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Capps Test Track Surface at Concord, Waltrip the Wall
As North Carolina residents, fans, NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series competitors and officials prepared for this weekend's inaugural NHRA Carolina Nationals at the all-new zMax Dragway, drag racer Ron Capps was challenged by NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip to a duel on the very same dragway.

Capps and Waltrip get ready to race.
Photo: Traci Hultzapple - WMG
Waltrip issued the challenge to his fellow NAPA AUTO PARTS racing partner to race down the quarter-mile at Bruton Smith's stunning facility to continue the pair's on-air rivalry and banter promoted in NAPA AUTO PARTS' clever ad campaign using the two racers with disparate racing backgrounds.

It was a heady experience for both, as neither had been down the new dragstrip touted as the "Bellagio" of drag racing. For Capps, because it was an all-new venue; for Waltrip because it's doubtful that he had ever been down a state-of-the-art dragstrip in a powerful car in his lifetime.

The track was clearly green as both drivers struggled to gain traction after launching following their burnouts. As the pair tore down the track, Waltrip's mount experienced some problems at the finish line, resulting in, surprisingly, his hitting the wall and damaging the front of the car. Although Waltrip may have been ahead, it turned into a very-loosely based case of the "Tortoise and the Hare," as Capps took the victory for all the non-existing laurels in his 500-hp dragster over Waltrip's Cup car pulled by 800 horses. The numbers: 9.85/115.14 for Capps, versus 11.21/79.38 for Waltrip.

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Malaysia tops Donington test Day 2
Trouble free was the best way to describe the second day of testing at Donington Park with the new A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Powered by Ferrari cars. Heavy rain interrupted day one on Tuesday, but today was much drier with the cars covering a total of 466 laps of the 2.5-mile circuit between them and also beating the circuit’s 15-year-old track record.  

The honor of going faster than the lap record went to A1 Team Malaysia’s Fairuz Fauzy who continued where he left off on Tuesday on top of today’s timesheets. The 25-year-old, who has competed in ten races for his nation with fifth in South Africa this year being his best result, was the driver who was faster than the time set by Ayrton Senna in the 1993 Grand Prix of Europe.

“It was great today, the team did a good job to get the car together with no problems,” Fauzy said. “Today we did a lot of laps and the more we do, the more data we are collecting. To finish fastest today and beat the lap record is a real achievement but we still need to work hard and I am looking forward to Zandvoort.” A1 Team Netherlands was in action with Jeroen Bleekemolen in the Dutch car.

“The level of downforce and brakes are a lot better than before,” said Bleekemolen. “The power doesn’t seem much greater but I think that is due to the fact we have a lot more downforce now. I don’t think the top speed will be a lot higher but lap times will be a lot faster because of both the downforce and brakes.” John Martin also put in a good performance for A1 Team Australia, with the team announcing him as its main driver for the 2008/09 season.

Adrian Zaugg continued the testing programme for A1 Team South Africa while Edoardo Piscopo and Euro F3000 championship leader Fabio Onidi both had time in the A1 Team Italy car. Chris van der Drift, who competed in and was quickest in the rookie session at the Season Three finale at Brands Hatch, took to the track for A1 Team New Zealand.


F1 teams appoint Ferrari's Montezemolo as chairman
The Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) appointed Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo as their first chairman on Thursday after an inaugural meeting at the Italian Grand Prix.  Toyota motorsport president John Howett was named as vice-chairman.

The 10 teams set up the association to work with the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) and commercial rights holders to find ways of improving the show while spending less and increasing revenue.

FIA President Max Mosley warned in July that the sport was "becoming unsustainable" and invited teams to come up with new rules to slash costs and halve fuel consumption by 2015.


Drivers to seek rules clarity - Coulthard
(GMM)  F1 drivers at Monza will clarify the rules about overtaking in the regular drivers' briefing on Friday, Grand Prix Drivers' Association stalwart David Coulthard has revealed.

"We will try to get clarification about the conditions we're racing under and move forwards," the Red Bull driver told reporters on Thursday, when asked about his response to the controversial penalty that cost Lewis Hamilton his victory at Spa-Francorchamps a week ago.


IndyCar drivers to race at Terre Haute UPDATE Nearly a dozen current and former IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers will take to the dirt Sept. 12 at the Terre Haute (Ind.) Action Track and run a 20-lap event on the clay-covered half-mile. No points, no purse, the drivers will race for the love of the sport, a trophy and to help raise money for some deserving organizations that aided flood victims in the Wabash Valley in June.

The Race to Recover was the brainchild of Davey Hamilton, who has never raced on dirt. He started talking to fellow drivers in the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights paddocks, as well as some modified team owners about using some cars, and the event came together quickly.

The tentative driver lineup includes Hamilton, A.J. Foyt IV, Tomas Scheckter, Sarah Fisher, E.J. Viso, Arie Luyendyk Jr., Jay Howard, Vitor Meira, Scott Goodyear and 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice.

The hope is to raise at least $10,000 for Wabash Valley charitable organizations.

09/05/08 Some of the Midwest’s top modified stock car teams will be on hand at the Terre Haute Action Track Friday, September 12th for the Monster Modified Classic presented by MacAllister Machinery. The event is part of The Wolfpack Challenge Modified Series, and marks the only appearance by the modifieds at the Action Track in 2008.

“We’ve had great racing all season and can’t wait to get to Terre Haute,” said series director Tim Wolfe. “We’re expecting 40+ cars and I know our guys will put on a great show for the fans.”

In addition to the Monster Modified Classic, that will feature heat races, a semi-feature and 30 lap feature, fans will also be treated to an appearance by some of the top names in Indy Racing Friday night.

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Unification spurred ultra-competitive season
The quest for the 2008 IndyCar Series championship was one of the most difficult in series history. Drivers such as Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon, who had previously won IndyCar Series championships, learned in late February that they would be competing against the likes of Champ Car race winners Bruno Junqueira, Will Power, Oriol Servia and Justin Wilson.

While everyone celebrated the unification of open-wheel racing and a more than 40 percent jump in the number of cars on track, they also knew it would be much more difficult to win races and the championship.

That fact became clearly evident the second week of the season when newcomer Graham Rahal won on the streets of St. Petersburg in his series debut.

Overall, a record-tying nine drivers visited Victory Lane during 2008, including first-time winners Rahal, Danica Patrick, Ryan Briscoe, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Wilson. Thirteen drivers recorded podium finishes.

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Monza: Thursday Press Conference
  • Sebastien BOURDAIS (Toro Rosso)
  • Giancarlo FISICHELLA (Force India)
  • Felipe MASSA (Ferrari)
  • Nico ROSBERG (Williams)
  • Jarno TRULLI (Toyota).


Q. Sebastien, two good results in the last two races. What are your feelings about those results? Is this the start and can you repeat them?

Sebastien BOURDAIS: For sure we hope to carry the momentum, that's the goal. Valencia was nothing special for me, just the team did a great job and the car was very competitive. But we didn't really fix the issues that I had been facing in previous races. Then we arrived in Spa and obviously I felt really good straight away. We had just had a few handling problems here and there but nothing fundamental. We found some solutions for this and in qualifying it was really strong. And in the race we looked set for fifth place which was quite unreal to be honest. When Claudio (Valestri, his race engineer) told me 'you are racing Kimi coming out of the pits' I was thinking 'what the hell is he saying, this doesn't sound right.' But it was just a great race and I can only hope that it had been 43 laps, not 44. That is pretty much the end of it.

Q. Do you feel you are getting on top of it now and the results can be repeated?

SB: It is tough to say. Obviously I felt really good on that track in Spa, it is a track which I always liked and it flows nicely. You don't have many entries with a lot of brakes in the corners, so that suited my style very well and it was not really showing the problems I had been facing with the R3. Obviously we came here and tested and I wasn't very comfortable but we will see if we can use some of the knowledge that we took from Spa and try and build from there and see what can happen.

Q. What is your future with the team?

SB: That's the question. All I can say is that right now it seems to be going fairly well. I will just try to keep the momentum going. It is not my decision obviously. If I could say what I wanted to do it is quite clear I would like to stay with Toro Rosso and use the work we have put together this year to try and build something strong for next year. I keep on doing the best I can and we will see if it is good enough. Obviously it is Gerhard (Berger, team co-owner), Franz (Tost, team principal) and Dietrich's (Mateschitz, co-owner) decision, so we will see.

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F1 teams courted Jeff Gordon
(GMM)  Multiple NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon has revealed he was courted by teams about switching over to formula one some years ago.

For a PR stunt at the US grand prix in 2003, the 37-year-old famously swapped cockpits with then Williams racer Juan Pablo Montoya, and some of the F1 observers were impressed with the American's performance.

Gordon has now told the weekly Long Island Press that, shortly afterwards, he travelled to Barcelona to watch the Spanish grand prix.

