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Teams likely to test tires they will use for first three races With just over two weeks left before Pirelli’s second season of Formula One gets underway in Australia, the teams are embarking on the final four-day pre-season test for the 2012 tires, which takes place once more in Barcelona this week from March 1-4.
As the last opportunity to finalize the car-tire package before the first race, this is one of the most crucial tests of the season. One of the key points for the teams will be to understand exactly how the Pirelli tires work with their new cars – at least in the short term. Long-term, the non-stop rate of development in Formula One means that the cars will change considerably as the season goes on. The car that is quickest in Australia may not be the team that is fastest by the end of the year, with most teams finding the equivalent of up to two seconds per lap over the course of the season. One of the challenges for Pirelli is to keep up with this pace of development.
Rolex eyes Daytona 500 Rumor has it that Rolex is seriously seeking the sponsorship of next years Daytona 500. They would give up rights to the 24 hour Rolex road race and instead would sponsor the 36 Hours of Daytona 500. The pageantry would be spectacular. Earth, Wind and Fire would perform. A chorus dressed in yellow rains slickers would perform a medley including such songs as Rain Drops Keep Falling on my Head, and Fire on the Water. Each performer would carry a red fire extinguisher. The National Anthem would be replaced by Prince singing Purple Rain. The drivers would be introduced and given a 21 fire hose salute as they approach their cars. You definitely will want to plan an extra day for next years event. We will keep you updated as the story progresses.
Barrichello switching to IndyCarUPDATE #9 This rumor maintains its 'fact' rating today. A Brazilian newspaper is reporting that Formula One veteran Rubens Barrichello has reached a deal with a sponsor that will allow him to race in IndyCar this season.
The Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, one of Brazil’s largest, said Tuesday that Barrichello will get support from Brasil Maquinas, a company which rents heavy construction equipment. It already sponsors a local stock car team.
An official announcement that Barrichello will be joining KV Racing Technology is reportedly scheduled for Thursday.
(GMM) The British government has reportedly launched a detailed investigation into Bernie Ecclestone's tax affairs.
Last year, amid speculation the Gerhard Gribkowsky corruption probe had piqued the interest of the UK's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) department, a spokesman said it was ensuring "everyone pays the right tax under the law".
It was reported that the government would pay particular interest to the F1 chief executive's offshore family trust, which he insists is outside his control.
HRT to be in Barcelona this weekUPDATE This rumor is downgraded to 'false.' The Marussia F1 Team is disappointed to confirm that the planned first test of its 2012 race car - the MR01 - has been delayed as a consequence of not passing the final FIA crash test.
All cars are required to pass 18 FIA-observed tests for homologation to be granted. Despite the fact that the MR01 has passed all 17 of the preceding tests, the regulations require the car to have completed all of the tests before running commences.
The team will now not take part in the final pre-season test in Barcelona later this week (1-4 March) and will instead focus its efforts on repeating the crash test at the end of the week.
02/26/12 (GMM) HRT's 2012 campaign looks set to finally get off the start-line, after the new single seater passed the mandatory crash tests. Earlier, the reportedly step-nosed car failed two of the FIA's 2012 impact safety tests, which according to new rules meant the struggling Spanish team could not run as scheduled last week in Barcelona.
But writing in AS newspaper, correspondent Manuel Franco said the Cosworth-powered chassis has finally passed all the crash tests, meaning it can now debut this week at the Circuit de Catalunya. The final pre-season group test begins on Thursday, but Franco wrote that it is not clear precisely when the new HRT will make its debut, probably in Pedro de la Rosa's hands.
"But is expected that he (de la Rosa) and his teammate Narain Karthikeyan will be in Catalonia," he added.
McLaren P12 to be Revealed at the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix
McLaren P12 artist rendering by CarMagazine.Co.UK
Sources suggest that McLaren’s F1 successor will be unveiled at this years Monaco Grand Prix. The event runs from the 24th to the 27th May. The new car is known at the moment as the P12 and will be the second model in McLaren Automotive’s line-up. Whilst the debut is expected at the classic Formula 1 street race, it won’t go on sale until at least 2014.
We’ve already heard a fair bit about McLaren’s flagship model. Designed by McLaren’s chief designer Frank Stephenson, the British sports car will have dramatic styling and a two-seat configuration unlike the car it succeeds. Aside from the MP4-12C, Frank Stephenson’s other works include the new MINI, the Maserati MC12, Ferrari F430 and the Maserati Quattroporte.
Spy Photo: 2013 Ferrari F620 GTUPDATE GTSpirit.com just received confirmation that this is indeed 100% the new Ferrari F620 GT. The pictured Ferrari F620 GT was displayed at an exclusive Ferrari preview event and it is in fact a wooden model painted in a matt silver color. There was one red Ferrari F620 GT at the preview event inside which has more details than this wooden full scale model. Regardless it gives a very good impression of the new Ferrari F620 GT.
02/26/12 A reader has exclusively sent GTSpirit.com the first live photo of the brand new 2013 Ferrari F620 GT ahead of its public debut at the Geneva Motor Show on the 6th of March and the official release this Wednesday the 29th of February.
Ferrari F620 GT
The Ferrari F620 GT mule visible in the photo has an aggressive body styling combining the looks of its predecessor, the 599 GTB with the current California, FF and 458 models. The luxury sports car has a distinct profile with long body lines and features an air vent in the hood. The front fascia resembles the Aston Martin One-77 in some respects and features two side air vents positioned next to the central front grill.
