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First phase of Yas Island F1 project
Abu Dhabi: Parts of the Formula 1 race track, grandstand, marina and the tunnels have already begun to take shape on the 2,550-hectare Yas Island which will be staging the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 in the UAE in 2009.

The media were briefed on the progress during a tour to the island where construction is in full swing and the first phase seems headed for completion by 2008-end.

Speaking to the media persons, Ronald Stephen Barrott, CEO of Aldar Properties, developers of the unique race track and the adjoining facilities, said he was delighted with the pace of construction.

"Phase one of this project, which includes construction of the Formula 1 race track, allied facilities, seven hotels to accommodate around 2,200 persons will be completed by the end of 2008," said Barrott.

While Abu Dhabi has signed a seven-year deal to stage a Formula 1 event from 2009, the official date will be decided when the calendar is drawn up next year.

Full swing

"Work is in full swing and enormous land filling has already given shape to parts of the track which in some places will be elevated to about 10 meters - the highest on a circuit.

"Over 33 per cent of the retaining wall for the marina is complete and we are confident that we will be ready by end December, 2008," he said.

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ESPNEWS, ESPN360.com to have live coverage
NASCAR fans will be able to watch live coverage of Wednesday’s media announcement by Dale Earnhardt Jr. on cable channel ESPNEWS and on ESPN360.com, ESPN’s signature broadband service. Coverage from Dallas begins at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Earnhardt is expected to announce his sponsor (Mountain Dew and Amp) and car number (88) for his new association next year with Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

Full coverage and reaction to the Earnhardt announcement will be included in Wednesday night’s edition of NASCAR Now, ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information show, at 6 p.m.

ESPN on ABC will have live coverage of Sunday’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway beginning at 1 p.m. Live coverage of Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series race at Dover airs at 3 p.m. 


Capello likes new Road Atlanta surface
As if Audi needed any more help winning at Road Atlanta, Dindo Capello’s eyes lit up when talking about the new racing surface at the famed north Georgia track.

“There is lots of grip,” said the Italian, who boasts 29 career P1 wins including all three appearances at Petit Le Mans. “Audi always has been good here. It’s very fast which is good for our R10 TDI. The simulation shows that we should do very well here.”

Capello and Allan McNish will try for their second straight Petit Le Mans win and wrap up their second straight P1 crown together in the 10th running of the 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance classic. The duo has won seven times in class this season but is looking for its first overall win in the Series since St. Petersburg in March.

Repaving the fast and challenging circuit was a focal point of a major renovation and capital improvements project at Road Atlanta during the winter.

Prior to repaving, the concrete barrier block walls on both sides of the lower part of the Esses (a signature set of turns 3-5) were moved back as much as 30 feet to provide additional run off areas for competitors. Also prior to repaving, all of the track’s concrete patches were dug out and filled with a gravel base and asphalt along with extensive milling of the old surface, especially in the corners, to give the new asphalt surface better adhesion all around the track. Curbing was repaired or replaced and the back half of the main paddock and front entrance parking lot was repaved.

The 10th running of Petit Le Mans, the annual 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance classic at Road Atlanta, is set for 11:15 a.m. ET on Saturday, October 6. SPEED will provide live coverage from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 6:30 to 10 p.m. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA’s Live Timing and Scoring will be available at www.americanlemans.com.


Kit Kat bars to feature Earnhardt UPDATE Unveiled yesterday at the All Candy Expo in Chicago is Dale Jr.’s' own brand of chocolate bars. They will be called BigMo' in reference to his hometown of Mooresville. Available in two flavors -- creamy caramel and peanut butter -- starting next January. The bars are manufactured by Pennsylvania based R.M. Palmer Company, which has been in the chocolate business for 40+ years.

Dale Jr. held an industry press conference today to talk about his signature chocolate bars, their development, and his excitement about his new racing team. He specifically spoke about his involvement with developing the chocolate bars, not only their flavor, but also the fact that you can break them into pieces and each piece will have a consistent taste.

There will also be a "Big Mo'ment With Dale Jr." sweepstakes where the winner will get a tour of the race shop, have lunch with the team, and watch the race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Dale Jr. is off to Dallas, TX tomorrow to reveal his car number and new sponsors.

09/18/07 If you're a Dale Earnhardt fan and you like chocolate, you'll likely love the new "collector edition" Hershey bars that will hit the market in January.

Hershey Co. unveiled four bars featuring different images of Earnhardt, two Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar designs, one Hershey's Milk Chocolate with Almonds bar design and one Kit Kat wafer bar design.

The images span the career of the seven-time NASCAR champion, including an image of the No. 3 Chevrolet with which Earnhardt won the 1998 Daytona 500. Also, the candy bars will feature a design that include Earnhardt's signature and the stylized No. 3. Hershey will invite consumers to make a donation to the Dale Earnhardt Foundation through an online charity event.

The bars will be available in January at retail outlets nationwide, Hershey said. The promotion will run through May 2008. Scenedaily.com 


A1 Team Switzerland sign title-winning F1 engineer
A1 Team Switzerland has signed James Robinson to engineer for the forthcoming season. The 47-year-old Yorkshireman boasts an impressive motor racing career, winning World Championships as a race engineer with Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve. He has also engineered two victories in the Le Mans 24 Hours, with McLaren in 1995, and Bentley in 2003. In recent times Robinson has worked outside F1, engineering Bruno Senna in F3 in 2005 and Mike Conway in 2006 with Raikkonen Robertson Racing. He is also working in GP2. More at Grandprix.com


16-race 2008 IRL IndyCar schedule
 IndyCar Series drivers will again face one of the most diverse schedules in all of motorsports as Indy Racing League officials have completed a 16-race slate for the 2008 IndyCar® Series season.

The schedule, which will have races on 11 ovals, three permanent road courses and two temporary street circuits, includes all but one venue which hosted the IndyCar Series in 2007.

"We look ahead to the 2008 season knowing that the IndyCar Series offers the most diverse schedule in all of motorsports," said Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations division for the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IndyCar Series. "Our schedule demands the ability of both drivers and teams to master a variety of venues and the challenges each one brings with the end result being a true champion."

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A1GP testing: New Zealand team on top
Silverstone, Great Britain – A1 Team New Zealand stormed to the top of the time sheets at the Silverstone circuit on the first day of the final A1GP official test, ahead of the start of the 2007/08 season.

New Zealand’s Jonny Reid set the pace this afternoon with a blisteringly quick time of 48.102s, breaking the lap record for an A1GP car around the National circuit by eight hundredths of a second. The previous lap record of 48.182s was set in 2005 by A1 Team France driver Alexandre Premat.

Reid commented: ‘Today we have just been trying things for longer runs and for qualifying runs and also just to see what the cars can do and we found some interesting things. The car was fantastic in the final run but there are definitely some areas where we can improve tomorrow.’

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Bill Auberlen on Petit LeMans
Bill Auberlen and Road Atlanta need no introduction. The lead driver for Panoz Team PTG’s American Le Mans Series effort has made nine starts in the Series at the track, the annual site of Petit Le Mans. Auberlen is a two-time winner in the 1,000-mile/10-hour endurance classic with class wins at the first race in 1998 and again in 2001. He would like nothing more than to add a third win to an already impressive record in the American Le Mans Series.

Road Atlanta on his mind:
“It’s great. If you have a good car it’s even better. If you’re in the front it’s even better. The Panoz always runs quick there. We’ve won a race there and it’s a very challenging track. You have two different speeds – LMP cars and GT cars. So there could be a 30-40 mph speed difference between the two. To watch them cohesively get together on a track is a feat in itself.

Homecoming for Panoz:
“You always want to do well in front of your sponsors, the people that make the car, work on the car and touch the car. They’re all going to be there. We’ll have a lot of visitors and a lot of people. Pretty much for me, I want to win every weekend so there’s not that much a difference. But you really, really want to do it for the guys.”

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Glock tops Day 1 at Jerez
Timo Glock kicked off the final official test of the season in Jerez in Spain on Tuesday with the quickest time for BMW Sauber. Nick Heidfeld will take over for Glock tomorrow.  Testing continues for 2 more days.

