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Archive for September, 2008

Malaysia’s Qi-Meritus Racing Team had a sensational start in the inaugural Singapore Formula One Grand Prix when its Romanian driver Doru Sechalariu claimed pole position in the Formula BMW Pacific Championship here today.

The 18-year old Sechalariu, making his debut with the Malaysian outfit, overcame the tricky twists and turns of the 5.067 km Marina Bay street circuit in the business district of the Republic to line up right at the front of the ten-lap race tomorrow.

And in doing so he has taken the shine off the series leader and favourite, and also teamate Ross Jamison, for the support race which is being held on the sidelines of the historic Singapore GP tomorrow. Tomorrow’s Formula BMW Pacific race is Round 12 of the championship.

Sechelariu, fresh from his season in the Formula BMW Europe, shrugged off the heat and humidity to clock 2:21.84 secs, slightly faster than Jamison’s 2:22.13secs to clock the fastest time in the official practice session which was cut short by eight minutes due to a crash.

“It’s a good feeling to finish on top. But like everybody else, we are all still adapting to the track and the conditions. Who knows tomorrow could be different,” said the Romanian.

For Jamison, who leads the series with a 22-point advantage, lining up second on the starting grid will make little difference.

“The track set-up is quite different from the other circuits I have raced on. Maybe the positioning of the starting grid could be in my advantage taking into consideration the lay-out of the circuit,” said the 18-year old Jamison.

The Qi-Meritus Racing outfit had an encouraging day on the track yesterday with four top finishes in the top seven of the 17-car race.

Sechelaru is in pole; Jamison is behind him and Chris Wotten is on fifth and Simon Moss finished seventh.

“We are in pole position for the race and we are in pole position for the entire series. What more can I ask for. It’s all the result of some hard work we had put in since arriving in Singapore two days ago. We walked the circuit and we had a thorough feel of it and we prepared the cars well,” said team leader Peter Thompson.

But for Jamison who is looking to wrap up the series with only two legs left – Macau and Shanghai – things could have been different.

“I knew I was capable of going faster because I was getting used to the circuit after a couple of mistakes earlier on. But in any case it’s a challenging track and I am sure all of us enjoyed it and look forward to the race tomorrow,” said Jamison.

The first race (Round 12) takes place tomorrow evening while Round 13 will be held at 4pm on Sunday. has teamed up with young Herefordshire racing driver, Robert Hall, following his appearance on the BBC1 show, Dragon’s Den.

Robert has successfully progressed through the junior and karting ranks, through to Formula Ford. With his mind firmly fixed on becoming a future F1 champion, and like many young drivers, he now needs to secure sponsorship and funding to take his career to the next level.

Following his pitch to the Dragons, approached Robert and his manager and Father, David Hall, to identify how we could team up with Robert during the 2008 season. As a result Robert will be supported by in the upcoming Walter Hayes Trophy event at Silverstone on 1st and 2nd November 2008.

With their unique offering, could support Robert’s career in the future, once the racing team is established and if he is chosen by the team’s consortium of fans. Robert is the first young driver to be associated with the team; giving him a good opportunity to be chosen as one of the team drivers, in the nominated championship for the 2009 season.

“Robert certainly has the attitude and determination to succeed and his background so far shows he has the raw racing ability” said’s Commercial Director. “Robert is exactly the type of young driver we are looking for and hopefully we will be able to support his career over the coming years. The basis of overcomes all of the reasons why Robert did not succeed with his pitch to the Dragon’s. Our business, built on strong financial foundations, will grow year on year and support more drivers through their careers.”

It was by co-incidence that Robert was found by, like many others through watching the TV Dragons Den episode. The link is a natural fit with Robert, and other drivers alike, as our offer meets his needs.

Robert Hall said, “Obviously I was full of hope going into the den and at one point thought we were going to be successful, especially with Peter Jones. I have had a lot of interest of the past couple of weeks since my TV appearance and am excited about the opportunity to be part of and their new adventure. My ultimate goal remains unchanged and hopefully through the site and its fans I will be able to achieve my dream of progressing to Formula 1.”

The Japan F3 finale was set to be at Sugo, a few hours north of Tokyo: the track featured important level changes, a very twisty first sector and very high speed second part so that it would prove quite a challenge for the drivers.

