Weekend Preview: 9-10 May 2009

Feature Events

FIA Formula One World Championship

– Formula 1 Gran Premio de España Telefonica 2009
– Circuit de Catalunya
– Montmelo, Catalonia, Spain
– (5/17)
www.formula1.com
Track Map

The teams have their luxurious motorhomes (palaces?) back, races are at their usual times again, and people actually will actually be on site watching with their eyes – Formula 1 is back in Europe!

Questions to be asked this weekend:

Which teams will choose to run KERS this week? Which teams will have added a new diffuser? Will the crazy-looking wings actually generate passing at what is usually one of the most boring races of the year? This place will be a true test of the new regulations.
Find out on Sunday!

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on BBC One at 12:10pm with the usual suite of options appearing on the Red Button when the race starts at 1pm.
Qualifying is LIVE on BBC One at 12:10pm Saturday.

US – LIVE on SPEED at 7:30am ET
Qualifying is LIVE on SPEED at 8am Saturday.

Support races: GP2 Series, FBMW Europe, Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup.
The schedule is here and you can convert to your time zone on the sidebar.

You can listen to a short preview of the event here to get up to speed on the current news.

Other Events

IRL IndyCar Series

– Pole Day for the Indy 500
– Indianapolis Motor Speedway
– Speedway, Indiana, USA
www.indycar.com

Indy’s long qualifying process starts with the big one, qualifying for the top 11 spots including the pole position! The draw for the qualifying order takes place on Friday night with the first car in line due to start the four-lap average from 12pm ET (I believe?).

After the 11th run the ‘bumping’ begins – the field is limited to 11 positions and the slowest gets knocked out on each faster run.

Repeat for positions 12-22 on Sunday and positions 23-33 next Saturday. Yes, this means if you are quick Sunday but not Saturday you might qualify in 12th with a faster time than the guy in 11th…

Finally, next Sunday is the last chance qualifying of Bump Day when whole field is opened up again and the slowest car regardless of position is bumped off the list.

There is copious TV coverage in the US but I’d imagine this one is best followed online using the radio, live timing and all of your Twitter friends!

TV Guide:

US – Versus has a huge level of coverage from 12:00pm to 6:30pm EDT on Saturday and Sunday with the same again for next week’s sessions.

UK and elsewhere – www.indycar.com live streaming video with live timing (go to the main page and check the options)

NASCAR Sprint Cup

– Southern 500
– Darlington Speedway

– Darlington, USA
– (11/36)
www.nascar.com

This is another Saturday night race.

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on Sky Sports 2 at 12.00am Saturday night / Sunday morning, repeated on three times across Sky Sports during Sunday.

US – LIVE on FOX at 7pm ET Saturday

Support races: Nationwide Series (Friday)

Le Mans Series

– 1000km of Spa
– Spa-Franchorchamps
– Francorchamps, Belgium
– (2/5)
www.lemans-series.com

Peugeot rejoin the series in the final European sportscar race before the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month. They’ll be up against the Lola Aston Martins and the Kolles Audis.

The GT2 battle will be as fraught as ever as well!

TV Guide:

UK – Updates on Eurosport at 11:45am (30 mins) and 5pm (1 hr). Pretty shoddy for a six hour race I must say.

Support races: Radical European Masters, Classic Endurance Racing, Formula Le Mans, British GT

GP2 Series

– Circuit de Catalunya
– Montmelo, Catalonia, Spain
– (1/10)
www.gp2series.com

F1’s feeder series proper gets going after the diversion of the Asia Series. I have to say I need to do some reading up on who is doing what, and which drivers have been promoted from junior categories, because I’m a little bit behind on my GP2 news! Should be fun though.

TV Guide:

UK – Feature race doesn’t seem to be live on Saturday at all, we have to wait until 8am Sunday to watch it on Setanta Sports 1 followed directly by live coverage of the Sprint race.

This is a major step down in coverage compared to what we have been used to – we have had live coverage of the this or its predecessor F3000 for well over a decade, perhaps nearer two decades. This is not good news.

World Superbikes
– Monza, Italy

Don’t follow it so I don’t know…

* * *
Please note there will be no dedicated F1 Preview for the Spanish Grand Prix as regrettably I do not have time to write one. I have a lot of exam and project work to do so the blog will remain quiet for the next couple of weeks – but I will still be updating my Twitter account!

