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Will the last exiting IRL driver please turn out the lights
Will the last IndyCar Series star on his way to NASCAR please turn out the lights and close the door.

While the focus over the weekend at Chicagoland Speedway was on another in a series of IndyCar championship battles going down to the season-finale, the underlying buzz was provided by word that Dario Franchitti will leave to join team owner Chip Ganassi's NASCAR Nextel Cup team in 2008 and beyond.

Neither Franchitti nor Ganassi would talk about the move. But neither were they denying it, even as Franchitti went about the business of beating Ganassi driver Scott Dixon for his first open-wheel title.

Never mind that Franchitti said recently he has yet to even sit in a stock car.

"It's an exciting series, isn't it?" the 34-year-old Scot said of the Cup. "It's the biggest racing series in America and I certainly would like to see what it feels like to drive one of those cars."  More a AP Article


Franchitti revels over first championship
If Dario Franchitti needed a sign that Sept. 9 was going to be his day, he got all he needed before he strapped himself into his car.

First, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operating officer Joie Chitwood gave him two Indianapolis 500 badges - a 2007 badge with the No. 27 to commemorate his win and a 1965 badge with the No. 1127 commemorating the win of his hero Jim Clark.

Then the police officer who escorted him for driver intros had a number 27 on the handcuffs he was carrying on his belt.

It all added up to a perfect day for the Indianapolis 500 winner, who got by title rival Scott Dixon in Turn 3 of the final lap to win the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 and claim the 2007 IndyCar Series title.

"I'm happier than I thought I would (be)," Franchitti said after claiming his first open-wheel championship in the United States. "I thought winning the Indy 500, winning that, that was a great feeling. But this is different. But I think because it's the whole year rolled into one, it means a hell of a lot."

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The closest race - ever
If Logan Gomez and Alex Lloyd raced anything besides Indy Pro Series cars, their close finish at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 9 might have been ruled a dead heat.

Gomez beat Lloyd to the finish line by 0.0005 of a second - about 1.65 inches at 188 mph - to win the Chicagoland 100 in the closest finish in Indy Racing League history.

Fortunately, the Indy Racing League added a fourth decimal point to its Timing & Scoring application in 2001, becoming the only motorsports sanctioning body in the world to score to ten-thousandths of a second. A high-speed camera supports the system by taking pictures of the start/finish line every ten-thousandth of a second.
Other major forms of motorsports, including Formula One, NASCAR and NHRA score to three decimal points. Racing disciplines such as horse racing and Olympic sports such as swimming, speed skating and track and field all score to just two decimal places.

Time by the numbers (in seconds)
0.0005 - Logan Gomez's margin of victory over Alex Lloyd in Sunday's Indy Pro Series Chicagoland 100.

0.002 - Closest finish in NASCAR Nextel Cup history (Ricky Craven over Kurt Busch at Darlington in 2003).

0.0170 - Previous closest finish in Indy Pro Series history (Mark Taylor over Ed Carpenter at Chicagoland in 2003).

0.010 - Closest finish in Formula One history (Peter Gethin over Ronnie Peterson at Monza in 1971).

0.01 - Time of a hummingbird's wing beat.

0.1 - Average time to blink an eye.

industry news

Audi to bring hybrid-diesels to USA
Audi of America plans to launch its first diesel and hybrid vehicles in the States, later this year. Both powerplants will be on the full-sized Q7 sport/utility. The SUV is likely to be the first of several hybrid models. Audi has not said which other vehicles will get the parallel-hybrid system, which can run on either a gasoline engine or an electric motor or both at the same time.

Audi has been working on a hybrid engine with Volkswagen and Porsche. But Audi will be the first of the partners to the market. Porsche said its hybrid Cayenne SUV will be sold in the United States at the end of the decade.

Audi said the hybrid system is modular and can be adapted to different model ranges. Josef Bast, head of Audi AG’s powertrain electronics, said the electric drive easily integrates with existing drivetrains.

The Q7 will have a 3.6-liter, 280-hp gasoline fuel-injected engine mated to the electric engine. The hybrid system will get about 23 mpg, using about 23 percent less fuel than a Q7 running only on gasoline, said Bast

Audi also plans to bring in a turbo diesel Q7 with a 3.0-liter V6 producing about 230 hp and about 400 lb-ft of torque. It will be available for all 50 states at the end of 2008. The diesel is expected to have a 600-mile range on one tank of gasoline. The electric motor works at speeds of 12 to 15 mph and will go as fast as 31 mph. Audi also is working on an ethanol version of the A5 coupe for Europe, but no decision has been made for the States because of concerns about the limited availability of ethanol at fuel pumps. AutoWeek


IRL Detroit TV rating UPDATE The final TV rating for the IRL's Detroit GP at Belle Isle on ABC two weekends ago was a 1.0/3 share.

09/05/07 The overnight TV rating for the IRL IndyCar Series Detroit Grand Prix on ABC was a 1.0. 


Journalist admits Alonso-de la Rosa email fake UPDATE (GMM)  An Italian journalist on Monday said he has been unfairly treated by the media regarding his reportage of the alleged email exchange between Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso.

It was reported by the news agency Associated Press that Pino Allievi, who for years has covered formula one for the newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, last Friday "invented" the contents of an exchange that suggested the McLaren drivers knew confidential information about Ferrari's car designs.

Allievi made clear on Monday, however, that his original article stated in no uncertain terms that the email quotations were hypothetical.

The espionage affair this week will move to the World Motor Sport Council, where McLaren is to face new evidence - to be provided both by the FIA and also by Ferrari - that it used the 780-pages of Ferrari information possessed earlier this year by suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan.

The new evidence may include emails and text messages, the FIA confirmed at Monza.

09/10/07 (GMM)  A journalist has admitted that he invented the contents of the supposed email that may be part of FIA's 'new evidence' against McLaren.

As the espionage saga scaled new heights in the Monza paddock, La Gazzetta dello Sport  published this exchange between Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso: "Do you know that I've found out how Ferrari is able to get its tires to work to perfection?" de la Rosa said.

"Nigel Stepney told Mike Coughlan."

"I don't believe it," Alonso replied.

But Italian journalist Pino Allievi has now confessed to concocting the exchange in order to make his article about the existence of the email "more credible".

"I made a free interpretation of what might have been said in the email," he told AP, insisting that the hypothetical nature of the drivers' dialogue was mentioned on his article published on Friday.


Super Aguri adds new sponsor
SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM welcomes Nexsan Technologies as an Official Team Supplier with immediate effect. Nexsan Technologies will supply the team with secure data archiving solutions both at the team’s UK factory in Leafield and whilst the race team is situated at Formula One circuits around the world.

Based in Los Angeles, USA, Nexsan Technologies comprehensive data storage products will replace a number of drives on the team’s busy IT network.

Designed to set new standards for high-capacity storage systems, ‘SATABeast’ will provide SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM with unparalleled storage flexibility to meet its business objectives. The Assureon® box will securely store SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM race data, CAD drawings and other important electronic information. Assureon is a new breed of intelligent, disk-based archiving solutions that give users powerful and cost-effective choices for the protection, retention and long term care of their information assets.

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racing news

24 Hours at Zolder - Bachelart scores two podiums UPDATE Eliott Bachelart, in the red and yellow #34 Mi-Jack car, followed up Jan Heylen’s spectacular Grand Prix of Holland podium finish with his own podium finishes at his debut in Formula Renault 1.6 in Zolder, Belgium. He captured third and second respectively at his two races this weekend. This was Bachelart’s first race experience in the Formula Renault 1.6L after a successful test in July with the Patrick Païez Progress Team. In a field of 16 cars, Eliott started his first race in sixth position and fourth in the second race of the weekend.

Eliott’s second race began well, passing a competitor on the outside of turn one at the start. He was able to pass another car before the chicane for second position and in the end scored the second best lap time of the race, ending his weekend with two podium finishes.

"This was a fantastic weekend for me,” said Bachelart. “For my first time in the Formula Renault car in Belgium, it is incredible I finished twice on the podium. I enjoyed driving this car and had to fight hard to move up. Racing in Europe is very aggressive and people are closing the doors a lot which made the passes very difficult. During the first race especially a competitor pushed me twice in the grass! I learned a lot and it was interesting to see a different approach of racing"

Eliott Bachelart has been developing his racing skills in the World Karting Championships and Skip Barber Regional and national competition. Eliott placed second in his first regional race at Moroso Motorsports Park in Florida and finished fifth in Daytona leading a portion of the race and finishing less than one tenth behind the leader. This weekend marked the debut for Eliott in the Formula Renault 1.6 series at the 24 hours of Zolder at the family favorite track of Circuit Zolder in Belgium.

09/07/07 Practice at Zolder for this weekend's 24 Hour race. Only 29 cars are there because of the SRO GT3 rules. In the past they had about 53 cars annually. KTR Team boss Kurt Mollekens took the pole with the PK Carsport Corvette Z06-R, a ride that he shares with Dutchman David Hart, Anthony Kumpen and Bert Longin, who are also competing at Adria this weekend. They will be flown in Saturday evening. 3rd place on the grid went to the Viper of Champ Car driver Jan Heylen, Kris and Koen Wauters, two famous singers and Raf Vanthoor (Berghoff) who sponsored Jan last year in Champ Car. We also have some photos of Eliott Bachelart, son of Champ Car team owner Eric Bachelart.

Jan Heylen in the white-green Viper and Eliott Bachelart


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Williams plays down spy scandal
  • Alonso dismisses finish-line antics
  • Probably no Indian driver for Spyker in '08
  • Ferrari title over, Italy admits New
  • Spy saga to cost F1 - Williams New

Williams plays down spy scandal
(GMM) Sir Frank Williams has played down the seriousness of the espionage saga involving his close paddock ally Ron Dennis.

Admitting that his countryman's Woking based team could be heading for trouble at the World Motor Sport Council this week - with the maximum sanction being total exclusion from the championship - the British team boss and co-owner said the movement of information within pitlane is actually a common occurrence.

McLaren is accused of using information from a 780-page dossier obtained by its suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan from disaffected Ferrari employee Nigel Stepney.

"Every time we take an employee from BMW, or we lose one to Honda, or a Renault man goes to so and so, there's always some transfer of information," Williams is quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper.

Alonso dismisses finish-line antics
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has denied that his finish-line antics at Monza were a sign of his growing antipathy towards his team, McLaren.

With the Woking based team embroiled in the espionage saga, and disgruntled Spaniard Alonso thought to be central to the FIA's new evidence to be presented at the World Motor Sport Council on Thursday, many paddock observers read into the way in which he greeted the checkered flag on Sunday.

Alonso, 26, usually sweeps across to the pitwall to greet the cheers of his team colleagues when he wins a race, but on Sunday he remained on a normal line.

Then, when engineer Steve Hallam and team boss Ron Dennis hailed Alonso's performance live on air via his team radio, the 26-year-old did not reply.

