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DATE News (chronologically)
Monza: Friday Press Conference Monza: Friday Press Conference
IRL Sonoma TV Rating IRL Sonoma TV RatingThe final TV rating for the IRL race at Sonoma two weeks ago on ESPN was a 0.6, the same as 2005.
Champ Car lease option attractive to teams Champ Car lease option attractive to teamsAccording to an article on SPEEDTV.com by Robin Miller, Champ Car's new lease program for the new Champ Car allows teams to lease a car and engine for a full season of racing for just $1 million. The team is responsible for crash damage and salaries.

This is by far the best deal going to attract new teams into a series.  The teams can do that for three years.  Total cost per season with salaries, equipment, etc. is $4 million.

"So you lease two cars for a million each and go run. If you don't like it, you turn in your cars at the end of the year. If you enjoy it, you buy the cars and keep on going," said Kalkhoven.

Kalkhoven says: "They've [existing teams] already got agreements in place and this is simply a way to get new teams in and give them an easy route into Champ Car."

"We want to cap the number of cars at 24 and I think by 2008 we'll be at capacity," said Kalkhoven, who currently campaigns two cars with Dan Pettit and Jimmy Vasser. "Then, the only way a new team can come in will be to buy the assets of an existing team.

"That creates value for our teams and it's all part of the rebuilding process."

RACER Magazine Special On New 2007 Champ Car RACER Magazine Special On New 2007 Champ CarChamp Car World Series fans have waited with great anticipation for the launch for the new DP01 Champ Car, and will get a chance to get as close as any driver has when the October edition of RACER magazine hits the newsstands.

The brand new Panoz DP01 Champ Car, which was launched in San Jose at the end of July, is featured heavily in the In Focus section of the October edition of RACER magazine.

As well as seven pages of the magazine’s renowned quality photography of the “Future of Champ Car”, there is a pull-out double-sided poster which features technical details and illustrations on one side, and a stunning action shot on the other.

RACER’s David Phillips gets under the skin of the new car, and talks to the people who brought the whole project together, while LAT USA photographer Michael Levitt’s beautiful studio and action photography brings together a story that really gives an insight to the face and shape of Champ Car as it heads into a groundbreaking 2007 campaign.

RACER’s October edition goes on sale on September 5.

Briatore, Dennis, steer clear of 'back seat' Briatore, Dennis, steer clear of 'back seat'(GMM)  Flavio Briatore on Friday denied reports that he is planning to take a more 'back seat' role in 2008 by delegating some of the tasks of running the Renault team.

''Back seat?  There's only one seat and it's my seat,'' the Italian told reporters at Monza.

Referring to his new two-year contract, Briatore added: ''Whatever I sign, I deliver.''

There is also considerable speculation in F1 circles about the future of McLaren's Ron Dennis, who next year will reach his sixtieth birthday.

Denying on Friday that he is planning to retire any time soon, the Briton nonetheless insisted that deputy Martin Whitmarsh is first in line to take over as team principal at some point in the future.

''He does a great deal of my job already,'' Dennis admitted, ''so it would be an easy transition.

''But it's not a transition that is on the agenda at the moment.  You will see me for quite a few more years.''

Honda reverts to Turkey engine Honda reverts to Turkey engineAfter two major blowups at Monza, the Honda F1 teams is reverting back to their Turkey GP engine, which is believed to have about 20 less HP.
NASCAR slams latest cheater NASCAR slams latest cheaterNASCAR officials fined Roush Racing Busch Series crew chief Mike Beam $2,500 for violations found at California Speedway.   Beam, crew chief for the No. 6 Ford driven by Mark Martin, was found in violation of the maximum size of the fuel cell vent pipe neck, including the check ball seat.
Jon Wood's Cup plans on hold Jon Wood's Cup plans on holdVery few things have gone according to plan for Jon Wood this year. The Stuart VA native went into this season expecting to be competitive in the Busch Series, run seven Nextel Cup races and prepare to go full time into a Cup car for next year. The intended car was the #21 Wood Brothers Ford owned by his family and currently being driven by Ken Schrader. That's still the eventual plan, but the situation has changed. Wood hasn't seen the results he was hoping for in the Busch Series. It's unlikely now that Wood will make his Nextel Cup debut this season. Both he and his father, Eddie, say it's more likely that Wood will run a partial schedule. Jon Wood says he knows what he'd like to see happen. "For example, say Schrader and I split the 21 car," he said. "He did the races, say, I wasn't comfortable with, or did the races one particular sponsor wanted, then I did the others. That's kind of a way of not having to be thrown to the wolves and learn so fast. That would be my ideal scenario." Eddie Wood said nothing is set in stone but that he still has every intention of getting Jon into a Cup car for next year. Jon said he will drive a full Busch schedule next year. Richmond Times-Dispatch
Pacific Coast to test with Lolas first Pacific Coast to test with Lolas firstPacific Coast team manager Tyler Tadevic said today that his new Champ Car team, with drivers Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge, will use Rocketsports Lolas to do as much testing as possible between the Mexico City race and the first of the year to get both drivers better acclimated to a Champ Car.

Champ Car rules allow for as many testing miles as a team can get in with the existing Lola chassis until the end of life the Cosworth engines in them (i.e. until they must be rebuilt). After that, and with the new Panoz chassis, testing will be limited to three planned open Champ Car sanctioned tests - 3 days in January, 2 in February and 2 in March. In addition, teams will get 600 test miles during the regular '07 season. Teams with rookie drivers will get an additional 300 test miles per driver and a rookie team like Pacific Coast will be granted a yet to be determined additional allotment of test miles during the '07 season.

"We were fortunate to strike a deal with Mr. Gentilozzi to get our hands on a couple of Lola chassis.  Over the course just after the Mexico City race through to the first of the year, we'll be testing a lot.  We'll be doing a lot of testing with both the boys.  We hope to accrue between 1,500 to 2,000 miles apiece for each one of the boys in the Lola just to got them up to speed.  It's my understanding that that type of testing is just allowed for the rookie teams.               

"As far the testing with the new chassis in that, Kevin really wants to keep it a level playing field.  We'll be allowed to test pretty much as much as we want from the Mexico City race to the end of the year.  But the testing on the new chassis is going to be clamped down very hard in order to keep the playing field level.

"For us, we like that.  We think that's a situation where we've been able to excel in the past on a level playing field, so we'll take all of testing we can in the Lola to get the boys up to speed.  And then, you know, we believe the engineering staff we have will be able to set up the car as far as anybody with the new chassis as soon as we can get our hands on it.

Tadevic also said that their (Dalziel and Figge's) Grand-Am involvement in 2007 will be limited to the big races (24 Hours of Daytona, etc.) depending on what conflicts may arise between the Champ Car and Grand-Am schedules.

"We're in the process still of formalizing what our relationship with Grand Am is and what whether we plan to continue competing there.  Definitely the 24‑hour race, 9‑hour race, 6‑hour race, certainly Pacific Coast will be pulling from its pool drivers, the foremost of which are Ryan and Alex.  Absolutely they will be given the opportunity for races that don't conflict.  We believe the more experience that they can have, the better that is for them.  But really that remains to be seen far as what events they will be competing in as far as neither one of the final schedules are out.  So it's really difficult to say which ones they will be.  But the ones that don't conflict will be considered as events they will compete in."

As for the switch back to open wheel racing Tadevic said, "We went to sportscars thinking the grass was greener on the other side and found out it was not. Our heart has always been in open wheel and we are happy to be back. The way the new rules have been setup it allows a new team like ours to step into Champ Car and be on a level playing field with the top teams like Forsythe and Newman/Haas. We have a good engineering staff and as long as we work hard we can be successful."

Renault came 'close' to signing Kimi - Briatore Renault came 'close' to signing Kimi - Briatore(GMM)  Renault gave up on signing Kimi Raikkonen when it became clear that the Finn had penned a 'pre-contract' to join Ferrari in 2007, according to Flavio Briatore.

But the 56-year-old Italian said the French squad he leads came 'close' to landing Raikkonen, who is sure to be unveiled as an official Ferrari racer on Sunday.

''We believe next year he is driving for Ferrari with (Felipe) Massa,'' the team principal told reporters at Monza on Friday.

Briatore's revelation adds fuel to speculation that Michael Schumacher has decided to retire from F1.

He also said Renault chose to put rookie Heikki Kovalainen alongside Giancarlo Fisichella for 2007 rather than plump for a 'name driver' like the now departed Juan Pablo Montoya.

Hot cars, hot women Hot cars, hot womenSome female celebrities in the news recently have been driving some very hot cars.  Now these are the women you need to get to know!  Women have been dating men for their cars since the invention of the automobile, so why shouldn't men do the same thing?!
Paris Hilton: Mercedes SLR McLaren
Lindsay Lohan: Mercedes SL65 AMG
Ellen DeGeneres: Porsche Carrera
Danica Patrick: Lamborghini Gallardo
The first three women on this list all made the news because of accidents they were involved in with their cars.  Danica mentioned she drove a Lamborghini when she was the guest co-host on The View recently.
Monza: Vettel nips Schumacher in practice 2 Monza: Vettel nips Schumacher in practice 2Honda endured a nightmare start on Friday to its Italian grand prix, as a second practice failure for Anthony Davidson forced the Japanese squad to abandon plans to introduce its 2007 engine.

The British driver's V8 engine failed within three minutes in the morning session, and then eight laps into his program at two pm.

Race drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello deliberately did not turn a single lap on Friday at Monza, meaning that they can revert to regular 2006 engine specifications for the rest of the weekend and avoid penalty.

BMW's impressive 'Friday' rookie Sebastian Vettel, quickest in both morning and afternoon sessions at Monza, unfortunately proved too fast in the pit lane.

The German teenager, who was similarly penalized on debut in Turkey, will need to fork out $3500 for breaking the 60kph speed limit by 14.3kph.

In the afternoon practice session, Renault's Fernando Alonso at one point put two wheels on the gravel in the 'Ascari' chicane, and ultimately lagged Michael Schumacher's Ferrari pace by more than a second.

Without incurring damage in the afternoon session at Monza, Williams' Alex Wurz had a spin in the Roggia chicane. Sakon Yamamoto (Super Aguri) also had a trip through the gravel.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Vettel BMW-Sauber (M) 1:22.631 29
 2. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:23.138 + 0.507 11
 3. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:23.182 + 0.551 12
 4. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:23.414 + 0.783 26
 5. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:23.970 + 1.339 12
 6. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:24.034 + 1.403 11
 7. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:24.330 + 1.699 9
 8. Alonso Renault (M) 1:24.577 + 1.946 15
 9. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:24.813 + 2.182 5
10. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:24.943 + 2.312 24
11. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) 1:24.985 + 2.354 11
12. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:25.027 + 2.396 12
13. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:25.040 + 2.409 9
14. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:25.108 + 2.477 11
15. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:25.160 + 2.529 14
16. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:25.277 + 2.646 12
17. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:25.316 + 2.685 22
18. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:25.318 + 2.687 11
19. Davidson Honda (M) 1:25.356 + 2.725 8
20. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:25.500 + 2.869 11
21. Mondini MF1-Toyota (B) 1:25.586 + 2.955 29
22. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:25.707 + 3.076 19
23. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:25.755 + 3.124 21
24. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:25.878 + 3.247 32
25. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:26.058 + 3.427 31
26. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:26.118 + 3.487 21
27. Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:26.705 + 4.074 14
28. Barrichello Honda (M)
29. Button Honda (M)

Paddock news from Monza: 3 Paddock news from Monza: 3(GMM) Fearing the loss of its grand prix in a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council later this month, Turkey's 'Istanbul Chamber of Commerce' (ITO) - promoter of the race - has now officially denied that the podium saga two weeks ago was motivated by politics.

Although ITO president Murat Yalcintas boasted immediately after the event that it had been a 'great opportunity' to promote the issue of Northern Cyprus, he was quoted in a statement on Friday as saying: ''The podium ceremony of the successful F1 race was in no way conducted with the purpose of gaining political advantage.''

The news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst asked Mercedes' Norbert Haug at Monza what he thought about the likely announcement on Sunday of Michael Schumacher. The German answered: ''It would not surprise me if things are still not totally clear after Monza.''

Williams test driver Alex Wurz, however, reckons it is '100 per cent' certain that the 37-year-old Ferrari driver is calling it a day.

Two famous soccer players - Dutch 'AC Milan' player Clarence Seedorf, and Brazilian born teammate Kaka - watched from Michael Schumacher's Ferrari garage on Friday as the German veteran participated in perhaps his last ever GP in Europe.

Bernie Ecclestone's company Formula One Administration has signed an exclusive financial branding deal with 'Banesto'. The Spanish bank was previously rumored to be nearing a $10 million per year sponsorship of the McLaren team, to next year be headed in the cockpit by Fernando Alonso.

Capirossi tops Friday practice in Sepang Capirossi tops Friday practice in SepangCombined times from both practice sessions
1.Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 2min 1.711 secs
2 Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team 2min 2.021 secs
3 Kenny Roberts Jr USA Team Roberts 2min 2.563 secs
4 John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2min 2.710 secs
5 Casey Stoner AUS Honda LCR 2min 2.847 secs *
6 Makoto Tamada JPN Konica Minolta Honda 2min 2.918 secs
7 Valentino Rossi ITA Camel Yamaha Team 2min 2.970 secs
8 Sete Gibernau SPA Ducati Marlboro Team 2min 2.981 secs
9 Marco Melandri ITA Fortuna Honda 2min 3.049 secs *
10 Shinya Nakano JPN Kawasaki Racing Team 2min 3.100 secs
11 Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team 2min 3.174 secs *
12 Colin Edwards USA Camel Yamaha Team 2min 3.355 secs
13 Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing Team 2min 3.418 secs
14 Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2min 3.432 secs
15 Carlos Checa SPA Tech 3 Yamaha 2min 3.706 secs
16 Toni Elias SPA Fortuna Honda 2min 3.908 secs
17 Alex Hofmann GER Pramac d'Antin MotoGP 2min 4.706 secs
18 James Ellison GBR Tech 3 Yamaha 2min 5.403 secs
19 Jose Luis Cardoso SPA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP 2min 5.958 secs
Paddock news from Monza: 2 Paddock news from Monza: 2(GMM) Nick Fry's days as team principal of the Honda team are numbered, according to speculation at Monza on Friday.

It is suggested that the always-optimistic 50-year-old Briton, who replaced his former Prodrive boss David Richards two years ago, could be replaced at the end of the 2006 season by Honda's Otmar Szafnauer.

Daily Canadian newspaper Toronto Sun is reporting that ownership of the Midland team could be transferred from Russian-born businessman Alex Shnaider to a Dutch consortium during the course of the Monza weekend.

The publication cited officials of the involved car maker Spyker as confirming that the group led by Michiel Mol had now had its $100m offer for the Silverstone-based squad basically accepted on Thursday.

The initial hour of practice was halted on Friday morning when Anthony Davidson's third Honda suffered a smoky engine failure. With the breakdown occurring in the flat-out Curva Grande, race control ordered a red-flag period between 11.03 and 11.13 local time.

Championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault) failed to make an appearance on track, while Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) did not even change into his overalls. Fourteen other race drivers did not set a time.
BMW youngsters top opening Monza practice BMW youngsters top opening Monza practice
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Vettel BMW-Sauber (M) 1:23.263 22
 2. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:23.745 + 0.482 5
 3. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:23.868 + 0.605 19
 4. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:24.037 + 0.774 5
 5. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:24.196 + 0.933 24
 6. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:25.413 + 2.150 7
 7. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:25.578 + 2.315 19
 8. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) 1:25.766 + 2.503 7
 9. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:26.708 + 3.445 20
10. Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:27.310 + 4.047 20
11. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:27.597 + 4.334 7
12. Mondini MF1-Toyota (B) 1:28.444 + 5.181 7
13. Davidson Honda (M) No time 2
14. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) No time 1
15. Massa Ferrari (B) No time 1
16. Trulli Toyota (B) No time 2
17. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) No time 1
18. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) No time 2
19. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) No time 3
20. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) No time 1
21. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) No time 1
22. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) No time 1
23. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) No time 1
24. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) No time 1
25. Alonso Renault (M)
26. Fisichella Renault (M)
27. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B)
28. Barrichello Honda (M)
29. Button Honda (M)
TV News
Roush on Wind Tunnel Roush on Wind TunnelRoush Racing team owner, Jack Roush, will be a featured interview on Wind Tunnel this Sunday September 10th. A year ago, Roush Racing had all five of its Cup cars in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. This year, three of those teams are missing from the battle. The two that remain are points leader Matt Kenseth and ninth place, Mark Martin. So what happened to the other teams this year? And how does Jack rate Jamie McMurray’s season thus far? We’ll get answers to those questions plus we’ll talk about the state of Robert Yates Racing, Ford Motor Company, and NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow. SPEEDTV.com
'06 IRL TV ratings flat '06 IRL TV ratings flatIndy racing League official says it's hard to keep up with last year's 'Danica factor'.  The Indy Racing League heads to Chicagoland Speedway this weekend with its television ratings flat from a year ago.  Six races realized increases this season, six saw decreases. The other had no movement.

