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Formula BMW
Gelles Racing completes 2005 Season testing Gelles Racing completes 2005 Season testingFront Royal. –   This week Gelles Racing completed its 2005 pre-Season testing with several different drivers taking to the track each day at Barber Motorsport Park and Roebling Road. Drivers who came from different countries tested their interest in both Formula BMW and Champ Car Atlantic with Gelles Racing and were extremely competitive. Meanwhile, both Gelles race facilities continue outfitting in Virginia and Indianapolis, under supervision of VP Operations Tim Jennings, they are being finished and ready for more testing and a busy 2006 calendar.

“We wanted to get ahead of our schedule by testing more drivers before the Holiday break, said team owner Bob Gelles. We have very talented drivers coming to us and fighting for a seat in 2006. Gelles Racing has set the target very high for 2006 and our drivers thus far have shown great quickness.  We had young men from North and South America as well as Europe all with sound racing backgrounds. Their times at the race tracks were quicker than ever and matched record times at each of the venues. Our engineers now have a full BMW USA season under their belt and they can setup a testing session that enables both driver and crew to get the best out of the car, I no longer consider it testing but development. With all the work we have done before Christmas, we know we’re going to be very competitive next year.” zzzz 

Ryan Campbell in the lead
Returning BMW driver Ryan Campbell set the pace in the last sessions with times quick enough to earn him pole position last season at Barber. “Ryan had no single-seater experience when he came to us last Spring, continues the team principal. He has really matured into a front runner. We believe he will vie for the championship this year. Ryan responds extremely well to our coaching and development, we are excited for the 2006 season to commence.  He worked very well with the other experienced quick drivers that were testing as teammates; we had a very fast quartet.  Other drivers with little seat time were also very impressive and we will announce in due time our 2006 roster.”

BMW of Sterling returning
Gelles Racing is proud to announce BMW of Sterling has extended its agreement with Gelles Racing for sponsorship for two more years taking the Team to the 2008 Formula BMW USA Series season.  “BMW of Sterling continues to be extremely pleased with its relationship with Gelles Racing and the winning program they assembled to represent BMW of Sterling in Racing” said Chief Executive Officer of BMW of Sterling, Thomas Moorehead.  “We have been so thrilled with the race program this past season for our customers, we wanted to show our commitment to Gelles Racing and the BMW USA Series and extend our contract for two more years, we share a common goal in the quest to bring the BMW USA Championship Trophy to BMW of Sterling.  We both know there is a way to connect business and Motorsport.”

"The relationship that I have enjoyed with BMW of Sterling over the past year is not just a sponsorship, it's a real partnership," said team owner Bob Gelles. "What they bring to the table as a business partner is second to none. Their level of commitment, support and business savvy has elevated this partnership and helped us achieve far more than we expected in such a short time."

Part of the success has been the growth of BMW of Sterling, which reaches out to the sports and entertainment communities to serve their special automotive needs.  Nationwide BMW Sales and Nationwide Vehicle Delivery are available from BMW of Sterling located in Sterling, Virginia!  Visit their virtual showroom at www.BMWofSterling.com

BMW of North America, LLC, Tom Purves, Chairman and CEO awards the prestigious world-renowned BMW Quality Trophy to BMW of Sterling for Excellence in Enhancement of Customer Services and Loyalty.

Radical Red Bull RB2 turns heads Radical Red Bull RB2 turns headsRed Bull Racing’s Ferrari-powered RB2 turned a wheel for the first time today, when it completed day one of a two-day test at Silverstone Circuit, UK.  Note the radical flat undertray on the car.  It reminds us a bit of the trick Lotus in 1980 that ran a trick sub-floor to generate increased underbody downforce.

Driven by David Coulthard, the new car completed a limited number of laps of the 5.141km track, as the team carried out a series of system checks on its new package ahead of its official launch in March 2006.

Although today’s test was not the first for the Ferrari V8 engine, which has already completed a number of circuit kilometres, it was first for the Red Bull Racing/Ferrari combination.

 David said, “Testing the new car today was momentous, as it represents something completely new for the team. The engine was delivered from Italy, but then everything has been built around it, and this was the moment when all the newly created parts came together. The lines of the new car look as though they’ve been inspired by the Formula Unas, it’s a very sexy looking thing!  zzzz

 “In terms of driving experience, the car performed as expected on track and I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces tomorrow and throughout next year to see what it can do. As soon as you drive a new car you have a new toy to play with, so the old one quickly becomes very un-interesting!

“Testing a new car can be frustrating at times, as you’re finding out if the new designs are able to withstand intense vibrations and heat. However, when everything works well, it’s incredibly rewarding so it will be good to get back in the car tomorrow. It must be a very proud moment for everyone in the team, as they’ve each played a part in creating something new here.” David will be at the wheel again tomorrow (Friday) for the second day of the test.

The Red Bull Racing and Ferrari technicians worked closely together throughout the day, demonstrating the positive relationship that has developed between the two marques over the last few months.

 Technical details of the car are due to be released at the car’s official launch on 9 March 2006 in Bahrain.

Fernando back for a day of testing Fernando back for a day of testingThe Renault F1 Team completed its final dry-weather test of the 2005 season today in Jerez. Fernando Alonso and Franck Montagny were in action for the team, completing a total of 213 laps.

For Fernando Alonso, his first test of the winter was a day of discovery, as he had not driven since winning the Chinese Grand Prix in October. His running allowed him to acclimatize himself to the V8 power levels, to understand the adjustments this demands in terms of driving style and set-up, and to get a feel for 2006 tire development.

On the other side of the garage, Franck Montagny worked on a set-up program this morning before conducting a brake evaluation program.

Fernando Alonso
"It was a positive day for me: I ran with the simulated engine power to understand how it will be next year, and everything went well. You can feel the power loss straight away, but you get used to it quickly and in any case, everybody is dealing with the same thing. I don't believe it makes it any easier to drive an F1 car: once you are really on the limit, it is always difficult, whether you are talking about an F3 car or an F1 car, a V10 engine or a V8. We set competitive lap times with our simulated set-up, and I am confident that we will be doing the same with the R26 next year." zzzz
Franck Montagny
"I had a busy day to finish the session, and I am pleased to finish quickest. The final laps today were quite an unusual feeling: I wanted to really enjoy them to the maximum, and I managed to do that. I have had two very good years with the team, and established some very good relationships. Now, for me, it is time to turn a new page: I want to be racing again, and I hope I can make that happen next year."

Christian Silk, Chief Test Engineer
"We had a very productive final day of dry running. Both cars once again ran trouble-free, and the drivers completed their programs. Fernando had an interesting day learning about the V8 power levels, and was immediately competitive. Franck concluded his penultimate day of testing with the team on the right note: he did a lot of laps, and took top spot on the timesheets. Tomorrow will see him run with us for the final time, and I would like to thank him for all his work over the past two years: he has always given 100% to the team, to help us move forward, and we see the reward for his work this year. We wish him much success in the future."

Tomorrow, Franck Montagny will conclude the Renault F1 Team's 2005 testing program with a day of wet tire development in conjunction with Michelin. Press release, Renault F1 Team

Schumacher satisfied with Ferrari’s progress Schumacher satisfied with Ferrari’s progressFourth day of testing this week - the last of 2005 - for Scuderia Ferrari, working once again today at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit, in southern Spain.

Michael Schumacher was on track today, alternating behind the wheel of the two cars available: the F2005 fitted with a regulated power engine and the F2004M, running the V8 engine.

The German driver completed a total of 114 laps; 30 with the F2004M and 84 with the F2005. The best time on the day was a 1'18"576.

"I am happy to be back driving again and I am very pleased with these two days of testing at Jerez, which went off without any particular problems," commented Michael at the end of the day. "It shows the team has worked well over the past few weeks, as has Bridgestone on the tire front. I can't wait to be back on track when testing resumes. I would like to wish everyone a good Christmas and a happy 2006!" Ferrari

Honda wraps up 2005 testing Honda wraps up 2005 testingThe Honda Racing F1 Team completed its 2005 testing program at the Circuito de Jerez in Southern Spain today. Jenson Button, Anthony Davidson and Adam Carroll shared the testing responsibilities this week in the team's two Concept cars with the main focus of testing continuing to be the development of the chassis and engine, alongside aero and tire evaluations.

The team has now completed over 7000 kms in the three weeks of winter testing, with almost 6000 kms of running on the new V8 Honda engine. Reliability has been good throughout the program and the development of the new engine and hybrid car is encouraging.

Anthony and Adam began the test on Wednesday in the two Concept cars 078-07 and 078-08 respectively. Both drivers ran through aerodynamic evaluations alongside chassis and engine set-up work. Anthony completed 93 laps and Adam completed 85 laps in what was his first drive in a V8 engined F1 car. zzzz

Thursday began in damp conditions following an early rain shower. It was not quite wet enough to run on intermediate tires, which, combined with the cold conditions, meant that no real testing was completed until mid-morning. When they were able to go out, Anthony concentrated on a series of tire and compound evaluations with Adam working on a chassis set-up program and a short aero evaluation. Anthony completed an impressive 115 laps with Adam's final lap tally being 92 laps.

Jenson joined the test on Friday taking over from Adam in chassis 078-08. His early runs were spent finding a good balance in the car before he began looking at various chassis set-up options. A couple of minor issues and a gearbox change interrupted his running although Jenson did complete 86 laps in total. Anthony concentrated on a tire evaluation on longer runs in the morning session, followed by a chassis set-up program. He completed a total of 81 laps.

Jenson will remain in Jerez on Saturday to complete a Michelin wet tire program.

Racing News
Mid-Ohio adds 4 new courses Mid-Ohio adds 4 new coursesThe Mid-Ohio School, the high-performance driver instruction program operated by TrueSports, Inc., based at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and sponsored by American Honda, will introduce four new courses to its curriculum in 2006.

The four course additions will include Advanced Defensive Driving, Open Track Testing & Tuning, Competition Licensing School, and NASA Coaching.  They become part of a complete, 14-course offering that already includes the popular Acura High Performance Courses, Honda Teen and Adult Defensive Driving Programs, and Corporate Driving Experience. 

“We’re always trying to improve our programs in order to challenge our students and graduates to take their skills to the next level,” said The Mid-Ohio School Director Steve Bidlack.  “This coming season will be no exception.  Making these additions to the curriculum is something we’ve been planning for a while, so we’re excited to be putting these new courses in motion.” 

The Advanced Defensive Driving course will take car control to the next level, with advanced braking, skid car, shifting, handling, and cornering exercises.  Open Track Testing and Tuning will allow licensed racing competitors some track time to fine-tune their racecars before Mid-Ohio events.  Students in the Competition Licensing School will work through simulated qualifying, side-by-side lapping exercises, practice starts and on-track race situations.  Upon successful completion, the person will receive a competition license to run in National Auto Sport Association (NASA) events.  And the NASA Coaching program will provide competitors the chance to take part in lead-follow lapping sessions, “shotgun” rides and debriefing sessions with school instructors prior to NASA Regional events at Mid-Ohio.

These classes will be offered in addition to an existing course list that includes the Honda Teen and Adult Defensive Driving Programs, Acura High Performance Course, Acura Advanced High Performance Course, Lapping Program, Acura Two-day High Performance Program, Acura Three-day High Performance Program, Corporate Driving Experience, Competition Course, and Coaching Program. 

The Mid-Ohio School is coming off a record season in 2005.  The school presented a record number of class days and achieved the highest enrollment in its history last season.  It also surpassed its previous season record for Corporate Driving Experience programs held. 

This off-season, in addition to expanding its curriculum, sponsor American Honda is replacing the school’s fleet of 56 cars.  Students will have the opportunity to drive all-new 2006 Acura TSX sports sedans, Honda Civic EX Coupes, and Honda S2000 roadsters for the coming season.  Honda has been the official vehicle of The Mid-Ohio School since 1994.  The track is being improved as well, with a complete resurfacing and the addition of a connector in the Keyhole turn to provide new configurations and additional space for skill drills and exercises. 

“It’s going to be a real renaissance off-season for us, and that’s thanks to the support of dedicated partners like American Honda,” Bidlack added.  “We’re pleased with all the improvements we’ve been able to make to the curriculum and the facility, and look forward to turning students loose again in the spring.”

More information about The Mid-Ohio School, including available course dates, can be found at www.midohio.com.  Enrollment is currently open, and available by calling 1-877-793-8667.  Orders received by December 22, 2005, will receive a $50 holiday discount. 

Waltrip seeks more sponsorship for No. 17 Truck Waltrip seeks more sponsorship for No. 17 TruckDarrell Waltrip Motorsports announced today that NTN Bearing Corporation of America will not be returning as team sponsor of the No. 17 Tundra while they compete for the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship with driver David Reutimann.

“We are actively seeking sponsorship for the No. 17 Tundra,” said team owner Darrell Waltrip. “We developed a strong relationship with NTN and it was a pleasure to work with them. We wish them continued success.”

“We have a great program and NTN was a big part of that program,” said Reutimann. “We hate to see them go, but we will continue to move forward. It was wonderful to work with everyone there because they are great people.”

Richards slams Villeneuve....again Richards slams Villeneuve....againFormer BAR-Honda team principal David Richards believes that BMW may regret retaining Jacques Villeneuve for 2006. Now Richards has launched a scathing attack against his former driver Jacques Villeneuve in January's edition of F1 Racing, which goes on sale next Tuesday.

Richards claims that the former world champion "is past his sell-by date" and added that he was surprised to see JV return to F1 in 2005.

"People have to make their own judgments on Jacques, and I made mine years ago, " said Richards

"Bluntly, he's past his sell-by date, and has been for some time."

"I know that Mario is retaining Jacques' services, but if I'd been him I wouldn't have even entertained the idea.

"In a difficult year – and 2006 will definitely be difficult for BMW – the last thing they need is someone like Jacques."

Montagny over Schu and Alonso at Jerez Montagny over Schu and Alonso at JerezFriday test times at Jerez with World Champion Fernando Alonso in action for the first time this off-season.  His teammate, Champ Car hopeful Franck Montagny, was fastest.  Michael Schumacher again had the fastest V8 on the track and it appears to be every bit as fast as the V10s.

1. F. Montagny - Renault V10 - 1'18"322 (+0"000) - 114 laps
2. M. Schumacher - Ferrari V8 & V10 - 1'18"582 (+0"260) - 113 laps
3. F. Alonso - Renault V10 - 1'18"739 (+0"417) - 97 laps
4. N. Rosberg - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1'18"894 (+0"572) - 68 laps
5. A. Davidson - Honda V8 - 1'18"953 (+0"631) - 81 laps
6. J. Button - Honda V8 - 1'19"651 (+1"329) - 87 laps
7. N. Karthikeyan - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1'20"871 (+2"549) - 34 laps

Industry News
The Chinese are coming The Chinese are comingThere's been a lot of speculation about if and when Chinese automakers will be selling cars in the United States. One of them, Geely, is taking an important step toward entering the U.S. market.

Organizers of the North American International Auto Show, to be held in January, announced today that Hangzhou-based Geely will become the first Chinese automaker to display vehicles at a North American show. The Detroit show is the largest, and considered the most prestigious, such event in the United States.

Here are some details from auto show organizers: Geely will be the first Chinese automaker to exhibit at a North American auto show when it does so at the 2006 NAIAS in January. The Chinese automaker intends to enter the U.S. market by the end of the decade.

Geely (pronounced GEE-lee), located in Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang province, will have an exhibit in the concourse of Cobo Center during press week, which begin Sunday, Jan. 8, where it will showcase one of its current cars, the 7151 CK.

The Chinese automaker wants to introduce itself to the North American media in preparation for its long-term plan of selling vehicles in this market. Top company executives who will be in Detroit include: Shufu Li, Chairman and CEO, Geely International Corp.; George Zhao, vice president, Geely International Corp.; Henry Xiong, manager of North and South American sales; John Harmer, vice president of Geely-USA, Inc., and Frank Xu, sales manager for North America.

“Geely anticipates entering the North American market in the year 2008 or 2009,” said Harmer. “Geely's engineers are currently working on design, engineering, and manufacturing changes that will bring their products into full compliance with U.S. safety and emission standards.” OregonLive.com

No. 3 lawsuit settled No. 3 lawsuit settledRichard Childress Racing and ESPN traded paint back in March over the use of the late Dale Earnhardt's famous No. 3. That contest is over -- and you'll have as much chance of learning the winner as you would of finding out how a NASCAR team squeezes more horsepower from its engines. The two parties have settled the suit that RCR filed in federal court in Greensboro. The terms of their deal, like those in most out-of-court settlements, aren't public. "The matter has been resolved to our satisfaction, and the exact terms are confidential," Heather Adams, an attorney for ESPN, told the Winston-Salem Journal. An RCR spokesman also told the newspaper that his company is pleased as well. At issue was the stylized "3." The trademarked number appeared on the sides and roof of Earnhardt's black Chevrolet for much of his career. It still shows up on jackets, hats and stickers that fans still buy five years after his death. Earnhardt drove for RCR, which is based in Welcome, NC, until he was killed during the 2001 Daytona 500. ESPN used a variation of the number in the marketing efforts for its 2004 made-for-TV film "3: The Dale Earnhardt Story." RCR called the ESPN "3" a knockoff and sued for trademark infringement and unfair competition. News and Record
Formula BMW
Marco Holzer Wins First Formula BMW World Final Marco Holzer Wins First Formula BMW World Final
Williams approves Super Aguri Williams approves Super AguriIn another AutoRacing1.com exclusive, we have learned through inside sources that the WilliamsF1 team has already signed, this past Wednesday, an official document approving the addition of the Super Aguri team to the F1 grid in 2006.  We await the official announcement. Mark C.
Huisman to drive in Rolex 24 Huisman to drive in Rolex 24Synergy Racing announced today that renowned European Porsche driver Patrick Huisman will join brothers Burt and Brian Frisselle in the Rx.com No. 8 Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype for the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona, January 28-29.

"It's good to be back with Synergy Racing," said Huisman, who last teamed with Synergy Racing for a podium finish in the 2003 VIR 400. "I'm really happy with how things went on Monday. The Porsche engine is very good for this chassis. There is a lot of potential there, and the progress we made in such a short time today was fantastic."

Huisman, a four-time Porsche Supercup champion, joined the Frisselle brothers for the two-day Hoosier Tire Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this month, where the three drivers broke in the Rx.com Porsche-powered Daytona Prototype. Despite a late start on the opening day of the test as final adjustments were made for the new Porsche engine, the Dutch driver was able to clock a 1:14.4 lap during his brief time on track—the third fastest time of the day.

"I have known Patrick for a long time," noted Cole Scrogham, Synergy Racing co-owner. "We first raced together in 1998 at Sebring. He is not only the best Porsche pilot that I know, but he is a good friend and I am happy to have him be available to support our Rolex 24 At Daytona effort for Rx.com. Ken Hill of Rx.com wants to show the performance, speed and reliability of his company in the pharmaceutical world, and the best way that we can do this is with a good Daytona showing."

"I couldn't imagine a better choice for a teammate," said Brian. "Not only is he an extremely fast driver, but he's a super nice guy and is great to work with. He's done an amazing number of 24-hour races, so his experience will be a tremendous asset to Burt and me. Plus, he reads the car the same way we do, so we always know when he gets in to work on set-up, its going to come back better."

"I'm really excited to work with Patrick. I think he's the perfect teammate for Brian and I at the Rolex 24," added Burt. "With more than 20 24-hour races under his belt, he'll really be able to lead and work with us on preparation for the race. I think we'll be able to make a serious run at the overall win this year." Synergy Racing

Audi to increase DTM commitment Audi to increase DTM commitmentAfter clinching the title in 2004 with Audi "factory” driver Mattias Ekström and being defeated this season by only a narrow margin, the objectives for next year are very clear: "We want to recapture the lead from Mercedes-Benz to thus underline our position as the sportiest manufacturer in the premium car segment,” says Professor Dr Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. "At the same time, together with Mercedes-Benz, we are going to continue to work on strengthening the DTM’s role as the most attractive racing series outside of Formula 1. With a long-term commitment to DTM, which currently is planned for at least three years including 2008, we are adding our part to that.”
Audi and Mercedes-Benz, the two leading German automotive manufacturers, compete against each other at the highest level in the 2006 DTM to continue a great tradition. It will re-enact the famous duel which thrilled spectators 70 years ago when the legendary "Silver Arrows” from Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz raced against each other. Mercedes-Benz has been committed to the DTM for many years. Audi, DTM champions in 1990, 1991, 2002 and 2004, is one of the most successful and prestigious brands of the DTM – a series which breaks one record after another: 922,500 fans attended the eleven DTM races last season and approximately two million spectators on average watched every race "live” on ARD TV – thus making 2005 the most successful so far in the DTM’s 21-year history. Furthermore, on an international scale, the DTM reached record TV audiences, far surpassing those of the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) and other racing series. zzzz
"It is obvious that spectators want to see spectacular touring cars at the highest level,” says Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "And this is exactly what the DTM offers them. Additionally, the cars are so appealing that the DTM even attracts the world’s best racing drivers.” At the same time, the financial investment is reasonable – a prerequisite for entering ten cars, as Audi is planning to do for the 2006 season. The Technical Regulations envisaged for 2007 will further reduce costs, thus making the DTM even more attractive for automotive manufacturers who are currently considering a commitment or are active in another series. "With Audi and Mercedes-Benz committing to DTM on a long-term basis, it gives the series ‘security’ for all interested partners and other manufacturers.”
In the 2006 DTM, Audi will be competing with an A4 DTM version that has been subjected to further development, bearing the internal project name "R12 plus”. Apart from modifications to the aerodynamics and suspension, the A4 DTM will be fitted with a new V8 engine which has been running on the dyno since the end of October.
A total of twelve DTM races are planned for the 2006 season – six of them in Germany, one of AUDI AG’s most important markets. New venues on the calendar are Brands Hatch (Great Britain), Le Mans (France) and Barcelona (Spain), and thus three European circuits which are extremely rich in tradition.
In 2006, the DTM’s attractive supporting program will again include the SEAT Leon Supercopa and the ADAC Volkswagen Polo Cup. Audi
Schuey likes V8 concept Schuey likes V8 conceptMichael Schumacher gave his endorsement to the new 2.4-litre V8 format after setting the pace on his return to the cockpit at Jerez on Thursday.  The German, who was the last driver to win a world championship with a V8 in 1994, said that although the lack of power in comparison to a V10 was obvious, he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

"I feel a much lower level of power, but that is nice," he told reporters. "It is interesting and the sound is totally different.