"I was getting hit up by some of the lower-tier F1 teams to sit down and talk to them," he revealed.  "It was a flattering experience, but at the same time, it wasn't Ferrari or McLaren."

Gordon said he would have considered his options had either of the 'big two' teams shown the same interest.

"I think I would have had to seriously sit down with (NASCAR team owner) Rick (Hendrick) if Ferrari or McLaren was talking," he admitted.  "Even if it was a total failure I don't see how I could've said no to some testing."


Massa hopes rain reports wrong
(GMM)  Championship challenger Felipe Massa on Thursday said he would prefer if the Italian grand prix at Monza this weekend was not disturbed by wet weather.

Local reports cite the possibility of rain throughout the three days of official action at the fabled Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.

Ferrari driver Massa said: "There is that possibility.  This season we have already had to deal with rain, we'll see.  I'd prefer if it didn't."


Hamilton defiant as rivals speak out
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton was defiant on Thursday when told many of his fellow formula one racers believe the FIA was right to penalize him for passing illegally at Spa-Francorchamps.

Many corners of F1's spectator-base and press believe the 25-second penalty that retrospectively cost the McLaren driver his Belgian grand prix victory was unfair, but that was not a widespread sentiment among other drivers as they spoke at Monza.

The Ferrari drivers, Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli this week already sided with the controversial stewards, and on Thursday it emerged that - even if they think Hamilton losing his win was harsh - Sebastien Bourdais, Nico Rosberg, Nick Heidfeld and Giancarlo Fisichella share similar opinions.

"I don't really understand why there's been such a mess around it," Toro Rosso's Bourdais, a multiple title winner in Champ Car, said.  "There's a rulebook and everybody has to obey the same thing."

Championship leader Hamilton, 23, seemed unmoved at Monza when he was told what his fellow drivers think.

"We always have our own opinions and they have a right to have theirs," the Briton said.

"It is always easy to have a certain opinion when you are not involved," the McLaren driver added, "or when you are the one who is not winning."


FIA to check Massa's Spa engine UPDATE (GMM)  The Ferrari V8 fitted to Felipe Massa's car at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend was on Thursday passed by the FIA following a routine check during Monza scrutineering as part of the engine freeze.  FIA officials compared the sealed 2.4 liter unit with the engine submitted for homologation by the Italian team earlier this year and found no anomalies, reports said.

09/09/08 (GMM)  After Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes-Benz unit was checked and given the all-clear following the German grand prix, the FIA is moving ahead with its inspections to test manufacturers' conformity with the engine freeze.

The Hamilton check was the first in 2008, and F1's governing body announced after the Belgian grand prix that the 2.4 liter Ferrari power plant fitted to Felipe Massa's car will be the next to go under the microscope.

"These checks will be done before the Italian GP," the FIA confirmed.

The Spanish sports daily Marca, meanwhile, reports that at a bosses meeting at Spa-Francorchamps last week, the issue of apparent engine performance disparity within the engine freeze was discussed.


Ferrari 'struggling' with KERS
(GMM)  Ferrari is "struggling" with KERS, according to the formula one team's engine chief Gilles Simon.

He said the energy recovery technology, due to debut next year, "is a complex subject, which finds us dealing with a lot of new and complicated areas.  It will be really challenging to run this system next year."

"We are learning every day, but we are struggling," Simon admitted.

Following some other teams' more high profile problems, however, Simon insists that Ferrari is not alone with its concerns about KERS, saying he believes "all teams will struggle to run the new system reliably right from the opening race of the 2009 season".

Ferrari vice president Piero Ferrari was critical of KERS earlier this year, saying it was an area, involving high-capacity batteries and other unfamiliar technology, "unknown to traditional engine men".


Heidfeld cool on Alonso rumors
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld on Thursday was unreceptive to speculation that Fernando Alonso is set to slot into his BMW-Sauber seat in 2009.

The German driver had a strong weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, but it nonetheless coincided with the latest suggestions that boss Mario Theissen has closed a three-year deal with Alonso, the former double world champion.

"Several times this year it was said Alonso has signed: with Ferrari, with Renault, and now with BMW," 31-year-old Heidfeld is quoted as saying at Monza by SID news agency.

"I can only do my best, and then we will see."


Raikkonen not ready for support role
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen does not seem keen to slot into a supporting role for Ferrari's title charger Felipe Massa.

For some, the reigning world champion's Spa-Francorchamps retirement finally sounded the death knell of his 2008 hopes.

According to paddock speculation, the Finn is closing on a new two-year deal to keep racing with the Italian marque also in 2010 and 2011, but he seems to rule out playing 'number 2' for the final five races of this season.

"It is not up to me whether Felipe does it or not," Raikkonen, 28, referring to his teammate, is quoted as saying by the German news agency SID.

"I will give my best and see how the situation develops.  I will try to win the races," he insisted.

racing news

PitFit Training Announces Driver Fast Fitness Classes
PitFit Training (PitFit), today announced it is offering another round of Driver Fast Fitness classes beginning September 30, 2008. The classes will be held until December 22, 2008.

The classes have been developed with racers of all ages, in all series, and in all physical condition in mind. Classes are scheduled three days per week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with two start times available. Drivers can participate in the 8 am or 12 pm class. Class start times are designed to allow racers to determine their own schedule based on their school, testing or other calendar issues.

“Fall and winter is the perfect time to begin preparing for the next race season,” said PitFit President, Jim Leo. “We are offering these classes to support racers of all calibers during the long winter months so that they can be in top performance shape when race season rolls around next year.”

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Rival motorcycle racing series announced
The battle of American road racing is on.

The Motorcycle Industry Council announced their intention to run a Superbike championship to rival the Daytona Motorsports Group-run AMA Superbike Championship in 2009 in what could easily be a repeat of the CART-IRL split that all but killed open wheel racing in the U.S.

The announcement had been expected for weeks, ever since one of the principals suggested it was to be announced around the time of the Virginia International Raceway round of the AMA Superbike Championship. No explanation was given for the delay.

The USSB Championship will initially have two classes, U.S. Super Bike for heavyweight motorcycles and U.S. Sport Bike for middleweights.

Though no schedule was announced, it's believed the series will have eight events, running from April through October, at many of the traditional road race courses the first year. The series will not visit Daytona International Speedway or Auto Club Speedway, both of which are owned by the International Speedway Corporation, a publicly held company based in Daytona Beach, Florida.

It's also believed that the American distributors of three of the four Japanese companies will be involved and that they'll choose not to homologate, or offer a contingency program, for the Daytona Motorsports Group-run AMA Superbike Championship. Yamaha has pledged to take part in the France family run DMG NASCARized-series.

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Chrysler defends welfare checks
Chrysler LLC President Jim Press defended a controversial plan to provide low-cost, federal loans to automakers, saying U.S. manufacturers needed the money to help them pursue technological advances and ensure that the United States did not end up exchanging its dependence on foreign oil for a reliance on imported batteries.

"It's not a free bailout," Press said Wednesday. "It's a way for us to accelerate our technological development" and put cleaner vehicles on the market at affordable prices.

"What we're going through is a technological revolution in our automobiles," he said, describing a race in the industry to develop ultra-clean, battery-powered electric cars with longer driving ranges than the failed electric cars of the past.

Automakers around the world are working hard now to solve the key challenge and make more powerful, compact and safe batteries. But if Detroit's ailing automakers fall behind in research efforts in this crucial area, they could end up at a serious disadvantage -- and the country, as well. "Are we trading dependence on foreign oil for dependence on factory-produced batteries" made elsewhere? Press asked.

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Cup TV ratings going bust
What has happened to NASCAR's once-soaring TV ratings?  It appears that they've crashed and burned over the summer.

And now the sport starts its fall Chase for the Championship in a hole, trying to regain momentum among those stock-car racing fans parked in front of their TV sets.

Certainly the bar for this weekend's TV ratings game here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway isn't set too high. Last fall's race drew a 3.3 rating on ABC. (Ratings are a measure of the percentage of all 114.5 million TV homes in the United States that are watching a particular show, according to Nielsen.)

The races will be ABC productions from here on out, the final 10 Sprint Cup races, albeit with the same production crew and on-air talent that ESPN has used this season. From the ESPN side, the slump clearly isn't from not throwing enough time, money, energy and people at the NASCAR coverage. No other network has ever put as many assets into the NASCAR game as this bunch.

So how does Julie Sobieski, ESPN's vice president of programming and acquisitions, with motor sports her specialty, view the state of NASCAR on TV this season?

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Hakkinen tests Mercedes road car
  • No Ferrari 'surprise' at Monza - Alonso
  • Penalty shows new FIA system works - Alonso
  • Still no clarity about Ferrari no.1
  • Niki Lauda gets married

Hakkinen tests Mercedes road car
(GMM)  Former double world champion Mika Hakkinen is apparently heavily involved in Mercedes-Benz's road car development program.

