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Last chance to shine for Star Mazda drivers
Fast Facts - Round Twelve of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the American Le Mans Series' Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
- This is the Round Twelve finale of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear.  The 45-minute race begins at 12:30 pm, Saturday, Oct. 20.  SPEED Channel will air the race in a 1-hour broadcast at 3:30 pm ET Saturday, October 27.

Start at Road Atlanta

- The 2007 Star Mazda Championship was won by rookie Dane Cameron in Round Eleven at Road Atlanta on Oct. 5.  He is only the second rookie in the 17 year history of the series to win the championship.  Thanks to the Mazda Motorsport Ladder program, he will move up to the Cooper Tires Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda in 2008. 
- Also as part of the Mazda Motorsports Ladder program, Joel Miller, winner of the 2007 BF Goodrich/Skip Barber National Championship Presented by Mazda, will receive a full-season sponsorship to race in the 2008 Star Mazda Championship.  He has already tested with a top team in the series.
- The Star Mazda Championship is one of the richest, most successful and prolific driver development series in all of auto racing.  The combined value of various prizes approaches $1.5 million in value; graduates of the series have gone on to Formula One, Champ Car, the Indy Racing League and the Grand-Am Rolex Series.

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Tung eyes on Formula One
Lewis Hamilton has dominated the Formula One track during his rookie season. His success has been inspiring to countless young and admiring drivers who dream to race in F1 someday.

Ho-Pin Tung

One of them is Tung Ho-pin. Many predict Tung will be the first Chinese driver ever to race in F1.

This year Tung joined GP2, the division just below F1. By joining GP2, Tung is following the same path as Hamilton, who was the GP2 champion last season and made his F1 debut this year.

"If you look at Hamilton, it is once again proof that if a driver is quick in GP2, he can do a great job in F1," Tung said.

"Of course, I am still learning," the 24-year-old continued, "but every time I drive I learn more because I am racing against much more experienced drivers."

In his first GP2 season, which just concluded last month, Tung finished 24th after gaining 4 points at the Belgium stop.

"I think GP2 is the toughest championship I have ever competed in and maybe the toughest there is in general," Tung told China Daily. "You are racing against guys with 3, 4 maybe even 5 years more experience. All the tracks were new to me and you only have 30 minutes of free practice to learn the track and get the set-up of your car right."

But Tung is satisfied with his results and is hoping for a high ranking next season.

"I still had some very good results and even scored some points, although the team I was competing for was certainly not the best from the paddock," said Tung.

"Now I know all the tracks, which will be a great help to me next year," Tung said. "With my experience this year I should be able to be a constant top-8 finisher."

Tung was born in the Netherlands. His parents are Chinese immigrants who moved to Holland many years ago. He began racing at the age of 14 and has made steady progress every year.

After dominating the Formula BMW series in 2003, he was awarded a test session in a BMW Williams Formula One car, making him the first Chinese ever to win this honor.

track news

Silverstone unveils new plans
Silverstone yesterday unveiled the £30m redevelopment plan it hopes will secure its place on the formula one calendar and appease Bernie Ecclestone, the formula one commercial rights holder.

The current contract with Ecclestone's Formula One Management group expires after the 2009 race and he is insisting that plans for track improvements are finalized before a new contract is signed with Silverstone's owners, the British Racing Drivers' Club. Planning documents are on the South Northants Council website and have been displayed in the area so that local residents can be consulted. The project includes two hotels, a conference and exhibition centre, a technology park and housing on land around the circuit.

"We are very proud to have Silverstone in our district and want to do all we can to enhance its reputation by improving the facilities," said councilor Mary Clarke. "Future development must support Silverstone as the home of the British grand prix and as a motor sport venue generally."

The circuit's configuration will remain unchanged although the all-new pit and paddock complex could be moved to the straight between Club and the Abbey chicane. The plans list two options for the new pit area, with a redeveloped complex on its current site between Woodcote and Copse corner also a possibility. The Guardian


How ironic that he’s black
The Spanish Motorsport Federation president managed to play the race card in a suitably crass fashion yesterday, just days before he will be the guest of the McLaren team at Interlagos, by telling Publico newspaper how ironic he found it that a racist country such as Britain was relying on a black driver, Lewis Hamilton, to win the world championship.

"It is perfectly normal for a British team and British fans wanting to succeed in formula one but it is ironic that the racists in England are having to rely on a colored pilot," said Carlos Gracia .Gracia will be a guest of McLaren at the final race in Brazil as the team attempts to quell rumors that it is interfering with Fernando Alonso's title campaign. The Guardian


A lap of Interlagos with Barrichello
Honda's Rubens Barrichello describes a lap of Interlagos

"The Interlagos circuit is used anti-clockwise for the Brazilian Grand Prix, making it physically demanding for the drivers as it tests muscle groups which are rarely used on the conventional clockwise circuits."

"We aim for a nice clean exit out of the last corner to ensure maximum speed along the main pit straight. Next, hard braking down from 300km/h for the left-hand turn one, Descida do Sol, taken in second gear, being careful not to lock the inside front wheel on the very bumpy entry."

"We fall downhill with a quick change of direction into the right-hand turn two, the Senna S, which we usually take flat at 140km/h in third gear, and then into the long left-hand turn three, the Curva do Sol, where we build up speed to 290km/h as we exit onto the only other straight on the circuit, Reta Oposta."

"This takes us down to Curva do Lago which is a demanding and tricky medium-speed left-hander taken in third gear at 150km/h and which leads into the tight infield section. Next, the double-apex right-hander, Curva do Laranjinha. This is taken at 200km/h and has been the downfall of many drivers over the years, so we're careful on braking over the harsh bumps, then precise to keep the right line for the exit toward the tight second-gear right-hander at 90km/h.

"This next section is a slow, flowing right-left-right combination through Pinheirinho and Bico de Pato. Leaving this section, we accelerate hard through a fast left-hander Mergulho - the lowest point of the circuit - which is on the limit at 200km/h and made all the more exciting by the various bumps at its apex."

"Then we brake hard from 250km/h to 120km/h and down to second gear for the final corner, Juncco, which leads us onto the long sweeping left-hand drag up the steep hill toward the finish line." 


F1 'tarnished by infighting'
Damon Hill has warned Formula One's rulers that the sport's Lewis Hamilton-inspired resurgence is under threat from its infatuation with political infighting.

Speaking ahead of Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix at which Hamilton could become world champion, the last Briton to wear motor racing's greatest crown fears F1 is almost as tarnished as the Tour de France.

Hill said: 'It is shameful that in his first season, Lewis is forced to come out with a statement to the effect that he's not sure he wants to be here if it's like this.

'He said he felt disillusioned with the business and political elements of Formula One. I can understand that. I sometimes wonder if the sport deserves him. He's come in fresh-faced and willing and it seems as if people are determined to make life difficult for him.'

Hamilton's exploits on the track have been accompanied by intrigue off it, most notably the espionage row which culminated in his McLaren team being fined a record £50million for 'spying' on Ferrari.

The controversy, with fresh twists emerging almost daily for three months, made headline news around the world.

And while Hill acknowledges that 'show business' is part of F1's allure, he is scathing about the governing FIA's role in the incident.

He said: 'I don't think it was dealt with in the right way. It was an unnecessary distraction. I don't know how it is that one team (Ferrari) are able to influence the people who are supposedly independent and even-handed.