Pos  Driver       Team                 Time      Laps
 1.  Glock        BMW-Sauber          1:20.606  71
 2.  Liuzzi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari  1:21.280  90
 3.  Buemi        Red Bull-Renault    1:21.309  59
 4.  Montagny     Toyota              1:21.555  72
 5.  de la Rosa   McLaren-Mercedes    1:21.651  46
 6.  Piquet Jr    Renault             1:22.009  63
 7.  Barrichello  Honda               1:22.020  79
 8.  Nakajima     Williams-Toyota     1:23.177  87
 9.  Badoer       Ferrari             1:23.432  36


Revised 2008 F1 calendar
The FIA has released a slightly revised calendar for the 2008 season. The two minor changes are swaps between the Belgian and Italian Grand Prix dates and the same for the Japanese and Chinese events. Monza will be the last European race next season with the Belgian Grand Prix held at Spa a week earlier. The Chinese Grand Prix will now be the second last race of the year coming after, instead of before, the Japanese GP. There are still three provisional events listed - Canada has yet to secure a commercial agreement while the two new race weekends (Singapore and the European Grand Prix at Valencia), have yet to secure track approval.

2008 calendar:
March 16, Australia
March 23, Malaysia
April 6, Bahrain
April 27, Spain
May 11, Turkey
May 25, Monaco
June 8, Canada
June 22, France
July 6, Great Britain
July 20, Germany
August 3, Hungary
August 24, Europe
September 7, Belgium
September 14, Italy
September 28, Singapore
October 12, Japan
October 19, China
November 2, Brazil


Rahal to drive for father’s team at Petit LeMans
HILLIARD, Ohio - Growing up reading about the exploits not only of his fabled father, but of versatile racing superstars like Dan Gurney, Mario Andretti and Mark Donohue, Graham Rahal gained an appreciation for the guys that were fast not only in their own cars - but in pretty much any car that came along.   

Now as an 18-year-old star-in-the-making, Graham Rahal will grab the opportunity to follow in those famous footsteps as he takes time out of his Champ Car schedule to join the Rahal Letterman Racing road-racing program for this year’s Petit Le Mans.   

Like he did in the team’s American Le Mans Series season opener in Sebring, Rahal will partner with Tom Milner and Ralf Kelleners for an assault on the ALMS GT2 class victory in this year’s Petit Le Mans. The event, which takes place October 3-6 at Road Atlanta, will pit the team and its Bell Micro-sponsored Porsche 911 GT3 RSR against the field in a race that ends when the first car completes either 10 hours or 1,000 miles.  The event will not conflict with the end of his Champ Car season, which resumes October 19-21. Rahal is currently fifth in the Champ Car standings and is second in the fight for the series’ Rookie-of-the-Year award.

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Budweiser confirmed for Kahne
Budweiser announced Gillett Evernham Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne will become the next world-class racer to take the wheel of the iconic red Budweiser car when the 2008 Sprint Cup season kicks off in February. "Budweiser has a long and storied history with NASCAR and some of its most successful drivers. We're excited about Kasey's ability to add to that outstanding lineage," said Tony Ponturo, vice president, global media and sports marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. "Along with team owners George Gillett and Ray Evernham, we feel the pieces are in place for the #9 Budweiser Dodge to contend for NASCAR Sprint Cup championships for years to come."

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industry news

Leno to test BMW Hydrogen 7
BMW today announced that Jay Leno became the latest person to receive keys to a BMW Hydrogen 7 - the first hydrogen-powered luxury sedan.  The Emmy-winning comedian and host of The Tonight Show  received his BMW Hydrogen 7 at his famed car garage in Burbank, California, which is fittingly a "green garage" that receives a
great deal of its energy from steam power.


Honda tries radical wing
On Tuesday Formula 1 teams will be at Jerez for a three-day test session to prepare for the two Asian races in Japan and China. The Honda F1 team completed a couple of laps on Tuesday morning with a new front wing, a wing that was first seen in Spain at McLaren and last week the Williams F1 team completed its first race with the 'bridge-wing'.  It is very likely the Honda Formula 1 team will be testing the new front wing this week in Jerez and use it at the Japanese Grand Prix at the end of the month if it proves to be an improvement.


McLaren decides to drop Hungarian appeal
(GMM) After twenty four hours of uncertainty, McLaren has finally withdrawn its scheduled appeal against the stewards penalty dating back to the Hungarian grand prix.

The FIA's International Court of Appeal, which was making preparations for the Paris hearing on Wednesday, announced in a statement on Tuesday that Woking based McLaren "notified (the Court) this morning that they wish to withdraw" he appeal.

Boss Ron Dennis in Spa-Francorchamps suggested that he wanted "closure" on the various controversies that have dogged the Mercedes-powered team in 2007, after McLaren was kicked out of the constructors' world championship and fined $100m for espionage.

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MWR hires Technical Director, open to partner
Michael Waltrip hired Dr. Eric Warren as technical director, the first of many moves he hopes will strengthen his three-car team. Warren, who has a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from North Carolina State University, spent the last five years as technical director at Evernham Motorsports. He was replaced midway through this season as team owner Ray Evernham refocused his energy on building cars to help his slumping team. Warren's hiring fills a role that has been vacant at Michael Waltrip Racing since he began hiring late last season. ``It was a job we wanted to fill when we first started, but we didn't feel like the right person was available to choose from,'' Waltrip told The Associated Press on Monday. ``Eric is a special dude. He'll help us out immensely.'' As more and more team owners take on partners and look at mergers as a prudent way to maintain the company, Waltrip said he's not ruled out taking on investors. But he doesn't want to sell majority ownership of his team, and is only interested in an equal partnership that would allow him to continue the vision he has for MWR. ``I've certainly had a lot of people come to me saying, `We want to invest in you.' But it ends up sounding like they want to take over,'' he said. ``That doesn't interest me. A true partner would interest me -- half you, half me. You have your responsibility and I have mine. There's a lot of people that are interested in our sport, and I'll just hopefully keep improving our product and if someone is interested in being part of it, I'll listen. But for me, today, right now, the right deal hasn't come along.'' Waltrip said he plans to field three Cup cars and a Busch team next season, and has verbal commitments for Jarrett and Reutimann to be behind the wheel. But he acknowledged there are no contracts finalized, but he's moving forward as if all three will be back  More at AP/Yahoo Sports


Mercedes backs McLaren
McLaren's engine partner Mercedes will offer the Woking based team its total support despite being found guilty in the Ferrari spygate case. When asked if Mercedes would continue to remain enthusiastic about their presence in Formula 1 Mercedes Motor Sport vice-president Norbert Haug confirmed: "Of course we do. This is not up for discussion. We also stand by our partner McLaren. And we refrain from putting the blame on anybody."

Speaking to the Guardian Haug furthermore said McLaren will not have to worry to see Mercedes withdrawal from the sport. "No worries at all. And I don't see any sign of the image problems some say we are supposed to have. On the contrary, we get a lot of support and encouragement from outside."


Latest F1 news in brief
  • We're not champions yet says Ferrari
  • FIA vows to probe new espionage claim
  • Hamilton should fear Alonso - Spanish press

We're not champions yet says Ferrari
(GMM) Ferrari has confirmed that it does not yet see itself as winner of the 2007 constructors' championship, despite mathematically clinching the title in Belgium.

"As long as there is the possibility for McLaren to present an appeal against the World Motor Sport Council decision we cannot be defined as world champions," said spokesman Luca Colajanni.

It has emerged in the Bahraini press that the Woking based team's decision will only be made after consultation with key investors, including the government owned Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, which owns 30 per cent of McLaren.

A McLaren spokeswoman confirmed that Ron Dennis was scheduled to speak to Bahrain officials before Thursday, the deadline for an appeal.

The formula one world is also waiting on whether McLaren will go through with its announced appeal over points exclusion from the Hungarian grand prix, after the pit stop incident involving drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

The spokeswoman would not comment on the pending decision, while a spokesman for F1's governing body suggested that the FIA was also waiting to hear from McLaren.