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F1 in movie theaters
Last Sunday’s Formula 1 Grand Prix from Monza was broadcast in selected cinemas across the UK, presented by SportVision Media.

The high definition race coverage, which uses used Dolby 5.1 surround sound, will be rolled out for the rest of the Grand Prix season.

"Formula 1 in cinema is a fantastic new way for fans to enjoy their favorite sport, said SuperVision Media chairman John Webber. “The excitement of Formula 1 and the intensity of the cinema experience are perfect for each other. It’s the next best thing to being at the race."

From the 2008 season, Formula 1 in cinema will be available on 250 screens across Europe and over 200 in North and South America. Expansion into Asia is scheduled for 2009.


Todt rules out McLaren spy settlement
(GMM) Monza was the scene of much wheeling and dealing on Sunday, according to speculation.

With the espionage saga scaling new heights of intrigue and seriousness, leading figures including Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore could be seen scurrying in and out of motor homes while the drivers limbered up to contest the Italian grand prix.

Ahead of the World Motor Sport Council meeting on Thursday, it is rumored that an out-of-court deal between McLaren and Ferrari might be on the table.

While the investigation is strictly between Ron Dennis' team and the FIA, Ferrari is the aggrieved party and intends to contribute its own evidence.

But Jean Todt said on Sunday: "It has nothing to do with an agreement between Ferrari and McLaren. It is a case which is going to be taken in front of the World Council."

In the Spanish newspaper Marca, meanwhile, it is reported that negotiations also took place at Monza between Dennis and Renault's boss, Briatore.

Renault has reportedly been backing Ferrari's campaign for a sanction against McLaren, but Marca claims that Dennis is in possession of knowledge that could "cause the immediate exclusion from the championship of the French team".

"I mean, it's a taint on the sport every time that there is a bad controversy," said Jean Todt.  "It can happen in athletics, it can happen with gold medal winners, it can happen with cycling, it can happen with football, and now it is something that is happening in Formula One.

"I think that we are sorry that it is happening in Formula One, but we are in the position where we want the truth to appear. And that's all that we want, and all that we have been working on and doing. And we are confident that the truth will come through."


Driver parity to remain at Ferrari, McLaren
(GMM)  Ferrari boss Jean Todt has dismissed speculation that the Italian team might now impose a 'number one' driver for the remaining races of 2007.

With Felipe Massa retiring from the Italian grand prix, the Brazilian has now fallen five points behind his teammate Kimi Raikkonen with four grands prix to run.

Raikkonen is therefore the closest Ferrari competitor to McLaren, but a troublesome 18 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

But Frenchman Todt told reporters before leaving Monza: "At the moment, they will race."

Raikkonen, however, refused to answer the question when he was separately asked by the media after Sunday's race.

"I don't know," the Finn said.  "You need to ask the team."

Fernando Alonso's Monza win, meanwhile, moved him to within three points of teammate Hamilton's lead, and he said he hoped McLaren would maintain its policy of driver equality over the next races.

"We are both going to try to win the championship," the Spaniard told the newspaper Diario As on Sunday.

"The team has been talking about equality all season and that is the way the last four races are going to be; or at least I hope so."


Hunter-Reay wins IRL ROY
With today’s result in the PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, Rahal Letterman Racing’s Ryan Hunter-Reay clinched the Bombardier Learjet Rookie-of-the-Year Award, driving the #17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

Hunter-Reay sets a new IndyCar Series record by taking top rookie honors, winning the award with the fewest starts (6).  He breaks the old record of eight starts by a Rookie-of-the-Year winner, which was shared by Robby Unser and Scott Harrington.

Hunter-Reay becomes the second driver to win the IndyCar Series Rookie-of-the Year award for Rahal Letterman Racing, joining recipient Danica Patrick.

Rahal Letterman Racing today became the first team in the 10 year history of the IndyCar Series to win the Rookie-of-the-Year award on two occasions.

Ryan is the third driver to win top IndyCar rookie honors despite not being with his team at the start of the season.  Hunter-Reay replaced Jeff Simmons at Mid-Ohio and ran the final six events.  He joins 2003 award winner Dan Wheldon and 1998 honoree Robby Unser as the only drivers to accomplish that feat.

He becomes the first IndyCar driver to win the award without logging a top-five finish, although he became the first IndyCar driver in six seasons to score top-seven finishes in each of his first two series starts.


Danica Patrick chokes again
The IRL's biggest star, Danica Patrick who hasn't won a race yet, finished the year Sunday at Chicagoland just the way she started it in Homestead back in March - by spinning at the entry to pit lane and then carrying on like a spoiled child having a temper tantrum.

On national TV Patrick, otherwise known as "The Princess," was flailing her arms in the cockpit and banging the steering wheel. Then as the poor safety crew was trying to give her a jump start she was incapable of popping the clutch and getting the car restarted. The poor Delphi Safety crew guys were gasping for air as they pushed her all the way back to her pit box. All along Barry Green was telling her to jump start the car. But The Princess didn't know how to put the car in gear and pop the clutch.

As witnessed by her appearing in 50% of the TV commercials during the race, this folks is the IRL's superstar. And don't even get us started on IRL superstar #2 and #3 Sarah Fisher and Milka Duno. Amazing. And a sad commentary of what Indy Car Racing has become.


Julianne Hough gets ride of lifetime
Julianne Hough (far left), who will partner with two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves on the upcoming season of "Dancing With The Stars" is at Chicagoland Speedway today to watch Castroneves race. Hough rode in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater and the Honda Accord Hybrid Pace Car. Castroneves drove the pace car ride.

JULIANNE HOUGH ("Dancing With The Stars" Competitor): "The two-seater ride beats it all. The two-seater was just incredible. I've never felt so fast in my life. As we were speeding up, the G-Forces were just incredible. I felt them a little in the pace car (with Helio). I'm such a daredevil that I like everything fast. I'd love to do the two-seater again." (How is experiencing Helio Castroneves' world): "The great thing about this show is that I've got to experience new things. Last year, I got to experience Apolo (Anton Ohno's) world. I've never been much of a speedskating fan and now I'm a big speedskating fan. It's the same thing with Helio. I've never watched IndyCar (Series) racing but now that he's my partner, I've been to a few races and experienced a whole new world in front of me. I love it now. I think I'll watch a whole lot more races in the future. I'm a fan."


Gomez wins closest Indy Pro race
Logan Gomez, Sam Schmidt Motorsports won today's IndyPro Series race at Chicagoland today by just 0.0005s over Alex Lloyd, also of the Sam Schmidt stable.  Alex Lloyd hopes to be moving on to the Indy Car Series next year.

The time and winner's 188.627 mph closing lap on the 1.52-mile oval equates to a margin of victory of 1.65 inches. The difference was the closest in the six years of the series -- and in Indy Racing League history.

Results Sunday of the Chicagoland 100 Indy Pro Series event September 9 at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, laps completed and reason out (if any) and money earned:
1. (4) Logan Gomez, 67, Running $32,500
2. (1) Alex Lloyd, 67, Running $26,000
3. (7) Robbie Pecorari, 67, Running $20,000
4. (11) Bobby Wilson, 67, Running $16,400
5. (16) Mike Potekhen, 67, Running $15,900
6. (17) Sean Guthrie, 67, Running $15,400
7. (19) P.J. Abbott, 67, Running $14,900
8. (15) Jon Brownson, 67, Running $14,400
9. (18) Ken Losch, 67, Running $13,900
10. (14) Jimmy Kite, 67, Running $13,400
11. (21) Brad Jaeger, 67, Running $12,400
12. (10) Stephen Simpson, 65, Running $11,400
13. (12) Leilani Münter, 55, Running $10,400
14. (3) Ben Petter, 49, Running $10,000
15. (8) Jonathan Klein, 45, Mechanical $9,500
16. (22) Travis Gregg, 43, Contact $9,000
17. (2) Wade Cunningham, 43, Contact $8,500
18. (13) Adam Andretti, 34, Contact $8,000
19. (6) Chris Festa, 13, Contact $5,000
20. (5) Jaime Camara, 13, Contact $4,000
21. (9) Andrew Prendeville, 4, Mechanical $3,000
22. (20) Tom Wieringa, 0, Did not start $2,000  

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Danica the teacher
PEAK Antifreeze to offer racing fans the chance to win driving lessons from Danica Patrick at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

PEAK, IndyCar, and IMS have teamed up with IndyCar star Danica Patrick to offer racing enthusiasts a chance to win an unprecedented IndyCar Series Driving Experience.

Fifteen lucky racing fans will enjoy a VIP experience during Pole Qualifying Weekend at the 2008 Indianapolis 500.  Each winner will learn first-hand racing tips from Patrick before driving a single-seat Indy car around the famed 2.5 mile oval, marking the first time that the Indy single-seated program will run during the month of May.

“We are thrilled to partner with Andretti Green Racing, Danica Patrick and PEAK to offer race fans a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Terry Angstadt, president of the Indy Racing League’s commercial division.  “In a short period of time, PEAK has become actively engaged in the IndyCar Series and activating around its partnerships with Danica and the entitlement of our season finale at the Chicagoland Speedway”.

To enter, consumers 18 and older are encouraged to pick up a PEAK sweepstakes entry form from their favorite PEAK retailer or online at www.peakantifreeze.com .  Entries will be accepted starting September 9, 2007 and ending Feb. 28, 2008.  For a full list of rules visit the website.


Scumacher rules out return
Seven time world champion Michael Schumacher insisted Sunday he has no thoughts of a return to Formula One and is enjoying life after his retirement. The 38-year-old German says he has no desire to get behind the wheel again, even with Britain's Lewis Hamilton taking the Formula One world by storm on his debut season, and is enjoying his retirement after quitting last year.

After 16 years of Formula One racing and 91 victories, Schumacher is still an advisor for his former team Ferrari, but is enjoying spending time with his family.

"I am completely happy, I am enjoying my time with my family and I have no regrets," Schumacher told German sports agency SID.


Monza banners attack McLaren's Dennis
(GMM) Ron Dennis' reputation took a pounding on Sunday -- in the Monza grandstands.

Ferrari's passionate 'Tifosi' showed no trackside mercy for the McLaren boss, as he grapples with the espionage affair and a reportedly unhappy driver in the form of reigning double world champion Fernando Alonso.

"Dennis, get your F2008 drawings here -- please call me! Phone: 003406812345", read one mischievous banner.

Two more spectator scribblings pointed the finger at Dennis' handling of the Alonso situation, after the Spaniard recently complained that he had not yet felt the rewards for his efforts this season.

"Ron, last year's McLaren was a crock, now you are winning," another banner began. "Will Alonso have something to do with it?"

A third banner was a personal message for 26-year-old Alonso: "You've helped them to win, they've helped you to lose. Where is equality? Where is fair play?"


Massa had suspension problem - Ferrari
(GMM) Ferrari's sporting director on Sunday admitted that Felipe Massa retired from the Italian grand prix probably with a rear suspension failure.

