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Talladega announces Truck race sponsor
Talladega Superspeedway today announced that soon to be Dale Earnhardt Jr. sponsor Mountain Dew will sponsor the October 6 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at the track  Talladega Superspeedway


Levi Strauss terminates Johnson sponsorship
Levi Strauss has notified NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson that it will not continue its personal services agreement with him beyond the '07 season.  Levi Strauss has been Johnson's official apparel sponsor since '04.


Minardi team completes 2-day Sebring test
Minardi Team USA drivers Robert Doornbos and ‘Speedy’ Dan Clarke wrapped up their second day of testing at Sebring International Raceway today, completing the squad’s final test of the 2007 season.  

While most of the other Champ Car teams are opting to visit Sebring later in the month, taking some time off after the two European races, Minardi Team USA isn’t resting.  With only the Australian and Mexican rounds remaining, the entire team is preparing itself for an all-important final push in order to finish the season on a high note.

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Rules change propels Pruett to pole
After a 11th hour rules change to give his Lexus engine more power Scott Pruett and the No. 01 Telmex Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley ended Pontiac’s 13-race streak of pole qualifying efforts this season. Pruett is co-driving with Memo Rojas and Salvador Duran this weekend. The No. 99 Gainsco Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty saw its nine-race pole streak come to and end and will start second. Still, Gurney, Fogarty and the No. 99 team, who behind seven victories and 10 pole positions this season hold a one-point lead in the standings over Pruett and the No. 01 team, and a three-point lead over Angelelli and the SunTrust team, made it a perfect 14-of-14 events in which they qualified on the front row.


Spa: Friday Press Conference
Participating: Gerhard Berger (Toro Rosso), Flavio Briatore (Renault), Nick Fry (Honda), Christian Horner (Red Bull), Mario Theissen (BMW Sauber).

Q. To all of you: your reaction to the hearing yesterday and the penalty, and also your reaction if you've read the final judgment published today.

Nick Fry: We were just joking outside that you were going to ask us that question because I think it (the final judgment) was released when we were all sitting on the pit wall, so we suspect most of the audience have read it and we haven't, unless Flavio read it while he was on the pit wall, so we have not seen it.

I think it's very difficult to speak about the judgment itself. My personal perspective is that it's good that McLaren are racing. I think from the Formula One point of view it would be extremely disappointing for all of us if a competitor of that calibre was missing from the grid, so I think that's the good news.

I think we all hope that this is the end of it. Obviously there's a danger it won't be but I think we would be better off focusing on the sport, the entertainment, getting the rules right to help that, getting the engine rules worked out and getting on with life. I hope it doesn't continue to perpetuate.

Q. What about the size of the penalty?

NF: McLaren are very rich, I guess.

Q. If somebody hit you with that penalty?

NF: I don't think I'd be sitting here.

Mario Theissen: Well, what Nick just said is exactly what I said to him outside before. In fact I'm in the same position. I haven't had the chance to read the final judgment, the detailed judgment.

I haven't been involved... we haven't been involved in the case at all. We haven't been there at the hearing. What I know I know from you guys and I'm sure you know more than I do at this point of time. It certainly is a big fine and I can only hope it is over now, although I don't really believe in that.

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SunTrust Team To Campaign Dallara Chassis
 Wayne Taylor Racing, which campaigns the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, announced today that it will be the first team to field a Daytona Prototype chassis produced by Dallara Automobili Spa of Parma, Italy, beginning with Round 2 of the 2008 Rolex Series season.

The Dallara chassis project has been the focus of intensive R&D and aerodynamic studies at the company’s facilities in Italy since March of this year in an effort to bring a competitive package to the Rolex Series in 2008.

“Even though the SunTrust Racing program has enjoyed a highly successful four-year run with the Riley chassis since it came into the series in 2004, it’s clear that the series has evolved to the point where we felt the need to venture into new territory in our efforts to remain perennial championship contenders,” said Wayne Taylor, whose team will run the Pontiac Riley package one last time at the 2008 season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona.

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Another McLaren backer re-pledges team support
(GMM)  Another significant McLaren backer has pledged its continued support to the embattled formula one team.

Following the Woking based outfit's exclusion from the 2007 constructors' championship and $100m fine for espionage, Mercedes-Benz and sponsor Santander said they would continue to support McLaren.

It is now reported by the Spanish news agency EFE that Spanish insurance company Mutua Madrilena, with an estimated $8m per year deal, had similarly re-pledged its support to McLaren in the wake of the FIA sanction.

EFE also cited sources close to Johnnie Walker parent Diageo as explaining that the spy case had not changed its attitude to McLaren, even if the alcoholic drinks company takes the issue "very seriously".

Mercedes' Norbert Haug told the German broadcaster Premiere on Friday: "We are convinced that our partner (McLaren) did nothing wrong."


Oreca announces Courage takeover
During a press conference at Silverstone today Hugues de Chaunac announced that Oreca has bought Courage Competition. The announcement ended a week of rumors regarding Oreca's plans.

In buying out this week the cars’ manufacturer "Courage Competition", Oreca is giving itself the tool and the expertise required for this project to enter into its active phase. The project of the future prototype should be unveiled in early November.

It is an industrial project, with the claimed will to build and to sell prototypes for long-distance racing, in various categories from 2008 onwards. "The buy out of Courage Competition opens interesting opportunities for both companies, not only in the sport but also from the industrial, commercial and strategic points of view," said Hugues de Chaunac, the Chairman of the Oreca Group.

"The 25-years’ experience of Yves Courage in building his own prototypes for the 24 Hours of Le Mans will considerably reinforce Oreca’s chances when tackling this new challenge. This is the reason why Yves’ personal involvement will remain important during the coming months, in order to fully succeed with the integration of a 3rd pole of activities, located in Le Mans, which adds itself to those based in Signes, in the South of France, and in Magny-Cours (Oreca engines’ division). Today, I am proud to claim our determination to become a leading player in long-distance racing."

Yves Courage : "This is a welcome opportunity for Courage cars to be supported by such a strong concern as the Oreca Group. I see it as the best possible option to guarantee the future of a company born through passion and which can only survive thanks to this spirit. But, at the same time, it must develop other activities to prosper. This is what Oreca has been able to achieve with so much success. Together, we can only get stronger !"

Additional info from the press conference:

There will be a presentation of the teams plans in Paris at the end of October;
The team will be named Courage/Oreca from the moment the first car is finished;
The car will be build at the Technoparc in Le Mans;
Customer cars will be built.


Lapierre takes GP2 pole at Spa
1. Nicolas Lapierre DAMS 1m 56.885s
2. Luca Fillipi Super Nova 1m 56.896s
3. Bruno Senna Arden 1m 57.106s
4. Lucas di Grassi ART 1m 57.132s
5. Andreas Zuber iSport 1m 57.221s
6. Timo Glock iSport 1m 57.258s
7. Adam Carroll FMSI 1m 57.291s
8. Kazuki Nakajima DAMS 1m 57.338s
9. Vitaly Petrov Campos 1m 57.410s
10. Giorgio Pantano Campos 1m 57.625s
11. Xandi Negrao Minardi Piquet 1m 57.933s
12. Mike Conway Super Nova 1m 57.966s
13. Ho-Pin Tung BCN 1m 57.975s
14. Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1m 58.017s
15. Sebastien Buemi ART 1m 58.102s
16. Karun Chandhok Durango 1m 58.170s
17. Adrian Zaugg Arden 1m 58.183s
18. Andy Soucek DPR 1m 58.416s
19. Roldan Rodriguez Minardi Piquet 1m 58.483s
20. Kohei Hirate Trident 1m 58.528s
21. Christian Bakkerud DPR 1m 58.839s
22. Ricardo Risatti Trident 1m 58.925s
23. Borja Garcia Durango 1m 58.926s
24. Markus Niemela BCN 1m 59.290s
25. Marcos Martinez Racing Engineering 1m 59.335s
26. Jason Tahinci FMSI 2m 00.087s


Ron Dennis was source of new spy evidence
(GMM) McLaren boss Ron Dennis revealed on Friday that he tipped off the FIA about the existence of incriminating emails that ultimately led to his team's $100m fine and exclusion from the 2007 world championship.

While the identity of the emails' authors - team drivers Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa - has been known for some time, it was thought that the whistleblower might have had a more malevolent motive.

Spaniard Alonso, for example, has reportedly been looking for an exit from his 2008 contract, while Flavio Briatore is keen to reunite the reigning world champion with Renault.

Dennis, however, told reporters at Spa-Francorchamps that he telephoned the governing body on the morning of the recent Hungarian grand prix, which prompted the Paris body to reopen the case.

"Once I became aware that new evidence might exist, I immediately phoned the FIA to keep them informed," he said in Belgium.

Many believe that Dennis' long history of integrity and honesty is reason enough for him to incriminate his own team in such a way.

But as reported earlier, a rumor has been swirling all day in the Spa paddock that Dennis actually pre-empted the disgruntled Alonso, who was at the time threatening to take the offending emails to the FIA.

It has also been suggested on Friday that former McLaren racer Kimi Raikkonen played a role in the espionage case by telling the FIA that McLaren often listened in on Ferrari's scrambled radio messages at races throughout his five year tenure at the team.

Dennis, meanwhile, told reporters on Friday that McLaren had not decided whether to appeal the World Motor Sport Council's sanction.

"We have seven days and are carefully considering the company's position once we have a full understanding of the FIA's findings," he said.


World's best vie for Petit LeMans win
The entry list for the 10th running of Petit Le Mans sparkles with current and past stars from the American Le Mans Series. And this year’s event also is attracting some of the most renowned names from other forms of motorsport including Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan and Graham Rahal.

This year’s IRL champion and Indy 500 winner, Franchitti will return to the American Le Mans Series for his debut on the 2.54-mile, 12-turn Road Atlanta circuit with Acura and Andretti Green Racing. The Scottish star has made an impact in his two previous 2007 starts in the Series. He scored a LMP2 victory for AGR with Bryan Herta and Kanaan at Sebring and also captured pole position in the Series’ first appearance at Long Beach in April. He led 39 of the first 46 laps and posted the race’s fast lap before finishing sixth overall with Herta.

Kanaan also will return to Series competition at Petit Le Mans, his first appearance at Road Atlanta and first sports car race since the Sebring victory. Kanaan finished third in points in the Indy Racing League this season with five wins and two pole positions. He posted the team’s fastest race lap in the Sebring class win at 1:48.335 (122.952 mph).