The FIA has also announced that complete transcripts of the espionage hearings, with confidential information to be removed by McLaren and Ferrari on Monday and Tuesday, will then be released to the media on Wednesday.

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Todt warns McLaren not to appeal
Ferrari boss Jean Todt has warned bitter rivals McLaren to appeal at their peril and risk the prospect of seeing Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso kicked out of the drivers' championship.

After being handed a record £50million fine and stripped of all constructors' points for this year for their role in the spy saga, McLaren are mulling over the prospect of an appeal.

The fact the drivers were not punished was due to FIA president Max Mosley offering them immunity in return for information.

However, should McLaren boss Ron Dennis opt to pursue the issue, a Court of Appeal panel - comprising three independent judges - might not be so lenient.

Even Mosley stated over the weekend he would have booted out the two McLaren stars, but for his own promise.

Todt has also condemned the sanction as he said: "If you go deeply into this sad story, you realize it's a very soft sentence.

"In an appeal you only have lawyers. If they (McLaren) do appeal, my personal feeling is the result should be different.

"It will be very important to see if they appeal or not. If they do I think it would change the drivers' situation quite a lot.

"Even the president of FIA confirmed the penalty was soft, but we know in this business a lot of things are taken into consideration and I can understand that.

"It's much better to have a championship with all the drivers - I'm not arguing about that.

"But lots of things were taken into consideration in order to favor the championship more, rather than this single bad case." Sporting Life


SPEED to air Earnhardt Jr. Press Conference
SPEED will interrupt regular programming Wednesday afternoon at approximately 1:30 p.m. ET to present a live press conference with Dale Earnhardt Jr. from Dallas. Anchored by SPEED’s Steve Byrnes from the network’s Charlotte studio, Earnhardt is expected to disclose additional information about his racing plans in 2008 with Hendrick Motorsports, including his sponsor and car number. At the conclusion of the press conference, SPEED will return to regular programming in progress.

tv news

"NASCAR in Primetime" a failure
"NASCAR in Primetime." After just a few shows, this behind-the-scenes NASCAR summertime series drives off into the sunset. Ratings weren't good enough to generate an extension. NY Daily News

team usa

Barrett and Miller to test Atlantic Car
The opportunities keep coming for 2007 Team USA Scholarship winners Patrick Barrett and Joel Miller.

Last month, Barrett, 17, from Los Osos, Calif., and Miller, 19, from Hesperia, Calif., learned they will carry the Scholarship’s patriotic red-white-and-blue colors in the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy series to be held later this fall in England.

The two Californians will test a Star Mazda car for Andersen Racing prior to their European foray, and tomorrow will broaden their experience and further enhance their preparations by testing a US RaceTronics Champ Car Atlantic Swift 016.a at Buttonwillow Raceway in central California.

The test has been officially blessed by the Champ Car Atlantic Championship and has been made possible with assistance from Champ Car, Cosworth USA, Cooper Tire, Buttonwillow Raceway and, especially, Pacific Coast Motorsports as part of its burgeoning commitment to developing a true "ladder of opportunity."

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Wallace back in the #88 at Dover
Kenny Wallace will be driving the #88 Snickers Ford at Dover.  Ricky told the team on Friday that he won't be healed enough by Dover to race. After that it is still a race by race decision, making sure Rudd is healed enough not to put himself in a worse position in case of another accident. Kennywallace.com


Champ Car and Laguna try for long-term relationship
"This (2008 race at Laguna Seca) will be one I'd love to be a fan and just sit in the Corkscrew and watch," Champ Car World Series President and CEO Steve Johnson said last week. "We need to put on the best event we can with the intention of working out a multiple-year agreement."

Raceway CEO/General Manager Gill Campbell said the focus needs to be solely on 2008 at this point. "Beyond that depends on a lot of factors," she said. "We have to focus on the short-term now."

She further said that it is her desire to help make the 2008 event an unforgettable experience for everybody. And, after that, "We can put together a business plan for the future that makes sense to everyone." Monterey Herald

[Editor's Note: Fan turnout will strictly be based on the popularity of the drivers on the grid.  If Champ Car puts together a stellar field of drivers for 2008 that have a fan following, attendance will be good.  If they hire drivers with the biggest checkbook but no fan following, they will fail at the gate.]


Brooks to oversee NASCAR media group
NASCAR officials announced Monday that Paul Brooks would take over day-to-day responsibilities of the sanctioning body's Charlotte, N.C., office and spearhead development of the new NASCAR Media Group.

The new media group represents a merger of NASCAR Images, NASCAR Digital Entertainment and other affiliated content groups. Brooks will serve as president of NASCAR Media Group, in addition to his current role as president of NASCAR Broadcasting.

All broadcasting, new media, licensing and consumer products, automotive aftermarket and publishing departments will report to Brooks, NASCAR said.

"The development of the NASCAR Media Group, NASCAR Plaza and NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C., combined with our ongoing commitment to best serve the licensing initiatives of our entire industry, creates a unique opportunity in our sport's future," NASCAR Chairman Brian France said in a news release. "I have great confidence in Paul Brooks and his ability to lead these initiatives into the future. Paul's contributions to NASCAR and this sport over the past 14 years are significant, as are his relationships throughout our entire industry." NASCAR PR 

Brooks' current responsibilities in the areas of public relations, public affairs and diversity will shift to chief marketing officer Steve Phelps.


NASCAR.COM broadens reach to Spanish audience
NASCAR.COM announced today the launch of NASCAR.COM en Español, a tailored Spanish-language Web site featuring all the latest news, highlights and action that fans have come to expect from the sport’s leading Web site.  NASCAR.COM en Español (www.nascar.com/espanol) will use the same format as NASCAR.COM with a home page, news page, video page and archive section to deliver up-to-the-minute news as well as articles and features about the all the action and excitement of NASCAR.

Also available on NASCAR.COM en Español will be the popular NASCAR 24/7, a daily broadband video update of news, highlights and storylines from the day in NASCAR.  The video will be hosted in Spanish by Carolina Escobar, current anchor for CNN en Español and a correspondent on NASCAR.COM.  In addition to duties on NASCAR.COM en Español, Escobar will continue to host En Familia, a half-hour program on CNN en Español that serves as a guide to parents, and Adelantos, the network’s show dedicated to covering of the latest developments in the world of science and technology.

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FIA presses ahead with McLaren's Hungary points appeal
(GMM) F1's governing body is pressing ahead with preparations for McLaren's appeal against the stewards penalty that was handed down in Hungary.

The Woking based team was docked its constructors' championship points in Budapest, following Fernando Alonso's pit stop obstruction maneuver against teammate Lewis Hamilton in qualifying.

But even though the Woking based outfit was last Thursday kicked out of the constructors' world championship for espionage, the FIA announced on Monday that the McLaren appeal "will be heard on Wednesday 19 September 2007" in Paris, as earlier scheduled.

Team boss Ron Dennis has not yet decided whether to appeal the World Motor Sport Council's spy verdict, so going ahead with the Hungary appeal may not be as futile as it appears.

But even if McLaren does not appeal its championship exclusion, the 15 points deprived of the team in Hungary might be crucial for the team in offsetting the $100m fine.

The World Motor Sport Council clarified in its verdict last Thursday that the record fine would be "less the FOM income lost as a result of the points deduction".

Formula One Management income is calculated each year based on a team's finishing position in the constructors' championship standings.


SPEED signs deal with HorsePower Tee Shot Tour
SPEED has reached an agreement with Texas-based HorsePower Sports Marketing to produce six original episodes of competition between eight of the golf world’s biggest hitters paired with some of the biggest names in Nextel Cup racing to form the HorsePower Tee Shot Tour beginning in the summer of 2008.

“This is a very cool opportunity to bring together the best of two very different worlds to create something new and unique,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “And to be able to do it in a truly competitive format will make it a lot of fun for fans of both sports.”