The Brazilian, who struck trouble at Monza shortly after banging wheels with Lewis Hamilton, has now fallen 23 points behind the championship leader with just four races to go.

"We still have to look into it more closely," Stefano Domenicali told RTL, "(but) it seems to be probably a problem of the suspension."

Massa's teammate Kimi Raikkonen finished Ferrari's home race just third, telling reporters that despite a sore neck, the F2007 was simply outpaced by McLaren this weekend.

Massa was asked by reporters if he thought emerging as the 2007 world champion was now an impossible task.

"Impossible no, but for sure not easy," he said.

"I'll just keep my head up and be competitive. I'm sure we can fight for more victories."

tv news

Ashley Force to be on The Tonight Show
NHRA Funny Car driver, Ashley Force, will be a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on Monday night, September 10.  The show airs at 11:35 pm - 12:35 am in most time zones on NBC.  Check local listings for your location and time zone.  Ashley recently won AOL Sports' Hottest Athlete Tournament.  She defeated Milka Duno, Dan Wheldon, Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards in the First Round and she trounced Danica Patrick in the Fab Four matchup.  See related article


Latest F1 news in brief
  • McLaren suspect timing of police probe
  • Haug advises Alonso to stay at McLaren
  • Wurz rules out Prodrive move
  • Dennis weeps after fraught Monza contest

McLaren suspect timing of police probe
(GMM) McLaren has hit out at the "nature and timing" of the Italian police's visit to the Monza paddock on Saturday.

Ron Dennis and other team chiefs were served with notices of pending criminal prosecutions relating to the spy saga just prior to qualifying, but the Woking based outfit insisted in a statement on Sunday that no-one was "charged with anything".

"We strongly suspect that the nature and timing of this wholly unnecessary contact, just before the start of qualifying, was to disrupt our preparation for this important session and Thursday's World Motor Sport Council hearing," the statement added.

The British team also found a paddock ally on Sunday in the form of 1994 McLaren driver Martin Brundle.

He wrote in his column for The Times that the saga seems to have turned into a "witch-hunt", and pointed a critical finger at F1's governing body.

"Inside the paddock we can't fathom how, previously, two Toyota F1 employees can be handed prison sentences for industrial espionage using Ferrari software, yet the FIA was not interested in getting involved, and how Colin Kolles from Spyker could walk down the pit lane with a drawing from rival Toro Rosso presented as evidence of cloned cars, yet the FIA took no action," he wrote.

Brundle said his sense is of a wider struggle, possibly relating back to Dennis' stance against the FIA in past years, including the touted 'breakaway' world championship.

"Is the FIA looking for McLaren heads to roll?" he wondered.

Bernie Ecclestone, however, insists that if McLaren is found guilty of espionage, the team must be punished -- irrespective of the possible ramifications for the title battle and also things like disaffected sponsors.

F1's chief executive said: "If you let someone get away with that, what's next? Then after that you let them get away because you've let that get away, what comes after that?

"Then there are no rules and regulations."

Read more & Comment...

Cup teams test COTs at Talladega Sept 10-11
The UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway will be the first restrictor-plate event for the Car of Tomorrow – NASCAR’s next-generation race car that will compete fulltime in 2008 – so next week’s two-day test means preparing to make history. “I think it's going to be a big test,” said NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton. “When you look at Talladega historically, they have had some of the most exciting races and tightest competition. That race track is one of the widest tracks we go to. It is the biggest track we go to. So the races there have historically been great.” A total of 52 series teams will test next Monday and Tuesday on Talladega’s high-banked, 2.66-mile tri-oval. It’s the sixth of seven NASCAR-scheduled series tests in 2007 and the third dedicated to the Car of Tomorrow (previous tests for the new car took place at Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway). Teams are phasing in the new car by running it in 16 of 36 scheduled ’07 events; the Oct. 7 race at Talladega marks the 14th such event. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Director John Darby said the new car will have a considerable, positive effect on teams’ restrictor-plate preparations. Two of the car’s new components – including the splitter just below the front air dam and the rear wing – should allow crew chiefs more restrictor-place tuning options. “Forever, we've had a restrictor-plate car and a short-track and intermediate car,” Darby said of the variations of the current car. “And although I would never walk down the path of being as naive as saying there won't be any differences, the cars will be much, much closer. The differences between the (.526.-mile) Martinsville (Speedway) car and Talladega car will probably be small enough that only a specialist in the field will be able to tell them apart.” Both days’ sessions run from 9am-5pm/ct, weather permitting. NASCAR PR


Toyota giddy, GM despondent
Toyota’s blockbuster move - signing Joe Gibbs, with Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, three of the top drivers in NASCAR - is one of the biggest coups in auto racing in quite some time. It may have been long in the making, perhaps since April, perhaps even back to last year, with secret trips to Japan.

But the announcement still comes as a stunner. Jim Aust, the head of Toyota’s racing operations, said he’s giddy about it all, now that it’s finally come down: “Oh, yes, yes. This is like winning the lottery - but at the moment you still only have the winning ticket. And you don’t realize just what you have until you get the money.

“You have to pinch yourself and say, ‘Wow! This is really happening.’ “It’s been in the making, but until you get the call....  And that only came recently.

“This is a fabulous opportunity, and there isn’t any manufacturer that wouldn’t trade places with Toyota right now.”

Over in the General Motors camp, the loss of Gibbs has been like a death in the family, an emotional loss for many, despite a stoic, “It’s just business,” front.

Has Gibbs made a major mistake in dumping GM - after 16 years, 58 Cup tour wins and three championships - for Toyota?

Maybe the question should be directed rather to GM’s Brent Dewar, overall head of racing: Why did he let Stewart, Hamlin and Busch get away?

And is Dewar worried that Gibbs, with key engine builder Mark Cronquist, and Toyota now have access to some of GM’s most important engine technology? Work on the new GM R-07 engine has been going on since 1998, and Cronquist has been at the heart of it.

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McLaren fight back
McLaren have come out fighting as the off-track furore intensified ahead of today's Italian Grand Prix.

In a statement, the team have slammed as "wholly unnecessary the visit to the Formula One paddock at Monza yesterday made by the Italian authorities immediately prior to qualifying.

Modena prosecutors served notice McLaren are now involved in the ongoing investigation in relation to the spying affair that continues to tear apart Formula One, overshadowing the on-track scrap for the title. McLaren believe it was a deliberate act designed to throw their plans for the session into chaos, as well as for Thursday's crucial World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris.

Drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton at least played their part in putting the matter to one side as they will start first and second on the grid.

However, with regard to the Council hearing, any evidence the team now present in front of the 25-man panel could be used against them should they be charged at a later date.

But a defiant statement read: "McLaren did receive some contact from the Italian authorities yesterday, but was not charged with anything. "We strongly suspect that the nature and timing of this wholly unnecessary contact, just before the start of qualifying, was to disrupt our preparation for this important session and Thursday's World Motor Sport Council hearing.

"McLaren is completely confident that were any proceedings of this type ever to be brought we would be completely exonerated." Ireland.com


Ashley Force voted ’hotter’ than Danica
The votes are in and AOL Sports' Hottest Athlete, male or female, has been decided. The first-ever winner, Ashley Force, a drag racing upstart and daughter of NHRA icon John Force, says she was surprised to see Sharapova lose, explains why beating Danica Patrick was different and admits that under her fire suit she’s really a girlie-girl.

Ashley defeated Milka Duno and Dan Wheldon, Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards in the First Round.  She trounced Danica in the Fab Four matchup. 

Here's a Q&A from the article about beating Danica in the Fab Four matchup:
Dave Hollander: Your Fab Four matchup against Danica Patrick had all the earmarks of a classic. But you trounced her (67 percent-33 percent). What does your drubbing of Danica say about NHRA vs. the IRL and who rules auto racing?

Ashley Force: Matching up against her was probably the funnest round just because I actually knew a little bit more about her. I've been interviewed a lot where people will ask me about her. So she was someone I related to. We have similar careers. I'm sure the ups and downs I have she probably has the same in her sport. So it was fun to go against someone similar.

A big part of it is that we have a lot of female fans in drag racing. A lot of little girls, a lot of moms bring their kids. They want to root for the women. I don't know about other motor sports but I know in drag racing, the men and woman are very pumped up and motivated about their drivers. They support them in any way they can. Even if we lose and do horribly they're still the ones out there 10 o'clock at night when it’s been raining all day who say "It’s OK you didn't do well today, you'll go out and get ‘em next week." It’s hard to find people who have your back as well as they do. AOL Sports


Glock takes brilliant win at Monza
Timo Glock put on a clinical display of motor racing precision to carve his way through the field and claim his fourth win of the season in race two at Monza, before comfortably controlling the second half of the race to lead Luca Filippi and Bruno Senna all the way to the chequered flag.

The win was set up by a solid start, which saw poleman Ricardo Risatti hold onto the top spot ahead of a storming Senna, who moved up from fifth on the grid to second at the first chicane ahead of Sebastien Buemi, a fast charging Giorgio Pantano, Glock and Vitaly Petrov, who had Filippi on his tail by the end of the lap after blasting past Javier Villa, while behind them Mike Conway spun at the parabolica and was tagged by Adrian Zaugg, who soon retired with a terminal car.

Pantano was not waiting for anyone as he attempted to bring home his second consecutive double win at his home track, powering by Senna next time around on the front straight to put himself behind the rookie race leader. Unfortunately his patience was in short order on the next lap as he tried to push through the inside of Risatti at the first chicane: the pair touched and the Italian was spun around, dropping back to sixth place just in front of his teammate before getting away again.

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A1 Team GBR unveils new look
A1 Team GBR unveiled its new look A1GP World Cup of Motorsport contender at the famous Brooklands Circuit in Surrey yesterday, the revised livery being revealed by team drivers Robbie Kerr and Oliver Jarvis as they prepare to launch Great Britain's assault on the 2007/08 A1GP season. In front of 200 guests from the world of sport and entertainment attending an evening of motoring and aviation hosted by one of Britain's most famous charities, The Lords Taverners, A1 Team GBR took centre stage at the 100 year old venue.

In the shadow of the famous Brooklands banking and standing alongside famous British icons from the world of motor sport and aviation, A1 Team GBR's drivers proudly displayed the red, white and blue A1GP car with which they both scored victories last season en-route to a second successive third placed finish for Great Britain in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. Guest of Honor Lord Montague of Beaulieu was given a personal explanation of A1GP by the team drivers.

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Raikkonen to race with stiff, sore neck
(GMM)  Following his high speed crash during Saturday practice at Monza, Kimi Raikkonen awoke on Sunday morning for the Italian grand prix with a very sore and stiff neck.

The Finn had a check-up in the circuit medical centre here directly after the incident, where FIA medical boss Dr Gary Hartstein cleared him to qualify.

"He is okay," Hartstein said in the paddock on Saturday.

Raikkonen, 28, was just fifth quickest, and apparently confided to some friends in the Finnish press that he was suffering with some neck pain throughout the qualifying session.

