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Biagi wins FIA-GT title for Maserati at Zolder
The final round of 2007 saw an exciting race, won by Jetalliance's Wendlinger and Sharp, the duo managing to convert their pole position into victory for the third time this season. Second went to local heros PK Carsport with their Corvette C5R driven by Kumpen and Longin. However, third today for the nr 1 Vitaphone Racing Team Maserati MC12 was enough for Thomas Biagi to claim the 2007 title. The Italian commented : "This is a special result, as for an Italian driver I have now won two Championships - one with a Ferrari in 2003, and now with a Maserati."

Their win today propelled Wendlinger and Sharp up into joint second in the Drivers Classification, with Hezemans and Deletraz third.

As for GT2, Dirk Müller and Toni Vilander claimed the title in style, starting from pole position and winning the title in their AF Corse Motorola Ferrari 430 GT2. The two drivers, both in their first full season in the FIA GT Championship, finished ahead of the nr 74 Ebimotors Porsche of Zani and Pompidou - claiming their first podium of the season - and the nr 59 Advanced Engineering Ferrari of Rui Aguas and Maurizio Mediani.

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A gutted Ron Dennis goes home empty handed

Ron Dennis

A gutted McLaren boss Ron Dennis admitted it was hard to put his disappointment into words, but conceded Lewis Hamilton’s problem had cost him the title despite its bullet-proof reliability record up until that point.  Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen beat both of his drivers to the world title by a single point in Brazil.  His team also lost the constructors title to Ferrari over the Spygate saga.

“In difficult moments like this you have just got to have a sporting attitude to the outcome,” he told ITV Sport’s Steve Rider.

“We have enjoyed phenomenal reliability from our two cars this year, but a default criteria in the gearbox selected neutral for a period of time and then it sorted itself out.

“We think we gained over 10 seconds by switching him to a three-stop strategy, so we are very sure that that was a positive thing to do.

“But it was so close – we just needed one car to stop and then we would have been in with a fighting chance.

“It is hard to find the right words, but I think the whole team has done a good job the whole year and should be proud of their achievements.

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Bridgestone congratulate Ferrari and Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) has been crowned 2007 Formula One World Champion after winning an epic championship showdown in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos. Raikkonen joins Michael Schumacher (Ferrari, champion in 2000-2004) and Mika Hakkinen (McLaren Mercedes, champion in 1998-99) as a driver who has won the Formula One World Championship using Bridgestone Potenza tires.

At the end of one of the most scintillating Formula One seasons ever, Raikkonen used a soft-soft super-soft tire strategy to achieve his win, battling the highest track temperatures seen this season at the newly resurfaced Interlagos track. He was joined on the podium by team-mate Felipe Massa who used the same strategy to finish second, leading the race until his final pit stop. Fernando Alonso (McLaren Mercedes) finished in third place on the same strategy and took third in the drivers’ championship standings, just one point behind Raikkonen.

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Kimi says title defeat ’justice’ for McLaren

Kimi Raikkonen

(GMM)  Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was in no mood for sympathy as he contemplated his unlikely world championship triumph after winning Sunday's Brazilian grand prix.

The Finn, who succeeds double drivers' title holder Fernando Alonso as winner of formula one's most coveted prize, spent five years driving for the McLaren team that he defeated at Interlagos.

Asked if he thought beating his Woking based successors Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso was "justice" at the end of a tumultuous 2007 season, he answered: "I think so, maybe yes."

Ferrari inherited the constructors' title earlier this year when McLaren was disqualified for the spying affair.

Raikkonen, 28, suggested that he has no regrets after switching to Ferrari for 2007.

"I have enjoyed formula one much more this year than I enjoyed the last few years, for many reasons -- not because of the driving, but for some other reasons.

"It is such a nice big family (at Ferrari), great people to work for.  I'd rather win with them than anyone else," Raikkonen added.

It was immediately apparent, however, that rising to the top of his sport had not fully cured his monosyllabic approach to the media.

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Surfers the secret to a bright Champ Car future
Champ Car Director of Communications David Higdon had been told all year: `Just wait until you get to Surfers'.

The man charged with planning the series' future had been looking for ideas, strategies -- a blueprint to grow the championship.

But whenever he pushed for a think tank, he got the same reply.

"I only took over the position in May and that is all I kept hearing -- wait until you get to the race in Surfers," said Higdon yesterday.

"Well I am here now and I can see what they are talking about.

"It is like a light bulb went off inside my head."

Higdon, 46, has just come from eight years in tennis where he oversaw communications and marketing for the ATP, the worldwide men's tennis circuit.

As the head of strategic development for Champ Cars, Higdon says the Surfers race not only houses the blueprint, but also the personality that can take the series out of its worrying rut.

Rumors have dogged the event this year that there is a cloud over the series and that the Gold Coast carnival may head towards a V8-only weekend.

Higdon says that rumor is far from reality.

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Hamilton puts brave face on title defeat
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton put on a brave face on Sunday after failing to secure the 2007 drivers' world championship in Brazil.

The rookie Briton, who could have clinched the title two weeks ago in China and with only a fifth place at Interlagos, finished seventh after a disastrous race filled with early errors and a temporarily faulty gearbox.

"I am still quite happy," the 22-year-old told BBC's Radio Five Live from Sao Paulo.

"To have come from GP2, who would have thought I'd be number two in my first season in formula one?"

Hamilton vowed to come back "even stronger" in 2008, even though Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen will wear the number one.

He admitted that going off the circuit on the first lap was his mistake, despite being wheel to wheel at the time with his McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso.

"It was my mistake and I lost a couple of positions," said the Briton.

"I had the pace to get back but at turn four the car slammed into neutral and we don't know why yet.

"It was all against me in the end but I will go into next year and try to do a better job.

"It is 22 weeks until the next race and I am going to come back fitter, more relaxed, more experienced and I will have a better car," Hamilton added.


England crushed with Hamilton defeat
(GMM) Kimi Raikkonen emerged F1's surprise new world champion on Sunday as title favorite Lewis Hamilton faltered in Brazil.

The Finn, assisted by local hero and Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa, clinched the drivers' prize by one point, with a lackluster Alonso third and Hamilton, in the sister McLaren, just seventh after a disastrous afternoon at Interlagos.

22-year-old Hamilton, four points ahead of Alonso and seven ahead of Raikkonen going into the 71-lap race in scorching temperatures, had a bad start and then went off the circuit trying to overtake Alonso.

He lost a further half a minute a few laps later when a gearbox problem temporarily struck.

"Lewis has enjoyed phenomenal reliability from his car this year. It was just a default in the gearbox which selected neutral for a period of time but then sorted itself out," team boss Ron Dennis told British television ITV afterwards.

"It was so close, we needed just one car to stop. It's hard to find the right words," he added.

At the time of writing, Hamilton had not commented on his defeat, but his father Anthony said no-one in their camp was feeling "pain" even though they were looking forward to trying again in 2008.

"Hopefully all the rubbish that's gone on in formula one this year will not be there next year," he added.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, who held off celebrating his 28th birthday a few days ago, won the title in the presence of his countryman Mika Hakkinen, who ironically watched the race from the garage of their old team, McLaren.

The British press, not 24 hours after the country lost the Rugby World Cup to South Africa, could not hide its disappointment with Sunday's result.

"Hamilton dream crushed", the Evening Standard observed.

"Dream over as Raikkonen lands title", said the Guardian.

The Daily Mail added: "Hamilton blows drivers' championship".


Dennis receives trophy from own team
(GMM) Ron Dennis will take home a constructors' championship trophy from the Brazilian grand prix.

His McLaren team were expelled from the contest amid the espionage affair, meaning that Ferrari will receive the real trophy at the end of year FIA gala.

But McLaren mechanics presented their boss with a glass trophy in the Interlagos pits, bearing the words, "The real 2007 Constructors' Champion. To Ron Dennis, from the race team".

"The guys have impressed me deeply," Dennis, showing off the prize, told Bild am Sonntag newspaper.

He also told the news agency Reuters: "The team realise it has been a bit of a tough season, so it was just a nice gesture.

"It will sit somewhere appropriate, probably in my office at home."


FIA rejects carmakers' engine rules proposal
(GMM) Max Mosley has rejected the proposal of F1's six car manufacturers for a new engine formula for 2010.

The FIA president had requested the carmakers' suggestions amid the warning that he might simply devise his own new rules.

We reported recently that BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Toyota had agreed to a 675 hp formula that involves four-race engines and an energy recovery 'boost' button.

Mosley told the German newspaper Die Welt: "We would have supported it, if the private teams would have been guaranteed an engine supply for 10 million euros rather than 15 million per season.

"Unfortunately the manufacturers did not accept it."

