ATLAS F1   Volume 7, Issue 13 Email to Friend   Printable Version

Atlas F1     Elsewhere in Racing
Updates from the Rest of the Racing World

by Mark Alan Jones, Australia

  American Le Mans Series

Bob Wollek Killed In Traffic Accident

Bob WollekOne of sportscar racing's giants of recent years has died. Bob Wollek was riding a bicycle near Sebring International Raceway. He was struck from behind while riding on nearby Highway 98 and pronounced dead on arrival at Highlands Regional Medical Centre.

Wollek had 25 years of major sportscar racing, mostly in Porsches, which included four Daytona 24 Hour wins, the 1985 Sebring 12 Hour and class wins at the Le Mans 24 Hours. He also won the World Porsche Cup an unmatched seven times.

Wollek was due to start the 12 Hour in the Peterson Motorsports Porsche 996 GT3-RS with Johnny Mowlem and Michael Peterson. The car was withdrawn from the race as a mark of respect from the team.

Audi Dominate Superflo 12 Hours at Sebring

There were four Audi R8Rs entered for the Sebring 12 Hour. The two factory entered Audis qualified first and second, while the two privately entered cars qualified third and fourth. They finished that way too, giving Sebring 12 hour victory to Rinaldo Capello, Michele Alboreto and Laurent Aiello. The expected challenge from Panoz never materialised, and in the end the only other prototype to finish ahead of the GTS cars was the Judd V10 powered Lola B2K of Jon Field, Duncan Drayton and Rick Sutherland, almost 50 laps adrift of the leaders.

The race was not without drama however, with the #2 Audi of Tom Kristensen having to surrender the lead of the race with less than half an hour to go after being given a stop go penalty for a pit lane speeding violation at the final scheduled pit stop.

The Audis lead the fieldAt the start it was Frank Biela who led the way for Audi but surrendered the lead to teammate Rinaldo Capello after six laps. Less than half an hour into the race, the second Panoz LMP07 of Klaus Graf dived for the pits and headed straight into the paddock. The car had been troubled throughout practice, qualifying down amongst the GTS cars and started off the back of the grid. Early on, Capello and Biela built a lead, with Stefan Johansson third in the Gulf sponsored R8R.

The lead Panoz of David Brabham pitted just short of the first hour with the four Audis already well in command. They were faster and ran longer between fuel stops. Brabham's cause wasn't helped when fuel was spilled across the car and into the cockpit of the LMP07. 90 minutes into the race and the Panoz challenge was finished as Brabham took the #50 car behind the pit wall. It would return to the fray after half an hour, but the race was gone. From here it would be an extended test session for Le Mans.

The top four positions changed and fluctuated amongst the Audis, with the factory cars generally having the upper hand and the Gulf Johansson car ahead of the Champion Racing #38 R8R. Of the other prototypes, the #37 Lola-Judd would finish a relatively untroubled fifth. The #51 Panoz returned to the track at 2:30 after changing an alternator and fixing a water leak but less than an hour later the car was pushed away and retired. The lead Panoz #50 would last another two and a half hours before succumbing to clutch problems. The #72 Courage C60 Peugeot of Laurent Redon pulled off at turn 15 with the car on fire. The #16 Riley & Scott Lincoln ended its run just on dark with overheating problems. Seven and a half hours into the race, the Johansson Audi pitted from the lead with a lengthy stop to work on the brakes dropping them to fourth.

The GTS class winning Saleen S7RAfter the final round of pitstops, Tom Kristensen had gained the lead but was caught speeding in pitlane handing the lead to the #1 Audi with Rinald Capello on board. The factory Audis paraded across the line with the #1 car winning by 0.482 seconds. Third would be Andy Wallace in the Champion Racing Audi, while fourth was the Gulf Johansson Audi.

Down in the GTS class the Konrad Saleen S7R led the first lap and it led the last lap, consistently quicker than the Chevy Corvettes and the Dodge Vipers. The #4 Corvette of Andy Pilgrim, Kelly Collins and Franck Freon, mangled so badly by Collins at Texas would be second in class only one lap down with team mates Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel and Johnny O'Connell 9 laps further adrift and 11th outright behind the three GT podium getters.

