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THE RAIN IN SPAIN

Falls mainly on Jerez when the F1 brigade go testing there. Most teams turned up on Wednesday for a four day test and apart from one or two moments when the track was not quite as wet as the rest of the time they all got to do a lot of wet weather tyre testing. Final times were meaningless as Felipe Massa set a time in the Sauber of 1’17.513, almost a whole two seconds up on the next fastest driver, Jarno Trulli, while running in almost dry conditions on the first day. The fact that team mate Jacques Villeneuve was quickest on each of the next two days and could only manage a 1’28.345 on the third day tells the tale.

Ferrari had Badoer and Gene’ on hand again to do aerodynamic work while BAR had no less than five drivers on hand to go through their programme. Along with Sato and Bernoldi came South African Alan van der Merwe and Brits, Adam Carroll and James Rossiter. Carroll and Rossiter were well off the pace in their first runs in a F1 car but Van der Merwe showed some promise. Bernoldi completely destroyed one of the 006 chassis and plenty of data logging equipment when he aquaplaned under braking for the tight right hander at the end of the back straight. Renault had Fisichella and Montagny on hand again, having to abandon their planned programme and just concentrate on getting more mileage in the conditions.

Webber was out again for Williams and set a fine third fastest on the only day he ran. He was joined by Pizzonia again and Nick Heidfeld who gave a fine account of himself by finishing up six tenths faster than Pizzonia. It is believed that the Williams management were very impressed with the German’s performance and will be asking him back for another test shortly. It would be nice to see Nick in a good car finally.

McLaren, Sauber, Red Bull and Toyota all ran the same drivers (minus Montoya & Zonta) as last week with good pace being shown by Trulli in the Toyota (second overall), Klien (second on day 2) and Liuzzi (ninth overall). They were joined this time by Jordan who had Robert Doornbos and Christijan Albers on hand running with last years Jordan Cosworth combination matched to next years aero kit. Needless to say they were not on the pace and ended up near the foot of the time sheets with Albers showing Doornbos the way by some eight tenths of a second. After his fine test with Minardi last week, Albers is showing some genuine speed but as always, is going to have to find some cash to get a permanent drive. The same can be said of Aussies Ryan Briscoe, Will Power and Will Davison. If only…..It would be quite nice to have four of us on the grid in Melbourne.

DRIVER CAR TIME 1;Felipe Massa Sauber C23 1'17.513 2;Jarno Trulli Toyota TF104B 1'19.287 3;Alexander Wurz McLaren MP4/19C 1'19.750 4;Pedro de la Rosa McLaren MP4/19B 1'19.766 5;Mark Webber Williams FW26B 1'20.171 6;Enrique Bernoldi BAR 006 1'21.370 7;Luca Badoer Ferrari F2004B 1'21.672 8;Takuma Sato BAR 006 1'21.724 9;Vitantonio Liuzzi Jaguar R5 1'21.900 10;Giancarlo Fisichella Renault R24 1'22.206 11;Jacques Villeneuve Sauber C23 1'22.379 12;Marc Gene' Ferrari F2004B 1'22.403 13;Nick Heidfeld Williams FW26B 1'22.713 14;Christian Klien Jaguar R5B 1'22.731 15;Ralf Schumacher Toyota TF104B 1'22.836 16;Franck Montagny Renault R24 1'23.296 17;Antonio Pizzonia Williams FW26B 1'23.382 18;Alan van der Merwe BAR 006 1'23.730 19;Christijan Albers Jordan EJ14 1'24.452 20;Robert Doornbos Jordan EJ14 1'25.291 21;Adam Carroll BAR 006 1'28.885 22;James Rossiter BAR 006 1'31.194

Sam Snape
5-12-2004

2005 STARTS NOW

It may only be mid November but the fight for the 2005 World F1 Championships has just started at a pair of empty and cold circuits in Southern Europe. The warmer of the two, the Catalunya Circuit in Spain hosted the majority of the teams for five days with all but Jordan and Minardi in action. New combinations were the order of business with BAR being the only team to have both their existing race drivers in action. Ferrari used test drivers Luca Badoer and the newly recruited (from Williams) Marc Gene’ to try out some of next years aero kit. Gene’ was quickest on the first day but from then on the Ferraris were stuck solidly in midfield which probably means nothing except that they were possibly the only ones running at the correct weight. The BAR trio of Button, Sato and Enrique Bernoldi were surprisingly off the pace in both the “concept” car and last years model with the three of them rounding out the bottom of the lap chart, 2.5 seconds down on Montoya.

