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DATE News (chronologically)
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Wurz in BMW box seat
The 'moose' Toyota
BAR, Renault, to join test
F1 on the rise - survey
Toro Rosso test Red Bull car
Klien puts V10 on top
Massa hails knockout Quali
Byrne honored
Nick to keep eye on old team
Indy winner said no to F1
Mika Salo turns 39
For Wilson, Champ Car, RuSPORT improving at right time For Wilson, Champ Car, RuSPORT improving at right timeJustin Wilson says Formula 1 has become more of a receding memory than a goal.  "That's correct. I'm not working towards a goal of getting back to Formula 1. If something dropped at my feet and I couldn't turn it down, I'd probably look at going back. But right now, I'm not working towards going back. I'm very happy at RuSPORT. I see being here in Champ Car with RuSPORT for hopefully many years, unless something bizarre happens."

From the start, Wilson has appreciated the atmosphere in the Champ Car paddock compared to F1.

"It's nice being a part of it, rather than just another guy trying to get in. The team wants me and the series wants me and I'm part of this. I want to help the championship grow and that will help me grow. So it's a much better feeling than trying to get into a very elite club and nobody wants you there."

Wilson takes great satisfaction from driving a Champ Car and getting tangible results from the effort he puts in.

"As I've said, it's a good, fun car to drive. It's quite difficult to find the balance sometimes, but it's even more rewarding when you do. For me, the biggest thing is you have to drive these cars. It's not some guy sitting behind a computer dictating how much traction control you're going to have or how much engine braking you're going to have. We make a difference in the car.

"It's more rewarding when you do a good lap to know that you've managed it all. You've done it with no driver aids. Then you come back into the pits and you can make a difference in the setup. It's pretty amazing the amount of laptime you can gain sometimes in the setup from just mechanical changes.

"Formula 1 is very much about aerodynamics and we're very much mechanical. In Champ Car, if you've got the mechanical setup right, it makes a huge difference. Sometimes it can be the smallest thing that makes the biggest change so it keeps you thinking all weekend and keeps you on your toes. Away from the track as well, you're always thinking, was it this or was it that? It's just rewarding that you get paid back for the effort you put in." ChampCar.ws

Tickets go on sale for ’06 Toronto race Tickets go on sale for ’06 Toronto raceJust three weeks after announcing that they had acquired the race rights for the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto (former Molson Indy Toronto), Grand Prix Association of Toronto today kicked-off ticket sales in time for the holiday gift-giving season.

New Website for the Champ Car Molson Grand Prix of Toronto
In a media briefing held in downtown Toronto, Champ Car principal Kevin Kalkhoven, who along with partner Gerry Forsythe, acquired the rights for Toronto's Champ Car event on November 3, confirmed that work on the 2006 Grand Prix of Toronto, which will be held July 7, 8 and 9, was well underway.

"As expected, we are fully up and running just a few weeks after acquiring the race rights from Molson," said Kalkhoven. "The Toronto stop on the Champ Car calendar is a significant cornerstone in our schedule and we have been successful in ensuring the transition was seamless. We are committed to making certain that the race maintains its high-profile status in the Toronto market and are confident that we will maximize our consumer marketing outreach for the Toronto event.

"To assist us during this transition period, we have appointed Charlie Johnstone as the interim General Manager. Charlie understands the history of the event and he will be valuable in helping us to continue to move forward over the next few months."  zzzz

Johnstone, a former Molson executive, also developed consumer-marketing promotions around the NHL, CFL and Toronto Blue Jays.

" Since its inception in 1986 not only has the Toronto event featured the best in international open-wheel racing talent, but has also provided a platform for the sports' developing young drivers who compete in the support events scheduled on race weekend. The 2006 Grand Prix of Toronto will also feature Champ Car's flagship development series, the Champ Car Atlantic Championship." said Kalkhoven.

The Atlantic Series is entering its 33rd year in 2006 and in 15 previous races held in Toronto, a Canadian has finished on the podium each time.

Notable graduates of the Atlantic series include Champ Car drivers, A.J. Allmendinger, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Jimmy Vasser and such Canadians as Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger, Jacques Villeneuve, David Empringham, and Patrick Carpentier

"This is the same international event it has been for the last twenty years," added Toronto native Paul Tracy, who won the event in 1993 and 2003 and was also on hand for the media briefing. "It's still one of the drivers' favorite cities to race in and it's still the place I want most to win year after year. This year Champ Car was very competitive, we put on a great show in Toronto and the race brings $30 million dollars into the city. I'm looking forward to being back at Exhibition Place."

"Champ Car is in a very aggressive period right now," added Kalkhoven. "Over the past eighteen months we have been growing our business and strengthening our position as the leading open-wheel racing series in North America. Champ Car and its sponsors earned exceptional dividends in 2005. Overall exposure value for series sponsors totaled $98,241,635 in 2005, a number that was more than eight million dollars higher than 2003 figures despite the fact that the 2003 season featured 22 telecasts as opposed to this season's 13.

"It clearly indicates that our efforts to improve our television package have been successful and that we continue to provide the highest possible value and return on investment for the dollars our sponsors invest. Now is the time to get involved in Champ Car, be it with the series or in Toronto."

The Toronto race is one of three Canadian events on the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford calendar in 2006.

Tickets for the 2006 Molson Grand Prix of Toronto are now on sale with prices remaining the same as in 2005. Tickets can be ordered by calling 1-877-865-RACE-(7223)

Second day of testing for 'slow' Williams Cosworth Second day of testing for 'slow' Williams CosworthMark Webber joined Nico Rosberg for the second day of Williams’ testing program at Circuit de Catalunya. The Grove-based team ran two FW27C chassis equipped with Cosworth V8 engines. Webber covered a total of 74 laps while Rosberg experienced a few technical problems and could only manage a total of 18 laps.

Sam Michael, Technical Director - "Mark joined Nico for testing in Barcelona today to continue working on the FW27C. It was a productive day for Mark who managed to cover a race distance mileage in his first day with the V8, and also start some setup work on the Bridgestone tires. Nico spent the entire day working through system checks and mapping. We had faults on the hydraulic and pneumatic systems on Nico's car that were corrected. Tomorrow Mark and Nico will continue through the program with tire testing and setup Work." Source WilliamsF1

When is someone going to crack the whip at Champ Car? When is someone going to crack the whip at Champ Car?While the F1 teams have been publishing loads of test reports and test times in the off-season, which assures that F1 stays in the news year round, whenever a Champ Car team tests they seldom bother to publish a test report and lap times. The media gets F1 lap times at lunch break and at the end of the day. Oops, we forgot, Champ Car is far more sophisticated than F1 and the teams have far more top secret data that can't fall in the hands of the other teams. Everything must be kept hush-hush to ensure that Champ Car falls off the face of the earth 5 months of the year. When is the Champ Car rulebook going to mandate that teams publish test times at the end of each day, regardless of where they test or whom they test?
Ferrari on track at Valencia and Mugello Ferrari on track at Valencia and MugelloFirst day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari, working at the Valencia and Mugello circuits. On the Tuscan track, Marc Gene was in action, at the wheel of an F2004M fitted with the V8 engine. On a day when the track was wet, the Spanish test driver covered a total of 39 laps, five of them on the short version of the track, with the quickest lap completed in a time of 1'32"672.

Clear skies in Valencia for Felipe Massa's return to the track, for the first of three days of testing focusing on Bridgestone tire development. The Brazilian covered a total of 95 laps, the quickest in 1'13"165. Testing continues at both circuits tomorrow: in Valencia with Felipe Massa and at Mugello with Marc Gene. Source Ferrari

Sauber conclude V8 Barcelona test Sauber conclude V8 Barcelona testThe Sauber C24B with the BMW V8 engine ran flawlessly all day long at the Circuit de Catalunya. The engineers first concentrated on gathering more data on the engine and then conducted a tire test program for Michelin.

The set-up changes that were made overnight proved to be a positive step. In total Nick Heidfeld completed a total of 68 laps, his best in 1’17”559.

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director - "This was a successful first joint test. It was important that we could run the BMW P86 engine in the Sauber chassis at this early stage, in order to integrate all technical systems. This is the beginning of the testing season, and there is naturally a lot of work to be done.

“The co-operation at the track as well as the preparation of the interim chassis went very well - it was the first joint task of the new team. This test was the first one of our four that we will be conducting with the interim car before launching the 2006 contender on January 16 and 17." BMW Sauber will resume testing at Jerez from December 8 to 10. Source BMW Sauber

V8 engines fail to slow F1 cars V8 engines fail to slow F1 carsUPDATE
PM times from Barcelona
1 . J. Button - BAR Honda - 1:14.111 (+ 0.000 ) - 97 laps
2 . F. Montagny - Renault R25 V10 - 1:15.548 (+ 1.437 ) - 52 laps
3 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF106 V8 - 1:17.019 (+ 2.908 ) - 65 laps
4 . R. Zonta - Toyota TF106 V8 - 1:17.440 (+ 3.329 ) - 20 laps
5 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber V8 - 1:17.559 (+ 3.448 ) - 68 laps
6 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Cosworth V10 - 1:18.392 (+ 4.281 ) - 62 laps
7 . J.M. Lopez - Renault R25 V10 - 1:18.428 (+ 4.317 ) - 52 laps
8 . C. Klien - Red Bull Cosworth V10 - 1:18.471 (+ 4.360 ) - 89 laps
9 . V. Liuzzi - Scuderia Toro Rosso RB1 V10 - 1:19.065 (+ 4.954 ) - 58 laps
10 . A. Davidson - BAR Honda V8 - 1:19.231 (+ 5.120 ) - 37 laps
11 . M. Webber - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1:19.625 (+ 5.514 ) - 70 laps
12 . N. Rosberg - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1:20.444 (+ 6.333 ) - 18 laps. 11/30/05 It looks like F1's attempt to slow speeds is a complete and utter failure. The V8 engines were supposed to slow the cars considerably, right? Wrong. Already the V8's, just out of the box and not developed to their full potential, are closing on the lap records.

BAR Honda started their off-season testing program this morning with Jenson Button setting the pace around the 4.627KM circuit. The team, along with some of its rivals, are running a restricted version of the V10 powerplant. Button's 1:14.954s best is by far the fastest time recorded so far this week and is just 1.4s off his own lap record at the circuit recorded earlier in the season.

Wednesday AM Times
1 . J. Button - BAR Honda V8 - 1:14.954 (+ 0.000 ) - 38 laps
2 . F. Montagny - Renault R25 V10 - 1:16.413 (+ 1.459 ) - 31 laps
3 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber V8 - 1:17.865 (+ 2.911 ) - 32 laps
4 . J. Trulli - Toyota TF106 V8 - 1:18.008 (+ 3.054 ) - 35 laps
5 . J.M. Lopez - Renault R25 V10 - 1:18.428 (+ 3.474 ) - 24 laps
6 . C. Klien - Red Bull Cosworth V10 - 1:18.950 (+ 3.996 ) - 19 laps
7 . D. Coulthard - Red Bull Cosworth V10 - 1:19.121 (+ 4.167 ) - 23 laps
8 . R. Zonta - Toyota TF106 V8 - 1:19.856 (+ 4.902 ) - 9 laps
9 . M. Webber - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1:20.257 (+ 5.303 ) - 30 laps
10 . A. Davidson - BAR Honda V8 - 1:21.292 (+ 6.338 ) - 13 laps
11 . N. Rosberg - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1:42.462 (+ 27.508 ) - 6 laps
12 . V. Liuzzi - Scuderia Toro Rosso RB1 V10 - 1:44.153 (+ 29.199 ) - 14 laps.

Cope to run full season for McGlynn Cope to run full season for McGlynnMcGlynn Racing and Derrike Cope to run full NEXTEL Cup schedule in 2006. McGlynn Racing and Derrike Cope have announced they will run a full NEXTEL Cup schedule in 2006. Former Daytona 500 winner, a veteran of over 400 Cup [actually has 399] series starts, will run the #00 for the team. New sponsorship for the team is nearing completion and will be announced in the coming weeks. McGlynn Racing PR
Kanaan to drive for Brazil team Kanaan to drive for Brazil teamAccording to this Brazilian Formulanews.com.br website Tony Kanaan has been cleared to drive for the Brazilian A1 Grand Prix team.  “I’ve spoken to Tony this Tuesday and, initially, he should drive at Mexico and Laguna,” Fittipaldi was quoted as saying by the website. Kanaan is in Sao Paulo this week, and tested - alongside former CART rival Cristiano da Matta - in the Stock Car V8 series at Interlagos yesterday.
Wheldon thinks a lot of himself Wheldon thinks a lot of himselfWe continue to get a laugh at Dan Wheldon and the F1 rumors.  Monday in the teleconference announcing his move to Ganassi Racing, Wheldon said it was his decision not to go to F1, and that F1 isn't what it used to be.  Right Dan, like you would not want to be there.  And these rumors of him having a chance for a F1 ride must have been started to make Andretti Green Racing think he was leaving them for F1 rather than another IRL competitor.  No driver gets an offer in F1 without a test to prove he can drive.  No one, including Wheldon.  So these rumors that he had an offer in F1 for next year, be it as a test driver, or a regular driver, were more than likely created to help his negotiations for a better deal in the IRL in 2006.
NASCAR does NY City - I NASCAR does NY City - IAs NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) continued his busy slate of media interviews, appearances and social functions in New York, the rest of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10 drivers arrived in the city and joined Stewart in Tuesday’s activities. A highlight of Tuesday’s “NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion’s Week presented by Sprint” schedule was a visit to the FDNY New York Fire Academy in Manhattan.

Stewart met the probationary officers, who are still undergoing training and affectionately dubbed “probys” by their fellow firefighters. Stewart also participated in a few training exercises, led by FDNY Fitness Instructor, Lieutenant Mike Cacciola.

Earlier, Stewart, Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet), Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford), Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Ford) and Brian Vickers (No. 25 GMAC Financial Services/ditech.com Chevrolet) attended a fundraising event for the Staten Island University Hospital’s Pediatric Burn Center. zzzz

Witnessing the intensive training exercises at the fire academy and spending time with the burn center’s youngest patients provided a day of reflection for NASCAR’s biggest stars.

“It’s unbelievable, I have to pinch myself everyday,” said Edwards. “To be able to do what we're doing and to be in New York City, taking the helicopter over Manhattan, it’s just unreal. I got to see the Statue of Liberty for the first time. This whole thing is just unreal to me. I'm glad to be here.” (At right Tony Stewart visits Staten Island and the site of a future NASCAR track.  Photo courtesy NASCAR)

For Busch, who was the center of attention as the 2004 champion, Tuesday’s trip brought back fond memories of his own Champion’s Week experience.

“I'm able to enjoy things a bit better this year,” said Busch. “It gives me a vision and a memory of what it meant last year to win the championship. These great people in Staten Island, and just to make the hospital visit, that's something I didn't get the chance to do last year. Every time I get the chance to come to New York as a top 10 driver, I’ll enjoy it.”

On Wednesday, the schedule continues with several key events:

Victory Lap a thrill for New Yorkers … Wednesday morning’s “NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Victory Lap presented by Sprint” is the second running of this unique event, which was first staged in 2004. The top 10 drivers will get in uniform and drive their show cars across town. The route begins at Rockefeller Center, cutting through Times Square and several side streets before driving up 375 Park Avenue to the finish line in front of NASCAR’s New York office. The event will be televised live on The Today Show on NBC, where hosts Anne Curry and Al Roker will join in the festivities. Curry will ride shotgun in Tony Stewart’s show car, while Roker will give the command for drivers to start their engines and begin their memorable ride. The Today Show’s coverage begins at 9 a.m. (ET) with the Victory Lap scheduled to roll off at 9:15. Fan viewing areas are setup between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue (on the south side), between 46th Street and 47th Street (on the west side), at Bryant Park between 5th and 6th Avenues and between 47th and 48th (on the east side).

Helton and Johnson join France for March of Dimes luncheon … NASCAR President Mike Helton and Jimmie Johnson will join NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France at the 22nd Annual Greater New York March of Dimes Sports Luncheon on Wednesday at the Waldorf=Astoria. Johnson, who finished fifth in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and is attending Champion’s Week in New York for the fourth consecutive year, will present France with the March of Dimes’ Sports Leadership Award.

Hoop it Up … Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) and Jeremy Mayfield (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) head to Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. on Wednesday, for NASCAR Night at the Nets presented by Pocono Raceway. The drivers will be treated to front row seats and be honored at halftime of Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Pistons. Four Nets fans will be invited courtside to receive an autograph from one of the drivers, 25 fans will receive a NASCAR-licensed Nextel phone and four fans will receive tickets to a 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Pocono Raceway.

Checkers chips in … Checkers/Rally’s, the Official Drive-Thru and Official Burger of NASCAR, will join in the Champion’s Week festivities in New York with two special fan-oriented events. On Thursday, the double drive-thru restaurant chain will give away a car to a deserving member of the Newark, N.J. community, in front of Madison Square Garden. The giveaway promotion will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, Checkers will conduct a drawing for its national sweepstakes $100,000 grand prize in a special ceremony at the Waldorf=Astoria. The sweepstakes drawing will take place immediately following the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) / Myers Brothers Breakfast presented by Sunoco on Friday morning.

NASCAR parade through streets of NY City today NASCAR parade through streets of NY City todayNASCAR Nextel Cup Champion Tony Stewart and the nine other drivers who participated in the Chase for the Nextel Cup "will navigate their race cars through downtown Manhattan" this morning in a 1.75-mile procession  started at 8:45am ET at Rockefeller Center Plaza and finished at NASCAR's HQs.
Racing News
Summary of Motorsports Marketing Forum Summary of Motorsports Marketing ForumUPDATE Highlights from yesterday afternoon’s panels:

During a panel titled “Growing Your Fan and Consumer Base: The Appeal of Women in Racing,” Rahal Letterman Racing co-Owner Bobby Rahal said of the sex appeal of female drivers, “In some respects, it is a can’t-win situation for women in racing, because if they look like a truck driver, then people think it’s a guy.  I think women face every negative that can be found in motorsports, because everybody is going to find something.  If they are sexy-looking, she’s a slut or a tramp.  If she’s not very good looking, then everybody can say she is not marketable.”

In the “Agency Executive Panel: Developing a Motorsports Budget,” Octagon Racing Group Exec VP & COO Mark Coughlin said, “An awful lot of sponsors don’t understand coming in what the rights landscape is and where they need to go.  If you are just doing a driver thing, but then want the ability to use on-track footage or to be able to do things at the racetrack itself, there are various rights holders.  So it really starts to exponentially grow your budget in a very quick fashion.”

During a panel titled, “NASCAR Spirits Sponsorships One Year Later,” Diageo North America Dir of Sports Marketing & PR Dan Sanborn said of the Kurt Busch incident, “For us, the issue was never alcohol, because as we know, that wasn’t the incident.  For us, it was purely about behavior.  When we talk about responsible drinking, it extends beyond that to behavior and making the right choices.  In that particular instance, unfortunately, there was a significant breach there.”

11/29/05 Street & Smith’s Motorsports Marketing Forum began today at the N.Y. Marriott East Side with a panel titled, “Dissecting Motorsports Sponsorships: Teams, Tracks, Drivers and Sanctioning Bodies,” that included Gatorade Sports Marketing Senior Manager Scott Paddock, NASCAR Managing Dir of Events & Operations Steve O’Donnell, Motorsports Management Int’l Principal Cary Agajanian, Chip Ganassi Racing Exec VP Tom Garfinkel, IMS VP/Marketing Terry Angstadt and Nextel Senior Dir of Sports & Entertainment Marketing Michael Robichaud.

Paddock, on whether the driver, team or league is most important to a sponsor: “The driver gives you a human element. It puts a personality behind your brand and your marketing and advertising efforts.” Robichaud, on whether Nextel needs a personality behind its brand: “Ultimately we do want the face of the drivers out there to help deliver our message because they are the ones with the credibility. … It is hard, though, because we cannot become too aligned with any one driver. Take Jeff Gordon. There are tons of Jeff Gordon fans, but there are tons of Jeff Gordon haters. So we want to be sure that we capture the positives of as many situations as possible.”

Agajanian, on increased promotional responsibilities for drivers: “They are torn in a lot of ways. There is no question about it. But part of our job is to teach the drivers how important the sponsors are in the sport.” Garfinkel, on drivers having multiple sponsors: “The notion that a driver is going to represent one sponsor and one sponsor only is pretty much gone. I think the top drivers want more deals. They hang out with the other drivers and they see that he has such-and-such a deal and they see that as incremental revenue. And they want those opportunities too.”

A second panel, “NASCAR Manufacturers Panel: Looking Back at 2005, Looking Ahead to 2006,” featured Ford Racing Technology Dir Dan Davis, GM Engineering Group Manager Pat Suhy and NASCAR VP/Competition Robin Pemberton. Suhy, on competition among manufacturers: “In the production world, we benchmark each other regularly. We look at each other’s engine parts. We’ve looked at each other’s cars in the garage every week. I think the way NASCAR is organized with cars next to each other in the garage a lot of things are pretty open for the non-casual observer to see.” The Daily

Racing News
Emmo endorses line of Motorcycles Emmo endorses line of MotorcyclesMoto Management Inc., in conjunction with Idea Sports Entertainment Group, Inc. ("Idea") (OTC BB: ISPO) announced today that it has teamed up with former two-time Formula 1 World Champion and two-time Indianapolis 500 Champion Emerson Fittipaldi to distribute a new line of "Signature Series" motorcycles featuring the endorsement of the racing legend. The new product line of motorcycles will be available in South and Central America starting in 2006.

Alan Vordermeier, Moto Management CEO, commented, "This is the first of several professional motorsports driver endorsement announcements scheduled for our 'Signature Series' line of motorcycles which debut in 2006." We are very excited to be able to announce such high quality individuals as our marketing partners for our exciting new motorcycle product within the transportation sector.  Emerson Fittipaldi is very well known worldwide and still today has a significant presence in the motorsports industry by his participation as a team manager in the A1 GP Series for Team Brazil as well as competing in the new Masters GP Series with other former Formula 1 World Champions on race-tracks throughout the world. Emerson's endorsement of our 'Signature Series' line of motorcycles is a significant development for the company and opens up the international distribution platform of our business model."   zzzz

Emerson Fittipaldi is the only driver in history to win two Formula One World Championships, two Indianapolis 500s and an Indy Car World Series Championship.