In GT the early leader was the factory BMW M3 of JJ Lehto and Joerg Muller, which was chased all race by the two Alex Job Racing Porsche 996 GT3-RS cars. Gradually the Porsches wore down the BMW, giving a class 1-2 to Alex Job Racing in 8th and 9th outright, with the Lehto/Muller BMW hanging on for tenth. The only LMP675 entry in the field, the Lola B2K/40 Nissan of Mel Hawkins, Steven Knight and Claudia Huertgen disappeared behind the wall with overheating problems at the five and a half hour mark.

From Sebring, the European Le Mans Series progresses to Donington Park on April 14, while the American Le Mans Series won't race again until July, after the big prize is contested at La Sarthe for the 24 Heures du Mans.

Results of 12 Hours of Sebring:

Pos  Drivers                              Car
 1.  Rinaldo Capello/Michele Alboreto/    Audi R8R
     Laurent Aiello
 2.  Frank Biela/Tom Kristensen/          Audi R8R
     Emanuele Pirro
 3.  Andy Wallace/Dorsey Schroeder/       Audi R8R
     Ralf Kelleners
 4.  Stefan Johansson/Guy Smith           Audi R8R
 5.  Jon Field/Duncan Dayton/             Lola B2K-Judd
     Rick Sutherland
 6.  Oliver Gavin/Terry Borcheller/       Saleen S7R (GTS)
     Franz Konrad
 7.  Andy Pilgrim/Kelly Collins/          Chevrolet Corvette C5-R (GTS)
     Franck Freon
 8.  Sascha Maassen/Lucas Luhr/           Porsche 996 GT3-RS (GT)
     Emmanuel Collard
 9.  Randy Pobst/Christian Menzel/        Porsche 996 GT3-RS (GT)
     Timo Bernhard
10.  JJ Lehto/Joerg Muller                BMW M3 E46 (GT)
LMP900 drivers' standings: Rinaldo Capello 59, Tom Kristensen 54, Emanuelle Pirro 50, Frank Biela 49, Andy Wallace 42, Dorsey Schroeder 41

LMP900 constructors' standings: Audi 55, Panoz 36, Lola 20

GTS drivers' standings: Terry Borceller 52, Ron Fellows 50, Johnny O'Connell 49

GT drivers' standings: Sascha Maassen 56, Lucas Luhr 55, Randy Pobst and Christian Menzel 47

LMP675 drivers' standings: Steven Knight 26

  Indianapolis 500

The Return of Michael Andretti

Michael Andretti announces his return to Indy 500, on Tuesday this weekMichael Andretti will return to race in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time in five years, the 38-year-old said on Tuesday. "I feel like I have some unfinished business at this place," said Andretti, who in 11 attempts has not won the Indy 500. "In my last race at Indy I went out while leading the race and I've been eager to get back to the Speedway and replace my last memory of the brickyard."

Andretti, who has more CART victories with 40 than any active driver and was the CART champion in 1991, has led 382 laps in the "500", more than any driver who has not won the legendary race. The 38-year old Andretti will drive a Dallara-Aurora entered by his Champ Car team owner Barry Green. Green's last appearance at the Brickyard was as co-owner of the car driven to victory by Jacques Villeneuve in 1995. Andretti tested the Dallara-Aurora at the 1.5 mile Homestead Miami Speedway on Sunday and Monday.

"It's quite different," Andretti said of the Indy Racing League (IRL) car. "The first few laps I was thinking 'Whoa', but we made great progress. Steve Newey, who is my engineer on the car, and the guys made the car feel great, and then overnight we made some changes and it was really quick on Monday. It was then that I knew we'd have a strong car."

Tuesday's announcement brings the number of CART drivers entered in the May classic race to five. Until last year, CART owners had avoided the Indy 500 since the founding of the IRL in 1996.

Chip Ganassi was the first team owner to bring his drivers to INDY, when he put Juan Pablo Montoya and Jimmy Vasser in his cars last year. Montoya, currently driving for the BMW-Williams Formula One team, handily won the race. This year Roger Penske, whose drivers have won 10 Indy 500s, has entered reigning CART champion, Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves, both from Brazil. Ganassi, has returned with two rookies, Bruno Junqueira, of Brazil, and Nicolas Minassian, of France. They finished one-two in the European Formula 3000 last year.