'I think there was a bit of blame on either side (Ferrari and McLaren). It's the job of the authorities to bang heads together and get everyone to clean up their acts and get on with the show.' Daily Mail 

industry news

Consumer Reports: Ford makes quality strides
Toyota got an unpleasant surprise and Ford’s recovery plan received a welcome endorsement as Consumer Reports magazine revealed its influential list of best and worst new vehicles today.

Toyota lost its coveted status as an automaker that automatically gets CR’s revered “recommended” tag for every new model, while Ford saw 93% of its vehicles score well for reliability. The Toyota brand’s ranking for reliability fell from first to fifth place.

Problems with Toyota’s best-selling Camry midsize sedan, pricey Lexus GS luxury sedan and heralded new Tundra full-size pickup raised enough concerns that Consumer Reports can no longer assume every new Toyota will be reliable, David Champion, CR director of automotive testing, told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit.

“We used to recommend all Toyotas because of excellent reliability,” Champion said. “We’re not going to do that any more. We’re bringing our automatic recommendation away from Toyota.” The change applies to all three of Toyota’s brands: Toyota, Lexus and Scion.

Ford, on the other hand, is approaching the kind of across-the-board reliability buyers used to associate only with Japanese brands, he said.


Letarte wins Crew Chief of the Race Award
Steve Letarte and the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet crew, headed to Lowe’s Motor Speedway with clear direction and strategy. Letarte’s plan was to keep his driver, Jeff Gordon, at the front of the pack to avoid any possible incident. Starting fourth on the grid for the Bank of America 500 enabled Letarte and Gordon to stay with front-runners as planned from the green flag. As other championship contenders changed strategy mid- race in an effort to catch leaders, Letarte and Gordon held strong. Taking the lead in the closing stages of the race, Gordon was able to hold off several late chargers and take the checkered flag for the team’s sixth win of the season. For his calm and precise race strategy Letarte was awarded the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race.

Throughout the planned 500-mile race, Letarte maintained his composed strategy throughout several pressure moments. A caution on lap 279 resulted in front-runners hitting pit road for adjustments. The four- tire and full tank of Sunoco fuel pit stop would be Gordon’s last stop of the night. However as the last laps unfolded, Gordon felt his Chevrolet was running out of gas. Letarte kept the race leader calm knowing his fuel mileage calculations were accurate and that Gordon could make it to the end. That he did, not only taking the win but also a 68 points lead in the championship standings.

A panel of judges including a member of the local media, Robbie Reiser, Kenny Francis and a WYPALL* Wipers spokesmen, all agreed Letarte’s strategy was deserving for him to be awarded the crew chief of the race winner. “Steve and the 24 crew just didn’t go away all night,” commented Reiser at the conclusion of the race. “They seemed to stay up front most of the night and when they moved to the lead were very fast.”


ABC affiliates pre-empt NASCAR coverage
This is the first season of the ESPN production crew bringing the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series to the ABC broadcast affiliates. These local stations comprise the system of TV delivery that NASCAR mandated for the "Chase For The Championship." These races must be on broadcast TV nationwide. At least, that was the idea.

Saturday night, the NEXTEL Cup broadcast from Lowe's Motor Speedway began at 7PM with a thirty minute edition of NASCAR Countdown, the pre-race show. This is not a distinctly separate program, but basically a thirty minute lead-in to the event where interviews and features are added from the Infield Studio by Suzy Kolber and her team. Brent Musburger was on-hand to "host" the festivities.

This race has been on the 2007 NASCAR schedule since it was released in late 2006. The ABC Sports schedule had been out for months. The ESPN on ABC production team had a beautiful night in the greater Charlotte area with absolutely no rain in sight.

Musburger's familiar refrain of "you are looking live" came across right on time as the flashy opening of the program recapped The NEXTEL Chase for the Championship to this point. It was going to be a big night in NASCAR, and a big night for ABC.

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ING Race Index - Brazil
Ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Autodromo José Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo on October 21st, ING issues its Race Index, which assesses race features including the circuit itself, level of driver difficulty, engineering requirements and vehicle setup. According to the Index, which rates circuits from a low of 0 to a peak of 100 points, the Brazilian Grand Prix, which is the final race of the 2007 F1 season, obtains 62 points, occupying the 11th position among the 17 circuits. Video: ING Race Index Brazil


Speeds picking up at Laguna
Two years ago, Audi’s Dindo Capello held the American Le Mans Series qualifying record at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, a mark he originally set in the 2000 season. But the last two seasons have seen record-breaking runs in qualifying that shattered Capello’s time of 1:15.028 set in an Audi R8 in September of 2000.

First came Tom Chilton in 2005. The young Brit piloted a factory Zytek prototype around the circuit in 1:14.185, nearly a full second quicker and more than one mph faster. Last year, Stefan Johansson recorded his first overall Series pole position – quite appropriately in another Zytek - with a run that was almost a half-second better than Chilton’s from a year earlier at 1:13.731.

“In 2000, we had a lot of horsepower - 610 hp,” said Capello, a two-time race winner and fast qualifier at the Monterey circuit with Audi. “In 2005, the R8 had just 520 hp and also more weight. The new LMP1 cars like our Audi R10 TDI now have about 650 hp. This allows us to go as fast as in 2000 or even faster thanks to the more modern chassis and the incredible torque of the TDI engine. Of course also the tires improved and we have the traction control which we did not have with the R8.”

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Singapore moves ahead with night race plans
(GMM)  Plans for the first ever formula one night race in Singapore have taken a crucial step forward.

The new race's promoter said on Tuesday that it had contracted an Italian company, Valerio Maioli, to supply the bespoke lighting system for the event in September next year.

The decision follows successful lighting tests at Indianapolis earlier this year, and more comprehensive subsequent two-day trials at Bernie Ecclestone's Paul Ricard circuit in France, it was revealed in a news conference.

1500 lights will illuminate the circuit so that it is nearly four times brighter than a typical sports stadium, while 24 generators will ensure that the lights will not fail, it was explained.

"Each power generator can power the whole race in the event of failure," said Valerio Maioli, the lighting company's chief.

The system will be ready to be tested in early January.


Rockenfeller stands in for Emanuele Pirro

Mike Rockenfeller

Mike "Rocky" Rockenfeller contests the finale of the American Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca (California) this coming weekend together with his German compatriot Marco Werner. The 23-year old and youngest Audi factory driver replaces Emanuele Pirro at the wheel of the Audi R10 TDI with the start number 2. The Italian Emanuele Pirro is still not fully race fit following his heavy accident during practice for "Petit Le Mans".
"Emanuele is suffering from whiplash," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "Our doctors have stated that allowing him to race only two weeks after such an accident would represent a significant risk to his health – which would also be unnecessary as the championship has already been decided."
It is the second race with the near 650 hp Audi R10 TDI for Mike Rockenfeller. "I’m really looking forward to making the most of this new opportunity following the somewhat unlucky retirement at Le Mans," says the youngster, who recorded one podium finish and three points scoring finishes in his first DTM season. "I aim to be as good a stand-in for Emanuele as Lucas (Luhr) was at Road Atlanta, and am really looking forward to race on such a fantastic race track which I know from the GT car."  Audi PR


Fisichella still in dark over F1 future


(GMM)  On the eve of possibly his last grand prix for the team, Giancarlo Fisichella says he has been put "on stand by" by Renault.

Sunday's Brazilian grand prix marks the end of the Italian veteran's current contract, but team boss Flavio Briatore is waiting to hear Fernando Alonso's plans for 2008 before committing to the next Renault race lineup.

Briatore has now stated more than once that if the Spaniard is free for 2008, "we would be happy to have him back".

