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Archive for July, 2009

Filip SalaquardaThe World Series Renault hit the track this morning at the wonderful Portimao Racetrack in Algarve. The venue, close to the Ocean Shore, is hosting the championship as a supporting event for the Le Mans Series. Unlike the other occasions the two races will be held on Saturday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Prema Powerteam and its two drivers Filip Salaquarda and Julian Leal spent some time in trying to get a grip on the extremely tough Portugal racetrack, featuring huge hillclimbs, falls and fast corners. The on-track temperature of about 35 degrees was lightened by wind. The 24 cars of the field were divided in two groups, and the two Prema men were inserted in the A Group. After a really promising start, Filip Salaquarda lost progressively ground and ended up in 10th, right in front of Leal. The will start Race 1 from row 10 and row 11.

“Practice handed us some great impressions – expl ains Team Manager René Rosin – and this morning’s 5th time left us with a real hope for Qualifying. Unfortunately, the weather made for us difficult to find the best set-up and our drivers suffered from an huge oversteer. The race will be long, and heat will be part of the package too. We hope to climb up on Race 1 and play our best moves on Race 2″

Menasheh IdafarMichelin Formula Renault UK Championship competitor Menasheh Idafar produced good form during pre-event testing at Snetterton today, Friday, 31st July, ahead of the weekend’s 13th and 14th rounds of the 2009 season at the 1.95-mile Norfolk track.

Ending the day as the fifth fastest of the Graduate Cup contenders and 16th overall on combined times, the 18-year-old’s quickest lap of the day was 1m05.707 seconds (106.94mph) which he posted during the 45-minute afternoon session.

In the morning run Menasheh set a best time of 1m05.849 seconds (106.71mph) which was good enough to place him inside the top 12 on the timesheets and just six 10ths of a second away from the best time at that point. He was also the fourth quickest rookie driver.

Improving by a shade over a 10th of a second in session two, the Hillspeed racer was the fifth fastest Graduate and concluded the day’s running just 0.915 seconds outside the best time of all which was set by multiple race winner and title challenger Dean Smith.

Commenting on the test, Hillspeed driver coach Matt Shawyer said: “Menasheh did a good job today, 12th fastest in session one was a decent start but we didn’t manage to find the time we needed in session two so didn’t move forward as we expected. As ever, it’s incredibly competitive and we have work to do before qualifying tomorrow. That said, we’re in quite good shape.”

Menasheh will be back on track tomorrow, Saturday, 1st August, with qualifying for round 13 starting at 09.25 and the round 14 session following at 15.25. On raceday, Sunday, 2nd August, the first 18-lap outing will begin at 09.50 with the second encounter – which will be screened live in the UK on cable, digital satellite and Freeview channel ITV4 – getting underway at 15.45.

Provisional 2009 Formula Renault UK Championship Positions (after Rd12):
1st Oli Webb, 279pts; 2nd Dean Smith, 260pts; 21st Menasheh Idafar, 46pts

Provisional 2009 Formula Renault UK ‘Graduate Cup’ Positions (after Rd12):
1st Harry Tincknell, 175pts; 8th Menasheh Idafar, 46pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Liam McMillan, the youngest driver in this year’s HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship, has withdrawn from this weekend’s race meeting at his local Snetterton circuit.
The talented 19-year old driver from Wisbech in Cambridgeshire had planned to contest the event in his ex-Jason Plato SEAT Toledo, which is supported by Petronas Syntium, Cobra Engineering, EPM Technology and Proppa. He would, however, have had to use his less- powerful 20 value engine (as his 16 value unit isn’t fully rebuilt) and Liam is unwilling to race at the fast Snetterton track without a realistic chance of challenging for a top 10 finish.

In his first season of racing in the BTCC, and only his forth season in motor racing, Liam has demonstrated his potential by finishing just outside the top 10 three times and recording the second fastest time through a speed trap at Thruxton – clocking an impressive 127.1mph in the opening free practice session. The 2006 SAXMAX Champion now hopes to make at least one more BTCC appearance this season.

Liam McMillan: “Missing the BTCC race weekend at Snetterton was a difficult decision to make, but we haven’t let our hearts rule our heads and it’s definitely the correct thing to do.

“I know we can’t win with the equipment we have, but we want to put on a good show and do our best.  With a 16 valve engine we could challenge for a top ten result – but that engine isn’t fully rebuilt and we need to test it before we race it again.  With our 20 value engine, which was our only option for Snetterton, we’d be confined to the back of the field, and that isn’t good for my career.  I never want to be on track, just to make up the numbers.