Alan Vordermeier also added, "Emerson Fittipaldi's notoriety, specifically in his home country of Brazil where he is as popular in that Country as some of the top professional athletes are in the United States, coupled with the manufacturing and performance qualities of our new line of motorcycles establishes a winning combination to contribute to our 2006 revenue forecasts."

Doornbos enjoys his Red Bull debut Doornbos enjoys his Red Bull debutTuesday was a busy day for Robert Doornbos. Even as the press release was winging its way around the world announcing that he will be Red Bull's test and reserve driver in 2006, Doornbos was at Circuit de Catalunya all decked out in Red Bull colors and ready for his first day of running in the RB1 Cosworth.

“This morning I woke up really early, as I was very eager to start testing in the RB1," Doornbos told his personal website after his first day of testing.

The team continue to run the Cosworth V10 engine in the RB1 until the Ferrari powered 2006 chassis is ready. Doornbos ran the V10 with an air restrictor in place while team-mate Christian Klien ran the regular V10 unit.

"Some of the corners where I had to lift last year, could now easily be done flat out," Doornbos said. "As the engine requires a different driving style. I’m happy with the work done today. I’ve seen and learned a lot all ready."

Doornbos ended the first day of testing eighth fastest and happy with his new role with the team. "Testing for Red Bull Racing is definitely the best thing I could possible wish for, and therefore I’m happy to be part of the ‘Red Bull family’ now. I hope everyone in The Netherlands are just as excited as I am!”

David Coulthard takes over the RB1 today with Doornbos back in the car on Thursday. Source Doornbos website

Toyota and Williams in action for Bridgestone Toyota and Williams in action for BridgestoneBridgestone Motorsport’s new partnerships with the Toyota and Williams teams started in earnest on Tuesday as the two teams took to the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain for their first winter test on Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tires.

The test will focus primarily on matching the cars to the particular characteristics of the Bridgestone tires and building the foundations of strong technical partnerships with the teams for the future. Toyota will complete a four-day test with their TF106, the first phase of their 2006 race car, while Williams will test their interim FW27C car for three days this week.

Bridgestone Motorsport Test Operations Manager Kaz Hamamura said: “We are very excited about testing this week in Barcelona with Williams and Toyota. It is like a first date really - we are both excited and a little bit nervous, in a good way! The objective this week is to get to know each other. Toyota has a completely new car ready for next year – new chassis, V8 engine and of course tires. Williams are also running with a V8 engine but in their interim chassis. Initially we will be working with the teams to match the cars to the tires. Once that work is complete we can then start to evaluate different specifications including some different construction choices.” zzzz
Making reference to 2005 GP2 Series Champion Nico Rosberg’s graduation to F1, Hamamura commented: “It is particularly pleasing for me to see Nico Rosberg here who makes the step up from GP2 to F1 with Williams. I am very happy to see him in F1 and his feedback will be invaluable, just as it was in GP2.”

Following this week’s test in Barcelona, Toyota and Williams will join Bridgestone’s two current teams, Ferrari and MF1 Racing, at the Spanish circuit of Jerez from December 7.

Hamamura concluded: “We are really looking forward to working with Toyota and Williams alongside Ferrari and Midland. Our aim is to develop the best possible tires for 2006. All four Bridgestone shod teams will be working closely together over the winter and they will share data to improve the overall speed and development of our tires.”

Ferrari has already started its winter program with tests over the past few weeks at Vallelunga in Italy and the Sakhir Circuit in Bahrain. They will conduct a three-day test this week (November 30 – December 2) in Valencia before moving to Jerez on December 7, where they will run for a total of nine days. Toyota and MF1 Racing will each complete eight days of testing in Jerez, finishing on December 15, while Williams will run for seven days, finishing on December 16. Source Bridgestone

Mario Andretti says Schumacher can race on Mario Andretti says Schumacher can race onMario Andretti says that 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher can race on for many years if mentally he is prepared to do it.

"If Schumacher wants to, he can race in F1 until he's fifty," Andretti told Autosprint. "It's not a physical problem nor a mental one, it's just about motivations. Through the years your brain might become less reactive, but your greater experience helps you.

"When I got on pole at Monza (pictured right in his Ferrari) at 41 years old (in 1982) I drove a scorbutic and difficult car with 1,100 horsepower, but if I didn't have problems in the race with the turbo I would have won the Grand Prix. Obviously some extreme performances can't be reached if you aren't at the top physically and mentally, and at Monza I still was.

"I quit at the end of 1994, when I was 54, not for physical reasons but because I was tired: with the arrival of Nigel Mansell at the Newman/Haas team, the atmosphere got bad.

"A few months after retiring I realized I made a mistake, as I really only needed some rest. I mixed up the tiredness of the moment with the desire to quit racing, and that was an error I still regret.

"Nowadays drivers retire at 35, as if it was the rule, but it all depends on the motivations of each driver. To stay on top, motor racing must remain the number one priority, like a religion and a philosophy of life which comes before anything else: money and family affections.

"If Schumacher keeps this mental condition, and considering his excellent physical preparation, then he could race for ten more years at the top. It's just a matter of desire and priorities."

Ganassi not sure where Briscoe is going Ganassi not sure where Briscoe is goingFrom Monday's announcement that Dan Wheldon is moving to Target Chip Ganassi racing in 2006:

Question for Chip Ganassi - What happens to Ryan Briscoe now? What are your plans for him, and are you going to have a third car next year?

CHIP GANASSI: We don't have a plan for Ryan right now. We have some opportunities maybe in some sports car, there may be some opportunities for him, but right now we don't have a plan for him in our IndyCar (Series) team. He remains a friend of our team and a great driver and is well-deserving of some good opportunities. I just don't know that we're going to be able to provide them for him, but sure, I'd sure like to if anybody has any ideas.   We are in this business to run up front, and basically, I don’t think a third car right now is the answer [to achieve that].”

Krisiloff lands Truck ride Krisiloff lands Truck rideBilly Ballew Motorsports, which used eight different drivers to finish fifth in owner points in the 2005 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season, has settled on just one for 2006.  Kyle Krisiloff, who drove a variety of races in 2005 as part of a Hendrick Motorsports driver development program, will run the full Trucks schedule with Ballew's No. 15 Chevrolets next season, team officials confirmed Tuesday.

Krisiloff, 19, ran 14 Busch and Automobile Racing Club of America series races this season with Hendrick, capturing two poles and earning a season's best finish of second at the October ARCA race at Talladega, Ala.

"We're excited about this opportunity that presented itself to us for 2006. We're optimistic heading into '06 with Kyle, as he has shown great potential behind the wheel," said team owner Billy Ballew.

"Although he's never driven a NASCAR Craftsman Truck before in competition, we look for good things to come from this young man."

Catch Champ Car Reality Show debut Wednesday Catch Champ Car Reality Show debut WednesdayUPDATE #13 Reminder, episode 14, Mexico City, will be aired Wednesday night. 11/23/05 Reminder that episode 13, Australia, will be aired tonight. 11/16/05 Reminder - episode 12, Las Vegas, will be shown Wednesday night. 11/09/05 Reminder - episode 11, Montreal, will be shown Wednesday night. 11/01/05 Reminder - episode 10, Denver, will be shown Wednesday night in place of the cancelled Ansan race. 10/25/05 Reminder - episode 9, Denver, will be shown Wednesday night. 10/18/05 Reminder - episode 8, San Jose, will be shown Wednesday night. 10/12/05 Reminder - episode 7, Edmonton, will be shown Wednesday night 10/04/05 Reminder - episode 6, Toronto, will be shown Wednesday night 09/27/05 Reminder - episode 5, Cleveland, will be shown Wednesday night. 09/21/05 Reminder episode 4 will be shown Wednesday night (tonight).  Don't miss it. 09/14/05 Reminder episode 3 will be shown Wednesday night.  Don't miss it. 09/07/05 A reminder that the first two episodes of Race Car Driver will be shown tonight (Wednesday) at 8:00 p.m. ET on Superstation WGN.  For a complete list of air dates and an episode guide, see www.RaceCarTV.com  zzzz

09/05/05 Fans of the Champ Car World Series are well-versed in what goes on during the two hours that their heroes are strapped into their 750hp turbocharged scream machines on race day, but not much is known about the behind-the-scenes efforts that go into a race weekend on the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford trail.

Starting Wednesday September 7, Superstation WGN will shed some light on what it takes to be a part of the premier open-wheel racing series in the United States with the premiere of its new prime-time reality show Race Car Driver. The 30-minute show takes fans around the world with the drivers and teams of Champ Car, chronicling every aspect of making a successful – and sometimes not so successful – race weekend.

The show has closely followed the exploits of series legend-in-the-making Paul Tracy and his Forsythe Championship Racing teammate Mario Dominguez from the drop of the green flag in Long Beach, and will take viewers beyond Pit Lane and into the minds of everyone involved in the team’s quest for another championship. Fans will be able to watch strategies develop, see problems solved, and experience how victories are celebrated as well as how losses are dealt with. The weekly show will give fans a better insight of why talent is only a part of what it takes to compete at the top of the motorsport ladder.

The show does more than focus on the Chicago-based Forsythe squad, as Race Car Driver sheds insights on nearly every team and driver in the series, from perennial championship contender Newman/Haas Racing and its 2004 series champion Sebastien Bourdais to PKV Racing with veterans Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta and all stops in between.

“We couldn’t be happier with Race Car Driver and we expect that the viewers will come away with a new appreciation for our drivers, our teams and our sport,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “We are sure that once viewers get a look at the show, they will want to keep watching not only Race Car Driver but Champ Car racing as well.”

Episodes are broadcast weekly across the USA on Superstation WGN on Wednesday nights at 8pm ET beginning September 7th immediately following “Will & Grace" and "Home Improvement" and repeated on Saturday evenings (check local listings). Champ Car

Productive first day for Williams Productive first day for WilliamsWilliams commenced its winter test program in Barcelona today, marking the start of its new technical relationships with Cosworth and Bridgestone. The team had a productive first day with Nico Rosberg and Andy Priaulx completing 84 laps between them. Rosberg was seventh fastest with Priaulx tenth best.

Sam Michael, Technical Director "Today was the first test with our new technical partners, Cosworth and Bridgestone. Nico and Andy were on driving duties and the cars were on different programs to get through initial systems setup as efficiently as possible. Nico was able to complete normal timed lap running early on and by the end of afternoon, we were able to perform a short tire program for Bridgestone. Andy spent the whole day on systems checks, installation laps and calibration work and in order to complete some precautionary checks, we stopped Andy's car early."

"It's a credit to all the staff at Grove and Northampton that in such a short amount of time we were able to design, build and arrive at the start of this test with two complete interim cars. This involved extensive chassis modifications, new engine and new gearbox installation and the entire electrical system design. Tomorrow we will continue with systems work with Nico, while Mark (Webber) will take over from Andy in the other car. We should also be able to start work on setup changes and further tire testing for Bridgestone."

Highlights of Champ Car Road America deal Highlights of Champ Car Road America dealUPDATE Here is a full transcript of today's press conference.

11/29/05 Highlights from today's media conference on the Champ Car Road America announcement:

  • It's a one-year deal for now but they expect to make it a multi-year deal in future.
  • Steve Johnson said they expect to announce a title sponsor for the race in coming months.
  • Champ Car will be a much closer partner in the event promotion-wise as they now have a financial stake
  • In addition to Atlantics, additional support races might be added to the weekend.
  • This will be the season finale for the Atlantic series with the Awards Banquet to be held in Elkhart Lake
  • Many of the recently announced track improvements will be done in time for the race weekend
  • The Chicago Tribune will be engaged to help get the word out in the Chicago market. They are an existing partner with the track.
  • Weather-wise there is no concern from track president George Bruggenthies for a late September race
  • The 2006 Champ Car schedule is now set. Any new races will be in 2007 at the earliest.
  • Las Vegas has been dropped but Steve Johnson insists the series is still committed to ovals, going forward where they make sense. They are still actively pursuing a street race in Vegas.
  • Steve Johnson reiterated that there are still many major announcements to come in the off-season for Champ Car.
  • [Editor's Note: Fans would turn out in big numbers when CART had "heroes" like Andretti, Foyt, Unser, Mansell, Rahal, etc.  Now NASCAR has all the "heroes/household names" so it will be interesting to see their marketing strategy of how they are going to get people to drive up from Milwaukee and Chicago.  It will be interesting to see how Champ Car is going to make "heroes" out of their drivers, because clearly that is the secret to NASCAR's and F1's success.]
Scuderia Toro Rosso breaks cover Scuderia Toro Rosso breaks coverRed Bull’s new Formula One team, Scuderia Toro Rosso began its charge today. Making its first official outing on the opening day of a three-day test in Barcelona, the team took to the race track as Scuderia Toro Rosso for the very first time.

Running a restricted-V10 Cosworth powered RB1 with Michelin tires, the team completed 325km of testing, as it began to develop its technology ahead of 2006.

Although the team’s livery and its 2006 chassis is yet to be revealed, the test gave the team its first chance to experiment with the technical set up of the current RB1 and observe how it handled on the track.

Despite low ambient temperatures of between 5°C and 16°C, the team and drivers gained valuable data and experience during the day’s testing.

Vitantonio Liuzzi completed driving duties today and is set to continue tomorrow, while young American driver Scott Speed will take over for the final day. Scuderia Toro Rosso

Michael Shank Racing goes all-Lexus Michael Shank Racing goes all-LexusMichael Shank Racing confirmed today that it will field two Lexus-powered Daytona Prototypes for the 2006 Rolex Sports Car season. The team, which scored two podium finishes utilizing a Pontiac power plant in the Mears Motor Coach machine of Mike Borkowski and Paul Mears Jr. in 2005, will become an all-Lexus squad in 2006.
Michael Shank Racing has an extensive history of success with Toyota Racing Development in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, where the team scored multiple wins with drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and Kenny Wilden, who finished second in the 1999 championship. The team made its debut Rolex Series campaign in 2004 with Lexus power, scoring two podiums with drivers Oswaldo Negri and Burt Frisselle.
“We have a great working relationship with Lexus and TRD going back to Atlantics, and are looking forward to working with them again next year,” said Shank. “We want to thank Pontiac and the guys at CRD Engines for a good 2005 season and we know we will be fighting against them next year, but we are looking forward to it.”
Road America completes 12-race Atlantic's schedule Road America completes 12-race Atlantic's scheduleThe 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama season will conclude at a familiar venue with today’s announcement that both the Champ Car World Series and the Atlantics will return to compete next season at the fabled Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

The new generation Atlantic machines, featuring the Swift 016.a chassis powered by the 300-horsepower Cosworth engines, will return for the 22nd season of Atlantic racing at Road America. The Atlantics will join the 750-horsepower Champ Cars at the classic 4.048-mile road course for a three-day festival of speed, September 22-24 at Road America.

The Road America race will represent the 12th and final round of competition for the ‘06 Champ Car Atlantic series, marking the first time in the 33-year history of the championship that the season finale will be held at the storied venue. zzzz

“Our series drivers, teams and fans are all excited to be returning to Road America next season,” said Vicki O’Connor, managing director of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. “It’s one of the most beautiful and challenging road courses in the world and we couldn’t imagine a better venue to conclude what we expect to be a terrific season of Atlantic racing in 2006.”

In 2005, Estonian racer Tonis Kasemets enjoyed a dominant performance while winning the Atlantic race at Road America. Starting from the pole, Kasemets fought off a challenge from rookie Katherine Legge on the opening lap to become the 20th Atlantic winner at Road America. In capturing the checkered flag, Kasemets joined an elite list of previous Atlantic race winners at Road America that included Roberto Moreno, Jimmy Vasser, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron and Buddy Rice, to name a few.

If recent history is any indication, next year’s event in Elkhart Lake could also decide which driver will walk away with the series championship and the unique $2 million bonus to help secure a Champ Car ride in 2007. In each of the last two seasons the battle for the Atlantic title has been decided at the final race of the season. Dutchman Charles Zwolsman claimed the 2005 series crown over Kasemets in Montreal, while Jon Fogarty won the ’04 Atlantic title over Ryan Dalziel in the season finale at Laguna Seca.

The complete 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama schedule follows below. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.

2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Season Schedule
Date Venue
April 9 Long Beach, California
May 13 Houston, Texas
May 21 Monterrey, Mexico
June 18 Portland, Oregon
June 24 Cleveland, Ohio
June 25 Cleveland, Ohio
July 9 Toronto, Ontario, Canada
July 23 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
July 30 San Jose, California
Aug. 13 Denver, Colorado
Aug. 27 Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Sept. 24 Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Klien fastest in Spain testing Klien fastest in Spain testingTuesday test times from Barcelona. The fastest driver, Klien, was still using V10 engines but notice how the V8's are already nipping at his heels.
Pos Driver Team Tires Time Laps
 1. Klien Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:17.567 43 (V10)
 2. Wurz McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:17.754 69 (V8)
 3. Zonta Toyota (B) 1:17.821 58 (V8)
 4. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:18.066 64 (V8)
 5. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:18.641 82 (V8)
 6. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:19.756 58
 7. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:20.456 58
 8. Doornbos Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:20.701 51
 9. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:21.013 27
10. Priaulx Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:25.055 18
Toyota starts testing with 2006 car Toyota starts testing with 2006 carToday (Tuesday) Toyota started testing with next years car, fitted with the V8 engine. Jarno Trulli was expecting the new engine to be slow, but after his first laps he was relieved. "I expected it to be worse," he said in Barcelona. "The engine doesn't vibrate, the engineers did a good job," the Italian said. "For us drivers the ultimate top speed is not the challenge. The lap and quick cornering is. I would say I expected it to be worse. Everything is new on the car, but it was not hard to get used to it. It was easier then we thought it would be. We still have a lot of work to do, but we have a slight idea in which direction we have to go. The tires are quite different then the Michelins. But I'm happy we have the car this early. We have all winter to improve it."
Industry News
Ford reducing Volvo workforce Ford reducing Volvo workforceFord Motor Co. is eliminating 5.3% of the workforce at its Volvo Cars division to reduce spending and boost earnings.  The automaker will eliminate 1,470 positions, primarily in Sweden and Belgium, out of a total workforce of 27,500 people, Gothenburg, Sweden-based Volvo Cars said Monday.  "We have to reduce the number of employees we have in order to be more effective in the future," Christer Gustafsson, a Volvo spokesman, said in an interview. "We are reviewing all cost-driving areas within the company."
Atlantic series moves season finale to RA Atlantic series moves season finale to RAIn keeping with Champ Car's business model, the September 22-24 event at Road America will be a three-day festival of speed with the 750hp Champ Cars being joined at the historic circuit by the new 300hp cars of the new Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. More than 30 of the new Atlantic cars are expected for the season finale which will now take place at Road America.
F1 to again be televised by SPEED Channel F1 to again be televised by SPEED ChannelSPEED Channel will roll into 2006 as the growing home of NASCAR TV and the exclusive cable outlet for Formula One, the Champ Car World Series, Grand American Road Racing, the American Le Mans Series, IROC, ARCA, IHRA drag racing, the SPEED World Challenge, as well as world class events, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Knoxville Nationals. SPEED Channel
BMW expands M3 program in the USA BMW expands M3 program in the USABMW announced today an expansion of its very successful North American M3 racing program. Begun in 1995, BMW M3s have raced to more than 53 wins in 108 races entered, primarily as a result of the efforts of BMW NA-supported BMW Team PTG.

In 2006, two BMW Team PTG M3s will compete in the American Le Mans Series GT2 class, under the new S2 rules. BMW Team PTG competed in the American Le Mans Series from 1999 through 2001, as well as the 2003 Petit Le Mans. Every lap of BMW Team PTG's previous ALMS success came on Yokohama tires and that relationship will be renewed in 2006. In BMW's last full season of ALMS competition in 2001, BMW Team PTG won the Grand Prix of Portland and the Petit Le Mans as they combined with BMW Motorsport to dominate the GT class and sweep the Manufacturer, Team and Drivers titles.

All five of the BMW Team PTG M3s that combined to win 17 of 25 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series GT class races in the last two seasons, including the 2004 Manufacturer, Team and Driver Championships, have been sold to two private teams that will continue to race in that series. BMW Team PTG will provide technical support and BMW will enhance its privateer contingency program to support this effort. In 2005, more than $70K was awarded to privately entered BMW racers in the Rolex and Grand-Am Cup Series.  zzzz

"In 2006, BMW fans will see more M3s racing in professional sports car championships than ever before," said Larry Koch, M Brand Manager for BMW. "With BMW Team PTG ensuring that "the car is the star" in the American Le Mans Series and four BMW Team PTG-supported privately entered M3s continuing BMW's success in the Rolex Sports Car Series we are anticipating another stellar racing season. In fact, our new approach has already delivered excellent results. In the final Rolex Series race in Mexico City the Sigalsport M3, supported by BMW Team PTG and BMW NA driver Bill Auberlen, took the GT class pole and finished second."

BMW Team PTG will begin testing its new ALMS M3s in January and drivers will be announced in the near future.

The Rolex Sports Car Series begins its 14-race season on January 28th with the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the American Le Mans Series starts its 10-race season at the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 18th. BMW

Champ Car return to Road America, drop Vegas race Champ Car return to Road America, drop Vegas raceRoad America and the Champ Car World Series just can't stay apart, it seems.  The famed Elkhart Lake road course and open-wheel series fought legal battles in 2003 and, when they couldn't find a way to keep the track from losing money, separated after 2004.

Today, though, they'll announce a reunion for 2006.

George Bruggenthies, Road America's president and general manager, declined Monday to discuss financial details that made the deal workable but it's clear that Champ Car management will be forced to undertake more of the financial risk related to staging the event.

"We're too small to keep losing, but we've got a plan that I think will work," Bruggenthies said in a telephone interview.

"Down the road, it all depends on the fan. We're trying to put together a deal not just for one year; we'd like to see them here for the long-term basis, so the fans have got to come out. We both are promoting the event, and the fans have got to buy tickets. They will tell us. That will be the true outcome."