Spanish newspaper 'As' says the Ferrari driver's pain increased throughout the evening, and he arrived at the circuit on Sunday barely able to move his head from side to side.

It is not believed that the muscle soreness will cause him to sit out the race, but Raikkonen told the Swiss newspaper Blick: "My neck does hurt quite a lot and it is completely stiff.  I can hardly move.

"But it's nothing really bad or anything and I look forward to the race."


Ferrari chief says Alonso 'great' driver
(GMM)  Ferrari's president at Monza refused to completely rule out Fernando Alonso joining the famous team at some point in the future.

Given his apparent unhappiness at McLaren, and the seriousness of the espionage affair, it is reported widely that the Spaniard might be on the lookout for a new home in the pit lane.

Alonso and Ferrari's relationship until now, however, has not been the best in the paddock, but Luca di Montezemolo (right) would not rule out a collaboration in the future.

"He is a great champion and life is very long," the Italian is quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper Marca.

"I am however very, very satisfied with our current drivers, especially as this season was a delicate one for us because we lost Michael (Schumacher)," Montezemolo added.

"We have won six of the twelve races and sometimes we have not taken advantage of some other opportunities because of things such as reliability problems.  So we are very happy with the drivers.

"Alonso is not at the moment a topic for us although he is a great driver," he said.


Italian police crash McLaren pole party UPDATE #3 (GMM)  A McLaren spokeswoman late on Saturday finally confirmed that key team members are under investigation by authorities in the northern Italian region Modena.

We reported shortly after qualifying at the circuit that police had served boss Ron Dennis and some of his deputies with avviso di garanzias - or formal notices of pending prosecutions - for alleged crimes including sporting fraud, espionage and embezzlement.

"The team was informed on Saturday evening by Modena magistrates that they are involved in an ongoing investigation," the spokeswoman said.

The Italian news agency ANSA added that, alongside McLaren's Dennis, Mike Coughlan, Martin Whitmarsh, Paddy Lowe, Jonathan Neale and Rob Taylor, sacked Ferrari mole Nigel Stepney will also shortly receive his avviso di garanzia.

09/08/07 (GMM) McLaren boss Ron Dennis at Monza on Saturday denied reports that he had been served with a notice of criminal prosecution by Italian police.

It is understood that the Woking based team's chairman and up to five of his colleagues are under investigation by Modena authorities for sporting fraud, industrial espionage and embezzlement.

But Dennis told reporters at the circuit: "If it happens, it happens, but nothing's happened yet."

The 60-year-old Briton also insisted that the worsening espionage saga and other controversies this season will not trigger his retirement, despite describing 2007 as "the most extreme" challenge he has ever faced in motor sport.

"My job isn't as I would like it to be at the moment," he acknowledged, "and there are a few people around who would like me to (retire).

"If it's something I thought would further the company and was the right thing to do, then I wouldn't hesitate to do it.

"But I don't think it's the right thing to do," Dennis said.

09/08/07 (GMM)  We can now reveal more details about the visit on Saturday of Italian police to the Monza paddock.

McLaren team boss Ron Dennis was served with an 'avviso di garanzia'; a formal warning that he is to be investigated by criminal prosecutors in the northern region of Modena.

The notice lists Dennis' alleged wrongdoings as frode sportive (sporting fraud), rivelazione di segreto industriale (industrial espionage), and another unknown offence, with relation to the so-called spy saga involving the British team's championship rival Ferrari.

The recipients of two other notices given out by the police at Monza on Saturday are believed to be Martin Whitmarsh (F1 CEO) and managing director Jonathan Neale.

It is understood that three more McLaren employees, including suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan, will receive their notices at McLaren's Woking headquarters shortly.

The final recipient is Ferrari's sacked Nigel Stepney.

09/08/07 (GMM) The espionage scandal continued to worsen for McLaren on Saturday, despite the team locking out the front row of the grid for Ferrari's home race at Monza.

It is understood that Italian police entered the paddock shortly after qualifying with formal notices of criminal investigation for key members of the British team, including team boss Ron Dennis and his deputy Martin Whitmarsh.

This development - that the leading figures in the spying affair could be charged criminally and even jailed - had been rumored on Friday, with Modena prosecutors believing McLaren team members knew about, used and withheld their knowledge about Ferrari secrets.

McLaren's lawyers advised their client not to comment this weekend, and triple world champion Niki Lauda observed: "I can understand why they are nervous."

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton admitted after qualifying second on Saturday that he is "concerned" about the steadily worsening saga, and the prospect that the World Motor Sport Council could come down hard on the team next Thursday.

"Unfortunately, whatever happens next week could not only affect the team, but also me and Fernando. Obviously we're all concerned," he said.


Top-12 in points make Nextel Cup Chase
The top 12 and those who missed out but made the top-20:
1 Jeff Gordon 3849
2 Tony Stewart 3537
3 Denny Hamlin 3490
4 Jimmie Johnson 3439
5 Matt Kenseth 3430
6 Carl Edwards 3372
7 Jeff Burton 3328
8 Kyle Busch 3302
9 Clint Bowyer 3179
10 Kurt Busch 3160
11 Martin Truex Jr. 3160
12 Kevin Harvick 3155
13 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2954
14 Ryan Newman 2890
15 Greg Biffle 2720
16 Casey Mears 2698
17 Bobby Labonte 2656
18 Jamie McMurray 2535
19 J.J. Yeley 2506
20 Juan Montoya* 2479


NASCAR ratings continue to fall
ESPN’s broadcast of last Sunday night’s Cup race at California Speedway received a 4.3 national rating, down 15.7 percent from last season's 5.1 rating.

Last Saturday’s broadcast of the Busch Series race on ESPN2 received a 1.3 rating, down slightly from a 1.5 it received on TNT last season.


Al Unser III to drive Indy Pro Series in 2008
At a press conference earlier today, Playa Del Racing announced a multi-year contract with Ethos forEARTH Corporation and Al Unser III for an Indy Pro Series program for 2007.

Ethos forEARTH will become the primary sponsor of the Playa Del Racing Indy Pro Series car No.21 driven by Al Unser III, son of the two-time Indianapolis 500 Champion Al Unser Jr.

Ethos forEARTH Corporation is a network marketing company that owns the exclusive international marketing rights for Ethos Fuel Refomulator, a non-petroleum based fuel additive and engine lubricant that reduces emissions, increases gas mileage, and extends vehicles engine life and performance.

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Chicagoland 100 Starting Lineup
Qualifying Saturday for the Chicagoland 100 Indy Pro Series event on the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver and speed:
1. (7) Alex Lloyd, Dallara, 190.133
2. (27) Wade Cunningham, Dallara, 189.916
3. (6) Ben Petter, Dallara, 189.495
4. (23) Logan Gomez, Dallara, 189.196
5. (11) Jaime Camara, Dallara, 189.195
6. (9) Chris Festa, Dallara, 188.059
7. (13) Robbie Pecorari, Dallara, 188.021
8. (2) Jonathan Klein, Dallara, 187.935
9. (5) Andrew Prendeville, Dallara, 187.722
10. (24) Stephen Simpson, Dallara, 187.676
11. (1) Bobby Wilson, Dallara, 187.663
12. (57) Leilani Münter, Dallara, 187.475
13. (44) Adam Andretti, Dallara, 187.412
14. (43) Jimmy Kite, Dallara, 187.302
15. (34) Jon Brownson, Dallara, 187.175
16. (53) Mike Potekhen, Dallara, 186.972
17. (38) Ryan Justice, Dallara, 186.918
18. (12) Sean Guthrie, Dallara, 186.635
19. (52) Ken Losch, Dallara, 186.083
20. (8) P.J. Abbott, Dallara, 185.753
21. (4) Tom Wieringa, Dallara, 185.702
22. (3) Brad Jaeger, Dallara, 184.517


ALEX LLOYD (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, SWE Pole Award winner): "I'm very happy with today. It's going to be a very close race. It's one of those races where no one is going to run away. It's going to be a big pack. I'm happy with the car we've got. It's like playing a chess game, and then hopefully put yourself in the right place. A little bit of luck is involved in winning a race like this, but it's going to be a great race. I'm sure we'll put on a great one for the fans." (About qualifying on the front row for every race where qualifying took place): "That's something that definitely means a lot to myself and the team. When you look at that, that's a pretty good record, especially when you look at all the different kind of tracks we race on. On every weekend, no matter what, we've been right there either the quickest or right there as second quickest. That really shows the performance we've had all year."
WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 27 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, qualified second.): "We tried some qualifying simulations in the second practice and we ran slower than we did with our race setup. We didn't really know what we were doing today so we just sort of put it back to where it was and sent it out to qualify. So we weren't really sure what was going to happen, but we're second at the moment. I'm sure the other Sam Schmidt car is going to be quick, so I wouldn't say it's a foregone conclusion yet. But we have a reasonable time - we're close to Alex (Lloyd), but not quicker than him. They've had the dominate car all season and we'll have to work harder to catch them."

JIMMY KITE (No. 43 SWE Racing/SWE Race Car Parts, qualified 14th): "It's been a lot of learning. It's a brand new car and obviously we've got a rookie driver in it. It's a lot of fun. It seems like every time we go out we learn something a little new. Running in the packs I know is a lot of fun. It's fun watching too. It's going to be fun to be out there in the middle of it. There's a rookie group of us. But if (team owner) Steve (Eppard) decides to bring me back next year, we'll know when we come back what to do differently. But we'll make some changes. It looks like we have a couple cars to pass tomorrow, but it makes it a fun day."

racing news

Video: Racecar Drivers Work Out, Both On and Off the Track
To remain a viable contender on the track, racecar drivers must work out outside of their competitive circuits. General Motors (GM) reports drivers like Oliver Gavin and Johnny O’Connell participate in exercises designed to stimulate both their bodies and their minds. Gavin, a four-time GT class champion at the 24-hour of Le Mans, runs marathons. O’Connell, the driver with the highest number of Top 5 finishes on the American Le Mans Series, trains in karate. GM officials say drivers must remain mentally tough, as well as physically fit, to achieve a winning outcome. Video: Why Race Drivers Work Out

industry news

The 50 worst cars of all time
This Time Magazine article lists the 50 worst cars of all-time.

industry news

2-years in jail if caught on mobile phone behind wheel
Motorists who use a hand-held mobile phone or fiddle with a satellite-navigation system while driving could be jailed for up to two years. Prosecutors have said they could be charged with dangerous driving in a dramatically tougher approach to such offences. Those caught fiddling with an MP3 music player or texting on a mobile at the wheel could also face the charge. Prosecutions will be brought whenever it is judged that using the equipment posed a danger, such as forcing a car to swerve or causing a distracted motorist to jump a red light. Those who kill while using a mobile phone will face 14 years behind bars under the charge of causing death by dangerous driving. Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald said: "There is widespread public concern about the use of mobile phones and other hand-held electronic equipment while driving. "We accept that in cases where there is clear evidence that danger has been caused by their use - such as texting while driving - then our policy should spell out that the starting point for charging will be dangerous driving." This Is London