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Wrangler renews with Earnhardt
As far as the Wrangler brand is concerned, whether or not to re-sign Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the 2008 season was not a difficult decision. Today, Dale Jr. confirmed the feeling was mutual by re-signing as an endorsee for the Wrangler brand. The denim icon will continue its tie-in with Earnhardt Jr. and follow him to Hendrick Motorsports in 2008. For a fifth consecutive season, the Wrangler logo will once again proudly appear on his soon-to-be-announced car and race suit. "When a company like Wrangler acknowledges relationships and history, it really means something," said Dale Jr. "That's why they continue to be a really special sponsor for us. I'm proud to have them back and am looking forward to seeing that Wrangler logo on my car again next year." The Wrangler brand, the official jeans of Dale Earnhardt Jr., is long respected for comfortable, durable and affordable jeans, pants, shorts and shirts and is available at value-minded retailers nationwide. For more information visit www.wrangler.com VF/Wrangler PR


McLaren came close to two-year ban - Bernie
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone revealed on Friday that McLaren came close to being kicked out of formula one during yesterday's World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris.

Rumor was rife on Thursday afternoon that the 26-man FIA body, having found the team guilty of breaching the International Sporting Code in the light of new evidence, had triggered its earlier promise to exclude McLaren from the 2007 and 2008 championships.

F1's chief executive, also member of the World Council, said at Spa-Francorchamps that the rumor was nearly reality.

Ecclestone is quoted as saying by the BBC that the Council came within "minutes" of officializing the verdict.

"It came very close to McLaren being thrown out, it really was a genuine possibility," he said.

"A few of us sort of battled on and campaigned for the ($100m) fine instead."

McLaren also had its constructors' points taken away, and Ecclestone insisted that a similarly hefty fine - that would put many of the smaller teams out of business - would be dished out in future for any more instances of espionage.

"Even if it is a smaller team than McLaren, they're gone, without any hesitation," the 76-year-old Briton said.

"The alternative to the fine was worse, being excluded from the championship for two years. It was much closer than everybody says it was."

Ecclestone reckoned that even Ron Dennis' team, with a turnover nudging (US) $500m a year, would have struggled to survive had it been forced to sit out next season.

"It really would have been bad news," he added. "McLaren would have lost more than they have been fined, if they'd have been able to keep going."

tv news

Weekend USA TV Ratings UPDATE The final USA TV ratings from last weekend were:

NASCAR Nextel Cup: Chevy Rock & Roll 400 ABC  4.2/8 share
IRL: IndyCar Series: Peak Antifreeze 300 ABC 0.9/2 share 

Overnight TV Ratings:
NASCAR Nextel Cup: Chevy Rock & Roll 400 ABC  4.1*
IRL: IndyCar Series: Peak Antifreeze 300 ABC 1.0

*The first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race televised on ABC since July 2000 delivered an increase in ratings and viewership for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The telecast by ESPN on ABC delivered a 4.2 fast national rating with more than 4,731,000 households and more than 6,750,000 viewers.

The households represent a 33 percent increase (up from 3,568,000) and the viewership increased 28 percent (up from 5,288,000) from last year’s Richmond telecast.

ABC won Saturday night in all key adult demographics, and the race delivered ABC its largest Saturday night audience since April, as well as its strongest Adult 18-49 Saturday night audience since December.

ESPN on ABC will have live coverage of all 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, beginning with Sunday’s race at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H. The telecast begins at 1 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown.


Stoner tops Friday practice in Estoril
The top 17 MotoGP riders were separated by less than a second on a very close first day of practice for the Grand Prix of Portugal at Estoril today. The 4.182km (2.597-mile) Estoril circuit provides the challenge for round 14 of the MotoGP World Championship.  Casey Stoner topped the time sheets on Bridgestone tires, followed by Makoto Tamada on qualifying Dunlops and Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa close behind on Michelins. With the track surface conditions expected to further improve, tomorrow’s practice and qualifying sessions promise to be close, exciting and unpredictable.

Pos  Rider             Make           Time      Behind
 1.  Casey Stoner      Ducati    (B)  1:37.950
 2.  Makoto Tamada     Yamaha    (D)  1:37.989  + 0.039
 3.  Valentino Rossi   Yamaha    (M)  1:38.120  + 0.170
 4.  Daniel Pedrosa    Honda     (M)  1:38.201  + 0.251
 5.  Randy de Puniet   Kawasaki  (B)  1:38.287  + 0.337
 6.  John Hopkins      Suzuki    (B)  1:38.471  + 0.471
 7.  Loris Capirossi   Ducati    (B)  1:38.481  + 0.481
 8.  Nicky Hayden      Honda     (M)  1:38.518  + 0.568
 9.  Alex Barros       Ducati    (B)  1:38.613  + 0.663
10.  Sylvain Guintoli  Yamaha    (D)  1:38.630  + 0.680
11.  Chris Vermeulen   Suzuki    (B)  1:38.655  + 0.705
12.  Carlos Checa      Honda     (M)  1:38.669  + 0.719
13.  Anthony West      Kawasaki  (B)  1:38.723  + 0.773
14.  Shinya Nakano     Honda     (M)  1:38.761  + 0.811
15.  Toni Elias        Honda     (B)  1:38.843  + 0.893
16.  Marco Melandri    Honda     (M)  1:38.919  + 0.969
17.  Colin Edwards     Yamaha    (M)  1:39.050  + 1.100
18.  Alex Hofmann      Ducati    (B)  1:39.117  + 1.167
19.  Kurtis Roberts    KR        (M)  1:42.227  + 4.277


Dodge statement regarding Kahne's sponsor
Responding to the media advisory from Gillett Evernham Motorsports that a multi-year sponsorship agreement for Kasey Kahne and the #9 Dodge has been finalized and will be announced on Tuesday, Mike Accavitti, Director – Dodge Brand and SRT Marketing and Communications, issued the following statement: “When Dodge made its return to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2001 with Ray Evernham and Evernham Motorsports, a key component of the program was the sponsorship of the 9 and 19 by our Dodge Dealers. That partnership with Evernham Motorsports has produced significant on-track results and has been a viable platform for our dealer group to showcase the Dodge DNA of power and performance. During the past seven years, the Dodge family has grown to multiple teams with multi-car operations. That’s created new opportunities and challenges for Dodge as we focus on the future and our goal of winning races and competing for the championship in NASCAR’s premier series. Additional sponsorship support of the No. 9 Dodge Avenger, driven by Kasey Kahne, in 2008 gives Dodge the opportunity to redirect valuable resources toward the challenges facing all our teams. We welcome the new partnership and look forward to working with Gillett Evernham Motorsports toward the goal we share with all teams in the Dodge family, the Nextel Cup. This does not change our commitment to be the manufacturing leader in NASCAR’s premier series, win races and consistently contend for the Nextel Cup. We now have the opportunity to apply additional resources to areas that can directly impact the on-track performance of all our teams and expand marketing opportunities for our dealers.” Dodge/ClearBlue PR


Mercedes, sponsor, back beleaguered McLaren
(GMM)  Two of McLaren's most significant backers on Friday pledged their continuing support to the team.

Ron Dennis' Woking based outfit was on Thursday disqualified from the 2007 constructors' championship and fined $100m for its involvement in the Ferrari espionage scandal.

Norbert Haug, competition director for McLaren shareholder and engine partner Mercedes-Benz, told the news agency 'sid' at Spa-Francorchamps: "We continue to stand with our partner and also formula one."

The German also refused to accept that either marque has suffered a blow to its reputation.

He insisted: "I do not believe that people see us as a imitator of others' ideas."

McLaren sponsor Grupo Santander, meanwhile, also played down suggestions that the team may now be facing an exodus of its previous supporters.

The Spanish bank commenced a five-year, $90m sponsor deal with McLaren in 2007.

"We are totally convinced of the personal integrity of Ron Dennis and that of the McLaren team which has over the years shown a high level of professionalism and corporate ethics," Santander director-general Juan Manuel Cendoya told the news agency Reuters.


Spa: Thursday Press Conference

Q: Adrian, how did you feel about the performance of the B-spec Spyker at last weekend’s Grand Prix, the first time you’d run it?
Adrian SUTIL: Well, the last race was not our best race, to be honest. I was expecting more but we had to take all the downforce off and the car was not easy to drive, for sure. I think it will be better here, when we have our normal set-up and we have our proper downforce. I think it should be a little bit better than Monza but we can’t expect too much, because all the teams are developing and trying to improve their cars, so it’s hard to catch up with them. If we find half a second, it will be very good but even then, if we can pass some cars it will be difficult, because the gap to Toro Rosso was one second in Monza. But I’m always positive, so I give my best and hope for the best. We will, for sure, be a little bit more competitive.

Q: Did you test here?
AS: Yes, I tested here. One day. I really liked the circuit and the car seemed to be alright but it was the A-spec car, so it will again be a new experience here.

Q: What are your feelings about your first year in Formula One?
AS: Oh yes, very nice. It’s the best job I can have. I really enjoy every race, it’s very nice to be in Formula One. It’s hard work, different to all the other categories, but it’s perfect, I really feel well. 

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Spa: Alonso tops practice 2
Pos  Driver        Team               Time      Behind   Laps
 1.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   1:46.654            29
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:46.765  + 0.111   29
 3.  Massa         Ferrari            1:46.953  + 0.299   27
 4.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:47.166  + 0.512   26
 5.  Trulli        Toyota             1:47.491  + 0.837   33
 6.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:47.946  + 1.292   34
 7.  Fisichella    Renault            1:48.086  + 1.432   30
 8.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:48.271  + 1.617   29
 9.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         1:48.279  + 1.625   37
10.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:48.567  + 1.913   38
11.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         1:48.606  + 1.952   36
12.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:48.840  + 2.186   32
13.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:48.883  + 2.229   17
14.  Button        Honda              1:48.919  + 2.265   29
15.  Barrichello   Honda              1:49.364  + 2.710   31
16.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    1:49.393  + 2.739   28
17.  Yamamoto      Spyker-Ferrari     1:49.697  + 3.043   32
18.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:49.720  + 3.066   34
19.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:50.168  + 3.514   23
20.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:50.399  + 3.745   24
21.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:50.542  + 3.888   24
22.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:50.865  + 4.211    9


FIA proof reveals driver ’spy’ emails UPDATE Here is the full text of the FIA decision (PDF File).

09/14/07 (GMM) Emails between Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa were central to the evidence that led to the disqualification and $100m fine imposed on McLaren.

