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Ralf still yet to find home on 2008 grid UPDATE It seems that Ralf Schumacher's future is still in doubt. During the Friday press conference at Istanbul Park, John Howett declared that the team has a contract with Jarno Trulli but that they are still studying the driver market for the other race seat. Howett also made clear that Schumacher is still on the list.
John Howett said: "I guess it’s no secret, really. Jarno has a contract and we’re in discussion with Ralf and we’re studying the driver market and Ralf is still definitely on our list. He’s doing a very good job at the moment, as we’ve seen in the last two or three races and we’re just not prepared at this moment to make a decision which is very tough and I have a great deal of personal sympathy with Ralf but that’s the position. We’re waiting to see what moves and I can assure you that Ralf is on our list. We feel that we can wait longer."

08/22/07 (GMM) Ralf Schumacher is still yet to find a formula one home for the 2008 season.

The German and six-time grand prix winner is hoping to keep his Toyota seat, but his chances took a knock after a disastrous first half of this year.

32-year-old Schumacher reportedly turned to his former BMW colleague Gerhard Berger for a back-up plan, but Toro Rosso has now signed Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel for 2008.


Summerton heads back to Europe
Jonathan Summerton heads back to Europe this weekend to test for Team USA A1GP at Silverstone and then goes on to race for Volkswagen in the F3 Euro Series.

The new Formula 3 engine from Volkswagen will celebrate its racing début during the DTM weekend on the Nürburgring (31 Aug -02 Sep). For its comeback as an engine supplier, Volkswagen initially equips three vehicles in the Formula 3 Euro Series. Maximilian Götz from Uffenheim (Germany) and Jonathan Summerton from the United States contest the series for the Italian Team RC Motorsport, while Marco Holzer from Augsburg (Germany) competes for AM Holzer Rennsport, using the new two-liter engine delivering about 210 hp of the Wolfsburg-based manufacturer.

"The new Formula 3 engine from Volkswagen has completed many hours of rig testing and reeled off plenty of test kilometers on the track. Now it's time to test it in direct competition," said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. "The first races are intended to help us assess where we stand and to give us new information we can use in the unit's evolution for the coming season."

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Antinucci tops Lloyd for Indy Pro pole
Qualifying Friday for the Carneros 100 Indy Pro Series event on the 2.3-mile Infineon Raceway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver and speed: 
1. (51) Richard Antinucci, 100.639
2. (7) Alex Lloyd, 100.423
3. (24) Stephen Simpson, 100.089
4. (53) Mike Potekhen, 99.612
5. (12) Phil Giebler, 99.599
6. (1) Bobby Wilson, 99.474
7. (11) Jaime Camara, 99.336
 8. (2) Jonathan Klein, 99.305
9. (23) Logan Gomez, 99.265
10. (55) Hideki Mutoh, 99.106
11. (38) Ryan Justice, 99.084
12. (15) J.R. Hildebrand, 98.927
13. (5) Andrew Prendeville, 98.766
14. (13) Robbie Pecorari, 98.741
15. (3) Brad Jaeger, 98.698
16. (9) Chris Festa, 98.403
17. (54) Micky Gilbert, 98.336
18. (4) Sean Guthrie, 98.229
19. (52) Ken Losch, 98.084
20. (6) Matt Jaskol, 97.901
21. (27) Wade Cunningham, 97.900
22. (8) Steve Ablondi, 90.661

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NASCAR puts the squeeze on ATT UPDATE #2 NASCAR is losing its patience in the court battle with AT&T. Spokesman Ramsey Poston said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway that AT&T "has been dishonest with the fans and with NASCAR, and it's time for that to stop."

"The facts are that NASCAR has approved a Cingular 'Go Phone' paint scheme that they used before and could use again this weekend, as well," Poston said. "The decision to have a blank car on the track this weekend is theirs and theirs alone -- RCR."

NASCAR maintains that AT&T and Richard Childress Racing knew the contractual parameters of the Sprint/Nextel exclusivity agreement far prior to the AT&T/Cingular corporate merger, and should "do the right thing and honor the agreement."

"When AT&T merged with Cingular, they knew what the rules were," Poston said. "They knew they could not re-brand that to AT&T. In the same way I very much doubt AT&T is going to invite Sprint/Nextel or any other competitor into their exclusive deal for the iPhone, or invite Sprint/Nextel or any other competitor to advertise at AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants. They understand exclusivity."

Poston noted that Cingular "remains a viable mark," and cited Cingular retail stores in both adjacent towns to Bristol Motor Speedway as proof.

"There's obviously still value in that mark," he said. "There's still marketing and they're still selling services on it, so there's no reason why that mark shouldn't be on the car."

"NASCAR doesn't have the exclusivity with Sprint -- the industry does," Poston said. "More than defending ourselves or Sprint/Nextel, we are defending every driver and team in the garage.

"Sprint/Nextel essentially sponsors every driver. The funds they put into this sport go into the point fund, go to help each race winner and to help promote the entire sport through commercials and marketing.