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Weekend Preview: 2-3 May 2009

Feature Events

MotoGP

– Gran Premio bwin.com de España
– Jerez de la Frontera
– Jerez, Spain
– (3/18)
www.motogp.com

MotoGP’s globetrotting is on hold for a while as the series begins a two month, 5-round European leg with the first of three(!) visits to Spain this season, just as with most seasons. I’m completely out of the loop with MotoGP this year because I haven’t had time to watch the first two rounds, I’m sure I’ll catch up at some stage though.

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on BBC Two at 12:30pm with delayed coverage on Eurosport 2 at 2pm.

US – LIVE?? on SPEED at 6pm ET

Support races: 250cc, 125cc, Red Bull Rookies Cup

Other Events

A1GP World Cup of Motorsport

– Brands Hatch
– Kent, England, UK
– Configuration: Grand Prix
– Track map: Don’t be silly, you know what Brands Hatch looks like
www.a1gp.com

This is the final round of the 2008/09 A1GP season, a very tumultuous season in which anything that could go wrong did go wrong. Cancelled events, reinstated events, reinstated events that were cancelled, trouble with the cars, trouble with the finances…
It has still be fun racing though and let’s hope they are able to hold a 5th season for next winter!

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on Sky1 at 1:30pm
NOTE THIS IS SKY 1 NOT SKY SPORTS 1!

US and elsewhere – www.a1gp.com

Support races: Formula Palmer Audi, GT Cup, Lotus Elise Trophy, Formula Junior, Sports 2000, Heritage GT

NASCAR Sprint Cup

– Russell Friedman 400
– Richmond International Speedway

– Richmond, USA
– (10/36)
www.nascar.com

This is a Saturday night race. According to AUTOSPORT (now in ALL CAPS!) there was a competition and the winner had the race named after him, hence the Russell Friedman 400. Only in NASCAR..

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on Sky Sports Xtra at 12.30am Saturday night / Sunday morning, repeated on SSX at 5:30pm Sunday.

US – LIVE on FOX at 7pm Saturday

Support races: Nationwide Series (Saturday)

FIA World Touring Car Championship

– Race of Morocco
– Marrakech, Morocco
– (3/12)
Track map
www.fiawtcc.com

An all-new event on a street circuit which was only finished a few weeks ago, and which the 3-time touring car champion Andy Priaulx described on Twitter as being “like Monza without the runoff”!

TV Guide:

UK – LIVE on Eurosport at 1:45pm (race 1) and 2:45pm (race 2)

US and elsewhere try here – www.fiawtcc.com

Support races: local series

FIA GT Championship

– RAC Tourist Trophy
– Silverstone, England, UK
– Configuration: Grand Prix
– (1/8)
www.fiagt.com

This is due to be the final year of FIA GT before the all new FIA World GT series kicks off in 2010, and some of the all-new-spec GT1 cars are on the grid for this race albeit some 3 seconds off the pace of the highly tuned current breed. I’m sure a lot of time will be clawed back as the new cars get into their groove.
I had hoped to attend this race because I’ve never seen a proper sportscar race in person, unfortunately other things have got in the way and I’m unable to make it. As always this will be a 2-hour event.

TV Guide:

UK – Same-day delay in full at 10pm on Setanta Sports 2, with 1hr highlights on Sky Sports on Thursday at 6:30pm and 30 mins on Channel 4 at 7am on the 17th.

Listings for Europe/Middle East.

Support races: FIA GT3 European Championship, FIA GT4 European Cup, Cooper Tires British F3 International Series

Formula Renault 3.5

– World Series by Renault
– Spa-Francorchamps
– Francorchamps, Belgium
– (2/9)
www.worldseriesbyrenault.com

The series which is a bit like GP2 but not as good heads for the hills of Belgium this week. You need to know about it though because it discovered Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel.

TV Guide:

UK – Race 2 LIVE on Eurosport at 12:45pm, no apparent coverage of race 1 so I’d expect short highlights of it just prior to the green light for race 2.

Support races: Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, Megane Trophy

Grand-Am Rolex Series
– Thunderbolt Raceway
– New Jersey Motorsport Park, New Jersey, USA
www.grand-am.com

UK – highlights on Five overnight in the week
US – 1pm ET on SPEED

Australian V8 Supercars (& F.Ford)
– Winton, Australia

Brazilian V8 Stockcars
– Brasilia, Brazil

Super GT
– Fuji, Japan

Spanish GT & F3
– Ricardo Tormo Circuit, Valencia, Spain


* * *
Do we like the sub-headers? Very Champ Car aren’t they?
These posts are becoming a great deal of work so you may find they are pared back to basics in future weeks.

