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F3 Euro Series

Felix Rosenqvist provisionally on front row

First qualifying for the Macau Grand Prix turned into a very close battle: with an advantage of only 0,02 seconds, António Félix da Costa (Carlin, 2:13.400 minutes) beat his main rival Felix Rosenqvist (Mücke Motorsport, 2:13.420 minutes). At the 6.12 kilometres long street circuit in the former Portuguese colony, the Swede was the best-placed driver from the ranks of the Formula 3 Euro Series, which brought a total of five drivers into the top ten.

Euro Series drivers Carlos Sainz (Carlin, 2:13.421 minutes) in third place, Daniel Juncadella (Prema Powerteam, 2:13.800 minutes) in fifth, Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam, 2:14.266 minutes) in eighth and Pascal Wehrlein (Mücke Motorsport, 2:14.397 minutes), who was tenth, also made it into the top ten.

Qualifying had to be interrupted for a few minutes following a collision by Andrea Roda (Jo Zeller Racing, 2:18.140 minutes) in the closing stages. The two drivers of the Van Amersfoort team, Dennis van de Laar (2:19.335 minutes) and Lucas Auer (2:16.845 minutes) had also run into the barriers before that. For them, as well as for Roda, qualifying was over.

Felix Rosenqvist (Mücke Motorsport): “With my first set of tyres, I was third, which was actually quite good. In my second attempt with fresh tyres, I got a good slipstream at the start, but I made many little mistakes in the second sector and therefore I already wanted to abort this attempt. Fortunately, however, I continued to attack and I was happy in hindsight, because this turned out to be my fastest lap. Basically, we are in contention for pole position here, but in Macau, the starting grid position isn’t that important. When you are on one of the first four rows, it is normally okay.”

Carlos Sainz (Carlin): “At the end, I did a very good lap, although the tyres were already quite worn. In qualifying, I slowly worked my way to the limit. At the moment, I am third, which in Macau is sometimes even better than being on pole position.”

BTCC

JACK SEARS TROPHY FOR TOP S2000 DRIVER 
 
The award presented to the top-performing S2000 driver in the 2013 Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will be called the ‘Jack Sears Trophy’, named in recognition of the great double BTCC Champion.
 
S2000 cars which have populated the BTCC grid since 2004 remain eligible to compete in next season’s championship, but will no longer enjoy strict performance parity with the greater number of latest NGTC machines which will become the dominant force.
 
However, as previously announced, the BTCC will present a cup to the highest S2000 finisher in each race, as some teams and drivers continue to use the S2000 cars as part of their graduation through the BTCC ranks.
 
BTCC Series Director Alan Gow explained: “Ultimately the driver with the most ‘cups’ will be awarded the Jack Sears Trophy at the end of the season – named, fittingly, in recognition of not only a great double BTCC Champion but also the BTCC’s first ever Champion (in 1958). To receive the trophy from a true legend like Jack will be a real privilege for the winner…”
 
Norfolk’s Sears won the first-ever BTCC (nee British Saloon Car Championship) in 1958 in a dramatic tie-breaker race and followed that up with a second crown in 1963.
 
The 82-year-old commented: “It’ll be 55 years since I won my first title and 50 since I was fortunate enough to win it a second time – I feel very honoured that the championship wants to create a trophy in my name after all these years. It’s certainly a championship that values its heritage.
 
“The cars of course have improved hugely in that time and the S2000s have provided great entertainment and variety. It’s good to retain a type of car that has been successful and I’m sure, even though smaller in numbers in 2013, the S2000 runners will continue to put on a great show for the public. I very much look forward to presenting the trophy to the deserving winner next October on Finals Day at Brands Hatch – scene of my first title all those years ago.” 
 

FIA

World Motorsport Council poised to rubber stamp proposals by FIA Vice President Sulayem as 2012 series heads for climax in Dubai Rally…

Dubai, UAE, 6 November, 2012:  As the 2012 FIA Middle East Rally Championship heads for its climax in Dubai, the World Motorsport Council is expected to rubber stamp proposals to revitalise the regional series next season by creating four additional title races to attract young driving talent and boost entries overall.

The plans are to create three new parallel championships within the series – for Group N production cars, young drivers, and 2WD vehicles – and also introduce a T3 category for the first time for 2WD and 4WD buggies.

The proposals, which are aimed at rebuilding the popularity of the Middle East Championship which peaked in the late 1980s and 1990s, are being driven by Dr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Vice President of the FIA, motor sport’s world governing body.

They were approved by the World Rally Commission at a meeting in Paris last week and are now expected to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council, of which Sulayem is a member, on 5 December. The same meeting, taking place just four days after the Dubai International Rally brings the curtain down on the 2012 FIA Middle East Championship, will also confirm dates for next year in Qatar, Kuwait, Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus and Dubai, and for an event in Syria running as a candidate for inclusion in 2014.

“Our championship has been in sharp decline in recent years and requires urgent remedial action to ensure its survival and strong future,” said Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, organisers of the Dubai International Rally, taking place over UAE National Day Weekend from 30 November to 1 December.

“Over the last year, I have tasked my team to research our needs and come up with a new strategic approach to breathe life back into our only FIA championship in the region.Subject to FIA Rally Commission and World Motor Sport approval, we will be implementing new initiatives next season which are aimed at increasing the interest and awareness of the FIA Middle East Rally Championship going forward.”

The proposed new Group N championship, replacing the existing Group N cup category,will create a more competitive and stand out title race for competitorsin production cars who will still be able to competealongside drivers in morepowerful S2000 cars.

