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Daytona 200 to be run under the lights
Two significant changes will highlight the 2009 Daytona 200 Week By Honda schedule.

The 68th Daytona 200 By Honda, the prestigious season-opening event to the AMA Pro Racing season and the most historic motorcycle event in America, will be held under the lights for the first time on Friday night, March 6. The Daytona 200 By Honda was previously held on Saturday afternoon.

Another significant change to the 2009 Daytona 200 Week By Honda schedule is the Daytona Supercross By Honda, America’s toughest and most demanding Supercross event, will now be held on Saturday night, March 7.

The Daytona Supercross, which was previously held on Friday night, will now be contested on a traditional Saturday similar to all AMA Supercross events on the schedule.

“The Daytona 200 By Honda has evolved throughout the years from the beach, to the Speedway and now under the lights,” Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig said. “Moving the Daytona 200 By Honda under the lights will add to the uniqueness of this historic event and enhance the festival atmosphere. Night racing in motorsports, especially at Daytona, is widely popular among the fans and these changes to the schedule will help us continue to grow our motorcycle events at ‘The World Center of Racing.’ ” 

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Brandon Davis Takes New Jersey SPEED GT Pole
Brandon Davis, of Huntington Beach, Calif., took his second SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship pole of 2008 in tricky conditions for Saturday’s Round Eight race at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt Raceway. James Sofronas, of Newport Beach, Calif., will start second.

Driving the No. 10 ACS/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra, Davis was one of 10 drivers that held provisional pole during the 30-minute session as the track continued to dry out from morning rain. Davis turned a fastest time of 1:25.940 (94.251 mph) on his final lap, before a red flag brought out by Dino Crescentini’s impact with the front straight wall ended the session with five minutes remaining.

It was an impressive feat for the ACS Express team, as Davis hit the wall in the 11 a.m. session, necessitating some quick repairs and an alignment.

“It’s good to know that we can still put it on the pole, especially with what happened earlier with the wreck,” Davis said. “We were warming this car up on the setup pad and it was getting wheeled out as cars were already on track. So, to come out and put it on pole feels really great. It’s all about the team. I messed up big time this morning. These guys definitely saved my butt.”

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Montoya's car fails inspection
It appeared that Juan Pablo Montoya had won his first career Sprint Cup Series pole on Friday at Kansas Speedway after turning a lap of 172.150 mph. But Montoya's lap and pole-winning run were disallowed when NASCAR officials found that the rear shocks on Montoya's car exceeded the maximum gas pressure allowed by the NASCAR rule book.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson, the top qualifier among Chase For The Sprint Cup contenders, inherited the pole with his lap of 172.007 mph to take the top starting spot for Sunday's Camping World RV 400. Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s Mark Martin will start second.


Truex tops opening practice in Kansas
Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s Martin Truex Jr. set the pace in Friday's opening Sprint Cup Series practice at Kansas Speedway in preparation for Sunday's Camping World RV 400 at the 1.5-mile track.

Truex, who is still seeking his first win of the season, posted a top speed of  172.221 mph in his DEI Chevrolet. He was followed by Chase For The Sprint Cup contender Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports) at 171.614. DEI's Mark Martin was third, followed by Chip Ganassi Racing's Juan Pablo Montoya and Gillett Evernham Motorsports' Elliott Sadler.

Hendrick teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Casey Mears were sixth and seventh, respectively, followed by Red Bull Racing's AJ Allmendinger and DEI's Paul Menard.

Chase contender Tony Stewart (Joe Gibbs Racing) rounded out the top 10.


Berger denies making Red Bull demands
(GMM)  Gerhard Berger has played down reports that he has urged Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz to increase his support for the Toro Rosso team.

Billionaire Mateschitz earlier this year vowed to sell his 50 per cent stake in Toro Rosso, the secondary Red Bull team that nonetheless recorded the energy drink company's first grand prix victory at Monza two weeks ago.

But amid the customer car uncertainty and STR's clouded future, team co-owner Berger is quoted by an Italian magazine as insisting Mateschitz pledge more money.

"I read that too," the former grand prix winner told F1's official website.  "I cannot demand anything.  In the end I - and we - are happy with what we get.

"We try to work around what we get.  I also read that if we want to move to the next step we would need more money.  Well, that is clear. But there have been no demands," Berger added.

The Austrian said Sebastian Vettel's Monza win from pole position effectively changes nothing for Toro Rosso.

"I got a lot of emails and text messages congratulating us for this win, but I have not received a big check so far," he said.


Bumps, lights, pits: Friday buzzwords
(GMM)  The focus after drivers walked the track earlier this week were some of the aggressive curbs around Singapore's new formula one street circuit.

But with three hours of practice under their belts, Nico Rosberg's headache and Adrian Sutil's bruised legs were testament to the new big issue: bumps.

"It's much bumpier than what we have experienced before," Renault engineering boss Pat Symonds said on Friday.  "It reminds me of the North American circuits in the 1980s."

F1 veteran David Coulthard expects a lively weekend.

"It's like the cobbled streets of Paris and very unforgiving.  I think there will be a lot of incidents," the Red Bull driver said.

Lighting was also a post-action talking point, after organizers' earlier boasts that the circuit would be four times brighter than a typical stadium.

"When I walked the track I was impressed, but behind the wheel at 300 kph some parts of the track are a bit dark," said former world champion Fernando Alonso.

Other drivers backed the Spaniard, but some reported no problems whatsoever -- including F1's only bespectacled racer, Sebastien Bourdais.

"I even ran with a lightly smoked visor.  There are hardly any shadows and you can see very well," said the Toro Rosso driver.

Bourdais is less impressed, however, with the pit lane entry, which on Friday he described as "incredibly dangerous".

"It could be quite difficult if a driver decides to pull into the pits at the last minute," McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen agrees.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa believes the pit exit could also be "a bit critical" on Sunday afternoon.

"They are both pretty difficult and we will have to be very careful," his teammate Kimi Raikkonen concurred.


ENEOS Joins Brooks Associates Racing
Brooks Associates Racing is pleased to announce the addition of ENEOS oil products as primary sponsor of the No. 88 car of Tom Sutherland at the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season finale at Road Atlanta next week.

ENEOS has been a season long team sponsor and is excited to take the primary spot on Sutherland's car for this race.  In addition, the team will take one of its cars to display at the SEMA show for ENEOS in the fall.

Having only driven a part of the season, Sutherland has shown tremendous results.  His demeanor, on and off the track, makes him a welcome addition to Brooks Associates. Markus Niemela, winner at the last race in Utah, is excited to finish the season at Road Atlanta and make a run for the championship.  The European standout has done extremely well in the highly competitive Atlantic series.


Trulli fined in Singapore UPDATE (GMM)  Jarno Trulli insists driving the wrong way on the Singapore circuit and crossing the pit lane entry was the safest option after a practice spin on Friday.

The Toyota driver was formally reprimanded and fined 10,000 euros for the rules breaches.

"I wanted to move off the racing line as safely as possible, so I decided to go down the pit lane," Trulli, 34, is quoted as saying in a team statement.

"I took the quickest and safest option available to me and the other cars.  I have been penalized and I accept that but I know I did the safest thing for me and the other drivers -- it is one of the quickest corners on the track and you don't want to have a crash there."

Trulli was notably off the pace in both 90 minute test sessions on Friday, and admitted to struggling not only with the severe bumps and his car's setup.

"I struggled a little bit with driving at night because there are some dark spots which make it a bit harder than normal," said the Italian.

09/26/08 (GMM)  Jarno Trulli has been fined 10,000 euros after a visit to the stewards' office on the first day of action under the lights in Singapore.

The Toyota driver broke the rules by driving the wrong way up the pit straight, and then performing a u-turn across the pit entry, following a spin in the first practice session.

Article 30.2 of F1's sporting regulations says drivers are "strictly forbidden" from driving the wrong way around a circuit, "unless this is absolutely necessary in order to move the car from a dangerous position".

Italian Trulli, 34, also broke the regulation forbidding drivers from crossing "the line separating the deceleration zone and the track".

As well as the fine, stewards also gave him an official reprimand.


A1GP admits to problems
A1GP World Cup of Motorsport will start Season Four next week at the A1GP Zandvoort, Netherlands event on 4/5 October with a smaller grid than anticipated. The series has made no secret of its car build delay, and this has impacted on the number that will be on the grid at the Dutch seaside resort track.

“The situation we find ourselves in is unfortunate. We have a small number of teams who will not be in Zandvoort. While these teams are obviously very disappointed, they understand we have done everything possible but just ran out of time,” said A1GP CEO, Pete da Silva.

“I am aware of how hard our teams have been working, and are continuing to do that day and night. The fact some won’t make the grid next week will not be for lack of trying. We have had an awful lot of support from many areas and I particularly want to thank our suppliers, partners and sponsors who have stood by us. We have asked a lot of many of them and they have delivered. All the teams who are racing are committed to giving the fans the exciting entertainment they have come to expect from A1GP at the Zandvoort track,” he added.

The series plans to have all its nations on the grid for the second event of Season Four, A1GP Chengdu, China on 7-9 November.

The A1GP Zandvoort, Netherlands will count towards the championship. The schedule for the weekend will be as follows:

Saturday, 4 October
09.00 – 10.50 – A1GP – First Practice
11.30 – 12.30 – A1GP – Second Practice
15.45 – 15.55 – A1GP – Qualifying – Segment 1
16.00 – 16.10 – A1GP – Qualifying – Segment 2
16.15 – 16.25 – A1GP – Qualifying Segment 3
16.30 – 16.40 – A1GP – Qualifying Segment 4

Sunday, 5 October
11.00 – 11.25 - A1GP – Sprint race
15.00 – 16.10 - A1GP – Feature race


Drivers happy with night track lights
Sebastian Vettel heads out of the pits under the floodlit track
Red Bull
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld, a night race skeptic prior to Friday's action, declared himself happy with the Singapore circuit following three hours of free practice.

"The light is the smallest problem," the BMW-Sauber driver is quoted as saying by the German news agency SID.

"After a few laps you no longer notice that it is night," he added.

Williams' Nico Rosberg agrees that the lighting is not a major concern.

