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Road Atlanta: Peugeot still leads at Hour 3
The Petit LeMans ALMS race had an auspicious start when Gerardo Bonilla stuffed the rear of the B-K Motorsports new Mazda Coupe into the tire wall at Turn 1 ending the warm-up session early with a red flag.  Then  Allan McNish was at the wheel of the No. 1 Audi R10 TDI when he ran out of talent on cold tires in the esses. He hit the outside wall before spinning off into the tire wall down the hill. The car was damaged on the left side front and in the rear of the Audi.

"On the out lap on the way to the pits I accelerated a little coming through the Esses and the car spun and went into the wall, cold tires obviously. The car is reasonably heavily damaged," said McNish. "You have to put your hand up to the mistake but I think it is proof that we need to rethink the rules for next year regarding tire-warmers."

Minassian grabs the lead for Peugeot at the start
Adriano Manocchia/AR1.com
The Audi Sport North America team was able to fix the R10 but due to the rule on tire change after qualifying, McNish had to start from pit lane.

The Petit Le Mans race began with Nicolas Minassian placing the Peugeot into the lead with Marco Werner in the No. 2 Audi giving chase.

After several incidences the Peugeot still led at the 3-hour mark.  The race will run 10 hours.

Hour 3 Standings


Car Cls CP Drivers Team Car Laps Gap
1. 07 P1 1. N.Minassian, S.Sarrazin, C.Klien Peugeot Sport Peugeot 908 HDi FAP 116 0.000
2. 7 P2 1. R.Dumas, T.Bernhard Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder 116 19.781
3. 5 P2 2. H.Castroneves, R.Briscoe Penske Motorsports, Inc. Porsche RS Spyder 116 1.978
4. 26 P2 3. F.Montagny, T.Kanaan, M.Andretti Andretti Green Racing Acura ARX-01b 116 4.503
5. 6 P2 4. S.Maassen, P.Long, E.Collard Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder 116 11.464
6. 2 P1 2. L.Luhr, M.Werner Audi Sport North America Audi R10 TDI 116 25.083
7. 15 P2 5. A.Fernandez, L.Diaz, M.Jourdain Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b 115 1 Lap
8. 50 P1 3. D.Watts, O.Pla Team LNT Ginetta-Zytek 07s 115 40.437
9. 1 P1 4. R.Capello, A.McNish, E.Pirro Audi Sport North America Audi R10 TDI 115 5.699
10. 20 P2 6. B.Leitzinger, M.Franchitti, A.Lally Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder 115 14.971
11. 16 P2 7. C.Dyson, G.Smith Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyder 114 1 Lap
12. 66 P2 8. G.de Ferran, S.Pagenaud, S.Dixon de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-01b 114 53.384
13. 888 P1 5. S.Hall, L.Halliday, D.Stirling Creation Autosportif Creation CA/07 Aim 109 5 Laps
14. 3 GT1 1. J.O'Connell, J.Magnussen, R.Fellows Corvette Racing Corvette C6.R 108 1 Lap
15. 4 GT1 2. O.Gavin, O.Beretta, M.Papis Corvette Racing Corvette C6.R 108 3.733
16. 12 P1 6. C.McMurry, B.Willman, T.Burgess Autocon Motorsports Lola B06/10 AER 108 39.757
17. 87 GT2 1. D.Werner, B.Miller, J.Hardt Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 106 2 Laps
18. 45 GT2 2. J.Bergmeister, W.Henzler, M.Lieb Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 106 38.443
19. 44 GT2 3. S.Neiman, D.Law, L.Pechnik Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 106 24.061
20. 88 P1 7. J.Campbell-Walter, H.Primat, S.Simpson Creation Autosportif Creation CA/07 Aim 105 1 Lap
21. 71 GT2 4. D.Farnbacher, D.Muller Tafel Racing Ferrari 430 GT 105 6:22.911
22. 61 GT2 5. T.Krohn, N.Jonsson, E.van de Poele Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT 105 55.801
23. 46 GT2 6. J.van Overbeek, P.Pilet Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 105 4.841
24. 007 GT2 7. P.Drayson, J.Cocker, D.Turner Drayson-Barwell Aston Martin Vantage 104 1 Lap
25. 21 GT2 8. J.Hand, T.Milner, A.Wirth Panoz Team PTG Panoz Esperante 104 33.308
26. 62 GT2 9. M.Salo, J.Melo Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT 104 10.033
27. 73 GT2 10. J.Tafel, A.Figge, P.Ehret Tafel Racing Ferrari 430 GT 103 1 Lap
28. 40 GT2 11. D.Robertson, A.Robertson, D.Murry Robertson Racing Doran Ford GT-R 102 1 Lap
29. 99 GT2 12. B.Aucott, P.Kaffer, S.Daoudi JBM Racing Ferrari 430 GT 102 4.614
30. 18 GT2 13. N.Pastorelli, M.Basseng, F.Pastorelli VICI Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 101 1 Lap
31. 54 GT2 14. T.Pappas, A.Lazzaro Black Swan Racing Doran Ford GT-R 96 5 Laps
32. 11 GT2 15. J.Feinberg, C.Hall Primetime Race Group Dodge Viper Comp Coupe 94 2 Laps
33. 48 P1 8. G.Jeannette, J.Mowlem, S.Johansson Corsa Motorsports Ginetta-Zytek 07s 73 21 Laps
34. 37 P1 9. J.Field, D.Dayton, R.Berry Intersport Racing Lola B06/10 AER 53 20 Laps
35. 28 GT2 16. L.Gigliotti, T.Drissi, M.Goossens LG Motorsports Riley Corvette C6 37 16 Laps
36. 30 P1 10. R.Lewis, L.Hines, G.Forgeois Intersport Racing Lola B07/17 Judd 33 4 Laps
37. 9 P2 9. D.Brabham, S.Sharp, D.Franchitti Highcroft Racing Acura Acura ARX-01b 16 17 Laps


McNish fastest in Petit warm-up
The stage is set for Petit Le Mans powered by the Totally New MAZDA6. Audi Sport North America’s Allan McNish turned in the fastest time in Saturday morning’s warm-up session at Road Atlanta with a 1:08.403 (133.678 mph) around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit. McNish qualified his Audi R10 TDI second for this morning’s start of the 1,000-mile/10-hour race in which he will team with Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro.

LMP2 pole-winner Ryan Briscoe was second overall and first in class in a Penske Motorsports Porsche RS Spyder. Briscoe, who will drive with Helio Castroneves, posted a time of 1:09.754 (131.089 mph). He was just 0.031 seconds ahead of the pole-sitting Peugeot 908 HDi of fastest qualifier Stephane Sarrazin, Nic Minassian and Christian Klien.