Fisichella, whose current teammate is the ever-impressive Finnish rookie Heikki Kovalainen, said on Tuesday: "I am on stand by, as requested from Renault."

Amid quiet speculation that Sir Frank Williams might have rekindled his former interest in the 34-year-old Roman, Fisichella added that he hopes to learn more about his future "soon".

He also admitted to frustration that his future may depend primarily on Alonso's decision rather than his own.

"A little, because we have to wait to see what another driver does," Fisichella told F1's official website.  "But the same happened with Michael (Schumacher) -- so we will have to see."

He ruled out voluntarily retiring.

"No way!  I am as physically fit as a young boy -- and I have the experience," Fisichella said.


Q and A with Sakon Yamamoto
China was obviously a frustrating race for the team. What are your thoughts?
At the end of the day we can say the tire decision was wrong, but at that time nobody knew what was going to happen. We expected that heavy rain would be coming straight after the race started, so we used the extreme tires. Unfortunately the rain didn't come!

How difficult was it at the start?
For the first couple of laps I drove to take care of the tires, because the track conditions were only good for standard wets, and the amount of water wasn't enough for extreme tires. I just felt that I had to keep the tire condition good, because if you use them too hard, then after that you lose the value of choosing the extreme tires in the first place. The situation was difficult, the rain didn't come, and we changed to the standard wets. At that time the race was basically finished for us in terms of competitiveness, so I just decided just to finish the race as well as possible. The car balance was quite understeery, and it was very difficult to drive, but at the end of the race I did some good lap times, and getting another finish was a plus.

Last year you set seventh fastest lap in Brazil after a late stop for new tires. Are you excited about going back?
Brazil is one of my favorite circuits, and I want to do a really good race there. Last year my car wasn't really great, so in that kind of situation it was an amazing result that we could be seventh quickest in the race, and also I was second quickest in the second sector. So I'm really looking forward to driving there.

What do you like about the circuit?
I like the layout, especially Sector 2 of course! It's very complicated, just right, left, right. As an F1 circuit it is a bit tight, but if you've got the rhythm, it's really good fun.

The car works well in low downforce trim. Will that be an advantage?
Yes, it's good if you have a low downforce car there, and for sure your straight-line speed is going to be quicker. Then the problem is how you manage Sector 2, the twisty section. But as I said I like it, and I think I can do a good job there.


Q and A with Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil

You had a great race in Japan but things didn't work in China. What was the story of your race?

We thought the heavy rain would come, but it didn't, so it was a wrong tire decision with the extreme wets the first time, but if you are at the back, you have to take these risks. I was hoping for sure that the rain would come down, but there was not enough, and I just saw my chances going away. Then also a second time, we put on the dry tires a little early and the rain came again. For two laps there were spots of rain and especially in the last sector the rain was coming down. It was the wrong place to be with these tires, and I smashed the car into the wall suddenly. It just turned right.

Ralf Schumacher went off just before you. Did that affect you in some way?
It was a different incident, although I saw Ralf walking away in front of me when I got out of the car. I just went straight on and suddenly the car went to the right, there was a patch of water. That's why many teams stayed for a long time with the wet tire, which was quite quick. The difficulty is to get the dry tire up to temperature in these damp conditions and it is very easy to go off.

Any thoughts on the next race in Brazil?
It's the first time I'll be there, and I'm looking forward to seeing another new track after China. Hopefully it will be a better weekend! I only know the circuit from TV. Obviously it has a really long straight and it's very bumpy, so for sure it won't be easy to set the car up. We've seen already in other tracks that the car is a better in low downforce spec, so we will run as little as possible.

Can you believe that it will be the last race of the season?
It's gone very quickly, it's amazing that already my first F1 season is over. But I think after 17 races everybody needs a little break! I'm looking forward to having some free time after the end of the season.


Down Under Diary - Day One
G'day Mates!  I survived the nearly 14 hour flight from Los Angeles to Brisbane and managed to stay awake on the bus ride into Surfers Paradise. So here I am sitting on the beach listening to the waves roll in writing my first Down Under diary.

The Champ Car Community has officially taken over Surfers Paradise! Most of the team members are taking advantage of their first day here to get in some rest and relaxation before heading to the track tomorrow to start working on the cars.

As for the stars of the show they are either checking out their 'digs' at Conrad Jupiters or checking out the Bartercard Miss Indy girls in Brisbane.

A handful of drivers elected to jump in a limousine only a few hours after they got to Surfers to head to the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane to partake in an autograph session and judge the Miss Indy Sportswear competition. We will have more on that in tomorrow's diary but for now here are some tidbits from today's news. 

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Surfers all new for Rahal
Graham Rahal arrived in the Australian playground of Surfers Paradise today ahead of this weekend's Lexmark 300, the street race on the Gold Coast that has established itself as one of the top sporting occasions in the country.

Eighteen-year-old Rahal will be debuting at the event this season in his first year of running with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing in the Champ Car World Series. Although unfamiliar with the street course of the downtown Surfers Paradise Rahal is undaunted by the challenge ahead.

"I've done as much preparation as I can" says Rahal. "We've gone through all the pre-race documentation and data simulations, I've watched tapes of previous races and it's one of the tracks that I've been able to play on a computer game, which is fairly realistic of the circuit. I've also focused on my physical fitness, preparing for the hot conditions which we expect. However, the most important preparation is ahead - walking the track and getting behind the wheel for the practice sessions." 

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Ferrari extends Massa’s contract

Felipe Massa

(GMM) Felipe Massa will stay with the Maranello based team until at least the end of 2010, Ferrari announced in a statement on Tuesday.

Confirmation of the 26-year-old Brazilian's new agreement ends speculation that Fernando Alonso is set to switch to the Italian outfit, as Kimi Raikkonen began a long term tenure with the team at the beginning of 2007.

It had also been rumored recently that Massa, the only current Ferrari or McLaren driver who does not have a chance of winning the championship this weekend, might join the Toyota team in the near future.

Massa signed his first Ferrari contract ahead of 2001, before he made his formula one debut with Ferrari-powered Sauber in 2002.

He has since completed 34 grands prix, winning five times for Ferrari, earning eight pole positions and finishing on the podium sixteen times.


Power makes peace with French rival

Will Power was happy to sit on pole for last year's race

Queensland driver Will Power has compared Sebastien Bourdais, the man who shattered his dreams of winning last year's Champ Car race on the Gold Coast, to Formula One legend Michael Schumacher.

Team Australia driver Power paid the ultimate compliment to runaway series leader Bourdais, saying the Frenchman is the benchmark in the Champ Car World Series.

His remarks are in stark contrast to this time last year when an audacious move from Bourdais ruined Power's chances of securing a home victory after he became the first Australian to secure pole position on the Gold Coast.

At the time Power said he was "pissed off" and described Bourdais' actions as a "wanker move" while Team Australia boss Craig Gore said the Frenchman didn't deserve the championship.

It seems all is forgiven this year as Power, 26, showed his admiration for Bourdais, who is virtually assured of claiming his fourth world championship on Sunday before he steps up to Formula One in 2008.

"I've taken it up to Sebastien a few times this year but in the second half of the year he's been very strong and tough to beat," said Power, who is fourth in the current standings on 228 points (73 behind Bourdais).

"This weekend it'll be his fourth world championship and he deserves his spot in F1 next year for sure.

"He's sort of like (Michael) Schumacher was in Formula One. If you were beating Schumacher you were doing a really good job.