The 2013 Ferrari F620 GT offers a 740hp output from its 6.3 liter V12 engine. The powerful engine is linked to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and rear-wheel-drive setup. Acceleration from 0-100km/h is done in three seconds dead, 0-200km/h takes just 8.5 seconds. That is 0.4 seconds faster than the 700hp-strong Lamborghini Aventador. The top speed of the new Ferrari F620 GT will exceed 340km/h.
Stay tuned for more official pictures and information regarding the 2013 Ferrari F620 GT to be released next week.
AC/DC lead singer may run Continental Tires Sports Car series After a successful run in the 24 hours of Daytona, it is rumored that Brian Johnson, the lead singer of AC/DC has teamed up Pirelli World Challenge driver Gary Savage and they are looking for sponsorship to run in the Continental Tires Sports Car series for the rest of 2012. They have a couple of teams interested in putting the pair in their cars. Paul Mahon of the firstname.lastname@example.org is said to be conducting the sponsorship search.
Danica on 2012 Daytona pole, Dale Jr. will win itUPDATE #4 A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, It's me again, Mordichai Rosen. More proof the Nationwide race grid was computer generated - Danica Patrick's car was supposed to be so fast, her so talented, she was on pole right? Well when they got racing she fell back like a lead sinker. NASCAR is going to make a hero out of her one way or another. This is all about TV ratings, ticket sales, merchandise sales, i.e. money. Mordichai Rosen, waiting for Dale Jr. to win on Sunday to make my entire prediction come true - NASCAR needs to come out of the gate strong.
02/24/12 A reader writes again, Dear AR1.com, Did you see that Danica got the pole for the nationwide race at Daytona? They knew giving her the pole for the 500 would have been too obvious, so they put her on the pole for the Nationwide race. Another computer generated NASCAR grid. They will make her a hero one way or the other. NASCAR is a marketing machine and an entertainment business first and foremost. A sport? Well that would be a stretch. Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles, CA.
(GMM) The problem with Lotus' 2012 chassis is the front suspension mountings, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport has revealed.
The former Renault team pulled out of this week's Barcelona test when the flaw with its E20 design was discovered, but officials have kept quiet about the details.
Kimi Raikkonen, who was never able to drive the car at the demanding Circuit de Catalunya this week, reportedly suspected there was an issue recently at Jerez, when he reported to engineers an odd feeling relating to the steering.
Shank and Tracy to miss IndyCar season opener?UPDATE #3
Paul Tracy loses backing from Honda. Honda was not going to sponsor Tracy with a Lotus engine in the car
This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. The chances of Canada’s Paul Tracy starting the first IZOD IndyCar Series race at St. Petersburg next month are down to just 30%, team owner Michael Shank told the Toronto Sun at Daytona.
The biggest stumbling blocks, Shank said, are money and time — as in the closer the Honda Grand Prix of Petersburg gets without a major sponsorship deal the less the chances are Tracy will be in the event.
He said the MSR Indy team has a Dallara DW12 chassis and now has a Lotus engine but it needs more sponsorship to allow the team to get some testing in before committing to filing an entry form for St. Petersburg on March 25.
Waltrip fails to qualify for Daytona, will buy Robby Gordon's rideUPDATE Waltrip could have bought his way into the opener, and Gordon said after earning a starting position that he would consider selling his spot. But MWR confirmed Thursday night that Waltrip will not try to buy a ride.
So this will be the first time since 1972 that no Waltrip has driven in the Daytona 500. Darrell Waltrip started 28 in a row between 1973 and 2000.
"It's a tough one for him," MWR driver Martin Truex Jr. said. "He's been coming here a long time and this race means everything to him. It was hard to watch that. He's got a lot to be proud of as many times as he's been in it; he's started more in a row than anybody. He's got that going for him. Hopefully tonight, when he's sitting there thinking about it, he's thinking of the good of what came out of his Daytona 500 starts."
(GMM) The recently revealed 'W-duct' aside, another technical secret has been discovered aboard Mercedes' newly launched W03.
Rumors insist the German squad was the last to reveal and test its 2012 car because it boasts a few highly innovative ideas that could drive Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg to the middle of the podium.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that mechanics working for the Brackley based team are making more efforts than usual to hide the front and rear of the car, and erecting huge screens in front of the pits between test runs in Barcelona.
IndyCar drivers will put their life on line at Texas "We’re disappointed with the position we’re in but right now we feel like we can’t really boycott,’’ said Dale Coyne Racing's Justin Wilson.
A few weeks ago there was a rumor that IndyCar drivers were going to boycott the June 9th race at Texas Motor Speedway unless the fencing was changed and pack racing was eliminated.
And that rumor was making the rounds of a couple racing websites again Thursday.
But two of the three veterans who represent the driver's committee say that’s not likely to happen.
"We’re disappointed with the position we’re in but right now we feel like we can’t really boycott,’’ said Justin Wilson [Editor's Note: Read that - IndyCar drivers will once again be sacrificial lambs. With no canopy over the cockpits, say your prayers], who begins his 10th season in American open-wheel racing next month.
"It’s just not the right thing to do. But I wouldn’t rule it out if no one is going to pay attention.’’
Lotus to seek permission for private test - source (GMM) Embattled Lotus will ask its formula one rivals for permission to conduct a three-day private test after it has resolved a chassis flaw.