Flat TV ratings generally aren't preferred by sports organizations or their television partners, but a senior ESPN official said Thursday he is satisfied with the IRL's progress.

"The IRL had lightning in a bottle last year with Danica Patrick, so we're very impressed that we've kept a number of the viewers that sampled (the league)," said Frantz Cayo, ESPN's director of motor sports programming. "Compared to 2004, we're up (with ratings)."

Higher Ratings

Track Rating % Increase
1. Homestead 0.8 25.0%
1. Milwaukee 0.4 25.0
3. Sonoma 0.6 16.7
3. Japan 0.6 16.7
5. Watkins Gl. 0.8 12.5

Lower Ratings

Track Rating % Decrease
1. Nashville 0.4 42.9%
2. Texas 0.6 40.0
3. St. Pete. 0.3 25.0
4. Michigan 1.0 23.1
5. Indy 5.1 21.6

Top ratings past 5 years

Track Avg. since 2002
1. Indianapolis 5.0
2. Kansas 1.2
3. Homestead 1.12
4. Michigan 1.06
5. Chicago 0.93  More at Indy Star 

[Editor's Note: The IRL condensed their schedule in 2006 so that they had races regularly every week or two with no major gaps.  That was supposed to help increase ratings.  Overall, on a per race basis, the IRL had significantly less total viewers for the 2006 season than they had for the 2005 season, so to say the ratings have been flat is a lie.  Their condensed schedule has failed to gain any new fans or new viewers.] 

Andretti Foundation raises over $55K Andretti Foundation raises over $55KNAZARETH, PA - The Michael Andretti Foundation recently raised over $55,000 from a fundraising event that was held recently at the Andretti Winery in Napa, California. The event which was sponsored by Honda, Bayer and Nuvelo included wine tasting, AGR driver meet and greets and a silent auction for over 300 guests. Proceeds from the event will be donated amongst three charities including the Meals on Wheels of Napa Valley California; the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation and the National Hemophilia Foundation and will be used to support the charities various programs and research efforts.

The Andretti Winery hosted guests at a special fundraising event for the Michael Andretti Foundation that included special guest speakers Michael Andretti and his AGR IndyCar® drivers, Marco Andretti, Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta and Tony Kanaan as well as IPS drivers, Jaime Camara and Jonathan Klein. Legendary driver and owner of the Andretti Winery, Mario Andretti was also on hand to meet with the guests and talk to them about both his career in racing and his interest in the wine business. The event also included an informal wine tasting of the various Andretti wines throughout the evening.

"Everyone loved this event and it was such a great way to enjoy the IRL race weekend in Sonoma. The Foundation is able to raise money for worthy charities and guests get to enjoy a private evening at the Andretti Winery" commented Michael Andretti.

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

Paddock news from Monza: 1 Paddock news from Monza: 1(GMM) In a calculated move to get a jump on its rivals ahead of the engine 'freeze' deadline, Honda is set to introduce its 2007-specification V8 engine at Monza.

Management representatives for Kimi Raikkonen were this week at Ferrari's headquarters at Maranello to finalize a definitive contract for the Finn for 2007 and beyond. The deal is expected to be announced by the Italian team on Sunday evening.

Championship leader Fernando Alonso has estimated the value of an updated Renault V8 engine for the Italian grand prix at about two tenths per lap, or 'five or six horse power', the Spaniard told reporters at Monza.

Red Bull refugee Christian Klien is investigating the possibility of replacing Ricardo Zonta as a Toyota test driver next year, according to the latest rumor from Monza. Super Aguri 'Friday' driver Franck Montagny is also linked with the role, as Zonta prepares to switch to Renault for the 2007 season.

Austrian Klien's future, more probably destined for the American Champ Car series, will be unveiled here on Saturday.

Schu prepares to be 'unemployed' Schu prepares to be 'unemployed'(GMM)  The hot topic at Monza this weekend is the likely announcement that Michael Schumacher is retiring after 15 years in F1.

No matter their previous opinion of the controversial seven time world champion, fellow racers are converging in tribute for the 37-year-old German.

Jarno Trulli, Giancarlo Fisichella and Vitantonio Liuzzi added their words of encouragement for the Ferrari veteran to stick around, while a huge flag on a Monza grandstand bore the message: 'Without Schumi in F1, no-one else exists'.

Another banner said 'Kimi, red does not suit you'.

Even Pedro de la Rosa, who earlier this year quit the GPDA in protest of Schumacher's presence, had a magnanimous word to offer.

''He used to be my idol and he is not any more,'' the Spaniard told 'AS' newspaper.

''But he is a great champion; he never throws in the towel.''

Schumacher himself is under a Ferrari gag-order to keep quiet until Sunday, but such a news bombshell must be difficult to contain.

He did admit to reporters that he has 'no plans' for the months following a theoretical retirement after 89 grand prix wins.

''I suppose I would be unemployed,'' he smiled.  Asked if he would miss these gatherings with reporters, the German giggled back: ''Of course!''

Younger brother Ralf counted himself out of the topic entirely, when asked if he thought Michael is about to retire, commence a sabbatical, or switch to a rival team.

''I choose option number four,'' the German answered, ''and will look for a good Pizzeria for this evening.

''I don't want to say anything.  It's his decision.''

Piquet leads opening GP2 practice at Monza Piquet leads opening GP2 practice at MonzaWith the fight for the championship reaching fever pitch Nelson Piquet Jr has struck the first blow of the weekend, topping the timesheet in free practice at Monza ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Alex Premat.

The Brazilian, who set a time of 1:30.801 to claim the top spot, was the first man on track before dropping back to sit in the slipstream of the other drivers early in the session to get a feel for the car in race conditions.

Giorgio Pantano, Gimmi Bruni, Timo Glock and Adam Carroll all took turns at the top of the screens for the first half of the session before Piquet set two fastest laps and then came in on a lap which would have been even quicker.

Hamilton, who had been learning the track on his first visit here, took the opportunity to put himself first before also coming into the pits, but Piquet went quicker straight out of the pits and the matter was settled, with the Brazilian 0.165 to the good.

As expected on the fast, flowing track very few drivers went off: Premat and Pantano ran wide at the Lesmo, with Xandi Negrao stopping on track after a spin in the dying seconds of the session. Lucas di Grassi was also in the wars, coming in to the pits early and staying there as his mechanics toiled over his car.

The top eleven cars were all within one second of Piquet, with two seconds covering 22 drivers: they will all be hoping that the heavy cloud cover doesn't spell rain for this afternoon's qualifying session.

Pos Driver Team Time
 1. N. Piquet Piquet Sports 1:30.801
 2. L. Hamilton ART 1:30.966 + 0.165
 3. A. Premat ART 1:31.185 + 0.384
 4. F. Porteiro Campos Racing 1:31.321 + 0.520
 5. M. Ammermuller Arden 1:31.459 + 0.658
 6. G. Pantano FMS 1:31.495 + 0.694
 7. A. Carroll Racing Eng. 1:31.659 + 0.858
 8. F. Perera DAMS 1:31.690 + 0.889
 9. E. Viso iSport 1:31.745 + 0.944
10. G. Bruni Trident 1:31.784 + 0.983
11. A. Valles Campos Racing 1:31.800 + 0.999
12. A. Negrao Piquet Sports 1:31.915 + 1.114
13. T. Glock iSport 1:31.981 + 1.180
14. A. Zuber Trident 1:32.006 + 1.205
15. N. Lapierre Arden 1:32.136 + 1.335
16. S. Hernandez Durango 1:32.169 + 1.368
17. H. Yoshimoto BCN Comp. 1:32.304 + 1.503
18. F. Monfardini DAMS 1:32.337 + 1.536
19. C. Piccione DPR 1:32.401 + 1.600
20. L. Di Grassi Durango 1:32.502 + 1.701
21. L. Filippi BCN Comp. 1:32.571 + 1.770
22. J. Villa Racing Eng. 1:32.816 + 2.015
23. F. Fauzy Super Nova 1:32.821 + 2.020
24. V. Petrov DPR 1:32.848 + 2.047
25. J. Lopez Super Nova 1:32.998 + 2.197
26. J. Tahinci FMS 1:33.057 + 2.256

Italian GP quiz Italian GP quiz
1. At the Italian Grand Prix, Mario Andretti, Jack Brabham, Jim Clark, Emerson Fittipaldi, Graham Hill, Niki Lauda, Jody Scheckter and Jackie Stewart have all…

a. … earned pole-position.
b. … taken victory.
c. … been crowned world champion.
d. … scored their last F1 win.
e. … contested their last Grand Prix.
2. Which driver claimed pole position at the Italian Grand Prix for four consecutive years (1988-1991)?

a. Gerhard Berger
b. Nigel Mansell
c. Nelson Piquet
d. Alain Prost
e. Ayrton Senna
3. Which American driver obtained his only F1 podium at the Italian Grand Prix during his last career start?

a. Michael Andretti
b. Ronnie Bucknum
c. Richie Ginther
d. Brett Lunger
e. Danny Sullivan
4. To this day, a little over 100 Italian drivers have participated in the world championship. Only three among them have won their national Grand Prix for a total of four times in 56 editions. Who are they?

a. Ascari, Alboreto, Taruffi
b. Baghetti, De Angelis, Patrese
c. Ascari, Farina, Scarfiotti
d. Bandini, Serafini, Villerosi
e. Baghetti, Farina, Patrese
5. This driver, whose family gave the world a famed commercial brand, drove for the Minardi team in 1990. But he was unable to race in front of his countrymen because he failed to qualify at Monza. Who is he?

a. Paolo Barilla
b. Paolo Ducati
c. Paolo Gucci
d. Paolo Olivetti
e. Paolo Pirelli

6. It happened one September 10…

a. In 1956, the birth of Stefan Johansson.
b. In 1960, the birth of Aguri Suzuki.
c. In 1965, the first victory of Jackie Stewart.
d. In 1967, Jacky Ickx contested his first Grand Prix and earned his first point.
e. In 1978, the death of Ronnie Peterson the day after the Italian Grand Prix. 

Answers : 1) c; 2) e; 3) a; 4) c; 5) a; 6) d – a, September 8; b, September 8; c, September 12; e, September 11.

Bridgestone vs. Michelin, a great rivalry about to end Bridgestone vs. Michelin, a great rivalry about to endItaly, China, Japan and Brazil. Only four Grands Prix remain and then F1 will no longer be the scene of an epic six-year battle between the world's two largest tire manufacturers. It's the end of debates such as, "Who has the best rubber for hot or cold weather, the best for dry, intermediate or wet conditions, the best soft tires, softer and softer yet," and so on. On the evening of the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix, if all participants take the start of the last races this season, 1,215 cars will have run on Michelin, 944 on Bridgestone during the 105 world championship events held since 2001. Clearly, Michelin could have added 14 more starts/cars to its total, had it not been for the episode at Indianapolis in 2005. Still, we can already identify the winner of this epic battle as the results of the last Grands Prix will change nothing. As far as wins are concerned (since 2001), the Japanese company has 59, the French firm has 42. It's the opposite for pole positions as Michelin counts 52, versus 49 for Bridgestone. As for fastest laps, it's advantage Bridgestone again, 55 to 46. Thanks to Ferrari and Michael Schumacher, the Japanese firm has earned four driver and four constructor titles, versus one in each category for Michelin. But the 2006 champions have yet to be determined. It is no exaggeration to say that Bridgestone's best decision was to form its close association with Ferrari. While the 42 wins by Michelin have been shared among Renault (17), McLaren (14), Williams (10) and Honda (1), 54 of its rival's 59 wins since 2001 have been by Ferrari. There's a slight irony to this. Michelin's first eight victories during its previous incarnation in F1 (1977-1984) were achieved by Ferrari, which this time has served its competitor rather well.
Massa joins an elite group if six Massa joins an elite group if sixThere was Emerson Fittipaldi, the first in 1970, and then Carlos Pace on one occasion in 1975. Nelson Piquet came to the fore in 1980 and the great Ayrton Senna enjoyed his first success in 1985. Senna had been gone for six years when Rubens Barrichello finally got to climb the top step of the podium in 2000. A little less than two weeks ago, Felipe Massa became the sixth Brazilian to join the list of winners of an F1 world championship race. The Ferrari driver had to wait until his 66th Grand Prix to join his illustrious predecessors. That is about half the time that Barrichello needed (124th start), but longer than the other four sons of the Amazonian land. Carlos Pace, killed prematurely in an air crash, scored his only victory two months before his death in his 41st start, while Piquet (24th) and Senna (16th) triumphed even sooner. Clearly, the most precocious remains Fittipaldi who experienced the joy of victory in just his fourth start, driving for Lotus in 1970 when aged just 23 - one year younger than Senna, two years less than Massa, four years younger than Piquet and five years less than Barrichello. Piquet is the only winner from this country who was not born in Sao Paulo, the great Brazilian metropolis which can pride itself on having bred five Grand Prix winners who now have 66 victories between them. That is more than can be said for London, Paris or any of the world's other great cities. Massa is barely 25 years old and could be on his way to being confirmed by the Scuderia for 2007. His victory was the 89th for a Brazilian. The century mark is not too far away.
V8 Supercars
Aussie star Peter Brock killed Aussie star Peter Brock killedPeter Brock, Australian V8 Supercar motor racing legend, has today died in an accident during Targa West, a tarmac special stage rally being conducted near Perth, Western Australia.

The accident occurred at approximately 11:50am WST. The co-driver has been conveyed to hospital in a stable condition.

Renowned as one of the most gifted drivers of his generation, Brock carved out a career in Australian Touring Car Racing that is unlikely to be matched.

After cutting his teeth in a home built Austin Sports Sedan, Brock was offered a drive with the Holden Dealer Team in 1969 and the 24 year old made the most of a golden opportunity.

His success rate was astonishing.... Brock claimed his first Bathurst win in 1972 and went on to rack up a record total of nine wins for Holden at Mount Panorama and another nine victories in the Sandown 500 Endurance race.  zzzz

His success in the Australian Touring Car Championship is equally impressive. In addition to his three national titles, Peter Brock still holds the record for the most starts, the most round wins, the most pole positions and the most podium finishes in championship history.

The name 'Brock' is as recognizable as Brabham or Bradman, a household name whose success and popularity with generation of fans makes him an Australian sporting icon.

Tony Cochrane, Chairman, V8 Supercars Australia: “Our immediate thoughts are with his family, his children and everybody associated with Peter. It’s a huge loss for V8 Supercars, it’s a huge loss for Australian motor sport and it’s a massive loss for sport in this country.

“Peter gave up so much of his time for children, for charities - to helping others. He was a great role model for so many young athletes not just in motor sport but in sport generally. I hope everybody remembers Peter for all those great things he contributed.

“Peter has always been there. Being at Mount Panorama in four weeks time without Peter Brock ducking and weaving around the pit buildings just won’t be the same.

“He was a great Australian, the sort of bloke that has made this country the fantastic place it is. We can ill-afford to lose the likes of a person of that breed.

“You just can’t simply replace a person like that.”

Wayne Cattach, Chief Executive Officer, V8 Supercars Australia: "He was thought of as nearly indestructible and we've lost two people this week that we have perceived as indestructible, doing what they love doing. It’s a sense of loss, a sense of shock and a sense of grief for his family.