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Dutch on pole at Zandvoort
The Netherlands – Was the grid computer generated to sell more tickets?  Local hero Jeroen Bleekemolen will start on pole position in the A1 Team Netherlands car for his home race, A1GP Zandvoort tomorrow after posting a superb lap of 1m 24.213 seconds in qualifying at Circuit Park Zandvoort.

Bleekemolen set the stunning lap with approximately 15-minutes to go in the session, and chose to sit out the final minutes while the rest of the field tried to beat his time. However, he ended up more than three tenths of a second quicker than A1 Team New Zealand’s Earl Bamber. Ireland and Malaysia will start on the second row, with strong laps from Adam Carroll and Fairuz Fauzy respectively.

In a change from the usual format, the A1 Teams had a full hour of qualifying with their best time counting towards the grid position for tomorrow’s race.

Ireland was fastest straight out of the box, going to the top of the time sheets by posting a 1m 28.012s time on its first flying lap, which was already faster than last year’s A1GP lap record.

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Dutch team breaks Zandvoort lap record
A1 Team Netherlands set the pace in free practice for A1GP Zandvoort, the Netherlands today. Driver Jeroen Bleekemolen smashed the lap record in his new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car with a time of 1m 25.387s, as the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport 2008/09 season got underway.

Neel Jani, driving for reigning champion A1 Team Switzerland, was second quickest, an impressive showing considering it was his first taste of the new car. He finished ahead of Ireland’s Adam Carroll, and the USA’s Charlie Kimball. The fastest times were set in the third morning session on a dry track, after a downpour of rain washed out the majority of dry running in the early part of the day.

The day did start dry however, and it was with after much anticipation, A1 Team Monaco became the first to turn a wheel in an official race weekend in the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari era.

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Kimi form 'a mystery' to Ecclestone
(GMM)  After Kimi Raikkonen admitted his 2008 title defense is now over, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has declared extreme "disappointment" with the current form of the reigning world champion.

"With Kimi I am extremely disappointed," the 77-year-old billionaire admitted in interview with Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper, to be published on Sunday.

28-year-old Raikkonen, despite his sensational late dash to the drivers' crown a year ago, has struggled this season and is now a near-insurmountable 27 points behind the title lead with just three races to run.

Ecclestone said: "Kimi is such a fantastic driver.  I thought he had lost his motivation, but then he signed for two more years with Ferrari.  It is a mystery to me."

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Toyota forced to offer zero-interest loans
Toyota Motor Corp. has announced zero-percent financing on 11 models as it tries to woo would-be buyers sidelined by the consumer credit crunch.

The top Japanese automaker's U.S. division said Thursday that the incentives range from 36 months to 60 months and are being offered on the Matrix, Corolla, Camry, RAV4, Highlander, FJ Cruiser, 4Runner, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra.

Toyota Division General Manager Bob Carter said the automaker had the inventory of fuel-efficient models and the capacity to finance or lease them.

Toyota reported Wednesday that its U.S. sales dropped 32 percent last month. The automaker blamed the slide in sales on the overall economic conditions and a lack of consumer confidence.


Mosley seeks to change privacy laws
(GMM)  Max Mosley, still aggrieved by the News of the World expose about his sex life, is set to wage war on the English privacy laws.

The FIA president's privacy case in July won him $120,000 in damages against the British scandal newspaper, but he now wants to change the way editors publish stories that potentially breach privacy.

"To remedy it completely I need to challenge English law," he said.

According to The Guardian newspaper, Mosley is taking his case to the European court of human rights in Strasbourg (France).

He said requiring editors to notify the subjects of their stories will make it possible for injunctions to be requested.

"The chance of being sued is very small, the damages are not very big, and it is a worthwhile risk," Mosley said.

"I think it's wrong that a tabloid editor can destroy a family and wreck a life without being answerable to anybody just to sell newspapers," he added.

Mosley said his High Court victory carried with it the penalty of having his case heard and reported in great detail.

"Anyone who is a victim of this situation has to publicize all over again the very thing they are trying to keep private.

"If I had been notified first ... at least I could have challenged it in front of an independent person," he insisted.


McLaren to bring a number of new components to Japan
After the first night race in the history of Formula One at Singapore, the teams travel to Fuji for the Japanese Grand Prix. The McLaren Mercedes Team is confident towards the race in the shadow of Mount Fuji as they are ahead in both championships.

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:

What sort of challenge does the Fuji circuit provide from an engineering point of view?
"It's not a particularly extreme circuit; it's not a place that really places a premium on the car or the driver - unless it's raining, of course. But, as a result, it's a circuit where you really benefit from solid, clever engineering rather than raw power or efficient aerodynamics. This year, we're bringing a number of smaller components to the car ahead of the race and will be working hard with our engineers to ensure that we can maximize our track time in order to get our cars well-balanced. Of course, we are reliant on good weather - and we learnt last year that this is not always forthcoming when you're racing on the side of a mountain!"

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

Why did Lewis Hamilton not win after Felipe Massa's refueling problems? At the time he was second and the winner came from 15th on the grid, the runner-up from eighth - Lewis ended up third.
"Up until his first pit stop, Lewis was in second position. The first Safety Car period beginning on lap 15, of course, brought forward those drivers who had pitted shortly before - like, for example, David, who was ahead of Lewis for 20 laps after his pitstop and who drove significantly more slowly than Lewis's race speed would have allowed. Drivers who could race without traffic after the Safety Car deployment had an advantage, so, as a consequence, the current Safety Car rules came under criticism."

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track news

The revamped Donington Park
More details are emerging of the plans to revamp Donington Park for the British Grand Prix in 2010. Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd has submitted plans for the first phase of the re-development of Donington Park with North West Leicestershire District Council has accepted the plans as being valid and they will now move on to the approval process, which the circuit hopes will be completed by early next year. If all goes to plan the work will then start but this will not affect the 2009 events at the track.

The work is expected to costs around $175m and there is no indication as to where this money will be coming from. The plans show a new pit and paddock complex on the inside of Coppice Corner and if all goes ahead the Exhibition Centre will have to demolished as it is on the route of the new main straight. This curves slightly down to the Melbourne Hairpin and then the track sweeps round to the left, dropping downhill towards the Old Hairpin, where there will be a tight left-handed corner in the current infield. The track will then climb the hill again, through two left-handers and will then pass the old pits on a new Wheatcroft Straight down to Redgate Corner. As part of the redevelopment there will be a number of new hospitality suites around the circuit and two bits of road in the new section of track will link to the Old Hairpin area, thus creating the possibility of having two short circuits in operation at the same time. This will help to increase income from events for the rest of the year. Grandprix.com


Bridgestone confirmed to be MotoGP supplier
Just as it did in F1, Michelin refused to bid to become the single MotoGP tire supplier in 2009, but the FIM has confirmed that rival Bridgestone has submitted a proposal.