Chicagoland: Helio fastest, Milka slowest in opening practice
Pos Driver                    Time     Diff Speed
1 Helio Castroneves (3) 25.3087 ... 216.210
2 Scott Dixon (9) 25.3523 0.0436 215.838
3 Dario Franchitti (27) 25.3602 0.0515 215.771
4 Tony Kanaan (11) 25.4133 0.1046 215.320
5 Marco Andretti (26) 25.4272 0.1185 215.203
6 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 25.4345 0.1258 215.141
7 Dan Wheldon (10) 25.4358 0.1271 215.130
8 Danica Patrick (7) 25.4404 0.1317 215.091
9 Tomas Scheckter (2) 25.4999 0.1912 214.589
10 Buddy Rice (15) 25.5254 0.2167 214.375
11 Hideki Mutoh (60) 25.5279 0.2192 214.354
12 Scott Sharp (8) 25.5698 0.2611 214.002
13 Darren Manning (14) 25.5967 0.2880 213.778
14 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 25.6081 0.2994 213.682
15 Vitor Meira (4) 25.6681 0.3594 213.183
16 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 25.7039 0.3952 212.886
17 Sarah Fisher (5) 25.7117 0.4030 212.821
18 Ed Carpenter (20) 25.7377 0.4290 212.606
19 AJ Foyt IV (22) 25.8533 0.5446 211.656
20 Marty Roth (25) 25.9620 0.6533 210.770
21 PJ Chesson (76) 26.0674 0.7587 209.917
22 Milka Duno (23) 26.2943 0.9856 208.106


Chevy hopes to get Stewart back in Cup
One of the top executives in the General Motors racing operation said the automaker will attempt to sign Tony Stewart to a contract with another Chevrolet team after his current deal with Joe Gibbs Racing expires. “We’d be interested in Tony staying with Chevy,” Brent Dewar, GM North America vice president of sales, service and parts, said Friday at Richmond International Raceway. “Most fans don’t realize that the drivers sign with the teams, and we all respect that. I understand he’s through 2009 currently with Gibbs. We’d love for him to continue with Chevrolet down the road. … “We’ve had a great relationship with Tony.” Dewar also said Chevrolet will continue to support Stewart’s hobby—sprint-car racing—despite his defection to Toyota next year along with the rest of the Gibbs drivers. “We’ve just got to sit down and see if it makes sense for all parties,” Dewar said. “We are starting to work with him and develop … he’s passionate about sprint cars, so we can see some avenues.” Stewart said during last week’s Toyota press conference that he is planning an aggressive round of contract negotiations with his team. Ford Racing

[Editor's Note:  GM is dreaming if they think they can outbid Toyota for Stewart's services.  Stewart will be Toyota's 'star' driver and there is no way they will let him get away, especially not with their deep pockets.]


Pantano all the way in Monza
Giorgio Pantano has blitzed the field from pole position to take an easy win in race one at his home circuit of Monza, leading Luca Filippi and Timo Glock home with a dominant display of speed and verve.

Despite slowing on the final lap Pantano was greeted by the chequered flag eight seconds ahead of his countryman, who inherited second place after Lucas di Grassi bizarrely slowed on the second last lap, allowing the field through before getting underway again and also handing title rival Glock the final spot on the podium to extend his lead in the championship.

Pantano easily held onto the top spot when the lights went out after a strong start with no wheelspin, while the rest of the field lit up their tires in hot pursuit. The order at the front of the field was unchanged into the first chicane, but behind then chaos reigned as Adrian Zaugg was turned around by Glock as the cars bunched up in the tight corner: Zaugg, Mike Conway, and Olivier Pla were all out on the spot as the remainder of the field struggled to find a way past.

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Bernie stays silent on rising spy saga
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has refused to comment on the latest developments in F1's intensifying spy saga.

With Italian police at Monza reportedly serving McLaren chiefs with prosecution notices, and the British team facing possible exclusion from the championship at a hearing next Thursday, F1's chief executive was sought out for his usual forthright digest on the implications for the sport.

But the 76-year-old on Saturday followed McLaren's lead in explaining that he will simply wait for the outcome of the World Motor Sport Council meeting next Thursday.

"I do not have an opinion," Ecclestone told the German broadcaster Premiere, "and I am not allowed to have one either, because I am a member of the World Council."

He added: "We will have to wait and see what happens on Thursday."


Kimi crash not caused by failure - Ferrari
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen had to use Ferrari's spare car for qualifying at Monza following his high speed practice shunt earlier on Saturday.

The Finn will not be penalized ten grid places, however, after mechanics for the Maranello based team switched the intact engine from his damaged F2007 to the T-car.

A Ferrari spokesman said here that initial investigations showed that the practice accident, in which the rear of Raikkonen's car initially swerved into the retaining wall under braking for the Ascari chicane, was actually not a technical failure.

"It just happened that he braked on a bump; he braved very hard and he lost the rear," the spokesman told the British broadcaster ITV.

He added: "No mechanical failure, as far as we have seen, and no driver mistakes (either)."

Luca Colajanni also stated that he thought Raikkonen's performance would suffer in qualifying due to his lack of running here so far.

Raikkonen, 28, qualified just fifth for Sunday's Italian grand prix.

Kimi lost practice time with an hydraulic problem on Friday, and had completed just three laps on Saturday before his crash.

"So compared to the others for sure he has a handicap," Colajanni said.


Schumacher surprises with Monza visit
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher surprised observers at Monza on Saturday by arriving at the circuit a couple of hours ahead of qualifying.

The retired seven time world champion took up his perch on the Ferrari pitwall, despite announcing recently that he would watch the rest of the 2007 season from the comfort of his Swiss home.

38-year-old Schumacher's spokeswoman Sabine Kehm explained that the German decided at the last minute to drop in at the Autodromo Nazionale, scene of Ferrari's home race, following an engagement in nearby Milan.

It is not known whether he will return to the circuit on Sunday for the race.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, meanwhile, is this weekend making his usual visit to the Italian grand prix.


One lap of Miller Motorsports Park with Jon Fogarty
LEWISVILLE, Texas — On Sept. 15, Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Jimmy Vasser will fight for GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing’s first-ever driver and team championships in one of the 2007 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season’s toughest tests – the Sunchaser 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah. They’ll face the task of closing out the season by racing 1,000 kilometers around the 4.5-mile desert monster, the longest racetrack in North America. Fogarty, who has captured a record-setting eight poles this year behind the wheel of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley, agreed to talk us around a lap, giving his driver’s-eye-view of the grueling circuit.
Jon Fogarty: Miller is long with many corners, but after a few laps it’s easy to break the track into sections and focus on separate parts rather than the whole. The first third for me includes what I call corners 1 through 10 (that’s more than a lot of tracks have in total!) This includes the first set of esses, beginning at turn 1. This is a fast, left-right-left-left sequence that is very high speed, with the final left being flat out. Because the last corner can be taken flat, it is important to be patient in the early portions of this sequence, so that you are building speed throughout making the exit of the second to last corner the start of your straightaway leading into a slow long left hander.

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Bringing F1 back to Kyalami
Fantastic Racing and Kyalami Race Track are proud to announce their partnership with the ‘F1 in Schools’ challenge. ‘F1 in Schools’ provides the chance for South African schoolchildren to actually have a crack at a real world title.

School teams design model F1 cars using the same technologies as the real F1 car designers use, including CAD, CAM and CFD, and manufacture them on computer-controlled machines. Racing the cars through regional, provincial and national levels will get a team into the next world championships at the Malaysian GP March 2008. They will then be competing for the Bernie Ecclestone trophy which he will present to the ‘F1 in Schools’ world champion.

Fantastic Racing and Kyalami Race Track will be hosting the National Finals on the 5 of October 2007. The teams will get up close and personal with the real single-seater racing world.

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GM locks Gibbs Racing out
Joe Gibbs Racing, which will move from Chevrolet to Toyota next season, will not be allowed in any Chevrolet meetings the rest of this year that focus on 2008, according to a General Motors executive. “They’re absolutely partners and professional,” Dewar said Friday. “We’re going to do everything we can to help them win races here. We’ve got two of the Gibbs drivers in the Chase. We talked about setting up the firewalls. They’re not going to be part of any of the ‘08 discussions. We worked really hard to keep all four of our teams together,” Dewar said. “There have been a couple of issues they’ve had with us, and one was, ‘Are they the lead?’


Briatore denies involvement in latest spy twists
(GMM) Flavio Briatore has rejected rumors that he tipped off the FIA about McLaren drivers' possession of evidence about the espionage scandal.

While it is believed that Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa gave up pertinent emails about Mike Coughlan's possession of the 780-page Ferrari dossier, it remains unclear how the FIA found out about the existence of the emails in the first place.

26-year-old Alonso is one possible suspect, with him thought to be trying to escape from the clutches of his unhappy three-year tenure at the British team. He told a Spanish newspaper on Friday that the speculation was "lies".

Also in the frame is Briatore, the Renault boss who would benefit from McLaren's exclusion from the 2007 and 2008 championships, including probably reuniting the French squad with its recent twice title winner.

But the Italian told the Swiss newspaper Blick: "I have nothing to do with it."

The newspaper Diario As, however, claims that Renault has now delayed announcing its drivers for 2008 at Monza this weekend, given the recent developments in the spy affair.

Nelson Piquet Jr is understood to have told some of his Brazilian media friends here that the hold-up relates to the upcoming meeting of the World Motor Sport Council.

Briatore, meanwhile, was spotted coming out of the McLaren motor home on Friday following a ten minute meeting with Ron Dennis.

It is understood that he also got together at Monza with Dennis, Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt.

McLaren chairman Dennis has refused to speak with the press about the latest accusations at Monza, but he did conduct an off-the-record briefing on Friday with some journalists he trusts the most and reportedly came close to tears.

An FIA spokesman, however, rejected the resultant message in British newspapers that the espionage affair is akin to a 'witch hunt' waged by Ferrari and the sport's governing body.

"Under the circumstances, the suggestion that the FIA's ongoing investigation is about anything other than the pursuit of sporting fairness demonstrates a blinding refusal to accept the basic facts," the spokesman told the Times.


Monza: Alonso fastest in practice 3
Fernando Alonso (pictured right) topped McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton to lead practice No. 3 at Monza Saturday morning.  The session interrupted by an enormous accident for Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, which has been a major setback for the 'home' team.  Raikkonen's Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa was 3rd fastest.

