7.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         1:32.581 + 1.185   20
 8.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:32.632 + 1.236   16
 9.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:32.679 + 1.283   18
10.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:32.788 + 1.392   21
11.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:32.841 + 1.445   20
12.  Button        Honda              1:32.869 + 1.473   18
13.  Trulli        Toyota             1:32.936 + 1.540   20
14.  Speed         Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:32.974 + 1.578   14
15.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    1:33.154 + 1.758   16
16.  Fisichella    Renault            1:33.214 + 1.818   17
17.  Barrichello   Honda              1:33.229 + 1.833   19
18.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:33.484 + 2.088   13
19.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:33.792 + 2.396   20
20.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:33.945 + 2.549   19
21.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:34.423 + 3.027   20
22.  Winkelhock    Spyker-Ferrari     1:36.090 + 4.694   19


USGP: Stoner again fastest
Ducati’s MotoGP World Championship leader Casey Stoner repeated his morning performance in the afternoon session at Laguna Seca - to finish the opening day of the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix weekend as the fastest rider at the recently resurfaced Californian track.

Honda Gresini’s Marco Melandri was the second quickest participant in the later session, as he was in first free practice, this time lapping 0.180s off Stoner’s pacesetting time of 1’22.997s.

Third fastest rider John Hopkins (Rizla Suzuki) lapped just ahead of American compatriot Colin Edwards (Fiat Yamaha) – whilst Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) completed the top five, having found the rhythm he lacked in FP1 when he finished eleventh.

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European GP: Friday Press Conference

: Gerhard Berger (Toro Rosso), Nick Fry (Honda), Norbert Haug (McLaren Mercedes), Mario Theissen (BMW Sauber).

Q. Nick, would you like to clarify Honda's position regarding the McLaren-Ferrari situation?

Nick Fry: Yeah, our position is as it has been for some time. As everybody knows, we've interviewed rather a large number of senior engineers over the last two or three months, if not a bit more and hired a few that people know about now. Nigel Stepney was one of those people who applied to us, so the first correspondence was from Nigel to us and he asked to be considered for a position.

I saw Nigel and it was the first time I'd ever met Nigel in my life in fact, so it was a perfectly normal get-to-know-you-type of discussion, nothing confidential, nothing was offered, nothing was received but he did mention at that time that there was another person who might also be interested and told me it was Mike. I subsequently saw both Mike and Nigel together and the second conversation was principally with Mike, as I'd already had a discussion with Nigel.

Again, Mike was not someone I knew, so we again had a get-to-know-you-type of discussion, not in great detail, more about what he'd done in the past, about what the issues with our team were. And that was the end of it. Again, in the second conversation there was nothing at all that made me vaguely suspicious at all.

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Antinucci tops Indy Pro practice
Cheever Racing's Richard Antinucci led preparations for the Mid-Ohio 100 Indy Pro Series race. Antinucci turned a fast lap of 1:14.2590, 109.466 mph. Wade Cunningham, the 2005 series champion, was second quick while Daniel Herrington, Andrew Prendeville and Bobby Wilson completed the top five. Qualifications will take place Saturday.

RICHARD ANTINUCCI (No. 51 Cheever Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest of the day): "The time was quick. Every lap we did was faster the one before. We were penalized for the pass under yellow, so we were held back for five minutes after everyone else. But once we started going, we were quick. We should be in good shape for qualifying."

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., second-fastest): "This morning was really tough, going out at 8:45 the condition of the track was terrible. The street cars had been on the track, totally incompatible rubber, and no temperature at all, so it was just a struggle to stay on the track. It really gave no bearing on what the cars were like later on in the day. The car was reasonable. We were trying to get a lot done in that short, 30-minute session. A little bit too much to do and not enough time. I'm reasonably happy with the car. We were quicker at the test, so there's more time to come. It probably won't come tomorrow in qualifying because again it's going to be the same conditions as the morning. So who knows what's going to happen tomorrow."


Jeff Simmons statement on being axed by RLR
I want to thank everyone involved in the Team Ethanol program for all of their support and friendship.  I was honored to be a part of the program and to have the opportunity to carry on Paul Dana's vision. 

I truly believe in Ethanol's importance to the world's energy needs and environmental future.  The demand for Ethanol will continue to grow and prosper through the important work of the dedicated people at the Ethanol Promotion and Information Council.  They are tireless in their efforts and I will miss working with them.

Additionally, I want to thank Bobby Rahal, David Letterman, and all of my friends at Rahal-Letterman Racing not just for the ride, but for the opportunity to be a part of something so ground-breaking. It was a real honor, and I wish them the very best.

As for me, I look forward to being back in the IndyCar Series soon.


Dominguez joins Champ Car 2-seater program
The Champ Car F1x2 Team has now completed six highly successful programs at 2007 Champ Car World Series events, and will feature two exciting additions to its driver line-up for the forthcoming Edmonton and San Jose rounds.  Joining F1x2 regular, Zsolt Baumgartner, in Edmonton will be legendary American driver, Mario Andretti, and Champ Car race winner, Mario Dominguez, from Mexico.

Andretti, who is serving as Grand Marshal of the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton this weekend, is a four-time Champ Car World Series Champion and 1978 Formula One World Champion.  He will act as high-speed chauffeur for a select band of VIP guests during the Edmonton race weekend, which marks the final race in the Canadian Triple Crown.

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Rahal likes Edmonton track
I'm not sure that there's anything specifically about this track (that makes me successful here). I've always liked the airport circuits, here and Cleveland.  But at the same time, I think after the last two weeks, the whole MEDI|ZONE team has taken time to recover, get caught up on some rest.  I think we've come back here refocused for the second half of the season.  I think it's showing.  Today was an awfully good day for us.  I think it's unfortunate that we couldn't run a second set of tires because I certainly think we could do better on our time, but certainly that's how it works.  We're just happy to be third.   