Provided by Reuters

  World Rally Championship

The French Connection

Didier Auriol gives the thumbs up in SpainA weekend of change with not one but two new manufacturers joining the series at the Rally of Catalunya. Citroen arrived with a bang, with both Jesus Puras and Philippe Bugalski leading Citroen's debut in the WRC class. SEAT returned with two semi-private cars and was less successful. The winner though was Peugeot, Didier Auriol and Gilles Panizzi scoring a 1-2 finish for the reigning champions, although Peugeot only scored manufacturer points with Auriol having pre-selected Auriol and Marcus Gronholm as the team's pointscorers. Third spot allowed Tommi Makinen to retain the lead in the World Championship.

It was a most impressive debut by Citroen, but one in which they had a lot of preparation as the Citroen Xsara has been running at the front of tarmac rallies across France and Spain. Jesus Puras stretched the Xsara's legs across the first two stages of the rally, leading Leg One and leading Leg Two until a lack of fuel pressure after SS11 forced Puras to retire. This left Bugalski in the lead overnight but he suffered clutch pressure problems thanks to a leaking master cylinder in his Xsara, causing him to leave service late and delaying him at the start of SS15, robbing Citroen of a debut victory for the Xsara WRC.

When Bugalski stumbled the Peugeots were there. Auriol and Panizzi had been running immediately behind the Citroens all rally, and with the Xsaras out of the way a 1-2 was taken. The disappointment for Peugeot was Marcus Gronholm's retirement on SS5 with a broken wheel.

"The car has been perfect. It's like a magic car, really - you just put a driver in it and it wins! This afternoon I concentrated on not making mistakes, not cutting the corners too much and it worked. I'm delighted!" said Auriol.

Mitsubishi also had a good rally. Tommi Makinen and Freddy Loix were the only ones to stay near the French cars. When Bugalski faltered, Makinen grabbed the bottom rung of the podium with teammate Freddy Loix in fourth, Loix having fought clear of the two Ford Focus drivers on the final day. It gave Mitsubishi a big points haul in the manufacturers championship, which they are starting to run away with.

Jesus Puras in the Xsara WRCFord's Carlos Sainz was fifth, while Francois Delecour took the last point for sixth place. The Focii just weren't competitive at this rally, and it was the first time off the podium for Sainz this year. As for Colin McRae? A dead car on SS6 thanks to low fuel pressure. McRae is still to score a point in this year's title chase.

Subaru had a miserable time. Richard Burns was languishing in 15th position after Leg 1 with gearbox dramas and a broken wheel, while Petter Solberg had rolled on SS3. Electrical dramas sent Markko Martin down the field on Leg 2 as Burns climbed back to 7th. But 7th would be as far as Burns would get on Leg 3.

Of the rest, Bruno Thiry survived to take a top ten spot for Skoda in the Octavia, just ahead of the Hyundai Accent of Alister McRae. Armin Schwarz's Octavia suffered jammed steering on Leg 2 and disappeared, while leaking brake fluid claimed Piero Liatti's Accent. Of the return of SEAT - the semi-works Cordobas, Salvador Canellas ran in the top ten on day one and was seventh when he crashed. Marc Blasquez hovered at the base of the top 20 and retired on Leg 2.

Down in Group N, Gabriel Pozzo claimed the silverware for Mitsubishi after the retirments of Gustavo Trelles and Marcos Ligato, and the debut of the new Super 1600 class, which replaces the old Formula Two title, saw Sebastian Loeb take the win in a Citroen Saxo by a huge margin, even with a sick engine.

The WRC circus takes a break until gathering again in Argentina in early May.

Results of the Catalunya Rally:

Pos  Driver                Car
 1.  Didier Auriol         Peugeot 206
 2.  Gilles Panizzi        Peugeot 206
 3.  Tommi Makinen         Mitsubishi Lancer
 4.  Philippe Bugalski     Citroen Xsara
 5.  Freddy Loix           Mitsubishi Carisma
 6.  Carlos Sainz          Ford Focus
 7.  Francois Delecour     Ford Focus
 8.  Richard Burns         Subaru Impreza
 9.  Simon Jean-Joseph     Peugeot 206
10.  Bruno Thiry           Skoda Octavia
Drivers' standings: Tommi Makinen 24, Carlos Sainz 18, Harri Rovanpera and Didier Auriol 10, Francois Delecour 9, Thomas Radstrom and Gilles Panizzi 6, Toni Gardemeister 5, Marcus Gronholm 4 and Freddy Loix 4 etc