Giancarlo Fisichella got reacquainted with some of his old crew at Renault who also had tester Franck Montagny on hand to do most of the Michelin donkey work. Having his first run in a good car was Australia’s Mark Webber who had ex-Jaguar team mate Antonio Pizzonia as back-up. Despite being hampered by drive shaft problems and completing over 200 laps in the test Webber ended up ninth quickest overall just 0.070 seconds slower than Pizzonia who has been testing and racing for Williams for a year and a half. Webber was also quicker on four out of the five days of the test.

At McLaren, new signing, Juan Pablo Montoya got his year off to the best possible start setting the overall best time for the test on his very first day. He was not, however, given any set programme, just told to settle in with one of last years MP4/19Bs and have some fun. “I’m very happy so far, its been great. It’s been an exciting day and the first time I actually went out of the garage in the car was special. There is a lot of work for us to do before Christmas and I can’t wait.” Test drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Alexander Wurz who were doing the real work of the test ended up down in 12th and 15th places respectively.

Jacques Villeneuve had his first run for Sauber and was 3rd fastest on the only day he ran. Overall he was 0.6 seconds down on team mate Felipe Massa who had run on the two previous days. Over at Jagu…er sorry, Red Bull Christian Klien was showing good form and finished 6th quickest overall while potential team mate Vitantonio Liuzzi also showed good pace to finish 10th. Rounding out the runners were the Toyota boys with both race drivers, Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher being joined by tester and occasional racer Ricardo Zonta. The Toyotas were quick with their drivers filling three of the top five positions on the time sheets by the end of the test. Ralf was the quickest of the three and second overall just four tenths down on Montoya’s best. Trulli was fourth overall just another two tenths down

Over at Misano in Italy Minardi were testing on their own giving a lot of young hopefuls a few laps in which to impress both the team management and potential sponsors. Dutchman, Christijan Albers was the quickest of the bunch and the only one to drop under the one minute, eleven second mark. Venezuelan teenager, Pastor Maldonado was also impressive as he made the big jump from Formula Renault, in which he was Italian Champion this year, finishing third fastest behind Austrian Formula 3000 exponent, Patrick Friesacher. About half a second behind Maldonado was the first of the Australian “Will twins”. Will Power set a very creditable 1’11.790 to pip Will Davison (1’11.900) and demolish Israeli driver Chanock Nissany (1’14.000) to be the fastest on their day of the test Also in action was Champ-Car refugee Tiago Montiero who ran on the first day setting a 1’13.240.

Barcelona Times

DRIVER CAR TIME 1;Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren MP4/19B 1'14.202 2;Ralf Schumacher Toyota TF104B 1'14.618 3;Felipe Massa Sauber C23 1'14.661 4;Jarno Trulli Toyota TF104B 1'14.881 5;Ricardo Zonta Toyota TF104B 1'14.935 6;Christian Klien Jaguar R5B 1'15.148 7;Antonio Pizzonia Williams FW26B 1'15.174 8;Jacques Villeneuve Sauber C23 1'15.219 9;Mark Webber Williams FW26 1'15.244 10;Vitantonio Liuzzi Jaguar R5 1'15.351 11;Giancarlo Fisichella Renault R24 1'15.404 12;Pedro de la Rosa McLaren MP4/19B 1'15.419 13;Marc Gene' Ferrari F2004B 1'15.613 14;Luca Badoer Ferrari F2004B 1'15.649 15;Alexander Wurz McLaren MP4/19C 1'15.871 16;Franck Montagny Renault R24 1'16.435 17;Takuma Sato BAR 006 1'16.736 18;Jenson Button BAR 006 1'16.738 19;Enrique Bernoldi BAR 006B 1'16.864

Misano Times

DRIVER CAR TIME 1;Christijan Albers Minardi PS04B 1'10.800 2;Patrick Friesacher Minardi PS04B 1'11.150 3;Pastor Maldonado Minardi PS04B 1'11.330 4;Will Power Minardi PS04B 1'11.790 5;Will Davison Minardi PS04B 1'11.900 6;Tiago Montiero Minardi PS04B 1'13.240 7;Chanock Nissany Minardi PS04B 1'14.000