Photographs have emerged of the retired 39-year-old Finn, who won his titles with McLaren in 1998 and 1999 with Mercedes power, driving a development prototype of the German marque's 2010 AMG E-Class, which was painted in a black and white test livery.

Also in the car was Klaus Ludwig, a famous German ex racing driver, although never in single seaters.

Mercedes has not announced the launch date for the car.

No Ferrari 'surprise' at Monza - Alonso
(GMM)  Formula one fans may be expecting an announcement about Ferrari's next driver lineup at Monza, but Fernando Alonso insists he is not part of those plans.

It has been rumored that current world champion Kimi Raikkonen could retire at the end of the year, but Spaniard Alonso told reporters from his country this week that he expects the Finn to stay put.

"Ferrari tend to confirm their drivers at Monza.  I don't think there is going to be a surprise," the 27-year-old, who currently races for Renault and has also been linked with BMW-Sauber and Honda about 2009, is quoted as saying by the Spanish broadcaster La Sexta.

Referring to his own team, Alonso said the R28 is missing up to half a second per lap on its rivals simply due to an under-powered engine.

He also disagrees with Renault boss Flavio Briatore's claim this week that he is expecting "at least two more podium finishes" from the final five grands prix of the season.

"It is going to be really difficult to be on the podium in the rest of the year, but I do not see it as a failure," Alonso said, when asked how disappointed he is that his teammate Nelson Piquet is the only Renault driver to have netted a top-three finish with the 2008 car.

"In comparison with my teammate, this has been my best season ever.  I have always been in front of him.  He got a podium after a great race and with lots of luck."

Penalty shows new FIA system works - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso believes the decision to strip Lewis Hamilton of his Belgian grand prix victory shows the FIA was right to overhaul the stewarding system for 2008.

In many expert observers' eyes, Hamilton's penalty for an apparently illegal pass near the end of the Spa-Francorchamps race a week ago was evidence of either the FIA's incompetence or, worse, a pro-Ferrari bias.

But Hamilton's former McLaren teammate Alonso believes that, for the first time, all infractions are now being dealt with consistently at races.

"The FIA decided to change (the system) after several big scandals of the past seasons," he told reporters in Madrid this week.

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Mutoh topped competitive IndyCar rookie field
Hideki Mutoh
Hideki Mutoh came into the 2008 IndyCar Series season with the goal of winning Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year honors. A 24th-place finish in the season’s first race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in March and the fact that many of the nine rookies in the field had considerable experience in high-powered, open-wheel race cars didn’t lend itself to an easy task.

Mutoh persevered, however, and clinched top rookie honors in the season finale Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway, edging Justin Wilson by six points and Will Power by 15.

“There were a lot of good Champ Car drivers who joined the IndyCar Series this year,” Mutoh said of drivers such as Wilson and Power, who each had more than 30 starts in Champ Car but were considered rookies due to their lack of experience on ovals. “I knew it was going to be tough to win the rookie championship, so I’m very proud to be rookie of the year.”

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Ford weekly teleconference
Ford Racing Teleconference moderated by Dan Zacharias with Brian Wolfe, Director Ford Racing Technology, Jack Roush, NASCAR team owner, and John Force, NHRA Funny Car team owner and driver.  Teleconference replay (27m35s audio file)


Petty taking shots at big owners
Kyle Petty
Kyle Petty is taking some hard shots at NASCAR's inability to hold Cup team owners in check and to keep the sport's biggest owners from getting even bigger. On his weekly TV show Petty pointed to the close ties between four-team owner Rick Hendrick and Tony Stewart's new two-car team, terming that essentially a six-car operation. Petty drew praise from fellow small-team owners for his blunt assessment about NASCAR's failure to keep the playing ground level. Petty termed the new Stewart team as "Hendrick South." "And I said that's no different than Jack Roush and Doug Yates," Petty said, referring to those Ford team owners who have partnered in what clearly looks like a six-car operation. Petty also pointed to the new closer business ties between Chevy owners Richard Childress and Teresa Earnhardt's DEI as another example. Petty -- with a two-team operation -- said: "They just went from super-teams to mega-teams."  Winston-Salem Journal


Bridgestone going harder at Monza
Straight from the excitement at Spa Francorchamps, Bridgestone heads to another destination steeped in motorsport history, the Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, round fourteen of the championship.

Monza is a high-speed challenge for competitors, with long straights through the circuit which is located in parkland within the city of Monza, 20km north of Milan. The long straights mean that cars run with low downforce set-ups, so in the slower corners the tires don’t have the same levels of assistance from the cars’ aerodynamics.

Traction out of the slow corners is another particular demand at Monza, so the rear tires in particular suffer a harsh workout. As a contrast from Spa, the weather in Italy is usually hot, and the tire blistering seen at this venue last season means that this year Bridgestone is bringing harder tires, the hard and medium, as opposed to the medium and soft used in 2007.

The long straights mean that tire pressure is an area that teams will have to monitor closely. If there is too little pressure the tires will overheat along the long straights, but if there is too much pressure grip through the corners will be compromised.

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Nothing to lose at Monza declares Raikkonen
The final result of the Belgian Grand Prix was a boost to Felipe Massa who is now just two points behind title rival Lewis Hamilton heading to the Italian Grand Prix.

Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen crashed out at Spa as the rain fell after dominating much of the race. The Finn however has not given up on the championship challenge, despite now trailing Hamilton by 18 points.

Monza is the home event for the Ferrari team that remain at the head of the constructors' standings by 12 points.

Felipe Massa
"It is now looking very interesting in terms of the championship, as I am just two points behind. I drove my race in Spa to finish, thinking about the championship situation and I did the right thing, because I gained one place after Kimi's crash and then after the race, came another move up the finish order. I am happy with that because the championship is really open now. But there are still five races to go and so we need to do a good job. The last couple of laps in Spa were extremely slippery and so I slowed down even more than normal because I saw there was a comfortable gap to the guy behind and I just wanted to make sure I finished the race. If I had been in a fight for another position, I would have pushed harder. But I was thinking more of the championship situation and I did not want to finish without any points, through taking risks. 

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McLaren re-focus on the track action
Situated within picturesque wooded parkland 15km north of Milan, the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza remains Formula One’s perennial temple of speed - and this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix is almost certain to be the fastest race on the calendar with cars reaching top speeds of 340km/h and running at full-throttle for 80 percent of each lap.

The gradual loss of the original high-speed Silverstone, Österreichring and Hockenheim tracks has made Monza something of a welcome anachronism, an uncompromising flat-out racetrack that simply cannot forget its past and whose passionate spectators continue to revel to the noise and spectacle of the racing car.

Monza’s roots are buried deep: the original combined road and loop circuit were built in a breakneck 110 days and it hosted the second-ever Italian Grand Prix in September 1922. Monza has held the race continuously with but one interruption - in 1980, when the race was run at Imola.

Monza was the venue for McLaren’s second Formula One victory - Denny Hulme won the race in an M7A in September 1968. The team has won the Italian Grand Prix nine times, most recently in 2007 when McLaren Mercedes scored a memorable one-two.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Heikki Kovalainen give their views on the Italian Grand Prix.

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Hamilton appeal to be heard this month
(GMM)  The appeal against McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton's victory demotion at Spa-Francorchamps is likely to be heard before the end of this month, an FIA spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday.

She said the Paris based governing body is hopeful the International Court of Appeal can deal with the matter before the Singapore grand prix late in September, therefore ensuring that the outcome of the 2008 world championship does not hang on a procedural matter.

Also on Wednesday, the 23-year-old Briton Hamilton gave his first press interview since the Belgian grand prix.

He said he still feels he did nothing wrong during his wheel-to-wheel fight for the lead with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

"If I had done something wrong, I would be the first to admit it," Hamilton told the German newspaper Bild.  "As a sportsman, this is something that is very important for me."

He said it did not take long to digest the information that the stewards had annulled his Belgian grand prix win.

"I do not feel guilty so there is nothing that I have to digest," Hamilton explained.  "It would be another matter if I had let my team down, but I did not.

"I feel like I deserve ten points instead of six.  On the other hand it could have been zero if I had damaged my car in the difficult conditions," he added.


What does NASCAR purchase mean for Grand-Am?
What does the acquisition mean for Grand-Am?
Roger Edmondson:
I believe it is going to be very beneficial to our teams in terms of sponsor search. I believe it is going to be very beneficial to Grand-Am in terms of the press paying more attention to our stories and our great racing that they have heretofore been ignoring, and I also think the NASCAR brand obviously is synonymous with great racing, whether you like road racing or oval racing. Some of the folks who have not paid attention to Grand-Am in the past will now have reason, out of curiosity, to see what's going on over here. My experience has been that once people see our racing, they like it. Quite clearly, if we can make inroads into that 75 million person fan base that NASCAR has, it's going to really mean a lot to Grand-Am and sports car racing in general.