"It's a lot of fun," said the 23-year-old.  "It is a little more difficult to see than usual, but it isn't a problem.

"The track is so bumpy that it gives you a headache," Rosberg added.

Honda's Rubens Barrichello reports that "there seems to be a dark spot" at turn 5.


Glock's Toyota future secure - team
Timo Glock
(GMM)  Timo Glock looks set for a secure future with the Toyota team.

Four years after making an abortive grand prix debut with Jordan, the now 26-year-old returned to F1 this year with experience of America's Champ Car series and as GP2 champion.

The German has already been confirmed for the 2009 season.

"There is absolutely no hesitation that he will be with us next year and hopefully he will progress further and stay with us for more years," said team president John Howett, according to the International Herald Tribune.

Howett added: "At the moment, he has a very secure and bright future with us."


100,000 fans on first day at Singapore
The first day of the Singapore Grand Prix, the first ever night race, at the all-new Marina Bay street circuit passed without any problems. The organizers could count on heaps of fans as an estimated number of 100,000 people attended the Friday free practice sessions.  You won't ever see that many people on Friday at a NASCAR race, or any other American race series event for that matter.


Singapore: Alonso tops 2nd practice session
Mark Webber wads up his Red Bull car
Red Bull
Fernando Alonso's Renault bumped Lewis Hamilton from the top of the timesheets in Friday afternoon practice for the Singapore GP.  Hamilton's McLaren barely beat title rival Felipe Massa of Ferrari who ended up third.  Heikki Kovalainen was 4th in the 2nd McLaren.

During the last minute of the second session, Fernando Alonso forced his way to the top spot with a time of 1:45:654.

As Alonso crossed the line, Timo Glock spun and kissed the wall and lost the front wing on his Toyota.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Alonso Renault 1:45.654 + 0.000 30
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.752 + 0.098 28
3. Massa Ferrari 1:45.793 + 0.139 31
4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.797 + 0.143 31
5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:46.164 + 0.510 34
6. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:46.384 + 0.730 36
7. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:46.580 + 0.926 25
8. Button Honda 1:46.901 + 1.247 32
9. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:47.013 + 1.359 32
10. Glock Toyota 1:47.046 + 1.392 22
11. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:47.137 + 1.483 15
12. Piquet Renault 1:47.145 + 1.491 35
13. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:47.300 + 1.646 33
14. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:47.487 + 1.833 24
15. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:47.640 + 1.986 31
16. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:47.760 + 2.106 36
17. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:47.965 + 2.311 12
18. Barrichello Honda 1:48.009 + 2.355 25
19. Trulli Toyota 1:48.059 + 2.405 28
20. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:48.311 + 2.657 36


Kahne not hurt after crashing at TMS
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne was uninjured Thursday at Texas Motor Speedway after a car he was driving for a private corporate event hit the frontstretch wall coming out of Turn 4. The unidentified passenger in the car was also uninjured, according to TMS officials. Kahne has two Cup wins this season and just missed qualifying for the Chase.


Newman/Haas/Lanigan to test at Texas Motor Speedway
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing drivers Justin Wilson and Graham Rahal are scheduled to have a test session at Texas Motor Speedway on Tuesday.


Texas Motorplex signs 20-year deal with NHRA
The Texas Motorplex announced Thursday that it has signed a contract with the NHRA to host an annual event through 2028. The track, located in Ennis, has had at least one NHRA event since Billy Meyer opened it in 1986.


Paul Newman donates to NZ Charities
Hollywood movie star Paul Newman, and the Paul Newman's Foundation, has donated $NZ150,000 to nine New Zealand charities from the profits and royalties of his Paul Newman's Own dressing range.

The actor says he has never had a problem using his celebrity status to promote his hugely successful salad dressings and pasta sauces, which is best summed up in his tongue-in-cheek branding tagline - Shameless Exploitation in the Pursuit of the Common Good.

He, in turn, gives all of the profits from the range to charity. To date, the star's foundation has donated in excess of $US250 million worldwide, including over $12 million to over 700 charities in Australia and NZ.

In 2007, approximately one million bottles of Paul Newman's Own salad dressings were sold in New Zealand, with Paul Newman's Own profits being given to local charities.

This year, nine New Zealand charities will receive funding, including three from Auckland, two from Hamilton, one from Wellington, one from Christchurch and two from Otago.


Bourdais says pit entry 'dangerous'
(GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais labeled the pit entry for Singapore's new street circuit "incredibly dangerous" during the opening day of practice on Friday.

The Frenchman's concerns about the section, which begins at the penultimate corner of F1's first night race venue, were highlighted when his Toro Rosso teammate Sebastian Vettel ran off the circuit to avoid Jarno Trulli as the Toyota traversed the pit entry.

The pit entry clips the apex of the fast double left hander which rounds out the lap.

The final corner proved a difficult challenge for drivers, catching out spinners Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, Monza winner Vettel, and proving the scene of Rubens Barrichello's morning crash.

Red Bull's Mark Webber, however, was the first to fall victim of the track, crashing on the entry to the unique grandstand tunnel and damaging the right front suspension of his car.


Ecclestone won't commit to '09 summer break UPDATE (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone on Friday did not rule out tweaking the 2009 formula one calendar to reinstate a summer break.

The addition of a nineteenth grand prix next year is at the expense of the usual August break; a three-week gap in races and testing that gives F1's travelling fraternity a chance for a breather.

The break is missing in the F1 chief executive's provisional schedule for next year, and reinstating it will require either the German, Hungarian or Turkish grands prix to move.

"Let's have a look," 77-year-old Ecclestone said in Singapore on Friday.  "We are going to do something."

09/26/08 Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone refused to be drawn on whether changes will be made to the 2009 season to compensate for a lack of the traditional mid-summer break.

Next year's calendar runs from the end of March to November but is without the usual three-week break in August.

Consequently a number of teams have expressed concerns that drivers, engineers, mechanics and staff will suffer burn-out.

Possible solutions to make room in the schedule would be to move around the German, Hungarian or Turkish Grand Prix.

But Ecclestone was remaining quiet over the exact details of what could happen.

"Lets have a look," said the 77-year-old. "The movement is very jerky at the moment but we are going to do something."


Singapore: Hamilton tops opening practice
Lewis Hamilton topped opening practice for the Singapore GP, the first time F1 cars have run under the lights for a GP.  Hamilton's McLaren barely beat the Ferrari of Felipe Massa.  Kimi Raikkonen was third in the 2nd Ferrari and Heikki Kovalainen 4th in the 2nd McLaren.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.518 + 0.000 20
2. Massa Ferrari 1:45.598 + 0.080 23
3. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:45.961 + 0.443 24
4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:46.463 + 0.945 20
5. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:46.618 + 1.100 23
6. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:46.710 + 1.192 25
7. Alonso Renault 1:46.725 + 1.207 29
8. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:46.964 + 1.446 24
9. Piquet Renault 1:47.175 + 1.657 30
10. Button Honda 1:47.277 + 1.759 30
11. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:47.570 + 2.052 28
12. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:47.662 + 2.144 23
13. Glock Toyota 1:47.706 + 2.188 27
14. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:48.097 + 2.579 16
15. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:48.517 + 2.999 23
16. Barrichello Honda 1:48.725 + 3.207 19
17. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:48.839 + 3.321 24
18. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:48.906 + 3.388 25
19. Trulli Toyota 1:49.064 + 3.546 29
20. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:53.703 + 8.185 4


Tony George to speak at Forum
Tony George
The Chief Executive Officer of the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation will speak at this year’s Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco.

Tony George, in his first-ever appearance at the Forum, will deliver the keynote address on the second day of the event. George has been at the forefront of US motor racing for many years, with his Indianapolis circuit the only track in the world to have hosted rounds of Formula One, MotoGP and NASCAR.

Representatives from NASCAR, the leading motor racing series in the US, as well as the Automobile Competition Committee for the United States (ACCUS), the national governing body for motor sport will also join the Forum.

Other speakers set for the Forum this year include Vodafone’s Global Director of Marketing David Wheldon, MotoGP Managing Director Pau Serracanta and Force India CEO Vijay Mallya. The full conference program will be released in the coming weeks and is expected to include even more high profile representatives from the global motor racing industry making it the largest Forum so far.


TW Steel Launches A1GP Watch
A1GP official watch
A1GP World Cup of Motorsport’s Official Timing and Watch Partner, TW Steel, has launched an exciting new special edition range of watches to commemorate the partnership between the two companies. With superb quality the TW Steel A1GP links back to the precision and quality associated with the series, with a chronograph movement, accurately measuring time to 1/20th of a second.

TW Steel Managing Director Jordy Cobelens said: “TW Steel is proud to be the ‘Official Watch and Timing partner’ of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport for the next three years. The brand feels completely at home in this branch of sport as both watches and motorsport are all about precision. For TW Steel this new form of collaboration signifies an important step towards continued growth of this young company. This will help us achieve our objective of becoming the biggest brand in the market of oversized watches." 

A1GP Chairman Tony Teixeira, commented: “The first time I saw the TW Steel products I realized their individuality was a perfect match for our series. They are new and innovate and now I have seen the one that bears our logo I am even more impressed. TW Steel has brought the right image to our series and as one of our series sponsors are making sure a new audience knows about us. “

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Honda announces Hayden's replacement
Former 125 World Champion Andrea Dovizioso is to join the Repsol Honda Team for the 2009 MotoGP World Championship. The Italian talent will join Spaniard Dani Pedrosa in Honda’s official HRC squad, riding full-factory RC212V machinery. The announcement is a dream come true for Dovizioso, who has raced Hondas since 2002.

“I am very pleased to announce that Andrea Dovizioso will join the Repsol Honda factory team for the 2009 MotoGP season, racing alongside Dani Pedrosa,” says HRC president Masumi Hamane. “Andrea has raced Honda machines throughout his career and with great success in all categories of grand prix racing. He has a 125cc world title to his credit and several very successful seasons in the 250cc class. We believe Andrea is now ready to accept the challenge that awaits him in 2009. His talent is unquestioned and we admire his attitude towards racing. His dedication to the task at hand has impressed everyone at HRC. Andrea came into the MotoGP championship this year with an open mind and his debut season has shown all of us that he possesses the character and qualities so necessary to succeed. The MotoGP class is the most difficult of all classes for a rider but Andrea’s skill and determination to learn has been rewarded. His current fifth place in the championship speaks for itself.  HRC will provide Andrea with the best possible technical support to help him reach his full potential and we look forward to enjoying a happy and successful relationship.” 