"If you're beating Sebastien you know you're doing a really good job and so is your team. He's a very good driver." More at The Age


Ferrari to bring extra HP to Brazil

Ferrari, who are financially powered by cancer causing Marlboro cigarettes, will bring more horsepower to Brazil

For Brazil, Ferrari's two F2007 cars for Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa will be fitted with fresh engines. Under current regulations the engines must last two race weekends, but with only one round left this season, Ferrari will be pushing as many of the tolerances as possible to gain extra performance according to the team's track engine chief Mattia Binotto.

"In the past, when we had this situation of not having to prepare an engine to last for two races, it could lead to some extreme engine experimentation from teams, but now with the engine freeze there are limits to what can be done," says Binotto. "In the past you could have carried out dedicated development for just a single race or even built special components with a shorter life."

"Now, all components must remain the same but it is true that the distance the engines that we bring to Sao Paulo must cover is divided by two: five hundred kilometers instead of one thousand," he added. "It means that we can try to increase the severity of usage of the engine, for example by running higher revs, try to get the maximum benefit in terms of performance. We can also run it at higher temperatures. As for the Interlagos circuit itself, the main feature as far as the engines are concerned is its height above sea level which causes a reduction in power."

"On top of that, the fact the main straight past the pits is uphill also means that engine power is at a premium," he added. "You therefore need to aim for maximum power down the main straight to give you the opportunity to overtake, so the choice of gear ratios is very important. These factors mean that, when setting up the car, it should be optimized not necessarily to get the best lap time but more for maximum speed and acceleration on the main straight."


Team Australia helps children’s charity

(L-R) Youngcare Director Simon Lockyer, vehicle donator and recipient of the Team Australia package Brett Curtis, Team Australia driver Will Power and Pet Rock kids Hannah and Luke Sinclair

Team Australia driver Will Power has helped officially conclude Hannah and Luke Sinclair’s pet rock charity project with a successful ending in Brisbane today.

Team Australia’s offer of the ultimate Lexmark Indy 300 experience has brought Queensland charity Youngcare a brand new transport vehicle.

Brett Curtis was present to officially hand the keys of the new people mover, valued at $41,000, to Youngcare Director Simon Lockyer at the Brisbane charity’s head office in West End.

Power in turn presented Curtis, who hails from South Brisbane, a framed and signed one-off print of his second Champ Car victory in the #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01 in Toronto, Canada, as well as two pit passes to this year’s Lexmark Indy 300.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Another wet race for title showdown?
  • Alonso faces engine setback for '07 finale
  • Ralf backs Glock for Toyota seat
  • Ralf says Brazil not F1 swansong
  • 'Bernie' biography faces new delay
  • Four days for rookies in new test accord

Another wet race for title showdown?
(GMM) F1 looks set for a third consecutive grand prix that is affected by rain.

After the Fuji washout and the wet-dry Chinese grand prix two weeks ago, forecasters are now predicting a weekend of potentially changeable weather in Sao Paulo; scene of Sunday's 2007 title showdown at the Interlagos circuit.

Rain has been ever-present in the Brazilian city all week, but weekend forecasts predict that the weather should by Sunday be in the process of clearing up.

Williams' debutant racer Kazuki Nakajima, however, said in an official team preview on Monday: "It looks like it's going to rain over the weekend."

The British team's technical director Sam Michael added that the weather forecast "is currently predicting rain all weekend" for Brazil.

Alonso faces engine setback for '07 finale
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton will enjoy a horsepower advantage over his teammate and championship rival Fernando Alonso as the 2007 season climaxes in Brazil this weekend.

The 22-year-old British rookie not only has a four-point advantage over the Spaniard, but a brand new Mercedes-Benz engine will be fitted to his single seater at the Interlagos circuit ahead of free practice on Saturday.

Alonso, on the other hand, must again use the engine he raced to second place in Shanghai two weeks ago in qualifying and the grand prix in Brazil, according to the rules.

Both Ferrari contenders are also due for new engines in Brazil, having reached the end of the mandatory two-race cycle in China.

The new 'engine freeze' rules for 2007, however, prevents Hamilton's crew - and the Ferrari team - from rolling out special aggressive developments for the championship decider, but the situation is a significant advantage for them over Alonso.

Because Brazil is the final race of the season, the necessary 'life' of a new engine is approximately halved, from 1000km to about 500km.

"It means that we can try to increase the severity of usage of the engine, for example by running higher revs," said Ferrari's head of track engineering (engine), Mattia Binotto.

"We can also run it at higher temperatures," he said ahead of the Brazilian grand prix.

The German newspaper 'TZ', meanwhile, claims that the Mercedes-Benz horse power advantage for Hamilton in Brazil, compared with Alonso, will be about 10 horsepower.

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Bourdais crashes

Sebastien Bourdais

Champ Car series champion  Sebastien Bourdais has crashed before setting a foot on the Gold Coast circuit.

The 28-year-old, a seasoned race track  veteran and bound for Formula One in 2008, lost control of a rally car during a fun outing on the Gold Coast today.

The Subaru Impreza WRX  rally car driven by Bourdais with instructor Simon Elliott in the passenger seat ended up on its roof after a low speed roll over.

Nobody was injured.

``The car just dug in and then it rolled over, in slow motion,'' a slightly embarrassed Bourdais said.

``I am fine, there is nothing wrong with me, but I just felt sorry and concerned for  Simon and the whole centre here.''

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Junk Goodyears lead to bad night
This Richmond Time Dispatch article talks about yet another race where blown Goodyear tires have ruined the race for some NASCAR drivers. How long is this going to go on before NASCAR selects another tire company to supply tires? Let's hope it doesn't require a driver to get killed by one of Goodyear's firecrackers before NASCAR takes action. Remember how we called for NASCAR to use the HANS Device but it wasn't until Dale Earnhardt was killed before they took any action.


Ferguson departs Cosworth
Cosworth Racing's 39-year relationship with F1 ended this time last year when Williams switched to Toyota V8s and Scuderia Toro Rosso gave up its V10s and moved on to Ferrari V8 engines. Of all the F1 engine manufacturers Cosworth's success has been surpassed only by Ferrari. Since leaving F1 the company has been busy providing engines for Champ Car, the Atlantic Championship and various other projects, but there are significant changes going on, notably the departure of commercial director Bernard Ferguson, a Cosworth stalwart for the last 23 years.

Cosworth - which is owned by Gerry Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven, co owners of the Champ Car World Series - is dealing with more road engines and is diversifying into aerospace, medical equipment design and confidential automotive consultancy work. It has recently gained prestigious AS/EN9100 accreditation to manufacture products for the aerospace sector. Grandprix.com


Gommendy out, Servia in at PKV
PKV Racing General Manager Mark Johnson announced today that Oriol Servia will pilot the #22 Pay By Touch PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone entry at the Lexmark Indy 300, October 19-21, on the temporary street circuit in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia.

Oriol Servia

Servia, who competed for PKV Racing in 2006, will replace Tristan Gommendy, who will be sidelined due to unresolved business issues.  Servia contested 11 of the first 12 races this year for Forsythe Championship Racing and currently sits sixth in the championship standings with 204 points.  He is just five points out of fifth place, 34 out of third and 39 out of second.  Servia was not scheduled to compete in Australia.

“Unfortunately, Tristan had an unresolved business situation that will prevent him from competing this weekend in Australia,” Johnson said.  “He is continuing to try and resolve the situation and we have high hopes that he will return to the team for the Mexico City race,” noted Johnson.  “Fortunately for us, Oriol was available this weekend and given his proven talent, familiarity with the team, in particular the fact that he will be working with the same engineer he had last year, and strong record recently at Surfers Paradise, we feel bringing him on board will give PKV Racing the best opportunity to have a successful weekend.  We are also pleased because this provides Oriol, one of the top drivers in the Champ Car series, an opportunity to continue to battle for a top-three spot in the championship standings.” 