Pos  Driver        Team               Time      Behind Laps
 1.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   1:22.054           10
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:22.200 + 0.146   11
 3.  Massa         Ferrari            1:22.615 + 0.561   11
 4.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         1:22.855 + 0.801   15
 5.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         1:23.287 + 1.233   14
 6.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:23.454 + 1.400   13
 7.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    1:23.596 + 1.542   15
 8.  Trulli        Toyota             1:23.672 + 1.618   16
 9.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:23.672 + 1.618   12
10.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:23.708 + 1.654   13
11.  Button        Honda              1:23.803 + 1.749   15
12.  Barrichello   Honda              1:23.830 + 1.776   14
13.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.853 + 1.799   14
14.  Fisichella    Renault            1:23.877 + 1.823   12
15.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:23.942 + 1.888   12
16.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:24.022 + 1.968   16
17.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:24.055 + 2.001   12
18.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:24.167 + 2.113   13
19.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:24.208 + 2.154   15
20.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:24.442 + 2.388    3
21.  Yamamoto      Spyker-Ferrari     1:24.736 + 2.682   17
22.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:24.943 + 2.889   18

industry news

Lexus aims to conquer globe with luxury sales
When Toyota Motor Corp. shipped the first Lexus cars to California in 1989, most Americans were underwhelmed by what looked like made-in-Japan versions of Mercedes-Benz sedans.

"Back when it started, there were a lot of questions whether Lexus would work or not," said Dave Illingworth, a senior vice president at Toyota who was in charge of Lexus when the brand was introduced.

Within 11 years, Lexus' emphasis on delivering reliable cars and pampering customers turned it into the best-selling luxury nameplate in the United States. Now Toyota hopes to repeat that success around the world and transform the premium brand conceived for the U.S. market into a global luxury nameplate to rival the leading German marques Mercedes and BMW, whose global sales are roughly twice that of Lexus.

Toyota has invested billions to expand and refine Lexus' lineup of cars and SUVs. Its engineers and designers are injecting more glamour and power each time a model comes due for redesign.

Most industry experts are betting that Toyota will succeed in establishing Lexus among the top marques. "They have that very good combination of advanced technology, excellent build quality and they're getting better on design," said Jack Nerad, editorial director at Kelley Blue Book. More at Detroit News


Sherwin-Williams to open landmark store
WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio — A special grand opening ceremony in Calumet Park, Ill., on Sept. 21, will mark the opening of Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Corp.’s (SWAFC) 200th company-owned automotive finishes store. Local dignitaries and Sherwin-Williams executives will cut the ribbon at the location outside Chicago.  The day-long celebration will feature the Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 8 Budweiser car, Champ Car DP01 Show car, food and beverages, prizes and giveaways. There will be tours and hands-on Planet Color airbrush presentations.

As part of SWAFC’s strategy to enhance the purchasing experience for its customers, the company has opened or renovated 200 existing stores to include wider, more open aisles, brighter lighting and newly organized displays of coordinating products – all in an effort to make it easier to buy automotive paint and associated products.

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Monza: Pantano takes GP2 pole
Giorgio Pantano picked up in qualifying where he left off in free practice by claiming pole position this afternoon at his home circuit Monza, taking the top spot by three tenths of a second ahead of Lucas di Grassi and teammate Vitaly Petrov.

The Italian looked smooth and fast throughout qualifying, sitting at or near the top of the timesheets before setting a lap of 1:30.546 with a few minutes remaining to settle the fight, with his teammate setting his own fastest lap one minute later to set the exact same time as di Grassi, who takes the front row position on account of setting the time earlier in the session.

The session opened under the usual hot conditions, and Luca Filippi was determined to make up for missing the top spot earlier today by setting the early pace, with Borja Garcia, di Grassi and Adam Carroll taking the position from him a few minutes later before Pantano made it his own with a lap of 31.355: di Grassi briefly reclaimed the position before Pantano ran faster again to take it back before most of the drivers came in for new tires.

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Raikkonen unhurt in high speed Monza crash
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen emerged unhurt from a heavy shunt during Saturday practice at Monza.

The Finn lost control of his Ferrari at the Ascari chicane and impacted the tire barriers at high speed, following what appeared to be a failure on the single seater's right front corner.

The incident brought out the red flags after 25 minutes of the final 60-minute practice session preceding qualifying for the Italian grand prix.

Raikkonen emerged unaided from the wreckage and was given a lift back to the pits by the medical car.

If his engine was damaged in the impact and needs to be replaced before qualifying, he will be penalized ten grid places.


Fuji, Suzuka, to share Japanese GP from 2009
(GMM) The Japanese grand prix will from 2009 onwards alternate between Fuji (right) and the event's popular former venue, Suzuka.

The redeveloped Fuji circuit, set to host formula one for the first time later this month, revealed the news in a statement on Saturday.

It said Fuji president Hiroaki Kato and Bernie Ecclestone reached the agreement following the F1 chief executive's suggestion that it "would be a good strategy not only welcomed by Japanese fans, but fans all over the world".

It was reported earlier this year that Ecclestone was working on the deal following his realization of the true popularity of the figure-of-eight Suzuka layout (left) and also pressure from its owner, the Honda Motor Co.

Ecclestone criticized Suzuka's ageing facilities before axing it for 2007, much to Toyota's delight after the carmaker refurbished the Fuji Speedway at considerable cost.


Alonso admits giving spy evidence to FIA
(GMM) Reigning world champion Fernando Alonso has admitted to supplying evidence relating to the espionage scandal to F1's governing body.

But, with rumors circulating at Monza that his actions were vindictive and designed to help him ease out of his unhappy situation at McLaren, the Spaniard insisted that the FIA forced his hand.

"We were obligated to cooperate," Alonso, 26, is quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper Diario As.

It emerged on Friday at the scene of the Italian grand prix that Max Mosley wrote to all McLaren drivers, threatening them with "serious consequences" if they did not give up written evidence - such as emails - that may implicate their team.

"I am a sportsman who loves this sport, and a professional," Alonso said, "and the only option I see is to support the investigation and to contribute when I am required.

"And when the highest authority of a sport obligates you to cooperate, there is no way to object -- it is not a choice."


Yates hands down Cup team to his son
Robert Yates will retire at the end of the season and hand control of his NASCAR race team to his son Doug.

Doug Yates will own and operate Yates Racing beginning Dec. 1. The team will use the car numbers and owner points from Robert Yates Racing and will field cars for David Gilliland and Travis Kvapil.

The Friday night announcement the Letter of Intent for the merger announced last month between Yates and the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team from the Champ Car World Series.

"The goal of the (merger) was to build a team to contend for the championship," Robert Yates said in a statement. "The more I thought about it, the more I realized instead this was the perfect opportunity for me to pass the torch to the next generation.

"I'm closing this chapter of my life, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for me next."


Busch dominates Richmond Busch race
As far as Kyle Busch was concerned, a two-lap dash to the finish was no different from the 250 laps that preceded it.

After a red-flag period that lasted six minutes, in a race that went two laps beyond its posted distance, Busch pulled away from Carl Edwards in a green-white-checkered-flag finish to win the Emerson Radio 250 NASCAR Busch Series race Friday night at Richmond International Raceway.

Busch crossed the finish line .868 seconds ahead of Edwards, the series points leader. Ryan Newman ran third, followed by Matt Kenseth, who stopped for four tires under caution with 12 laps left and restarted 10th on Lap 242. Mike Bliss came home fifth, followed by Brian Vickers, Denny Hamlin, Scott Wimmer, Kasey Kahne and Jason Keller.

Busch led 227 of the 252 laps in collecting his second Busch Series win in 15 starts this season and the ninth of his career.

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NASCAR OKs ATT logos UPDATE NASCAR, Sprint Nextel, AT&T and Richard Childress Racing have agreed to end the legal dispute over branding of the No. 31 car. The agreement immediately permits AT&T to continue as primary sponsor of the No. 31 car, using the AT&T name and logos, through the 2008 season.

“This agreement represents compromise from all sides that ultimately serves the sport well,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “No one likes litigation, most of all the NASCAR fans, and it was time to find a mutually agreeable resolution. We’re now happy to move forward with the exciting conclusion of the season as we approach the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.”

“This is a great solution for NASCAR, the fans, Richard Childress Racing and Sprint Nextel,” said Tim Kelly, chief marketing officer for Sprint.  “We accomplished our ultimate goal of protecting our unique position with NASCAR while giving the No. 31 team ample time to transition to a new sponsor.  We will continue to focus on bringing new and unique innovations to NASCAR fans for the betterment of the sport.

“We’re very pleased to have the AT&T logos back on the No. 31 Chevrolet and to have AT&T continue as a primary sponsor for Jeff Burton and Richard Childress Racing,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing.

“We’re excited to have AT&T back on the car for Richmond and that they will continue to be a big part of what we do,” said Jeff Burton, driver, RCR’s No. 31 AT&T Chevrolet. “Now we can move forward and concentrate on winning races and competing for the championship.”

“This agreement is the right step taken at the right time. It provides a clear path forward for the sport and its fans, for Richard Childress Racing and Jeff Burton, and for AT&T, which can use its brand on the No. 31 Car,” said Dave Garver, executive director of business development and wireless sponsorships for AT&T’s wireless unit..

09/07/07 AT&T, NASCAR and Sprint apparently have settled the lawsuit involving the primary sponsorship logos on the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car.  With NASCAR approval, the AT&T logos were being put on the car of Jeff Burton on Friday afternoon at Richmond International Raceway.   Details of the settlement were not immediately released.


Richmond: Jeff Gordon tops opening practice
1 24 Jeff Gordon 122.211 22.093
2 6 David Ragan* 122.177 22.099
3 48 Jimmie Johnson 122.062 22.120
4 29 Kevin Harvick 121.896 22.150
5 70 Johnny Sauter 121.891 22.151
6 17 Matt Kenseth 121.885 22.152
7 2 Kurt Busch 121.830 22.162
8 40 David Stremme 121.792 22.169
9 5 Kyle Busch 121.605 22.203
10 12 Ryan Newman 121.594 22.205
11 01 Mark Martin 121.550 22.213
12 25 Casey Mears 121.539 22.215
13 10 Scott Riggs 121.523 22.218
14 20 Tony Stewart 121.490 22.224
15 99 Carl Edwards 121.441 22.233
16 07 Clint Bowyer 121.419 22.237
17 9 Kasey Kahne 121.381 22.244
18 66 Jeff Green 121.169 22.283
19 22 Dave Blaney 121.136 22.289
20 00 David Reutimann* 121.109 22.294

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Antinucci to debut with Cheever in Grand-Am
Indy Pro Series race winner Richard Antinucci will make his sports-car debut at the Grand-Am finale at Miller Motorsports Park, driving for his uncle Eddie Cheever's team.

Antinucci, who has won twice during a road-course IPS program with Cheever Racing, will drive the team's Fabcar-Porsche FDSC/03 in Utah. He will share the car with team regulars Christian Fittipaldi and Harrison Brix.

"Richard has done an excellent job in IPS, so we thought we would give him a chance," Cheever said. "We are always on the look out for good drivers for our sports-car program. He has done three days in the Fabcar and did an excellent job."

