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Archive for October, 2008

Ash Walsh has endured a difficult weekend in his maiden race meeting at the famous Spa Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.

Walsh, from Ipswich in Queensland and driving with the support of the Australian Motorsport Foundation, finished 17th and 18th in the two West European Cup races, held in typically variable and soaking wet Spa conditions.

The weekend also saw Walsh have his first “big” crash in European motorsport, when he lost control of his Formula Renault car in top gear in wet conditions. He emerged from the crash with no problems.

Qualifying was where Walsh’s problems first started, with all of the Hitech Junior cars struggling for pace in both sessions. The first session was held in half wet, half dry conditions, while the second session was completely wet.

The racing was also the same. Race 1 was dry, where Walsh took 17th, before an extremely wet Race 2. Walsh actually reported that he thought the race was going to be called off, due to the heavy downpour that hit the circuit. On a number of occasions, Walsh could not see anything, but he drove sensibly to bring the car home in one piece. Other drivers weren’t so fortunate, with one of his rivals breaking two vertebrae at the daunting Eau Rogue corner.

Roberto Merhi and Australian Daniel Riccardo were the winners in the two races.

The penultimate round of the championship will be held this coming weekend at Magny Cours in France.

ASH ON HIS WEEKEND:
“I’m really disappointed with that,” he said. “It wasn’t a very good weekend at all. It was shocking. “I had a big shunt on Friday. I was in sixth gear in the wet looking to pass a car in front of me. I’d gone through the corner flat out before, but I touched the painted white line on the track and spun. I did a lot of damage to the car. “The Hitech team turned the car around and got it back out there, which was a good effort.”

ASH ON RACE 2:
“I thought they should have called it off – I was actually looking for the red flags. “One of the cars went in so hard at Eau Rogue. It was a very big accident. “Only two times in the race was I flat out. At that track in the dry, you are flat out most of the time! It was really, really dangerous.

ASH ON SPA FRANCORCHAMPS:
“It’s not good to do any track in the rain. “Race 1 was in the dry and its quite was good, quite fast track. I didn’t really get quite as good a feeling from it because of the rain but I’m sure I’ll be back in the future.”

Earlier today, BMW Sauber confirmed that Nick Heidfeld will continue to drive for the F1 team in the 2009 season. Andre Theuerzeit, who is not only CEO at b.a.n.g. but also Nick Heidfeld’s manager, has welcomed this decision: “I am delighted that Nick will retain his seat with the BMW Sauber F1 team in 2009. Nick has made a major and effective contribution to improving the team’s performance over the past few years and, in the coming season, we intend to go one stage further towards achieving the ambitious targets we have set ourselves. The fact that Nick and BMW together are a ‘well-oiled’ and successful team has certainly been a major plus.”

As he prepares to embark on a fourth year with the team, Nick Heidfeld has also expressed his satisfaction: “I’m very pleased about this announcement and about the confidence that the team have shown in me. I’ve always said that I was happy to stay with BMW Sauber because we’ve managed to achieve what we set out to do at this stage and I really hope that we will be battling it out for the title itself next year. There have been times this season when neither I nor the team could honestly say that we were satisfied with the way things were going, but we have always pulled together and come through.”

Manager Andre Theuerzeit can also look back on an eventful year: “This season has by no means been an easy one for Nick and we have come in for some criticism at times. But following the Canadian GP, Nick got down to some intensive work with the team to iron out the problems and his performance then improved. Nick engaged in some serious analysis and fought his way back into contention in a really impressive way.

Since the GP at Montreal, the Mönchengladbach-born driver has bagged the thirdlargest number of championship points. In addition, he has taken the second podium spot on four occasions this year, currently ranks second in the number of fastest laps and has impressed followers of Formula One with numerous overtaking manoeuvres over the course of this season, including the spectacular double passes in Malaysia and Silverstone. And it could easily be overlooked that Nick has also broken one of Michael Schumacher’s records this season: he has scored points in 25 successive GP races.

Nick Heidfeld’s manager is highly optimistic about the future: “I am convinced that, as the season has progressed, Nick has got even stronger and the understanding he has with his engineers has become even deeper. Although it’s too early to speculate about the impact any changes in the regulations may have, I think these are more likely to work to Nick’s advantage. So next season, we can certainly expect great things from Nick and the BMW Sauber F1 team. And as for the last three races of this season, I’m convinced that Nick will be in the thick of the action and add to his points haul.”