"That's all part of the [sponsorship] package. Sprint/Nextel are the ones that have devoted their company and resources to NASCAR, and they benefit every single driver in there. So that's why we need to protect the exclusivity of that contract on behalf of the entire industry."

08/24/07 The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car was unloaded as a plain orange and black car without AT&T logos Friday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway. With NASCAR Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell watching, the Jeff Burton crew unloaded the car at 6 a.m. with a car that met NASCAR's approval.
That's because it didn't have AT&T logos on it. It didn't have any logos on the hood or the side panels.

The team hauler was plain black with the 31 number, and the team was wearing gray RCR t-shirts. All AT&T logos have been removed from pit equipment as well.

08/23/07 NASCAR has rejected proposed paint schemes featuring AT&T's "Go Phone" and the AT&T Mobility tagline "More Bars in More Places" as AT&T seeks a way to remain on the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car, according to AT&T.

AT&T, in a motion filed today in U.S. District Court asking the court to expedite another preliminary injunction hearing, called NASCAR's actions "unreasonable and vindictive" and indicated that its Go Phone scheme was similar to one used in May 2005.

"NASCAR insisted that not only must AT&T Mobility remove the 'AT&T' name and logo immediately, but also that AT&T Mobility feature the very name, 'Cingular,' that AT&T Mobility has spent millions of dollars removing from the marketplace," AT&T states in its motion.

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Turkey takes extreme security measures
Turkey has taken intensive security measures for the Formula 1 Grand Prix race to be held in Turkey over the weekend, officials said. The Istanbul Security Directorate will commission 2,000 police officers around the Formula 1 track and spectators will be allowed to enter the area only after being scanned using metal detectors.
“We are aware that there are still some deficiencies, but I don’t think they will influence the course of the race negatively. Minor deficiencies occur in all events. We do not expect big problems to emerge. This will be a very exciting race and everyone will leave here happily,” Turkey Automobile Sports Federation President Mümtaz Tahincioğlu said.

Turkey sees the Formula 1 race organization as a good opportunity to contribute to the country’s tourism and publicity. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who visited the track last week, said the important thing to consider about holding such events was not the expenses incurred, but how they will contribute to the country’s publicity and introduction to foreigners.


Champ Car re-measures Zolder
Champ Car has measured the Zolder circuit as officially at 2.492-miles long, down from the 2.622-mile lap listed on their website and in previous media releases.  BTW, the Euroboss F1 cars are at the Zolder circuit this weekend and their fastest lap times were some 7 seconds per lap slower than the Champ Cars.  We mention this because there were some comments made in the past from the Euroboss folks that their cars were faster than Champ Cars.  With this myth dispelled one has to wonder if the Champ Car Atlantic cars might be as fast as the Euroboss F1 cars. 

Euroboss is a series which features retired F1 cars some 400+ pounds lighter than the Champ Cars.


Champ Car suspends Driver Dan Clarke UPDATE Dan Clarke had the following response to the suspension.

“I’m sorry that today’s incident happened, but I fully accept Tony Cotman’s decision,” he said in a prepared statement. “It’s part of the learning process, but I want to apologize to the fans, the other drivers involved, and particularly to my team. I am determined to take the positives out of this, however, and to focus on doing the best possible job in the remaining four races of this year, as well as build on what I’ve learned this season with Minardi Team USA in 2008. I genuinely hope the other drivers involved in this morning’s incident go on to have a positive weekend here in Zolder.”

08/24/07 Zolder, Belgium -- Following an incident in this morning’s practice session, Dan Clarke has been barred from participating in this weekend’s Champ Car Grand Prix of Belgium.  Champ Car Race Director Tony Cotman will make a decision one week from today as to Clarke’s status for the Bavaria Beer Champ Car Grand Prix of Holland Presented by Audi, Hertz, Gent and Pioneer.

“This morning’s incident was totally unacceptable and completely avoidable,” said Cotman. “Dan was already on probation after previous incidents in San Jose which helped lead me to my decision today.  After the weekend is complete and I have a time to review the incident without the raw emotion of the moment, I will make a decision as to any further penalties against Clarke.”

‘Speedy’ Dan Clarke is coming off of his career best Champ Car result, finishing second at Road America in the last event.  Clarke has made 24 starts in his Champ Car career, finishing on the podium twice and earning one career pole position.


Alonso says Hamilton apologized
Fernando Alonso has finally broken the media silence coming from McLaren, ahead of the Turkish Grand Prix on Sunday. In candid comments to the press the World Champion said he had no idea with whom he would be racing next year, saying it was impossible to say.

‘The only thing I know, is that I have a contract with McLaren, and that I could race here’.

Alonso also revealed that Lewis Hamilton has apologized to him for what happened at the Hungary Grand Prix. There was a meeting yesterday of the McLaren team, and Alonso has revealed that they discussed the best way of facing the remaining races of the season. Alonso said he hoped that the tension in the team was now over.