“Power Golf” is a new concept which allows performers of all skill levels to participate. Both the pros and players will compete from the same teeing area and attempt to drive the golf ball long and straight to accumulate points for their team.  The racers have their own scoring system and the “Power Golf” pros have an accelerated system in order to earn valuable points.  Their earned points will be accumulated each event and also be accrued throughout the series of events in order to determine an overall championship team.

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GP2 Asia Series: Our philosophy
The GP2 Asia Series, which begins in January 2008, will be an exciting new racing championship, designed to bring the highest level of one-make single-seater action to the emerging motorsport nations in the Middle East and Asia.
The concept of the GP2 Asia Series is to bring the excitement and potential of the world’s foremost Formula One feeder category to the emerging motorsport nations of the world, and to provide a step on the ladder to aspiring young drivers from the Middle East and Asia.

“The philosophy of the GP2 Asia Series is to expand the successful concept of the GP2 Series to the emerging motorsport nations. These high potential regions will benefit from the incredible racing which the GP2 Series has set as its hallmark, but at a much reduced cost,” said Bruno Michel: GP2 Asia Series Organizer. “As Formula One expands further into Asia and the Middle East, the GP2 Asia Series will be perfectly placed to act as its support event at an increasing number of races, as we strive to promote the best emerging talents in Asian motorsport. Part of this commitment to the promotion of drivers from Asia is reflected in a specific regulation for the GP2 Asia Series, which will ensure that at least one race seat per team is filled by a driver from this part of the world.”

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Spa a victory for fairness says Italy
(GMM) Luca di Montezemolo lit the path for Italy's reaction to the Ferrari-one two in Belgium, mere days after championship rival McLaren was kicked out of the teams' battle for spying.

The Maranello based marque's president dedicated the win, although headed by Kimi Raikkonen, to the "English gentleman" who thought it odd that the wife of McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan was using his shop's facilities to copy 780 pages of Ferrari information marked confidential earlier this year.

"Without him it would never have been possible to shine the light onto one of the worst pages in the history of motor sport," Montezemolo said.

"Title won by the honest fighters," cheered Corriere dello Sport. "Long live Ferrari."

With McLaren's points tally reduced to zero last Thursday in Paris, Raikkonen and teammate Felipe Massa's formation finish at Spa-Francorchamps made it mathematically impossible for new second place constructor BMW-Sauber to close the gap in the last three races of 2007.

"This is a result that gives us at least a little justice," Ferrari parent Fiat's managing director Sergio Marchionne told an Italian newspaper.

But the title will only be official pending the expiry of McLaren's right to appeal, although Ron Dennis hinted at Spa that he wants "closure" rather than the prolonging of the damaging scandal.

His Ferrari counterpart Jean Todt suggested: "In his place I would try to avoid finding myself in front of more lawyers.

"The judgment was too mild."

The Gazzetta dello Sport editorial added: "After the Paris judgment, Ferrari earned this perfect victory.

"The disappointment of Monza is forgotten: with hard work the team has won the constructors' title."


Racing calendar revealed for Speedcar Series
The brand new Speedcar Series will feature an eight-date, 16 race calendar on tracks across Asia and the Middle East for the championship's debut season, beginning on November 3.

Speedcar Series will be supported by the first-ever GP2 Asia championship at the five race meetings scheduled between the start of 2008, and the season finale on April 28. The racing weekends will be named "Grand Racing" events.

The inaugural Speedcar season will begin at the Bahrain International Circuit, before moving to the Dubai Autodrome on November 17 for the Dubai Motorsport Festival, with another venue to be confirmed on December 16.

The teams will return to action at the Dubai Autodrome on January 26 together with GP2 Asia, before making the trip to the Sentul Circuit, Indonesia, on February 17. Both series will then link up with the Formula One World Championship rounds at the Sepang Circuit, Malaysia, on March 22, and Bahrain on April 5. The first Speedcar Series season will come to a close at the Dubai Autodrome on April 12.

Benoit Lamonerie, Speedcar Series General Manager, said: "A great-deal of hard work has gone into putting this calendar together and it is a fantastic achievement by all those who have been involved in this project. May I pass my sincere thanks to all the circuit promoters who are welcoming us to their venues. The combination of the cars, the region, the timing and the exciting names is sure to guarantee the success of Grand Racing events. Speedcar Series and GP2 Asia is a fantastic package, and will allow us to deliver first-class race meetings to all the motorsport fans in the Middle East and Asia."


  Date        Circuit        Country Events
1 03/11/2007 Bahrain         BHR Speedcar Series
2 17/11/2007 Dubai Autodrome UAE Speedcar Series
3 16/12/2007 tbc             tbc Speedcar Series
4 26/01/2008 Dubai Autodrome UAE Speedcar Series + GP2 Asia
5 17/02/2008 Sentul          INA Speedcar Series + GP2 Asia
6 22/03/2008** Sepang        MAL Speedcar Series + GP2 A
7 05/04/2008** Bahrain       BHR Speedcar Series + GP2 A
8 12/04/2008 Dubai Autodrome UAE Speedcar Series + GP2 Asia

* Subject to FIA approval
** FIA Formula One World Championship event


Mosley, Hamilton, disagree over 'tainted' title
(GMM) Max Mosley said he would have preferred to see Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso kicked out of the 2007 title chase, because their championship win will be tainted anyway.

The FIA president revealed at Spa-Francorchamps that most of the "lawyers" at the World Motor Sport Council hearing, including himself - as distinct from those with purely racing backgrounds - last Thursday wanted McLaren totally excluded from the season, after the team was found guilty of cheating.

"They argued: how can you give the world champion's cup to someone who may have had an unfair advantage over other drivers?" he said on BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek program.

"There will always be a question mark over it, there has to be, because nobody knows how big an advantage they had from that."

Mosley said British rookie Hamilton will agree that this year's contest has been tainted by the spying affair.

"I think he will probably feel more comfortable if he wins a subsequent championship, which I am sure he will, without any of these question marks," he said.

"That (McLaren) had an advantage is almost beyond dispute."

But Hamilton, after seeing his three point advantage over Alonso whittle down to two points at Spa on Sunday, said he does not agree.

"I don't really have anything to say to or about Max Mosley," said the 22-year-old.

"We've all worked hard this year. The way I feel is that the team has done nothing wrong -- and neither have I.

"I don't see why people should say, if I win, it's a tainted championship."

Hamilton, however, had to admit to underperforming in comparison to Alonso in Belgium and also Monza a week earlier, but suggested that he was perhaps more affected by the espionage scandal than was his teammate.

"I feel more attached to the team, I guess, and I care a bit more," he told reporters.

"I just need to pull my socks up. I think I just need to refocus myself."

Hamilton also said Alonso was making use of his experience in closing down the points deficit in the closing races of a title chase.

"I don't know whether it has caught me out but, for sure, experience is always an advantage," he said.

"But in the last couple of races I haven't been able to really fully fine-tune the car and really feel 100 per cent so when that happens you're bound to lose some time."


Penske making excuses for Hornish
Team owner Roger Penske says his gut tells him he wants to move Indy Racing League driver Sam Hornish from the Indy Racing League to NASCAR Sprint Cup racing next season. Hornish failed to qualify for the Sylvania 300 today at New Hampshire International Speedway and is scheduled to run at least four more races this year (all car of tomorrow events).
"We'd like to go," Penske said. "We're going to look at the facts, but be honest with him and be honest with the team.

"He practiced well. He had a couple of good tests. We're sure disappointed he didn't make it, but we didn't make the Indy 500 in '95, and we're still here. So don't cut your wrists."

The three-time IRL champion will have to get into the races on speed the rest of the year.

"The discussion with him was, 'Don't overdrive it in qualifying,'" Penske said Sunday at NHIS. "I think that he probably didn't realize that he is probably going to have to over-drive it in order to get in.

"That's part of the learning curve. We're on our plan. We said we would run him five or six races until the year. That way, he could make a personal decision if this is what he wants to do and then we'll make a move. The good news is we have some flexibility."

Penske said there is a chance that Hornish could be entered in another race after he missing NHIS.