The former Renault team pulled out of this week's Barcelona test after the unspecified problem was identified early during the opening day's running on Tuesday.
With pre-season preparations limited to just three tests in 2012, next week's Barcelona running will be the last before the championship begins in Australia.
F1 race commentator Oskari Saari, working for the Finnish broadcaster MTV3, said Lotus has confirmed to him that it will seek permission to make up for this week's lost running in the form of a three-day private test.
NBC Sports Net may be slow to deliver for IndyCar The first edition of NBC Sports Network’s “Costas Tonight” was exactly what the network’s executives wanted: NBC Sports’ biggest on-air star, Bob Costas, interviewing a who’s-who list of top sports personalities from the Super Bowl. Only 108,000 viewers watched it live.
One of the first shows to appear on the newly rebranded channel was a documentary called “Cold War on Ice.” Again, it was exactly the type of show NBC Sports covets for its all-sports cable channel: a high-quality documentary from one of the best producers in the business, former HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg.
It drew only 167,000 viewers for its Jan. 2 premiere.
Ticket sales up at Barber According to AR1.com sources, ticket sales for the upcoming IndyCar race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama are way ahead of ticket sales from last year, and that they expect this event to keep growing steadily. We hear that corporate support and participation has increased as well.
Not bad for a "disastrous" economy as the media seems to have us believing. The automakers have record sales, the jewelry business is as much as 40% over the year prior, not to mention other retail goods that are non-essentials. The holiday retail season was a record breaker...and here in Alabama - certainly not a bustling growth center of the USA - an IndyCar race in the middle of NASCAR country is growing.
NASCAR considering minor changes for Daytona NASCAR will consider minor adjustments to reduce the possibility of engines overheating prior to the Daytona 500. But otherwise officials were pleased with the results of Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout, the first race since implementing changes to reduce tandem racing. Vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said before Sunday's qualifying for the 500 that complaints from teams about overheating were "moderate'' at best. He said changes could come in the form of opening up the front grill slightly to allow more air flow or adjusting the pressure release valve. Pemberton said NASCAR will re-evaluate later in the week with temperatures expected to be much warmer during Thursday's qualifying races and Sunday's 500 than it was during the Shootout held at night. "We said all along there was potential to make adjustments,'' Pemberton said. Pemberton said there are no plans to tell drivers they cannot bump draft in the corners or make adjustments in the spoiler height to provide more stability. There were three major wrecks of eight, six and nine cars in the Shootout. "The drivers know they can't push on the left rear end,'' Pemberton said. "They have to get acclimated.'' ESPN.com
Dale Coyne moving shop to Indy Rumor has it that Dale Coyne Racing, which has always had their shop in Plainfield, Illinois outside of Chicago, is moving to Indianapolis, we assume to take advantage of the economic benefit offered. Recall that Mitch Daniels, Indiana's governor, announced that Dallara has been granted some tax incentive, which it will use to foster Indiana business. The first 28 cars that are sold to Indiana based teams will receive a $150,000 discount, meaning they can buy the new car tubs for just under $200,000.
2012 IndyCar Silly Season - Seven teams yet to finalizeUPDATE #15 According to our 2012 IndyCar Silly Season page, there are still seven teams who have yet to finalize their 2012 program as IndyCar rides the momentum from this week's State of the Series program in Indianapolis:
KV Racing: Have cars and Chevy engines. Have yet to formally announce Rubens Barrichello
Conquest Racing: Have car, no engine. Sponsorship not yet in place. Likely to start at Indy 500
Dale Coyne Racing: Have cars and Honda engines. Close to announcing James Jakes to return alongside Justin Wilson
Michael Shank Racing: Have car and Lotus engine, but Paul Tracy's sponsor has not come through
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Have cars and Honda engines, close to announcing GP2 driver Filippe in 2nd seat, and possible Michel Jourdain in a 3rd
Sam Schmidt/Davey Hamilton Racing: Merging teams have cars and Honda engines, close to announcing 2nd driver alongside Simon Pagenaud
Sarah Fisher Racing: Has car but no engines. Newgarden is signed as well as sponsor.
Although it's unlikely, too bad Michael Shank Racing and Sarah Fisher Racing could not merge their single car teams and form a 2-car Lotus team with Newgarden and Tracy as teammates. Rookie Newgarden would benefit from having veteran Tracy as a teammate.
Cotman no longer Race Director for Indy lights According to AR1.com sources, Tony Cotman will not be back as Indy Lights Race Director, as IndyCar has gone in another direction. However, Cotman will still be involved with track design (for example he has been working hard on the China track) and other projects. Recall that Cotman is a consultant to IndyCar, and not a full-time employee.
Lauda film racing towards legal trouble - reportUPDATE
Film to be based on Lauda Book
There is legal action afoot over the upcoming movie about Niki Lauda, with a European consortium claiming that they had agreed a deal with the Austrian to make a film called “33 Days – To Hell and Back”. Lauda wrote a book back in 1986 called “Meine Story” in German, but this was named “To Hell and Back” in English-speaking markets. It is not clear whether the “33 Days” film was going to be based on this book and whether a rights deal was agreed.
It is a story that goes back to 2007 when Austrian film-maker Hannes Schalle of Moonlake Entertainment (which makes a lot of videos for Red Bull) began working on the idea of movie about his fellow countryman Lauda. I happen to know this is true because Schalle talked to me at the time about perhaps being involved in the writing. He told me that Lauda would be involved. I heard nothing more and assumed that there was no money.