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TV News

SCCA Pro Racing and SPEED renew relationship for 2008
SCCA Pro Racing and SPEED announced today that the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Championships will again be broadcast on SPEED in 2008, marking the 13th year of its partnership.

For the 10th-straight year, each SCCA SPEED Touring Car and SCCA SPEED GT race will feature one-hour broadcasts on a tape-delayed basis on the network, generating 20 hours of unique programming.

“We are very pleased to continue our partnership with SPEED Channel,” SCCA Pro Racing President & CEO Robert Wildberger said. “This series has experienced tremendous growth in the last 13 years and much of that is due to SPEED’s involvement. We have a lot of items in the works to enhance the programs, including a larger broadcast presence on the Web.”

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Racing news

Kimball sidelined due to diabetes
Charlie Kimball, due to compete in the penultimate round of the World Series by Renault at Estoril, Portugal this weekend, has been sidelined for medical reasons.  Earlier this week, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and very high blood glucose levels.  Without treatment, the blood chemistry would continue to rage out of control, leading to very serious complications.  As a result, Kimball was strongly advised by doctors and diabetic specialists not to travel to Portugal, let alone compete in the race weekend. 

“It has been an extreme shock.  I went to the doctor with a skin rash, and came out with diabetes.  The positive thing I have taken from this is that I was diagnosed before my blood chemistry reached very dangerous levels, and I have begun treatment to bring it under control and keep it under control.  I have learned how to manage my insulin doses to replace what my body is no longer producing and how to monitor my blood sugar (glucose) levels so that I remain healthy.”

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Stoner wins 10th race in Malaysia

Top-3 look heat stricken in godforsaken Malaysia heat

The Polini Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix concluded with Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) winning for the tenth time in a fantastic World Championship season, the 22 year-old Australian securing a 1.701s win ahead of Honda Gresini’s

Marco Melandri, after starting second on the grid. Stoner now has a remarkable 106 point lead at the head of the premier class standings after dominating yet another MotoGP race, whilst Melandri moves up to fourth in the championship. Following Stoner’s 125cc victory in Malaysia in 2004 and his 250cc success in 2005, he becomes the first rider to win in all three classes at the Sepang circuit.

Behind the leading pair today Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa earned his seventh podium of the year, though he may be forced to settle for third in the World Championship with 24 points separating him from the man currently in second position, Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha), with one round remaining. The Doctor finished the Sepang race fifth, behind Kawasaki’s Randy de Puniet in fourth.

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Surfers race called best in world
Paul Tracy won the Surfers Paradise Indy 300 in 1995 and has missed only two of the 17 races since Champ Car's predecessor, CART, first came to Australia in 1991.

But the 38-year-old Toronto native is still amazed by what he sees during the race weekend that attracts more than 300,000 spectators.

Fans line up 10 deep around the 2.7-mile street circuit

"This is probably the biggest of any motor racing event in terms of the show and crowd support," Tracy said. "They bring new race promoters and venues to this event ... this is the model that Champ Car wants to achieve."

The off-track entertainment includes appearances by the Royal Australian Air Force's Blackhawk helicopters, F-111 fighter jets and the precision Roulettes flying team, jet dragsters, a fleet of cars that burn continuous tire rubber around the track and hundreds of scantily clad women representing companies ranging from liquor and beer brands to mortgage firms.

"There is so much crazy stuff that goes on here that legally in the United States you could never do," says Tracy. "You can't have helicopters flying 300 feet off the ground, people doing burnouts with dragsters and doughnuts. You just can't get insurance for doing things like that ... the lawsuits would be horrendous."

The crowds often get carried away. Police warned women this year that an annual race ritual - going topless - or often more - from many of the balconies in the high-rise resort hotels and apartments would not be tolerated.

And more than 60 persons were arrested on the streets of Surfers Paradise over the first two nights of the four-day race meet, most for liquor-related offences.

Another veteran driver, Oriol Servia of PKV Racing, agrees with Tracy that the race will always be unique because of the its beach location and sun and surf atmosphere.

"I've been to many European races, Monaco, the Formula Ones, and from a driver, from a fan, it's the best race on the planet," said Servia. Canadian press


Earnhardt to test for Hendrick this month

Earnhardt with his new Hendrick Team

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch will be allowed to test with their new teams at a Car of Tomorrow test at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Oct. 29-30.

A Hendrick Motorsports spokesman confirmed Saturday that plans have been finalized to allow Earnhardt Jr. to drive one of that team’s Chevrolets in the test following next weekend’s Cup race at the Atlanta track.

After completing 2007 in the No. 8 Chevrolets, Earnhardt Jr. will move from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to Hendrick to drive the No. 88 Chevrolets in 2008.


According to Ecclestone, Hamilton should be stripped of title


When McLaren were kicked out of the constructors' championship as punishment for the scandal, Bernie Ecclestone was in favor of the drivers escaping punishment. But he admits FIA president Max Mosley was correct in his claims Hamilton and Alonso should also have been deducted points.

"I was campaigning for them not to take points from drivers.

"Max was probably right, actually. If the team had an advantage, therefore the drivers had an advantage. And should they have an advantage? The answer is no.

"He is right on the regulations. The regulations say if the car loses points, the driver loses points as well." Daily Mail

With that said we await Ferrari's post-season lawsuit to have the points of Hamilton and his McLaren teammate Alonso stripped, handing the world title to their driver, Kimi Raikkonen. It could be an interesting off-season.


Ecclestone: Hamilton will win ’quite easily’
Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone believes Lewis Hamilton will win the drivers' title "quite easily" in Brazil today.

The rights-holder also believes Hamilton's team McLaren have no reason to favor Hamilton over team-mate, title rival and defending champion Fernando Alonso, because the 22-year-old rookie is so good.


"Of course it's fair. All the races are fair," he told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek.

"If McLaren were favoring one driver I doubt whether we would ever find out, it's that easy. There are a million things people could do if they wanted to favor one driver.

"I don't think they need to favor anybody, I think Lewis will win quite easily so I don't think there is any necessity to favor anybody.

"Just look at his CV and you'll see the reason. He's proved it. He's the new kid on the block and he's leading the world championship in the last race."

Asked whether the 'spy saga' involving McLaren possessing Ferrari technical information has tarnished the sport, Ecclestone said no - but admitted the English team have been affected,

"No. That was something that happened between the two teams," he said.

"I think McLaren must have suffered for sure." Daily Mail


Michelin tires prove too much for inferior brands
A stirring fight between two of racing’s premier prototype teams provided the perfect ending to a literally perfect season for Michelin as partner teams from Audi; Porsche; Corvette and Ferrari completed a perfect 2007 American Le Mans Series season by claiming victories in all four classes at the final race of the season, the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Taking the lead on lap 131 after the final caution period of the four hour race on Audi R10 TDI driver Rinaldo “Dindo” Capello passed Penske Porsche RS Spyder driver Romain Dumas at turn two of the historic 2.238 mile circuit and despite repeated side-by side attempts and counter-moves by the lighter, more nimble LMP2 Porsche but the two drivers fought a fierce but scrupulously fair fight as the Audi prevailed by 0.410 seconds.

The victory completed a memorable season for the Audi R10 TDI diesel team which captured the first two races, before seeing their rivals from Porsche string together eight consecutive overall race wins and ultimately saw a determined Audi rebound to claim the final two events at Road Atlanta and here at Laguna Seca.

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A new winner in Star Mazda

Alex Ardoin

Following through on a threat he’s been making for the last half of the season, Louisiana hotshoe Alex Ardoin won his first victory in the season finale Round Twelve of the 2007 Star Mazda Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 20.

Ardoin, who’s tail-out, slide-happy driving style reminds onlookers of everyone from Gilles Villeneuve to Tony Stewart on Turkey Night at Irwindale, has served regular notice that he’s becoming a force to be reckoned with, and proved it today with a finely-judged pass of new series champion Dane Cameron in the Turn Two hairpin… a pass that, for all its technical elegance, went uncontested due to the multi-part carnage that ensued almost immediately thereafter.

The first 18 laps of the race, which took the green flag at 12:30 pm ran like a freight train; pole sitter Cameron in the #19 JDC Motorsports/Finlay Motorsports Mazda holding the lead, followed closely by top qualifiers Lorenzo Mandarino, Ardoin, James Davison and, in the early stages, 16 year-old European wild card, F3 racer Max Chilton of Reigate, England, who showed up to race an ALMS car, was told he was too young and decided to take a flier in the Star Mazda race. He made his bones by qualifying 4th his first time in the #77 Velocity Motorsports/ Benfield Group Mazda but tangled with the series regulars and found himself shuffled back to finish 15th. 