On a personal note, my area finally gets the Digital Switchover on Wednesday! The wider area has it already but with my town in an aerial blackspot we rely on a repeater transmitter – that transmitter gets switched on the 6th. This should mean I get to play with the BBC’s red button service for F1 and MotoGP, as well as watch ITV4’s coverage of BTCC and Tour de France!

Weekend Preview: 4-5 April 2009

Here it is people, it all kicks off this weekend! Tons and tons of racing!

* * * *
Feature Event

FIA Formula 1 World Championship
– Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix (2/17)
– Sepang International Circuit
– Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
www.formula1.com
Track Map

Please see my F1 Preview here.

Support events:
GP2 Asia Series (x2); Formula BMW Pacific (x2);

A much quieter support card to Australia. GP2 Asia is holding rounds 9 and 10 of the winter series with just one double-header remaining in Bahrain (again supporting F1).
FBMW Pacific kicks off their year here this weekend.

* * *
Other Events:

IRL IndyCar Series
– Honda Grand Prix of St.Petersburg (1/17)
– St Petersburg, Florida, United States
www.indycar.com

Please see my IndyCar preview which follows imminently!

UK TV: Race LIVE on Sky Sports Xtra from 7.30pm BST Sunday.
US TV: Qualifying recap at 5pm ET Saturday.
Race LIVE on VERSUS from 2pm ET Sunday, race starts at 3.

Support races: Firestone Indy Lights (x2)

American Le Mans Series
– Acura Sports Car Challenge of St.Petersburg (2/10)
– St Petersburg, Florida, United States
www.americanlemans.com

A very low entry of just 17 cars is a cause for concern with just 6 prototypes and no GT1 cars. GT2 is the battle to watch here.

UK TV: Race DELAYED by one day, from 3.00pm BST Sunday.
US TV: Race LIVE on ABC from 1.30pm ET Sunday.

Le Mans Series
– 1000km of Barcelona (1/5)
– Circuit de Catalunya
– Barcelona, Spain
www.lemans-series.com/

The European endurance racing season gets going with an entry list of 43 cars this weekend! Aston Martin are currently topping the times in the absence of Peugeot and Audi, which means the LMP1 entry is fairly thin in number compared to last year – but it does boast Aston, Pescarolo and the two Kolles Audi R10s.

UK TV: The start can be seen LIVE on Eurosport at 10.15am BST for 45 minutes, with further coverage at 11.45am for 30 minutes. There will be highlights at 11pm. Eurosport are busy with GP2 Asia, World Rally, Superbikes, cycling and European basketball so they really had to fit in what was a late deal wherever they could.

NASCAR Sprint Cup
– Samsung 500 (7/36)
– Texas Motor Speedway
– Fort Worth, Texas, United States
www.nascar.com

Yet another 500, they seem to have a lot of them in NASCAR. Didn’t 500 mile races used to mean something?

UK TV: TAPE DELAYED on Sky Sports Xtra from 10pm BST Sunday.
US TV: LIVE on FOX from 1:30pm ET Sunday.

The reason for the UK tape delay? SSX is showing IndyCars at St Pete live instead! Three cheers for the ICS bumping Cup! Hooray!

Support races: Nationwide Series (Saturday)

FIA World Rally Championship
– Rally de Portugal (4/12)
– Vilamoura, Portugal
www.wrc.com

Intercontinental Rally Challenge
– Safari Rally (3/12)
– Nairobi, Kenya
www.ircseries.com

Formula Nippon
– Fuji (1/8)
– Fuji, Japan
Support races: Japanese Formula 3;

HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship
– Brands Hatch Indy (1/10)
– Brands Hatch (Indy)
– Kent, England, UK
www.btcc.net

Time for some proper tin-top wheel banging! The BTCC season opens on the one mile Indy configuration of Brands Hatch, with the three fast and frenetic 20 minute BTCC races and a packed support card.

UK TV: LIVE on ITV4 from 11.45am Sunday with uninterrupted coverage until 6pm including a whole bunch of support races.

The reason for the UK tape delay? SSX is showing IndyCars at St Pete live instead! Three cheers for the ICS bumping Cup! Hooray!