"V8 Supercars was built on the foundation of people of the likes of Peter Brock, Dick Johnson and Allan Moffat - they were household names before V8 Supercars Australia was even invented.

“They set the template for the future. They contributed as competitors and later as role models. I know Peter in particular played a mentoring role for drivers such as Mark Skaife and Craig Lowndes and his unique quality was that he was at one with the fans.

“You would see him many hours after the other drivers had departed signing autographs patiently with a special message for every fan. There will be a great sense of grieving rising out of this news.

"The most befitting place for a tribute is Bathurst. He forged his name in motor sport on that mountain, I think the fans will come to expect something special and we will provide that. We will obviously give special thought to how we are going to do that and we will take into account the families’ wishes.”

A1 Team Great Britain confirms driver line-up A1 Team Great Britain confirms driver line-upLondon, England – As the clock counts down towards October 1st and the start of a new season of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, hosted at Circuit Park Zandvoort in Holland, A1 Team Great Britain Team Principal John Surtees is delighted to announce that Robbie Kerr, Darren Manning and Oliver Jarvis will form the team’s driver line-up for the new A1GP campaign.

All three Brits were in action at last week’s pre-season test at Silverstone and following their respective performances the trio of talent will be retained to represent A1 Team GBR as the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport enters its second season of global competition. zzzz

Commenting on the team’s line-up ahead of the 2006-07 A1GP season Surtees remarked:

“Quite simply I think we have one of the strongest driver representations in A1GP with Robbie, Darren and Oliver on-board. Obviously Robbie and Darren were with us last year and did a solid job scoring podiums and helping us to third overall in the Nations Standings while Oliver joins us as a rookie but with impeccable credentials as last season’s Formula Renault Champion and McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year.

“First and foremost A1 Team GBR has to win this season so we’ll look at the drivers for each race and decide who gives us the best chance of helping us to achieve that goal. All three worked well together at Silverstone last week in pre-season testing and we look forward to seeing that form translated into results when the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport gets underway next month.”

Robbie Kerr (26) returns having raced in 10 of the 11rounds held in the inaugural season of A1GP where nation was pitched against nation for the first time in motorsport across six different continents from September through to April. Kerr, the 2002 British F3 Champion, was a consistent front-runner steering A1 Team GBR to seven podium finishes before handing over to Yorkshire’s Darren Manning for the final round of the 2005-06 season in China.

Looking ahead to a return to A1GP competition Robbie said:

“It was great to be back in the car last week and get up to speed having been out since my last race at Laguna Seca in March. I’m obviously delighted to be back representing Great Britain in A1GP and having come so close last season I want to ensure we get that elusive first win this year and go on and mount a serious title challenge, something I know we’re more than capable of with the new team line-up.”

Manning (31), bringing a wealth of driving experience ranging from Formula One testing through to Champ Car and Indy Racing League racing, stunned with his pace on his A1GP debut scoring a second place podium in the Chinese Sprint race in April helping to secure third place for A1 Team GBR in the Nations Standings behind World Champion’s A1 Team France and second-placed A1 Team Switzerland.

Eager to build on his Sprint and Feature starts for the team in China Manning commented:

“Personally speaking it’s an honor to represent Great Britain in something as exciting and unique as A1GP. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the team out in China and am looking forward to kicking off the season at Zandvoort. We had a productive test at Silverstone last week, the team gelled right from the off and that was translated into our overall pace. I’m looking forward to working with Robbie and Oliver as the season progresses and getting A1 Team GBR onto the top step of the podium.”
While Manning and Kerr have already represented A1 Team GBR, Cambridgeshire’s Oliver Jarvis (22) will be keen to follow suit having impressed the team with tests at Pembrey and Silverstone. Winner of the prestigious 2005 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award and last season’s Formula Renault UK Champion, Jarvis is currently blazing a trail in domestic competition locked in the fight for this year’s British F3 Championship where he sits second in the standings in his rookie season with two wins to his credit.

Jarvis might be new to the A1 Team GBR fold but he’s no-less keen to do his bit to help the team achieve its objectives for the season ahead:

“I was really pleased to first be invited to test with the team and now join them for the new season of A1GP. It’s a great platform for a young driver to represent their nation and for me personally its pleasing to know that my on-track efforts throughout the regular season have been recognized leading to this opportunity. I’m looking forward to bolstering the driver in-put and hopefully getting the chance to race for my country.”

Darren Manning will take the wheel for A1 Team GBR in Round 1 at Zandvoort on Sunday 1st October with Oliver Jarvis participating in the scheduled ‘Rookie’ session on Friday 30th September. Robbie Kerr will be in World Series by Renault action the same weekend, competing at Le Mans, France with Team KTR.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Formula 1 Qualifying Monza, Italy
8:00am-9:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Richmond
12:00pm-12:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Performance
12:30pm-1:00pm SPEED
Star Mazda Mosport
1:00pm-2:00pm (9/2/06) SPEED
ARCA RE/MAX Chicagoland
2:00pm-4:00pm (L) SPEED
IHRA Drag Racing Norwalk, OH
4:00pm-5:00pm SPEED
NASCAR RaceDay Richmond
5:00pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Richmond, Chevy Rock & Roll 400
7:00pm-11:00pm (L) TNT
NASCAR Chase Special
11:00pm-12:00am TNT
NASCAR Victory Lane Richmond
12:00am-1:00am (L) SPEED

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

Eury Sr. promoted. Eury Sr. promoted.In order to get Paul Menard ready for NEXTEL Cup competition in 2007, Tony Eury Sr. has been promoted to a senior management role within DEI and will take over crew chief duties of the No. 11 Busch Series car effective immediately.
Stewart captures Eldora 'NASCAR’ special Stewart captures Eldora 'NASCAR’ specialTony Stewart captured the win at his own track Wednesday night in the rescheduled NEXTEL Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway.

The special 'NASCAR' event was originally scheduled to take place on June 7 before rains washed it out.

A-Main Results
1)Tony Stewart
2)Dave Blaney
3)Mike Wallace
4)Ron Capps
5)Kenny Wallace
6)Bill Elliott
7)J.J. Yeley
8)Mark Martin
9)Matt Kenseth
10)Aric Almirola
11)Ken Schrader
12)Red Farmer
13)Levi Jones
14)Ryan Newman
15)Kurt Busch
16)Bobby Labonte
17)Denny Hamlin (did not start)
18)Josh Wise (did not start)

McCann to debut at Chicagoland McCann to debut at ChicagolandVeronica McCann, a 23-year-old Australian, passed her rookie test Aug. 31 at Kentucky Speedway and will make her Indy Pro Series debut at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 9.
McCann, who twice has finished third in the Western Australia Sprintcar state championship, will drive the No. 3 Brian Stewart Racing entry in the season finale at the 1.5-mile oval.

"We were very happy with the test," said team manager Doug Hoy. "She did everything that we asked and everything the car would do. We're very optimistic about this weekend."

McCann will be the third woman to drive in the Indy Pro Series. Mishael Abbott has seven career starts in the series, while Sarah McCune has one. McCune debuted at Chicagoland last year, winning the pole and leading the first five laps. zzzz

"I was very nervous before the test," said McCann, whose five years of sprint car experience came on dirt tracks. "I have no experience in this type of racing, but I had an absolute blast. My goal is to finish the race. I'm quietly confident about the race. I don't know how well I'll fare against the other drivers until I'm out on the track in practice, but like I said, I'm quietly confident."

McCann attended Lyn St. James' Driver Development program late last year after deciding she wanted to pursue her motorsports career in America.

"I wanted to run in America on paved ovals," she said. "It was strictly a career move. I've driven sprint cars for five years, and there are very few sprint car drivers who can make a career out of it. I was up for a change."
The full effect of that change will become evident Sept. 8 when practice and qualifying take place for the Chicagoland 100.

Indy Pro Series title to be decided at Chicagoland Indy Pro Series title to be decided at ChicagolandFour drivers separated by 27 points. A racetrack that one year ago had six cars separated by 9 ½ car lengths at the checkered flag. How fitting that the closest championship battle in Indy Pro Series history will be decided at a racetrack notorious for close finishes.

Jay Howard, Jonathan Klein, Bobby Wilson and Wade Cunningham will battle for 67 laps at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 9. One will walk away with the Firestone Firehawk Cup.

Howard (right) has the edge on his competitors, leading Klein by eight points, Wilson by 24 and Cunningham by 27. It's the first time in Indy Pro Series history that four drivers have gone into the season's final race eligible to win the championship, and the eight-point difference between first and second is the smallest ever.

Even though he's a rookie, and new to oval racing, Howard has success on the two other 1.5-mile tracks this season, winning the pole in the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March and winning the race at Kentucky Speedway in August.

"Yeah, obviously that's good," said Howard, who drives the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon car for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "I hadn't really thought about that, to be honest. I know the car is going to be pretty good there. The guys tested one of the rookies there a few weeks back. He was fast. But I'm in the car, and with my experience I'm sure we'll go a little bit faster. zzzz 

"I know Wade and Jonathan, several other guys, are going to be all up there. It's going to be close. We're going to run in a pack. Yeah, I believe we can put on a good show for the fans. Hopefully I can win the championship."
The closest competition for Howard is Klein, a 19-year-old rookie from Long Grove, Ill., which is just 50 miles from the track. Klein drives the No. 26 Klein Tools/Turn-Key Forging car for Andretti Green Racing, but is essentially a teammate of Howard's due to a partnership between Andretti Green and Sam Schmidt Motorsports. While Howard was the polesitter at Homestead, Klein started second. At Kentucky, Klein was on the pole and finished second.

"I'm sure we're going to end up with pretty much identical cars," Howard said. "We'll just see what happens. I don't know, hopefully I can win. It's definitely going to be close."

Said Klein: "I think we'll be teammates until the checkered flag. There's not going to be any funny business during the entire weekend. There won't be any of that going on between Jay and myself. I'll treat him with the same respect that I would treat everyone else. I'm going to race him damn hard, but I'm not going to put ourselves in a situation where we can get ourselves into trouble."

"My game plan is going to be pretty much run mistake-free," continued Klein, who has nine top-five finishes in 11 starts. "I think it's going to come down to, as we saw at Kentucky, Wade, Jaime (Camara), Jay, myself, even a few other guys, are all capable of running up front, equal with each other. I think it's going to come down to a game who makes the least amount of mistakes."

With his deficit at a mere eight points, a variety of scenarios allow Klein to win the championship - even if he finishes as low as ninth. That would not satisfy him.

"Winning the race, that's my goal before I start worrying about the championship," Klein said. "I don't want to be a championship winner while not being a race winner. That wouldn't be very impressive to myself. I'd kind of be frustrated by that."

While they are mathematically still eligible to win the championship, the scenarios for doing so aren't as kind to Wilson or Cunningham. Both essentially need first- or second-place finishes in the race and for Howard and Klein to finish in the back half of the field.

Wilson, however, isn't racing just for himself. In addition to racing for the driver championship, Wilson hopes to bring home the entrant championship to Kenn Hardley Racing. The team leads those point standings by six over Sam Schmidt Motorsports.

"I'm being really optimistic and hope things fall my way," said Wilson, whose average finish is sixth in five oval races this season. "My past experiences on ovals have not proven to be very stellar, but I guess the team pretty much is going to try to pull out all the stops this weekend, put a good car on the track."
Cunningham, the reigning series champion, never had championship aspirations this season, especially after missing two races in March due to an emergency appendectomy.

"We came into the year not talking about the championship," Cunningham said. "We just wanted to win individual races and be fast. We've achieved nearly all of our goals so far. You look at four poles, and we've won two races, which is equal to anyone else this year. We've had a good year.

"Just want to top it off by having another good race at Chicago. The championship isn't really in my mind now at all."

"I definitely have to say Jay has an advantage," said Cunningham, summing up the championship battle. "We're all going to be at the front. It's not a secret. It's just really going to come down to who races the best."

IRL to add new stage at races IRL to add new stage at racesUPDATE As first reported on AutoRacing1.com, IndyCar Series champion to be crowned among Chicagoland fans: Fans fortunate enough to have a ticket to the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean on Sept. 10 will get a close-up look at the ceremonies to crown the IndyCar Series champion.

A stage is being constructed in the Chicagoland Speedway grandstand just to the Turn 4 side of the finish line where the new series champion will receive the IRL Cup and his $1 million check from Indy Racing League president and COO Brian Barnhart.

Joining the champion on the stage will be his winning car (thanks to a lift built into the platform), and the ceremony will come complete with pyrotechnics.
Pre-race festivities, including driver introductions, will be on the stage, too. IRL PR

09/05/06 The presentation of the IRL's series champion after this Sunday's season finale at Chicagoland will be held on a stage in the grandstand.  A car representing the series champion will be lifted to the stage (perhaps by crane?).   The IRL is considering using this stage for trophy presentations at all races next year.  Before and during the race the stage will be used as an entertainment center and for sponsor ads.

This idea is good for the people sitting near the stage, but for the rest of the grandstands it really does not afford the fan a good view.  This can also delay the after the race trophy presentations because it will take time to get the driver and car up to the stage.  By then the grandstands may have emptied.

Industry News
Gehl Company reports all-time record sales Gehl Company reports all-time record salesGehl Company (NASDAQ NM:GEHL) today reported all-time record quarterly net sales from continuing operations of $139.5 million for the quarter ended June 30, 2006, an increase of 9% from 2005 second quarter net sales from continuing operations of $128.3 million. All-time record quarterly income from continuing operations was $9.4 million, or $.75 per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2006 compared with income from continuing operations of $5.8 million, or $.55 per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2005. Second quarter 2005 income from continuing operations included a $1.5 million after-tax warranty charge, or $.14 per diluted share. This warranty charge was reversed, in full, in the 2005 fourth quarter.

For the first six months of 2006, Gehl reported net sales from continuing operations of $261.6 million, an increase of 10% from 2005 first six month net sales from continuing operations of $237.2 million. Income from continuing operations was $15.8 million, or $1.27 per diluted share, for the first six months of 2006 compared to $10.7 million, or $1.02 per diluted share, for the first six months of 2005. Net income for the first six months of 2005 was similarly impacted by the warranty charge described above.

"We are extremely pleased with our second quarter and first half of the year results as we achieved all-time record sales, net income and earnings per share in the quarter and continued to improve gross margins," said William D. Gehl, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We are focused on compact equipment and driving cost out of our business. We continue to see the benefits of this strategy in our results."

Ferrari press conference transcript Ferrari press conference transcriptMichael Schumacher: Are we ready? Good.

MS: Just before we start, because obviously it has been written and said a lot recently in the press, but it is obvious and clear what we have communicated for many months. We will make a statement at some stage in Monza and this statement will be Sunday.

That means that if you will please understand, there is no point to task any questions or get into it, because it will be made clear then and unfortunately not before for you. So thank you for your understanding.

Q. What are the feelings ahead of the Italian Grand Prix?
MS: Obviously I look very much forward to this Grand Prix as it is kind of a crucial Grand Prix for us, as all the last four are in terms of the championship. We had a very good test, we had three good days, but knowing all those days we saw that the competition is very fight. It will be down to the factor of who gets their car sorted out for the conditions. If we can do that, then we have a great opportunity and a great chance. If we cannot, then we might not have that chance. It is going to be tight, but we are looking forward to it.

Q. What about the new asphalt? Could it be an advantage for you?
MS: I don't see it as an advantage, no. It is pretty similar for everybody and from the tests and what I have seen, it doesn't seem to be very different. But it is better to drive on, I must say. It is more grippy and Monza anyway is always a compromise to drive and it takes away some of the compromise. It makes it simply a bit more predictable. zzzz

Q. You will not have a new engine here, but Fernando will. How do you see this point?
MS: It was the other way around in Turkey and it didn't seem to make any difference.

Q. I won't ask you anything about Sunday, but I just want to ask whether this situation puts a weight on your shoulders?
MS: We don't do anything that causes extra disturbance. Everything has been done in a way to quiet the situation because the main focus for us is to race and drive and nothing else.

Q. Would you not have preferred to do any announcement after the end of the championship?
MS: Next question!

Q. It is the first time since June that the gap in the world championship has grown. Does that give you any worries.
MS: I would have preferred it to be the other way around. For sure it is a worry to some degree, but it is not a worry enough because there are still four races to go. Twelve points in a way is a lot but it can be very little depending on how things go.