Bridgestone, favorite to win the contract even before Michelin's announcement, appears to be the only tire manufacturer to have submitted a proposal.

"The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Claude Danis (FIM), Hervé Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of Mr. Paul Butler (Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held today at the circuit of Phillip Island, have been informed that Bridgestone has sent a proposal to FIM and Dorna to be the single tire supplier in MotoGP for 2009," read an FIM statement. "This proposal will be studied and an announcement will be made on 18th of October 2008 in Sepang, Malaysia."


McLaren drivers hoping for dry weather at Japan
The snow-capped cone of the mighty Mount Fuji volcano forms the impressive backdrop to the upcoming Japanese Grand Prix, the 16th race of the 18-round 2008 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. The 3,776m peak towers over the state-of-the-art Fuji International Speedway, which returned to the Formula 1 calendar in 2007 after last hosting the Japanese race in 1977.

The revamped venue, which updates the track's configuration while still retaining much of its original character, hosts the event for a second successive year. Next year, the race returns to Suzuka, in Mie Prefecture, beginning an annual alternating program between the two circuits. This year's event will be the 24th Japanese Grand Prix.

The Fuji track has been kind to the McLaren team: in 1976, rebellious racer James Hunt dramatically clinched the world title after finishing third at the wheel of an M23; a year later, he won the event in an M26. Last year, Lewis Hamilton memorably emerged victorious from a torrential downpour that saw the race run behind the Safety Car for the first 20 laps.

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Castroneves indicted for tax evasion UPDATE #8 Here is a video of Castroneves speaking to reporters outside the courthouse on Friday.

10/04/08 A clever reader on our discussions forums posted the photo to the right.

In court, an attorney for Miller called the government's case "weak, thin and it's not worth the paper it's printed on." Added the attorney, Mike Tein, "If the case did not involve a celebrity, there would be no case."

The government alleges that income Helio Castroneves received from Coimex Internacional and Penske Racing was placed in an offshore Panamanian shell corporation. The indictment states that Castroneves lied about his income on his tax returns.

Tein described the offshore account in question as "a pension plan used by celebrities like the Rolling Stones," adding, "the government does not understand this pension plan."

But IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said using offshore corporations to evade taxes is a crime. "This case sends a clear message that the IRS is committed to vigorously enforcing the tax laws and stopping offshore tax evasion."

Castroneves' attorney, Mark Seiden, told CNN he believes his client will be vindicated.

"Helio is a superb and accomplished race car driver," he said. "He is not an accountant. He relied on others for his taxes. Helio did nothing wrong." [Why was Helio President of this corporation that he supposedly knew nothing about?]

10/03/08 Helio Castroneves just pleaded not guilty to seven charges of tax fraud -- but for a guy who's known for driving at high speeds, he's not goin' anywhere fast.  We're told he was brought into the arraignment in cuffs and shackles, and cried throughout the hearing (The reader below told you he can turn on and off the phony tears at the snap of his fingers). He had to give up his passport, and won't be allowed anywhere outside the US -- though interestingly he can race this weekend in Atlanta.  Bond was set at $10 million, $8 mil of which is coming out of an account in the Netherlands.  His lawyer was also arraigned along with Helio's sister, who were allegedly in on the tax scheme. TMZ.com

10/03/08 Prosecutors said Castroneves and his sister faced a statutory maximum of up to 35 years in prison if convicted on all charges, while Miller could face a maximum of 20 years. However, actual penalties were expected to be much less and were tied to the amount of unpaid tax.  Given his age if Helio spends any time behind bars his racing career will be over.  His squeaky clean image certainly is tarnished.  We hear someone that Castroneves screwed in the past informed the government of Helio's illegal activities (paybacks are a bitch) and the government is all too happy to come down hard on Castroneves to make an example of him.

10/03/08 Here is the full lawsuit (PDF) filed by the US Government against Castroneves and his team of cohorts.

10/02/08 Castroneves, 33, was indicted along with his sister, Katiucia Castroneves, and his attorney, Alan R. Miller (charged only with conspiracy), who served as treasurer and secretary, respectively, of Castroneves Racing Inc. Helio Castroneves was president. According to the government’s court filings, Castroneves Racing served to manage the driver’s day-to-day career operations.

According the indictment, another company, Seven Promotions Corp., was incorporated in Panama and controlled by Helio and Katiucia Castroneves, along with another family member. The government alleges that the defendants used Seven Promotions to conceal and disguise the true amount of Helio Castroneves income, by transferring money through various bank accounts, as well as disguising payments intended for Castroneves as payments made to the company. The indictment alleges, among other things, that Miller filed fraudulent federal income-tax returns on Castroneves behalf that failed to report approximately $5,550,000 in income received from Penske and Castroneves sponsor Coimex, a Brazilian trading company.

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GEM & RGM issue statement
Robby Gordon Motorsports and Gillett Evernham Motorsports issued a joint statement today confirming that all issues between them are resolved. As previously announced, the two auto racing firms acknowledged that they acted in good faith in connection with their former merger plans. Recent news reports concerning a lawsuit between RGM and a business broker have suggested that RGM and GEM are in a continuing legal dispute. Those news reports are incorrect. GEM is not a party to RGM's lawsuit, and no claims are being asserted against GEM. RGM/GEM PR


Pakistan team withdraws from A1GP opener
Team Pakistan has been forced to delay its debut in the fourth season of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. The team had been set to compete at the first round in Zandvoort, Netherlands this weekend, but technical issues which compromised the safety of driver, Adam Khan, has led to the decision to begin Pakistan's campaign at the second round of competition which will take place at Chengdu in China.

Khan had his first run in the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car on Thursday, at a shakedown test in Snetterton, UK. However, during this initial test session the Pakistan crew found that the constraints of the chassis from a technical perspective compromised Khan's safety in the car and the team reluctantly made the decision to delay their return to the track.

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BMW team stages demo in South Korea
Nick Heidfeld
The BMW Sauber F1 Team marked a rather special debut in South Korea on Saturday when Nick Heidfeld became the first Formula One driver ever to clock up mileage in an F1 car in South Korea's capital, Seoul. Along a closed-off section in the Samsung-dong area of the city, the German racing driver was cheered by an estimated 20,000 spectators who had come to watch his demo drive.

On Sunday, the BMW Sauber F1 Team will be putting on another show in Gwang-ju. This city lies in the South Korean province of Jeollanam-do, where there are plans to host a Formula One race in the future. From there, Heidfeld will continue on to Japan for the Grand Prix to be held in Fuji on 12th October.