Cheever suggested that a full-time Grand-Am schedule was only one possibility for Antinucci in 2008. Another is a graduation to the IndyCar Series should Cheever decide to return full-time to the championship after a season away. AutoWeek


Hendrick re-signs with GM
General Motors and team owner Rick Hendrick announced that Hendrick Motorsports has re-signed with the manufacturer for "2008 and beyond."  Hendrick Motorsports will field a four-car Sprint Cup Chevrolet team with drivers Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Casey Mears and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2008. The announcement was made Friday during preparations for Saturday's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

tv news

Scott Pruett Live on Wind Tunnel this Sunday
Scott Pruett, the 2004 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype Co-Champion, will be one of the featured guests on this Sunday’s edition of SPEED’s Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9 p.m. ET.  Pruett, lead driver of the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley, is a contender for the 2007 Rolex Series Championship which will be decided at next weekend’s SunChaser 1000k at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City (Live on SPEED in two parts at 1 p.m. ET and 5:30 p.m. ET).


Italian GP - Bridgestone Friday press release
Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes) used Bridgestone's soft compound Potenza tire to set the fastest time in Friday's running at the Monza race circuit for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.

Alonso put in a 1min 22.386secs lap in the first half of the afternoon 90 minute practice session. He was almost a second faster than any other driver for most of the session, which was interrupted for eleven minutes with a red flag period for the stranded Super Aguri of Anthony Davidson.

Lewis Hamilton was the second fastest in the afternoon with a time of 1min 23.209secs with Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) and Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber) the third and fourth quickest. Kubica completed a mammoth 44 laps during the second session, and illustrating the close running, under a second separated the third fastest from the 15th fastest.

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DEI unveils 4-car lineup for '08
Dale Earnhardt Inc. officials unveiled the team's four-car 2008 Sprint Cup lineup Friday, announcing in a news release that Regan Smith will join Martin Truex Jr., Paul Menard and Mark Martin/Aric Almirola.

DEI said Martin and Almirola would share the No. 8 Chevrolet, replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. Sponsorship will come from the U.S. Army. Truex remains in the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, with Menard staying in the No. 15 Menards Chevy.

The team said the number and sponsor for Smith would be announced at a later date.

"Our lineup is a perfect blend of veteran leadership and youthful promise," Max Siegel, president of global operations for DEI, said in a statement. "The addition of Mark Martin's leadership and his desire to mentor our drivers is huge for us. Paul Menard and Martin Truex Jr. have been with our company for several years, and we have confidence and great expectations in both of them, which allows us to further develop our future with two rookie drivers in Regan and Aric."


Monza: Friday Press Conference

Participating: Mario Almondo (Ferrari), Willy Rampf (BMW Sauber), Pat Symonds (Renault), Geoff Willis (Red Bull).

Q. Geoff, welcome back. What are your first impressions of Red Bull Racing?

Geoff Willis: Well, first of all, I am very glad to be back in F1 and very happy to be at Red Bull. They have certainly got quite a different flavour from some of the other teams I have worked for. There are a lot of good things about the team and also a lot of things to do in the team to improve it.

But certainly over the first few weeks that I have been there I have been pleasantly surprised by what I have found and hope and feel confident that we can make quite a big improvement next year.

Q. What is your main function there?

GW: My role is technical director and I think that role is quite varied among the teams. Essentially it is split between myself and Adrian and it is very much that Adrian's looking after the direction of performance development, and my job is the execution of all the rest of the engineering to support that so it's the design function, manufacturer operations.

But of course, you can't do one in the absence of the other, so there has to be quite a lot of overlap between myself and Adrian and it's obviously a great benefit that I've worked with him for quite a number of years many years ago at Williams. I'm certainly enjoying it, yes.

Q. Pat, is there any development still taking place on the Renault now, or is it purely concentrated on 2008?

Pat Symonds: We're very much on 2008 at the moment. At this time of the year most teams are focused on the following year and how you're approaching the following year depends, in turn, on how much you can then translate into the current year. If you have a very evolutionary development to the following year, there are chances you can be trying things in the wind tunnel and you can say this will work on the current car, so you bring it in.

We've got a reasonable few differences in the layout of our 2008 cars, so we believe that there won't be much translation back into the 27, so we're not going to see a great deal of development on the car between now and the end of the season, as we really put our concentration into 2008.

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NASCAR ratings plummet on ESPN
ESPN averaged a 3.8 U.S. area rating and 6.1 million viewers for five NASCAR Nextel Cup race telecasts this season, with the Michigan race airing on a Tuesday morning on ESPN2 due to weather, earning a 1.3 rating and 1.8 million viewers. Excluding the rain-delayed race, ESPN's five races were down 15.6% in ratings and 15.2% in viewers from last year, when TNT and NBC aired the six races, averaging a 4.5 rating and 7.2 million viewers, with each net airing three races. SportsBusiness Daily


Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE #2 Latest updates shown in red below

09/07/07 Updates shown in red below.

  • Monza intrigue puts drivers at centre of spy storm
  • Axed Albers to attend Monza race
  • Ralf denies 2008 Toyota deal now sealed
  • Letter confirms FIA probing driver spy knowledge
  • FIA confirms spy warning to McLaren drivers
  • Haug plays down Monza silver-wash on Friday New
  • F1 group agrees 'fuel burn' qualifying tweak New

Monza intrigue puts drivers at centre of spy storm
Sep.7 (GMM) As the espionage saga reaches new heights of intrigue in the Monza paddock, Fernando Alonso has refuted rumors that he got involved because he wants to find a way out of his McLaren contract for 2008.

According to buzzing rumors on the scene of Sunday's Italian grand prix, the reigning world champion could be a source of "new evidence" that moved the FIA to reconvene the World Motor Sport Council next week.

Asked by Spanish reporters if he has spilled the beans about emails from team test driver Pedro de la Rosa - containing confidential Ferrari setup information - so as to further implicate McLaren, he answered: "No way."

Elsewhere in the paddock, McLaren representatives explained to the press that, for legal reasons, team members including drivers and management would not be commenting on the spy saga.

But Alonso, 26, explained: "I believe that if the team is sanctioned, then so will I be. I am a part of this team and we would share the problem.

"We are here to win the drivers' and constructors' championships, we are leading both, and there is not one person in the team that doesn't want us to."

The Spaniard declined to comment specifically on rumors that he and countryman de la Rosa had, earlier this season, conversed by email about Ferrari setup information allegedly learned by de la Rosa from suspended chief designer Mike Coughlan.

It is suggested in the paddock that the FIA asked McLaren's drivers - and no others - to volunteer any relevant information, in exchange for an assurance that they would not personally be held accountable.

"As I said," Alonso responded to another reporter's question, "I am going to try to win these last five races and I am not going to talk about anything else because it has nothing to do with me.

"I have come here motivated, concentrated and isolated from everything else."

Alonso's British teammate Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, counted himself out of the intrigue by revealing that his internet connection at home has not recently been working.

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Monza: Alonso tops 2nd practice session
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Fernando Alonso was fastest in Friday's second free practice for the Italian Grand Prix in Monza with a time of 1min22.386, which was also the fastest time of the day. His team mate Lewis Hamilton was second fastest with 1min23.209. Fernando completed 30 laps and Lewis did 33. In the morning session, Lewis was third fastest with 1min22.618 (18 laps) whilst Fernando was fourth with 1min22.840 (12 laps).

Fernando Alonso:

"Today went really well. We had a good idea of our performance from the test last week, and although the conditions have changed slightly since then, we were able to get an understanding of the set-up for the race, and I am happy with how the car felt. I missed a little time in the morning session when the team were fixing a small problem with my steering, but it didn't really make too much difference to our overall results."

Lewis Hamilton:

"We went through our usual set-up and Bridgestone Potenza tyre comparison work and now have a good understanding of our competitiveness this weekend. The car feels really good to drive round here, and we have already made some good steps forward today. However you never know what everyone else is doing, so we will be looking for further improvements before qualifying tomorrow." 

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Lawyers tell McLaren to keep quiet
(GMM)  Lawyers have advised McLaren not to react after the so-called espionage saga reached new heights of intrigue on the scene of the Italian grand prix.

As Fernando Alonso set a blistering pace to head a silver one-two on Friday afternoon at the high speed circuit, the Mercedes powered team's PR department was busily drafting a press statement explaining that no further comment would be offered at Monza.

The statement follows a sequence of developments in the spy affair here, including the calling of a new meeting of the World Motor Sport Council next week, and the FIA's confirmation that "one or more" McLaren drivers are at the centre of new evidence relating to the case against the British team.

McLaren on Friday did divulge that it intends to make "a strong set of submissions" in Paris next Thursday, adding that "there is a desire for us to address the issues" that have cropped up in the media at Monza.

"However our lawyers have advised us that as the case will be heard by the World Motor Sport Council on Thursday of next week that this is the appropriate forum for the matter to be discussed, and that the team and our drivers should make no further comment," the statement added.

"We kindly ask the media to understand this position."


CDW to run full-page ad UPDATE CDW ran the full-page ad  we show to the right in today’s Wall Street Journal congratulating Champ Car driver Justin Wilson for winning last Sunday’s Bavaria Champ Car Grand Prix of Holland

09/05/07 CDW will run this full-page ad in a top national newspaper this coming Friday. This is not the first time that CDW has done this after a race win. Too bad Champ Car did not have more sponsors like CDW who activate their sponsorship. What's most disappointing is McDonald's. For all the race and championship wins that Sebastien Bourdais has, it's quite rare that we see any activation out of them whatsoever.

tv news

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

09/06/07 For those of you who do not have ESPN Classic and were not able to watch the Bavaria Champ Car GP Assen Netherlands race, it will be replayed early Friday morning at 1:30 am - 3:30 am ET on ESPN2.

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
1:00am-1:30am ESPN2
Bavaria Champ Car GP Assen Netherlands
1:30am-3:30am (R) ESPN2
Formula 1 Practice - Italy
8:00am-9:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series Final Practice - Richmond
10:00am-11:00am (L) ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup Happy Hour - Richmond
11:00am-1:00pm (L) ESPN2
NASCAR Live! Richmond
1:00pm-1:30pm (L) SPEED
3:00pm-4:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series Qualifying Richmond
4:00pm-5:30pm (L) ESPN2
Go or Go Home Richmond
5:30pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
5:30pm-6:00pm ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Richmond
6:00pm-7:30pm (L) ESPN2
NASCAR Busch Series Emerson Radio 250 Richmond
7:30pm-8:00pm (L) -Pre-race
8:00pm-10:30pm (L) -Race ESPN2
Trackside Richmond
11:00pm-12:00am SPEED

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Ferrari sandbagged at Monza test - Alonso
(GMM) Fernando Alonso said at Monza that he suspects Ferrari have been using sandbagging techniques recently to veil their true performance on the scene of the Italian grand prix.

McLaren's MP4-22 piloted by Alonso and championship leader Lewis Hamilton emerged from the four day test at the same circuit last week appearing to enjoy a clearly dominant position going into this weekend.

Ferrari driver Felipe Massa suggested on the eve of Monza practice, however, that the Maranello based team will indeed be fully competitive in Italy, having secured a dominant one-two in Turkey just two weeks ago.