Q. Renault are confident that they can improve their car after Monza. How do you see the fight with Ferrari?
MS: I think it will take until the last race, absolutely. For sure, both sides will improve but it depends on the quicker rate. Everybody can calculate themselves what we need and what we don't need.

Q. There is a chance of rain this weekend. How much of a worry is that after Hungary?
MS: We understood what happened to us in Budapest, and as you saw in certain moments of the race we were very strong and in others we were not. So understanding the situation, we are not worried.

Q. Is the talks about your future a distraction?
MS: Honestly the way we choose things that is the way we think is the best. It is probably more a distraction for you guys than it is a distraction for me.

Q. How does this title battle compare to previous years?
MS: I think everyone is different. The main ones I remember and the good ones were with Mika Hakkinen in 2000, and the years before in a way obviously in both ways. This one has its own character and its own situation.

Q. How much do you think your experience counts in fighting with Fernando?
MS: Put it this way, I don't see it as a disadvantage. But at the end of the day, Fernando being very young he is a long time in motor racing so he has a lot of experience. I don't see this as the crucial factor.

Carpentier will not race this weekend Carpentier will not race this weekendMontréal, QC - Due to uncontrollable circumstances, Patrick Carpentier will not take part in round 10 of the CASCAR Super Series that will be held this weekend at Autodrome Saint-Eustache, located northwest of Montreal. The event, originally scheduled last June, was rained out and postponed until this weekend. This gave the former open-wheel star an opportunity to race in front of a home crowd.

"Unfortunately, nothing seemed to work for us this week," said Carpentier, who finished sixth last weekend at Cayuga Speedway (Ontario) after starting 19th in his first-ever stock car race. "I am disappointed for everyone who worked real hard on this project, and I want to sincerely thank Claude Aubin, from Saint-Eustache, Richard Coughlin of CASCAR and team owner Dave Jacombs for their efforts. I'm also disappointed for the fans. We worked relentlessly to fix every problem that arose, but at the end, we finally concluded that it would simply not work out. I really enjoyed my outing in this series, and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie at Jacombs Racing and in the series in general. If another opportunity presents itself, I would like to get another chance to race in Saint-Eustache."

Carpentier, currently associated with Mecachrome International, placed on hold an invitation to race with a top notch Indy Racing League (IRL) team this weekend in Chicago in order to pursue his dream of racing stock cars. zzzz

"Lately, I have been telling everyone that my future in racing lies in stock car," continued Carpentier, who will fly to Las Vegas this Saturday in order to enlist his daughter in primary school. "I would have probably accepted the IRL team invitation, but I also had the opportunity to race again with Jacombs Racing. Between the two, I opted for the stock car event, but in the end, it simply did not work out. We tried every which way. I even delayed for a couple of days the enlistment of my daughter in school in order to try and race at Saint-Eustache."

Carpentier will join CITGO/SAMAX Racing team on September 19 for a two-day test at Daytona, Florida. This test is a prelude to next January's Daytona 24-Hour race. Carpentier drove the CITGO/SAMAX Pontiac-powered Riley with Milka Duno of Caracas, Venezuela in the August 26 R0LEX Sports Car Series race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California. The pair, who ran as high as third, finished in seventh place. It was the Canadian driver second outing in this series. Last January, he co-drove with Christian Fittipaldi and team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. in the 24-Hour of Daytona. The team was running in fourth place with two hours to go, when they retired with a mechanical problem.

Gehl to sponsor Atlantic finale Gehl to sponsor Atlantic finaleGehl Company, a trusted partner in the Yokohama Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, has announced that it will serve as the title sponsor for the final round of Atlantic competition in 2006.

The Wisconsin-based construction equipment manufacturing company will lend its support to the 12th round of series racing, set for September 22-24 at the majestic 4.048-mile Road America road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The Gehl Champ Car Atlantic Championship Finale at Road America will feature the Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Yokohama cars of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship in the 22nd series race run at the circuit located in the heart of Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine country.

The three-day event, featuring practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday and the 18-lap series finale on Sunday, is expected to be one of the most entertaining weekends on the Atlantic calendar. Not only does it mark the series’ annual visit to one of the world’s top road courses, the race will also decide the Atlantic series championship. French rookie Simon Pagenaud (#15 Team Australia/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne) will carry a 12-point lead (253-241) over 17-year-old first-year sensation Graham Rahal (#18 Gehl Company) into the weekend as the two rising stars will battle for the series crown and the $2 million champion’s Champ Car bonus at Road America. zzzz

In addition to serving as a season-long sponsor on Rahal’s Mi-Jack Conquest Racing entry in ’06, the Gehl Company also supplies the Official Construction Equipment used by both the Road America circuit and the Champ Car Safety Team. Gehl also sponsored Rounds 5 and 6 of the Atlantic Championship earlier this season at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport. The company, headquartered in West Bend, Wisconsin, will host a number of its dealers and customers throughout the championship weekend at Road America. The Gehl Company has also been associated with Road America for more than 20 years.

“Gehl Company is proud to be the title sponsor of the Gehl Champ Car Atlantic Championship Finale at Road America,” said Dan Keyes, Gehl Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “We’ve built a strong continuing relationship with Road America and Champ Car and this is a natural extension of those relationships. In addition, the finale will provide one of the most exciting races of the season for our guests, Gehl dealers and customers, because Graham Rahal and the #18 Gehl car will be fighting for the 2006 Atlantic Series Championship.”

The Gehl Champ Car Atlantic Championship Finale at Road America will be televised via tape delay on SPEED beginning at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 8. The race will be re-broadcast at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, October 11 on SPEED.

Gehl Company (NASDAQ: GEHL) is a leading manufacturer of equipment used worldwide in construction and agricultural applications. Founded in 1859, the company is headquartered in West Bend, Wis. For more information, visit www.gehl.com or contact the Gehl literature hotline at 800-628-0491.

New Champ Car completes 2nd successful test New Champ Car completes 2nd successful testRoberto Moreno and the 2007 Panoz DP01 completed its second successful test at Sebring International Raceway today as the car ran nearly 250 trouble-free miles in hot and humid conditions.

The test wrapped up in the early afternoon as the car ran a total of 1,400 miles on its Ford-Cosworth powerplant, the amount teams will be able to run before the engine needs to be rebuilt. The Ford-Cosworth engine performed great, running its full distance with no problems joining similar successes from the Hewland Gearbox, Performance Friction Brakes and the Bridgestone Tires. In all the DP01 has run 1,541 trouble-free miles during its tests.

"We are very pleased with the results from this week," said Champ Car Director of Technology Scot Elkins. "The Panoz DP01 has met our expectations easily while running in very adverse conditions. Reliability was our primary goal for this test and I don't think we can overstate how well the car performed. Our suppliers have done a tremendous job in giving us the components we need to build a great car and we are very pleased with the results." zzzz

With many new features on the Panoz DP01 a lot of time was spent making sure everything worked properly during the test. The team tested the car's launch control and also made sure that the reverse gear worked. In all, the car performed nearly every task that was asked of it.

"I'm really impressed with this car," said two-time Champ Car race winner Roberto Moreno. "I can't believe how consistent it stays throughout each long run as well as all day. We were only making minor changes to make the car a little more comfortable and I¹m very happy with what we accomplished.
I'm looking forward to getting even more seat time next week."

The Panoz DP01 will return to the 1.67-mile Sebring International Raceway on Monday, September 11 for five more days of running. Champ Car teams will be invited out to the test on Wednesday, September 13 to see the car in action for the first time.

Italian GP: Thursday Press Conference Italian GP: Thursday Press Conference
Van der Steur targets next week for new car shakedown Van der Steur targets next week for new car shakedownEveryone knows that feeling every child gets at Christmas as they wait to open gifts under the tree. It's the same as what Gunnar van der Steur is feeling right about now. He knows what he is getting - he's seen it in fact - but he is still a few days away from playing with his new toy.

He is a customs clearance away from the Radical SR9 LMP2 chassis that van der Steur Racing will campaign in the last two rounds of the American Le Mans Series with a debut set for Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. "The complete and entire new car is waiting (at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia)," van der Steur said. "Who knows how long it will take."

It could be two days or it could be a week, he added. Naturally he's hoping for the former as the team has a one-day shakedown scheduled for Virginia's Summit Point Raceway on September 13. Then the plan is to bring the car to the pre-Petit Le Mans test on Sept. 23 and 24 in advance of the 1,000-mile/10-hour classic. The SR9 will be mated with a 2.0-liter, twin-turbo AER powerplant. zzzz

Those laps will be van der Steur's first in a Radical LMP2. But he already has gotten tremendous feedback from team driver Ben Devlin and Tim Greaves, who will be the third driver at Petit. Both Devlin and Greaves drove an AER-powered Radical at Donington Park two weeks ago. The car qualified second in P2 but went out with an accident mid-race. Devlin was able to drive the car considerably during testing and practice and had a glowing report for van der Steur.

"It was very stable, very predictable," van der Steur relayed. "There is a tremendous amount of mechanical grip. They were all of the things we were hoping to hear."

The 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda CX-7, Round 9 of the American Le Mans Series, is scheduled for 11:45 a.m. EDT on Saturday, September 30. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel and MotorsTV in Europe. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at http://www.americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.

Schu stays silent on future at Monza Schu stays silent on future at Monza(GMM)  Michael Schumacher says winning at Monza this weekend will be a 'crucial' element in his quest to close the remaining 12-point gap to championship leader Fernando Alonso.

''All of these last four (races) are crucial in terms of the championship,'' the German on Thursday told reporters at the venue for the Italian grand prix.

He also disappointed a large crowd of reporters and photographers at the Ferrari motor home by insisting that there would be no early announcement about his future.

''What we have said all along is clear,'' 37-year-old Schumacher told the media pack.  ''We will make a statement on Sunday so there is no point asking any questions about this.

''Please understand that I do not wish to comment.''

But Schumacher's manager, Willi Weber, indicated that the Ferrari veteran has at least now made up his mind.

''For him, it was a difficult decision,'' Weber told Deutsche Press-Agentur at Monza.

''He made up his mind about one week ago.''

Williams shaver deal Williams shaver dealTo celebrate the partnership with Philips Shavers and the WiliamsF1 Team, Philips has co-designed a licensed shaver for the Formula One racing fan.

As part of the 7200 Series, the Series brings the excitement of Formula One into your bathroom. With a variety of state-of-the-art finishes, the 7200 Series are exceptional, easy-to-use shavers with a sensational design focus that will appeal to the man who appreciates style. In addition, the range has been designed around the modern man’s lifestyle, including a fully waterproof casing for washability, offering convenience and ease of use.

Nico Engelsman, Business Manager Shaving, Senior Vice President, Philips commented by saying, “Conducting consumer research led to a deep understanding of men and what they want from a shaver – as well as excellent performance, design is a key priority. Drawing from a variety of different sources of inspiration to create the ultimate in shaving design and technology, the 7200 Series combines mixed, edgy designs with the smooth results that consumers expect from the world’s no.1 in electric shavers. We believe with the 7200 Series, Philips is setting new standards in shaver design.” zzzz

The 7200 Series uses Philips Shavers’ Super Lift & Cut technology, with a dual blade system for superior closeness, it also employs a Precision Cutting System – to cut even the shortest hairs. In addition, the Series also includes the Reflex Action contour following system – adjusting to every curve of the face and neck, with individually floating heads – which aligns the shaver to the skin for a perfectly close shave. Its waterproof, hygienic and washable, just rinse under the tap for the ultimate in convenience.

In addition to the new 7200 series, Phillips has also launched the 7100 Series, an entry-level shaver guaranteed to give a close, comfortable shave with no nonsense. The 7100 Series is aimed at practical men who want to get the job done well but with a minimum of fuss. The range is functional and affordable, yet incorporates many of Philips’ technological advancements: Precision Cutting System, Super Lift & Cut System and the Reflex Action System – technology which up until now has only been available in high-end shavers.

The 7100 Series features a series of revolutionary finishes, called in-mould decoration, or IMD. IMD is a revolutionary new product finishing process that can adapt a design concept, such a honeycomb or 3D pin stripe effect, into the shaver itself, giving each shaver a unique and distinct appearance. In addition, enhanced ergonomics and rubber grips offer a confident, comfortable shaving experience. Available in many different designs, there is a shaver for every taste to appeal to a broad range of men. In addition, the range has been designed around the modern man’s lifestyle, including a fully waterproof casing for washability, offering exceptional convenience and ease of use.

The partnership between Philips Shavers and the WilliamsF1 Team sees two superior brands, which share a common passion for technological and engineering excellence come together in their pursuit to lead the way in innovation and performance. Whilst the WilliamsF1 Team is one of the most successful Formula 1 teams in the history of the sport, Philips Shavers leads the way as the World’s number one in shaving technology, responsible for many of the most important inventions in electric shaving.

TV ratings up for Mosport ALMS race TV ratings up for Mosport ALMS raceBraselton, Ga. - Television ratings for Round Eight of the American Le Mans Series at the Mobil 1 Presents Labour Day Weekend Grand Prix of Mosport on SPEED were up 28 percent over last year's event conducted and televised during the same time period. To date, viewership for the American Le Mans Series races has increased nearly 72 percent from a year ago, thanks much in part to its enhanced broadcast network involvement.

"In an era where television ratings are falling off for many motorsports series and other major sports properties, we feel very encouraged that viewers and fans continue to be attracted to the world-class product that we put on track each race weekend," said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "Labor Day weekend is a challenging environment for sports television, especially when Tiger (Woods) is doing well, so this increase is even more satisfying. I believe our corporate partners and constituents understand that they are getting a very good return on their investment as we all continue to grow the Series into one of the premier motorsports platforms in the world."

Flavio will step back in 2008 Flavio will step back in 2008Renault boss Flavio Briatore has signed a new two-year contract, but the Italian explained that he will step back from the role for 2008.

''I will delegate my appointment to someone else,'' he told the Italian press, ''and stay away from the spot lights.''

Alonso urges McLaren to sign second racer Alonso urges McLaren to sign second racer(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has urged his next F1 employer, McLaren, to quickly sign his teammate for 2007.

Speaking to reporters at Monza, the current Renault racer and Spaniard said he had 'no idea' who will occupy the second silver cockpit next year, but admitted that GP2's Lewis Hamilton is in the running either for a race or test seat.

Urging Ron Dennis to sign a second McLaren driver, 25-year-old Alonso said: ''I would prefer it to be sooner rather than later, so that I can develop a relationship with my teammate.

''If you only get to know your teammate at the last minute, the relationship may be different.''

Alonso, meanwhile, admitted he was 'surprised' to read fellow Michelin runners' concern about the Monza circuit's part re-surfacing ahead of the 2006 Italian grand prix, but said Ferrari will be 'difficult to beat' this weekend.

Heikki, Massa, Nico want Schu to stay Heikki, Massa, Nico want Schu to stay(GMM) Fernando Alonso's successor at Renault, Finn and 2007 rookie Heikki Kovalainen, says he would like to match himself against Michael Schumacher next year.

''We have only done that once, at the Stade de France in the 2004 Race of Champions,'' current test driver Kovalainen, responding to rumors that Schumacher is set to call it a day, said at Monza on Thursday.

He recalled: ''I won that one, but I would be able to have a re-match next year!''

Schumacher's current Ferrari teammate, Felipe Massa, also paid tribute to the seven time world champion at Monza, and indicated that he would also enjoy racing alongside Schumacher beyond this year.

Recalling his maiden win at Turkey a fortnight ago, the Brazilian smiled on Thursday: ''I want another go at him.

''The last race was very special for me -- winning your first race and seeing your teammate is Michael Schumacher is amazing. You never forget that.

''It is a big pleasure to have the experience of racing with him.

''He is very professional, definitely the most complete driver in formula one.''

Schumacher's German countryman, youngster Nico Rosberg, commented: ''I hope he goes on.

''For the young drivers it is great if we can race against a seven time world champion, but I have the feeling that he is going to stop.''

Racing News
SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver RankingUPDATE Two-time defending Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) put a wide gap between himself and his pursuers two weeks ago in Montreal, roaring to a win that gave him a 62-point lead in the championship with just three races to run.