On thursday, Alexandre concentrated on learning this new track and was experiencing difficulties with the handling of the car and focused on solving these issues. “We are lacking general grip and the circuit is very particular so we need to find the right adjustments that will suit the car best. We are not quite there yet so we need to keep working hard in tomorrow’s practices” Alexandre said on thursday evening.

After further improvements on friday, Alexandre felt more confident for the rest of the week end: on new tyres he could manage to set the second fastest time and knew were to improve on the last couple tenths.

For saturday’s qualifying, Alexandre had to secure two good lap times for each of the last two round’s grids. On his first set of tyres, he set a good time of 1.17.2 that put him in second place on the timing boards. With his second set, he managed his very first lap in 1.17.1 and was on a flyer the next lap when the session was red-flagged. Right before the redflag, team-mate Ali had had time to put in his lap (1.17.08) that pushed back Alex in 3rd place for race 2 while Alexandre was 2nd for the first race’s start. The session was not to be restarted.

At the start of race 1, the young swiss again did one of his now customary great starts to take the lead from second and was leading when an unfortunate mistake allowed the three competitors behind him to pass: “I went a bit wide on a curb as I was pushing hard to make a gap but the curb pulled me on the grass and I had to lift while the others passed me down the straight.” Alexandre bemoaned afterwards. Indeed, Sugo is a track that provide very little overtaking opportunities and Alexandre crossed the finish line in 4th.

On sunday, the weather conditions turned rainy and nobody knew what to expect. Imperatori went from 3rd to second at the start and was putting pressure on the leader for the first 8 laps and the two were clearing from the rest of the field. But as the conditions worsened, the other drivers behind managed to plug the gap and Alexandre fell back to 4th but quickly reclaimed 3rd place by overtaking the early leader of the race. In the later stages of the 25 laps race, Alexandre posted fast laps to close-in on 2nd-placed Matsushita but lacked a few laps to find a way past. Still Alexandre was crowned vice-champion with a last podium of a successful season.

Alexandre Imperatori: “The season was really good, I feel we progressed well and I learned much. Becoming vice-champion with a last podium was important even though I would have preferred to win. I wish to congratulate and thank my whole team for this successful year!”

“Becoming vice champion of such a strong championship means a lot but I look forward to more racing here and stepping on the top step in the near future.”

After setting his print in the japanese racing world, Alexandre now hopes to continue his successful streak in the far-east in 2009. Stay tuned for more information!

Michael DoyleEmerging touring car sensation Michael Doyle has agreed a top-line deal with daily newspaper the Scottish Sun which will guarantee him first class media coverage all the way through the 2009 HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship season.

The 21-year-old, from Gartocharn on the banks of Loch Lomond, has been a revelation during his maiden campaign in the UK’s premier motor racing series this year, a truly outstanding top eight finish at Silverstone National Circuit last month the undoubted highlight of 2008 for the In-Tune Racing driver.

Agreeing terms with the Scottish Sun – Scotland’s number one newspaper for motor racing coverage – to provide excellent media support throughout his second year in touring cars, Michael will also benefit from other assistance such as promotional support at a number of events, particularly his home race meeting at Knockhill in Fife next August.

Speaking on the deal, Scottish Sun motor racing correspondent Jon Doran said: “Michael is an outstanding talent, he is punching above his weight in a very tough competition. The Scottish Sun made its name standing up for the underdog so this is an ideal partnership for us.

“We are the number one paper in Scotland for motor racing coverage and hopefully, with our help, Michael can attract new sponsors and become the champion his talent deserves.”

Michael added: “I’m absolutely overjoyed to have agreed this partnership with the Scottish Sun, it’s a massive development for myself and In-Tune Racing and is a reflection on how well we’ve done this year with our limited resources.

“The Scottish Sun is a huge newspaper in Scotland and the coverage they’ve given me this year has been superb. To increase that yet further in 2009 will be a huge help as we try and attract additional sponsors. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Jon Doran and all of the guys at the paper – we aim to do them proud during the season finale at Brands Hatch the weekend after next and then take big steps forward together in 2009.”

The 2008 BTCC season finale, rounds 28, 29 and 30, will take place less than two weeks from now at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent. Practice and qualifying will be held on Saturday, 20th September, with all three races – which will be screened live on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4 – scheduled for Sunday, 21st September.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Jonathan Ridley-HollowaySaloon car racer Jonathan Ridley-Holloway will embark on the biggest weekend of his motorsport career a little over a week from now, 20th/21st September when he competes in two different events at two different venues!