The FIA revealed a 15-page dossier of the evidence to the media at Spa-Francorchamps on Friday, which showed that the confidential Ferrari information sent by Nigel Stepney to Mike Coughlan had indeed been used by the Woking based team.

"All the information from Ferrari is very reliable," test driver de la Rosa wrote in one email to world champion Alonso.

"It comes from Nigel Stepney. He's the same person who told us in Australia that Kimi (Raikkonen) was stopping on lap 18."

In another email, this time to chief designer Mike Coughlan, de la Rosa write: "Hi Mike, do you know the Red Car's weight distribution? It would be important for us to know so that we could try it in the simulator. Thanks in advance, Pedro."

Coughlan replied to the email with a text message, and de la Rosa forwarded the information to Alonso, who emailed: "(The weight distribution) surprises me; I don't know if it's 100 per cent reliable, but at least it draws attention."

The evidence also reveals that the drivers discussed Ferrari's flexible wings, aero balance, tire gas, braking system and strategies.

The FIA said Coughlan and Stepney sent 288 text messages to each other and talked on the telephone at least 35 times.

Rumors are swirling in the Spa paddock that Alonso, unhappy at McLaren this year and reportedly keen to break his contract, threatened to take the emails to the FIA before Ron Dennis pre-empted him.


McLaren are guilty as charged
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, After reader your latest Hot News items of the evidence against McLaren in the Spygate case it is clear to me that McLaren are guilty as sin and the punishment fits the crime.  In fact McLaren got off too easy because it is clear now that the drivers were involved and were aware of the stolen information and their points should have been stripped as well.  To only strip the constructors points is a travesty and an injustice given all the incriminating evidence the FIA found against McLaren, its staff and its drivers.  Joe Gonzalez


Move on from spy verdict, experts tell F1 world
(GMM) A trio of experts has advised the formula one world to accept McLaren's penalty and return its focus to the sporting action.

Having occupied the paddock's attention for several months, the espionage scandal reached its crescendo on Thursday when the World Motor Sport Council disqualified McLaren from the constructors' championship and imposed a record $100m fine.

But the reaction to the verdict has now become the centerpiece of the media's coverage of the sport, despite formula one this weekend returning to the historic and hugely popular Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium for the first time in two years.

Triple world champion Niki Lauda is confident that calmer times do await.

"Tomorrow we have qualifying and on Sunday the race, and the sport will again play the main role," the veteran Austrian told RTL on Friday.

He advised: "As soon as the Belgian grand prix is driven, the sport will be out of the background and back on the front pages."

BMW-Sauber principal Mario Theissen also urged F1 to move on.

"It is important that the sport is brought back to the spotlight," he is quoted as saying by the newspaper Lubecker Nachrichten.

And in the midst of some dissenting voices who question the motives and political propulsion of the FIA's verdict, 1982 world champion Keke Rosberg backed the governing body.

"We need a tough sporting authority, a third party, to control our sport," he insisted to Premiere.

"In our case that is the FIA -- and we must therefore respect its decisions," the Finn, whose 22-year-old son Nico drives for Williams, told German television.


Senna tops GP2 practice
Pos  Driver         Team                  Time      Behind  Laps
 1.  Senna          Arden                 1:57.789             8
 2.  Filippi        Super Nova            1:58.290  + 0.501    9
 3.  Di Grassi      ART                   1:58.339  + 0.549    8
 4.  Carroll        FMS                   1:58.677  + 0.887    7
 5.  Lapierre       DAMS                  1:58.747  + 0.958    8
 6.  Pantano        Campos                1:59.157  + 1.367    8
 7.  Nakajima       DAMS                  1:59.184  + 1.394    9
 8.  Zuber          iSport                1:59.409  + 1.619    9
 9.  Glock          iSport                1:59.412  + 1.623    7
10.  Conway         Super Nova            1:59.417  + 1.627    9
11.  Chandhok       Durango               1:59.417  + 1.627    8
12.  Villa          Racing Engineering    1:59.439  + 1.649    8
13.  Risatti        Trident               1:59.557  + 1.767    8
14.  Soucek         DPR                   1:59.589  + 1.799    7
15.  Hirate         Trident               1:59.640  + 1.850    7
16.  Buemi          ART                   1:59.759  + 1.969    8
17.  Rodriguez      Minardi               1:59.916  + 2.126    8
18.  Tung           BCN Competicion       2:00.062  + 2.272    9
19.  Garcia         Durango               2:00.080  + 2.290    8
20.  Negrão         Minardi               2:00.133  + 2.344    8
21.  Petrov         Campos                2:00.374  + 2.584    7
22.  Zaugg          Arden                 2:00.956  + 3.166    4
23.  Bakkerud       DPR                   2:01.144  + 3.354    8
24.  Martinez       Racing Engineering    2:01.719  + 3.929   20
25.  Tahinci        FMS                   2:01.971  + 4.181    7
26.  Markus         BCN Competicion       2:02.162  + 4.372   11


Hunter-Reay Sets League Record
Bucking the growing trend, Ryan Hunter-Reay (#17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone) put potential NASCAR options on hold to join Rahal Letterman Racing in the IndyCar Series in 2007, and immediately showed why he was one of the most-coveted free agents in open-wheel racing. The Floridian scored back-to-back top-seven finishes to start his career and ended the 2007 with another last weekend in Chicago to cement the Bombardier Learjet Rookie-of-the-Year award.
Hunter-Reay received the award and a check for $50,000 at Tuesday night’s IndyCar Series Championship Celebration in Indianapolis. Hunter-Reay became the first IndyCar driver since 2001 to finish seventh or better in his first two series starts, beginning with a seventh-place run in his Mid-Ohio debut. He qualified in the top 10 in each of his three road-course starts and led series rookie in best qualifying result (fifth, Belle Isle) and finish (sixth, Michigan). He also set a series record by winning the honors in just six starts - the fewest ever by a series ROY.
 “I am very proud to have won this award. A couple of months ago when we were putting this deal together, I never expected to be taking this honor,” said Hunter-Reay in his speech to Tuesday’s banquet crowd. “I think we showed what this team and I are capable of and I hope to continue moving to the front next year. This has been a total team effort in winning this award and I hope earning this trophy helps people recognize what a good team this is.”
But swapping a planned stock-car trip to New York for an open-wheel ride in Central Ohio was only half the deal for Hunter-Reay. The driver of the #17 Team Ethanol machine carries the responsibility of promoting Ethanol renewable fuel, something the American-born driver took to eagerly.
“I am proud to be part of the Ethanol movement and I feel very strongly about being in a position to bring the Ethanol message to the public,” Hunter-Reay said. “Getting the opportunity to meet many of the people involved with Ethanol this year has been a great experience for me and I have learned a lot about what each of us can do for our country through the Ethanol movement.”
Hunter-Reay made a number of appearances on behalf of Ethanol after joining Rahal Letterman Racing, ranging from golf outings with vendors to meeting politicians at the opening of one of the largest Ethanol plants in the U.S. Ryan also demonstrated the benefits of Ethanol first-hand, participating in pump tours where he literally pumped Ethanol into cars for customers. RLR PR


Todt wanted bigger McLaren penalty
(GMM) Jean Todt suggested on Friday that McLaren deserved even a bigger penalty for its involvement in the spy scandal.

The Ferrari team he leads released on Thursday a statement expressing satisfaction with the $100m fine and constructors' championship exclusion.

But Todt told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday: "Perhaps I would have preferred more. The evidence was clear."

Even Renault boss Flavio Briatore, however - thought to have been accused by McLaren in recent days of a separate spying offence - said the penalty was harsh.

"I think it is very tough. What else could they have given McLaren that was worse than that?" the Italian wondered.

The editorial in La Gazzetta reckoned that the penalty is about right.

"This is a fair remuneration for Maranello after the theft of its intellectual projects."

Tuttosport does not agree: "A farce," the Italian newspaper wrote. "This is another triumph for sporting unfairness.

"The judgment at first appears Draconian, but on a sporting level it will have little effect. Ron Dennis must do without a title that only interests experts in the first place.

"The fine appears hard, but when you consider the shareholders of the Mercedes-powered team, including those in the Arab world, it is not so bad. In the end only the drivers' title counts, and Hamilton and Alonso are still fighting for that."

'La Repubblica' said the biggest damage is to McLaren's reputation, while the future of Dennis "seems bleak".

'Corriere della Sera' agreed: "McLaren's reputation is destroyed."


Confirmed drivers for A1GP test
This is the list of confirmed participants for the second official A1GP World Cup of Motorsport pre-season test at Silverstone, Great Britain next week - Tuesday 18 to Wednesday 19 September 2007.

The test will run for one and a half days, with sessions on Tuesday morning and afternoon, and a final session on Wednesday morning.

Keep checking back for an updated list as more teams confirm their drivers for what is the final test before the season kicks off at Zandvoort on Sunday 30 September.

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A1GP forced to abandon biofuel test
A1GP officials have said they have identified an incompatibility issue between the new biofuel and current engine, however, they are confident that they have already found a solution to the problem.

The unexpected delay means that teams will not run on E30 biofuel at next week’s official test, however the development car will continue to run on the mixture.

‘In our ongoing biofuel tests we have identified an incompatibility between the engine and our E30 ethanol mix fuel,’ a statement read.

‘We believe however that we have already resolved this problem. We were planning to run all cars on biofuel at our final Silverstone test session on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

‘However, to ensure there is no ongoing quality issue for all our engines, we will instead continue to run the test car only.

‘We are confident that this will resolve the problem, and it remains our intention to run all our cars on biofuel mix for the first race of the season at Zandvoort, Netherlands on 30 September.’


Stoddart: Mosley ruining F1
Australian ex-Formula One team owner and now Champ Car team owner Paul Stoddart has accused the FIA of damaging the sport after it slugged McLaren-Mercedes $US100 million ($A120 million) over the "spygate" drama.

Stoddart, who took on the FIA at the 2005 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne and won, is now a successful Champ Car team owner in the US.

He claims the F1 governing body is heavily biased towards Ferrari.

"What does FIA stand for? It stands for Ferrari International Assistance and that's been proven time and time again to be the case," Stoddart told pitpass.com.

He pointed to the $100 million paid to Ferrari at a time the manufacturers were threatening to walk away and start a rebel series.

"The FIA has consistently helped Ferrari all the way down the line.

"The only difference is that lately it's been so blatant even a blind man can see it.

"And the reality is that it's damaging the sport," he said.

"People are frustrated by what they see as manipulation of the sport.