The reintroduction of the FIA Middle East Championship for Young Drivers, open for competitors born after 1 November, 1987, is designed to attract a new generation of talent and give greater recognition to the region’s young drivers.

The FIA Middle East Championship for 2WD vehicles will similarly recognise and encourage competitors with 2WD cars to compete in their own separate championship.

One of the most exciting developments will be the arrival in the Middle East championship of of the T3 class of  FIA Cross Country homologated vehicles,  including 2WD and 4WD buggiesup to 2000cc, some examples of which have been designed and built in the UAE.

“They will make championship rallying much more accessible for many people because of the cost, and buggies will be especially attractive to young drivers,” said Sulayem. Drivers competing in this category will be able to contest each round of the largely desert stages championship, with the exception of the Rally of Lebanon which is run on tarmac.

In another move to reverse the trend of falling entries in recent years, the homologation period of some older rally cars is being extended, giving a new lease of life to vehicles – and their drivers – which fell out of the series but can now continue until 2016.

In the final part of Sulayem’s plan to revive the championship, an application has been made for funding from the FIA Institute to cover the cost of a sophisticated SafetyTracking System for each of the six rounds of the regional series.

This will feature a strict mechanism to identify short cutting during desert rallies, and impose realistic penalties which will still allow competitors who stray off line to remain in contention.

Proposed 2013 FIA Middle East Rally Championship calendar:

Qatar International Rally                                25-26 January 2013

Kuwait International Rally                             2123 March 2013

Jordan Rally                                                    2325 May 2013

Rally of Lebanon                                            68 September 2013

Syrian International Rally*                             35 October 2013

Cyprus Rally                                                   13November 2013

Dubai International Rally                               24 December 2013

BTCC

SCOTLAND’S GORDON SHEDDEN CROWNED 2012 BTCC CHAMPION AT BRANDS HATCH

Matt Neal and first-time winners Aron Smith and Frank Wrathall shared the victories in today’s final three races of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship season on a wet Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit. But it is Gordon Shedden who tonight leaves the world-famous Kent venue as the newly crowned 2012 Champion. Shedden, from Fife, becomes the first Scottish driver to lift the most coveted prize in UK motor sport since his own hero, John Cleland, in 1995…

 
Furthermore, drivers and teams using Honda’s Civic model have achieved a clean sweep of all five BTCC titles. In addition to Shedden, Andrew Jordan today collected the Independent Drivers Trophy, Honda/Dynamics the Manufacturers/Constructors Championship and the Honda Yuasa Racing Team and Pirtek Racing the outright HiQ and Independent teams’ trophies respectively. Tom Onslow-Cole’s eBay Motors BMW had taken pole position in Saturday’s dry qualifying session. But in today’s first race he could only finish third behind Neal and Jordan in their Civics. Shedden took fifth and closest challenger at that point, MG KX Momentum Racing’s Jason Plato, eighth.

In race two Dubliner Smith was in unstoppable form en route to his maiden BTCC race win in Redstone Racing’s Ford Focus, but second place and the fastest lap for Shedden was enough for him to put the title out of his rivals’ reach. Out-going Champion Neal was third to move back up to second in the standings past Plato who finished in fifth.

Similarly, the day’s third race, the last of the season, was also won in emphatic style by Wrathall whose victory was the first for himself, his small family-run Dynojet team and Toyota’s Avensis model. Taking second, third and fourth in a spectacular line-abreast, Honda formation finish were Neal, Shedden and Jordan.

 
For Shedden, being crowned BTCC Champion is a boyhood dream come true. The 33-year-old from Dalgety Bay commented: “All I ever wanted as a kid was to race touring cars – it was never about F1 – and it was John Cleland who was my hero when I used to go and catch a glimpse of the BTCC at my home track of Knockhill in Fife. I never thought I’d ever get the chance to race them, though, let alone win a race and now I’m the Champion. It is mind blowing… what a season, not just for myself but everyone at Honda. I’d also like to thank everyone who was cheering for me back home in Scotland today – including in the bar at Knockhill! I can’t wait to get home and celebrate with them.”
 
Shedden’s Worcestershire team-mate Neal, who has finished second in the standings, said: “Gordon has driven superbly all season, has amassed the most wins and massively deserves to be Champion. As a team we all pull together at Honda and the Civic has simply been the class of the field all year. A clean sweep of titles is the perfect result.” Oxford’s Plato, third in the final table, added: “I’m here to win so I’m obviously disappointed it’s not gone our way but, that said, the MG KX Momentum Racing team are still winners – we have far exceeded our expectations in MG’s first season back in the BTCC and will return much stronger for 2013.”

Meanwhile Lichfield’s Jordan was ecstatic. He beamed: “For Pirtek Racing to win both the Independent drivers’ and teams’ titles is terrific. We are growing all the time as a team of people and have had to beat rival teams and drivers of real quality.”

 
Similarly delighted were both Smith and Wrathall. Smith said: “Off the back of my first podium result at Silverstone two weeks ago, to now end my debut season in the BTCC with a first win is unbelievable.” And added Wrathall: “It’s a fantastic achievement for a small team like ours in only its second season at this level – we’d already had seconds and thirds and a pole position but a win means we’ve now ticked all the boxes.”
 
Elsewhere, race officials today punished one driver for an on-track indiscretion. Race 1: Andy Neate, official reprimand, fined £500 and three penalty points on his competition licence for an incident involving Frank Wrathall.