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Motegi: Stoner tops Pedrosa in Friday practice
Casey Stoner at Motegi
He may be facing an uphill struggle in his quest to keep his World Championship hopes alive, but more could not have been asked of Casey Stoner on Friday in Motegi. The Ducati rider recorded the quickest time of the day in the combined Free Practice standings for the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan, with a 1´48.121 lap of the track at which he reached the pinnacle of MotoGP achievement in 2007.

Stoner was seven-hundredths of a second faster than the only other rider with the chance to deny Valentino Rossi a sixth premier class title, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard had experienced a difficult morning on a damp track as he adjusted his Motegi setup to Bridgestone tires, but was on fine form during the afternoon run. Pedrosa’s pace and teammate Nicky Hayden’s morning times will be a positive boost for Honda, who have not had a home winner at Motegi since Makoto Tamada's 2004 triumph.

Title favorite Rossi was also on the pace on Friday, just under four-tenths of a second slower than Stoner’s quickest lap. The Fiat Yamaha rider had expressed interest in how Michelin-shod riders would fare on-track this weekend in the Thursday press conference, but he formed part of an all-Bridgestone top three on day one. The Fiat Yamaha rider made it three different factories in the top trio, with the news emerging that he will test the 2009 M1 on Monday –perhaps with his sixth MotoGP World Championship already confirmed. 

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EU rejects green delays
European Union legislators have rejected an attempt to delay planned limits on carbon dioxide emissions from cars. German and French politicians have led the campaign to put off the European Commission's plan to cut emissions by 17% by 2012, arguing that the proposal threatens thousands of jobs in the automobile industry. The European car makers group ACEA says that politicians do not care about the competitiveness of the European car industry. German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had hoped to stagger the cuts until 2015, and to half the proposed fines levied on car firms for each offending vehicle, but these compromises have been thrown out by the EU environmental committee with a 46-19 vote, which sends a strong message back to the automobile industry that the issue of global warming must be addressed as quickly as possible. The latest figures of global emissions show that greenhouse gas levels were still growing with China emerging as the biggest producer of carbon dioxide, the principal gas that causes global warming. India will soon overtake Russia to become the third biggest producer, behind China and the United States. Environmental groups say that the effort to stop this growth are not sufficient.

There is an argument in F1 circles that the sport can play an important role in helping to develop more fuel efficient automobiles to help combat the problem and that by achieving that aim, F1 will secure its future funding at a time when the global economy is, at best, volatile. Grandprix.com


Mike Wallace to drive #33 for RCR at Talladega
Realtree, the home of America's most versatile camo patterns, will sponsor Richard Childress Racing's #33 Realtree Driven to the Outdoors Chevy and driver Mike Wallace in the Oct. 5 Amp Energy 500 Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. RCR and Realtree, based in Columbus, Ga., have a long-standing relationship. Realtree president Bill Jordan and RCR president and CEO Richard Childress have been personal friends for decades and Team Realtree first sponsored the legendary Dale Earnhardt and RCR's #3 GM Goodwrench team in 1997. Team Realtree also sponsors Team Dillon Racing's Ty Dillon, the younger grandson of Childress, in the Fastrak Racing Series Dirt Late Model Touring Division. RCR PR


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Overnight rain lashes Singapore circuit
  • Bomb scare in BMW-Sauber pits
  • Whiting orders curb solution
  • Buemi says F1 deal 'not done'
  • Title would not be tainted - Massa
  • Kovalainen free to decide team role
  • Kubica confirms clear-the-air BMW talks
  • Winner Vettel aims for points in Singapore

Overnight rain lashes Singapore circuit
(GMM)  Amid F1 drivers' fears about a wet race under artificial lights, Singapore's skies opened with a fury as Thursday became Friday at the scene of the sport's first night GP.

Fierce showers of rain lashed the formula one paddock, and reports suggest that parts of the small city-state were even under water.

The rain eventually did stop on Friday morning, but the forecast for tonight's three hours of practice is very uncertain.

Bomb scare in BMW-Sauber pits
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber experienced a rare and frightening problem in its F1 paddock areas on Friday night -- a bomb scare.

The Swiss newspaper Blick reports that, shortly before 9pm, upon instruction by the police, the mechanics and engineers had to abandon the pits and paddock pit building.

They shortly returned to work.

Whiting orders curb solution
(GMM)  It is understood that FIA race director and safety delegate Charlie Whiting has ordered high curbs at Singapore's turn 10 hairpin be modified ahead of Friday free practice.

Many drivers had expressed concern about the 'turtle'-like bumps on the verge of the curbs.

"We worry that if we have to go over them, it could damage the bottom of the car," said former double world champion Fernando Alonso.

"If you damage one car it's not a problem as you can take the T-car but if you damage two you go home," the Renault driver added.

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Montagny to test IndyCar at Kentucky UPDATE #2
Franck Montagny
Franck Montagny :
"Everything went very well. It was all new for me, and to be honest, it was not so easy at the beginning. Very difficult to do everything well… The car, the setups are very different from all that I know. Martin Paré, Danica Patrick's engineer, was there. After six laps, I was able to stay flat out in Turns 1 and 2. You have to "feel" the car perfectly and at the same time, the set-ups are so different that when the car starts to slide, it's very quickly and then it's a question of feeling – you have to feel it even before it slides. The car is completely asymmetrical, with totally different geometry. For instance, in the very short straight between Turns 1 and 2, I had to turn the wheel on the right and the outside to go straight… This is something very special. Even if I often go fast in a race car, I had never driven at almost 220 mph in corners before, and it gives you some big sensations! I would have preferred to be on track with other drivers and cars, to see what it's like in the traffic, but it will be for the next time. It was important also not to damage the car and hurt myself before the Petit Le Mans race next week. I have to say I enjoyed the test and I'd like to race in the IRL in 2009. The team wants to keep me on board, either in this series or in the ALMS. It all depends on the money. Everything should be decided in October. From my side, I also have some opportunities in Europe."

Franck, who races in the American Le Mans Series for AGR this year, was delighted also by the "IRL part" of the team and said he had great fun on track. It was the same for the team, as we can see with the engineer's reaction.

Martin Paré :
"The test was very positive. Franck found a good pace very quickly. He adapted himself to the car and the track without any problems, and then we could do all the work we had for the day. It was a real testing session. We didn't work a lot on the setups, as it's difficult during a first test for the driver, but we could evaluate some aerodynamic components. The development is very limited with these cars that we know very well but we can always do something on the details to improve. It's difficult to compare the times on an oval track as the conditions are changing a lot with the wind, the temperatures and the fact that just one car on it is very different from 30 cars. But I think that Franck would have qualified himself in the Top 4 for the race there last August. He was definitely very competitive and we are really satisfied."

09/23/08 Franck Montagny had a very successful first test in an IndyCar on Monday 22nd of September, at the wheel of an Andretti-Green Racing's Dallara Honda, at the Kentucky Speedway. The Frenchman, who was driving an IRL car for the first time, and on a oval track, covered around 200 laps and set his fastest average speed on four laps at 218.18 miles/hour. This would have been the 4th fastest average speed in qualifications for last Augusts’ race on this track.

Franck Montagny
Franck, who raced in the American Le Mans Series for AGR this year, was delighted also by the "IRL part" of the team and said he had great fun on track. He could race in the IndyCar Series next year.

09/18/08 Franck Montagny will have his first test in the IndyCar Series on Monday 22nd of September from 2.00 pm to 10.00 pm. He will drive an Andretti-Green Racing's Dallara-Honda on the Kentucky Speedway. Montagny drives for AGR in the American Le Mans Series since the beginning of July and won the last race on the Detroit street course.

It will be the very first test for the French driver on a oval track. He will probably have a second test, on a road course this time, later. AGR could have a 5th car in the series next year, and Montagny would be the driver alongside Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick and Hideki Mutoh.

A first IndyCar test on the Kentucky Speedway should have taken place last July but the car had a big crash the day before with another driver at the wheel.


IndyCar Series drivers headline karting event
Seventeen current and past IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers are among those who will compete in the Mazda RoboPong 200 that is scheduled for Sept. 28 on the 1.1-mile course east of Indianapolis that is owned by former IndyCar Series driver Mark Dismore.

The 200-lap endurance event features a $25,000 purse.

“It feels like the Indianapolis 500,” said 2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion and five-race IndyCar Series starter Jay Howard. “It’s a big deal to get 100 teams to show up and try and qualify, and it’s cool that so many professional drivers come out. To me, it’s an event that I look forward to all year long. As soon as the race is over, I’ll start thinking about next year right away, just like the Indy 500.”

Howard, who runs the Screaming Talent karting team, will be among the favorites in the event.

“Last year, we qualified on the front row and were leading the race when we had the exhaust break,” said Howard, who owns three British karting titles from his youth. “We ended up fifth, but for sure we would’ve won. Hopefully, this year will be different.”

Other drivers entered in the event include 2008 IndyCar Series drivers John Andretti, Ed Carpenter, A.J. Foyt IV, Alex Lloyd, Vitor Meira, Will Power, Tomas Scheckter and Dan Wheldon; past IndyCar Series drivers Dismore, Phil Giebler, Scott Goodyear and Bryan Herta; and Firestone Indy Lights drivers Cyndie Allemann, Logan Gomez and Robbie Pecorari. Team owner Michael Crawford also is entered.


NASCAR Dover TV Rating UPDATE ABC says its telecast of last Sunday’s Camping World 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway earned a final Nielsen Media Research rating of 3.3, down 5.7 percent from the 3.5 ABC earned for last year’s race.  ABC also says ESPN2’s coverage of Saturday’s Camping World RV Sales 200 Nationwide Series race at Dover earned a 1.1 household coverage rating, down 21.4 percent from 1.4 last year.