Manufacturers' standings: Mitsubishi 40, Ford 22, Peugeot 20, Hyundai and Subaru 8, Skoda 6

Super 1600 drivers' standings: Sebastian Loeb 10, Giandomenico Basso 6, Corrado Fontana 4

Group N drivers' standings: Gabriel Pozzo 13, Olivier Gillet, Stig-Olov Walfridsson & Pedro Dias Da Silva 10


U.S. Paper Has Agreement On Earnhardt Photos

A dispute between the Orlando Sentinel and Dale Earnhardt's widow over access to the racing legend's autopsy photos has been resolved with an agreement for a medical expert to be allowed to view the photos before they are then permanently sealed, the newspaper said on Saturday.

The newspaper said it and Teresa Earnhardt reached the agreement after court-ordered mediation to end a legal battle over access to the photos. In Florida, these are public records and the newspaper had wanted to view them as part of investigation into racing safety, but the driver's widow had sought to keep them private, fearing they could end up as a macabre sight on the Internet.

Dale Earnhardt's widow, Teresa EarnhardtEarnhardt died on Feb. 18 when his car hit the wall during the final lap of the Daytona 500 stock car race. Medical officials said the man known by race fans as "The Intimidator" died instantly from head injuries when his car hit a wall at 180 miles (288 km) per hour.

The Sentinel said on Saturday that within a week, a former circuit court judge who helped resolve the dispute would choose an expert in "automotive biomechanics" to review the autopsy photos and a videotape of the proceeding for perhaps 30 minutes before they are permanently sealed.

The expert would then produce a public report on the cause of the skull fracture that killed Earnhardt.

NASCAR officials said after the accident that Earnhardt's seat belt separated, sending him crashing into the steering wheel. The Volusia County medical examiner who conducted the autopsy said Earnhardt likely died of whiplash, an injury targeting the back of his head.

Days before Earnhardt's death, the Sentinel had published a series of stories on NASCAR safety. It said three other NASCAR drivers had died in crashes in the past nine months from fractures to the base of the skull.

The newspaper wants a medical expert to examine Earnhardt's autopsy photos to determine whether he also died of such injuries, which may be preventable with the use of a safety system known as HANS, which restricts head and neck movement in crashes.

The Sentinel, which had repeatedly said it would not publish the photos, quoted spokesmen for both sides as saying the agreement achieved what they had sought.

"Our first mission is to do good journalism focused on NASCAR safety," said Sentinel lawyer David Bralow. "I feel that we've accomplished what our goals are, and Teresa Earnhardt will feel secure in the fact the photos will never get on the Internet."

Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500"Nobody will see these photos. A good situation has arisen, and it was in good part due to Mrs. Earnhardt's persistence," the Sentinel cited Earnhardt's attorney, Thom Rumberger, as saying.

Days after Earnhardt's death, his widow sued Volusia County to prevent release of the autopsy photos, saying it would be an invasion of the family's privacy. Volusia County Circuit Judge Joseph Will granted a temporary injunction barring their release on the grounds that they were not newsworthy.

Under existing Florida law, such pictures are part of the public record, open to all unless sealed by a court. But Florida's Constitution also guarantees the right to privacy.

In a move arising from the dispute, Florida state lawmakers, backed by thousands of fans, began steps to stop publication of the photos, with a bill filed in the Senate earlier this month to make it a third-degree felony to publish such photos.

The arrangement binds only the Sentinel, the Earnhardts and other media interests that intervened in the case -- the Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Tampa Tribune and WFLA-TV in Tampa, the Sentinel said. Anyone else can still request the photographs under the public records law and go to court.

Provided by Reuters

Dale Jarrett Leads Winston Cup Title Race

With two more events run and won, Dale Jarrett (Ford Taurus) now leads the Winston Cup title race on 871 points, almost 50 points clear of Chevrolet's Jeff Gordon (826) and the Dodge Intrepid of Sterling Marlin (823). Jarrett stamped his authority on the title chase claiming victory in the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway, with Steve Park (Chevrolet Monte Carlo) second and Jeremy Mayfield's Ford Taurus in third. Park had been on course to win the race until a late race caution erased the gap Park built up over Jarrett and Jarrett's pit crew put him in the lead at the final pit stop.