Will we see any changes to the competition?
No. Grand-Am is going to continue to be Grand-Am. When people think of NASCAR, they don't think of us. Their image of NASCAR is a different type of racing - as different a sport as softball is from baseball. But it's a related sport. The best part that comes to us from NASCAR is going to be the marketing and communications expertise that NASCAR has developed over these years of their great success. Our sport - and the way we operate our sport - will remain unchanged.

How is Grand-Am going to fit in to the NASCAR hierarchy?
One of the things that I've said for many years is that you're known by the company you keep. In Grand-Am, we've been proud to be keeping company with Rolex. In the car brands, Lexus and Porsche, well-respected upscale brands. In GM, they've put Pontiac instead of Chevrolet. Cask No. 16 from Crown Royal. There is a clear path of our choosing the upscale partners. So I think it's natural to understand that Grand-Am will be the premier product of NASCAR. NASCAR has its own niche, its own audience, and its own set of sponsors. Grand-Am will continue to do the same, except that ours will be a little more upscale in the mix.

Hasn't Grand-Am enjoyed a close working relationship with NASCAR since the sanctioning body was announced in 1999?
Grand-Am has always had NASCAR genes. Quite clearly, the France family and myself were the major partners and stockholders in the company. Of the 25 investors, almost all of them came from this campus, whether they worked for NASCAR or the International Speedway Corporation. So while we've told people from the beginning that we were not owned by NASCAR and were not a NASCAR product, there's no question that the NASCAR ethics of close competition, parts availability to all participants and all of those fundamental fairness things that NASCAR has as part of its story, have been part of our makeup, too. I think now that only thing that really changes from our corporate standpoint is instead of 25 owners, we have one. But that one owner has the resources to really make the difference to where we can take this thing.

As the first employee of Grand-Am, and President since its inception, what does the acquisition mean for Roger Edmondson?
I see it as a graduation day. I'm very proud of what we've accomplished with a relatively small amount of resources that we brought to bear when we started Grand-Am. Now, we're going to have the chance to move it to the next level. So, I'm very excited about all this. I'm going to continue on as president as long as Jim France and the family believe I'm doing the job, and I hope that our teams and fans believe that I'm doing the job and we can move forward together.


Khan to lead Team Pakistan effort
Team Pakistan is pleased to announce that Adam Khan is the new Seat Holder for the racing team and will take on the dual role of heading up the franchise and driving for his nation in the A1GP  World Cup of Motorsport 

A group of investors led by the Khansheema Group will provide the foundation for the team and develop the infrastructure of the business to build a successful future, and to continue to successfully represent Pakistan in the A1GP Series. The new backing promises to open up many new opportunities for building strategic commercial partnerships with companies and brands in Pakistan. 

Khan says of stepping up to lead the team, "I am looking forward to building the awareness for the team in Pakistan through my role as seat holder, while also racing for the nation at the A1GP events around the globe. Combining the two responsibilities will certainly keep me busy, but I also believe that having total focus on the team will help to bring us more success both commercially and on the track."


Country of Bahrain sponsors top fuel car
In a cooperative deal with Wilson Manifolds, Hillary Will will fly the colors of the Kingdom of Bahrain on her KB Racing Top Fuel dragster at this weekend's NHRA Carolinas Nationals in Charlotte.

Wilson Manifolds associate Scott Revell wanted the North American motorsports world to learn about their new partner in the Middle East. Wilson and Revell are building a state-of-the-art $200 million auto-parts manufacturing facility in Bahrain.

"The royal family of Bahrain has been highly supportive of our operations," said Revell.

Said team owner Ken Black, "Hillary's race car not only promotes the Kingdom of Bahrain to our American audience, its involvement in the motorsport manufacturing plant with Wilson and Revell but also highlights the close ties between the USA and Bahrain — America's vital friend in the Middle East." 

Bahrain, an island in the Persian Gulf, is now recognized as the foremost financial hub of the Middle East and the home of F-1 and drag racing in the Gulf.


Renault in no rush to announce drivers
(GMM)  Renault boss Flavio Briatore says an announcement about the French team's driver lineup for 2009 is not imminent.

Amid intense speculation about Fernando Alonso's plans for next year, and whether his 2008 teammate Nelson Piquet has done enough to race beyond his rookie season, there were whispers at Spa last weekend that Briatore was planning a Monza announcement.

But he tells F1's official website: "Be assured that we will announce our 2009 drivers between the end of this season and the start of next."

Renault's driver lineup is one matter to resolve, but Briatore's own contract is also up for renewal.

"Will I be here next year?  I don't know," the 58-year-old, a fierce critic of F1's spendthrift ways, continued.

"If it is possible to cut costs and get everything under control, then maybe I'll be excited to stay.  But if it goes on like now, I might not interested."


Rain in forecast for Monza
We begin as usual on Friday, the weekend's first day of track action, and the day with the highest likelihood of dry sessions. Although skies will be partly cloudy from the early morning, rain clouds to the east of Milan should hold off until the late afternoon before making its presence felt. Any rain that falls should be light, but will only affect the support races of GP2 qualifying and Porsche Supercup practice. Unlike the Belgian Grand Prix's highs of just 16°C, temperatures will be much warmer, with a high of 27°C expected.

For Saturday, those rain clouds that were making their way over northern Italy on Friday evening will remain over the region for Saturday, with rain currently very likely right throughout the day. Where rain won't be present, overcast skies will keep temperatures low, with a forecast high of 24°C.

Finally moving to Sunday, conditions will remain similar, with a constant threat of rain. Temperatures will drop further, to a high of just 21°C, a far cry from the beaming sunshine of 12 months ago. Forecasters predict the chance of rain to stand between 50 and 70%.

At this early stage of the week, Monza's forecast could change significantly as we drift towards the weekend. With southern Germany likely to have a relatively dry weekend, even a small shift in the forecast could mean Monza will experience much more favorable conditions.


A1 Teams hit the track
The new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car era began in earnest at Donington Park in Great Britain today, after the first teams began to test their new 600bhp machines.

Despite torrential rain hampering much of the day, teams put significant first runs in the cars that they will use for the 2008/09 season.

Fairuz Fauzy ended the day quickest for A1 Team Malaysia, posting a lap time of 1m 35.250s.

A1 Team Netherlands’ distinctive orange car was piloted by last season’s racer Jeroen Bleekemolen, with John Martin driving for A1 Team Australia, and Edoardo Piscopo shaking down the Italian charger. 

The A1GP test car, which has now completed 7,446-kilometres testing, was also out on track with Thomas Biagi at the wheel.

A1 Team South Africa’s Adrian Zaugg, a double A1GP race winner last season, loved the car. “I was quite impressed with the car, especially considering the conditions,” he said. “There was so much grip with the car, especially under braking. The car cornered well in both slow and high speed corners. It is a really good car, and had really good grip for the wet conditions.

“It was quite difficult to compare the new car with the old car, because it was wet today. But the Michelin tires were fantastic. Even on the racing line, which in the wet you can normally not find much grip, the tires meant there was grip there.”

There will be a further day’s testing this week at the track on Thursday, before more testing at Snetterton later this month.


Star Mazda roars into New Jersey
Thunderbolt Raceway is one of two road courses at NJ Motorsports Park
Heading into the 2008 season's four-race home stretch that begins with a double-header this weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park, the battle for supremacy inside the Star Mazda championship presented by Goodyear is a study in contradictions.

Irishman Peter Dempsey, driving the #21 Andersen Racing / LotusWorks/ Allied Building Products Mazda has been red-hot, winning the last three races in a row, yet he is second in the championship – albeit just one point behind – to American Joel Miller who won the season-opener at Sebring from the pole in the #20 JDC Motorsports / Mazda / K&N Air Filters Mazda… but has yet to score a follow-up victory despite four podium finishes.

Miller is the 2007 Skip Barber Pro Series champion who won his sponsored ride in the 2008 Star Mazda Championship courtesy of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder.  2007 Star Mazda champion Dane Cameron is also racing at NJMP this weekend, driving the #19 Genoa Racing/Mazda/Finlay Motorsports/Lynx Racing Swift 016.a in the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda with funding from the MAZDASPEED Ladder program.

