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Rahal team begins 2008 preparations
The Rahal Letterman Racing IndyCar squad went Christmas shopping today in Sonoma, California, trying to find that combination of speed and handling that will help bring the gift of victory in 2008.

The team’s #17 Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone hit the track at Infineon Raceway today as the team got a full day’s work in, rebounding after yesterday’s opening day of the test was cancelled by rain. Reigning IndyCar Series’ Rookie of the Year Ryan Hunter-Reay got a jump on his preparation as well, piloting the RLR Indy Car through more than 200 miles of action today without a single problem.

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FIA approves Champ Car schedule
The FIA has given its approval of the small 14-race Champ Car World Series calendar for 2008. The World Motor Sport Council on Friday approved the 14 race schedule which will include a new race in Jerez, Spain while two other races in Zolder, Belgium and Assen, Holland return for a second year.

Last year, Champ Car officials were forced to cancel the inaugural race in China after FIA denied a request for a date change for the event at the Zhuhai circuit. Formula One Management objected to the proposed October date, claiming it was too close to the previously scheduled Chinese Grand Prix F1 race. When the 2008 schedule was unveiled last month, Champ Car president and CEO Steve Johnson said he didn't anticipate any issues with FIA approval.

"We maybe learned a lesson from the past," said Johnson. "The critical thing is we have abided by all of the rules of the FIA and the calendar works with them, it works with us."  The 2008 Champ Car season kicks off April 20th in Long Beach.


IndyCar drivers complete Infineon test
IndyCar® Series drivers Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay completed a full day of testing under blue skies at Infineon Raceway on Friday.

The two drivers became the first to test a modified version of the 12-turn Sonoma Valley road course that may be used for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County next year (Aug. 22-24).  The modifications between Turns 6-7 take the drivers directly up the drag strip and around the outside of Turn 7, which is normally used in the NASCAR configuration. 

The changes, a result of collaboration between the IndyCar Series, Infineon Raceway and the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School, are expected to produce more passing zones.

“As far as the corner itself, I think it’s going to make an improvement for the race,” said Dixon, defending champion at Infineon Raceway.  “Hopefully, it’s going to create a passing opportunity for some people. I think it’s a good choice and will make a great addition to the weekend.”

Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) posted the quickest lap time of the day at one minute, 18.2 seconds.  Hunter-Reay (Rahal Letterman Racing) had a best lap time of 1:18.8.  Ryan Briscoe holds the qualifying record on the previous configuration at 1:16.491, while Dario Franchitti captured the pole for last season’s event with a lap of 1:16.702.  Dixon’s teammate Dan Wheldon was also at the track on Friday observing the test, but did not get behind the wheel.

“Eliminating the bend to the left and now going up the drag strip makes for a wider passing opportunity and I think that’s good. Any passing opportunity is great for the series and good for the fans who come out and watch,” said Hunter-Reay, who qualified 7th on his debut in 2007, however, only managed to run five laps before retiring with mechanical problems resulting in an 18th place finish at Infineon Raceway in 2007..


Eurointernational and Italian Racer Edoardo Piscopo join forces

Edoardo Piscopo

After more than 300 starts, seven team and driver championships and 49 victories in various forms of motorsport all over the world, Eurointernational today announced its first foray into the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. The team will field an entry for Italian driver Edoardo Piscopo, who will celebrate his 20th birthday a few months prior to the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The team, owned by Antonio Ferrari, purchased all of the assets of Alan Sciuto Racing—which contested the 2007 Atlantic series—and brings an impressive track record into Atlantic competition. The team was founded in 1989 and made its first appearance with driver Davy Jones in the Indianapolis 500.

Through 1994, Eurointernational competed in the Champ Car World Series and the Indianapolis 500 with drivers Mike Groff, Jovy Marcelo, Christian Danner, Andrea Montermini, Jeff Andretti and Alessandro Zampedri before shifting its attention to sports car racing for the next few years. Eurointernational earned the first victory for the Ferrari 333SP at Road Atlanta and brought IMSA Manufacturer championships to Ferrari in 1994 and 1995. The team then competed in the Indy Racing League in 1997 with driver Billy Roe.

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Honda young driver program results in Jerez
The Honda Young Driver Program continued in Jerez this week as GP2 drivers Mike Conway, Andi Zuber and Luca Filippi had a further opportunity to work with Honda for their second day in a Formula One car.

The test in Jerez was designed to build on the experience that the three drivers gained at the Barcelona test last month and enable the team to evaluate their development, consistency and speed over a further day of running. The program focused on longer runs working through various set-up changes on the car and shorter new tire qualifying simulations.

Mike began the running on Tuesday completing 88 laps over the day, with Andi taking over the car on Wednesday for 109 laps. Luca rounded off the program on Thursday completing 83 laps.

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Toro Rosso turns fastest time of week

Sebastian Vettel at Jerez Friday

Having set the fastest time in today's final day of testing for 2007, Sebastian Vettel has the honor of seeing his name stay at the top of the Formula 1 time sheet until at least 14 January 2008. This long four day - two car session brings the 2007 season to an end with testing resuming in the third week in January, back again at the Jerez track.

Naturally,  his  quickest  lap  was  set  during  an  afternoon  spent  evaluating  the  2009 spec Bridgestone slick tires. In the morning, the German driver concentrated on rear suspension work, when he also managed a respectable 1:18.7.  Running  on  2007  grooved  tires  all  day,  Bourdais  spent  the  morning  evaluating dampers and the afternoon assessing different mechanical set-ups. Both drivers also worked on launches under next year's conditions and gearbox control.

"This has been a very productive test, the longest of the year for us, with two cars running for four days," commented Chief Engineer, Laurent Mekies. "During that time there  were  no  driver  errors,  we  completed  a  high  mileage  -  a  total  of  577  laps, equivalent to 2552 kilometers - and made good progress with the 2008 systems."

The results are inconclusive however, because Michael Schumacher, for example was running 2009 downforce levels.  For him to be 4th fastest was shocking to many, but then again it was Schumacher.  Some cars were running slicks and some grooved tires so the times below are pretty much meaningless.


Driver Team Tires Time Laps
1. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:18.213 100
2. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:18.410 119
3. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:18.796 97
4. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:19.136 58
5. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:19.611 76
6. Glock Toyota (B) 1:19.961 58
7. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:20.000 45
8. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:20.033 87
9. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:20.229 69
10. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:20.657 72
11. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:20.821 102
12. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:21.092 84
13. Asmer BMW-Sauber (B) 1:21.333 80
14. Van der Garde Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:22.321 81
15. Rodriguez Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:22.508 82


Bobby Hamilton Sr. Special to Air
During the 2006 racing season former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Champion Bobby Hamilton Sr. touched the lives of many race fans through his courageous battle with Head and Neck Cancer. Friday night following the airing of the 2007 NCTS Banquet fans can catch an inside glimpse of Hamilton’s racing career and his battle with cancer. Speed Channel will air “Bobby Hamilton: Live to Race, Race to Live” at 10:30PM EDT.  The 30 minute special depicts how Hamilton became a successful racer despite a life time of challenges growing up in Music City, Tenn.  Double check your local listings for air times.


McLaren statement after decision WMSC
McLaren acknowledges the World Motor Sport Council’s announcement to defer its decision regarding the team’s 2008 car to an extraordinary general meeting to be held on Thursday 14th February 2008 in Paris.  From the very beginning McLaren has provided the FIA with full access and complete co-operation, and remains confident no confidential information has been incorporated within the team’s 2007 and 2008 cars.  McLaren


World Motorsport Council decisions
The FIA World Motor Sport Council made the following decisions in Monaco:

McLaren will continue to be scrutinized until the next World Council meeting on February 14 at which Ferrari, McLaren and others will be allowed to make representations to the World Council. This means that the threat of action against McLaren remains in place.

The FIA has said that engines must be delivered to it no later than March 31 2008 for use in events between now and 2017. The World Council voted through technical restrictions that mean that teams may use no more than one wind tunnel; they cannot use pressured or wind tunnel that use different fluids (i.e. they cannot switch to water tunnels), they cannot run faster than 50m/sec and no models can be greater than 60% and no more than one car is allowed in the tunnel at the same time. The maximum usage must be equivalent to 15 runs per 8 hour day on 5 days per week for team F1 purposes. Tunnel may be contracted out at other times. Aerodynamic testing may only take place in wind tunnels if at reduced scale or at FIA approved test tracks if full scale. Full size testing to be subject to the F1 testing agreement. Fulls-cale testing can be only five days per year. Restrictions will be imposed to stop shift of resource from wind tunnel testing to CFD. The FIA says it will limit the number of people allowed to work on CFD projects and there will be performance limits on hardware/software development. There will be other restrictions on rig testing, design and manufacturing, suspension and brakes, hydraulic systems, bodywork, weight distribution, circuit testing and the number of team members allowed at races. Further details of all of this will be given on January 11 and there will be detailed regulations at the spring meeting of the WMSC.

The Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), to be introduced in 2009, will continue to be an entirely open technology. As such, the use of any type of KERS storage/transmission technology will be permitted.

The following aerodynamic testing restrictions will be applied from 2008:

• Teams to use no more than one wind tunnel.
• Test fluid to be air at atmospheric pressure.
• Maximum test section wind speed 50m/sec.
• Maximum model scale 60%.
• No more than one model to be tested during a run.
• Maximum usage to be equivalent to 15 runs per 8 hour day on 5 days per week for team F1 purposes. Tunnel may be contracted out at other times.
• Aerodynamic testing may only take place in wind tunnels if at reduced scale or at FIA approved test tracks if full scale. Full size testing to be subject to the F1 testing agreement.
• Full scale specific aerodynamic testing is to be reduced to 5 days/year.
• Restrictions will be imposed to stop shift of resource from wind tunnel testing to CFD.
• The number of people involved in CFD development will be limited to a number to be agreed.
• CFD computer systems will be characterized in order to set hardware performance limits but growth will be allowed year-on-year to allow for hardware / software development.

Other restrictions will be placed on Rig Testing, Design and Manufacturing, Suspension and Brakes, Hydraulic Systems, Bodywork, Weight Distribution, Circuit Testing and the number of personnel at races.


FIA to sue London Times newspaper
The World Motorsport council has authorized the FIA to issue libel proceedings against English newspaper The Sunday Times, which ran an article claiming that the FIA was engaged in a witch-hunt against the McLaren-Mercedes team.


New McLaren hearing 'necessary' - Mosley
(GMM)  Max Mosley on Friday confirmed suspicions that McLaren has reason to be worried about its next trip to the World Motor Sport Council.

The FIA body in Monaco ruled that, following an investigation into the legality of the team's 2008 car, another detailed hearing should be held in mid February.

Ferrari and other teams will be allowed to make representations about the FIA inspectors' report, that was tabled in the Monaco meeting on Friday.