The race weekend is scheduled for Sept. 22-24.  zzzz

That falls outside the traditional tourist season in Wisconsin and presents a possible conflict with the Green Bay Packers, the state's first sports love. But it does get the event away from other racing events and many other recreational activities.

"In the three months, June, July and August, there's something going on every weekend, State Fair or Brat Fest, whatever," Bruggenthies said. "It's past our traditional time, but it's been beautiful weather here the past two years in September."

Through the 1980s and '90s, CART, as it was then known, was the biggest draw at Road America, attracting race-day crowds estimated at 70,000 or more. But the open-wheel split of 1996, the rise of NASCAR and a decrease in corporate support led to declining interest in that form of racing.

Bruggenthies said he expected more driver involvement in promoting the event, and the track would shift from print to television to capitalize on an improved TV package Champ Car has assembled with networks CBS and NBC and Speed Channel, a growing cable presence.

Road America will take the place of Las Vegas Motor Speedway on the 2006 schedule. The series has not ruled out returning to the Vegas market, but the track's departure from the 2006 schedule leaves the June 4 event at the Milwaukee Mile as the only oval race on the circuit.

As the schedule stands, Road America will be the 12th race and the last in the United States on a 15-race schedule that begins April 9 in Long Beach, Calif., and concludes Nov. 5 in Mexico City.

In a news release to be distributed today, series President Steve Johnson cited pressure from competitors, sponsors and fans as a primary reason for Champ Car's return to Road America. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

F1's new order on track F1's new order on trackF1's new order is unfolding apace at Circuit de Catalunya. Jarno Trulli, and tester Ricardo Zonta, pulled out of the Toyota garage in Spain at the wheel of the team's brand new 2006 car, the TF106.

Vitantonio Liuzzi steered the 'Scuderia Toro Rosso' car - apparently a 2005 Red Bull - around the track near Barcelona. The car's airbox features a visible air restrictor, to limit the V10 engine, as well as a new livery with gold highlights.

The former Minardi team is now Michelin clad. Williams' Nico Rosberg, on the other hand, tested the Cosworth-powered, midnight-blue colored FW27C, with a set of Bridgestone boots on board.

Spa must hold GP - Bernie Spa must hold GP - BernieBernie Ecclestone says he will enforce Belgium's contractual obligation to host a grand prix next year.

Although Spa-Francorchamps' race promoter has gone bankrupt, the local Wallonian government - whether it realized it or not - apparently guaranteed that a grand prix be staged at the popular venue until 2010.

''There is a contract between us,'' the 75-year-old formula one supremo told the daily 'Le Soir' newspaper.

''I can't see why there should be a debate.

''When a contract is signed, it must be respected, period.''

Other media sources, however, have suggested that the matter might end up in court, even if it seems that the Belgian government's legal advice is that any action would fail.

BMW announces return to ALMS BMW announces return to ALMSSee feature story on our Home Page for all the details.
Robert Yates announces new lineup for 2006 Robert Yates announces new lineup for 2006Robert Yates Racing (RYR) announced its lineup for the 2006 NASCAR season. The lineup includes the addition and reassignment of key team members for both the #88 UPS and #38 M&M’S Chocolate Candies NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams, as well as the #90 CitiFinancial Busch Series team.

Effective immediately, Richard “Slugger” Labbe is the crew chief for the #88 UPS Racing Team and driver Dale Jarrett while Tommy Baldwin, Jr., becomes the crew chief for the #38 M&M’S Chocolate Candies Team and driver Elliott Sadler. Both Labbe and Baldwin bring with them experience and success that includes wins in the Daytona 500 (Labbe with driver Michael Waltrip in 2003 and Baldwin with driver Ward Burton in 2002).

“Both Slugger and Tommy have had success in their past endeavors with other teams in the NEXTEL Cup Series,” said Eddie D’Hondt, general manager for RYR. “We’ve been aggressive in the off season. It is our goal to get both of our teams in the Chase for the Championship in 2006. We are really pleased with the staff we’ve put together and delighted to have Slugger and Tommy on board.”  zzzz

Labbe, a former RYR employee, returns after spending time serving in the crew chief role during the last few seasons for Michael Waltrip at Dale Earnhardt, Inc., and most recently for Jeremy Mayfield at Evernham Motorsports. Baldwin also joins RYR from Evernham Motorsports where he led the team efforts for young driver Kasey Kahne since 2004.
“This is a great opportunity for me to be able to come back here in this capacity,” Labbe said. “Robert (Yates) has been an incredible person to know and work with. I’ve known him and Dale (Jarrett) for a long time, and to have this opportunity is an important one for me personally. I am really looking forward to 2006.”

“There is potential for great success next season at RYR,” said Baldwin. “Robert has built a strong foundation here and it’s exciting to be able to step in and work with Elliott and the #38 Team. I think we’ve only seen the beginning of what Elliott can accomplish behind the wheel and I look forward to the task of leading this team to the next level.”
Kevin Buskirk, who has been serving in an interim crew chief role for the #38 M&M’S team, will become the Technical and Performance Director for all of RYR. Additionally, the team has added Ed Guzzo to the organization and he will serve as the Production and Operational Director.

Busch Series: In addition to the personnel changes with the NEXTEL Cup Series programs, RYR announced its driver lineup for the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series season and plans to compete in all 35 events. Sadler will drive the #90 CitiFinancial Ford for 16 events in 2006 while drivers Stephen Leicht and Matt McCall will share the driving duties during 17 events as part of the RYR Driver Development program. In addition to Leicht and McCall, Belgium driver Marc Goosens will compete in both the Busch Series road course races in 2006 as part of a joint effort between RYR and Rile Technologies, the championship team in the Rolex Series.

RYR will continue to prepare for 2006 and beyond, looking for the right opportunity to grow the organization into a four-team organization that competes in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Elevation Group/RYR PR

Red Bull announces Doornbos, Speed to Scuderia Toro Rosso Red Bull announces Doornbos, Speed to Scuderia Toro RossoRed Bull Racing announced today that Robert Doornbos joins Red Bull Racing for 2006. As the team's test and reserve driver, the 24-year-old will fulfill Friday driving duties for Red Bull Racing during the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship. See last paragraph for info about Scott Speed.

Doornbos is not new to Red Bull. In 2004 the young Dutchman drove alongside Tonio Liuzzi as part of Christian Horner's Arden team, participating in the F3000 International Championship in a Red Bull branded car. Taking victory in Spa and finishing third overall in his debut season, Robert was crowned 'Rookie of the Year', before rounding off 2004 by fulfilling test driver duties for the Jordan Formula One team at the last three races.

After a promising season in 2005, where he performed as third driver for Jordan-Midland and as a race driver for Minardi-Cosworth (for the last eight races of the year), Robert will join Red Bull Racing for 2006. zzzz

Sporting Director Christian Horner said, "Having served his apprenticeship in Formula 1 this year, Robert will perform an important role for Red Bull Racing as its third driver. Robert demonstrated natural speed and a very real hunger to win when I worked with him in 2004 and I'm very happy to renew our working relationship. This is an excellent opportunity for him."

Robert Doornbos said, "It's fantastic to be joining Red Bull Racing. Not only is it the team of the moment, but the way that it's developing the technical side of things, and the motivation of the team, is very promising for the future. I'm aiming to learn as much as possible to get to the top of the sport and I think I'm in the right place to be able to do that."

Robert's first experience in a Cosworth-powered RB1 will occur today, when he participates in the first day of the team's three-day test in Barcelona. Christian Klein will drive the team's second car. On Wednesday, Christian and David Coulthard will drive for the team, while Robert and David will complete the test on Thursday.

Following Red Bull's purchase of Minardi earlier this year, Scott Speed will now join Red Bull's newest team, Scuderia Toro Rosso. His exact role in the team will be confirmed in the near future.

Colitis sidelines Speed Colitis sidelines SpeedAccording to Autosport, the reason why we have seen A1GP driver Scott Speed being replaced by Brian Herta is that Speed suffers from a intestinal condition called Colitis.

Red Bull's Helmet Marko stated "He still has his colitis and traveling all over the world doesn't help his health. He needs stabilized food for a long period and traveling in airplanes means he never gets what he really needs. So we want to make him strong for next season". Speed finished third in the GP2 championship this season and is expected to graduate to Formula One with the Squadra Toro Rosso team next year.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Mateschitz admits Michelin switch
Alonso kicks off
Midland get new trucks
Heidfeld back on track
Rubens' '11' is JB gesture
Williams to launch in January 
Red Bull finish tunnel upgrade
F1's TV figures take a dive
Heidfeld eyes wins in '08
TV News
Zanardi back to the USA Zanardi back to the USAUPDATE Reminder - Zanardi will be on with Bryant Gumbel Tuesday.  Set your VCR's and DVR's. 11/27/05 For the second year in a row Alex Zanardi will be taking a trip to the United States right after the Thanksgiving holidays.  Purposes of the trip revitalize the sales of his book “Alex Zanardi – My Sweetest Victory” by Bentley Publishers (www.BentleyPublishers.com) and make an appearance for his longtime sponsor Barilla in beautiful Beaver Creek, CO during the Alpine Ski World Cup weekend where, Barilla sponsored skier Bode Miller, will compete.

As part of his U.S. schedule Alex will be appearing in the following TV Shows:

- Monday, November 28, 2005, at 10:30pm local
The Best Damn Sports Show Period” with Chris Rose, John Salley, Rodney Peete and Rob Dibble.  Guest Star auto racing superstar Alex Zanardi

- Tuesday, November 29, 2005, at 9pm ET/PT
Real Sports” with Bryant Gumbel.  Guest Star Alex Zanardi

Tragedy to Triumph - From HBO.com
Four years have elapsed since Alex Zanardi lost both legs in a horrific CART racing crash in Germany. The injuries sustained by the two-time champion were so severe that his recovery alone was viewed as a triumph. Yet Zanardi treated his condition in a manner consistent with the rest of his impressive career and, with the help of two prosthetic limbs, soon resumed everyday activities like walking, swimming and driving. In 2003 REAL SPORTS found Zanardi remarkably unaffected by his injuries; last August, Zanardi captured the seventh race of the world touring cars championships in his BMW 320i. This month, Bryant Gumbel travels to Italy to catch up with the man who does not know the meaning of the word "quit."

The 2005 Zanardi US Tour has been organized by Gabriele Pedone of Mediabuy USA, Inc. www.mediabuyusa.com

Heidfeld glad to be back behind wheel Heidfeld glad to be back behind wheelAfter three months away from the cockpit Nick Heidfeld was delighted to get back behind the wheel today as BMW Sauber took to the test circuit for the first time. The test was the first for the Sauber C24B chassis with BMW P86 V8 engine and Heidfeld completed 28 laps with a best time of 1:21.634s.

In the morning, the C24B ran without any problems while in the afternoon session at Circuit de Catalunya, the engineers concluded the program early.

"After an almost three-month break I could hardly wait for the first test," the German racer stated. "The chassis and engine ran without any problems in the morning. All the systems were working perfectly."

"Of course you can tell the difference in performance compared to the V10. That's something you just have to get used to. A positive surprise is that the engine vibrates a lot less than I had expected. In the afternoon we had to break off work early when the engineers spotted a problem in the data and told me to switch off the engine."

On Tuesday the team will resume the test program as planned with further engine and systems testing. BMW Sauber

Track News
Major upgrades announced for Mid-Ohio Major upgrades announced for Mid-OhioIn keeping with its reputation as America's most competitive road course, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is currently undergoing extensive capital improvements in preparation for its seven-event 2006 season. [Editor's Note:  Too bad the changes didn't include widening the track at the same time so cars can actually pass.  F1 road courses are twice, yes twice, as wide.  Champ Cars always had a hard time passing given the size of the cars hence the races tended to be follow-the-leader.]

Among the improvements will be a complete track and pit lane resurfacing, and the creation of a connector in the track's famed Keyhole section.  Also included in the project will be the removal of concrete patches from the track, the relocation of the wall and guardrail at turn one, the expansion of gravel traps at the exits of turn one and the Keyhole, the replacement of all remaining old-style catch-fencing, and the standardization of curbing throughout the circuit.

TrueSports, Inc., has made continuous improvements to the renowned 2.4-mile, 15-turn Mid-Ohio circuit over its 44-year history, including recent surface repairs, wall relocations and gravel trap upgrades.  In addition to enhancing performance and safety, these newest improvements will give the track three road course configurations, new timing loops, additional capacity and flexibility for its track and driving school operations, a complete amateur motocross venue, and a wider range of events and activities for fans. zzzz

"Continuous improvement has been a hallmark of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course since its founding," said Michelle Trueman Gajoch, president of TrueSports, Inc., the owner and operator of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and The Mid-Ohio School.  "As always, our goal with these improvements is a better, safer environment for our competitors and students, and a more complete and exciting facility for fans.  We look forward to unveiling the changes in 2006."

The resurfacing portion of the project already has begun, and will include the milling of the entire road course and pit lane, subgrade and base reinforcement in certain areas, and drainage enhancements.  Ohio's largest privately held general contractor, Fredericktown-based Kokosing Construction, is the project manager.  Dublin, Ohio, firm Ronald J. Gajoch & Associates is the architect.

"As with most of the design work we've overseen at Mid-Ohio, there were a lot of variables to consider," said Ron Gajoch, principal of Ronald J. Gajoch & Associates.  "Maintaining the track's character, increasing its capabilities, and providing a surface that enhances safety for competitors and spectators alike were all imperative, and we've accounted for each with creative solutions."

"It's a privilege to manage this project for Mid-Ohio," said Kokosing Vice President Wayne Brassell.  "They've approached it with a great deal of diligence and a long-term view, and that's the same way we look at our projects.  We're looking forward to working together and creating a track surface that's second to none."

Columbus-based Resource International is creating the asphalt mix for the track with help from Kokosing Materials' asphalt design division.

"A race track is a unique roadway, and the demands that modern racing machines place on it require a unique asphalt mix," said Kokosing Materials President Bob Bailey.  "We'll be doing a great deal of testing as we proceed to ensure that the Mid-Ohio track is not only fast, but also safe, consistent and easy to maintain."

Among the other off-season improvements taking place at Mid-Ohio is the completion of an on-site motocross facility.  The existing motocross venue will receive a number of upgrades in order to host American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and manufacturer events.

The projects are slated to be completed in advance of the track's first spectator event of 2006, the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio (May 19-21).  Other events on next year's calendar include the EMCO Gears Classic, featuring the Rolex Sports Car Series, and Unlimited Audio Accessories Triple Crown Tuner Challenge (June 23-25), AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days (July 28-30), Honda Super Cycle Weekend presented by Dunlop Tire (Aug. 4-6), Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio (Aug. 18-20), National Auto Sport Association Championships (Sept. 15-17), and AMA Superbike Shootout (Sept. 29-Oct. 1).

Season passes and individual event tickets are available now by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO or logging on to www.midohio.com.  Enrollment for more than 100 class days in 14 courses at The Mid-Ohio School also is open, and available by visiting www.midohio.com/school or calling 1-877-973-8667.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a 2.4-mile, 15-turn permanent road racing circuit in Lexington, Ohio.  Located 60 miles north of Columbus and 75 miles south of Cleveland near Mansfield, the track has been called the most competitive in the U.S. and annually hosts a diversity of locally, regionally and nationally sanctioned racing events for amateur, club and professional riders and drivers.

Founded in 1981 and headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, TrueSports, Inc., is a privately held motorsports entertainment enterprise.  The company owns and operates Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and The Mid-Ohio School, and promotes a wide variety of motor racing, driver instruction, corporate, and family entertainment events throughout the year.

Paffett enjoys return to McLaren F1 car Paffett enjoys return to McLaren F1 carTeam McLaren Mercedes returned to the test track today at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain, following the post-season break.

Today's session marked the first of an intensive three week program in the build-up to Christmas, and sees the development program for the 2006 challenger, the MP4-21, return to the track following the last test in September in Jerez.

Test driver Alex Wurz was joined in Spain by Gary Paffett, who was testing with the team having been crowned 2005 DTM Champion. Both drivers were at the wheel of interim MP4-20Bs, which were running the Mercedes-Benz new V8 engine, the FO108S.

Paffett was fastest with a best lap time of 1m20.588s while Wurz was the second fastest driver of the day with a time of 1m20.664s.

Wurz's running was affected initially by some transmission problems, further compounded by hydraulics systems issues, which were resolved by the test team during the course of the day and he returned to the track for 11 laps in total. Nick Heidfeld, who was attending the test with BMW Sauber, was also running a V8 engine.

Gary Paffett "I'm really happy to drive a Formula One car again after more than two years, and I particularly enjoy that I can test with Team McLaren Mercedes. I gained a lot of experience and enjoyed driving very much. For me, cornering speeds and braking were most impressive. However, the difference between the DTM and the Formula One car is not as big as it was between the Formula 3 and the Formula One car three years ago. Co-operating with the technicians I benefited a lot from my experience in the DTM. I'm already looking forward to continue testing tomorrow."

Alex Wurz "It was great to be back in action today at the Circuit de Catalunya, however my running was limited because of the small issues with the car, which have now been resolved. I am looking forward to be back behind the wheel tomorrow to really experience the Mercedes-Benz V8 and being able to put in more laps." McLaren Mercedes

Team HLM joins Grand-Am series Team HLM joins Grand-Am seriesThe newly formed Team HLM has announced today that it will be competing in the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series GT division. American Frank Howard and Australian Peter Law have carefully combined their more than 30 years of motorsports experience and professional experience gained from working in the top business executive and entrepreneurial environments to create a synergy of resources that they are confident will yield impressive results both on and off of the racetrack. Team HLM will lead the Infiniti G35 GT Coupe two-car program that brings together Crawford Race Cars for chassis development and Menards Engineering International, which will focus on developing the 4.5 L Infiniti V-8 engine package. Team HLM aims at creating a fresh business-to-business approach as a partner to world-class racing action in an organization that can deliver top results in both areas.

“After months of discussions we agreed in principal that the Grand American world could support a race team using contemporary business principals,” explained Frank Howard.  “As such we created a company, Howard & Law Motorsports, to manage a race team, ‘Team HLM’.  We studied suppliers and marketing opportunities and settled on Infiniti, Crawford Race Cars, and MEI as our business partners. The support from Infiniti has been fantastic along with our strong working relationships with Max Crawford and Chris Sumner (MEI).”

“This relationship is everything I thought it would be,” added Peter Law.  “We have made the right decisions and we’re meeting all of our goals.  From the financial side, our business partners are lining up perfectly for us both from a timing and volume standpoint.  From the personnel side, we are working carefully to develop Team HLM into an organization that not only has a clear and defined focus, but that can also execute with precision and perfection.”

Team HLM is based in Dayton, Ohio and has additional commercial offices in Phoenix, Arizona. Veteran racing professional Geoff Carter, who brings more than a decade of diverse motorsports experience to the outfit, is leading the final operational preparations as the team readies for its official launch during the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona January 26-29, 2006 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida at which time the full team and driver line-up will be announced. Team HLM will then finish a testing schedule to make its competition debut March 25 at the Grand Prix of Miami at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

New personnel for Ganassi Cup teams New personnel for Ganassi Cup teamsSince Ganassi Racing announced it would expand to four teams, it has been adding personnel--including former Roush car chief Jeff Vandermoss to become crew chief for David Stremme in the #40 Dodge. Now with just three teams, that leaves current [#40] crew chief Steve Boyer as the odd man out. But with his talent, he could end up as the lead engineer for Ganassi's Cup programs. Sporting News
More changes at DEI More changes at DEIDale Earnhardt Inc. is expanding and reorganizing its current campus to 160,000 square feet. DEI will house the #8 team with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Tony Eury Jr. in the same building with rookie Martin Truex and crew chief Kevin Manion. The #15 Cup team will be combined with the Busch program and used for research and development with Paul Menard driving. Earnhardt and Truex will split Busch Daytona driving duties, Earnhardt driving the season opener, Truex the July race. Sporting News
Earnhardt and Schrader buy a race track Earnhardt and Schrader buy a race trackDale Earnhardt, Jr., and Ken Schrader along with well known Midwestern promoter Bob Sargent are now the proud owners of Paducah International Raceway. The trio recently finalized their purchase of the popular McCracken County, KY, venue that boasts a 3/8-mile high-banked clay oval, 1/5-mile race track and a Motocross/TT run with grandstands that accommodate 5,000 spectators. In addition to PIR, Schrader is the co-owner of another dirt track - I-55 Raceway in Pevely, MO. Located off of I-24 in Paducah, the track hosts the most popular touring sanctions from the AMA motorcycles to various 700+ horsepower super late model series. Paducah International Raceway will also host prominent special events including the Tri-Track Challenge, U.M.P. Summernationals and the track's annual banner event - "The Wayne Coakley/Bob Memmer Memorial 'World 50'". Racing action will take place at PIR every Friday night during a seven-month season from March through September and will feature U.M.P. Super Late Models, U.M.P. Modifieds, Crate Late Models and Pure Street Stocks. Additional divisions including quads, 4-cylinder hornets and mini-sprints will also compete on a limited schedule. Paducah International Raceway site
Wheldon, Honda confirmed for Ganassi Racing Wheldon, Honda confirmed for Ganassi RacingTarget Chip Ganassi Racing unveiled a long list of exciting changes to their IndyCar program today, introducing a new driver and a new engine and chassis manufacturer package for the 2006 IndyCar Series season.

Team owner Chip Ganassi formally announced on Monday that the team will return to IndyCar Series competition in 2006 with two Indy Racing League Champions. The 2003 IndyCar title winner Scott Dixon, who has five wins and five pole positions on his resume, will be back at the helm of the No.9 Target car for a fourth season. In addition, the Target team will entrust the No.10 Target car to newly-crowned Series Champion Dan Wheldon, a four-year veteran in the Indy Racing League with nine wins and two pole positions, a proven race winner…. and then some.

“Obviously, we’re happy to have Dan Wheldon joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing for the foreseeable future,” said team owner Ganassi. “We couldn’t be happier with what Dan brings to the team, not only in terms of his ability, but his tendency to run at the front of a very difficult and competitive series. He is a proven champion, and his teaming up with another champion in Scott Dixon is a perfect fit for our IndyCar driver lineup. We think the addition of Dan ensures Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s position as a formidable competitor in the IndyCar Series moving forward.”