"On the first lap I was shocked but then I noticed that I had not used the engine's full potential. I do feel this limitation of power, but honestly I had expected a lot worse.

"And in terms of the joy of driving, there is no limitation."

Ron Dennis says to drop 1 German and Italian race Ron Dennis says to drop 1 German and Italian raceUPDATE Bernie Ecclestone has been warned against turning F1 fans off by authoring huge calendars.

The sport's supremo sent the grand prix world on an unprecedented 19-race tour in 2005, and the circus will resume next March on another long grind.

''Just as individuals burn out I think the public needs to have a breather,'' said McLaren principal Ron Dennis, a staunch opponent of Bernie's ultimate plan to add countries like Mexico and Russia to a future calendar spanning 21 stops.

Dennis suggested that he might be a bigger soccer fan if Europe did not indulge in what he calls 'football saturation'.  ''I don't know how many championships there are, how many leagues there are,'' the Briton told the Mirror newspaper.

He added: ''Formula One should avoid putting itself in the same situation.''

12/15/05 Formula One must avoid putting on too many races and falling into the trap of "football saturation", according to McLaren head Ron Dennis. This year's championship featured an unprecedented 19 rounds, with the same number scheduled for 2006 after talk of stretching to 20. Despite his team being part-owned by DaimlerChrysler and powered by Mercedes engines, Dennis said neither Germany nor Italy should have two grands prix a year as they do at present.

"There is an argument that says we should be appealing more to those markets that fully embrace motor racing. There is a very strong German market for motor racing so that should justify two German grands prix," he said.

"For me, I think they should be alternated between the Nurburgring and Hockenheim and we should be trying hard to keep the numbers to 16 or 17 (races).

"Just like individuals burn out, I think the public needs to have a break and then you rebuild the expectation of a new world championship.

"We have football saturation at the moment and we should avoid putting ourselves in the same situation in Formula One."

"If you ask me, do I want to race in Italy twice or once in Italy and once in Russia, to me it's a no-brainer," he said. "We are in a world championship, we shouldn't be rejecting Russia over having two races in Italy."

Michelin exit won't faze Renault Michelin exit won't faze RenaultThe fact that tire supplier Michelin is to drive away from the formula one grid after the next season finale will not affect Renault's 2006 title charge.

That's the belief of Bob Bell, technical director for the Enstone based drivers' and constructors' championship winning squad.

''We are determined to defend those titles,'' he said. ''We have already seen enhanced collaboration between the Michelin teams this winter, and a rapid rate of tire development.

''We are confident this will continue until the final round of 2006.''

Bell also revealed that the new 'R26' car will be fired up for the first time next week, ahead of a January 10 debut.

Meanwhile, as world champion Fernando Alonso returned from his winter slumber at Jerez on Friday, news broke that the shy 24-year-old Spaniard had become a comic superhero.

'Sony Computer Entertainment Spain' launched Sector 97, a ten page comic where Alonso must save the world. But he denied that the evil villains would be called Schumacher and Raikkonen.

''They have no name yet,'' he said, ''but they are superior beings.''

New Renault R26 to be fired up next week New Renault R26 to be fired up next weekThe Enstone Technical Director discussed testing progress in recent weeks, and gave an update on the new R26 ahead of Christmas.

The team has completed three weeks of winter testing before Christmas. What have you learned?
Bob Bell: Our testing program has gone very well. The drivers have noticed that we need quite a different set-up on the car, so we have worked hard to understand what is required, and give ourselves a solid baseline for our work with the new car in January. Equally, we have done a lot of tire development to begin adapting to the new regulations in this area, and we have reaped the benefits of a reliable package to conduct a lot of running and make good progress.

Will Michelin’s announcement last Wednesday, concerning their withdrawal from Formula 1 beyond 2006, have an impact on our work for next season?
BB: Not at all. We go into 2006 as world champions, and we are determined to defend those titles. I have no doubt that Michelin intend to do exactly the same. We have already seen enhanced collaboration between the Michelin teams this winter, and a rapid rate of tire development. We are confident this will continue until the final round of 2006.

Bob, you have announced that the R26 will run for the first time on January 10 at Jerez. Is everything on track?
BB: We are on schedule with the project. As always, the program for producing the new car is very tight because we look to maximize our design time before production begins, and then running time once it is complete. Indeed, for 2006 we have brought forward our first runs with the new car: this allows us to anticipate any issues that may arise when we run the V8 for the first time on track, and ensure we have a fully reliable package for the opening race in Bahrain.

So how is the atmosphere at Enstone at the moment?
BB: The atmosphere is extremely positive: everybody is working flat out, and after a fantastic season in 2005, there is a real determination to repeat our successes in 2006. The R26 will be fired up for the first time early next week here in Enstone, and it will complete extensive static testing before running at the first test session of 2006 in Jerez. Renault

McLaren conclude 2005 test program McLaren conclude 2005 test programTeam McLaren Mercedes completed its 2005 test program today at the Circuito de Jerez with Juan Pablo Montoya and Pedro de la Rosa at the wheel.

Since testing commenced in Barcelona on Monday 28th November, Team McLaren Mercedes has completed 10 test days, three at the Circuit de Catalunya and seven at the Jerez track. Over 6,300kms have been completed in total, with approximately 5,120 on the new Mercedes-Benz F0 108S V8 engine.

Pedro had a very productive day, completing 118 laps, with a fastest time of 1m20.492 that put the Spaniard tenth on the timesheets. Juan Pablo was seventh, with a 1m20.164, and completed 49 laps. Juan Pablo had an engine failure on track shortly before lunch, and the team got him back out on track by 15:30 to continue his program. zzzz

As with the previous two tests in Barcelona and Jerez, work for the team was focused on the continuing Mercedes-Benz V8 and Michelin tire development process in the interim MP4-20Bs.

Juan Pablo and Pedro, who drove for two and three days respectively, were joined in Jerez by Gary Paffett, who ran on Tuesday. Between the three drivers, 443 laps and 1,922kms were covered in total this week.
Prior to today, there were only two small incidents at the test. Gary spun early on Tuesday, as a result of the cold temperatures that remained during all three days, however he kept his car on track and there was no damage. Juan Pablo had a minor software issue on Wednesday, which was rectified by the team.

In total this week, Juan Pablo completed over 382kms, Pedro put in 1,250kms, with Gary amassing 290kms. Team McLaren Mercedes will continue the development process for MP4-21 at the McLaren Technology Centre, Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth, and in Stuttgart over the Christmas period. The team will return to the test track on Wednesday 11th January in Jerez.

Juan Pablo Montoya
"During the pre-Christmas tests, we have been working on various engine, tire and software development programs and have got some good feedback overall. The last couple of days of testing this week have not always seen smooth running, however as we didn't go out until mid-morning yesterday because of the cold weather, there were also a lot of red flag stoppages. I had a small problem with the software on my MP4-20B, and then the issue today with the engine. I will be spending Christmas with my family at a ski-resort in Europe, and I am already looking forward to getting back to testing in early January and continuing to work towards the 2006 season."

Pedro de la Rosa
"Since the first test on Monday 28th November, I have covered over 3,150kms in the Team McLaren Mercedes MP4-20B. We have completed the work allocated to the pre-Christmas running and have some positive results. The team will continue to work at the McLaren Technology Centre and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines over Christmas, taking a lot of feedback from our running, and we will start to test again on Wednesday 11th January."

Gary Paffett
"I've really enjoyed this opportunity to test with Team McLaren Mercedes, and the role I have played in the continuing development of MP4-21. It has been great experience for me, and will be beneficial for the future." Press release McLaren Mercedes

Davidson and Carroll on track for Honda Davidson and Carroll on track for HondaHonda Racing F1 Team’s second day of testing in Jerez yesterday began with damp conditions following an early rain shower. It was not quite wet enough to run on intermediate tires which, combined with the cold conditions, meant that no real testing was completed until mid-morning.

When he was able to go out, Adam Carroll completed 33 laps running through chassis set-up work and a short aero program in chassis 078-08.

Anthony Davidson worked through a tire evaluation in chassis 078-07, completing 65 laps in the morning session. He then began the afternoon session working through a further tire evaluation.

Unfortunately Juan Pablo Montoya’s Mercedes V8 failed at turn eight early in the session, spilling engine oil over the track, which affected subsequent lap times considerably.

After the circuit cleaned up, Davidson ran through a tire compound evaluation, completing a further 50 laps taking his total for the day to 115 laps.

Carroll continued to work on his chassis set-up program in 078-08 completing longer runs, completing 59 laps in the afternoon session, bringing his total for the day to 92 laps. Source Honda

Juan Pablo Montoya 30 years on Juan Pablo Montoya 30 years onJuan Pablo Montoya is nothing but a racer and when asked what he would be doing 30 years from now, the McLaren Mercedes star made it clear he did not see himself in a role as team owner and probably not involved in the sport at all.

"I probably won’t be involved with racing 30 years from now," Montoya stated on McLaren's official web site. "That would be mad, to be honest. There is no way I’ll run a team. You work hard for your money, so why put it on the line?"

So with team ownership out of the question, what about supporting his son Sebastian should he chose to become a race driver?

"I don’t know what I’ll be doing 30 years from now, but I guarantee that I’ll stop this and take a break from racing," Montoya continued. "Maybe I’ll be involved if my son likes it, and I will try to help him. But I’ll probably have loads of toys, and I’ll keep playing around either in Colombia or in Miami."

Racing against team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, the new Champion Fernando Alonso and of course Michael Schumacher is both an honor and a challenge but asked if he could choose three drivers he would love to race against, Montoya turned back the clock.

"Senna, Jackie Stewart and probably Fangio or Jim Clark," said Montoya. "Senna was like a God for me. People loved him in Colombia. But I would love to race against Stewart..."

Montoya is now set to enjoy the Christmas break with a spot of skiing in Europe before returning to the testing trail with McLaren in January. Source McLaren Mercedes

Formula BMW
Indian fares well despite problems Indian fares well despite problemsIndia’s own teenage motor racing sensation Armaan Ebrahim showed why he is so highly rated as an upcoming star in the world of motorsport with his excellent performances in the heats of the World Finals of the Formula BMW series at The Bahrain International Circuit in Bahrain today.

The World Final of the Formula BMW Series brings together 40 of the best drivers from the four Formula BMW series which are run in Asia, UK, Germany and USA. These 40 drivers are a strong representation of the future of single-seater motorsport worldwide. For the World Finals of the Formula BMW Series, the drivers are split up into 4 groups, A, B, C & D. Each group races in three heats, one race against each of the other three groups. Each heat consists of 15 laps. Points are awarded to the drivers based on their results in each of these three heats. These points are then accumulated and decide the grid positions for the Pre-Finals which will be held on 16 December. zzzz

In the first of his three heats, Armaan Ebrahim started in 8th position on the grid. He had a steady race and finished in a solid 6th place. In heat 2, Armaan started to experience severe problems with the brakes on his car. Even with the slightest pressure on the brake pedal, the rear brakes were locking up. This problem was persisting even with the brake balance on the car completely biased towards the front wheels. Despite this setback, Armaan focused on the task ahead, knowing that he needed to finish the race to accumulate points which would be counted towards his starting position for the Pre-Finals. He finished heat 2 in 10th place. In the short time available between the heats, the team could not accurately identify the problems afflicting Armaan’s car. They bled the brakes and changed the pads, hoping that would cure the problems.

At the start of heat 3, Armaan almost immediately faced the same braking problems that hampered his progress in heat 2. By lap 3, he was down to 14th place. The braking problem was now so severe, with the rear wheels locking up and smoking into every corner that it was plainly visible Armaan was fighting hard in the car. It’s times like these that really challenge a driver, and Armaan showed that he was up to the challenge. He put in one of his best drives ever, using all of his Formula BMW and A1 Grand Prix experience to its fullest. He carved his way through the field, moving up from 14th place to 5th place in only 8 laps, passing 9 cars on his way, despite having to brake almost 100 meters earlier in each corner due to the brake problems he was facing.

Based on the points accumulated in the three heats, Armaan will start the Pre-Finals in 12th place along with 39 other drivers. The Pre-Finals will be a 22 lap race over the 3.7 km Bahrain International Circuit. The finishing order of the Pre-Finals will decide the starting grid for the Finals. This will be a race for all 40 cars over 25 laps. Starting 12th on the grid, Armaan is quite confident of a strong finish, and is looking forward to a day of exciting racing and a good result.

Armaan is really thankful to BPCL for their support of him for the World Final. He will carry the Speed branding as his main sponsor for this race. He said, “it’s an honor and privilege to have BPCL back me for the World Final of the Formula BMW Series. I would also like to thank my primary sponsor, Mr. Atoll Gupta of A1 Team India and Sahara Computers who has given me the opportunity to race in A1 Grand Prix.” Armaan’s co-sponsors for this event are Amaron and Parx, who have also shown great vision in supporting the future of Indian Motorsport by backing him.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Last blast at Jerez
DC tries new 'Bull
F1 peace must wait - Dennis
Schu spins but wins
Michelin maintain FIA fume
Williams want Aguri 'proof'
Colin Chapman
Panis' back
TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Mid-Ohio  (9/25/05)
1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Showroom Stock C
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Formula Vee
2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. ET (Replay) Discovery HD Theater
Lowe's Motor Speedway
3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Round 3
4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. ET, SPEED: Round 4
Sepang, Malaysia
Round 5  (11/20/05)
6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. ET (Replay) OLN
Lucas Oil on the Edge
Shawano, WI  (8/4/05 - 8/6/05)
7:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. ET, SPEED
Ensenada-Baja, CA, Mexico
(11/16/05 - 11/20/05)
10:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. ET, OLN
Wayne Taylor, Grand-Am
Max Angelelli, Grand-Am
Kenny Schrader, NASCAR
11:30 p.m.-12:00 a.m. ET, SPEED

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

Honda to get up to 1,100 miles between rebuilds Honda to get up to 1,100 miles between rebuildsHonda's Robert Clarke stated Thursday that the spec engines they supply to IRL teams in 2006 will be rebuilt every 1,100 miles.

It could be done earlier than that based on the schedule.

"The critical part, of course, is getting the engines back so they can be serviced again and back out to the teams. It might be that engines, depending on the race sequence, may not be required to go a full 1,100 miles. We might pull them out at 890 miles or something like that to get them back and service them," said Clarke. (Photo of Robert Clarke courtesy Honda Racing)

The current IRL Honda engine made around 650 to 700 HP and they were good for 300 to 500 miles.  In order to get 1,100 miles between rebuilds, Honda either must increase engine displacement (and there was no mention of that), or reduce RPM and thereby HP on the current 3.0 L normally aspirated engine.  It's quite possible they will be making right around 600 HP, perhaps less now.  That should pack the fields closer together, thereby, further increasing the risk of wheel-to-wheel contact and major crashes.

Cosworth had an advantage with its turbo charged Champ Car engine.  They were able to increase longevity but maintain power by increasing turbo boost while reducing RPM.  Honda does not have that luxury with the normally aspirated IRL engine.  Either HP must drop, or engine displacement must increase. 

Bridgestone to become sole tire supplier a year early Bridgestone to become sole tire supplier a year earlyBridgestone wants to stay in Formula One," a spokesperson confirmed to F1Racing.net. "We have a long term commitment in the sport and don't plan to pull out. We would prefer to have a competition between tire manufacturers but we still feel we can benefit from being in Formula One, even if it would mean that we are the only tire supplier."

It looks like Bridgestone will become the single tire supplier the FIA wants to have in Formula One. Not in 2008 as the FIA declared in its new rules, but already in 2007.

Racing News
Lola announces return of Lola T70 Lola announces return of Lola T70
NASCAR spinning wheels on TV ratings NASCAR spinning wheels on TV ratingsSince the inception of the current NASCAR TV contract, overall TV ratings for the series have not improved significantly despite all the rhetoric. So NASCAR is not gaining on the NFL, but at least they are not losing popularity overall. How the networks can justify paying 40% more for the latest contract is alarming. The networks lost money on the current contract. At 40% higher, they are doomed. Now we know why NBC walked.

2001 - 5.5 avg.
2002 - 5.5
2003 - 5.3
2004 - 5.6
2005 - NA

Racing News
Antoine Bessette, champion race driver in 2005 Antoine Bessette, champion race driver in 2005Already winner of the Gilles-Villeneuve trophy that was awarded to him for his season in the Champ Car Formula Atlantic, 23-year old race driver Antoine Bessette was nominated the Canadian Champion Race Driver of 2005 by the Canadian Automobile Sports Club, Ontario section. He will be honored next February at the annual gala evening of the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame in Toronto. Among the previous winners are famous Atlantic drivers like Bill Brack, members of the Villeneuve family, Patrick Carpentier, Alexandre Tagliani and Michael Valiante. Last year, Andrew Ranger earned the title.

« I’m very honored again to be named among the professional drivers in the country, admits Bessette. It was my first season in the Champ Car Formula Atlantic and I think my outings showed consistency all along the season. My two victories in Toronto and Montreal must have been the turning point in my selection. »

Canadian Automobile Sports Club, Ontario section
The national sporting authority in the country up to 1991 when ASN Canada FIA stepped in, CASC Ontario section kept the privilege of awarding the title of Canadian Champion Race Driver at the end of every season. The committee studied the performances of top Canadian drivers and selected the St-Bruno, Quebec racer.

Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame
Bessette will be honored next February 4 at the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame gala evening to be held at the convention center in Mississauga, an evening when seven more hall-of-famers will be inducted.

A two-time winner in Toronto and Montreal in the Toyota Atlantic series and third overall in the standings, Bessette was awarded the most prestigious honor after the series title. The Gilles-Villeneuve Trophy is conferred annually "to the driver who possesses extraordinary ability, has that special "star quality" and who has been distinguished through sportsmanship, dedication and perseverance in the face of disappointment".

Spot in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race to be auctioned off Spot in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race to be auctioned offLONG BEACH, Calif. -- If you’ve ever wanted to hang out with some movie, TV and sports stars for a weekend – and turn some hot laps in a race car against them while you’re at it! -  now’s your chance.

Starting January 16, 2006 a spot on the starting grid for the 30th Anniversary Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race – part of the April 7-9, 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – will be up for bid on eBay, with bidding scheduled to run through January 26. All proceeds from the auction will go to the Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach, which, since its inception in 1991, has donated more than $1.8 million to Southern California charities.

High bidder will be behind the wheel of a new, race-ready Toyota Scion tC, hitting more than 100 mph in the 10-lap sprint over the legendary 1.97-mile, 11-turn Long Beach street circuit, running fender-to-fender with a group of to-be-announced celebrities from movies, TV and sports, as well as professional drivers.

Past celebrities in the race have included George Lucas, Cameron Diaz, Gene Hackman, Patrick Dempsey, Jay Leno, John Elway and Ashley Judd, along with professionals Danica Patrick, Scott Pruett and Parnelli Jones.

The high bidder also receives, courtesy of Toyota Motorsports USA:

  • Four days of professional driver’s training at Fast Lane Driving School, Rosamond,  CA,
  • Pre-event Press Day prior to race weekend and other media activities,
  • Custom-made driving gear, including suit, shoes,  gloves and helmet,
  • First-class air fare and hotel accommodations for training, press day and race weekend, with ground transportation for race related events only,
  • A $5,000 donation from Toyota in the high bidder’s name to “Racing for Kids,” a national program benefiting two children’s hospitals in Southern California, and a VIP pass for 2 for a private celebrity event immediately following the Saturday, April 8.

“There are millions of people in this country who have always wanted to drive a race car,” said Rick DuRee, president of the Grand Prix Foundation of Long Beach.  “Thanks to Toyota Motorsports, USA, they now have an opportunity to do just that with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“And, perhaps most importantly, all proceeds from the winning bid will go to the Grand Prix Foundation which, since its inception, has contributed nearly $2 million to charitable organizations in the greater Long Beach area.”

High bidder must attend four days of driver training in March, either on two consecutive weekends (March 4-5 and March 11-12) or for four consecutive days, March 9-12.

The Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race will take the green flag on Saturday, April 8, part of a weekend of racing that also includes the Champ Car World Series, a Drifting challenge, Champ Car Atlantics and the debut of the fast Daytona Prototypes of the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series.

Beginning January 9, those interested can become pre-qualified to bid on the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race package by going to www.ebay.com/toyotagrandprix.