"Every bit of track time he can get will only make him better if he runs," Penske said. Scenedaily.com

[Editor's Note: How many times do we have to say that we don't rate Hornish whatsoever. All his IRL wins were on 100% throttle tracks, which take no talent. Now in NASCAR he has to actually drive the car (i.e. feather the throttle, brake, slide the car) and the results to date speak for themselves. His results on the IRL road courses also speak for themselves.]


Stewart will wait on contract extension
Tony Stewart just wants to concentrate on trying to win a third Cup title and not worry about a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing - for now. "I'm not even going to work on it any more until this season is over - seriously," said Stewart, whose current contract runs through the 2009 season. With Gibbs switching next season from Chevrolets to Toyotas, there has been some speculation that General Motors would try to get Stewart back on one of its teams in 2010, but Stewart has been outwardly supportive of the change. For now, Stewart said he just wants to focus on the next 10 races. Canadian Press/Associated Press


Stewart's car almost failed inspection
For a few frightening minutes, all the smiles that came with a third-place finish at New Hampshire had disappeared off the faces of Tony Stewart's No. 20 teammates.  After rolling the car into the postrace inspection bay in the New Hampshire International Speedway garage, the crew was suddenly faced with some sobering news: The left front fender was too low, and the evidence was right there for all to see.
Their faces turned to stone. But since NASCAR gives teams multiple attempts to get through inspection, the crew wheeled the car back around to the back of the garage.

NASCAR inspectors surrounded the car, and officials began to drift over. Nextel Cup Series Director John Darby was on the scene, then NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton walked over and was followed closely by NASCAR President Mike Helton.

The inspectors and Darby examined the car further with a fender template, then brought the car back into the inspection bay. A couple dozen people gathered around this time, and NASCAR allowed the car to pass inspection on the second try.

Though the car was indeed too low, NASCAR ruled that it was caused by race damage.

"We got hit in the right front fender [during the race]," crew chief Greg Zipadelli said. "And they put the fender template on there and put the gauge on there and everything was fine. Thank God it wasn't worse than what it was." Scendaily.com


Hamilton wins came as a result of cheating
Lewis Hamilton has rejected Max Mosley's claim that winning this year's Formula One world title will be tainted by the spy scandal.

FIA president Mosley claimed Hamilton would not feel comfortable should he go on to become the first rookie champion in the sport's history.

Mosley also insisted there would forever be a question mark over the championship as he believes McLaren "effectively cheated".

After seeing his lead over McLaren rival Fernando Alonso cut to two points after Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, Hamilton said: "I don't particularly have anything to say to, or about, Max Mosley.

"But I feel this is a worthy world title. We have all worked hard this year and the way I feel, the team have done absolutely nothing wrong.

"I have taken the opportunity I have been given, and just done as good a job as I could with it.

"I don't see why people will say, if I win, it is a tainted championship." Sporting Life


Press goes hard on Alonso, McLaren
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso had a hard time on Monday after cutting his championship deficit to Lewis Hamilton to just two points in Belgium.

"Liar!  Extortionist!  And his reward should be the world championship?" German daily Bild, referring to the Spaniard's involvement in the espionage scandal, exclaimed after Sunday's race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Britain's The Sun turned its attention to his first-lap driving in the fight for position with McLaren teammate Hamilton.

"Alonso's tactics are the pits," the tabloid headline read.

The Daily Mirror, meanwhile, revealed that Alonso was offering each of the 15 mechanics on his side of the garage $1300 for every race in which he beats Hamilton to the flag.

It is reported that Ron Dennis "vetoed" the idea instantly because "it was divisive for team morale".

Read more & Comment...
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Quotes of the week
BERNIE ECCLESTONE, President and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Association
"It came very close to McLaren being thrown out, it really was a genuine possibility," Ecclestone said.  "A few of us sort of battled on and campaigned for the ($100m) fine instead.  Even if it is a smaller team than McLaren, they're gone, without any hesitation," Ecclestone added.  "The alternative to the fine was worse, being excluded from the championship for two years. It was much closer than everybody says it was."  (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 the future for any more instances of espionage.)

"Everyone can have an opinion, and this was the opinion of the majority," Mosley said, "but the simpler solution would have been exclusion for 2007 and 2008."  He said it is his "personal opinion" that McLaren "logically" should have also lost the drivers' points as well.  Mosley admitted that, "for the fans", however, it is better that the four-way battle for the 2007 crown was left intact.

"I’ve know Ron for 40 years, it’s very difficult for me when somebody I’ve known for 40 years looks me in the eye and says ‘Max I’m telling you the truth,’ with complete sincerity. And you believe him. It was only when I got the list from the Italian police, 323 SMS phone calls going over a three-month period between Couglan and Stepney. I thought there has to be more to this. You don’t get 300 messages arranging a visit to Honda. This is something serious. At which point I sat down and wrote the letter to the drivers. And then the rest is history.  I’m just trying to run a fair and proper sport, and make sure there isn’t any cheating as far as I am able, and the World Council are the same. Something like this is very difficult, because a team like McLaren can have the best lawyers you can get your hands on, unlimited budget, they come in with literally tons of paper, half a Finnish forest has probably been cut down just to provide the paper. And it’s extremely difficult when you’re a relatively small organization like we are to deal with that. But we made a great effort, and we did deal with it.

“It’s a warning to everybody, all the teams, that that sort of spying is not going to be allowed. But you see that’s the great difficulty, you don’t know. They say for example in the e-mails, you’ve seen it, let’s try the wing, it’s two or three tenths, let’s try the brake, it's two or three tenths, let’s try the weight distribution, it’s probably more. Even if you were just two-tenths of a second quicker because you had that information than you would have been if you didn’t have it, just because of that, if you look at the grid and how close it is the whole season, it could completely change the championship. I’m responsible to the other teams. We’re the people who are supposed to make sure that it’s all fair and properly run. I think what we did actually was arguably less than we should have done, but it was the majority view on the World Council.

"In essence, what is done by people working for you in your company belongs to your company.  And those people are not allowed to go outside your company and use it for somebody else if it's confidential.  And all of this is covered by contracts, actually the individuals concerned.  But, of course, where we get involved is when there is action which interferes with the sport where, for example, you've got a team with, not only their own intellectual property, but somebody else's as well and they add those two together.  And if that happens to be the intellectual activity of their leading competitor, then of course that's serious."

Read more & Comment...

Rossi wins at Estoril
Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi took a wonderful win at Estoril this afternoon following a brilliant battle at the front with Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa - to temporarily put Casey Stoner’s title celebrations on hold.

The bwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal saw Rossi dueling with Pedrosa throughout the final stages of the race, eventually crossing the line just 0.175s in front of the Spanish rider to claim his fourth victory of the season and his first win since Assen in June.

The result was great news for Yamaha with Rossi making the most of his recently updated M1 800cc prototype machinery - with its new pneumatic engine - answering the critics in style after his Misano setback.

Third placed Stoner will have to put the champagne on ice for now as he saw his advantage at the head of the general standings drop to 76 points, but the young Aussie nonetheless rode with great maturity to secure the final podium spot and he will still be confident of clinching the title over the next two rounds.

With pole man Nicky Hayden finishing fourth at the scene of his 2006 heartbreak, Michelin demonstrated improved competitiveness with three riders in the top four. Another solid run from Honda Gresini’s Marco Melandri resulted in a top five finish, whilst John Hopkins came home sixth having started in his lowest grid position of 2007 in tenth.

Spanish pair Carlos Checa (Honda LCR) and Toni Elias (Honda Gresini) were seventh and eighth respectively, with Ducati Marlboro’s Loris Capirossi and Fiat Yamaha’s Colin Edwards completing the top-10.