"We would have very much liked to end this unfortunate chapter today, but another hearing is necessary," FIA president Mosley said in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport.

He added: "Believe me; if we fly 26 people from all around the world, then we have good reasons."

It is now strongly suspected that, based on the FIA inspections, the report found that McLaren's 2008 car cannot simply be given a clean bill of health in terms of whether Ferrari intellectual property has been used for its design.

Mosley says McLaren is already aware of the FIA's concerns.

"They were informed early on about our doubts," he said.  "They will have had sufficient time to react should the doubt be confirmed."

He also rebuked suggestions that the FIA is guilty of double standards in continuing to pursue McLaren but letting Renault off the hook for a similar case of spying.

"McLaren was punished because they did not tell the truth on 26 July.  It was stated that the information had flowed exclusively to Mike Coughlan.

"Renault admitted from the outset that the information was discussed among a wider circle of engineers," Mosley explained.

"I do not have a problem with Ron (Dennis)," he continued.  "I just want to hear the truth if we have to solve an internal problem.

"During the World Council meeting on 26 July I have the impression that he did not tell us the truth."

tv news

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

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Porsche Supercup
Britain, Germany, Hungary, Turkey
12:00pm-12:30pm - Rounds 6 & 7
12:30pm-1:00pm - Round 8 & 9 SPEED
Inside Drag Racing - ADRL Ennis, TX
4:30pm-5:00pm The Outdoor Channel
Trucks '07: A Rivalry Renewed
Highlights 2007 Craftsman Truck Season

8:00pm-9:00pm (R) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Banquet
9:00pm-10:30pm SPEED
Bobby Hamilton: Live to Race, Race to Live
10:30pm-11:00pm SPEED

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New delay for 'Stepneygate' scandal
(GMM)  McLaren will have to wait to discover if its 2008 car will be given a clean bill of health by F1's governing body.

The FIA World Motor Sport Council was on Friday expected to announce whether Ferrari intellectual property has been used in the British team's new design, and - if so - apply any sanctions.

But while the Paris based body has concluded the investigation into the MP4-23's legality, and submitted a detailed report to the World Council in Monaco, the long-lasting 'Stepneygate' saga now faces a new delay.

"The WMSC considers that McLaren, Ferrari and the other competitors in the FIA Formula One World Championship should be afforded the opportunity to make considered representations on the report at an extraordinary general meeting of the WMSC to be held on Thursday 14 February 2008 in Paris," a statement on Friday revealed.


Harvick team announced Nationwide lineup
Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) co-owner and driver Kevin Harvick will return to the driver’s seat of the No. 33 KHI Chevrolet in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2008. Harvick, a two-time NASCAR Busch Series Champion, will pilot the No. 33 Chevrolet for 22 of the 35 races throughout the season.

“I’m really looking forward to racing for KHI in the Nationwide Series in 2008,” said Harvick. “This will be the first year that I will only race for KHI in this series. My goal is to go out and be consistent, competitive and win races for KHI.”

Joining Harvick behind the wheel will be Cale Gale for 11 races and defending Truck Series Champion Ron Hornaday for two races.

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Coke/NASCAR sponsorship deal to last another 10 years
Coca-Cola is extending its marketing partnership with NASCAR for another decade, an arrangement that promotes the world's largest beverage company and its products to a U.S. fan base of 75 million people and millions more worldwide. The extension of the Coke-NASCAR relationship follows the announcement earlier this year of a new 10-year sponsorship agreement with the International Speedway Corporation, which meant Atlanta-based Coke bumped Pepsi out of the prestigious Daytona 500 and other ISC tracks. NASCAR spokesman Steve Phelps said most NASCAR sponsorships "average around 5 years," putting the latest move between Coke and the racing franchise — it runs through 2017 — in a unique category. Atlanta Journal Constitution


Argentina-based race team building Car of Tomorrow
For the first time in Cup Series history, a competition car is being built outside the United States, and it's happening in the South American country of Argentina. Alberto Canapino, technical director of the Argentina-based HAZ Racing, unveiled for fans and local media at the Auto Performance 2007 motor show held in the country's capital of Buenos Aires the team's plans for building a Sprint Cup Chevy, following all guidelines set by NASCAR for the Car of Tomorrow. "We are really proud to be the first team in NASCAR history to build a car in South America, or anywhere outside the USA," said Canapino, a well-known racecar builder and crew chief in South America. "When we went [to the U.S.], we felt they gave us a nice welcome to the sport. The category's technicians provided us with the rules and now we know most of the chassis will be built in Argentina. When word first hit the region about HAZ Racing's plans, thoughts were the team would look at the Nationwide Series as a starting point. But at the show the team confirmed plans on racing in NASCAR's top division. At the team's display there was a scale-model of the car with the #08 on both the sides and the top. "Sooner or later, there will come a day in which we will need help from an American driver to develop our car, someone to let us know most of the secrets of oval racing and the vehicle specifications," Canapino said. "However, at due time our plan is to select a driver from our native country to participate in the championship." Canapino might not have to look far for his driver. Fernando Hidalgo and Alejandro Masas, Canapino's partners at HAZ Racing, raced in the popular 3-Litre Turismo Carretera Series with driver Christian Ledesma and won the championship in their first season in the series. NASCAR.com

track news

A new circuit in Portugal
There has been talk for some time about an international racing circuit at Portimao on Portugal's southern coast. The promoters of the idea were at the Motorsport Business Forum in Monaco to give more information about the track and to show the world that work has already begun on the construction of the complex. The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve is 40 minutes from the international airport at Faro with a direct connection by motorway. The track will have a number of different configurations the longest being 2.91 miles in length and is equipped for all levels of international motor racing. The circuit will also have a system for simulating rain which will allow for different amounts of water on the tarmac. In addition the facilities will include an international standard kart facility, a technology park and the Algarve Race Resort, a hotel which will also have apartments that can be rented. There will also be a sports complex which will feature a sports clinic, a gym and a swimming pool, squash courts and a football field.

The construction work will be finished by October 2008 when the track will host a round of the World Superbike Championship.

There is, naturally much talk of perhaps one day bringing back the Portuguese Grand Prix but this seems at the moment to be a little premature although there are signs that Portimao will quickly become a major testing centre for F1, in competition with nearby Jerez de le Frontera, and with the Spanish circuits at Barcelona and Valencia. Grandprix.com


McLaren face judgment on MP4-23
McLaren are confident that the MP4-23 will be cleared for next season as it does not contain any intellectual property belonging to Ferrari.

The Woking-based outfit face an FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing on Friday, which forms part of their punishment for spying on their rivals.

If the governing body finds any Ferrari technical data on McLaren's 2008 challenger, the team will be barred from entering the Championship.

However, the team's CEO Martin Whitmarsh is confident that they will be cleared. He told Autosport: "I know the 2008 car doesn't have any foreign intellectual property in it, and therefore I think we've got to let the WMSC and FIA finish its investigations.

"I think we'll come out of this very shortly and will be able to put all of this behind us. And that's good for the sport. It's the right and appropriate outcome and we'll move on."

Max Mosley claims that McLaren have co-operated with the FIA, and is optimistic that the team have not incorporated data from the Scuderia.

"I hope it will turn out there's absolutely nothing," said the FIA president.

"If we want a level playing field, we've got to make sure, as far as we're able, that the 2008 McLaren doesn't incorporate any Ferrari intellectual property that's been illegitimately required.

"Some things they can legitimately observe in the pit-lane or whatever, but we're only interested in the illegitimate.

"The only way we could ascertain that was to have a major inquiry, which we've had, and to the best of my knowledge McLaren have fully co-operated.

"It meant getting forensic experts in there, looking at all their computers and interviewing relevant engineers."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis stated at the time of the Paris hearing earlier this year that his team would be cleared to race for 2008 with no penalty.  Planet F1


British press furious over FIA decision
Yesterday, during an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council that was held in Monaco, Renault was found to be in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code but imposed no penalty. For the same 'crime', McLaren was found guilty and punished with a record $100 million fine. Now the British newspapers believe that the FIA is ruling with different standards and they want a suitable explanation.

The newspapers believe that it is not fair that Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One supremo, and Jean Todt were entitled to be on the case as members of the WMSC, given their interest in the case. Bernie Ecclestone is a close friend to Flavio Briatore and they are business partners as they co-own the Queens Park Rangers football team.

After the decision was made public, Ecclestone declared: “Was it fair? We are always fair.” Also Max Mosley, President of the governing body, seems satisfied with the outcome of the hearing: "No decision is easy, it's always complicated, but I am absolutely at ease with this decision. The full decision when it is published will explain everything.”

Yesterday, the Renault F1 Team issued a statement, but McLaren refused to comment until the reasons for the verdict are known. Still Martin Whitmarsh declared to 'The Guardian': "We made it very clear that we were not seeking a big penalty. We would not wish the same sort of penalty which we received to be imposed on any other competitor."

The FIA will issue the detailed reasons for the decision today.


The full World Council decision
The World Motor Sport Council (“WMSC”) met on 6 December 2007 to consider a charge that Renault F1 Team (“Renault”) had breached Article 151(c) of the International Sporting Code, which prohibits "any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally".

1. Introduction

1.1. On 7 September 2007, Renault notified both McLaren and the FIA that when one its employees, Mechanical Design Engineer, Mr. Philip Mackereth (“Mackereth”), joined Renault in September 2006, he brought with him certain information which was confidential to his former employer, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes (“McLaren”).

1.2. Following from Renault’s notification and from a complaint submitted by McLaren (which included a substantial dossier of information) the FIA wrote to Renault on 8 November 2007 requesting it to appear at an extraordinary meeting of the WMSC on 6 December 2007. Renault was informed that the purpose of this meeting was to answer the charge that between September 2006 and October 2007, in breach of Article 151(c) of the International Sporting Code, it had unauthorized possession of documents and confidential information belonging to McLaren, including, but not limited to the layout and critical dimensions of the McLaren F1 car, together with details of the McLaren fuelling system, gear assembly, oil cooling system, hydraulic control system and a novel suspension component used by the 2006 and 2007 McLaren F1 cars.

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track news

Professional racing returns to NJ

November aerial photo showing construction progress.  Asphalt is now being laid.

At the annual Performance Racing Industry (PRI) tradeshow in Orlando, Florida, the racing world received official word that professional Motorsports is returning to New Jersey in a major way.  New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP), a new Motorsports complex in Southern New Jersey featuring five Motorsports venues, will host five major spectator races in its first year of operation and 34 club and driver school events have already been booked, filling out the schedule.  The marquee race of the season – Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series – is slated for August 29 – 31.