Racing News
PitFit Training Continues Renna Scholarship PitFit Training Continues Renna ScholarshipWorld renowned motorsports training firm PitFit Training, will continue the PitFit Tony Renna Memorial Scholarship program it began in 2005.   PitFit owner Jim Leo, wanted to reward young drivers that showed the talent, character, and sheer determination of the late Renna.   "When we decided to offer this program, I wanted to establish standards and criteria that Tony Renna carried with him on a daily basis.  Being a great driver is only one reason Tony was so successful in his career.  But Tony also had the character, intelligence, determination, and respect for those around him that helped him rise above his peers whose careers faltered.   This is an opportunity to give the future champions of North American racing the ability to take their driving fitness to the highest level.”

PitFit Training is based in Indianapolis and counts open-wheel standouts Scott Dixon, Sam Hornish, Tomas Scheckter, Paul Tracy, and Josh Wise as just a few of their clientele.  

Eight racers will receive the scholarships in 2006.   Two of the spots will go to the respective East and West champions in the PCH Motorsports JICA category of the Snap-on Stars of Karting presented by the IRL.   The other six winners will be chosen by way of an application process in which two essays will be submitted with an entry packet.   Winners will be those who have shown that they have risen above their peers in the areas of driving, scholastics, community service, and writing ability with each category receiving equal emphasis.   Applicants must be between the ages of 12-20 and have at least one year of racing experience in a sanctioned series and must race in a North American race series through the remainder of their scholarship year to continue receiving benefits.  zzzz

PitFit Tony Renna Memorial Scholarship Winners will receive :
Comprehensive fitness evaluation from PitFit Training
Ten month subscription to PitFit E-Fit, our on-line training site
Up to one visit to PitFit headquarters per month of program
Listed on the PitFit web site
Training equipment from Body Blade and Theraband
One season's supply of Gatorade Endurance supplements

Applications will be available on the www.pitfit.com from December 20 onwards and are due in by January 15, 2006.   Winners will be announced Feb. 1 and will receive support throughout the 2006 racing season up to Nov. 1.   Before December 20 interested applicants can e-mail jleo@pitfit.com.

Rocketsports completes first pre-season test Rocketsports completes first pre-season testRocketsports Racing headed down south to warmer weather to get some on-track time for a pre-season test in Sebring, Florida and successfully completed a two-day run with potential Champ Car drivers Richard Lyons and Katherine Legge.

It was the first time for both drivers to set foot behind the wheel of a 750-horsepowered Rocketsports Lola.  Lyons tested the full day on Monday and put in a half day on Tuesday.  Legge was with the team during the first test day working with Lyons and engineer John Gentilozzi to prepare for her run on Tuesday afternoon. 

During the first day with Lyons in the car, the team was evaluating his ability and feel in the car.  He completed a total of 136 laps (233 miles) with a quick time of 52.26.  Since the 26-year-old Briton had previous open wheel experience, the team mainly focused on helping him adapt to the nature of a Champ Car.  Lyons spent some time to get comfortable behind the wheel before the team proceeded with changes to the mechanical setup of the car, as well as, damper and aerodynamic settings. zzzz

“Richard was able to provide us with accurate, concise feedback,” commented John Gentilozzi.  “With more time in the car, and further changes to suit Richard’s preferences, we would have continued to produce quicker lap times.  Richard’s skills and feeling for the car would be an asset to any team.”

Rocketsports goal with Legge was to expose her to a Champ Car for the first time and give her an opportunity to feel how setup changes affect her.  She completed 67 laps (115.24 miles) producing a fast time of 53.29.  She was able to feel the changes that the team made and provided good feedback on how those changes felt.  She was physically able to cope with the demanding 1.72-mile short course at Sebring International Raceway without a problem.

“It was very impressive how quickly she got up to speed,” Gentilozzi said about Legge.  “She was able to stay within a few tenths of her fast lap time throughout a longer run at the end of the day.  Katherine has a very promising career ahead of her in open wheel racing.”

“I was very impressed with both drivers,” commented Rocketsports Team Manager Phil Howard.  “Richard is a good driver.  It took a little time to get him used to the car, and he tried braking with his left foot for the first time, so that also took some time for him to adapt to.  If we would have had more time with him, I definitely think we would have seen faster times posted by him.  He worked very well with the team and it was a pleasure having him around”

“Katherine was great,” Howard said about testing female sensation Legge.  “She has a great personality and is very focused.  She obviously did not get a lot of time in the car, but she was working with the team both days we were testing.  When she did get into the car, she did not make one mistake.  She was learning the car and trying to find her comfort zone.  After she ran some laps and got used to the car and track, we brought her in to make some changes.  When she went back out after those changes, she immediately improved her time.  She has great potential.”

Junqueira back with Newman/Haas, talks about Brazil race Junqueira back with Newman/Haas, talks about Brazil raceFrom today's Champ Car Media teleconference with Bruno Junqueira:
Q. Are you already confirmed to race for Newman/Haas next year? No official announcement has been made. Regarding the Servia situation, can you comment? I saw some quotes in the press release from the new Belo Horizonte track in your hometown. They say their priority is to bring Champ Car in 2007 back to Brazil. Have you been in touch with them? Do you think it's a serious project? Do you think they have a realistic shot of bringing Champ Car back to Brazil in '07?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: First, I will stay with Newman/Haas next year. About the Brazil race, I met the people that are trying to build a track there. I didn't know them before. They look like very serious people. They say they're going to build the track and they are going to try and bring the race. My sister is working with them. Champ Car, as well. I'm sure that if they build a track in my city, we're going to have a race in 2007. I'm very realistic. I know it's not easy. It's a lot of money to build the track. I support them in doing it. I hope it happens.

Q. The Servia thing real quick, do you have any hint on that, if Newman/Haas is going to be three cars?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I don't know yet what's going to happen.

IRL announces Honda as sole engine supplier IRL announces Honda as sole engine supplierUPDATE Honda Press Release: Honda Performance Development (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., will become the single provider of engines in 2006 for the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, HPD President Robert Clarke announced today. 

Honda joined the IRL at the start of the 2003 season, and earlier this year announced a new plan to continue as an engine supplier in IndyCar racing through the 2009 season.  With the recent announcement of Toyota's withdrawal from IRL competition, HPD will prepare and maintain the Honda Indy V-8 engines used by all teams for competition in the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. 

"Providing engines for the entire IndyCar field is a dramatically different role for Honda from that as one competitor in a multi-manufacturer championship," Clarke said.  "It is an opportunity that provides numerous new challenges, not only for HPD, but for several departments at American Honda as well. 

"Certainly, manufacturing and preparing sufficient primary and backup engines for all 33 starters at the Indianapolis 500 will be a major effort," Clarke added, "and it is vitally important, given our new circumstances, that we treat and care for all IndyCar competitors equally. We are confident of meeting this need and look forward to working with the IRL to grow the IndyCar Series in the seasons to come." To assist in supplying engines to the full IndyCar field, HPD is continuing its technical partnership with Ilmor Engineering of Plymouth, Mich. 

"Since 2000, we have offered some of the most competitive racing in the world under an exclusive tire arrangement with Firestone, and taking our engine program to the same exclusive format we believe will take IndyCar Series racing to an entirely new level of competition beginning in 2006," said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer of the IRL. "We appreciate the enthusiasm shown and work done by Honda to ensure having the ability to supply the entire IndyCar Series field. Robert Clarke and everyone at HPD have been true partners during this process." 

In three years of IndyCar competition, Honda drivers and teams have compiled an unmatched record of achievement. They include IRL Manufacturers' Championships for Honda in 2004 and 2005; a pair of Indianapolis 500 triumphs (Buddy Rice in 2004 and Dan Wheldon in 2005); two Drivers' Championships (Tony Kanaan in 2004 and Wheldon in 2005); three Rookie of the Year awards (Wheldon in 2003, Kosuke Matsuura in 2004 and Danica Patrick in 2005); and a total of 27 IndyCar Series race victories.

12/15/05 The Indy Racing League and Honda Performance Development (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., announced the IRL IndyCar® Series will field Honda Racing Indy V-8 engines solely beginning with the 2006 season.

The move to a single engine for 2006 was announced by Brian Barnhart, president & chief operating officer for the Indy Racing League, and Robert Clarke, president of HPD. zzzz

In making the announcement, Barnhart pointed to Honda's renewed commitment to the IndyCar Series and decisions made individually by IndyCar Series teams to switch over to Honda as the primary reasons for the single engine program. Further, Barnhart noted that by accelerating the Honda single-supplier agreement, it would generate cost savings for teams.  

The single engine program will result in immediate cost savings for teams on engine agreements for 2006, and there will be even more cost savings on engine supply beginning in 2007.

"Since 2000, we have offered some of the most competitive racing in the world under an exclusive tire arrangement with Firestone," Barnhart said. "Taking our engine program to a single format, we believe will take IndyCar Series racing to an entirely new level of competition beginning in 2006.

"We appreciate the enthusiasm shown and work done by Honda to ensure it has the ability to supply the entire IndyCar Series field. Robert Clarke and everyone at HPD have been true partners during this process."

The announcement is the culmination of negotiations initiated by the IndyCar Series in July when it became apparent that it would be in the best interests of both Toyota and the IRL to reach an agreement allowing Toyota to leave the series one year early.

"We truly appreciate Toyota's participation and service in the IndyCar Series," Barnhart said. "They have been great partners to the series both on and off the race track."

In October, HPD renewed its commitment as an engine supplier, with or without competition from other auto manufacturers, in the IndyCar Series through the 2009 season. Honda cited the IndyCar Series as a platform with technical challenges for its engineers and a showcase for Honda products in the premier open-wheel racing series in the United States for its decision.

"Providing engines for the entire IndyCar Series field is a dramatically different role for Honda from that as one competitor in a multi-manufacturer championship," Clarke said.  "It is an opportunity that provides numerous new challenges, not only for HPD, but for several departments at American Honda as well.

"Certainly, manufacturing and preparing sufficient primary and backup engines for all 33 starters at the Indianapolis 500 will be a major effort," Clarke added, "and it is vitally important, given our new circumstances, that we treat and care for all IndyCar Series competitors equally. We are confident of meeting this need and look forward to working with the IRL to grow the IndyCar Series in the seasons to come."

Honda's renewed commitment to the IndyCar Series also includes its successful and mutually beneficial technical relationship with Ilmor Engineering. The two will continue working together for on-going Research and Development, engine maintenance and trackside support for the Honda Indy V-8 racing engine.

"It's clear Honda is committed to working with the league as a partner to continue building value in the IndyCar Series," Barnhart said. "As we look ahead to the 2006 season, there will be minimal changes to the technical specifications of the Honda Racing Indy V-8, and that is a tribute to the specs we have now. The reliability and performance we have witnessed has been outstanding, and as we move forward cost, availability and stability will be our priority."

Honda debuted in the IndyCar Series in 2003 and has compiled an enviable record of achievements in concert with its drivers and teams, including the 2004 and 2005 Manufacturers' championship; a pair of Indianapolis 500 triumphs (Buddy Rice in 2004 and Dan Wheldon in 2005); two Drivers' Championships (Tony Kanaan in 2004 and Wheldon in 2005); three Bombardier Rookie of the Year awards (Wheldon in 2003, Kosuke Matsuura in 2004 and Danica Patrick in 2005); and a total of 28 IndyCar Series race victories.

Based in Santa Clarita, Calif., HPD recently moved in to a new 124,000-square-foot headquarters that more than triples its previous space. The building provides Honda complete design, manufacturing and R&D capabilities.

Pantano and Briscoe impress Junqueira Pantano and Briscoe impress JunqueiraWe asked Bruno Junqueira which new drivers impressed him most at Sebring this week during testing. "I think for sure Ryan Briscoe and Giorgio Pantano, they were pretty good.  Actually, they run pretty much the same time.  Pantano ran 50.99 and Briscoe 51.03.  On cold tires, both looked like they could run 51.9.  I think they are really good.  I knew that.  They showed that.  Those are the drivers that impressed me most," said Junqueira.

Italian Pantano and Australian Briscoe are both good, but they need to get themselves in a good ride.  Both appear to have adapted to a Champ Car immediately. Transcript

ALMS hires new PR Manager ALMS hires new PR ManagerLandon Thomas has been named Media Relations Manager for the American Le Mans Series. A published author and 17-year media and communications professional, Thomas' primary responsibilities involve day-to-day media and publicity activities on behalf of the series with a specific emphasis on the Series' 10 unique race markets. 

His duties will include writing news releases, writing for the series' official Web site and various series publications, on-site pressroom operations and support for media-driven promotions. 

Prior to joining the American Le Mans Series, Thomas served as the Director of Communications for the Indoor Professional Football League (IPFL) and authored "The SEC Team of the '80s: Auburn Football 1980-89" - a 394-page hardcover book that provides an unequaled look at the greatest period in Auburn University football history. 

Thomas' public relations agency background includes stints with Tortorici & Randolph, Inc., and Cohn & Wolf. Among his agency of clients included the Coca-Cola Company, for which he worked on Cherry Coke promotions and the Coca-Cola NFL Red Zone Football Tour - a national NFL sponsorship promotion. zzzz

Earlier, Thomas spent two years working with the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG), where he served as a writer for Atlanta Olympic Broadcasting before he wrote and edited a detailed account of the competition within each sport at the 1996 Olympic Games for ACOG's three-volume "The Official Report of the Centennial Olympic Games." 

A Georgia native and Auburn University graduate, Thomas' early career was spent in the media. He has served as sports staff writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, sports reporter for the Emmy-nominated Georgia Public Television program "Prep Sports Plus," and sports editor for The Southside Sun.

ALMS hires new Sales and Marketing Manager ALMS hires new Sales and Marketing ManagerThe American Le Mans Series today announced the appointment of Clayton Triggs to its senior executive staff as its new Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Triggs, who comes to the series from a similar role at MOMO Automotive Associates, Inc. in Lake Forest, Calif., will be responsible for all sales activities and marketing operations for the American Le Mans Series including series sponsors and its broadcast packages, fulfillment and activation, as well as identifying and negotiating potential event, contingency and team sponsors. 

"We were looking for someone special to step into this important role for the American Le Mans Series," said series President and CEO Scott Atherton, "and there is no doubt that we have found that person. Clayton not only brings impressive results and credentials to his critical involvement in the American Le Mans Series, but he is familiar with our series, clients and is very committed to our position in the marketplace. I am confident that he will continue to generate new partners who realized the value of being associated with the premier product that we offer." 

Triggs inherits an area that has seen tremendous growth in recent years and one that is particularly vital to the continued surge in series interest and development. He brings more than 12 years of motorsports business experience. At MOMO, Triggs was responsible for overseeing marketing, public relations, and direct and warehouse distributor sales for all of its business units including MOMO's racing division. zzzz

Triggs also has experience at both directly managing and winning motorsport sponsorships. Prior to MOMO, Triggs served as Americas Marketing Manager for Mitel Semiconductor (2000-2002) being directly responsible for its CART and British Formula 3 racing programs generating over 200 percent ROI via its B2B programs. Before joining Mitel Triggs served as Commercial Director at Precision Preparation (PPI), Inc. (1996-2000) where he played a key role in expanding sponsorship for the CART program and launching PPI's NASCAR entries. Previously he was Marketing Manager for Tasman Motorsports Group (1994-1996) where he acquired significant experience in the generation, negotiation and administration of sponsorship contracts for the CART and Indy Lights programs. 

"I am excited and proud to be a part of the American Le Mans Series," Triggs said. "This Series represents one of the strongest value propositions in USA motorsports today for high profile corporate commercial partners. 2006 welcomes new, elite factory programs with BMW and Lexus joining stiff competition against the likes of Audi, Porsche, GM Corvette, Panoz, Saleen and Aston Martin. This fierce manufacturer rivalry will be waged at 10 world-class events, including new venues in Houston and Utah. This coupled with the fact that American Le Mans Series' discerning, high-end fan base will enjoy the strongest ever television package though our broadcast partners CBS and SPEED will add immense commercial value to our already strong corporate community." 

Triggs, a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with degrees in journalism and business administration, will relocate from California to American Le Mans Series headquarters in Braselton, Ga. 

Mi-Jack Conquest Racing tests five drivers in Sebring Mi-Jack Conquest Racing tests five drivers in SebringMi-Jack Conquest Racing completed a successful test in Sebring this week as five young Champ Car hopefuls gained experience in Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Lolas. The test had an international flavor and showed the global interest in Champ Car as a Swede, Belgian, Englishman,  Dutchman, and an Estonian participated in three days of testing at the Florida facility.
Belgian racer Jan Heylen, who won the Formula Ford Festival before stepping up to Formula 3 and International F3000, tested on Monday. Despite having raced to a championship this season in a closed-cockpit Renault Megane, he adapted quickly to the high-horsepower open-cockpit setting of a Champ Car.
“I was impressed with Jan, as he’d never even seen a Champ Car in person before, and it was his first time on this track,” said Mi-Jack Conquest Racing co-owner Eric Bachelart. “He was up to speed very quickly and was able to perform consistently throughout the day, improving as the track got faster and he became more comfortable.”
Monday also saw Englishman Dan Clarke, who took one win and seven podiums in British Formula 3 competition this season with Raikkonen Robertson Racing, on track for half a day before turning the car over to Swedish driver Alx Danielsson, who has graduated through the Renault ranks and competed with DAMS in the World Series by Renault this season. The two were able to continue their Champ Car acclimation on Tuesday as they once again split the day between them.  zzzz
“It is quite a big step from Formula 3 to a Champ Car, and Dan ran without mistakes and did a good job given how different the two cars are,” said Bachelart. “Danielsson has driven some cars with good power, and he was able to get used the Champ Car quite quickly.”
2005 Toyota Atlantic presented by Yokohama Champion Charles Zwolsman tested with the team on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Zwolsman made his Champ Car debut in this season’s finale event in Mexico City, and he put his previous experience in the car to work this week.
“The test went pretty good,” said the 2005 Atlantic Champion, Zwolsman. “Every time we went out for a run we improved so that was very encouraging. It took me a while to settle into the car because we are running more downforce than I did in Mexico City. I took my time feeling out the car. I know I can go quicker, but I just need to put a whole lap together.”
Wednesday was reserved for the two drivers who finished 1-2 in the Toyota Atlantic Championship as Tonis Kasemets of Estonia joined Zwolsman and made his second run in a Champ Car test. The day started off with difficulty, though, as Kasemets made contact after an off-course excursion and wasn’t able to get the most out of himself or the car for the remainder of the day.
“It was a good test for the team, and while we didn’t accomplish quite what we were hoping to with Tonis, the week was otherwise very straightforward,” said Bachelart. “These kinds of tests are important to give drivers the chance to evaluate the possibility of moving to Champ Car, and they give us the chance to continue to work as a team and gain more experience. We are working to develop the business side of our program for next season, and will likely be testing again here in January as we work on 2006.”
Mi-Jack Conquest Racing has a history of working with young drivers, and in 2005 campaigned Nelson Philippe and rookie Andrew Ranger, with Ranger scoring a podium in just the second Champ Car start of his career as Philippe closed out the season with a strong seventh in Mexico City. The team will also be making a two-car campaign in the Champ Car Atlantic series, and has already signed 16-year old Graham Rahal for next season.
1991 Indy Lights Champion Eric Bachelart started Conquest Racing in 1997 to compete in the Indy Lights series, scoring a podium finish with driver Christophe Tinseau in the team’s first season. Conquest Racing competed in the next four seasons in Indy Lights, winning races with Felipe Giaffone and Kristian Kolby. Mike Lanigan, President of Mi-Jack Products, an intermodal Chicago-based company became a co-owner in 2002. Mi-Jack Conquest Racing contested the 2002 Indy Racing League season with rookie Laurent Redon, netting a podium finish in just the third race of the season and clinching the Rookie of the year award.
Mi-Jack Conquest Racing rejoined the Champ Car family in 2003, stepping up to the Champ Car World Series with Brazilian Mario Haberfeld and scoring eleven top-ten finishes despite competing with a Reynard. Mi-Jack Conquest Racing continued its tradition of working well with young drivers in 2004 as Justin Wilson took second in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year battle, with Nelson Philippe scoring two top-ten finishes after joining the team in the closing stages of the season.  The team is looking forward to contesting its fourth season in the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford, and is currently developing its plans for 2006.
Jeff Gordon Upset Over NASCAR Comments On Absence At Banquet Jeff Gordon Upset Over NASCAR Comments On Absence At BanquetNASCAR driver Jeff Gordon said that NASCAR “excused him with its blessing” from the December 2 Nextel Cup awards banquet in N.Y. “so he could compete in the Race of Champions all-star event in Paris,” according to Josh Stewart of the LONG ISLAND PRESS. NASCAR officials criticized Gordon, among other drivers including Dale Earnhardt Jr., for not attending the event. Gordon: "When the conflict came up (about showing up to accept the award as the highest-finishing non-Chase competitor), I talked to the higher-ups in NASCAR and they told me, ‘Hey, we understand. You’ve got a commitment and you can't be here this year.’” A NASCAR spokesperson “had no official response, but did make a subtle suggestion that perhaps the AP report implicated Gordon by error” LONG ISLAND PRESS
Williams wants more info on Super Aguri Williams wants more info on Super AguriWilliams want more details from the proposed Super Aguri team before giving them the green light to race in Formula One next year, a spokesman said on Thursday.  "We have not said no," he added. "We have just asked for more information that they are viable, have funding and are not going to appear and disappear."
Michael Schumacher fastest at Jerez - Thursday Michael Schumacher fastest at Jerez - ThursdayFor the first time since the end of the season, Michael Schumacher was back behind the wheel of his Ferrari today at Jerez.