LMP2 car again fastest at Mosport
Eager to wrap up a pair of American Le Mans Series championships on Sunday, Romain Dumas and Penske Motorsports fired the opening salvo with an impressive performance in testing for the Mobil 1 presents Grand Prix of Mosport. The Frenchman blistered Mosport International Raceway with a lap of 1:06.765 for the best overall time in the two-hour session.

Dumas’ lap was more than a second under James Weaver’s class qualifying record of 1:07.906 set in 2003 in a Lola LMP675. Even more impressive is that he was 0.404 seconds under Frank Biela’s overall qualifying record in an Audi R8.

Dumas set the fast time of the session on each of his final three laps before rain flooded the track and brought an early end to the session.

“The track is hugely demanding,” observed factory driver Dumas, who with Timo Bernhard has won the last two overall races and four this season. “There is hardly any other race track with so many fast corners back-to-back.  But this is good for our RS Spyder. We can really show our strength here.”

Penske can clinch the LMP2 class championship with a victory this week, and Porsche has the chance to wrap up both the chassis and engine manufacturer titles.

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Volkswagen is the Official Pace Car of SCCA
Volkswagen and Sports Car Club of America announced today an official partnership naming Volkswagen the Official Pace Car of SCCA and SCCA Pro Racing. As part of its official sponsorship, Volkswagen will provide pace vehicles for the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Championships and the SCCA National Championship Runoffs(R) Presented by AT&T as well as course vehicles for The Tire Rack(R) SCCA Solo National Championships.

"Volkswagen was a driving force in SCCA history for many years," said Clark Campbell, motorsport manager, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "We're excited to be back on the track with our SCCA partnership, increasing interest in the SCCA competition and bring our new and exciting products to the track."

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Infineon: Castroneves leads opening practice
Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves paced the opening day of preparations for the Motorola Indy 300 Presented by Jackson Rancheria at the Infineon Raceway.

Castroneves, who has won the pole for the three previous road/street course events this season, turned a lap of 1 minute, 16.5298 seconds, 108.193 mph, in the Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone. IndyCar Series point leader Dario Franchitti was second fastest with a lap of 1:16.6876, 107.971 mph in the No. 27 Canadian Club car.

Franchitti's Andretti Green Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti, the only drivers to win IndyCar Series races at Infineon, were third and fourth, respectively. Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon was fifth.

Single-lap qualifying followed by the Firestone Fast Six session are scheduled for Saturday.

Pos Driver Diff Best Time Best Speed
1 Helio Castroneves (3) ... 1:16.5298 108.193
2 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.2359 1:16.7657 107.861
3 Scott Dixon (9) 0.3313 1:16.8611 107.727
4 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.6935 1:17.2233 107.222
5 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 0.7595 1:17.2893 107.130
6 Marco Andretti (26) 0.9030 1:17.4328 106.931
7 Dan Wheldon (10) 0.9202 1:17.4500 106.908
8 Buddy Rice (15) 1.2018 1:17.7316 106.520
9 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 1.4777 1:18.0075 106.144
10 Tomas Scheckter (2) 1.5982 1:18.1280 105.980
11 Vitor Meira (4) 1.6873 1:18.2171 105.859
12 Danica Patrick (7) 2.0122 1:18.5420 105.421
13 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 2.1954 1:18.7252 105.176
14 Ed Carpenter (20) 2.4290 1:18.9588 104.865
15 Scott Sharp (8) 2.6232 1:19.1530 104.608
16 Darren Manning (14) 3.2380 1:19.7678 103.801
17 AJ Foyt IV (22) 3.2821 1:19.8119 103.744
18 Sarah Fisher (5) 4.2919 1:20.8217 102.448

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Andretti Green team commits to LMS race
After the ACO’s invitation for American Le Mans Series and Japan Le Mans Challenge teams to compete in the Le Mans Series season-ending Mil Milhas Brazil, two Stateside-based squads have revealed intentions to compete in the 1000-mile race at Interlagos.  Andretti Green Racing plans to take its Acura LMP2 prototype to South America while van der Steur Racing is also contemplating the idea of entering its Radical AER.  Autoweek.com reports that Andretti Green Racing will campaign its Acura ARX-01a for Brazilian Tony Kanaan, who races for the outfit in the IRL IndyCar Series and co-drove the prototype in the 12 Hours of Sebring.  Kanaan will most likely be joined by Bryan Herta and either Dario or Marino Franchitti. 


McLaren not at war - drivers
(GMM)  McLaren's main players had a clear message for the formula one media on Friday -- all is now well behind closed doors.

The press has been intrigued by the apparent falling out between team drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton since the Hungarian grand prix three weeks ago.

But, following a sequence of meetings at the plush Conrod hotel in downtown Istanbul on Thursday, Alonso, Hamilton and boss Ron Dennis arrived at the venue of the Turkish grand prix on Friday convinced that hostilities are now at an end.

"We will try now to put it behind us," Spaniard Alonso told reporters here.