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Alonso vows to push for 'impossible' prize
  • Dennis angry after reporter attacks Hamilton
  • Rodriguez has 2008 Spyker contract
  • Local driver 'not essential' for Force India

Alonso vows to push for 'impossible' prize
(GMM) Fernando Alonso in Brazil refused to add more fuel to Spanish conspiracy theorists' fires.

One newspaper quoted an unnamed engineer as explaining that McLaren could easily have de-tuned the reigning world champion's Mercedes-Benz engine so that it was 3 or 4 tenths slower than British teammate Lewis Hamilton's in Interlagos qualifying.

"I am not going to create more controversy," he told Diario As after emerging as the slowest McLaren or Ferrari runner in the decisive session on Saturday.

"The story is that we are all very close, and you can easily be a little bit behind.

"It has not been a brilliant weekend for me. I did not master the car in any of the sessions."

Alonso did, however, suggest that relations between himself and the team are still not rosy by revealing that he was pushed to adopt the same fuel strategy as Hamilton for the grand prix.

"Yes, I wanted to do something else," he confirmed. "I do not agree with what I have."

Alonso said he thinks it is a "miracle" that, at the very end of a tumultuous and uncomfortable season at McLaren, he is still faintly in the running for the title.

"The other day in China I said it was an impossible situation for me. This is equally complicated.

"If I am champion it will be magnificent, and if I am not I will go with my head held high because I think I have done a good season."

Despite his pessimism for the Brazilian grand prix, Alonso vowed to fight hard over the 71 laps.

"I have to risk more than ever because I have nothing to lose," he said. "Kimi, as well. We will be the most aggressive drivers out there and I expect a very exciting finish."

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Bourdais first in America
At the age of just 28, Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais became the first driver from a major American racing series to earn four straight championships and he did it in style with a victory in the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Queensland Australia, the penultimate event in the 14-race Champ Car championship.  It has never been done in the 99 year history in Champ Car and has never been done in NASCAR’s premier series or the Indy Racing League.  Four in a row is very rare in professional sports overall, in fact, it has never been done in the NFL (football) and it hasn’t been accomplished in the last twenty years in the NBA (basketball), NHL (hockey) or MLB (baseball).


Champ Car draws 314,136 in Australia

Sun shines bright on Surfers race

Queensland’s Gold Coast has reconfirmed its status as the motorsport event capital of Australia as 314,136 people soaked up the sun, sand and exciting on-track action during the four-day Lexmark Indy 300 carnival.

In a perfect result for the State’s glitter strip, the annual combination of 750 horsepower International Champ Car action and 640 horsepower V8 Supercars packed a mighty punch that continues to attract mountainous support from home and abroad.

Superlatives were aplenty for the event spectacular over the course of the weekend with Champ Car provisional pole sitter Oriol Servia describing the Queensland feature as ‘the best race on the planet’ and ‘having even more to offer than the Formula One event held annually in Monaco.’

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Hamilton vows to break rules as F1 champ
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has promised to ignore the FIA's advice that he stick strictly to the rules if he is crowned F1's first rookie world champion on Sunday.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis revealed at Interlagos that the team has been warned not to stray from the sport's rigid post-race procedures in the event that the title is won by a Mercedes-powered driver.

But Hamilton vowed to draw on flamboyant MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi's example if he stays atop the drivers' classification after the Brazilian finale just outside Sao Paulo.

"Look at the way the fans hug him on the bike after a race," the Briton told the Mirror.

"I'm not saying I want everyone to hug me but it would be cool to do the things he does. It does so much for the sport.

"If someone passes me a Union Jack on the slowing down lap it'd be cool to fly it. My hero Ayrton Senna used to do it here. Massa did it last year. That'd be cool," he added.

Hamilton said he would also do a 'donut' on the slowing down lap -- a maneuver that is frowned upon by formula one's authorities.

He also said the teams don't like their drivers indulging in the tire-screeching moves.

"If I win I'll definitely do it," said Hamilton. "When a race finishes it's dull. You never see drivers doing donuts.

"It would be cool to finish a race and do a donut.

"The teams don't like it because you could break something but if it breaks I'll pay for it. I doubt they'd be happy but I'd do it anyway."


Skinner triples at Martinsville
MARTINSVILLE, Va -- Mike Skinner drove through an open door for the lead and never looked back.

Skinner earned his third career Martinsville victory and clinched the manufacturer's title for Toyota, regaining his points lead in winning Saturday's Kroger 200 Craftsman Truck Series race.

"When Jack (Sprague) and Terry (Cook) got together (on Lap 134), it really opened the door for me," Skinner said. "I didn't think I had a truck that was strong enough to stay up front. . . The 60 (Sprague) was the best truck on the long greens, but those cautions kept flying and we came out victorious."

But behind Skinner, tension rose and tempers flared as trucks slammed into each other and the wall.

It started on Lap 193 when Tim Sauter got turned coming off Turn 4 with Travis Kvapil and Todd Bodine. When the smoke cleared, another six trucks were involved and the track was essentially blocked with Sauter's destroyed truck against the outside wall.

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Bourdais tops morning warm-up in Surfers
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's Sebastien Bourdais topped Sunday morning Champ Car warm-up in Surfers Paradise with a lap of 1:32.343, which was just enough to beat CDW's Justin Wilson by just 0.053 seconds.


Driver # Lap Time Behind Leader
1 S. Bourdais 1 1:32.343 0.000
2 J. Wilson 9 1:32.396 0.053
3 B. Junqueira 19 1:32.592 0.249
4 A. Tagliani 8 1:32.798 0.455
5 O. Servia 22 1:32.979 0.636
6 W. Power 5 1:33.536 1.193
7 P. Tracy 3 1:33.626 1.283
8 N. Philippe 34 1:33.669 1.326
9 N. Jani 21 1:33.934 1.591
10 D. Clarke 4 1:34.004 1.661
11 R. Doornbos 14 1:34.273 1.930
12 S. Pagenaud 15 1:34.411 2.068
13 D. Martinez 7 1:34.703 2.360
14 M. Dominguez 28 1:34.985 2.642
15 A. Figge 29 1:35.055 2.712
16 K. Legge 11 1:35.069 2.726
17 G. Rahal 2 1:39.106 6.763


Bobby Rahal enshrined as a Legend of Laguna Seca

Bobby Rahal at Laguna Seca Friday
by Bob Heathcote

As a young man growing up in the Midwest, Bobby Rahal satisfied his growing racing affinity by reading the great automotive magazines of the day, and learning about the fabled tracks on the West Coast – tracks like Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Riverside International Raceway - that seemed a world away to a nine-year-old boy.

But as young boys will, Rahal grew up. But in doing so, the youngster that read about tracks, grew up to conquer them in becoming one of America’s great race-car drivers, building a legendary career that included three IndyCar/CART championships, 25 IndyCar/CART wins and a slew of victories in other types of racing – including eight race wins at Laguna Seca.

Now the man that grew up reading about tracks like Laguna Seca has been immortalized at the fabled circuit as Bobby Rahal was today inducted into the inaugural class of the Legends of Laguna Seca. Rahal served as the Grand Marshal of today’s Monterey Sports Car Championships, giving the command to start engines prior to the afternoon’s American Le Mans Series season finale on the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca layout.

“When I first came here in 1979, this place was hallowed ground to me,” Rahal recalled. “I fell in love with the place, it suited me and I suited it and I had a number of great days here. I won my first professional race here (1979 Can-Am win), won four consecutive Champ Car races here, which nobody ever did and that means a lot to me.”

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Ferrari complain about Hamilton in Brazil
  • Alonso not disadvantaged, Dennis insists
  • Disappointed Alonso says title nearly over
  • Hamilton not investigated for Raikkonen incident

Ferrari complain about Hamilton in Brazil
(GMM) Ferrari on Saturday complained to the stewards about an incident involving McLaren's championship leader Lewis Hamilton in qualifying at Interlagos.

Although the Italian squad has not lodged a formal protest, it is understood that sporting director Stefano Domenicali pointed out to the stewards - and offered to provide team telemetry that supports the claim - that Kimi Raikkonen was held up on a flying lap through the Senna-S as Hamilton emerged from the pit lane late in the session.

The pair were seen discussing the incident after the session, and Ferrari strategist Luca Baldisseri is believed to have told television reporters that Raikkonen lost 3-4 tenths behind the Briton.

In the McLaren garage, meanwhile, a Brazilian FIA observer named Carlos donned a set of headphones as he listened in to any evidence that Fernando Alonso was disadvantaged in his fight with Hamilton for the title.

Spaniard Alonso ultimately qualified fourth, a few tenths off Hamilton's pace, and blamed having to start the 'Q3' phase behind his teammate as the decisive difficulty.