Pos Rider            Bike      Laps Time/Behind
 1  Valentino Rossi  Yamaha    28   45:49.911
 2  Daniel Pedrosa   Honda     28   0.175
 3  Casey Stoner     Ducati    28   1.477
 4  Nicky Hayden     Honda     28   12.951
 5  Marco Melandri   Honda     28   17.343
 6  John Hopkins     Suzuki    28   18.857
 7  Carlos Checa     Honda     28   31.524
 8  Toni Elias       Honda     28   40.535
 9  Loris Capirossi  Ducati    28   43.107
10  Colin Edwards    Yamaha    28   44.674
11  Shinya Nakano    Honda     28   45.403
12  Anthony West     Kawasaki  28   54.562
13  Chris Vermeulen  Suzuki    28   1:00.002
14  Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha    27   1 Lap
-   Makoto Tamada    Yamaha    23   Retirement
-   Alex Barros      Ducati    22   Retirement
-   Randy de Puniet  Kawasaki  19   Retirement
-   Alex Hofmann     Ducati    11   Retirement
-   Kurtis Roberts   KR         2   Retirement


Ferrari not ready to accept constructors’ title
(GMM) Jean Todt on Sunday said he is not ready to accept that Ferrari has won the 2007 constructors' world championship.

Given McLaren's exclusion from the teams' title after the espionage affair, Ferrari's one-two at Spa-Francorchamps means that the Italian team can provisionally not be beaten to first place in the final three races by BMW-Sauber.

But Ferrari made no mention of the constructors' triumph in its post-race statement, as Todt explained to reporters that the result was subject to McLaren's right to appeal the World Motor Sport Council's verdict.

The Maranello based team's principal revealed that Ferrari is "unhappy" that McLaren was not also excluded from the drivers' championship, and judged the $100m fine and constructors' title exclusion as a "soft penalty".

Read more & Comment...

Prodrive and Rally boss in helicopter escape
(GMM) 24 hours after former rally world champion Colin McRae was killed, Prodrive chief David Richards survived a helicopter crash when returning from the Belgian grand prix.

Richards, McRae's former boss at Subaru, was returning to Essex (UK) from Spa-Francorchamps with his wife when the helicopter he was piloting suffered a fault.

They crash-landed in a field and the aircraft turned onto its side, but police confirmed that Richards - to take his Banbury-based outfit into formula one next year - and his wife Karen "walked out of the wreckage".

They were treated for shock but unhurt, according to BBC reports.

"David and Colin were great friends and it's an amazing coincidence that this has happened," a Prodrive spokesman said.

"We are just thankful he and Karen are OK."

It is suggested that Richards was returning home from Spa earlier than planned because of how he felt about McRae's death.

tv news

Fogarty and Gurney on Wind Tunnel
With 10 poles and seven victories, American sensations Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty wrote several new chapters in the Grand Am history books this season.  They wrote the final chapter yesterday, when they won the Rolex Series drivers championship and their GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Team took the Rolex Series team championship.  Catch SPEED’s Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain tonight 9:00 pm (ET) as Alex and Jon discuss their championship season live from Las Vegas.


Hamilton tones down Alonso criticism
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton on Sunday toned down his criticism of Fernando Alonso's first-corner tactics at the Belgian grand prix.

After getting pushed wide by his championship rival and McLaren teammate at La Source, the rookie Briton was quoted as saying by the German source Die Welt: "He pushed me wide. That had nothing to do with fairness."

He was quoted as saying by RTL: "I tried to out-brake Fernando but he pushed me off the circuit."

Hamilton finished fourth to Alonso's third at Spa-Francorchamps, reducing his lead of the drivers' title to just two points with three races to go in 2007.

Read more & Comment...

Hamilton hits out at Alonso driving
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton on Sunday criticized his teammate Fernando Alonso after their on-track battle at the start of the Belgian grand prix.

The championship leader, whose advantage over Alonso was reduced to just two points after finishing fourth at Spa-Francorchamps, was quoted as saying after the race that he thought the Spaniard's driving at the first corner had not been fair.

"I don't know if we touched, but he had plenty of room to let us both go around the corner," Hamilton is quoted as saying by motorsport-total.com.

Replays show Hamilton, 22, going wide off the circuit at La Source before his wheel to wheel dice with Alonso continued on the approach to the flat-out Eau Rouge bends.

"Fernando always complains about others he says are unfair, but he pushed me off clearly intentionally. For a young driver like me, who looks up to a double world champion, he is not fulfilling his position as a role model," Hamilton said.

But McLaren boss Ron Dennis told the British broadcaster ITV after the race that he thought his drivers' tactics had been "absolutely fine".

"They weren't too aggressive, and they're racing drivers, that's what they do," he insisted.

After a season of controversies involving his team, Dennis was keen to play down the incident.

"Let's move to motor racing for the next three grands prix," he advised.


2007 F1 wins to-date
Kimi Raikkonen/Ferrari 4
Fernando Alonso/McLaren 4
Lewis Hamilton/McLaren 3
Felipe Massa/Ferrari 3


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Press criticism 'not clever' - Alonso
  • New spy saga rumors fall flat in Belgium
  • McRae death hits F1 paddock
  • Alonso advises McLaren 'silence'

Press criticism 'not clever' - Alonso
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton at Spa-Francorchamps counted himself out of the espionage affair.

"I don't have Fernando (Alonso)'s email address," the Briton told reporters, referring to the explosive evidence that recently threw open the affair and ultimately led to McLaren's FIA sanction.

Spaniard Alonso, however, chided those with such a simplistic view of the situation, specifically hitting out at the "English press" in conversation with Spanish reporters at Spa.

"After winning two world championships it doesn't matter to me what anyone says about me," the 26-year-old, who closed his championship deficit to Hamilton to just two points on Sunday at Spa, added.

"But anyone who thinks this was about two emails is not, I think, very clever."

He also dismissed Max Mosley's claim on Saturday that the FIA will keep a close eye on whether McLaren treat Alonso differently in the wake of his whistle-blowing.

"I do not protecting," Alonso said, "because I have done nothing that would require it. If Max called me yesterday it was to thank me for my collaboration and nothing else."

He therefore denied that the affair would damage his relationship with McLaren as the 2007 season winds down.

"We have lived in this situation for two, three months and achieved good results, leading both world championships," Alonso explained. "Inside the team, nothing has changed, but no-one (in the media) seems to be interested in that.

"In any team or any job you have bumps. I am happy whenever I am winning, and not happy when I am not," he said.

"Right now I have a winning car and I am fighting for my third consecutive world title, so for that reason, I am happy."

Read more & Comment...

Chandhok scores emotional first win
Karun Chandhok was possibly the most delighted man to stand on a podium at the fabled Spa Francorchamps circuit after powering to the win in race two this morning, setting up the win by blasting past Andy Soucek, who held off Lucas di Grassi in the closing stages of the race, to bring home his first victory in the GP2 series.

And although all eyes were on the popular Indian driver at the end of the race, most of the conversation before it revolved around championship leader Timo Glock, who was knocked off track by Ricardo Risatti as the field made their way to the grid, ruining an already seriously compromised weekend for the German and closing his lead over di Grassi even further in the penultimate weekend.

Risatti put his wheels on the grass as he circulated, which threw his car straight into the sidepod of the iSport vehicle: Glock had no chance to avoid him and was pushed straight into the wall, damaging the front of his car and destroying any chance of adding to his solitary point this weekend for fastest lap in race one.

Read more & Comment...

Grand-Am makes right call on Pruett
A reader writes, I am a huge Scott Pruett fan and wanted him to win the DP championship and am disappointed he made such a bad call by punting the 99 car. The first contact between the 99 car and the 01 car was CLEARLY accidental and avoidable by Pruett. Scott pinched the 99 car, basically causing the contact. The second contact was TOTALLY avoidable and basically a punt or a payback by Pruett.

The Ganassi car definitely deserved the drive-through penalty! As much as I wanted the 01 team to win the championship, they did NOT deserve to. I saw the replay of both incidents on my DVR multiple times and Grand-Am definitely made the right call. Bruce Guthrie

[Editor's Note: Plus Pruett's teammate, the Chip Ganassi Racing #19 Lexus, was laps down, holding everyone up, and refused lap after lap to honor the Blue 'move over' flag despite instructions at the drivers meeting not to interfere with the Championship contenders or intentional impact the outcome of the Championship.]