In just three full IndyCar Series seasons, the young British driver went from being an unproven rookie to an Indianapolis 500 winner and Series Champion. Wheldon captured the 2005 IRL Driver's Championship with a record-setting six wins in 17 races, and won the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 in only his third attempt. This past season he posted 12 top-five finishes and 15 top-10 finishes, and clinched the 2005 IRL Driver's Championship with one practice lap at Watkins Glen. zzzz

“Throughout my career, I’ve always looked favorably on Chip’s team and the things they’ve been able to accomplish in motor racing,” said Wheldon. “I’m obviously very excited about joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing, and having the opportunity to team up with another IndyCar Champion in Scott Dixon. Looking forward to 2006, a few of my goals include sustaining the momentum I have coming off last season, and returning the Target team to where they’re accustomed to running– up front.” 

Wheldon's ascension in the IRL over the past three seasons has been nothing less than astounding, as he recorded nine wins in a 29-race stretch– the best streak in the history of the league.  In fact, those nine wins have come in only 49 career starts, and he is already tied for second all-time in career IRL wins with Scott Sharp.  He also ranks in the IRL's top-10 for most top-five finishes (5th), races led (5th), most top-10 finishes (6th), laps led (6th) and career earnings (9th).

Target Chip Ganassi Racing is also excited to announce that they have rekindled a relationship that resulted in 30 wins and 24 poles, a record four consecutive Championship titles for the team and three manufacturer titles from 1996 to 1999 in the Champ Car World Series. Honda Performance Development will once again join forces with the Target Team by supplying Honda Indy V-8 engines for the 2006 Indy Series season and beyond.

“We’re delighted to renew our association with the Ganassi organization,” said Robert Clarke, president of Honda Performance Development. “We had a very successful relationship with the Target Team in CART, and look forward to renewing our partnership in the IndyCar Series.  Honda is pledged to the long-term success and growth of the Indy Racing League. Our renewed partnership with Target Chip Ganassi Racing will help us achieve these goals.”

In their continuing quest for excellence, the Target Team will also entrust Dallara with the construction of their chassis for the upcoming season. Dallara Automobili has designed and built chassis for teams in the IRL since 1997– winning constructors championships from 1998-2005 in addition to the prestigious Indianapolis 500 in 1998-99, 2001-2002, 2004-2005.

“The Target team and Chip Ganassi have always tried to give us the tools, effort and support to get our jobs as drivers done on the track, and with all the announcements today, it shows everyone how committed we are to winning,” said Scott Dixon. “Dan Wheldon is a good addition to the team and I look forward to working with him. His knowledge of both the Honda engine and Dallara chassis package will also be a good contribution. There certainly is a lot to look forward to this season.”

Target Team Managing Director Mike Hull is anticipating a very competitive season and is seeking a strong balance and increased consistency for the team with all of the changes.

“We truly believe that the combination of these two talented championship drivers, along with the addition of Honda and Dallara gives us a very competitive package for 2006 and beyond," said Hull. “We’re always looking to the future with the goal of improving the performance of the team and winning the BIG races. What Wheldon and the Andretti Green Team have done together is remarkable. The experience of winning the Indianapolis 500 and the Series Championships is something both he and the Target team share, and we look forward to continuing that success together once again.”

The Target duo of Dixon and Wheldon will start the 2006 IndyCar Series season in Homestead- Miami, Fla., March 26th on ABC Sports. TCGR

Barrichello to race with No. 11 Barrichello to race with No. 11Brazilian Rubens Barrichello will race with his lucky number 11 at the Honda Formula One team next year after team mate Jenson Button gave up his claim to it.  "I have no particular affinity with any number -- other than one of course, which I hope to race with enormous pride when I achieve my goal of winning the world championship," Button told the Honda team website.

"In the meantime I know how special the number 11 has been to Rubens in his past career and I thought it would be nice to make the gesture.

"We'll have plenty to be competing for on track next season. We're good friends already and we're both looking forward to being team mates. I just hope number 11 isn't too lucky for Rubens next year."

Williams goes dark blue Williams goes dark blueWilliamsF1 today released details of an interim winter livery that the team will carry over the December and January tests ahead of the launch of a wholesale change of the team’s identity on January 27, 2006.

Fashioned on a base palette of midnight blue with white detailing, the FW27C will carry the white flying chevrons and white nose flash that graced Frank Williams Racing cars in the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s prior to the formation of Williams Grand Prix Engineering in 1977.

The livery came to prominence in 1969 on Piers Courage’s Brabham BT26. This livery re-connects Williams with its lengthy pedigree which extends over three decades. The team will run in these colors until the team’s new identity and livery is revealed on Friday January 27, 2006 when the FW28 is launched at the team headquarters.

The team takes to the track in Barcelona tomorrow for an all-important debut run with new Cosworth V8 technology to meet the 2006 technical regulations. In addition to marking the first on-track activity with the team’s new engine partner, tomorrow’s test will also mark first time in five seasons that the team has taken to the track on Bridgestone tires.

The team also confirmed that recently-crowned World Touring Car Champion, Andy Priaulx, would be joining the team to assist with the first winter test in Barcelona at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain. Priaulx will assist regular drivers Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg, pending the nomination of a full-time test driver for the 2006 season. WilliamsF1

Monday test times from Barcelona Monday test times from BarcelonaMcLaren and the new BMW-Sauber team officially kicked off Formula 1’s winter testing season at the Barcelona circuit in Spain today.  BMW utilized the services of its only confirmed driver for the 2006 season, German Nick Heidfeld. McLaren put two cars on the track, with 2005 DTM champion Gary Paffett and regular tester Alex Wurz driving this year’s MP4-20 chassis fitted with Mercedes-Benz’s ‘06-spec V8 engines.
1 . G. Paffett - McLaren Mercedes - 1:20.586 (+ 0.000 ) - 57 laps
2 . A. Wurz - McLaren Mercedes - 1:20.665 (+ 0.079 ) - 10 laps
3 . N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber - 1:21.356 (+ 0.770 ) - 30 laps.
Junqueira's first test since injury announced Junqueira's first test since injury announcedHard to believe, but there's less than 30 shopping days left 'til Christmas. But in some circles, the number's even less.

In Bruno Junqueira's case, Christmas is scheduled to arrive on December 12-14. That's when he's scheduled to drive a Champ Car for the first time in more than six months.

In fact, December 12th will be the 204th day since Junqueira last drove a Champ Car for Newman/Haas Racing. If memory serves, he did OK that day, the day he won the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix and moved into first place in the 2005 Champ Car World Series standings. But a week later, he left the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on a stretcher as the result of a crash while lapping A.J. Foyt, IV during the 89th running of the Indy 500.

His back broken (technically he suffered a "fracture dislocation") and a bone in his right foot cracked, Junqueira was done for the '05 season. Not that he admitted it to himself at the time.  zzzz

"After the accident the first thing I focused on was to get better, to have a normal life," he says. "And always the second step, the goal was to be back in the car."

Indeed, following surgery to repair his back (noted orthopedic surgeon Dr, Terry Trammell inserted ten pins and two rods) Junqueira's original goal was to be back in the car before the end of the season. But wiser heads -- and Bruno's doctors -- prevailed. Instead of the end of the season, he'll settle for the end of the year. Thanks to the fact that he was already in superb physical shape at the time of his crash . . . and that he worked tirelessly to get back into shape while recovering.

"Two days after the surgery I was walking already," he says. "I did a lot of physical therapy for three and a half months; every day. And after that I started to do it by myself without the physical therapist . . . every day, and I'm still doing a lot of specific exercises for the injury. Right now I'll have to keep doing it for a long, long time, but I have to say for the last two months I've been able to work out almost as normal as I did.

"Early on I was for the first month just doing swimming pool exercises; then I went out of the swimming pool and started to do more, then after I started to be able to bend and touch my toes, slowly I started to build up and do most other things. And getting better, more natural. So right now I'm just trying to improve my level of fitness.

"I was very fit before, able to do the races very easy . . . no not very easy: less hard than most of the drivers. I know that I'm not 100% fitness level where I should be, but I'm almost there and better than most. I have a normal life right now. I can do everything and I can drive the car."

Junqueira was in Chicago last week visiting the Newman/Haas and having a new seat made, one which he intends to give a full work-out at Sebring in mid-December. The team has scheduled three days for the test -- December 12, 13 and 14 with one of the days "reserved" as it were for inclement weather. On the other hand, given the fact that Junqueira hasn't driven a race car since the afternoon of May 29 the middle day of the three may well be used for some mid-test "R&R."

"We've had some discussions with Dr. Trammell and the first thing we had to do was make a new seat for Bruno," says Brian Lisles, Newman/Haas general manager. "His experience is that Bruno will fit differently in the car.

"And, of course, regardless of how much fitness training you do you cannot train for driving the car. It's a two day test, although we've booked the track for three days. Part of that is in case we have a weather problem. But if we have no weather problem, we expect to run Bruno on Monday (December 12) and I suspect most of the morning will be spent getting him comfortable. Then Monday afternoon he'll, hopefully, build up his speed. We would anticipate the very most that he would do would be about 150 miles. And because Sebring is actually pretty hard work as a track, he'll be pretty fatigued by Monday evening.

"Then the plan is to give him a day off, mentally and physically, and then on Wednesday allow him to get up to speed consistently and then do a couple of long runs just as a training situation."

Oddly enough, Junqueira doesn't quite see it that way. While he fully expects to take some time to get back up to speed, he doesn't anticipate that time lasting more than a half day. At most.

"I'm going to drive normal," says Junqueira. "I'm going to approach it as a regular test. Maybe on the first day we aren't going to do much testing on the car; it's going to be more for myself to adapt to some of the things that have been developed this year after my accident. Then the second day will maybe be more testing; trying to begin preparations for next year, for Long Beach."  More at ChampCar.ws

Formula BMW
Piscopo to Bahrain with Eurointernational support Piscopo to Bahrain with Eurointernational supportThe snow and cold have not prevented Edoardo Piscopo and Eurointernational from completing testing in preparation of the Bahrain FBMW World Final.  During last  week  at the Autodromo of Franciacorta, near Milan, Piscopo completed the final shake down of his FBMW with the new Red Bull livery : “ The car is brand new and real beautiful with the Red Bull colors “ said Piscopo” Eurointernational did a fantastic job in preparing the car and now I am real looking for the World Final in Bahrain.”

Edoardo Piscopo, who will compete in 2006 in the Eurocup and Italian Formula Renault 2000 Championships for the Red Bull Junior Team, will debut in Bahrain FBMW World Final with the new  Red Bull livery after have competed with Eurointernational in the 2005 FBMW USA Championship, where he finished fifth missing the first two races and winning in the last three events of the season.

“ Bahrain will be last race of Edoardo in FBMW with our Team” said Eurointernational’s owner Antonio Ferrari” We will take to Bahrain our engineer and technicians from the World Series Team together with Corrado Cardinal responsible for the FBMW program in USA to provide to Piscopo the best effort possible in this very important event.“

McIntosh heading to France for GP2 Test McIntosh heading to France for GP2 TestSean McIntosh concluded his Formula Renault UK Championship commitments on Saturday night, 26th November, as he collected the Vice-Champion’s trophy at the 2005 British Touring Car Championship awards banquet at Coventry’s Hilton Hotel.

The 20-year-old Vancouver-native, currently leading A1 Team Canada’s charge in the inaugural A1 Grand Prix of Nations, received his trophy as the support-category honors were handed out, the young Canadian bolstering his haul of silverware which already included five first place trophies as well as three additional Formula Renault UK Championship podium prizes.

Having celebrated his 2005 regular-season achievements at the weekend, Sean’s focus turns this week to 2006 and the opportunity to test a GP2 Series racecar on Thursday, 1st December at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France. zzzz

McIntosh’s first taste of the 580bhp GP2 Dallara-Renault comes courtesy of David Price Racing, the British-based team collecting victories at Silverstone and Hockenheim with France’s Olivier Pla as the GP2 Series replaced International Formula 3000 at the start of the year as Formula One’s official feeder series.

Looking back on 2005 and ahead to this week’s GP2 test Sean said:

“I was thrilled to collect my trophy on Saturday night and to share in what’s been another fantastic year of racing in the Formula Renault UK Championship.  I have learned so much in this series and I am proud to have been competing for Team Firstair.  Everyone worked really hard to support me all year.  I’d especially like to thank all of the Formula Renault staff members, my engineer Chris Gorne, mechanic Andy Parker and team manager Russell Smith.  Most of all I can’t thank Team Owner Ian Barnwell enough for all he’s done to support and help further my career these past two years.

“I’m really looking forward to sampling the GP2 car at Paul Ricard on Thursday.  I’ve followed the series closely and its association with Formula One has already benefited several drivers. David Price Racing has a winning pedigree and I’m grateful for the opportunity to test with the team in France.”

Following this week’s GP2 test Sean returns to race action for A1 Team Canada in the sixth round of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, hosted at the Dubai Autodrome in the UAE, 9th-11th December.

MF1 Racing teams with MAN Trucks MF1 Racing teams with MAN TrucksMidland's F1 Team - is happy to announce its partnership with MAN Trucks for the 2006-2007 season. MAN Trucks, who already sponsor MF1 Racing driver Christijan Albers, have decided to support the team. It will supply the Silverstone based team with 10 brand new trucks. They will be delivered in the new colors at the beginning of 2006.

Colin Kolles, Managing Director of MF1 Racing said: "Everything is starting to go in the right direction. We try to build a strong future in F1 and this only works with the right partners. We are happy that MAN will supply the trucks to the team and that they continue to support our driver Christijan Albers. MAN is one of the leading truck brands in the world and they suit our ambitions."

Zonta prefers to test than race Zonta prefers to test than race''I would rather continue to offer my services to Toyota than become race driver in another series which I may not enjoy as much as formula one,'' Ricardo Zonta, 29, said in a statement. Zonta had eyed Champ Car on a number of occasions, but he gets paid to be a test driver rather than having to pay his own way in Champ Car or other series. Since he's getting paid to test it makes sense he would like it more. The issue for Champ Car is the fact that far too many of its drivers must bring money because the teams can't land sponsors themselves. When they announce their TV package for 2007, things will be a bit better on that front. It's hard to sell sponsorship with SPEED Channel's miniscule TV ratings in your portfolio.

While Olivier Panis will also remain in the test line-up, Brazil's Zonta is the 'third' and reserve driver, even if he is no longer eligible to run a Friday car.

Toyota reveal '06 car Toyota reveal '06 carToyota surprised the F1 world on Monday morning by becoming the first team to reveal its 2006 car, the TF106, at Circuit de Catalunya. (See expanded report)

As the first major test of the winter period kicked off at the Spanish circuit, the Cologne based team said it would debut the car on Tuesday.

The car features a brand-new rear end with, basically, the monocoque and front-end - including the front suspension - of the recently raced 'b' 2005 car.

TF106's early start means that a brand new aerodynamic package will be launched for the Bahrain opener.

''This strategy helped us to be extremely competitive at the start of 2005,'' said technical director Mike Gascoyne, ''and we are confident the same will happen in 2006.''

Both Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher, as well as Ricardo Zonta, will be in the driving seat at the debut.

Meanwhile, at Barcelona's circuit in Montmelo, the first men on track were Gary Paffett, Alex Wurz (both McLaren) and - after a long layoff - Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber).

Although renamed, the 'BMW Sauber' squad emerged for its first winter test with the regular Sauber paint job.

Champ Car delivers record setting exposure Champ Car delivers record setting exposureMajor improvements made in the Champ Car World Series television package in 2005 paid big dividends for its sponsors and corporate partners, setting new series records, according to the recently-released year-end Joyce Julius Sponsor Report.

Renewed relationships with network partners NBC and CBS Sports, and a switch to cable motorsports giant SPEED Channel, yielded vast increases in exposure time, sponsor mentions and exposure value across the board.

Overall exposure value for series sponsors totaled $98,241,635 in 2005, a number that was more than eight million dollars higher than 2003 figures despite the fact that the 2003 season featured 22 telecasts as opposed to this season’s 13. The sponsor value number is based on exposure time multiplied by an estimated cost per 30-second commercial rate – a value that changes from season to season. This season’s values are weighed against 2003 in order to provide a more legitimate comparison as the television package for 2004 consisted entirely of cable broadcasts, and yielded decreased sponsor values.

Further and more comparable gains were made in sponsor mentions and in-focus exposure time in 2005. Sponsor mentions were up 15 percent in 2005, with an average of 220 mentions per broadcast, the highest average per broadcast in series history. Sponsors and their products received more than 64 hours of exposure time in 2005, with an average of nearly five hours per event – another series record according to Joyce Julius data. zzzz

“When we began work on the 2005 season, more primary focus was on improving our television package, because improvements made in television impacts every facet of the series,” said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. “These numbers demonstrate to our sponsors that Champ Car is working diligently to provide the highest possible value and return on investment for their sponsorship dollars.”

Presenting sponsor Bridgestone received the greatest exposure in 2005 in terms of exposure time through company mentions, use of its logo, as well as mentions for the Bridgestone Potenza tire – the exclusive tire of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Presenting sponsor Ford Motor Company was second on the list with more than 55 minutes of exposure time in every Champ Car broadcast.

Newman/Haas Racing sponsor and Champ Car partner McDonald’s earned the most exposure time among team sponsors, earning more than $3.5 million in commercial value in 2005 – usually through the Golden Arches emblazoned on the car of series champion Sebastien Bourdais. Forsythe Championship Racing sponsor Indeck and NHR and series partner PacifiCare were next on the list followed by Centrix Financial and CDW. Gulfstream, Intel Corporation, Bell Micro, Aussie Vineyards and Puma all earned more than $1 million in exposure value via their Champ Car team sponsorships.

Canadian race sponsors Molson were third-highest among corporate partners in terms of estimated exposure value with Roshfrans, Toyota and Bosch each earning over $1 million in exposure value.

The Joyce Julius reports also show significant value for those companies that chose to partner with Champ Car by way of single-race sponsorships. Toyota, Centrix Financial, Molson, Tecate, Telmex and U.S. Bank each earned value of over $500,000 based on their participation as race sponsors. Champ Car

Formula Nippon
Lotterer wins Formula Nippon finale Lotterer wins Formula Nippon finaleAndre Lotterer has won the final round of the 2006 Formula Nippon championship in Suzuka, Japan.  If you recall Lotterer drove a sensational race for Dale Coyne Racing in his one and only Champ Car start in Mexico City three years ago.  Lack of money prevented him from landing a full-time ride in either F1 or Champ Car and that is a real shame because there is no doubt this guy is a better driver than most.
Red Bull design team look forward Red Bull design team look forwardRed Bull Racing and its rivals get back to testing at the Barcelona circuit this week. The Red Bull colors are by now a familiar site on the Spanish track and all the other circuits on the Formula 1 calendar and that’s is a very different situation to the one the team found itself in just over a year ago.

“It was a difficult period full of uncertainty,” recalls head of aerodynamics, Ben Agathangelou. “We didn’t know if we had jobs nor who was going to buy us. As a group in the aero department we felt we could either give up and go home, or we could play around with the car and see what we could learn, because if the team did get bought and we went racing, we would be pretty disappointed if the car was a turd.”

A year on and the picture is much rosier and that has a lot to do with staff loyalty, as only one member of Agathangelou’s fifty strong team chose to quit. Their reward is that they get a second wind-tunnel to play with, alongside the existing facility in Bicester. zzzz

“The new wind tunnel is commissioned but it is not ready for use yet,” explained Agathangelou. "In fact, the most important thing for me is we are not using it! The answer is to use it when it’s ready and not before. We are taking our time to understand it and you also need to gear up the department to run a second wind tunnel, so we have expanded the department. The Bicester wind tunnel is still the focal point for designing the 2006 car, while the new one in Bedford will be used for RB2 development later in the year.”

“I arrived (after a very brief spell with Jordan) just after the first race so the RB1 existed and the first thing to do was to look at the basic car and areas where we could move it forward,” he explained. “Red Bull Racing started the season in a very strong fashion, but we were realistic enough to know that there were one or two teams that were not in their normal positions in terms of pecking order. Hats off to everyone here for being able to take advantage of that. If you look at our pace compared to BAR at the last race we were quite strong. So we have developed, but more importantly we have developed a structure within the organization that will allow us to go further next year and beyond."

Smith is an experienced player on the F1 field, but just as it was for Agathangelou, the Red Bull approach was something totally new. “Red Bull’s approach doesn’t have an influence on my day to day job but it is nice to be part of the team that people focus on,” he says. “You always feel good if you are associated with a team that is the focus of a lot of people’s attention. I think it does rub off on people and we are proud to be part of it. It is a fresh approach that gets people thinking. Red Bull is an incredibly successful organization with very clear objectives and we in the racing team should do the same.” Source Red Bull Racing

Zonta and Panis re-sign with Toyota Zonta and Panis re-sign with ToyotaBrazilian Ricardo Zonta will remain at Toyota as the team's third and reserve driver, it was confirmed on Monday in a Toyota announcement about their 2006 car.  Zonta, who joined the Japanese squad at the start of 2004, has signed a one-year extension of his contract.

"I am very pleased to have signed again with Panasonic Toyota Racing for the coming season," said Zonta. "We enjoyed such a successful year in 2005 and I am sure this trend will continue.  I feel part of the family at Toyota and I would rather continue to offer them my services as third driver than become race driver in another series which I may not enjoy as much as Formula One.   I feel that I have contributed significantly to Toyota's success and I look forward to extensive testing of the TF106 to help propel us into the top flight of Formula One."

