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Archive for February, 2012

Facu RegaliaYoung Argentina’s driver is looking forward for the official test day of Auto GP at Monza. Regalia will drive Campos Racing´s Lola B05/52-Zytek, which will carry number one.

Regalia has an important schedule ahead, because the official tests of Auto GP are held this week at Monza. Auto GP, one of the championships which he will contest for Campos Racing in 2012 season, will celebrate its official test day on Friday, which means a first outing for both drivers and teams.

Argentinean Regalia, who is making important progress at the wheel of Auto GP car over the course of current preseason, explains that “this official test is playing a leading role, because we are going to be on track with all our rivals. And last but not at least, Monza is the first venue of 2012 season, so our main target is to focus on set-up works. I hope to leave Italy pleased with our results, in terms of team and personal work. It will be important to complete the schedule that Campos Racing has for Monza”.

Monza, one of the most classic venues on the planet, is “one of my favourites since the beginning. Of course I can´t be overconfident because I have never driven a car as powerful as Lola-Zytek there. Anyway I feel optimistic concerning my chances to be fast at Monza this week. I can´t wait to drive once again this car, because I have been working hard on every aspect of my driving. I have an important challenge ahead this year”. Regalia added in the end “I am pleased about my family, because I keep improving by them. Adrián Campos and Roberto Alonso are helping me a lot this year”.

The 2012 season of Auto GP has its kick off next week at Monza, where is held first of seven meetings on three different continents.

To follow everything concerning Facu´s career in motorsport, please check his profile at Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Facu-Regalia-2010/286971396026.

OAK RacingA mix of youth and experience will provide the backbone to OAK Racing’s World Endurance Championship (WEC) campaign in 2012 following the announcement of both LMP1 and LMP2 driver line-ups today.

The French outfit’s Judd-powered OAK-Pescarolo LMP1, which has been designed and built in-house by the team’s manufacturer division Onroak Automotive, welcomes back the familiar face of Guillaume Moreau who will compete in OAK Racing colours for a fourth consecutive season.

He’s joined by 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion and IndyCar driver Bertrand Baguette who makes the switch from single-seaters to prototypes, as well as up-and-coming 22-year-old Austrian sportscar ace Dominik Kraihamer who will build on experience gleaned from contesting last season’s Intercontinental Le Mans Cup LMP2 championship.

Mounting an assault on the LMP2 class title meanwhile are two of the sport’s fastest drivers, as well as one of it’s most experienced and trusted gentlemen racers.

Former Le Mans Series LMP2 champion Olivier Pla returns to the OAK Racing fold after a successful half-season in 2011 alongside the crew’s other rapid Frenchman and team stalwart Matthieu Lahaye. Team owner Jacques Nicolet completes a line-up that is hopeful of challenging for victories aboard their Onroak-designed and built Morgan LMP2 2012.

For the re-launch of the World Endurance Championship OAK Racing will count on the support of several key technical partners. The iconic blue and orange race livery of Gulf Oil International returns thanks to the team’s partnership with Caroil, the official and exclusive distributor of Gulf lubricants in France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Tyre manufacturers Dunlop extend their partnership and continue to entrust OAK Racing with development work for their rubber, whilst Judd will once again provide power in LMP1 and LMP2. Serge Blanco, Cari and BRm have all reaffirmed their commitments and the team is also delighted to welcome aboard insurance provider representatives SFS Group, as well as Marcassus Sport and Ecodime.

Sébastien Philippe, Team Manager: “We could not have hoped for better driver line-ups in both classes. In LMP1, Guillaume will provide the continuity around which Bertrand and Dominik can develop their prototype careers. He will help the new guys find their feet in what will be a very tough category this year. It is always difficult against the diesels but nevertheless I think we look in good shape, especially with the major aerodynamic developments and Judd engine updates.

“As for LMP2, both Olivier and Matthieu are extremely fast and very experienced. As our silver graded driver, Jacques is undoubtedly the best option that we could have had. He is reliable, consistent and fast enough to fight with the other silver drivers in this class. That means we have a great chance of fighting for victories, especially as I strongly believe in the car’s all-round performance and improved reliability. It will be fitted with the all-new 2012 aero package that has demonstrated some fantastic results in the wind tunnel.”