"It is not a problem any more, because now would be the wrong time to dwell on what happened in Hungary.  We try to become world champions, so we must think about Turkey and the next six races."

Hamilton put a great deal of the responsibility for the spat on the media's doorstep.

He said of the controversy: "It obviously sells a lot more papers, but we are not at war.

"The fact is that we get on well.  We don't have any issues; we are not fighting.  We are just two extremely competitive drivers."


PCM and Plain Jane Couture Announce Partnership
Pacific Coast Motorsports (PCM) is pleased to announce their partnership with Plain Jane Couture, the primary sponsor on the #29 driven by Alex Figge and the #28 driven by Ryan Dalziel. The partnership includes primary sponsorship of the PCM entries beginning in Belgium this weekend and continuing at the Bavaria Beer Champ Car Grand Prix at Assen, Holland next weekend.

Headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Plain Jane Couture sells in boutiques worldwide, including Europe’s Benelux region. “We are thrilled to represent Plain Jane Couture in Europe,” said team director, Tyler Tadevic.  “Plain Jane’s classy, witty and free-spirited approach to their designs for men and women matches the ambience and approach we take pride in at Pacific Coast Motorsports.  Alex and Ryan are the perfect racing drivers to represent the Plain Jane brand.”

The Plain Jane Couture men’s line is all about casual weekend wear, T-shirts and polo’s with the Plain Jane logo not only spice up a man’s casual wear, but manage to project an air of confidence and sexiness onto every outfit he pulls together. Despina Levantis, President of Plain Jane Couture commented, “Alex and Ryan are young international racing stars and a great fit for Plain Jane Couture.  We are excited to be a part of the Pacific Coast Motorsports Champ Car racing team”


Zolder race promoter happy with Champ Car
We spoke to Zolder race promoter Meindert van Buuren (pictured right) at the end of the day's activities at Zolder Friday and quizzed him on how he felt the first day went.

"It went very well, we had a record Friday crowd for Zolder. We had about 10,000 people here today and although that may not sound like a lot, Belgians work Fridays and Saturday and Sunday will certainly be even better. We need about 45,000 for the weekend to break even."

"Did you see the autograph session? It was packed. We must have had over 1,000 people. It was even bigger than what I saw in Edmonton. This is something new for Europeans to have this kind of access to the drivers. The local media folks were shocked."


Filippi beats iSport team for GP2 pole
Luca Filippi has reignited his stuttering championship run by dominating this afternoon's qualifying session in Istanbul, powering to the top spot late in the session to end two tenths ahead of Timo Glock and Andi Zuber.

The Italian looked strong throughout, running in the top six for the entire session and putting paid to his previous preference for the medium compound tyre. Filippi was fastest on his first set of the hard tyres, and set the two fastest laps on his second set, finishing the session with a time of 1:34.278.

The session started with temperatures slightly lower than this morning's free practice but still hotter than at most circuits, with Zuber and Lucas di Grassi swapping fastest times early in the session until Giorgio Pantano and Filippi started to hit their strides. Zuber and Glock looked likely to run faster again until they were called into the pits as a result of yellow flags for spins by Marco Martinez and Javier Villa, the latter of whom was unable to rejoin the circuit and was forced to sit out the remainder of the session.

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Turkey: Hamilton tops practice 2
While McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton continued to get the best of his veteran teammate Fernando Alonso by topping the 2nd practice session in Turkey Friday, Willis returns to F1 in Turkey, Geoff Willis was in  Turkey attending his first grand prix for more than a year.

After leaving Honda last year following a demotion, the 47-year-old in July joined Red Bull as technical director.

"Having spent a month now with Red Bull Technology, my first impressions are on the whole very positive, although there is plenty of work to do and as usual not much time to do it in," he said on Friday.

Red Bull had a challenging opening day at Istanbul, with David Coulthard's car catching fire in the morning, and teammate Mark Webber struggling for pace.

Meanwhile Super Aguri's Anthony Davidson crashed with a few minutes to go at turn 3.

Pos  Driver        Team               Time      Behind  Laps
 1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:28.469            28
 2.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:28.762  + 0.293   21
 3.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:28.773  + 0.304   23
 4.  Trulli        Toyota             1:28.874  + 0.405   28
 5.  Massa         Ferrari            1:28.884  + 0.415   25
 6.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   1:28.947  + 0.478   24
 7.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:28.995  + 0.526   27
 8.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:29.025  + 0.556   28
 9.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    1:29.093  + 0.624   27
10.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         1:29.368  + 0.899   31
11.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:29.435  + 0.966   12
12.  Fisichella    Renault            1:29.456  + 0.987   28
13.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         1:29.792  + 1.323   30
14.  Button        Honda              1:29.945  + 1.476   26
15.  Barrichello   Honda              1:30.055  + 1.586   31
16.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:30.104  + 1.635   27
17.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:30.315  + 1.846   25
18.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:30.530  + 2.061   24
19.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:30.702  + 2.233   24
20.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:30.801  + 2.332   16
21.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:31.153  + 2.684   32
22.  Yamamoto      Spyker-Ferrari     1:31.175  + 2.706   32


Two cars missing from Friday qualifying
The Jan Heylen car and the Dan Clarke car will not be taking part in Friday provisional Champ Car qualifying in Zolder due to extensive repairs that could not completed in time. Both cars will be ready for Saturday morning practice.