(ON WHY THIS TRACK SUITS HIS DRIVING STYLE:)  “We were here last year in Atlantics.  In these cars, as Simon rightly said, they are far different.  I think it definitely suits my style.  I like the fast corners.  And being that it's pretty physical, it plays into my hands.  Being a bigger guy, I think I have the upper edge when it comes to physical strength.  So I think when you look at it that way, it's a good weekend for me.  I think it seems the airport circuits always work well for me.  In Cleveland last year, we won both races in Atlantic.  Then this year unfortunately P.T. hit us but we came back and had a strong run.  And then here we finished second last year.  I think so far things are heading the right direction.  I don't know if it's just the airports or what it is, but I certainly like it.”


Hinchcliffe Takes Pole for Race #1
Qualifying for 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda doubleheaders has belonged to Canadian racer James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks), and Hinchcliffe did not disappoint in Friday’s qualifying session for Saturday’s first half of the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton doubleheader (ESPN360.com, Champ Car Race Director, Live, 2:30 p.m. ET). Photo by Champ Car

On his final qualifying lap, Hinchcliffe knocked his Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) off the inside of the front row with a lap at 1:06.356 (107.041 mph). It was the third pole of the season for Hinchcliffe, who swept the poles for both races of the Mazda Grand Prix of Portland doubleheader in June. In both of those races, Hinchcliffe finished second and heads into Saturday’s race still looking for his first victory of the 2007 Atlantic season.

Hinchcliffe’s last-lap flyer relegated Matos to second on the grid with a best qualifying lap at 1:06.522 (106.774 mph). It is the fourth time in nine races this season that the Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammates have swept the front row. Matos enters the race with a 30-point lead in the championship standings over French rookie Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport/Continental Cartage Inc.), 228-198, and is looking to preserve his lead through the final four races and score the 2007 Atlantic title. The qualifying performances by Hinchcliffe and Matos were all the more impressive considering that Matos was 11th in the first practice session, while Hinchcliffe was 16th.

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Gommendy crash ends qualifying early UPDATE Gommendy has been released from the hospital and will be checked in the morning by doctors but will probably be cleared to drive.  However, he hit the wall head-on at 40mph and damaged the tub of the car so it has to go back to Panoz in Georgia to be repaired.  The team has a backup car, but Gommendy may be too sore to drive in the morning as he was complaining of a sore neck and back.  A 40 mph hit straight on is a fairly violent stop.

07/20/07 Today's Champ Car qualifying session was halted five minutes early after Tristan Gommendy required medical attention out in Turn 7. The only way to access that scene was for the ambulance to go out onto the racetrack. We'll have an update on his condition as soon as we can. Preliminary reports are just slight back pain.


USGP: Stoner leads opening practice
Pos  Rider             Bike      Time       Behind
 1.  Casey Stoner      Ducati    1:23.410
 2.  Marco Melandri    Honda     1:23.597  + 0.187
 3.  Colin Edwards     Yamaha    1:23.692  + 0.282
 4.  John Hopkins      Suzuki    1:23.753  + 0.343
 5.  Valentino Rossi   Yamaha    1:23.754  + 0.344
 6.  Chris Vermeulen   Suzuki    1:23.962  + 0.552
 7.  Randy de Puniet   Kawasaki  1:24.311  + 0.901
 8.  Nicky Hayden      Honda     1:24.516  + 1.106
 9.  Alex Barros       Ducati    1:24.552  + 1.142
10.  Roger Lee Hayden  Kawasaki  1:24.584  + 1.174
11.  Daniel Pedrosa    Honda     1:24.680  + 1.270
12.  Loris Capirossi   Ducati    1:24.786  + 1.376
13.  Makoto Tamada     Yamaha    1:25.032  + 1.622
14.  Carlos Checa      Honda     1:25.097  + 1.687
15.  Shinya Nakano     Honda     1:25.370  + 1.960
16.  Miguel Duhamel    Honda     1:25.550  + 2.140
17.  Anthony West      Kawasaki  1:25.570  + 2.160
18.  Sylvain Guintoli  Yamaha    1:25.745  + 2.335
19.  Kurtis Roberts    KR        1:26.058  + 2.648
20.  Alex Hofmann      Ducati    1:27.751  + 4.341


Briscoe leads opening ALMS practice
Penske’s Ryan Briscoe and Porsche crashed Acura’s party in the first practice session for the American Le Mans Series’ Acura Sports Car Challenge on Friday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The young Aussie set the fastest time in the hour-long session, a 1:10.592 lap in the lead Penske Porsche RS Spyder he will share with Sascha Maassen.

Briscoe and Maassen have taken overall wins in the last two Series rounds at Salt Lake City and Lime Rock to get back into the LMP2 championship race. They trail teammates Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard by 9 points heading into Mid-Ohio.

Andretti Green Racing’s Bryan Herta was the best of the Acura pilots, sitting third overall at 1:10.973. He just a tick ahead of Adrian Fernandez in the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura-powered Lola. Ohio is home to four Honda manufacturing plants, and more than 15,000 employees are expected to root for Acura this weekend.

Highcroft Racing’s David Brabham, the fastest driver in Thursday’s test session, completed just one lap after crashing at the top of the Keyhole (Turn 2 at the circuit) following contact with the No. 61 Risi Competizione Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni.

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Franchitti leads Friday practice at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio –Andretti Green Racing teammates Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan paced the opening day of preparations for the inaugural Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car course.

Franchitti, a two-time pole winner on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit as a driver in CART, recorded a fastest lap of 1 minute, 7.3629 seconds, 120.672 mph in the No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Kanaan was second fastest with a lap of 1:07.5476, 120.342 mph in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car.

Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves, a two-time winner at the track, and Sam Hornish Jr., were third and fourth, respectively. Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon, who is attempting to tie a series record with his third straight victory, was fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Marco Andretti, Vitor Meira, Danica Patrick, Darren Manning and Buddy Rice.

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Hunter-Reay talks about last minute deal
“It’s been a crazy couple of days. It was a late-minute deal. I understand the team is in an awkward position with it. I’m thrilled about it. I look to take the opportunity to run with it. I had been talking to Bobby (Rahal) and Scott (Roembke) since the end of the 2003 season, and we’ve gotten close to a couple of deals here and there. We’ve always been in contact and it’s always been a good relationship. I was talking to (Rahal) at the beginning of the season.”