Jacques Nicolet, Team Owner and LMP2 driver: “Both the OAK-Pescarolo LMP1 and Morgan 2012 LMP2 look like strong, competitive packages, especially after both completed over 1000 kilometres of test mileage during the winter. We were able to greatly benefit from our official technical partnership with Dunlop last season and it is an area that we must work twice as hard on in 2012 to maximise both cars’ potential. It will be interesting to see whether there is a real desire amongst organisers to close the performance gap between car manufacturers and private outfits. That will help shape Onroak Automotive’s decision whether to commit to an LMP1 programme within the frame of new regulations due to be introduced in 2014.”

Jean-Félix Bazelin, Dunlop Motorsport Competition Director: “Dunlop places a great deal of emphasis on partnerships grounded in mutual trust, integrity and long-term investment. Our continuing technical partnership with OAK Racing allows us to go deeper into the exchange of information and data, thus building the knowledge base of both parties’ engineers. Our teams are testing in Monza as I speak, working on compounds and set-ups for the WEC season and, crucially, the Le Mans 24 Hours. This clearly demonstrates our commitment to success, a trait fully shared by OAK Racing.”

Guillaume Moreau, #15 LMP1: “I am thrilled to be part of such a strong LMP1 line-up for OAK Racing this season. I have known Bertrand since we raced together in World Series by Renault, while Dominik has shown an amazing capacity to adapt and learn, so both are a great fit for the team. I’m also pleased to say that the car has progressed well over the winter, particularly on the aero side. Overall I believe that we have an excellent package with which to fight in what should be a fiercely competitive LMP1 class.”

Bertrand Baguette, #15 LMP1: “I am delighted to be joining OAK Racing’s LMP1 squad for this year’s World Endurance Championship. Being as the cars share many similarities with single-seaters I’m sure I will be able to put my experience to good use. Moreover, I am thrilled to be contesting prestigious events like Sebring, the Le Mans 24 Hours and of course Spa, where I will be racing in front of my home fans.”

Dominik Krahaimer, #15 LMP1: “Competing in LMP1 this year represents a big step forward for me and I am delighted to be taking it with OAK Racing. As a young driver still gaining experience it is vital to have strong team-mates and work within a professional outfit, both of which I will be able to do here. This is a wonderful opportunity and one that I’m sure will teach me a great deal.”

Matthieu Lahaye, #24 LMP2: “I am proud to be entering my fifth season with OAK Racing. Having been here since the beginning I have watched the team grow over time and am sure that 2012 will see it reach full maturity. It is also great to know that I will be paired with Olivier this season. After several years talking about racing together we will finally get the opportunity!”

Olivier Pla, #24 LMP2: “It is fantastic to be continuing the journey that I began with OAK Racing last August. I now know the team and how it works, so we can hit the ground running at the opening race. This year LMP2 represents a great challenge and the objective for the team is clear: go out and win the World Endurance Championship!”

OAK Racing begin their 2012 campaign with the World Endurance Championship’s season-opening round at Sebring on March 17th.

Alice PowellChipping Norton racer, Alice Powell, will be on Sky Sports News on the 8th of March, in aid of International Women’s Day. The 19 year old will be talking about her career so far, plans for the future and also what it is like to be a woman in a male dominated sport.

The interview will also feature Alice coaching young female karters, at her karting school at the Formula Fast Indoor Kart track in Banbury. Alice has also recently finished filming with Sky Sports F1 reporter, Natalie Pinkham, on a short programme, not only about her career, but fitness in the sport too. This will be shown on the brand new Sky Sports F1 channel (launching on the 9th March), yet the date for it to be shown has not yet been set.

It is not yet known what Alice will be racing in this year, as funding is not yet in place. There is a wide range of packages offered to those who wish to help fund Alice this year, so if you would like to support Alice through sponsorship, please visit www.alice-powell.com or email info@alice-powell.com.

Alex MacDowallCarlisle racing driver Alex MacDowall will make the leap onto the global stage this year after today, Monday, 27th February, confirming a deal to graduate into the FIA World Touring Car Championship with front-running British team Bamboo Engineering.

Putting an end to recent speculation over whether or not he would remain in the British Touring Car Championship in 2012 following the withdrawal of the RML-run Chevrolet team, the 21-year-old will step-up to world level competition with his debut taking place at Monza in Italy on 10th/11th March.