"The main problem was starting behind my teammate as usual," he told Italian television RAI, then referring to his badly grained 'super soft' Bridgestone tires.

"To pass the finish line with just three seconds to go makes you go too fast on the out lap," Alonso, 26, added.

Team boss Ron Dennis did not seem disappointed, though, as he assessed Hamilton's front row berth and next step towards winning the title.

"It's good, it's almost all in his hands now," he told the British broadcaster ITV.

Alonso not disadvantaged, Dennis insists
(GMM) Ron Dennis on Saturday played down any suggestion that McLaren's qualifying tactics disadvantaged Fernando Alonso in Brazil.

Spaniard Alonso, the lowest placed McLaren or Ferrari runner after the decisive qualifying session of the season at Interlagos, suggested that his super-soft Bridgestones wore out for his final flying lap because he had to push too hard on the out-lap.

"The main problem was starting behind my teammate as usual," he told Italian television RAI.

Dennis, the McLaren chief, confirmed that McLaren ran the clock close in the 'Q3' phase as both Lewis Hamilton and teammate Alonso were given an additional fuel burning lap.

But Alonso, 26, commented: "To pass the finish line with just three seconds to go makes you go too fast on the out lap."

Dennis reacted to reporters: "I don't think it hampered either driver.

"They both got the same advantage and we're quite happy with qualifying.

"We obviously cut it fine but it all worked as planned. Fernando and Lewis had the same advantage."

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Spyker team to be renamed Force India F1
(GMM)  Spyker has applied to change its name to Force India for the 2008 season, new team owner Vijay Mallya revealed at Interlagos on Saturday.

It emerged from the scene of Sunday's Brazilian grand prix that Mallya, who recently bought the Dutch squad in conjunction with Michiel Mol, has asked the FIA to approve the change.

"We have applied to the FIA for a change in name of the company and the team from Spyker to Force India," he said, according to the news agency Reuters.

"I think that sums it all up as to why I am here."

It is believed that F1's chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has already approved the new name, but the change must also be agreed by the other teams.

Only then will it be submitted to the World Motor Sport Council for final ratification.

If approved, the new name will be the fourth in as many years for the Silverstone based team, which was christened Jordan in 1991, sold to Midland in 2005 and renamed after the struggling Dutch sports car maker Spyker for this year.


DEI fires three employees
Three Dale Earnhardt Inc. employees who allegedly planned and paid for a derogatory banner to fly over Lowe’s Motor Speedway last weekend have been fired.

The banner, which read, “How much does Bobby Ginn owe you?” was pulled by a plane and flown over Lowe’s before the start of last Saturday night’s race. The banner was directed at the former NASCAR team owner, who allowed his organization to be acquired by DEI after just one year of ownership, leaving about 100 people out of a job.

But Kasey Brooks, Mike Clark and Greg Price were hired by DEI after the merger, and are believed to be responsible for the banner. Clark and Price were fabricators at DEI, and Brooks worked in the parts department.

“We addressed the situation internally, dealt with it appropriately and we’re quite frankly embarrassed that this situation ever arose,” DEI general manager John Story said. ThatsRacin.com


Brazilian GP: Massa tops practice 3


Felipe Massa topped the final free practice session at Interlagos, ending up a tenth clear of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, while Fernando Alonso only managed eighth.

The top three were separated by just 0.132s but Alonso was a full 0.784 seconds off the pace.

Pos  Driver        Team               Time     Behind   Laps
 1.  Massa         Ferrari            1:11.810 +         22
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:11.934 + 0.124   18
 3.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:11.942 + 0.132   21
 4.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:12.446 + 0.636   14
 5.  Trulli        Toyota             1:12.461 + 0.651   23
 6.  Barrichello   Honda              1:12.478 + 0.668   24
 7.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         1:12.579 + 0.769   25
 8.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   1:12.594 + 0.784   12
 9.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:12.767 + 0.957   18
10.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:12.823 + 1.013   20
11.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:12.893 + 1.083   20
12.  Fisichella    Renault            1:12.913 + 1.103   20
13.  Button        Honda              1:13.015 + 1.205   22
14.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:13.046 + 1.236   23
15.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:13.090 + 1.280   20
16.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:13.117 + 1.307   12
17.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:13.299 + 1.489   16
18.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:13.331 + 1.521   16
19.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota    1:13.474 + 1.664   17
20.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         1:13.525 + 1.715   14
21.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:13.684 + 1.874   21
22.  Yamamoto      Spyker-Ferrari     1:13.872 + 2.062   21


Corvette team wins pitstop competition

Corvette team in action

It was the crew of the No. 4 Corvette C6.R that was the fastest but a penalty resulted in the No. 3 ‘Vette winning the Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge championship. 

The two Corvette Racing C6.Rs challenged the two Dyson Racing Porsche RS Spyders in the final bout of the pit crew battle at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The four teams did six rounds of round-robin competition and the two cars with the top cumulative times competing in the seventh and final round.

The two Corvettes went head-to-head in the final round with winner taking home the championship. The No. 4 Corvette finished in 41:99 seconds and the No. 3 finished just under a second behind in 42:81 seconds. But the crew of the No. 4 was assessed a 10-second penalty because the fueler of the car worked on the car and according to IMSA regulations the fueler is only allowed to fuel, not actually touch the car.

IMSA's Tim Mayer presents the winning check

The end result was the No. 3 Corvette Racing team winning the Klein Tools Pit Crew Championship and the $20,000 check presented today by Tim Mayer, American Le Mans Series and IMSA Chief Operating Officer.

“All the guys on both crews work really hard on their pit stops,” said team crew chief Danny Binks after the No. 3 crew won the pit stop crown for the second time in three years. “These guys make me proud, and they should be proud of what they do.”

“What could be better than a one-two finish in the Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge?” said team manager Gary Pratt. “We hoped that it would come down to a match between our two crews in the final. It doesn't make any difference which crew wins when we get a one-two finish. It was a great team effort; the crews practice together and they work together to develop the pit stop process. We think it makes a difference during a race.”


Dennis plays down anti-Alonso slip
(GMM) Ron Dennis at Interlagos tried to play down a slip of the tongue that further aggravated relations between his McLaren team and Fernando Alonso's supporters.

Ruing Lewis Hamilton's pit entry mistake two weeks ago in China, the McLaren boss had said: "We weren't racing Kimi, we were basically racing Fernando."

In the Spanish press particularly, the comments were interpreted as further evidence that McLaren wants Hamilton, rather than his Spanish teammate, to win the title.

"It was a mistake with the language," the Briton told Spanish reporters on Friday, according to the news agency EFE.

Dennis admitted that he should have used the word 'he' rather than 'we', which implied that the McLaren organisation in general was manoeuvring against Alonso.

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track news

June 2008 Dover tickets on sale now
Tickets are now on sale for the May 30 - June 1, 2008 NASCAR tripleheader race weekend at the Monster Mile. Next year will mark Dover International Speedway's 40th season of racing and race fans will want to lock in their seats today to guarantee that they'll be at the Monster Mile for the first of two monumental race weekends in 2008.

By ordering early, fans can take advantage of improved seat selection, better ticket availability and the opportunity for groups to purchase the best blocks of tickets for the June 1 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the May 31 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, and the May 30 AAA Insurance 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.

Fans at the Monster Mile in 2007 witnessed some of the most entertaining racing of the season including New Jersey native Martin Truex Jr.'s first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory in June, and Carl Edward's "Chase" win in September, capped off with his signature backflip. With NASCAR's plan to run the Car of Tomorrow in all 2008 events, the competition should be tighter than ever!

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Gordon not thinking retirement

Jeff Gordon

If you're a Jeff Gordon fan, mark your 2009 calendar as a watershed moment in the icon's NASCAR career, as he said Friday at Martinsville that it's very likely that might be when he makes a decision on what the closing phase of his career will be. "I think that there truly is no number he's set as a deadline to retire. All I can tell you is that 2010 is when our contracts are ending and probably 2009 is a year that's going to have a lot of decision-making for me. Those contracts might be up in 2010 but they all want to talk about them in 2009. "So to me that's going to be a big year. We'll just see where I'm at, how things are going, how fatherhood is going -- how much tuition is for kindergarten [laughing]. I don't know. This year I'm just having a blast and enjoying life and racing like I never have so [quitting] hasn't even been a thought." NASCAR.com


Star Mazda Friday Laguna Seca
On as fine a day for motor racing as you’ll ever see, the sort of day Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca seems to specialize in, the cars and drivers of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear took to the track for two timed practice sessions.  In both, the weather was cool, no wind, low humidity and just enough cloud cover to keep the sun from heating up the track.