09/22/08 The overnight TV rating of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Camping World RV 400 from Dover, Delaware on ABC Sunday was a 2.8, down 20% from last year's overnight of 3.5, also on ABC.

Racing News

Tony Stewart enters Knoxville Nationals
Tony Stewart has again entered the Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals.  Stewart, the NASCAR star and former dirt-track ace, will be among a capped field of 70 for the three-day event, which begins with Thursday's 6:45 p.m. first night of qualifying.

"Finally getting a chance to go there and be a driver and get to run on that black dirt, even though it may not be in a 410-winged sprint car, just the fact that you get to run at Knoxville, that's something that I didn't get to experience at places like Langhorne, Pennsylvania, and Ascot in California," Stewart told The Des Moines Register in an e-mail interview.

Stewart has raced in the event three times, posting a top finish of second in 2006. Obligations to Joe Gibbs Racing, which he is leaving after 2008 to field his own NASCAR team, prevented him from racing at Knoxville in 2007.

"It's just legendary, and anytime that you've got a shot to race at that track, it's huge."


GM to build $370 million plant for Volt engine in Flint
General Motors  Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner this morning announced the automaker will invest $370 million in a new manufacturing plant here that will produce a new 4-cylinder engine for the Chevrolet Volt, an extended-range electric vehicle.

In return, GM is receiving millions in tax incentives to build the Volt, which will help ensure Flint, a once-thriving company town that has lost thousands of jobs as the automaker has struggled, will play a key role in the GM's future.

"We are confident that Flint is exactly the right place to build our all-new powertrain plant," Wagoner said in release preceding an event at the Flint Engine South plant, which was expected to draw Gov. Jennifer Granholm and other state and local officials.

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Kubica fed up at BMW
Robert Kubica admits he is fed up with BMW Sauber's inability to challenge McLaren and Ferrari and says his team's failure to build on their early season form has left him disillusioned. The Pole, who is 14 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton, is unhappy with the team's lack of progress and is reportedly considering his future.  Kubica held showdown talks with team chief Mario Theissen at Monza but despite the meeting, his fears have yet to be allayed ahead of this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix.

"My view has not changed a lot," said Kubica. "We did sit down but I think there was no top secret and no miracles in the talks. It was good to talk. But the situation was not really changed.

"Of course as a driver you always want the maximum, and you always want a better car and to be a bit quicker.

"Even if you win, you can always find things to improve and to get stronger. There is no secret that we did not develop as was predicted.

"Lately, we don't have big steps forward in performance but still we are managing good results. If we hadn't had the problem in Spa with the second pitstop most probably I would have finished three races in a row on the podium - even though there have been some strange circumstances.

"But still, maybe lap time wise we are not the strongest but reliability is very good and we are able to do strong results." Sport.co.uk


Singapore: Weekend weather forecast
Formula One heads to Singapore this weekend, to the notoriously tropical climate of the Asian city. Heavy rain is part of life in this part of the world, especially at night, and although official figures for rain this weekend stand between 40% and 60%, it's widely regarded throughout the paddock that the wet weather tires will have to be used at some stage during the weekend.

The action begins tomorrow with first practice at 19.00, with isolated thunderstorms forecast for the area. With the chance of rain currently standing at 35% for practice, it's a possibility that things will start out dry. Temperatures, as expected, will be high, despite the night running, with highest temperatures of 29°C expected during the practice sessions, approximately 10°C higher than those experienced in Monza a fortnight ago.

Moving to Saturday, rain and isolated thunderstorms remain a possibility throughout the day, with a 40% chance of rain during the day. A similar likelihood of rain has been predicted for the evening, with temperatures again staying in the high twenties, with a high of 30°C from when final practice begins at 19.00.

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Theissen rejects calls for engine thaw
(GMM)  Mario Theissen has rejected claims that manufacturers falling behind amid the current engine freeze should be allowed to catch up.

Renault's Flavio Briatore is the most outspoken on the issue of engine disparity, arguing that some outfits have taken advantage of the ability to make changes on the grounds of reliability and cost benefits to add performance to their frozen V8s.

Discussions about a remedy have taken place, including at Singapore, with paddock whispers suggesting a meeting of the FOTA alliance occurred this week at a city hotel.

But BMW's Theissen told reporters: "The gap between individual engines is not that big but the topic has been exaggerated lately.

"I don't think this is a decisive factor in terms of performance," he added.

The BMW-Sauber team principal said the engine freeze has reduced teams' engine budgets and opened the door for technologies like the road-relevant KERS systems.

"The downside is, if you unfreeze the engines the cost rises will resume immediately," Theissen insisted.


Foyt Racing signs Meira
Vitor Meira has landed an IndyCar Series ride for the 2009 season with A.J. Foyt Racing.  Meira, who spent the past three years at Panther Racing, will replace Darren Manning in the No. 14 car, team officials confirmed today.  Meira will make his debut with Foyt's team in the Oct. 26 race in Surfers Paradise, Australia.  Their contract is for the 2009 season with an option for 2010.


GM's 'Boost' In Efficient Four-Cylinders Includes More Turbos
GM will double its global production of small four-cylinder engines (1.0L to 1.4L) by 2011, with more than half of the increase coming in North America. The strategy is highlighted by an all-new, 1.4L Turbo engine that will power the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze.

The 1.4L Turbo enables great vehicle performance and fuel economy. In fact, the Cruze is expected to be a fuel economy leader in its segment when it launches in mid-2010, and its new engine reinforces GM’s commitment to replacing larger-displacement engines with more compact, advanced four-cylinder engines that optimize performance and fuel savings.

One-third of GM’s North American engine volume will be four-cylinders by 2011, and 21 percent of the four-cylinder volume will be turbocharged – a seven-fold increase over today’s volume of turbo engines.

“Power-dense four-cylinders such as the 1.4L Turbo are an integral part of GM’s portfolio of advanced propulsion technologies, including cam phasing, direct injection, Active Fuel Management, clean diesels, hybrids, flex-fuel vehicles, six-speed transmissions and electric propulsion,” said Tom Stephens, executive vice president, GM Global Powertrain and Global Quality. “GM is focused on delivering vehicles that look great, are fuel efficient and fun to drive.”

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Singapore GP: Thursday Press Conference
Participating: David COULTHARD (Red Bull), Heikki KOVALAINEN (McLaren Mercedes), Lewis HAMILTON (McLaren Mercedes), Mark WEBBER (Red Bull).


Q. To all of you. Give us your first impressions of Singapore and the circuit.

Mark WEBBER: It looks awesome, actually. I think they have done a really god job with it. Obviously I was here last year having a quick look but that was very early days. I was a little bit concerned about how bumpy it would be in places as there is some reclaimed land if you like. Trying to get that consistent could have been a challenge for them but hopefully it will drive as well as it looks in terms of its surface. I think the grip level will be reasonable from the start and it looks like they have done a really good job.

David COULTHARD: The same as Mark really. The track looks well groomed. I look forward to seeing how much it actually flows, certain parts look sort of Melbourne-esque in that it is a street track but there is some reasonable run off. Was it Phoenix or Detroit, the American tracks, where you had a 90 degree right, a 90 degree left, the end of the lap looks very much like that. It is going to be an interesting combination of the two types of track. It doesn't look like a big traction circuit. It looks more like it is a front end type track, so it will be interesting to see how the tires get on and whether there will be any graining or not. I am just looking forward to getting out there.

Q. Is this an overtaking circuit, Lewis?

Lewis HAMILTON: My guess is as good as yours. It is very wide, so I am sure there is a bit more room to do so but whether or not you can close enough to people, we will find out.

Q. And your feelings about the circuit? Have you had a look?

LH: Not really, no. I drove to the track this morning and got off the motorway or wherever we were and I saw some of the circuit. But I haven't yet gone round the circuit. I'll do so later tonight.

Q. Heikki?

Heikki KOVALAINEN: I think it looks great. I ran it on Tuesday night, as soon as I arrived here, and I think it should be an exciting race. It looks like there is room to overtake but as we saw in Valencia it is still not very easy, so it is difficult to comment whether we will see a good race here or not but it should be a spectacular evening and at least it is something different to what we are normally used to. 

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Coulthard to attend GPs in 2009
(GMM)  David Coulthard has confirmed that he will still be a travelling member of Red Bull Racing next year.

After a 15 year career spanning 13 grand prix victories, the 37-year-old Scot is stepping down as a team racer at the end of 2008.

But he is staying on as a consultant and part-time test driver, and told reporters in Singapore on Thursday: "I am enjoying being here as I will enjoy being in Melbourne next year, but in a different capacity.

"It is the natural journey of life," Coulthard said, insisting that he is happy to be moving on to his next challenge.

He will be replaced in 2009 by Sebastian Vettel, who at Monza two weeks ago upstaged Red Bull's main team by winning for the junior squad Toro Rosso.

Coulthard and teammate Mark Webber, however, said in Singapore that they are not embarrassed that a 21-year-old driving for a less-funded team is carrying the torch for Red Bull.

"The thought that they are a minnow team with not enough money to put tires on the car is just not the reality," Coulthard said, referring to the partly Gerhard Berger-owned Toro Rosso team.

"They don't have to design their own racing car; we do that for them," he explained.  "They've managed to get there before us but I don't think there's any embarrassment on our part.

"We just have to take that on the chin and realize that there are areas that we've got to improve.  If McLaren get beaten, they are not embarrassed, they focus on trying to improve their job, and likewise for Ferrari," Coulthard explained.


Massa adds voice to curb concerns
(GMM)  Championship contender Felipe Massa has added his voice to concerns about some of the kerbing at Singapore's new Marina Bay circuit.

With lighting and visibility fears now fading, drivers - including Sebastien Bourdais and Fernando Alonso - have expressed concern about the high and harsh curbs at the turn 13 hairpin and the chicane at turn 10.

Red Bull's Mark Webber believes the issue "should be looked at", and it is understood that FIA race director safety delegate Charlie Whiting has been alerted about the drivers' concerns.

"The curbs are like little tortoises and if you get something wrong you wreck the car," Ferrari's Massa said on Thursday.