Continuing his association with the Chevrolet brand, Alex – who arrives in the World Championship off the back of two impressive seasons in the BTCC – will pilot a 1.6-litre turbo-engined Cruze, in which he will enjoy his maiden shakedown test later this week.

“I’m absolutely delighted to be representing Bamboo Engineering in the WTCC this year”, said the Cumbrian star, “It’s great to be continuing my relationship with Chevrolet and I can’t wait to drive the 1.6 turbo Cruze, it’s a fantastic racecar and it’s a dream come true being able to compete in the World Championship with such a great team.

“I really enjoyed my two years in the BTCC and I’ll miss the fans, my supporters and the sponsors who helped me achieve the success and experience I gained there. Moving into the WTCC is a massive opportunity though and could be a major turning point for my career. We’re aiming for some top results.”

Stepping into touring cars with the RML-run Chevrolet squad in 2010 off the back of becoming ELF Renault Clio Cup Vice-Champion the year before, Alex quickly got to grips with the BTCC and his talent shone through with two podium results in his maiden season in the championship.

Most notably, he entered the record books as the youngest ever driver to qualify on pole position in the BTCC with an outstanding performance in the wet at Snetterton in Norfolk, aged just 19 years and 197 days.

In 2011, Alex remained in the championship with RML and Chevrolet in a normally aspirated car. The introduction of turbo engines into the BTCC meant the team faced an uphill battle all year but, even so, the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) Rising Star managed to achieve three podium finishes on his way to ninth in the standings.

New challenges galore for 2012
While Alex is obviously very familiar with the Chevrolet Cruze, his 2012 adventure will bring with it a variety of fresh challenges – not least the 12 international race circuits which will all be completely new to the WTCC rookie.

Visiting Italy, Spain, Morocco, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Portugal, Brazil, America, Japan, China and the world-famous street circuit in Macau, the FIA World Touring Car Championship is a lengthy season – running from March to November.

Aside from learning each of the new tracks he visits Alex will also need to adapt to the use of Yokohama tyres, having run on Dunlop rubber for the past two years in the BTCC and Michelin tyres before that in the Renault Clio Cup.

With regard to the championship battle, as a non-manufacturer entry Silverstone-based Bamboo will compete for the Yokohama Independents Trophy and team principal Richard Coleman is confident regarding the squad’s title-challenging chances.

“This will be Bamboo’s third assault on the Yokohama Independents Trophy and our aim every year is to be competing for the trophy”, said Coleman, “Alex has proved himself in the BTCC over the last two seasons and I’m sure he’ll shine at world level as well.”

Following this week’s initial shakedown at Rockingham, Alex will prepare for the first two races of the season at Monza in Italy. Free practice and qualifying will take place on Saturday, 10th March, with warm-up and rounds one and two taking place on Sunday, 11th March. Television coverage of the WTCC will be screened in the UK on British Eurosport.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Ahmad Al Harthy - Porsche MEOmani motor racing star Ahmad Al Harthy will make his first race appearance of 2012 during the fifth event of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East this coming weekend, at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

Taking place on Friday, 2nd March, and Saturday, 3rd March, rounds nine and 10 of the 2011/2012 Middle East season will make history for Porsche motorsport across the globe with the introduction of the first ever Porsche GT3 night race.

Just a week on from announcing the Oman Air Racing Team’s return to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship this year for the full 2012 campaign in the UK, 30-year-old Ahmad is delighted to confirm his participation in the Doha spectacular – the penultimate event of the Middle East series.

Made possible through the support of his prestigious sponsorship portfolio, namely Oman Air, Oman Ministry of Sports Affairs, Oman Ministry of Tourism, Nawras, National Bank of Oman and Muscat Eye Laser Centre, Ahmad will form part of an expected grid of 18 cars at Losail. Should this come to fruition, it will be the largest entry in the Middle East championship since its inauguration in 2009.

“I’m really looking forward to being back on the grid in the Middle East series, it’s very important to race in the region whenever we can”, said the Muscat racer, “Thank you as always to my fantastic sponsors for making this possible, it’ll be my first time racing in Qatar and my first ever night race as well so I really can’t wait to enjoy the whole experience.”

So far in the 2011/2012 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, Ahmad has contested six of the eight races. Prior to missing the previous event at Reem International Circuit in Saudi Arabia, the Omani was in the thick of the title battle with three podium results to his credit – including race victory during the FIA Formula One World Championship support event at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi.