(About his immediate work): “I had been racing the (Grand Am) Rolex Series. We have a lot of work to do. I want to learn from all the experience on this team, which is one thing I’ve never had to learn from. My teammate in ’03 was Jimmy Vasser, who drove for this team, but since then I haven’t had a lot of experience to draw from. I can learn a lot and gradually make progress.”

(About expectations): “The biggest thing for me is making progress, mostly on the ovals. I’ve had great success on ovals in the past, but this is a new situation that I have to treat with respect and I have to go out and learn everything I can. I haven’t been in one of these cars in two years and we were a couple of tenths out of the top 10 (in first session). When it comes to Mid-Ohio and racing Indy cars, this is what it’s all about. I’m so happy to come back.”


Perera stays hot, tops opening practice
Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport/Continental Cartage Inc.) picked up where he left off in the opening practice session for this weekend's Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton doubleheader.

The French rookie--who has won each of the last two Atlantic events--posted the quickest time of the lone practice session prior to this afternoon's qualifying session at 1:07.228 (105.652 mph). Both of Perera's victories came in Canada and he is looking for the Canadian sweep in this weekend's doubleheader. The Condor Motorsports driver is also looking to reduce a 30-point deficit to leader Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) in the championship standings.

"It was good," Perera said. "For another time, it's a new track for me. It's a tough track. For sure this weekend is a tough weekend. You have two races and both qualifying is important for both races, so it's going to be tough. Now, the fight with Matos is really close. We got back in the points with the victories and everything. Condor is doing a great job. We showed again that we're getting really, really better.

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Borussia Dortmund joins Superleague
German club Borussia Dortmund is the latest football team to join Superleague Formula – the new motor racing championship that combines the passion of international football with the excitement of top-class motorsport.

The former Champions League winners join AC Milan, PSV Eindhoven, Olympiacos and FC Porto in the championship which will kick off in August next year.

The striking yellow and black livery of the German club's entry was unveiled in Dortmund this afternoon by club coach Thomas Doll, captain Christian Wörns plus leading players including Tinga, Sebastian Kehl and Roman Weidenfeller on the eve of Borussia Dortmund's season opening festivities at Signal Iduna Park.

More than 30,000 fans are expected to see the club's colors adorning the 750-horsepower single seater racecar at the free public event tomorrow at the venue that hosted a semi-final of last year's World Cup.

The public open day precedes the club's friendly against AC Roma on Sunday.

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Mid-Ohio: Kanaan tops opening practice
Tony Kanaan turned the fastest lap in opening practice for Sunday's Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio.  Not surprisingly ex-Champ Car driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, having never been in an IRL Indy Car before, was immediately faster than his experienced IRL Rahal Letterman teammate Scott Sharp.  Pictured right, a happy Ryan Hunter-Reay with full Ethanol sponsorship and earning a healthy salary.

Pos Driver                 Time     Behind
1 Tony Kanaan (11) 1:07.5476 ..--
2 Scott Dixon (9) 1:07.7891 0.2415
3 Helio Castroneves (3) 1:08.0350 0.4874
4 Marco Andretti (26) 1:08.0568 0.5092
5 Dario Franchitti (27) 1:08.0929 0.5453
6 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 1:08.3515 0.8039
7 Darren Manning (14) 1:08.4479 0.9003
8 Dan Wheldon (10) 1:08.7808 1.2332
9 Danica Patrick (7) 1:08.8021 1.2545
10 Buddy Rice (15) 1:08.8500 1.3024
11 Tomas Scheckter (2) 1:09.1192 1.5716
12 Vitor Meira (4) 1:09.2262 1.6786
13 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 1:09.2321 1.6845
14 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 1:09.2600 1.7124
15 Scott Sharp (8) 1:09.5959 2.0483
16 AJ Foyt IV (22) 1:09.6429 2.0953
17 Ed Carpenter (20) 1:11.2856 3.7380
18 Sarah Fisher (5) 1:12.4109 4.8633


Edmonton GP: Power leads opening practice
Coming off his win two weeks ago in Toronto, Team Australia's Will Power turned the fastest lap in opening practice for Sunday's Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton.  Sebastien Bourdais was 2nd and his Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing teammate Graham Rahal 3rd.


Pos Driver  Time Behind
1 W. Power 59.203  --
2 S. Bourdais 59.256 0.053
3 G. Rahal 59.800 0.597
4 B. Junqueira 59.803 0.600
5 J. Wilson 59.825 0.622
6 N. Jani 59.903 0.700
7 A. Tagliani 1:00.001 0.798
8 O. Servia 1:00.118 0.915
9 S. Pagenaud 1:00.144 0.941
10 R. Doornbos 1:00.170 0.967
11 T. Gommendy 1:00.506 1.303
12 P. Tracy 1:00.556 1.353
13 J. Heylen 1:00.585 1.382
14 K. Legge 1:00.640 1.437
15 D. Clarke 1:00.830 1.627
16 A. Figge 1:02.662 3.459
17 R. Dalziel 1:02.903 3.700

tv news

Weekend TV ratings UPDATE #2 The final USA TV ratings for last weekend’s races:
  • NASCAR Busch Series: USG Durock 300 ABC 1.9/5 share
  • MotoGP: Grand Prix of Germany (same-day tape) 7CBS 0.6/2 share
  • NASCAR Nextel Cup USG Sheetrock 400 TNT 4.8 down 8% from 2006 and down 16% from 2005
  • IRL IndyCar Nashville (rain delayed) ESPN2 - Too low for the charts
NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: TNT Live 4.0 overnight, down 19% from 2 years ago

07/17/07 The overnight USA TV ratings for this weekend's races on network TV were as follows:

NASCAR Busch Series: USG Durock 300 ABC 1.7/4 share 
MotoGP: Grand Prix of Germany (same-day tape) CBS 0.7/2 share


Crash Clarke hits wall
Dan 'Crash' Clarke has done it again - he crashed into the turn 4 wall during morning Champ Car practice in Edmonton and brought out the red flag.  His car has nose, suspension and rear wing damage.  Is there an event he doesn't crash at least once?  The green flag is back out with 13 minutes remaining in the session.


