SNE10516Italian Grand Prix bosses are to meet Formula 1 chief Bernie Ecclestone again later this month after a recent meeting to secure Monza's future on the calendar proved inconclusive.

Last month, president of the Automobile Club of Italy Angelo Sticchi Damiani said a new deal was close to being finalized to safeguard the race through to either 2020 or 2023. He added funding had been secured and he was hopeful a deal would be done by the end of February.

However, after a meeting between the two parties earlier this month, an agreement has yet to be reached. It is believed the circuit's bosses are required to provide guarantees regarding circuit investment and development before a long-term deal will be agreed to.

Sources suggest circuit officials want to improve the quality of the grandstands, develop the public areas and improve the parking situation, made difficult by its park location.

Monza has hosted the Italian GP every year since the world championship started in 1950, apart from 1980 when the event went to Imola. The venue's current contract expires after this year's race in September.



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Image354RACER's Marshall Pruett brings you footage of Wednesday's Chevy Manufacturers' test at Sonoma Raceway where some new liveries and new aerodynamic pieces were unveiled by Team Penske's Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, and Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, and Max Chilton, who turned his first laps in an Indy car.



2016IMSA MarshallPruett Roar1816 239O'Gara Motorsports is in the midst of a financial reorganization that could secure its long-term participation in IMSA's WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

The team has been facing significant business-related issues following the program's recent debut at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and left unresolved, those funding problems could have hindered its continued presence in IMSA's GT Daytona category.

In a development late Wednesday night, RACER has learned ongoing efforts between team owner Tom O'Gara and the drivers of the No. 11 O'Gara Motorsports Lamborghini Huracán GT3 have resulted in the confirmation of the car's entry at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

"We are going to Sebring and intend to continue," O'Gara team manager Shane Seneviratne told RACER.

Among the reasons for the unexpected need to address financial concerns, O'Gara's Beverly Hills Lamborghini dealership is said to be under financial scrutiny from the Italian auto manufacturer, and at least one sponsor on the No. 11 car is known to have defaulted, adding to the program's budgetary woes.

O'Gara Motorsports' existing IMSA Lamborghini Super Trofeo Cup program, which is separate from its WeatherTech Championship operation, is not affected by the financial restructuring taking place within the GTD effort.

O'Gara's team made its IMSA debut in 2015 in the Lamborghini series, and graduated to the top WeatherTech Championship this year with defending GTD champions Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler.

The No. 11 Lamborghini placed 14th in class and 30th overall at Daytona with Edoardo Piscopo and Richard Antinucci joining Bell and Sweedler.

lat lepage 131027 MVL3633On Tuesday, NASCAR announced plans for a new charter system that would guarantee starting spots in the race fields for 36 teams every week, with four open spots in what will become 40-car fields.

Here are four reasons the charter system – which is in effect for a minimum of nine years – is a good idea:

nascar fieldMore financial security for the teams – Each team with a charter will be  guaranteed a minimum income each year, which will help them financially. And with the size of the starting fields being reduced from 43 cars to 40 each week, there are fewer slices of the pie to divvy up. More importantly, the teams can resell the charters, which adds value and economic security.

It helps the smaller teams – Sure, the NASCAR mega-teams will have charters for each of their cars. But the teams helped most by this are the smaller ones – Tommy Baldwin Racing, BK Racing, Germain Racing and others. With a guaranteed spot in the show every week, they have a more attractive package to sell to sponsors.

It will help attract new owners – With Roger Penske, Jack Roush, Richard Childress and Joe Gibbs all at least 70 years old and Rick Hendrick 66, NASCAR needs to start cultivating the next generation of team owners. Having a more stable and sustainable business model will help.

The deal is win-win – NASCAR is a (mostly) benevolent dictatorship that sets the rules as it goes. Basically, the sanctioning body can do whatever it wants whenever it wants, whether the team owners agree or disagree. This new deal, while keeping the power in NASCAR's hands, signals a new era of understanding and cooperation between the sanctioning body and the owners. For the sport to thrive, all sides must remain healthy and economically viable.

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2016IndyCar MarshallPruett Sonoma210 116aImages from Wednesday's test day for Chevrolet-powered teams from Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske at Sonoma Raceway, where a number of new aero pieces were revealed.

Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

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lat nelson Fon 06271036Ed Carpenter is confident that the problems that shackled him during 2015 have been solved.

IndyCar's only permanent oval specialist endured a difficult campaign last year, when he was outqualified by teammate Josef Newgarden at every oval other than Fontana. He failed to finish higher than 22nd in any of his first three races, although an upswing in form during the second half of the year delivered two top-tens, culminating in a season-best sixth at Iowa.

Carpenter believes that the his team had already started to unlock some of that lost speed toward the end of 2015, and with a solid winter's work under their belts, he is optimistic about his prospects for the new season.

"I think we all felt pretty confident at the end of the year, and we've had a really good off-season as well," he told RACER. "Really, after Texas I thought we finally got our arms around it."