For rounds nine and 10 of Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, Ahmad is aiming for the podium once more on what will be his final outing of the campaign due to the last two races of the season clashing with the opening rounds of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship in England.

“Obviously this weekend will be something completely new to me, a new track and a new format with the night racing, but being back in the car in racing conditions will be great preparation for the start of the UK championship which begins at the end of March”, he added, “Hopefully we can sign off our time in the Middle East series with two more podiums at least.”

Keep up to speed with Ahmad’s 2012 progress at his official website www.ahmadalharthy.com follow him on Twitter @AlHarthyRacing or visit the Ahmad Al Harthy Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ahmad-Al-Harthy/111700892183537

Photo by Porsche Middle East & Africa

Darryl O'YoungHong Kong GT racing driver, Darryl O’Young celebrate his second overall victory at the 11th running of the Armor All Bathurst 12 Hour this past weekend in the Australia. The Audi race experience Phoenix Racing No. 1 Audi R8 LMS driven by the driver line-up of Darryl O’Young, and two Germans: Christopher Mies and Christer Jöns took the checkered flag after completing 270 laps and won the 12 hour race with a 1m 13s advantage.

The Hong Kong Pilot said “The team was tremendous. The cooperation between quattro GmbH and Phoenix Racing was fantastic. As well as for Phoenix, Australia was new territory for Christer Jöns, who did a first-class job of driving. For me, it’s been one of my toughest races due to the constantly changing conditions. There was a lot of hydroplaning and at times we had to drive on slicks in the rain. A fantastic showing by all. Many thanks from me to the whole squad.”

For the second time in succession, O’Young is having a good start of his 2012 session. The track conditions were far more difficult than they had been a year ago. Varying intensities of rain and dense fog at times caused a number of spins, excursions and yellow periods. The first four hours of the race alone saw the three different vehicles take turns in leading the race. At the fourth hour, a spin and an excursion into the gravel trap by O’Young teammate, Christopher Mies that temporarily relegated their race car to third place, but could not prevent the young trio’s from taking victory. On Saturday, they had already set the fastest time in qualifying and capturing position one on the grid.

Team Director Phoenix Racing Ernst Moser, “The balanced performance of the victorious driver trio was the secret of success. They were all very good because conditions at Bathurst were really difficult. The competition was lying in wait up to the final lap. In terms of strategy we didn’t have an advantage throughout, as some rivals repeatedly managed to make up ground in yellow periods. But we were always able to recover.”

12 Hours of Bathurst 2012 is the 11th edition of the motor racing event at the Mount Panorama Circuit, near Bathurst, Australia. The event was inspired by the long running Bathurst 1000 touring car race, which began in the early 1960s.

Please visit www.audi-motorsport.info, http://www.bathurst12hour.com.au/ for more race information or www.darryloyoung.com for the latest updates about Darryl.

Antonio Felix da Costa finished the final day of GP3 testing in Estoril third fastest for Carlin today, while Alex Brundle and William Buller set the thirteenth and sixteenth fastest times of the afternoon session at the Portuguese circuit.

With dry running and sunshine on the cards the morning session of the day saw the Carlin team continue a detailed test programme with Brundle, da Costa and Buller all setting competitive lap times and working hard on car set-up.

Da Costa was quick from the outset, finding his way to the sharp end of the timing sheets in the first and second session. Having had experience in the series before, the Portuguese driver continued to improve in the Carlin car and found himself sitting in the top three for both the morning and afternoon sessions.

Speaking of his positive test, da Costa said, “I think we can say that we were extremely consistent in our running during this test. I finished three out of the four sessions in the top three and I definitely felt that the car was good enough to be higher up than that – I couldn’t get a faster lap in during the final afternoon because I hit a little bit of traffic but the car felt good and I’m extremely pleased with how the test went.”

Alex Brundle also impressed the team with his feedback and performance in his first GP3 Series test. Brundle used the morning session to once again get more experienced with the GP3 machinery; with this being the young Brit’s first outing with the team and in the series, the main aim was to get miles on the clock and gain experience throughout the course of the test. He proved his potential by improving 0.5 seconds each practice session – all the while getting closer to his more experienced rivals.

Reflecting on his first GP3 test, Brundle said, “We worked today mainly on getting the most out of the tyres, and I feel as though we achieved that which made me more confident in the car. I want to carry this momentum into the second test and ultimately the first race of the season.