New Dallara IndyCar much improvedUPDATE #16 IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard stated Monday night in Indianapolis, and rightly so, that a lot of criticism of the new IndyCar (including right here on AR1.com) is unfair. He gave a lot of credit to Will Phillips for improving the car. He stated that Reuben's Barrichello thought the car was great to drive on a road course and that was confirmed to us by several drivers Monday in Indy. There is still work to be done on the ovals, but there is time.
02/09/12 Japanese driver Takuma Sato is excited by what he's seen so far from IndyCar's new chassis, and looking forward to launching the season with his new Rahal, Letterman, Lanigan team.
"It's one of the exciting things, that we have an absolutely brand new car," Sato said on a conference call Wednesday to discuss his recently announced 2012 role.
IndyCar rumor mill abuzz We hear that Dreyer and Reinbold will run just one car this year with Oriol Servia........Katherine Legge says her team still does not have engines for this year even though Lotus is committed to them......We hear that the Qingdao (pronounced Ching-dow) race is looking good with a lot of work being done behind the scenes before the big announcement there. The government is behind the race and they will determine when the announcement in China happens. Unlike other failed race promoters in China, The China promoter for IndyCar is very smart in that they went to the central government and obtained their endorsement for this race. They are behind it in a very big way and because most businesses in China are government run they will encourage their employees to turn out for the race. Qingdao is a city of 9 million people. Remember a medium size city in China is 15 million people, huge compared to cities in the USA. We hear the track will be very nice with a lot of nightlife in and around the facility. ........EJ Viso is signed, announcement will be made in Venezuela first.......we also hear that Rubens Barrichello's deal is about done.....Hearing that MSR Indy (Michael Shank's team) will run Lotus engines with an announcement soon....See Hotnews and our Home page for more news from Indy today.
Irwindale Speedway to closeUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Irwindale is closed. People with trailers on the track property (e.g.-Frank's Radios and King Taco) were told Friday to remove them from the track property ASAP. There was no 2011 awards banquet held and no 2012 schedule released. The wife of Rod Johnson, Sr. broke the news on her Facebook site. Other sites followed. Jeff Schrader (Racecar Factory) laid off shop foreman Bryan Harrell recently. Tim Huddleston doesn't know what to do with his fleet of HPR rental LM cars. We saw LA Racing School had four cars on the track and they were being worked on Thursday in the school garage bay. That school is probably out of business now too. Ryan Partridge worked as chief instructor there so he will be looking for a job. The closing of Irwindale will affect thousands of people.
Here is what we have learned. The track did not own the property and had a 99 year lease when it opened in 1999. The lease cost reportedly was $65,000 a month to the City of Irwindale and the track is in arrears on this bill. The withdrawal of Toyota Corp. was critical to the survival under Jim Williams. (Toyota had signed a reported ten year $10 to $15,000,000 naming rights agreement 5 years ago that had an escape clause after five years). Toyota's problems--car recalls, legal settlements, earthquake/tsunami damage & losses--led them to cut back in racing sponsorships. Toyota probably signed the deal five years ago to help them get NASCAR HQ approval for the Camry entry into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. In the absence of Toyota the monthly debt load became untenable. The track was for sale and it looked like Forrest Lucas of Lucas Oil was interested, but he declined to enter the picture without owning the land. Even Wayne and Connie Spears (Spears Mfg) and Jan's Towing (Jan Quackenbush) were possible successors to Jim Williams, but that lease is the killer to any deals as it was structured. Car counts and crowds on Saturday nights declined in 2010-11 seasons. With the bad US economy the outlook looked to remain the same in 2012.
DuPont to sell car paint part of business According to Reuters, chemical maker DuPont has launched the sale process of its lucrative car paint business, which could bring in more than $4 billion and should attract robust private equity interest, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The company's adviser, Credit Suisse Group, has sent out financial materials related to the unit to potentially interested parties, the sources said.
Schmidt, Hamilton to merge teams? SPEED.com is rumoring that Davey Hamilton and Sam Schmidt are close to expanding the Sam Schmidt Motorsports operation from one car to two this season, with Hamilton likely to bring his longtime sponsor Hewlett Packard and new Dallara DW12s to SSM’s Indianapolis-based outfit.
“We’re painting cars as we speak,” said Schmidt when contacted by SPEED.com. “But I can’t say more than that on who those sponsors are or any other affiliation. We have three cars in the shop right now and should have a fourth car here soon.”
Hamilton, who runs his own Indy Lights team and has been a part-time IZOD IndyCar Series competitor in recent years, is reportedly looking to step out of the cockpit and focus on his successful racing businesses.
Milwaukee could return to IndyCar calendarUPDATE #7 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with today's news.
Is there any race promoter out there willing to lose millions so that a ten thousand IndyCar fans can watch another oval race at the Milwaukee Mile?
02/02/12 With no more than five months left to pull together a race at the Milwaukee Mile, the deal remains at the "ideas" stage, IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said Tuesday.
There is no point yet, he said, in discussing how the event might be promoted or whether IndyCar was looking beyond this summer.
Still, the series owes it to the track and fans to give racing here one more shot, and none of the apparent problems is a big enough hurdle to stop that from happening, Bernard said from his office in Indianapolis.