In Seoul, Heidfeld blasted up and down a half-kilometer strip five times, leaving behind lingering smoke clouds after each scorching U-turn. "It was great fun, particularly as we're not allowed to do any donuts on the race tracks," said the man from Mönchengladbach. "And the spectators seemed to enjoy the show as well. I just love the sheer enthusiasm of the Asians. South Korea was unknown territory for me, but the delight of the fans, who were literally squealing, is just as evident here as in Japan, our next stop."

The event was staged on the initiative of the Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVO). KAVO is a joint venture between the government of Jeollanam-do Province and the promoter M-Bridge Holdings. The circuit plans were presented at a press conference.


A1GP drivers for this weekend
The following drivers have signed-on to compete in A1GP Zandvoort, The Netherlands

A1 Team Driver 1 Driver 2
Australia John Martin None
Brazil Felipe Guimaraes None
China Ho Pin Tung None
France Loic Duval None
Indonesia Satrio Hermanto None
Ireland Adam Carroll Niall Quinn
Italy Onidi Fabio None
Korea Jin Woo Hwang None
Lebanon Daniel Morad Jimmy Auby
Malaysia Fairuz Fauzy None
Monaco Clivio Piccione None
Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen None
New Zealand Earl Bamber None
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque None
South Africa Adrian Zaugg None
Switzerland Neel Jani None
USA Charlie Kimball None

Due to the cancellation of the usual rookie sessions on Friday in line with the circuit’s noise restriction requirements, Saturday’s first practice has been extended to a 1 hour 50 minute sessions at 09:00 followed by a second practice session at 11:00 – 12:30.


GP3 Series to launch in 2010 UPDATE (GMM)  Organizers of GP2, including Bernie Ecclestone, have announced the creation of GP3, a feeder category for the F1 support class.

A brief statement said the championship will be launched in 2010 as a "stepping stone into GP2", and held on the same formula one weekends.

The announcement comes hot on the heels of the launch of the new FIA-backed Formula 2 category, which will be run in direct competition with GP2 and GP3.

The GP3 statement said the single seater will have a 2 liter, 250hp engine.

"After the tremendous success of the GP2 Series, I believe this GP3 Series will be an opportunity for drivers, engineers and mechanics who are making their way to formula one," said F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone.

10/03/08 The organizers of the GP2 series announced today that a new GP3 Series will be launched in 2010.

This series will be a stepping-stone into GP2 Series, and will take place within the GP2 race weekends.

The chassis, the engine and the tires will be decided after a consultation with the manufacturers who have shown interest in supporting GP3.

The engine will be two-liters with 250 HP. The chassis will incorporate the latest single seater design features.

The GP2 concept, which took over from F3000, was setup by Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore. The FIA is currently looking to start an F2 series with Palmer Sport and the new series' is seen by many as an ongoing battle between FOM CEO Ecclestone and FIA President Max Mosley to control the upper echelons of the sport.

Bernie Ecclestone
“After the tremendous success of the GP2 Series, I believe this GP3 Series will be an opportunity for drivers, engineers and mechanics who are making their way to Formula One. I wish good luck to this Series."

Bruno Michel
“The philosophy behind GP3 Series will be very similar to what we did in GP2 regarding the performance of the car, the control of the costs, the show, the safety and the training to access to the following category, but adjusted to the level of this new Series. We will make sure that this Series will be as successful as GP2 in revealing young drivers able to jump to the next step. We are looking forward to 2010.”


Stoner wins home track pole
Casey Stoner

It’s been a stunning afternoon at Phillip Island – in every sense of the word.

In glorious sunshine, four riders eclipsed the fastest lap time ever seen at the Island – and Australia’s Casey Stoner went quickest of them all to claim his second successive pole position for his home Grand Prix.

The decisive moment looked to have come three-quarters of the way through the MotoGP qualifying hour when Jorge Lorenzo’s Yamaha became the first bike ever to crack the 1:29 barrier here, clocking 1:28.990 to put one hand on his fifth pole of 2008.

But the man who previously held the fastest lap time at the Island, American Nicky Hayden, hit back immediately for Honda with a 1:28.756 of his own, the Kentucky Kid clearly rejuvenated by the news that he will be joining Stoner on the big red Ducatis in 2009.

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Niemela Takes Victory and Atlantic Title in Thriller
Coming to a restart with four laps remaining in Friday’s 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season finale at Road Atlanta, Finnish rookie Markus Niemela was sitting second in both the race and championship standings.

American rookie Dane Cameron had led handily from the race’s standing start, while another American rookie, Jonathan Summerton was sitting third in the race standings and first in the championship by one point over Niemela. Jonathan Bomarito, who came into the race with a seven-point lead over Summerton and a 10-point advantage over Niemela, saw his championship hopes dashed when he was forced to retire due to a mechanical problem after just 10 laps of what would be a 35-lap event.

Niemela got an outstanding run in his No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting machine from Brooks Associates Racing heading into Turn 1 on the restart and shot to the inside to take the lead away from Cameron. Just behind him, Canadian Kevin Lacroix made a similar move on Summerton to take third away and a few seconds later, both the race and the championship were decided. In a last-ditch effort to preserve the championship, Summerton made contact with Cameron—who had fallen to third behind both Niemela and Lacroix—damaging both cars and sending them off course.

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Like AR1.com, Newman was a big supporter of Nuclear Energy
Paul Newman, who died last week, took a carefully guarded secret to his grave — something that would have disgraced him in Hollywood. 

Did he have a secret mistress? (No, that wouldn’t bother anybody.)  Did he have a clandestine fleet of SUVs?  (Now that’s more like it.)  Was he addicted to McDonald’s hamburgers?

No, Paul Newman was a cautious but increasingly open supporter of nuclear power.

Newman’s journey from garden-variety left-wing environmentalism to nuclear advocacy began in 1992 when he played the role of General Leslie Groves, supervisor of the Manhattan Project, in the movie Fat Man and Little Boy. Richard Rhodes’s book The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction, was a primary source for the film, and Rhodes had just written Nuclear Renewal, making the case for a revival of the technology.

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Tracy sues Forsythe UPDATE #2 The lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Chicago, claims Tracy is owed more than $2.3-million as per his contract at the time Forsythe Racing ceased operation in the former Champ Car series.

In the complaint, Tracy's attorney claims the racer's contract called for a $1-million buyout to be paid in the event the team ceased operation in Champ Car. Terms of Tracy's contract also show that he was to have been paid $2.25-million for the 2008 Champ Car season, plus any bonuses. However, Tracy says he's been paid for February, March and April and nothing since.

Tracy's lawsuit did not specify any specific monetary damage, calling instead for compensatory as well as other damages.

No date has been set for the lawsuit and Forsythe has yet to respond to allegations.