Carpenter declined to go into detail about the factors that played into last year's struggles, but admitted that it was essentially a matter of the team having directed its energies in the wrong areas.

"It was a combination of things," he said when asked whether the problems related to setup .

"'Setup' can be all sorts of things. 'Configuration' is probably a better way to put it. I guess you could say we got lost, but really, we got overly focused on areas that we shouldn't have been focused on, and made everything more complicated than it needed to be.

"You just take what you learn, good and negative, and move forward. Even when we were struggling I think we learned some things that were positives; we just didn't have the right package, the right overall combination on the car. I feel like we're in a good place now."

Carpenter reverts to full owner-driver status again this year following the withdrawal of former partner Sarah Fisher and sponsor Wink Hartman. Newgarden, who joined Carpenter's team through the merger with Fisher at the end of 2014, will be the team's sole full-time driver, with Carpenter's entry still yet to be confirmed for any road or street course events. Luca Filippi stood in for Carpenter at road and street courses last year.

1442513356The launch date for the FIA F4 United States Championship could be delayed as SCCA Pro Racing division, Crawford Composites, and Honda continue to work towards the final chassis and engine package for the new series.

Based on the proven European junior open-wheel series, the F4 United States Championship is currently set to debut in May with five triple-header events. Each domestic version of the FIA F4 formula chooses its preferred package from different chassis constructors, engine suppliers, and tire manufacturers.

Under the direction of SCCA Pro Racing president Derrick Walker, crash testing of the carbon-fiber Crawford chassis, and locking in power output by the Honda K20 C1 2.0-liter engine prepared by Honda Performance Development, remain as the primary tasks left to accomplish.

"It's a ground-up, brand-new series, and the car itself, from Max Crawford, has most of the parts made, he's going through the FIA homologated crash test procedure, and there's still some work needing to be done," Walker told RACER.

"You crash test pieces individually, make improvements as necessary, and then, when they've all passed, you go back with everything completed for final approval. That is happening as we speak, and nobody sees this as a major obstacle to overcome.

"And the original idea for the Honda engine, which comes turbocharged in its production form, is preferred to run it without the turbo by the FIA. Honda did that, looked at the power output, and decided there's more tests to be done without the turbo before they decide whether it will need a turbo to hit the power targets for the car. That decision should be made around the same time the chassis [crash] testing is complete."

In the interest of launching the F4 United States Championship with as many cars as possible, Walker says the May 27-28 launch at Lime Rock Park could be shifted to align with bulk chassis and engine deliveries for the Pirelli-shod series.

"Right now, if everything went according to plan, there's 25-30 cars to be delivered," he said. "For us, starting the season, the most important thing is to have as many cars in the hands of team owners to be there for the first race. If it meant moving a race date to accommodate as many as we can, then we'd consider doing that.

"We're not saying it's something we're going to do, but once we get the order commitments, get the production schedule, we'll look at the racing schedule and make any moves that are needed if it's in the best interest of our team owners. We have 22 deposits on cars, and in the range of 33 cars ordered for the series, for driving schools, and so on."

Walker reiterated his preference for the series' current racing schedule to go forward as planned, but placed a higher priority on having a strong open to the championship in North America, regardless which date it takes place.

"We don't want to leave anybody out to start the season," he added. "It doesn't mean they can't join he championship later, but our interest is to have all the cars we can right there for the first race."

8 INDYCARInternational insurance brokerage and risk management services firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. has partnered with Chip Ganassi Racing Teams to back the No. 8 Verizon IndyCar Series entry to be driven by rookie Max Chilton.

Gallagher, headquartered in Itasca, Ill., has operations in 31 countries and offers client-service capabilities in more than 150 countries around the world through a network of correspondent brokers and consultants. This season with CGRT will be the company’s first foray into the world of motorsport partnerships.

“Racing has tremendous global appeal and millions of fans around the world,” said Richard C. Tallo, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. “Numerous parallels exist between racecar driving and managing risk. Both in business and on the racetrack, teams have to quickly assess, calculate and manage risk if success is to be achieved.

“For nearly 90 years, Gallagher has built a strong and well-respected global insurance brokerage services and risk management business. Each day Gallagher employees help our clients mitigate and manage their risks so they are free to grow their businesses. With this exciting sport and Ganassi’s racing leadership, Gallagher will have the ability to leverage a range of marketing activities to further expand our brand awareness.”

Chilton was named driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet after making 35 starts in Formula 1 from 2013-'14 for the Marussia Formula 1 Team. In 2015, the British driver contested a partial season in the Indy Lights Championship for Carlin, scoring a win, six podium and 10 top-five finishes.

“Our organization truly represents a global team effort with 17 drivers from 10 countries, in 13 cars across six series,” said Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing Teams. “We have teams competing in North America and around the world throughout the racing season on any given weekend, and the most diverse driver lineup anywhere in the sport. We’re excited that Gallagher chose our team to create a new partnership with, and we’re looking forward to bringing another new global brand into the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

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