Newman’s US race team taps Filipina woman
MANILA, Philippines -- Her career just shifted into high gear.  In a major career move, teenage Filipina-American driver Michele Bumgarner has joined the S&L Racing-Newman/Wachs, becoming the first Filipino to sign up with a major race team in the United States.

“It feels really good, I’m surprised to be in this position,” said Bumgarner. “I didn’t think it will come this quick. All our hard work paid off.”

S&L Racing is a North Carolina-based team owned by NFL Hall of Famer Gale Sayers and Super Bowl champion MVP Ray Lewis in partnership with veteran actor and racing enthusiast Paul Newman and Eddie Wachs.

The team picked Bumgarner among several aspirants after the three-time Asian karting champion ruled the kart, road car and formula car races in the recent Accelerate Drivers Shootout in Phoenix, Las Vegas and California.

“I was really, really nervous to begin with,” Bumgarner said during a press conference yesterday at City Kart in Parañaque. “I had to impress the team owners.”

The 17-year-old Bumgarner will start training with her new team late this month for the next open-wheel Formula Atlantic Champ Car season from April to August 2008.

“Everything we’ll do in 2007 is to get ready for the 2008 season,” said Lee Bumgarner, Michele’s father and personal mentor. “They have a lot of plans for her in the next three to five years to take her to the top level of motorsports.”

The Champ Car Atlantic series often paves the way for stints in the elite Champ Car World Series or the Indy Racing League.

“This is where I want to be,” said Bumgarner. “I’m getting close to my dream. This doesn’t really happen to anyone at my age.”  Inquirer.net


Glock takes pole in home country
Timo Glock has put his championship aspirations back on track by claiming a dominant pole position for tomorrow’s race one in front of his home fans at the Nurburgring.

The German looked strong throughout the session before shutting down challenges in the closing minutes from Lucas di Grassi and Giorgio Pantano with a laptime of 1:40.977, which was more than half a second ahead of the Brazilian‘s best time.

After this morning’s damp free practice all eyes were on the sky ahead of the session, but the clouds kept away and greeted the drivers with bright sunshine as they came out on track.

Glock set the early running and kept eating away at his own best lap, with Mike Conway, Luca Filippi and Pastor Maldonado pushing him in the early stages of the session: the German was just 0.02 to the good as the majority of the field came in for their second set of tires.

Di Grassi came out with clear intent of taking his first pole position, claiming the top spot with a 1:41.597 and setting the fastest first sector on the next lap before getting stuck behind a slowing Xandi Negrao.

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European GP: Kimi moves Ferrari to top
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro ended the first day of practice for the European Grand Prix in first and third places with Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa respectively. Summer still refuses to be a friend of Formula 1 this season and while the morning session was run in dry and cool conditions, heavy rain hit the track during the lunch break between the two ninety minute sessions, meaning the track was still slightly slippery for the start of the afternoon practice. But the more serious problem, which affected everyone was that the wind changed direction from the morning and made the cars harder to drive through the corners when gusts of wind affected the handling.

While the winner of the last two grands prix topped the final time sheet, it was championship leader Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren-Mercedes who was second ahead of the Scuderia's Brazilian driver. As we have seen so often this season it was a Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro - McLaren Mercedes lock-out for the top places, as reigning world champion, Fernando Alonso was fourth. Toyota completed the top six today, with Ralf Schumacher ahead of Jarno Trulli. One new name on the time sheets today, as Markus Winkelhock, son of the late F1 driver Manfred Winkelhock, took over the Spyker seat vacated by Christijan Albers. He was the slowest driver today. .

Pos  Driver        Team               Time       Behind  Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:33.339            28
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:33.478  + 0.139   28
 3.  Massa         Ferrari            1:33.590  + 0.251   27
 4.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   1:33.637  + 0.298   30
 5.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:33.668  + 0.329   18
 6.  Trulli        Toyota             1:33.746  + 0.407   22
 7.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:33.845  + 0.506   24
 8.  Button        Honda              1:33.880  + 0.541   36
 9.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         1:34.146  + 0.807   22
10.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         1:34.221  + 0.882   19
11.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:34.235  + 0.896   29
12.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    1:34.264  + 0.925   21
13.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:34.357  + 1.018   26
14.  Barrichello   Honda              1:34.411  + 1.072   26
15.  Fisichella    Renault            1:34.431  + 1.092   28
16.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:34.446  + 1.107   25
17.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:34.504  + 1.165   19
18.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:34.554  + 1.215   26
19.  Speed         Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:35.320  + 1.981   26
20.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:35.653  + 2.314   24
21.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:36.527  + 3.188   25
22.  Winkelhock    Spyker-Ferrari     1:37.319  + 3.980   19

tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The full Sunday TV listings are now shown below.

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
12:00am-12:30am ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup Replay -High Definition USG Sheetrock 400 Joliet, IL
12:00am-2:30am (R) HDNet
Formula 1 Practice Germany
8:00am-9:30am (L) SPEED
Champ Car Rexall Grand Prix Edmonton - Practice 2
4:40pm (L) WEBCAST - Race Director
6:30pm-7:00pm ESPN2
CSI: Miami Grand Prix (2003)
* Check local listings for your time zone A&E
NASCAR Busch Series Practice Madison, IL
7:00pm-8:00pm (L) ESPN2

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Winkelhock did good job - Spyker's Sutil
(GMM)  Markus Winkelhock did a good job in his first practice session as a formula one race driver.

That was the insistence on Friday of his teammate, Spyker's impressive German rookie, Adrian Sutil.

Countryman Winkelhock, 27, was the slowest car in the morning 90-minute session at the Nurburgring despite completing 8 more laps than Sutil.