Kubica still in title hunt - BMW
(GMM)  Robert Kubica and his BMW-Sauber team are still counting themselves as an outside chance to win the 2008 drivers' world championship.

The Polish driver is 14 and 13 points respectively adrift Lewis Hamilton's tussle with Felipe Massa, but with four races to go, the mathematics mean the team would be wrong to squander their role as the dark horse.

23-year-old Kubica hit out at BMW's senior management recently, wondering aloud if they favored getting teammate Nick Heidfeld back up to speed over pushing on with his own title challenge.

But team boss Mario Theissen is now adamant that the current situation is "still offering Robert the chance of making it to the very top in the world championships".

Kubica explained in Singapore on Thursday: "The situation is harder than it looks.

"Singapore is the best opportunity in the last four races to score important points, so if the car improves it will be much easier to challenge Hamilton and Massa."

Theissen is quick to point out, however, that Kubica's opportunity does not relegate Heidfeld to a lesser role.

"There is no hierarchy, meaning that we say one of our drivers is number one and the other is our number two, prior to a race," said the German.

"At the same time, it goes without saying that Robert can rely on our full support," Theissen added.


Vettel could call off RBR switch - Lauda UPDATE (GMM)  Sebastian Vettel has played down claims his move from Toro Rosso to Red Bull's senior team in 2009 is a backwards step for his career.

The Monza winner is set to graduate to Red Bull Racing, who are struggling to match the pace of the Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso team despite fielding a near-identical chassis and a much bigger budget.

The performance difference between the sister teams has moved observers like former triple world champion Niki Lauda to observe that Vettel, 21, might do better to simply stay put.

But F1's youngest ever grand prix winner said: "I am very confident for next year and I don't believe that it is a step back."

"I am still convinced that it is the right way to go for next year," the German told F1's official website.

Vettel, to complete the last four races of 2008 with Toro Rosso, spent two days at the wheel of Red Bull's RB4 at Jerez last week, not only to acclimatize to his next team but to give feedback about how RBR might improve.

"Obviously there is a lot to do," he said.  "I believe it would be unfair to say that they are worse than Toro Rosso at the moment."

He thinks Red Bull is just struggling with the finer details of its package at the moment.

"This year formula one in the midfield is very tight so if you give away two or three tenths here, and another two or three tenths there, then quicker than you think you lose half a second.  And that makes a huge difference on the starting grid," said Vettel.

09/24/08 (GMM)  Niki Lauda would not be surprised if, with the blessing of Dietrich Mateschitz, Monza winner Sebastian Vettel calls off his switch to Red Bull Racing for 2009.

The 21-year-old currently drives for Red Bull's junior team Toro Rosso, which with the Ferrari customer engine is currently showing higher performance than its Renault-powered parent.

"Vettel should do a comparison test in the winter with the Toro Rosso and the Red Bull and decide then," Lauda, the former triple world champion and now regular F1 commentator, told Sport Bild.

Lauda, 59, believes Vettel's contract is with Red Bull, rather than with either of Mateschitz's teams.

"Mateschitz is a logically-thinking guy," said Lauda, who is also an Austrian.

"He wants to have success with his brand.  So if he sees that it would be best to leave Vettel with Toro Rosso, I am sure he would do that," he added.

racing news

Mario Andretti finds joy at Monterey Historics
The Monterey Historic Automobile Races set everyone's memories in motion, and this year's guest of honor, Mario Andretti, was no exception. Andretti was on hand to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his Formula One world championship by doing demonstration laps in the Lotus 79 John Player Special that carried him to that title in 1978.

This year, surprisingly, marked Andretti's first time at the event. He seemed to enjoy making the rounds around the paddock and ogling the historic machinery nearly as much as circling Laguna Seca in his old mount. He did stop long enough to reminisce about some of his fondest racing-related memories.

"The one thing I see about this event is people are thoroughly enjoying it," he offered as to what impressed him most about the Historics. "Everybody's got a smile. All my life in real competition, sometimes the tension you could cut with a knife. I can't believe you can have the sound of race cars all around you and actually relax and enjoy yourself. This is the good life, man. I could get used to this, but I don't know if I'm allowed to have this much fun," he said with a wide grin.

Mario Andretti back in the Lotus 79 at this year's Monterey Historics
Bob Heathcote/AR1.com
"This was my first time on this track since '94 [when he raced in CART] and there are so many improvements," he said. "The real come-on was when [event organizer] Steve Earle said, 'Duncan Dayton will let you drive the 79.' On Friday, I tried not to touch the curbing, it [used to be] so terrible. All of sudden I said, 'Oh, man, you can actually use the curbing now,' so I realigned my approach to the corners.

"It's amazing how much time has gone by, but when you're in there, it seems like you never left it. I'm out there trying to be careful. That [car] is so precious; he's crazy to even let me sit in it. It's a delicate piece of equipment, but I thought, I gotta make some noise."

Andretti ranks the Lotus 79 as one of his favorite race cars because he felt he understood "its plusses and minuses" to "extract pretty much what the car could give me."

It gave him his fondest memory--wining the Italian Grand Prix at Monza to become world champion in 1978. 

[Editor's Note: Mario actually won the Italian GP in 1977 going away and then in 1978, after winning pole, Gilles Villeneuve in his Ferrari jumped the start from his No. 2 spot in his Ferrari and grabbed the lead.  Andretti waited a few seconds and then he too went early.  Villeneuve in his Ferrari and Andretti in his Lotus 79 ran 1-2 in one of the great F1 battles of all time, with the Italian tifosi cheering on their beloved Italian car in front and the Italian driver right behind.  Then with 5 laps to go Andretti passed the late great Villeneuve and went on to win the race.  Afterward the race Stewards docked both drivers 60 seconds for jumping the start, so for the record Niki Lauda won and Andretti and Villeneuve were 6th and 7th, but that took nothing away from the fact that on this day Andretti put on one of the best drives of his illustrious career.]

"It's something that only I can appreciate," he said. "When I was 14 years old, still in a refugee camp in Italy, I saw my first F1 race at Monza. That's where my dreams began." More at AutoWeek


Hamilton agrees qualifying crucial
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton agrees with his chief championship rival Felipe Massa that qualifying for this weekend's Singapore night race will be crucial.

"I've never driven on the circuit but it'll be even more difficult to overtake compared to Valencia," Brazilian Massa, who drives for Ferrari, said.

McLaren's Hamilton, one point ahead of Massa in the drivers' standings with four races to go, agrees.

"Overtaking is going to be very tricky, as it is at all street circuits," the Briton said on Thursday.  "There will be a little bit less overtaking than at the other circuits we have.

"It's going to come down to qualifying."

On a dry track, Ferrari and McLaren's respective single-seaters are very closely matched for pace, and both teams now feature second drivers that are effectively racing in support.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone thinks Sunday's race is key to the championship battle.

"Whoever wins this, where it's Hamilton or Massa, will probably be the champion," he told the local Straits Times.


Q&A with Toyota's Pascal Vasselon
Pascal Vasselon
Pascal Vasselon, Senior General Manager Chassis at Toyota, looks ahead to this weekend's first grand prix under lights.

Q: How do you deal with preparing to race at a new venue?
PV: For us, most of the Singapore preparation is business as usual. We have experienced several new venues since 2004 and generally everything goes smoothly. We are used to handling the challenge of a new track so that doesn't worry us. We have had a successful week end in Valencia three weeks ago for the first time there and for Singapore we will be taking the same approach.

Obviously we have studied the lay-out in Singapore and we have found some similarities to other tracks which leads us to conclude it will be a high-downforce circuit so we know which direction to go in terms of aerodynamic set-up. One of the other things we looked at very early was braking severity - this is very important because if you have to make changes it takes time. There is no doubt that Singapore will be very demanding on brakes and we expect them to be working at very high temperatures.

Q: Does racing at night complicate things?
PV: We have prepared for that. Our team probably has a slight advantage in that quite a lot of team members have been to Le Mans so we have quite a good idea about night racing and what is required just to avoid mistakes, as well as considering things like dashboard lighting and handling the pit stops. I am excited by racing at night and this will be a highlight for me. 

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Jackie Stewart Previews the F1 Singapore Grand Prix
Sir Jackie Stewart, RBS Global Ambassador, shares his thoughts on the challenges that F1 teams will face at the upcoming Singapore Grand Prix on September 28, 2008. The three-time Formula 1 World Champion also discusses the three other remaining Grand Prix of the 2008 season.  See Home Page for latest videos.


Singapore track preview
New Singapore street circuit
Formula One enters a brave new world at Singapore's street circuit this weekend, the first time an F1 event has been held under lights. The prospect of a brand new circuit combined with the uncertainty of the night-time conditions could make for some interesting results.

This is F1 racing for the 21st century. It is made for TV, with the added touch of digital flags around the track, replacing the 50-year tradition of race marshals. While some of the teams have tested here, it's unknown what effect the night-time conditions will have on things like tire pressure, engine performance and of course driver visibility.

The track is located in the Marina Bay area and is very much in the same vein as the new Valencia track which hosted the 2008 European Grand Prix. The concept is like a bigger, safer version of Monaco.

Hermann Tilke originally drew up the plans for this track but it was construction and design company KBR which finished it off. There is plenty of ambition in the 5.067km circuit, especially the part where the track runs underneath the public grandstand.

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Hamilton quiet over calls for FIA change
Lewis "I am the best"" Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton refused to be drawn on calls for changes from the FIA following McLaren’s failed appeal and instead insisted he was focused solely on capturing his maiden world championship title.

Jackie Stewart yesterday demanded that the FIA employ permanent, professional stewards for each race in order to ensure consistency in their decision-making.

However, when asked for his opinion on the three-time world champion’s comments, Hamilton stressed he has put the decision behind him in order to concentrate on picking up the points he needs in the remaining four races.

“Its not for me to comment on it,” said the 23-year-old. “I haven’t spoke to Jackie or read any comments.

“I am not focusing on the past and I am just moving forward and concentrating on the next race.”

The hearing was no doubt an unwelcome distraction for Hamilton ahead of Formula One’s first night race on Singapore’s street circuit.

But Hamilton insisted it had not affected his preparations as he looks to claim his fifth victory this season.