"Last year when Renault and Alonso won the championships and Mosley's interference came to naught, people were satisfied.

"Had (Michael) Schumacher and Ferrari won, people would have said that the whole thing was a farce.

"There's probably only one person in the sport hated more by Mosley than me and that's Ron.

"Max is a power junkie, I have no doubt about that," said Stoddart who believes Mosley is on the brink of ruining Formula One.

"What he has done so far, in my opinion, has not yet affected the pureness of the sport.

"It's come close ... but this year he's sailing close to the wind," he said.


BMW happy to wait for Glock
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber boss Mario Theissen has vowed to wait on the outcome of Timo Glock's negotiation with other F1 teams before naming a test driver for 2008.

GP2 frontrunner Glock is reportedly close to securing a race drive with Toyota.

"We would gladly continue with Timo, but it depends on his situation," Theissen told reporters at Spa-Francorchamps on Thursday.

"We are leaving the door open for him.  If he finds accommodation elsewhere, then we will find a replacement.

"But there is no reason to hurry, because even with the November tests we prefer to have the actual race drivers in the car anyway," he added.

Theissen has been a vocal critic of the current testing rules that do not allow rising drivers many test miles.

The German revealed that "discussions" are going on about adding 3000-4000 kilometres to the test agreement next year exclusively for young drivers.

"But there is no decision about that yet," he added.

Theissen also said BMW's factories in Munich and Hinwil are now working "nearly 100 per cent" on the development of the 2008 car, given BMW-Sauber's unassailable position in the constructors' title.


SIRIUS Radio Expands NASCAR Coverage
SIRIUS Satellite Radio, the Official Satellite Radio Partner of NASCAR, will provide the most comprehensive radio coverage of the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, broadcasting all ten races live and providing listeners with in-car audio from NASCAR's top drivers as they compete for the coveted NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship.

On Sunday, September 16, SIRIUS will broadcast the first event of the Chase, the Sylvania 300 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race (1:15 pm ET) live from New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, NH on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, channel 128. For all ten Chase races, SIRIUS will provide the live race call on channel 128, plus ten additional Driver2Crew Chatter(TM) channels that will combine the race broadcast with the in-car audio of ten different race teams.

For every race, SIRIUS will provide in-car audio for the top nine drivers in the championship points standings. The tenth Driver2Crew channel will be the "Fan's Choice" and will carry the in-car audio of a driver chosen by fans who cast their vote by logging on to (www.sirius.com/driver2crew). For Sunday's Sylvania 300, SIRIUS subscribers can hear the following:

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Spa: Raikkonen on top, Massa crashes
Opening Formula One practice at the Spa Francorchamps circuit this morning saw Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen at the top of the timesheets followed by the two McLaren racers, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso with Heidfeld Rosberg and Kubica rounding out the top six.

Felipe Massa crashed his Ferrari without setting a time.  The Brazilian went off and into the barriers at the Rivage corner, as did Toro Rosso's Vitantonio Liuzzi a bit later.
A cool morning greeted the drivers here this morning, with ambient temperatures of just sixteen degrees C.

Pos  Driver        Team               Time      Behind  Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:47.339            16
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:47.881  + 0.542   19
 3.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   1:47.994  + 0.655   17
 4.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         1:48.052  + 0.713   20
 5.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:48.372  + 1.033   18
 6.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         1:48.605  + 1.266   20
 7.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    1:48.920  + 1.581   20
 8.  Trulli        Toyota             1:48.994  + 1.655   19
 9.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:49.138  + 1.799   22
10.  Button        Honda              1:49.330  + 1.991   22
11.  Fisichella    Renault            1:49.380  + 2.041   25
12.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:49.548  + 2.209   21
13.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:49.894  + 2.555   23
14.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:49.931  + 2.592   19
15.  Barrichello   Honda              1:50.264  + 2.925   22
16.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:50.482  + 3.143   27
17.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:50.640  + 3.301   16
18.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:50.648  + 3.309   20
19.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:50.768  + 3.429   22
20.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:51.628  + 4.289   12
21.  Yamamoto      Spyker-Ferrari     1:52.379  + 5.040   21
22.  Massa         Ferrari            No time              2


Unlike NASCAR, cheaters get slammed in F1
As witnessed by the severity of the $100 million fine and loss of all points for two years handed down by the FIA World Council against the McLaren F1 team Thursday for cheating, the FIA means business. NASCAR fines for cheating pale in comparison, hence why cheating continues to be a weekly occurrence in NASCAR.


McLaren penalty: the fallout begins
(GMM) The fallout has begun after the FIA on Thursday penalized McLaren for its involvement in the espionage scandal.

The Independent called the $100m fine "Draconian, and clearly designed to grab world headlines". Many English-language websites, including the FIA's, crashed as unprecedented millions of cyberspace readers grappled with the news.

The FIA said it would explain the reasons for the penalty on Friday. The governing body is also expected to announce that the money - to actually be less than $50m once FOM income is factored-out - will be used for its various campaigns, including the FIA Foundation and Institute.

Mercedes-Benz may also contribute to the fine.

"To the outside world this is a ridiculous amount of money," former team owner Eddie Jordan told BBC Radio.

Ron Dennis, though, said even the gravity of the verdict, including his team's exclusion from the constructors' championship, would not lead him to the F1 exit.

"I have absolutely no intention of retiring," he said late on Thursday.

The team boss also said in a statement that McLaren does "not accept" the penalty, because the evidence presented at the World Motor Sport Council showed that the team "did not use" any of the leaked Ferrari information.

McLaren has the right to appeal, but no decision has been made yet. "We believe we've got the ground for an appeal," Dennis' deputy Martin Whitmarsh said.

It is also rumored that the FIA sanction might nullify the drivers' contracts, with Fernando Alonso obviously unhappy in 2007. McLaren might also be keen to offset the huge fine by employing a cheaper driver in 2008 and beyond.

Explaining his Paris absence to the Spanish press on Thursday, Alonso said he was instead in Belgium "because I have to be".

Dennis, however, insisted that there had so far been "no discussion" about varying McLaren's deals with either the Spaniard or Lewis Hamilton.

A more pertinent discussion on Dennis' mind might be with sponsor Vodafone, who are probably unhappy that some of their sponsor millions will be spent on a fine for cheating.

A spokeswoman for the company told The Times: "We need to speak to the team and get a full report on what the way forward will be."

tv news

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

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
The Chase is On - New Hampshire Preview Loudon, NH
12:00am-12:30am (R) SPEED
1:00am-1:30am ESPN2
Formula 1 Practice Belgium
8:00am-9:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Loudon, NH
1:00pm-2:00pm (L) SPEED
Go or Go Home Loudon, NH
2:30pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Loudon, NH
3:00pm-5:00pm (L) ESPN2
NASCAR Live! Loudon, NH
5:00pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
6:00pm-6:30pm ESPN2
Trackside Loudon, NH
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
FIM Motocross - GP of Sweden
10:00pm-11:00pm (7/1/07) The Outdoor Channel

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Spygate - The official World Council statement
An extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council was held in Paris on 13 September, 2007. The following decision was taken:

“The WMSC has stripped Vodafone McLaren Mercedes of all constructor points in the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship and the team can score no points for the remainder of the season.*

“Furthermore, the team will pay a fine equal to $100m, less the FOM income lost as a result of the points deduction.

“However, due to the exceptional circumstances in which the FIA gave the team’s drivers an immunity in return for providing evidence, there is no penalty in regard to drivers’ points.**

“The WMSC will receive a full technical report on the 2008 McLaren car and will take a decision at its December 2007 meeting as to what sanction, if any, will be imposed on the team for the 2008 season.”

The full reasons for this decision will be issued on 14th September 2007.

*Points gained by other teams so far this season will not be affected.
**No McLaren representative will be allowed on the podium should a McLaren driver win in any of the remaining races of the 2007 season.


Estoril Track Preview
The 4.182km Autodromo Fernanda Pires da Silva Estoril is located about 30km from Lisbon on the Atlantic coast, and is renowned as the slowest of the 17 circuits on the current MotoGP calendar.

Estoril was opened in the early 1970s as a European Formula 2 venue, and following that was a Formula 1 track from the mid-1980s to 1996 before then becoming a MotoGP venue in 2000.

But while riders are forced to slow to as little as 60kmh in rounding the Variante chicane, which was added to the layout in 1994, they can also reach speeds of up to 325kmh at the end of the main straight, which is just under 1km in length.

Variante is one of four corners at Estoril that riders have to negotiate in first gear, and there are six more that are taken in second, giving the circuit the lowest average speed of any on the calendar.

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Portuguese MotoGP preview
As Casey Stoner heads into this weekend's Portuguese MotoGP at Estoril, he needs to extend his lead over Rossi in the Championship by 15 points or more to secure the world title. Stoner maintains he is taking it one race at a time, and he can afford to be patient, he has a vice-like grip on the championship. His growing legion of fans can't wait for the 21-year-old to get the job done.

Ideally they'd like him to do it in front of his home fans at Phillip Island on October 14, two days before his 22nd birthday, but he can seal the title this weekend at Estoril if he gets 15 points more than Valentino Rossi. That will happen if Stoner takes his fourth straight win and Rossi finishes sixth or worse. The Ducati rider can even win the title if he finishes second and Rossi worse than 11th.

Those calculations won't have been bouncing around the Ducati garage this week, but there is a real sense of history for the team after the success at San Marino. There is no doubt Stoner has been the most skilful rider on the grid this year, but luck fell his way in the last race with Rossi failing to score a point for the second time this year, and Dani Pedrosa crashing out at the start.

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Dale Jr.’s sponsor and number to be announced
The official announcement of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s primary sponsorship and car number for the 2008 NASCAR season will be announced Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 1:30pm/et in Dallas, TX. The event is not open to the public. Hendrick Motorsports PR


Mercedes boss Norbert Haug has voiced his shock at the FIA's decision to throw McLaren out of the Constructors' Championship following the World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris.

In a show of solidarity, Haug attended the hearing alongside the McLaren delegation and made no attempt to disguise his dismay at the ruling.

"This judgment comes as an extreme shock for all team members and, as demonstrated by the reactions of large parts of the public, the media and Formula One viewers, is a shock for large segments of the public as well," he told reporters.

"We will now fight with all our resolve in order to give a proper response on the circuit, as we last did in Monza, and to get justice before the court."