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Montoya confident in direction of Ganassi team
He's lost both of his teammates and his primary sponsor, yet #42-Juan Pablo Montoya remains staunchly committed to car owner Chip Ganassi. So much so, Montoya insists Ganassi is being unfairly critiqued for his struggling NASCAR program. "I think the NASCAR organization has to go through major changes, and that's the process we are going through right now," said Montoya, a former Formula One and CART driver who won an Indianapolis 500 driving for Ganassi. "In a way, it's good because everyone who is here wants to succeed and wants to be here. Chip is working very hard to get us better. Are we there? No. But things are starting to click and there's a lot of things coming, and when all those things arrive and you put them in place, we'll be in good shape." Montoya, who was openly critical of Ganassi earlier this season after a series of crew changes, said his boss has everything under control. "If I wasn't committed to him, and believed in him, then I wouldn't be here," Montoya said. "It's that simple." More at Associated Press/ESPN.com


FIA official: Italy loves me, the UK hates me
FIA official Surinder Thathi, one of the three race stewards at the Belgian Grand Prix who was responsible for Hamilton's penalty, has told local press in his home country Kenya the Italians love him, but people from the United Kingdom really hate him. "The British Press hates me but I can walk into any Italian restaurant - Italians love me," Kenyan motorsports official Surinder Thathi told the media.

Thathi said in Nairobi that there was no conspiracy against the McLaren team. "There was no conspiracy against anybody, McLaren included. We acted professionally and within the FIA rules. Hamilton took a short cut inside of the corner while off the track," he told Reuters.

He furthermore explained that Hamilton had to receive some kind of penalty for cutting the chicane. He explained: "We called Hamilton and Raikkonen, looked at the footage and agreed that the offence was punishable. The regulations say that there has to be a drive-through penalty.

"We had a choice to mete out a time penalty or 10 grid places in the next Grand Prix race. We opted for the former and handed a time penalty of 25 seconds. I know I am a very unpopular person in the United Kingdom now, but then I was doing my job and I know I acted professionally."

track news

Billionaire Bruton Smith cries foul
Bruton Smith is said to have so much money he couldn't spend it all if he tried.
Lowe's Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith lashed out again at Concord and Cabarrus officials Monday, saying he no longer trusts them and that someone is trying to undo his $80 million incentives deal.

The billionaire also said his lawyers are looking into potential fraud, but he declined to elaborate.

Smith insisted that the deal means his company must be compensated within two to three years for fronting the cost of major road upgrades around the Concord track.

But about three weeks ago, local officials said it could take up to 40 years to pay back most of those costs.

Smith, 81, said that timetable had not been discussed before. Anyone who says otherwise, he said, “is a liar and a cheat.”

“I'm being the victim all over again,” he said Monday. “Somebody in Concord is trying to undo what they agreed to … We're not going to remotely consider anything other than two to three years.”

He said he can't move the track – which he threatened to do last year following the initial feud with city officials – but he could take other steps, which he declined to discuss.  More at Charlotte Observer


Spanish teenager to test for Williams
Dani Clos
(GMM)  A Spanish youngster is set to make his formula one test debut at the wheel of a Williams this week.

19-year-old Dani Clos, a F3 Euroseries competitor from Barcelona, is set to conduct a 50km straight-line aerodynamic test with the British team at a local aerodrome, the Spanish newspaper Diario AS reported.

It is suggested Clos may also be in action at the wheel of a Toyota-powered Williams next week at Jerez, the final in-season test of the 2008 season.

'AS' said Clos is under evaluation to become a Williams test driver for 2009.


Spa repeat at Monza 'impossible' - Alonso
Fernando Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has almost ruled out following up the Belgian grand prix with another strong performance at Monza this weekend.

The Spaniard's Renault fared prominently on the famous Spa-Francorchamps layout, qualifying sixth and finishing just shy of a podium.

Alonso, 27, said in an official Renault document this week that the French team is "well prepared" for Monza, whose long straights make the circuit the fastest of all on the calendar.

Asked if he was expecting a similar performance in Italy, he also told the Renault release: "That's how I will be approaching this race."

To the Spanish newspaper Diario AS, however, the former double world champion said: "In theory this is going to be our worst circuit.

"In the test there we were not very fast.  To repeat the result of Spa at Monza is going to be almost impossible," Alonso added.


More night practice for Singapore GP confirmed
(GMM)  The timetable of the first ever formula one night race in Singapore later this month has changed, in order to give teams and drivers more practice under the lights.

Concerns had been raised that only 90 minutes of floodlit practice were allocated before qualifying takes place after sunset on Saturday.

Initial Friday practice, for instance, was until now scheduled to take place in daylight (4pm), and - similarly - pre-qualifying practice on Saturday was scheduled for 5pm.

The major changes are to the initial Friday and Saturday practice sessions, which will both now begin at 7pm local.

Second Friday practice is now to begin at 9.30.

Sunday's race start time of 8pm remains the same, but qualifying will now begin at 10pm rather than earlier in the evening as previously scheduled.


AMA explains Mladin disqualification
AMA Pro Racing has issued the following statement from Roy Janson, AMA Pro Racing vice president of competition, regarding the disqualification of Mat Mladin, riding the No. 6 Suzuki, from the Superbike races at Virginia International Raceway on August 16-17, 2008, and the denial of the subsequent appeal of that disqualification:

The technical rules for AMA Superbike events were developed to create a competition environment that utilizes modified production machines that are available to all competitors with replacement parts that are available through a national distribution network of franchised dealers. While the AMA Superbike rules allow for some aftermarket items to be used in Superbike competition, such as front and rear suspension units, some parts are explicitly required to be used in their stock/production form to help to control the costs of competing in this class and to ensure that key competition components are available equally to all competitors.

The AMA Pro Racing vehicle homologation procedure requires that each motorcycle manufacturer or distributor submit samples of controlled parts as a means to establish the legality of each part and to provide control samples of these regulated parts, which are available at each event for comparison purposes during the post event technical inspection process to determine if the specified stock/production parts are used as required.

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New Malaysian A1GP car hits the track
A1 Team Malaysia roared out of the garage at the Donington Circuit, UK on Tuesday, with Fairuz Fauzy in the cockpit of the new A1GP ‘Powered by Ferrari’ car. The car turned its wheels for the first time and completed a number of engine installation laps, in preparation for the new season of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.

“It’s a great car”, said Fauzy after his first run. “It ran smoothly and my first impressions are good. Now we’ve completed all the necessary installation and routine tasks, we can start to work on developing the initial set up and understand the handling of the car. It’s a very exciting car to drive and I’m looking forward to having more time behind the wheel as we prepare for the season ahead.”

The Malaysian team posted the quickest lap time of the four cars that shook down their cars today, although with wet weather conditions none of the teams were pushing hard. The team continues its pre-season test program on Thursday 11 September.


NASCAR TV Ratings continue to plunge
ESPN earned a 3.0 household coverage rating and 3,973,812 viewers for its coverage of the rain-delayed Chevy Rock and Roll 400 Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway Sunday afternoon. The race was originally scheduled to air Saturday night in prime time on ABC but was postponed to Sunday due to the effects of Tropical Storm Hanna. Last year’s race earned a 4.2 rating when it aired on ABC and was one of ABC’s highest-rated Sprint Cup races in 2007. Sunday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond, delayed two days due to Tropical Storm Hanna, earned a 1.0 household coverage rating and 1,431,872 viewers on ESPN2, down from the 1.4 for last year’s race that ran and aired on schedule. ESPN PR


NHRA works with teams, Electrimotion on Safety Shutoff Controller
NHRA is working with the Top Fuel and Funny Car teams of Robert Hight, Jim Head, and Larry Dixon to test and evaluate a new Safety Shutoff Controller developed by Dave Leahy of Electrimotion.

The Safety Shutoff Controller can shut off fuel and ignition to the engine as well as deploy the parachutes when triggered by a variety of conditions including depressing the steering-wheel-mounted driver's button, manifold burst panel rupture, fire-bottle activation, excessive oil-pan pressure, and dragster rear-wing failure.

NHRA will begin working with other teams and Electrimotion immediately to further evaluate the system. After system validation is complete, NHRA could mandate the use of the Safety Shutoff Controller on Funny Cars later this year. Use of this controller on Top Fuel cars also will be evaluated with the goal of mandating them for that class as well. 


Riccardo Patrese rediscovers speed of F1
Riccardo Patrese
Riccardo Patrese returned to Formula One today for the first time in 15 years as he joined the Honda Racing F1 Team in Jerez to drive the team's RA107 race car. 

Riccardo, who won six races during his 17 year Formula One career from 1977 to 1993, had joined the team at the Spanish circuit on Monday afternoon for a seat fit and engineering briefing. He also conducted reconnaissance laps of the 4.428km Jerez circuit in a Honda Civic Type-R with one of the team's engineers to familiarize himself with the track . 

On Tuesday, on a bright and sunny morning, Riccardo pulled out of the garage to take to the track in the Honda RA107. He completed five runs and set a fastest lap time of 1:30.210 on the Bridgestone demonstration tires used for his guest drive. 