The German driver drove a modified F2005 equipped with a V8 engine and set the fastest time of the day.  Williams drivers Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg lost time with a few off-track excursions. Michael Schumacher also went off the track at the beginning of the day while Juan Pablo Montoya was slowed down by an engine problem.

The Sauber engineers discovered heat damage in the exhaust system as a consequence of a defect exhaust pipe.  This could not be fixed in the afternoon so their test was cut short.

Today was this year’s last day of testing for McLaren, BMW Sauber and Toyota.

1. M. Schumacher - Ferrari V8 - 1'18"953 (+0"000) - 67 laps
2. F. Massa - Ferrari V10 - 1'19"060 (+0"107) - 97 laps
3. F. Montagny - Renault V10 - 1'19"066 (+0"113) - 120 laps
4. H. Kovalainen - Renault V10 - 1'19"100 (+0"147) - 119 laps
5. A. Davidson - Honda V8 - 1'19"877 (+0"924) - 114 laps
6. R. Zonta - Toyota V8 - 1'20"035 (+1"082) - 106 laps
7. J.P. Montoya - McLaren Mercedes V8 - 1'20"168 (+1"215) - 48 laps
8. A. Carroll - Honda V8 - 1'20"170 (+1"217) - 93 laps
9. O. Panis - Toyota V8 - 1'20"342 (+1"389) - 93 laps
10. P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes V8 - 1'20"492 (+1"539) - 117 laps
11. N. Rosberg - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1'20"597 (+1"644) - 46 laps
12. N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber V8 - 1'20"700 (+1"747) - 38 laps
13. M. Webber - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1'21"453 (+2"500) - 25 laps

Surgery won't slow Earnhardt Surgery won't slow EarnhardtDale Earnhardt Jr. says the Dec. 9 surgery he had on his left wrist will not keep him from preseason testing at Daytona. This week's edition of NASCAR Scene reports that Earnhardt Jr. said he would be able test a car approximately 10 days after the surgery, if necessary. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
McLaren will support Super Aguri entry McLaren will support Super Aguri entryMartin Whitmarsh told the Reuters news agency that McLaren Mercedes has written to Super Aguri stating that they would support its entry but only did so at the request of Honda who are set to supply the team with engines. "My understanding is that at least Midland have dug in," Whitmarsh said. "If you are a turkey, you don't vote for Christmas and they haven't agreed."
Oliver Gavin and Guy Smith to Join Dyson Racing for Daytona 24 Hours Oliver Gavin and Guy Smith to Join Dyson Racing for Daytona 24 HoursPOUGHKEEPSIE, NY December 15, 2005 - Dyson Racing kicks off their 2006 season in partnership with Howard Motorsports at the crown jewel of the Grand American Series, the Rolex 24 at Daytona on January 28, 2006. Joining Rob Dyson and Chris Dyson in the #16 Thetford/Norcold Pontiac Crawford Daytona Prototype will be Guy Smith, winner of the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans and Oliver Gavin, winner of the 2005 American Le Mans GT 1 championship and his third GT 1 class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last June.

This year's Daytona effort will be run by Howard Motorsports. No stranger to success, they won three Grand American Rolex Series races in 2005, and placed third in the championship. They were also second and third in last year's 24 Hours of Daytona. This year's Daytona 24 Hours is a continuation of the successful collaborative partnership formed last year when they ran Rob and Chris Dyson in five Grand Am races.

"All the components are in place for a seriously competitive effort," confirmed Rob Dyson. "Rick Howard runs one of the most skilled teams in sports car racing, and Max Crawford builds a winning car that has what it takes to go the distance. Oliver Gavin is a seasoned, world class professional and we've worked with him in the past. Guy Smith was an integral part of our hard- fought efforts at Sebring and Petit Le Mans last season. Guy has a second and a fourth to his credit at Daytona and Oliver is coming off his best year yet in 2005." zzzz 

Completing this underpinning of experience is Chris Dyson's six runs at the Daytona track, where he won twice in 2002. For Rob Dyson, 2006 marks his 19th Daytona 24 Hour event. The team principal has two wins in the twice-around-the-clock classic: 1997 as a driver and in 1999 as an entrant.

"The longer the race, the more important the team," added Rob Dyson. "This is an assemblage of star players with a commitment and enthusiasm to win that is second to none. We can't wait."

The Rolex 24 at Daytona starts at noon on Saturday, January 28 and will be shown live in three parts on SPEED Channel starting at 12:00 PM EST.

Formula BMW
Marco Holzer Wins Three out of Three to Take Pole Marco Holzer Wins Three out of Three to Take Pole
Bodine turns down No. 4 ride Bodine turns down No. 4 rideTodd Bodine competed in only one Nextel Cup race in 2005, driving the #4 Morgan-McClure Motorsports car at the Homestead-Miami Speedway season finale. He finished 20th in the Ford 400. Bodine said he turned down a full-time Nextel Cup ride with Morgan-McClure for 2006 because of commitments with Germain Racing. "They want me to run full time for them next year," Bodine said. "Obviously, I can't do that. It's a great group there. Morgan-McClure has been very important to NASCAR and has got a lot of history. If we didn't have such a good Truck team, I probably would have considered it." Mike Wallace was Morgan-McClure's regular driver in 2005. Bodine said he could run some Nextel Cup races in 2006 but did not mention a specific team. "We're probably going to run some Cup races next year, we don't know what for sure," Bodine said. "We just have to see what happens. I've got a lot going on with Germain Racing and a lot to look forward to." Elmira Star Gazette
Stewart honored by U.S. House of Representatives Stewart honored by U.S. House of RepresentativesOn Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a resolution from U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel of Indiana recognizing #20-Tony Stewart for his 2005 Nextel Cup championship. Sodrel, who sponsored the resolution, was joined by other members of the Indiana delegation – Reps. Mike Pence, Dan Burton, Mark Soder, John Hostettler and Julia Carson – as co-sponsors. House Resolution 587 passed unanimously. Sodrel represents Indiana’s 9th Congressional District, which includes Stewart’s hometown – and current residence – of Columbus. “I am proud to honor Mr. Tony Stewart for all of his accomplishments in NASCAR and the world of motorsports by bringing this resolution to the floor of the House of Representatives,” Sodrel said. “Hoosiers and racing fans around the world are proud of Tony and his team and we look forward to his continued success.” The resolution cites Stewart for his five 2005 wins, his two series titles in seven seasons, his eight other auto racing championships, his top-10 ranking in each of his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup seasons and particularly his Aug. 7 victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard). Following that win, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels awarded Stewart the state’s highest honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash, on Aug. 29. NASCAR PR
Talladega to get resurfaced Talladega to get resurfacedTalladega Superspeedway is to resurface its track for the first time in 27 years next summer. The plan is to start immediately after next April's race, in time for their Chase for the championship round in October.

A portable asphalt plant will be installed this month, with on site work beginning in February, when trial batches of the asphalt pavement will be produced. Engineers are expected to begin formulation of asphalt mix designs and designing the required equipment modifications in December.

"Everyone should be able to hold it wide-open all the way around the whole day. The fastest car will rise to the top," Stewart said. "Repaving is something you've got to do every now and then. It's part of what racing is all about. And in Talladega's case, to go that many years without having to repave a race-track is pretty impressive.

"It shows how good a job Talladega Superspeedway has done of maintaining their facility and their race-track. I'm pretty impressed with what they've been able to do. Hopefully this new surface will last them another 30 or 40 years."

Toyota announces withdrawal from IRL Toyota announces withdrawal from IRLToyota will not return to the Indy Racing League (IRL) for the 2006 season, it was announced today.   Toyota had originally planned to withdraw from open-wheel racing following the 2006 season, but that decision was expedited one year to allow the IRL to move to a common engine for the upcoming season.

"We appreciate the time we've spent in the IndyCar Series," said Jim Aust, Toyota vice president of motorsports. "In winning the 2003 Indianapolis 500, Toyota earned its greatest motorsports accomplishment and we'll forever cherish that victory.

Our gratitude goes out to Tony George and the Indy Racing League for providing us the opportunity to compete in, and win, the greatest spectacle in racing."

Toyota-powered entries won four races and six pole positions this past season. Overall, Toyota won 17 IndyCar Series races and notched 22 poles in 49 races from 2003-2005. In addition to winning the engine manufacturer championship in 2003, Scott Dixon campaigned Toyota power to the IndyCar Series title that same year.

"We truly appreciate Toyota's participation and service in the IndyCar Series," said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer for the Indy Racing Leagues. "They have been great partners to the series both on and off the race track." zzzz

A Chronological Look At Toyota's U.S. Open Wheel Racing History

Aug 1993 Toyota Begins feasibility study for entering CART competition
Jan 1994 Toyota announces it will enter CART competition in 1996
Feb 1996 Toyota makes first CART start at Homestead
Oct 1999 Scott Pruett wins Toyota's first CART pole at California Speedway
Jun 2000 Juan Montoya wins Toyota's first CART race at Milwaukee
Jul 2000 Juan Montoya wins Toyota's first 500-mile race at Michigan
Apr 2001 Toyota announces it will enter Indy Racing League competition in 2003
2002 Cristiano da Matta wins CART Driver's championship with Toyota power
2002 Toyota wins CART Manufacturer's championship
Mar 2003 Scott Dixon wins Toyota's debut IndyCar Series race at Homestead
May 2003 Gil de Ferran wins the Indianapolis 500 in Toyota's first attempt
2003 Scott Dixon wins IndyCar Series Driver's championship with Toyota power
2003 Toyota wins IRL Manufacturer's championship Toyota Motorsports

Just call him 'crash' Waltrip Just call him 'crash' WaltripMichael Waltrip was involved in 19 accidents or spins in 36 starts, a 52.8% average that topped Cup drivers with at least 30 starts, according to a USA TODAY database examination of NASCAR box scores.

"I'm responsible for my own actions, but I'm not usually a crasher," Waltrip says. "But it's sometimes cyclical, and I just got in some wrecks, and in '05 that was the case for me. I look forward to 2006.  It was just some bad breaks, and I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I always seemed to wreck in the straightaways (as opposed to) the corners."

Why Vodafone chose McLaren over Ferrari Why Vodafone chose McLaren over Ferrari"We were very close to a deal with Intel," McLaren's Ron Dennis confirmed, "but this deal with Vodafone was not done overnight. It came after a three-year dialogue. I'm very excited. It is a very good fit."

Ferrari could not offer the same kind of deal as McLaren because with McLaren Vodafone will be the title sponsor whereas with Ferrari Vodafone has to play 2nd fiddle to Marlboro. The financial investment is believed to be around the same but Vodafone will be the title sponsor at McLaren.

"Ferrari is very shaped and established," he said. "The title sponsorship was very important to us and we wanted to be associated with winning and with leading edge technology, but we also wanted an alignment in terms of culture and values. This is very important to us and to McLaren. This is an outstandingly good partnership to take us to the next phase in developing the brand. We fit very well with McLaren."

More top people joining Red Bull More top people joining Red BullFollowing on from the news that Red Bull Racing had pulled off the biggest recruitment coup in recent F1 history by luring Adrian Newey away from McLaren, more top F1 staff have found the draw of the Red Bull rise is too hard to resist.

The close season is always a time of movement in F1 circles. Traveling team members can decide they have had enough of airport lounges and motorhomes, others are looking for fresh challenges, and many are on the lookout for a promotion or move to a better team.

Red Bull have already pulled off the biggest new signing of the close season by signing Adrian Newey from McLaren, but the good news doesn't stop there.

www.grandprix.com have reported several other top signing for Red Bull Racing, and sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso. Renault have been on the losing end of many of the moves. This is not surprising as rivals get a two-fold advantage by taking a person with knowledge of a championship winning car, whilst also destabilizing the team everyone has to beat.

Renault in particular suffering the loss of several top people, as other teams try to improve themselves and at the same time knock Renault down.

The biggest Renault - Red Bull defection is Chief Mechanic Jonathan Wheatley who will become team manager of Red Bull Racing, replacing longtime incumbent Dave Stubbs. Also Renault designer Rob Marshall has been lured to RBR. new signings from other teams include two new race engineers with Kieran Pilbeam coming in from BAR and Humphrey Corbett arriving from Toyota. Sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso is also undergoing change with the departure of deputy technical director Andy Tilley and the arrival of Toyota's logistics manager Gianfranco Fantuzzi to run things for new team principal Franz Tost who was formerly at Williams. SportNetwork

BMW Sauber team flush with sponsorship BMW Sauber team flush with sponsorshipA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, With today's announcement that Intel has signed a major deal with the BMW Sauber team, that adds to the major sponsorship they have with oil and gas giant Petronas. Yesterday McLaren announces a major deal with Vodafone. We hear that other major deals are on the way. Meanwhile Champ Car and their teams can't land a major sponsorship deal of any sort even at 1/10th the price. Champ Car may be improving, but when it comes to attracting sponsors into the series, Champ Car and its teams are clueless. Instead they test a whole host of potential ride-buyers with the hope one of them will do the job their marketing and sales staff are supposed to be doing, and bring a sponsor to their team. Jason Ewaldo, Houston, TX

Dear Jason, After hearing of some rumors of sponsors for Champ Car and some of its teams, all has gone quiet on that front.  Major sponsor announcements like Intel and Vodafone attract other sponsors. The silence in Champ Car with regard to new sponsors is deafening, but Kevin Kalkhoven appears confident and he definitely likes to time his announcements out over a period of time. We will have to sit back and see if the marketing and sales staffs have something up their sleeves or if they are just spinning their wheels.

Certainly the split has hurt the sport of 'Indy Car' Racing as things are just as bad over in the IRL. Marketing and sales staff from both sides of the battle approach the same sponsors and pitch why their series is better. For all we know they each badmouth the other side during those negotiations. Sponsors don't want to get between warring factions. They would just as soon spend their money somewhere else.......and they are. Anyone with half a brain knows the war must end and there must be a unification. There have been a number of attempts, but Tony George wants to own it all and that's a deal breaker from Champ Car's perspective. When he relents on that demand, we suspect a merger will go forward. Quick, anyone have half a brain they can send to Indianapolis? Mark C.

Racing News
GM looks ahead to 2006 racing program GM looks ahead to 2006 racing programBuilding on the momentum of an exceptional year in 2005, with 16 championships total, members of the GM Racing team have been working for months to prepare for the new race season. Here’s a preview of what’s to come in 2006:

American Le Mans Series:
GM Looks for Continued 21st Century Dominance of Le Mans

Corvette Racing is aiming for its sixth consecutive American Le Mans Series manufacturers championship and a fifth 24 Hours of Le Mans victory in 2006 with a pair of new Corvette C6.R race cars. Applying the lessons learned with this year's championship-winning entries, the new 2006 Corvette C6.Rs will feature enhanced aerodynamics and further developments in the LS7.R engine as permitted by the series regulations.

The ALMS will hold events in two new venues in 2006 as the 10-race series will run in the streets of Houston in May and at the new Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City in July. zzzz

NASCAR Nextel Cup:
No Off-Season Break for Teams

Alba Colon, GM Racing program manager for NASCAR Nextel Cup racing, said that her team's excitement over the new Monte Carlo SS race car is echoed by the individual Chevy race teams. Still, Colon is leaving nothing to chance and everyone is using each possible moment to get that extra bit of speed that could help come Daytona.

"Our teams have been in the wind tunnel with the new car almost every day," said Colon. "They are working nonstop, including Christmas week, until the 30th of December. Some of the teams will be going to test the third of January."

Many teams have been using the AeroDyn Wind Tunnel, which is a located just minutes from many of the race shops in Mooresville, N.C.

"We may be in the off-season," Colon said. "But I haven’t seen any break yet! We have been working like crazy!"

The 2006 NASCAR season begins with testing in January, while the first points event is the Daytona 500 on February 19.

NHRA POWERade Series
From The Professor to Erica, 2006 to Excite

Pontiac Pro Stock driver Greg Anderson will be on a quest for his fourth consecutive NHRA Pro Stock championship. Amazingly, Anderson has 35 event wins over the last three years in 69 races, an average of winning one out of every two races he entered over the three-year span.

Six-time Pro Stock champ Warren Johnson just couldn't seem to really call it quits, so "The Professor" will return for his 33rd year of NHRA competition in 2006, and as the winningest Pro Stock driver in history with 95 wins, he has a chance to hit the century mark in career wins in 2006.

Erica Enders will be anxious to start strong in her sophomore season of Pro Stock competition after a solid finish to her rookie season in 2005. The 22-year-old Texas native looks to become the first female winner of an NHRA Pro Stock event after reaching her first career Pro Stock final at this year's second race at Chicago.

The GM DRCE3 (Drag Racing Competition Engine, third generation) engine will continue to be developed by more teams given the success of Warren and Kurt Johnson this year. The duo gave the latest-generation engine seven national-event wins in 12 final-round appearances.

Pontiac and GMC will return in 2006 as the Official Car and Truck of the NHRA.

Pontiac also returns as the title rights sponsor of the Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, in May.

Sport Compact Drag Racing:
GM Racing to Streamline Efforts

GM Racing will continue its transition from distancing itself from owning factory teams to providing parts and technical support.

Gary Gardella looks to build on the monster season he had in 2005, his first in the Chevy Cobalt. The popular New Jersey native will be defending his first NDRA Pro 4 Cylinder crown from 2005.

Bryan Jimenez will be new to the GM Racing sport-compact racing efforts, competing in a Chevy Cobalt in the NDRA Pro 4 Cylinder series in 2006. The Houston-based racer had previously competed in a Honda.

Marty Ladwig will compete for an NHRA Pro FWD championship in an ECOtec-powered Chevy Cobalt.

After strong debut performances in 2005, Erica Nocita and Brittany Kindle both return behind the wheels of their Chevy Cobalt Phase5 racers.

Grand Am Cup:
Cobalt SS Supercharged Teams Grow for 2006 Grand-Am Cup Series

The GM Performance Division will provide technical support to three teams fielding four Chevrolet Cobalt SS Supercharged cars in the 2006 Grand-Am Cup road racing series, which begins Jan. 26-27 at Daytona International Speedway.

Mike Kucznicki, owner of Georgian Bay Motorsports in Canada, has built two new Cobalts for the 10-race season. The Georgian Bay-built cars won three races last season in their inaugural year.

Two additional Cobalts are being entered by West Coast owners – veteran Tom Lepper and new entrant Phil Malgren.

“We’re happy to see the 2005 success of the Cobalt SS Supercharged has attracted a new entrant for 2006, and we hope to see even more teams realize the Cobalt’s winning potential,” said Ken Wasmer, small car program engineering manager for the Performance Division.

Grand Am Rolex Series:
More Competition Heightens 2006 Outlook

Pontiac will be shooting for a third consecutive manufacturers championship in the Rolex Series for 2006 as well as its third Rolex 24 At Daytona win. In addition to its 2004 win, the brand swept the podium in 2005.

A larger Daytona Prototype (DP) field will make a Rolex 24 At Daytona win and an equally-successful season more difficult for Pontiac to achieve but for the first time, Pontiac has a chance to compete in the famous Florida endurance race with its GT class GTO.R race car. Entering the season in mid-2005, Pontiac’s production-based racers competed in too few races to have a chance at the GT class manufacturers championship. In 2006, the GTO.Rs will enter all races, but the arrival of Mazda, Infiniti and the Porsche 997 mean it won’t be a simple task to win races.

Pontiac will be facing stiffer competition in DP as well as GT, with rival manufacturer Porsche increasing their Rolex Series presence. With enhanced engines, more cars and additional factory drivers, Porsche will be an even more formidable opponent in 2006. Lexus will also increase their presence in the DP class and will submit a new five-liter engine package for Grand American review mid-season.

Massa continues Bridgestone tests Massa continues Bridgestone testsFerrari were busy with Felipe Massa on track yesterday at Jerez as the Brazilian ran the F2005 powered by a restricted V10 powerplant. Massa, continuing the Bridgestone development program, completed a total of 68 laps, the quickest in a time of 1:19.259s - good for third fastest on the day. Michael Schumacher joins Massa on track today as the seven-time Champion returns from his traditional long winter holiday. The newly crowned 2005 World Champion Fernando Alonso returns to testing duties with Renault at the circuit on Friday. Source Ferrari
McLaren bemoan loss of Michelin McLaren bemoan loss of Michelin"Obviously we are sad to see Michelin leave Formula One after the 2006 season," said McLaren's chief executive Martin Whitmarsh. "However we understand and accept their decision and know that they are fully committed to winning the Championships in 2006.

"Michelin did a great job this year and all their efforts have been appreciated by everybody at Team McLaren Mercedes. We will continue to work closely with Michelin in 2006 and do our best to ensure that they leave Formula One on a high."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis, added, "We've got a disenchanted tire company who we hope will really concentrate on 2006," he said. "I think there's a strong reason why they would want to succeed if it's their last year."

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Bridgestone still trail Michelin
Ferrari call for F1 budget cuts
Montoya rules out pitwall future
F1's Webber on top-50 rich list
Michelin quell exit fears
F1's future appears bright
Intel becomes a partner of the BMW Sauber F1 Team Intel becomes a partner of the BMW Sauber F1 TeamThe BMW Group and Intel have agreed on a comprehensive partnership. It spans a strategic technology partnership for the development of BMW's worldwide IT infrastructure as well as shared marketing activities. The technology enterprise headquartered in the USA, moreover, is to be a new partner of the BMW Sauber F1 Team, which makes its debut in 2006. 