More than 100,000 spectators are forecast to visit Millville, NJ over the course of just two months next summer, as the facility welcomes some of America’s top touring racing series.  NJMP features two road-racing courses: Thunderbolt Raceway, named for the historic P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft which was stationed at Millville Army Air Field during World War II and where its’ crews were trained, and the Lightning Road Course – named for the P-38 Lightning – the first American dual engine fighter.

The Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA) will hold the first public spectator event in NJMP history on August 7-10.  Historic cars as diverse as the Ferrari Formula 2, Porsche 356, Jaguar E-Type, McLaren M8D Can-Am and Shelby GT350 participate in SVRA events, and will grace the Thunderbolt track.

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McLaren will notice Alonso absence - Massa
(GMM)  McLaren will notice the absence of Fernando Alonso in 2008, Felipe Massa has warned.

The Ferrari driver told the Spanish television network TV3: "He has done Ferrari a great favor by leaving McLaren.

"The loss will be very significant to them (McLaren) because he is a great driver.  They will notice it," Massa added.

Despite the collaboration netting four victories in 2007, Spaniard Alonso, 26, and McLaren terminated their contract at the end of a tumultuous season.

Brazilian Massa, also 26, did not want to speculate about what team his rival might race with next year.

"I don't want to comment," he said.  "He will go where he goes, and I hope it is the best for him.  It's not something I really have to worry about -- I am focused on my job."


Schu may test in 2008 says Ferrari spokesman
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher may return to the wheel of Ferrari's formula one cars in the new year, a Ferrari spokesman admitted on Thursday.

At Barcelona last month, the seven time world champion tested in earnest for the first time since retiring as a racer in 2006.

He has now re-appeared at Jerez this week, first on Thursday in front of an extraordinarily large crowd of 17,000.  His program on Friday will close the 2007 F1 test year.

"It may well be that Michael will sit in the car again in 2008," the German language newspaper Bild quotes a Ferrari spokesman as saying.

Some sections of the media billed Thursday's action at Jerez as a 'duel' between Schumacher, who is 38, and F1's rookie superstar Lewis Hamilton, because the talented pair's racing careers did not overlap.

McLaren's Hamilton emerged with the quicker time by about half a second, but the variable factors in play - including trials of regulations for both 2008 and 2009 - make such comparisons virtually meaningless.


Renault verdict 'fair' says Ecclestone

Ecclestone was sweating if Renault was banned

(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone insists that the decision of the World Motor Sport Council to not penalize Renault was "fair".

"We are always fair," he said on Thursday as he exited the hearing at Casino Square in Monaco.

The British press, however, is accusing F1's governing body of "double standards", after fining McLaren $100m in September for a similar breach of the International Sporting Code relating to technical espionage.

But in the FIA's original verdict in July, prior to the discovery of new evidence, McLaren also escaped penalty because there was insufficient evidence that the 'Stepneygate' secrets had been used.

The Paris body will publish a full verdict and transcripts on Friday.

"In the absence of a compelling explanation, they will be held culpable of double standards on a gigantic scale," the Daily Mail observed.

But FIA president Max Mosley said he is "absolutely at ease" with the Monaco ruling.

"No decision is easy, it's always complicated," he insisted.  "But I am absolutely at ease with this decision," Mosley said in Monte Carlo.

McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said the British team does not want to comment fully until after the reasons for the verdict are known.

But he told the Guardian newspaper: "We made it very clear that we were not seeking a big penalty.  We would not wish the same sort of penalty which we received to be imposed on any other competitor."

Attention will return to the World Motor Sport Council on Friday, when McLaren will discover if further penalties will be imposed following inspections of its 2008 car.


Scenes from Jerez
Here are some photos from F1 testing at Jerez Thursday giving Champ Car folks some idea of what the circuit looks like when they arrive next June.


Valiante wins Snap-on All-Stars Karting Classic at PRI

Michael Valiante

Champ Car's Nelson Philippe was the fastest qualifier and won the heat race comfortably, but ran into trouble in the final and that opened the door for Grand-Am driver Michael Valiante to win. Valiante always had dreams of being a Champ Car driver but the funding never materialized.  Today was his day to shine against some of the best professional drivers around in equal equipment.

Pos No. Name Laps Diff Best Lap
1. 95 Michael Valiante 50 - 14.503
2. 151 Gary Carlton 50 - 14.571
3. 1 Buddy Rice 50 4.130 14.477
4. 84 AJ Allmendinger 50 6.392 14.585
5. 6 Tyler Dueck 50 7.992 14.449
6. 26 Jamie McMurray 50 8.288 14.449
7. 39 Christian Fittipaldi 50 9.508 14.546
8. 14 Joel Miller 50 11.996 14.516
9. 29 Phil Giebler 50 12.827 14.532
10. 401 Josef Newgarden 50 13.130 14.550
11. 7 Bryan Herta 50 13.918 14.626
12. 13 Heath Voss 48 2 Laps 14.823
13. 8 Nelson Philippe 47 3 Laps 14.488
14. 459 Ron Capps 47 3 Laps 14.855
15. 1 Matt Jaskol 46 4 Laps 14.452
16. 92 David Jurca 45 5 Laps 14.536
17. 11 Jan Heylen 43 7 Laps 14.475
18. 26X Marco Andretti 14 36 Laps 14.751
19. 3 Eddie Lawson 13 37 Laps 14.617
20. 99 Steve Johnson 11 39 Laps 16.797
21. 41 Scott Speed 0 - No time
22. 457 Lake Speed 0 - No time


Bourdais to move to Switzerland
Sebastien Bourdais and his family will soon settle in Switzerland, in Morges, not far from another Seb, Sebastien Loeb.

racing news

Playboy Joins Mazda MX-5 Cup Program
Using the largest motorsports trade show in the world as the venue, the world's most popular sports car has joined forces with one of the world's most popular brands, as Playboy becomes the title sponsor for the 2008 SCCA Pro Racing Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. The MX-5 Cup saw thirty-percent growth in 2007 and is projected to become the number one spec professional series in the world. The series is also an integral part of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder that promotes champions of Mazda series to the next level of their career.

"This is a great way for us to grow the series and reach an audience of enthusiasts who may not have had the chance to see an MX-5 Cup race in person," noted Jim Jordan, Alternative Marketing Manager, Mazda North American Operations.

"We are excited to be working with Mazda on this program and can't wait for the season to begin," said Playboy Vice President and Publisher Lou Mohn. "We look forward to putting all of Playboy's brand assets into high gear to leverage this initiative and reach racing enthusiasts and Playboy fans alike."

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racing news

Czech Railways broke safety rules by allowing Fittipaldi to drive train
In the cockpit of a race car, Emerson Fittipaldi was a two-time Formula One champion. In the engine of a Czech train, he's persona non grata. Czech Rail Inspection said the state-run rail company broke safety rules when it let the Brazilian racer Fittipaldi and two Czech racers manipulate the controls of the Pendolino high-speed train. On October 11, the Prague-to-Vienna train "was operated in breach of Czech Railways' rules and of the Czech legal system," the agency said. Only train drivers are allowed in the engine, it said. IHT.com

industry news

Porsche in recall
Porsche is recalling 128 of its 911 GT3 and 911 GT3 RS sports cars to repair switches that control traction and adjust suspensions, the company said on Tuesday.  It said the problem could lead to the two functions' failure, although it was unaware of any cases in which this had happened.  The recall covers models made between Sept. 28 and Nov. 9 of this year, it said in a statement.


Overheard at Homestead
With the IRL in town for off-season testing at Homestead, Dr. Steve Olvey was there filming with Tony Kanaan a video about Head and Neck restraints.  This is for a presentation he will give for the FIA........Helio Castroneves said that his Dancing With The Stars partner Julianne Hough and him are just good friends.  GOOD friends.  But no, they are not an item......when asked if he was considering a move to NASCAR he stated that he is signed with Penske through '08, after that who knows.

british F3

British F3 Championship 2008 Schedule
Date Venue
24-Mar Oulton Park, UK (Mon)
13-Apr Knockhill, UK
27-Apr Croft , UK
18-May Monza, Italy
26-May Rockingham, UK (Mon)
08-Jun Snetterton , UK
29-Jun Thruxton, UK
13-Jul Brands Hatch, UK
01/02-Aug Spa, Belgium
17-Aug Silverstone, UK
31-Aug Bucharest, Romania** To be confirmed
21-Sep Donington Park, UK** To be confirmed


Sebring and Lime Rock Park Added
SCCA Pro Racing has announced the addition of two illustrious road courses, Sebring International Raceway and Lime Rock Park, to the 2008 SCCA SPEED World Challenge schedule.

For the eighth year in-a-row, the SCCA SPEED World Challenge Championships will start the season in Sebring, Fla., March 12 – 14, during the American Le Mans Series’ prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring event.

A Touring Car doubleheader at Lime Rock Park has also been added May 24 – 26, accompanying the Grand-Am GT Classic. Nestled in the Berkshire Hills of Lakeville, Conn., Lime Rock Park embraces all that is good in automotive racing with an ultra-quick course, dedicated New England fans and a gorgeous scenic setting. Coming off its 50th Anniversary year, Lime Rock Park is the perfect spot for the schedule’s only doubleheader.

Read more & Comment...

De Lorenzo slams Champ Car
Here is what Peter De Lorenzo at Autoextremist had to say this week about open wheel racing in the USA.......

As for Champ Car, any connection to the "glory days" of CART has long since evaporated into a scatter-shot, second-tier racing series that exists solely for the egos of the ownership group running it. Yes, you could certainly say the same thing about Tony George and his IRL, but the big difference between the two series is that the IRL has Indy, and Champ Car has no signature event. And no, Long Beach doesn't meet the criteria to be one, either. A happening, a circus, a party? Yes, of course, Long Beach is certainly all of that. But one of the world's great races on the order of the Indy 500, the Monaco GP or the 24 Hours of Le Mans? Not even close. Without any real focus or signature race, Champ Car has become the vagabond traveling circus of major league auto racing, a race series that will come to your city or country (if the price is right, of course) and put on a fairly decent show - one utterly devoid of recognizable stars or continuity or any connection to significant racing history - other than the fact that the racing team formerly known as Newman/Haas hangs its hat there. Not to take anything away from the brilliant Sebastien Bourdais, but the rest of the Champ Car lineup (other than maybe Paul Tracy and Graham Rahal) is virtually invisible and could pass for a decent Formula Atlantic/GP2 grid. And none of this, of course, is conducive to building fan loyalty or holding fan interest, let alone getting fans seriously interested in what's going on to begin with. These two series (Champ Car, IRL) conduct their individual slants on racing in a vacuum. The fact that they exist in their own separate little borderline irrelevant worlds is unconscionable and a disgrace. The time for a unification of some kind has come and gone so many times that the average fan doesn't even care let alone ask, "Why not?" Hell, even the hard-core racing enthusiasts on both sides don't have the stomach to get exercised about it anymore. At this point, I reserve particular ire for the Champ Car ownership group in this matter. Without a signature event to cling to and without any serious sponsors to speak of (save for N/H/L's McDonald's), these guys have become nothing more than malicious obstacles preventing major league open-wheel racing from gaining back at least a shred of relevance in this country. But then again, Big Checkbooks × Big Egos × Flat-Out Stupidity has equaled bad news since the very beginnings of this sport. Come to think about it, the brain trust that runs Champ Car can align with that bit of history, for what it's worth. Autoextremist.com

track news

Fontana to host preseason Cup test
Two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and 42 other NASCAR drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, will make a pit stop in Southern California when California Speedway hosts NASCAR Preseason Thunder on January 31 and February 1, 2008. The NASCAR Sprint Cup testing sessions will mark the Car of Tomorrow’s first run on the Speedway’s two-mile oval. The sessions will be open to the public, and admission to the Speedway’s grandstand seating is free.