"Forsythe has, since at least late 2007, engaged in a pattern of conduct to injure .. the career of Paul Tracy in the sport of automobile racing", claims the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims a Termination Fee would be "payable in the event that Champ Car dissolved and Forsythe Racing chose to cease operations rather than race in an equivalent series".

10/03/08 AutoRacing1.com has obtained a copy of the lawsuit (PDF) for your reading pleasure.  The lawsuit is for much more than the $75K we originally thought, and in the millions.

10/03/08 Paul Tracy has filed a major lawsuit in Illinois Northern District Court against his former Champ Car boss Gerald Forsythe.  The exact details of the lawsuit are unknown but it is believed to be based on Forsythe terminating Tracy's contract early.


Sporting Regulation Changes For A1GP
A1GP World Cup of Motorsport will be making changes to its race weekend format for A1GP Zandvoort, The Netherlands with qualifying and the Sprint race being affected.

In place of the four separate qualifying segments there will now be just a one hour session, with no restriction on the number of laps each car can complete. These times will determine the grid for the Sprint race.  The Sprint race will not have the mandatory pit stop and its results will determine the Feature race grid.

The qualifying format has been changed due to the late arrival of the A1 teams from Brazil, China, France and Portugal, who have been unable to shake down their cars. The mandatory pit stop has been dropped from the Sprint race to conserve equipment, however, this will not affect the two pit stops in the Feature race.


Keselowski practices for Mears
Brad Keselowski practiced Hendrick Motorsports' #5 Pop Tars/Carquest Chevy Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway for Casey Mears, who is expecting his first child with girlfriend Trisha Grablander. In the event that Mears needs to return to North Carolina to be with Grablander, Keselowski will be on standby and is practicing the car accordingly. NASCAR is requiring that Keselowski must practice the car before being allowed to drive in relief. Keselowski is a JR Motorsports driver in the Nationwide Series who will attempt his Sprint Cup debut in a Hendrick car next week at Charlotte SceneDaily


Kahne, Earnhardt crash at Talladega
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Top) and Kasey Kahne were involved in separate accidents
Jason Smith and Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
Brian Vickers led the final Sprint Cup Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway on Friday that included a multicar crash involving three Chase For The Sprint Cup contenders, including Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Kasey Kahne, who was second fastest, also was involved and will have to go to a backup Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge in Sunday’s Amp Energy 500.

Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet likely suffered a cut tire, according to the team and Goodyear, and triggered a six-car crash. Chase driver Clint Bowyer (Richard Childress Racing) was also involved and forced to use a backup car, as was Earnhardt Jr. Tony Stewart (Joe Gibbs Racing) was also involved in the wreck, but his team was able to fix his car.

“The tire seemed to come apart at the tread and the sidewall,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “We looked at the car and really nothing had fell off of it. … It come out of nowhere. It was hard to see. We looked at some of the replays to see if anything came out from under it – maybe we can find it on a replay there was something we might have run over.

“It’s unfortunate. A lot of man-hours go into the primary. That was our [Budweiser] Shootout car. The car that’s the backup is our [Daytona] 500 car, so we’ve still got a good little race car for the race. We really aren’t any further behind when we were when we unloaded today.

“If you’re going to have that kind of day, this is a great track to have it. You put a lot of work into those cars, and it’s unfortunate for all of the guys that put so many hours into it. They worked really hard today, more than they were expecting to when they got up this morning.”

Other drivers going to backups are David Reutimann (Michael Waltrip Racing) and David Gilliland (Yates Racing).


Last Lap Pass Puts Allgaier in Victory Lane at Talladega
Justin Allgaier, in the family-owned Hoosier Tire Midwest-AG Tech Dodge, surfaced just in time to wrestle the lead away from Joey Logano Friday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway to win the thrilling, action-packed ARCA RE/MAX 250. 

Allgaier, with no drafting help, drove to the outside of Logano down the backstretch on the last lap, bounced off the former leader and sailed away to earn the biggest victory of his career. The Springfield, Illinois driver, after being stuck in the back most of the afternoon, led just one lap.

"Penske gave me an engine for this race; this is the first time I've ever been in a Dodge," said Allgaier, who just signed with Penske Racing to race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. "We fought hard today. Brian Scott blew a tire and when that happened something went through the radiator. I was a little nervous because at some point we didn't have any water pressure. My crew chief Jim Pohlman talked me through it. You come to a place like Talladega and the chances of winning are kind of up to what everyone else does so we put it in God's hands."

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Edwards Wins Star Mazda Road Atlanta
After a relatively well-mannered season, so far, the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear was due for a wild one – and Round 11 at Road Atlanta was it.  After qualifying third, American John Edwards recorded his fourth win in the #7 AIM Autosport / Mobil1 Mazda amid a whirlwind of spinning cars on the final lap. 

Pole-sitter Joel Miller, after leading almost half the race laps – notwithstanding that eleven of them were run behind the pace car – survived a potentially devastating collision with another car to bring the #20 JDC Motorsports / Mazda / K&N Air Filters Mazda home in second… and put himself squarely back in the championship battle that will go down to the final race of the season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in two weeks.  Finishing third in his first podium of the season was Brazilian racer Rick Rosin, who qualified 12th in the #30 Mundill Racing / State of Catarina Mazda.  Also of note was the 4th-place finish by Canadian first-time Star Mazda driver Kyle Marcelli, who also qualified 4th in the #71 AIM Autosport / La Farge Mazda.

The top-finishing Master Series (driver 45 and older) was Gerry Kraut who qualified 14th, ran as high as 8th and finished 11th in the #55 JDC Motorsports / Dougherty & Co. / Dougherty Funding LLC Mazda, his third class win of the season.  Leading home the Expert Series (drivers ages 30 to 44) was J.W. Roberts in the #65 Team GDT / General Datatech, L.P. Mazda.  This is also his third class win of the season.

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Kimball to drive AGR A1GP car
Andretti Green Racing announced today that it has signed Charlie Kimball to drive the A1GP World Cup of Motorsports U.S. entry at this weekend's A1GP Zandvoort at Circuit Park Zandvoort, The Netherlands. Kimball, a 23-year old from Camarillo, Calif., will be making his first official A1GP start, but ran in rookie sessions at four events last season.

Charlie Kimball, Andretti Green Racing, Team USA:
"This is a fantastic opportunity. It all happened pretty quick so I don't believe it has completely sunk in yet. I was going a mile-a-minute just to get packed and ready to go, and my adrenaline was pumping about the same way it does when I'm in the race car. It wasn't until I was on the airplane that I could really take a minute to think about it.  "This is a big deal to me. It's nice to be given the opportunity to race this weekend. What the Andretti Green crew has accomplished this week to get our car prepared and race-ready is truly amazing.  "Being involved with an institution like the Andretti family and with a team as successful as Andretti Green is something that is hard to describe. And, to be able to represent my country in my chosen sport is a very special experience.  "I'm not the most patient guy in the world, so I can't wait for the weekend to get here."