Prof. Dr. Burkhard Göschel, BMW Group Board Member for Purchasing and Development, noted: "Like the BMW Group, Intel also sets the highest standards of performance, innovation and quality for its products. For both companies, technological leadership is a fundamental goal. Our methods of systematically turning ideas into innovative products will be excellently supported and complemented by Intel's innovative technology and highly efficient solutions. This partnership stands to benefit our IT, our customers and our Formula One team." 

Eric Kim, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Intel, said: "This comprehensive agreement brings together two of the most admired and innovative brands in the world. Intel's technology and BMW's prowess in the automotive sector are a powerful combination. Intel and BMW intend to collaborate heavily on the IT technology and marketing side as our brands are very dynamic and innovative. With Intel as the Official Corporate Partner of the BMW Sauber F1 Team, the Intel brand will reach hundreds of millions of passionate fans worldwide each year - fans who appreciate the critical role that technology plays in Formula One. Intel will infuse the BMW Sauber F1 Team with its technology - technology that we believe will support the team's performance."  zzzz

"Formula One," added BMW Motorsport Director Prof. Dr. Mario Theissen, "is a high-tech discipline. It demands the control and coordination of hundreds of parameters simultaneously and the precise execution of every step. Cutting-edge technology is a crucial success factor, and BMW has accepted the challenge. We are delighted that a strong partner such as Intel has done likewise in collaboration with us." 

As part of this long-term strategic technology partnership, BMW - with Intel's backing - will implement a global standardization of its IT infrastructure in BMW data centers and equip its franchise partners and facilities around the world with innovative IT systems. 

In addition to these measures, BMW will support the increased mobility of employees throughout the Group with laptops featuring Intel® Centrino® mobile technology systems, as well as extending the use of Intel-based PDAs.

 The two companies have also agreed on the joint development of an open standard for the integrated operation of mobile devices (including mobile phones, portable music players and PDAs) in vehicles built by the BMW Group. 

The BMW Sauber F1 Team and its new partners will be presenting the new team in Valencia, Spain on January 16-17, 2006.

Nine teams sign to help Aguri's '06 debut Nine teams sign to help Aguri's '06 debutToyota and McLaren have both denied they are blocking Super Aguri's bid for a late 2006 entry.

Speculation persists that Midland's 'MF1' team is the main culprit, the Colin Kolles-led crew no doubt concerned about dropping out of the top ten constructors' and missing a slice of the TV pie.

But it remains a fact that Honda 'b' team Aguri, as an all new entry, would not be entitled to the prize money at least until 2008.

''We haven't (agreed) for (the sake of) Super Aguri, we've done it because Honda requested it,'' McLaren F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh confirmed.

To the Reuters news agency, he speculated as to why Midland would not follow suit: ''If you are a turkey, you don't vote for Christmas.''

Toyota, also, said it had signed in support of Aguri's re-entry, thus rejecting suggestions that - as engine supplier and staunch Honda rival - it was motivating MF1's veto.

''(We) have signed indicating (our) position and we have made that clear to the Midland team,'' said team president John Howett.  zzzz

Ferrari has also withdrawn its opposition, as did Renault after a visit to the Leafield factory by technical boss Pat Symonds.  The FIA's Charlie Whiting has also checked out the HQ.

Likewise, Williams, BMW Sauber and Red Bull's two teams are believed to have written in support.

Aguri managing director Daniele Audetto suggested that some people are ignoring the best interests of the sport and instead 'looking to their own pockets.'

He also told the Autosport website that the $48 million bond was only late due to a red-tape administrative hold-up.

Michelin retreat to make teams 'glad' Michelin retreat to make teams 'glad'Michelin will pull out of formula one at the end of 2006, the French tire supplier has announced.

The Clermont-Ferrand based company has been embroiled in a row with the sport's governing body, particularly concerning the FIA's intention to impose a 'control tire' situation.

''Competition between at least two tire manufacturers is critical,'' a Michelin statement read, but the marque also criticized the FIA's 'constant' rule changes, such as the re-introduction of tire change pitstops in 2006.

''This decision is the result of profound differences between Michelin's long-standing sporting philosophy and the way formula one is managed by the regulating authorities,'' said Edouard Michelin.

While Honda boss Nick Fry explained the team's 'sadness' at the Michelin pullout, the FIA said a lot of people in pitlane will 'certainly' be 'glad' that a tire monopoly is now probable for 2007 -- a year earlier than the slated '08 regulation.

''The competing teams have repeatedly and unanimously requested the FIA to impose a single tire supplier in formula one,'' the Paris body said.

The FIA says a control tire will make F1 'fairer, safer and less expensive'. "But, above all, it will avoid a repetition of the problem which arose at the 2005 US (GP),'' the statement added.

Bad weather hinders final test Bad weather hinders final testA cold and damp Jerez track held up progress at the last major test of the year, in south Spain.

Frosty conditions early in the morning meant that most of the seven teams present stayed off the cold tarmac, and afternoon rain further hampered running.

But many drivers still clocked up big mileage -- pacesetter Franck Montagny managed 97 laps in his V10 Renault.  He was trailed by Williams' Narain Karthikeyan, as the Indian looks more and more likely to bag the 'Friday' practice seat.

McLaren, meanwhile, confirmed that Alex Wurz would not appear at Jerez this week, intensifying speculation that the long time test driver has now agreed a deal to switch to the BMW camp.

McLaren to go orange McLaren to go orangeMcLaren is to paint its winter test cars orange, in a precursor to a red race livery that it will adopt in 2007.

Although orange is the Woking based team's traditional color, Ron Dennis' camp usually tests in the familiar silver and black livery, a trademark of the West and Mercedes linkup.

But with the cigarette sponsor now gone, and a mammoth Vodafone deal ready to roll at the end of the mobile giant's Ferrari contract, McLaren will start work on integrating Vodafone's color red with its own image.

Dennis refused to reveal any financial details of the ten year deal, but estimates put it at about $50m per year for five years, with a full review in 2011.

He grinningly told the Financial Times: ''We bank with HSBC and when we gave them the details (of the deal) they weren't exactly crying.''

Vodafone, meanwhile, confirmed that it would not be moving away from the color red in the next year.

It also said that it would spend on McLaren around the same ($40m a year) as it is at Ferrari.

''But (we have) many more rights and flexibility (with McLaren) to build our brand for the future,'' marketing officer Peter Bamford explained in Woking.

A title sponsorship at Ferrari was impossible due to the Maranello team's plans to drop every backer except Marlboro at the end of formula one's tobacco era.

Dennis, meanwhile, said the V8-powered winter cars will remain orange until the race livery is unveiled in February, even though McLaren will tackle '06 without a title sponsor.

Foyt burns his Road to Indy hat Foyt burns his Road to Indy hatAJ Foyt has once again burned another of his Road to Indy hats.  Instead of hiring a midget or sprint car driver, he hired Brazilian Felipe I Bring Money Giaffone - a foreigner and a road racer.  So much for the IRL's focus on oval racing - all the drivers in the series are road racers.

Like we said years ago, much to the chagrin of the IRL'ers, Ovals, stick a fork in them, they're done for open wheel racing - Since Tony George decided to split Indy Car Racing, effectively destroying it, NASCAR owns the oval track market - The tracks, the fans and the drivers. 

Pantano most impressive Pantano most impressiveIt may have been his first time in a Champ Car but you would have never known it as Italian Giorgio Pantano matched veteran Bruno Junqueira's fast time for the 3-day Champ Car test at Sebring with a 50.9 sec. lap. Although he's coming back from a serious injury, it's almost expected that Junqueira would be fast given the record of the mighty Newman/Haas team. But to see Pantano (pictured right, courtesy Champ Car) right up there with him, and faster than the highly regarded Ryan Briscoe, both in PKV cars, probably opened more than a few eyes in Sebring this week.
Junqueira and Pantano top 3-day test at Sebring Junqueira and Pantano top 3-day test at SebringThe first test in preparation for the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season wrapped up today at Sebring Raceway with lots of promise for the upcoming year.

Five Champ Car pilots took to the 1.699-mile South Florida track with Bruno Junqueira (pictured right) and Giorgio Pantano sharing the top spot on the final time sheets with laps at 50.9 seconds. Perfect conditions were the story of the day as temperatures stayed in the low 70s and two days of Bridgestone Potenza rubber had been laid down giving the track optimum grip.

Pantano (pictured right) completed his second day of testing for the PKV Racing outfit and was joined in the red and white livery by Ryan Briscoe who was also on track Monday. Bruno Junqueira also returned after a one-day hiatus and didn’t miss a beat getting the PacifiCare car right back up to speed.

“We had a very good test,” said the 29-year-old Brazilian Junqueira. “The Newman/Haas team did a great job preparing the PacifiCare car and I feel very comfortable. I’m really happy to be back driving the car and I can’t wait until my next time testing.”

Also on track were the top two finishers in last years Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama, Charles Zwolsman (pictured left) and Tonis Kasemets. Zwolsman tested on Tuesday and also ran the Champ Car season finale at Mexico City but it still took him some time to get used to the bigger, faster Champ Car.

“The test went pretty good,” said the 2005 Atlantic Champion, Zwolsman. “Every time we went out for a run we improved so that was very encouraging. It took me a while to settle into the car because we are running more downforce than I did in Mexico City. I took my time feeling out the car. I know I can go quicker.  I just need to put a whole lap together.”

Tonis Kasemets day was anything but typical after spinning and making contact with the wall within an hour of the track opening for practice. The Mi-Jack Conquest team repaired the damage to the car but Kasemets was limited to just a few laps at speed.

The preseason testing schedule is just getting started as PKV Racing will return to Sebring next week for more testing. Katherine Legge, who made her debut in a Champ Car on Tuesday afternoon, will get two full days on track to familiarize herself with a 750hp Champ Car.

Wednesday (12/14/05) Lap Times
1. Bruno Junqueira 50.9 seconds
2. Giorgio Pantano 50.9
3. Ryan Briscoe 51.0
4. Charles Zwolsman 51.8
5. Tonis Kasemets 54.4

Combined Lap Times
1. Bruno Junqueira 50.9 seconds
2. Giorgio Pantano 50.9
3. Ryan Briscoe 51.0
4. Ryan Dalziel 51.5
5. Charles Zwolsman 51.8
6. Alx Danielsson 52.1
7 Jan Heylen 52.1
8. Richard Lyons 52.2
9. Katherine Legge 53.2
10. Dan Clarke 53.5
11. Tonis Kasemets 54.4

AJ Foyt hires Giaffone AJ Foyt hires GiaffoneThe driver search for A.J. Foyt's No. 14 Indy car is over. Foyt has hired Felipe Giaffone to drive the ABC Supply No. 14 Dallara which will be powered by Honda in the 2006 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series.

"After working with Felipe at Indy last year, I was impressed," said Foyt, who fielded three cars in last year's 500. Giaffone was the top finisher of the three, placing 15th.

"Coming in to qualify on Bump Day for the biggest race in the world in a car you've never driven before for a team you've never worked with before, well you're either crazy or a real race driver. He proved to me that he's a real race driver," Foyt said. 

"I am glad to be coming back to the IRL with a good team that has a good engine package," said Giaffone. "The little time that I had to work with A.J. last year, we had a good race set-up and now that we will have a strong engine, I am excited about our chances for the season, especially Indianapolis."  zzzz

"We had the opportunity to meet Felipe last year at the Indy 500 when he did a great job driving the No. 48 ABC Supply car," said company founder and CEO Ken Hendricks. "We are very happy to welcome him to the ABC Supply team and are looking forward to the 2006 season."

At Indy in 2005, Giaffone, the 2001 IRL Rookie of the Year, had been looking for a ride for the 500 but had given up hope of finding one. On Bump Day, he was shopping with his wife Alice before heading back to Brazil the following day. Then he received a call to come to the Speedway wherein he met A.J. Foyt and the two men discussed trying to qualify Foyt's third car. Giaffone obtained his race seat from his former team Dreyer-Reinbold Racing, practiced in the orange No. 48 ABC Supply Toyota/Panoz and then qualified the car in the final minutes at over 217 mph. It took less than five hours from conception to completion. He started last and finished 15th in the 500. "I'm also looking forward to driving on the road courses because until I came to the Indy cars, my whole career was on road courses," said Giaffone. "Last year the IRL added them to the schedule but I didn't have a ride. Now

I can look forward to those races along with the others."

Giaffone, who began his IndyCar career with Hubbard-Treadway Racing in 2001, drove for Mo Nunn Racing in 2002-3. He has one win (Kentucky in 2002), 13 top-fives and 29 top-10s in 53 starts. His best performance at Indy came in 2002 when he started fourth and finished third. He missed one third of the season in 2003 when an accident at Kansas resulted in fractures to his right leg and pelvis.

Giaffone, who will make his home in Miami with his wife Alice and son Nicolas, is a second generation driver; his father won the stock car series championship in Brazil in 1989. The 30-year-old was coached by Formula One champion Nelson Piquet in 1999 when Giaffone was driving Indy Lights.

Toyota withdrawal leaves just Honda in the IRL Toyota withdrawal leaves just Honda in the IRLHonda Performance Development (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., will become the single provider of engines in 2006 for the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, HPD President Robert Clarke announced today.

Honda joined the IRL at the start of the 2003 season, and earlier this year announced a new plan to continue as an engine supplier in IndyCar racing through the 2009 season. With the recent announcement of Toyota's withdrawal from IRL competition, HPD will prepare and maintain the Honda Indy V-8 engines used by all teams for competition in the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500.

“Providing engines for the entire IndyCar field is a dramatically different role for Honda from that as one competitor in a multi-manufacturer championship,” Clarke said. “It is an opportunity that provides numerous new challenges, not only for HPD, but for several departments at American Honda as well."

“Certainly, manufacturing and preparing sufficient primary and backup engines for all 33 starters at the Indianapolis 500 will be a major effort,” Clarke added, “and it is vitally important, given our new circumstances, that we treat and care for all IndyCar competitors equally. We are confident of meeting this need and look forward to working with the IRL to grow the IndyCar Series in the seasons to come.” zzzz

To assist in supplying engines to the full IndyCar field, HPD is continuing its technical partnership with Ilmor Engineering of Plymouth, Mich.

“Since 2000, we have offered some of the most competitive racing in the world under an exclusive tire arrangement with Firestone, and taking our engine program to the same exclusive format we believe will take IndyCar Series racing to an entirely new level of competition beginning in 2006,” said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer of the IRL. “We appreciate the enthusiasm shown and work done by Honda to ensure having the ability to supply the entire IndyCar Series field. Robert Clarke and everyone at HPD have been true partners during this process.”

In three years of IndyCar competition, Honda drivers and teams have compiled an unmatched record of achievement. They include IRL Manufacturers' Championships for Honda in 2004 and 2005; a pair of Indianapolis 500 triumphs (Buddy Rice in 2004 and Dan Wheldon in 2005); two Drivers' Championships (Tony Kanaan in 2004 and Wheldon in 2005); three Rookie of the Year awards (Wheldon in 2003, Kosuke Matsuura in 2004 and Danica Patrick in 2005); and a total of 27 IndyCar Series race victories. Press Release HPD

Tickets on sale for St. Pete race Tickets on sale for St. Pete raceTickets for the 2006 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will go on sale to the general public Friday, Dec. 16.

 Race-day ticket prices start at $40 for adults and $15 for children under 12 with multi-day ticket packages running $45 for adults and $20 for children under 12. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Honda Grand Prix box office at (727) 824-7223 (extension 225), by visiting the event's website at www.gpstpete.com or through Ticketmaster. 

Renewal requests have been mailed out to 2005 ticket holders, which offer them the first opportunity to reserve seats for the 2006 event. 2005 customers have until Jan. 15, 2006, to return a ticket order for those seats. After that date, any tickets not renewed will be added to the allotment available to the general public. zzzz

In addition to individual ticket sales, the Honda Grand Prix is offering a group ticket special that includes a free IRL paddock pass (a $55 value) for groups that purchase 20 or more three-day reserved tickets.  Corporate hospitality and sponsorship packages are also still available. 

The event is scheduled to be held March 30 through April 2 with the race action slated to be held again on a temporary street circuit in downtown St. Petersburg. 

"We were pleased with the success of our inaugural 2005 event and expect tickets to be in high demand for next year's event, which will feature the return of Dan Wheldon, Danica Patrick and the rest of the IndyCar Series competitors," said Tim Ramsberger, vice president of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. 

The 2005 event, which marked the first-ever race for the Indy Racing League on a non-oval track, drew rave reviews as an overall event weekend and was highlighted by more than 20 hours of on-track activity, three performances by the Klein Tools Air Show and an XM Satellite Radio-sponsored post-race concert by the band Good Charlotte. 

"We enjoyed a great race in 2005, but more importantly, a great event," said Ramsberger. "We're very excited about adding to the family fun and excitement of the Honda Grand Prix weekend for our ticket holders in 2006." 

The 2006 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will be the second race on the Indy Racing League schedule, will feature SCCA races and IRL Pro Series events on both Saturday and Sunday, and the IndyCar Series race on Sunday, April 2. An XM Satellite Radio-sponsored concert is also expected to be part of the weekend's activities. 

This Friday also marks the first online availability of official Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg merchandise, just in time for the holidays. 

For more information on the 2006 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, please visit www.gpstpete.com.

McLaren land Vodafone as title sponsor McLaren land Vodafone as title sponsorUPDATE #2 Pictured right, Vodafone will be McLAREN Mercedes Title Sponsor, commencing January 2007. Here Peter Bamford (left), Vodafone’s Chief Marketing Officer and Ron Dennis, Chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group and McLaren Mercedes Team Principal. 12/14/05 McLaren's deal is for at least four years, although the precise length of the multimillion dollar coup is unknown.  The deal is estimated at about $50m a year, and follows Ferrari's worst season in years.  A few weeks ago, Vodafone pulled the plug on its $9 million per year sponsorship of the Manchester United soccer team. 12/14/05 Vodafone and the McLaren Mercedes Formula One team today announce a long-term sponsorship agreement, commencing January 2007 which will last into the next decade. Vodafone will become Title Sponsor of the Team – ‘Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ and the ‘Official Mobile Partner’.

The sponsorship demonstrates Vodafone’s ongoing commitment to the Formula One World Championship, a sport which continues to deliver massive global television coverage and which has significant appeal for Vodafone’s consumer and business customers around the world.

Ron Dennis, Chairman and CEO of the McLaren Group
“This is only the third time for more than 30 years that the opportunity to become the team’s Title Sponsor has existed. The status of the brand and the level of activation in support of the sponsorship were key criteria for our choice of Title Sponsor and Vodafone over-delivers in all respects. In addition, as our agreement is long-term, this provides important stability within the Team, allowing us to focus fully on our objective of winning races and Championships together. We are delighted to welcome Vodafone to the team and look forward to many future successes."
Peter Bamford, Vodafone Chief Marketing Officer
"We are excited about this new phase of involvement in motor racing. As Title Sponsor of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team it raises our association with Formula One to the ultimate level. The new agreement delivers a fantastic marketing platform; the associative rights we acquire as a result of this new sponsorship provide us with additional opportunities to continue to raise brand awareness, build brand preference and drive revenue. It will also provide our customers with unique and exciting content through Vodafone live! with 3G.”

Norbert Haug, Vice-President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"We welcome Vodafone as the new title sponsor to the team. The fact that a world renowned brand like Vodafone with such an impressive market performance has joined us is of significant importance not only for the team but also for all our world class sponsor partners. I am sure that each one will benefit from the respective activities of the other, which is a first class prospect for everybody involved." Vodafone / McLaren Mercedes

Junqueira completes Sebring test Junqueira completes Sebring testPacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira completed his second day of testing today at Sebring International Raceway since an accident in the Indy Racing League-sanctioned Indianapolis 500 on May 29. The test began on Monday, December 12 and resumed as planned today with Junqueira adding 102 more laps today to 77 he completed on the 1.65-mile road course on Monday.

“I am very happy the test went as well as it did,” said Junqueira. “It’s a great feeling of ‘Mission Accomplished’ to not only get back in the car but to also be fastest which is, of course what drivers like best! I’m already looking forward to the next test in 2006.”

Junqueira and Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) ran 47 laps before the lunch break and 55 laps in the afternoon with Junqueira’s best lap time of the day a 50.99. Testing will resume in spring of 2006 in anticipation of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season-opener -- the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach – April 7-9, 2006.

“It was a successful test,” said John Tzouanakis, team manager of Newman/Haas Racing. “We eased into the test and were here to give Bruno some seat time. He was able to run a lot of miles and we didn’t have any issues with the car so overall, it was a productive test.”
No. 4 team gets perk from No. 77 folding No. 4 team gets perk from No. 77 foldingBy dissolving its #77 team, it seems Penske Racing indirectly sent owner #4-Larry McClure a priceless early Christmas present - a guaranteed starting position in the 2006 Daytona 500. During the first five races of a new season, NASCAR reverts to the previous season's final championship owner points to determine which teams will benefit from the top-35 rule. To receive a guaranteed starting assignment at Daytona, California, Las Vegas, Atlanta and Bristol, a team must be among the 35 highest-ranked teams present from the previous season's owner points standings, must have entered the event prior to the entrance deadline and must make an attempt to qualify for the event. Therefore, by virtue of the #77's absence, McClure's 36th-ranked team inherits the final guaranteed starting position for the first five races of the 2006 season. Remember, though, if Penske does opt to enter the #77 in the race, McClure is out. And, considering that making the Daytona 500 field guarantees a quarter-million dollar payday (roughly), that very well may happen. Had Penske not shut down the #77 operation, which held the 34th position in '05 owner points, McClure would have entered '06 faced with having to qualify for each of the first five events on speed. NASCAR.com
Jerez F1 testing times - Wednesday Jerez F1 testing times - WednesdayFranck Montagny set the fastest time during today’s testing session at Jerez. The Renault test driver is followed by Narain Karthikeyan and Felipe Massa.