“We are thrilled to host NASCAR Preseason Thunder, which will give our fans a preview of how the Car of Tomorrow will change the racing when it debuts at California Speedway this February, ” said Gillian Zucker, President of California Speedway. “Everyone I have spoken with about the Car of Tomorrow—from drivers, to crew chiefs, to team owners to officials—talks about how drafting will become a major factor, like Daytona or Talladega, without restrictor plates, ” Zucker added. “It should be a great show for California’s racing fans.

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Stewart takes aim at Max Mosley again
Before the FIA World Council met and decided not to punish Renault, Sir Jackie Stewart was the keynote speaker on the second day of the Motorsport Business Forum in Monaco. The triple World Champion and former F1 team owner asked some very serious questions about the way the sport is being governed at the moment and whether this is the best way in the future as he believes F1 requires more and more transparency and corporate governance if it is to retain the same level of backing from companies that must answer to shareholders.

Stewart has been very critical of FIA President Max Mosley since the decision against McLaren in September, but has kept a low profile since Mosley stirred up considerable controversy by writing off the Scotsman as being "a certifiable half-wit".

Stewart was speaking in his role as the F1 ambassador for the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Sir Jackie was keen to point that he wished to avoid "unpleasantness between individuals" but said that he felt that there was a serious need for a rethink about the way F1 is governed and that there must be "the removal of any concern of genuine independence and impartiality in the governance of sport by the FIA".

Stewart again brought up the question of the $100m fine against McLaren and said that there was "an extraordinary imbalance between the magnitude of the penalty and the crime alleged to have been committed".

"What was the evidence?" he said. "There was no sensible answer that I have heard."

Stewart went on to say that power within the FIA is overly concentrated in the hands of the FIA President, that the World Council was never designed to be a judicial body and that the precedent that was set with the McLaren case has been worrying for the corporate world in F1.

"Corporate governance is an important business," he said, adding that he believes that the sport should be headed by a chief executive, "a captain of industry to be head-hunted. Someone who is not involved and not from within the FIA. It is not the job for a retired racing driver."

He argued that this was necessary "to ensure the very survival of the sport and the long-term future".

Stewart said that the FIA has done many good things in terms of safety but added that he was "concerned because my life has been F1 and I can see clouds of the horizon that could affect the future prosperity of the sport. The time has come to take stock."

The remarks will not go down well with the FIA.  Grandprix.com


Jerez packs them in for F1 test

A big crowd just to watch testing

If anyone was in any doubt as to why there are two F1 races in Spain on the 2008 calendar plus a Champ Car race at Jerez, they only had to turn up at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit today, where it seemed that most of the locals must have called in sick.  The grandstands were completely packed out and it took teams two and a half hours to fight their way through 12 kilometers of traffic to get to the airport.


Win lunch with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
R.M. Palmer, which manufactures Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s chocolate bar, the Big Mo', is holding a contest to promote the candy.  The winner and three friends will have lunch with Earnhardt Jr. and his friends, who he refers to as the Big Mo' posse, in Mooresville, N.C., and will be treated to a VIP weekend at nearby Lowe's Motor Speedway.  For more information on the contest, visit www.bigmo-ment.com/eng-us/default.aspx.

track news

LB Gift Certificates on Sale

Long Beach

With the holidays fast approaching, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach has made buying a gift for that “hard-to-buy-for” friend or family member easy: a gift certificate for the 34th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 18-20, 2008.

These great-stocking-stuffer gift certificates can be purchased by gift givers in any dollar amount. The certificates can be used to buy Grand Prix tickets, admission to one of the many in-circuit hospitality clubs, official merchandise, Champ Car Paddock Passes, souvenir programs and much more. In addition, the Grand Prix ticket office will mail the gift certificates to anyone, anywhere!

But hurry -- the deadline for ordering Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach gift certificates to be mailed is Monday, Dec. 17. You can also pick up gift certificates in person at the Grand Prix Ticket Office, 3000 Pacific Avenue in Long Beach, until Thursday, Dec. 20.

To order gift certificates or tickets by phone, call toll-free, (888) 82-SPEED. For more information, visit the Grand Prix official Web site at www.gplb.com.


Renault escapes penalty UPDATE Renault statement:

"The ING Renault F1 Team welcomes the decision of the FIA World Motor Sport Council to impose no penalty on the team following its acknowledged breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code.

"ING Renault F1 Team Managing Director Flavio Briatore commented: “I would like to thank Renault, our title sponsor ING and all our partners for their wholehearted support during this sensitive period.

"I also wish to pay tribute to the team, which has handled the matter with integrity and dignity. We are pleased that we can now focus fully on our preparations for the 2008 championship.”  Source Renault / FIA

12/06/07 Renault have escaped punishment for their role in the spy scandal, despite being found guilty of fraudulent conduct.

The decision by the World Motor Sport Council in Monaco paves the way for Fernando Alonso to potentially return to the team.

It is understood Alonso, who recently quit McLaren in the wake of a turbulent year with the team, has been waiting on this verdict.

Renault found themselves facing a charge of fraudulent conduct, namely being found in unauthorized possession of confidential technical information belonging to McLaren.

But despite being found guilty of the charge, the Council have decided not to impose any sanctions on the team.

A simple FIA statement read: "The World Council found Renault F1 to be in breach of article 151c of the International Sporting Code, but imposed no penalty.

Read more & Comment...
industry news

Ford recalls 1.2M defective trucks
Ford Motor Co. said on Thursday it had recalled about 1.2 million vans, sport utility vehicles and heavy-duty pickup trucks because of a flaw in an engine sensor that could cause sudden stalling. In a notice posted with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the No. 2 U.S. automaker said vehicles equipped with a 7.3-liter diesel engine could stall without warning, causing a crash. The recall covers vehicles built between 1997 and 2003 including Ford's E-Series full-size van, the Excursion SUV and the F-450 Super Duty pickup truck.

Ford said its dealers would inspect the potentially flawed camshaft sensor in the affected vehicles and replace the part with a new version without charge.


Champ Car Fans Can Vote for Favorites
Four-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais and Roshfrans “Rookie of the Year” Robert Doornbos are among the nominees for the 2007 SPEED Performance Awards, with the winners announced during a one-hour special telecast to be aired next February.

SPEED TV is allowing its viewers the opportunity to vote for nine separate categories, some of which include Bourdais and Doornbos. Prospective voters can go to www.speedtv.com and click on the SPEED Performance Awards icon.

Doornbos, who won two races in his first season of Champ Car competition and wound up third in the final championship standings, is one of four candidates for the Racer Rookie of the Year Award. Juan Pablo Montoya, the 1999 Champ Car titlist, was also nominated for the award.

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Martinez still looking for full-time ride

David Martinez

In the lead-up to the Champ Car season finale in Mexico City last month, local media hailed David Martinez as the country's next racing star.

One newspaper went so far as to call him the greatest Mexican driver alive, even though he'd be racing in a field that included hometown hero veteran Mario Dominguez and in a city that also produced another local racing star, Michel Jourdain Jr.

Unfortunately, high praise doesn't pay the bills and the 25-year-old finds himself scrambling to find the financial backing he needs to keep his career afloat.

"It's a really expensive sport, but I am not the only one out there who has done a good job and doesn't have a ride," he said about his short-term deal with Forsythe Championship Racing that got him into the race in Mexico City.

"I have definitely been through tough times, but I think it has helped me grow up in a lot of ways and I am still young so I am sure the opportunity will come."  More at Globe and Mail


Star Mazda announces 2008 Schedule
The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear today released its 12-race 2008 schedule, beginning the season with its traditional date at the 56th annual Mobil1 12 Hours of Sebring International Raceway on March 14 and winding up at the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on October 18.  The most substantial change to the schedule involves the series’ first-ever appearance at Watkins Glen with the Grand-Am Rolex Series on June 7.

“This schedule represents the best possible balance of exposure and experience for our teams, driver and sponsors,” says Star Mazda Championship President Gary Rodrigues.  “Once again we will be sharing the center stage spotlight with the American Le Mans series, Champ Car and Grand-Am on a combination of road courses, street circuits and airport tracks.  Our role as a major step up the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development Ladder, combined with the new crop of top North American talent and an influx of top International drivers taking advantage of the exchange rates, promises to make 2008 the most spectacular and hard-fought season in Star Mazda Championship history.”

The Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is set to begin its 18th season as one of the premier North American open-wheel driver development series and will feature an educational mix of circuits in both the U.S. and Canada, including three street circuits, two airport track and seven natural-terrain road courses.

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Jerez Day 2: Kubica fastest on slicks
Pos Driver Team Tires Time Laps
1. Kubica BMW-Sauber Slicks 1:19.157 87
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes Grooved 1:19.331 64
3. Massa Ferrari Grooved 1:19.333 68
4. Webber Red Bull-Ferrari Slicks 1:19.605 63
5. Glock Toyota Slicks 1:19.687 40
6. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes Slicks 1:19.787 75
7. Piquet Renault Slicks 1:19.834 90
8. M.Schumacher Ferrari Slicks 1:19.885 67
9. Barrichello Honda Slicks 1:19.905 89
10. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber Slicks 1:20.125 87
11. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:20.301 65
12. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:20.339 56
13. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:20.507 55
14. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:20.775 99
15. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:20.802 39
16. Filippi Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:20.915 83
17. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:21.055 62
18. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:21.093 79
19. Liuzzi Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:21.194 76
20. R.Schumacher Force India-Ferrari (B) 1:21.853 71


Graydon Elliott shut down

Paul Tracy in the Graydon Elliott Daytona Prototype at the Rolex 24 in 2006

The IDA hearing panel found that Graydon Elliott had "failed to meet IDA minimum capital requirements from January 1 to February 26, 2007; provided inaccurate, misleading and contradictory information concerning its financial and other affairs on several occasions when under close scrutiny by the IDA; and engaged in a variety of financial transactions that seemed, at best, questionable, and at worst, improper, and in violation of various requirements imposed upon it by the IDA." On the upside, the expulsion will not effect any clients, as Graydon currently has no accounts, assets or even employees. All client accounts were transferred to Penson Financial Services Inc. when Graydon was suspended in February. 