But not only did Bourdais’ victory push him to a comfortable margin over his Champ Car battlemates, it promoted him to the top of the SPEED Driver Rankings for the third time this season. The Montreal win, which was the sixth of the season for the two-time champ, helped build a lead of nearly one-and-a-half points over Formula 1 superstars Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso in the rankings system that rates drivers from all around the world including Champ Car, NASCAR, Formula 1 and the Indy Racing League.

Bourdais’ rating of 8.917 in the latest rankings puts him well ahead of Schumacher (7.650) and Alonso (7.573) and has him nearly three full points ahead of any other driver from a U.S.-based open-wheel racing series.

Updated 9-6-06
Pos. (LW) Driver (Series) Pts
1. (1) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS) 8.917
2. (3) Michael Schumacher (F1) 7.650
3. (4) Fernando Alonso (F1) 7.573
4. (2) Matt Kenseth (NASCAR) 7.468
5. (5) Jeff Gordon (NASCAR) 7.332
6. (11) Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR) 7.227
7. (7) Denny Hamlin (NASCAR) 7.139
8. (10) Felipe Massa (F1) 7.098
9. (6) Kyle Busch (NASCAR) 6.977
10. (9) Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) 6.905
11. (22) Kasey Kahne (NASCAR) 6.891
12. (13) Carl Edwards (NASCAR) 6.867
13. (8) Kevin Harvick (NASCAR) 6.846
14. (14) Tony Stewart (NASCAR) 6.744
15. (24) Mark Martin (NASCAR) 6.338
16. (15) Scott Dixon (IRL) 6.244
17. (NR) Clint Bowyer (NASCAR) 6.125
18. (12) Jeff Burton (NASCAR) 6.106
19. (18) Marco Andretti (IRL) 6.043
20. (19) Vitor Meira (IRL) 6.034
Dropped out: Ryan Newman (NASCAR), Scott Riggs (NASCAR), Helio Castroneves (IRL)
Provided by STATS Inc.
Current year results, last 10 races, last five races and last race are factored in equally, with an adjustment factor to compensate for the series different scoring systems. In addition, a competition difficulty factor has been included to balance the competitive depth of each series.
Alonso hopes Schu doesn't retire Alonso hopes Schu doesn't retire(GMM)  Fernando Alonso said at Monza on Thursday that he hoped speculation about championship rival Michael Schumacher's looming retirement from formula one is not true.

''It is always good to compete against a great champion,'' the Spaniard was quoted as saying by Sport-Informations-Dienst, ''and it is better to beat Michael than anybody else.''

The 25-year-old Renault driver admitted that it would be 'really difficult' to ever surpass Schumacher's achievements, including nigh on 90 grand prix wins.

Alonso also thinks that, whatever Schumacher's announcement on Sunday, the German's focus on winning the drivers' title will be undiminished in the last four races of 2006.

''His motivation will stay the same,'' Fernando said.  ''He will continue to aim for the championship with all of his effort.''

Industry News
BMW adds real-time traffic to navigation systems BMW adds real-time traffic to navigation systemsUnderscoring its commitment to delivering industry-leading service, technology, and innovation, BMW today announced the availability of Real Time Traffic Information (RTTI). This new premium service feature will offer timely traffic information and for the first time on any production vehicle sold in the United States, dynamic rerouting on navigation systems in select 2007 BMW models, i.e. the X5, M5, M6, and the 3, 5, and 6 Series models. Set to launch this September, RTTI represents the company's latest addition to its list of premium consumer features and benefits.
NASCAR Fontana TV Rating NASCAR Fontana TV RatingThe overnight TV Rating for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Sony HD 500 in Fontana last Sunday night on NBC was a 4.5/8 Share.
Q and A with Piquet Jr. Q and A with Piquet Jr.We catch up with Nelson Piquet Jr to talk about the news he will be a Formula One driver in 2007 GP2 series

Nelson Piquet Jr, Formula One driver, how good does that sound to you?
Nelson: It sounds great! It’s what I’ve worked towards since I was 8 years old and I think it’s the right time for it to happen for me.

Tell us how the deal came about
Nelson: Well, since the middle of the season I started talking to several teams about opportunities for 2007 and this was obviously a very strong option for me. After I got some very strong results recently and the season started to come to an end the discussions got more serious and the deal was signed.

How much does it mean to you to have been chosen to come into a world championship winning team for your first full-time F1 ride?
Nelson: It’s absolutely fantastic. I’m going to be able to learn so much and will be working very hard to help the team as much as I can. It’s a great group of guys. I know Heikki from GP2 last year. Ricardo is a friend of mine and both he and Giancarlo are so experienced so I will be learning as much as I possibly can from them.

Have you met the team yet? If not, when will you get to meet them all?
Nelson: I’ve met a few people but not the test team yet. I’m sure I’ll be meeting them all very soon!

Having your future assured in F1 must take a lot of pressure off your shoulders. Does that make things a little easier for you going into this weekend's final race in Monza?
Nelson: Not at all! I want to win this championship so much. I’m coming to Monza as the underdog because Lewis is ten points ahead but I’m really not giving up. I think it would help my career to win the series and it’s something I want so badly.

Racing News
Russell School Racers Take on Pacific F2000 Regulars Russell School Racers Take on Pacific F2000 RegularsButtonwillow, Calif. – The hotly contested Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook Tires will see action again this weekend with a pair of 30-minute races as part of the National Auto Sport Association event at the scenic and challenging Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

In addition to the usual contenders, several graduates of the locally based and world-renowned Jim Russell Racing Drivers School will be in attendance, including just-turned 17-year-old Patrick Barrett, who recently clinched this year’s Formula Russell Championship following his 10th victory of the season. The youngster from Los Osos, Calif., has equaled the record tally of wins established in 2001 by current Scuderia Toro Rosso (Red Bull) Formula 1 driver Scott Speed – with three races remaining – and along the way has thoroughly impressed everyone at the school.

"This young man has what it takes to be a racecar driver," says Jim Russell Racing Schools General Manager Kjell Kallman. "His race craft and his finishing record only tell half the story. What impresses us most is how well Pat conducts himself when he’s not behind the wheel. He’s bright, professional and well liked by the other drivers. In today’s motorsports environment, that is almost more important than how well you finish." zzzz

Barrett will drive the #33 Go-Pro Camera/Russell Racing/Kolliner-Long Gallery Van Diemen for the Southern California-based G.FRO team which won the opening round of the Pacific F2000 Championship in Phoenix, Ariz., and has already shown impressive pace during recent test sessions both at Buttonwillow Raceway and Infineon Raceway.

"I’m very excited about the upcoming Pacific F2000 races in Sonoma," says Barrett. "I feel with the amount of track time I have here at Infineon Raceway with Jim Russell Racing, my opportunity to score a couple of podiums are extremely good. Everyone at Team G.FRO has done an excellent job throughout the test days and I’m looking forward to my F2000 debut with them."

Todd MacNaughton, from Honolulu, Hawaii, also has valuable circuit experience from his days with the Jim Russell School and likely will put that to good effect at the wheel of Bill Wilson Motorsports’ #8 Goto Construction Van Diemen. MacNaughton has missed the last two Pacific F2000 rounds due to business commitments but is anxious to build upon his pair of top-five finishes earned earlier in the campaign.

The driver everyone will have to beat is Robert Podlesni, from Thousand Oaks, Calif., who currently holds a commanding points lead by virtue of winning four of this year’s eight races in Dave Freitas Racing’s #84 Alpinestars/Terminal Velocity Van Diemen. The talented 18-year-old scored a pair of top-four finishes at Infineon in 2005 and is keen to put on a good show for his new sponsors.

"It is very rewarding to know my performance thus far with Dave Freitas Racing has earned the support of such a universally respected company as Alpinestars," says Podlesni. "I feel really good about the progress we have made this season and I’m excited about going back to Infineon Raceway, which is a real driver’s track and one of the best venues in North America."

Other top contenders will include fellow gifted teenagers Chris Spreitzer, Nick Haye, Shaun Modisette and Philip Metzger, as well as a long list of accomplished veterans, including early-season points leader Tim Harris, from Irvine, Calif., and former SCCA Formula Ford National Champion Scott Rarick, from Santa Monica, Calif.

Both Spreitzer, from Phoenix, Ariz., and Haye, from Huntington Beach, Calif., scored breakthrough maiden victories in the most recent double-header race meeting at California Speedway, while Modisette, from Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., and Metzger, from Littleton, Colo., have shown steady improvement during their rookie seasons.

Formula Ford 2000 represents one of the first rungs on the professional open-wheel auto racing ladder in North America and has provided the launching pad for the careers of many top racers, including Champ Car World Series champions Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy, as well as the three most recent Indianapolis 500 winners, Buddy Rice, Dan Wheldon and Sam Hornish Jr.

STP back on No. 43 STP back on No. 43Bobby Labonte will head to Richmond sporting the famous STP colors this weekend. It is the second time this season that Labonte has raced the scheme. Labonte also went ‘retro' earlier this season at the Talladega Superspeedway. STP will donate $43 to the Victory Junction Gang Camp for the total laps completed of both the Talladega race and Saturday night's event. Petty Racing PR
Ganassi hires new VP of business development Ganassi hires new VP of business developmentChip Ganassi Racing Teams, Inc., announced the hiring of Chris Weiller as Vice President of Business Development. Weiller will be based out of the team's Concord, N.C. race shop and will be responsible for creating and implementing new business and marketing opportunities for the team and its drivers across NASCAR, the Indy Racing League and the Grand Am series. Weiller joins Chip Ganassi Racing from the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats where he served as executive vice president and chief marketing officer. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates PR
Chase clinching scenarios Chase clinching scenariosThis weekend's Nextel Cup race in Richmond is the final race for a driver to clinch a spot in the 10 race Chase.

Current Standings

Pos. Driver Name Points Over 11th Behind 10th
1 Matt Kenseth        3638    489
2 Jimmie Johnson    3629    480
3 Kevin Harvick        3296    147
4 Jeff Gordon           3251    102
5 Kyle Busch           3244     95
6 Dale Earnhardt Jr.  3226    77
7 Denny Hamlin        3225    76
8 Tony Stewart         3194    45
9 Mark Martin           3181    32
10 Jeff Burton           3179    30
11 Kasey Kahne       3149                    30

Only 117 points separate positions three through 10 in the current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings. Only 147 points separate positions three through 11. A driver can gain a maximum of 156 points over another competitor in each event.

The 11th-place driver, Kasey Kahne, can move as high as third in the standings following Saturday’s Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at California Speedway. He is currently just 30 points behind 10th place driver Jeff Burton.

Any driver in positions three through 10 can fall from the top 10 following Saturday’s event.

Only standings leader Matt Kenseth and second-place Jimmie Johnson have clinched Chase berths. zzzz

The current drivers in positions three through 10 in the standings will clinch a Chase berth with the following finishes Saturday, regardless of how other competitors finish:
    Kevin Harvick – 40th
    Jeff Gordon – 25th
    Kyle Busch – 22nd
    Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 16th
    Denny Hamlin – 16th
    Tony Stewart – seventh
    Mark Martin – fourth
    Jeff Burton – fourth

Also important: Top-10 drivers are racing for the highest finish in the standings before the Chase begins. Although the point separation to start the Chase is five points per position, the 2004 series title was decided by eight points. The 2005 title margin was 35 points.

Examples from 2004 and 2005 illustrate how every position has championship implications:
Kurt Busch began the 2004 Chase in seventh place. Had he started in 10th, with 10 fewer points, he would’ve lost the title by two points that season to Johnson.
Johnson, who finished second to Busch in the final 2004 standings, relinquished the standings lead to Jeff Gordon following that season’s cutoff event at Richmond, costing him five points. The final margin between Busch and Johnson? Eight points.
Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart scored identical point totals during the 2005 Chase, but Edwards began 35 points behind Stewart. He ended the season still trailing Stewart by just 35.

The sports statistics experts at STATS LLC have calculated 725,760 different possibilities for the order of the top 11 drivers following Saturday’s event.

Last week, STATS LLC calculated 574,560 different possibilities for the order of the top 11 drivers following last Sunday’s event at California Speedway. This week’s increase is due to the fact that Harvick – currently in third place – can fall from Chase contention.

Fontana not a sellout Fontana not a selloutThe Sony HD 500 was the sixth consecutive Nextel Cup race at California Speedway that didn't sell out. The track sold out every race from 1997-2003.

The attendance lag coincides with the addition of a second annual Cup race since the 2004 season. But the lack of demand also could stem from the lack of exciting racing on a wide, smooth surface where the caution flag flies infrequently and passing can be difficult.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a suggestion when asked how racing could be improved on the 2-mile oval.

"Probably dig it up and rebuild it," Earnhardt said. USA Today

Monza is important for Schumacher's title hopes Monza is important for Schumacher's title hopes"Monza is always an important event for Ferrari and one rich in tradition. In the past, significant things have happened and it is clear that coming here is special," says Michael Schumacher

As well as the title race, what makes this Grand Prix of Italy more of an occasion is that Ferrari will announce its driver line up for 2007 and, with it, Michael's future. "I understand that the announcement arouses some interest", admitted Schumacher. "We have already made known that the declaration will be made after the race as we want to focus on what is an important date. I am in full agreement with this. I can only add that I will not discuss the subject until Sunday".

The Ferrari driver is in the middle of the battle for the title. Making up a gap of 12 points with four races left will not be easy. "It is true, but it is not impossible", repeated Michael. "Our tactic can only be attack. We have to make up ground, put the pressure on and go for it. It is not the first time that we find ourselves in this situation and our experience should help us out. I think we still have a good chance of winning the title. Nothing has yet been decided and a lot can happen in the remaining four races. I think that we have good reason to be hopeful of our chances of taking both titles".

"You cannot say more about Monza than this: the track is legendary. It is an important part of our sport and is unique of its kind. For us, it is always a great event driving here as we enjoy huge support. As in previous years, we arrive at Monza with the title hanging in the balance but we are determined to change things. In the Constructors' Classification we are not too far off the lead and anything is still possible in the Drivers'. We have to attack and the fans can be sure that we will do our all. We have gathered significant data in the tests and this leads us to believe that we can get back to the top.

"Still, we have to wait to see how things develop during the race, especially after recent events. We are all buoyant and will count on our fans' support." Ferrari

Eye on weather for Monza Eye on weather for MonzaTraditionally Monza is quite a warm and sunny race, but unsettled weather could be a factor over the weekend. There were storms in the region on Wednesday night, and though it is due to be mainly cloudy on Thursday with an ambient temperature high of 29 degrees Celsius, more storms are forecast for the Milan area on Friday, when the temperature will drop to 27.

There is an 80 percent chance of bad weather then, and a 60 percent chance on Saturday, as the temperature drops again to 23. Most un-Monza like. The race should be held in decent conditions, however, as Sunday is due to be sunny with a high of 24 degrees.

F1 clash delays Melbourne diving F1 clash delays Melbourne diving(GMM) Organizers of the world swimming championships have reacted to the clash next March with Melbourne's 2007 grand prix.

The diving contest, originally scheduled to start on March 18, has been delayed by one day so as not to be affected by the noise of formula one's 20,000rpm V8 engines, according to reports in the Australian local press.

An independent report said the noise output from a 2.4 liter formula one engine can exceed 130 decibels, which is commonly cited as the human pain threshold.

The delayed diving competition will be held from March 19 at the Sports and Aquatics Centre, located just meters from Albert Park.

Open-water swimming events at St Kilda beach, which is similarly just a short walk from the temporary formula one circuit, were similarly moved forward, by about two hours.

Press does not know Schu future - spokeswoman Press does not know Schu future - spokeswoman(GMM)  Michael Schumacher's spokeswoman says newspaper reports predicting the German veteran's looming retirement should not be trusted.

Sabine Kehm is responding not only to the exclusive 'Bild' article, but subsequent reports - such as in The Sun, the Daily Mirror and La Gazzetta dello Sport - that confidently forecast an imminent end to 37-year-old Schumacher's fifteen year grand prix career.

She said: ''While some people are writing that he is definitely retiring, it's worth adding that only a couple of weeks ago many newspapers were running big stories saying absolutely the opposite.''