“The car feels great, it’s using the tyres well and although it’s a steep learning curve for me I think we can take a lot of positives from this test”

Former F3 racer Buller used the afternoon session to full advantage, completing race simulation runs and practice starts. He had clean running throughout the course of the day’s test and once again showed his pace, providing the team with great feedback over the two days of track action.

The second GP3 series test gets underway in Barcelona on 6th March.

Henrique MartinsHenrique Martins will race for Prema Powerteam in the 2012 F.3 Italia series. The Brazilian lined-up in the Eurocup F.Renault in 2010 and 2011. In 2009, at a really young age, he won the South American Formula 3 title in the Light class after having stepped up from the Formula BMW Europe ranks. A pretty impressive CV for a driver who still has to turn 20, one that will enable Martins to be among the series’ top competitors straight out of the box.

Angelo ROSIN – Team Principal:
“Despite his young age, Martins can already count on a wide open-wheel experience. He had the chance to drive several different types of cars and will have no problems in adapting to our FPT-powered Dallara and to our work method.”

Henrique Martins:
“I’m extremely happy to race for the team that won the 2011 Formula 3 Euro Series and the Macau Grand Prix. For me, Prema is the most professional Formula 3 team is Europe. I hope to be able to confirm the expectations that the whole team have in me and I will work really hard to make it happen. This is a great opportunity for me.”

Antonio Felix da CostaAntonio Felix da Costa showed the pace of the Carlin GP3 car today, in the first official test of the season in Estoril. The Portuguese racer looked quick on home soil, and went fastest in the final stages of this afternoon’s session. Last minute improvements by two other driver relegated da Costa to third place by the chequered flag. British racers William Buller and Alex Brundle also put in a strong performance, with Brundle making his debut with Carlin and in the GP3 Series.

The GP3 drivers were met with perfect conditions in Estoril this morning, for the first test of 2012. Alex Brundle made his on track debut with Carlin today, having been announced as a member of the team’s GP3 squad earlier this month. The Norfolk based racer adapted well to the GP3 car, and was 18th quickest in the morning session despite never having driven the car before.

Fellow Brit Will Buller made a welcome return to Carlin having tested the team’s GP3 car late last year. The Northern Irishman finished the afternoon 17th on the timesheets and is sure improvements can be made ahead of tomorrow’s second day of track action.

Da Costa proved to be a front runner today, fine tuning his set up throughout the morning session, before going second quickest in the afternoon. The 20 year-old went one better on his next lap to set the quickest time of the day so far. However, in the final minutes, Nico Müller went quicker, as did Mitch Evans by just 0.061 seconds to put da Costa third.

Speaking about his test, da Costa said, “It’s great to be back in a racing car after almost three months, and thanks to a great effort by everyone at Carlin, we finish today in the top three! We had good tyre management during the day and we have a good work plan for day two when I think we can improve even more.”

Carlin GP3 driver Brundle added, “Today’s learning curve was pretty much vertical for me, but we have made good progress I hope to continue improving tomorrow with the help of the team. I think overall we’ve made a good start today.”

Testing will resume tomorrow.

Eddie Cheever will be joining the already-confirmed Brandon Maisano in the PREMA line-up for the Formula 3 Italia 2012. Cheever, son of former F.1 racer Eddie Sr., is back to the series for his sophomore season but, together with Angelo Rosin and His team, is now ready to raise the bar even further.

Born in 1993, he made his open-wheel debut in 2009 by entering the Italian and Swiss F.Renault championship. During the following season, he provided an impressive performance in the F.ACI CSAI Abarth Series before stepping up to an equally positive F.3 season in 2011.

Angelo ROSIN – Team Principal
“Eddie had a very early open wheel start when he was just 15. His improvement is evident when we look at his seasons in F.Renault, Abarth and F.3. He’s now ready to prove his full potential and showcase the experience gathered through a lot of racing activity, thus becoming one of the main stars in this season’s series.”

Eddie CHEEVER Jr.
“I’m very proud of the agreement reached with PREMA POWERTEAM for the 2012 Italian Formula 3 Championship. The team, which is based in Vicenza, is one of the world’s benchmarks in F.3 racing and being part of their group is something that makes me proud and motivated. I cant’t wait to be on-track to start this brand-new program. I hope to gather some great results this season.”