Homestead-Miami Tickets On-Sale Dec. 17
This March, the IndyCar Series once again kicks off its 2008 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and the field is wide open.

Will “Dancing With the Stars” champion Helio Castroneves cha-cha his way to the checkered flag? Or will it be three-time defending SpeedJam Indy 300 champion Dan Wheldon?

How will Danica Patrick fare in her second season with Andretti-Green Racing? Will one of Miami’s native sons—Castroneves, Tony Kanaan or Scott Sharp—take home the hardware?

It all begins March 29, 2008, at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and features the SpeedJam Indy 300, the IndyPro Series Miami 100, the Rolex Sports Car Series Grand Prix of Miami, and a full-day festival of car shows, Memphis Barbeque, activities for kids and live music.

SpeedJam tickets, starting at just $30, will go on sale to the public Dec. 17. Group tickets, suites, corporate hospitality and premium ticket packages are also available for SpeedJam.

Homestead-Miami Speedway will offer season-ticket packages incorporating both SpeedJam and Ford Championship Weekend—home of the final race in the Chase for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as well as the finales of the NASCAR Nationwide and Craftsman Truck series. Season packages start at just $150 and guarantee holders seats for the Sprint Cup Ford 400, as well as provide for exclusive parking next to the Speedway tower for all races.

Tickets can be purchased at www.RaceTickets.com or by calling (866) 409-RACE. For packages, please contact the appropriate Speedway representative listed below. For more information, please visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com. HMR PR

industry news

Big slump in 2007 German car sales
New car sales in Germany slumped 9 per cent in 2007 to between 3.16 and 3.17 million vehicles - the lowest since German unification, according to figures released Thursday. But the decline in domestic demand was more than made up for by increased sales internationally, the German Automobile Industry Federation VDA said.

Exports rose 10 per cent to 4.3 million units for the fifth annual record in a row, VDA president Matthias Wissmann said at the federation's annual press conference.

Car exports to Britain rose 48 per cent, while sales to Russia nearly doubled and exports to China increased by more than one-third compared with 2006, Wissmann said.

"With sales on nearly 1 million vehicles, China has become the most important market for German manufacturers," the VDA chief said.


Massa leads Michael at midday
Ferrari dominated this morning's test session in Jerez, as Michael Schumacher returned to test for two days for the Italian squad. The former champion however, was beaten to top spot by his 2006 team-mate Felipe Massa, with the Brazilian clocking a 1m19.708s to Michael's 1m19.885s. The team's nearest challenger was BMW, who had Kubica in third on a 1m20.031s.

Unofficial morning times from Jerez:
1. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) - 1:19.708, 46 laps
2. Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) - 1:19.885, 36 laps
3. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:20.031, 20 laps
4. Mark Webber (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:20.149, 54 laps
5. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:20.273, 27 laps
6. Sébastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) - 1:20.507, 38 laps
7. Nelson Piquet Jr. (Renault) - 1:20.680, 38 laps
8. Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) - 1:20.741, 36 laps
9. Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:20.796, 41 laps
10. Kazuki Nakajima (Williams-Toyota) - 1:20.802, 29 laps
11. Nico Rosberg (Williams-Toyota) - 1:21.005, 44 laps
12. David Coulthard (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:21.055, 24 laps
13. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:21.104, 52 laps
14. Jarno Trulli (Toyota) - 1:21.695, 37 laps
15. Rubens Barrichello (Honda) - 1:21.795, 50 laps
16. Timo Glock (Toyota) - 1:21.890, 13 laps
17. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India-Ferrari) - 1:21.909, 38 laps
18. Luca Filippi (Honda) - 1:21.982, 45 laps
19. Takuma Sato (Super Aguri-Honda) - 1:22.373, 41 laps
20. Ralf Schumacher (Force India-Ferrari) - 1:23.340, 29 laps


Hamilton ready to lead McLaren - Whitmarsh
(GMM)  Despite operating a strict policy of driver equality in 2007 and before, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton will be the team's de facto number one next season, chief executive Martin Whitmarsh has suggested.

"We're determined that Lewis will be the world champion by this time next year," he said, according to the website of the British magazine Autosport on Thursday.

"Back at our factories in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart, people are working incredibly hard to make that happen," Whitmarsh added.

The 49-year-old did not specifically say Hamilton will enjoy preferential treatment over his teammate in 2008, but he made clear that the young Briton is ready to "lead a team".

"He can be the talisman that can take us to a championship," Whitmarsh said.

He explained that Hamilton's readiness to spearhead the team's 2008 efforts is not complicating the search to replace Fernando Alonso.

"There's not a lot of difficulty for the team -- we already have within the team two very competitive and great drivers in the form of Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett," Whitmarsh said.

"There aren't many drivers in the world who you could say are materially better than those two, and we're mindful of the stability that using drivers who are already within the team brings us," he added.


Bourdais plays down expectations

Sebastien Bourdais at Jerez

Sebastien Bourdais warns not to have too high expectations of him ahead of his rookie Formula 1 season – insisting he doesn’t want to put pressure on himself by setting any serious targets.

The four-time Champ Car title winner makes a long-awaited switch to F1 with Toro Rosso in 2008 and enters with many placing high expectations on him following his domination in America.

But although the 28-year-old acknowledges his reputation has increased people’s expectations, he stresses that he will still be an F1 rookie and therefore has a lot yet to learn.

“I don’t want to put myself under pressure,” he said in an interview with F1’s official website. “I want to enjoy what I am doing. Pressure is not a good thing as it can lead drivers to make mistakes.  Seb Vettel has done thousands of kilometers testing with BMW, he has just done half a season of F1, whereas I’ve just arrived from the USA and, despite my experience, I am the rookie here.  For the moment I just want to make the most of the time before the first race of 2008.

“If it took place tomorrow, I’d be stressed.  I know a lot is expected of me, especially from the French, but I would ask them not to expect too much.”

“If I can make it through to Q2 on a regular basis and score a few points here and there, I would be super happy,” he said. But I don’t want to have any firm targets.”

“The Barcelona test was my first real opportunity to tackle the technical side of F1,” he said. “We started working on set-up but the only big change I made there was to the rear springs and I was not unhappy with the times I set.  The same goes for this test now at Jerez.  My primary goal is to bond with the team and find a set-up that suits my driving style – without chasing performance.  Though the time went down very well…”


Mosley aims to make cheaters regret their actions
An unrepentant FIA President Max Mosley believes that the Stepneygate crisis which threatened to derail the 2007 season - and which cost McLaren the Constructors' Championship - did not harm F1.

Taking the notion that 'all publicity is good publicity' to new, unexplored lengths, a defiant Mosley also reiterated that he is prepared to expel McLaren from the 2008 championship if it is found that the team have used Ferrari material to design their new charger.

"I don't think it [Spygate] has done any damage," Mosley told The Times. "In fact, it has raised the public awareness. That is the paradox. What is important is that people believe the spying has stopped and will continue to be stopped.

"If we want a level playing field, we have to be sure as far as we are able that the 2008 McLaren does not incorporate any Ferrari intellectual property that has been illegally acquired. I know that top teams are being super careful, revising their procedures and emphasizing to all their people that this sort of thing must not happen."

Mosley is reported to have authorized a "forensic examination" of McLaren's computers. Should any Ferrari material be discovered then the FIA could order the team to design a new car from scratch - a time-consuming and debilitating process that in itself would effectively rule them out of the championship. Alternatively, the Woking outfit could be thrown out of the championship.

With Renault also being called to account over new espionage charges, the newspaper warns that 'Ferrari could drive unchallenged to the Formula One World Championship next season if two of their main rivals are wiped from the grid by tough new court decisions.' Planet F1

industry news

Challenger revs up 6,000 orders

Dodge Challenger

While still months away from dealer lots, the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is selling like a Hemi-powered hotcake.

More than 6,000 muscle car lovers placed orders at dealerships this week -- including more than 4,300 people who plunked down deposits Monday, the first day customers could order the car. The model will not be released until spring.

The Challenger SRT8 had the most-ever first-day preorders for a limited edition vehicle, and rivals the 2000 Chrysler PT Cruiser for the most first-day preordered vehicle in the automaker's history.

"This is unprecedented," said Mark Mallie, Challenger brand manager. "Customers were actually coming to us and pushing us, so we thought this was a good time to take presale orders."

The 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 will make its debut at the Chicago Auto Show in February, but enthusiasts putting down cash this week are banking it will maintain the 1970s muscle look of the 2006 Challenger concept, which has circulated auto shows in recent years.

Chrysler officials say each new Challenger features a numbered dash plaque, plus dual "carbon-fiber" hood stripes that harken back to the original Challenger. So far more than half the orders for the $37,995 have specified "HEMI Orange."

The limited-edition 2008 vehicle is also available in black and silver. A full lineup of Challengers will roll out in 2009. Detroit News


Villa not interested to become BMW's third driver
Javier Villa enjoyed his first outing in a Formula 1 car on Tuesday in Jerez. The young Spaniard completed half a day of testing with the team. Even though he enjoyed his F1 debut he will put his focus on the GP2 series rather than becoming a test and reserve driver at BMW Sauber F1.

In the last few days the Spanish media suggested Villa was offered a role to become the team's test driver, but Villa is currently completely focused on his third season in GP2. "I can't become their test driver because I will be racing in GP2 next season. It wouldn't fit in to do both. If I would be the team's fourth driver perhaps it would be possible. I could take part in a few test sessions and would not be on duty during the Friday's in a GP weekend. I want to stay focused on my GP2 season for now. Now I have experienced Formula 1 I know where I want to go."


Snap-on All-Stars Karting Classic
The Snap-on All-Stars Karting Classic taking place on the evening of December 6th at the 20th Annual PRI Trade Show, will include some of the top names in North American racing battling it out in the Masters Division.  Attendance is free and the racing starts at 7:00 p.m.

The competitors will run on a specially configured road course set up immediately outside the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, where the PRI Trade Show is held Dec. 6-8, 2007.