The 'Bild' report, however, quoted Williams racer Mark Webber as the latest in a long line of commentators who think Schumacher is about to quit.

The Australian driver reported seeing Schumacher drinking 'two large beers' on the Thursday prior to the recent German grand prix.

''It was as though a great weight had dropped from his shoulders,'' Webber, 30, explained.

''He was really relaxed.  I have never seen him like that before.''

Meanwhile, Schumacher's manager - Willi Weber - has told Dutch publication Formule 1 RaceReport that his famous colleague and friend will have plenty to do if he stops racing.

''There are so many partners and sponsors that for the next five, six years we have enough to keep busy,'' he said.

Kubica shootout made me quit - Villeneuve Kubica shootout made me quit - Villeneuve(GMM)  Jacques Villeneuve says he quit formula one because BMW wanted to see if 21-year-old Robert Kubica was quicker than him in races.

''I wasn't ready to stay home some weekends just to see how the other guy would go and to then be compared to him,'' the former world champion told British print weekly 'Autosport' in an interview.

Villeneuve, 35, stepped down in July reportedly due to a 'headache' caused by a shunt.  According to Jacques, he was subsequently not guaranteed his race ride for the balance of 2006.

But JV insists that he was not 'worried' about being shown up by Polish rookie Kubica, who is now tipped to land the full time seat at the German team next year.

''It's just not something that anybody that's been there and won races would accept basically, that's all,'' Villeneuve added.

track news
California Speedway to host blood drive California Speedway to host blood driveLOS ANGELES, Calif. — On the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, NASCAR fans can provide the “gift of life” by participating in the NASCAR Foundation’s “Spirit of America” Blood and Bone Marrow Drive. The national program is making its debut at California Speedway on September 11th from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

In partnership with the San Bernardino and Riverside Counties Blood Bank, Hendrick Marrow Program and the Jimmie Johnson Foundation, California Speedway is staging a one-day blood drive and bone marrow drive. The goal is to raise awareness for the thousands of patients with life-threatening diseases that could be treated with a marrow transplant who are searching and waiting for a donor, through the National Marrow Donor Program®. In addition, the blood drive will help save the life of people right here in Southern California in daily need of a transfusion. Donors will receive a free California Speedway hat (first 200 donors) and a commemorative lug nut from the NASCAR SONY HD 500 weekend, in recognition of their participation. zzzz

WHO: California Speedway, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties Blood Bank and the NASCAR Foundation
WHAT: Spirit of America NASCAR Foundation Blood and Marrow Drive
WHEN: Monday, September 11, 2006; 1:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: California Speedway, 9300 Cherry Avenue, Fontana, CA 92335 Drivers Meeting Room inside the Garage area of the Infield

Other tracks participating in the drive are Bristol Motor Speedway, California Speedway, Darlington Speedway, Daytona International Speedway, Dover International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Richmond International Raceway, Talladega Superspeedway and Watkins Glen International.

formula bmw
Gelles Racing news - new shop and more Gelles Racing news - new shop and moreMosport, Ontario –   Gelles Racing Formula BMW USA second season ended last weekend when the last double header was held at the Mosport race track north of Toronto. Vancouver native Adrien Herberts lead the team with his second podium of the season, a third place in round 14 while Californian John Zartarian scored a fifth place in round 13. French Canadian Maxime Pelletier ran out of luck in the first round after qualifying 4th but made it up in the second with a 7th place that earned him third place in the Rookie standings behind Gelles teammate Colombian Sebastian Saavedra.

“Our drivers had to work in difficult conditions, agreed team principal Bob Gelles. They used all their testing and practice sessions to find the best setup only to qualify and race in the rain on Saturday.  Adrien finishes his season like he started in Mid-Ohio with a fine podium. John ends his season in seventh overall in the standings by virtue of a seventh place on Sunday.

Both Sebastian and Maxime were fast enough to win the Rookie title but threw up their chances with rookie errors. Sebastian went off at Turn 2 in the last Friday practice and his Western Union car could not be fixed in time for qualifying. He still rocketed back from last place to 9th in round 13. zzzz

In the first race, Maxime was about to materialize a rookie win after qualifying 4th when he went off in the same Turn 2 a few laps from the checkered. On the next day, he finished in seventh. These ups and downs will account for experience when they take to the track next year. We were also pleased with Jamaican Joel Jackson earning a season high fifth place in BMW USA practice at Mosport.

We are just done with 2006 and it is still early to announce something for 2007 but we can ascertain we will have six cars on the grid next season and most of the seats are already filled. We learned a lot this season as a Team and will not stop working until we dominate BMW USA. We will start testing for newcomers in a few weeks.”

Inaugurating a new racing compound

Bob Gelles was also excited to announce a new facility in Winchester, Virginia that will regroup some of Gelles racing equipment.   “With our efforts joining three professional racing series in 2007, he adds, we had to look for a larger compound to host our expanding cars, our transporters and our crews. We will open a 30,000 square foot building shortly to put a roof on so many gears. We will see later what will happen with our shops in Front Royal and Indianapolis next season.”

Last round in the Champ Car Atlantic series

Gelles Racing Champ Car Atlantic season is also nearing the end with the last round taking place in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin in two weeks. Robbie Pecorari will complete his rookie season at the helm of the #28 Western Union car while Colin Fleming will again race the #14 eSoles/King Taco machine. A further announcement could come shortly for a third car.

In 2006, Gelles Racing entered the Formula BMW USA Championship with six cars and the Champ Car Atlantic Championship with a two-car effort. Western Union, BMW of Sterling, MINI of Sterling, Hebert & LeBleu and Roadblock Protective Services sponsor the team. In 2007, Gelles Racing announced it will campaign a two-car team in the Champ Car World Series with the new Panoz DP – 01 chassis. Gelles Racing

Change in Mexican A1GP team Change in Mexican A1GP teamJulio Jauregui Vice President of the A1GP Mexican team has announced that they can't rehire DAMS to run the team.  The new rules specify that no team can manage more than 2 cars and DAMS already has signed with France and South Africa.  Therefore, the Mexican team has decided to create their own team called Teamex.  Teamex has agreed to also run the Swiss team.

Talking about A1GP, Team Mexico has not decided yet what city will host the 2007 race in Mexico.  It seems no local government wanted to help finance the race.  Since A1GP will have to help financially A1GP officials and not Team Mexico will decide which city will host the race.  Monterrey, Mexico City, Cancun, Queretaro and Puebla are the 5 candidates. J. J. Arrambide Gonzalez reporting from Mexico

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for FridayCourtesy of TVRacer.com

Formula 1 Practice Monza, Italy
8:00am-9:00am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Richmond
2:00pm-2:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice  Richmond
2:30pm-4:30pm (SDD) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying  Richmond
4:30pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying  Richmond
6:00pm-7:30pm (L) TNT
Inside Grand Prix Italy
7:00pm-7:30pm SPEED
Formula 1 Practice Italy
7:30pm-8:30pm (R) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series  Richmond
7:30pm-10:00pm (L) TNT
Le Mans Endurance Series  Istanbul, Turkey
8:30pm-9:30pm  SPEED
Trackside Richmond
10:00pm-11:00pm (L) SPEED
Tradin' Paint Richmond
11:00pm-11:30pm SPEED

All times listed are ET.  For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.
Okamoto to make Indy Pro Series debut Okamoto to make Indy Pro Series debutWhen Akihira Okamoto tested an Indy Pro Series car at Chicagoland Speedway earlier this summer, he was quicker than some more established series drivers at the track that day. On Sept. 9, he'll get the opportunity to test his mettle in race conditions in the Chicagoland 100 at Chicagoland Speedway. Okamoto will drive the No. 77 OAM/Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry in the season finale.

Okamoto, who began competing in formula cars in Japan in 1998 before coming to the United States in 2000, won't be completely on his own in his debut. He has found a friend and a mentor in IndyCar Series veteran Roger Yasukawa.

"I have been friends with Roger since I first came to the U.S. in 2000," Okamoto said. "We raced together in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2001. We are now under the same management, Speed of Japan, so I have always seen his races in the IndyCar Series.  zzzz

"Roger's abilities to speak both fluent English and Japanese is certainly a big help for me, and his advice from a driver's point of view will be very valuable to me.  There are things that only drivers can tell, and his advice will play a big role in my confidence during the race. I plan to mix the advice I get from him and the team during race week."

Yasukawa, who has made 36 IndyCar Series starts in his career, sees a lot of potential in Okamota.

"I have known Aki since Barber Dodge Pro Series, and I know he is a capable driver to be running up front in Indy Pro Series," Yasukawa said. "His rookie test went really well and I am looking forward to helping him establish a good result at Chicago. It will be his first high-speed, banked oval race, and he certainly will have to learn how to race in the draft with a pack of cars, but I'm sure he will get a grip of it right away."

Practice and qualifying for the 100-mile sprint on the 1.5-mile oval are Sept. 8.

Luyendyk returns at Chicagoland Luyendyk returns at ChicagolandArie Luyendyk Jr. will return to the Indy Pro Series for the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 9. Luyendyk will drive the No. 25 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. car for AFS Racing.

Luyendyk has a history of strong finishes at the 1.5-mile oval, recording a second-place finish at the facility in 2002 and fourth-place finishes in 2003 and 2004.

"I'm very excited for the opportunity to come back and drive for AFS Racing," said Luyendyk, who has made three starts in the Indy Pro Series this season, including a season-best fourth-place finish on the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the season opener. "I'm looking forward to getting back into the car and driving at one of the most exciting races of the year. Chicagoland is a great event and I am very confident in AFS Racing and their ability to put a winning car on the track."

Now teammates, Castroneves and Hornish want title Now teammates, Castroneves and Hornish want titleEverything is on the line for the four title contenders in the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean on Sept. 10 at Chicagoland Speedway.
The season finale on the 1.5-mile tri-oval is reminiscent of the 2002 championship chase, when Sam Hornish Jr. entered the Sept. 15 race at Texas Motor Speedway with a 12-point lead over Helio Castroneves. Hornish, seeking his second consecutive series title with Panther Racing, denied Castroneves of his first by beating the reigning Indianapolis 500 champion by 0.0096 of a second in the third-closest finish in series history.

Castroneves hasn't forgotten, and wants to be the one to hand the IRL Cup to Roger Penske for the first time. Castroneves leads his Marlboro Team Penske teammate by a solitary point entering the 200-lap race on a track where Hornish has won twice. Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dan Wheldon (19 points behind) and Scott Dixon (21 points) also are in the title mix. It will be the third time in the past five years that the championship is decided in the final race. zzzz

"In 2002, I had to win the race, and Sam had to finish third for me to clinch the championship," said Castroneves, who continues to drive the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske car. "Since I've been in this circumstance before, I know what to do. I know what doesn't work, so I just won't do that again. It's different this time. It's going to be a race you can't predict. You just have to run strong so you can achieve the goals. Hopefully, we'll have a great ending."

Both Castroneves and Hornish have four victories, a runner-up finish and a third-place finish this year, so the fourth tiebreaker would be needed if they are deadlocked in points. Castroneves doesn't plan to follow Hornish's No. 6 Honda-powered Dallara across the finish line.

"It's every man for himself," Castroneves said. "The odds probably help Sam because he's more familiar with the ovals. We are going to try everything we can to finish and clinch this championship."

Hornish and Wheldon have not finished lower than fourth on 1.5-mile ovals this season. A poker player, Hornish is all in to win.

"It's unbelievable how close this championship race has been, and it's probably been the toughest," said Hornish, who has 18 victories and led 61 races in 98 career starts. "I know I have to finish ahead of Helio at Chicago, and I hope we both make the finish and it comes down to the two of us on the last corner of the last lap."

If that happens, Penske Racing president Tim Cindric hopes the drivers apply Rule 1 in the teammate handbook: Don't take each other out.

"The best we can do is just try and give the drivers a reminder of the big picture as they get the red mist in front of them, decide on Lap 20 they think it's Lap 200," said Cindric, who calls the race for Castroneves. "But that's really the best thing that we can do is just try and coach them to the end."

Sponsor for Fisher at Chicagoland Sponsor for Fisher at ChicagolandINDIANAPOLIS - Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced Tuesday a primary sponsorship agreement with Ophthonix, Inc., a San Diego, California-based vision care company marketing high definition vision technology through their product, iZon Wavefront Guided Lenses. The iZon brand logo will be featured on highly visible locations of the No. 5 Honda powered Dallara driven by IndyCar Series three-time Most Popular Driver, Sarah Fisher in the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 live from ChicagoLand Speedway in Joliet, IL on September 10th.

“iZon is just the latest edition to our growing team as we continue to look towards the future, said DRR team co-owner Dennis Reinbold. “We can’t be happier to partner with a company that has such a strong emphasis on responsible driving with corrected vision. Our partnership with iZon will serve as a benchmark for a healthy relationship that we will continue to develop. Seeing clearly with higher definition is a competitive advantage when you have to make split second decisions on the race track or on the road.” zzzz

iZon’s sponsorship of Sarah Fisher’s No. 5 machine will be their introduction to the motorsports world and to the IndyCar Series. The IndyCar season finale race of 2006 promises to be an exciting and widely viewed competition as Ophthnoix will introduce its transformational iZon Eyeglasses to fans across the nation. iZon Eyeglasses provide consumers with high definition vision.
This is a very visible platform for our brand” said Andreas Dreher, Ph.D., president and CEO of Ophthonix. “Indy has a huge base of loyal fans and we are thrilled to be part of the tradition, commitment and exhilaration of racing. Motorsports fans are the most loyal of any sport. We are targeting these fans as part of a national launch. We believe they can help iZon become the standard in vision correction.”

“We are also proud of Sarah Fisher’s return,” added Dreher. “She had a solid race in Kentucky and like the team, we were frustrated with her 12th place finish, but we have expectations of great results at ChicagoLand. This final race could be a big finale for us all.”

ALMS to race into the evening at Laguna ALMS to race into the evening at LagunaMONTEREY, Calif. – The Monterey Sports Car Championships will feature a four-hour American Le Mans Series race into the evening on Saturday, October 21 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but fans returning for the final day of the October 20-22 event will find plenty to see and do as the SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring classes, IMSA GT3 Cup, Star Mazda Series and Super Stars of Super Karts will help provide world-class racing throughout the fall classic.

The American Le Mans Series class championships will be officially crowned following the 2:45-6:45 p.m. spectacle that has become a Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca tradition since the evening race began in 2004.

The weekend will officially begin on Friday, October 20 when the Star Mazda Series takes the track for their first practice session at 8:00 a.m. The American Le Mans Series, led by the LMP1 Champion and 24 Hours of Le Mans overall winner Audi R10 TDI diesel prototype, will turn laps on the 2.238-mile road course at 9:50 am following practice sessions from both SPEED World Challenge classes.

The four classes of the American Le Mans Series will qualify for Saturday’s race beginning at 2:50 p.m. on Friday, October 20. zzzz

In addition to the American Le Mans Series race on Saturday, October 21, the day’s schedule also includes qualifying sessions for all other support series events and the Star Mazda Series race at 11:35 a.m.

The weekend concludes on Sunday, October 22 with the SPEED World Challenge Touring race at 10:30 a.m., the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge race at 11:40 a.m., the SPEED World Challenge GT race at 2:00 p.m., and the Superstars of Super Karts race at 3:10 p.m.

Tickets and more information for the Monterey Sports Car Championships, the final event on the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 50th Season of Racing calendar, are available by calling (800) 327-SECA or on-line at www.laguna-seca.com.