Rain washes out Cup practice
Rain washed out the Nextel Cup practice sessions at New Hampshire International Speedway on Saturday morning. There were two practice sessions scheduled but now the Cup cars will not get any further time to adjust before Sunday's Sylvania 300.   The rain also forced NASCAR to cancel the Craftsman Truck Series qualifying. The field for the New Hampshire 200 will be set based on owner's points and that will put Ron Hornaday on the pole with Mike Skinner on the outside of the front row. Should the track drying measures succeed, the green flag is expected to drop at 3 p.m. Eastern time.


Glitches cast cloud over Ferrari at Spa
(GMM) A rear damper component that is part of Ferrari's current formula one package could be causing the Maranello based team trouble, just four races until the end of the 2007 title.

Felipe Massa at Spa-Francorchamps confirmed that a broken rear damper caused his retirement from the Italian grand prix a week ago, even though he said the piece was in use prior to Monza.

The Brazilian then admitted that a similar problem with the damper might have caused Kimi Raikkonen's high speed crash in Saturday practice at Monza, despite Ferrari insisting more than once that the Finn simply lost control of the car on a bump.

Read more & Comment...

FIA to monitor McLaren treatment of Alonso
(GMM) Appearances aside, the effects of the espionage scandal and its fallout continue to be felt on the scene of the Belgian grand prix.

After disagreeing in the media on Saturday, McLaren boss Ron Dennis and FIA president Max Mosley later stood in front of the team's shining 'Brand Centre' and shook hands for the benefit of photographers.

But after headlines suggested that Mosley continues to question Dennis' integrity and honesty regarding key elements of the disclosure of the new email evidence, it now emerges that F1's governing body is going to keep a close eye on McLaren at least for the balance of the season.

Mosley praised Fernando Alonso on Saturday for his role in shedding light on the extent of knowledge of Ferrari's secrets within the team.

But the FIA president says he now fears for possible retribution against the Spaniard from within his ranks, after Alonso's evidence directly led to the record $100m fine and exclusion from the constructors' world championship.

"If they do anything wrong against Alonso, they will have to answer to us in Paris and we will do what is necessary," Mosley is quoted as saying by the Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Briton said he fully supported Alonso's actions, in direct contrast with some sections of the British media that have accused him of maliciously attempting to blackmail his bosses.

"He was the only one on his team who did the right thing," Mosley said.

"With Alonso's emails we obtained certainty (about the case)," he added.


Ho-Pin Tung to start from pole
Ho-Pin Tung (China) will start tomorrow's GP2 race from pole at Spa, after finishing today's race in eighth. Next to him on the front row will be Indian driver Karun Chandhok. This will be the first time in international motorsport history, in such an important series as GP2, that a Chinese and an Indian driver will be on the front row. They both represent two countries with a total of 2.4 billion inhabitants and these countries will be a force to be reckoned with in the near future, now in motorsports as well!


Lapierre dominates Spa feature race
Nicolas Lapierre has claimed his second win of the season in race one at the Circuit Spa Francorchamps, controlling the field from pole position to finish almost five seconds ahead of Luca Filippi, with Lucas di Grassi a further three seconds back in third position.

The win was a balm for the genial Frenchman after a troubled season, which has seen him well out of the championship fight, in which di Grassi took a large bite out of Timo Glock's lead today by claiming another podium finish after the German stalled at the start of the race.

When the lights went out the front row starters Lapierre and Filippi got away decently but di Grassi was much faster, storming up between the pair into La Source: Lapierre had the inside line and was safe, but Filippi was left with nowhere to go but wide, handing track position to di Grassi and Adam Carroll, who had powered up with the Brazilian from seventh on the grid.

Read more & Comment...

Hayden storms to pole
Nicky Hayden took a scintillating pole position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of Portugal as the Repsol Honda rider blitzed the MotoGP field in the final seconds of this afternoon’s qualifying session at Estoril. Once again displaying his brilliance on sticky Michelin qualifying tires, the World Champion edged out Casey Stoner by just 0.040s to secure his first pole position since last year’s Australian Grand Prix. The 26-year-old American was naturally delighted with his debut pole of the 2007 season – the fifth of his MotoGP career – while also declaring that he and his crew still have some work to do to finalize the machine set-up and tire choice for 28-lap race.

Read more & Comment...

Focus still on both drivers says Ferrari
(GMM) Ferrari's sporting director insisted after qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps that the team is not now favouring a single driver for the last four grands prix of 2007.

Felipe Massa's retirement at Monza a week ago leaves Kimi Raikkonen clearly the highest placed Ferrari driver, but still 18 points away from Lewis Hamilton's lead.

After Raikkonen scored pole position ahead of Massa on Saturday, Stefano Domenicali was asked if Ferrari was now putting its eggs into the Finn's basket.

"No, we are concentrating on both drivers," he told German television.

Domenicali did admit, however, that it is crucial that Ferrari dominate Sunday's Belgian grand prix, with the locked-out front row being "a good basis".

"And of course we need an attacking strategy, because we clearly need to close the points gap."

Raikkonen's Australian race engineer, Chris Dyer, sounded cautious: "We are first and second, but we are only talking about a tenth of a second. It is close.

"We also do not know who has what level of fuel on board, so we have to wait until tomorrow," he said in Belgium.


Alonso quiet over 'threat' claims
(GMM) Fernando Alonso at Spa-Francorchamps refused to comment on or confirm reports that he "threatened" McLaren over his possession of the incriminating spy emails.

FIA president Max Mosley on Saturday told reporters that McLaren boss Ron Dennis described their heated exchange in Budapest to him over the phone.

Dennis also confirmed that the incident took place, but told reporters that he did not fire the reigning world champion because Alonso had "apologized" for the loss of temper.

After qualifying behind both Ferraris in Belgium, however, Alonso refused to comment on claims that he tried to use his possession of the emails to either gain number one status or be allowed to leave the team.

"That is what you think," he told a questioner when faced with the threat claims.

"If Ron said something it is because he wanted to. If Max said something, it is because he wanted.

"I am a racing driver and I will answer questions about tires, engines and things like that," Alonso added.

It has been suggested at Spa that, in the light of Alonso's involvement in the spy saga - and the $100m fine and championship exclusion - his position within McLaren has now become untenable.

"I didn't feel any change in the team," Alonso insisted, also rejecting the thesis that team members might now begin to favor Lewis Hamilton over him in the remaining races this year.

Dennis, however, is conspicuously refusing to confirm that Alonso will race alongside Hamilton in 2008, despite openly admitting the existence of a contract.

"At the appropriate time we will focus on it and decide what is the right thing to do," the Briton said.

"But I'm not going to jump that fence (now), if it is a fence to jump."


Latest F1 News in Brief UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Briatore delays driver call until Japan
  • Massa not happy with size of McLaren penalty
  • Glock hopes for F1 decision soon
  • McLaren may 'swallow' $100m fine - Dennis
  • BMW confirm Kubica engine penalty New
  • Mosley, Dennis, continue spy row New
  • Klien hopes Alonso ignites driver market New

Briatore delays driver call until Japan
(GMM) Renault is now expected to announce its driver lineup before the Japanese grand prix in two weeks.

The news was expected at Monza last week, but it is rumored that team boss Flavio Briatore is waiting on the outcome of Fernando Alonso's overtly difficult relationship with McLaren.

Asked about Renault's plans for 2008 at Spa-Francorchamps, Briatore said: "I think we are working on that and maybe before Japan - maybe - because really I believe that we need to look carefully at what's going on, what's happening, and then afterwards we decide.

"For the moment, we are not really ready."

The charismatic Italian also warned off those who may be suggesting that rumors of a new espionage affair involving Renault might be compared with Stepney-gate, which ultimately cost McLaren $100m and a place on the 2007 constructors' table.

"First, if somebody tells me it's the same (as that), I sue somebody, quickly," Briatore bristled.

Read more & Comment...

McLaren got off lightly says Mosley
(GMM) Max Mosley suggested on Friday that McLaren got off lightly with a $100m fine and exclusion from the 2007 constructors' championship.

The FIA president at Spa-Francorchamps made it clear that he was not among the group of World Motor Sport Council members last Thursday who battled to minimise the team's sanction for espionage.

