Saturday, January 19, 2008

Lewis Hamilton signs 5-year contract extension with F1 team McLaren

WOKING, England - Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton signed a new five-year contract with McLaren on Friday, extending his total time with the team to 15 years.

Hamilton's original deal was signed in 2006, but McLaren decided on a new contract after the English driver's stellar rookie F1 season in which he finished runner-up to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

McLaren chief executive Ron Dennis said the 23-year-old Hamilton - the first black driver in F1 - had exceeded all expectations and deserved "improved financial terms."

"Today's announcement will take the length of our relationship with Lewis to a total of 15 years, which we believe is among the longest running associations between a sportsman and a team in the history of sport, particularly motorsport," Dennis said.

"Lewis is an exceptional human being, on both a personal and professional level, and will continue to be a credit to this team."

Hamilton said he would be happy to drive for McLaren for the rest of his career.

"Whilst last year was my first year with the team in Formula 1, I have been connected to McLaren and Mercedes-Benz since 1998 and feel that I could easily drive for this team for the whole of my Formula 1 career," he said.

"I am with the right team to compete for race wins and both the drivers' and constructors' world championships in the future."

McLaren was kicked out of the constructors' championship last season as punishment for possessing confidential Ferrari documents.

McLaren F1 chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said the company turned to a new deal for Lewis once the team's 2008 car had been unveiled last week.

"This was certainly not a discussion that was under any particular timeframe as our previous contract with Lewis was ongoing," Whitmarsh said. "Since Heikki (Kovalainen) joined the team in December, it has become more apparent how well he and Lewis will work together to become a competitive force for the team."

Kovalainen replaces Fernando Alonso as McLaren's other driver.

source: canadian press

Formula 1 - Budget cap to be introduced in 2009

Friday, 18, January, 2008, 13:42

Formula 1 teams will no longer be able to spend their way to success under radical new regulations to be implemented next year.

From the start of 2009 teams will be subject to a budget cap covering large areas of their activities, FIA president Max Mosley has confirmed.

In a letter sent to 11 teams on Wednesday and seen by, Mosley stated that overall spending limits will be introduced after the proposal received broad support at a meeting of F1’s key participants in Paris last Friday.

The budget cap idea is a departure from the current approach to cost-cutting through ever more prescriptive technical and sporting regulations, which has proved less effective than the FIA had hoped because well-heeled teams have simply diverted resources into other areas such as wind tunnel development.

The cap will apply to all expenditure except engines (where separate cost-cutting measures have already been agreed), marketing and promotion, and the salaries of drivers and team principals.

“Starting in 2009, there will be a cap on expenditure for all Formula 1 costs other than engines, drivers and expenditure exclusively for promotion and marketing,” Mosley wrote in the letter.

“Because of the variety of arrangements, particularly shareholdings, team principals’ remuneration will not be included in the cap.”

The FIA will decide on a figure for the cap after a meeting between its technical advisor Tony Purnell and financial representatives of the teams in Paris on January 31.

It is understood that a proposed ceiling of $150m per season was mooted at last week’s summit, but did not win unanimous support.

The governing body will set up a Financial Working Group to devise a satisfactory method of policing the cap that will enable detailed regulations to be drawn up by the end of June.

If agreement is not reached by that time, Mosley is threatening more drastic cost-cutting measures, such as a ban on the use of wind tunnels and other research tools.

“If the Financial Working Group are unable to devise a satisfactory method of checking expenditure or if a majority of the competing teams do not agree the proposals by 30 June 2008, the cost reduction measures voted by the World Motor Sport Council on 7 December 2007 will be adopted for 2009 in their entirety,” Mosley wrote.

The letter also confirms that the “total freeze” on engine development will apply for the next five years rather than 10 as previously planned.

New power plants will be introduced in 2013 “to reflect the latest developments in modern engines”.

The FIA is targeting the start of next year as the deadline to reach agreement on objectives for the new engines with the manufacturers currently involved in F1 – with detailed regulations to be published on June 30, 2010.

While the specifics will have to be fleshed out, the governing body expects the objectives to include “low cost, long life, inexpensive running costs for independent teams and consistency with industry requirements for efficiency and low carbon emissions”.

source: Video of the Month

93 Jaguar XJ220 sold for $265000

News from Barrett Jackson. Rod Hall spo

News from Barrett Jackson. Rod Hall spotted at the Hummer test track. Josh Hall to do demo on mini desert track tomorrow. Stay tuned for photos.