“It didn’t really disrupt my week to be honest because I went straight to the airport and got on the plane,” he added.

“We went there and gave it our best shot, perhaps it wasn’t the best result but we move on. It is all in the past now and we must focus on the next four races. We approach them with the same confidence as we have the last ones.

“We have come here no different to how we went to Monza and we are just going to try and do a good job this weekend.

“We are all in the unknown but we have come here to try and score as many points as we can. The key is to score as many as we can in the last four races and be consistent.”


Black flags at night
The Singapore Grand Prix will highlight the development of the new digiflag system to warn drivers with lights rather than flags.

Flag signals have been an integral part of the sport since the early days but with modern technology and new needs the idea of a new system has been developed so that race control is in charge of all signaling. Valerio Maioli, the company that is lighting the Singapore circuit, has come up with a system of light signals to keep the drivers informed of what is going on.

Thirty five display panels will be situated around the track. controlled by hand-held panels operated by officials at each marshals’ post, they will supplement the traditional flag signals. In addition the race director will have an overview of the warnings being displayed around the entire circuit, allowing more centralized, efficient communication of warnings to drivers.

And showing black flags at night?

"It is a black panel with a white edge around it," says Maioli. Grandprix.com


Toyota, Honda Reduce Global Output
Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co., Japan's three largest carmakers, cut global production last month as falling home values and gasoline near $4 a gallon crippled U.S. demand for trucks and sport- utility vehicles.

Toyota reduced global production 17 percent in August, Honda's output fell 4.8 percent, led by a 10.2 percent drop in the U.S., and Nissan built 5.5 percent fewer vehicles, the companies said in separate statements today.

Toyota cut overseas production the most in 12 years, and Honda is building 50,000 fewer Pilot SUVs and Odyssey minivans than originally planned in the U.S. Truck sales in the country plunged 22 percent last month as banks cut lending and drivers avoided larger vehicles.

``A recovery in the U.S. economy won't take place until the second half of next year,'' said Koichi Ogawa, chief portfolio manager at Tokyo-based Daiwa SB Investments Ltd., which manages $28 billion. ``The U.S. economic slump may also slow down China and other emerging markets.''

Toyota fell 2.5 percent to close at 4,690 yen, Honda declined 3.8 percent to 3,300 yen and Nissan slipped 5 percent to 763 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

New vehicle sales in the world's largest car market may fall to 14.2 million units, the lowest total in 15 years, according to market researcher J.D. Power & Associates.


Kimi vows to help team win title UPDATE (GMM)  World champion Kimi Raikkonen has finally admitted he will drive to "help the team" over the last four grands prix of 2008.

Although mathematically still in the hunt for the title, the Finn's 20 point deficit to his teammate Felipe Massa means not approaching the final races of the season with a policy of driver preference would be arguably unwise for Ferrari.

But Raikkonen, 28, said as recently as this week: "Only when I no longer have a mathematical chance will I be totally at the service of the team."

In Ferrari's official pre-race documentation prior to round fifteen of the world championship, however, he has changed his tune.

"I think that we'll have the possibility to win in the four outstanding races and I will give it my all to make it and to help the team to reach its goals," he said.

Ferrari is clearly not going to declare Raikkonen a 'number two' driver to support title charger Massa, but even the language used by team boss Stefano Domenicali is now sounding much less ambiguous.

The Italian said Ferrari's two drivers met with president Luca di Montezemolo recently at Maranello, "who made it very clear that, as usual Ferrari's simple target come the end of the season is to win both titles.

"Both drivers will be working towards this target over the remaining four races, knowing that, as always for the Scuderia, the good of the team comes first," Domenicali added.

Kimi Raikkonen is looking forward to Singapore
The Formula One teams await a whole new challenge this weekend at the all-new Singapore street Grand Prix which will host the first ever night race in the history of the sport. Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen is ready for the new affront.

Kimi Raikkonen: "The most important thing is to win again. The situation in the Championship is what it is and it doesn't depend anymore only on my results, but of my competitors' results. In theory it's not over yet, but I don't have it under control anymore. Last year, in the second part of the season, we had a great set up for the car and I was able to win many races. It was much more difficult this year. Especially as far as the tire temperature is concerned. When the temperature is right, the car is very competitive. We'll give it our best at Singapore, so that we can fight for the win, which still remains the main objective. We have to give it all in these four races and then we'll see what's going to happen. I've said it many times: victory is the only objective, the essence of motor racing. I'm not just here for driving, but I want to win.

"Monza was a bad weekend for me, but afterwards we had a good test session at Mugello. The car had a very good set up in the last two races on the dry track and we've tested some new solutions, which will improve the performance. Last week I spent a day with the simulator at the CRF (Fiat Research Centre) at Turin, where I got an idea of the track, where we're going to race at the weekend.

"I arrived at Singapore today, after one day at Abu Dhabi, where I took part in some promotional events with our partners Mubadala and Etihad Airways. I can't wait to get back on the track, because I love new challenges: since we've known the Championship's race calendar, I've been waiting for 28th September. Of course when I think of the results I had this year on street circuits, I shouldn't be too optimistic, but I still like to race on this kind of track: it's pure emotion, when you find the right set up for the single-seater and race between the walls. I don't think that it will be a big problem that we race at night. They've done it already with motorbikes and it was a great experience. I'm someone who likes to sleep late. My body will adapt perfectly fine to this unusual time of day.

"In the end it's not important when the race starts. When you put on your helmet and go out to the starting grid, you've such a high adrenaline level, that you forget everything else and you just think about giving it everything for the whole race.

"They say that it rains every evening at Singapore. This shouldn't worry us too much, because everybody will race under the same condition. I think that we'll have the possibility to win in the four outstanding races and I will give it my all to make it and to help the Team to reach its goals."


Drivers prepare for night race issues
(GMM)  Most formula one race drivers took a stroll around the floodlit Singapore street circuit on Wednesday night.

The lighting itself did not seem to be an issue, as the barriers, road and curbs gleamed arguably more brightly than they do when the sun is out.

But Mark Webber, who races for Red Bull, was one of a few drivers taking more than a fleeting glance at some of the high and sharp curbs, including at the turn 13 hairpin, and the chicane at turn 10.

Webber told the local Straits Times newspaper that the curb issue "should be looked at".

"The rest looks very good," the Australian added.

Another concern is the threat of rain, with minimally a 50 per cent likelihood every evening this week, rising to 80 per cent for Sunday's night race.

"From the point of view of the spectator, it is exciting," Fernando Alonso told the Spanish newspaper Diario Sport. 

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Jeff Gordon fastest overall at Lowe's
Jeff Gordon was fastest overall after 2 days of testing
Rhonda McCole/AR1.com
Jeff Gordon led the way in the second day of Sprint Cup testing on Wednesday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, notching the fastest speed of the two-session as teams gear up for next month’s Bank America 500.

Gordon’s wheeled his Chevrolet to top speed of 187.233 mph was the fastest among the over 50 teams that took part in the two day session, besting Greg Biffle’s top speed in Tuesday night’s session of 185.605 mph.

Red Bull Racing's Scott Speed, who will apparently replace AJ Allmendinger in the team's No. 84 car next year, was second fastest for the second straight evening, posting a speed of 186.638 mph, followed by the Toyota of Denny Hamlin at 186.599 mph. Dodge pilots Juan Pablo Montoya (185.957 mph) and Elliott Sadler (185.790 mph) rounded out the top five.

Gordon, the defending winner of the Bank of America 500, is still in the hunt for his fifth series title, holding onto ninth place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings. Pete McCole reporting from Lowe's

Wednesday PM Results

Pos. Car # Driver Manu. Lap Time Top Speed
1 24 Jeff Gordon Chevy 28.841 187.233
2 82 Scott Speed Toyota 28.933 186.638
3 11B Denny Hamlin Toyota 28.939 186.599
4 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Dodge 29.039 185.957
5 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge 29.065 185.790
6 99 Carl Edwards Ford 29.087 185.650
7 77B Sam Hornish Jr. * Dodge 29.114 185.478
8 84 Mike Skinner Toyota 29.121 185.433
9 41 Jeremy Mayfield Dodge 29.123 185.420
10 00 Michael McDowell * Toyota 29.158 185.198
11 16 Greg Biffle Ford 29.235 184.710
12 25 Brad Keselowski Chevy 29.250 184.615
13 7B Robby Gordon Dodge 29.271 184.483
14 40 Bryan Clauson Dodge 29.277 184.445
15 33B Stephen Leicht Chevy 29.318 184.187
16 12 Ryan Newman Dodge 29.339 184.055
17 78 Joe Nemechek Chevy 29.347 184.005
18 31 Jeff Burton Chevy 29.360 183.924
19 45B Chad McCumbee Dodge 29.405 183.642
20 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 29.424 183.524

21st thru 58th

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racing news

Desperate for work, Villeneuve to race in Argentina
The Race of the Year in Buenos Aires, the eighth event for the Top Race Super 2008, will have a special guest racing car driver: Jacques Villeneuve, 1995 Champ Car Champion, and 1997 Formula 1 Champion.  Villeneuve will race with a Passat TRV6 at the "Juan y Oscar Gálvez" racetrack, located in Buenos Aires.  His co-driver Emiliano Spataro, is considered the Series’ King.

The famous Canadian driver accepted with pleasure the challenge to compete in Argentina in a close Series like the Top Race. Thus, this will be the first time in history that a foreign former Formula 1 Champion officially race in an Argentinean Series.

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One of the nation's largest car dealerships to shut it doors
One of the nation's largest car dealerships has closed sales operations, possibly forever.

Bill Heard Enterprises Inc., which operates the Bill Heard Chevrolet dealership in Plant City, closed its sales operation there this week, said Paul Baker, executive manager of the dealership.

"It's a shame," Baker said, adding that he thought the era of gigantic dealerships is over. The dealership traces its roots to 1919, just 11 years after Henry Ford first produced the Model T automobile.

Baker declined to elaborate on reasons for the closing, other than to cite financial pressures. He said he doubted the operation would operate under new ownership. "Nobody has the guts to have a big dealership anymore," he said.