“I’m hoping we’ll be able to test the 16 value engine soon and then we’ll make a decision as to which circuits will suit the Toledo the best and go from there.”

Joey HanssenDriver of the Prime Champ Dodge Joey Hanssen has experienced the highs and lows of being a rookie driver in the NASCAR Canadian Tire series.  Round number seven at Auto Clearing Speedway in Saskatoon would be one of the tougher nights for the eighteen year old driver.

During practice Hanssen set about learning another brand new race track and for the first time experienced an oval with high banking which is very different from earlier events.  “It’s tough going to a new track every week but that’s part of the learning process” said the driver.  “I was driving it too soft into the corners at first instead of attacking the way you should on a track like this”.

Hanssen would start the Prime Champ Dodge from the fifteenth position in the 250 lap feature event and immediately look to gain positions  “The start was really good” said Hanssen.  “We climbed up into the top-ten I think and I was running really good, I was faster than the guys around me so I was climbing up” he added.

Not afraid to mix it up with stock car veterans Hanssen continue to nose the Prime Champ Dodge forward and is often the case on a one third mile oval track there was some contact with another competitor.

“It’s too bad, we got a little bump from the #69 car and bent the toe and cut the right front tire, when the tire blew I hit the wall a bit so I had to pit” said the disappointed Prime Champ Dodge pilot.

The Prime Champ team quickly made the change and sent Hanssen back into the battle however the problems for the #40 car were more severe.  After only a few more laps the right front tire was down again forcing Hanssen once again to pit lane.  “Turns out when we bent the toe that the tire was rubbing on sway bar” said the driver.

Once again the Prime Champ Dodge team changed tires and also made quick repairs to prevent the tire from blowing but left the driver with a difficult car to drive.  “The guys fixed the problem and the car was tough to drive.  I could handle it” said the driver “but it wasn’t ideal” he concluded.

Hanssen would bring the Prime Champ Dodge home nineteenth but was disappointed with how events played out.  “I could still pass some cars, if we hadn’t gone down a couple laps earlier we could have been a top-ten car for sure” said the driver.

The 2009 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series returns to Ontario for round number eight on Saturday August 8th as they challenge the Mosport Oval track that night.  This years schedule will consist of thirteen races on ovals, road courses and temporary street circuits from coast to coast in Canada.  All thirteen races will be seen on TSN.  By clicking the link here you can cast your vote for Joey Hanssen as the NASCAR Canadian Tire series most popular driver.

Photo by Todd Lewis

Brad RankinAfter taking the chequered flag in two-thirds of the races held so far on interstate race tracks, you can understand why the Queensland-based competitors in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia series are salivating at the opportunity to perform on their home track at Morgan Park.

After all, representatives from Queensland have been in crushing form this season, winning every round with one particular driver holding a very handy – though not yet unassailable – point’s lead going into round 5 of the 6 round series.

Now able to have their own home round for the first time since the series formation two years ago, the ultra-strong Sunshine state GT3 Cup contingent will look to further their 2009 domination when the series heads to Warwick’s Morgan Park Raceway next week, racing with the Shannons Nationals.

Local drivers set to race at Morgan Park make up five of the top ten positions in the competition standings, topped by Gold Coaster Matthew Kingsley who has won the last three rounds held at Phillip Island, Mallala and more recently Eastern Creek.

Brisbane’s Roger Lago leads the 997 Trophy class ‘race within a race’ to further continue the Queensland monopoly.

Brisbane builder, Brad Rankin currently sits well inside the top ten after several strong runs behind the wheel of his Mdev Property Group Porsche 996 GT3 Cup Car and, after an ordinary Eastern Creek round by his own standards, is one local looking to use his local knowledge to his advantage.

Rankin has plenty of kilometres at Morgan Park in state-level race meetings and Porsche Club sprints and said that the circuit would prove unlike anything else the all-Porsche series had ever visited.

“You can’t compare it to anywhere the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge has ever raced,” Rankin said.

“It will be a completely new challenge which should make things very interesting. As a circuit it’s quite short, very technical and completely unique.

“Morgan Park is a very tight circuit that I think rewards a more aggressive driving style. You need to really hustle the car to get a quick lap time. Turn three, a left hand sweeper over a blind crest, is probably the one place where the most time can be found or lost during a lap so that will be a corner to watch. It’s the best part of the track for spectators too.

“The best passing opportunities would be turns four and six; however qualifying will be vital as it’s a hard track to overtake on, particularly with such evenly matched machinery.”

Whilst a majority of the Queensland contingent have had plenty of seat time at Morgan Park, those from the southern states will face a steep learning curve when they arrive into the city of approximately 13,000 people on the Thursday prior to the event.