Sam Snape
28-11-2004

2004 GOODWOOD REVIVAL

You could just take the motorway and save about ten minutes but where would be the fun in that? Best to arrive from the north (even if you are coming from the south) as the drive through the country lanes in the South West Sussex Downs is just splendid. You motor through the rolling hills & valleys that are so green they are almost glowing then pass the stunning Horse racing facility. Down another hill and you enter a dark green tunnel of trees through the forest where only a few rays of sunlight break through, exit and pass the Golf course on your left and yet another tunnel of vegetation, ignore the cops attempting to herd you in to the wrong parking area and arrive at your destination.

You are met by extremely polite attendants in long white coats who direct you to your correct allocated space (This way if you please, Sir.) If you have timed it right you exit the car to the growling roar of a couple of Rolls Royce Merlin Supercharged 16 cylinder aero engines thundering their way past at maybe 50 feet or so. As the Spitfires, Hurricanes and Mustangs do their aerial dance you are again welcomed at the gate by white coated attendants ( no crowd controllers here) who check your credentials and politely enquire into your health and day so far and allow you to pass into --- Heaven.

Stroll past the ancient busses, breath in the scent of cooking bacon, past the child playing on the swing made from rope & an old tyre, past the mods squabbling with the rockers, past the military medical tent surrounded with jeeps, past the Bobbies directing traffic, head straight into the March enclosure and have a Pint. It may be early but it is already hot. Open the gate, stroll across the track to the assembly area with your flat cap at a jaunty angle and sports jacket over your shoulder and start working. Working???? Not entirely sure that taking close up photos of Alfas, Ferraris, Aston Martins, Maseratis and Bentleys or chatting to folks like Brabham, Moss, Stewart, Arnoux, Tambay, Attwood or David Piper (who owns probably the collection of most beautiful cars imaginable) can be described as work. Some of these guys I have met before & they recognise me from the kilt - I told you it was useful. Former Le Mans winner & Grand Prix driver Richard Attwood wanders over to say hello. I sit with David Piper next to his fabulous Ford 3 Litre sports prototype and chat about the performance of that car now that it has been sorted out. It was bloody evil in its day as it was never truly set up correctly. Every bit as good as his Ferrari P4 he claims. Big claim. He wonders if I am going to Spa next weekend as he will be running his P4 and his Porsche 917. I bury my head in my hands and weep, if bloody Dom (a friend of mine that I'm meeting in Paris on Thursday) wasn't coming over on Thursday I would probably change my plans & go. Ah well, maybe next time.

Turn on the micro cassette recorder I have with me and tape the sounds of the Keift Grand Prix car with its Coventry Climax FPE V8 2.5 litre engine being warmed up. What a marvelous racket, almost as good as the old BRM 1.5 litre supercharged V16 but yet again, sadly this fails to turn up. Have a quick chat to the driver of the Keift (who appears to be a cousin of some description of mine) Greg Snape but he is about to go out onto the track so he promises to catch up later. We never got around to that but not to worry I left him my card and we will sort something out.

Wayne Gardner is sweating profusely after his race and tells me he has a cold and he "feels like shit but (he's) not coming all this way to lie in bed". A huge red 1930's Napier Bentley backfires like a small artillery division every time it exits the chicane, there are huge grins and outbreaks of laughter along the pit wall each time. Rene Arnoux hops out of his little Alfa in the TT Race, eyes ablaze and grinning like a loon. Not the tired and jaded Rene from the end of his Grand Prix days but one that has just rediscovered what he loved about racing in the first place. "When I was a Grand Prix driver people used to say come and look at my car in the museum. I think car in a museum is dead car. Here I come and race live cars and see many thousands of people with big smiles. I think this is fantastic. See you next year."

Another convert.

A little red Austin A35 wins the saloon car race from the rear of the field just holding off the spectacularly sideways Grant Williams Jaguar on the last lap for the lead. The final lap was extraordinary with both cars being hurled about in power slides through every corner. Sadly Win Percy never got to start. After his back operation went wrong and he was paralysed there was a huge effort to convert a Jaguar over to hand controls and get him started. "Good luck and have fun." I tell him in the assembly area. Christ did I put the mockers on the poor fellow or what, the Jag lasted just 2 laps before it blew its engine. He looked desolate as he got out of the car. "Sorry mate." was all I could say to him then. He just nodded and gave a resigned smile.