Frenchman Olivier Panis will also continue in his test drive role in 2006.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
F1 engines to reignite
FIA must green-light F1 sale
Flavio pans 'lucky' Rossi
Richard Burns
'Pay driver' era nears end
Midland to upgrade tunnel
Ferrari 'ready' for fightback
Wheldon says 'no' to F1
'GPMA' issue final deadline
Toro Rosso in Michelin switch
Renault's 'courage' - Flav
McLaren bag award
Albers backs Friesacher
Gallaher sticks with Midland
Racing News
Best photos of 2005 Best photos of 2005From now until the end of the year our Photos of the Week section on our Home Page will feature the most memorable photos from 2005.  They will be refreshed with new ones once per week.
EJ says 'pay drivers' are not bad EJ says 'pay drivers' are not badEddie Jordan has defended the role of ‘pay drivers’ in Formula 1, saying they offer a lifeline to cash-strapped private teams while also introducing the sport to new markets. In his regular column in F1 Racing, Jordan said, “Just as worrying is seeing three private teams go this season. Our current stars got breaks in those teams: Michael Schumacher at Jordan, Fernando Alonso at Minardi, Kimi Raikkonen at Sauber. Who now will give young drivers of the future their first chance?”

“I’ve never understood why people think a driver bringing money is a bad thing,” Jordan said. “I don’t deny commercial reasons play a part in driver choice, but the experience they gain in return is invaluable. The introduction of the super-license ought to mean that the old term ‘pay driver’ is no longer a slur. However talented a driver may be, today’s reality is that teams need finance. Michael Schumacher paid to drive a Jordan, and would I, or others, have taken him without financial help? Not impossible, but I doubt it.”

“All the drivers and money once came from France and Italy, and later Germany,” Jordan said. Now the field is changing and we have races and a wealth of support from new regions. But what about the drivers those millions of fans want to cheer on? I hold Narain and Taku in high regard because as well as bringing talent and rock’n’roll, they open business opportunities. Yet, as I write, it’s not certain that we’ll see either of them in F1 again. And anyone who believes the sport can exist without a global commercial influence is deluded.”

MF1 Racing to upgrade their Wind Tunnel MF1 Racing to upgrade their Wind TunnelMF1 Racing (Midland) is commissioning a multi-million pound upgrade of its wind tunnel.  Autosport magazine reports that the Alex Shnaider-owned team will revamp the existing 40 percent scale tunnel in Brackley to take 50 percent models.

The work, which is scheduled to take place next spring, will also increase the duty cycle of the wind tunnel, allowing it to be used around the clock rather than the existing 18 hours per day.     Midland’s sporting director Adrian Burgess said: “This is a big boost for the team.”

Fry: F1 must move with the times Fry: F1 must move with the timesSpeaking at the Global Motorsports Congress in Frankfurt, BAR-Honda’s Chief Executive Officer Nick Fry gave his view on the future of Formula One.

“Clearly, we have to respect safety,” said Fry to Reuters. “It's very difficult to understand sitting outside just how brutal the cars are. On the other hand, the important point is the application of technology. Companies like Michelin, Honda, BMW, Mercedes are in this for development of technology.”

"If technology was taken away, if it was a much lower tech formula, I think the interest of F1 to Honda, BMW, Mercedes and companies, technological partners and indeed many of the sponsors would be reduced significantly," continued Fry.

 “Maybe Formula One in five years' time or more should have a special formula for hybrid vehicles. If in 10 years' time because of environmental reasons the key thing of interest to road car customers is a hybrid formula I don't see why Formula One shouldn't migrate in that direction.

"It should be a mirror of what is happening in the real world. It shouldn't be an island,” added Fry. “We might have Formula One develop into something with two classes within it. The final migration point might be something completely different. My personal feeling is that it should be something different. It should move with the times."

Fry is not in favor of reducing the cutting-edge technology associated with Formula One. "Formula One must remain at the pinnacle of motor sports. We do have a concern that the front-running GP2 cars could probably be as quick if not quicker than rear-of-the-grid F1 [cars]. We need to make sure F1 is a formula for heroes,” concluded Nick Fry.

Champ Car president makes appearance Champ Car president makes appearanceChamp Car president Steve Johnson was a guest on the SpeedFreaks show 12:30 AM ET Sunday morning in the USA (show was actually taped from the SEMA show in Las Vegas). Johnson talked mostly about the great attendance of Champ Car. He answered a question as to the lack of seats vs. the number of tickets sold. He didn't think that was a problem because people walk around more than they sit during the 3 days festivals. He said people are scattered around the tracks. He said he wants people walking around the tracks, not sitting.

He mentioned the new TV package, but that Champ Car needs a series sponsor. He said some very complimentary things about Kevin Kalkhoven resurrecting the series.

He answered the question about whether Danica could succeed in Champ Car. He thought she could succeed with some more experience. He talked about Katherine's record being superior to Danica's, and said it would be a good storyline to have them race against each other.

He and the panel talked about the Face of Champ Car beauty contest.

Promising Brit tests Atlantic car Promising Brit tests Atlantic car20-year old Brit Tim Bridgman tested a 2005 Champ Car Atlantic car last week. Bridgman, recently completed a rookie year in British Formula 3 and was previously the 2004 Formula BMW champion and the 2003 Formula Ford champion. Bridgman tested with Jensen Motorsport, in one of the teams old 2005 Atlantic cars at the Savannah circuit near Atlanta, Georgia, and covered approximately 300 miles over two days.

"It was a really good couple of days of testing, the team were great," he confirmed. "I'm really happy with the way everything went and it was a great way to be introduced to that kind of racing car."

"It was a much more physical car to drive - it requires a very different driving style to anything I've previously driven and I am pleased with how I was able to respond," he added.

Eric Jensen, team principal of Jensen Motorsport, said, "From the first lap it was apparent that Tim is an extremely talented driver, who has both a good technical knowledge of race cars and a very professional approach," continued Jensen. "He clocked consistently competitive times over the two day test and appears to be one of the best new prospects if he did enter the Atlantic championship in 2006."

The two-time single seater champion, who has been busy training to be at his best for winter testing, says he is switching his focus to 2006. “I missed being in the car, and miss all the testing and racing. Competing in such a tough championship – it was great just to be there,” said the 20-year-old. "I’m very keen to get on with my career and go out and do a good job whatever I do.”

Wimmer expects to run Busch and Cup in '06 Wimmer expects to run Busch and Cup in '06Scott Wimmer, who lost his Nextel Cup ride with Bill Davis Racing [#22] after two seasons, expects to race in both the Busch Series and Nextel Cup next year even though most of the best seats are full. "I used to be at the top of the line, but now I'm behind everybody," conceded Wimmer, whose prospects depend on the decisions of other drivers. "If I've got to take a ride with a team that's not right up there. . . and can just stick it out, maybe one of these guys that's getting into these Cup cars next year won't do so well and I'll have a shot." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Chase Races Record High Ratings Chase Races Record High RatingsNASCAR on NBC & TNT averaged a 4.7 rating and 10 share for its coverage of Nextel Cup racing, its best season-to-date rating for NASCAR since beginning their partnership to broadcast the second half of the NASCAR schedule in 2001, and a 74% increase from the 2.7/8 for the 2000 season, the last season before the current network television deal. NBC & TNT's ratings for the ten races of the "Chase for the Nextel Cup" averaged a 4.7, up 2% from the inaugural "Chase" last year (4.6).

NBC's coverage of the NASCAR Nextel Cup championship finale, the Ford 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway, rated a 5.9/11, the second-highest rating in the history of the event, below only last year's 6.2/13, and drew an estimated 19 million viewers. The rating peaked at a 7.2 between 7-7:30pm/et as Greg Biffle outdueled Mark Martin to take the checkered flag and Tony Stewart clinched the NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship.

The top ten rated markets for the second half of the 2005 season are: 1) Greensboro, NC: 12.4; 2) Greenville, SC: 12.0; 3) Knoxville, TN: 11.4; 4) Charlotte, NC: 11.1; 5) Indianapolis, IN: 9.4; 6) Louisville, KY: 8.4; 7) Atlanta, GA: 8.3; t8) Birmingham, AL: 8.2; t8) Jacksonville, FL: 8.2; 10) Dayton, OH: 8.0. NBC PR

Management change at Team Penske Management change at Team PenskeTim Cindric will leave his position of president of Penske Motorsports to assume overall management responsibility for the umbrella Penske Performance, Inc. Effective immediately, the 37-year-old Cindric will move from Reading, Pa., to Mooresville, N.C., and will have responsibility for teams competing in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series, IRL IndyCar Series and the American Le Mans Series. Cindric, an Indianapolis native, has been president of Penske Racing since 1999, with management responsibility for Marlboro Team Penske, Penske Cars, Ltd., Racing Experience, Inc., Penske Technology Group, and Penske Motorsports, Inc. Under his leadership, Marlboro Team Penske has scored two national championships and 25 victories, including three consecutive Indy 500 wins (2001-2003). Current Penske Racing South president Don Miller will remain in that position, while John Erickson, current general manager of the NASCAR team, will become general manager of Penske Motorsports' ALMS Porsche program. FoxSports
Renault: Purchasing, Logistics and QC Renault: Purchasing, Logistics and QCIn the shadows of the Renault factory lies a department whose role is essential to the facility at Viry. Passion and rigorous attention to detail are the top priorities.

The factory at Viry-Châtillon has one peculiarity. “The factory actually doesn’t make any of the parts that go into making a Formula One race engine,” says Philippe Carrier, head of the department of purchasing, logistics and quality control of the Renault F1 Team.

Delivery to Viry is made through carefully selected suppliers: 100 companies send close to 1.5 million parts to the factory every year! For the production of engines for the Renault F1 Team, the organization must be rigorous at all times. “We must always ensure that the parts are manufactured to the highest quality and exactly to specification, that the pieces arrive on time, and that we maintain the high level of production by constantly looking for potential new suppliers, plus we must always monitor the quality of the parts that we receive,” continues Philippe. “Of the 1.5 million parts that we buy in every year, about 600,000 of them come directly from the design office drawings. The rest, we buy straight off the shelf. They are mostly joints and screws.” zzzz
The purchasing department applies the policies agreed by the quality control department at the Renault F1 Team. Of the 20 or so people who work in the department on a full time basis, 11 are buyers and 9 are logistic and quality control specialists. The planning is very similar to Enstone and, like there, it is of primary importance. The ordered parts must arrive on time and be dispatched between the different areas: development, advanced studies, and race engine assembly. Each of these departments have their own priorities however, and will need to juggle their time.

“It’s not rare for us to be waiting directly by the machines at the manufacturers while they finish the parts,” laughs Philippe Carrier. “Also, we organize special transportation, or call certain quality control specialists at 21:00 because an important part has arrived half an hour early and must be fitted straight away.”

Reaction time is one of the department’s keys to its success. “Before I arrived at the Renault F1 Team, I worked with engine prototypes on Renault road cars,” Philippe continues. “It used similar processes, but in Formula One it is so much faster.”

For the past two years, a strong French dominance in suppliers has not been the reality it once was. “Thanks to Bernard Dudot and Rob White, we have decided to deal with international specialists and our suppliers are now based all over Europe. Certain specific parts are made in America though.”
Each of these suppliers is permanently judged on strict criteria: quality of the parts, respect of our deadlines, and price. There is no room for sentiment or emotion. “We are a purchasing service,” confirms Philippe. “And as such, we have to negotiate the best price.”

The 2005 season was lived with intensity. “The two titles were a just recompense for the work we’ve all done,” concludes the engineer. “For the past four years, we have worked very hard to become the best, and we have done it. Sure we work behind closed doors and we cant always live the results on track, but our satisfaction is just as intense as those who go to the races. We are all very passionate about what we do.” Renault F1 Team

Raikkonen says team won't miss Newey Raikkonen says team won't miss Newey"From having spoken to the team, we don't expect Adrian's departure to have an effect on our future world championship campaigns," said Kimi Raikkonen to the Xinhua press agency. "The team knew how to win races and championships before Adrian joined and Formula One is very much a team effort.”

However, McLaren Mercedes and Raikkonen didn’t win the F1 title this year, even with the presence of Adrian Newey and a superior car.

"It was very frustrating at the time, but you can't look back," added Raikkonen "You can only look forward. Now I am focused on getting back to testing and racing in 2006 and hopefully taking part in another battle for both Championships."

Briatore: Mateschitz is in it for fun Briatore: Mateschitz is in it for funOutspoken Renault team boss Flavio Briatore says that Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz has bought the Red Bull and Minardi F1 teams for fun rather than to become competitive.

"He's a rich man who's decided to enjoy himself," Briatore told Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport.  And what about the addition of Chief Designer Adrian Newey?  "You want to bet he'll win nothing with Red Bull? Thankfully people cock up, otherwise it'd be hard to win!"

Herta eyes championship in '06 Herta eyes championship in '06Bryan Herta told SPEEDTV.com, “I would like to really make a run at the [IndyCar] championship [in 2006]. It will be my third year with the No.7 car; we were a new team in 2004 and that was a learning year of sorts. This season, we got three poles and a win at Michigan, so that was definitely an improvement. I believe we can challenge consistently for victories in ’06.”
Herta disappointed it's just Honda now Herta disappointed it's just Honda nowWith regard to the reports that Honda will probably be the only manufacturer supplying engines in the IRL in 2006, Bryan Herta told SPEEDTV.com “To me it’s a disappointment, because our team and Honda were thriving in the competition against Toyota and Chevy and all the other teams. Of course the individual driver-versus-driver challenge remains, and Penske and Ganassi should be really tough to beat with Honda power. But I think more manufacturer involvement is always better, because they push each other in competition and that pushes the teams, the drivers, everybody forward.”
Herta back with AGR Herta back with AGRBryan Herta told SPEEDTV.com “We’re all renewed for 2006, myself and XM Satellite Radio as the sponsor of the No.7 car. Obviously Dan Wheldon is not coming back, but as far as I know we [Andretti Green Racing] will have four cars for sure.”
Industry News
DHL considers another new Asian hub DHL considers another new Asian hubDHL is considering building a hub for North Asia and will likely finalize plans early next year, executives said.   "We are considering a hub for north Asia right now based on the economic growth, based on trade volume," said Jerry K. Hsu, president of Greater China and Korea for DHL Express.

Locations under consideration for the hub include Nagoya, Japan, Seoul, South Korea, and cities in China's Yangtze River Delta region, Mr. Hsu said.  In addition it is doubling the capacity of its hub in Hong Kong.

Too bad Champ Car doesn't race in Asia, it would help them keep DHL in the series.  Hopefully Ansan will happen in 2006, and Japan in 2007.  As for China, Champ Car is missing the boat big time because China will eventually surpass the USA and become the world's #1 economic power based on GNP.  It's gaining quickly.

Rank Country GDP 
1 World  $ 55,500,000,000,000  2004 est. 
2 United States  $ 11,750,000,000,000  2004 est. 
3 European Union  $ 11,650,000,000,000  2004 est. 
4 China  $ 7,262,000,000,000  2004 est. 
5 Japan  $ 3,745,000,000,000  2004 est. 
6 India  $ 3,319,000,000,000  2004 est. 
7 Germany  $ 2,362,000,000,000  2004 est. 
8 United Kingdom  $ 1,782,000,000,000  2004 est. 
9 France  $ 1,737,000,000,000  2004 est. 
10 Italy  $ 1,609,000,000,000  2004 est. 
11 Brazil  $ 1,492,000,000,000  2004 est. 
12 Russia  $ 1,408,000,000,000  2004 est. 
13 Canada  $ 1,023,000,000,000  2004 est. 
14 Mexico  $ 1,006,000,000,000  2004 est. 
15 Spain  $ 937,600,000,000  2004 est. 
16 Korea, South  $ 925,100,000,000  2004 est. 
17 Indonesia  $ 827,400,000,000  2004 est. 
18 Australia  $ 611,700,000,000  2004 est. 
19 Taiwan  $ 576,200,000,000  2004 est. 
20 Thailand  $ 524,800,000,000  2004 est.

TV News
Zanardi on HBO special Zanardi on HBO specialThe next edition of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel chronicles the 35-year run of ABC's "Monday Night Football," uncovers the tactics of a new generation of sports groupies, celebrates the work of legendary photographer Neil Leifer, and revisits racing star Alex Zanardi's riveting comeback when it returns Tuesday, Nov. 29, on HBO.
McLaren Technology Centre receives award McLaren Technology Centre receives awardThe McLaren Technology Centre has been awarded both the Principle Award as well as the overall ‘Grand Award’ for the Best Landscape at the BALI National Landscape Awards.

The McLaren Technology Center’s landscaping company Willerby’s were awarded the accolades at the ceremony on Friday 18th November.

“An outstanding scheme which reflects the McLaren image of attention to detail,” the Judges commented. “The quality of work is flawless and a credit to all involved. It is a significant project and one that required precision and meticulous attention to detail in design and implementation. The contractor is to be congratulated for the creation of such a fantastic scheme.” McLaren

$3bn deal could boost F1 $3bn deal could boost F1The sale of the formula one business to 'CVC Capital Partners' has been welcomed near universally as good news for the pinnacle of racing.

The $3bn deal, which could eventually see the other two banks also sell to the British buy-out company, was hailed by continuing supremo Bernie Ecclestone, set to pocket at least $300m.

Among CVC's assets, principally run by near-billionaire Michael Smith, is MotoGP -- the thriving two-wheeled equivalent of racing.

But the news could also be relevant to the carmakers' 'breakaway' threat, with team sources already hinting that the commercial future of the sport is now well on the road to stability.  'GPMA' hastily released a statement hopeful of a 'constructive dialogue' with F1's new owner.

A chief CVC figure even referred to the immediate objective to 'enable a successful extension of the current Concorde Agreement'.

But the GPMA group warned: ''(We) will continue the preparations for the New Series.''

The most immediate danger to the deal, though, is FIA and European Union clearance, although neither is considered a major hurdle.

Russian Aston Martin team wins in Bahrain Russian Aston Martin team wins in BahrainAfter three pole positions for the nr 17 Russian Age Racing Aston Martin DBR9, running under the colors of Middle-East Aston Martin, Christophe Bouchut finally put bad luck aside and converted the pole into a win, helped admirably by his new team-mate, Antonio Garcia. The duo put in a faultless performance, taking the lead at the start, pulling away and only briefly dropping back during the pit stops. Despite his limited time in the car, Garcia pulled away from Philipp Peter during his time on the track, and was frequently the fastest man on the track. He was therefore able to hand over to Bouchut with a healthy lead, which the Frenchman held until the end.

"It's a wonderful day for sure," Bouchut said. ". Today I would like to congratulate all my team, all the mechanics, who did a very good job, and also Antonio. Of course, thanks to Aston Martin Middle East, without whom it would have been impossible to be here. And a special thanks for Rob [Schirle, Cirtek's team manager]. This result is unbelievable." Garcia was also delighted with his win, his first in the FIA GT Championship since the 2001 Proximus 24 Hours of Spa, in the N-GT category. "It was nice to back in a GT car. I missed this kind of racing, as they are really good cars and good races. It was a perfect weekend, it couldn't have been better, and I'd like to thank everyone involved." zzzz

"After our sad loss, just eight laps from the end of last week's MotorCity GT500 in Dubai, the Middle East Aston Martin team is naturally delighted to end the FIA GT Championship on a great high note, that sets an exciting platform from which we can look to race next season," said Thomas Kastgen, CEO, Middle East Aston Martin, adding that "the new dynamic duo of Christophe Bouchut and Antonio Garcia meant a winning formula in the Aston Martin DBR9."

Pos Car Class Drivers Car Gap
1 17 GT1 Bouchut/Garcia Aston Martin DBR9
2 16 GT1 Peter/Davies Maserati MC12 GT1 26.209
3 6 GT1 Longin/Kumpen/Hezemans Corvette C5R 1:33.423
4 9 GT1 Bartels/Scheider Maserati MC12 GT1 1 LAP
5 3 GT1 Cioci/Montermini Ferrari 575 Maranello GTC 1 LAP
6 5 GT1 Lechner/Ruberti Saleen S7 R 2 LAPS
7 12 GT1 Zacchia/Narac/Berville Ferrari 550 Maranello 2 LAPS
8 10 GT1 Babini/Biagi Maserati MC12 GT1 3 LAPS
9 66 GT2 Lieb/Rockenfeller Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 3 LAPS
10 18 GT1 Fomenko/Vasiliev Ferrari 550 Maranello 4 LAPS
11 4 GT1 Lacko/Konrad Saleen S7 R 5 LAPS
12 86 GT2 Drudi/Pirri/Pregliasco Ferrari 360 Modena 6 LAPS
13 74 GT2 Rapetti/Moccia Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 6 LAPS
14 97 GT2 Moro/Kaufmann Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 7 LAPS
15 88 GT2 Collard/Sugden Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 7 LAPS
16 2 GT1 Deletraz/Piccini Ferrari 575 Maranello GTC 8 LAPS
17 89 GT2 Waaijenberg/Kutemann Ferrari 360 Modena 9 LAPS
18 57 GT2 Konopka/Rosina Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 9 LAPS
19 105 G2 Kuppens/Leinders/Ickx Vertigo Streiff 9 LAPS
20 69 GT2 Ried/Jaber Al-Khalifa Porsche 996 GT3 RS 10 LAPS
-- 14 GT1 Keen/Halliday Lister Storm GT D.N.F.
-- 56 GT2 Vonka/Casadei Porsche 996 GT3 RS D.N.F.
-- 15 GT1 Bertolini/Wendlinger Maserati MC12 GT1 D.N.F.
-- 90 GT2 Bleekemolen/Crevels Spyker C8 Spyder GT2 R D.N.F.
-- 105 G2 Kuppens/Leinders/Ickx Vertigo Streiff 94.41mph
-- 105 G2 Kuppens/Leinders/Ickx Vertigo Streiff 94.41mph
-- 16 GT1 Peter/Davies Maserati MC12 GT1 103.93mph
-- 16 GT1 Peter/Davies Maserati MC12 GT1 103.93mph
-- 66 GT2 Lieb/Rockenfeller Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 99.37mph
-- 66 GT2 Lieb/Rockenfeller Porsche 996 GT3 RSR 99.37mph

Albers has mixed emotions about rookie season Albers has mixed emotions about rookie seasonDutchman Christijan Albers had mixed fortunes during his debut season in Formula One with the Minardi Formula One team but ended the season assured of a second season in the top tier of Motorsport with Bridgestone.  Albers, 26, finally made it into Formula One when Minardi team chief Paul Stoddart handed him a dream opportunity after spotting him racing competitively in the DTM touring car championship.

His Grand Prix debut in Australia was less than spectacular when he retired with a transmission failure but his fortune improved throughout the season and he finished 19th in the drivers' World Championship with four points. His best finish came in the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis, but the thing that pleased him the most was seeing the gap to rivals Jordan Grand Prix and the rest of the pack close up as the season wore on.