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TV News

Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC
The Chase: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Live from Martinsville on ABC

The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup continues Sunday, Oct. 21, when the series visits Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, the smallest track in NASCAR’s top series, for the Subway 500. ESPN on ABC will have live coverage of the Martinsville event and all 10 races in the Chase. The telecast begins at 1 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown.

Martinsville Speedway, at just more than a half-mile in length, is shaped like a paper clip with long straights and tight, mildly banked turns. The track places a premium on brakes as well as driving skill as the action is usually rough-and-tumble short track racing.

Dr. Jerry Punch will handle play-by-play for the race telecast, joined in the booth for analysis by 1989 NASCAR Cup champion Rusty Wallace and two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Andy Petree. Wallace is the only national TV analyst who has competed in the Chase as a driver.

Pit reporters will be Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro. Two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN DISH Tech Center.

Suzy Kolber will host NASCAR Countdown along with analyst Brad Daugherty, a former winning team owner in the NASCAR Busch Series and Truck Series, in the ESPN Pit Studio.

ESPN2 will have live coverage of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup qualifying from Martinsville on Friday, Oct. 19, at 3:30 p.m. NASCAR Happy Hour practice airs Saturday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.

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Team USA

Team USA Scholarship Winners Test

Patrick Barrett

Team USA Scholarship winners Patrick Barrett and Joel Miller should be a little more prepared to tackle the Formula Palmer Audis they’ll drive in Europe later this fall after successfully completing tests in Andersen Racing Star Mazda cars at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR) last week.

Barrett logged 71 laps and Miller completed 74 laps at the road course in Alton, Va.

Joel Miller

Barrett, 18, of Los Osos, Calif., is the 2007 Pacific F2000 champion. Miller, 19, of Hesperia, Calif., clinched the BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National presented by Mazda earlier this month at VIR.

The scholarship winners are slated to compete at Brands Hatch, England on Oct. 27-28 and at Snetterton, England Nov. 3-4 in the six-race Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy competition.

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Philippe back in fast lane

Philippe with his Australian girlfriend
Sarah Buller

Recently Frenchman Nelson Philippe was out of a job and slinking around the Gold Coast of Australia.

Since winning the Surfers Paradise Indy 300 Champ Car race last year Philippe has been unemployed and was resigned to watching the race from behind the fence with 100,000 other spectators this weekend.

That was until two weeks ago when he walked into the Surfers Paradise sales office of property developer the Juniper Group to inquire about the possibility of buying an apartment in the $850 million Soul project on the Esplanade.

After going in with the express purpose of looking for an apartment, Philippe came out with a lifeline from the company's managing director Shaun Juniper.

The 21-year-old driver is still pinching himself after securing funding from Juniper of close to seven figures that will allow him to commandeer a drive for Conquest Racing.

"Every day I jog around the Indy track and I have a laugh to myself because the donuts that I did celebrating my win last year are still there," Philippe said.

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Allmendinger: NASCAR is hardest
The relative dearth of technology also seems to have morphed from detriment to draw for open-wheel drivers accustomed to cars capable of precision steering at 20,000 rpms and laden with telemetry that tells engineers how to adjust the cars. Computer-aided data acquisition is banned by NASCAR, and its ill-handling cars have internal combustion engines employing mechanisms dating to the 1950s.

It puts a heavier emphasis on driver feedback, and Franchitti and Villeneuve relish the challenge.

"I never liked getting to a track and the team telling me, 'We don't want to hear what you think, just drive,' " Villeneuve says.

Wheeler says he's noticed the shift in philosophy after hearing open-wheel drivers deride NASCAR as "racing taxi cabs" since attending his first Indy 500 in 1964.

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Money drives best drivers to NASCAR
The funding has dried up in U.S. open-wheel racing during the 11 years since political infighting split the sport into two major series. In Champ Car this season, Sebastien Bourdais has won $611,000 while marching toward a fourth consecutive championship. Dario Franchitti won $4,017,583 for this year's IRL IndyCar title.

Of the top 25 drivers in Nextel Cup, 15 have earned more than Franchitti, including nine who are winless. The top 49 have earned at least $1 million, and their income is supplemented by base salaries and merchandise sales.

Casey Mears left Indy cars for NASCAR in '02 because he was worried about the stability of Champ Car and IRL. Each series lacks title sponsors and has struggled to attract funding for its teams, which has limited the number of available rides. IRL and Champ Car races draw 16 to 18 cars on average.

"There's no question open-wheel racing just keeps getting worse in the U.S.," says Mears, who drives for powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports and is the nephew of four-time Indy 500 winner Rick Mears.

"That's the biggest reason why you're seeing guys come over here. It's not, 'Hey, I want to go stock car racing like I've dreamed all my life.' It's, 'Wow, there's nothing there. I've got to go stock car racing to make a living.' There's nowhere else to go."

Agent Glen Hinshaw says Speed had several better-paying offers to race in Champ Car or the IRL that were outweighed by NASCAR's long-term economic viability. A.J. Allmendinger made the same decision this year, leaving for Cup after a five-win 2006 season in Champ Car.

"In the long term, if I make NASCAR work, am I going to make more money? Hell yeah," Allmendinger says. "But it also was that I was in a series that I didn't know was going to be around the next year." USA Today


Race Cars take to the streets of San Jose
This Wednesday, Oct. 17, the Mini Le Mans of San Jose presented by Comcast, will give Downtown San Jose office workers a sample of what fans can expect at the Monterey Sports Car Championships taking place Oct. 19-21 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Drivers and cars from the American Le Mans Series and the SPEED World Challenge, North America's premier sports car racing series, will put on a demonstration race during the noon hour at Downtown San Jose's Plaza de Cesar Chavez.

The cars and drivers will begin arriving at 10 a.m. in preparation for the noon green flag to start the demonstration race around Plaza de Cesar Chavez, a downtown park popular with office workers at lunchtime. 

The cars will be running in a counter-clockwise direction on the inside lane of Market St., as it circles the park.  The outer lanes will remain open to traffic, but will be separated from the race cars by traffic stanchions.

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Shell is fully activating their NASCAR sponsorship
Shell is leveraging its relationship with Richard Childress Racing (RCR), Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil car in an effort to drive traffic and sales at Shell branded service stations in the United States. In the one year since the company’s announcement regarding its re-entry into the sport, Shell has created a multitude of national and local brand-building opportunities for wholesalers and retailers by providing chances for them to become a part of the action.

In-Store Promotions
Through three packaged “off the shelf” promotions, Shell wholesalers and retailers can attract loyal NASCAR fans and generate consumer excitement.
• “Welcome Race Fans” is a point of purchase package for retailers to welcome fans and increase excitement surrounding an upcoming in-market NASCAR race.
• “It’s 29 Time” is a quick hitting three week sales promotion offering customers a medium beverage, snack or No. 29 decal for $0.29.
• “Get Movin’ on Monday” provides consumers with a free medium beverage on Mondays when Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil car finish in the top 10 in the NEXTEL Cup race.

“We are committed to providing the best platforms for our business partners to build relationships and increase traffic at their sites,” said Karen Wildman, Shell Retail brand and communications manager. “The relevance and power of our sponsorship with RCR provides far-reaching benefits for our brands.”