While the weekend will mark the finale of the ELF Renault Clio Cup championship at Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent, Jonathan is also set to participate as part of a four driver line-up for the TJH Motorsport team in the annual Silverstone 24 Hour Race at the wheel of a Honda Civic Type R.

Taking on a huge challenge, the 24-year-old from Barnstaple in North Devon will qualify and race his Total Control Racing run Clio Cup car on the Saturday at Brands Hatch before travelling to the home of British motorsport in Northamptonshire where he will drive a brace of night stints in the burgeoning 24 Hour endurance race.

From there, he will return to Brands Hatch where he will contest the final race of the ELF Renault Clio Cup season on Sunday afternoon – the outing set to be screened live on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4 as part of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship’s television package. All in all, he’ll contest three races in 24 hours.

Looking ahead to the weekend, the Bond Oxborough Phillips, and A4 Apparel backed driver said: “It’s gong to be an awesome few days for me, something different and a bit of a challenge that’s for sure but with a bit of luck all will go well.”

Starting out from his West Country home next Tuesday evening, 16th September, Jonathan will travel to Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit where he will test the Honda Civic on Wednesday, 17th September, and Thursday, 18th September. >From there, he will travel to Brands Hatch for official Clio Cup testing on Friday, 19th September.

Remaining at the Kent track for Clio Cup qualifying and the 19th round of the season on Saturday, 20th September, Jonathan will then drive back to Silverstone for his two stints in the 24 Hour Race – which will be at approximately 21.00 on Saturday night and then 06.00 on Sunday, 21st September – before returning to Brands Hatch for round 20 of the Clio Cup season on Sunday afternoon.

Combining all of the distance he will cover from when he leaves home on Tuesday evening until his return next Sunday night, the North Devon racer will have completed around 750 miles – not taking into account, of course, his mileage on the track!

Jonathan added: “I’ll be driving a different Clio to my regular one at Brands so we’ll see what happens, we ran well in testing there in the wet so I’m confident in those conditions we should be ok. I’d like to think in the dry we should be able to do a good job too.

“It’ll be a bit of a marathon with the two stints in the 24 Hour race as well but it’s going to be great fun. I want to say a big thank you to Paul Collis for giving me the drive with TJH Motorsport. I’ll be joined by Paul himself, Simon Mason and a yet to be confirmed fourth driver. It’ll be a huge weekend and one I’m really going to enjoy.”

The full timetable for Jonathan’s ELF Renault Clio Cup commitments sees him taking part in pre-event practice on Friday, 19th September, with qualifying on Saturday, 20th September, at 11.30 and round 19 following at 16.55. Round 20, which will be screened live on ITV4, will get underway at 15.05 on Sunday, 21st September.

As mentioned above, Jonathan’s Silverstone 24 Hour Race involvement sees him set to drive the TJH Motorsport Honda Civic at 21.00 on Saturday, 20th September, and again at 06.00 on Sunday, 21st September – each stint is set to last around three hours.

Thomas Carnaby led home a Tollbar Racing podium lock-out during the opening Ginetta Junior Championship encounter at Mallory Park’s special ‘Ginetta Festival’ event on Sunday, 7th September, to close in once again on Dino Zamparelli’s title lead.

Having been a true see-saw battle for supremacy for several race meetings now, the fight at the head of the driver standings is continuing to bubble away nicely with Carnaby carrying the momentum once again during round 21 with his sixth win of the campaign.

Dominating morning qualifying with an excellent performance from the off in tricky, wet conditions, the Scunthorpe racer took pole position with a time of 1m 00.939 seconds (79.75mph) – edging out Zamparelli by over three 10ths of a second.

Carnaby continued such form in the first of the weekend’s races, avoiding any mistakes to take a comfortable two second win from team-mate Josh Hill with Fergus Walkinshaw rounding out the podium for Tollbar.

“I had a bit of a bad start last weekend at Silverstone so that’s what we focused on here really”, said the round 21 race winner, “I pulled away from Dino luckily and got away cleanly during the first lap. I looked in my rear-view mirror and Dino looked to be getting swamped by the other Tollbar drivers so it worked well for me – brilliant.

“In order to save fuel as it was a long race, I took most of the corners in fourth gear to help – the tanks on these cars aren’t exactly big! Obviously you can do test sessions for 30 laps but you’re never full pelt all the way. I’d done a couple of really quick laps and I thought it was better to take it a bit easier near the end and make it home safely.”