Friday, October 20
8:00 am - 8:45 am Practice - Star Mazda Series
8:55 am - 9:15 am Practice - SPEED World Challenge Touring
9:20 am - 9:40 am Practice - SPEED World Challenge GT
9:50 am - 10:50 am Practice - American Le Mans Series (All Classes)
11:00 am - 11:30 am Practice - IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin
11:30 am - 12:45 pm Lunch
11:30 am - 12:45 pm American Le Mans Series Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge
11:40 am - 12:10 pm IMSA facilitated Corvette Parade Laps (100 cars maximum)
12:10 pm - 12:35 pm VIP Sponsor Pace Car Rides
12:45 pm - 1:30 pm Practice - Star Mazda Series
1:40 pm - 2:40 pm Practice - American Le Mans Series (All Classes)
2:50 pm - 3:10 pm Qualifying - ALMS (“LM” GT1/”LM” GT2)
3:20 pm - 3:40 pm Qualifying - ALMS (“LM” P1/”LM” P2)
3:50 pm - 4:20 pm Practice - IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin
4:30 pm - 4:50 pm Practice - SPEED World Challenge Touring
4:55 pm - 5:15 pm Practice - SPEED World Challenge GT

Saturday, October 21
8:00 am - 8:40 am Qualifying - Star Mazda Series
8:50 am - 9:15 am Practice - Super Stars of Super Karts
9:25 am - 9:45 am Qualifying - SPEED World Challenge Touring
9:50 am - 10:10 am Qualifying - SPEED World Challenge GT
10:20 am - 10:45 am Warm Up - American Le Mans Series (All Classes)
10:55 am - 11:20 am Practice - Super Stars of Super Karts
11:35 am - 12:20 pm Star Mazda Race - 45 Minutes
12:20 pm - 1:20 pm Lunch
12:00 pm Autograph Session
12:30 pm - 12:55 pm IMSA facilitated Porsche & Ferrari Parade Laps (100 cars maximum)
12:55 pm - 1:10 pm VIP Sponsor Pace Car Rides
1:20 pm - 1:45 pm Qualifying - IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin
1:45 pm - 2:45 pm American Le Mans Series Pre-Race Activities/Recon Laps
2:45 pm - 6:45 pm Monterey Sports Car Championships American Le Mans Series Race
Sunday, October 22
9:45 am - 10:05 am Warm-Up - Super Stars of Super Karts
10:30 am - 11:20 am SPEED World Challenge Touring Race -50 Minutes
11:40 am - 12:25 pm IMSA GT3 CUP Challenge presented by Michelin - 45 minutes
12:35 pm - 1:00 pm Qualifying - Super Stars of Super Karts
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm Lunch
1:10 pm - 1:40 pm Fan Parade Laps
2:10 pm - 3:00 pm SPEED World Challenge GT Race - 50-Minute
3:20 pm - 3:45 pm Super Stars of Super Karts Race - (timed)

ALMS vs. Grand-Am ALMS vs. Grand-AmUPDATE #2 The story just gets worse for Grand-Am.  We did a little further research and found the following: 

The Grand-Am Daytona Prototype (DP) pole this year was 1:20.202
The American Le Mans Series pole was 1:12.378
The slowest car in the LMP1, LMP2 and GT1 classes was 1:19.941.
So only the little ALMS GT2 cars were slower than the Daytona Prototypes.

Laguna Seca
This year the DP Pole was 1:25.014.
Last year the American Le Mans Series pole was 1:14.195
The slowest car in the LMP1, LMP2 and GT1 classes was an old Viper, which ran a 1:23.488.
Again, the only cars that were slower than the DPs were the GT2 cars.

Grand-Am needs to get a paint company like Sherwin-Williams to sponsor their series so they can run ads of paint drying to depict the speed of their cars.

09/03/06 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, After reading this hot news item I did some research of my own and it's clear the Grand-Am Daytona prototypes are real pigs. The ALMS Aston Martin and Corvette GT1 cars would have also outqualified the top level of Grand-Am. Tomas Enge qualified his GT1 Aston Martin at 2:34.953 - 3 seconds faster than the best Daytona Prototype. The France family should take their DP cars to the scrap iron yard and have them pressed into nice cubes of steel so they can be used as boat anchors.  And you wonder why they have no fans. It's like watching paint dry. Mike Newman

09/03/06 A look at the pole position lap times of the ALMS vs. Grand-Am Series in Toole, Utah around the 4.486-mile Miller Motorsports track where the Grand-Am raced this weekend reveals that the NASCAR version of sportscar racing is quite a bit slower than the premier sportscar series, ALMS, over 16 seconds per lap slower, which is rather embarrassing for the Grand-Am set.

League Driver Car Pole Lap Time
ALMS Frank Biela Audi R10 2:21.553
Grand-Am Scott Pruett Riley Lexus 2:37.998

New Champ Car cranks out many miles New Champ Car cranks out many milesSEBRING, Fla. – A normal race weekend for the teams and drivers in the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford is consists of approximately 300 miles per car, today at Sebring International Raceway Roberto Moreno and the 2007 Panoz DP01 easily eclipsed a full weekends worth of running after turning 247 laps at the 1.67-mile facility which is the most any single car and driver has run at Sebring in recent history.

The 400 miles were run trouble free, with the only extended break of the day coming when Moreno, the team and the safety workers took a one-hour lunch break around midday. All day long Moreno ran 21-lap stints before pitting and giving the crew a chance to check all of the components.

“Everything is working flawlessly right now,” said Champ Car Technical Director Scot Elkins. “We started right off the bat this morning and just kept logging miles and collecting data on the car. As we started working through everything we even started making some adjustments to make the car a little more comfortable for Roberto as it is pretty tough out there in this heat. With the cars reliability as our main goal this week, we are very pleased with how things are going.” zzzz

As is typical in Central Florida in the late summer, temperatures stayed in the 90’s all day with a lot of humidity in the air. The conditions proved to be pretty tough for everyone including two-time Champ Car race winner Roberto Moreno

“It was pretty brutal today,” said Moreno. ”It is really hot and humid here and we are trying to get in as many miles as we can and I’m impressed with how consistent the car is through an entire stint. The car is very reliable, the gear shifts are smooth, the brakes are predictable and the Bridgestone tires are wearing very well. Our lap times are consistent and we are getting about 60 laps per set. It is amazing how the balance isn’t changing from full tanks to empty tanks, the only thing that changes is the lap times are quicker and that is on a very basic setup. More so I am impressed with how I am handling it after three years out of a Champ Car. I have been able to get up to speed quickly and running consistent lap times, that is something to be very proud of in the hot summer.”

This week’s testing will wrap-up tomorrow with the third test of the Panoz DP01 starting next Monday at Sebring and continuing until Friday, September 15.

Jourdain, Jr. To Participate In "Fiestas Patrias" Festival Jourdain, Jr. To Participate In "Fiestas Patrias" FestivalCONCORD, N.C.- Michel Jourdain, Jr., driver of the No. 50 Roush Racing Ford F-150, will head to Las Vegas in three weeks to participate not only in the Smith's Las Vegas 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, but also for "Fiestas Patrias," an event celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

Fiestas Patrias celebrates the Republic of Mexico's National Independence Day.  The event will be held on Sunday, September 17 at Sunset Park in Las Vegas.  Jourdain will appear at the event on behalf of Craftsman as part of their program, Craftsman Trocas Calientes de NASCAR, which will be launched in Las Vegas during "Fiestas Patrias" and the days leading up to the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 23.
"It is great to be part of the big efforts Craftsman is doing to promote the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series within the Hispanic community," said Jourdain.  "I think that in the last couple of years the Hispanics are getting closer and closer to NASCAR. We have had a big tradition in racing in our countries for a long time, but not too much in stock cars.  That is changing rapidly, the interest is growing really fast. I think that can be attributed not only to the great racing that you see in the different divisions of NASCAR, but also to events like these. When you can bring the fans that much closer to the sport and the people who make it all happen, it makes the fans feel that they are part of the team. I feel honored that Craftsman has asked me to participate in this event, and I look forward to meeting the fans in Las Vegas." zzzz
Craftsman will distribute free race tickets and other prizes from a booth at "Fiestas Patrias" on Sunday, Sept. 17.  The booth will feature a gaming wheel where visitors can win race tickets, Craftsman $5 gift cards, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series T-shirts and other racing souvenirs.  Jourdain will also be on hand to meet fans and sign autographs at 1:00 PM and again at 4:00 PM.   

Through an integrated radio promotion, Craftsman will host 125 families on Sept. 23 for hospitality, a chance to meet Jourdain, entertainment and VIP tickets to the race.  Craftsman will supply Univision Radio with "family four-packs" of tickets to be given away on air and at various events prior to the race, including radio remotes by Univision Radio and KISF 103.5 La Nueva at two Sears locations in Las Vegas.

Fittipaldi and Papis form kart team Fittipaldi and Papis form kart teamA new high profile Kart Racing team has been launched, based in Miami, Florida.  This unique approach to young racing car driver development blends a tradition of proven racing success at the highest levels of motor racing with brilliant young talent.  The team is endorsed by former two times Formula 1 World Champion, two times Indy 500 winner, and Indy Car series champion Emerson Fittipaldi. 

The team is coached and advised by well known professional driver Max Papis (former Formula 1 driver, three time Champ Car winner, two times Daytona 24 Hour winner, and currently driving For GM Racing in the Corvette Racing Team and NASCAR), and also supported by Oswaldo Negri (Grand American Rolex Sports Car Driver, 2nd at Daytona 24 Hour in 2006, “Grand American Rolex Daytona Prototype Rising Star” in 2004, Brazilian and South American F-3 Champion).  The team features three young drivers who are destined to move on to highly successful professional racing careers:

Pietro Fittipaldi, the 10 year old grandson of Emerson has been racing successfully in a number of regional karting series, including Rotax Minimax, EasyKart 60, and Cadet – he is currently positioned third or better in all of these championship series. This engaging, charismatic young man has been consistently improving during his first years of racing. He has shown the will and determination to succeed, and has been consistently driving at the front and winning races. His younger brother, Enzo Fittipaldi, aged 5 years old, has also joined the team as the team mascot and youngest driver!  zzzz

Gabriel Chaves, a 13 year old Colombian driving phenom who has already won numerous local, regional, and national titles including the 2006 Florida Winter Tour, 2005 EasyKart National and Homestead championships, the 2006 Rotax Florida and Eastern Regional champion, and the 2006 cadet Stars of Karting championship. He also finished fourth in the EasyKart World Championship in Parma, Italy in 2005.                                                                

Dion von Moltke, the talented 16 year old American driver, who has also won several championships in his brief driving career, including the 2005 WKA Florida State Championship in EasyKart 100, the 2005 Homestead Championship, and has had numerous wins and podium finishes on the national and international senior circuits, including ICA (Florida Winter Tour), 125L EasyKart Championship Series, Pan American EasyKart Championships, and Spec Racer (Stars of Karting). 

This new team is based out of a state-of-the-art warehouse in Opa Locka, Florida.  Fittipaldi Racing Team backing includes Bringer Corporation, Cheetah Technologies, MG Tires, Alfano, Corsa Racing, Moura Batteries, and KartMini.  A number of additional sponsors have shown significant interest in this dynamic team and additional announcements are expected shortly. 

“I am pleased and very excited to be part of the development of this new generation of drivers, and to help them develop into future champions”, said Emerson Fittipaldi.  “Being a successful racer takes much more than being fast on the race track. Pietro, Gabriel, and Dion have that special ingredient that can make future stars”. 

“I have watched them race, have been on the track with each of them, and am confident that we have a great combination of young drivers, who all share passion for motor sport. They have been working hard physically and mentally to form a strong karting team with a great future for the drivers and all the sponsors involved in this project”, says Max Papis, team coach, advisor, and driver mentor.  “We will have Pietro concentrate on the junior series Rotax Minimax and Cadet, Gabriel on Rotax Junior and JICA, and Dion on the big leagues: Rotax Senior and Spec Racer or ICA.  My personal goal is to see each of them grow as young men and racers, with good values in life.  We will create a sponsoring platform with a dedicated group of companies to help continue their career in auto racing.  Initially Dion and Gabriel will be the first 2 candidates and we are looking forward to see them to pave the road for Pietro and Enzo in the future.

“As a Distributor of KartMini in America I chose Fittipaldi Racing to help us in the development of KartMini karts in the American marketplace.  I am very confident that this is the best team – we have top drivers with huge potential, excellent technical expertise, and support from committed parents and other team principals.  We will provide full support from our factory for Team Fittipaldi Racing” says Oswaldo Negri, professional race car driver.

The team has the renowned Daniel Villa performing as chief engineer and technical advisor for karting operations.  Daniel is a former Karting national champion and professional driver from Colombia, and is widely viewed as “the best in the business” when it comes to tuning chassis and race engines.

“I have personally invited this exciting new team to the EasyKart world championships in Italy in November 2006”, says Pablo Montoya, father of professional NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya.  “They have drivers that can compete at the highest levels of kart racing globally and I am truly honored to be associated with this team – they have been an excellent supporter of the EasyKart Championship Series.”

BAM announces new Crew Chief BAM announces new Crew ChiefBAM Racing is pleased to announce the return of David Hyder as crew chief of the No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge driven by Kevin Lepage.

Hyder, a High Point, N.C. native, joined BAM Racing in October of 2004 as crew chief for Ken Schrader leading the team throughout the 2005 season. In 2006, Hyder joined Schrader at Wood Brothers Racing but now returns to build upon an impressive record with BAM Racing.

In a total of 43 races with BAM Racing, Hyder captured three top-10, six top-15 and 11 top-20 finishes. In addition, he secured one top-10, five top-15 and seven top-20 starts during his tenure with the team.

“I welcome the opportunity to effect change as a crew chief,” said Hyder. “I have respect for this team and I enjoy working with this organization. We have a history of success together and I feel very fortunate to have the chance to build upon that record. The team that is being assembled is the right group to build a strong foundation for the 2007 season.” zzzz

With the No. 49 team currently outside of the top-35 in the owner points standings, Hyder returns with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Under his direction, the No. 49 team finished 33rd in the owner points standings in 2004 and 31st in 2005.

Joining Hyder in the transition is former “band member” Dean Johnson who originally joined BAM Racing alongside Hyder in 2004 as shock specialist. Johnson will now serve as chassis specialist. The team is pleased to bring back together this proven successful combination.

With “the band” now intact, BAM Racing is excited to add a new player to the mix. Louis Duncan, racing aerodynamics pioneer and former director of the RAD program - a research consortium for then team owners Richard Childress, Andy Petree and Dale Earnhardt - of the late 1990s, is lending his expertise to BAM Racing by way of Arrington Engines.

“This has been a season of transition for our team,” said team co-owner Beth Ann Morgenthau. “We are now focused on building a strong team that will compete for position in the top-35 in the owner points standings during the crucial first five races of next season. We believe that we have brought together the right group of players to lead our team in pursuit of that goal. We are ‘on a mission’ just like Jake and Elwood Blues.”

Gilliland to race Yates Busch car at Richmond Gilliland to race Yates Busch car at RichmondDavid Gilliland will replace Stephen Leicht in Robert Yates Racing's No. 90 Ford for Friday's Emerson 250 Busch Series race at Richmond International Raceway.

A team release said, "In an effort to improve the chassis setups at Robert Yates Racing in both the Busch and Cup cars, we felt by having one driver run both races we would get the most consistent feedback," team owner Robert Yates said. "Stephen has done a great job for us this season, and this change is not a reflection of Stephen's performance."

Rocketsports dominates Topeka Rocketsports dominates TopekaEAST LANSING, Michigan - Taking part in the first of two 2006 Trans-Am races promoted by Heartland Park Topeka, Rocketsports drivers Paul Gentilozzi and Tomy Drissi finished the event in a typical Rocketsports Trans-Am fashion - on the podium, one and two respectively. 

After setting the fastest time during Monday morning's qualifying session in the #10 Rocketsports Jaguar XKR with a lap of 1:36.922 (92.858 mph) around the 14-turn, 2.5-mile circuit, Gentilozzi earned the pole position.  He started the race in the fifth spot with the Trans-Am inverted Fast Five rule.  Drissi set the fourth fastest time during qualifying and started second.

Gentilozzi was pushed to the rear of the field after being hit from behind Edison Lluch Sr. on Lap 2, which caused a flat tire.  He had to come into the pits to fix the flat and was 25 seconds behind the leaders on the race restart.  Fourteen laps later, the four-time Trans-Am champion took the lead and never looked back, recording the fastest lap of the race and taking the victory.