The Warwick round will be critical to the hopes of several ‘southerners’ who need a strong weekend to keep in touch with those leading their respective classes.

In the outright GT3 Cup Challenge standings Melbournian Sven Burchartz lost further ground to Kingsley at Eastern Creek and will need a big weekend should he wish to defend his title at the 2009 season finale, to be held at Sandown in November.

In the 997 Trophy Class, strong recent form by South Australian Mark Krashos has lifted him to second place and the Adelaide pharmacist makes the long trek up through the Australian outback keen to close the gap to Roger Lago who has been Mr. Consistent in maintaining the class lead.

After completing its first race meeting in South Australia last year, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia series has since visited Victoria (Phillip Island), New South Wales (Mt. Panorama, Oran Park and Eastern Creek) and Tasmania (Symmons Plains) with next week’s event the first ever in Queensland.

Morgan Park’s Shannons Nationals round will also be notable for the series continued efforts to raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

This year almost $20,000 has been raised and it is hoped that a passenger ride day to be held at the circuit on Wednesday, August 5, will add another $10,000 to that total.

The money raised will go towards construction of a new Ronald McDonald House on the Gold Coast, which would help the children’s charity provide additional support to families of seriously ill children in South-Eastern Queensland, including Warwick.

Taking place next Wednesday afternoon, all rides are tax deductable, full safety equipment is provided and a barbeque lunch at the circuit is included.

For further details or to book a ride and get behind Ronald McDonald House Charities, please contact Alex Zylstra on 1300 855 956 or alex@gt3cupchallenge.com.au by Tuesday 4 August.

The Morgan Park round of the 2009 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Australia series will be held on August 8-9.

For more information head to www.gt3cupchallenge.com.au

Photo by Dirk Klynsmith / GT3 Cup Challenge

Alexander RossiAlexander Rossi finishes 3rd in Round 9 of International Formula Master Series main race after qualifying in 4th. This past weekend rounds 9 and 10 of International Formula Master Series were held at the Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary. This was the first of two opportunities on the IFM calendar for drivers to compete in front of the F1 team bosses and fans. The next opportunity at Spa-Francorchamps for the Belgium Grand Prix in August.

With the series standard Friday practice session eliminated by Formula One due to scheduling constraints, everyone headed straight into qualifying on Friday evening. Alexander and ISR Racing secured a fourth position on the grid despite brake issues the plagued the session.

“I was disappointed after the session,” says Alexander. “We have been struggling with rear brake problems since the beginning of our weekend in Brands Hatch and have continued to experience problems thus far in Hungary. The car and I had the pace for pole position, but we were not able to capitalize on this as we had to bleed the brake system during qualifying. Hopefully, we can resolve this issue in time for tomorrow’s race so that we may challenge for the victory.”

While the braking problems were solved in time for Sunday’s race, a front wing failure on lap 14 forced him to register his first retirement of the year.

“I’m pleased that we solved the brake problems,” said ISR team boss Igor Salaquarda, “but I’m very angry about the front wing failure because a part like that shouldn’t fail. I have informed Formula Master that I am going to make my own bolts for the front wing in time for the next race. As for Alexander’s performance, he drove very well this weekend and particularly in race one. He impresses me more each weekend and I hope he can keep this forward momentum going.”

RACE ONE: 17 laps / Grid 4, Finish 3
Alexander drove a great opening lap to overtake Earl Bamber in third place, after which he ran in a train of cars behind eventual race winner Josef Kral. Around lap 6 of the race his rear dampener failed, forcing him to back off, but he was far enough ahead of fourth-placed Alexander Sims not to lose a position.

“This podium is definitely filled with mixed emotions,” said Alexander after the race. “For sure, it is nice to be on the podium at a Formula One event. I was able to move into P3 at the start and ran with the lead duo for the first six laps or so until my left rear dampener failed in turn 9. I immediately had to begin to go on the defensive as I could no longer keep the pace of Kral and Leimer. Fortunately, I was able to keep my third position, but once again I know that the team gave me a car that was good enough for a stronger finish.”

RACE TWO: 17 laps / Grid 6, Finish DNF
Alexander made a good start from the dirty side of the grid, gaining one position off the line. He then showed consistent pace in the middle part of the race, overtaking race one winner Josef Kral on lap 8, before having to retire when the front wing fell off.