Here is the latest on Fierberg - we hear he is going to make a run at the championship in Pacific F2000. He is also going to try to do the Mid-Ohio and Baltimore USF2000 races, and a lot of that depends on how sponsorship discussions pan out with a national restaurant chain.
Ira Fierberg at Fontana last year in Pacific Coast 2000 on his way to winning
According to AR1.com sources, we still hear that Fierberg is trying to put together a limited USF2000 program for 2012 that will include, as minimum, Baltimore, Road America and Mid-Ohio.
10/16/11 I ran into Pacific Coast F2000 driver Ira Fierberg in the Las Vegas garage this morning and he tells me he is close to putting together a deal for next year to race in the Road to Indy USF2000 series next year.
Newman/Haas, Conquest IndyCar teams to move to ALMSUPDATE
Long time Champ Car and IndyCar team owner Eric Bachelart forced to move team to the ALMS
Despite being absent from this week’s Sebring Winter Test, Conquest Racing’s expansion into the American Le Mans Series is still going ahead as planned, with its new Morgan-Judd LMP2 car expected to make its debut at next month’s 60th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Speaking to SPEED.com Wednesday at Sebring International Raceway, team principal Eric Bachelart said he expects the driver lineup for the ALMS season-opener to be finalized by the end of this week.
"Hopefully in the next few days we'll have some confirmation,” Bachelart said. “I'd say we're pretty close with what we're doing, but we're not totally there yet. The car was a bit delayed but it's almost built now, so we should be doing some testing in France, if the weather is OK and then send the car to Sebring.”
Servia talking to Rahal Letterman Team?UPDATE Catching up on updating some old rumors. This one is 'false' since Servia signed with Dreyer & Reinbold.
Q: The Rahal family seem to be big fans of yours. Graham couldn't sing your praises high enough regarding your car-sorting abilities when you replaced Robert Doornbos midseason at Newman/Haas in '09. But earlier that year, Bobby Rahal said – after running you at Indy – that if he could find a budget to run a car for a full season, you'd be his choice of driver. Does that still hold true? Considering he's bought two new cars, is Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing one of the teams on your radar?
Servia: Yes, for sure. I had a great month of May that year. Even before you join, you know it's going to be a good team, but when I joined I was still highly impressed with everyone, from Bobby and Scott Roembke down. So yes, that's one of the teams I've been talking to. As you know, it takes more than just desire to make these things happen, so there are a few things to work out, but for sure that is one of the teams I'd be happy to join. Racer.com (Our 2012 IndyCar Silly Season page has been updated with this information.)
Carlos Helu Slim - the richest man in the world, may soon own an F1 team
(GMM) HRT's tumultuous history could be set to continue, if a report in an authoritative German newspaper is right.
Die Welt claims Thesan Capital, the Madrid-based investment company that bought the Spanish team from Jose Ramon Carabante last year, is already on the lookout for a new buyer.
Originally known as Hispania, HRT was actually founded as Campos by former Spanish F1 driver Adrian Campos when the FIA opened up the grid ahead of the 2010 season.
Die Welt claims that the latest owner Thesan's desire to sell follows the departure of team boss Colin Kolles, who left with almost every one of the team's 120 employees back to his Greding based company.
Nissan to return to V8 Supercars competition in 2013
Rumor has it that Nissan will bring a modified version of its FIA GT-R GT1 car to Australia
Rumor has it that Nissan is set to return to the V8 Supercars grid next year with powerhouse Japanese manufacturer to announce tomorrow it will be taking the fight to Holden and Ford.
In an historic inclusion which V8 Supercars claim will bulletproof the future of the sport, Nissan have agreed to re-join the series in 2013 in a move which will inject hundreds of thousand of dollars into the sport and place a wedge between the iconic battle between Holden and Ford.
The bombshell entry will also give several lowly placed teams the ammunition to take on the likes of Holden backed team Vodafone, with the manufacturer to pull out the check book in a bid to upset their manufacturing rivals.
James Key, the former technical director of Sauber says that he has a job in England waiting for him. Having done a little homework, it seems that Key is not going to be a Formula 1 technical director any longer but instead is going to another high profile in the industry.
My spies tell me that the Englishman will be heading to Norfolk, for a new role as technical director of all motorsport activities at Lotus Cars, where he will probably report to the director of motorsport Claudio Berro.
The car company’s approach to motorsport in the last 18 months has been to slap a badge on anything that money can buy. The firm is contracted to pay large sums of money to the Lotus F1 Team, although it does not own the Enstone operation, even if Dany Bahar, the Lotus CEO, has a seat on the board.
Belgian Motorsports Collapsed? It appears that national motorsports has collapsed in Belgium. The Promoter of the Belcar Endurance Series and Belgian Touring Car Series has enormous debts and the RACB Federation refused to announce plans for the forthcoming season.
Two parties, BRI and Kronos (Peugeot Rallye and LMS Aston Martin LMP in the past) are interested in taking over, but they do not want to take over the debts of Promoter Speedworld. It is a delicate and complicated matter. But if no decision has been taken before this forthcoming Wednesday, circuit racing at high national standards in Belgium are over.
Another complicated matter is the VW Funcup. This has also been organized by Speedworld in recent years. The Lemoine family possesses a lot of shares and is in a position to pay the debts, but if they do, they will be outlawed in organizing any other championship.