Michael Andretti, co-owner, Andretti Green Racing:
"We're excited to have Charlie in the car for our A1GP debut this weekend. He has some experience with the series and has had some success at the Zandvoort circuit. That experience is invaluable for us right now. We have heard good things about his abilities and we're looking forward to seeing what he can do."


Jeff Burtons tops Dega practice
Two Sprint Cup practice sessions were run today at Talladega with the first session (listed) below having the fastest lap times and Jeff Burton on top in his Chevy.  Qualifying is Saturday.

1 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 195.880 48.887 Leader
2 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge MONOPOLY at McDonald's 195.720 48.927 -0.040
3 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 195.572 48.964 -0.077
4 7 Robby Gordon Dodge MAPEI / Menards 195.508 48.980 -0.093
5 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 195.500 48.982 -0.095
6 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 195.349 49.020 -0.133
7 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 195.249 49.045 -0.158
8 26 Jamie McMurray Ford BernzOmatic Fat Boy 195.197 49.058 -0.171
9 84 Mike Skinner Toyota Red Bull 195.182 49.062 -0.175
10 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Samsung HDTV / Alltel 195.166 49.066 -0.179
11 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS 195.138 49.073 -0.186
12 45 Terry Labonte Dodge Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil 195.110 49.080 -0.193
13 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 194.983 49.112 -0.225
14 20 Tony Stewart Toyota Subway / Home Depot 194.983 49.112 -0.225
15 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Memorex 194.753 49.170 -0.283
16 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Travel 194.658 49.194 -0.307
17 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 194.654 49.195 -0.308
18 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 194.638 49.199 -0.312
19 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Johns Manville / Menards 194.547 49.222 -0.335
20 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army 194.464 49.243 -0.356
21 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 194.381 49.264 -0.377
22 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Pedigree 194.338 49.275 -0.388
23 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT 194.204 49.309 -0.422
24 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 194.192 49.312 -0.425
25 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline 194.145 49.324 -0.437
26 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 194.035 49.352 -0.465
27 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 194.007 49.359 -0.472
28 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 193.988 49.364 -0.477
29 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Academy Sports + Outdoors 193.988 49.364 -0.477
30 38 David Gilliland Ford Ford. Drive one. 193.956 49.372 -0.485
31 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 193.815 49.408 -0.521
32 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 193.615 49.459 -0.572
33 01 Regan Smith* Chevrolet DEI / Principal Financial Group 193.615 49.459 -0.572
34 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet Pop-Tarts / CARQUEST 193.544 49.477 -0.590
35 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy "Ride With Dale Jr." / Nat'l Guard 193.541 49.478 -0.591
36 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet Hunt Brothers Pizza 193.431 49.506 -0.619
37 33 Mike Wallace Chevrolet Realtree "Driven to the Outdoors" 186.863 51.246 -2.359
38 00 Kenny Wallace Toyota Champion Mortgage 186.438 51.363 -2.476
39 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row / DenverMattress.com 186.065 51.466 -2.579
40 96 Ken Schrader Toyota DLP HDTV 185.963 51.494 -2.607
41 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 185.953 51.497 -2.610
42 70 Tony Raines Chevrolet iQ Drive 185.945 51.499 -2.612
43 10 Patrick Carpentier* Dodge Tow Truck in a Box 185.844 51.527 -2.640
44 21 Jon Wood Ford Motorcraft 185.693 51.569 -2.682
45 77 Sam Hornish Jr.* Dodge Mobil 1 183.596 52.158 -3.271


F2 winner promised a Williams Formula One test
The winner of next year's new Formula Two series will be guaranteed a Formula One test drive with Williams, organizer Jonathan Palmer said Friday.  "In partnership with Williams F1, we are establishing a formula leading directly to Formula One with an outstanding new high performance car yet at a fraction of the cost of the alternatives," he said in a statement.

"I am absolutely determined that Formula Two will attract the greatest depth of talent by virtue of its extraordinary cost effectiveness, and ... produce most of the best future F1 star talent in the coming years."

The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) wants Formula Two to become a low-cost feeder series for Formula One from next year, with Audi-engined 400bhp cars designed by Williams under the guidance of team co-owner Patrick Head.

There will be 20 places available in the series at a cost of 195,000 pounds plus tax per driver for the season, with cars to be prepared and run by Palmer's MotorSport Vision rather than being handed to teams.

The championship will be held at eight European circuits from May 31 to October 4 with most races running alongside the FIA's world touring car championship.


Palmer unveils Formula Two plan UPDATE Here are photos of the car and today's announcement.

10/03/08 MotorSport Vision's Chief Executive Jonathan Palmer unveiled his plans for the FIA Formula Two Championship in a briefing session for media and prospective drivers today (Thursday).

MSV won an FIA tender last month to supply the cars and operational expertise for the series, which is designed to provide young, talented drivers with the opportunity to race in a top-level international championship on a limited budget.

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Johnson shocked his attorney may be going to jail
Jimmie Johnson said Friday he was “shocked” to learn of the tax-evasion charges made against his friend and attorney Alan Miller.  Miller, a prominent attorney who represents several NASCAR drivers, including Johnson and Casey Mears, was indicted Thursday for allegedly helping IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves hide millions of dollars in income.

A federal indictment accuses Miller of directing Castroneves in failing to report $5.55 million in income to the Internal Revenue Service between 1999 and 2002.  He faces up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.  Johnson said he will maintain a relationship with Miller until he learns all the facts.

“At this time, Alan has been my attorney since I was 15, has been a great friend and has helped me with a lot of different things,” Johnson said Friday. “As of now, everything is still the same.  [I’m] learning a lot as time goes on here, and there’s still a lot to be investigated and uncovered moving forward. I’m certainly keeping my eyes on the subject and trying to figure out what’s all going on.”


NASCAR Kansas TV rating UPDATE Last Sunday’s Camping World 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup  race at Kansas Speedway earned a final Nielsen Media Research rating of 3.5, up from the 3.1 for last year’s rain-delayed event.  ABC says the broadcast averaged 5,691,928 viewers, an increase of 19 percent from last year.  The network also says ESPN2’s coverage of last Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas earned a 1.3 final rating, the same as last year’s event.

09/29/08 The overnight TV rating for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Camping World RV 400 on ABC Sunday was a 3.1, up 10.7% from last year's 2.8 overnight which was rain delayed and switched to ESPN that resulted in  a 2.1 rating.


Star Mazda Championship Announces 2009 Schedule
The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear today released its 13-race 2009 schedule, beginning the season with its traditional date at the 57th annual Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring on March 20 and winding up at the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 10.