In the morning, the top-5 on the time sheet was occupied by James Davison, Dane Cameron, Lorenzo Mandarino, Marco DiLeo and Johathan Goring.    Davison was the only driver in the 1:20s, turning a 1:20.819 (99.689 mph) in his #7 Velocity Motorsports /Easternats Mazda.  Cameron, who clinched the Star Mazda championship battle in Round Eleven at Road Atlanta on October 5, was a close second with a lap of 1:21.051 (98.705 mph) in his #19 JDC Motorsports/ Finlay Motorsports Mazda.  The final three were several tenths back, but all very close, all within a tenth of a second of each other.

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Pedrosa peerless in Sepang

Dani Pedrosa

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa scorched to his third pole position in consecutive races on Saturday as qualifying took place for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang. The 22-year-old Spaniard claimed top spot by just 0.041s in the dying seconds of the hour-long session with a lap of 2m 01.877s on his super-grippy Michelin qualifying tires. It was Pedrosa’s fourth pole position of the 2007 season and means a Repsol Honda has been at the front of the grid for the last four Grands Prix – a sequence which began with Nicky Hayden’s pole position in Portugal in September.

On a dry track there were several riders in contention for the top spot, as the provisional pole changed hands on numerous occasions, but ultimately it was the 22 year-old former 125cc and 250cc World Champion who put his Michelin equipped RC212V at the front of the grid – in front of four Bridgestone riders in the top five.

After lapping ninth quickest in FP3 this morning the diminutive Honda man upped his game with a time of 2’01.877s to beat second fastest participant Casey Stoner (Ducati Marlboro) by 0.041s.

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Beach volleyball

Mario "El Rey del Volleyball" Dominguez and some of the Miss Indy contestants. It's good to be king.

The girls thought the guys lacked ability and the guys thought the girls were just as bad -- in the end it was far from glamorous, but very entertaining.

The Miss Indy finalists joined a host of Champ Car and V8 Supercar drivers for the annual beach volleyball challenge at Surfers Paradise Thursday.

Gale-force winds literally blew away any chance of a lengthy rally, let alone a competitive match, but probably increased the entertainment value.

Serves went backwards, some made left-hand turns and balls continually speared off and hit crowd members.

On the court there were mid-air collisions, plenty of rolling eyes and a number of spills -- similar to what's expected to take place on the track during the next four days.

Miss Indy finalist Melanie James, of Adelaide, said the drivers were no better than the girls.

"I don't know if they are any better than what we are," she said.

"But it is all really, really good fun ... the wind was crazy."

The 25-year-old said it was a good opportunity to get to know the drivers.

"It's good to relax with them. They are all really nice guys."

Last year's runner-up, Bruno Junqueira, said he made sure he played in the volleyball championship every year.

Unlike Melanie, he thought the girls were the ones who struggled.

"Yes, it's a lot of fun, I like to play volleyball as a hobby anyway so this is perfect for me, although it is hard to play with the girls on the court as well," he said.


Down Under Diary - Day Five
It was a crazy day in Australia! The fans went wild when Will Power clinched the pole position for tomorrow's race. But the Toowoomba-born driver demonstrated his wisdom and refused to get excited with today's performance. He knows that it's tomorrow that counts. I know that we must remain neutral, but 'Good job mate!'. He was flying out there!

Paul Tracy and Oriol Servia who joined Will at the top-three press conference were raving about the Champ Car event in Australia and how great it is. Both drivers agreed that it is a unique event that cannot be replicated. It's not everywhere that helicopters can fly overhead only 300 feet from the ground! Oriol even said that it was the best race on the planet all categories combined and Neel Jani described it as more challenging and difficult than Monaco.

This event really is special and the crowds that come here prove it. We had a crowd of 89 948 today, putting the three day - Thursday was 'People's Day - total to 211 819.

The who’s who of the Gold Coast donned their finest Friday night to kick off the Indy weekend in style.  There were brightly coloured frocks and smart tuxedos as the guests prepared for a night of dancing, drinking and dining at the official Indy Gala Ball at Conrad Jupiters.  Ministers Margaret Keech and Judy Spence looked regal with their respective partners in tow while MP Steven Ciobo arrived grinning in anticipation of a great night to be had by all.  The real glamour of the evening was added by this year’s Indy girls and also former Miss Indy Sarah Buller.  Looking breathtakingly beautiful in white, she and her beau, Indy driver Nelson Philippe, whispered sweet nothings in each other’s ears.  Conrad Jupiter’s public relations manager Rebecca Gordon added more glitz to the evening in a sparkly pink and tulle dress and said despite all appearances she was exhausted. 

“Indy is one of the biggest events of the year so it has been go, go, go all week,” she said. 


GP2 reveals 2008-2010 lineup
The GP2 Series has announced that the second generation of the championship, which will run between 2008 and 2010, will be composed of the same 13 teams which completed the 2007 season.

Despite many strong proposals from teams currently competing in a number of formulae, the level of performance shown by the existing teams, their stability, their loyalty and the sense of community which has been built up over the course of the first three seasons of the GP2 Series, was deemed too strong to be broken.

Bruno Michel, GP2 Series Organizer explains…

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Tecate returns to Champ Car as sponsor

Dominguez in his Tecate sponsored car

A familiar brand is back in the Champ Car World Series as Pacific Coast Motorsports has the Tecate logo on the #28 entry driven by Mario Dominguez. Tecate had been a long-time sponsor in Champ Car supporting both teams and events in the series.

After Friday's qualifying, Dominguez said, "First of all, I am incredibly proud to carry the Tecate name on my race car and I am so happy to be driving for Pacific Coast Motorsports."

Team Director Tyler Tadevic said the team is thrilled to debut the Tecate car in Australia and Tecate will also be on the car in Mexico City. The team is looking to make an official announcement regarding Tecate and their commercial program in the coming weeks in Mexico City.

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Servia stays fastest in Practice 3 in Surfers
Oriol Servia barely nipped Will Power for fast time in Saturday morning practice for Sunday's Lexmark Indy 300 Champ Car race in Surfers Paradise, Australia. Justin Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais were not far behind in 3rd and 4th. Mexican Mario Dominguez put his PCM car 5th on the timesheets in a pretty impressive effort for that young team.


Driver # Lap Time Mph Behind Leader
1 O. Servia 22 1:31.225 110.299 0.000
2 W. Power 5 1:31.229 110.294 0.004
3 J. Wilson 9 1:31.308 110.198 0.083
4 S. Bourdais 1 1:31.531 109.930 0.306
5 M. Dominguez 28 1:31.949 109.430 0.724
6 P. Tracy 3 1:32.195 109.138 0.970
7 S. Pagenaud 15 1:32.288 109.028 1.063
8 B. Junqueira 19 1:32.291 109.025 1.066
9 D. Clarke 4 1:32.380 108.920 1.155
10 G. Rahal 2 1:32.415 108.878 1.190
11 A. Tagliani 8 1:32.632 108.623 1.407
12 N. Jani 21 1:33.069 108.113 1.844
13 K. Legge 11 1:33.272 107.878 2.047
14 N. Philippe 34 1:33.319 107.824 2.094
15 R. Doornbos 14 1:33.514 107.599 2.289
16 A. Figge 29 1:33.519 107.593 2.294
17 D. Martinez 7 1:34.652 106.305 3.427


Brazilian GP: Team bosses meet the press

Media talks to Briatore

Team Bosses present at Friday press Conference: Flavio Briatore (Renault), Ron Dennis (McLaren Mercedes), Jean Todt (Ferrari)

Q: To Ron and Jean, how do you see your chances at the moment? And then maybe we can have an overall view from Flavio.

Ron DENNIS: It's pretty much as we've said it from day one. We're trying very hard to demonstrate equality and both drivers have different points positions. One has a slight advantage over the other and obviously Kimi is also capable of winning the World Championship, so we're just trying to stay calm, do a thorough, disciplined job and under stressful conditions, and it's as simple as that: try to keep calm.

Jean TODT: We know that it's very difficult for us with Kimi seven points behind. Our competitor has been very quick, very reliable. We are not favorites but in this business so many things can happen. We saw that at the last race, so even if there is a prediction for dry weather and high temperatures, it will be difficult but we will try to do as much as we can and then we will see.

Flavio BRIATORE: I'm sure I'm more relaxed than both Ron and Jean, and I'm more relaxed than last year. But I believe it's a fantastic finish to the season this year. We have three drivers with the possibility to be World Champion and it's very difficult to say whether it's Hamilton or Fernando or Kimi because it will be a long race. We don't know exactly what kind of weather we will have on Sunday, but you know it's open.

