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Wild Racing Updates; F1, SuperGT, Danica Practice

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On: Tue, Dec 22, 2009 at 2:11PM | By: John Welch

Wild Racing Updates; F1, SuperGT, Danica Practice

We haven't really ever mentioned the Japanese Super GT. That is a bad move on our part. There's a first time for everything!

Also, the two biggest-deal racers in the world, (arguably) Michael Schumacher and Danica Patrick, both made news in the last few days; we cover it all inside the post . . .

Formula One: So we'll start with F1. Ridiculous, silly-ass F1. Seen Bernie Ecclestone's Christmas card yet? Classy. It seems American athletes are not the only ones who just can't figure out when they want to retire. Michael Schumacher, Superhero-On-Sabbatical, has had just about enough of not racing. It's been two seasons since he last suited-up to pilot a Ferrari, and now he has the itch; bad!

Schumacher attempted to make a comeback with Ferrari earlier this year, after Phillipe Massa was seriously injured by a renegade spring. Schumacher was asked by Ferrari to replace Massa for the remainder of the 2009 season. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Schumacher dumped a race bike a few months earlier, injuring himself, specifically his neck. Without the required neck stamina a return to an F1 car was not possible. The g-forces involved proved to be too painful.

Fast forward to this week, and a completely healthy Michael Schumacher is ready to race again, albeit not in Ferrari Rosso. Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari team president, released a statement regarding Schumacher's situation: "There is a very, very, very strong possibility that he (Schumacher) will race for Mercedes-Benz in Formula 1 next year."

"He phoned me and he told me that there is a very, very, very strong possibility of racing for Mercedes-Benz. Having said that, it is not 100 percent decided. But that is what he said yesterday morning."

Ferrari admits to releasing Schuwwie from his PR and development obligations, paving the way for Michael to climb into a silver car next year. The fall-out from this could be massive. Nico Rosberg, former Williams driver who has already signed with Mercedes Benz GP, is not interested in becoming the number two driver. He has patiently waited to be the top driver on a winning team, and he is not happy about the possiblity of being overshadowed by Schumacher. Also, Ferrari loyalists are ready to come after Schumacher with pitchforks and torches. The internet is alive with grumblings of Michael's traitorous ways.

A Schumacher return to F1 will be anything if not interesting. However this whole mess plays out, the 'Shopper will stay on top of it . . .

Danica wows at Daytona: Danica Patrick is an accomplished race driver in many ways, but she is not used to the weight and bulkiness of a NASCAR stock car. Before sending her out in a Nationwide car, JR Motorsports did the prudent thing and found a much cheaper ARCA car for her to turn her first laps in. She didn't disappoint.

Scoring a 12th place lap in the second rain-shortened session, Patrick was able to knock off a 5th place run in the first. She has never driven these cars before. She was surrounded by veterans. Tony Eury Jr. and I are impressed. "She's doing really good," said Eury. "Drafting is not something that you learn overnight. She has done really good learning how to stay in a pack, learning what the car does in different aero situations. We're pretty pleased. I think I need a little more speed in the car just in single car runs. Overall, it has been a good successful day. We'll come back here tomorrow and let her draft a little bit more and I think we will be game on."

Besides the obvious English-Language butchery, ("well" is still a word, folks) Eury pretty much dropped an anvil on the head of the proverbial 'nail'. Patrick has a ton of practice and mistakes ahead of her, but her first laps in anger didn't end in disaster; in fact quite the opposite. A good sign for Danica and NASCAR as a whole.

Japan Super GT: We've all spent hours boiling our eyeballs in front of Gran Turismo. The game is truly responsible for introducing American youth to such completely foreign concepts as "Skyline", and "FTO", "Tom's" and "Mines", and, of course, "JGTC". Well, it used to be the JapaneseGrandTouringChampionship. Now it is simply: SUPER GT.

Take restrictive engine rules, wild aerodynamic concepts, and mild homologation rules; add a dash of Japanese ingenuity and a splash of manufacturer participation. What you have just created is easily one of the most diverse and ostensibly interesting racing series in the world, the Super GT. There are two classes, GT300 and GT500. The rules between the two are simple: GT300 cars are limited to 300 bhp, while GT500 cars are able to run up to 500 bhp. How a team goes about making this power is completely up to that team. Popular GT500 cars include the Nissan Skyline, Toyota Supra, and Honda NSX. Different versions of the Supra, for instance, have run an incredible variety of powerplants, everything from over-boosted inline fours to a compact and free-revving V8. Our focus is not on the Toyota, however, but the Honda. Specifically, the NEW Honda.

Remember we said something about "loose" homologation rules. This new Honda racer was originally intended to be the replacement for the storied NSX. Honda decided to pull the plug on the road car, but was able to find a loophole in the Super GT rules, allowing them to use the advanced prototype in the Super GT Series. This car is the HSV-10 GT, and it looks like a straight murderer in bare carbon. Over the past few seasons, competitors have all released new cars for the Super GT- the Nissan GTR, the Toyota Soarer (Lexus SC430), and the new Subaru Legacy come to mind. Having used the NSX chassis since 1997, Honda is due for a replacement weapon. This is the car that will carry the Honda banner into the fisticuffs of the Super GT series; we wish them luck!

This video silently recaps the first round of the 2009 Autobacs Super GT. A similar video can be found for every round of the Super GT on YouTube.

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