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WRC

SEBASTIEN LOEB HAS RESPONDED TO JARI-MATTI LATVALA’S THREAT BY WINNING STAGE FIVE OF RALLYE DE FRANCE ALSACE.

The French driver was 6.3s quicker than Latvala – the winner of the previous stage – on the repeat of the Hohlandsbourg-Firstplan test to pull 13.8s clear in the chase for glory on round 11 of the FIA World Rally Championship.

“The road was okay, more dry than in the morning,” said Citroen ace Loeb, who is running on hard-compound Michelin tyres like the bulk of his rivals. “There was a bit more mud on the road in some places but we had good information from the gravel crew so we know where it is. Jari-Matti is going very fast so we have to push.”

Ford pilot Latvala said he lost time going off the road and running through a ditch: “We went wide on a left-hander where there was gravel on the road. I tried to get the line and stay away from the cuts but I went out into a ditch for quite a while.”

Petter Solberg said he was more confident behind the wheel of his Fiesta. He completed the stage 3.4s slower than Loeb. Mikko Hirvonen was 3.9s slower than Loeb and frustrated after reporting several corner marking posts had moved following the pre-event reconnaissance. Mads Ostberg, meanwhile, said the set-up of his Fiesta was too low to the ground, which resulted in a loss of time.

Thierry Neuville has dropped from fourth to sixth following a spin in his Citroen. Solberg climbs from sixth to fourth while Dani Sordo continues to hold fifth overall in his MINI, despite saying he wasn’t happy with the handling of his car.

 

 

 

Formula One

DRIVER QUOTES ON THE JAPANESE GRAND PRIX

Mark Webber:  “I’m looking forward to the Japanese Grand Prix as it’s an opportunity to get a top result again on a track I enjoy driving on. Qualifying has not been as strong for us recently and we know this has to be improved. We are focusing on that and, once that’s better, we can make a strong push towards being better positioned at the end of Grands Prix. The Suzuka Circuit has an incredible combination of corners. You have to be very accurate and rhythm is very important. It’s a good challenge for the drivers.”

Sebastian Vettel: “I love the Suzuka circuit. In short, it has the most amazing corners and brilliant fans, I really like coming here. In 2011 the country experienced unbelievable difficulties, so it was extremely important to try and give them some enjoyment and to show our support for their suffering. I wish I had won in 2011, it was my third Formula One race on my favourite track and it still bothers me a bit that I took my world title with a third place. The track itself is huge and almost every metre of it is special.”

Pastor Maldonado: I’m really looking forward to getting to Japan this week. I think everyone in the paddock looks forward to this race, as the fans in Japan are some of the best in the world and give us all such a warm welcome. I also enjoy the track as it’s one of the historic circuits in Formula One. There is a good combination of high speed corners and we run close to the maximum amount of downforce. It’s a great challenge as a driver.

Bruno Senna: I’m really looking forward to the Japanese Grand Prix. It’s one of my favourite tracks of the season andit’s very fast and flowing but quite narrow compared to some of the other circuits we visit. It feels amazingly quick and is one of the biggest challenges as a driver. It is similar to Spa-Francorchamps so it’s a real drivers’ track. You can get variable weather in Japan ranging from warm and sunny to rain that stops qualifying. It’s always exciting though and we have a good potential to be strong there.
Heikki Kovalainen: “I stayed in Singapore for a couple of days after the race before heading back to Europe to spend a couple of days at home and then do a session in the simulator before going to Japan.

“Suzuka is one of the races everybody looks forward to and I’m no different. It’s a proper track, exactly the sort of circuit you want to drive F1 cars on as it has everything – high speed corners where you can really feel the downforce working, medium speed sections where it’s all about car balance and some of the most passionate fans in the world.
 
“For me the best bit of the track is in sector one, from T1 to T7. You go into T1 and T2 at high speed and if you’re not fully committed you can lose a lot of time right at the start of the lap. Out of T2 the track is positively cambered and you can really lean on the car as you go into T3. From there, right through to T7 if the car is well balanced the whole section seems to flow. It’s a great feeling when you get it right, but get it wrong and you lose a lot of time.”
 
Vitaly Petrov: “Japan’s one of my favourite places to race, in fact it’s one of my favourite countries to visit whether we’re racing or not! At home I eat Japanese food quite often and the fact it has great food and really cool fans makes it a great place to go as an F1 driver.
 
“The fans really are incredible. The stands are packed throughout the whole weekend, even on Thursdays when we’re not on track, and they’re so polite, almost a bit scared of asking for autographs or photos, but you can tell how much F1 means to them and it’s always cool when they give us presents or things they’ve made for us.
 