Support races: Porsche Carrera Cup GB, Formula Renault UK, Renault Clio Cup UK, Ginetta G50, Ginetta Juniors

* * * *
Hectic!!

I think that covers everything, please add your comments if you find anything more!

2009 Le Mans 24 Hours – Entry List

Last Thursday the ACO released the official entry list for the 2009 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and it confirmed some pre-announced deals, verified some rumours and offered some complete surprises – as it does every year!

I’m writing this quite late so I’m going to just do short notes.

LM P1

1 / Audi Sport Team Joest / Audi R15
3 / Audi Sport Team Joest / Audi R15
2 / Audi Sport North America / Audi R15

Audi are returning with a new car, which will be raced first at Sebring but will probably not contest the full 2009 season.

14 / TME Kolles / Audi R10
15 / TME Kolles / Audi R10

I’m not sure if this is backup plan from Audi, but they’ve sold or loaned to R10s to Colin Kolles. They’ll still need to be adapted to the narrower rear wing regulations.

7 / Team Peugeot Total / Peugeot 908
8 / Team Peugeot Total / Peugeot 908
9 / Peugeot Sport Total / Peugeot 908

Peugeot also return with three cars. An updated car and revised driver line-up should mean they are quietly confident ahead of this year’s race – but they said that last year.

17 / Pescarolo Sport / Peugeot 908
16 / Pescarolo Sport / Pescarolo Judd

Count this is as a surprise. A customer Peugeot for Pescarolo. Surely this is in response to Kolles? It seems to be a 2008 car modified to new rules from what I’ve read, and not the ’09 cars of the factory team.

007 / Aston Martin Racing / Lola Aston Martin
009 / Aston Martin Racing / Lola Aston Martin
008 / AMR Eastern Europe / Lola Aston Martin

Three entries also from Aston Martin, who are in a naming dispute with Lola at the moment. First year with these cars so a win surely isn’t on the cards, but they’ll be looking to show good speed. AMR Eastern Europe is Charouz, in fact they all might be, but this is the only one under the Czech flag.

13 / Speedy Racing Team Sebah / Lola Aston Martin

This entry seems to be being run more at ‘arms length’ from the factory/Prodrive.

10 / Team ORECA Matmut AIM / Courage-ORECA AIM
11 / Team ORECA Matmut AIM / Courage-ORECA AIM

Can’t say I know much about this so I’m assuming it’s a continuation from last year.

6 / Team LNT / Ginetta Zytek
23 / Strakka Racing / Ginetta Zytek

Zytek and Ginetta merged toward the end of last year and LNT have stepped up from running a GT2 Panoz (and they entered Petit with this car). Quick chassis, promising for the privateer sub-class.

12 / Signature Plus / Courage Judd

The Formula 3 team makes the switch to endurance racing. ‘Tis all I know.

20 / Epsilon Euskadi / Epsilon Euskadi Judd

I’m surprised this only got one entry.

4 Creation Autosportif Creation Judd

Yay, Creation are back. I like them.

LM P2

5 / Navi Team Goh / Porsche RS Spyder
31 / Team Essex / Porsche RS Spyder
49 / Vitaphone Racing Team / Porsche RS Spyder

Team Goh won overall with the Audi R8 a few years back, they’ve been absent for a while. Team Essex weren’t going to enter and changed their minds. Vitaphone are a surprise announcement, they run Saleens in FIA GT and did enter Le Mans last year with an Aston GT1 but a prototype wasn’t expected at all.

25 / RML / Lola Mazda Coupe
44 / KSM / Lola Mazda Coupe

RML are always strong. No idea who KSM are. This Lola is fast, I think it’s basically the P2 version of what Aston Martin are running.

30 / Racing Box / Lola Judd Coupe
33 / Speedy Racing Team Sebah / Lola Judd Coupe

More Lola coupes for these guys but a choice of Judd engines instead. It’ll be an interesting battle between the four Lolas!

24 / Oak Racing / Pescarolo Mazda
35 / Oak Racing / Pescarolo Mazda

Pescarolo with a Mazda engine? Fair enough.. I’m sure I read who Oak Racing are, it’s a name change of a team I know about but I can’t remember who at the moment.

40 / Quifel-ASM Team / Ginetta Zytek 09S

The P2 version of the P1 car above. ASM had a Lola last year.

41 / Gac Racing Team / Zytek 07S

No idea. Seems like they have the previous version of the car ASM will run.