Friday, January 18, 2008


Very cool video interview where Alex demonstrates the hand conterols for his tyouring car.

click here

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Two Roads to Baja on SPEED

Following the success of last year’s Two Roads to Baja, SPEED once again will chronicle the paths of two very different race teams as they compete in the Taupo 1000 in New Zealand’s Kaingaroa Forest.

The one-hour special will premiere Jan. 25 at 9 p.m., following a re-air of Two Roads to Baja at 8 p.m. ET.

Piloting Toyota FJ Cruisers, Ryan Millen and Kevin Necessary will put their vehicles and their skills to the test in the longest off-road race in the southern hemisphere. At 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) in total distance, split evenly over two days of racing around a 35-mile course, the race is open to purpose-built buggies and production-based race trucks.

Millen, 23, son of five-time Pikes Peak Hill Climb overall winner Rod Millen and brother of drifting ace Rhys, has run the treacherous Baja 1000 several times and just missed a class win in the MillenWorks-prepared FJ Cruiser Race truck in 2006.

“Based on what my friends down there are telling me, the Taupo 1000 is a lot different from the Baja 1000 or any of the other off-road races we have on this side of the Pacific,” Millen said. “It’s not desert racing in the traditional sense because a lot of it runs through forest, and many sections of the course tend to be quite smooth, so it sounds more like a rally in those respects. But they also say there are some pretty rough sections, too, so it’s hard to say what sorts of modifications to the vehicle we’ll need to make relative to how we run it over here.”

Necessary, 36, had no previous off-road racing experience when he turned his daily driver FJ Cruiser into a race truck for his inaugural run in the Baja 1000.

Said Necessary: “ … this isn’t just all fun and games, by any means. It’s affecting our work, it’s affecting our families, it’s affecting our pocketbooks, and it’s affecting every aspect of our lives. But we’re all stoked, and I don’t think any of us would have things any other way.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Barrett Jackson Day 2 Photos

Todays photos are now posted in the RDC Gallery and at

A few of my favorites.

Trophy Truck 54 Sold at Barrett Jackson

The Monster Garage Trophy Truck, driven by Jesse James in the 2005 Baja 1000 and 2006 laughlin Desert Challenge was sold today at the Barrett Jackson auction in Scottsdale, AZ.

It was purchased by Jeff Dickerson of Brawley, CA for $36,000. His future plans include cutting off the back of the truck to build a more traditional and modern 4 link suspension and to race it in the MDR Superstition series.

Barrett Jackson Update

Monster Garage cars sold today.

View 430 2005 CUSTOM "BAJA 1000 TROPHY TRUCK" 36000.00
View 430.1 1950 FORD WOODY CUSTOM "SURFMOBILE" 28000.00
View 432 1981 FERRARI 308 GTS CUSTOM "PASTA FERRARI" 18500.00
View 432.1 2005 MX2 CUSTOM "GEORGIA HS JR DRAGSTER" 19000.00
View 435.1 2003 TOYOTA CELICA CUSTOM "JET CAR" 17000.00

TT54 sold 36000

KC HiLiTES and Team Xterra Racing join forces..

Entering 2008 Team Xterra Racing’s second full year of racing in the Best in the Desert off-road racing series, team owner Dave Blakely and co-driver Robert Pinon knew that if their team and vehicle were going to take their performance to the next level and compete for the class 3100 (Stock Mini SUV) championship in ’08 that all of their equipment would need to be the best available.

For auxiliary lighting, having the best, means having your vehicle equipped with KC HiLiTES. The “Official Lights of the Best in the Desert Racing Association”. KC HiLiTES. has been pioneering high quality off-road lighting for almost forty years. Since the very beginning KC HiLiTES. has worked with motorsports teams of all types and levels in order to design and manufacture the most advanced auxiliary lighting available.

In partnering with grassroots racing efforts like Team Xterra Racing, KC HiLiTES. has built a rock solid reputation for performance under the harshest of conditions. Offering an unparalleled combination of dependability, customer support and quality products, KC HiLiTES. are the auxiliary lights that more and more drivers are asking for by name, and just the “LiTE” thing to lead Team Xterra Racing to the front of its class!!

Offering a complete line of auxiliary fog, driving, HID and floodlights, KC HiLiTES. also carries lightbars, covers, wiring accessories and other lighting products. And when looking to add a KC HiLiTES. product to your vehicle, no third party middle man is necessary—you can go right to the source and buy the lights and accessories directly from the manufacturer, ensuring great customer service and satisfaction!!