“On track Suzuka is obviously a cool track to race on. The first sector is a good challenge in the car and for the engineers, to make sure we have a well balanced car. The second sector is also pretty quick and then you’re into S3 and heading towards 130R. A lot of people talk about that being a major corner, and it looks pretty good on TV when you see the cars flat out through there, but in the cockpit it’s really not that much of a challenge. Despite that you need to be flat through there as the chicane afterwards is one of the few overtaking spots, so if you lose time through 130R you’re going to come under pressure from cars behind right at the end of the lap.”

Pedro de la Rosa: “Suzuka is a beautiful and spectacular circuit; I would say it’s my favourite track. It’s very quick, you hardly touch the brake, and we’ll be able to make a better evaluation of the difference between the new floor and the old one. It has inclinations, quick, flowing corners and it’s a very long lap. It’s a circuit for aerodynamics and horsepower where the best cars stand out. I’ve got great memories of it because my first victories in Formula 3 and Formula 3000 came there and it’s one of the tracks which has brought me most luck in my career because by winning there the doors to Formula 1 opened. I hope to also have a good performance next weekend”.

Narain Karthikeyan: “I’m really looking forward to Japan after not being able to finish in Singapore. Suzuka is a very fluid and challenging track. From a physical point of view it’s also tough as it’s very quick. It’s a circuit that I love and one I have fond memories of. I think we’ll take a step forward with the car with regards to Singapore and we’ll be able to better evaluate how the new floor works. We’ve been pretty fast in the last few races but we’ve been missing a bit of luck. But we have to continue working to maintain this positive momentum through to the end of the season”.

 

Grand Am Series

 

CHAMPIONS CROWNED AT LIME ROCK PARK…

While the setting for the Championship Weekend at Lime Rock Park may be bucolic, the hills today reverberated with the sounds of intense action from the 13th and final race of the 2012 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.   The yellow flag was in regular use as, right out of pit row, the race started under a full course caution after the #70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 went off the course in turn one during the last parade lap.  A stop and go pace followed for much of the first half of the race – a second full-course yellow for a multi-car accident was shortly followed by a wreck between Andrew Davis (Bogart, Ga.) in the #59 Brumos Racing Porsche and Paul Dalla Lana (Toronto, Canada) in the #94 Turner Motorsport BMW M3 at the entrance to the esses .  And, just over an hour into the race, the #70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8, driven by Jonathan Bomarito (Monterey, Calif.), was again off track.   As the race neared its conclusion, it seemed the drivers were finally in their comfort zones.

In the DP class, with the championship title still on the line, the race win was taken by Ricky Taylor (Apopka, Fla.) and co-driver Max Angelelli (Monaco) in the #10 SunTrust Racing Corvette DP.   It was their third victory of the season as well as their third victory in three races at Lime Rock Park. 

“I was sitting there at the beginning of the race and I was hoping for a podium, to be honest,” said Taylor explaining that as soon as he saw Angelelli’s speed on the restart at the beginning, he knew they had a car that could possibly win the race.  “When the yellow came out I was a bit nervous, but in hindsight I was lucky because it made us a bit safer on fuel and got us less laps on the tires.”  The final yellow gave Taylor a chance to collect himself:  “I’ve never been one to take a deep breath, and I needed it.  I was shaking, I was a mess.  It definitely helped me a lot.  The car dropped off dramatically the last five laps and that yellow might have given me that extra buffer, especially since it’s a four-lap yellow here instead of a three-lap yellow and that gave me a little of a buffer as far as tire wear goes.”  

Richard Westbrook (London, England) had turned three pole position starts in the #90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP into wins earlier in the season – at Barber Motorsports Park, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – but was unable to make it happen for a fourth time.  “It was a very tough race,” said Westbrook who shares the #90 driving with Antonio Garcia (Madrid, Spain).   “A good advert for GRAND-AM again; it was a really good DP race.  Everyone on a different strategy, but everyone had the same problem when they were on the end of the life of the tires.  It was very difficult and there was a big drop off in lap times.  It made for interesting racing.  There was quite a bit of overtaking.  Considering its Lime Rock, it’s very difficult to overtake.  Congrats to the Sun Trust crew.  I thought they drove really well today and deserved it.  I’m really happy to just get podium.  We’ve either won or not finished this year, so it’s nice to get a good solid haul of points.” 

Finishing third with the 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP was Jon Fogarty (Bend, Ore.) and Alex Gurney (Irvine, Calif.).  “It was tough going without a win this season, but it wasn’t for lack of effort on the Gainsco guy’s part,” said Fogarty.  “It was a quite a strong end to the year.  We had good pace, and we did run up front, just never quite put everything together, which is exactly what you have to do.  You’ve got to be perfect to win one of these; the competition is tough.  It’s not like the wins are easy to come by.”

GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series points leaders Memo Rojas (Mexico City, Mexico) and Scott Pruett (Auburn, Calif.) driving the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW Riley, finished seventh overall in DP to claim their third consecutive series title, and their fourth in five years (2008, ’10, ’11 and ’12).  Pruett also marks another milestone with the finish – securing his fifth DP championship – and setting a new GRAND-AM record.  GT teammates Emil Assentato and (Locust Valley, N.Y.) and Jeff Segal (Miami, Fla.), co-drivers of the #69 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458, who secured their GT class championship three weeks ago at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, will celebrate with Rojas and Pruett in Manhattan on Monday, October 1, when all four will be presented with Rolex Daytona Chronographs during the Rolex Champions Banquet presented by SunTrust at Gotham Hall. 

In the GT class, after leading for close to two hours of the race, Andy Lally (Northport, N.Y.), at the wheel of the #44 Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 Cup car, was overtaken by the #57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro GT.R driven by Robin Liddell (England) with three laps remaining.  Building from the pole start of co-driver John Edwards (Cincinnati, Ohio), Liddell went on to win the class and earn the team it’s third victory of the year, having won previously at Watkins Glen and Montreal. 

“I had limited dry running yesterday [during practice] and so to be honest I didn’t really feel in good control of the race and the car for most of the race,” said Liddell.  “But towards the end it just turned into a big fight and we knew Lally was probably a bit short on fuel.  We didn’t really know how much they could do so we just tried to keep the pressure on him and see if we could force him to run out of fuel or make a mistake.  Fortunately that’s what happened at the end.  It was a tough race.  I felt mentally not really on top of the whole thing, but as the race progressed I got more into it.  In the end we were able to get a good rhythm.  We had a slow first pit stop which lost us a lot of track position, but as the race unfolded and we got back on sync with the strategy we were able to work our way back up.  From second through sixth in the championship everyone was close on points and we really felt that pressure coming into this race, knowing that if we had a slip up we could easily end up sixth in the championship.  The car performed very well all season and the guys have done a superb job, been absolutely faultless.  I’ve been with these guys five years now and this year they’ve really excelled in their performance of preparing the car and executing in the pits.”

Finishing second in the #51 APR Motorsport Audi R8 was South African native Dion von Moltke (Coral Gables, Fla.) and co-driver Jim Norman (Tampa, Fla.), for their first podium finish of the season.  Third was Alessandro Balzan (Rovigo, Italy), in his second series appearance, driving the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 with Johannes van Overbeek (San Francisco, Calif.).  The podium finish also earned Ferrari the GT manufacturer’s championship.

 Photo By: Rolex / Stephan Cooper

Formula One

Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial Joins FIA Formula One World Championship First Race June 16, 2013

The inaugural Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial is set to join the FIA Formula One World Championship on June 16, 2013. The date was announced by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) as part of a 20-race schedule in 19 countries on five continents.

The Grand Prix of America will run on a 3.2-mile street circuit between Weehawken and West New York, N.J., with the New York City skyline as a backdrop. It will be the first Formula One race held in the New Jersey / New York area in the 63-year history of the world championship. Fans will be treated to three days of action, June 14 to 16, including Formula One practice and qualifying sessions, support series races and Sunday’s Formula One race.

“I am proud that years of hard work have brought us to this point and we look forward to bringing world-class Formula One racing to New Jersey,” race promoter and executive director Leo Hindery, Jr. said.

“The support we have had from elected officials like New Jersey Governor Christie and the mayors of Weehawken and West New York, a committed property developer and a great management team has been incredible. They have stuck by us through this process and we owe them our thanks. The Grand Prix of America will be a special and historic race for New Jersey and New York, for the drivers and, most importantly, for the dedicated fans of Formula One racing.”

Hindery has a long history in motorsport as a driver and executive. He won his class in the 2005 24 Heures du Mans (24 Hours of Le Mans). He is also the founding chairman and former CEO of The YES Network, the largest and most successful regional sports network in the United States and the television home of the New York Yankees. He currently serves as managing partner of InterMedia Partners, LP, a media industry private equity fund headquartered in New York City.

“I became a racer very late in my life,” Hindery said. “But if you’re committed, passionate and have a great team of people behind you, you’re on the road to success.

“Formula One’s president and chief executive officer, Bernie Ecclestone, has set the highest possible standards for the drivers and their teams, fans, sponsors, and the region we call home. We won’t be satisfied until those standards are met.”