Drivers confirmed to be participating in the Masters Division of the event include (in no particular order):

  • Jamie McMurray (NASCAR),
  • A.J. Allmendinger (NASCAR),
  • John Andretti (NASCAR / IndyCar),
  • Marco Andretti (IndyCar),
  • Tomas Scheckter (IndyCar),
  • Bryan Herta (ALMS),
  • Joey Hand (Grand-Am),
  • Buddy Rice (IndyCar),
  • Eddie Lawson (MotoGP),
  • Scott Speed (F-1 / Stock Car),
  • Jan Heylen (Champ Car),
  • Wayne Taylor (Grand-Am),
  • Michael Valiante (Grand-Am),
  • Steve Johnson (NHRA),
  • Ron Capps (NHRA),
  • Katherine Legge (Champ Car),
  • Lake Speed (NHRA)
  • Christian Fittipaldi (ALMS)
  • Nelson Philippe (Champ Car)
  • Phil Giebler (Indy Car)
  • Heath Voss (Supercross)

More at ekartingnews.com


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Kimi says 'problems' forced McLaren move
  • Hamilton quick on test track return
  • Briatore threatens to sue McLaren
  • Williams 'best' for Hulkenberg - manager
  • Hamilton repeats tax motivation for UK exit
  • Loeb good enough for F1 switch - Lafitte
  • Schu, Raikkonen, star in Fiat advert
  • Ralf plays down Force India test
  • Kimi would welcome Alonso as teammate

Kimi says 'problems' forced McLaren move
(GMM)  New world champion Kimi Raikkonen says he left McLaren at the end of last year because of "problems" he was having with the British team.

The Finn, who drove for Ron Dennis' outfit for five years before switching to Ferrari in 2007, told the Roman newspaper Corriere dello Sport: "I was in a situation that I did not like too much."

Raikkonen's comments echo those of his departed former teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, and also Fernando Alonso, who recently split with the Woking based team after serving just one of a multi-year contract.

Raikkonen, 28, explained that McLaren's qualms with him had little to do with his performance.

"It was more a question of my behavior and what I wanted to do in my free time," he said.  "But I have always been very clear: I want to live my life as well."

Raikkonen was asked how he would have felt if he had been in Alonso's shoes at McLaren this year.

"Even worse, I would say.  Whenever I am with other teams, I have very good relationships," he answered.

He admits that Lewis Hamilton's mistakes at the end of the season helped him to emerge with the drivers' title.

"I don't know if it was only because he was a newcomer," Raikkonen said.

"I think he found himself in a situation with very high psychological pressure in the decisive moments.  But I also won more races," he smiled.

Hamilton quick on test track return
(GMM)  For the first time since narrowly missing the 2007 championship in Brazil, Lewis Hamilton returned to the formula one track on Wednesday.

The British driver set the quickest time of the 20 drivers in action, but not before needing his McLaren to be recovered from a gravel trap following a spin.

Tuesday's quickest runner Nick Heidfeld, meanwhile, languished at the bottom of the times.

"I have been using 50 per cent less downforce in preparation for 2009," the BMW driver explained to the Swiss newspaper Blick.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen was third quickest ahead of his teammate Felipe Massa, and the Finn uniquely had two separate Ferraris available to him.

Christian Klien won Wednesday's Force India shootout against Giancarlo Fisichella on slicks, but the veteran Roman was narrowly quicker than his Austrian adversary when both used grooved tires.

Expected 2008 Toyota racer Jarno Trulli, meanwhile, will test at Jerez alongside the team's newcomer Timo Glock on Thursday.

Read more & Comment...
racing news

2007 Economaki Champion of Champions award
The 10 contenders for the 2007 Economaki Champion of Champions award are:
  • Sebastien Bourdais, Champ Car World Series
  • Jerry Coons, Jr., USAC National Midget Series
  • Dario Franchitti, IndyCar Series
  • Steve Francis, World of Outlaws Late Model Series
  • Jon Fogarty/Alex Gurney, Grand-Am Rolex Series
  • Ron Hornaday, Jr., NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
  • Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR Nextel Cup Series
  • Joey Logano, NASCAR Busch East Series
  • Donny Schatz, World of Outlaws Sprint Series
  • Tony Schumacher, NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series


Q and A with Renault's Christian Silk
Christian Silk, who has held his role of the ING Renault F1 Team's chief test engineer for a number of years, talks about what’s at stake this winter. Every test session helps to fine-tune preparations for the 2008 season.

Christian, it looks like this week’s test session is going to be a pretty busy one for the team...
"It’s true. There are a huge number of things we have to prepare for the coming season. For the moment, we’re concentrating on dealing with the arrival of the standard ECU, which brings with it the end of traction control and the Engine Braking System. We have to learn how to work with all these new factors. In addition, we weren’t competitive in 2007 and we’re determined to get back to the front of the field, so we have a huge amount of work to do."

Just how big is the task in the area of electronics?
"Everything, and I mean absolutely everything, is completely new for the team – the procedures as well as the data acquisition systems and analysis tools. So we have to familiarize ourselves with this system and arrive in Melbourne knowing it like the back of our hand: that’s why there are a lot of people in the garage for these first winter tests."

The fact that you’re working with the R27, one of last season’s most reliable cars, must be a big help...
"CS: It’s true, the reliability is a big bonus for us. It means that we can complete test days without technical problems. We can run through all our programs, understand the new parameters, fine-tune the set-ups we need to use without traction control, etc."

Read more & Comment...

F1 going to Moscow in 2008
The Bavaria City Racing organization is to take F1 to the streets of Moscow in 2008 with plans for an event on July 13, the weekend between the British and German Grands Prix. The plan is to create a street circuit around the Kremlin. The plan came to fruition thanks to an approach by Bavaria City Racing to the Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende who agreed to talk directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin when the pair met early last month. Putin agreed that the event was a great idea and Bavaria City Racing , which started out with the hugely successful event on the streets of Rotterdam in 2005. Since then the event has grown to attract 500,000 people each year and a deal is in place for the event to be held for 10 more years. Grandprix.com


Viso and Battistini complete 2-Day Minardi test UPDATE Below are photos from the recent test courtesy of Champ Car:

Ernesto Viso

Dillon Battistini

12/04/07 [Editor's Note: Although the fans want to see lap times Champ Car and its teams continue to not publish them as if there was some sort of secret. But who cares about the customers, right?]

Minardi Team USA wrapped up two days of testing with Venezuelan Ernesto Viso and Englishman Dillon Battistini today at Sebring International Raceway in sunny Florida. The pair completed nearly 300 miles each around the 1.669 mile road course, which is the sight of the first Series test in early February 2008.

The temperatures were very mild, and made for good testing conditions; not too hot, not too cold, and both drivers came to grips with the DP01 very quickly. Monday started out with systems checks and the drivers acclimatizing themselves to the cars. For Ernesto, there was no adjustment to the paddle-shift gearbox, as GP2 cars utilize the same technology, but for Dillon, it was a whole new procedure. Both drivers spent the necessary time getting comfortable, and the remainder of the time on Monday was used getting the drivers up to speed.

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Perera Completes Test for Forsythe/Pettit Racing

Franck Perera

Forsythe/Pettit Racing completed two days of testing with Champ Car Atlantic Rookie of the Year Franck Perera at MSR Houston, the 17-turn, 2.38-mile road course located 13 miles south of Houston.  MSR will also be the site of the Series final test dates in March 2008 before the season kicks off with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach April 18-20th.

“Over the two days of running, we laid out some very stringent tests and performance requirements for Franck,” explained Tom Brown, technical Director for Forsythe/Pettit Racing. “Running flawlessly both days, it was extremely encouraging that Franck met and exceeded each requirement set for him.  He is a consummate professional with a rare touch and feel for the car.”

Within the very first few laps of the morning session, Perera’s ability to quickly learn the car and track along with his vast shakedown and testing experience enabled him to immediately be up to speed and provide valuable feedback.  Over the course of the two days, the engineers were able to gather extremely productive suspension, braking and aerodynamic data through a battery of testing procedures in preparation for next season.

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Another NASCAR team folds
Spears Motorsports will not return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, according to a letter from owners Wayne and Connie Spears posted on the team's Web site.

"In the last couple of years business and demands of travel have left no time for us to be hands-on with the team," the owners wrote. "Connie and I have to miss too many races, and we feel like we leave the team without the help and support they deserve.

"Walking away from the our team and parking the No. 75 is like losing one's closest friend. To us, racing was not a business, it was more like a big family. And not being able to spend enough time with our family has been unfair to the both of us."


McLaren clarifies spy case against Renault
The FIA has asked us to correct certain factual errors contained in a press briefing given on our behalf by one journalist concerning Renault F1 and we are pleased to do so. The corrections are as follows.

In our briefing, we stated that there were 18 witness statements from Renault employees admitting that they had viewed McLaren confidential information.

To the extent that this implied that 18 different Renault employees admitted viewing McLaren confidential information it was inaccurate. 13 Renault F1 employees provided 18 witness statements and 9 of them have so far admitted they viewed and discussed the confidential technical information belonging to McLaren.

We stated that the confidential information on computer disks was uploaded onto 11 Renault computers.

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Phoenix Racing announces Nationwide and Sprint Cup plans for '08
Phoenix Racing has released its 2008 programs and opportunities. PRI announced the continued relationship with Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida, which includes Miccosukee Indian Gaming and Miccosukee Golf and Resorts to support their #1 Chevy for the entire 2008 Nationwide season. PRI will also participate in nine Sprint Cup races. Johnny Sauter will compete for the 2008 Nationwide Championship in the #1 Miccosukee Chevy. Sterling Marlin will pilot the Miccosukee #09 Chevy for seven races with Max Papis driving the two road courses in the Sprint Cup. PRI has secured a contract with Hendrick Motorsports to supply engines in 2008; additional projects with Hendricks and the second Nationwide team will be announced at a later date. PRI is pursuing sponsorship opportunities for a second Nationwide car for the 2008 campaign. Phoenix PR


New Crew Chief for Mayfield
Haas CNC Racing announced that Dave Skog has been named crew chief of the #66 Haas Automation Chevy team. Skog, 41, who previously lead Haas CNC Racing’s engineering department takes over for Harold Holly as the team looks to improve on its 31st-place finish in the 2007 owner’s points. Skog will be paired with Jeremy Mayfield who has been behind the wheel of the #66 since the Oct. 28 race at Atlanta. It will be a reunion of sorts for Skog and Mayfield who together formed the crew chief/driver combination for Evernham Motorsport’s #19 team in 2002. The change comes after Haas CNC Racing and Harold Holly mutually part ways. Haas CNC Racing PR


St. Pete tickets on sale
Officials with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg announced today that tickets for the 2008 event will go on sale to the general public Friday, Dec. 7, at 10 a.m. (EST). The Honda Grand Prix also introduced Progress Energy Florida as a new associate sponsor of the event, which is slated to be run April 4-6, 2008, in downtown St. Petersburg. Beginning Dec. 7, all tickets will be available with prices starting at $25 for adults. All tickets purchased between Dec. 7 and Dec. 31 will include a free Saturday/Sunday pass to the IndyCar Series paddock, which carries a value of $55. All ticket prices remain unchanged from 2007 for the 2008 event for the second-consecutive year. The fourth-annual event will be contested again on a 1.8-mile temporary street circuit in downtown St. Petersburg. In addition to the Honda Indy St. Pete IndyCar Series race on April 6, the event will also feature the second-annual Acura Sports Car Challenge American Le Mans Series race on Saturday, April 5, giving fans access to two world-class race events during the weekend. "We’re very excited about the 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and equally excited to announce a partnership with Progress Energy Florida," said Kevin Savoree, managing director of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. "We’ve worked very hard to make this an event that offers something for everyone and make this an event that the community can look forward to. Progress Energy Florida is a very community-minded partner and we’re looking forward to doing great things with them in this effort.” Progress Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Progress Energy.