A week later at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Ford City 500 was won by Elliot Sadler's Ford Taurus from John Andretti's Dodge Intrepid, and Jeremy Mayfield. NASCAR's new found competitiveness has been underlined as this makes another debut win, Sadler joining Michael Waltrip and Kevin Harvick as debut winners in 2001. Sadler's achievement was impressive as he won from 38th grid spot, a record climb through the placings at Bristol.


  • Penske drivers Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves in their Dallara-Auroras Penske ran two IRL cars in the Pennzoil Copper World Indy 200 as preparation for running at the Indianapolis 500. Helio Castroneves and Gil de Ferran both led the race in their Dallara-Auroras. De Ferran was involved in a three car pile-up on lap 78, while Castroneves blew his engine on lap 141. The race was won by 21 year old Sam Hornish Jr, also in a Dallara-Aurora. Other CART drivers entering the Indy 500 include the Chip Ganassi team of Bruno Junquiera and Nicolas Minassian while Michael Andretti is expected to announce his entry this week.

  • The foot and mouth scare in Britain has threatened several motorsport events, but the European Le Mans Series event scheduled for Donington Park on the 14th April is going ahead as scheduled.

  • Former world motorcycle champion Alex Criville is having a tough start to the 2001 season. After completing pre-season testing in Japan in preparation for the South African Grand Prix, Criville is finding himself behind his compatriots. "The tests didn't go the way I expected on any of the three days, and I ended up way back. The same thing that slowed me down on the first two days happened again to me. I simply don't feel comfortable riding and I lack confidence. Analysing the data recording, we confirmed that I'm not braking well, at least that I'm not braking the way I normally do," commented Criville. Yamaha and Suzuki have also been testing with their factory teams at Suzuka, with Carlos Checa and Kenny Roberts Jr crashing for their respective teams. Neither was hurt seriously and will take part in the season opener at Kyalami.

  • Former Honda World Superbike Championship rider Aaron Slight is the latest of a long line of motorcycle riders to make the switch to four wheeled racing, having announced a deal to drive for Peugeot in Britain. Slight will drive a Peugeot 406 Coupe in the BTC Touring category in 10 of 24 rounds.

    "Driving in the BTCC for the factory Peugeot team is a dream come true. I have always wanted to race cars and I've done a few competitive car races in the past. To drive for a global company like Peugeot will be awesome, and I look forward to working with them. The race car looks great, if it goes half as fast as it looks; the Peugeot team are in for a storming year. I am looking forward to testing as I have a lot to learn in a short time this year, but I will be giving it all to succeed and hope to be in a championship winning position in 2002," said Slight. Slight joins Steve Soper, Matt Neal and Dan Eaves in the factory Peugeot squad who will race against teams from Vauxhall, MG, Alfa Romeo and Lexus in the BTC Touring category.

  • In South Africa, a touring car driver has been attacked en route to a race meeting in Port Elizabeth. Cale Basing, of Durban, was hijacked on the 23rd of March while travelling through Transkei region. Basing's father Des was seriously wounded in the attack. The Toyota Tazz Production Car was later found burnt out, but the team's transporter and equipment are still missing.

  Upcoming Events Calendar

  • March 31 - International Formula 3000 Championship, Round 1; Interlagos, Brazil
  • April 1 - World Superbike Championship, Round 2; Kyalami, South Africa
  • April 1 - European Touring Car Championship, Round 1; Monza, Italy
  • April 8 - World Motorcycle Championship, Round 1; Suzuka, Japan
  • April 8 - FIA Sportscar Championship, Round 1; Catalunya, Spain
  • April 8 - FedEx CART World Series, Round 2; Long Beach, California USA
  • April 14 - International Formula 3000 Championship, Round 2; Imola, Italy
  • April 14 - European Le Mans Series, Round 2; Donington Park, UK
  • April 16 - European Touring Car Championship, Round 2; Brno, Czech Republic
  • April 22 - World Superbike Championship, Round 3; Phillip Island, Australia
  • April 22 - World Motorcycle Championship, Round 2; Phakisa Freeway, South Africa
  • April 22 - European Formula 3000 Championship, Round 1; Vallelunga, Italy

Mark Alan Jones© 2007
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