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Q and A with Lewis Hamilton
What preparations are you making for Brazil in terms of physical and mental?
"I feel good; I’m not dwelling on what could have been in China. I have been training quite a bit. Brazil is hot so I had to do some more intense training, which included exercising the other side of my neck as it is an anti-clockwise circuit. I have also been to the McLaren Technology Centre to see my engineer. We looked at onboard footage from China and also analyzed what happened at the last race to see where I was quickest and where there is room for improvement. We’ll make sure we go to Brazil with clear decisions on set-up and where we aim to go with it. I was quite low key last week, no events, no partying, I’m even side-tracking some of my friends to make sure I am in the right frame of mind."

After the Chinese Grand Prix, you must be even more determined to win the World Championship in Brazil, which is a place where Ayrton Senna was revered and you’ve become a popular figure.
"I want to win wherever; it was easier and more convenient to win in China. However you can see throughout the year that I’ve been strong on new circuits so I’ve got no worries about it being a circuit I haven’t driven on before. It would be a phenomenal experience to go to Brazil and win the World Championship there. The fact that Brazil is Ayrton Senna’s homeland just adds to it. I have a great team and I know what it feels like to lose it so I will do everything in my power and dedication to win."

Felipe Massa won in Brazil last year and this year he’ll be helping Kimi while you’ll be on your own. Does this bother you?
"I haven’t thought about it. It has been a few races that Kimi’s been in the charge for the title. Felipe is not a major threat if the team ask him to get in the way. I’m comfortable with the pace of my car and my abilities. I feel I can do a better job than them. I’m not going there to worry about Felipe. I’m going there to win."


Tech file - Interlagos
Interlagos is a circuit of contrasting extremes, combining slow hairpins with one of the longest straights of the season. Sitting in a natural bowl, it undulates throughout its 4.309 km length, and is notorious for its bumpy surface – although this was improved by resurfacing in 2004, and the circuit has apparently been resurfaced again for 2007.

The physical demands of the bumpy circuit are intensified by the fact that it runs anti-clockwise, subjecting the drivers’ necks to the opposite loadings as at a normal track. It is a circuit where overtaking is possible, particularly on the entry to turn 1, and the set-up compromise therefore tends to favor straight-line speed over optimum lap-time, to ensure the drivers can make up positions, and defend them, during the 71-lap race.

Aerodynamics: The contrasting nature of the Interlagos circuit makes very different demands on the cars. The first and last sectors are made up primarily of long straights, where good top speed is necessary to maintain competitiveness and protect position; this means a low level of downforce are required. However, the middle sector requires the opposite: high downforce to ensure good grip under acceleration, braking and cornering through the twisting series of hairpins. Balancing these requirements gives an optimum downforce setting for achieving the fastest possible lap-time. However, this optimum is then skewed by the demands of racing with other cars. To do so successfully requires competitive end of straight speeds – and achieving these may drag us away from our optimum downforce to a slightly lower setting which allows the drivers to overtake and defend their position into turn 1. This means we use downforce levels similar to a circuit such as Bahrain.

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Fresh engines for Ferrari in Brazil
The Brazilian Grand Prix marks not only the end of the 2007 Formula 1 season, but also the end of the first year in the sport's history in which engine development has been frozen, as part of a cost cutting measure.

Both Kimi Raikkonen, still in with a slim chance of taking the Drivers' title and Felipe Massa, keen to win at home for a second consecutive year, will start the seventeenth round of the world championship with a new engine in their F2007. However, unlike past years, the freeze on engine work means the Brazil engines will be fundamentally the same as those used in past races. "This year has been quite different on the engine side, different in terms of development, as although there are still some areas where engine development is possible, it is on a much reduced scale compared to the past," says Mattia Binotto, Ferrari's Head of Track Engineering - Engines. "The work we can do is very limited. However, this difference applies only to design and development of the engines, because in terms of our trackside operations, I have not noticed any changes. The management of the engine over a race weekend remains the same, which means you are operating with some targets and limits trying to get maximum performance out of the engine while managing its reliability. Those elements remain the same as ever."

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track news

Melvyn Record joins Mazda Raceway
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca CEO/General Manager Gill Campbell announced today that Melvyn Record has joined the staff as Vice President Marketing and Sales, to direct the overall marketing efforts for the world-renowned Monterey Peninsula road course.

Record brings more than 20 years of experience in motorsports marketing.  He comes to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca from his position as Vice President of Marketing at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.  He joined Infineon Raceway in 2000, after spending 11 years at the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) where he held several positions including Director of Field Marketing, Director of International Relations and Associate Editor of National Dragster, the NHRA’s weekly publication.

“We are very pleased to have Melvyn Record join our team,” said Campbell.   “His extensive experience in both the Bay Area and the motorsports community makes him an ideal fit for us as we continue to grow our major events.”

“Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is one of the great venues in the world of motorsports,” said Melvyn Record.  “I’m looking forward to working with our current marketing partners and developing new relationships to take the circuit and its events to the next level.”


NASCAR loses another sponsor
Las Vegas Motor Speedway officials announced Monday the United Auto Workers will not return as title sponsor of the track's Sprint Cup race in 2009.

"We're very excited about seeking a partnership that will help us continue taking our NASCAR Sprint Cup event to new heights," LVMS General Manager Chris Powell said in a statement. "For quite some time, potential sponsors have expressed interest in this entitlement if it were to become available.

"Because of the popularity of our city and our facility - including new grandstands and the state-of-the-art Neon Garage that affords race fans unmatched access - we believe an event entitlement here at LVMS is the most valuable in all of NASCAR racing."


Champ Car inks Three-Year Agreement
Champ Car fans will have something extra to look forward to next season with the announcement that GreenLight Collectibles, Speedgear and the Champ Car World Series have teamed up to produce die-cast replicas of the Series’ new DP01 race car. The die-cast replicas will go on sale in early April.

The 1:18 and 1:64 scale DP01 replicas will include, among others, the 2007 cars of Paul Tracy and Graham Rahal as well as a commemorative 2007 Sebastien Bourdais Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing #1 McDonald’s car honoring the triple Champion who looks to clinch an unprecedented fourth consecutive title at the next race in Surfers Paradise, Australia. The collection will also include a replica of the first-ever DP01, which served as the Champ Car test car and featured a Troy Lee Designs paint scheme.

The 1:18 replicas, which will measure approximately 11 inches long, will be officially licensed by the Champ Car World Series and will feature a die-cast metal body and chassis, authentic DP01 detailing, real rubber Bridgestone tires, driver figure with authentic helmet graphics, sequential numbering on the base and custom window box packaging. The 1:64 replicas will measure approximately 3 inches long.

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racing news

Quotes of the week UPDATE #2 A new quote from Max Mosley has been added.

"Jackie Stewart's latest comments are as misconceived as those he made prior to the McLaren World Council hearing in September," Mosley said.  "It is not the role of the FIA to court popularity by supporting one party or the other.  It is the role of the FIA to ensure that the rules of the sport are respected and that fairness is applied consistently for all competitors.  The bandying of partisan and ill informed comments in the media may well result in increased book sales for his new autobiography but they can do little more than confirm my view that Jackie is in no position to provide useful observations upon issues of motor sport governance." (Max Mosley has dismissed Sir Jackie Stewart's call for him to retire as FIA president.  Mosley even suggested that Stewart's continued outspokenness could be related to the release of his autobiography, entitled 'Winning is Not Enough'.  Stewart's latest comments were made at a signing for the book.)