Juan Pablo Montoya was back to work today, the McLaren driver completing his first test with the Mercedes V8 engine.

1. F. Montagny - Renault V10 - 1'18"804 (+0"000) - 97 laps
2. N. Karthikeyan - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1'19"171 (+0"367) - 37 laps
3. F. Massa - Ferrari V10 - 1'19"264 (+0"460) - 68 laps
4. R. Zonta - Toyota V8 - 1'19"521 (+0"717) - 75 laps
5. H. Kovalainen - Renault V10 - 1'19"626 (+0"822) - 104 laps
6. M. Webber - Williams Cosworth V8 - 1'20"105 (+1"301) - 46 laps
7. A. Davidson - Honda V8 - 1'20"133 (+1"329) - 94 laps
8. J.P. Montoya - McLaren Mercedes V8 - 1'20"216 (+1"412) - 39 laps
9. N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber V8 - 1'20"325 (+1"521) - 75 laps
10. P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes V8 - 1'20"885 (+2"081) - 84 laps
11. A. Carroll - Honda - 1'21"555 (+2"751) - 85 laps
12. F. Perera - Toyota V8 - 1'21"556 (+2"752) - 18 laps
13. O. Panis - Toyota V8 - 1'21"678 (+2"874) - 14 laps

Vasser, Moran, and Gurney to team at Daytona Vasser, Moran, and Gurney to team at DaytonaDALLAS — GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing’s assault on the crown jewel of American sports car racing will be powered by four American open-wheelers hungry for a title, as 1996 Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser and Toyota Atlantic standout Rocky Moran, Jr. will join regular-season drivers Bob Stallings and Alex Gurney behind the wheel of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley at the 2006 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, Jan. 26-29.

Vasser needs no introduction to road-racing fans, as his championship success in the Champ Car World Series is legendary – nine poles, 10 victories and 33 podiums in 231 career starts. The open-wheel veteran is no stranger to the high banks of Daytona, either, as he helped the Comptech team take the 1992 IMSA Lights class victory at the 24 Hours, and finished third in 1999 piloting a Ferrari 333SP.

“The 24 Hours of Daytona is a great race with a lot of history and to compete in it with GAINSCO/Blackhawk Racing is a great opportunity for me,” Vasser said. “I am proud to be a part of the All-American lineup with talented young drivers like Alex and Rocky. I grew up in admiration of the success of both of their fathers. It will be exciting to race with them, and Bob as well, who proved in his rookie year last season that he’s got what it takes.” zzzz

Moran, Jr. is a young gun with two Toyota Atlantic victories under his belt, and a deep-rooted connection to Dan Gurney and the All-American Racers. His father, Rocky Moran, raced for Gurney’s team throughout the 1980s and 1990s and helped propel the Gurney Eagle into Victory Lane at the 1993 running of the 24 Hours of Daytona.

”This is an awesome opportunity for myself and the entire GAINSCO Auto Insurance team,” Moran, Jr. said. “Bob has put together a talented lineup with a strong legacy of success, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Gurney is very cognizant of that same history and, after his strong rookie performances in the 2005 Rolex Series, is hungry to turn the team’s very first endurance race into the team’s very first Rolex Series victory.

“I am so excited about the 24 Hour, I can hardly stand it! What a great way to start the racing season! In a sense, we are almost all rookies when it comes to the 24 but I am very confident in this team we’ve assembled,” Alex said. “This is a group of very quick guys who all tend to stay out of trouble. We believe this is exactly what you need to do well in this race. We showed a lot of speed and promise last year but now we are very ready to get to the top step of the podium. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Riley!”

For his part, Stallings is enthusiastic about the potential for success as his team kicks off their second season in Rolex Series competition.

“I’m truly thrilled that we’ve been able to assemble a great group of talented American drivers, a dedicated, motivated team back at the shop and a strong supporter in GAINSCO Auto Insurance,” Stallings said.

For Vasser, the circumstances that brought him behind the wheel of the GAINSCO Pontiac Riley couldn’t have been more favorable, and he’s optimistic that as the sun rises over the sands of Daytona Beach on Sunday, the bright red No. 99 will have a strong bid at the checkered flag.
“The team has done a fantastic job in putting together a competitive effort. They achieved a lot of success as a new team last year and, with all the hard work they’ve put in during the off-season, I am confident we’ve got as good a shot at victory as anyone,” Vasser said. “It would be a great honor to represent GAINSCO Auto Insurance in Victory Lane at such a historic and prestigious race. I am excited that the team invited me to be a part of this and I am really looking forward to getting in the car, starting at the Test Days in January. I can’t think of a better way to kick off 2006.”

Indeed, their 2006 season will kick off Jan. 4-7 as the 2006 Rolex Series teams perform sports car racing’s version of “Spring training” – the Test Days at Daytona – where Moran and Vasser will get behind the wheel of the GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley to the fabled 3.56 mile road course for the first time at full speed. Fans can keep track of the action with live timing and scoring at http://www.Grand-Am.com and the team’s Web updates at http://www.GAINSCOracing.com.

Blackhawk Motorsports has been committed to excellence in road racing since its formation in 2001. The team campaigns the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac Riley Daytona Prototype in the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. With two poles, a podium and dozens of laps led in their maiden 2005 season, drivers Bob Stallings and Alex Gurney are hungry for even greater success. The team is supported by GAINSCO Auto Insurance and Wells Fargo, and proudly partners with Pontiac, Riley Technologies, BBS Wheels, Puma, and Ringers Gloves.
The primary sponsor of the No. 99 Blackhawk Motorsports Daytona Prototype is GAINSCO Auto Insurance, a Dallas, Texas-based auto insurer that distributes policies through a network of independent agents across the Sunbelt. The company is publicly traded on Amex under the symbol GAN. GAINSCO Auto Insurance is a fast-growing presence in the automobile insurance industry and is using the racing program to promote its "Are You Driven?" marketing theme that is intended to build brand awareness and advance its distribution strategies. For more information, visit http://www.GAINSCO.com.

MF1 Racing establishes technical partnership MF1 Racing establishes technical partnershipMF1  Racing  -  the  Formula  One  team  owned  and  operated  by  Midland Group  -  is  pleased  to  announce  the  signing  of  a  three-year  technical partnership  with  WEIGL  Group  AG.  The  independent  company,  which specialises  in  the  engineering,  testing  and  manufacturing  of  transmission and  coupling  components,  will  work  closely  with  MF1  Racing's  technical personnel on the design and construction of the team's next-generation 7- speed gearbox.

Colin  Kolles,  Managing  Director  of  MF1  Racing,  stated:  "This  is  another good  step  forward  for  the  team.  WEIGL  is  deservedly  famous  in  the automotive industry for producing some of the most advanced and reliable drivetrain  components  in  the  world.  We  are  very  proud  to  enter  into  this technical  partnership  and  look  forward  to  the  performance  improvements this collaboration will undoubtedly yield. I am certain MF1 Racing can learn many things from WEIGL's engineers, and vice-versa."

Franz Josef  Weigl,  CEO  and  founder  of  WEIGL  Group  AG,  commented: "We  are  happy  to  have  been  given  an  opportunity  to  prove  our  excellent knowledge as a powertrain specialist by supplying the most aspiring team of  the  world's  leading  racing  series.  With  MF1  Racing,  we  are  convinced we  have  chosen  a  partner  that  is  perfectly  suited  for  a  wide-range  of collaborations aimed toward superior performance for both race and street cars.  I  look  forward  to  a  successful  partnership  and  wish  MF1   Racing  a good start for the new racing season."

WEIGL Group AG, founded in 1979 by CEO Franz Josef  Weigl,  supplies components   and   technical   expertise   to   some   of   the   world's   leading automotive   manufacturers,   including   General   Motors,   DaimlerChrysler, Volkswagen,  Audi,  BMW,  Porsche,  Volvo  and  Jaguar,  among  others. Headquartered in  Unterschleissheim near Munich, Germany, the Group is comprised   of   seven   divisions,   all   of   which   work   together   to   develop leading-edge  mechanical  concepts  that  can  be  brought  to  market  quickly and efficiently.
Formula BMW
Huelkenberg Wins Super Pole. Huelkenberg Wins Super Pole.Super Pole for the first ever Formula BMW World Final saw the return of the rivalry between Nicolas Huelkenberg (Josef Kaufmann Racing) and Sebastien Buemi (ASL Team Muecke-Motorsport), which has been a feature of the 2005 Formula BMW ADAC Championship. The outcome was also the same with the champion, Nicolas Huelkenberg, setting the fastest time to claim pole position for his heats and the added bonus of 1,000 US Dollars.

Unfortunately after the Super Pole had been run, the qualifying results for Group 2 were amended. The fastest in this group, Robert Wickens (Team Autotecnica) was disqualified for a technical infringement and relegated to the back of the grid. Also disqualified was second placed Edoardo Piscopo (Eurointernational SRL) for another technical infringement. His team has now lodged an appeal to the FIA and this allows him to keep his fastest time pending the outcome of this appeal. Piscopo was disqualified immediately following the session, which meant the third driver in his group, Sebastien Buemi, was elevated to fastest and so competed in the Super Pole.

At the end of the one lap shoot-out Huelkenberg's quickest time was 1min 28.161secs and he commented, "My lap was not perfect as I missed my braking point into the first corner and was not on the ideal line, but at the end it was enough to get me in front of Buemi. My car is quite good with a good balance and so I am satisfied with that. There are a lot of guys with very close times and on the long straight there should be a lot of slip streaming. I think we will have some good races. To win would mean a lot as it is the first World Final, all the four BMW series have come together and to be the best would be special."

Qualifying Results - Group 1

1 Nicolas Huelkenberg (GER) (Josef Kaufmann Racing) 1:27.171
2 Marco Holzer (GER) (AM-Holzer Rennsport GmbH) 1:27.282
3 João Urbano (POR) (ASL Team Muecke-Motorsport) 1:27.373
4 Sam Bird (GBR) (Fortec Motorsport) 1:27.712
5 Jonathan Summerton (GBR) (ASL Team Muecke-Motorsport) 1:27.825
6 Stian Sørlie (NOR) (Fortec Motorsport) 1:27.961
7 Nathan Antunes (AUS) (Motaworld Racing) 1:28.006
8 Dominik Wasem (GER) (AM-Holzer Rennsport-GmbH) 1:28.087
9 Oliver Turvey (GBR) (Team SWR) 1:28.122
10 Stefano Coletti (MON) (ASL Team Muecke-Motorsport) 1:28.202
11 Race Johnson (USA) (Meritus) 1:28.212
12 Reed Stevens (USA) (Meritus) 1:28.382
13 Jordan Wise (GBR) (Motaworld Racing) 1:28.465
14 Jack Goldstraw (GBR) (Team SWR) 1:28.873
15 James Davison (AUS) (Meritus) 1:28.888
16 Christian Vietoris (GER) (Josef Kaufmann Racing) 1:28.950
17 Matt Harris (GBR) (Team SWR) 1:29.058

Qualifying Results - Group 2

1 Edoardo Piscopo (ITA) (Eurointernational SRL) 1:27.402
2 Sebastien Buemi (SUI) (ASL Team Muecke-Motorsport) 1:27.452
3 Matt Howson (GBR) (Filsell Motorsport) 1:27.638
4 Ross Curnow (GBR) (Nexa Racing) 1:27.810
5 Matt Lee (USA) (Team Autotecnica) 1:27.834
6 Hamad Al Fardan (BRN) (Meritus) 1:27.986
7 Armaan Ebrahim (IND) (Team E-Rain) 1:28.005
8 Euan Hankey (GBR) (Nexa Racing) 1:28.060
9 Tobias Hegewald (GER) (ASL Team Muecke-Motorsport) 1:29.123
10 Harald Schlegelmilch (LAT) (4speedmedia GmbH) 1:28.209
11 Dean Smith (GBR) (Coles Racing) 1:28.391
12 Philip Glew (GBR) (Promatecme/Soper Sport) 1:28.434
13 Fabio Onidi (ITA) (ASL Team Muecke-Motorsport) 1:28.455
14 Salman Al Khalifa (BRN) (Team E-Rain) 1:28.495
15 Robert T. Boughey (THA) (Meritus) 1:28.756
16 Jonathan Legris (GBR) (Mark Burdett Motorsport) 1:28.901
17 Andzej Dzikevic (LTU) (4speedmedia GmbH) 1:29.270
18 Robert Wickens (CAN)(Team Autotecnica) Disallowed

World Final Timetable and Format
Thursday, 15 December
08.05 - Heat 1 - Groups A and B - 15 laps/25 mins
08.50 - Heat 2 - Groups C and D - 15 laps/25 mins
10.35 - Heat 3 - Groups A and C - 15 laps/25 mins
11.20 - Heat 4 - Groups B and D - 15 laps/25 mins
13.05 - Heat 5 - Groups A and D - 15 laps/25 mins
13.50 - Heat 6 - Groups B and C - 15 laps/25 mins

FIA statement on Michelin’s withdrawal FIA statement on Michelin’s withdrawalMichelin announced today that it will leave Formula One at the end of the 2006 season. The FIA soon made a statement following the French tire manufacturer’s announcement:

The FIA has noted Michelin's announcement of its withdrawal from Formula One at the end of 2006.

Everyone in Formula One will be most grateful to Michelin for the efforts they have made and for their courtesy in giving the necessary full year's notice.

The competing teams have repeatedly and unanimously requested the FIA to impose a single tire supplier in Formula One. This has been agreed for 2008, but Michelin's announcement makes it probable for 2007. The teams will certainly be glad of this.

A single tire supplier will undoubtedly make Formula One fairer, safer and less expensive for the teams but, above all, it will avoid a repetition of the problem which arose at the 2005 US Grand Prix. Source FIA

Honda on Michelin's withdrawal Honda on Michelin's withdrawalNick Fry, Chief Executive Officer of the Honda Racing F1 Team, has expressed the team's sadness at Michelin's decision to withdraw from Formula One competition at the end of 2006. Following the announcement by Michelin earlier today, he commented:

"The Honda Racing F1 Team is saddened by the news that our tire partner Michelin has decided to leave Formula One at the end of next season. Over the course of the past three years we have forged a very strong partnership and shared many special moments in our team's development. Whilst we believe that Michelin's departure will be a sad loss for the sport, we understand their reasons for this decision. We thank Michelin for the contribution it has made to our team and we look forward to working with the company for one final year in 2006. For our part, we will be doing everything possible to ensure that next season is the most successful yet for ourselves and Michelin."

New NASCAR TV deal positions SPEED for growth New NASCAR TV deal positions SPEED for growthWhen SPEED launched “NASCAR TV” during Daytona Speedweeks 2002 with a modest eight hours of coverage, the newly re-branded FOX-owned cable television network was available in 46 million homes, offering a handful of NASCAR studio shows among its other motor sports and automotive enthusiast programs.

Less than four years later, however, the landscape has changed dramatically at the Charlotte-based cable network, and the recently announced NASCAR television package included several deal points that emphasize just how far SPEED has come in the world of sports television.

“When we first started doing our live show Trackside from the site of each NASCAR race in 2002, we often took whatever space the race tracks had to offer – sometimes we had an audience, sometimes we didn’t,” said Hunter Nickell, SPEED Executive VP and General Manager. “The next year, we introduced a 53-foot mobile SPEED Stage Truck, we worked with track management to establish our at-track shows as feature attractions and now Trackside is a must-attend event for NASCAR fans.

“The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has enjoyed double-digit ratings growth in each of the three seasons it’s been on SPEED, and we’ve continued to elevate our coverage of events like Speedweeks, the Chase for the Nextel Cup and the season finale at Homestead,” Nickell added. “I think this aggressive growth and effort was rewarded in the recent television deal. Adding signature Cup level events like the Gatorade Duels and the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge certainly displays a level of confidence in what SPEED can and will deliver for years to come.”  zzzz

A timeline of major developments in NASCAR TV on SPEED:

Feb. 2002 – SPEED re-launches the network at Daytona Speedweeks (8 hours of coverage)
May. 2002 – SPEED adds LIVE NASCAR Nextel Cup Series qualifying/practice
Sept. 2002 – NASCAR announces Craftsman Truck Series will move to SPEED
Feb. 2003 – SPEED’s Daytona coverage exceeds 70 hours
Oct. 2003 – SPEED announces production of the traveling Stage Truck
Feb. 2005 – SPEED’s broadcast of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race scores a Nielsen Rating of 2.1 (1.3 million households), making it the most-watched program ever on the network
Nov. 2005 – SPEED delivers more than 20 hours of coverage from the NASCAR Nextel Cup series finale in Homestead
Dec. 2005 – New NASCAR television package gives SPEED high-profile Gatorade Duels and NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge; also extends SPEED’s deal for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR TV programming through 2014; in addition SPEED will carry the majority of NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series qualifying and practice sessions and SPEED is the first option for any FOX NASCAR Nextel Cup event forced off FOX by weather or scheduling conflicts
Now in 65 million U.S. households, five million more in Canada and recently made available in Latin America through Fox International Channel, SPEED has been one of the fastest growing cable networks in the country over the last four years.

“SPEED is heading into its 10th Anniversary season in 2006 in great shape for continued growth,” Nickell said. “Our NASCAR package is stronger than ever, Formula One, the most-watched open-wheel racing in the world, is on SPEED for the 11th consecutive season, the addition of Supercross gives SPEED all of the premier motorcycle series and our lifestyle show PINKS is poised for a breakout year. This is a great time to be at SPEED and I’m fired up about the possibilities.” SPEED Channel

Racing News
Bernie only 2nd or 3rd most important man in sports Bernie only 2nd or 3rd most important man in sportsKey findings of a recent survey done by Sports Business Daily
  • We work in a polarized industry with 34% of us working for a company with less than 9 employees, and 29% working for a company with 100 plus employees.
  • Bernie Ecclestone was the surprise winner of the 'Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with' competition. No doubt reflecting the general love/hate relationship he shares with associates! My personal choice, Maria Sharapova was consigned to 5th place behind Rogge, Abramovich and Blatter.
  • Sepp Blatter (President FIFA - World Cup Soccer) was voted the most important man in sport with 25% of the vote, putting the International Olympic Committee and F1 in its place with only 12% of the vote going to both Rogge and Ecclestone.
  • Approx three quarters of the industry have a positive outlook for sports franchises in their region.
  • Broadcast and Event sponsorship provide the greatest opportunity for growth according to 70% of respondees.
Michelin announces withdrawal from F1 Michelin announces withdrawal from F1Michelin has on several occasions expressed the conditions of its involvement in Formula One: Michelin considers Formula One to be a highly technical motorsport in which the tire is a very influential component in the scope of the performance of the vehicle.

The teams' freedom to choose their own tires is essential. Therefore, competition between at least two tire manufacturers is critical; this provides the basis for real competition between tire suppliers which, in turn, stimulates progress for the public’s greater interest.

Today, it would appear as though Formula One rules will be modified to impose a single tire supplier.

After consulting with its loyal partners (McLaren Mercedes, BMW Sauber F1, Renault F1, Honda Racing F1) as well as with Sir Frank Williams, Michelin is now convinced that the evolution towards a single tire supplier is inevitable. Michelin expresses its regret to see F1 lose a part of its high technology.

In addition to this new direction in F1, there are constant changes to racing regulations without warning. Such practices also make planning for the future completely impossible.

In this context, continuing to make long-term investments in Formula One no longer presents the same interest.

Michelin has therefore decided not to extend its Formula One involvement beyond the 2006 season. zzzz

"This decision is the result of profound differences between Michelin’s long-standing sporting philosophy and the way Formula One is managed by the regulating authorities, which no longer provide a clear and sustainable environment to justify long-term investments,” commented Mr. Edouard Michelin.

"For Michelin, leaving Formula One in no way represents abandoning motorsports, to which the Michelin brand has been committed for 117 years. If F1’s ways of functioning were to be significantly modified, Michelin would not hesitate in proposing its services to the different teams once again."

Michelin’s withdrawal at the end of 2006 will almost certainly bring into play a single tire supplier in 2007. In this new situation, it should be possible to verify if the FIA’s vaunted advantages of control tires are proven and, in particular, if equality amongst teams really is guaranteed.

This decision is being made public in December 2005 to respect the FIA’s required notice period and to provide a maximum amount of preparation time to Michelin partners, with whom there was no firm commitment beyond 2006.

In conclusion, Mr. Edouard Michelin stated: "No matter what, Michelin will do everything possible to ensure that its partners receive the best service and the best tires to help them win during the 2006 season, as has always been the case since our return to Formula One in 2001. Michelin would have liked to have extended its long-term Formula One involvement, because the demands of Formula One as well as the collaboration with partner teams have been such a source of progress and fruitful exchanges. Thank you to all of our partners for this.” Press release Michelin

NASCAR courts more affluent fans NASCAR courts more affluent fans[Editor's Note: The more affluent fans were once fans of Indy Car Racing and Sportscar Racing. However, with the split in both forms of racing, NASCAR has become King and is now making inroads with the more affluent sports fans] NASCAR's traditions might stem from beer wishes and barbecue dreams, but the sport is now catering to fans with palates for vintage wine and hand-rolled sushi. Newer NASCAR fans have fatter wallets and finer tastes, some of the reasons Phoenix International Raceway is planning a luxury lounge where patrons can watch in style.