The Belgians probably must prepare for a season without national races!
JTG Daugherty to expand to 2-car team in 2013 JTG Daugherty Racing purchased some old cars from MWR to get started this season and will get its engines from Toyota Racing Development, but eventually plans to build its own cars at the Harrisburg shop. Owner Brad Daugherty said a plan already is in place to add a second car to the fold for next season, adding that "it's a distinct possibility"
JTG could field a second car in a handful of races later this season.
"We're already working on it," Daugherty said. "That's something that's going to happen sooner rather than later, because we need that. That's as big as we want to be, though. The cost comes down and the information goes way up. So we're really working on that." NASCAR.com
The lobster Logano won two years ago may be rotting in his closet
The gospel according to "Twitter" has often fascinated me. In addition to the fact that it's a quick and simple way of mass communication, it can also become a major source of entertainment. From "hey, that's funny" to "wow, you should have kept your finger off of the send button," there's seems to be no limits to this popular social network.
That same principle applies to the world of NASCAR racing. Tweets are a great way for a driver to interact with the fans. It's also a buffet filled with one liners that often feeds the needs of the racing media. A case in point involves Kyle Petty and Kenny Wallace. On any given day of the week, their tweets are loaded with humor and sarcasm well worth your reading time.
One of the better tweets that I've seen lately surfaced last Thursday from NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Joey Logano. The message read: "look what I found in my bedroom closet." Underneath the message was a photo of a giant lobster. This was the traditional giant lobster that is presented to winners of NASCAR races at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Two Ferrari movies in the works Following the roaring success of the documentary film Senna not just within motorsport circles but also among the wider general public, the 'Prancing Horse' of F1, Ferrari, looks set to also be given the Hollywood touch.
Tom Cary, F1 correspondent for Britain's Telegraph newspaper, has reported within his blog not one but two Ferrari blockbusters appear to be in the pipeline, among other intriguing rumors.
The films, said to be named Maranello, after the birthplace of the Prancing Horse, and Enzo, which needs no explaining, will be set in the 1920s and 1950s respectively.
Are the Lotus racing programs now in jeopardy?UPDATE #4 This rumor is now strengthened after this statement today from parent company Proton.
01/18/12 “For my side, there’s no problem,” Director of Lotus Motorsport Claudio Berro told SPEED.com. “As far as we’re aware, the situation in Malaysia changes nothing for us. Our support and development is very strong, and our focus again is delivery of our business plan, and motorsports is a crucial element of the business plan.”
“Lotus is a small company and INDYCAR knows,” Berro said of the supply issues they are trying to overcome.
“At the moment, we have four teams, with six cars for sure. We have a short time to produce more engines, and work hard to produce more engines. The problem is the supplier for critical parts in the engine, not produced by us. It is critically late. It’s is quite difficult to supply a lot of cars for the first race. This is very clear. We are in talks with INDYCAR. INDYCAR knows our limit[ed] numbers of engines. The car just [ran] and it is difficult to validate some components [prior to track testing].”
01/17/12 A Lotus spokesperson told AR1.com, "As far as we are aware, the situation changes nothing for Lotus, Proton's support in our development remains very strong and our focus, as always, is on the delivery of the business plan. This includes our motorsport programs."
01/17/12 Proton has not made a profit in the last two years, multiple prospective buyers stepped in for acquisition talks before the controlling stake was finally approved for DRB-Hicom, a large conglomerate with a hand in automotive services, transport, and power generation.
This investment effectively hands DRB-Hicom the control of two Malaysian car plants that are capable of producing a combined 350,000 vehicles a year. This production number may increase in the future as General Motors just reached out to Proton last month about a possible manufacturing joint venture in Malaysia so that GM could gain better access into the Southeast Asian market. The talks are not yet complete and it will be interesting to see what effects DRB-Hicom will have in the discussions.
What’s more, DRB-Hicom is also the new private owner of Lotus. Unfortunately, this change puts the future of Lotus into question. Lotus has not been able to make a profit for Proton since 1996, an equities investor suggested that all or part of Lotus would likely be sold. Among those interested in Lotus is Genii Capital, a part owner of Lotus Renault GP.
NASCAR media darling gets guaranteed starting spotUPDATE Go ahead and pencil Danica Patrick into the Daytona 500 starting lineup. Stewart Haas Racing has finalized an alliance with Tommy Baldwin Racing that guarantees Patrick a starting spot in the Sprint Cup opener and keeps her #10 car on the track for the entire Cup schedule, team owner Tommy Baldwin said on Tuesday. Patrick will be locked into the Feb. 26 race with the owner's points accumulated last season by TBR driver Dave Blaney, who was 33rd. The top 35 in owner's points from last season are guaranteed a starting spot in the first five races, meaning Blaney now will have to qualify his way into the 500 field. Since Patrick is scheduled to compete in only 10 Cup races while participating fulltime in the Nationwide Series, TBR driver David Reutimann will drive the remaining 26 races in the 10 car. The goal is to keep the 10 locked into the top 35 so Patrick will be guaranteed a starting spot for the first five races of 2013 when she runs her first full Cup schedule. TBR will receive technical and pit crew support as a part of the deal. Baldwin said there were no conflicts with NASCAR or Chevrolet in having Patrick use Hendrick Motorsports engines as all the SHR cars do and Reutimann using Earnhardt-Childress Engines as all TBR cars do. Greg Zipadelli will remain the crew chief for Patrick's Cup races. Baldwin said he and Zipadelli will work with Reutimann in the other 26. Reutimann will not drive another TBR car in the non-Patrick races. Baldwin said this is all about getting Patrick "prepared for 2013." ESPN.com
[Editor's Note: What a farce the NASCAR guaranteed spot system is. But the blame here cannot be placed on Patrick or Stewart-Haas Racing. They're just playing the system like anyone would if presented with the opportunity. Do you think the winner of this year's Super Bowl can sell its owners points to the last place Tampa Bay Buccaneers to guarantee them a spot in next year's Super Bowl? Is NASCAR a sport or a circus?]
Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick
Danica Patrick will be a guaranteed starter in the 2012 Daytona 500, using owner points from Tommy Baldwin Racing.
Multiple sources say a deal is nearly complete to make Patrick a guaranteed starter in Stewart Haas Racing’s #10 Chevrolet in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season opener, using owner points accrued last season by driver Dave Blaney in TBR’s #36 Chevrolet. Blaney will now be forced to qualify for the “Great American Race” on time.
Patrick is scheduled to run approximately 10 Sprint Cup races this season, and TBR driver David Reutimann will run many of the events Patrick does not; also in the #10 machine. While Patrick will drive Stewart Haas cars purchased from Hendrick Motorsports in her 10 races, Reutimann will steer Baldwin’s cars in his outings.
TBR will reportedly receive technical and pit crew support from SHR as part of the deal. Sirius Speedway
Is Chevrolet set to race the Malibu in NASCAR? No, we don't have a tacit admission from the party involved, Chevrolet, but we think you will find the circumstantial evidence rather compelling. It suggests that Chevy will race the Malibu instead of the Impala for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, up against the 2013 Fusion that Ford revealed last week during the NASCAR Media Tour at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Please consider the facts:
-- NASCAR has capitulated to the manufacturers' desires to race vehicles that more closely resemble the cars they sell. The NASCAR Ford Fusion indeed resembles the 2013 Fusion for the road. But given NASCAR's single-minded mandate to equalize competition, the sanctioning body and the manufacturers had to reach a compromise body template that could be massaged to resemble each company's road-going vehicle.
P12 Successor to McLaren F1 rumored The successor to the legendary McLaren F1 supercar is on its way and, according to a new report, could be revealed within the next 12 months.
Known within McLaren as the P12, it’s said to have dramatic styling with a double-bubble roof, while one source has already said that the styling looks more like something that came out the film iRobot.
It is expected to be powered by a 800 horsepower, a 3.8-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine, KERS energy storage and power boost, and F1-style pistol-grip steering wheel.
Would Ferrari really pick a reserve driver who could end up in jail after this week's trial where he is charged with Sutil is charged with causing grievous bodily harm in an incident involving an F1 executive whereby Sutil sliced his neck with a broken glass bottle
(GMM) Adrian Sutil and Vitaly Petrov have emerged as candidates to become Ferrari's official reserve driver in 2012 if rumors can be believed.
With Jules Bianchi moving into Force India's Friday practice seat this year, it was reported that Italian GP2 driver Davide Rigon had succeeded him at Ferrari.
In fact, the Maranello based team is believed to not consider the 25-year-old as ready to step in should Fernando Alonso or Felipe Massa need replacing during a grand prix weekend.
Indeed, Ferrari said Rigon has extended his contract and will be "on call ... for all racing and promotional activities".
DTM has eyes on USAUPDATE While much hasn’t been said about the proposed American-based DTM championship, originally penciled in for a 2013 launch, BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt confirmed that talks are still alive and well to bring the high-spec touring cars to GRAND-AM race weekends in the future.
“From BMW's side, I can say we're in full support of the idea to bring BMW and the DTM cars over to America and have a series over here,” Marquardt said. “At the same time, we're obviously concentrating in Europe with introducing a complete new set of regulations and completely new cars.
“But... we’re also pushing real hard in getting a series over here. I think we're making really good progress. Everybody involved is doing their best. There are a few things that need to be sorted out, but I'm still quite positive that we're moving in the right direction. It's just taking a little bit of time.” Speed.com
UPDATE With the announcement of Coyne getting Honda engines, could that mean Pail Tracy is going to be their second driver? Paul sent out a tweet yesterday morning “signed, sealed, delivered.” It seems it’s either Coyne or Shank for Tracy, but Coyne has Honda power and Shank Lotus. Given Tracy's association with Honda maybe it is Coyne.
01/05/12 Although Paul Tracy has had backing from Honda of Canada, there is some hint that he may be switching to a Chevy team in 2012. He just tweeted - "Putting the icing one the cake the last few days , all we need now is t wrap it all up and tie a bow (as in Chevy Bowtie?) on it."
F1 outcast Nick Heidfeld is rumored to race a Lola-Toyota in the legendary endurance races of Sebring, Spa and Le Mans, according to Speed. In 2011, the German was replaced at LRGP by Bruno Senna and consequently left on the sidelines.
Drafted into Renault – now Lotus – in place of the injured Robert Kubica, Heidfeld scored a podium finish in Malaysia and was the team’s highest-placed driver at the time of his dismissal, after Hungary. His Formula 1 debut was with Prost in 2000.
Gustavo Yacaman has options, which certainly beats the alternative for the 2012 racing season. Yacaman, who finished fourth in the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights championship with Team Moore Racing (one victory, nine top-five finishes in 14 races), said he’s “still talking to different teams in both series.”