A name that stands for American racing royalty will join forces with A1GP World Cup of Motorsport for Season Four. Andretti Green Racing (AGR), the most successful team in Indy Racing League history, announced today it will run the US entry in A1GP beginning at Circuit Park Zandvoort, The Netherlands this weekend.

“We are very proud to be representing the United States on the level and competitive playing field that is provided by A1GP,” said team co-owner, Michael Andretti. “Andretti Green has been fortunate to enjoy a reasonable amount of success in just six seasons of operation and we’re looking forward to joining the world stage of A1GP.”

Andretti, who is a racing legend himself, will be on hand at Circuit Park Zandvoort to announce the team’s Season Four driver lineup.

Andretti Green Racing, which is owned by Andretti and partners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, has taken three IndyCar Series championship titles (2004, 2005, 2007), two Indianapolis 500 wins (2005, 2007), one Firestone Indy Lights championship (2008), an overall American Le Mans Series (ALMS) victory at the 2008 Detroit Sports Car Challenge and an LMP2 class victory at the ALMS 12 Hours of Sebring (2007).

A1GP Chairman, Tony Teixeira, commented: “We are proud to have such a successful and well respected team involved with our series. Over the years some of the most famous names in motorsport have been associated with the A1GP, and to have one that is synonymous with racing at its highest level in the United States can only help to raise the profile of the series both there and worldwide. ”

Rodolfo AvilaAsia SuperCar Challenge 2008 champion Rodolfo Avila will race a Ferrari 430 GT at the Macau GP in the brand new Macau GT Cup race.

After celebrating the ASCC title at the wheel of a Ferrari 360 GT, Mastercar Italy and Avila’s sponsors decide to line up a much more competitive car in the most important race of the year.

“It was a tough season, but in the end, I was the champion and we knew the 360 was not the very best car around. My opponents got very good cars and now we need to the prepared for the challenge”, said the 21 years old driver from Macau.

The 6.2km circuit is like no other track in the world, varying in width from 14 meters along the main straight, to just seven meters as it twists through the back streets of the former Portuguese colony.

In keeping with the high calibre of the blue riband Macau GP, the support programme has undergone major enhancements for 2008, with no fewer than four new races. The Macau GT Cup is a 10-lap invitational race for popular grand touring racing cars. Thirty six of these impressive machines will line up on the grid to take the start on the Sunday of the Grand Prix week.

“This is going to be one of the most interesting races to follow. It will be a dream cars grid, and I am sure it will surprise many people. I don’t like to try to predict my results when you are talking about a race at Circuito da Guia. I am aiming high but my opponents are well equipped and there are a couple of European drivers that are looking forward to achieve strong results too”, held Avila.

Speaking about the Macau race, Mastercar Team Manager, Paolo Candusso said, “Rodolfo has been a very good surprise for us this season. We knew his curriculum and past experience but we were also aware of the fact that he didn’t race GT cars before. He fully deserved the ASCC 2008 championship title. Now we’re working hard to prepare the best car and team assistance for him at Macau. This is his home race, and I’m sure he will be very motivated.”

Mastercar Team Principal Mario Crugnola added “This is the third season for us in Asia and we won every single edition of ASCC since we arrived. I’m very happy with the increasing quality levels of drivers and cars this season. Anyway we kept our competitive level high and Rodolfo was a huge help. He is a young driver but he is not merely quick; he races with intelligence which can be very useful in Macau GP.”

Since 2002 Avila has been racing single seaters in Macau GP. This is going to be the very first time that the Macanese sportsman will try a closed cockpit car. “It will be a different experience from last years. I love single seaters and I will miss F3 race but I don’t regret my choice. This year I am focus in GT racing and I have a very good chance to score a historic result for Macau and for everyone who trusted us from the beginning, giving us the opportunity to write a chapter of Macau motor sport history”, said the driver sponsored by Macau Government, MacauSlot.com, BNU, TsingTao, Fat Siu Lau Restaurant, Sujika Crafts and RP Macau.

Avila will shake down his new car in Italy before the Macau GP. After the test the car will be transported immediately to Asia.