Conquest Racing had the following statement - Due to the incident involving Jan Heylen (#34 Grafiprint / Cosworth / DP01 / Bridgestone) during Friday morning’s practice session, Conquest Racing will not be participating in the provisional qualifying session. The incident, caused by Dan Clarke, involved a total of four cars from the field and resulted in extensive damage to the #34 Grafiprint car. The team will be working hard to fix Jan’s car tonight and he will be back in the cockpit for Saturday’s morning practice session and final qualifying.


Briatore commits focus to F1
(GMM)  Flavio Briatore insisted on Friday that his likely foray into the world of English football will not affect his focus on formula one.

The Italian boss of reigning world champions Renault confirmed to reporters at the scene of the Turkish grand prix that he is looking to buy the London club Queens Park Rangers.

He insisted, however, that he is not planning a change of career.

"My business is in formula one," Briatore said.

"The focus for me is next year because we need to be competitive again."

Briatore, 57, owns several businesses, including the 'Billionaire' chain of men's clothing stores, the pharmaceutical company Pierrel, and his London restaurant Cipriani.

"It's like Cipriani," he explained.  "I don't go in the kitchen to cook the food.

"I occasionally go there to eat, and with QPR I will occasionally go to a match.  Nothing more."


Malaysia GP gets 5-year extension
(GMM)  Malaysia's contract to host an annual grand prix near Kuala Lumpur has been extended until 2015, it was announced on Friday.

The current contract was due to expire in 2010, but was extended for five years beyond that, the Motorsports Commission of Malaysia confirmed.

Chairman Datuk Azman Yahya said the contract was actually signed in July, with Sepang now committed to staging a night race 'at any time upon notification' by Formula One Management, which is led by Bernie Ecclestone.

Sepang boss Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir, however, clarified in a press conference that the circuit had not yet made any decisions about lighting infrastructure for the future.

"FIA has not told us about the specifications for the night race.  They have engaged a company, which would be conducting a test in Paul Ricard Circuit in September," he said.


Drain cover causes red flag in Turkey
(GMM)  Friday's second practice session in Turkey faced a long delay when a drain cover worked loose.

Twenty two minutes into the 90-minute session, the red flags began waving and the action did not resume for nearly half an hour.

The scene at turn 10 was investigated by marshals and the FIA's Charlie Whiting, amid suggestions that Rubens Barrichello actually ran over the errant debris.

It was initially dislodged when Giancarlo Fisichella ran over it, and safely re-secured before the action resumed.


Turkey: Raikkonen leads Ferrari 1-2 in opening practice
Pos  Driver        Team                Time      Behind  Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:27.988            22
 2.  Massa         Ferrari            1:28.391  + 0.403   20
 3.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   1:29.222  + 1.234   20
 4.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:29.261  + 1.273   10
 5.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:29.346  + 1.358   19
 6.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:29.403  + 1.415   23
 7.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:29.414  + 1.426   24
 8.  Fisichella    Renault            1:29.541  + 1.553   19
 9.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         1:29.641  + 1.653   20
10.  Trulli        Toyota             1:29.685  + 1.697   26
11.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         1:29.710  + 1.722   23
12.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:30.384  + 2.396   17
13.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:30.398  + 2.410   23
14.  Button        Honda              1:30.483  + 2.495   17
15.  Barrichello   Honda              1:30.580  + 2.592   25
16.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:30.612  + 2.624   21
17.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:30.624  + 2.636   15
18.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    1:30.876  + 2.888   12
19.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:30.917  + 2.929   22
20.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:31.383  + 3.395   22
21.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:31.445  + 3.457   31
22.  Yamamoto      Spyker-Ferrari     1:32.270  + 4.282   35


Power leads opening practice in Zolder
Australian Will Power led the opening practice session for the Champ Cars at Zolder, Belgium. His lap of 1m15.100s was 1/10th of a second faster than Sebastien Bourdais at 1m15.235s. Robert Doornbos was third at 1m15.772s.