The dealership will "take care of any customer's car and live up to any obligations we have as far as sales," he said, "but we closed the sales operation."

Based in Columbus, Ga., Bill Heard Enterprises Inc. operates 13 dealerships nationwide. They all will close, Baker said.

Should GM have jettisoned Bill Heard Years Ago?

The Georgia-based 14-store Bill Heard franchise has generated massive volume despite– or because of– an entire range of deceptive practices. As Automotive News [sub] reports, "With group revenues of $2.13 billion in 2007, Bill Heard Enterprises, of Columbus, Ga., ranks No. 13 on Automotive News' list of the top 125 U.S. dealership groups based on new retail units sold."

Yes, well, "Heard's Town Center dealership in Kennesaw, Ga., lied to third-party lenders about customers' incomes to increase the likelihood that the vehicles would be financed. Bill Heard's flagship Chevrolet store in Columbus, Ga., forged consumers' signatures on agreements without their knowledge or permission.

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Schumacher wins third-quarter Driver Of The Year award
Undefeated on the dragstrip, Tony Schumacher was voted third-quarter Driver Of The Year 2008.  Schumacher won every NHRA POWERade Series event in the third quarter, which ended Sept. 14. That included his 53rd victory, breaking a tie for all-time Top Fuel wins with Joe Amato. It was his seventh straight win and 12th of the year.

The 39-year-old known as "the Sarge" continues to lead the points standings.

"It's an honor to be singled out for this award," said U.S. Army Top Fuel driver Schumacher. "Of course, I wouldn't be in the position that I'm in right now if I didn't have the best team that's ever been assembled in the history of the NHRA."

Barry Schmoyer, president of the Driver Of The Year Foundation, said, "You have to salute a driver who was so consistent, a consistent winner that is."

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Mayfield yearns for shot at No. 41 ride
Jeremy Mayfield would gladly race Chip Ganassi Racing's #41 Sprint Cup car if asked, but whether that request will come is still to be determined. "Obviously I'd love to get in the car and drive next year for sure," Mayfield said Tuesday night. "It's a great race team with a great sponsor. Mayfield said among his options for next year is possibly starting a truck team or going drag racing. SceneDaily.com


Lawmakers cheer $25B deal for auto industry
The U.S. House today approved $25 billion in loans for the troubled U.S. auto industry, as Michigan lawmakers hailed the plan as key toward saving thousands of jobs in the state and vowed to press for an additional $25 billion next year to boost the industry’s retooling.

The loan deal dwarfs the $1.2-billion bailout of Chrysler Corp. in 1979, and reflects the economic crisis threatening the survival of Detroit automakers and the companies that rely on them. Automakers had made the loans their priority over the past several weeks, sending all three chief executives to blitz Congress.

Under the bill, the Bush administration will have two months to write the rules for the loans, and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said she expected the money to begin flowing to the industry by the end of the year.

“There is no bigger issue for Michigan than what we’re accomplishing today,” said Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph. “This is a testament to the strengths of every member.”


IRL teams testing for 2009 season
Less than three weeks after the checkered flag flew for the 2008 IndyCar Series championship, teams and manufacturers have begun testing components for the 2009 season.

Three teams participated in a private test at Richmond International Raceway Sept. 23, and six teams are scheduled to test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sept. 29-30. Additional testing is scheduled for Texas Motor Speedway, Sebring International and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Testing on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis oval includes Dan Wheldon, who will drive the Panther Racing car for the first time since 2002, reigning IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, Rahal Letterman Racing's Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan, and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Buddy Rice.

Note: The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is open to spectators for free to watch testing from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. (ET) Sept. 29-30 from the South infield grandstand. IndyCar.com


Daimler in Talks With Cerberus to Sell Chrysler Stake
Daimler AG, the world's second- largest maker of luxury cars, is in talks with buyout firm Cerberus Capital Management LP to sell its remaining stake in former U.S. arm Chrysler LLC.

Cerberus said it approached Daimler about acquiring the German automaker's 19.9 percent holding in Chrysler. Neither Cerberus nor Daimler gave a timetable or the value of any deal.

A sale would sever the last Chrysler ties for Daimler, which sold 80.1 percent of the third-largest U.S. automaker to Cerberus in August 2007 as losses mounted. Chrysler continues to damp Daimler's earnings, erasing 373 million euros ($548 million) from second-quarter profit. Daimler bought Chrysler in 1998 for $36 billion.

``It would be a surprisingly positive development, though we're not talking about a lot of money here. It would be close to zero,'' said Juergen Pieper, an analyst at Bankhaus Metzler in Frankfurt, who rates Daimler a ``weak buy.''

Daimler, the owner of Mercedes-Benz brand luxury cars, aims to exit the Chrysler holding within a few weeks, Manager-Magazin reported today, citing people it didn't identify. Daimler doesn't plan to pay New York-based Cerberus to take the stake and wants compensation for supporting Chrysler's sales in Europe, the German magazine reported.  Bloomberg


Q and A with Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya, chairman and managing director of Force India, has reasons to smile these days.

The team reached twelfth position on the starting grid of the Italian Grand Prix, on-track battles have begun with the Honda and Williams teams, and the possibility of rain during Singapore's upcoming night race might present further opportunities.

Mallya answers a few questions regarding this week-end's race, speaks of the good mood within the Force India team, and looks ahead to next year.

With the strong Indian influence in Singapore, are you looking forward to the weekend?

"Absolutely, with the large Indian population and the proximity to India, it's something that we very much look forward to. For the companies that sponsor the car, and others as well, Singapore is going to be a big, big venue. It has rightfully aroused tremendous international interest: it's a new venue, the first night race and a street race, which are always hugely popular. I think it's going to be absolutely spectacular."

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track news

NHMS executive Ron Meade dies after brief illness
Ron Meade, an original staff member of New Hampshire Motor Speedway and a long-time motorsports publicist, died Saturday in Concord, N.H., after a brief illness. He most recently served as the director of special projects at the speedway.

"Ron Meade never stopped promoting New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the  surrounding Lakes Region," said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of the speedway.

"Ron had a strong passion for all forms of motorsports and a strong knowledge and appreciation of the sport's history. His insight will be greatly missed. We have not only lost a valuable member of our team, we have lost a great friend as well. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Gail, and his daughters, Linda and Susan."

The Lakes Region Association Scholarship fund for high school students recently established the Ron Meade "On the Track to Tourism" Annual Scholarship to honor his contributions to the region and the state.

Gifts and donations in remembrance of Meade can be sent to: The Lakes Region Hospitality Scholarship Fund, Ron Meade "On the Track to Tourism" Annual Scholarship, PO Box 430, New Hampton, NH 03256.


Bourdais impressed with Singapore circuit
Sebastien Bourdais says the Singapore circuit is lit very well

"It is daylight," Bourdais told autosport.com as preparations continued at the Marina Bay circuit on Wednesday. "The most unbelievable job they have done is with the lighting. It is quite impressive. You have all these structures built around the place, all overhead. It's quite impressive – I have never seen anything like it."

Although happy about the lighting at the circuit and most of the layout, he is worried about the tight chicane that has been built at Turn 10 – and especially the high bumps over the curbs that will likely launch cars that hit them.

"I walked the track for the first time yesterday, and they did a really good job," he explained. "I'm quite impressed. It is obviously a huge undertaking when you have to build from scratch, but I think they did really well.

"The only thing I am a bit bewildered by is the chicane (at Turn 10) that they have put together. I can see why they have done it because there is no run off there, and it would be a fast and open corner if you did not do something, but even so!

"We had a similar problem in Champ Car when they were trying to prevent cars from short cutting chicanes at Monterrey, and the things were half the size of what they are right now – and we were smashing the tubs there left and right.

"Since you don't go and buy a Lola or whatever it is these days in F1, you cannot really afford to damage cars. I haven't seen Charlie (Whiting, F1 race director) yet, but I am a bit surprised. There are fixes for this though.

"The pit entry also seems to be a bit dodgy. You will be running quite a bit quicker than the guy who is going to pit, and you are all going to get to the same point because the entry is just hard left.

"So these are my only two concerns – otherwise the rest of the track is really nicely done. It is a nice track."


Jordan discounts anti-Hamilton conspiracy
(GMM)  Former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan has called for calm amid anti-McLaren conspiracy theories involving Lewis Hamilton's championship challenge.

The Bus Stop chicane controversy breathed new life into claims that the FIA favors Ferrari, particularly when McLaren and Hamilton are involved.

But Irishman Jordan, who left formula one after he sold his eponymous team four years ago, believes critique of F1's governing FIA does not need to be so hysterical.

While admitting that Hamilton was "hard done by" to be penalized at Spa-Francorchamps earlier this month, Jordan told Setanta: "It has to be borne in mind that this is the fifth time that he's (had) some form of penalty this year and, being perfectly honest, all previous four were clear cut cases against him.

"If I was his team boss, I'd call him aside and say: 'Lewis, you're the best person in the car.  Be very calm, be confident in your own ability but you don't need to do things you don't have to do'."

Jordan says he does not subscribe to the anti-Hamilton conspiracy theories.

"If you take the situation where he blocked somebody (in qualifying), it was clear.  He paid the penalty.  If you don't turn up on time, you pay the fine.  In Montreal, he ran into the back of Raikkonen going through a red light, so that was clear too.

"We must not get carried away with 'They have it in for us'.  It's the easiest form of defeat in my view.  We must make sure we are not circumventing rules to make sure he wins it.

"He is great but he needs to take a little bit of stock now and again and bring a little bit of humility to his form," Jordan added.


More chicane talks to take place - Webber
(GMM)  More discussions resulting from the Lewis Hamilton chicane controversy will take place in Singapore this weekend, according to GPDA stalwart Mark Webber.

Despite Hamilton's upheld penalty and stripped victory for cutting the Bus Stop chicane at Spa-Francorchamps, and the FIA's subsequent clarification about the rules, some F1 drivers are still unhappy about the situation.

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) has for years pushed for run-off areas to be asphalted in the name of safety.

But the result is that drivers often readily cut chicanes and then re-join the circuit without the disadvantage of the days of grass or asphalt run-off.

"There will be a discussion out here," Red Bull driver Webber revealed to BBC's Radio Five Live from Singapore.