For more information please visit:

And look for the KC HiLiTES equipped Team Xterra Racer at all BITD races in ’08!!
Team Xterra Racing

OFF-ROAD - Campbell To Head Off-Road Race Team

American Honda Motor Company is pleased to announce that for 2008 its off-road racing effort will take place through the support of a new independent off-road racing team, Johnny Campbell Racing (JCR). Ten time and current Baja 1000 Overall Champion, Johnny Campbell, is the president and CEO of JCR.

"American Honda is enthusiastically placing its full support behind the formation of this new team," said Bob Gurga, Assistant Vice President, Motorcycle Marketing at American Honda. "And thanks to the vast amount of experience and the winning tradition that Johnny Campbell brings to these efforts, American Honda is extremely confident in the success of JCR, and is proud to have them carry the Honda banner in off-road racing."

American Honda and JCR have entered into a multi-year agreement focused on securing championships in the SCORE and WORCS racing series as well as continuation of the "Pay-for-Pit" program that provides support for Honda customers in all three Baja SCORE events. American Honda is proud of its history-making role in off-road racing, and looks forward to many more years of racing success with JCR in these grueling events.

As a satellite team, JCR parallels the relationship American Honda has established in Supercross and Motocross with Factory Connection (operating under the Torco Racing Fuels Honda banner in 2008), Erion Honda Racing in AMA road racing and Troy Lee Racing in AMA Supermoto. JCR will campaign exclusively on Honda's highly successful CRF450X and CRF450R models. The team will also secure support from additional outside sponsors, and JCR's operational facilities will be apart from the American Honda's Torrance, California headquarters.

"This is an exciting opportunity and I'm thankful American Honda has given my company such a great vote of confidence," said Johnny Campbell. "Having been part of the Honda family and a member of the Honda Off-Road Race Team for more than a decade, I'm confident JCR will continue to uphold the world-wide reputation Honda has earned in the realm of off-road racing."

Chuck Miller, AHM Manager of Motorcycle Sports said, "There is no one better qualified than Johnny Campbell to assume responsibilities for the Honda Off-Road Racing Team. His racing record speaks volumes and his knowledge and Baja experience are second to none. We look forward to many more years of successful racing through this partnership with Johnny Campbell Racing."

For more information regarding Johnny Campbell Racing, please contact Dan McGranahan at (949) 207-6002 or

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Argentina to host Dakar Rally in 2009

15-01 | 17:50 hs. Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), Rally Dakar organizer, confirmed Argentina to be the venue for the competition in 2009. Buenos Aires will be the starting line and the finish of the race to become on January 1.

ASO, which will make the announcement soon according to Inforace website, held some meetings with Rally de Argentina and Por las Pampas Rally organizer David Eli and a national government official.

The rally would count on some stages in the Argentine Patagonia, in addition to some other stages throughout Latin America.

Force India starts testing for 2008 F1 season

Indo-Asian News Service
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 (Chennai)
Cars kitted with the new standard electronic control unit (ECU), minus traction control and other driver aids, marked the start of the 2008 Formula One season, which got underway with the official test session in Jerez, Spain, on Monday.

According to information received, Force India opened their session with test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi lapping one minute, 23.035 seconds, that placed him 11th overall, way behind David Coulthard of Red Bull Racing, who was the quickest with a 1:19.677 in wet conditions.

Liuzzi's 47 laps around the 4.423 kilometre track was often interrupted by red flags as most drivers struggled to come to grips with the electronics' package that puts more emphasis on "manual" driving.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen and his Ferrari team mate Felipe Massa were second and third with 1:19.845 and 1:20.123, respectively.

The surprise of the day was Sebastien Vettel of Toro Rosso whose 1:20.732 lap placed him fourth, ahead of McLaren's Pedro de la Rosa (1:20.883) and Heikki Kovalainen (1:20.936).

Force India's lead driver Giancarlo Fisichella will take over from Liuzzi for next test drive, with Adrian Sutil getting behind the wheel for the final day of testing Wednesday.

"We have improved from the last test we did here and the car seemed to respond better than last time. It was quite a difficult day though, as we had a few mechanical problems and we had to wait in the garage for a while, so we didn't put in too many laps.

"But the few laps we did I think were pretty positive. It was just unfortunate that the issues stopped us doing some more, but it is a three-day test and we can look forward to some more development. We are going in the right direction and still have a lot of work to do," Liuzzi said after his test drive.

Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer of Force India said: "A reasonably productive day of testing, and good to shake out the cobwebs and start again in 2008. As the morning was wet, we did some running in both wet and dry conditions, but we had a couple of hydraulic issues throughout the day that limited the lap count.

"Overall it was a reasonably useful day."

Ferrari quickest as F1 cars thrash Jerez

January 15, 2008

By Alan Baldwin

Ferrari has struck an early-season blow with its 2008 car lapping quicker than the new McLaren in Formula 1's first official test of the year in southern Spain.

World champion Kimi Raikkonen set the pace in Jerez with 1min19.845, according to the unofficial circuit timing.

Brazilian Felipe Massa was second in the second car and McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa was third on the with 1min20

McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa was third-quickest after rain
.548 after sitting out the morning session because of steady rain.

Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso, which will not introduce its 2008 car until after the opening first long-haul races of the season, was fourth with German Sebastian Vettel driving.

Brazilian Nelson Piquet made his first appearance for Renault since being confirmed as a race driver; team mate Fernando Alonso is due to test on Tuesday in last year's car.

Briton Lewis Hamilton, 2007 championship runner-up, will also be in action on Tuesday. - Reuters

BMW boss keen on F1 budget financial cap

By Alan Baldwin

BMW Sauber would be interested in putting a cap on Formula 1 team budgets but isn't keen on plans to limit the use of wind tunnels.

Team boss Mario Theissen said at the launch of the BMW Sauber F1.08 car: "Cost reduction is desirable, we support that.

"The idea of a budget cap, at a first glance, looks quite attractive. We should at least spend some time on evaluating it and how it would be policed."

F1 governing body said in December that teams would be allowed to use only one wind tunnel each for aerodynamic development purposes and proposed restrictions in other areas

'The idea of a budget cap looks quite attractive'

Full details of the proposed cost-cutting measures were presented to the 11 team bosses at a meeting in Paris on January 11.

Some top teams have two wind tunnels in constant use while BMW Sauber has committed substantial resources to computational fluid dynamics.

Theissen said of the proposed wind tunnel rules: "If a team decides to spend a lot of money on drivers it should be possible for another to spend a lot of money on a computer or a wind tunnel.

"If you really want to limit the use of expensive tools then start with those that are not common in F1, not with a tool that is already there with every team." - Reuters

Two top Tijuana police officials found slain

By Sandra Dibble

2:35 a.m. January 15, 2008

TIJUANA – A high-ranking police official and his second-in-command were found shot to death late Monday in a central part of this city. The killings marked the second in less than two weeks of top municipal police officials.

* Tijuana police official and family slain
* Furiosa embestida del crimen organizado

The Baja California Attorney General's Office identified the victims as Jose de Jesus Arias Rico, chief of the central La Mesa District, and Elbert Escobedo Marquez, the assistant chief.

Their bodies were found slumped inside a 1988 blue Ford Escort. Numerous shells from 9-millimeter and .223-caliber weapons were found at the scene, according to a written statement.

The Agencia Fronteriza de Noticias, a Tijuana news agency, reported that the killings occurred at about 10:20 p.m. within the victims' district, a block from a busy intersection known as La Cinco y Diez.

In a written statement, Baja California's attorney general, Rommel Moreno Manjarrez, vowed to find those responsible for the crimes.

On Jan. 3, another district chief with the Tijuana municipal police was found dead four days after he was abducted from his home. His body and that of another Tijuana officer were found off a highway in an unpopulated area of Rosarito Beach.

Officials linked the killings to the victims' involvement with organized crime.

Tijuana police have faced rising attacks since Mayor Jorge Ramos' administration took office in December, vowing to eradicate corruption from the 2,300-officer force.


Barrett Jackson Day 1 Photos

See them all at

Monster Garage Cars at Barrett Jackson

Just got back, everything is selling dirt cheap.

Lot 61 F150 Nut Shaker
Lot 62 Rolls Sewage Sucker
Lot 63 Armored Truck Dunk Tank
Lot 64 Datsun Honey Bee Drifter
Lot 65 Nitro Civic
Lot 66 Ford Roadster T Track
Lot 67 Steam powered Chris Craft
Lot 68 Lincoln Open Road Racer
Lot 69 Chevy Milk Bomb
Lot 70 Willys Tractor Pull
Lot 71 Lincoln Fire Truck Limo
Lot 72 Jet Boat Car
Lot 73 Perterbuilt Trike
Lot 74 Cop Donut Shop Car
Lot 75 Mustang Switchblade
$7300 *

At one point the screen showed $73,000 for the Siwtchblade but it was corrected after a few minutes.