I thumb a lift in the course car, a little 1961 open topped Daimler V8 sports car and we go for a pretty quick lap of the circuit. Handles beautifully, doesn't wallow as it is power slided through the bends and the sound and smell of the burbling V8 up front is bliss. I step out, eyes ablaze and grinning like a loon! Funny that!

Glover Trophy is red flagged and there is an ominous silence. 3 cars off and 1, a Lotus 18 is a mess. The driver is trapped with broken legs and the fuel lines have ruptured so he is sitting in a bath of petrol. Takes an unpleasently long time to get him out but he is basically OK. During the brake Barrie Williams wants to have the dust on the track in front of his car swept away. I suggest that he gets it swept under Frank Sytner's Brabham on the row in front of him. He laughs. A couple of minutes later I take a shot of him & Richard Attwood doing just that. I am at this time attacked by a mad Irish road worker who is trying to thrust a toilet brush up my kilt. I pointed out that he should at least have the good manners to chat me up in the usual way but thanked him anyway as it was the best offer I have had in quite a while. Sytner still goes on to win this race.

He also wins the final race, the Witsun Trophy in his Lola T70 beating home a somewhat scarred Ford GT40. Drinkie time has arrived and the pretty Verve Cliquot girls make a grand site and we all stand about swapping stories and guzzling champers as fast as it can come out. "They are like jackals" one of the girls exclaims as she only made it about 10 yards before her tray was empty.

The driver of the Napier Bentley says driving it "is a bit like herding cats". I guess you had to see and hear it to fully appreciate his comment. Derek Bell reckons "You should be careful, the real world is just outside those gates." Got Stirling Moss to sign a copy of the programme for his former mechanic, Mal Simpson, who is a mate of mine. Moss writes, "Mal, we had a lot more fun and crumpet, Stirling."

Lord March presents the trophies and yet again the astonishingly sideways Grant Williams is the Driver of the Meeting. There is a spontaneous 3 cheers for Lord March from the crowd. There is a red glow in the West as the sun is setting and you slowly make your way out of the car park and into the green vegetation tunnel to start your drive back through the South West Sussex Downs and Heaven is over for another year.

Ah well just another 365 days until I can suspend reallity once more and greet my Gods in the only Heaven that I ever want.

SAM SNAPE 10-9-04

MOSLEY'S FORMULA 1 REVOLUTION

Away from the glamour and glare of the Grand Prix weekend the daily grind of Formula One continues with eight of the teams testing at two different venues. Ferrari, Williams, McLaren, Renault, BAR, Jaguar and Toyota are pounding about in pouring rain at Silverstone, England while Ferrari, Williams, BAR, Sauber and Toyota also have cars testing at Monza in Italy.

In the sunshine of Northern Italy, Ferrari continued to demonstrate its dominance with test driver, Luca Badoer topping the timesheets on day one of the test. Ralf Schumacher in the Williams was next up followed by the increasingly impressive Anthony Davidson in the BAR-Honda who was less than three tenths of a second off BadoerÕs best time. Toyota drivers Olivier Panis and Ricardo Zonta, split by SauberÕs Felipe Massa rounded out the drivers in action, all three being at least a second and a half slower than the Ferrari. All five teams were evaluating low down force aerodynamic packages that will be in use for the next two races in Canada and Indianapolis.

Back in 1980 two organizations were struggling for control of Formuala 1. On one side was the governing body for international motor sports, FISA and on the other a body that looked after the interests of the teams, FOCA (Formula One Constructors Association). This was a struggle in which self-interest reigned supreme. FISA president, Frenchman Jean-Marie Balestre, was attempting to establish his authority and prestige by forcing through rule changes (including the banning of sliding skirts) that would give an advantage to anyone running the slightly bulkier but far more powerful turbocharged engines including the French Renault team. FOCA teams, realising that as the turbocharged engines were now more powerful than the Ford Cosworth V8s they were running and becoming more reliable did not want this rule change, as it would be at the expense of their only real advantage. The Ford Cosworth was the perfect engine in size and packaging for a ground effect car and the loss of the sliding skirts would mean the loss of most of the aerodynamic down force produced by ground effects. With less power and equal down force there was no way that a normally aspirated powered car would be competitive with a turbocharged one.