For me it's still very very open, including for Ferrari because you never know. McLaren had a good opportunity to win last weekend, they got nothing, it's never black and white but I believe that for Formula One and for the spectators and for the television it will be fantastic tomorrow and on Sunday.

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Champ Car/IRL lesson
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read with interest your latest commentary on the lesson Champ Car and the IRL could learn from the Sirius Radio/XM merger. Tell me this - why are there constant rumors that Champ Car will soon fold and there won't be anything to merge with? Dan Clarkson

Dear Dan, It's quite simple really. Champ Car is its own worse enemy. Read this commentary. As an example of the mistakes they make year in and year out, once again they are late with their new race schedule which means teams do not yet know where they are racing next year (all other race series have long since released a 2008 race schedule), and therefore cannot sell sponsorship in time to make it into the next year's advertising and marketing budget for most companies. On top of that, with all the races they have cancelled the past two years (five) who could believe the 2008 race schedule when it is finally released? And driver turnover continues unabated as teams survive ridebuyer-to-ridebuyer, which means their customers (fans) are dropping like flies. But who needs sponsors and customers, right?  With that said, predictions of Champ Car's demise are wide of the mark.  Mark C.


ALMS announces ’08 TV schedule
In announcing its 2008 event television plan today, the American Le Mans Series introduced a key new network partner, welcomed back a long-standing network broadcast friend and reaffirmed its 10-year relationship with SPEED through its recently announced new three-year agreement with the motorsports network. 

For the first time in Series history, ESPN on ABC will join the mix of network broadcasters featuring the world’s most competitive sports cars, and will feature “three-in-a-row” second quarter event coverage from great venues in St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Houston. It is the first time in American Le Mans Series history that it will be so heavily exposed early in its season during the important second quarter sports viewing season. 

“We could not have a better start to our season than these four races,” said Scott Atherton, CEO/President of the American Le Mans Series, “and to add a new television partner like ABC with its ESPN brand certainly validates the prestige and growth of our series.”

“We look forward to the opportunity to televise the American Le Mans Series and help it continue to grow,” said Tag Garson, ABC senior director of programming and acquisitions. “We’re very pleased to be associated with this great American road racing series.” 

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Hamilton told to cool title celebrations


(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has been told to keep his celebrations in check should he be crowned F1's first ever rookie world champion on Sunday.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis told reporters at Interlagos that the FIA handed down the request to team manager Dave Ryan a couple of weeks ago -- but it appears that a similar edict has not been imposed on Ferrari, whose Kimi Raikkonen could also win the championship in Brazil.

It is believed that Ryan was told specifically that F1's traditional post-race procedures - including governing the slowing down lap, parc ferme, podium and press conference - should be strictly followed if a McLaren driver wins the title.

"We are in a heightened atmosphere of compliance, let's put it that way," Dennis said on Friday, presumably alluding to McLaren's involvement in the espionage affair earlier this year.

"I'm cool and relaxed about it, as I've been with many of the other things that have come our way," he added.

"We were told to strictly adhere to the regulations.

"I suppose their thoughts were (regarding) the youthful behavior Lewis may have if he had been in the fortunate position of having won the world championship," Dennis said.

Ferrari's Todt said Dennis' comments were "the first time I have heard" anything about special strict rules for Sunday's title winner.


Montagny to leave Toyota after Brazil


(GMM) Franck Montagny will leave Toyota after the Brazilian grand prix this weekend, the Japanese team announced on Friday.

The Frenchman joined Toyota as its primary test and reserve driver this year, after spending time at Super Aguri in 2006. He tested for Renault between 2003 and 2005.

"This race weekend Toyota will bid farewell to Ralf Schumacher and third driver Franck Montagny," a statement issued by the Cologne based team in Brazil read.

Also in the statement, race driver Jarno Trulli praised organizers of the race at Interlagos for resurfacing the circuit.

"They have done a good job," said the Italian.

"The bumps which were always a problem at this track in the past have been removed and it is a big improvement," he added.


Fernandez fastest again at Laguna Seca
Adrian Fernandez picked up where he left off Thursday night with the fastest time in Friday morning’s practice for the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura-powered Lola set a time of 1:11.950 a day after posting the fastest lap in Thursday’s two-hour test session.

Fernandez said Thursday night that the Acura-Lola, which he will share with Luis Diaz, is a better car on smoother tracks and in cooler temperatures. The field got that again Friday morning. Fernandez was 0.029 seconds better than the first of Penske Racing’s two Porsche RS Spyders, the No. 6 of Sascha Maassen and Ryan Briscoe. The sister car of Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard was 0.185 seconds back of the lead Penske car.

Acura held the fourth spot as well with Andretti Green Racing’s Acura ARX of Bryan Herta and Tony Kanaan at 1:12.300. LMP2 cars took the first four positions.

The best of the P1 cars was Dindo Capello’s Audi R10 TDI in fifth place overall at 1:12.637. He and Allan McNish won last year’s four-hour race in the diesel-powered prototype’s debut at the circuit. Capello was 1.102 seconds better than the sister car of Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner.

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DEI axes Steve Hmiel UPDATE As for Hmiel’s future plans speculation centers on two destinations. Some are saying he will follow Dale Earnhardt Junior, and Tony Eury Junior to Hendrick Motorsports, while others say his new home will be at Team Red Bull.

10/18/07 Dale Earnhardt Inc. and director of competition Steve Hmiel have parted company.  Hmiel’s responsibilities have been redistributed throughout the organization and his replacement will be named soon.

“I have enjoyed a wonderful association with Dale Earnhardt Inc. over the past nine years,” said Hmiel.  “It is time for me to pursue other endeavors and reestablish new goals for myself.  The management team at Dale Earnhardt Inc. has the company headed in the right direction and it has an exciting future as it continues to fulfill the legacy of Dale Earnhardt.”

“Steve has been a part of the success of Dale Earnhardt Inc. and we are grateful for his contributions to the company,” said John Story, vice president of motorsports.  “We wish him well with his future plans.”


Brazilian GP: McLaren drivers 1-2 in practice 2

Lewis Hamilton was fastest

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were first and second fastest in Friday’s second free practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo, the 17th and final round of the 2007 World Championship. Lewis did 27 laps and set a best time of 1:12.767; Fernando Alonso’s fastest time was 1min12.889 having completed 28 laps. In the morning’s wet session, Lewis completed 10 laps and was fifth fastest with 1min21.121 whilst Fernando only completed an installation lap.

"The session this afternoon was far better than this morning. We did not expect it to stay wet for the rest of the weekend so took the decision not to do any running in the morning as we wouldn’t achieve any conclusive results on set-up and tire comparison work. Also there is a new track surface here and as a result it was very slippery. However by this afternoon the track had dried out, and it was clear that the conditions were improving. I am looking forward to a competitive weekend."

"I enjoyed finally getting out on this amazing track, it was just a shame that the conditions were not great this morning, and we couldn’t really do as much running as we would have preferred. However, it was good to get a feel for the track, and we made reasonable progress on the set-up work and tire comparison despite the cold conditions."

Pos  Driver        Team                Time/Behind      Laps
 1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes    1:12.767           27
 2.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes    1:12.889 + 0.122   28
 3.  Massa         Ferrari             1:13.075 + 0.308   30
 4.  Raikkonen     Ferrari             1:13.112 + 0.345   30
 5.  Fisichella    Renault             1:13.549 + 0.782   22
 6.  Kubica        BMW Sauber          1:13.587 + 0.820   34
 7.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota     1:13.655 + 0.888   33
 8.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota     1:13.664 + 0.897   38
 9.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault    1:13.706 + 0.939   30
10.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber          1:13.785 + 1.018   44
11.  R.Schumacher  Toyota              1:13.829 + 1.062   29
12.  Kovalainen    Renault             1:13.879 + 1.112   28
13.  Barrichello   Honda               1:13.892 + 1.125   45
14.  Button        Honda               1:14.095 + 1.328   44
15.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  1:14.152 + 1.385   33
16.  Trulli        Toyota              1:14.179 + 1.412   25
17.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  1:14.409 + 1.642   37
18.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda   1:14.431 + 1.664   27
19.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda   1:14.477 + 1.710   31
20.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault    1:14.543 + 1.776   35
21.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari      1:15.095 + 2.328   35
22.  Yamamoto      Spyker-Ferrari      1:15.715 + 2.948   32


Bernie kills off customer cars idea
The plan to introduce customer cars in Formula 1 next year appears to have been killed off.

The controversial initiative was backed by FIA president Max Mosley, who saw it as a way of safeguarding the future of F1’s smaller teams.


But, speaking to reporters at Interlagos, F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone poured cold water on the idea and signaled that the plans are likely to be dropped.

“It was probably not such a good idea after having a good think about it,” he said.