His gap to Sutil, who experienced an hydraulic problem, was nearly eight tenths.

But 24-year-old Sutil, who usually outpaced Winkelhock's predecessor Christijan Albers in 2007, said of Winkelhock: "I think he did a good job this morning.

"He should be completely happy with it," he told the sport's German broadcaster Premiere.

Winkelhock has only a few hours of testing under his belt this season and he came to the Nurburgring after racing last week for Spyker principal Colin Kolles' DTM team.

"That is not so simple," Sutil explained, "but I am sure he will be right with it in the second practice.  He also knows this circuit really well so that should be a help as well.


No decision on Ralf due yet - Howett
(GMM) The European grand prix may be the closest race to Toyota's Cologne base, but team president John Howett on Friday ruled out announcing whether or not local driver Ralf Schumacher will retain his seat into 2008.

After a dreadful opening stanza to the season, 32-year-old Schumacher has shown signs of improvement in recent races, but Howett told the Cologne newspaper 'Express' that a decision for next year will only be taken later on.

"We must decide whether or not to extend his contract, and also it is important to know how Ralf feels in the team.

"What you need is a completely firm partnership -- and perhaps Ralf will decide to go somewhere else," he said.

Howett dismissed as "rubbish", however, recent rumors that said Ralf only narrowly survived an ultimatum to up his game during F1's tour of North America.

"He has a 2007 contract, so he sits in our car at least until the end of the season. We stand by our drivers; we never criticized Ralf.

"The only question is what we do for the future."

Jarno Trulli is already signed up for 2008.


Sheer physical strength required at Edmonton
With the old Lola the Champ Car drivers struggled to finish the Edmonton Grand Prix because the track was fast and a combination of high downforce and no power steering was a killer on the arms.

This year the new Panoz chassis generated even more downforce which means the steering wheel will be even harder to turn.

Only the Strong will survive

"It was already one of the toughest races and one of the toughest tracks," said defending champion Justin Wilson. "Now because of the extra downforce on the new cars we're driving in the series this year, a race which is very, very tough physically has become even tougher to drive.

"It's not a negative thing. To me, it's a positive thing. The thing about this course is that there are a lot of high-speed corners with turns which require a lot of energy to handle.

"It's a course which challenges so many different areas of a driver, especially physically and mentally," added the native of Sheffield, England, who hasn't won a race since this one here last year.

"This race is so physical, when it's over, your arms are absolutely aching," he said.

"The car is quicker on the corners. And you can really feel the downforce.

"We're going to have 60 second laps here. And if there is no green and dealing with a race with a one hour and 45 minute limit, we could race 103 laps. Last year I won with 85 laps."

Canadian Alex Tagliani says there's no denying the Edmonton track's reputation.

"This is the most physical track we have. It's a fun track. It's a quick track. But it is physical. It's going to be interesting."

"I thought it was physical last year," said Will Power. With that extra downforce, the steering is very heavy," said the native of Toowoomba, Australia.

"The heat adds to it, too," he said.

"Last year it wasn't any easier because of the heat."

The forecast for Sunday is a high of 28 C.

"It's the fast, high-speed corners and the downforce. Basically the combination means that the faster you go, the harder it is," added Simon Pagenaud.


Massa: "We are better in the race"
Last year, the European GP took place here in May and everyone was worried about the threat of bad weather up in the mountains. There was a heat wave! This year, the event takes place in July and Felipe Massa had to avoid the rain drops to come to the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro media motorhome to talk to the press yesterday afternoon, where he launched straight into his thoughts for the coming weekend.

"I am confident we have a very good package as we have seen from the last two races," maintained the Brazilian driver. As for the relative merits of the Ferrari car, which has won the last two grands prix and that of the team's main rivals, Massa said, "if I have to compare the F2007 with the McLaren, maybe our strong point is that we are better in the race, while maybe they have a slight edge in qualifying. But of course, these things can change and I hope that we can improve our qualifying while still staying strongest in the races! The competition between us is very close, so I hope we can maybe reach a position where we are consistently quicker than them. That is what we are working for."

Therefore if qualifying might be the toughest part of the weekend for the Ferrari man, how does he see things going on Saturday afternoon? "Qualifying is important here at this track," he confirmed. "The whole first sector of the track has a lot of slow corners where you can lose a lot of time if you make a mistake. Also in the final sector, with its chicane, it can be tricky."

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Duncan leads opening practice at Mid-Ohio
Tight driver teamwork brought home the top position for Highcroft Racing at the first practice session Thursday afternoon at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.  Stefan Johansson, who started off the session as the rain dwindled, initially found the track greasy, but said "it quickly improved as the session went on."  Stefan made the best of challenging conditions and the team made several changes to the setup.  These changes ultimately allowed Stefan to go 4/10 of a second faster than his previous best time in just the first half of his last lap before being called into the pits for a driver change. 

These changes paid off when David Brabham took the wheel.  Finding the handling a bit difficult in his first couple of laps, Brabs noted that "the balance changed over the course of the run and the car just kept getting better and better.  The changes we made during the session enabled us to get in a flyer which gave us the quickest time of the day."  Both Johansson and Brabham found the car to be close to where the team needs it to be for tomorrow's qualifying and Saturday's race.  Johansson noted "we have a good base after testing here in June and now all we need to do is fine tune it to stay in the lead."


Haug plays down Alonso-Massa skirmish
(GMM)  Norbert Haug on Friday played down an on-track confrontation between Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa during morning practice for the European grand prix.

After getting held up by Ferrari's Brazilian driver, world champion Alonso cut through the NGK chicane before seeming to get his revenge at the first corner by blocking Massa.

"I don't think there was any hostility," said Mercedes' competition director Norbert Haug, following a 90-minute session that ended with Alonso's teammate Lewis Hamilton quickest.

He told Premiere: "Maybe it is a little unnecessary, but I don't think the spectators will complain.  So long as they come back to the garage with all four wheels, one must accept that these are young racing drivers."

Dark clouds gathered towards the end of the first of two Friday sessions, leaving the paddock drenched with rain ahead of second practice.