“Definitely we’ll be in the IZOD IndyCar Series or Indy Lights,” said Yacaman, who this weekend is co-driving the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Daytona Prototype in the 50th anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona. “At the end of the day I’m only 20 years old so another year of Lights is not going to hurt me.”
Audi to bring R18 to Sebring If there is a second home for Audi Sport, it may be Sebring, Fla. The successful German racing outfit routinely tests at Sebring International Raceway multiple times in a year, and Audi has missed Sebring’s 12-hour race – the opening round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n – just once since 1999.
This year’s 60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida is likely to see Audi bring its fifth different prototype to race in America’s greatest sports car race - the closed-top Audi R18 TDI. Audi debuted its R8R in 1999, and it took victories with the R8, R10 TDI and R15 TDI prototypes. In addition to the 12 Hours, Audi does a considerable amount of preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans each year at the central Florida circuit.
Nurburgring's public days numbered?UPDATE AutoWeek has updated this article and now it sounds as though there is some hope the circuit will remain open to the paying public.
01/24/12 Are the pays-your-money, takes-your-life-in-your-hands days of the Nurburgring's touristenfahren (tourist drives) numbered? According to United Kingdom-based motoring site Pistonheads, there's real worry in the Eifel Mountains that that could be the case.
The culprit? At a very base level, it's the number that enthusiasts love to debate--how quickly a car can lap the Green Hell, and the manufacturer bragging rights that come from having a car's suspension tuned on the famed circuit.
The Disneyfication of the 'Ring has also played a role. The circuit itself is publicly owned by the state of Rheinland-Pfalz and is under the administration of a private entity called Nürburgring Automotive. Note that these public-private racetrack partnerships can work. For example, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca--a track nearly as storied as the 'Ring--sits in a Monterey County park, is administrated by the nonprofit Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula and is supported by dollars from Mazda.
Sutil laps Bahrain Circuit in 2010, the last time F1 raced in the Middle East country
UPDATE While the F1 authorities continue to say that there are no problems with the Grand Prix in Bahrain in April, there continue to be question marks about the event because of unrest in the country. Agence France Presse reported on Wednesday that Bahraini police dispersed anti-government protesters who blocked roads in several villages as tensions rise in the run-up to the first anniversary of the start of the anti-government protests. Public Security Chief Major General Tariq al-Hassan said that “vandals” had blocked the streets and had thrown petrol bombs during the clashes on Tuesday night. The security forces made several arrests. While there are only a small minority who are causing the trouble it should be noted that the US State Department said on Monday that it was relocating embassy staff and their families as a safety precaution. It is also warning Americans travelling to Bahrain of potential unrest in the Gulf kingdom as the anniversary approaches.
2012 Caterham photos leakedUPDATE (GMM) F1 fans on Wednesday got their first glimpse of a 2012-specification car. Caterham is launching its new CT01 in the pages of British magazine F1 Racing on Thursday.
But some subscribers got their copy a day early, and so a side-angle photo was released by the team on Twitter.
A leaked front-view photo is also doing the rounds, and the most eye-catching feature is the radically stepped nose.
The nose is the result of new regulations dictating a lower front section for crash impacts, and given Ferrari's admission about its own "ugly" car, the look is likely to be widespread on the 2012 grid.
01/25/12 Photos of the 2012 Caterham F1 car designed by Mike Gascoyne were leaked a day early, thanks to someone’s mistake - https://www.facebook.com/CaterhamF1. It looks ugly, but will it be fast?
Toyota to announce Buemi for Le Mans soon - report
(GMM) Toyota will shortly confirm Sebastien Buemi as the lead driver for the Japanese marque's second Le Mans entry for 2012.
That is the claim of the Swiss website 20min.ch.
Earlier, it emerged that the former Toro Rosso driver - who has been signed by Red Bull Racing as its official reserve driver for this season - wanted to add the fabled 24 hour Le Mans race to his 2012 program.
"His wish will come true this summer," said the report.
On Wednesday, Toyota announced that former F1 drivers Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima will front the lineup for one Toyota prototype at Le Mans.
"Discussions are still ongoing to finalize the driver lineup for the other (car)," said a spokesman.
UPDATE The Sydney Morning Herald’s Drive section has revealed that Chrysler is seriously thinking about entering the V8 Supercar Championship. With the new Car of the Future for 2013 making entry easier for new brands, the American giant is keen.
The news was revealed by Drive’s Bruce Newton who quoted the President of SRT, the high performance arm of Chrysler as saying, “I am extremely interested (in V8Supercars). It’s not the first time I have heard of it but I don’t want to let on that we are committing just yet. It’s very unique to that market so it may work beautifully in the Australian market, so I am willing to help out if they are wanting to find a way.”
Could Kyle Busch wind up driving for his own Cup team?
UPDATE Kyle Busch will team with his brother Kurt at KBM this year in the Nationwide Series. "I was feeling pretty good about our ownership chances in Nationwide, that's going to be hard to beat," J.D. Gibbs said about the Busch brothers pairing."
Joe Gibbs said he wasn't in the discussions of Kyle racing for his own team. "I will say that I was not in that meeting or we would not be doing this," Gibbs said. "These two (Busch and J.D. Gibbs) got together and somehow we are now racing against him."
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