Pos Driver Lap Time Leader 
1 W. Power 1:15.100   
2 S. Bourdais 1:15.235 0.135 
3 R. Doornbos 1:15.772 0.672 
4 B. Junqueira 1:15.886 0.786 
5 S. Pagenaud 1:15.912 0.812 
6 N. Jani 1:15.933 0.833 
7 G. Rahal 1:16.137 1.037 
8 A. Tagliani 1:16.155 1.055 
9 T. Gommendy 1:16.389 1.289 
10 O. Servia 1:16.666 1.566 
11 P. Tracy 1:16.708 1.608 
12 R. Dalziel 1:17.174 2.074 
13 K. Legge 1:17.284 2.184 
14 A. Figge 1:17.501 2.401 


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

  • Ecclestone slams McLaren Turkey no-show
  • McLaren likely to escape spy rap - Bernie
  • Rivals comment on McLaren driver absence
  • Feuding drivers talking again - McLaren New
  • Hamilton has tough start in Turkey New

Ecclestone slams McLaren Turkey no-show
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone in Turkey slammed Ron Dennis' decision to prohibit both McLaren drivers from traveling to the formula one circuit outside of Istanbul on Thursday.

Instead, feuding drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, and other leading team figures including boss Dennis, met at the plush downtown hotel 'Conrad' for 'clear-the-air talks' following their Hungary bust-up.

But their notable absence at the circuit meant that they could not complete ordinary pre-grand prix routines, such as walking the circuit, and it also drew the ire of the attending media who had to make do without access to the two leading title protagonists.

The Turkey incident follows Hungary three weeks ago, when McLaren officials gagged the drivers from speaking to the press.

"I believe that Ron is not handling the fight between his drivers well," F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone told Spanish press, including the newspaper Diario As.

"It is not a good decision to stop them from coming here. I don't know what is going on. It's strange and it is not good for F1."

One of reigning world champion Alonso's only media engagements in the city on Thursday was a karting event for team sponsor Vodafone.

Shortly before a press conference, one of McLaren's PR representatives warned that the 26-year-old would not be talking about Hungary, the espionage scandal or his teammate Hamilton.

In La Gazzetta dello Sport, Ecclestone was also quoted as saying: "I do not understand. If a driver does not want to answer a question, he is big enough to say 'I do not want to answer' or 'I cannot answer that'.

"It would have been better if they had been here today, but tomorrow they must be here and they cannot refuse to talk."

McLaren likely to escape spy rap - Bernie
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone in Turkey said McLaren are not likely to be punished when the spy saga reconvenes next month.

The FIA's International Court of Appeal will hear the case on September 13, where Ferrari will press its argument about a McLaren employee's confessed possession of team secrets.

But F1 chief executive Ecclestone, a member of the World Motor Sport Council that recently found McLaren guilty but did not hand down a sanction, argues that the appeal is likely to produce a similar result.

"Unless something new comes up, there's not an awful lot one can do because you've got to catch the guy with the shooter in his hands, pulling the trigger," he is quoted as saying by The Sun.

76-year-old Ecclestone admitted, however, that a punishment is still possible.

"They can still be in trouble under the different sections in the rules where they should be in control of what goes on in the company.

"But the big thing is, people would have to show that they were involved in the theft and they were using the material -– that's where they would be in big trouble."

Rivals comment on McLaren driver absence
(GMM) A band of formula one drivers in Turkey sided against the absence on Thursday of their McLaren rivals.

Officially, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton stayed away from the Istanbul circuit for reasons of convenience and traffic congestion -- more likely is speculation that team chiefs did not want them cornered by the media about various controversies including the spy saga and their tetchy teammate relationships.

Attendance on Thursday is however not compulsory for drivers or team members, unless they are called to appear at the FIA press conference.

At that very media gathering, drivers including Nick Heidfeld revealed that Thursday can still be an important day for the teams.

"We have a couple of things to do," the BMW driver said, "but for me it's just part of formula one, that you turn up on the Thursday, do all your meetings -- it's a bit strange that suddenly you stay in the city."

Ferrari's Felipe Massa pointed out that not coming to the track prior to the first day of action means a driver cannot inspect the circuit -- something Alonso and Hamilton have usually done on foot in 2007.

"We also walk the track on Thursday," Renault's Heikki Kovalainen confirmed, "that's tradition with our engineers."

Former McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, said he thought he knew what was going on behind closed doors at the plush Conrad hotel in Istanbul, an hour's drive away.

"I've been to those meetings," the Finn, who now drives for Ferrari, said.

"They stick one driver in one room and the other driver in another and talk to them separately."

Referring to their absence on Thursday, Raikkonen added: "For sure it doesn't help them, but I don't know if it going to hurt. But it doesn't make anyone's life easier."

Feuding drivers talking again - McLaren
(GMM)  McLaren teammates Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton patched up their damaged working relationship with a hotel meeting on Thursday, the Woking based team revealed on Friday.

In a statement, Ron Dennis' outfit confirmed media reports that the pair, who left Hungary three weeks ago not on speaking terms, stayed away from the Istanbul circuit so as to patch up their differences in the nearby city.

Alonso and Hamilton met with their bosses "independently" in the hotel, thought to be the five-star 'Conrad', before finding a "constructive way forward" with a separate face-to-face encounter, McLaren announced in a statement issued to the press.

"We are now turning our full attention to the Turkish grand prix and the rest of the season," it concluded.