Gentilozzi officially beat teammate Drissi to the checkered flag by 25.809 seconds, averaging 77.172 mph over the course of the 24-lap, 60-mile race.  This victory marks Gentilozzi's record-extending 31st career Trans-Am win.  The win also capped the 49th in series history for Jaguar, fourth on the all time list. zzzz

"It was a great experience, and to win was the frosting on the cake," said Gentilozzi.  "It was exciting to come from the back of the field, and really race again.  It was a great feeling and even better to be back behind the wheel of the #10 Rocketsports Jaguar XKR.  We'll come do it again for the second scheduled event, and next time we'll be a little better prepared as I learned the track and now have a better sense of what the car needs to be even quicker in the next event here at Heartland Park Topeka."

Drissi was happy with his podium finish and for his teammate, Gentilozzi.  "It was fun to get back out there and run to commemorate the great Trans-Am series.  Paul is one of the greatest drivers in Trans-Am history ever, so to finish behind him is an honor, along with finishing one and two on the podium for the Rocketsports team." 

Sports Car Club of America, Inc., and Heartland Park Topeka reached an agreement earlier this year for the track to promote two Trans-Am races in 2006.  This marks the 40th anniversary of the series, which is the longest continuously-running road racing series in North America.  The second, and final, Trans-Am race in 2006 will be held Sunday, October 8.  Both races run under sanction of SCCA Club Racing.

The Rocketsports team also participated in the Spencer's Dream Last Chance Nationals running in the GT1 Class with Drissi behind the wheel of the #5 Rocketsports Jaguar XKR.  Drissi qualified the car on Friday in the third spot after running a time of 1:40.010 (89.991 mph).  During the race on Saturday, Drissi posted his fastest time of 1:39.558 (90.400 mph) and finished as the running up to former Trans-Am competitor Jorge Diaz Jr.

One fan will be cheering for Danica on Sunday One fan will be cheering for Danica on SundayPEAK® Antifreeze announced today the winner of the PEAK Antifreeze 300 for the 300 Sweepstakes, which gives one lucky racing fan $300,000 if Danica Patrick finishes first at the 2006 PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean on September 10, 2006. The winner, Roland Beauregard from St. Albans, Maine will be flown to Chicago for the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean, meet with Danica Patrick, shake hands with all the drivers during their introduction, and watch the final race of the IRL season in an executive suite at Chicagoland Speedway. 

Patrick, IndyCar® Series sensation and 2005 Rookie of the Year, announced the PEAK® Antifreeze 300 for the 300 Sweepstakes on July 25, 2006 at a press conference held at Chicago’s ESPN Zone.

“PEAK is pleased to be part of the thrills and excitement that IndyCar Series racing brings to Chicagoland Speedway. This year, we’re hoping to make our race even more exciting for fans by offering them the chance to enter the PEAK 300 for the 300 Sweepstakes. If Danica wins the PEAK sponsored race, so does our sweepstakes winner Roland Beauregard,” said Jeff Stauffer, VP Marketing at Old World Industries.

Martin Wins Crew Chief Award Martin Wins Crew Chief AwardFONTANA, California – Gil Martin guided Raybestos rookie Clint Bowyer to his career-best Nextel Cup finish this weekend at California Speedway.  After rolling the dice on a fuel mileage gamble, Bowyer remained on the track for 56 laps before crossing the finish line in third-place.  Martin’s call earned him the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award.

When the caution waved on lap 192 for oil on the speedway, nearly the entire field entered pit lane for service.  Only two cars made a return trip to top off with fuel before the race returned to green; Bower was one of the drivers.  That turned out to be the No. 07 Chevrolet’s final stop of the night.  Much like the Busch race the night before, the majority of the field had to make one more stop for fuel before the race ended, which allowed Bowyer to pick up several positions once the leaders entered the pits.  Bowyer eventually landed in the top-five and finished in third-place.  “You know, just, just incredible call to come back in and top off for fuel,” said Bowyer.  “Everybody had to pit and we stayed out and gambled.  (We had) an eighth to 10th-place car and (I’m) proud of Gil to make a good call and having it pay off.”  zzzz

A panel of voters, including Robbie Reiser, a member of the local media and a WYPALL® Wipers representative, all voted for Martin as the Crew Chief of the Race.  “The (No.) 07 car wasn’t in the top-five for most of the night,” said Reiser.  “He had an OK car, but Gil’s call definitely put him up front.  If he didn’t make the decision to top off during the yellow, Bowyer wouldn’t have finished that well.  Gil did a great job.”

“We knew it would be really close on gas,” said Martin after the race.  “I didn’t think it would stay green for the last 50 laps, but sure enough, it did.  We had him saving gas as much as he could in the last twenty laps and it worked out.  We ended up running out after taking the checkered flag going into (turns) one and two.”

For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, WYPALL® Wipers presented Martin $1,000.  At the end of the season, the Nextel Cup crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Year.  This was Martin’s first Crew Chief of the Race award in 2006, which ties him for fourth-place in the standings with Todd Berrier, Doug Richert, Philippe Lopez, Frankie Stoddard, Scott Miller, Alan Gustafson and Roy McCauley.  Robbie Reiser and Kenny Francis are tied for first-place, both with four wins.  Tony Eury Jr. is in second-place with three wins.  Mike Ford, Chad Knaus and Todd Berrier are tied for third-place, all with two wins.

Q and A with Flavio Briatore Q and A with Flavio Briatore
Q. Flavio, you have signed with Renault for two more years. Is that a sign of confidence?

FB: Absolutely, and that's because I have confidence in the team. It is a privilege to be working for a worldwide leader like Renault, and to be representing them on a global stage. I wanted to sign for two years because had it been twelve months, we would have been going through the same questions about my future in six months' time. This way, we can concentrate on the job in hand: starting a new competitive cycle in 2007.

Q. You have highlighted the importance of Carlos Ghosn's backing in your decision...

FB: In Formula One, it is essential to have the confidence and the backing you need to win. I am proud to be working with a manager like Carlos Ghosn, who has a reputation of global standing. He has followed the F1 program enthusiastically since he arrived at Renault, and he has committed the company for the long term.

That gives us the stability we need to build for the future and manage the changes that are ahead of us. I have an excellent relationship with Alain Dassas, the team President, and together we will take the team forward into a new era. zzzz

Q. The team will maintain a stable technical structure in the coming years. Will that be a key advantage?

FB: A team is only as strong as its weakest link. There are no weak links in the chain at Renault. Our team is the right size, with the right philosophy and the right people. Our management structure is light, allowing people to express their talent and focus on the main objective: success on the track.

That is something unique in Formula One and at a time when other top teams are undergoing big changes in their technical departments, our continuity will be a key strength. It will give us the platform to challenge for championships in the future.

Q. Talk to us about the team's new race driver, Heikki Kovalainen…

FB: Heikki has done a fantastic job this year. He knows the car, knows the team - and after a year as our official third driver, he knows the business of Formula One, not just on the technical side but in terms of PR, marketing and everything else.

There will be no bad surprises for him next year, and now his time has come to show what he can do as a race driver. He will be judged on his performances, but we are totally confident that he has what it takes to succeed at the highest level. Heikki is a very bright talent for the future of Formula One.

Q. What is your assessment of the Fisichella-Kovalainen pairing?

FB: I think it is a balanced driver line-up. Giancarlo brings us the experience of a proven race winner plus the attitude of a real team player, and we believe he can take another step up in performance next year to keep the team at the front of the field. He gives us the continuity we wanted for 2007. From the outside, Heikki is replacing a world champion – and some people may assess him on those terms.

But within Renault, we are approaching it as a fresh start and the beginning of a new era for the team. Change is a natural process for any company, and at Renault, we see it as an opportunity rather than a burden. In our eyes, we are not losing a driver who has won the world title; rather, we are starting a new story with a future champion.

Q. You have also recruited two test drivers – Ricardo Zonta and Nelson Piquet Jr. Why?

FB: Again, it is a balance of youth and experience. Ricardo has done an excellent job for Toyota in recent seasons, and his knowledge of the Bridgestone tires will be invaluable as we make the transition for the 2007 season. Allied to his speed and experience, this will be a major asset for the team.

As for Nelsinho, we had the chance to sign him – and didn't want to miss out. He has been one of the best two drivers this year in GP2, and he clearly has what it takes to succeed. Now, he needs to grow as a Formula One driver, and Renault is the perfect place to do it.

Q. It is unusual to see a front-line F1 team, and potential world champions, running a rookie driver…

FB: It is, it has always been my approach and I think it is refreshing for a top team to do it. We always read about young drivers not having enough opportunities to get into Formula One but nothing happens. At Renault, we are changing that.

The GP2 Series has been an excellent showcase for young drivers like Rosberg, Hamilton, Heikki and Nelson in the past two seasons. At Renault, we think the young drivers guys their chance. We did it once before with a Spanish kid named Alonso, and it turned out pretty well. Now, the challenge is to do it again.

Renault announce 2007 team lineup Renault announce 2007 team lineupThe Renault F1 Team today announced the beginning of a new era for the reigning world champions, from the start of the 2007 season. Under the continued, dynamic leadership of Flavio Briatore and his senior technical staff, Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen will lead the French manufacturer’s challenge in the 2007 season, aided by a team of test drivers composed of Brazilians Ricardo Zonta and Nelson Piquet Jr.

A Stable Management Structure

The Renault F1 Team is delighted to announce that Managing Director Flavio Briatore, 56, has renewed his contract for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Having led Renault’s Formula 1 operations since 2000, when it purchased the Benetton team, Briatore is perfectly placed to manage the team into its next competitive cycle.

Furthermore, Briatore has reconfirmed the current technical management structure, which has championship-winning credentials. This will ensure continuity at the team’s technical centers of Enstone (UK) and Viry-Châtillon (FR) under the respective leadership of Bob Bell and Pat Symonds, and André Lainé and Rob White. This stability will be crucial as the team adapts to significant short-term technical changes: the transition to a single tire supplier from 2007, the introduction of homologated engines and the brand new Technical Regulations that will come into force in 2008. zzzz

Renault President Carlos Ghosn commented: “Under Flavio’s leadership, the team achieved a remarkable double in 2005 by winning the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships, and maintaining that competitiveness in 2006. I am counting on the determination, talent and effectiveness of Flavio and the entire Renault F1 Team, under the Presidency of Alain Dassas, to once again take Renault to the forefront of Formula 1.”

Flavio Briatore said: “I am delighted to continue to lead Renault’s Formula 1 challenge. It is an honor to be working for one of the top global companies, and with one of the world’s leading managers. The commitment and enthusiasm Carlos Ghosn has shown for the Formula 1 project over the past year has been a key factor in my decision.

“It is now important for the Renault F1 Team to begin a fresh cycle of development from 2007, with a reinvigorated driver line-up and several major new commercial partners. This is the key to performing at the top level in the medium and long term.

“We begin this new cycle on the platform of a stable management structure, headed by team President Alain Dassas, with whom I enjoy an excellent working relationship, and myself. We know how important it is to manage change in an organization, and we have a close-knit, dynamic team capable of fighting for victory. I am confident Renault will be a major force in Formula 1 in the years to come.”

Blending Youth and Experience in the Cockpit

Having confirmed Giancarlo Fisichella as a 2007 race driver last June, the Renault F1 Team is pleased to announce that current test driver Heikki Kovalainen, 24, will race alongside him in 2007. The latest in a proud tradition of Flying Finns, Heikki has completed over 28,000 km of testing for the Renault F1 Team since 2004, and was vice-champion of the GP2 Series in 2005. He is now ready to make the step up to a Formula 1 race drive, and will have the unique opportunity to do so in a top-line team.

Heikki Kovalainen commented: “I am thrilled to get the opportunity to race with a world champion team like Renault. I have been a member of the Renault Driver Development program since 2002, when I had the distant ambition of one day becoming an F1 driver. It is a fantastic feeling to have finally achieved that. My two seasons testing for the team, as well as my time in GP2, have allowed me to build my technical knowledge and to understand what it takes to win in Formula 1. I have also had the opportunity to show the team what I can do, and it is a great motivation to know that they believe in me. It will be a fantastic feeling to line up on the grid in Melbourne, but that is still a long way off. At the moment, I am totally focused on helping Renault win the 2006 championship.”

The race drivers will be joined by a team of test drivers for the 2007 season, composed of Brazilians Ricardo Zonta and Nelson Piquet Jr.

Ricardo Zonta, 30, possesses eight seasons of Formula 1 experience, both as a race and test driver. His proven track record, combined with extensive technical knowledge, will be major assets in the development of the 2007 challenger and its adaptation to the new tire regulations. He will join the Renault F1 Team after four seasons at Toyota.

Nelson Piquet Jr., 21, has marked himself out as man of the future during the 2005 A1 Grand Prix and 2006 GP2 Series championships. Son of three-time world champion Nelson Piquet, Nelsinho has shown both speed and guile in GP2, taking four race wins and five pole positions so far to put him second in the championship, with two races remaining. His role with the Renault F1 Team will allow him to develop his credentials in motorsport’s leading discipline.

Flavio Briatore commented: “Everybody at Renault is very optimistic about our driver line-up for 2007 and beyond. We have taken the conscious decision to build for the future, without compromising the stability of the team in the short term. Giancarlo is a proven force in Formula 1 and Heikki is already fully integrated into the team. After seeing performances in testing this season, we have very high hopes for him. It is also a pleasure to welcome Ricardo and Nelsinho, who each bring different qualities to the team: Ricardo will have a key role to play in preparing for 2007, while Nelsinho has shown this year that he deserves his place in Formula 1. 2007 is the start of something new for Renault, and we believe it will be an exciting season.” Renault

Renault announces Kovalainen Renault announces KovalainenFollowing this morning's announcement that Heikki Kovalainen will replace Fernando Alonso at Renault next season (we have updated our 2007 F1 Silly Season page above), the Finn has spoken about his hopes for the coming season.
Heikki, you have been officially named as a Renault F1 Team race driver for the 2007 season. What effect has it had on you?
I'm really happy with the decision, and it is a big boost for my motivation. I am really looking forward to my first season in Formula 1, and to be starting it with a top team. But first things first, we still need to finish 2006 in the right way. I have a couple of important test sessions left, and we need to do a good job before thinking about next year.

You will be replacing a world champion in Fernando Alonso. How are you going to fill his shoes?
I think next year is a new start for me. There will be high expectations straight away, but I will not look at it as extra pressure. I will be aiming to tick off my goals one by one: to finish my first race, hopefully to do it in the points and to improve all year. We should have a car capable of bringing good results, and I need to deliver them. But I will be starting the job in a calm, easy frame of mind.
What do you think led the Renault F1 Team to promote you to a race seat?
Hopefully the pace, because that's always what the engineers are looking at - even when they say they are not! I have been consistent, always trying to push the car and give good feedback. The engineers have given me feedback on my job too and, whether it was positive or negative, I have tried to respond either way. I think I have succeeded in doing that, and I feel very confident with the car now. zzzz

How would you describe your relationship with the team?
It is already very close. I started testing with them in 2004, and the relationship has just got better and better since then. I have improved my job, worked hard with the engineers, and this is the best possible conclusion - to make my Formula 1 debut with a team I know really well.

And how about your teammate for next year, Giancarlo Fisichella? Do you get on well?
I think Fisi is the best possible team-mate I could have. He is experienced, he's very quick and we get on well on a personal level, with a similar sense of humor. We work well, and we have a laugh together as well.

Looking ahead six months, how do you think it will feel, lining up on the grid in Melbourne?
I am sure I will have a few butterflies in my stomach! In reality, though, I will be going back to what I have done all my life, which is racing. This year has been the unusual one, not being out on the track competing. So on the grid, I'm going to be thinking about getting a good start, finding the braking point for turn 1, and going from there. It will just be one race in the calendar, and if I do my normal job then I should have a good result.

Finally, how will the announcement change the way you work in the coming weeks and months?
I don't think it changes anything at all, I will carry on doing the same things I have done. I have found what I believe is a good way of working, which is to push 100% all the time, and to try and improve with every lap. Nothing changes from that point of view. I will be driving the same way, working with the team to improve and listening to their advice to have the best preparation I possibly can.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
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Barrichello to wear fans' helmet in Brazil
Honda undecided over 2007 engine debut
Horner rules out Klien axe at Monza
Monza surprise leaves Michelin in trouble
Red Bull 'loan' Vettel to BMW
Alonso doubts Ferrari wheels are legal
Mateschitz tops F1 rich-list
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