26 / Bruichladdich Bruneau / Radical AER

I like this team too and the Radical is pretty quick.

LM GT1

63 / Corvette Racing / Corvette C6.R
64 / Corvette Racing / Corvette C6.R

With no works Astons, guess who’ll win this class? This is the last appearance of works GT1 Corvettes though, so enjoy it.

72 / Luc Alphand Aventures / Corvette C6.R
73 / Luc Alphand Aventures / Corvette C6.R

Back-up for a fight that never came. They weren’t going to enter after a fight with the ACO over the promotion of the LMS, but changed their minds last minute. Not to mention wanting to prove how pacesetters in European GT racing fair at LM.

60 / Gigawave Motorsport Ltd / Aston Martin DBR9
66 / Jetalliance Racing / Aston Martin DBR9

Two quick Astons may just push Corvette hard enough.

55 / IPB Spartak Racing / Lamborghini Murcielago
68 / JLOC Isao Noritake / Lamborghini Murcielago

Is it unkind to say these are field-fillers?

This is probably the last year of GT1 in this spec. I know Ratel’s FIA World GT coming next year will run to different rules.

LM GT2

76 / IMSA Performance Matmut / Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (997)
77 / Team Felbermayer-Proton / Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (997)
80 / Flying Lizard Motorsport / Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (997)

Just three Porsches this year in GT2. I’m amazed, they used to dominate! Shame the Lizards didn’t get a second entry.

78 / AF Corse Srl / Ferrari F430 GT
82 / Risi Competizione / Ferrari F430 GT
83 / Risi Competizione / Ferrari F430 GT
84 / Team Modena / Ferrari F430 GT
89 / Hankook – Team Farnbacher / Ferrari F430 GT
92 / JMW Motorsport / Ferrari F430 GT
96 / Virgo Motorsport / Ferrari F430 GT
97 / BMS Scuderia Italia / Ferrari F430 GT
99 / JMB Racing / Ferrari F430 GT

Nine Ferraris!! I think that shows this is the faster car, as everyone gravitates toward it.

87 / Drayson Racing / Aston Martin V8
85 / Snoras Spyker Squadron / Spyker C8 Laviolette

Good to see that Drayson got an entry. You have to say they are aiming to score a finish, but that’s what Le Mans is about. Nice to see Spyker still plugging away but only one car this time.

You’ll note I’m not tipping winners in any class (except GT1!). Frankly with this field it’s much too difficult to go picking winners this early, and with no Test Day it’s even harder.

Reserves
There are ten reserves this year as opposed to 8 in previous years. As always they’ll enter the race in this order should any of the above withdraw, regardless of class. So if a P1 drops out the first reserve, a GT2 this year, will take that spot.

R1 / GT2 / Team Seattle Advanced Eng / Ferrari F430 GT
R2 / GT2 / Endurance China Team / Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (997)
R3 / GT2 / IMSA Performance Matmut / Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (997)
R4 / LMP2 / Barazi Epsilon / Zytek 07S
R5 / LMP2 / Gerard Welter / Zytek
R6 / LMP1 / Epsilon Euskadi / Epsilon Euskadi Judd
R7 / GT2 / Team Felbermayer-Proton / Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (997)
R8 / GT2 / Snoras Spyker Squadron / Spyker C8 Laviolette
R9 / GT1 / Team Larbre Competition / Saleen S7R
R10 / LMP2 / Racing Box SRL /Lola Judd Coupe

That answers where Epsilon Euskadi and Spyker’s second cars are, as well as several Porsches. How did Barazi and Larbre not get entries??? That’s nuts.
I don’t think we’ve seen Welter on the list for a while..

More Info

Okay I think I’m done. Unfortunately I don’t have time to scout for more information, sorry, but I hope this was enough to work as a little primer.

No doubt the boys at RadioLeMans.com will discuss this in great detail (along with more USF1 news and lots else) in tomorrow’s Midweek Motorsport which you can hear live at 8pm GMT / 3pm EST. I think it’s repeated at 8pm EST. If that’s not helpful, the podcast will follow on a day or so later. You need to count MWM as a ‘Must Listen’ even if sportscars isn’t your thing, ‘cos they cover all sorts of stuff.
(I also recommend FastMachines.com for a quick weekly hit and Sidepodcast.com for specialist F1 talk)

And of course there’s always the official website of the race.