Hamilton has tough start in Turkey
(GMM)  Britons Lewis Hamilton and David Coulthard had a tough start to their Turkish grand prix weekend here in Istanbul.

With just 10 laps on the board for the entire 90 minute opening session on Friday, it is understood that Hamilton's McLaren, confined to the garage for most of the morning, suffered from a technical problem at the rear of the car.

Coulthard managed a decent 23 laps, but his session ended with marshals having to extinguish a fire from underneath his Red Bull.

In hot conditions of 33 degrees, nearly every runner had spins on the slippery track.

The Ferraris emerged with clearly the quickest pace, followed by the two McLarens.


Rocketsports and RuSPORT to continue apart - sort of
For the 2007 Champ Car season, two winning teams, Rocketsports and RuSPORT, combined their efforts to campaign Alex Tagliani in the #8 Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone and Justin Wilson in the #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone. After running for half of the season under the banner name of RSPORTS, the two teams have decided to enhance their marketing effort by re-establishing their original team names.  Both teams believe there is more image value in their historically branded names.
Rocketsports Racing is a company that has been in existence for 27 years, in which five of those seasons have been invested in the Champ Car World Series. To not have the Rocketsports name in existence this season, will neglect it from the opportunity to continue its branding history. The same goes for the RuSPORT team, now under the ownership of Dan Pettit, which has established its name in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship before making the move up to Champ Car four years ago.
The two teams found it necessary to use their old names for strictly business reasons. Sponsor opportunities that were being worked on for a long time require the use of the well-established team names.
The teams will continue to work very closely together and continue to enjoy the benefits of their joint relationship for the remainder of the 2007 Champ Car season.
To be credited from this point on, the #8 Champ Car entry driven by Tagliani will return to running under the Rocketsports name, while the #9 CDW entry driven by Wilson will run under the RuSPORT name.  Rocketsports PR


4-car crash on opening lap in Zolder
The carnage started early in Zolder, Belgium Friday morning. A 4-car accident on the warm-up lap of Friday practice at Zolder, Belgium severely damaged the car of local favorite Jan Heylen. Our cameras were rolling when the cars started out on their first lap ever at Zolder. On the backstraight, between turns 4 and 5, Dan Clarke came flying past Justin Wilson some 50 MPH faster than everyone else was going, clipped Justin Wilson's right-front tire and that turned Clarke's car across the bow of Wilson and he hit Heylen at a right angle sending both cars into the outside wall. Meanwhile Paul Tracy hit Justin Wilson from behind as Wilson slowed because of the accident.

Afterwards a livid Heylen blamed Dan Clarke for the accident. "What the fu%#! What the fu%#! said an obviously disappointed Heylen who saw his 'home' race before his countryman get ruined before it even started.

Wilson told us that, "We were still going slow on our warm-up lap and I went right to pass Jan [Heylen] and Dan Clarke came flying up from behind on the right about 50 mph faster with two wheels on the grass, clipped my right-front wheel, which in turn sent Clarke hard into Jan. I don't know what Dan was thinking," said Wilson.

Clarke had another side of the story saying that "Wilson moved over in front of me and I had nowhere to go but on the grass." Clarke didn't want to take blame for the accident but as Heylen and Wilson put it, "where was he going in such a hurry on the warm-up lap? We were still on cold tires. He doesn't think. He just doesn't think." Mark C. reporting from Zolder.

(L to R) Crash photos, Wilson talking to Conquest team owner Eric Bachelart and Jan Heylen

(L to R) Heylen's and Wilson's damaged race cars

tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE #2 The full Saturday and Sunday TV listings are now shown below.

08/24/07 Those of you who do not get ESPN Classic to see the race live can watch the replay of Sunday's Champ Car race at Zolder, Belgium at 2:00 AM Monday morning on ESPN2 (See below).

Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Formula 1 Practice Turkey
7:00am-8:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Practice Bristol
10:00am-11:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Bristol
11:30am-1:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Bristol
2:00pm-2:30pm (L) SPEED
Go or Go Home Bristol
2:30pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Bristol
3:00pm-4:30pm (L) SPEED
Desert Racing Series - 2007 Baja 500
4:00pm-5:00pm The Outdoor Channel
NASCAR Busch Qualifying Bristol
4:30pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice - Bristol
6:00pm-7:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series Food City 250 Bristol
7:30pm-8:00pm (L) -Pre-race
8:00pm-10:30pm (L) -Race ESPN2
Art Mann Presents... Midwest Mayhem
Indy 500 - Special Guests: Mario Andretti, Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon
9:00pm-9:30pm (R) HDNet
FIM Motocross -GP of Japan
10:00pm-11:00pm (5/27/07) The Outdoor Channel
Survival of the Fastest Michigan
10:30pm-11:00pm SPEED
Trackside Bristol
11:00pm-12:00am SPEED

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Kalkhoven in plane scare
Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven had a plane scare yesterday when his Gulfstream V lost one of its two engines over the Dakotas on their way to Zolder, Belgium from California. The plane landed safely in Minneapolis and the crew and passengers are on a loaner Gulfstream and will soon land in Belgium.