10/15/07 A new quote from Sir Jackie Stewart has been added.
SIR JACKIE STEWART, 3-times F1 World Drivers Champion
Stewart said Mosley's decision is "poor" and a "dangerous precedent".  He said "Formula one is a domain in which the owners pay the drivers and recruit the mechanics to design the car, and the governing body should have no say in the internal workings of any team.  It is also hypocritical. Can you imagine the FIA going to Ferrari, while Michael Schumacher was at the helm, and insisting that his no.2 Rubens Barrichello or Eddie Irvine, was accorded the same privileges and that both men had to race on an equal footing?  There is an escalating awareness that Mosley is being called into question over the proper governance of the FIA and his authority is being undermined, to an increasing degree, largely because we are in the most exciting F1 campaign there has been for years, and yet the papers are full of negative publicity.  The governing body is damaging the reputation of the whole sport and bringing it into disrepute.  They are acting in self interest and I believe there has to be greater accountability," said Stewart. "Perhaps Max Mosley has been in the job too long. I definitely think that he should consider his position and that a new president should be head hunted from outside the sport, so there is no conflict of interest." (Sir Jackie Stewart, who was recently derided as a "certified halfwit" by Max Mosley, has hit back by calling on the FIA president to quit his post as motor racing's most powerful figure.  The triple world champion, who caught Mosley's ire by describing the espionage affair earlier this year as a 'witch hunt', has now slammed the FIA's decision to install a special observer in the McLaren pits in Brazil to ensure driver equality.)

KEITH WIGGINS, co-owner Champ Car World Series team, Minardi Team USA
“You have to look at this [Champ Car World Series] as a business as much as possible,” he says. “It’s no secret that that’s been a challenge the last few years. I think the writing is on the wall that we have to get our s**t together. It needs some good, hard common sense. The reality is something’s gotta change. We all know the reasons (for the recent driver changes). The reality is that it appeases the latest fire. Now that we’ve plugged a couple of Mexicans in for Mexico City, Mexico is happy. Nelson is popular (in Australia) and people were also saying ‘What about last year’s winner?’ But what do we do about next year when we get to Assen and people start asking ‘What happened to Jan?’ Do we just plug him back in again?

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Mosley hits back at Stewart again
(GMM)  Max Mosley has dismissed Sir Jackie Stewart's call for him to retire as FIA president.

Triple world champion Stewart, who is considering legal action after Mosley recently described him as a "certified halfwit" for his vocal opposition to FIA's handling of the espionage affair, also called the decision to install a special steward in the McLaren pits this weekend "dangerous".

"Jackie Stewart's latest comments are as misconceived as those he made prior to the McLaren World Council hearing in September," Mosley said in an emailed response.

He added: "It is not the role of the FIA to court popularity by supporting one party or the other.  It is the role of the FIA to ensure that the rules of the sport are respected and that fairness is applied consistently for all competitors."

Mosley even suggested that Stewart's continued outspokenness could be related to the release of his autobiography, entitled 'Winning is Not Enough'.

The Scot's latest comments were made at a signing for the book.

Mosley said: "The bandying of partisan and ill informed comments in the media may well result in increased book sales for his new autobiography but they can do little more than confirm my view that Jackie is in no position to provide useful observations upon issues of motor sport governance."


Danica's sponsor has financial woes
According to this Adage article, Motorola is restrcturing their advertising because of poor results.  Given that, one has to wonder if they think their sponsorship of Danica Patrick is producing the results they expected.


Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • BMW vows 'evolution' for 2008 car
  • Berger wants Vettel for 'long term'
  • Ferrari needs 'number one' driver for new era
  • Stewart calls on Mosley to quit F1
  • Fittipaldi urges Ferrari to sign Alonso
  • Mallya admits 'Epic' link for Spyker
  • Coulthard - I brought Newey to Red Bull
  • Briatore rejects Prodrive rumors New
  • Sutil says 'no talks' with Toyota New

BMW vows 'evolution' for 2008 car
(GMM) BMW-Sauber will use a philosophy of evolution to attempt to close the gap to F1's two top teams in 2008, team boss Mario Theissen says.

The German, whose Hinwil based outfit established itself as clearly the third force on the grid this year, estimates the average deficit to Ferrari and McLaren at the moment as "about half a second per lap".

"I wouldn't say there is one area where we are massively behind," he added.

"This year's car is quite well balanced but we are lacking a little bit everywhere," he explained.

Theissen revealed that BMW's 2008 car, to be called the F1.08 and again raced by Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, is not going to be a radical departure from its predecessor.

"It is an evolution rather than a revolution in order to find the ultimate three to five percent which is missing," he said.

Berger wants Vettel for 'long term'
(GMM) Gerhard Berger says he is planning a "long term" relationship with Toro Rosso's impressive newcomer Sebastian Vettel.

The veteran of more than 200 grands prix, and co-owner of the Faenza based team, was asked by the German publication 'Express' if he is worried that the 20-year-old will now be head-hunted by formula one's bigger teams.

Toro Rosso leapt ahead of Spyker, Super Aguri and Honda in the constructors' standings when Vettel's fourth place in Shanghai (and teammate Tonio Liuzzi's sixth) delivered points to the team's account.

Before smashing into Mark Webber's Red Bull in Japan a week earlier, Vettel was running third.

"Clearly, with achievements like those, a driver rouses interest," Austrian Berger, a winner of ten grands prix, admitted.

"But I plan on a long-term relationship with Sebastian. He confirmed in China that a top driver is emerging with us -- and I am expecting even more of him."

Vettel is under contract to Toro Rosso for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, and he also retains links with his previous F1 employer, BMW.

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Renault F1 roadshow thrills Mexico
The ING Renault F1 Team put on a breathtaking, record-breaking show in the streets of Mexico City to bring down the curtain on its 2007 Roadshow program.

After months of preparation by Renault Mexico, ING Mexico and the Federal District Government, all three partners of this spectacular F1 showcase event, the ING Renault F1 Team arrived in Mexico City ready to thrill the Mexican public. The team kept its promise as Giancarlo Fisichella and Nelson Piquet Jr put the R26 through its paces in front of a crowd of 300,000 people!

Running along the Paseo de la Reforma, one of the city's main avenues, and around the city's emblematic statue of the Angel of Independence, the ING Renault F1 Team produce donuts, burnouts and much more for the enthusiastic, motorsport-loving Mexican public.

This was the team's first ever Roadshow event in Central America, and it was judged a great success. The crowds were the largest ever seen at a Roadshow event, while the atmosphere was both friendly and approachable throughout.

"Renault and ING worked so hard to make this event happen here in Mexico," commented Giancarlo Fisichella as he greeted the crowds, "and I think we managed to put on a cool show for the Mexican people today! The atmosphere was just incredible, and it was a great pleasure to take part in this event."

"We got a fantastic welcome here in Mexico," added Nelson Piquet Jr. "We were determined to put on a good show, and I think we managed that! There were so many people lining the track and I hope they all enjoyed the event. I certainly did!"

After an especially successful 2007 season, the ING Renault F1 Team is now finalizing an ambitious calendar for 2008. Renault

track news

Le Mans 2008 a landmark calendar
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest is hard at work preparing the 2008 season with what promises to be an exceptional action-packed programme. Note the dates:

29th & 30th MARCH
This is the start of the motorbike season on the Bugatti circuit and also the first event in the 2008 French Superbike Championship. The 125ccs, Mono Challenge, Supersports, 1000ccs and side-cars will be the first to race on the new layout of the Garage Vert corner. Even if the design of the corner is identical to the previous one, it has been shifted eastwards and together with its enlarged run-off areas will lead to new track records.