One keen garage observer was Ferrari 'advisor' Michael Schumacher, who touched down at the German venue this morning in a helicopter.


Audi comes as favorite to Zandvoort
More than two million television viewers followed German TVs live broadcast on "Das Erste" of the DTM race at Mugello – a record this season. The next highlight is now on the agenda: the race at Zandvoort on the Dutch North Sea coast, to which Audi driver Mattias Ekström comes as overall leader on the last weekend in July.
The Swede has a 6.5 point lead over defending Champion Bernd Schneider (Mercedes) going into the final four races of the year. The Audi team will do everything possible on the 4.307 kilometer circuit through the dunes to strengthen its lead in the most popular international touring car race series.
The foundations are good for this: Mattias Ekström is the only driver to have won more than one DTM race to date at Zandvoort (2002 and 2004). The Audi A4 DTM also has a particularly good track record at Zandvoort with two wins from three starts (2004 and 2006). The latest generation A4 DTM demonstrated impressively just how fast it is around fast, swooping tracks last time out at Mugello.

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Pilgrim to drive for JR Motorsports for road races
JR Motorsports officials announced Thursday that road-racing veteran Andy Pilgrim will drive the team's No. 88 Chevrolet in the upcoming NASCAR Busch Series races at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and Watkins Glen International.

In putting Pilgrim in his team's car, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is following through on a promise his dad, Dale Earnhardt, made to the road-course ace some years ago.

According to a team release, Earnhardt Jr. and his dad teamed up with Kelly Collins and Pilgrim to race a Chevrolet Corvette in the 2001 Rolex 24 at Daytona. Pilgrim tutored both Earnhardts on how to maneuver the lighter car, and the team finished fourth. At that time, Earnhardt promised to one day give Pilgrim a chance to drive one of his cars in NASCAR Competition, but he died in a crash in the Daytona 500 later that year.

"My dad told Andy that he'd give him a shot at driving one of his cars after racing in the Corvette at Daytona," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He wasn't able to make good on that promise, so I'm doing it for him."

Pilgrim was approved for NASCAR competition after completing a successful test session with JR Motorsports at Virginia International Raceway on Wednesday.

"We talked about doing it with Dale years ago," Pilgrim said. "I remember Dale told me he wanted to put me in a car for a road-course race, and he seemed serious, but I'm one of those people who is a bit of a pragmatist.

"You don't say anything to anyone in case it never happens, but you're thinking, 'Man, that would be so cool.' Unfortunately that chapter closed, and it was like 'That's OK. It was real nice to think about it."  Scenedaily

industry news

GM tops Toyota in Q2 global sales
General Motors Corp. pulled ahead of Toyota Motor Corp. in global sales for the second quarter of 2007 but remained No. 2 for the first half of the year, according to preliminary figures released by the rival automakers. GM said Thursday it sold 2.41 million vehicles worldwide in April-June 2007, while Toyota said Friday that it sold 2.37 million.

For the first quarter, Japan's leading automaker said it sold more cars and trucks than America's top automaker for the first time ever - 2.35 million to GM's 2.27 million.

For the first half of 2007, Toyota's reported global sales totaled 4.72 million, compared with GM's 4.67 million.

GM said strong growth in Latin America, Asia and other emerging markets lifted global sales by 0.4 percent from 2006's second quarter total of 2.40 million.

"We're on track to have our second-best annual sales performance in our almost 100-year history," John Middlebrook, GM's vice president for global sales, said in a statement. More at Detroit News


European GP: Hamilton tops practice 1
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton has nipped Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to top opening practice for Sunday's European GP at Nurburgring. Defending world champion Fernando Alonso continues to get outpaced by his rookie McLaren teammate and finished third quick on Friday morning. He was followed by the two BMWs of Heidfeld and Kubica.

Pos  Driver        Team               Time      Behind  Laps
 1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:32.515            26
 2.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:32.751  + 0.236   24
 3.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   1:32.932  + 0.417   27
 4.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         1:32.975  + 0.460   35
 5.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         1:33.205  + 0.690   34
 6.  Massa         Ferrari            1:33.605  + 1.090   24
 7.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:33.825  + 1.310   32
 8.  Button        Honda              1:33.936  + 1.421   28
 9.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:34.062  + 1.547   25
10.  Barrichello   Honda              1:34.142  + 1.627   25
11.  Trulli        Toyota             1:34.152  + 1.637   34
12.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    1:34.345  + 1.830   32
13.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:34.563  + 2.048   32
14.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:34.567  + 2.052   30
15.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:34.683  + 2.168   22
16.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:34.708  + 2.193   36
17.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:34.907  + 2.392   31
18.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:34.921  + 2.406   21
19.  Fisichella    Renault            1:35.077  + 2.562   22
20.  Speed         Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:35.643  + 3.128   15
21.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:36.340  + 3.825   22
22.  Winkelhock    Spyker-Ferrari     1:37.116  + 4.601   30


Toyota team launches German website
Panasonic Toyota Racing today launched a German-language version of its public website, www.toyota-f1.com/de Fans can now keep up with all the latest news from our team in German, as well as English and Japanese, on http://www.toyota-f1.com/, the only place for official updates on Panasonic Toyota Racing. There fans will find all the latest press releases and our regular behind the scenes features. As well as those regular updates, the German-language website also has all the information about our team, including profiles of our drivers and top management and details of our TF107 car. For fans who want the very latest Panasonic Toyota Racing information direct to their inbox, we are also offering a newsletter in German before, during and after each Grand Prix. After the successful launch of our German-language website, we will add Italian, Chinese, French and Spanish versions in the coming months.


Red Bull US MotoGP track preview
Now known as Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the Californian track was built in 1957 on US Army land.

The track at Fort Ord was established after the Pebble Beach Road Races had to be abandoned because of safety concerns, with locals - both individuals and businesses - raising the money to complete the project.

Seventeen years later the track - which was originally 1.9 miles in length and formed part of the grounds of the local county park - was handed over to the Monterey County Parks Department, which retains control over the circuit today.