Gurney Sets Pace
If any of the championship contenders plan to capture the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype championship Saturday at Miller Motorsports Park, they'll have to take it from the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley.
Alex Gurney turned the quickest lap in the GAINSCO machine during today's dual practice sessions, running a fast lap of 2:39.459 (101.277 mph). Teamed with co-driver Jon Fogarty, the pair currently lead the Daytona Prototype championship by just one point over Scott Pruett and by three points over Max Angelelli. Vasser will join the GAINSCO duo in the No. 99 machine for Saturday's race.

Each of the five fastest laps were turned during the morning session. Ryan Hunter-Reay, co-driving with Marc Goossens and Jim Matthews in the No. 91 Riley-Matthews Motorsports Pontiac Riley, turned the day's second-fastest lap in 2:40.760 (100.458 mph).

Pruett, chasing Gurney and Fogarty for the championship, was third quickest in the morning session and for the day at 2:41.036 (100.286 mph). Pruett will pilot the No. 01 TELMEX/Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley with Memo Rojas and Salvador Duran. Jan Magnussen, teammate to championship contender Angelelli, was fifth quickest in the day's session with a time of 2:41.600 (99.936 mph).

Sandwiched between Pruett and Magnussen was No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Lexus Riley driver Oswaldo Negri, who turned in a time of 2:41.432 (100.040 mph).

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Sponsorship fear as team is thrown into turmoil
The richest team in Formula One face paying the biggest fine in the history of sport. Ron Dennis, McLaren’s embattled team principal, was sitting on a sporting goldmine that was blown from under him last night when the FIA, Formula One’s governing body, threw his team out of the constructors’ World Championship and fined them $100 million (about £50 million).

The fine amounts to a quarter of McLaren’s $400 million annual budget – and three times as much as Spyker, the lowest team on the Formula One grid, spends in a year.

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Miffed Ron Dennis isn't taking verdict sitting down
A clearly miffed Ron Dennis says he does not 'accept' McLaren's expulsion from the Constructors' Championship or that the FIA proved the team used secret Ferrari material to their advantage.

After an eight-hour hearing in Paris, the team were stripped of all their Constructors' points and handed an unprecedented fine of $100m.

Speaking at a press conference afterwards, team boss Dennis said:

"The most important thing is that we go motor racing this weekend, the rest of the season and every season. This means that the drivers can continue to compete for the drivers' world championship," he declared in a statement.

"However, having been at the hearing today, I do not accept that we deserve to be penalized or our reputations damaged in this way. Today's evidence given to the FIA by our drivers, engineers and staff clearly demonstrated that we did not use any leaked information to gain a competitive advantage."

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Massa: "At the test we were quick"
While the eyes of the F1 world were on Paris and the World Council Meeting, life goes on as normal for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock. The Belgian event was off the calendar last year while changes were made to the circuit and its infrastructure and so one of the first four drivers to appear "on stage" in the brand new media centre above the pits was Felipe Massa. The Brazilian's Italian Grand Prix was sadly a very short affair last Sunday and the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver went into more detail about the cause of his retirement. "As we said at the time, it was a problem with a rear damper," he confirmed. "Investigation later showed that the damper was completely blocked. The car was behaving strangely and jumping over the track in the corners. We changed the tires but that was not the problem. It was a big shame. But the fault had nothing to do with the way I was tackling the Monza curbs and the damper was of a type we have used before." A final word on the subject of Monza concerned Hamilton's passing move immediately after the start, which the Ferrari man felt was just normal racing: "I did not need to talk to him after the race. He tried to get past me, we touched and that was it."

Asked about his views on the championship situation, Massa repeated that he was still fighting. "I am keeping my head up and will be trying to win as many races as possible. Hopefully, I can be in a position to fight for victory in every race. The championship is still possible, but it would be very difficult. As for this weekend, I think we will be competitive. At the test here back in the summer we were quick and consistent."


Belgian GP - Raikkonen: "I always liked this circuit"
A two times winner here in Belgium, Kimi Raikkonen faced the media in the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro media motorhome on a day when the weather gods, such an important element here, were in a warm sunny mood. The Finn did not want to consider the situation in evolving in Paris, so he had this to say about his championship title chances with four races remaining. "My position in the championship has not really changed in the last couple of races," maintained Raikkonen. "Let's see how we go this weekend, but while it is still possible I will still believe in my chances."

With only a few days having passed since Raikkonen's heavy crash on Saturday in Monza, the journalists were keen to know if he had recovered fully on the physical front. "My neck is better than it was last Sunday, but I will not have a clear idea what condition it is in until after I have driven in tomorrow's practice," said the Finn. "But I expect it will be okay."

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Ferrari statement on verdict
Ferrari acknowledges the decision of the FIA to sanction Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for its breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code.

In light of new evidence, facts and behavior of an extremely serious nature and grossly prejudicial to the interest of the sport have been further demonstrated.

Ferrari is satisfied that the truth has now emerged.


FIA letter to McLaren driver
The FIA has noted the various reports in the international press regarding the discovery of new evidence in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes investigation.

In the interests of complete transparency the FIA has decided to publish the text of the letter written to Fernando Alonso, Pedro De La Rosa and Lewis Hamilton on August 31st, 2007.

It should be clear from the contents of the letter that the three McLaren drivers were required to cooperate fully with the FIA in the completion of its investigation.

It is the duty of all those involved in the sport to ensure the fairness and legitimacy of the FIA Formula One World Championship.


Dear Mr. De La Rosa,
As you will be aware, the FIA has recently investigated whether, how and to what extent McLaren was in possession of confidential Ferrari technical information. The FIA has subsequently been made aware of an allegation that one or more McLaren drivers may be in possession, or that such drivers have recently been in possession, of written evidence relevant to this investigation. In the interests of the sport and the Championship it is important that the FIA as the regulator establishes unequivocally and rapidly whether or not this allegation has any basis in fact.

The FIA therefore formally requests that you produce copies of any relevant documents which may be in your possession or power of procurement and which may be relevant to this case. For these purposes “documents” includes all written materials such as emails, letters, electronic communications, text messages, notes, memoranda, drawings, diagrams, data,. or other material, stored in any physical, “hard copy” or electronic form.

In particular (though without limiting the generality of this request), the FIA wishes to receive copies of any electronic communications (howsoever conveyed or stored) which may be relevant to this case and which make reference to Ferrari, Nigel Stepney or any technical or other information coming from or connected with either Ferrari or Mr. Stepney. In the event that you are aware of the existence or previous existence of any document falling within the above description but are not in a position to produce it, please describe the content of the document in question, the circumstances under which it came to your knowledge and the reasons why you are unable to produce it. In the event that you are unsure as to whether any document falls within the above description, kindly submit it (or a description of it) and the FIA will assist in making a determination.

You will appreciate that there is a duty on all competitors and Super License holders to ensure the fairness and legitimacy of the Formula One World Championship. It is therefore imperative that if you do have any such information, you make it available to us without delay. I can confirm, given the importance of this issue, that any information you may make available in response to this letter will not result in any proceedings against you under the International Sporting Code or the Formula One regulations. However, in the event that it later comes to light that you have withheld any potentially relevant information, serious consequences could follow.

We are sending identical letters to Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. Thank you very much for your co-operation.

Yours sincerely
Max Mosley


McLaren Press Statement on Spygate verdict
"The most important thing is that we will be going motor racing this weekend, the rest of the season and every season. This means that our drivers can continue to compete for the World Championship. However having been at the hearing today I do not accept that we deserved to be penalized in this way."

"Today’s evidence given to the FIA by our drivers, engineers and staff clearly demonstrated that we did not use any leaked information to gain a competitive advantage."

"Much has been made in the press and at the hearing today of emails and text messages to and from our drivers. The World Motorsport Council received statements from Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Pedro de la Rosa stating categorically that no Ferrari information had been used by McLaren and that they had not passed any confidential data to the team."

"The entire engineering team in excess of 140 people provided statements to the FIA affirming that they had never received or used the Ferrari information."

"We have never denied that the information from Ferrari was in the personal possession of one of our employees at his home. The issue is: was this information used by McLaren? This is not the case and has not been proven today."

"We are also continually asked if McLaren didn’t use the information, what was the reason for Stepney and Coughlan collecting all this data about Ferrari? We can only speculate as neither Coughlan nor Stepney gave evidence at today’s hearing, but we do know that they were both seeking employment with other teams, as already confirmed by both Honda and Toyota."

"There will be no issue for the 2008 season as we have not at any stage used any intellectual property of any other team."

"We have got the best drivers and the best car and we intend to win the World Championship."


Stewart and Moss blast McLaren decision
Formula One legends Stirling Moss and Jackie Stewart tonight railed against the decision of the World Motor Sport Council to fine McLaren $100m and strip the team of their points in the Constructors Championship.

However, Hamilton and reigning world champion team-mate Fernando Alonso – who are just three points apart in this season’s championship race with four grands prix remaining – are clear to continue the race for the crown.

Moss, who will be 78 on Monday, said: “I’m absolutely staggered – this is terrible.

“The whole of motor racing has been shaken and the only thing they (the WMSC) have done right is to allow the drivers to keep points.

“Taking the points off the drivers would ruin the whole deal. McLaren are banned, fair enough – but I can’t believe a fine like that.

“Ron Dennis (McLaren team boss) is not an easy man but I feel he’s been done down I do really – I really do not believe he would know about it.

“Okay, he’s the captain of the ship but I would put a lot of my money on his integrity.”

Moss was critical of suspended McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, understood to have received 780 pages of Ferrari technical information passed on to him by Nigel Stepney, sacked earlier this year as Ferrari’s head of performance development.

And Moss, who won 16 grands prix between 1955 and 1961, continued on BBC Radio 5 Live: “Obviously something should be done to the two guys in particular (Coughlan and Stepney).

“The damage they have done to the whole thing is unbelievable – but I’m not convinced McLaren were much enhanced by what they got.

“It’s awful for the public, we are seeing the best racing we’ve seen for years.”  More at Echo News


Keeping NASCAR’s Pedal to the Metal
Many executives might run their grandmothers into the wall at 200 miles per hour to wield the kind of power that Brian France exerts over NASCAR.
Following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father at the head of NASCAR, Mr. France maintains a business that for years has been described as a benevolent dictatorship. Closely held and union-free, NASCAR has become the largest, richest sanctioning body in U.S. motor sports under the France family's watch.

The 45-year-old Mr. France has authored fundamental changes in stock-car racing since taking over as chairman and chief executive in 2003. A transition to a new, more regulated racecar for teams in the Nextel Cup series, NASCAR’s highest level, is meant to keep costs down while improving competition and safety, though racing teams have complained it strips the sport of engineering creativity. A 10-race playoff known as the Chase for the Cup, which begins Sunday in Loudon, N.H., has also received mixed reviews.