Octane, set to open in time for the April 23 race, will be the first lounge of its kind at any of the nation's tracks and follows the sport's growing trend of capturing fans who defy the NASCAR stereotype. NASCAR fans who plunk down a couple of grand for entrance into Octane can cheer on their favorite drivers while munching on hand-carved meats, sushi and meals cooked on demand. An indoor fountain, custom tile work and contemporary design add to the lounge's swank feel.

"It's like Scottsdale meets NASCAR," Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan Sperber said. "It's going to be the place to be seen."

In the past few years, race clubs and suites at tracks across the nation have started to serve crab cakes and fine wine, but Octane at PIR has taken refinement at the raceway to a new level.

Sperber said the goal is to turn Octane into "the finest and most luxurious sports experience in the Valley" and to set the bar high for other racetracks that dare follow suit. More at Arizona Central

Stewart enters Midget race Stewart enters Midget raceTony Stewart will drive in a pair of U.S. Auto Club indoor midget car races at Fort Wayne, IN, where he won a 60-lap feature a year ago under an assumed name in an old junker he bought during a poker game the night before. It wasn't until Stewart pulled into Victory Lane and took off his helmet that the race announcer and fans recognized him -- and became extremely excited. "It was just a kind of a joke," USAC spokesman Dick Jordan said Tuesday. "They didn't do any advance publicity on him, because he wasn't sure he was going to run. ... This time he's allowing the promoter to advertise the fact he's coming." The Dec. 29-30 "Rumble in Fort Wayne" will be USAC's final races of the year. Stewart has won 52 USAC features and in 1995 swept all three series championships -- Midget, Sprint and Silver Crown. He also has won at least one USAC race each year since 1991 except 1999, when he was the NASCAR Cup rookie of the year. ESPN.com/AP
2006 Fox Broadcast Schedule Announced 2006 Fox Broadcast Schedule AnnouncedOn the heels of last week's landmark rights agreement that establishes FOX Sports as the official television home of the Daytona 500 from 2007-2014, NASCAR on FOX announces its 2006 broadcast schedule. FOX Sports hits the gas on its sixth season of Emmy Award-winning coverage with the Auto Club 500 live from California Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 26 (3:30pm/et). Darrell Waltrip and former champion crew chief Larry McReynolds return to provide race analysis for all NASCAR on FOX Nextel Cup and Busch Series events, and Mike Joy returns as race announcer. Prerace coverage is again hosted by Chris Myers with analyst Jeff Hammond, and returning to cover pit road are reporters Dick Berggren, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Jeanne Zelasko. In all, FOX Sports airs 14 NASCAR Nextel Cup races.  More at FoxSports
Racing News
Finalists Named For Shav Glick Award Finalists Named For Shav Glick AwardLOS ANGELES -- Phil Hill, Roger Penske, Carroll Shelby, Ivan Stewart and Mickey Thompson have been nominated for the seventh annual Eagle One-Shav Glick Award. The award recognizes distinguished contributions to motorsports. Previous winners include Dan Gurney, Wally Parks, Parnelli Jones, Rick Mears, Les Richter and J.C. Agajanian.
Racing News
LA Times reporter to retire LA Times reporter to retireShav Glick of the LA Times and well-known nationwide, has accepted a retirement buyout. West coast race promoters, fans and businesses know that  he always saw to it their events got press in one of the world's biggest newspapers.
George and Kalkhoven dine together George and Kalkhoven dine togetherUPDATE The buzz around Indianapolis — and it is loud — is that IRL founder Tony George and Champ Car World Series co-founder Kevin Kalkhoven are talking. If so, about what? NSSN [Editor's Note:  Anyone with any common sense knows there needs to be a merger of the two series, and 2007 makes the most sense when Champ Car rolls out an all-new car and the IRL is due for a new one.]  12/12/05 The annual Race of Champions event in Paris has become a winter wonderland for those who matter most in motorsports.

At dinner on the eve of the race at France’s national soccer stadium, Indy Racing League founder Tony George and his wife Laura were seated at a table of dignitaries. Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven joined them. Fancy that.

“It was a good time,” said Kalkhoven, who admittedly doesn’t know George that well. “We just talked socially, though.” AutoWeek

WRC self-destructing: Peugeot, Skoda, now Mitsubishi quit WRC self-destructing: Peugeot, Skoda, now Mitsubishi quitMitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) has announced that it has decided to suspend participation in the FIA World Rally Championship series from 2006.

With the Mitsubishi Motors Revitalization Plan as a basis, MMC has made a solid start toward revitalizing its business operations. However, to strengthen and build upon this base, MMC realizes that it must focus management resources on the continued promotion of the revitalization plan.

Mitsubishi Motors hopes to return to the WRC Championship series from 2008, after the completion of the 3-year revitalization plan, which covers fiscal 2005 to 2007.

This decision however does not extend to MMC's efforts in the Dakar Rally. Mitsubishi Motors will continue to compete in this event.

Starting with an overall championship in the Safari Rally in 1974, the Mitsubishi WRC Team has accomplished a spectacular 34 wins in the WRC series. The team won the drivers' title 4 consecutive years from 1996 to 1999, and won the prestigious manufacturers' title in 1998. Press Release Mitsubishi

McLaren kick off three day test McLaren kick off three day testPedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett were behind the wheel of two MP4-20Bs, both with the Mercedes-Benz V8 engine, as Team McLaren Mercedes started its final test session of 2005 on Tuesday in Spain.

Due to the cold ambient and track temperatures at the Circuito de Jerez, both drivers remained in their garages during the early part of the morning session, and started their test program shortly after 10:30, as the temperatures slowly rose to double figures.

However, just after 09:00 both completed their installation laps, and because of the cold conditions Paffett spun, his car remained on the tarmac and was undamaged.

The planned program of engine and Michelin tire evaluation and development continued, with Paffett setting the third fastest time of the day with a 1m20.224. De la Rosa was fourth on the timesheets having driven a 1m20.317. Both drivers covered 152 laps and 660km in total today.

Juan Pablo Montoya will return to the cockpit today alongside de la Rosa, with both drivers continuing to test on Thursday. Source McLaren Mercedes

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Alonso set for test return
FIA told to stop 'meddling'
Mansell plots sons' road to F1
Super Aguri await fate
Webber has no BMW bitterness
F1 flavor at Sebring
Red Bulls 'bond' in Austria
JV didn't worry about '06 seat
Audi unveil unique car
'Playboy' Button won't win
Perera in a spin
Toyota runs young Frenchman Toyota runs young FrenchmanPanasonic Toyota Racing started its final test of 2005 before the Christmas break at Jerez today. Following a one day rest after extensive wet weather testing on an artificially soaked track on Sunday, Ricardo Zonta was back in the cockpit again. The Brazilian was joined by young Frenchman Franck Perera, as member of Toyota's Young Driver Program. Perera was having his second full test with Toyota after conducting six of the regular pre-race 50km shakedown tests for the team between June and October 2005.

With Jerez experiencing the coldest weather so far in winter testing, it was just 2 degrees Celsius at the 9am start time and consequently it was a while before temperatures rose enough for the teams to conduct meaningful work. After an initial wait, therefore, Zonta got down to some serious set-up experimentation.

"When we got running properly it was a successful day and we concentrated mainly on looking at the effect of different weight distributions on the way that the car uses the Bridgestone tires. We also did some work with compounds. I must say I am getting used to the V8 car now, it is responsive, and we established a good neutral set-up. We also changed many things and learned a lot, with no technical problems all day."

Franck Perera has been a member of the Toyota Young Driver Program since 2001. Now 21, Perera will move up from Formula 3 into the competitive GP2 series in 2006. The aim at Jerez is for Franck to gain more mileage and further his working relationship with the team, as well as hopefully achieving the 300kms of testing necessary to qualify for an F1 Super License. He will continue in the TF106 tomorrow. zzzz

"It was a pretty good day except that I made a small mistake in Turn 10 this morning. I took a little bit too much curb, lost the back end and hit the tire barrier very lightly. That cost us a couple of hours while the car was brought back and repaired. Then, at the very end, I lost control in Turn 5 and had a quick spin but there was no damage. We had made quite a big modification to the car so maybe that was the reason. Apart from that it was a good day and the car was getting better all the time. There was a lot for me to learn and take in - the engine, the tires and everything was pretty different from what I experienced a year ago!"

Gerd Pfeiffer (Test Team Manager): "At first it was too cold to achieve a lot but when conditions improved we worked through a full schedule with Ricardo and had a good day with no concerns. With Franck, it was more about the chance for him to gain some more experience and for us to evaluate him a little more and see what kind of feedback he can give to the engineers. He had a couple of small incidents, the first at Turn 10 in the morning, when we changed the nose and the left rear suspension. But Franck should not be too hard on himself about losing time. By the end of the day he was driving well and doing very reasonable times."

Mansell warns Button Mansell warns ButtonFormer F1 champion Nigel Mansell has warned Jenson Button to ditch the playboy lifestyle if he wants to be a world champion. Brit ace Button, 25, is yet to win a Grand Prix after 100 attempts and finished last season a disappointing ninth with BAR. But Honda have promised the team a more competitive car next season. Mansell, the 1992 world champ, said: “It is time Jenson realized he must concentrate on his job.

“He must forget about some of the other things he gets involved in. When you start winning Grands Prix — then it can be party time. Jenson has the talent to win races and compete for the title, that’s never been in doubt. Now he has this 100-race statistic around his neck and knows he has to prove himself.”

Zuber to drive for Trident Zuber to drive for TridentGP2 series newcomer Trident Racing has hired Andreas Zuber to partner Gianmaria Bruni in its first ever campaign in the F1 feeder series, having completed a deal with the Austrian Tuesday

Zuber raced in the World Series by Renault with Carlin Motorsport in 2005. Trident has become the first GP2 team to complete its line-up for next season.

“We have chosen Zuber from many candidates," revealed team owner Salvadori, "We think he is a talented and fast driver and, because of the professionalism he showed during the recent GP2 tests, we are sure we will reach excellent results together.”

Track News
Iowa track lands first race Iowa track lands first raceUPDATE An Iowa-based construction company said it has obtained the financing to complete construction of the Iowa Speedway, a planned central Iowa NASCAR-style racetrack.  Mayor Chaz Allen announced Monday that Manatt's Inc. parent corporation, Manaco Corp., has offered to provide the funding.

The city received a letter from Manaco President Brad Manatt stating that the company has secured a loan from Wells Fargo Bank to finance the construction. Manatt's will provide the city with legal documents to confirm the deal. The letter states Manaco will enter into a construction guarantee agreement with Newton, if necessary, to guarantee the developer's performance.

In the interim, Manatt's will continue to fund construction.

"This adds a level of confidence we haven't had," Allen said. "We have a guarantee of construction and it's local."

The city had agreed to pay for construction of streets to the track. However, the city's bonding attorney has not been satisfied with proof of financing documents from speedway developers U.S. MotorSport Corp.

Although U.S. Motorsports said it had acquired adequate financing with an Atlanta company, the city had not been satisfied with documentation. More at Yahoo! Sports

10/01/05 The Iowa Speedway, a NASCAR-style track under construction in Newton, has landed its first race.  An ARCA RE/MAX Series stock car race will be run on the 7/8-mile track on Oct. 15, 2006, the track announced. A 250-lap feature will culminate a weekend of activities, the track said in a news release.
Tecate extends for two years at Long Beach Tecate extends for two years at Long BeachThe Grand Prix Association of Long Beach announced today that Cerveza Tecate has signed a new two-year agreement to continue as Official Beer sponsor of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

“It is important for Tecate to have a presence at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach not only because an increasing number of Hispanics are attending, but also because we have seen a growing appreciation for Tecate among non-Hispanic consumers, as well,” said Jorge Cornejo of Heineken USA, exclusive importer of Tecate. “Tecate is thrilled to again participate in this event, which supports our efforts to connect with consumers through various unique Brand promotions.”

Entering its fourth year as exclusive beer sponsor, Tecate will kick off the event with Tecate Thunder Thursday in downtown Long Beach and offer an authentic Latin musical concert during Fiesta Friday after the races. Additional Tecate-sponsored programs include the Tecate Miss Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach beauty pageant and the provision of signage for use at festive cantina-themed beer gardens set up throughout the track for those of legal drinking age.

“We are delighted to continue our rewarding relationship with Tecate,” said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. “Not only do they bring a variety of exciting activities and entertainment to the event, but they also incorporate a recognition of an important aspect of our Southern California culture.”

Tickets for the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will run April 7-9, 2006, are on sale now and can be ordered by calling the toll-free ticket hotline:  (888) 82-SPEED. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.longbeachgp.com, www.ticketmaster.com  or in person at the Grand Prix ticket office (3000 Pacific Ave., Long Beach, Calif. 90806).

Ticket prices range from $35 for a Friday/Saturday-only general admission ticket to $115 for a three-day ticket, which includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seating on upper levels of the grandstands. Limited pre-paid parking packages are available and can be purchased when ordering tickets. Handicapped seating, Bosch Champ Car Garage passes, hospitality club packages and super photo tickets are also available for purchase.

For up-to-date ticket information, descriptions of the various club ticket packages or announcements of special Grand Prix event activities, visit the official Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Web site at www.longbeachgp.com.

Legge, Pantano debut in Champ Car Legge, Pantano debut in Champ CarIt has been a busy month for 2005 Champ Car Atlantic BBS “Rising Star” Katherine Legge as the Briton has tested three different open wheel cars in the last couple of months. Today, she made her Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford debut with Rocketsports Racing at Sebring.  (Photo right Katherine Legge jokes around with Richard Lyons)

Legge strapped into the 750hp Rocketsports Champ Car just after the lunch break and ran nearly 70 laps before the 1.65-mile track closed posting a best time 53.2 seconds. Today’s test was just a shakedown run for Legge who will return to Sebring for a more comprehensive test on December 20 with PKV Racing.

Legge joined six other drivers on track with Richard Lyons also running for Rocketsports. PKV Racing had Ryan Dalziel and Giorgio Pantano running, while Mi-Jack Conquest Racing tested 2005 Champ Car Atlantic Champion Charles Zwolsman, Alx Danielsson and Dan Clarke (Pictured right).

“Today’s test was very enjoyable,” said Legge. ”I think it’s a big advantage for me. Today’s test wasn’t about lap times, it was about getting to know the car and the track. It was incredibly valuable for me. Next week will be more about lap times. I’m very grateful to Paul Gentilozzi and the whole Rocketsports team for the opportunity, it has been a pleasure working with them.”

PKV Racing’s Ryan Dalziel and Giorgio Pantano led the way today with both drivers running laps at 51.5 seconds. Both Dalziel and Pantano were the only drivers to run less than 52 seconds on a day that saw windy conditions and cool temperatures. Dalziel finished his second day of testing with PKV and was very excited about his results. (Photo right Katherine Legge jokes around with Richard Lyons)

“I was quick straight off of the truck this morning,” said the Scotsman Dalziel. “We struggled yesterday morning as I worked to rid myself of bad sports car habits. I was able to get up to speed in the afternoon and we carried that over to today. We did a long run on full tanks late in the afternoon and I learned some things. I’m happy with how thing have gone.”

For the second straight day three different drivers turned laps for Mi-Jack Conquest Racing. Alx Danielsson (pictured right) was quickest of the three running a best lap of 52.1 seconds. Zwolsman was right with him on the time charts running a 52.2 on his first day of testing at Sebring.

The driver lineup will change again tomorrow as the Sebring test wraps up. The top-two finishers from the 2005 Champ Car Atlantic Championship, Charles Zwolsman and Tonis Kasemets will both test for Mi-Jack Conquest. Giorgio Pantano will be joined by Ryan Briscoe at PKV Racing while Bruno Junqueira will return to the track for Newman/Haas Racing. 

Tuesday (12/13/05) Lap Times
1. Ryan Dalziel 51.5 seconds
2. Giorgio Pantano 51.5
3. Alx Danielsson 52.1
4. Richard Lyons 52.2
5. Charles Zwolsman 52.2
6. Katherine Legge 53.2
7. Dan Clarke 53.5
Combined Lap Times
1. Bruno Junqueira 51.1 seconds
2. Ryan Briscoe 51.5
3. Ryan Dalziel 51.5
4. Giorgio Pantano 51.5
5. Alx Danielsson 52.1
6. Jan Heylen 52.1
7. Richard Lyons 52.2
8. Charles Zwolsman 52.2
9. Katherine Legge 53.2
10. Dan Clarke 53.5 Champ Car

Rahal helps open Chicago toll road Rahal helps open Chicago toll roadIndyCar Series team owner Bobby Rahal helped Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich open three new Open Road Tolling lanes on Dec. 11. The lanes  allow drivers with I-PASS to get to their destinations faster on I-294 because they no longer have to slow down or stop at toll booths.
Rahal drove a red 2005 Indianapolis 500 Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car through the new Touhy Avenue Plaza.

"Thanks to Bobby Rahal for coming out today to dramatize how Open Road Tolling lanes will allow motorists to get to their destinations faster," Blagojevich said. "I've been coming out for each Open Road Tolling opening because I want drivers to know we are doing everything we can to reduce congestion." IRL

IPS Series
Cunningham honored by New Zealand Kart Club Cunningham honored by New Zealand Kart ClubReigning Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion Wade Cunningham was honored with a life membership to the Mt. Wellington Kart Club in his native New Zealand.

Cunningham, who won the world karting championship in 2003, got his start at the club and recently won the Pop Volkner Trophy Race at the track. He is the second club member to earn a title in the Indy Racing League. 2003 IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon also raced at Mt. Wellington before graduating to cars. IPS Series

IRL Alters Preseason Testing Schedule IRL Alters Preseason Testing ScheduleThe Indy Racing League has revised the testing schedule for its preseason Open Test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The IRL IndyCar® Series and IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series will each have Open Testing days on the 1.5-mile oval and 2.21-mile road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway from March 2-6. The IndyCar Series will test on the road course on March 2-3 and on the oval on March 5.

The Menards Infiniti Pro Series will test on the road course on March 4 and on the oval on March 6.

The test will be the only Open Test held prior to the season-opening races at Homestead-Miami Speedway. [Editor's Note: One can assume that if Honda is supplying the entire grid in this the 11th hour, they will need to work 24 x 7 to have enough engines ready. Therefore, the less preseason testing, and the later it is, the better.]

New Audi R10 to debut at Sebring 12 Hour Race New Audi R10 to debut at Sebring 12 Hour RaceArmed with cutting-edge technology developed en route to five overall 24 Hours of Le Mans victories and six American Le Mans Series championships, Audi AG today unveiled its new R10 LMP1 today at a worldwide media briefing in Paris. Described as the most sophisticated and technologically advanced sports car ever produced, the diesel-powered prototype will make its competitive debut at the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 18, the opening event of the 2006 American Le Mans Series.

"Audi has been an integral part of the American Le Mans Series for six years and is our defending champion. We are ecstatic that our relationship will continue, stronger than ever," said Scott Atherton, president and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. "Audi has played a leading role in the success of the American Le Mans Series, and we believe the series has contributed significantly to the success of Audi - certainly in North America. The fact that we are beginning a new chapter together is good news for all involved."

Audi's specific plans for the 2006 American Le Mans Series will be announced in the near future.

Audi's record in the American Le Mans Series speaks for itself. The marque has won 47 times in the series (all with its R8), including seven in 2005. Six different Audi drivers have won American Le Mans Series drivers championships in LMP1 (most recently Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro in 2005), and Audi teams have won every LMP1 team championship since 2000. Audi has excelled on the biggest stages in sports car racing, as well. The manufacturer swept the sport's three most prestigious races -- Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans -- each of the past two seasons. That record extends to 14 of the last 15 endurance classics, starting at the 2000 12 Hours of Sebring. The Audi R8 also has won 38 pole positions in LMP1, another series record. zzzz

Audi plans to use this year's 12 Hours of Sebring as a test for the 74th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's most prestigious automobile race. One of the most elite marques in the world, Audi will go for its seventh straight overall win at Sebring. "The circuit's characteristics make this race one of the hardest in the world and the perfect opportunity to put a new car through its paces," said Wolfgang Appel, head of vehicle technology at Audi Sport.

 In a series that features premium automobile manufacturers showcasing the latest in technology, Audi again leads the pack. The most unique feature of the R10 is its 5.5-liter, V12 diesel engine that produces more than 650 hp and 1,100 Newton-meters of torque. It is the most powerful diesel engine in the world, said Ulrich Baretzky, head of engine technology at Audi Sport. The diesel package will provide better fuel economy and a longer life.

"The R10 project is the biggest challenge ever to have been handed to Audi Sport," said Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "TDI technology has not been pushed to its limits in motorsport yet. We are the first to confront the challenge. The demands of such a project are accordingly high. Long-term technology partners such as Bosch, Michelin and Shell support us in our quest. Together we have the chance to write new chapters in the history books of motorsport and diesel technology."

"Audi stands at the forefront of automotive technology and has been a leader in directly transferring their racing developments to their road cars," Atherton said. "We can now add the use of diesel technology to this list. This will make the R10 a pioneer in terms of alternate forms of fuel."

Cosmetically, the R10 possesses many of the same features of the R8. Underneath the surface, however, is a world of difference. The Audi R10 has a significantly longer wheelbase than the R8 (due in part to the larger engine), and the overly wide front tires are, up until now, unique for a Le Mans Prototype. New technologies also were implemented during the development of the carbon-fiber monocoque. The chassis, engine and gearbox form an extremely rigid, fully stressed unit.