The red cars were then first and second in morning practice on Friday.

Alonso said of the Monza test: "We were the fastest ones, but it was not a normal situation because, on the last day that I did, Massa was fifth.

"I do not believe that Ferrari had been going to 100 per cent -- they kept something in their pockets," he told the Spanish newspaper Diario As.

The 26-year-old Spaniard said running high fuel loads is not the only way a team can conceal its true performance.

"It could be in the tires they use or the revs of the engine. So I don't think that we were quite so fast, nor that they were so slow.

"In the end, when everyone has to put all of their cards on the table, it is going to be like the other races -- a tenth up, a tenth behind, and very, very close," Alonso concluded.

industry News

Video: Hyundai to Unveil Trio of New Vehicles
Hyundai will unveil three new vehicles at the IAA 2007 in Frankfurt. The i-Blue, a third generation Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle will lead the way, followed by the Veloster, a sporty coupe which caters to the unique requirements of the Y-generation and the i-30 Crossover Wagon, an extension to the i-30 family aimed at European customers.
Hyundai iBlue Vehicles Video Animation

industry News

Video: Light Designs in Cars to Pave Route to Safety
General Motors (GM) is reporting new light designs, both in and outside of its vehicles, are serving a dual purpose: providing safety and beauty. One lighting scheme, entitled “Jeweled,” is a set of clear headlamps designed to give the car a more three-dimensional look. However, many lights also improve a vehicle’s safety. GM indicates several manufacturers are offering adaptive headlights that turn as the car turns, providing better visibility when rounding corners at night. GM Lights to Improve Safety


Monza: Pantano fastest in GP2 practice
Giorgio Pantano has started the weekend in fine style at his home race by claiming the top spot on the timesheets in the last minute of free practice at Monza, putting himself ahead of Luca Filippi and Adam Carroll.

Pantano's final lap was run in a time of 1:30.914, displacing his Italian rival after a session long fight with a lap that was almost three tenths faster than Filippi's best, with former teammate Carroll a further two tenths back.

The session began under typically clear Italian skies, with temperatures hot but nowhere near the peaks of the previous two weekends in Turkey and Hungary. With most of the teams running very low rear wings, and all cars on the harder Bridgestone tires, the initial challenge was always going to be staying on the fast circuit while the tires came to the drivers.

It was a challenge that Markus Niemala was unable to answer: after leaving the pits he spun off track just after the first chicane, finding the wall on the inside of the track and removing his front wing before rolling back onto the track, bringing out the local yellow flags and his session to an early end.

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Lexmark Indy 300 launches at Surfers
Australia will welcome the World during this year’s 17th running of the Lexmark Indy 300 on Queensland’s Gold Coast from October 18-21.

In just 40 days the streets of Surfers Paradise will ‘POWER ON’ as visiting drivers from more than 12 Nations undertake a campaign to claim the riches of victory, during the ‘crown jewel’ event on the Champ Car World Series calendar.

Coupled with the excitement of having home grown heroes of Australian V8 Supercars perform on one of the World’s most famous temporary street circuits creates a mind blowing, entertainment experience.

The double billed feature racing program makes the Lexmark Indy 300 an event not to be missed.

In marking the official launch of the 2007 Lexmark Indy 300 at the Circle on Cavill Piazza in Surfers Paradise this evening, Queensland Minister for Local Government, Planning and Sport, The Honourable Andrew Fraser MP was adamant this year’s event will again live up to all expectations.

“Tonight is about celebrating the past 16 years of the Lexmark Indy 300 and its bright future,” Mr. Fraser said.

“The four millionth spectator will walk through the gates this year – testimony to Indy’s status as one of Queensland’s greatest sporting drawcards.”

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Mosley to speak at Motor Sport Business Forum
Max Mosley, the FIA President will deliver the keynote address to open the 2007 Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco in December.

Mosley will offer an insight into the future of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, which is set for the introduction of new ecologically-friendly regulations over the next few years.

"I’m pleased to return to the Forum to deliver the keynote address," Mosley said. "Since its inception the event has provided an important arena for motor sport’s commercial community and I’m happy to play my part in helping them gain an understanding about the future direction of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. It is a direction that will infuse the sport with more power and excitement while eventually helping all car users to conserve energy and improve fuel consumption."


Sept. 6 IRL Teleconference Transcript
An interview with Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti, Chip Ganassi, Michael Andretti, Mike Hull and Kyle Moyer.

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have numerous guests involved in the championship battle joining us today. Our championship drivers will join us in a few minutes, as will the team manager for Andretti Green Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing. Joining us now are the owners of the two teams, Michael Andretti and Chip Ganassi. Thanks for taking some time to join us.

A couple questions for each of you, then we'll let the media can ask you some things.

Michael, AGR has two IndyCar Series championships, 2004 with Tony (Kanaan), 2005 with Dan Wheldon. No team has won three. What would it mean to you to be the first team with three titles?

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: Honestly, I didn't know that statistic. It would be special, for sure. You know, this one would be really extra special. I think after coming off a year like we had last year, be able to turn the team around the way we've been able to, if we could come away with the championship this year, it would mean a lot to each and every person on this team. Each and every person on this team put something toward it to get us to this point.

You know, hopefully we'll come away with it.   More....


The tall and short of it
Racing drivers Justin Wilson and Michael Caruso are proof that motor racing is a sport where drivers of all different shapes and sizes have equal ability to shine.

Just as league has its half-backs and front rowers and AFL has its ruckman and rovers, motorsport has stars with a different look on the world.

The two recreated the famous film ‘Twins’ with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito yesterday while Wilson is in town for the launch of this year’s Lexmark Indy 300.

Wilson is one of the stars of the Champ Car World Series, and is currently second in the series standings ahead of the next round here on the Gold Coast on October 18-21.

The Englishman, who is currently second in this year’s championship, measures in at a towering 195 centimeters and is widely regarded as one of the tallest stars on the international motorsport scene.

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It’s a real engine circuit
Renault driver Heikki Kovalainen’s engineer, Remi Taffin, has confirmed to the French based squad’s official website that this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at the famous Monza circuit will be the toughest test for the engine this season once again!

What’s so different about Monza?
It’s a real engine circuit, that’s the big difference. More is demanded of it here than on any other world championship circuit. The V8 is under full load 77% of the time over a lap. I’d even go so far as to say that Monza is 50% harder on the engine than any other track. That’s why it is always used to validate the engines on the bench with Spa, which is the other complicated circuit for us, thrown in. So the Monza/Spa tandem is our major challenge of the year.

Does the fact that the engines are limited to 19,000 rpm make your job any easier?
In absolute terms, yes. The 2007 V8 is mostly derived from the 2006 engine but with 1000 revs less. But it has to be remembered that many of the engine’s components are sensitive not only to speed but also to other factors. So, reliability is still a problem.

Can the engine still make a difference at Monza?
Not in terms of maximum revs. There, everybody’s on a more or less equal footing. But again it’s no use concentrating on this factor alone. A more powerful engine will still make the difference; its rev band will come into play.


Q and A with Sakon Yamamoto
Monza is the third race for Sakon Yamamoto since he joined the Spyker Formula One team before the Hungarian GP, and he’s finally had a chance to get in some testing! Rain cut down his track time at the Italian track last week, but he did enough to get a good feel for the B-spec car and the circuit….

How did things go for you at the test?
At the test we had brilliant weather in the morning – thunderstorms and torrential rain! Then all the pits flooded, so it was a good exercise before driving! After that fortunately we could run from one to six. The first one and a half or two hours were wet, but after that the track was getting dry, so we could try to run as much as we can. It was the first time to run the B-spec car, so the plan was to get as much mileage as we could.

Did you learn much about the B-spec, or was it hard to tell because the car was in low downforce spec?
It was completely different between Turkey and Monza, but generally I felt the car balance was more mild, less peaky, and I felt the car was generally improved.

Do you feel a lot better prepared coming to a track you’ve tested at?
Yes, and it was the first time for me to have a normal test after joining the team. So we tried different sets of tires, tried to see how things went with the hard and the soft. That was also good for me, to learn more about the car and the tires.

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Monza: Ferrari draws first blood
With this week's new 'spy saga' news raising the tensions between the Italian Ferrari and British McLaren teams, it was the Ferrari team that showed it was intent on winning their home GP at Monza Friday morning by topping opening practice.

Kimi Raikkonen was fastest at 1m22.446s ahead of Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa at 1m22.590. McLaren's Hamilton and Alonso were 3rd and 4th quick

Pos  Driver        Team               Time      Behind  Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:22.446            20
 2.  Massa         Ferrari            1:22.590  + 0.144   17
 3.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:22.618  + 0.172   18
 4.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   1:22.840  + 0.394   12
 5.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:23.472  + 1.026   21
 6.  Button        Honda              1:23.668  + 1.222   21
 7.  Fisichella    Renault            1:23.671  + 1.225   22
 8.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         1:23.703  + 1.257   22
 9.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         1:23.886  + 1.440   17
10.  Trulli        Toyota             1:23.965  + 1.519   29
11.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:24.076  + 1.630   21
12.  Barrichello   Honda              1:24.564  + 2.118   19
13.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:24.587  + 2.141   15
14.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:24.595  + 2.149   22
15.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:24.660  + 2.214   20
16.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    1:24.689  + 2.243   29
17.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:24.694  + 2.248   17
18.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:24.810  + 2.364   19
19.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:25.130  + 2.684   24
20.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:25.439  + 2.993   25
21.  Yamamoto      Spyker-Ferrari     1:25.448  + 3.002   25
22.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:25.762  + 3.316   25


MotoGP issues revised 2008 Calendar
Revised provisional 2008 MotoGP calendar:

Date          Grand Prix       Circuit
March 9       Qatar            Doha/Losail
March 30      Spain            Jerez de la Frontera
April 13      Portugal         Estoril
May 4         China            Shanghai
May 18        France           Le Mans
June 1        Italy            Mugello
June 8        Catalunya        Montmelo
June 22       Great Britain    Donington Park
June 28       Netherlands      Assen
July 13       Germany          Sachsenring
July 20       United States    Laguna Seca
August 17     Czech Republic   Brno
August 31     San Marino       Misano
September 14  Indianapolis     Indianapolis
September 28  Japan            Motegi
October 5     Australia        Phillip Island
October 19    Malaysia         Sepang
October 26    Valencia         Ricardo Tormo - Valencia


Alonso breaks down in Monza practice
(GMM) Fernando Alonso's Monza weekend got off to a less than ideal start on Friday morning.

Before setting a lap time in the early stages of the initial 90-minute practice session on the scene of Sunday's Italian grand prix, the Spaniard encountered apparently a raft of problems aboard his McLaren MP4-22.

The reigning world champion, who is five points behind his teammate Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' championship, reported back to his engineers after a slow installation lap that he encountered problems with his power steering and other systems.

Trackside, the car could be heard making odd-sounding mechanical noises.

An hour into the session, 26-year-old Alonso had not re-emerged from the pits.

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