NASCAR can hardly be said to be hurting: It is in the first year of an eight-year, $4.4 billion set of TV deals, and NASCAR and its independent racing teams count more than 100 of the nation's richest companies as sponsors. Still, after years of vigorous growth, it is showing signs of slowing. For the second straight year, TV ratings and attendance are down slightly. Merchandising has plateaued. The costs to start a team are soaring. And NASCAR continues to wrestle with balancing its ambitions to expand with the risk of alienating longtime fans. Speaking in NASCAR’s offices here, Mr. France discussed the challenges facing his sport. Excerpts:

WSJ: What's your response to people who say NASCAR is plateauing?

Mr. France: Well, it's more mature than it was five years ago. We're driven more than any other sport on energy prices. Our fans tend to drive a lot further to our events, tend to drive RVs, so there's some sensitivity to that. There's some price sensitivity that comes with that too, of course, with less money in their pocket. But listen, we're talking about instead of having 160,000 people [attend a race], we're talking about 153,000, or something like that. It's a very small drop-off. More at Wall Street Journal


Ferrari 'satisfied', McLaren 'shocked'
(GMM) Ferrari on Thursday said it was "satisfied that the truth has now emerged" after McLaren was punished by the World Motor Sport Council in Paris.

The Maranello based team, which as a result will win the 2007 championship by default, said in a statement that the new evidence presented at the FIA headquarters proved "behavior of an extremely serious nature and grossly prejudicial to the interest of the sport".

McLaren is due to comment at an imminent press conference, but Mercedes' Norbert Haug said briefly on Thursday evening that the team was "shocked" by the verdict.

The FIA, meanwhile, clarified that McLaren will be eligible to score constructors' points again starting from the 2008 world championship, subject to "a full technical report" of the MP4-23 car.

Moreover, the record $100m fine will be lessened by the lost television and travel income that would have been earned by McLaren this year under the terms of the Concorde Agreement.

A team representative will also not be allowed to climb the podium and receive a trophy "should a McLaren driver win in any of the remaining races of the 2007 season," the FIA said in a statement.


Chase drivers deliver Top 12 List on Late Night with David Letterman
These are the Top Twelve "Reasons I Love Racing" that were presented by the twelve NASCAR drivers on the Late Show with David Letterman last night who are in the Chase for the Nextel Cup.  There is also a video posted on the Late Show's website showing the drivers delivering these Top Twelve "Reasons I Love Racing." Top Twelve List 

 Top Twelve "Reasons I Love Racing"   
   12. "We've got special mirrors that show objects the size they actually are"
   11. "Sometimes back in the garages there's horseplay with the airhose"
   10. "Between the G-Forces and the fumes, I'm loopy most of the time" 
    9. "Switch the 'R' and 'C' in 'Racing' and you get 'Caring'" 
    8. "Can hold 8 gigs of music on my new iHelmet" 
    7. "In a pinch, checkered flags make a lovely tablecloth" 
    6. "Two more wins and I get to marry Ashley Judd" 
    5. "You can talk to your car and pretend you're David Hasselhoff" 
    4. "How many people can say their 'office' goes 200 miles per hour?"
    3. "Driving fast and starting fights" 
    2. "It's not one of those sports you have to inject stuff in your ass to be good" 
    1. "Unlike most guys, I like it when my wife says, 'You're too fast'"


McLaren can appeal spy verdict
(GMM)  McLaren can appeal the World Motor Sport Council's decision on Thursday to exclude the team from the 2007 and 2008 constructors' championships, according to information emerging from Paris.

In the latest sensational development of the espionage scandal, the Woking based team - that was comfortably leading the teams' standings from arch rival Ferrari with four races to go - has been stripped of all its points scored so far this year and will also be ineligible to score any in Belgium, Japan, China and Brazil.

McLaren will also be ineligible to score points in 2008, while the MP4-23 will be subject to special strict examinations before every grand prix next year to ensure it does not feature the intellectual property of other competitors.


McLaren DSQ, fined $100m, drivers free to race UPDATE #3 (GMM)  Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton will continue to battle for the 2007 drivers' championship after the McLaren drivers escaped penalty on Thursday in the protracted World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris.

F1's governing body, however, has otherwise come down hard on Ron Dennis' Woking based team, disqualifying it from the 2007 constructors' championship and imposing a record (US) $100m fine.

McLaren will also need to have its next challenger cleared by the FIA before it is allowed to race in 2008.

With BMW-Sauber unable to bridge the points gap to Ferrari in the final four races of the season, it means the Maranello based marque is provisionally the 2007 champion.

BMW's Mario Theissen at Spa-Francorchamps, however, seemed unimpressed with the news that his team would secure second in the championship with such a ruling.

"Even if the history books say something different, for me we will always be in the third place, because two teams were better than us," said the German.

09/13/07 McLaren have been stripped of their points in the 2007 Formula One constructors championship after the outcome of the 'spygate' row.  The team was also fined $100m (£49.2m) and will have to subject its 2008 cars to examination before racing, but the drivers retain their points this year.

09/13/07 (GMM) An hour after the initial reports broke, there is still no official confirmation that McLaren-Mercedes has been excluded from the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

It is now being suggested that the two-year disqualification was just an official proposal of the World Motor Sport Council, and the 26-man body was subsequently due to vote.

Also rumored in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock, some three hours' drive away from Paris, is that the Woking based team will indeed be excluded from the constructors' championship, with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton still eligible to battle for the drivers' crown.

What is clear late on Thursday afternoon is that Hamilton traveled to Spa-Francorchamps after leaving the Paris hearing, but predictably made no comment as he strolled from the paddock gates to the McLaren motor home.

Former McLaren driver David Coulthard commented to the British broadcaster ITV: "I think what we have to do is be very clear in understanding whether the actions of a few are sufficient to bring down a whole company.

"I know Ron Dennis and therefore the McLaren ethos when it comes to the way they compete -- and it's not one of 'let's take that rule and bend it, and turn it back on itself'.

"I also believe that Norbert Haug and Mercedes-Benz have a very high level of sporting integrity. I spent nine years with them, the board members, the chairmen and so on -- they are responsible to a lot of shareholders and the way German companies operate, I cannot believe for one moment that they would poach information from rival teams or use it if it fell into their hands," he said.

The Scot also acknowledged the possibility of a heavy sanction for McLaren, but reckoned that championship leader Lewis Hamilton would take it in his stride.

"I don't know many drivers who fall into deep depression because you've got to move forward," the Red Bull racer quipped.

09/13/07 McLaren have been excluded from the 2007 and 2008 championship. It remains unclear whether the expulsion relates to both the Drivers' and Constructors' Championship, but it is, either way, a huge blow to the Woking team and possibly its drivers. More later.....


Alonso 'no comment' on Paris absence
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Thursday insisted that he is focused on the Belgian grand prix, despite the goings-on in Paris.

The reigning world champion was among a lone few recognizable McLaren figures in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock, as the Mercedes-powered team fights possibly for its medium-term survival at the World Motor Sport hearing.

But even though many believe the health of his championship points tally is in serious jeopardy, 26-year-old Alonso told a news conference that his only thoughts are for the weekend of racing ahead of him.

"I am concentrating 100 per cent on this paddock, this track and winning this race. I won't have two seconds to think (about anything else)," Alonso said in Belgium.

He would not explain why, unlike his teammates Lewis Hamilton and Pedro de la Rosa, he did not also travel to Paris.

"No comment," the Spaniard answered.

"I will not comment (on) anything about what is happening today (in Paris); the answer will be the same as before.

"What can and cannot happen in Paris today ... I'm not in that matter," Alonso said.


Heated morning session at World Council meeting
This morning's session of the World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris was reportedly marred by heated arguments between those present.  According to reports filtering through, much of this morning's session in Paris was taken up by statements from Lewis Hamilton and McLaren's engineering director Paddy Lowe.  However, aside from the set statements there was also a great deal of arguing, although those involved in the heated discussions have not been named.  The hearing broke for lunch and resumed at 2pm with a long afternoon and more heated debates expected.  PlanetF1.com


McLaren lied about not having Ferrari secrets
Mike Coughlan has finally spoken publicly about the Stepneygate scandal, saying he did receive Ferrari's secrets from Nigel Stepney and he did tell McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh's about it and even drew drawings for Paddy Lowe, McLaren's engineering director.

As McLaren face the FIA's World Motor Sport Council in Paris today, Coughlan has publicly revealed potentially damning evidence against McLaren, who suspended him after the scandal broke.

Coughlan has revealed that it was Stepney, Ferrari's sacked chief mechanic, who provided him with the Scuderia's secrets back in mid-March of this year. Stepney, though, has denied this all along.

"He is not a close friend," Coughlan told Autosport. "We are acquaintances who are both in the business of Formula One and have maintained cordial relations over the years.

"Stepney contacted me for the first time in five years on March 1st 2007.

"He subsequently telephoned me and informed me that he was very unhappy with the direction his career was taking at Ferrari and Mr. Almondo's promotion above him.

"But he did not pass any technical information about Ferrari to me until mid-March 2007."

However, once he did pass that information to Coughlan, the Brit showed it to McLaren, something the Woking team has claimed never happened. The information included designs of Ferrari's floor device, a rear wing flap separator, and a technique to lower the floor of the car.

"Details of the floor device were sent to me by email to my McLaren work email address," Coughlan continued. "I showed the email fleetingly to Martin Whitmarsh, who asked me to take up the issue with Paddy Lowe, McLaren's engineering director.

"I produced a schematic drawing for Lowe, which I understand he forwarded to the FIA. The FIA subsequently declared the floor device as falling outside the regulations.

"Details of the rear wing device were also sent by email to me. I briefly showed this email to Lowe. I understand he reported this to Charlie Whiting of the FIA at the Melbourne Grand Prix, but he was of the opinion that the design was legal.

"As for the information about the subtle engineering technique, I felt it was inconsequential and so I did not show these details to anyone." More at PlanetF1.com


Coughlan apologizes to Ferrari
Mike Coughlan has apologized for his actions in the Stepneygate scandal, saying he "sincerely regrets" accepting Ferrari secrets.

Speaking publicly for the first time in months, Coughlan has admitted to obtaining Ferrari documents from Nigel Stepney, although claims he did little more than page through them.

