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JULY 31, 2006

Away from Hockenheim

There was a busy weekend of action away from Formula 1 last weekend with Helio Castroneves winning another victory for the Penske team in the Indy Racing League race at Michigan International Speedway, ahead of Vitor Meira (Panther Racing), Dan Wheldon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) and Tony Kanaan (Andretti Green Racing). The result means that Castroneves leads his team mate Sam Hornish by eight points with Wheldon third nine points further behind.

Across in California Brazilian rookie Raphael Matos won the Atlantic Series race in San Jose, beating European refugees Ryan Lewis, Danilo Dirani and Tom Bridgman. Series leader, France's Simon Pagenaud was knocked out of the race in a shunt at the first corner. Matos was under extreme pressure early on from young Graham Rahal but in the end it was the American who made a mistake. He finished 12th but still improved his position in the championship. Pagenaud continues to lead the championship but has only a 16 point advantage over Rahal.

The Champ Car race at San Jose was action packed but was won by Sebastien Bourdais in his Newman Haas Racing entry, which finished ahead of the two RuSport cars of Cristiano da Matta and Justin Wilson. This means that Bourdais maintains his series lead with Wilson 31 points behind and AJ Allmendinger a further 14 behind Wilson. Allmendinger has won the last races but in San Jose ran into the back of Bourdais early on a damaged his front wing and ended up finishing seventh. British rookie Dan Clarke had a frustrating time after fighting for the lead with Bourdais, retiring from second place with a broken gearbox. Paul Tracy won the award for the stupidest move of the day by sliding off on lap 52 and then driving back onto the track without bothering to look and taking off Alex Tagliani. A furious Tagliani and Tracy are reported to have got into a scuffle as a result.

Meanwhile at Spa former F1 driver Eric Van de Poele won his fourth Spa 24 Hours, equalling the all time record which is shared by Jean-Michel Martin and Thierry Tassin. Van de Poele was driving a Maserati which he was sharing with Michael Bartels and Andrea Bertolini. The British F3 races supporting the event were won by Holland's Yelmer Buurman, driving a Fortec Dallara-Mercedes F306 and Germany's Maro Engel in a Carlin Dallara-Honda.