The teams with turbocharged engines, or those building them, namely Renault, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo sided with the FISA. Those without, including Williams, McLaren, and Brabham etc sided with the FOCA. This struggle first came to a head just before the 1980 Spanish Grand Prix (just one of the coincidences when you look at where this weekends race is). The race was run eventually by FOCA without FISA approval and a boycott by the three FISA siding teams and was immediately stripped of its World Championship status. The brawl simmered on throughout the summer until late in the year the FOCA teams held a press conference announcing that they would be running a rival Formula One World Championship under the control of their own organization, the World Federation of Motor Sport. These struggles lasted another two years and led to FISA teams boycotting the 1981 South African GP and the FOCA teams boycotting the 1982 San Marino GP until a deal was reached that became known as ÒThe Concorde AgreementÓ and Formula One has been run under that ever since.

It all sounds very familiar, doesnÕt it? Now the FIA trying to force through rule changes & being blocked by the teams who then talk of setting up their own series. Of course, now itÕs the manufacturers, Renault, Mercedes, BMW and Ferrari etc who were talking of their own series (the Grand Prix World Championship or GPWC) and the other major difference is that the two former FOCA heavyweights of the 1980s struggle, Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone are now the men at the head of the FIA trying to re-establish the governing bodies control. As I said, the wheel has turned full circle. Another similarity is that despite a lot of hot air and many pages of press releases both rival championships collapsed before they started.

The GPWC has failed because of money. When it was first announced they got the support of the minor teams such as Jordan and Minardi by saying that there would be a more even spread of the sports income and that there would be financial transparency within the organization. In Malaysia earlier this year, copies of the Memorandum of Understanding that the GPWC sorted out with the FIA were leaked to some of the team bosses who were outraged to find that Ferrari, Williams and McLaren were going to get an even greater share of the income than before. Not even, not transparent and now, not a hope.

The changes that Mosley has announced are in effect, non negotiable. The current Concorde Agreement expires in 2007 and as these changes were slated for the 2008 season they were not bound by the existing contract. With the GPWC dead in the water Mosley has simply imposed these regulations and any teams that want to enter the 2008 series will simply have to abide by them. This may mean the loss of some of the manufacturers from the sport but so what? Formula One has survived and thrived before when there were no major manufacturers involved at all. It just means there will be less money sloshing about to spend on useless stuff like titanium gearboxes or exotic metals being used to reduce weight by another 0.05%. That, after all is also part of MosleyÕs plan, to reduce the costs. Having smaller engines with bans on expensive bits like variable geometry inlet & exhaust systems, ultra high pressure direct injection and that are run with a standard Electronic Control Unit that must last two to three races should help. The use of standard parts such as brakes, wheels & wings etc will also achieve this end. Allowing the sale of chassis to other teams should help entice new teams to enter the championship as buying an existing chassis would cost a fraction of what it does to design and build a new one from scratch. That the standard ECU will be used to control the amount of testing done and eradicate the hideous blight of traction control is for me, the best piece of news I have heard in a very long time. On a purely aesthetic note the potential change back to wider (real) slick tyres at the back and narrower ones at the front is also very pleasing and the additional effect of greater drag caused by these should help Òliven the showÓ by allowing closer racing. Perhaps even real racing where the lead changes on the track and not in the pits. Remember that?

Being presented with this Òfait accompliÓ many of the team bosses have suggested that most of these reforms could be brought forward to 2006. If so, they will need to be voted on by the World Council by June 30 this year as agreed in the current Concorde Agreement. There will be a lot of manoeuvring and arguing to come but this means that we only have another two months before we know just how successful MaxÕs ÒRevolutionÓ has really been. It is ironic that the very men that gave rise to the ÒConcorde AgreementÓ are those who will now bury it.

Sam Snape

7-5-04

Behind the scenes

Away from the glamour and glare of the Grand Prix weekend the daily grind of Formula One continues with eight of the teams testing at two different venues. Ferrari, Williams, McLaren, Renault, BAR, Jaguar and Toyota are pounding about in pouring rain at Silverstone, England while Ferrari, Williams, BAR, Sauber and Toyota also have cars testing at Monza in Italy.