Audi R15

This one came from nowhere – Autosport.com have got an ‘exclusive secret spy shot’ of the new Audi R15 TDI.

It’s an interesting looking car with a stubby wide nose, Autosport compares it to the Renault F1 car. It has apparently been running since before Christmas.

Audi say the driver line-ups for the two cars going to Sebring will be:
#1 A McNish, R Capello, T Kristenen
#2 L Luhr, M Rockenfeller, M Werner
(I assume those will be the car numbers)

Have a read of the article. When the car is officially launched I’ll do a more in-depth post. The number of quotes gives me a feeling this was more of a planned leak rather than a super-secret spy shot.. What, in the week of the Pug launch?? Never!

Launch Season: Peugeot 908

Peugeot 908 HDi FAP

The 2009 edition of the Peugeot 908 was launched yesterday.

The car looks substantially the same as last year, albeit with a rear wing 400mm narrower per the ACO’s regulations for this season. Pug’s engineers say they’ve been working on the engine mapping, cooling and traction control systems. Partly this is due to the new rules cutting power by 10% on last year, and partly this is because Peugeot really struggled with overheating last year. It cost them the win at Le Mans because the airflow when it was raining wasn’t sufficient to cool the engine. There were other factors as well of course, like their crazy tyre decisions and inexperienced drivers (many were new to sportscars, anyway), but the cooling was a major factor.

Also in ‘cooling news’, the roof sports a ‘reflective chromelike aluminium covering’ according to Olivier Quesnel.

A surprise announcement on the driver front, to me at least, was the unveiling of Sebastien Bourdais and David Brabham. Bourdais was rumoured on Thursday night, which was a surprise to me because nobody has dovetailed a full F1 season with an attack on Le Mans for many, many years. The last to try the F1/LM crossover was Franck Montagny (fairly recently too, say 4 years?) but he was just an F1 test driver. at the time.
Brabs wasn’t on my radar at all for this, maybe I missed a comment on Midweek Motorsport (I’m still an episode behind) or other sources. I had thought he was still signed to drive the Acura and perhaps he is, which is why he won’t appear at Sebring.

The full driver line-up:
S Bourdais, D Brabham, M Gene, C Klien, P Lamy, N Minassian, F Montagny, S Sarrazin, A Wurz.


It’s still a fantastic-looking car.

Peugeot confirmed their plans for the first half of 2009: they will take two cars to the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, and three cars to the 1000km of Spa-Francorchamps in May before sending all three to Le Mans. There is no word on what will become of the team after Le Mans. In my opinion they’ll see what Audi does, and how they perform against Audi (and Aston!) in the big race.

Drivers confirmed for Sebring:
Car 7: Minassian / Lamy / Bourdais
Car 8: Montagny / Sarrazin / Klien

This leaves Gene, Brabham and Wurz for the 3rd car if the line-ups remain the same. Line-ups for Spa will be confirmed at a later date.

Photo credit: Peugeot Sport

PS – yes, I know I didn’t post about the new Acura. They aren’t going to Le Mans. Yet..
PPS – I’m begging you here, PLEASE get the name right. “Le Mans”. There are TWO WORDS. Writing “LeMans” (or “Lemans” which is worse) really does annoy me! I don’t mind it on Twitter because of the character limit. A pet peeve of mine, just like hyphenating ‘F1’.

News Round-Up

I hope everyone had a good New Year! I had a quiet one after spending the last two years in central London, and the previous one in Edinburgh (the Home of Hogmanay and the best New Year’s Eve street party in the world!). This year I just played a bit of Mario Kart Wii before heading into the middle of the little town I live in for the moment itself.

I thought I should catch up on some of the smaller bits of news I missed when I was revising for an exam in December, believe it or not when you summarise it a lot did actually happen even if it seemed very quiet day-to-day. And not all of it was bad, either. I’ll skip the things reported by my blogging colleagues at the time, I mean we’ve all seen that, right?

F1
– Big news in sponsorship as Vodafone takes their primary sponsorship from McLaren to Ferrari for 2009 onwards.

– Allianz will continue with WilliamsF1 for the forthcoming year, however technical partner Lenovo have instead joined McLaren. No word on the plans of RBS after the bank was bailed out by the British government a few months ago, my fellow taxpayers and I now own 60% of the company.

– Teams have been testing the KERS system and new aero package, to varying degrees. BMW, Honda and Williams were among the first to test the new gear, while Red Bull has been running with ’08 systems simulating ’09 rules.