“It’s not really fair because you can run a customer car much, much cheaper.

“And if you run a good customer car, you push out some of the constructors who shouldn’t be pushed out.”


NASCAR Bank of America 500 TV Ratings UPDATE The final TV rating for the NASCAR Nextel Cup: Bank of America 500 on ABC was a 4.2/8 share, down 11% from last year's 4.8 final rating and down 21% from the 5.3 final rating in 2005.

10/15/07 The overnight USA TV ratings for the NASCAR Nextel Cup: Bank of America 500 on ABC Saturday night was a 4.0, down 2.5% from last year's 4.1 overnight, and down 17% from 2005.


Gold Coast committed to Champ Car
The Gold Coast would keep Indy until at least 2013 under plans by the Queensland Government to lock in the future of the state's premier tourism drawcard.

However, the long-term future of the Champ Car series remains a concern, amid fears there is not enough room in the US for two major open wheel racing series after the acrimonious split between Champ Car and the Indy Racing League in the mid 1990s.

Asked yesterday what would happen if the American Champ Car series folded, Indy chairman Terry Mackenroth said organizers of the Surfers Paradise event would 'come to that bridge if and when it ever happens'.

"What I can say is that the Government has made it clear that it is prepared to start negotiating for another five years," he said.

"We will sign (a new contract) sometime in the new year."

The Indy management's willingness to secure the long-term future of the Surfers Paradise event follows renewed speculation that the Champ Car series is in trouble, with just 17 drivers coming to the Gold Coast this year, two of them last-minute inclusions.

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Brazilian GP: Ferrari 1-2 in opening practice
Kimi Raikkonen led a Ferrari one-two in the wet opening practice session at Interlagos.  McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was fifth but his teammate Fernando Alonso chose not to participate.  Rain fell throughout the session, so a dry line never appeared.

Pos  Driver        Team               Time     Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            1:19.580    9
 2.  Massa         Ferrari            1:20.062   10
 3.  Kovalainen    Renault            1:20.829   19
 4.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    1:21.064   14
 5.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   1:21.121   10
 6.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             1:21.243   22
 7.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:21.598   22
 8.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   1:22.104   12
 9.  Trulli        Toyota             1:22.104   26
10.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:22.250   17
11.  Barrichello   Honda              1:22.434   23
12.  Button        Honda              1:22.477   22
13.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   1:22.667   16
14.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  1:22.929   19
15.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     1:23.248   30
16.  Nakajima      Williams-Toyota    1:23.261   26
17.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  1:23.551   20
18.  Yamamoto      Spyker-Ferrari     1:24.366   25
19.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber                     1
20.  Kubica        BMW Sauber                     1
21.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes               1
22.  Fisichella    Renault                        2

industry news

GM may add plants overseas
General Motors Corp.'s fast growth in foreign lands may soon force the automaker to add and expand factories around the globe, the company said Thursday.

Despite its struggles in the critical U.S. market, GM reported a 4 percent increase in global sales for the third quarter. The automaker sold a record 2.4 million cars and trucks.

GM has worked to grow in emerging markets without pouring money into new factories, which can be a risky venture fraught with uncertainty.

But demand is putting pressure on operations in the fastest-growing regions, including several Latin American countries, GM analysts Paul Ballew told Wall Street investors in announcing the numbers.

Ballew said GM is looking to grow in a number of markets.

"We're going to have to add capacity going forward," he said. "We're going to add that capacity with an eye toward being flexible globally and making sure we can be lean.

"We're not going to go through a plant-building craze just to add capacity because we think the industry's going to surge." Detroit News


F1 owner buys GP2 for $300m
(GMM)  F1's 100 per cent owner CVC Capital Partners has bought GP2, the second-tier support category.

The news emerged not after an announcement but in company documents, which show that in August, GP2 owner Bruno Michel signed an agreement with F1's holding companies that comes into effect "from the completion of the sale".

Michel remains on the GP2 board.

CVC, a British company that buys other companies to "build businesses in partnership with management", began buying formula one from Bernie Ecclestone and other shareholders in 2005.

The GP2 deal is estimated at about (US) $300m.

The series, staged mostly as support races for F1 events, was launched in 2005 as a replacement for Formula 3000.  The first title was won by Nico Rosberg, followed by Lewis Hamilton in 2006 and Timo Glock this year.


Alonso stays dry on Friday morning
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso did not complete a single flying lap at the Interlagos circuit on Friday morning.

It is understood that the Spaniard, like both BMW-Sauber drivers and Giancarlo Fisichella, simply decided against running in the damp conditions, rather than suffering a technical glitch.

All four limited their programmes to installation laps.

Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, led a Ferrari one-two at the top of the times, with the other championship challenger Lewis Hamilton fifth quickest after doing ten laps.


A wet start in Brazil
(GMM)  F1's championship decider got off to a slippery start on Friday.

The Interlagos circuit, just out of downtown Sao Paulo in Brazil, was wet as the lights turned green for the first free practice session.

The weather forecast, meanwhile, is calling for clearing conditions for the rest of the weekend, including Sunday's championship-deciding final race of 2007.

tv news

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

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
NASCAR Live! Martinsville
11:00am-12:00pm (L) SPEED
Formula 1 Practice Brazil
12:00pm-1:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Martinsville
2:30pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
Go or Go Home Martinsville
3:00pm-3:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Martinsville
3:30pm-5:30pm (L) ESPN2
5:30pm-6:30pm ESPN2
NASCAR Live! Martinsville
6:00pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Martinsville
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown Qualifying Irwindale, CA
8:00pm-11:30pm (L) SPEED
Champ Car Lexmark Indy 300 Australia - Practice 4
11:59pm-12:20am (L) Race Director webcast 

Read more & Comment...

Malaysia: Randy de Puniet tops MotoGP practice
The Malaysian Grand Prix began today with two hours of MotoGP free practice in typically tropical conditions at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur. Heavy rainfall at lunchtime saw the afternoon session starting with a partially wet track and the MotoGP field progressing from full wet tires to intermediates to slicks as the surface slowly dried.

Kawasaki's Randy de Puniet set the fastest time in a drying second MotoGP practice at Sepang.

With new asphalt covering several sections of Sepang’s 5.548km (3.447-mile) lap, the track’s surface grip is expected to increase throughout the weekend. Practice continues on Saturday morning with the one-hour qualifying session beginning at 1.50pm local time. The 21-lap Malaysian Grand Prix begins at 3pm local time on Sunday (9am CET, 8am UK).

Rider Team Time
1 Randy de Puniet Kawasaki Racing Team 2m 02.917s
2 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 2m 02.928s
3 Marco Melandri Honda Gresini 2m 03.661s
4 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 2m 03.767s
5 Anthony West Kawasaki Racing Team 2m 03.825s
6 Toni Elias Honda Gresini 2m 04.031s
7 Sylvain Guintoli Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 2m 04.094s
8 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2m 04.455s
9 John Hopkins Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2m 04.494s
10 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda Team 2m 04.752s
11 Carlos Checa Honda LCR 2m 04.770s
12 Alex Barros Pramac D’Antin 2m 04.774s
13 Loris Capirossi Ducati Marlboro Team 2m 04.940s
14 Colin Edwards Fiat Yamaha Team 2m 05.162s
15 Nobuatsu Aoki Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2m 05.234s
16 Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha Team 2m 05.421s
17 Chaz Davies Pramac D’Antin 2m 05.897s
18 Shinya Nakano Konica Minolta Honda 2m 05.939s


Controversy makes F1 exciting says Coulthard
(GMM) Controversial decisions by the authorities is part of what makes formula one so interesting, according to grand prix veteran David Coulthard.

The Scot, who drives for Red Bull, suggested to the Spanish newspaper Diario As that he thinks Lewis Hamilton was lucky to escape a stewards' sanction for erratic driving in the recent Japanese grand prix.

Asked if the popular British rookie had received a favorable decision, Coulthard said: "Yes, he probably did.

"But it's the same as referees in football. Sometimes we disagree with their decisions but you have to accept it.

"That is why this sport is so interesting; because we are constantly discussing what is right and what is wrong.

"But, in the end, we have come to Sao Paulo with three drivers fighting for the title and that is great news for everyone."

Coulthard reveals that, for example, he strongly disagreed with the FIA's decision to leave Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in the drivers' championship despite their team being found guilty of cheating.

"It is true that neither of them were responsible, but they were driving the car of a guilty team. The driver cannot be separated from their team," he said.


NASCAR antitrust hearing date set
The day after the 2007 Nextel Cup champion is decided, NASCAR attorneys are scheduled to be in a courthouse trying to convince a judge that Kentucky Speedway's anti-trust lawsuit has no merit.  U.S. District Court Judge William O. Bertelsman has scheduled a 1 p.m. hearing for Nov. 19 in Covington, Ky., to hear a variety of motions in the case, including a motion for summary judgment filed by NASCAR and International Speedway Corp.