19th & 20th APRIL
This is the 31st 24 Hours for Motorcycles and is part of the Endurance World Championship. The riders will also tackle the new Bugatti circuit layout. The major news is the increasing involvement of works teams: in addition to Suzuki, the reigning champions, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Honda, 2008 will see BMW joining the battle for the world title. The supreme achievement for one of these makes would be starting the year with victory in the 24 Hours.

17th & 18th MAY
Moto GP is the top category in high-speed racing for motorcycles in the world. In 2008, the 20th French Motorcycle Grand Prix will take place on the Bugatti circuit. It is the fifth of the 18 round championships, and will be the right moment to come and support French riders Randy De Puniet and Sylvan Giuntoli in their new Moto GP teams.

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Brazilian GP: McLaren preview
As one of the most dramatic, tense and exciting Formula 1 seasons for many years draws to a close, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Sao Paulo for the Championship-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix.

After 16 gripping races across 16 countries and five continents Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen will compete for the sports most prestigious accolade, to be crowned 2007 Formula 1 Drivers' World Champion, over 71 laps of the twisting and bumpy 4.309km Interlagos circuit.

Lewis is travelling to Interlagos with 107 points. His Vodafone McLaren Mercedes teammate Fernando is four points behind on a total of 103, with Kimi in third position with 100. With a difference of seven points covering the top three, we have outlined the various scenarios that could take place in Sao Paulo next weekend.

How Fernando can become Champion:

Should Fernando win the race, he would need for Lewis to be on the bottom step of the podium or lower to take the title.
If Fernando is in second position after the 71 laps, Lewis would have to be in sixth position or lower.
If Fernando takes third, he would need to Lewis to only secure one point and for Kimi not to win.
If Fernando is fourth, Lewis would have to not score any points, with Kimi also not on the top two steps of the podium.

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Alonso: McLaren doesn't want me
Fernando Alonso believes all the signs coming from McLaren suggest the team doesn't want him around in 2008.

The Spaniard's future in Formula One remains a topic of hot debate despite both Renault and Ferrari recently saying they haven't signed any deals with the driver.

The rumors, though, still persist with the German newspaper Bild claiming last week that Alonso had signed a letter of intent to race for Renault in a three-year deal to start next season.

However, that same day a Swiss publication reported that he had signed that same letter of intent with Ferrari.

But while the rumors continue, McLaren have already said there will be no word on Alonso's future until after they've held talks in the post-season.

Alonso, though, doesn't believe those talks are going to do his McLaren future any good.

"From what they've said and done it doesn't look as though they are very keen and that they've got enough with one of the two drivers that are here and I've no problem with that," he told the Associated Press.

"There are another 10 or so teams that are interested in me."


Gold Coast puts on Indy Glitz and Glamour
Indy may not have the history or importance to rival the Mount Panorama Bathurst 1000 spectacle, one ingredient it does have in abundance is glitz and glamour—a bit like Schoolies week for grown-ups, attracting the Chardonnay and Champagne set for their once a year motorsport feast during the four day carnival.

Indy still attracts the basic core of motor racing fans in large numbers during race week taking in rounds of both the V8 Supercar and Champ Car seasons. Many who trudged through the mud at Oran park in round eight, slept in tents at Bathurst and encountered the drought and bush fires at Winton find themselves in swank two and a half star accommodation smack bang in the middle of Australia's number one holiday playground.

The 2007 Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast is expected to attract more than 300,000 people this weekend with the biggest names in Australian motorsport including Skaife, Lowndes, Whincup, Courtney, Kelly and co-sharing centre stage with International drivers including Bourdais, Tracy, and Dominguez.

Over the 16 years of Indy on the Gold Coast, the Champ Cars have lit up the track clocking speeds in excess of 300km per hour as the drivers chase the rich series prize money and acclaim. Champ Car racing features 800-horsepower open wheel vehicles in an international 14-round series held in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and Australia.

The Lexmark Indy 300 winners honor roll features some of the World's best known drivers including, John Andretti (1991), Emerson Fittipaldi (1992), Nigel Mansell (1993), Michael Andretti (1994), Paul Tracy (1995), Jimmy Vasser (1996), Scott Pruett (1997), Alex Zanardi (1998), Dario Franchitti (1999), Adrian Fernandez (2000), Cristiano da Matta (2001), Mario Dominguez (2002), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2003) and Bruno Junqueira (2004) Sebastian Bourdais (2005), and Nelson Philippe (2006).

An amazing record is that there have been 16 different winners in 16 years, a record that Dominguez, Tracy and Bourdais will be aiming to break in 2007. A massive coup for the Lexmark Indy 300 this year is the home grown talent of Will Power, currently running fourth in the series driving for Team Australia, Power will be aiming to better the seventh-place finish by fellow Aussie David Besnard in 2004 in a special one-off Champ Car drive. More at Epoch Times


Panasonic Toyota Racing: 2007 Fast Facts
The Brazilian Grand Prix, taking place in Interlagos on October 21, is the 17th of the 2007 season and the 105th Grand Prix weekend for the Panasonic Toyota Racing Team. A Formula 1 car is made up of around 9,000 individual components and the 4,500 parts of the RVX-07 engine require 100 hours work to be assembled.

On the TF107racecar, 250 sensors supply up to 1,300 different statistics in order to help engineers and drivers to find the set-up that will enhance the car’s performance. Video: Toyota F1 fast facts

british f3

Provisional 2008 British F3 Calendar
The provisional 2008 calendar for the Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series and Avon Tires British GT Championship has been announced by The Stephane Ratel Organisation (SRO). The season goes green with the traditional Easter weekend season opener at Oulton Park in March and ends with a grandstand finale at Donington Park in October, with some fantastic circuits and locations in between.

The circuits for British F3 remain unchanged from 2007 with visits to all the big UK names, along with the Grand Prix tracks of Monza (Italy), Spa Francorchamps (Belgium) and the street circuit in Romania’s capital Bucharest, supporting the FIA GT Championship.

The British GT calendar next season will see one change in a return to Scotland for the first time since May 2005. Thanks to Knockhill’s enthusiastic promoter and the challenging and diverse nature of the circuit, the Scottish round of the championship will provide a valuable addition to the 2008 championship.

“On the back of such a successful calendar in 2007, it was about keeping a level of consistency for 2008. British F3 visits the same circuits but in a slightly different order, including the final two rounds being at Bucharest and Donington - it should be a spectacular sprint to the finish!” Stephane Ratel of SRO continued, “For British GT we thought Knockhill would set a different challenge to our teams and drivers; it’s a tight and twisty track which we’re sure will provide entertaining racing and some surprises. Knockhill replaces Croft, but with the remainder of the circuits staying the same, we believe there is an excellent all round balance to the calendar.”

The Avon Tires British GT Championship will consist of 14 rounds, with Silverstone and Donington Park hosting a 2-hour race and the other six events featuring two 1-hour races over the course of each race weekend.

As in previous years the Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series will be a 22 round championship with each of the eleven circuits hosting two races.

Provisional 2008 Calendar


British GT British F3
24-Mar Oulton Park Oulton Park
27-Apr Croft
04-May Knockhill
18-May Monza
26-May Rockingham (Mon)** Rockingham (Mon**)
08-Jun Snetterton Snetterton
29-Jun Thruxton Thruxton
13-Jul Brands Hatch Brands Hatch
01/02-Aug Spa
17-Aug Silverstone Silverstone
31-Aug Bucharest**
05-Oct Donington** Donington**

** To be confirmed

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