Already, the R10 has taken its first laps. Audi conducted the roll-out of the car Nov. 29. By the time Le Mans rolls around, it is expected that the V12 diesel will have nearly 3,000 test-bench hours and several thousand miles to its credit before Le Mans. The development team from Audi Sport is supported by Reinhold Joest's squad, which also performed this task during the R8 project.

"There has been more speculation and buzz regarding the unveiling of Audi's R10 than any other sports car I can remember," Atherton said. "It is a testament to the level of anticipation and interest the motorsports community has for this world-class, next-generation prototype. The Audi R8 will go down in history as one of the most successful cars in our sport's history, but the R10 no doubt will be a worthy successor."

The American Le Mans Series opens the 2006 season with the 54th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, scheduled for March 18 on SPEED Channel. Series teams will have the opportunity to test at the second annual Wheels Down Winter Test from Jan. 23-25 at Sebring International Raceway. ALMS

Starr switches to Toyota Starr switches to ToyotaNASCAR Craftsman Truck Series veteran David Starr has signed with Red Horse Racing for 2006, and will drive the No. 38 Toyota Tundra for the team.
Massa puts Ferrari on top at Jerez Massa puts Ferrari on top at JerezFirst day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit, in southern Spain. Felipe Massa took to the track, at the wheel of an F2005 fitted with a regulated power version of the V10 engine. He worked on a Bridgestone tire development program. The Brazilian driver covered a total of 92 laps, the quickest in a time of 1'19"074.
1) Massa, Ferrari (B), 1:19.070 91 laps
2) Zonta, Toyota (B), 1:20.061 92
3) Paffett, McLaren-Mercedes (M), 1:20.226 66
4) de la Rosa, McLaren-Mercedes (M), 1:20.318 84
5) Heidfeld, Sauber-BMW (M), 1:20.794 85
6) Perera, Toyota (B), 1:21.337 60
Industry News
GM to triple no. of cars it produces GM to triple no. of cars it producesGeneral Motors Corp. said Tuesday that it plans to nearly triple the number of cars it produces in India to meet growing demand in the South Asian country.

The announcement came just weeks after the company said it would slash 30,000 jobs and scale back production in the United States.

GM previously had announced plans to increase production in India from more than double the 25,000 cars a year it currently produces in the country. Lawrence Burns, vice president for research and development, said Tuesday that the number of vehicles made in India would eventually reach 80,000.

However, Burns provided few details of GM’s plans for India, a country of 1 billion people with a fast growing economy that many Western manufacturers have long viewed as a potentially huge market.

Burns insisted jobs were not being moved from the United States, and said much of the new production would come from increasing the hours of workers already employed by the company, although he did say that some new jobs would be added. GM currently employs about 2,000 people in India.  More at Detroit Free Press

Industry News
GM lowered to ’junk’ status GM lowered to ’junk’ statusStandard & Poor's lowered its credit rating on General Motors Corp. on Monday, pushing the world's largest automaker further into junk, or speculative, status.

A corporation's credit rating is similar to credit scores individuals have and reflects how likely it is to default on its loans. So GM's lower credit rating means the automaker might have more difficulty paying its bills and will have more trouble raising money and will pay higher interest rates.

S&P lowered the rating on GM to "B" from "BB-," which means it faces adverse business conditions, and removed the company from CreditWatch, which would signal a downgrade might come soon. The outlook for GM, S&P noted, is negative.

GM said it was disappointed with S&P's action.

"We have an aggressive and well-thought-out strategy to turn around our North American business," GM spokeswoman Gina Proia said, reading a statement.

"We're making progress in some important areas," she said, citing GM's recent health care deal with the UAW. GM has said the deal will help it save $1 billion in cash on its $6-billion annual health care bill and will reduce the company's long-term health care costs for retirees.

Formula BMW
Canadian grabs fast time in Bahrain Canadian grabs fast time in BahrainBahrain -- The inaugural Formula BMW World Final is now underway with the 35 drivers having their first taste of the state of the art Bahrain International Circuit today. The youngsters from the four Formula BMW Championships in Asia, Germany, the UK and the USA have had a total of two hours free practice each and it was Canada’s Robert Wickens (Team Autotecnica) who set the fastest time of 1min 27.540secs.

The 16-year-old in his first year of single-seater racing was third in the 2005 Formula BMW USA Championship and in the Rookie Cup and recently won the Invitational Race at the Race of Champions in Paris. His comment was: “I love this track as it has a bit of everything and suits my driving style a hundred per cent. I am obviously very happy about getting the fastest lap of the day and hopefully we can keep up the momentum for tomorrow. At the end of the first session I was third, but the car was not quite to my liking. We made a couple of changes and obviously this helped a lot. We have a couple more changes to make and so I am hoping to go a little bit faster tomorrow. I want to thank BMW for the opportunity to come to the World Final and everyone who got me here.”

While the Formula BMW Asia Championship supports the Bahrain Grand Prix at this track, this will be the first time these cars have raced on the 3.7 kilometer (2.29 mile) Paddock circuit. The circuit, which prides itself as being the home of motorsport in the Middle East, has chosen a very auspicious day to host this event. Friday is National Day in Bahrain and anyone arriving at the circuit with one of the kingdom’s flags will be given free entry. This will ensure that the local drivers Salman Al Khalifa, the 2005 Formula BMW Asia Champion, and Hamed Al Fardan will get maximum support. zzzz

The conditions could not have been better for the sessions as, once dense early morning fog had cleared away, the day was warm and dry day with temperatures in the mid twenties Celsius. While the drivers are savoring for the first time the chance to pit themselves against their fellow competitors from round the world, every driver is focused on the ultimate prize – a test with the BMW Sauber F1 Team – which has already been described as the ‘ultimate Christmas present’.

Fastest Overall – Group 1
1 Nicolas Hülkenberg (GER) (Josef Kaufmann Racing) 1:27.564
2 Marco Holzer (GER) (AM-Holzer Rennsport GmbH) 1:27.838
3 João Urbano (POR) (ASL Team Mücke-Motorsport) 1:27.994
4 Sam Bird (GBR) (Fortec Motorsport) 1:28.003
5 James Davison (AUS) (Meritus) 1:28.107
6 Race Johnson (USA) (Meritus) 1:28.218
7 Stian Sørlie (NOR) (Fortec Motorsport) 1:28.221
8 Nathan Antunes (AUS) (Motaworld Racing) 1:28.475
9 Jonathan Summerton (GBR) (ASL Team Mücke-Motorsport) 1:28.516
10 Christian Vietoris (GER) (Josef Kaufmann Racing) 1:28.554
11 Stefano Coletti (MON) (ASL Team Mücke-Motorsport) 1:28.605
12 Jordan Wise (GBR) (Motaworld Racing) 1:28.673
13 Reed Stevens (USA) (Meritus) 1:28.693
14 Dominik Wasem (GER) (AM-Holzer Rennsport-GmbH) 1:28.705
15 Matt Harris (GBR) (Team SWR) 1:29.902
16 Oliver Turvey (GBR) (Team SWR) 1:41.834
17 Jack Goldstraw (GBR) (Team SWR) 1:53.726

Fastest Overall – Group 2
1 Robert Wickens (CAN)(Team Autotecnica) 1:27.540
2 Sebastien Buemi (GER) (ASL Team Mücke-Motorsport) 1:27.746
3 Ross Curnow (GBR) (Nexa Racing) 1:27.818
4 Hamed Al Fardan (BRN) (Meritus) 1:27.840
5 Salman Al Khalifa (BRN) (Team E-Rain) 1:27.846
6 Edoardo Piscopo (ITA) (Eurointernational SRL) 1:27.977
7 Matt Howson (GBR) (Filsell Motorsport) 1:28.100
8 Matt Lee (USA) (Team Autotecnica) 1:28.223
9 Euan Hankey (GBR) (Nexa Racing) 1:28.229
10 Armaan Ebrahim (IND) (Team E-Rain) 1:28.261
11 Dean Smith (GBR) (Coles Racing) 1:28.323
12 Harald Schlegelmilch (LAT) (4speedmedia GmbH) 1:28.345
13 Philip Glew (GBR) (Promatecme/Soper Sport) 1:28.579
14 Fabio Onidi (ITA) (ASL Team Mücke-Motorsport) 1:28.630
15 Robert T. Boughey (THA) (Meritus) 1:28.713
16 Jonathan Legris (GBR) (Mark Burdett Motorsport) 1:29.062
17 Tobias Hegewald (GER) (ASL Team Mücke-Motorsport) 1:29.091
18 Andzej Dzikevic (LTU) (4speedmedia GmbH) 1:29.893
World Final Timetable and Format

Wednesday, 14 December
09.00 – 10.00 – Free Practice Group 1
10.15 – 11.15 – Free Practice Group 2
13.00 – 13.30 – Qualifying Group 1
13.45 – 14.15 – Qualifying Group 2
15.30 – 15.45 – Super Pole Competition

Thursday, 15 December
08.08 – Heat 1 – Groups A and B – 15 laps/25 mins
08.53 – Heat 2 – Groups C and D – 15 laps/25 mins
10.38 - Heat 3 – Group A and C – 15 laps/25 mins
11.23 - Heat 4 – Groups B and D – 15 laps/25 mins
13.08 – Heat 5 – Groups A and D - 15 laps/25 mins
13.53 – Heat 6 – Groups B and C – 15 laps/25 mins

Friday, 16 December
10.23 – Pre-Final – All competitors - 22 laps/35 mins
15.18 – Formula BMW World Final – All competitors - 25 laps/45 mins
The event will include qualifying, six heats, a Pre-Final and the Final itself - a format that gives a quick driver who hits problems in a heat every chance to make amends in time to make waves in the Final.

At the start of the meeting, each driver will be allocated to one of two groups for practice and qualifying sessions. The fastest driver in each qualifying group will then go into a Super Pole shoot-out. The winner of that will start all three of his heats from pole. The drivers are divided into four groups for the six heats according to their qualifying positions within each of the original two groups. By the end of the six heats, each driver will have raced three times and each group will have raced against each of the other groups.

Heat winners gain zero points, with the rest scoring in accordance with their position: second receives two points, third three, and so on. All drivers qualify directly in the Pre-Final. The grid for this race will be determined according to the driver's scores from the heat results. The driver with the lowest score will take the pole position. The Pre-Final will give all the drivers who had bad luck in their heats the chance to move up the grid for the Final, as the finishing order of the Pre-Final will set the grid for the Final.

Formula BMW
Formula BMW USA announces scholarship winners Formula BMW USA announces scholarship winnersBMW of North America, LLC is pleased to announce the final five winners of the 2006 Formula BMW USA Junior scholarships. The winners are:

David Garza - June 22, 1988 - Monterrey, Mexico
Jordan Dick - May 16, 1988 - Northville, Michigan
Maxime Pelletier - August 14, 1990 - Lyon, France
Robert Thorne - March 24, 1990 - Sherman, Connecticut
Robert Wickens - March 13, 1989 - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Four scholarship winners were chosen following a scholarship qualifying course held at the Formula BMW Racing Center at the Circuit de la Communitat in Valencia, Spain. The fifth scholarship is automatically awarded to the winner of the Rookie Cup from the previous season. The 2005 Rookie Champion and the runner-up have declined scholarships for 2006, therefore Robert Wickens, also a Formula BMW Junior driver in 2005, who finished third in the Rookie Cup, will receive a scholarship for 2006.

The five Juniors will be awarded $40,000 each towards participation in the 2006 Formula BMW USA Championship and automatic enrollment in Formula BMW's Education and Coaching Program. The comprehensive program, provided by a team of experts from the field of international motorsport, includes courses in Driving Skills & Tactics, Vehicle Dynamics & Chassis Setup, Fitness Training & Nutrition, Media Training & Public Relations and Sponsorship & Sports Management.

The concept behind the Formula BMW USA Junior program is to nurture young drivers towards a racing career by training them to the highest possible levels, drawing on the vast expertise and experience of BMW Motorsport. Underlining BMW's commitment to the discovery and grooming of future young talent, the scholarship "shoot-out" has been designed so that the most talented drivers, rather than the most financially healthy, succeed. In order to differentiate the five scholarship recipients from all other series entries, the Juniors will race in the distinctive BMW Motorsport livery.

Track News
Bid to save North Wilkesboro Speedway Bid to save North Wilkesboro SpeedwayA group is lobbying to return racing to the North Wilkesboro Speedway, but a $12 million price tag may be too steep for Wilkes County.  That's how much the men who own the former NASCAR track, Bruton Smith and Bob Bahre, want for the property.

A group calling itself Save the Speedway, which wants to bring racing back to the .625-mile oval, retired an online petition last week after gathering 4,582 signatures backing their effort.

Save the Speedway is led by Rob Marsden, a 24-year-old computer specialist from New York.   "We feel we've got a full package," he said. "The only thing we seem to be lacking is the financing to make it happen."

Marsden's group wants the county to buy the speedway, then lease it to them. County officials told the Winston-Salem Journal they cannot take on all the risk.

"We're open to take a listen and to some degree negotiate with a reasonable business plan if they can come up with some private funding," Zach Henderson, the chairman of the board of commissioners, said in Monday editions. "We want to see the facility open, but it has to be done in a responsible way."

In a telephone interview Monday, Smith told The Associated Press that he and Bahre, who owns New Hampshire Speedway, have set a price of $12 million for the property.

Smith, who owns Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Charlotte and several other tracks through his Speedway Motorsports, said he has offered to spend $1 million on improvements to the property as part of any sale. He said he also told the county he and Bahre will accept payment in tax-free bonds in lieu of cash.

"One of my managers has talked to (the county) a couple times" about the bonding idea, Smith said. "They thought it was a great idea."

Formula BMW
Mansell's sons on track Mansell's sons on trackNigel Mansell has launched his sons on the path to Formula One as part of a deal with the British Formula BMW championship.

Mansell, who recently made his racing comeback in the Grand Prix Masters event in South Africa, was on Tuesday revealed as a Formula BMW tutor, helping sons Greg and Leo - as well as their rivals - on their way to the top.

Mansell said: “Greg and Leo have both done some karting in recent years and they have shown that they can cut it at that level.

“Both of them have decided separately that they would like to take their motor sport careers to the next level.

“We spent time together looking for the best championship for them to compete in and Formula BMW fits that bill perfectly.

“The Formula BMW concept has only been running since 2002 but it has already produced a Formula One driver in the shape of Nico Rosberg, who won the 2002 championship in Germany.

“Greg and Leo have shown good pace in testing and we have high hopes for next season and beyond.”

Greg, who at 17 is four years younger than Leo, added: “Dad has always been very supportive of what we have done but he has never tried to force Leo or I into motor sport.

“Dad was actually keen for me to pursue a career in golf, but he is delighted that I have decided to compete in Formula BMW and it is great to have his backing.” ManchesterOnline 

Confused about the turbo diesel Confused about the turbo dieselA reader writes, I am confused about the V12 turbocharged diesel that the new Audi R10 LMP1 car carries. Why would Audi go with a diesel powered engine when a diesel has never won a race and they are heavier? John Finch, Madison, WI Dear John, Actually it is brilliant. Turbo diesels are found on an increasingly number of passenger cars because of the increased fuel mileage they get. They are the most economical cars on the road and a diesel engine can last 500,000 miles or more. The challenge for Audi is to make the turbo V12 diesel light enough such that the back of the car is not too heavy. The diesel will also give Audi a fuel mileage advantage and torque advantage in the race.

A diesel platform also provides a promotional platform for the bio-diesel fuel industry which is huge in Europe at the moment and gaining momentum here in the U.S..  U.S. consumers are highly skeptical about bio-diesel as well as vegetable oil based alternatives for motor oil, hydraulic and other automotive fluids.  The Audi R10 may demonstrate to consumers globally the viability of those products.

We would love to see Champ Car evaluate a turbo diesel option in the future as this would give them a direct tie-in to street cars and it might entice new manufacturers into the series. While hybrids are getting a lot of press these days because of rising fuel prices, the fact of the matter is that turbo diesels blow hybrids in the weeds in almost every measurable aspect, and will do so for decades to come. Mark C.

Fernando Alonso talks of his evening in Monaco Fernando Alonso talks of his evening in MonacoThe new world champion got his hands on the official trophy during the FIA prize giving on Friday. Fernando Alonso, the youngest Champion in the history of the sport, talks about his evening.

"Last Thursday, I was in Florida, spending a few days relaxing. I was chilling out in shorts and t-shirt, I managed to get to Disneyworld... but one day later, on Friday evening, I was in a different world," Alonso began. "We were in black tie, headed for the Sporting d’Eté in Monaco. I arrived at 20:15 with my manager Luis. There were some photographers waiting for me already, and the flashes began to go off. I must admit, that I hadn’t really missed them!"

"First of all, we were guided to the VIP room. We spent half an hour there, and I made the most of it to talk with people I hadn’t seen for a while. I spent some nice time with Michael: we talked about holidays, family, everything but Formula 1! I also saw Flavio, to talk about 2006 and progress with the new car."

"My heart started beating faster as soon as the prize-giving began after dinner. I knew Formula 1 would be the final category to receive its trophies, and so every award took me a little closer to the big moment. Karting, Dragsters, Trucks, Rally… everybody got their prize. To see the young guys from go-karts get their awards made me remember my own career: 20 years of work, that reached their culmination that evening."
"Then somebody came to get me, and Flavio and I slipped away. We got into position on the stage, behind the curtains. The guests were watching a video review of the F1 season. I saw a little bit and it gave me goose-bumps: I don’t often get the chance to watch a Grand Prix from outside the cockpit!" zzzz

"After that, things started going very quickly. Kimi and Michael were called onto the stage to get their second and third place awards. Then the curtains opened. For two or three minutes, they played images of our season on a giant screen, with a flamenco soundtrack. Then the screen disappeared, and there we were: Flavio and I. The lights blinded me. The audience applauded. Then, I saw it arrive – a beautiful trophy, shimmering in front of me. The World Championship. I held my arms out, touched it, finally I knew it was mine: I had achieved my dream. Flavio was doing the same. We looked at each other: he was smiling widely, like me."

"I will never forget the evening," Alonso continued. "During every moment that followed, I did not let go of the trophy. I looked at it, marveled at how beautiful it was. I thought about all my team-mates at Enstone and Viry, who had spent the day together celebrating the championship: I couldn’t be with them, but I was thinking of them and thanked them once more for their work. I took a moment to understand what had just happened to me, but I still haven’t really digested this latest experience. I am the official World Champion..." Source Renault

DC to go home for Christmas DC to go home for ChristmasSo what does a 34-year-old veteran of 194 grands prix do at Christmas?

Red Bull's David Coulthard, who lives in Monte Carlo, says he will probably return to Scotland to see his family.

''But I haven't decided yet,'' the winner of 13 grands prix told 'Sport am Sonntag'.

''It's what I'll probably do, because it's a very happy occasion when we're together.''

DC's countryman, legendary triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, is already in Scotland.

This week he helped launch a new teaching program for dyslexia.

The 66-year-old, who was diagnosed with the learning disability at the age of forty two, said at Aberdeen University that - when 11 - he was written off as being 'thick'.

Industry news
Some good news for Ford Some good news for FordDealers have one major complaint about the 2006 Ford Fusion: They can't get enough of them.

The new mid-sized sedan has posted stronger-than-targeted sales since it arrived in dealerships in late September, Ford Motor Co. says. But shipments to dealers still are below expectations because of supply disruptions at Ford's Hermosillo, Mexico, plant.

Ford assembles the Fusion and its Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr siblings at Hermosillo.

"Fusion is good," said Robert Thibodeau Jr. of Bob Thibodeau Ford in Center Line, Mich. "The only problem is Collins & Aikman (and) not getting enough of them."

Collins & Aikman, a large interior trim supplier going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring, has been a major contributor to the slowdown at Hermosillo, Ford officials have acknowledged. The most prominent stoppage occurred in early October, when an undisclosed number of production days were lost.

But there have been no major disruptions of late, said Tony Brown, Ford senior vice president of global purchasing.

"We're delivering product," Brown said. "It's not without difficulty. We've got a bunch of people from our side … along with (Collins & Aikman) people working to make sure we keep product flowing. And we'll continue to do that."  More at AutoWeek

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Schu doesn't 'deserve' break
Silv settles for Cup clash
Kimi, too, in a tux
New Honda tunnel nearly complete
MF1 still blocking Aguri
F1's V8s 'like GP2' - tester
Newey 'burnt out' - Stewart
Klien wants first podium
US retains TV coverage
Fisi checks out new Renault
Stewart sets up a professorship in dyslexia Stewart sets up a professorship in dyslexiaSir Jackie Stewart, the motor racing legend, launched a world first for Scotland yesterday with the setting up of a professorship in dyslexia and other learning disabilities.  Sir Jackie, who is dyslexic, joined Jack McConnell, the First Minister, at Aberdeen University where the pioneering post will train teachers to help young people with the problems.

The Chair of Inclusive Studies is receiving £1.4 million in funding from the Executive and will include posts for a senior lecturer and researcher as well as a professorship.

Sir Jackie, 66, who was not diagnosed with dyslexia until he was 42, said he believed that there was no other facility of this kind in the world.  "This will be an example to the rest of the United Kingdom, as well as the rest of the world, of how we must go about looking after the 10 per cent of our population who might otherwise never reach their true potential," he said.

New Audi R10 to use turbo diesel power New Audi R10 to use turbo diesel powerAutoRacing1.com has obtained photos of the new Audi R10 before the scheduled Paris launch Tuesday morning. Full information on the car is not expected to be available until the presentation. However, judging by the photos, Audi's intent to use diesel power is clear. More....
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