He said it is his "personal opinion" that McLaren "logically" should have also lost the drivers' points as well.

Mosley admitted that, "for the fans", however, it is better that the four-way battle for the 2007 crown was left intact.

"Everyone can have an opinion, and this was the opinion of the majority," he said, "but the simpler solution would have been exclusion for 2007 and 2008."

Mosley was also asked whether Fernando Alonso, whose argument in Hungary with Ron Dennis ultimately triggered the release of the incriminating email evidence, will receive the FIA's $1m reward for whistle-blowing.

"I don't think he needs it," the Briton joked.


Long Beach race continues despite Champ Car
[Editor's Note: Reprint from a Long Beach Press Telegram article. Since Long Beach is Champ Car's biggest race, each article like this in the local newspapers helps to drive another nail in Champ Car's coffin. A reader who sent the article to us writes, - Dear AutoRacing1.com, I pray every day that the owners of Champ Car will sell the series to some major entity who can do what it takes to run the series right. As a long-time fan I am disheartened to see such a great product suffer from years of mismanagement and lack of enough investment to do it right. It's clear the current owners do not have enough money or wherewithal to run a major race series. I would much prefer that team owners do not also own the series. Please Kevin, Gerry, Dan and Paul, sell it to an independent entity who won't have any conflicts of interest. Just the fact that team owners also own the series has to make potential new team owners think twice. Dan Black]

The Long Beach Grand Prix feels more like Liechtenstein every day. The tiny principality is small in size only. It's an Old World city with a new world economy that appears disaffected by the tumult in that lands around it.
Such is the Grand Prix. The city fathers love the event. It draws six-digits worth of humanity annually to its weekend of racing, and the economic community considers it institutional stock.

Now if only it could get away from the tumult of Champ Car.

The racing series is once again beset by problems and gaffes, operated by directors who seemingly can't read a map, which is not a good thing if auto racing is your game. The people who run the Grand Prix look at this mess, shrug their shoulders yet again, and move on with its usual purpose.

The race isn't immune to these problems, but it has a stronger constitution than others.

"We can operate in a semi-autonomous vacuum," said Jim Michaelian, the CEO of the Grand Prix Association. "We like to think we have the greatest venue for the sport in North America, and we continually put on a good show.

"There's no doubt our task is more challenging than it was years ago, but it doesn't stop us from doing our thing to make the race a success and evolve." More at DailyBreeze.com

industry news

Chrysler, Honda call back 482K vehicle
Two automakers on Friday announced vehicle recalls, including a Chrysler recall involving 300,000 SUVs and a Honda recall involving 182,000 Civics.
Chrysler LLC said it would recall nearly 300,000 sport utility vehicles to address potential braking problems while driving uphill.

The recall involves more than 156,000 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Commander SUVs from the 2006-2007 model years, more than 90,000 2007 Jeep Wrangler SUVs and nearly 50,000 2007 Dodge Nitro SUVs.

Chrysler spokesman Max Gates said the automaker had received about 20 complaints of vehicles experiencing a delay in braking when drivers tried to come to a stop after coasting uphill. To fix the problem, the computer connected to the antilock brake system will be reprogrammed.

There has been one crash tied to the issue and no injuries reported, Gates said. Owners will be notified by mail beginning later this month.

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Spa: Ferrari 1-2 in practice 3
Ferrari teammates Kimi Raikkonen (right) and Felipe Massa were 1-2 in final Saturday morning practice for the Belgium GP at Spa.  Raikkonen's lap of 1m46.137s was 0.251s up on Massa and 0.370s up on Fernando Alonso's time.  Lewis Hamilton was 4th. Renault's Heikki Kovalainen was fifth. 

Top eight classification: Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso, Hamilton, Kovalainen, Trulli, Rosberg, Heidfeld.

On Friday Ferrari was strong in the morning but McLaren took over in the afternoon so it will be interesting to see if the same scenario plays out today. It's pretty close and as usual it appears that pole will be fought over by the top four drivers.


Pos  Driver        Team               Time     Behind  Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:46.137 +         17
 2.  Massa         Ferrari            1:46.388 + 0.251   17
 3.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   1:46.507 + 0.370   10
 4.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:46.782 + 0.645   14
 5.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:47.065 + 0.928   13
 6.  Trulli        Toyota             1:47.218 + 1.081   11
 7.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:47.251 + 1.114   16
 8.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         1:47.359 + 1.222   16
 9.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:47.454 + 1.317   19
10.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:47.527 + 1.390   15
11.  Fisichella    Renault            1:47.564 + 1.427   16
12.  Button        Honda              1:47.767 + 1.630   18
13.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:47.806 + 1.669   10
14.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:47.838 + 1.701   19
15.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    1:47.902 + 1.765   16
16.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:48.129 + 1.992   16
17.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:48.163 + 2.026   21
18.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:48.348 + 2.211   18
19.  Barrichello   Honda              1:48.528 + 2.391   16
20.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:48.955 + 2.818   16
21.  Yamamoto      Spyker-Ferrari     1:49.179 + 3.042   14
22.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         No time             2


Alonso, manager, play down McLaren crisis reports
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso at Spa-Francorchamps denied reports that emails stored on his laptop led directly to McLaren's $100 million fine and championship exclusion.

Widespread reports late on Friday said the espionage saga was re-fired following a furious row between the Spaniard and McLaren's Ron Dennis in Hungary.

As they argued about the qualifying pit stop incident, 26-year-old Alonso is believed to have threatened to take the incriminating spy emails to the FIA if Dennis did not give him either number one status or release him from his contract.

Dennis pre-empted the reigning world champion by calling the governing body himself.

Alonso was quoted as saying by the Spanish newspaper 'As': "I do not believe that the (FIA's) decision was taken only because of this.

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Kubica faces ten-place grid penalty
(GMM)  Robert Kubica stopped on the track during Saturday practice at Spa with an apparent engine failure.

Smoke was pouring out of the back of his BMW-Sauber single seater just after the Rivage bend, barely 15 minutes into the first session of the weekend in which a ten-place grid penalty applies for an engine change.


Andretti DNQ hands race spot to Said
The BAM Racing team got into the Nextel Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway in July when Brian Vickers' car was found to be too low following post-qualifying inspection.  Now the No. 49 team will miss an NHIS race as its qualifying time, 26th fastest in the field, was disallowed for being too low in the left front - allowing the No. 98 Gillett Evernham Motorsports car of Boris Said to make the race.

"We gave a gift to somebody else - we got a gift earlier this year," said BAM Racing driver John Andretti. "We did everything we were supposed to do. It was just unfortunate the way it worked out."   While Andretti was disappointed, Said was giving high-fives to crew members of other teams.

"[I'm] stunned, happy - just awesome," Said said. "You come here - and I haven't been on a track like this in two years and I've never been here - [and] to go against these guys and make it, I was pretty proud of that."


Grönholm to retire at end of 2007 season
BP-Ford World Rally Team driver Marcus Grönholm and co-driver Timo Rautiainen will both retire from the FIA World Rally Championship at the end of the 2007 season. The Finns are one of the sport's most successful pairings ever and stand second in the list of all-time rally wins with 30. They twice won the drivers' world title and currently lead the 2007 standings at the wheel of a Ford Focus RS World Rally Car in pursuit of a third crown.

Thirty-nine-year-old Grönholm said the decision was difficult, but he believed the time was right as he wanted to retire while still at the top level of the sport. This season he has already won five rallies to open a 10-point lead in the drivers' championship with five rounds remaining, and help the Blue Oval build a 46-point lead in the manufacturers' standings.

Grönholm arrived late in the WRC. After winning the Finnish championship four times, he made the breakthrough into the WRC in 1999. A year later he lifted the drivers' title on his first attempt at the full championship and claimed a second crown in 2002. He joined BP-Ford in 2006 and after a dream start with victory on his first two events in Monte Carlo and Sweden, he claimed a personal best seven wins to help Ford claim its first manufacturers' title since 1979. Victory in August's Rally Finland meant Grönholm became the first driver to win a full WRC event on seven occasions.

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