IRL
– 2008 GP2 champ Giorgio Pantano is looking for a ride in the US after the F1 teams showed no interest in him.

– Penske continue to state that an announcement on Helio’s ride – i.e. will he drive or will there be a replacement – will be made ‘in the next few weeks’, although they’ve been saying that since November.

GP2
– Pastor Maldonado has signed with ART Grand Prix for the ’09 European series. His teammate is expected to be Nico Hulkenberg.

– The Asia series is continuing with what is becoming a regularly revolving cast of characters. Seems several teams are using it as an extended driver test for the main series.

– The February round of the Asia series at Dubai has been moved to Qatar, and will become a night event under the floodlights. MotoGP race under the lights there last year.

F2
– At least 20 drivers have been signed up to the revived F2 series for this year and it looks to be oversubscribed, in which case it will be capped at 24 drivers. So far 10 drivers have been officially announced by MSV and more are being added to this page every week, presumably in order to get more PR from staggered announcements which is a good move.

– Great to see Red Bull joining the party and helping legitimise the series further, alongside MotorSport Vision and WilliamsF1.

F3
– Carlin Motorsport have switched from Mercedes engines to Volkswagen, marking a big increase in VW’s presence in both the Euroseries and the British one. Carlin say they are following their backers Red Bull, who announced in November that all teams they are backing in F3 will run with VW.

– VW already confirmed they are dropping RC Motorsport, and will continue with Signature-Plus (both for the Euroseries), while in Britain they’ll join with T-Sport.

Sportscars
– The Le Mans pre-event Test Day has been cancelled to reduce the costs for both competitors and organisers. Wednesday’s qualifying has now become a mandatory practice session.

– Leo Mansell and dad Nigel tested the Ginetta-Zytek 07S LMP sportscar at Valencia. Meanwhile Leo’s brother Greg tested the World Series by Renault FR3.5 car in a group test at Paul Ricard, back in November.

– Barwell Motorsport will not going back to ALMS this year with their bio Aston Martin. They will instead enter the LMS and FIA GT3. I’m not sure if they’ll use that car but they will run Astons.

– BMW have been testing their GT2 class M3 in the US with World Touring Car drivers Andy Priaulx, Jorg Muller and Augusto Farfus. Priaulx says he’d like to take part in some ALMS races in the car, but Sebring clashes with a WTCC event at Puebla. Joey Hand and Bill Auberlen have been announced as the drivers of Rahal Letterman Racing’s M3.

– The Britcar 24 Hours at Silverstone has been reduced to a 6-hour event for 2009 for cost containment reasons. Organisers hope to return the race to the full distance in 2010. It has only been running since 2005.

– Ex-Super Aguri driver Anthony Davidson tested a Peugeot 908 HDi at Paul Ricard and is the running for a race drive. Go Ant!

Other
– Both Subaru and Suzuki have pulled out of the World Rally Championship. Kawasaki looks set to announce a pull-out from MotoGP next week. Seems like the Japanese car and bike makers are in trouble.

– 1998 and 1999 F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen has become a driver manager, alongside his own manager Dider Coton.

– A1GP has agreed with the Chinese government to run two rounds per season for the next five years. Venues were not confirmed. A1 has raced in Shanghai, Beijing, Zhuhai and Chengdu since the series started in 2005.

– Organisers of the Surfers Paradise street race are building a pit/paddock complex for 40 teams in time for the ’09 event. That should be enough to service all of the A1GP and V8 Supercar teams.

– The Dakar Rally gets under way this week, but in Argentina. The African event was cancelled last year due to terrorist theats which prompted the move over the Atlantic, however a rival series called Africa Race has been set up and will be running at the same time albeit with far fewer numbers competing.

Blog
– Check out the Last.FM radio player in the white sidebar!

– The blog might be quieter than intended between now and June as I am in my final year of an accountancy course. It isn’t quite ‘Accountant’ level, its the level just below it, but that doesn’t make it easy! So I’ll be quite busy doing that.

– It’s New Year’s Day, I didn’t drink stupendous amounts last night yet my head still hurts because I have a cold, only a mild one but I HATE colds. Especially ones I pick up during a stock-take at work on NYE. I need a good rant so might come back soon to tell you all my pet peeves.

All stories shamelessely pilfered from the pages of the last several editions of Autosport magazine and reworded by me.