"If you see how Minardi changed then all the little things we achieved moved us a step forward,” the Dutchman said. “You can see we were competing with the Jordans by the end of the year and they were 1.5 seconds a lap faster in terms of their car."

Albers started the season with Austrian Formula 3000 graduate Patrick Friesacher as his team-mate and the pair built up a strong relationship within the team as they raced with a modified version of the 2004 cars before bringing in the 2005 machine later in the season. He attributed much of the car's improvements to the development work done by Friesacher and admits he was a little sorry that his friend was not there at the end of the season to reap the rewards.

"I think Patrick was doing a good job really and I could work very well with him. He gave a lot of feedback into the team and he contributed a lot," said Albers. "He put a lot of hard work into developing the car. It's a shame he didn't have the chance to compete with the car at the end of the year."

The pendulum has swung toward Champ Car The pendulum has swung toward Champ CarThis Monterey Herald article talks about a wager the author had with a Penske Racing PR person back in 2003 who predicted Champ Car's demise and the IRL's ultimate victory in the USA open wheel war.  It underscores how sure Team Penske, and for that matter the entire IRL paddock, was that the IRL would prevail. 

We no longer hear those bold predictions from the IRL paddock.  In fact just the opposite as many are questioning what the future holds as manufacturers, sponsors and teams bail.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday
Guest: Champ Car President Steve Johnson
Topic: 'Could the IRL's Danica Patrick make it in Champ Car?'
12:30 a.m.-1:00 a.m. ET, SPEED
Motorsport Mundial
Update on land speed record attempt by B.A.R.
7:30 a.m.-8:00 a.m. ET, SPEED
SCCA Runoffs
Mid-Ohio  (9/23/05)
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: G Production
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Formula Atlantic

For a complete listing of Sunday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com and Race Fan TV.

Race of Champions
ROC – Nations Cup : the entry list ROC – Nations Cup : the entry listThe highly awaited Race of Champions – Nations Cup, will take place on December 3rd, once again at the Stade de France in Paris. Some of the most famous names in motorsports will meet again for this exciting event.

France : Jean Alesi (DTM) - Sébastien Loeb (WRC)
USA : Jeff Gordon (NASCAR) - Travis Pastrana (X-GAMES)
Great Britain : David Coulthard (F1) Colin McRae (WRC)
Finland : Marcus Grönholm (WRC) - Heikki Kovalainen (GP2)
Brazil : Felipe Massa (F1) Nelson Piquet Jr. (GP2/A1GP)
Scandinavia : Tom Kristensen (Endurance) - Mattias Ekström (S/DTM)
Benelux : Christijan Albers (F1) - François Duval (WRC)
Team Playstation France : Sébastien Bourdais (Champ Car) - Stéphane Peterhansel (Rally-Raid)
Germany : Bernd Schneider (DTM) - Armin Schwarz (WRC)

British IRL driver Dan Wheldon is registered as a "wild card" and will only participate to the "individual" Race of Champions.

CVC acquires controlling interest in Formula One Group CVC acquires controlling interest in Formula One Group
  • CVC acquires controlling interest in Formula One Group
  • Ecclestone will stay as Chief Executive of the Formula One Group

CVC Capital Partners, Bayerische Landesbank and Bambino Holdings are pleased to announce that a new company, Alpha Prema has reached agreement to acquire Bayerische Landesbank's and the S. Ecclestone trust's ("Bambino") interests in Formula One Group. Closing is conditional on EC merger clearance and FIA consent.

The shareholders of Alpha Prema will be CVC Capital Partners ("CVC"), Bambino (through a reinvestment), Mr. Bernie Ecclestone and the Formula One management team. CVC will have a majority stake in Alpha Prema and a controlling interest in the Formula One Group. Bernie Ecclestone will remain as Chief Executive of the Formula One Group and Dr Gerhard Gribkowsky (currently Chairman of SLEC Holdings), Donald Mackenzie (CVC) and a Bambino representative will join the Board of Alpha Prema.

CVC is a leading private equity firm in Europe and Asia, and has experience of investing in motorsport and rights management, through its ownership of Dorna, the company that organizes and manages the commercial rights of the FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix (MotoGP), which was acquired by CVC in 1998. CVC is also a controlling shareholder of the Automobile Association in the UK.

Mr. Ecclestone commented: "We are delighted to have CVC as a shareholder whose long-term strategies and vision will provide the stability for teams, promoters and manufacturers. They are knowledgeable about motor sport and make an ideal partner for Formula One."

Mr. Mackenzie commented: "CVC is committed to a flourishing and successful FIA Formula One World Championship, and will support every effort being made to maintain Formula One at the pinnacle of world motor sports. CVC has given its full support to the current discussions between Formula One, the teams and manufacturers to enable a successful extension of the current Concorde Agreement."

Dr Gerhard Gribkowsky commented: "Bayerische Landesbank is pleased to sell its stake to a reputable investor with a long term view and considerable knowledge and experience in motorsport. With CVC as shareholder and with the continued commitment of Mr. Ecclestone and Bambino, Formula One will have the resources to further develop the business and the sport to its full potential." Press release CVC

World Rally
Brain tumor kills Richard Burns Brain tumor kills Richard BurnsRichard Burns, who won the World Rally Championship in 2001, has died at the age of 34 after a long illness, on the fourth anniversary of his title win. Burns had not competed since he passed out at the wheel of his road car on the way to the Wales Rally GB in 2003. He was diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent surgery in April.

Burns' family paid tribute to him in a statement, saying: "From the outset Richard knew that the odds were heavily against him and yet he fought his illness with bravery and good humor.

"Having undergone both chemotherapy and radiotherapy he was able to leave hospital in summer 2004.

"For a while his health showed signs of improvement but then after six months it once again began to decline.

"Determined not to give up, he opted for surgery earlier this year. This alleviated some of the symptoms of his illness and enabled him to remain active.

"At Castle Combe in August he attended a parade of the rally cars that he drove throughout his career and was touched by the warmth of the reception he received.

"However there was to be no miracle and in recent days he lapsed into a coma.

"The date of a memorial service will be announced shortly."

Standing ovation for Wallace Standing ovation for WallaceUPDATE Contrary to published reports, Ryan Newman, as well as his crew chief, Matt Borland, joined their fellow NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitors in a standing ovation in honor of their Penske Racing South teammate Rusty Wallace during the driver's meeting for last Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "I respect Rusty Wallace as a race car driver," Newman said. "And I put effort forward in recognizing that on Sunday." Penske Racing PR 11/21/05 Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, invited Rusty Wallace to the microphone within the first five minutes of the weekly prerace drivers meeting at Homestead on Sunday. Wallace, who went on to finish 13th on Sunday evening, drew a standing ovation from the drivers in the room. Everyone stood, with the exception of Penske Racing South teammate Ryan Newman, who has been at constant odds with the 1989 Cup champion. "It's been a great ride," Wallace told his fellow drivers. "I can remember when I came in, it was [Cale] Yarborough, [David] Pearson, [Richard] Petty and [Dale] Earnhardt. Now those guys are all gone and you guys are all here. I'm looking forward to life after racing. And if I've roughed anybody up along the way, I'm sorry. I didn't really mean it, unless it paid more." Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Industry news
GM to sell more vehicles abroad GM to sell more vehicles abroadGM chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner was quoted by the Detroit Free Press that he was surprised recently to learn from the automaker's marketing analyst, Paul Ballew, that GM likely will sell 4.5 million vehicles in the US and 4.6 million abroad this year.   "That's a trend that's going to make the company look very different," Wagoner said.
Champ Car Atlantic’s Legge surprises in F1 test Champ Car Atlantic’s Legge surprises in F1 testThree-time Atlantic race-winner Katherine Legge enjoyed a strong showing this week in her first opportunity to drive a Formula One race car. Legge emerged with the second-fastest time among five drivers that tested recently for the Minardi F1 team at Italy’s Vallelunga road circuit, just north of Rome.

After completing an impressive rookie season in the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama that saw her claim three race victories en route to finishing third in the final 2005 standings for Polestar Racing Group, Legge proved that she deserved the opportunity to see what she could do behind the wheel of an F1 machine. With the help of Champ Car World Series and PKV Racing co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven, Legge met with Minardi’s Paul Stoddart at the F1 Belgian Grand Prix in September and he offered the young Atlantic racer the chance to pilot of his cars.

Legge, a 25-year-old native of Northampton, England, made the most of the opportunity, although her first few laps in the high-tech, Cosworth-powered car didn’t go as well as she would’ve hoped. Her first on-tack experience came late in the day in cold conditions on Tuesday, November 22. As she was adapting to the powerful machine and its traction controls, she spun the car on her third lap and brushed the wall. The team then opted to bring the session to a close and start fresh the following day.

Once again running in cold conditions on Wednesday, Legge impressed the team by completing nearly 30 laps as she consistently improved her times throughout the course of the afternoon. She wound up posting a top lap of 1:21.176, which was just under one-tenth-of-a-second off the best mark of the day among all five drivers at the test. zzzz

“Overall, it was a really positive experience,” said Legge, who captured wins in Long Beach, Edmonton and San Jose this season. “There was so much to learn about the car with all of the technology and the big boost in power from the Atlantic car, but I just tried to give it my best shot. This was a tremendous opportunity and I wanted to make the most of it.”

Stoddart, the Minardi team principal, was very impressed with Legge’s performance, believed to be the first official F1 test by a woman driver since 1992.

“Katherine acquitted herself extremely well during the test, not just in the times she set, but in the consistency of those times,” said Stoddart. “She was less than one-tenth-of-a-second off the fastest time of the day, even thought her times were set in the late afternoon when the track was not at its best. I believe Katherine has a future in Formula One or Champ Car."

In addition to the difficult track conditions and trying to learn the nuances of driving the F1 car, Legge said the intense media scrutiny of the test also provided a challenge. The professionalism of the Minardi team, however, helped her overcome those obstacles. “It was like nothing I’ve ever seen for a test,” said Legge of the hundreds of reporters and photographers who were present at the track. “The whole Minardi team was so supportive and informative and I have to give a massive thanks to both Paul Stoddart and Kevin Kalkhoven for helping to make this happen.”

With her first F1 experience under her belt, Legge will now turn her attention to another golden opportunity for an up-and-coming open-wheel racer. She will test in a turbocharged, 750-horsepower Champ Car on December 20 and 21 at Florida’s Sebring International Raceway with Kalkhoven’s PKV Racing team, which served as her sponsor this season in the Atlantic championship.

“I am very pleased with what Katherine has accomplished and with her progress to date in both the Atlantic series and her Formula One test,” said Kalkhoven, who has helped guide the young racer’s career since first meeting her last winter.  “However, I want to see the results from next month’s Champ Car test with (PKV co-owner and driver) Jimmy Vasser before any final decision regarding her future driving status is made."

The Champ Car Atlantic Championship continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. The championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. Champ Car 2005 competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger. In 2006, competitors will fight for the 12-race championship and the unique $2 million Champ Car series champion’s bonus. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.

Breakaway series wants to talk to CVC Breakaway series wants to talk to CVCThe GPMA comprises five dissident car manufacturers – DaimlerChrysler, Renault, BMW, Honda and Toyota – that are planning to leave the FIA-run world championship unless they are granted a larger share of F1’s revenues. The group hinted that it will seek a solution but if necessary will press ahead with its plans for a breakaway series.

“Today’s statement by CVC Capital Partners, BayernLB and Bambino Holdings, confirming that Alpha Prema has reached agreement to acquire BayernLB's and Bambino's interests in Formula One Group, has been received with interest. We look forward to entering into a constructive dialogue with Alpha Prema as we pursue our objective to further develop the sport for the benefit of all stakeholders and in particular the fans. Meanwhile, the GPMA and its operating partner iSe will continue the preparations for the New Series.”
NY City Awards Banquet week schedule NY City Awards Banquet week schedule
Monday, Nov. 28 … Tony Stewart begins his week with two memorable photo shoots, beginning at 11:30am He’ll visit two famous New York City locations, the Top of the Rock observation deck on the 70th floor of Rockefeller Center and the distinctive Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets… Fox News Channel “Dayside” interview at 1:00pm/et.
Tuesday, Nov. 29 … Satellite media tour from 10:15am – 12:15pm/et. … Visit to Staten Island Hospital Pediatric Burn Unit at 1pm/et. … Visit to FDNY Fire Academy at 3pm/et. … Appearance on MRN Radio’s “NASCAR Live” talk show at 7pm/et.
Wednesday, Nov. 30 … NBC Today Show appearance at 8:30am to kick off NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Victory Lap presented by Sprint … Victory Lap departs from NBC Today Show Plaza at 9am The procession will wind across town and arrive at 375 Park Avenue, the site of NASCAR’s New York office.
Thursday, Dec. 1 … New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) opening at 8:45am, attended by the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top-10 drivers, Sprint Nextel Chairman Tim Donahue and NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne … NASCAR Press Conference and luncheon at Cipriani, beginning at 11am … NASCAR Champions’ photo, featuring Stewart and all of the other 2005 NASCAR series champions, 1:30pm/et. at Cipriani … Times Square photo shoot at 3pm/et. … Visit to Ronald McDonald House at 4:30pm/et. … Stewart will also pay a visit to the NASCAR champion’s dinner to honor the regional touring series and NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series champions, at The Waldorf-Astoria hotel at 7:15pm/et.
Friday, Dec. 2 … National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) / Myers Brothers Breakfast presented by Sunoco, in The Waldorf-Astoria hotel at 8:45am … Photo shoot on Park Avenue at 3:45pm/et. … NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony doors open and “Yellow Carpet” festivities begin at 6pm/et. … Champion’s “Red Carpet” arrival at 6:40pm/et. … NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony in The Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom at 7pm/et.
Tune in … NASCAR Radio on XM Satellite Radio will broadcast live from The Waldorf-Astoria, next Monday-Friday at 4pm/et. (ET). Host Claire B. Lang will report on each day’s events and feature exclusive interviews with the Top-10 drivers and other personalities. … MRN Radio will also broadcast live from New York, including an interview with Stewart on Tuesday and live coverage of the awards ceremony on Friday. … SPEED Channel will air a special “NASCAR Takes Manhattan” show live, beginning at 7pm/et. on Friday. Marketing blitz … The awards ceremony is the culmination of the season for NASCAR’s top drivers, as well as an annual gathering for the sport’s marketers and media personalities. Sprint Nextel plans a massive marketing campaign throughout the city, including its interactive NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Pit Stop Tour, show car displays and other fan events. There will be a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series display each day at the NBC Experience Store at Rockefeller Plaza, along with a driver autograph session there Wednesday afternoon. The annual Street & Smith’s Motorsports Marketing Forum will be held Wednesday at the New York Marriott East Side, featuring several NASCAR executives and top drivers in a panel discussion on marketing trends and other industry issues.
France to be honored at March of Dimes luncheon … NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France will attend the 22nd annual Greater New York March of Dimes luncheon at The Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Wednesday, where he’ll be recognized with the organization’s Sports Leadership Award. Other honorees include Barry Frank Sr., Corporate Vice President, IMG and Vice Chairman, TWI, who will receive the Corporate Leadership Award; U.S. Women's Soccer stars Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly and Joy Fawcett, who will be recognized as Sportswomen of the Year; and Willie Randolph, manager of the New York Mets, as Sportsman of the Year.
Fast Facts
What: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony Where: Grand Ballroom, The Waldorf-Astoria hotel New York City. When: 7-10:30pm/et, Friday, Dec. 2.
TV: TNT, 9pm/et/pt
Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Tony Stewart 6,533. 2. Greg Biffle 6,498. 3. Carl Edwards 6,498. 4. Mark Martin 6,428. 5. Jimmie Johnson 6,406. 6. Ryan Newman 6,359. 7. Matt Kenseth 6,352. 8. Rusty Wallace 6,140. 9. Jeremy Mayfield 6,073. 10. Kurt Busch 5,974.
11th-place driver: Jeff Gordon
Raybestos Rookie of the Year: Kyle Busch
Special Guest: Comedian Jay Mohr
Musical Entertainment: Singers Toni Braxton and Gavin DeGraw; Jazz pianist Eric Lewis. NASCAR PR
Toyota boss calls for clear vision Toyota boss calls for clear visionToyota president, John Howett has said that F1 needs its leadership to have a 'clear vision' for the next four to five years.

"I think finishing fourth in the championship and scoring five podiums is a collective high [for us]. Coming into the season we would have been happy to achieve that. The low point is just the politics," he confirmed, when asked about the highs and lows of the season.

"We spent too much time trying to look at the future of Formula 1 instead of really focusing on running Panasonic Toyota Racing. That, to me, is the thing that needs to be fixed for next year.

"If you research it, F1 is still one of the strongest global sports. People are really passionate about it and it's the ultimate combination of man and machine. I think we tend to talk it down too much rather than looking at all the positives.

"All we need is one clear vision for the next four to five years.

"We could perhaps look at NASCAR in the USA and see how they have developed the size of their total audience and support for the sport by, I believe, having an organization leading and developing the whole business in a unified, professional manner. That is, to some extent, what's really lacking at the moment - a clear future vision for the sport over the next five or ten years."

Bridgestone get back to testing Bridgestone get back to testingBridgestone and all its partner teams are back in action this month to begin testing for the 2006 season with the drivers refreshed after much needed post-season breaks and this year's racing already just a memory.

The winter season will see a raft of changes for Bridgestone's teams as they prepare for the re-introduction of mid-race tire changes next year and Ferrari have already gained a head-start by making an early return.

The Italian team were back in action soon after the 2005 season ended in China with tests at Mugello in Italy and Bahrain's Sakhir circuit allowing new Brazilian signing Felipe Massa a chance to settle in to his new surroundings. zzzz

Massa only tested in Italy and was joined by the departing Rubens Barrichello for his final event with the Scuderia at Mugello and by MotoGP star Valentino Rossi, who had his third run-out for the team.

Regular testers Luca Badoer and Marc Gene moved on to Bahrain for warm-weather testing and concentrated not only on tires but also on the development of their new V8 engine.

Bridgestone will forge two new relationships in 2006 as Toyota join the company for the first time and Williams renew their partnership with the Japanese tire manufacturer for the first time since 2000.
Both teams will kick off their relationships with Bridgestone in Barcelona, where Williams will begin their post-season testing schedule with a three-day test. Toyota will run for four days.

MF1 Racing, which has taken over the Jordan Grand Prix entry, will give their new red, white and black livery its debut in Jerez on December 7, when they begin their first test of the post-season.

New signing Christijan Albers will lead driving duties at the test and Italian Thomas Biagi, Belgian Jeffrey van Hooydonk and Markus Winkelhock from Germany all testing as well.

All the Bridgestone teams will be present at the Spanish circuit with Ferrari running a mammoth nine-day test and Williams and Toyota running seven and nine days respectively over the 10 day period.

Meanwhile, the Minardi Formula One team ended their 20-year spell in the sport at Vallelunga with regular test driver Chanoch Nissany, from Israel, conducting four days of testing and five other drivers enjoying their debuts.
Spaniard Roldan Rodriguez and Italian Luca Filippi completed 20 laps each on the first day with Uruguay's Juan Caceres, Davide Rigon of Italy, and Briton Katherine Legge all on track the next.

Filippi was fastest of all drivers on the first two days and said: "The first day was wonderful for me as I was able to realize the dream to drive a Formula One car, a dream I have held since I was very young. It was also a great honor to work with the Minardi team, which is famous for its ability to discover young drivers. The car just seemed to get better as the test went on and I was quite confident with it at the end of the day."

Legge came back from an unfortunate crash, which halted her on the second lap of her first day, to put in an impressive performance on the second day as she completed 27 laps.

"I expected the unexpected and that's what I got. I did the best job I could and, bearing in mind my relative lack of experience, I'm very pleased with the result. I can't wait to get back in an Formula One car again now."

Team Principal Paul Stoddart, who took over the reins in 2001, brought the final test to an emotional close when he turned the last laps of a Minardi Formula One car. Bridgestone

Gary Paffett set to test with McLaren Gary Paffett set to test with McLarenGary Paffett, the winner of this year’s DTM, German Touring Car championship, will test with McLaren Mercedes at the Barcelona and Jerez circuits.

Paffett will drive the MP4-20 in Barcelona on November 28 and December 2 alongside Pedro de la Rosa and Juan Pablo Montoya respectively, and then in Jerez on December 7 and 8 alongside de la Rosa and Alex Wurz.

Paffett won five races in this year’s DTM series, to win the title with 84 points.

Meanwhile readers of F1 Racing magazine have voted Kimi Raikkonen as 'driver of the year' and the Finn also picked up an award for 'drive of the year'. The MP4-20 was voted 'car of the year. 'McLaren Mercedes

A1 Grand Prix
Durban to go ahead with A1GP race Durban to go ahead with A1GP raceFollowing weeks of uncertainty, Motorsport South Africa has agreed to apply for A1 Grand Prix's proposed Durban Street Race, scheduled for 29 January, to be inscribed upon the 2006 FIA International Calendar.

"We held a high-level meeting in Johannesburg on Thursday, with representatives from MSA, A1 Grand Prix Holdings and A1 GP Team SA all present, and they have agreed to all our requirements and to adhere to our (MSA and FIA) procedures," Roger Pearce, President of MSA, told autosport.com in an exclusive interview.

"Two of our people are flying down to Durban on Monday to inspect work already done. It was a close call, but following the meeting, MSA is putting its full weight behind the event, which will be good for South African motorsport."

Piquet Sports deny talks with Carlin Motorsport Piquet Sports deny talks with Carlin MotorsportNelson Piquet Jr competed in the GP2 Series this season, with fellow Brazilian team-mate Alexandre Negrao. The duo finished in eighth and nineteenth places respectively in the inaugural GP2 championship.

Autosport magazine reported this week that Piquet could be on the move to the championship winning ART Grand Prix team joining McLaren protégé Lewis Hamilton and therefore paving the way for Trevor Carlin to get involved in the running and ownership of Piquet Sports.