The Australian thinks the safety advances of asphalt run-off means that cutting a chicane is now considered a "soft option" by drivers.

"Lewis would probably never have had a crack at Kimi around the outside at the first part of the Bus Stop without knowing he had the option of going onto the asphalt part," Webber, 31, said.

"I think we've got to get on top of the chicanes going forward, and we're not too far away from that at the moment, where drivers know that if you gain a position or gain an advantage, you have to give it back a bit more."


Ferrari title approach wrong - Fittipaldi
(GMM) Ferrari is making a mistake by allowing Kimi Raikkonen to keep fighting for the 2008 title, according to former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi.

The Brazilian, who won two drivers' titles in the early 70s, believes the Finnish reigning world champion should fall in line behind teammate Felipe Massa rather than try to bridge his 21 point gap to the championship lead.

"Sometimes Kimi takes points off Felipe and sometimes the other way round," the 61-year-old told The Sun.

Fittipaldi believes McLaren lost last year's championship by adopting a similar policy of driver parity with teammates Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.

"It's the mistake McLaren made last year with Lewis and Fernando Alonso," he confirmed.

World champion Raikkonen, who is 20 and 21 points respectively behind Massa and Hamilton with four races to go, said as recently as this week that he will continue to fight for his own championship so long as he can still theoretically win it.

"Only when I no longer have a mathematical chance will I be totally at the service of the team," he is quoted as saying by Motorsport Aktuell.

Fittipaldi, meanwhile, believes neither of F1's championship contenders is the best driver in the 2008 field.

"Fernando is the most complete driver because he is experienced, knows how to set up a car and is doing incredible things with a difficult Renault," he said.

"He showed in the first race in Australia, and then again at Spa, that he is still capable of driving a grand prix car faster than anyone."


No Honda F1 joyride for this year's IndyCar champ
Every year American Honda arranges for an Indy Car driver, usually the champion, to test their Honda F1, which invariably gets rumors swirling in the F1 paddock and always ends up in a let down for the driver who never gets an offer to go F1 racing. 

However this year's champion Scott Dixon, who has his head screwing on straight, is far more realistic.  Dixon says he has no Formula One ambitions on the heels of his victory this year in the Indianapolis 500 race, and taking the big American IndyCar championship.

In terms of prestige IndyCar ranks just behind Formula One which normally attracts new recruits from other European series which often race on the same circuits as the top championship.

During a stopover in Auckland, New Zealand Scott Dixon says he's focused on trying to repeat his success in IndyCar and doesn't see a move to Formula One as likely saying at 28 he's getting too old and would take too long for him to adapt to the competition.

Instead he's focusing on winning a third Indy car championship.

[Editor's Note: Unlike Champ Car which sent a number of drivers to F1, F1 teams do not view the oval dominated IndyCar Series as a place to look for top drivers.  Driving in circles doesn't make a good F1 driver.]


Singapore Counts on F-1 Night Race to Brighten Economic Gloom
As the economic outlook dims, Singapore is switching on floodlights to brighten its future. The city stages Formula One's first night race on Sept. 28 under the glare of 1,600 lamps that will generate four times the brightness of a regular sports stadium.

McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton will lead the charge around Marina Bay business district at speeds as high as 185 miles per hour (300 kph) -- six times the limit for streets normally filled with taxis and trishaws ferrying workers and tourists.

Singapore, girding for a possible recession, is paying about $200 million over five years for the rights to host the event, tapping the glitz of the world's most-watched motor races to promote itself as something more than a financial hub.

``Singapore has always been known as a good international business center,'' S. Iswaran, senior minister of state for trade and industry, said in an interview. ``What we want to do is also raise Singapore's profile as a global city with great lifestyle, buzz, vibrancy.''

The race is the latest attraction for the Southeast Asian city, including two casino resorts, an $850 million sports center, and the first Youth Olympic Games in the next three years. The world's biggest Ferris Wheel -- the Singapore Flyer - - opened this year, towering over the pit lanes that will teem with the mechanics and drivers of Ferrari, McLaren and BMW.

Hosting major sports events is part of Singapore's strategy to diversify the economy from its traditional manufacturing base and to attract tourists, economists say. The F-1 effect will be felt over years and won't be measured by the experience of this weekend's race alone.

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track news

Richard Cregan Joins Abu Dhabi Motorsports
From  the  moment  Panasonic  Toyota  Racing  announced  the departure of Team Manager Richard Cregan, rumors about his new position began to spread  within  the  notoriously  close-knit  Formula  1  community.  Well,  now  Abu  Dhabi Motorsports Management (ADMM) can officially lift the lid on where Cregan will go next.

Philippe Gurdjian, Chief Executive Officer of ADMM has confirmed that Richard Cregan will be the latest addition to his Yas Marina Circuit team. Richard Cregan starts his new role of Team Manager of ADMM on February 1st 2009 and will report directly to Gurdjian.

The move marks the end of Cregan’s 24 year stint at Toyota with both the Motorsport division and Formula 1 team where he played a significant part in shaping Toyota Motorsport’s history.

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F1 news briefs: Wednesday
(GMM)  Toyota's departing F1 team manager Richard Cregan is to join the management team of the new Abu Dhabi grand prix from early next year, it was announced on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, it is expected that Toro Rosso refugee Scott Speed will continue his meteoric rise through the NASCAR ranks by joining Red Bull's Sprint Cup team next year.

The speculation follows the team's confirmation this week that his American countryman AJ Allmendinger will not return to the wheel of the no.84 car in 2009.  Speed, 25, is testing the car this week and was 2nd fastest on Day 1.


Webber on list of richest Australians
Mark Webber
(GMM)  Mark Webber has broken into a list of the top-100 richest self-made young Australians.

The Red Bull driver, who is 31, is ranked at number 93 on BRW Young Rich List, with an estimated wealth derived from formula one of $23 million.

The list is comprised of Australian born personalities under the age of 40 who have not inherited their fortunes.

Webber is, however, outpaced by 26-year-old international supercross champion Chad Reed, whose $25m puts him in 83rd place.

Pop singer Kylie Minogue ranks at number 23 with her $84m.


Passing to also be rare in Singapore - Massa
Singapore braking analysis
(GMM)  Felipe Massa has earmarked qualifying for this weekend's inaugural Singapore grand prix as a crucial element to his championship challenge.

The Ferrari driver, who trails McLaren's Lewis Hamilton by a single point with four races to go, thinks overtaking will be even more difficult on the twisty floodlit city circuit than it was at Valencia last month.

Valencia's European grand prix, staged on a faster urban circuit than Singapore, was slammed as a processional race that lacked overtaking moves.

"Saturday will be very important, for sure," Massa, 27, told the local Straits Times newspaper on Wednesday, highlighting the importance of a good grid position.

"I've never driven on the Singapore track but it'll be even more difficult to overtake compared to Valencia, because the straights are even shorter," the Brazilian added.

F1 veteran David Coulthard backs Massa's views about the Singapore layout.

"It appears to be less flowing than Valencia and more of a classic street track, with lots of 90-degree block changes, albeit a relatively wide one in most parts," the Red Bull driver said.


Lauda revives Vienna GP idea
(GMM)  Niki Lauda has revived his idea that a street circuit in the Austrian capital Vienna would make a good formula one venue.

"If you see what they've done in Singapore and Valencia, you will see that my idea was meant seriously," the former triple world champion and Austrian is quoted as saying by sportnet.at.

Vienna-born Lauda, 59, said his proposal was originally rubbished by Austrian politicians.

"It was explained to me then that Vienna is a cultural capital, not a place for racing," he said.


Lowe's PM Testing: Biffle and Speed fastest
Greg Biffle
Rhonda McCole/AR1.com
Greg Biffle’s hot streak in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series continued as the second-place points man in the Chase for the Sprint Cup topped the speed charts in Tuesday’s evening testing session at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

Biffle’s top speed of 185.605 mph was the best of the 51 Sprint Cup teams that took to the track in preparation for the Bank of America 500 event to be held here on Oct. 11, which will mark the halfway point in the 10-race chase for the title.

Biffle has won in each of the first two races in the Chase, moving up from ninth in points at the start of the Chase into a two-way tie for second with defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, both just 10 points behind leader Carl Edwards.

“We unloaded with the All-Star and Coca-Cola 600 setup in the car,” said Biffle. “We figured that was a great place to start since we finished second in both of those events and the car is super-easy to drive, and it has a lot of speed. I'm pretty happy about that for starters.”

Scott Speed was second-fastest with a top speed of 184.881 mph in a third Toyota entry for Red Bull Racing. Edwards was third at 184.231 mph, followed by Bryan Clausen at 184.068 mph in the no. 40 Chip Ganassi Dodge. Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five with a fast lap of 183.836 mph.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. posted the fastest speed in the afternoon session, running a fast lap of 182.642 mph. Biffle was second fastest, followed by Mark Martin, Kyle Busch and Dave Ragan.  Pete McCole reporting from Lowe's

PM Results

Pos No. Driver Make Time Speed
1 16 Greg Biffle Ford 29.094 185.605
2 82 Scott Speed Toyota 29.208 184.881
3 99 Carl Edwards Ford 29.311 184.231
4 40 Bryan Clauson Dodge 29.337 184.068
5 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge 29.374 183.836
6 20 Tony Stewart Toyota 29.374 183.836
7 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 29.376 183.824
8 8 Mark Martin Chevy 29.378 183.811
9 12 Ryan Newman Dodge 29.424 183.524
10 78 Joe Nemechek Chevy 29.484 183.150
11 11B Denny Hamlin Toyota 29.508 183.001
12 24 Jeff Gordon Chevy 29.521 182.921
13 84 Mike Skinner Toyota 29.529 182.871
14 45B Chad McCumbee Dodge 29.534 182.840
15 33B Stephen Leicht Chevy 29.549 182.747
16 83 Brian Vickers Toyota 29.550 182.741
17 7B Robby Gordon Dodge 29.551 182.735
18 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge 29.563 182.661
19 26 Jamie McMurray Ford 29.592 182.482
20 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Dodge 29.600 182.432

21st thru 61st

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