In the sunshine of Northern Italy, Ferrari continued to demonstrate its dominance with test driver, Luca Badoer topping the timesheets on day one of the test. Ralf Schumacher in the Williams was next up followed by the increasingly impressive Anthony Davidson in the BAR-Honda who was less than three tenths of a second off BadoerÕs best time. Toyota drivers Olivier Panis and Ricardo Zonta, split by SauberÕs Felipe Massa rounded out the drivers in action, all three being at least a second and a half slower than the Ferrari. All five teams were evaluating low down force aerodynamic packages that will be in use for the next two races in Canada and Indianapolis.

On day one at Silverstone RenaultÕs Fernando Alonso made good use of a brief dry spell to set the pace just 4/100ths of a second quicker than the new McLaren of Kimi Raikkonen. Apart from this the times were fairly meaningless as can be seen from Michael Schumacher being almost four and a half seconds off the pace at the end of the day, but by far the fastest driver in the wet when he drove in the morning. He did not set a time when the circuit had started to dry out.

The major news of the day was the debut of McLarenÕs heavily updated car, the MP4/19B, which the team hopes will turn around their disastrous start to the season. Raikkonen, who completed 45 trouble free laps was impressed with the initial speed and handling of the car and said, ÒMy first impression is that it feels good, but it takes time to develop a new car so we still have two very busy days ahead, but the car seems to feel and behave really well so far.Ó

However, although an optimum set-up of the existing car is tricky to achieve that has not been McLarenÕs major problem this year. The lack of reliability from their Mercedes-Ilmor power plant has hampered any attempts at finding the ideal set-up during race weekends and if your races end with enormous smokey engine failures, it doesnÕt really matter how quick the car could be. The team tries to ensure that the engine makes it to the end of the race by doing fewer laps in free practice. This hampers the efforts of the team to find a good set-up for the race, which usually ends in retirement anyway making the car look slow as well as unreliable. In the recent European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring McLaren only ran about three quarters of the practice laps put in by Ferrari and David CoulthardÕs engine still expired before final qualifying, forcing him to start from the rear of the grid. In three of the seven races held so far at least one of the McLaren drivers has had to start at the rear of the pack due to engine failures and on no fewer than six occasions has their race been ended with an engine related problem. Unless Ilmor can overcome these troubles then IÕm afraid that the West sponsored team may move up the grid, but still have a smoking problem.

The rumour mill regarding the 2005 Williams driver line up continues to churn. The latest is that they are trying to tempt 1998-99 World Champion Mika Hakkinen out of retirement and that a test is due shortly. Almost everyone except Williams and Hakkinen have denied this but it is fairly unlikely to take place. Decidedly more likely is that 1997 Champion and currently unemployed Canadian, Jacques Villeneuve will test for the team, and sooner rather than later. It may be as early as later this week at Monza but more likely later this month when the team gets back from the United States Grand Prix. By then we will also be half way through the season and have a better idea where current favourite for the drive, Mark Webber stands. If, at the half way point of the season, the Jaguar team is not in the top six of the Constructors Championship a performance clause in WebberÕs contract makes it easier for him to move to another team despite having another year to run. They are currently in eighth place but only two points behind sixth placed McLaren.

The political infighting continues as FIA president Max Moseley attempts to force through his raft of changes to the sport. No sooner than there had been announcements that an in-principle agreement had been made to change the qualifying format from the tedious, 2 hour, single lap shoot out to an aggregate of two, twenty minute sessions in which each car must complete at least six laps in each, and that the new engine specification would be a 2.4 litre V8 from 2006 the griping started. First, Australian Minardi boss, Paul Stoddard was quoted as saying that he wouldnÕt agree to the qualifying changes because it would rob the smaller teams of valuable TV airtime and then BMW engine boss Mario Theissen came out saying he wanted to stick with the current V10s with a slightly extended endurance, up to three races, and would not be supporting the move to smaller engines. The problem is that under the current Concorde Agreement these changes cannot be made without unanimous agreement from all the teams. As interest in Formula One is waning due to the lack of actual racing on the track, changes are needed urgently to rescue the sport from itself.

Sam Snape

02-06-04