The world’s top drivers will pilot the fastest, most high-tech race cars in the world on the streets of New Jersey when the Grand Prix of America at Port Imperial joins the FIA Formula One World Championship. The inaugural race is planned for June 16, 2013, on the 3.2-mile street circuit in Weehawken and West New York, N.J., against the backdrop of the New York City skyline.

WTCC

MULLER AND HUFF ON EQUAL POINTS AFTER USA… WTCC drivers treated American fans to a breathtaking show on the occasion of the championship’s first visit to Sonoma and the United States.

Both races were eventful. Yvan Muller and Rob Huff shared the victory honours and their results also made the fight for the world championship as hot as ever. The two Chevrolet drivers are now on equal points with only six races to go.
It is easy to predict that the battle will go to the wire at Macau once again.
If Huff was the happiest man in the paddock for having matched Muller’s point tally on top of the Drivers’ Championship, Norbert Michelisz too had reasons to rejoice. The young Hungarian was a pain in the neck for the Chevrolet cars in both races and eventually claimed two podium results and stretched his leadership in the Yokohama Trophy.
Gabriele Tarquini and Alain Menu tried their best and never gave up. However, their hopes of achieving great results vanished when they collided at the start of the first race. The Italian had the consolation of a podium in Race 2, while the Swiss saw his hopes of staying in contention for the title fight seriously jeopardized.
Among those who contributed to entertain the Californian fans a few deserve to be mentioned: Tom Coronel completed two great recoveries from twentieth on the grids to eight and fifth; Alex MacDowall chased the top drivers in both races; Tiago Monteiro finished twice in the points on his last appearance with Sunred before switching to Honda; Tom Boardman scored points in both races; Franz Engstler lulled into the dream of winning Race 2 before Muller brusquely woke him up…
The championship takes a one month break, while cars and parts are being shipped to Japan. Rounds 19 and 20 will take place at Suzuka on October 21.

BTCC

SHEDDEN TAKES CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD AFTER
SHARING WINS AT ROCKINGHAM WITH PLATO-

Jason Plato and Gordon Shedden shared the wins in today’s three exhilarating Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship races at Northamptonshire’s Rockingham circuit. Two of the wins went the way of Scotsman Shedden who has now taken over the championship lead as the title race stays in the county for its penultimate three races of the season at Silverstone in a fortnight (6/7 October).
 
Plato had taken pole position with a new qualifying lap record on Saturday in his MG KX Momentum Racing MG6. He duly went on to dominate today’s first race, held in dry conditions, and set a new race lap record en route. Pirtek Racing’s Andrew Jordan and Honda Yuasa Racing Team star Shedden were second and third in their Honda Civics.

But then conditions changed dramatically as heavy rain settled in for the rest of the day, this enabling Shedden and Neal to take a pair of dream 1-2 results for their team in both the second and third races. Plato finished behind them on each occasion in third.

 
As a result Shedden leaves Rockingham with a three-point lead over Neal. Plato is a further 29 behind with a maximum of 134 still available from the season’s final six races – three each at Silverstone in two weeks and Brands Hatch, Kent a fortnight later (Sun 21 Oct).
 
Dalgety Bay’s Shedden, who has now won eight times in 2012, commented: “I’m delighted – it seems ages since we won a race so to score a pair of 1-2s is just great for everyone in our team. The rain certainly helped us today as Jason had been looking very strong if it had stayed dry. Importantly we’ve maintained a decent gap to him as we’re expecting him to have the upper hand at Silverstone.”

Worcestershire’s Neal, the reigning Champion who has driven this weekend in pain from a broken hand, said: “I’m just pleased to get through the weekend. Gordon was unstoppable in those conditions but a pair of seconds and a sixth are probably better than I thought was possible. We’re expecting Silverstone to be tough but this really helps thinking ahead to Brands Hatch.”

 
Oxford’s Plato added: “We’ve managed to hold the gap to the Honda drivers, even take a little nibble out of them, at what is one of the strongest circuits for their car so I’m satisfied with that. Silverstone is going to be all-important, though – ultimately I want us to go to the final round so there’s a proper showdown for the people watching.”
 
Meanwhile Honda/Dynamics and the Honda Yuasa Racing Team continue to dominate the Manufacturer/Constructor and outright HiQ Teams championships respectively. Jordan has moved further clear at the top of the Independent Drivers Championship. And his Pirtek Racing squad has also regained the Independent Teams Trophy lead.
 
Elsewhere several drivers were punished by officials for on-track indiscretions today. Race 1: Jeff Smith, fined £500 and three penalty points on his competition licence following an incident with Aron Smith. Race 1: Matt Neal, verbal warning following an incident with Rob Austin. Race 2, Jason Plato, verbal warning for performing practice starts.