However, that was enough to put McLaren's participation in the F1 World Championship at risk as well as bring an end to his own future in motorsport.

"I sincerely regret my actions in accepting the information from Stepney and the fact that I did not take more steps to stop him providing this information to me," Coughlan told Autosport.

"With the benefit of hindsight, I can now see how I should have handled matters very differently, but at the time, having found myself in an uncomfortable and difficult position, my indecision as to how best to deal with this led me to fail to take proper action at all.

"I wish to apologize to Ferrari. My passion and enthusiasm for race-car engineering design has caused me to exercise poor judgment in my dealings with Mr. Stepney.

"I enormously regret the unfair embarrassment I have caused to McLaren and to my wife.

"I can honestly say that McLaren received no benefit whatsoever in relation to their car or any aspect of its performance and that no use of any of the material has been made in relation to the car."

industry news

Volkswagen makes U.S. its top priority
Volkswagen AG plans to build a Toyota Camry-fighter, a midsize car designed for Americans, as part of an effort to stage a comeback in the U.S. market where it was once a strong player.

Volkswagen will also add a small sport utility vehicle to its U.S. lineup, the Tiguan, which it unveiled this week at the Frankfurt motor show. The new vehicles are crucial to the German automaker's plans to triple its U.S. sales over the next decade to reach 1 million vehicles, 800,000 of them VW-brand cars and trucks and 200,000 Audis. The firm also aims to stop losing money in America by 2009, but its primary objective is to re-establish a strong presence, Stefan Jacoby, new head of VW's U.S. operations, said Wednesday.

"The United States is now our highest priority," he said in an interview on the sidelines of the Frankfurt auto show. "We are strong in Asia, especially in China, we are strong in Europe and we are strong in South America. But one of our weakest areas worldwide is the United States."

Volkswagen still has a strong brand image in the United States, but its U.S. sales have dwindled to around half their 1970 peak of close to 570,000. In recent years, the automaker has fallen behind its Asian competitors after allowing its U.S. lineup to grow stale, and failing to respond to changing U.S. market conditions. Detroit News

industry news

Ford: British brands must go
Ford Motor Co. does not plan to retain a stake in its Jaguar and Land Rover brands once those units are sold, according to Lewis Booth, head of the automaker's European operations.

Addressing analysts in Frankfurt Wednesday, Booth said Ford hopes to complete the sale of its two British luxury brands by the end of the year -- or the beginning of 2008 at the latest. Sources close to the situation told The Detroit News that Ford has asked prospective buyers to submit their final bids by the end of this month.

"We're selling the business because we need the money and we need the focus," Booth said. "So, we're not going out there with the intention of keeping an equity stake."

Ford kept a small stake in Aston Martin when it sold that brand earlier this year.

Booth added that Ford is continuing its "strategic review" of its other European luxury brand, Sweden's Volvo, and hopes to complete that process by year end.  More at Detroit News


San Jose fallout UPDATE   09/12/07  

While critical, the Purdy article gets to the heart of the matter – the organizers were losing money and were not going to receive a larger government subsidy. The development in the area is being used as a cover. If the race was in the black, the promoters would have petitioned to move the race to the HP Pavilion parking lot or maybe even the underutilized Moffett Field airfield in neighboring Mountain View. Both sites were discussed as potential venues in the past.

To us, it seems like they allowed Champ Car time to save face and negotiate the move to Laguna Seca. Considering that attendance shot up when the race was moved to San Jose, this has to be seen as a sideways move at best. Of course the cost to run a street race is magnitudes higher than on a natural terrain road course (which has no setup and dismantling costs). On another note, this has to hurt whatever might be going on in Orlando as we hear that San Jose City leaders knew about the Phoenix cancellation.

Many traditional Indy Car and Champ Car fans never felt that these powerful cars belonged on a street course, having originally been designed for high speed ovals and natural terrain road courses. While there is magic on the streets of Long Beach, Surfers, and Monaco, it takes a very special street circuit layout (think Adelaide, Australia) to make a street venue work. We have seen too may fail due to the high setup and dismantling costs (without the requisite corporate backing) and poor sight lines for fans.

If Champ Car wants to have a successful street race, go to Adelaide, Australia like we said years ago - on back-to-back weekends with Surfers. Both will be huge successes. Otherwise, as we are already seeing, Champ Car will move back to natural terrain road courses, both here and abroad, where the cost to put on an event is far less. If Champ Car does add a new street race, expect it to be far more scrutinized than in the past. The series cannot afford the negative PR from any more failed events and Las Vegas appears to be the next to get the axe unless the right forces are brought to bear to ensure its success.


A lap of Spa with Lewis Hamilton
The first ever Belgian Grand Prix was held on the 18th of June 1950 and was the fifth ever race in Formula One history. The 492.8 kilometer race was won by Juan Manuel Fangio in an Alfa Rome with the Argentinean repeating this success twice in 1954 with Maserati and 1955 with Mercedes.

In 1968, McLaren founder Bruce took the first Formula 1 World Championship victory for the marque, which had been established two years previously. Mika Hakkinen won the 2000 race in the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-15 after overtaking Michael Schumacher and lapping Ricardo Zonta in a single maneuver. One year earlier, Mika's team mate David Coulthard had won the race.

The first race in Spa was planned in 1921; only a single starter registered and so the first car race in the Ardennes did not take place until 1922. The race was last held here in 2005 where Kimi Raikkonen took the checkered flag in the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-20. He also won the race in 2004.

Here the team’s rookie racer, Lewis Hamilton takes us on a lap around the Spa Francorchamps circuit…

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Brembo braking card for Spa
Ahead of this weekend's race, to the right is the Brembo ID Card of the SPA-Francorchamps circuit, offered by Brembo, which contains some very interesting information and data about the circuit and the technical features of the braking systems (e.g. braking distances, braking times, initial and final speeds, maximum deceleration and discs temperatures).


Speakerbus increases support of Super Aguri team
The SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM is proud to announce that it has strengthened its relationship with Official Team Supplier, Speakerbus, with immediate effect, taking the partnership into 2008 and beyond.

Speakerbus, who already provide SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM with race intercom technology, has increased its investment in the Leafield outfit and will now continue to support and work closely with them throughout the 2008 season. Speakerbus will further enhance the Team’s communications capability by developing a bespoke wireless interface to their race intercom, increase the intercom capacity between the race circuit and the UK factory and expand the existing intercom system installed in the garage and pit lane at each race and test.

Based in Hertfordshire, England, Speakerbus has been a worldwide supplier of global communication solutions for the most demanding sectors for over 20 years.

Understanding the importance of team communications in investment banking, security and defense markets, Speakerbus tailored their proven IP voice technology – presenting SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM with instant, clear communications between their key team personnel working in the team’s garage during Grand Prix race weekends and tests.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Rodriguez tests Spyker at Silverstone
  • Hamilton, not Alonso, travels to Paris
  • Coulthard calls for wing tethers
  • Drivers should not be punished says official
  • McLaren accuses Renault in new spy case
  • Europe asks China to stop F1 smoking
  • Brawn among F1 faces as spy hearing starts

Rodriguez tests Spyker at Silverstone
(GMM) Prospective future Spyker racer Roldan Rodriguez on Wednesday tested a formula one car for the first time.

It was rumored recently that the 22-year-old Spaniard, thought to carry as much as $15m in sponsor funds for a 2008 race drive, was a candidate for a seat with the Dutch team next year.

The GP2 driver on Wednesday completed a 50km shakedown at the wheel of the new B-spec car on the short Silverstone layout.

"Roldan performed well," said team boss Colin Kolles.

"We were very impressed by his professional approach and attitude and the team really enjoyed working with him. He gave some excellent feedback that we will be able to integrate into our program for the future."

Hamilton, not Alonso, travels to Paris
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton, but not his 2007 teammate Fernando Alonso, will appear for McLaren on Thursday as the World Motor Sport Council meets to consider 'new evidence' in the espionage saga.

It is believed that the 22-year-old championship leader will be used as a character witness, as speculation mounts about possible hefty penalties for the Woking based team, including total exclusion from the 2007 season.

Alonso, meanwhile - although his email evidence is thought central to the case - will be at Spa-Francorchamps ahead of the Belgian grand prix. His Spanish countryman Pedro de la Rosa, on the other hand, will like Hamilton be in Paris.

Details of the 166-page FIA evidence dossier has continued to leak into the media, with the Daily Mail apparently quoting from an email from engineering director Paddy Lowe to test driver de la Rosa.

"Let's try these new things," Lowe reportedly wrote to the Spaniard, referring to tire use and brake balance.

"They are from Ferrari. Nigel Stepney has sent them to Mike Coughlan."

It also emerges that Stepney and Coughlan not only met once at Barcelona earlier this year, but conversed several hundred times by email, telephone and text-message, particularly before races.

Some of their email conversations reportedly had to be reconstructed after they were deleted from computers, and Italian investigators believe they also met face-to-face several times.

A McLaren spokeswoman would not comment on the reports, but it is known that Mercedes' Norbert Haug met for 30 minutes with FIA president Max Mosley at the Frankfurt motor show earlier this week.

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ING Race Index: Spa
Ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps on September 16, ING issues its Race Index, which assesses race features including the circuit itself, level of driver difficulty, engineering requirements and vehicle setup. According to the Index, which rates circuits from a low of 0 to a peak of 100 points, the Belgian Grand Prix ranks 1st on the ING Race Index, with 81 points overall. The circuit features one of the most famous and dangerous sections of any racing track in the world, the Eau Rouge complex. Watch Video: ING Race Index Spa


Lewis Hamilton called to 'spy' hearing
Lewis Hamilton is to be called as a shock witness in McLaren's defense at today's 'spygate' hearing before the World Motorsport Council in Paris. Such is the degree of concern about the outcome, McLaren have produced their trump card on a day that potentially could have catastrophic consequences for Hamilton, his team and Formula One.

The sport's highest authority has been assembled for the second time in six weeks to hear new evidence in the dispute between Ferrari and McLaren. In July the council found McLaren to be in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code as a consequence of chief designer Mike Coughlan's allegedly unauthorized possession of a 780-page dossier of confidential information about Ferrari.

As there was insufficient evidence to prove that the contents had been made available to and used for the benefit of the team, the council levied no sanction. The new evidence is believed to centre on emails allegedly transmitted between McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa and additional information sourced in Italy.


June 21: Ferrari announce the launch of a criminal investigation against their head of performance development Nigel Stepney.