Piquet and Renault try 2009 rubber
Renault today continued its work begun on day one of this final 2007 test at Jerez.

The primary target for the day was to test the slick tires that have been made available to all teams, in anticipation of their possible return in 2009. Three sets were available for each car.

The team’s work focused on data acquisition concerning the tires’ behavior and the car’s handling in this configuration, as well as conducting some comparative tests between 2007 and 2009 configurations in order to collect as much information as possible.

Piquet ultimately ran a slightly shortened program following a morning off and subsequent delays, but he nevertheless collected interesting data during the day. After covering a total of 71 laps, he finished the day sixth on the timesheets, with a best lap of 1:19.982s. 

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Mosley bullish on engine freeze, new direction

Max Mosley

FIA President Max Mosley gave the keynote address to the third annual Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco this morning, where he presented the latest thinking behind the developments in the FIA Formula One World Championship.

He was joined by Burkhard Göschel, Chairman of the Formula One Manufacturers Advisory Commission and one of the world’s leading authorities on the modern car industry, who offered his opinion on these developments from a manufacturer’s point of view.

Speaking to a packed auditorium Mosley first talked about the new rules which will see the development of engines frozen for the next ten years and the introduction of new energy recovery devices which are hugely relevant to the car industry.

“The biggest element in the new approach to F1 is with the engine," Mosley began. "Full engine freeze is very imminent now. Why are we doing that? The F1 racing engine is fully developed, there is no need to develop an F1 engine any further. The engine runs at 19,000 rpm which is far faster than any comparable engine. It sounds good, it’s reliable and amazingly the six partially frozen engines of the current manufacturers are really evenly matched."

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Hamilton ends second day at Jerez on top
On the second day of testing at Jerez, McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was the fastest man on track. Hamilton was followed by Red Bull's David Coulthard and Felipe Massa in his Ferrari. Testing will continue tomorrow.

Wednesday Results

Pos. Driver    Team Fast Lap
1 L. Hamilton McLaren 1:19.371 73
2 D. Coulthard Red Bull 1:19.421 80
3 F. Massa Ferrari 1:19.761 97
4 K. Räikkönen Ferrari 1:19.779 87
5 P. de la Rosa McLaren 1:19.887 62
6 N. Piquet Jr. Renault 1:19.982 71
7 C. Klien Force India F1 1:20.187 86
8 S. Vettel Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:20.398 57
9 G. Fisichella Force India F1 1:20.470 102
10 R. Kubica BMW 1:20.487 118
11 T. Glock Toyota 1:20.523 54
12 S. Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:20.533 75
13 N. Rosberg Williams 1:20.671 66
14 A. Zuber Super Aguri 1:20.897 109
15 M. Webber Red Bull 1:20.944 41
16 N. Hulkenberg Williams 1:21.068 67
17 A. Davidson Super Aguri 1:21.076 74
18 R. Barrichello Honda 1:21.184 103
19 K. Kobayashi Toyota 1:21.699 118
20 N. Heidfeld BMW 1:22.875 93


Porsche team switches to Ferraris for '08
Tafel Racing is heading in a different direction for the 2008 American Le Mans Series season after announcing it will campaign two Ferrari F430 GTs in the highly competitive GT2 class. The move comes following a 2007 season that saw the Cumming, Ga.-based team record six podium finishes and third place in both the drivers and team championships using Porsche power.

But Ferraris record of nine class wins in 12 races, 11 GT2 pole positions and the class manufacturer title, and the driver and team championships with Risi Competizione made team owner Jim Tafel look hard at a switch.

“We spent the majority of the 2007 season in the rear-view mirror of the Ferrari teams,” said Tafel, who also drives for the team. “We took a long hard look at what it would take to get back on a level playing field with teams like Risi Competizione and Petersen Motorsports, and after much soul searching and a very informative visit to Ferrari and Micheletto, who build the cars for Ferrari, we saw that the only way forward was to make the change.”

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'Twinkle Toes' Castroneves back in race car
IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves will return to the cockpit of his No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone for the first time since winning "Dancing With The Stars" when IndyCar Series competitors test at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Dec. 6.

Castroneves, who mamboed, waltzed and jived his way to victory with professional dance partner Julianne Hough on the fifth season of the popular primetime show, will participate in a Firestone manufacturers test. Fans can watch the testing from the 1.5-mile oval's general-admission grandstand seating from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"It's been a couple of months since I've been in a race car, so I'm definitely looking forward to getting back on the track," the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner said. "I had a lot of fun with 'Dancing with the Stars,' but now it's time for me to turn my attention back to racing, which is what I do best. Now that I've won the dancing title, I have my sights set on next year's IndyCar Series championship."

Castroneves will be joined by Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe, Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter, Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan and Hideki Mutoh and three-time defending SpeedJam Indy 300 winner Dan Wheldon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing.

"I'm also looking forward to the test, as it will be the first time that Ryan (Briscoe) and I will be able to work together on the IndyCar Series program," Castroneves said. "He's a fantastic driver, so hopefully we'll both be able to teach each other a few things to ensure that Team Penske is consistently among the leaders in 2008."  The SpeedJam Indy 300, the 2008 IndyCar Series season opener, is scheduled for March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

track news

Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Reveals Economic Impact
Re-establishing itself as one of Detroit’s most popular and premiere summertime events, the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix generated nearly $53 million in direct economic impact for the region in 2007.

Featuring the exotic sports cars of the American Le Mans Series and the sleek open-wheel machines of the IndyCar Series, the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix attracted more that 100,000 people over the course of the three-day international event – August 31-September 2, 2007. The holiday weekend celebration represented the return of world-class auto racing to the Motor City with the first event run on the Raceway at Belle Isle Park street circuit in more than six years. It was also a highlight of what was considered one of the most exciting weekends in Detroit history. “3 Days in the D” took place Labor Day weekend and consisted of the Grand Prix, the Detroit International Jazz Festival and Oakland County’s Arts, Beats & Eats celebration.

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Prodrive not guaranteed 2009 entry - Mosley
(GMM)  Max Mosley says Prodrive's guaranteed 2008 formula one entry will not automatically be carried over to 2009.

When announcing that the 'customer car' row had thwarted his outfit's plans to debut next year, Prodrive boss David Richards revealed that he intends to reassess the situation once a new Concorde Agreement is in effect in the future.

But Mosley, who is the president of F1's governing body, has warned that the FIA will have the right to block Prodrive's plans to race either in 2009 or beyond.

"There's nothing to stop them entering for 2009," the Briton said in an interview with The Paddock magazine.

"In the normal course of events, Prodrive's entry would be accepted, but the situation without the Concorde Agreement is as it was before the Concorde Agreement -- people submit entries and the FIA accepts or rejects them," Mosley added.

Prodrive lodged a 300,000 euro deposit with the FIA when the outfit was selected from a list of potential entrants to fill the twelfth and final garage slot for 2008.

Mosley said Richards' company will probably not be refunded.

"But that's probably it," he said of any other penalties for forgoing the 2008 entry.

Mosley added: "I don't think anybody is going to go after them."


NASCAR scoops two of three awards
At a special Awards dinner in the magnificent Rhodes House in Oxford, organized by Racecar Graphic and attended by senior motorsport engineers and executives from around the world, the Race Engine Designer of 2007 and the Racecar Aerodynamicist of 2007 both went to NASCAR recipients. 

The award for the Race Engine Designer of 2007 was presented to Jim Covey, Chevrolet's NASCAR powertrain manager.  Kurt Romberg, chief aerodynamicist of the Cup-winning Hendrick Motorsports team, picked up the Racecar Aerodynamicist of 2007 award. 

It was left to UK company Xtrac to defend European honor by picking up the Most Innovative New Motorsport Product of 2007, for its front-wheel drive Touring Car gearbox, which has proved so successful in both the World Touring Car Championship and the British Touring Car Championship.

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Wurz set for Le Mans return in 2008

Alex Wurz

(GMM)  Alex Wurz is expected to contest the famous 24 hour Le Mans race next year.

The veteran Austrian, who stepped down as Nico Rosberg's Williams teammate near the end of a disappointing F1 return in 2007, is in serious talks with the works Peugeot team, the newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten reports.

It is claimed that the 33-year-old, presumably to fill the place of Jacques Villeneuve who contested Le Mans this year before switching to NASCAR, will sign a contract before Christmas.

It is also believed that he is in ongoing talks with Williams about becoming an F1 consultant in the future.

Wurz is no stranger to Le Mans, having become the youngest ever winner of the famous race in 1996 before debuting in formula one with Benetton the following year.


F1 bankrupting another track
No wonder they were looking seriously at Champ Car.  The Nürburgring track lost 40.2 Million Euro in fiscal year 2006.  The major shareholder (90%) of the Nürburgring GmbH is the county of Rheinland-Pfalz, and they published this information in their 2006 investment report.

According to the report, in fiscal year 2005 Nürburgring GmbH  lost 9.7M Euro. The loss increase from 2005 to 2006 is about 30.5M Euro!

According to the report Nürburgring GmbH has lost 9.9M Euro with its F1 race in 2006. Further to that they were forced to book a provision of 23.8M. Euro for anticipated F1 GP losses in the years 2007, 2009 and 2011.

industry news

GM seeks stake in Russian carmaker
General Motors Corp. is bidding for a substantial stake in Russia's largest carmaker, OAO AvtoVAZ, to strengthen its position in one of the world's fastest-growing major auto markets.

In Russia, "the market is growing 30 percent year-on-year and GM's sales growth is close to 100 percent, so we're experiencing enormous demand for our products," said Marc Kempe, a GM spokesman in Europe.

"We're exploring a variety of ways to meet this demand, and this is one possible way forward."

Kempe did not disclose the size of the bid but said it was for a significant stake in AvtoVAZ, which is GM's manufacturing partner in Russia.

State-controlled AvtoVAZ, founded in 1966 with assistance from Italy's Fiat SpA, produces close to 700,000 vehicles a year, including Lada cars. In 2001, GM and AvtoVAZ formed a venture that produced about 50,000 Chevrolet-badged vehicles in each of the past three years.