This is firmly denied by Piquet Sports who made the following statement:

Felipe Vargas, Team Principal

“Piquet Sports has committed to the GP2 Series until the end of 2007 and the team is fully concentrated on getting the best possible results in the 2006 season and beyond."

"I have no idea where these stories [regarding the possible buy out of Piquet Sports by Carlin Motorsport] have come from but they are categorically not true, and contrary to reports, no discussions with Carlin have taken place."

"We are working very hard to improve our performance for next year and are in the process of recruiting additional personnel to strengthen the team. We want to win the championship in 2006 and are making every effort to see that we can realize this ambition.” Piquet Sports

A1 Grand Prix
A1GP TV ratings exceed expectations A1GP TV ratings exceed expectationsA1 Grand Prix continues to make huge strides in attracting worldwide audiences in its inaugural season. After its first five races A1GP is reaching an average audience of more than 8 million viewers per race in more than 120 countries. Significantly, this average audience per race is an increase of 30 per cent on the 6 million who tuned in for the first race at Brands Hatch.

In a major breakthrough in the world's largest television market, the USA, A1GP is in final negotiations with OLN in the USA. OLN is a CATV/SATV delivered sports channel reaching more than 65 million households. It is owned by Comcast, the country's largest operator of CATV. OLN has recently signed a major carriage deal with the NHL, putting A1GP in prime position to benefit from the strong promotion and interest this new arrangement will generate.

In addition to the USA, recent deals have included broadcasting arrangements in the Ukraine, Uruguay and France. A1GP is also in final negotiations with a major sports broadcast outlet in Japan. Given these new agreements and the increased reach they will provide, A1GP is looking to a target of 10 million viewers per race by season's end.

Some broadcast highlights are as follows:

  • CCTV China achieved an audience peak of 3.3 million viewers for the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Eastern Creek, Australia.
  • Indonesia, via Global TV, is delivering nearly 1 million viewers per race with a strong upward trend due to the country's interest in A1 Team Indonesia.
  • Fox Sports Australia increased their viewership by nearly 500 per cent for the Eastern Creek Race from the previous round in Estoril.
  • RTE 2 Eire achieved a 4.2 per cent market share for its initial airing of the A1GP highlights program.
  • RTL 7 in the Netherlands continues to lead the way in Europe, achieving nearly 800,000 viewers per race with an even more impressive market share of 16 per cent.
  • SABC South Africa is also achieving impressive market share with nearly 10 per cent of all viewers tuning into A1GP.
  • In the UK, more than 1.5 million people have tuned in to Sky Sports, to watch at least 10 consecutive minutes of A1GP coverage.
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Stoddart has last Minardi lap
Legge not ready for F1
Webber rep took a hit in '05
Race win a 'big step' - Ralf
Berger foresaw Williams demise
F1 to miss Peter Sauber - JV
Webber won't 'build' own team
Fatal plane crash rocks off-road racing world Fatal plane crash rocks off-road racing worldUPDATE All four bodies have been recovered and identified.  Off-road racer Jason Baldwin was among four people killed last weekend in a plane crash off the California coast, authorities confirmed Wednesday.  Divers recovered the bodies Tuesday, three days after the plane sank in about 200 feet of water off Dana Point. Along with the 35-year-old Baldwin, also identified were pilot Daniel M. Neuman of Foothill Ranch and Baldwin's longtime friends Richard Lee Olauson of Long Beach, and Jeffrey TenEyck of Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Investigators determined all four men died in the crash.   "There was no health reason that caused the pilot to crash," said Jon Fleischman of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. AP Report

11/20/05 A champion desert racer and the son of a once-prominent Newport Beach home builder is presumed dead, along with three other men, after their small plane crashed into deep, chilly waters about three nautical miles west of Dana Point Saturday afternoon, authorities said. The four occupants, whose bodies have not been recovered, were in Mexico for the Baja 1000 off-road race and were flying in clear weather when their Cessna 210 went down at about 2 p.m. for unknown reasons, said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Tony Migliorini.

The plane is registered to a Newport Beach company, TR Builder Corp., according to Federal Aviation Administration records. The owner, Jason’s father James Baldwin, was a former executive of home-building giant Baldwin Co., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1995. James Baldwin was not on the plane, Migliorini said.

Jason and his brother, Josh, are well known competitors in championship off-road racing. James Baldwin, a former desert racer himself, recently purchased an off-road racing series and relocated it to southern California. James Baldwin told the Coast Guard that Jason was aboard the plane, Migliorini said. Orange County Register 

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Art Mann presents the Long Beach Grand Prix
2:30 a.m.-3:00 a.m. ET, HDNet
Mid-Ohio  (9/23/05)
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: GT Lite
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Touring 1
Nurburgring, Germany  (9/4/05)
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET, SPEED
'Race Car Driver'
Episode 13:  Australia
Episode 12:  Las Vegas
7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET (Replay) WGN

For a complete listing of Saturday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com and Race Fan TV.

Stewart on David Letterman show Friday night Stewart on David Letterman show Friday nightUPDATE Reminder this show airs Friday night. 11/22/05 Tony Stewart will be a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman this Friday, November 25, 2005.  The show airs at 11:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
Testing resumes on Monday in Barcelona Testing resumes on Monday in BarcelonaStarting next season the Formula One cars will be powered by 2.4-litre V8 engines, with quite different features than the V10 used in 2005.  The teams will have to respect the minimum weight and the minimum crankshaft height and work hard to reach the same reliability levels they had with the previous engines.

A total of eight teams of the F1 World Championship will start preparing the 2006 season at the Circuit de Catalunya from 28 November to 2 December.

McLaren-Mercedes, BMW-Sauber and Toyota will meet on the track on Monday, 28 November.

The following day, they will be joined by Williams-Cosworth, Red Bull-Ferrari and the Scuderia Toro Rosso-Cosworth. Honda F1 and Renault will start testing on Wednesday 30.

The track will be open from 9.00 in the morning to 5.00 in the afternoon.

The Catalan track is a traditional testing ground for the premier league in motorsport and also the venue for the sixth round of the World Championship, the Gran Premio de España de Formula One, which will be staged on 12, 13 and 14 May 2006.

Testing: November
28: McLaren-Mercedes, BMW-Sauber, Toyota
29: Williams-Cosworth, McLaren,-Mercedes, BMW-Sauber, Red Bull-Ferrari, Toyota, Toro Rosso-Cosworth
30: Honda F-1, Renault F-1, Williams-Cosworth, McLaren-Mercedes, BMW-Sauber, Red Bull-Ferrari, Toyota, Toro Rosso-Cosworth

Testing: December
1: Honda F1, Renault, Williams-Cosworth, Red Bull-Ferrari, Toyota, Toro Rosso-Cosworth
2: Honda F1, Renault, Toyota, Toro Rosso-Cosworth

Spectator access
Spectators wishing to attend the F1 tests can buy their tickets (5 euros/day) at the ticket office no. 2 (gate 2). PA3 parking is free. The ticket allows access to the Main Grandstand as well as Grandstands E, F, J and K (east area - main straight); and Grandstands G, C and H (north area - stadium area). The restaurant and Circuit's shop behind the Main Grandstand will be open.

Philippe tests again, for Brooks Atlantic team Philippe tests again, for Brooks Atlantic teamRichard Philippe, newly crowned as the BMW Champion and brother of Champ Car driver, Nelson Philippe, tested for Brooks Associates recently at Firebird Raceway in Phoenix (right).  With less than favorable conditions (as compared to other tests held by the team at that track), Richard's time in the car confirmed the depth of young talent showing interest in the Atlantic series.

"Richard shows incredible maturity in his driving, well beyond his 15 years.  He approaches each session with keen interest, eager to learn from the previous lap and continue to improve.  And improve he did, his times were easily comparable to other drivers I've run at this track, and he achieved those numbers in a very short period of time." said John Brooks.  "Richard is an emerging talent, no doubt, and will be an asset to the Atlantic series for 2006 and beyond."
"The test went really well! The Atlantic Cars are fast and I came up to speed quickly. I was happy to see that I was faster than guys that have won races in this years' championship. I want to thank the team for making me feel so comfortable and at home during the 2 day test." said Richard
"We've had increased interest in recent weeks from other drivers interested in learning more about Atlantic, the opportunities Champ Car continues to create for their development series and  overall renewed consideration for Atlantic as a viable open wheel choice to further their careers.  Certainly, the new chassis and motor combination affords these drivers a new showcase and starts everyone, rookies and veterans alike, on the same page." said John.  zzzz
The team is negotiating with team sponsors, looking to finalize its drivers shortly and move into their new building early in the first quarter.  "2006 is going to be an exciting year - I'm proud of the organization we have in place, the potential that we can bring a young driver, both on and off track, and the energy as Atlantic moves into its future." said Brooks.
John Brooks of Brooks Associates Racing was named Team Owner of the Year in 2005 by the series and has fielded such notables as Ronnie Bremer (now in Champ Car), Andreas Wirth (who was second in the championship going into Road America before being sidelined by an accident), Al Unser III, Fernando Rees and Daniel Pappas.  In 2006, competitors will fight for the 12-race championship and the unique $2 million Champ Car series champion's bonus. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.

American Mark Miller to tackle Dakar Rally with VW American Mark Miller to tackle Dakar Rally with VWAmerican Mark Miller (right) will hit the sand and gravel of  the African deserts driving one of five Volkswagen Race Touareg 2’s in the 2006 Dakar Rally.  Miller's co-driver is German Dirk von Zitzewitz.  American desert-racing ace Robby Gordon, who was very fast in the last Dakar rally, will not be back in 2006.

The other four cars of the Volkswagen desert armada will be driven by Jutta Kleinschmidt (GER) with Fabrizia Pons (FRA), 2005 World Marathon Rally Champion Bruno Saby (FRA) with Michel Perin (FRA), Giniel de Villiers (ZA) with Tina Thörner (GER) and  World Rally Championship legend Carlos Sainz (ESP) with Andreas Schulz (GER).

(L to R) Bruno Saby and Michel Perini, Carlos Sainz with Andreas Schulz, Fabrizia Pons and Jutta Kleinschmidt

All these drivers have a lot of Dakar experience under their belts.  Kris Nissen, Motorsport Director at Volkswagen, wants one of these combinations to win the 2006 Dakar. zzzz

Volkswagen Motorsport improved the new Race Touareg’s suspension and diesel engine.  Kris Nissen said, "About 80 percent of the car is new!" 

The highly motivated team is well prepared from weeks of testing in the deserts of Morocco and Tunisia. After their third place position in the last Dakar, and after winning  the 2005 Marathon Rally World Cup with Bruno Saby, they definitely want to beat Mitsubishi who have won the past two years.

The Dakar Rally will start December 31st. in Lisbon, Portugal. After 9,500 exhausting kilometers the finish will be, of course, in Dakar, Senegal again on January 15th. 
Guenter Reinhold reporting from Germany

Minardi's last lap Minardi's last lapIn wintry sunshine, the Minardi F1 Team today made its last on-track appearance, Team Principal for the past five years, Paul Stoddart, and official tester, Chanoch Nissany, bringing the final chapter of Minardi's memorable 21-year history in the FIA Formula One World Championship to a conclusion at the Autodromo Vallelunga. In a final gesture, Stoddart took to the Roman circuit late Thursday afternoon, in a lone Minardi Cosworth PS05, in order to salute the small, but enthusiastic, group of dedicated fans and supporters who had gathered to witness the historic occasion. Fittingly, former Minardi drivers, Marc Gené and Gianni Morbidelli, as well as popular Italian singing star, and long-time supporter of the Faenza squad, Max Gazzè, were among those present. As on the previous three days of the test, the Minardi F1x2 cars were also in action on Thursday, with Morbidelli, plus 2005 Minardi F1 Team drivers, Robert Doornbos and Patrick Friesacher, taking a total of 40 VIP guests, nominated primarily by commercial partner, the Muermans Group, for high-speed rides around the 4.11-km track. The team, which passed into the hands of Austrian energy drink manufacturer, Red Bull, at the beginning of November, now begins a new chapter, as Squadra Toro Rosso.

CHANOCH NISSANY "Over the last four days, we have worked sometimes on chassis set-up and sometimes on driving technique. The track temperature was changing dramatically throughout the test, which made the driving very challenging. I am happy with the result, however, and would like to take this opportunity to thank Minardi, and especially Paul Stoddart, for giving me the opportunity to be part of this great team." zzzz

PAUL STODDART "It turned out a more emotional experience than I expected to be the last person to drive a Minardi F1 car. For so many years, Minardi has tried to give so much to so many, and it has been very touching this week to have received so many positive comments. Now the team has moved on to become Squadra Toro Rosso, I wish them every success, although I know I'm not alone in thinking it will always be Minardi in the minds of so many people. On a final note, Minardi is only what it is because of the people within the team, and I have enjoyed the best five years of my life working with some truly professional individuals. Thank you to all of them." Minardi F1

BMW set January launch BMW set January launch'BMW Sauber' will launch its 2006 car on 16 and 17 January, the team said on Thursday.  The fully BMW-owned grand prix contender is to sport its 'new livery' at the presentation in Valencia (Spain), a statement explained.
Formula 3
Kimball Strong in Macau Debut Kimball Strong in Macau DebutCharlie Kimball made a very strong debut in the 52nd Macau Grand Prix, Formula 3’s biggest international race of the year, held November 17-20th, 2005.  Kimball, who was the only American competing in the prestigious event, gained speed and experience every session as he mastered the technical Guia circuit, his first ever street circuit outing.  After the first practice session Kimball's lap time placed him only 19th, but he continued to learn and progress all weekend.  The 20-year-old rookie qualified 12th and worked his way up to 9th during the 10-lap qualification race before continuing to make progress in the feature race.  He was running 8th in the feature race before being taken out by British driver Dan Clarke.  Kimball’s efforts were all the more impressive considering he suffered from a serious cold and fever all weekend.

The first of the two qualifying sessions did not go as planned for the Carlin Motorsport driver.  An engine problem meant that the Kimball managed far fewer laps than most of drivers and was only 17th at the end of the session.   Kimball continued to work on the car and study the data, meaning in the next practice session he put in a top-ten time.  The second qualifying session was interrupted by multiple red flags and then Kimball's qualifying attempt was cut short when the young American pushed just over the limit and ended his session in the wall.  His quick time was good enough to place him 12th on the grid for the qualification race.  zzzz

Kimball spoke about his qualifying afterwards, “I was disappointed not to get a whole session yesterday and so was pushing really hard today to make up lost ground.  I know there is at least another half a second in the car and myself, but a very small mistake around here has very big consequences.”

Kimball proved there was more available in the qualification race, where he progressed from 12th to 9th despite feeling feverish before the race.  He used the technical ‘mountain’ section of the circuit to close on the cars in front of him and then took advantage of the mile-long straight to make passes.  At one point, Kimball used a three car slipstream in front of him to hit a top speed of 170.6mph.  The British Formula 3 Rookie of the Year had a great battle with Danny Watts, an experienced Macau F3 competitor.  They swapped positions 3 times in the last two laps, with the American coming out on top. 

Kimball was pleased with the result, “That was so much fun!!  Even as poorly as I was feeling, I enjoyed the challenging racing immensely.  I am coming to terms with how close you have to run to the walls to be quick here.  It seems there are only millimeters left!”

Kimball’s progress continued in the final race before being brought to a premature end.  The Californian made a good start and was running comfortably in 8th place, completing lap times up to 8 tenths of a second quicker than his qualifying.  Then with 6 laps to go, the driver in front of Kimball, Dan Clarke spun in one of the tighter sections of the track.   With nowhere to go and no time to react, Kimball made contact and then was collected from behind by an innocent Watts.  It was a disappointing end to what was going to be an impressive race result.

Kimball’s disappointment was palpable afterwards, “I was running so well and gaining experience to put to use next year when Dan braked way too late.  He was pushing too hard trying to follow Loic Duval when he lost the car.  I thought he would hit the wall and stay to the outside, but he tried to save it and spun across the track in front of me and I had nowhere to go.  It is a terrible way to end the race and the F3 season, but I am still pleased with the job I did all weekend as well as all year.”

Kimball is now in discussion with teams for next year and will make an announcement shortly.  The young Californian will also go home for Christmas and is looking forward to spending some focused time training in preparation for the challenges of next season.

Formula BMW
Formula BMW Season Review Formula BMW Season ReviewThe official 2005 worldwide Formula BMW season review is available on 16 pages as a PDF download.

As the season just ended has clearly shown, there is no other globe-spanning entry-level series in which talented young drivers are offered such an invaluable introduction to professional motor racing as Formula BMW. All four champions of the successful sister series in Germany, Britain, North America and Asia took part in the BMW Education and Coaching Program before their triumphs on the race track.

Katherine Legge wows ’em in F1 debut Katherine Legge wows ’em in F1 debutUPDATE Katherine Legge, who bruised a finger in the accident in the Minardi on Tuesday reckons that F1 cars are physically easy to drive. This won't be the case when she steps into a Champ Car next month.

"I knew you must release the steering wheel when you're about to hit something, but I tried to control the car regardless and the wheel had a violent reaction," she told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"However, on the next day, I managed to drive over almost half a race distance and I'm happy and excited. This test with the Minardi team has been a marvelous experience.

"The real difficulty is managing to think very quickly. Muscles count but only up to a point. Now I'll be able to face the test on Champ Cars with this exceptional experience under my belt. I thank the Minardi team: if I ever become a real pro I will always remember this day and the people in this team."

"The mental effort to keep everything under control," she said. "It's not true that, for a woman, driving a F1 car is mostly a physical problem. I believed that too and in fact in the last few months, since I knew I would do this test, I did four hours a day in the gym. But what matters is your head."

11/23/05 Katherine Legge may have crashed on her first day of her Minardi F1 test by being caught out on cold tires and the traction control, but today she more than made up for it. Running late in the day at Vallelunga she turned a lap that was just 1/10th of the time off the fast time for the day. Kevin Kalkhoven told AutoRacing1.com, "Paul Stoddart was so excited he called me here in California and woke me up to tell me how good she was." He said there is no doubt that if she had run in the heat of the day she would have been fastest by 1/2 second. "You have the real deal there," Stoddart told Kalkhoven. "I have seen a lot of good drivers in my day and I can tell you that she absolutely deserves a drive in either F1 or Champ Car. The fact that she did this having never driven a race car with more than 240 HP is quite impressive," said Stoddart. "She turned 11 consecutive laps all within 1/10th of a second of each other."

We told Kevin now the pressure is on him to put her in Champ Car next year. "We'll see how she does in her 2-day Champ Car test first. A Champ Car is much harder physically to drive. Unlike F1 there's no power steering, no power brakes, manual shift with a clutch you must use, and the car is much heavier," Kalkhoven told AutoRacing1.com.

British driver, Katherine Legge today successfully completed a 27-lap test for the Minardi F1 Team at the Autodromo Vallelunga. The 25-year-old was on track from mid-morning on Wednesday, and after commencing her scheduled runs on intermediate tires in deference to the cold and damp conditions, the team's engineers switched her car onto dry tires as the temperature rose and track conditions improved. It was then she strung together a series of impressively quick, consistent laps, culminating in a best time of 1 min 21.176 secs around the 4.11-km circuit that nestles in the hills above Rome. Sharing the track with Legge in the course of Wednesday were Minardi tester, Chanoch Nissany, and young Uruguayan driver, Juan Caceres. In addition, the Minardi F1x2 cars were again in action, Patrick Friesacher and Christijan Albers taking a total of 20 VIP guests for high-speed runs around the Roman circuit. [Editor's Note: Recent testing saw Massa lap Vallelunga at 1:13.007 in his Ferrari but that was in different conditions and Legge was in a Minardi, not a Ferrari.  Given it was her first time driving anything with this much HP to be within 8 seconds is good.  Minardi is sometimes off pole by that much on regular race weekends]

KATHERINE LEGGE "First of all, I want to say thank you to Paul Stoddart and all the guys at Minardi for their unstinting support over the last two days. It has been a fantastic experience, and they have been just absolutely great the whole time. As for the test, I expected the unexpected, and that's what I got. It was certainly a lot easier today than yesterday, mainly because I was left alone to focus on what I had to do. I did the best job I could, and bearing in mind my relative lack of experience, I'm very pleased with the result. The trouble is, I can't wait to get back in an F1 car again now!"

CHANOCH NISSANY "It's definitely been a good day. I was able to improve a lot in the course of the morning and afternoon sessions, and the track was in good condition for most of the day. I have had the honor to drive at Minardi's final test, and now I look forward to taking part in the last day tomorrow, with Paul Stoddart. I feel a historic moment approaching."

PAUL STODDART "On the third day of Minardi's last test, at Vallelunga, it was pleasing to see Katherine complete her test and set one of the fastest times of the past three days, proving that she's definitely got what it takes to be a Formula One driver. Chanoch Nissany, our regular tester, steadily improved throughout the day, and young charger, Juan Caceres, also completed his test with some very impressive times. At the same time, the F1x2 program provided a group of 30 lucky passengers with the experience of a lifetime, Christijan Albers and Patrick Friesacher handling the driving duties today. We now look forward to a slightly bittersweet day tomorrow, when Minardi will complete its final outing."

Russian gets F1 test Russian gets F1 testThe new Midland team have handed Russian hopeful Roman Rusinov, pictured right, his first Formula One test. Midland, who will become Formula One's first Russian team next year after receiving their license from Moscow authorities, have confirmed sports car driver Rusinov will test next month at Jerez. Rusinov is honored to have his chance to fly the flag.

He said: "It would not be an exaggeration to say that I have been waiting my entire career for this moment. This test is the first but crucial step on my way to Formula One. At this point, my aim is to learn the peculiarities of a Formula One car and familiarize myself with the way a Formula One team works. My arrival in Formula One depends on numerous factors, but the most important thing for me right now is to concentrate on driving the car quickly and properly. I believe I have shown this ability throughout my career and I am positive that I will perform well this time."

Another example of a Bernie deal that rapes promoter Another example of a Bernie deal that rapes promoterSomehow in every F1 race promoter deal, Bernie Ecclestone makes huge sums of money and the race promoter loses their shirt. This Grandprix.com article outlines another one.