Talking about the experience, Riccardo Patrese said, "After 15 years out of Formula One, it was a dream come true and unbelievable to rediscover the speed of a Formula One car again today. I was able to get accustomed pretty quickly and found that my driving style did not need to change too much to adapt to a modern car. The speed was a bit of a surprise on the first couple of laps but at the end I felt very comfortable, although I'm sure my neck will ache a little bit tonight after the G forces. The whole experience has been an absolute pleasure and I would like to thank the Honda Racing F1 Team for giving me this feeling back and allowing me the opportunity to drive a really fast car again! It's good to know that at my age, I can still drive quickly and push the limits. I just wish that I could have had more time in the car to improve my lap time. Hopefully they'll give me another chance sometime!" 

Nick Fry, Chief Executive Officer of the Honda Racing F1 Team commented, "We are delighted to have been able to arrange this opportunity for Riccardo to drive the RA107, the first time that he has been back in a Honda Formula One car since the final race of the 1987 season where he raced for Williams-Honda in Adelaide. Riccardo adapted very well to the car today and there was plenty for him to get to grips with as Formula One has advanced so rapidly since his final race in 1993 and continues to do so with the introduction of new environmental technologies. Left foot braking, grooved tires and a steering-wheel mounted clutch paddle were all new for Riccardo today, and his fastest lap time was very respectable considering that he was using demonstration tires and a 2007 car. The team thoroughly enjoyed working with Riccardo today and we are delighted to have made his dream of returning to Formula One for a day come true!"


Toyota, Chevy working to gain approval on noses
Only two of the four manufacturers testing the new Nationwide Series cars at Richmond International Raceway have gained approval on the final version of the nose of the car.

Nationwide Series Director Joe Balash said a wind-tunnel date has yet to be set for the two manufacturers, but he said NASCAR plans to talk to Toyota and Chevy about their new noses.

“We’re still working with them on the thought process on getting into the target area that we’re looking for,” Balash said. “We’ll have some more conversations on how to do that.”

Shane Martin, Nationwide Series program manager for Chevrolet, said the new nose won’t be that much different than the one used at the test.

“Once we got back and move the few pounds [of downforce], any driver, they’ll never tell a difference in a couple pounds of downforce,” Martin said. “When we get the final [nose], you won’t be able to tell any difference.”

Both manufacturers used noses that were the latest versions to be in the wind tunnel. Both are working on new noses that will be tested at a later date.  Scenedaily.com


Race number 500 for Williams
Frank Williams
The European season draws to an end this weekend with a visit to Monza for the Italian Grand Prix on 14 September. The Autodromo Nazionale di Monza has a proud racing heritage, having hosted more Formula One races than any other track and all but one Italian Grand Prix since 1950. Monza’s depth of history makes it a fitting venue for Williams to record its 500th Grand Prix start next Sunday.

Williams Grand Prix Engineering was incorporated by Frank Williams and Patrick Head in 1978, but it was not until the Argentine Grand Prix in January 1979 that the new organization fielded its first own-designed and built race car, the FW06 for Alan Jones. Monza will mark the team’s 500th race start in its thirtieth year of racing, during which time the team has recorded 250,00km of competitive racing, scored 113 GP wins and won 16 World Championships - nine constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ titles.

While Nico Rosberg is not a candidate for this year’s crown, the young German is eagerly looking forward to racing at Motorsports temple of speed and celebrate the team’s 500th race with a points finish.....

“We had a good test in Monza two weeks ago, both in terms of evaluating new parts and defining set-up for the Grand Prix,” he said. “I am looking forward to racing at the Autodromo, not only because it is the quickest circuit on the calendar, but also because it has so much history. Monza is really fun to drive because of the super fast start-finish straight, the right braking events at the end of the lap and also the curbs which you have to ride as much as you can. The faster corners are quite difficult to drive because we run such little downforce at Monza, but that doesn’t diminish the experience of driving at one of the best circuits we visit! To top the weekend off, the atmosphere, the people and the food in Italy are all great, so I’m really looking forward to the weekend!


Corvette back in 2009 in GT1 and GT2
America’s premier sports car team is set to write another history-making chapter in the American Le Mans Series. Corvette Racing unveiled its plans for the 2009 season Tuesday that will see the most successful team in Series history compete in two classes in the American Le Mans Series while shooting for another title at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In addition to its attempt for a sixth GT1 victory in the world’s most famous auto race, Corvette will enter the GT2 class in the second half of the American Le Mans Series season. Corvette Racing will launch a full-season assault in the new GT division in 2010.

“The Corvette brand is the gold standard for General Motors’ high performance automotive lineup, and we are thrilled that Corvette Racing will continue to be a prominent part of the American Le Mans Series in 2009,” said Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. “This confirms GM’s recognition of the importance racing has to the Corvette brand. Without question the Corvette Racing program is the best example of GM racing what it sells in the most relevant way possible. There is a direct link from the Corvette race car and the Corvette for sale in the showroom that no other form of racing can match. The rich racing history and success that Corvette has already established stands to grow again by directly competing against the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, BMW, Panoz and others in the most competitive class of sports car racing in the world.”

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Milka Duno tops Danica Patrick
So who led more laps during this Indy Racing League season; Danica Patrick or Milka Duno?

Well, if you chose Milka Duno, you are right on. On lap 141 of Sunday’s race at Chicagoland, during a caution period, while most of the field ducked into the pits for their second-to-last pit stop, the CITGO crew had Duno stay out, knowing she only had one more stop to make. The move sent Duno up to the front of the pack, enabling her to lead her first laps in the IRL.

On the ensuing restart, she led the field down to the green. After a couple of laps under green, Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon zipped around, but Duno remained in the main draft before she made her last pit stop. Her five laps led, brought her team a bit of the spotlight, and also meant she led one more lap than Patrick this season. Granted, Patrick became the first woman to win an IRL race at Motegi, Japan earlier this year, and Duno hasn’t approached anything nearing that accomplishment. Duno, who placed 14th Sunday, does seem to have a growing fan following. But again, she’s nowhere near Patrick’s level—yet. Fan popularity aside, Duno has been widely criticized by IRL insiders for being slow on the track and at times a danger to other drivers. Even actress Ashley Judd, the wife of driver Dario Franchitti, told reporters Duno should be pulled off the track last year.

Duno’s primary sponsor, CITGO, appears committed to putting her back on the track next year. “We’ll continue to work for next year,” Duno said after Chicagoland. “We showed we have a lot of potential as a team. We just need to find the resources to improve and continue to build our team to be faster all the time. I have to say many thanks to all (my crew). They continue to believe in me, and I showed what we can do when we have good conditions. I have to thank Robbie (Buhl), my coach.” IBJ.com


Toro Rosso renews Ferrari engine deal
(GMM)  Toro Rosso will continue to use Ferrari's customer engines, team principal Franz Tost confirmed on Tuesday.

With the Faenza based team's STR3 chassis performing so well at present, and the senior Red Bull team comparatively struggle despite using a nearly identical car, it had been rumored that Renault-powered Red Bull Racing might attempt to take over STR's Ferrari contract.

Takuma Sato's forthcoming test, meanwhile, stirred speculation that Toro Rosso might be flirting with Honda.

In a statement, Tost confirmed that Ferrari's 2.4 liter V8 is one element to the team's strong showings of late.

"We are very happy with our arrangement with Maranello, which indeed is why we have recently extended our supply agreement with them," the Austrian said.

Tost also said the team is happy with its current driver lineup, including Sebastien Bourdais, whose future on the grid is yet to be determined.

"We are happy with both  of them," he said, referring also to Sebastian Vettel, who graduates to Red Bull in 2009.

"As for Bourdais, after a difficult period, he too has stepped up a gear in the past few weeks, as could be seen from the fact that, until the very last lap in Belgium, he had out-performed his teammate," Tost added.


Belgian Grand Prix Debrief – Q & A with Timo Glock
Timo Glock
First of all, what is your reaction to the 25s penalty which dropped you from eighth to ninth?
It was really disappointing to be told that I had lost the place because I fought so hard on the last couple of laps to make up ground. Considering the circumstances over the weekend and earlier in the race, a point would have been a good result, so I wasn't happy to be told I had been penalized.

Was it fair to penalize you for overtaking under a yellow flag?
I am absolutely convinced I didn't do anything wrong because it was quite obvious that Mark Webber was running at a different pace due to the grooved tires. I was a lot quicker on the standard wets and he had to brake much earlier than me for the Bus Stop. I believe I only passed him after the green flag. But the stewards have made their decision so we just have to accept that.

Prior to that, how was the weekend for you?
We struggled with set-up all weekend and we had a few problems warming up the tires. We had the hardest compound Bridgestone tires so the low track temperatures were a bit of a problem for us. We didn't have the pace we wanted, that is pretty clear. We knew before the weekend that it would be a tricky race for us.