“I was able to get off to a good start and moved into fifth during the opening lap,” reported Rossi. “Immediately the top five cars began to break away from the rest of the field, which made it easier for me to just focus on getting around Kral. I was able to do so about eight laps into the race, but that was as far as I could go as my front wing loosened over the next couple laps and eventually fell off under braking to turn 10. I do not understand how a front wing just fails when there is no contact. Right now I am focusing on Spa and knowing that the team and I can move on and establish a pace to be at the top.”

There is now a five-week break in the International Formula Master calendar, prior to the next race at Spa-Francorchamps, where the series will support the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix.

“We had a winning pace at Spa when we tested there in June,” says Alexander. “I am confident with the circuit and now with the brakes sorted there is no reason why we should not be on top. This is important in front of F1 teams..”

Up next for International Formula Master, with Formula 1 at Spa Francorchamps for Belgium Grand Prix, August 28-30 for rounds 11 and 12.

Photo by Dawn Rossi, Team Rossi Motorsports, LLC

DJ KenningtonFollowing some disappointment in Edmonton DJ Kennington and the #17 Castrol/Mahindra Tractor Dodge team looked to bounce back during round number seven of the NASCAR Canadian Tire series at Auto Clearing Speedway and wrap up the western swing with some momentum.  With a solid team effort Kennington claimed a third place finish and helped tighten up the championship points standings.

Once again Kennington had the Castrol/Mahindra Tractor Dodge among the front runners during afternoon practice and posted an impressive run during qualifying and would start the 250 lap feature third.  “I could have been a little better I think” said Kennington.  “There was a bit of speedy dry on the back straight that I hit and it upset the car just enough or we might have been right up front” he added.

As the race began Kennington took his usual approach of feeling out the car and the competition while running comfortably up front.  “The Castrol/Mahindra car was pretty good at the beginning” said Kennington.  “We’re trying a whole bunch of things right now trying to get better, we know what to do to be fast, but we want to make sure we can be fast for the whole race” he added.

Kennington continued to work to maintain a position near the front of the field through the midway point of the race.  Just past halfway during a caution period the #17 Castrol/Mahindra Tractor team made their scheduled pit stop and elected to take on fuel and put four tires on the car.  “We kind of got snookered at Vernon and I didn’t want to get caught without fresh tires” said the driver.

With fresh rubber the handling was much improved and Kennington would take the #17 Castrol/Mahindra Dodge to the front of the field on lap 184.  Though eventually he would be passed by two other cars Kennington was able to maintain a quick pace and bring the car home with a third place podium finish.  His fifth top-five finish of the season.  “We’ll take it” said Kennington.  “It was a good points day we did make a few gains and I’m pleased about that”.

While Kennington thought he had a car capable of winning after his scheduled service for tires and fuel there were some minor adjustments that could have made the difference. ”We’ve still got some work to do, but we’re getting there.  We lead a few laps and now we’re going to take these notes that we’ve got and work on some things for the next race.  It’s such a fine line with these cars, everybody is so even and we just  need to make that little bit of improvement and we’ll be there”.

After seven races Kennington sits fourth in the overall championship standings.

The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series returns to Ontario for round number eight on the Mosport oval track, Saturday August 8th.  This years schedule includes events at Trois Rivieres and at the NASCAR weekend in Montreal.  All thirteen races will again be broadcast on TSN.  To cast your vote for DJ Kennington as the mot popular NASCAR Canadian Tire Series driver click here and for more on DJ Kennington log onto www.djkennington.com

Photo by Todd Lewis

Ron Beauchamp Jr.Ron Beauchamp Jr. and the #60 Mopar Parts Dodge Avenger team  were looking to continue their strong season as the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series wrapped up its three race western swing with a stop at Auto Clearing Speedway in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  While Beauchamp did show how strong the car can be during qualifying and practice, it proved to be a handful during the 250 lap race.

The #60 Mopar Parts Dodge performed flawlessly during practice and Beauchamp would post the fourth quickest qualifying time and earn a starting position on the outside of row number two.  “We were a little bit free but I think everybody was” said Ron Jr. after qualifying but I was pretty happy with the car and thought we’d be okay for the race” he added.

When the green flag dropped on the main event Beauchamp knew immediately he had his hands full with a difficult race car.  “I’m not really sure what happened, but the car was really loose at the start of the race” said Beauchamp.  “I was doing my best to stay up with the front group but I got a bit high through corners three and four and went back a few spots.  We knew that we’d have to make changes” he added.

At the first opportunity during a caution period Beauchamp brought the #60 Mopar Parts Dodge to pit road and the team made handling adjustments.  A second stop would get the car much more to the liking of the driver.  “I just told Chris Couvillion what the car was doing and the guys did a good job making the changes, and we were much better” said the driver.