July 3: Stepney is dismissed by Ferrari, who later allege a link between Stepney and McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan, over the "theft of technical information".

July 4: FIA launch their own investigation into the matter.

July 10: Coughlan, in the High Court in London, is accused by a lawyer representing Ferrari of "behaving disgracefully" with regard to the copying of 780 pages of technical information.

July 12: FIA summon McLaren to answer a charge of unauthorized possession of documents belonging to Ferrari.

July 20: McLaren submit a full account of their role in the saga to the FIA.

July 26: McLaren escape punishment after the FIA decide there is insufficient evidence.

July 31: FIA president Max Mosley refers the case to the Court of Appeal.

Sept 5: FIA announce because of "new evidence", the World Motor Sport Council will meet in Paris on Sept 13, with the Court of Appeal hearing withdrawn.

Sept 7: It is reported the fresh evidence centers around an email exchange between Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa. More at Daily Telegraph

industry news

Fiat ready to help Tata
Italian carmaker Fiat is ready to lend technical support to Indian partner Tata in an eventual bid for Land Rover and Jaguar, the premium brands which Ford Motor is putting up for sale. “If Tata is interested in Jaguar and Land Rover, we are ready to provide technical support,” a Fiat spokesman told reporters attending the Frankfurt International Motor Show.

The spokesman clarified a comment made to reporters earlier in the day by Fiat chief executive Sergio Marchionne during a tour of the exhibits set up by the automaker’s various brands.

In response to a question about Fiat’s interest in Land Rover and Jaguar through a Tata bid, Marchionne had joked: “For completely different reasons, we are interested in both.”

Last weekend, Fiat chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo had told reporters that the Italian automaker was not interested in the two British-based brands.

Tata, a major partner for Fiat in India where they both make cars and engines, would be one of several potential bidders for the two brands. A source familiar with the matter has said Mahindra & Mahindra and US buyout firms TPG and Ripplewood have expressed interest. Ford plans to have more details on the sale of Jaguar and Land Rover by the end of 2007 or early 2008. India Times

Team USA

TEAM USA scholarship winner Patrick Barrett reports
My Formula Palmer Audi Test in England

When teammate Joel Miller and I first landed at Heathrow International Airport outside of London on Saturday September 1st, we immediately got the sense that we had arrived in England when we stopped at the currency exchange booth. The rate was approximately $2.00 to 1.00 pound. After that was dealt with, we were picked up by a Palmer Sport employee named Neil who transported us to a town near Donington Park. It was that night we felt the first phase of jet-lag.

We spent all day Sunday at Donington Park watching a round of the Formula Palmer Audi Championship. In between races we got to tour the Donington Grand Prix Collection which showcased historic and modern formula cars and motorcycles. The most stunning part of the tour was walking into the McLaren Hall which featured over two dozen McLaren Formula One cars including the car which Ayrton Senna used to win the 1993 European Grand Prix at Donington Park. Also included is a collection of Williams F1 cars, the Tyrell six wheeled F1 car as well as statue of Senna and Juan Manual Fangio standing together.

The remainder of our trip was either spent at a bed and breakfast, just outside of Bedford, or at the Palmer Sport complex located at the Bedford Autodrome.

On Tuesday we finally got a chance to drive the Formula Palmer Audi. Though Joel and I only had from 5:00 to 7:00 PM , the sun stayed up long enough to give us plenty of time to learn the car. One notable experience with the FPA was the turbo. It’s something that not too many formula cars have, but driving a car that had such power, 300 horsepower and turbocharged, was quite demanding. It definitely teaches a driver to be patient with the throttle and not to over drive the car. By the end of the day I had logged in over 50 laps on the 1.8 mile course. My forearms were sore from the extra effort it took to drive this car.

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ALMS names VP of Marketing and Brand Development
The American Le Mans Series today announced the appointment of Edward Triolo to the newly created position of Vice President of Marketing and Brand Development. Triolo has been associated with the Series in various capacities since its inception in 1999, including the creation and execution of sponsor activations, team management and public relations as well as his most recent Series position as Senior Director of Business Development.

Triolo's responsibilities will encompass the Series' marketing, research, advertising, corporate partner fulfillment and brand development.

In making the announcement, American Le Mans Series President and CEO, Scott Atherton said, "Creating the position of VP of Marketing and Brand Development is an extension of our Series' substantial investment in growth not only as the premium brand of American motorsport, but also as the most consumer- and manufacturer-relevant form of the sport. As the American Le Mans Series builds momentum and value for our constituents, we have promised our stakeholders incremental investments in the technology and people needed to further advance our brand quality and brand experience. Creation of this new position is one example of fulfilling that promise.

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A1GP Team Ireland announces new sponsor
A1 Team Ireland's fresh assault on The A1GP World Cup of Motorsport was launched today when the team unveiled its new sponsor Belmayne and the spectacular A1GP car in striking green and white livery during a photocall with A1GP Grid girls at The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin. Key among the announcements was the news that Ralph Firman, former Jordan Formula 1 driver and principal driver for A1 Team Ireland in the first season, will drive for Belmayne A1 Team Ireland in the opening round of the series at Zandvoort, Holland, on 30 September.

A1 Team Ireland has secured a title sponsor for 2007/08 season -- LM Developments. The sponsor will use its development in North County Dublin, Belmayne as the named titled sponsor. Commenting on the sponsorship, Director Donal Caulfield said: "LM Developments is genuinely delighted to sponsor A1 Team Ireland for the 07/08 season. A1 GP is an incredibly exciting new sport and for us, it is a great alignment for our new development scheme at Belmayne".

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industry news

European car makers ask for eased emissions targets
The head of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said European automakers support plans to lower carbon dioxide emissions, but said Wednesday it would take a major effort to meet a 2012 EU deadline.

"The EU objective to bring carbon emissions from cars down to 120 grams per kilometer is achievable through an integrated approach and we fully support that route," said Sergio Marchionne, who is also chief executive of Fiat SpA.

Marchionne spoke at the International Motor Show in Frankfort, flanked by other European auto executives -- including DaimlerChrysler AG's CEO Dieter Zetsche and Renault SA Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn.

The EU's executive arm said it will set a binding target early next year because it was not satisfied with the car industry's voluntary goal to cut average emissions for new and imported cars to 140 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2008.

The current average is around 162 grams per kilometer.

Manufacturers are asking for "an integrated approach" that would include a 130 gram target -- a cut of 18 percent -- paired with tax incentives to encourage the use of biofuels to reach the 120-gram level. More at Detroit News


An Interview with KURT BUSCH
DENISE MALOOF:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I'm Denise Maloof from NASCAR public relations, and we are joined here in the Talladega Super Speedway media center by our 2004 series champion Kurt Busch, who is like his peers in the second day of a Car of Tomorrow test at Talladega, and we will look ahead a little bit to the first race of the Chase at the New Hampshire International Speedway this weekend. 
First I want to welcome everybody to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series weekly teleconference.  I'd like to give you another conference that's very important this afternoon, it is the ESPN on ABC Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup conference at 3:00 PM, 1-800-289-0572.  Your conference ID number is 718123. 

Kurt, three years ago when you won your title, you also won the first Race for the Chase at New Hampshire and that portended your Chase that particular season.  How important is that first event coming up this weekend? 
KURT BUSCH:  I think the first few events of the Chase are very important.  To get off to a good start is key.  I just feel that you're not, I guess digging out of a hole so to speak.
So it's great to start off on a good foot and I'm excited about New Hampshire and some of the success I've had in the past and just getting the Chase underway.  It's been a hard-fought battle just to get into it, and we feel refreshed and ready to go.  It's almost like we pressed the reset button, and now we have got another ten weeks where we have to charge hard.

DENISE MALOOF:  What have you learned at Talladega? 
KURT BUSCH:  It's been very interesting.  Speedway testing sometimes gets a bit painful with the single-car runs.  But it's different enough to where you have your thinking cap on and you're trying to make your Speedway car as fast as you can make it, even though that it is a Dodge Avenger, it's still going to  –  still going to have four rubber tires sitting on the racetrack, and away you go.
The draft is a bit different.  The draft seems easier to get into, but then it seems just as easy to lose the draft.  And so I guess the draft has a bigger swing when you have a car that creates more drag. 
So, I'm excited about it.  It's going to change the element of how Talladega races, and I think it will be twice as exciting, and I think there's going to be big packs for most of the time and then there's going to be times when the pack is spread apart.  And if you have pit stops, if you have one little mishap on your pit sop, you lose the chance of hanging in the draft.  So pit stops will be very important, and how you get on and off pit road will be that much more of a presence.

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NASCAR slows speeds at Dega
NASCAR slowed speeds Tuesday on the car of tomorrow at Talladega Superspeedway, where only half the field topped 190 mph on the second day of the test session.

With a smaller restrictor-plate, only 27 drivers went over 190. Paul Menard turned the fastest lap of the day at 193.045 mph in a Chevrolet. Speeds reached 196 mph on Monday, and 44 drivers topped 190 mph.

“We have the tools to slow them down. NASCAR did a good job with that,” driver Ryan Newman said. “Basically we’re just acclimating the car to the race track.”

“It drives like it’s on a rail,” Carl Edwards said. “We have to work on the visibility through the cars. You can’t see anything in front of you when you’re tucked up behind somebody. But other than that, it seems fine.”

Several drivers said the COT already is acclimated to restrictor-plate racing in terms of bump drafting. Because of the uniformity of the cars, the bumpers match perfectly, which the drivers speculated should allow for more and possibly safer bump drafting.

“You’re going to see a lot of bump drafting – a lot of bump drafting – just because of the way these cars are built and the way the bumpers line up,” Casey Mears said. “I think the race is going to be good, and it’s going to be a big ol’ tight group like always.”

“I’m excited about (the COT),” 2004 series champion Kurt Busch said. “It’s going to change the element of how Talladega races, and I think it will be twice as exciting.”

Tuesday Afternoon Speeds

Pos No. Name Make Best Tm Best Spd
1 15A Paul Menard Chv 49.605 193.045
2 5A Kyle Busch Chv 49.652 192.862
3 29B Kevin Harvick Chv 49.693 192.703
4 21B Ken Schrader Frd 49.731 192.556
5 9A Kasey Kahne Dge 49.784 192.351
6 01A Aric Almirola Chv 49.785 192.347
7 19B Elliott Sadler Dge 49.807 192.262
8 70H Johnny Sauter Chv 49.831 192.170
9 96A Tony Raines Chv 49.854 192.081
10 34 Kevin Lepage Dge 49.854 192.081

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