Talk us through the final laps, when the rain came.
We had struggled a bit for pace in the race so I was out of the points but I saw the cloud coming in and I asked the team if it would rain. They said rain was expected for the last two or three laps and I knew at Spa it would be really hard to stay on the track with dry tires if it was wet. That was definitely the case when the rain started and I actually made a mistake when I slid off the track and Webber got past me. We had nothing to lose so I decided to change to standard wets. It was the right thing to do because the speed difference on the standard wets compared to the grooved tires was massive. I was 13 seconds behind Webber starting the last lap and I easily passed him at the Bus Stop. 

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Hamilton passed too soon - Penalty justified UPDATE #2 Kenyan Surinder Thathi, one of the three stewards at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday where British driver Lewis Hamilton was stripped of victory, said today that there was no conspiracy against the McLaren team.

"There was no conspiracy against anybody, McLaren included. We acted professionally and within the FIA rules. Hamilton took a short cut inside of the corner while off the track," Thathi told Reuters.

British tabloid newspapers have claimed Hamilton was a victim of a conspiracy against McLaren after the stewards decided he had cut the chicane and gained an unfair advantage over Ferrari's world champion Kimi Raikkonen. Hamilton was relegated to third place

"We had a choice to mete out a time penalty or 10 grid places in the next Grand Prix race. We opted for the former and handed a time penalty of 25 seconds," Thathi said.

"I know I am a very unpopular person in the United Kingdom now, but then I was doing my job and I know I acted professionally."

09/09/08 (GMM)  There is plenty of negativity about Lewis Hamilton's Spa penalty doing the rounds, but not all figures in the formula one paddock believe the stewards were wrong to strip the Briton of his win.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ferrari drivers Felipe Massa - the belated recipient of the Belgian GP trophy - and Kimi Raikkonen, who was on the receiving end of the Hamilton move, believe the McLaren driver was in the wrong.

"There are rules about cutting chicanes and gaining an advantage.  I don't have anything (else) to say," world champion Raikkonen said.

Massa, meanwhile, said Hamilton was "a bit too optimistic" in passing Kimi so soon after cutting the Bus Stop chicane.

He said the issue has often been discussed in driving briefings.

"It has been made absolutely clear that anyone cutting a chicane has to fully restore the position and also any other eventual advantage gained," Massa said.

"If Lewis had taken the chicane correctly, he would never have been able to pass Kimi on the very short straight that follows is."

Hamilton's former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, said the F1 world should accept the stewards' decision.

"In the end, what they say is always fair, whether you like it or not," the Spaniard told Cadena SER radio.

09/09/08 Lewis Hamilton paid the price for passing Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen too soon after cutting a chicane, according to his title rival Felipe Massa.

Massa said Hamilton was "maybe a bit too optimistic" in taking the lead.

"If Lewis had taken the chicane correctly, he would never have been able to pass Kimi on the very short straight that follows it," he said.

Formula One rules forbid drivers from gaining an advantage by cutting a chicane.

"What Lewis did is the sort of thing that can happen," Massa wrote on his website, "but I think he was maybe a bit too optimistic in thinking he could just hand back the position, albeit only partially to Kimi, and then immediately try to pass him again.

"Incidents like this have often been discussed in the official driver briefings, when it was made absolutely clear that anyone cutting a chicane has to fully restore the position and also any other eventual advantage gained.

"Maybe if Lewis had waited and tried to pass on the next straight, that would have been a different matter."

[Editor's Note: It is very painful for the British media (Hamilton biased media) to accept the fact that the penalty was indeed justified now that all the facts have come out about the decision.  Should Raikkonen also have been penalized for bumping Hamilton while in the corner, yes, but he crashed out anyway so it does not really matter much as he scored no points.]


McLaren Hamilton appeal may be disallowed UPDATE #3 McLaren has now officially filed the appeal with the following statement:

Martin Whitmarsh said:
"Following our decision to register our intention to appeal the penalty handed out to Lewis Hamilton by the FIA Stewards at the 2008 Belgian Grand Prix, we hereby confirm that we have now lodged notice of appeal. Lewis describes the incident as follows."

Lewis Hamilton said:
"In the closing stages of the race I was catching Kimi consistently, lap by lap, and with three laps remaining I got close enough to attempt to overtake him on the entry to the last chicane. I managed to get slightly ahead of him in the braking area for the first apex of the chicane. He fought back approaching the second apex - but, in doing so, he left no room for me on the inside line. The only way for me to avoid a collision was therefore to cut inside the second apex. "

"I came out of the second apex in front of Kimi and so I momentarily lifted-off on the straight, to ensure that Kimi got back in front. The team also came on the radio and instructed me to allow Kimi to repass, which I had already done. As a result, Kimi crossed the start/finish line ahead of me and 6.7km/h quicker than me."

"After allowing Kimi to completely repass, I crossed from the left side of the track to the right side of the track, passing behind Kimi in the process. I then attacked Kimi on the inside of the first corner, and successfully outbraked him."

Martin Whitmarsh added:
"From the pit wall, we then asked Race Control to confirm that they were comfortable that Lewis had allowed Kimi to repass, and they confirmed twice that they believed that the position had been given back in a manner that was 'okay'."

"If Race Control had instead expressed any concern regarding Lewis's actions at that time, we would have instructed Lewis to allow Kimi to repass for a second time."

Statement ends

09/09/08 (GMM)  McLaren may not proceed with its appeal against Lewis Hamilton's Belgian grand prix victory demotion, British newspapers report on Tuesday.

It is suggested that, amid uncertainty about the admissibility of a drive-through penalty appeal, the British team may instead simply turn its attention fully to this weekend's Italian grand prix and then the final four flyaway races of the season.

The Guardian newspaper said McLaren will make its final decision on Tuesday.

As per the requirements, the Mercedes powered team almost immediately notified the FIA that it intended to appeal the verdict, but then has more time to formalize the request with the governing body.

Former triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart commented: "It's inconceivable that you shouldn't be able to appeal in a situation like this.  It could affect the world championship's outcome."

McLaren officials are saying very little on the record about the saga, but Austrian great Niki Lauda - who raced both for Ferrari and McLaren - has revised his opinion that the FIA is not biased in favor of the Prancing Horse.

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McClenathan Primed to Begin Championship Charge in Concord
This weekend's inaugural NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway @ Concord, N.C., is a welcome fresh face on the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series circuit. With the unveiling of a new state-of-the-art race track, an untapped market, and an entirely unique fan base ready to be exposed to the excitement of pro nitro drag-racing action, one thing remains a constant for FRAM Top Fuel dragster driver Cory McClenathan: his burning desire to win his first world championship.

The most tenured driver in the class, with 17 years of experience to draw from, has come ever so close to claiming that crown, earning second place in the point standings four times. A lot has changed for McClenathan this year. He joined Don Schumacher Racing full time and is driving more relaxed in the knowledge that he has a solid crew chief in Mike Green and a strong team he can rely on day to day.

In what some would call a resurgent season, McClenathan has been to three final rounds, winning the event in Las Vegas in April and qualifying No. 1 twice along the way. The consistently strong performances by McClenathan and the FRAM crew have placed him No. 4 In the Countdown to 1 six-race playoffs for the championship. He sits just 50 points out of first place with 24 rounds (20 points per round) or racing to decide the champion.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Berger rubbishes Vettel rumors
  • Italy, Lauda, say Massa now no.1
  • Kubica wants BMW focus back on him
  • Berger impressed with Bourdais at Spa
  • Mallya eyes engine partner switch

Berger rubbishes Vettel rumors
(GMM)  Gerhard Berger has taken the wind out of rumors that Sebastian Vettel may depart Toro Rosso before the end of the 2008 season.

It was whispered recently that David Coulthard could relinquish his seat at the senior Red Bull team a few races early, so that Vettel can get a head-start for next year and Toro Rosso can assess potential replacements for the young German.

"No, that is really not going to happen!" STR co-owner Berger insisted to Kicker.

Italy, Lauda, say Massa now no.1
(GMM)  Ferrari is moving towards appointing Felipe Massa the number one driver for the balance of the 2008 season.

Niki Lauda, a former title winner with the Maranello based team, believes any other policy would not make sense.

"Starting from Monza, Raikkonen must start driving for Massa," the Austrian told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

"Any other team strategy would not make sense."

Lauda said Kimi Raikkonen, the reigning world champion, has had his chance to try to defend that title in 2008.

"Kimi has not done a good job this season," he said.  "He has been quick in races, but not in practice.  At Spa he did a perfect job, until the end when he threw it away."

Most elements of the Italian media believe Lauda is right in calling for Raikkonen to now be demoted to a supporting role.