Alonso says Renault rumors ’nonsense’


(GMM) Fernando Alonso in Brazil denied that he has now agreed a deal to return to the Renault team in 2008.

"No, that's nonsense," he told Spanish radio from the scene of the 2007 championship finale outside Sao Paulo.

"I have heard the rumors and there is nothing to them at all," Alonso added, even though his manager Luis Garcia Abad met with Renault boss Flavio Briatore in the Interlagos paddock on Thursday.

26-year-old Alonso's denial coincided with strong paddock speculation that he formally turned down an offer from Toyota to join the Japanese team for an unprecedented (US) $57m per season.

With Ferrari also not an option, it is suggested that Alonso might simply attempt to heal the wounds of his McLaren tenure and honor his contract for next year.

That speculation, however, would be contrary to rumors this week that Mercedes-Benz agreed in an executive board meeting that Alonso should not represent the German carmaker in 2008.

The competition director for McLaren's carmaker partner, Norbert Haug, told the Spanish newspaper Marca: "Sometimes you have to bring things to an end, as we did with (Juan Pablo) Montoya."

Triple world champion Niki Lauda advises the Woking based outfit to sue Alonso before forcing him to honor his contract.

"I would give him a court case for damage he has done to McLaren and Mercedes," the Austrian legend told the British broadcaster ITV.

"Then (I would say) let's sit down, you have a contract my guy, and you drive," Lauda added.


Goodyear to use RFID tags
When NASCAR cars and trucks hit the racetrack for the 2008 season, they’ll be outfitted with Goodyear tires imbedded with passive UHF RFID tags. The unique ID numbers in the RFID tags will help Goodyear keep track of the thousands of tires it leases to NASCAR racing teams, and they’ll also help NASCAR track down any racers who’ve illegally tampered with their tires.

Goodyear’s investment is one example of the growing market for RFID tags used to manage high-value assets.

Dan Finch, president and CEO of Advanced ID, the company providing RFID tags to Goodyear and NASCAR, says tracking high-value tires is an excellent application for RFID technology. He believes, for example, that RFID tags will eventually be added to all large truck tires to fight theft and counterfeiting.


Winterbottom tops V8 Supercar quals
Another of last year’s top performers on the 4.47 kilometer street circuit was V8 Supercar young gun Mark Winterbottom and he maintained recent speed from the endurance rounds to record his third straight top qualifying position in the Championship Series.

Keen to go one better than his second place in 2006, Winterbottom qualified ahead of Holden’s Toll HSV Racing’s Garth Tander and James Courtney who piloted the Jeld-wen Falcon.

“It’s great to have three poles in a row. There’s no one thing that has improved across the past few races with the car we’ve just managed to maintain a solid package,” said Winterbottom.

“I really pushed hard, even managed to bend the mirrors on the wall a couple of times just to put some solid consistent times together.

“While Bathurst was disappointing for Richo (team mate Steve Richards) the team and I, we’re putting that to the back of our minds and going for the win this weekend.

“I’ve never won a sprint round in my career so hopefully this can be the place to do it.”

Support category drivers book-ended the entertainment bill today with Paul Kemal continuing to rule the roost in Coates Aussie Racing cars to claim two wins from two starts at the Lexmark Indy 300.

The VIP Petfood driver beat home regular V8 Supercar campaigner Paul Morris (Team Sirromet Wines) and Nick Lowe (Team BOC) who settled for third.

Race two of the Haymans Electrical V8 Utes saw New South Wales driver George Miedecke claim the win ahead of Ray Sidebottom and Ryal Harris.


123,691 at Surfers so far
The familiar scream of Champ Car and the roar of V8 Supercar action proved the perfect ingredients for a magnificent day two crowd of 65,004 at this year’s Lexmark Indy 300 on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Organizers have been blessed with major attendances during the opening two days of the iconic Australian event that has already seen a total of 123,691 people shuffle through the gates in support of the first class entertainment on show.

“Once again we had big crowds enjoying the racing action on-track and are anticipating more of the same over an action-packed weekend,” said Lexmark Indy 300 General Manager Greg Hooton.

“Drivers in all categories are entering the serious side of their Lexmark Indy 300 campaigns and that’ll make weekend tickets to this year’s event some of the hottest in town.”

The double featured International open wheel and touring car racing package proved a major hit, as Spaniard Oriol Servia made the most of another perfect Queensland day to be the provisional pole sitter of the 17th Lexmark Indy 300.

Last year’s three-race V8 Supercar Challenge runner-up Mark Winterbottom of Ford Performance Racing secured top qualifying honors in the V8 Supercar Challenge to book his position on the front row of the start grid of tomorrow’s opening race.

Servia’s late call up to PKV Racing earlier this week couldn’t have been greeted with a better result for the ‘super-sub’ of the Round 13 encounter of the Champ Car World Series.

“We knew we had a good car but obviously we’ll now have to continue this form and put it all together on Sunday,” said Servia.

As the provisional pole sitter, Servia guarantees himself a start from the front row of the grid for Sunday’s Lexmark Indy 300.

It was almost early celebrations for the massive crowd in attendance on the Gold Coast when home nation driver Will Power looked set to claim his second successive top provisional qualifying result on the streets of Surfers Paradise.


Champ Car denies appeal
Team Australia was denied their request by Race Director Tony Cotman to reconsider the penalty that was handed to them at the last Champ Car event in Assen.

Cotman ordered all drivers to stop using the Cosworth Power-to-Pass because of a software glitch. After the race it was determined seven drivers used Power-to-Pass after the order was given.

The Power-to-Pass system is a system that allows drivers to gain 50 extra horsepower from their Cosworth XFE engines for brief periods during a race by pressing a button on the steering wheel.

As a result, Dan Clarke, Neel Jani, Bruno Junqueira and Team Australia drivers Simon Pagenaud and Will Power were penalized for the next round, the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia and will only have 35 seconds of Power-to-Pass allocation. The two other drivers found to be in breach, Ryan Dalziel and Tristan Gommendy, are not racing in Australia this weekend. The remainder of the field will have the full compliment of 75 seconds.

Team Australia met with Cotman and presented data and voice recording information to explain the events in Assen where Power and Pagenaud were penalized for using Power-to-Pass after being instructed not to do so by the stewards. Cotman denied the team’s request to reconsider to change the penalty, even with concern by the team that the penalty was too severe for what was a small team mistake.

Cotman made the decision based on the grounds of safety to penalize any team using the Power-to-Pass and he will stick by his original decision, and therefore denies Team Australia’s request.

The decision, handed down from the previous Champ Car World Series round in Holland, will mean the Queenslander will only have the use of the ‘power-to-pass’ facility for 35 seconds during Sunday’s Lexmark Indy 300. Most other drivers will have the usual 75 seconds of use that provides an injection of 50 extra horsepower when utilized.

“We can still win the race without as much power-to-pass but will need to be conservative. Whatever the situation is we’ll give it a good go,” said Power.

“It’s great to know we have the car speed so we’ll come back tomorrow and shoot for overall pole.”


Nationwide Series logo unveiled
NASCAR and Nationwide Insurance today unveiled the logo for the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The introduction of the new logo is the latest step for the series’ transition to Nationwide as its title sponsor, after 26 years of sponsorship by Anheuser-Busch’s Busch brand. The logo was designed by St. Louis, Mo.-based Jump Co., following collaboration between NASCAR and Nationwide. NASCAR PR


Wilson tops Practice 2 in Australia
Justin Wilson turned the fastest lap of 1:31.415 in Practice 2 at Surfers Paradise.  Australian Will Power was second at 1:31.861 followed by Sebastien Bourdais at 1:32.101.

Pos  Driver  Lap Time  Behind Leader
1  J. Wilson  1:31.415
2  W. Power  1:31.861   0.446
3  S. Bourdais  1:32.101   0.686
4  P. Tracy  1:32.195   0.780
5  O. Servia  1:32.356   0.941
6  B. Junqueira  1:32.913   1.498
7  M. Dominguez  1:32.974   1.559
8  A. Tagliani  1:33.111   1.696
9  R. Doornbos  1:33.514   2.099
10 N. Philippe  1:33.562   2.147
11 S. Pagenaud 1:33.752   2.337
12 G. Rahal  1:33.876   2.461
13 D. Clarke  1:33.941   2.526
14 N. Jani  1:34.176   2.761
15 K. Legge  1:35.297   3.882
16 A. Figge  1:35.539   4.124
17 D. Martinez  1:36.891   5.476

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