It is no fun being a Belgian politician at the moment. The contract that exists between the government of Wallonia and Formula One Management leaves the new regional premier Elio di Rupo, who has been in office for just a few weeks, with a major problem. The contract, agreed between the previous administration and FOM, means that the government must pay race fees until 2010 and perhaps even until 2015, which critics say leaves the government facing a potential bill of at least $80m, which may rise to double that amount. The current cost is around $13m a year but in normal FOM contracts that increases annually by 10%.

In the circumstances the only logical course of action is for the government to run the race and try to reduce the losses, although in recent years the annual loss has been in the region of $4m. Given the fact that losing $20m over five years is less painful than losing $80m the race will presumably go ahead in the hope that better promotion will reduce the losses and, in the case of a miracle, will actually turn a profit. It might even be worth the locals investing money in a Belgian driver in the hope that national fervor might lead to higher ticket sales, although given the current situation the new administration may not feel in a risk-taking mood.

Kimi denies Newey exit pain Kimi denies Newey exit painMcLaren charger Kimi Raikkonen has denied that Adrian Newey's switch to Red Bull could upset his run to the 2006 title.

The 26-year-old, who failed to win this year's championship despite driving the quickest car to seven race wins, said his Woking based employer is structured to cope with the highly lauded technical director's exit.

''From having spoken to the team,'' Kimi told Chinese agency Xinhua, ''we don't expect his departure to have an effect on our future campaigns.''

Kimi said Mercedes powered McLaren 'knew how to win races and championships before Adrian joined' in 1997.

He added: ''Formula One is very much a team effort (and) this was the case during Adrian's time with the team ... and will continue to be so.''

The usually unflappable Finn admitted that losing the championship in a faster - but less reliable - car than rival Fernando Alonso was 'very frustrating' at the time.

''But you can't look back,'' he insisted.  ''You can only look forward.  It's just racing -- you don't dwell on it.''

PETRONAS to be premium partner of BMW Sauber F1 Team PETRONAS to be premium partner of BMW Sauber F1 TeamTwo strong partners formally forge an alliance: PETRONAS is to be the premium partner of the new BMW Sauber F1 Team that is gearing up for its debut in the 2006 Formula One World Championship. Today, Thursday, a four-year contract was signed and sealed in Kuala Lumpur, confirming PETRONAS as the main sponsor through to and including season 2009. 

"We are delighted to have such a strong partner for our Formula One project," said BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen after the contract signing ceremony in the PETRONAS Twin Towers. "We are building on a longstanding association between PETRONAS and the previous Sauber Team. PETRONAS is a major player above all in Asia, which is a very significant growth market for BMW too." 

Rosman Roslan, Head of PETRONAS Motorsports stated: "Through our relationship with Sauber of more than ten years, Formula One became a powerful platform for PETRONAS to build a strong global brand in support of our international business expansion. As an extension of our long-standing relationship with Sauber to the new BMW managed team, PETRONAS is proud to be associated with a globally successful manufacturer and a premium brand. This association with BMW will enable us to further elevate PETRONAS globally as well as enhance our brand through worldwide exposure as well as worldwide positioning." zzzz

Peter Sauber remarked on the occasion of the contract signing in Kuala Lumpur: "The partnership between PETRONAS and Sauber began in 1995. In the course of time it went far beyond a classic sponsorship and has been outstanding throughout all those years. I am personally delighted that this partnership, which has been so fruitful for both sides, is to continue with the new BMW Sauber F1 Team." 

The race car will be unveiled in its new livery at the team presentation in Valencia, Spain on 16th/17th January. 

PETRONAS is Malaysia's national oil and gas company. PETRONAS was founded in 1974 and is now active in 31 countries. In fiscal year 2004/2005 (ended 31st March 2005), PETRONAS posted a net profit of 9.4 billion US dollars from turnover of 36.1 billion US dollars.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Massa shrugs off 1-year worry
Heikki's not off to BMW
Woman on pace for Minardi
BAR to guard name 'til 2006
Midland name tech chief
Ilmor to build MotoGP engine
'06 rules to 'degrade' F1
Renault swap to 90-degree 'V'
Paffett set for four-day test
Massa moves to Monaco
Michelin's future unclear
Renault rule out V10 option
Memo Gidley in Thanksgiving Kart Enduro Memo Gidley in Thanksgiving Kart EnduroFresh off his Daytona Prototype victory in the Grand American Rolex Series season finale in Mexico City, Finlay Motorsports driver Memo Gidley will be competing in this weekend’s 4th annual 4-hour Russell Racing Karting Enduro at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California.

He will be teaming up with two of America’s top kart racers, Gary Carlton, factory Trackmagic driver and recent 2nd-place finisher at SuperNationals VI; and Alex Speed, the current Stars ICC 05’ Champion and brother of current Red Bull Formula One driver Scott Speed.

The trio will be racing a Trackmagic kart powered by a KartKey-built engine.  Memo and Trackmagic are looking to reprise their 2003 victory in this event, and improve on the team’s 2nd-place finish in last year’s event. zzzz

“I’ve competed in this event for Trackmagic in the last two years, winning the first time and finishing second last year,” said Gidley, “With Gary and Alex this is by far the best team of drivers that Trackmagic has assembled for this year’s event.  It’s the final major event of the 2005 karting season, and we’re working to finish out the year in the best way possible with a victory for Trackmagic.  I wasn’t born into karting, nor did I start at an early age like other drivers.  Other than my dedication, the key to my success is that I drove for Trackmagic Karts from day one.  When the owners of Trackmagic saw my desire and passion to compete, I was given everything I ever needed to win races; and I did.” 

Gidley and Trackmagic Karts have a long history together since he became a factory driver in 1993.  The most coveted victory of Memo’s standout karting career was being one of only two drivers – the other being Scott Speed – to twice win the highly sought after SuperNationals title in the 125cc shifter class (1996 and 1999).

“This is an amazing team, and it will be a tremendous learning experience for these young guys to work together as a team with a veteran like Memo,” says Trackmagic owner Fausto Vitello.  “He was the dominant kart racer of the 1990’s, and was the first of his racing generation to make it on his own to the major leagues of auto racing.  And if karting is supposed to produce the next generation of great racing drivers, these are the guys you’ll be hearing about.  For Memo, at this stage of his career, to keep giving back to the sport that gave him his start in racing by mentoring guys like Gary and Alex shows his true colors as a champion.”

The race format requires a minimum of three drivers with mandatory pit stops every half hour.  Since its inception, the Russell Racing Karting Enduro has become so popular that it sells out its 34 starting spots every year.  The 4-hour event is scheduled to take the green flag at 12 noon on Sunday, November 27.

“Karts aren’t really designed to go four hours without stopping, especially the motors” says Gidley.  “Most of the karting Enduro's you hear or read about use slow concession-type motors to go the distance, but not this event.  Last year I qualified on pole, and we ran our KartKey/Doug Sharp motor at 17,000 rpm for four hours, and never had a serious problem.  The format of this race is very similar to the Grand-Am prototype racing I’ve been doing all season long with the Finlay Motorsports team -- drive as fast as you can for 4 hours, battling with some really awesome drivers.  I can’t wait!”

Gidley raced the Finlay Motorsports #19 Air Force Reserve / Make-A-Wish Foundation / Commercial Defeasance Dinan-powered Riley BMW in the 2005 Grand Am Rolex Series.  Along with co-driver Michael McDowell, the duo finished 6th in the championship, scoring one victory, one 2nd-place, five top-5 and four top-10 finishes.  For 2006, the Finlay Motorsports team will campaign a 2-car team of Ford-powered Crawford prototypes with Gidley and McDowell returning to battle for the championship along with new teammates Rob Finlay and Michael Valiante.

Briatore confirms Kovalainen at Renault Briatore confirms Kovalainen at RenaultFlavio Briatore confirmed that Heikki Kovalainen, will be the Renault team’s third driver next season.

"We are betting a lot on him and it's absolutely not true that he'll race for Sauber in 2006,” Briatore told Italian magazine Autosprint. “Kovalainen will be our test driver and he'll do the same formation program followed by Fernando Alonso.

"He's the future of F1," added Briatore, who also manages Kovalainen’s career. "In 2007 he'll surely be on the grid for the GPs, but I don't yet know whether it'll be with Renault or another team. We'll see."

German DTM
Franchitti tests DTM car Franchitti tests DTM carIndyCar ace Dario Franchitti has sampled a works DTM Mercedes-Benz C-Class at the Estoril circuit in Portugal last week, according to autosport.com.

And even though the 32-year-old has yet to renew his contract to stay with Andretti Green Racing next year, HWA Mercedes team officials denied Franchitti could be DTM-bound in ‘06.

"No, not at the moment - maybe he's thinking about it in a few years time," HWA technical director Gerhard Unger told autosport.

Track News
Commemorate Friends And Family at Mazda Raceway Commemorate Friends And Family at Mazda RacewayMazda Raceway Laguna Seca with its signature “Corkscrew” (Turns 8 & 8A) is one of the most famous race tracks in the world. Now, opportunities abound for that special someone in your life to become a permanent part of the world-renowned road racing facility with a Holiday gift that will keep on giving in perpetuity.

Imagine having your loved one, friend, business or even yourself become a permanent part of one of the greatest race tracks in the world alongside three of the greatest racers in history, Mario Andretti (Andretti Hairpin Turn 2), Wayne Rainey (Rainey Curve Turn 9) and Bobby Rahal (Rahal Straight from Turn 6 to the Corkscrew). You can do this by purchasing a brick that will be engraved with your testament to that person or entity and placed in the patio above the world-famous Corkscrew.

It’s a perfect Holiday gift that is a winner for all involved with proceeds benefiting the Laguna Seca Raceway Fund, which, in turn, benefits improvements and expansion of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Three sizes of bricks are available and a replica of the brick you choose can also be purchased and given to the honoree. All brick sales and donations to the non-profit Laguna Seca Raceway Fund are 100% tax deductible.

Details on how to take advantage of “Steps to the Corkscrew” program and help support one of the most revered race tracks in the world are available by logging on to www.laguna-seca.com or calling 1-877-4CORKSCREW.

Information and tickets for the 2006 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event schedule is available by calling (800) 327-SECA or logging on to www.laguna-seca.com.

Two-car GTI team set to join Atlantic grid Two-car GTI team set to join Atlantic gridThe recently-formed GTI Atlantic team will rely on some gifted racing engineering experience and a promising young driver eager to make a strong comeback when it joins the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama in 2006.

The GTI squad plans to field a two-car program in the new Atlantic series next season. The team has already settled on one of its drivers as 25-year-old British racer Charles Hall will pilot one of the Swift 016.a/Cosworth/Yokohama new generation Atlantic machines over the series’ 12-race schedule in ’06.

When Hall lines up on the starting grid in the season-opening race at Long Beach for GTI Atlantic next April it will represent both a homecoming and the culmination of a long road back to racing for the native of Sheffield, England, who’s suffered through disappointment and tragedy over the last two years.

Hall raced in the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2001, posting top-10 finishes in four of his five races, including a top result of fourth place at Cleveland. He then excelled in the Fran-Am open-wheel series, capturing the Fran-Am Winter Series championship in 2003. He battled 2004 Atlantic Rookie of the Year and current Champ Car rising star Andrew Ranger for the Fran-Am Pro Series title in ’03 before finishing second to Ranger in the final standings.  zzzz

As Fran-Am made the transition to the North American Formula Renault championship in 2004, Hall was forced to the sidelines as funding issues prevented him from competing for the series crown. In 2005, Hall was preparing to race in the GP2 Formula One development series when an accident brought his plans to a sudden halt. In early February of this year, Hall was struck by a drunk driver while traveling in a passenger car in the UK. Both the driver of the other vehicle and his passenger were killed in the accident as Hall suffered injuries including a crushed femur. He missed all of the ’05 season as he tried to recover from both the physical and mental scars from the crash.

Just a few weeks ago, Hall underwent surgery to correct a discrepancy in length among both of his legs, a result of the damaged right leg from the accident that impacted his ability to walk and drive. His original injury and the subsequent surgery have left Hall a bit shorter than when he last raced. Measured at just over 5-feet-11-inches two years ago, Hall is now 5-feet-10-inches as he continues to rehab at a clinic in Italy.

After competing with the GTI Motorsports team during his Fran-Am experience, Hall is happy to be a part of the new GTI Atlantic team for his comeback as the squad utilizes some of its old resources under a new banner and management in 2006.

“We want to be in a position to win races and compete for championships with both Charles and his teammate and we believe the Atlantic championship will present the opportunity to do just that,” said Robert Lewis, one of the new GTI Atlantic team principals. “With a new car, new chassis, new engine and many new teams, the series will certainly be on a more level playing field.”

The team will rely heavily on the engineering acumen of Peter Berry to help get to the front of the Atlantic grid. Berry, the team’s chief engineer, has been the driving force behind numerous race wins and championships. He brings a wealth of F3 racing experience and helped guide current Formula One and former Champ Car star Juan Pablo Montoya to Victory Circle in the 1996 British F3 series. This past season, Berry engineered the Coloni GP2 team that featured drivers Gianmaria Bruni and Mathias Lauda, son of former world champion Niki Lauda.
"I am delighted to be returning to the Atlantic series and to be a part of the new GTI Atlantic team and its superb engineering staff, headed by such a well-respected engineer as Peter Berry," said Charles Hall.

With its team headquarters located in Houston, Texas, GTI Atlantic will look to begin testing with Hall in early January. The squad is actively seeking a driver for its second entry as it hopes to hit the ground running in the new year.

“We don’t underestimate the mountain that we’ll need to climb to get up to speed. We’ll need to do a lot of testing to make sure we’re ready for the start of the season,” said Lewis. “We’re anxious to settle on another driver as we know that for a successful championship run we really do need two cars competing in the series to learn and share knowledge.” Champ Car Atlantic

Parade for Tony Stewart Parade for Tony StewartTony Stewart's hometown will hold a parade next month to honor him for winning the NASCAR series championship. The parade is planned for Dec. 17, starting at 12:20pm from the Hamilton Center Ice Arena and ending at Columbus [IN] North High School. It would be the second parade in Columbus for Stewart in four months. On Aug. 15, he was recognized for his win in the Allstate 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Judy Jackson, the city's community development director, said Monday that Dec. 17 was the earliest date Stewart was available for the parade. Fort Wayne Sentinel/AP
MF1 Racing names Key as Technical Director MF1 Racing names Key as Technical DirectorMF1 Racing - Midland's F1 Team - is delighted to announce the appointment of James Key to the position of Technical Director. The 33-year-old Englishman, formerly Technical Coordinator, has gained considerable experience during his past eight years of service with Jordan Grand Prix.

Sponsored through university by Lotus Engineering, Key graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nottingham in 1996. Upon completion of his studies, he began his motorsport career with Lotus in 1996, working on their GT car program as a Designer. He entered Formula One with Jordan Grand Prix in 1998 as a Data Engineer and quickly rose through the ranks, becoming Test Engineer in 2000 and Senior Race Engineer in 2002. In 2003, he joined the Aerodynamic Group at Jordan for a season and was then promoted to Head of Vehicle Science towards the end of that year. He was appointed Technical Coordinator in 2005.

Colin Kolles, Managing Director of MF1 Racing, stated: "I am very pleased to announce James Key as our new Technical Director. He has been working with the team for several years and has built up an impressive level of experience and knowledge of motorsport. I am sure his organizational skills and innovative ideas will be of great value to us with the ongoing development of our cars in 2006 and beyond."

James Key, Technical Director, commented: "Having gone through a transitional period this year, following the team's acquisition by Midland, we are now very busy with the design of next year's car. I am looking forward to the challenges we face next season and there is a great deal of work to be done. This team has a lot of very good people and, given this new opportunity, I am confident we will progress as the year unfolds. Personally, I look forward to the challenge of moving our technical efforts forward and gaining ground on the teams currently ahead of us."

Q and A with Renault's Bob Bell Q and A with Renault's Bob BellWinter testing – and on-track preparations for 2006 – begins again in two weeks. Bob Bell talks about the Renault F1 Team’s approach to the weeks ahead…

Bob, can you explain how the team will approach winter testing between now and Christmas?
"We will be running the R25 with V10 engines that are suitably detuned to represent the power levels of the V8 engine. This will give the drivers a feel for next year’s engine performance, and allow us to simulate the 2006 tire energy levels in order to advance with development. It is a cost-effective solution that will allow us work from a well-known, reliable chassis baseline."

Rival teams will be running hybrid cars with V8 engines, yet Renault’s V8 is not scheduled to debut on track until January. Is this a concern?
"From our point of view, we have taken a pragmatic decision not to run an interim car, based on the potential return on investment involved in this type of project. Firstly, there is a question of timing: to gain real advantage from an interim car, it would need to have been running very early, but to achieve this would have been using an interim ‘V8’ rather than a definitive design. Secondly, there is the question of interchangeability: we are changing engine ‘V’ angle from 72° to 90° next year, so an interim car would have required a large commitment of resources to produce a relatively unrepresentative chassis. For any team, the decision to produce an interim car is not without consequences – it demands manpower, money and a lot of other resources. Within the timing, budgetary and human constraints of our 2006 project, the return on investment would have been low." zzzz

Wouldn’t a hybrid car allow you to learn about the different installation and characteristics of a V8 engine?
"Track testing is crucial, and we cannot reproduce every aspect of the engine’s environment on the dyno. We have planned our project accordingly, to have two cars running very quickly in the New Year and maximize our running with a definitive engine. In terms of installation, both this and the major ancillaries such as the oil and water systems, are not actually significantly different to this year. We have successfully negotiated changes in engine architecture in recent seasons, so we don’t underestimate how much work it involves. But the advantage of having done that, is that this major change seems to us like relatively normal business."

You mentioned tire development as a crucial component of the winter test program. Will running a proven, reliable package before Christmas give the team a head-start in this area?
"I think it will. Other teams may well run a V10 powered car alongside a V8 machine, but tire testing will be a major component of our work this winter following the recent regulation changes. Not only has the life of the tires changed, but the reduced power output of the V8 engines will mean there is less energy going into the rear tires. We will work with Michelin to evolve a new generation of tires optimized for this duty cycle."

Michelin dominated the 2005 season but in 2004, when the tire regulations were the same as they will be in 2006, the tire manufacturers was closer. Are you expecting the balance in power between tire manufacturers to shift for next year?
"There is a simple truth in F1: you never un-invent technology. Michelin made significant progress under the longer life tire rules in 2005 – and also in the area of wet tires, as we saw in Spa – and those gains will have direct benefits for next year. We have every confidence that Michelin have the ability to develop winning tires for 2006, and it is our responsibility, with the other teams, to ensure that happens. For us at Renault, it is a very important objective to finish 2006 saying that Michelin tires were the best we have ever had."

How do you expect the drivers to react to revised power output when they begin testing?
"I expect them to be pretty disappointed on the first runs. They are racing drivers, after all, so they like power and speed! Although I am sure the cars will initially feel underpowered, they will soon get used to it, and start honing their driving styles to get the most from the new tires, to adapt to the revised downforce levels and understand how the power loss affects the overall performance over a lap."

Finally, a rev-restricted V10 is permitted under the 2006 regulations. After completing a lot of running in the configuration, could this be an option for the team next year?
"No. It is clear in the regulations that this concession is only there for teams who cannot afford to acquire a competitive V8 engine. It is not on the cards for any of the front-running F1 teams."
F1 survey pleases Toyota F1 survey pleases ToyotaF1 officials at Cologne HQ will be pleased with the outcome of the latest Toyota global survey.

On behalf of the Japanese carmaker, nearly 16,000 people in thirteen countries were questioned about their awareness of the team in 2005.

The results will also satisfy the check-writers in Tokyo, amid paddock concern that carmakers are only happy to pound in the cash if the figures off the track bode well.

Ferrari (97 per cent) topped the charts when it came to awareness of car brands on the grid, followed by Renault (85 per cent). Toyota, though - although a newer F1 entry - matched Honda (82 per cent).

That is an improvement over last year (75 per cent), and ahead of both Mercedes-Benz (80 per cent) and BMW (78 per cent).

The survey also showed that Toyota is doing well on the driver front. Although Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) is predictably the most well-known name (72 per cent), Toyota-driving brother Ralf came in at second (42 per cent).

Ralf, 30, outpaced both world champion Fernando Alonso (38 per cent) and Kimi Raikkonen (31 per cent). Ralf's teammate, Jarno Trulli (13 per cent), was pipped to the post by Jenson Button, but ranked equal with Giancarlo Fisichella.

V10 limit not 'fair' - Honda V10 limit not 'fair' - HondaIf the rules stay the same, 'Toro Rosso' could land on pole position at Bahrain next March.

That's the concern of Honda's racing president Yasuhiro Wada, who says the FIA's current V10 restrictions for 2006 could put every V8-powered F1 rival in the shade.

Wada's anxiety has led to speculation that some carmakers would leave their V8 in the garage until the governing body corrects the glitch.

''It's technically true that a V10 running with the proposed restrictor will be more powerful than one of the V8s,'' the Japanese said this week.

At present, Toro Rosso - the only team intending to be V10-powered in 2006 - will need to apply a 16,500rpm limit and 77mm air restrictor.

But Wada warned: ''We don't want to be forced back to a V10 (but) every engine manufacturer agrees the proposed (restriction) isn't correct.

''We believe the FIA will apply a fairer equivalent.''

The other advantage to switching back to a V10 is that the first V8 evolutions are likely to be reliability plagued, particularly with their tendency to overly vibrate.

Wada also admitted that the Shanghai-spec Honda V10 came 'close' to the 1000hp barrier, making it one of the most powerful on the F1 track.

Name change for 'Toro Rosso' Name change for 'Toro Rosso'Forget 'Squadra Toro Rosso'.  Red Bull has confirmed a slight tweak to team Minardi's new name.

Although translating to 'team' in Italian, 'squadra' is usually more associated with football.  As a result, the energy drink-owned 'junior' team will pick up the more race-slanted moniker, 'Scuderia Toro Rosso'.

Similarly, Maranello-based Ferrari's full identity in the formula one championship is 'Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro'.

''The new Scuderia Toro Rosso will soon be fighting for world championship points,'' a brief on the Red Bull website announced.  ''Starting March 12, 2006, formula one fans will be getting a taste of Red Bull in Italian

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