In its time it has hosted various forms of motor racing including Champ Cars and the American Le Mans Series, while MotoGP racing began there two years ago, with local Nicky Hayden having won both races there.

In order to meet FIA and FIM standards, the track has been lengthened to 3.602km (2.238 miles), an in-field run-off area has been added (1988), and pedestrian bridges and the original media centre have been moved.

The gravel pits area has also been enlarged to increase run-off, which was also increased at turn one with the demolition of the press area, while the main straight was widened and last year the hump that was located at the top of Rahal Straight was flattened.

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FFSA looking for new venues for French GP
Following its meeting in Paris on July 19 under the presidency of Nicolas Deschaux, the FFSA Executive Committee wishes to underline the importance it attaches to the French Grand Prix which it saved in 2003 after the event was dropped by the Société du Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours.

The FFSA Executive Committee would like to reaffirm its determination to organize the French Grand Prix until its contract with the FIA Formula 1 World Championship rights- holding company expires in 2011. With regard to the 2008 race, its entry will be confirmed on condition that contractual agreements are obtained with the Conseil Général de la Nièvre and the Conseil Régional de Bourgogne in compliance with these bodies' pledge to increase their support to the Federation in order to permit the event to balance its books.

Meanwhile, the FFSA Executive Committee has decided to implement a search for sites with a view to durably ensuring the future of the French Grand Prix. This approach, which has become necessary in today's context of growing international competition and the rapid evolution in organizational and accommodation standards, will place the accent on innovation, financial viability and a bid to obtain partnerships between the private and public sectors which are indispensable for this type of event. FFSA


Nextel Cup returns to ESPN
ESPN will provide extensive multimedia coverage of the final 17 races of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season, beginning with the July 29 running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The telecast, which begins at 1 p.m. ET Sunday, July 29, will be in high definition on ESPN. Dr. Jerry Punch will call the race with analysts Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree and pit reporters Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro. Brent Musburger will host the telecast, and Suzy Kolber will host the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show with analyst Brad Daugherty. Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN DISH Tech Center.

Of the 17 races, the first six will be televised on ESPN, with the final 11 televised by ESPN on ABC. All races in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup will be on ABC, marking the first time since NASCAR instituted the Chase format that all 10 races will be on the same network. Practice and qualifying from 13 of the races will be televised on ESPN2.

ESPN, which has televised more NASCAR Cup races than any other network, is covering NASCAR Cup racing for the first time since 2000. In addition, ESPN2 is the home of the NASCAR Busch Series all season. All race telecasts include a dedicated NASCAR Countdown pre-race show and all are presented in high definition, including the first-ever use of high definition in-car cameras.

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup coverage will be available on 17 ESPN platforms, including ABC, ABC HD, ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN2, ESPN2 HD, ESPN.com, ESPN Radio, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio, ESPNDeportes.com, ESPN International, ESPN360.com, ESPN Mobile Properties and ESPN The Magazine. Coverage highlights:

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Goals that could be reached at European GP
• Nick Heidfeld should make his 125th career start at the European Grand Prix.

• Kimi Räikkönen is just two points away from 400 points in his career.

• Ferrari is seeking its 200th fastest race lap.

• Renault, as an engine-builder, is seeking its 300th podium as it contests its 400th Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

• Alex Wurz should surpass 15,000 kilometers raced in his career.

• Giancarlo Fisichella will equal and pass Nigel Mansell for 11th place in the greatest number of starts.

• Mark Webber should reach the mark of 100,000 kilometers driven by Australians and, at the same time, record the 400th Grand Prix start by an Australian at the Nurburgring.

• Jarno Trulli should make his 175th start in Hungary and equal Graham Hill for 14th place in the all-time standings.

• Mercedes-Benz as an engine-builder, could obtain its 175th podium at the Hungarian Grand Prix if it takes three of a possible four top-three finishes in these next two races.


European GP quiz
1. What was the maximum length of the Nürburgring circuit?

a. 8,959 kms.
b. 14,345 kms.
c. 17,777 kms.
d. 22, 835 kms.
e. 34,313 kms.

2. Which driver won the first edition of the European Grand Prix in 1983 and on which circuit?

a. Gerhard Berger at Jerez
b. Nigel Mansell at the Nürburgring
c. Nelson Piquet at Brands Hatch
d. Alain Prost at the Nürburgring
e. Ayrton Senna at Donington

3. Michael Schumacher has five wins at the Nürburgring. Alberto Ascari, Jacky Ickx, John Surtees and Jacques Villeneuve have two. Seventeen drivers have triumphed once. Two others count three victories. Who are those two?

a. Jack Brabham and Ayrton Senna
b. Jim Clark and Alain Prost
c. Juan Manual Fangio and Jackie Stewart
d. Graham Hill and Mika Hakkinen
e. Stirling Moss and James Hunt

4. Canada's Allen Berg took part in the first Hungarian Grand Prix in 1986, qualifying 26th and last before retiring the next day after less than a lap due to a broken turbo. For which team was he driving?

a. Arrows
b. Lola
c. Minardi
d. Osella
e. Zakspeed

5. Which driver took his first F1 victory at the 1993 Hungarian Grand Prix?

a. Rubens Barrichello
b. Eddie Irvine
c. Mika Hakkinen
d. Johnny Herbert
e. Damon Hill

6. Zsolt Baumgartner is the only Hungarian driver to have raced in Formula 1. He took part in his home Grand Prix in 2003 and 2004. For which two teams did he drive on the Hungaroring?

a. Jordan and Minardi
b. Arrows and Sauber
c. Sauber and Minardi
d. Arrows and Jordan
e. Minardi and Arrows

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Title trio stay out of spy scandal
  • Alonso, Raikkonen, back on attack for title
  • Spy scandal hits new low for McLaren
  • Some critical of Honda status quo

Title trio stay out of spy scandal
(GMM) After Lewis Hamilton vocally backed his embattled McLaren team on Thursday, all three of his championship rivals at the Nurburgring vowed to stay out of the spy scandal.