"Kimi as number two?  Now is the time for Ferrari to decide," said the sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Referring to the Belgian grand prix, La Repubblica surmised: "The real outcome: Massa is now number one."

Kubica wants BMW focus back on him
(GMM)  After an unhappy Belgian grand prix, Robert Kubica has continued to voice his discontent as F1 makes the dash this week to Monza.

The Pole struggled to capture the same attention as his resurgent BMW-Sauber teammate Nick Heidfeld at Spa-Francorchamps, and on Friday we reported that he used "harsh words" upon discovering incorrect settings on his car.

"The team has helped Nick a lot," France's sport24.com quotes Kubica as saying.

Kubica has won just 12 points from the last 5 grands prix, and while he finished sixth at Spa-Francorchamps, Heidfeld was on the podium.

"I hope that they will start to work a little for me, because these last four races, I think we have been asleep," the 23-year-old added.

Berger impressed with Bourdais at Spa
(GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais will have done his chances of a new Toro Rosso contract no harm at Spa-Francorchamps.

Amid a difficult rookie season, the multiple Champ Car title winner outshone his teammate Sebastian Vettel at the Belgian venue, albeit dropping behind in the chaos of the final laps.

"We will consider his overall performance of the weekend," team co-owner Gerhard Berger is quoted as saying by the French source RMC.

"Sebastien impressed us with a very solid performance, although we have not made a decision about the future yet," Berger added.

Berger said Bourdais, 29, has remained focused on his task amid all the speculation about the future of Toro Rosso's driver lineup.

"Let's give him the time to express himself," the former grand prix winner continued.  "We will see what happens at Monza and after that as well."

Mallya eyes engine partner switch
(GMM)  Force India supremo Vijay Mallya has left the door open to possibly switching engine partners for the 2009 season.

We reported earlier this year that the Silverstone based team, currently powered by customer Ferrari engines, was considering perhaps moving to Honda, because the Japanese marque is willing to bundle a KERS system.

Mallya confirmed to reporters at Spa-Francorchamps that he is searching for a bundled drivetrain and KERS package for 2009.

"There's no way we can develop KERS.  It would be stupid even to attempt it," the Indian billionaire said.

"I have asked Ferrari because they are my partner.  Hopefully they will give it to me at a sensible price.  If they don't, then I have a problem and may have to look elsewhere.

"But there's no dearth of potential suppliers."


Yamaha riders unveil new YZF-R1 in Las Vegas
All four Yamaha MotoGP riders took part in the global unveiling of the all-new Yamaha R1 today in a suitably glittering show in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fiat Yamaha Team riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo, plus Tech 3 Yamaha team-mates Colin Edwards and James Toseland were surprise guests at the unveiling, which took place in front of 3000 Yamaha US dealers at the famous Mirage Hotel.

The all-new version of the R1, Yamaha's premium performance road bike, is more closely linked than ever to the YZR-M1 on which the four riders contest the MotoGP championship. The riders each came on stage aboard a different color version of the machine, before being interviewed about it's qualities in relation to their own MotoGP bikes.

Next stop for the foursome will be the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the inaugural MotoGP race at the famous venue, which takes place this Sunday.

Valentino Rossi
"This is a great bike, it's very like my M1 and it's exciting to see so many MotoGP qualities now appearing on a bike for the road. I think everyone who loves the R1 and Yamaha will be very excited about this new version, it's fantastic!"

Jorge Lorenzo
"I think this bike will be very popular. Yamaha have worked very hard to try to make it as like our M1 as possible and it seems they have done a fantastic job. The cornering and agility especially is great, which is of course one of the best qualities of the M1."


Bourdais impresses Berger with Spa performance
Sebastien Bourdais had a brilliant drive in Sunday afternoon’s rain affected Belgian Grand Prix, the Frenchman having, without a doubt, the best race of his short Formula One career. In the final laps, Bourdais was on his way to secure his and Toro Rosso’s maiden podium, elevated to third place when the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen hit the wall. However, he eventually crossed the line in seventh after he was overtaken by drivers who had made the switch to wet tires.

That said however, Bourdais had performed very well in qualifying and was racing in a hard fought and well deserved fifth for most of the race and that certainly didn’t go unnoticed  by team boss Gerhard Berger. It is vital for the Frenchman that he prove his worth to the team, so another strong performance in Monza this weekend will certainly go a long way in saving his drive...

“It was a fantastic weekend for Toro Rosso in terms of consistency and performance. Everything’s was under control and that’s a great feeling. We got decent results and I’m very happy,” he told French radio RMC. “We can always rewrite history; with ‘if’ we could have climbed on the podium but all in all the performance is fantastic. Sébastien? We will judge the overall performance this weekend. He impressed us; he did a solid performance even though we did not take any decision for the future. He stayed focused and very strong. Yes, it is an important result but is still some time. Let him drive, we will see what happen in Monza and we will see what we’re doing after that.”

racing news

Driver critical after crash at Volusia
Mike Corcoran had no pulse and was not breathing when Volusia Speedway Park in Florida emergency crew members came to the race driver's aid after a horrifying accident Saturday night at the half-mile dirt oval.

"He was laying there, in the track, no helmet, blood was pooling," said an infield eyewitness, who asked not to be identified. "I was watching his feet. They never moved."

Corcoran, a weekend racer from Holly Hill, was listed in critical condition at Halifax Medical Center on Monday night.

In what veteran race fans and competitors described as the most disturbing racing accident they have ever seen, Corcoran was ejected from his Pure Stock race car after a violent blow to the undercarriage of his car from another competitor.

According to various accounts, including a Volusia County Sheriff's incident report, Corcoran's racer went sideways off of Turn 4, barrel-rolled several times and came to rest on its roof.

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Computer generated tour of Singapore
There are lots of computer-generated laps of the Singapore circuit on the web, but none can match Mark Webber's visually stunning tour of the new track.


A lap of Monza with Alex Wurz
The famous Monza Circuit
Round 14 of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to the outskirts of Milan for the Italian Grand Prix. The 53-lap race is staged at the 5.793km (3.600-mile) Autodromo Nazionale di Monza and marks the end of F1’s European season.

Alex Wurz: “There is something very special about Monza. The setting, the noise of the tifosi, the old banking crumbling in the background, the name - I like it all! It’s the only super-fast track on the calendar and everything happens very quickly for the drivers. It takes a few laps to get used to it, even if you’ve been racing all year.

“In terms of driving style, Monza is an incredibly interesting mixture. On the one hand you have to be very harsh with your car by being super-aggressive over the curbs, but you also have to treat it with respect by being very careful with the throttle because of the low downforce.

“Turn 1 is all about braking. You don’t want to out-brake yourself, which can easily happen because the approach is so fast - 340kph (211mph) - and you then have to use the curbs a lot. You must make sure that you make a clean exit because the long straight around Curva Grande follows before you’re back on the brakes from high speed for the second chicane. The braking area is bumpy and you then have to jump over the curbs very aggressively, which is fun.

“You’re in fourth gear for the two Lesmos, which are both very slippery. The first one is slightly banked in your favor, so you have mid-corner understeer followed by exit oversteer. It’s then very important to have a good rhythm through the second Lesmo because it’s very easy to overdrive - and underdrive - the car and you need a good exit.

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The technical challenges of Monza
The emphasis at Monza is on engine power and aerodynamic efficiency. As a result, the team will run a special low downforce aero package, which produces 30 percent less grip than the high downforce generated at the slowest circuits on the calendar.

From a set-up point of view, the most demanding aspects of the lap are slowing the cars from high speed and getting the power down at the exit of the corners. The introduction of the standard Electronic Control Unit this year has had a big impact in both areas of performance, so a good car balance is vital in low downforce trim in order to be quick. The cars also run higher ride heights at Monza to allow the drivers to use the curbs at all three chicanes.

There are two key corners on the lap: Lesmo 2 and Parabolica. Both are followed by long straights and the drivers need to get the power down before the apex of each turn to ensure a clean exit.

Full throttle: 75% of lap
Brake wear: Medium
Downforce level: Low - 1/10
Tire compounds: Medium / Hard
Tire usage: Low
Average speed: 250kph (155mph)


Mugello back-up as Jerez test in doubt
(GMM)  The scheduled group test at Jerez next week is in doubt.

The Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell reports that, following the resurfacing of the Spanish venue's layout, it is yet to be inspected and approved for official testing by the FIA's Charlie Whiting.

The report said Mugello, in Italy, has been earmarked as a back-up venue should Jerez not get the green light before the final in-season test of 2008 is scheduled to begin.

At Jerez on Tuesday, former formula one stalwart Riccardo Patrese is due to test Honda's 2007 car.

The invitation was extended to the 54-year-old Italian after he recently helped Rubens Barrichello mark the breaking of his long-standing record haul of 256 career grands prix.

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