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Kenny Bernstein re-retires

Tommy Johnson Jr.

Six-time NHRA champion and motorsports icon Kenny Bernstein made a surprise announcement Tuesday that he is stepping out of the cockpit of the Monster Energy/Lucas Oil Funny Car effective immediately and has hired well-known Funny Car shoe Tommy Johnson Jr. as his successor.

"I was only contemplating driving one more year," said Bernstein, "but when Tommy became available at the end of the '07 season, we started to give the situation a lot of thought. We've been fortunate to win six championships and 69 races, and we have some milestone performance marks, chief among them becoming the first to crack the 300-mph barrier.

"I guess we can always look to win one more race or one more championship, but in reality, I've had a great career and many talented crewmembers who have helped mold my success through the years. For me at this stage of my life, the right decision is to step away from the cockpit.

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Albers resigned to fact F1 days over
Christijan Albers is looking beyond Formula One as there are only a few racing seats left for the 2008 season. Formula 1 is still his main target but the Dutchman says he's still open to other options.

Speaking to GPUpdate.net Albers said: "There are only 22 seats out there (in F1). The last few seats will go to drivers who can bring the biggest budgets with them. A few years ago it was only a few million but nowadays budgets went up to many millions of euro's for a year of racing."

A number of top teams have yet to announce the team's test and reserve driver. Such a vacancy could also be interesting for the former Spyker F1 driver. "It could be interesting for me to become a top team's test driver for sure, but if it's not a great team than I'd rather race in a different race series.

"In other racing series you will get paid at least for the job you do, and even though it might sound a bit dull, you do have to make a living in racing as well. Sure, as a sportsman all you want is to compete at the highest level but you don't want to stare blind at the ultimate goal." GPUpdate.net  [Editor's Note: Recall the rumor that Albers might move to Champ Car with Trust backing, but that rumor died when Trust decided to go GP2 racing]


Spy-gate has Alonso in spin and out of a job
The unthinkable may be looming closer for Lewis Hamilton’s former McLaren team-mate. Fernando Alonso, twice the world champion and the young man once said to be the natural successor to Michael Schumacher, is out of work.

Word is that he is refusing to commit his future to Renault, with whom he won his titles, until yet another round of the so-called “spy-gate” scandals has been sorted out tomorrow. Renault are in the dock in front of the FIA, the sport’s governing body, accused of stealing secrets from McLaren, the team fined £50 million in the summer for taking confidential information from Ferrari.

McLaren took the fine on the chin, but all the signs are that if Renault take a similar hit, Carlos Ghosn, the company’s no-nonsense chief executive, would not be so accepting, putting the future of the team in doubt. Not exactly a welcoming proposition for Alonso and one reason why he cannot agree to do a deal with the team.

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Indy road course work done
Paving of the two new turn complexes of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course is complete, and construction of the entire circuit remains on schedule for the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Sept. 12-14, 2008.

Paving was finished Nov. 21, and most major phases of the project are now finished, said Kevin Forbes, IMS director of engineering and construction.

“The creek relocation and concealment is finished,” Forbes said. “All of the paving is finished. We have 80 percent of all of the earthwork and grading finished. We have 40 or 45 percent of either relocated or new guardrail installed and have 20 percent of all the fencing completed.” Construction will continue during the winter, with most work completed by May 4, Opening Day for the 92nd Indianapolis 500. The 16-turn circuit will be finished in June or July, Forbes said, at least two months before the first MotoGP event at IMS.

“We had an extremely ambitious, almost unrealistic schedule,” Forbes said. “So we’re right on schedule. Had we developed a schedule that was a lot more realistic, we’d be way ahead of that schedule.

“It really bordered on the unrealistic to expect to have all of the paving done this fall.

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Matos looks forward to step up to Champ Car

Rafael Matos

It takes more than a bowl of Wheaties to become a champion. It takes a winning desire and a drive to overcome any obstacle; it takes a commitment to success. Obstacles are nothing new to Raphael Matos (born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil but now living in Miami) nor are championships.

The easy-going, open wheel ace has faced nothing but challenges throughout his career.

With no major sponsors to back his effort, Matos has had to win to move from one category to the next in pursuit of his dreams. It is this necessity of winning that has given him a commitment to strive for excellence and the confidence to know that he can beat the best. It is also what has kept him humble with an overwhelming appreciation for where he is.

Throughout his career Matos has followed a steady pattern of entering a new series and winning races almost immediately. By the second year of every major championship he has entered, Rafa, as he is best known at race tracks around the world, has become champion. Should that trend continue, Matos will charge to a strong showing in the Champ Car World Series in 2008 then take the driver's title in 2009.

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Discounted Rates during the 2008 Malaysian F1 Race
Starting now, travelers to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia can avail of the discounted rates when they book any of the rooms and suites at The Saujana KL Hotel for the period of March 19 to 23, 2008. The 2008 Malaysian Grand Prix is scheduled on March 21 to 23, 2008.

These special rates are inclusive of Continental breakfast and evening cocktails at the hotel's Bayu Lounge. The hotel is only 45 minutes away by car from the Sepang International Circuit - the venue of the Formula 1 Race 2008.

The Saujana is a premier hotel in the heart of Kuala Lumpur with a unique, low-rise styled structure nestled in sprawling green surroundings. This Kuala Lumpur hotel offers three selections of plush rooms - from Standard and Deluxe to Executive Suites. Each room is furnished with abundant amenities like private bathroom, mini-bar, hair dryer, Internet access, cable TV, telephone, coffee/tea maker, and many more.

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Philips Shavers remain with Williams
Philips Shavers today signed a new multi-year sponsorship agreement with the AT&T Williams team. The agreement, which runs through to the end of the 2010 Formula One season, includes exclusive access to promotional collateral and an increased level of branding with the team.

“Over its first two years, Philips partnership with the AT&T Williams team has yielded significant returns for our shaving business and raised the global profile of the Philips Shavers brand,” said Nico Engelsman, Senior Vice President, Philips Shavers.

“We are proud to be an official partner of one of Formula One’s most successful teams, a team which shares our core values of technical innovation and the pursuit of excellence. Entering into a new three year sponsorship agreement clearly demonstrates Philips Shavers confidence in our partnership and in the AT&T Williams team," he concluded.

The Philips Shavers brand will now appear on the back of the team’s shirts as well as existing branding positions on the nose of the car and on the team’s overalls. In addition to Official Sponsor Designation, use of logo and team imagery, Philips Shavers also has promotional rights via both team drivers, Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima.

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Miller to head USAC
The United States Auto Club announced Tuesday that its board of directors appointed Kevin Miller as CEO and president. The board also announced that Jason Smith has been appointed senior vice president of racing operations, reporting to Miller.


Real Estate Developer an Investor in Waltrip team
Prominent real estate developer Johnny Harris already swings a big stick in the golf world. Now he wants a piece of the action in the NASCAR garage. Harris recently acquired a stake in Michael Waltrip Racing, his first foray into motorsports. The 60-year-old executive will be part of MWR's six-member board and will advise longtime friend Rob Kauffman, a London-based investor who recently bought half of the race team. Harris paired Kauffman with Waltrip and made an undisclosed investment himself. Kauffman revealed his investment in Waltrip's team [in October] while visiting Charlotte to attend the NASCAR race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. At the time, Harris' involvement was not mentioned. Harris, president of Lincoln Harris, is best known of a substantial portfolio of real estate developments in SouthPark and Ballantyne. He has played a major role in other sports for many years. He's a member of the Carolina Panthers ownership group, serves as president at Quail Hollow Club and has a stake in a Premier League soccer franchise in Glasgow, Scotland. Harris played a major role in the creation of the local PGA Tour event [in Charlotte] and is an influential member at Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters. Charlotte Business Journal


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Hamilton not popular in Spain - survey
  • Slick tires top times at Jerez
  • Equality makes winning harder - Whitmarsh
  • Rosberg - I'm number one at Williams
  • Honda 'wrong' for Alonso in 2008 - Brawn
  • Villa plays down slow BMW debut
  • Hulkenberg eyes F1 future with Williams

Hamilton not popular in Spain - survey
(GMM)  British 2007 runner-up Lewis Hamilton has spent much of the post-season period so far collecting prizes and plaudits following his rookie formula one campaign.

But the 22-year-old is not globally popular, particularly in the country of his controversial former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso, a Spanish racing magazine has found.

The Spanish language publication 'Grand Prix' asked its readers last month to vote on their best driver of the year.

70pc predictably selected Alonso, the 26-year-old double world champion, while another 25pc voted for Kimi Raikkonen, who won his first title for Ferrari.

Hamilton, despite only missing the championship on his first attempt by a single point, registered a miniscule 1.8pc of the vote.

Meanwhile, 43.6pc said McLaren's treatment of Alonso in 2007 was the season's lowest moment, while 39.1pc thought his penalty for obstructing Hamilton during Hungary GP qualifying was the worst decision.

Similarly, 23.2pc selected McLaren's championship exclusion and $100m fine for espionage as the best decision of 2007.  An overwhelming 96.4pc said Ferrari was the season's best team, and the Maranello built F2007 won the best car plaudit.

Half of the respondents, meanwhile, said Ferrari is the ideal team for Alonso's future, ahead of Renault, BMW and Red Bull.

Slick tires top times at Jerez
(GMM)  Slick tires topped the time sheets as the last formula one test of 2007 began on Tuesday at Jerez.

Nick Heidfeld (BMW) and Jenson Button (Honda), using Bridgestone's developmental 2009 slick compound, were half a second clear of Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren), who stayed on regulation grooved tires throughout the cool and sunny day in Spain.

Likely 2008 Renault debutant Nelson Piquet Jr, meanwhile, will test for the French team all week, with Heikki Kovalainen now strongly expected to sign to become Lewis Hamilton's new teammate.

Gary Paffett was McLaren's other test runner on Tuesday.

Giancarlo Fisichella, bidding to rescue his career with Force India, also tried slick tires at Jerez, using them to narrowly outpace his Tuesday adversary Franck Montagny.

Equality makes winning harder - Whitmarsh
(GMM)  McLaren seems determined to maintain its policy of driver equality in 2008, according to the latest comments of chief executive Martin Whitmarsh.

As teammates Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso dueled and squabbled this season, the Woking based team failed to win either title and then brusquely split with Alonso.

But even the unpleasant experience of 2007 has apparently not dimmed McLaren's belief that driver equality produces more meaningful champions, as Whitmarsh wrote in the official F1 season review yearbook.

The Briton, who is 49, admits that appointing a clear number one would probably be easier.

"This (policy) has made our challenges for world championships more difficult.

"A de facto number one is easier and sometimes more efficient, but we believe whoever wins the title should know they won it because they did the best job," he said.

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