Rookie Hamilton described Ron Dennis' outfit as "the most honest" in the sport ahead of its hearing at the World Council meeting next Thursday.

His Spanish teammate and reigning world champion Fernando Alonso, however, acknowledged that as a driver he is not armed with enough information to have an opinion.

"I think we don't know the full history and we don't have the full information," he said, albeit admitting that he had followed the story at home on the internet.

"I think that as a driver we will stay away from that. I only watch it from a distance.

"I didn't even speak with the team about it because I am not an engineer and I don't know.

"We are not thinking too much about next week. My only thought is to concentrate on always being on the podium and working towards the championship," Alonso added.

"What will happen, will happen anyway."

Ferrari teammates Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa also dodged the media's bullets on the topic.

"I am not thinking about it at all," back to back race winner Raikkonen said, "and it has changed nothing about my approach or the work of the team.

"I just want to win races -- (the saga) has nothing to do with me."

Brazilian Massa added: "I don't want to comment because it is not a positive matter and it has nothing to do with the drivers. I prefer to concentrate on my own job which is driving the car."

Asked if the outcome of the upcoming FIA hearing might change his attitude when the circus reconvenes for the Hungarian grand prix next month, the Ferrari driver continued: "I don't know because I don't know what is going to happen.

"We have to wait and see and then maybe I can say something."

Alonso, Raikkonen, back on attack for title
(GMM) Fernando Alonso says he has overcome his early season difficulties and is now much more comfortable at the wheel of his silver McLaren.

The reigning world champion lags Lewis Hamilton by 12 points in the 2007 standings, but at recent grands prix he has come to terms with the pace of his rookie teammate.

"I feel much better in the car now compared to the first few races," Alonso, 25, told Spanish speaking reporters in the Nurburgring paddock on Thursday.

"I am going into the second half of the season much more relaxed than the first, because I was still learning about the car.

"Now I am approaching each weekend with maximum confidence."

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen is the other high-profile driver who was outperformed by his previously lesser-rated teammate in early 2007, but - after his back to back successes in France and Britain - the Finn has now won more races than any other driver this year.

"It's starting to get back in the right direction now," Raikkonen, a single point ahead of his teammate Felipe Massa, said.

"The car works better now for me, that's the only difference.

"I haven't really changed anything, we just tried to get the car working as I want and that's why we have got the speed."

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ALMS returns to Long Beach in 2008 UPDATE The American Le Mans Series returns to Southern California’s iconic car culture April 18-20 with the 34th running of the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has announced a special “Super Saturday” package with the return of America’s premier sports car series that had its Long Beach debut earlier this year before a record crowd. Photo by Dan Boyd
“The Grand Prix of Long Beach has such great history,” said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. “Its 34 years of tradition have made it America’s premier street course race. It is more than just a race. It is an event. It is an experience. It is where the greatest street race culture in North America meets the most relevant race car culture in North America.

“Our drivers, team owners, manufacturers and corporate partners all felt our inaugural experience was an unqualified success and a great way to premier our Series in Southern California. We look forward to coming back and making the Saturday show even better.”

The famed 1.97-mile street circuit will see the American Le Mans Series be part of an exciting Saturday that also includes the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, Champ Car final qualifying, EZ Lube Team Drift Challenge on the track, and the Tecate Rock-N-Roar Concert and Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Pageant in the evening. The Saturday-only reserved seat ticket includes all-rows seating in Grandstand #21 (in Turn 10) and Grandstand 26 (at the start of the pit straightaway) for only $57.

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industry news

Ethanol plant in the works for Michigan
A Massachusetts company announced today that it will build a cellulosic ethanol plant in Michigan -- potentially putting the state on the forefront of technology that could reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil.

A plant that produces cellulosic ethanol is promising because the fuel would be derived from non-food sources. The majority of existing ethanol plants, including four in Michigan, produce ethanol from corn -- which has been blamed for increasing the cost of feedstock, food and dairy products.

Mascoma Corp. intends to build a plant to produce ethanol from wood, company CEO Bruce Jamerson said in an announcement with Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

Mascoma will work with Michigan State University and Michigan Technological University to develop the technology and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. will assist the company in site selection and provide tax incentives. More at Detroit News


European GP: Thursday Press Conference
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes), Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber), Christian Klien (Honda), Nico Rosberg (Williams), Ralf Schumacher (Toyota), Adrian Sutil (Spyker).

Q. Christian, you drove both the Honda and the Spyker at the Spa test; what was that like?

Christian Klien: Well, it was obviously a great experience to drive two different cars on one track in one test. Spyker invited me for a test just to get to know the team, get to know the car as well.

Obviously testing is very restricted this year for a test driver, so it's important to get as much time in the car as possible so we sat down with Honda and asked them if there was a possibility to test with Spyker and they agreed, they were very supportive, and they loaned me to Spyker for this test day.

It was a very interesting test and obviously there's maybe a chance to do some racing for them this year.

Q. What chances are there of a race drive next year?

CK: It's all very open. I've done the test with Spyker, so it's down to them if they give me the chance to race for them this year. With Honda, we have to see. You will know in one hour.

Q. Ralf, again, testing looked pretty good at Spa, fourth fastest on the first two days.

Ralf Schumacher: We seem to pick up pace, especially on those kind of circuits. Spa is another quick circuit which seems to suit our car. Obviously we have to wait and see how it is here but it shouldn't be too bad either.

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Lauletta Joins Chip Ganassi Racing as President
Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, Inc. announced that Steve "Jake" Lauletta has been named president of the organization. Lauletta will oversee all aspects of the Chip Ganassi Racing’s business and marketing operations including both its Concord and Indianapolis facilities. Lauletta was formerly the president of Radiate Sports, the sports marketing division of Omnicom’s The Radiate Group. Prior to Radiate, Lauletta enjoyed a successful 11-year career at Miller Brewing Company. He served in a variety of marketing leadership positions with Miller, most recently as director of sports and event marketing. Chip Ganassi Racing PR

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