The most substantial change to the schedule involves the series' return to ovals for the first time since 2006 with 100-lap events immediately before the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the Milwaukee Mile on June 20 and under the lights with ARCA at the 7/8-ths mile Iowa Speedway tri-oval on July 10. 

The schedule includes 13 races on 11 weekends, with double-headers at New Jersey Motorsports Park on June 13-14 and a new addition to the schedule, the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois on July 25-26.  Both will be MAZDASPEED Motorsports weekends at which the Star Mazda Championship will be a featured race.

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Atlantic Team Announces Expansion to Firestone Indy Lights
Genoa Racing, currently a top Atlantic team and also one of the most successful teams in Firestone Indy Lights history, plans to expand its operations to include a two-car Firestone Indy Lights team in 2009.  The Firestone Indy Lights team will do business as Genoa Indy Lights.

The announcement was made today by Thomas Knapp, team manager and chief engineer.

"At our core, we are racers," said Knapp, a former driver himself. "We have the infrastructure, the experience, the heritage and the heart to compete, and we don't feel that we're performing up to our full potential if we're not growing.  The open-wheel reunification has presented us with an amazing growth opportunity."


ALMS renews international TV deal
The American Le Mans Series announced today that it has extended its international television contract with MotorsTV, ensuring that the Series maintains a premium position on Europe’s leading motorsports network.

The agreement sees American Le Mans Series coverage on MotorsTV for a further two seasons.

“Our extension with MotorsTV represents continued growth of the American Le Mans Series,” said Scott Atherton, President & CEO of the American Le Mans Series. “It continues to give us truly world-class television coverage throughout Europe, which is extremely important to a number of our manufacturers and marketing partners. Given the sheer number of viewers we are able to reach through our alliance with MotorsTV, the extension ensures that the Series will continue to be at the forefront of premium motorsport coverage across the Atlantic.

“The American Le Mans Series represents the best professional sports car racing in the world, and with that comes global demand,” Atherton added. “Partnerships with world-class outlets like MotorsTV help us serve the rapidly growing interest in our Series.”

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Several Tributes To Atlantic Team Owner Paul Newman
Throughout the week leading up to this afternoon’s Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season finale at Road Atlanta, teams and drivers in the series have been paying tribute to Newman Wachs Racing co-owner Paul Newman, who passed away last Friday at the age of 83.

Every car in the Atlantic field is carrying special decals with Newman’s initials, “PLN,” and Newman Wachs Racing drivers Jonathan Summerton and Simona De Silvestro have also been wearing “PLN” patches on their firesuits. Prior to this afternoon’s season finale, a moment of silence will be observed for Newman, and a special remembrance is also planned for this evening’s Awards Banquet at the Chateau Elan Resort & Winery.

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Front Row Technologies files suit over FanView patent
NASCAR and Sprint are among defendants in another patent lawsuit over the technology used to power the popular FanView handsets used by spectators to watch races and listen to scanner traffic and television broadcasts at the race track. Front Row Technologies field suit Monday in U.S. District Court in Texas against NASCAR, Sprint, the NFL, DirecTV and FanView technology developer Kangaroo Media. Front Row alleges that its patents for “providing multiple perspectives for a venue activity through an electronic hand held device” and “broadcasting venue data to a wireless hand held device” have been infringed upon by the sales of FanView and the Kangaroo TV handsets used at select NFL cities. Sprint released the following statement in response to the lawsuit: "We are aware of the litigation that has been filed. We are reviewing the allegations, and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time." NASCAR, Sprint and Kangaroo had settled a suit with Immersion Entertainment earlier this year over patents for “audio/video signal distribution for head mounted displays” and “audio/visual system and method utilizing a head mounted apparatus with noise attenuation.” Kangaroo agreed to pay Immersion at least $3 million to settle the lawsuit, according to a company news release issued at that time. SceneDaily


Kimi: This is definitely not my year
Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen is now out of the running for the 2008 world championship crown, his disastrous Singapore grand Prix last weekend the final straw in what has been a turbulent season where he had hoped to finish up by retaining his world championship title for the second successive year.

Singapore was the fourth consecutive race where the Finn has failed to add any points to his or the team’s tally and he has admitted that it simply isn’t his year….

“It’s difficult to find the right words: racing at night or during the day, this is definitely not my year,” he said when reflecting on the fifteenth round of the season. “I hit the wall when there were just a couple of laps left. True, I wasn't racing for the win, but for some very important points for the Team; and then it ended like at Spa, with another DNF. It seems as if the more we try to improve the situation the less we get in the end. At this point I can just hope for a weekend where everything goes in the right direction.”

“Once again we had the right speed at Singapore, but not when it was really necessary. The fastest race laps aren't worth anything, if you don't combine them with the situation when they really count. Obviously I'm really sad about this situation. I can't explain this dark period and there's nothing I can do to change what happened. We have to look ahead, to the last three races.”

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GM chief asks employees to support bailout
General Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner urged employees by e-mail yesterday to contact their Congressional representatives to vote in favor of a federal bailout of the nation’s financial systems.

“The current financial crisis goes far beyond any one industry,” Wagoner wrote. “With each passing day without a solution, the credit markets continue to freeze up, denying consumers and businesses the needed cash for home loans, car loans, small business loans and the critical investments that grow the economy and create jobs.”

Wagoner asked employees to express support for the action to Congressional officials on the same day that the U.S. auto industry reported its worst sales month in 15 years as consumer traffic to dealer showrooms dried up.

“Congress is hearing from those who oppose a bailout, but not from those who know that inaction poses dire and long-lasting consequences for our national economy,” Wagoner wrote. “Please make this issue your highest priority and call your respective Representative and Senators today. Your voice needs to be heard and it will make a difference.”


Freak circumstances sidelined Webber
Red Bull Racing have revealed that a freak set of circumstances may have been to blame for Mark Webber’s retirement from the Singapore Grand Prix. Webber was on-course to finish on the podium, however a mechanical failure – his first of the season – forced him to retire from the race on Lap 30.

Webber’s car limped to the pits with a broken gearbox after it had tried to select two gears at the same time. Team principal Christian Horner explained to Autosport that a bizarre set of coincidences might have been the cause of the issue.

“At Turn 13, the gearbox selected two gears at one,” Horner explained. “The moog valve controlling the gearshift had been triggered into changing to seventh while he was still in fifth yet after interrogating the software we can see that it at no time was allowing for this. We can see a momentary electrical surge at the precise moment which seems to have triggered the moog valve.

“It was exactly what [Toro Rosso] suffered from with Bourdais in Friday practice at exactly the same place. A tram line runs beneath the track at that corner and it seems as if static from a passing tram at the very moment Mark was in the corner passed through the ground.”