Lloyd eyes Indy Pro Series title at Infineon
Alex Lloyd already has seven wins in his back pocket and a 98-point lead in the Indy Pro Series point standings with three races remaining, but he's not ready to let up one bit as the series heads to Infineon Raceway for a doubleheader weekend Aug. 25-26.

"We're going in with the aim and ambition of winning both races and certainly coming away with at least one win," said Lloyd, who drives the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "That's the way I've been all year is trying to win the race, and if we keep winning races and win more than everybody else out there, then the championship is likely to follow, and that's the same mentality I've got here."

Lloyd opened the season with an unprecedented run of five consecutive victories, including the Freedom 100 on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After that, he added victories at Iowa and Watkins Glen, although a string of 10 consecutive top-three finishes ended with an 11th at Nashville on July 14.

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McLaren drivers not best friends - Haug UPDATE Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were notable absentees from the paddock at the Istanbul Park circuit yesterday, remaining behind closed doors in their hotel rooms with the McLaren management as they sought to defuse the tension which still hangs in the air following their rift during qualifying for the Hungarian grand prix three weeks ago.
Rather than parade their opinions in front of the press in the 33C heat, the McLaren team principal Ron Dennis and his right-hand man Martin Whitmarsh insisted that Hamilton and Alonso, seven points apart at the head of the drivers' world championship table, talk over their differences in private before making their first appearance of the weekend before this morning's first free practice session. Dennis, who was visibly shell-shocked at the Hungaroring after both his drivers attempted to double-cross each other during qualifying, resulting in Alonso losing his pole position thanks to a five-place grid penalty, came to Turkey for the 12th race of the 17-race season hoping that time would have soothed Alonso's injured pride. Yet although both men talked for almost two hours it was not obvious last night whether they had cleared the air. The Guardian

08/23/07 (GMM)  Norbert Haug on Thursday was not keen to divulge much about what have been described unofficially as 'clear-the-air talks' between McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

On the eve of practice for the Turkish grand prix, the feuding pair were excused from official duties, including media interviews, at the Istanbul circuit and instead met in the presence of team chiefs in a downtown hotel.

Haug, team engine partner Mercedes-Benz's competition director, divulged only that "internal matters" were discussed at the meeting, despite assumptions that the drivers were told in no uncertain terms by team boss Ron Dennis that the hostility of the recent Hungarian grand prix should not be repeated.

The German insisted, however, that it is "understandable" that the pair are hardly the best of friends as they battle for the 2007 title.

"Those who contend for places five and ten have an easier task to be good friends," Haug added, "but our opponents are outside, and not inside, the team."


Turkish GP Preview
Could the 2007 Formula One world championship have any more drama? We've got 21 points separating the top four drivers, the two leading teams at loggerheads and the recent schism at McLaren.

Ron Dennis must be wondering what he has done wrong. His two drivers are running one-two in the championship, and McLaren is comfortably clear in the constructors' standings. Yet he has got to work out a way of keeping Lewis Hamilton and Alonso focused on finishing the job, and ensure that egos don't rule the roost.

The drivers have had three weeks to work through their differences, after Alonso was demoted from pole position down the grid in Hungary for blocking Hamilton in a tit-for-tat maneuver during qualifying. The Spaniard was furious and finished fourth while the Englishman went on to win the race. The result sees Hamilton seven points clear.

It's been a long time since two drivers on the same team have shared such a rivalry. It wasn't a problem Dennis could have reasonably envisioned. Hamilton's success in his debut year has smashed all expectations, with 10 podiums from 11 races. Alonso, expecting the be top dog at his new team for at least this season, has had to play second fiddle behind the hottest commodity in motorsport.

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Meira takes ride with Blue Angels
Vitor Meira got a healthy dose of Vitamin G during his flight with Maj. Nathan Miller of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels.

G as in G forces thrust upon the Delphi Panther Racing driver by the high-performance F/A-18 Hornet during the 45-minute flight over Central Indiana courtesy of the U.S. Naval Flight Demonstration Squadron pilot. The Blue Angels will perform their aerial acrobatic maneuvers this weekend at the Mount Comfort Air Show near Indianapolis, while Meira will be competing at Infineon Raceway.

"You have the same smile on your face that you had when we took off, so that's good," Miller said after delivering Meira to the ground. "I was telling him while we were up there that there are a lot of parallels between his team and our team. It's very dedicated and all the teamwork that goes hand in hand. We're grateful that he was able to do this for us and help in our recruiting effort. It's just a great experience to fly with him.

"Now I want to get into one of the (IndyCar Series) cars."

The demonstration flight began with a high-performance climb, in which the pilot and passenger pulled 5.5 Gs (5½ times their body weight) as they shot toward the sky at 90 degrees powered by the twin General Electric turbofan engines with more than 30,000 pounds of thrust, and continued with a series of maneuvers from the show.

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