Following earlier rain, the track was wet for the first Mallory Park encounter but it did dry as the race progressed. Some drivers benefited as they slanted towards drier settings while others counted the cost at the end after choosing to run with wet set-ups.

At the start of the race, Carnaby led away well from pole position with Zamparelli heading third place starter Hill as the trio made an initial break. At the John Cooper Esses, Hill moved into second past series leader Zamparelli but the biggest surprise was reserved for Jake Batty in fourth – a second row start marking a season’s best effort.

Batty became involved in a tight battle for third with Zamparelli but Walkinshaw spoiled his party by slipping through on lap two at Shaw’s Hairpin to take the place away.

While five cars fought tooth-and-nail over fifth position, at the front it was Carnaby still holding on from Hill with Zamparelli seemingly dropping back a little from the top two and falling into the clutches of Walkinshaw and Batty.

Walkinshaw then made a serious bid for third at Shaw’s and took the place from Zamparelli, the latter then coming under pressure from Batty who got a good run through Gerard’s and into the Esses.

As the top three headed towards welcome podium results, Farndon, George Richardson and Daniel Lloyd became embroiled in a close fight for the top six. Batty, meanwhile, saw all his promise and hard work come to nothing when he spun out of the race at Gerard’s on lap 14 – a great shame for the TJ Motorsport racer after a terrific run.

Dominic Pettit really started to come into play at this point. Having started at the back of the grid following car problems in qualifying which prevented him from posting a lap time, he scythed his way through after electing to run dry settings and regular tyres.

Starting 21st on the grid, by lap 15 he had moved into the top five and then three laps from home he passed Zamparelli for fourth into the Esses – a truly spectacular effort by the Dominant Motorsport racer who also took fastest race lap.

At the front Carnaby still led from Hill and Walkinshaw with Pettit fourth ahead of Zamparelli and Lloyd – the latter having climbed from 11th on the grid. Just behind were George Richardson, Aaron Williamson and Powell although Sarah Moore would get by her fellow lady racer before the finish to take ninth.

Into the Esses on lap 20, Pettit squared up to challenge Walkinshaw but the latter managed to hold on for the next lap and a half to deny Pettit what would have been an outstanding podium.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Menasheh IdafarMenasheh Idafar saw his hopes of challenging for the podium during the 10th round of the Formula Renault BARC season slip away at Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire yesterday afternoon, Sunday, 7th September – the Hillspeed driver ending the race in seventh position to maintain fourth place in the championship.

Hoping to make inroads into the top three in the FR2000 Class driver standings during the 14-lap encounter, the British-born Bahraini’s quest was handicapped during qualifying when he could only achieve the eighth fastest time, 1m 15.080 seconds (112.96mph), after being boxed in by traffic throughout the session.

Lining up for the race on the fourth row of the grid alongside Ollie Hancock, who would later be crowned 2008 Formula Renault BARC Champion, Menasheh passed Lee Dwyer on lap two to move into seventh place and then climbed into the top six on the next tour as he continued his excellent progress.

On lap four, the Hillspeed racer gained another position to move into the top five but with lap times at the front all very evenly matched it would prove difficult to make inroads on the podium places.

Running line astern with team-mate Ahmad Al Harthy at the midway point of the race, with the Omani in fourth place and Menasheh in fifth, the Ortolan, Gulfol and Gulf Computer Services supported driver had an unfortunate spin.

He did manage to fight back into seventh before the chequered flag though to take four championship points which could be crucial with just two more rounds remaining of the 2008 season. As it stands following the Thruxton race, Menasheh is 10 points shy of the coveted top three in the headline FR2000 Class standings on overall scores.

“Unfortunately we didn’t find the space we needed in qualifying so we ended up much further down the grid than we expected”, said the 17-year-old, “We definitely had the pace to be on the front row so that was a shame. In the race it went quite well for the first half but after my spin we had to be happy with seventh place.”

Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw added: “Menasheh did thoroughly enjoy the race but he was disappointed not to achieve more with the pace he had. It was a fairly frustrating day but with two rounds still to go next month, Menasheh does have a chance to end the year in the championship top three – that’s our aim and focus.”

Rounds 11 and 12 of the 2008 Formula Renault BARC Championship, the final race meeting of the season, will take place at Northamptonshire’s Silverstone National Circuit four weeks from now over the weekend 4th/5th October.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.