One big unhappy family in the IRL
Don't think for a moment that the tension between Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan has eased since Wheldon learned Kanaan was negotiating with team owner Chip Ganassi to take his job in the No. 10 car.

That discovery came during the first week of August -- prior to the IndyCar Series race at Kentucky Speedway -- and led Wheldon to pursue a ride with Panther Racing, which he landed. Wheldon continues to sidestep most questions about Kanaan and his former employer.

Kanaan, who spurned Ganassi's offer to sign a five-year contract to remain with Andretti Green Racing, made it clear at this week's tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that his once-chummy relationship with Wheldon is strained.

"He is the one who stopped talking to me," said Kanaan, who did not seem worried about a reconciliation with his former AGR teammate. "I have enough friends."

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Bailout Bill to include NASCAR tax breaks UPDATE A tax break for NASCAR racetracks and other motorsports facilities is among the "sweeteners" tucked inside a 450-page financial-services bailout bill to make the package more palatable to lawmakers. The Senate-passed bill includes an array of so-called "tax extenders." One extends for two years a tax policy that had been allowed to expire in December that lets motorsports facilities be treated the same as amusement parks and other entertainment complexes for tax purposes. That allowed them to write off their capital investments over a seven-year period. The motor sports industry feared that without a specific legal clarification, motor sports facilities would be required to depreciate their capital over 15 years or longer because of a recent Internal Revenue Service inquiry into the matter. That would make repaved tracks and new concession stands more expensive in the short term. It isn't a new tax break, rather the way tax law historically has been interpreted, said Lauri Wilks, the vice president of communications for Speedway Motorsports, which owns the NASCAR tracks in Fort Worth, Texas; Sonoma, Calif.; Concord, N.C.; and elsewhere. "It gives us incentive to go ahead and invest in our facilities," she said. See full story at McClatchy Newspapers

10/02/08 The proposed USA bailout bill includes some smaller provisions, such as one that will save NASCAR track owners $109 million this year in reduced taxes.  How convenient.  The rich get richer after years of socking it to the fans with huge ticket prices.


Philips' renews with Williams team
Following Philips Shavers three successful years of sponsorship of the AT&T Williams  team, Philips Consumer Lifestyle today confirmed a widened agreement with the Formula One team in order to extend the marketing benefits to more of its business categories.

In a new multi-year agreement, the sponsorship will be broadened to span Philips entire Consumer Lifestyle sector, enabling six business units to generate sales uplift founded on a global and scalable marketing platform.

The positive experience of Philips’ Shaving category has been instrumental in influencing the extension of the sponsorship program to all aspects of Consumer Lifestyle marketing communications.

In 2008, Philips Shavers entered its third season as a sponsor of the AT&T Williams team.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • F1 news briefs: Friday
  • Credit crunch good for F1 - Irvine
  • Di Grassi 'deserves F1 seat' - Symonds
  • Briatore flies from Singapore to Paris
  • Keke Rosberg disappointed with Piquet
  • Plans for Donington GP move ahead

F1 news briefs: Friday
(GMM)  Williams and Ferrari have both been voted a 2008-9 'CoolBrand'; an annual UK compilation of the most iconic brands.

The list is compiled from a shortlist of 1100 brands by marketing professionals and the public.

Williams is among the top 55 CoolBrands, but Ferrari is at number 13, although beaten by the likes of Aston Martin, iPhone, YouTube, Google and Rolex.

CoolBrands' chief executive Stephen Cheliotis said of Williams: "Its independent and passionate stance has enabled it to grow its enthusiastic base of supporters and admirers."


British grand prix venue Silverstone on Thursday celebrated its 60th birthday at the Northamptonshire track.  "It is testimony to British motor sport that Silverstone is still going strong," said British Racing Drivers' Club president and 1996 world champion Damon Hill.


Mark Webber's retirement from the Singapore grand prix with a broken gearbox may have been caused by a passing tram, his team Red Bull Racing suspects.

The British magazine Autosport quotes boss Christian Horner as saying static electricity produced by the tram could have caused the gearbox to select two gears at once.

"A tram line runs beneath the track at that corner (13) and it seems as if static from a passing tram at the very moment Mark was in the corner passed through the ground," he said, explaining that Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel encountered a similar problem earlier that weekend with his near-identical car.

Credit crunch good for F1 - Irvine
(GMM)  1999 formula one runner-up Eddie Irvine believes the global financial crisis will be good for the sport.

"It will level the playing field off a little bit.  Money hasn't made the show any better, it has made it worse," the retired former Ferrari and Jaguar driver, 42, told Sky News.

He reasons that if the big-spending manufacturers are forced to throttle back, the on-track competition will therefore close up because the smaller teams become more competitive.

"The sponsorship deals are subsidized by car manufacturers.  You're going to see the spend come back and it has to come back because it has been madness for years," the Ulsterman said.

Irvine said he is an admirer of championship leader and countryman Lewis Hamilton, but recalls how just a year ago the Briton threw away a big title lead.

"It was like he took his brain out and said 'let's have an accident'.  This year will be different.

"Lewis will have learned from what happened, but you have to remember he was only 21 then and you remember what you were like at 21!" Irvine added.

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Hayden tops rain-lashed Australia practice
Repsol Honda RC212V rider Nicky Hayden dominated this afternoon’s soaking-wet second practice session at Phillip Island, lapping the high-speed seaside track three quarters of a second faster than his closest rival.

The American has been using his Michelin rain tires to stunning effect recently, topping last weekend’s rain-hit opening session at Motegi and finishing second in the hurricane-hit Indianapolis GP two weeks earlier. The 2008 MotoGP season is proving to be the wettest in memory, with rain falling at the vast majority of events so far.

In this morning’s opening session, run in dry conditions, Hayden was 11th quickest, working hard to find more traction around this high-speed track.

Nicky Hayden. FP1 (dry): 11th fastest, 1m 31.284s. FP2 (wet): fastest, 1m 38.820s
“This morning it wasn’t great to be in eleventh, but this afternoon it was nice to be fastest in the wet and consistently really quick at the end, things were feeling really good. My best rain lap time was only seven seconds slower than my best this morning, and it was real wet, so that’s down to some good Michelin rain tires. But honestly I could have done with some more dry track time to sort out some problems we had this morning. I was struggling with traction, and without traction here you’re not going anywhere. We have got some things to try with the bike set-up, which we couldn’t try so much in the wet, but hopefully we can use tomorrow. I need to be going faster in the dry, we’ve definitely got some work to do, so we’ll keep pushing and see what the weather does tomorrow. I love this track, I love racing at speed, it’s a great thrill, I just need to find some edge grip. If we can find that I can be fast in the dry too.”

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