During a scheduled pit stop later for tires and fuel the tight pit road at Auto Clearing Speedway proved difficult to handle and a number of cars including the #60 Mopar Parts Dodge went a lap down.  But that didn’t deter Ron Beauchamp Jr.  He set about racing his way back to the front and taking as many positions as possible in the last part of the race.  “I was trying to do it the old fashioned way” smiled the driver, it’s too bad that a bunch of guys got caught on pit road, I thought we were okay and I really had to stand on the brakes to stop when I was instructed to but the car was much better late in the race and I was able to run down some guys”

Beauchamp would complete the race and record a seventh place finish.  Quite an accomplishment after the way things started.  We missed the set up a little bit I guess” said the driver.  “But everybody worked hard to make the changes we needed and get a top-ten finish, this was a real team effort” he added.

After seven races Ron Beauchamp Jr. remains third in the overall championship standings.

The 2009 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series comes back to Ontario for round number eight on Saturday August 8th on the Mosport Oval.  Team Mopar will participate in all thirteen events that take place on ovals, road courses and temporary street circuits.  You can follow the action all year long with the television broadcasts on TSN.  For more information about Team Mopar and Ron Beauchamp Jr. at www.beauchampmotorsports.com and don’t forget to vote for Ron Jr. as the series most popular driver.  Click here to cast your vote.

Photo by Todd Lewis

Menasheh IdafarFollowing a lengthy four week break in competitive action, Menasheh Idafar returns to the track this weekend, 1st/2nd August, with the resumption of the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship at Snetterton Circuit in Norfolk.

The East Anglia venue, one of the fastest tracks in the country with its high-speed Revett Straight, will host rounds 13 and 14 of the season as Formula Renault UK returns to the support package of the HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship after sharing the bill with the World Series by Renault at the hugely successful Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit meeting at the beginning of July.

During a recent two-day official test outing at Snetterton, 18-year-old Menasheh was in very good form at the wheel of his Hillspeed-entered car and on the opening day he produced his quickest ever lap at the 1.95-mile circuit with a time of 1m04.681 seconds (108.92mph).

Providing a good boost for the Gulf Computer Services and Ortolan-backed racer, he ended the test outing a tremendous sixth overall on combined times but is well aware a repeat of the performance will be very tough indeed at the weekend during qualifying and both races.

Pre-event practice ahead of the 13th and 14th rounds of the 2009 Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship will take place on Friday, 31st July, with qualifying for the two races timetabled to be held at 09.25 and 15.25 on Saturday, 1st August.

On Sunday, 2nd August, round 13 will begin at 09.50 with round 14 following at around 15.45 – the second race is set to be screened live in the UK on Freeview, digital satellite and cable channel ITV4.

Provisional 2009 Formula Renault UK Championship Positions (after Rd12):
1st Oli Webb, 279pts; 2nd Dean Smith, 260pts; 21st Menasheh Idafar, 46pts

Provisional 2009 Formula Renault UK ‘Graduate Cup’ Positions (after Rd12):
1st Harry Tincknell, 175pts; 8th Menasheh Idafar, 46pts

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Alex JonesSaturday:
The first race of the weekend kicked off with a great start for Alex and his Australian team mate Daniel Erickson who took his maiden victory in British Formula Ford. From fifth on the grid Alex got the benefit of the two second runners colliding, taking them both out on the warm up lap. This enabled Alex to quickly move up into third place off the start line. With rapid pace he was soon making a bid for second place. An exciting duel ensued with Alex making a decisive and successful move on lap 3, but falling victim to Joseph Newgarden behind who managed to dive past into second. They raced on to get clear away from the rest of the field and Alex achieved his first podium of the season in third place. With team mate Daniel Cammish taking 4th place and the Scholarship win, this was a great result for Kevin Mills and the Spectrum drivers in 1st, 3rd & 4th places. “It’s been a long time coming,” said Alex. “I’m really happy for the Team. Its been a fantastic day for Kevin Mills Racing.”

Kevin Mills was delighted with the results delivered by his young drivers, describing it as “Mega. We have been promising this for quite a while and it is terrific to deliver.”

“Fantastic” was how Australian Spectrum designer Mike Borland summed up the result. “We’re also racing at Sandown this weekend for the Victorian Championship. Spectrum chassis won the Formula Ford and Formula Ford 1600 races at Sandown and then we sat up to watch live timing and see the two Dans and Alex crowd the podium in their KMR Spectrums. It is very satisfying to see our cars winning races around the World within a few hours. Congratulations to Kevin, his Team and the Drivers on a well earned result.”

http://www.alexjonesracing.com/