The original TT 54 at the barrett jackso

The original TT 54 at the barrett jackson auction.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Chances are, Dakar race won't be moved to L.A.

Dwight Perry

The Seattle Times

Robby Gordon doesn't pump up his hometown.

Robby Gordon won't be doing any promotional spots for the Los Angeles chamber of commerce any time soon.

"Let's put this in perspective," the Bellflower, Calif., driver told USA Today after this year's Dakar Rally was canceled over fear of terrorist attacks. "I'm pretty sure in L.A. we kill 11 a night on the streets — stabbed, shot, beat up, murdered.

The incident in Mauritania that led to the cancellation "is a couple of kids in the back of a pickup with AK-47s that shot a couple people," he said.

"Shot a couple people" was actually four killed and one wounded, but, hey — like Bluto Blutarsky — why stop him when he's on a roll?

Jeep Wrangler gets high, sets record

Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Climbs Highest Volcano on Earth and Sets New Altitude World Record

* Two Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited vehicles climbed 6,646 meters (21,804 feet) above sea level to the rim of Ojos del Salado – the highest altitude ever reached by a four-wheeled vehicle
* Accomplishment certified by Guinness World Records™
Auburn Hills, Mich., Apr 2, 2007 - Seventy years after the first man climbed the world's highest volcano, Ojos del Salado in Chile, two Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited vehicles set a new world record by climbing 6,646 meters (21,804 feet) to the volcano's rim. The achievement, certified by Guinness World Records™, is not one that is likely to be easily beaten.

Others tried, but only the "go anywhere, do anything" Jeep vehicles could make it to the top of the volcano. It is the second highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere (6,892 meters / 22,597 feet), and now dubbed the "highest parking lot in the world". Jeep parking only, of course. Over five exhausting days in March, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited vehicles carried a team from Extrem Events (Germany), led by Mattias Jeschke, from the base of the inhospitable volcano in the Chilean Andes to the highest point that a four-wheeled vehicle has traveled.

"This was exactly the challenge to separate the new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited from all other 4x4 vehicles. A climb like this in not just off-road, but extreme conditions, is a testament to the performance of the vehicle's powertrain, suspension and overall quality. We are very proud that Wrangler Unlimited was the first vehicle to be able to complete such a rigorous challenge, and believe that it really does set the vehicle apart from its competition," said George Murphy, Chrysler Group Senior Vice President of Global Marketing.

During the trip, the team endured hurricane-strength winds, temperatures that reached minus 30 degrees Centigrade (minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit) and the thin air of such high altitudes, as it maneuvered over malicious glaciers, fissured rock cliffs and volcanic sand. The last stretch of the climb was the most grueling. Both Wrangler Unlimited vehicles had to cross a glacier, parts of which were so smooth that any travel by foot required spiked shoes. At the far end was the glacier field, a fissured ice area strewn with razor sharp snow penitents. It was here that the vehicle's 3.8L V-6 engine and Goodyear's MT/R tires proved their true capability, and made the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited the first vehicle to ever cross the Ojos del Salado glacier.

After reaching the initial goal, to surpass 6,500 meters, just beyond the glacier, the team continued to drive on and pushed forward until there was nowhere left to drive. "Unbelievable, tremendous, phenomenal," was the description from team leader, Jeschke, after reaching the plateau at the end of the summit. "The Wranglers are unbeatable."

The two Wrangler Unlimited vehicles that completed this challenge were standard equipment Rubicon models. In addition to the standard equipment, both vehicles were fitted with Goodyear MT/R tires, electronic altitude measuring technology and winches.

Featuring a one-of-a-kind, four-door open-air design, the all-new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited offers even more comfort, space, versatility and open-air options than the all-new Wrangler. With room for five adult passengers – a Wrangler first – and the most cargo space ever offered in a Wrangler, the Wrangler Unlimited combines class-leading off-road capability with everyday practicality.

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited expands the Jeep experience and core values to a broader range of customers who have always wanted a Wrangler, but also needed more space and versatility. Outside North America, two engine options are available, an all-new 2.8-litre common-rail turbo diesel engine as well as a new 3.8-litre V-6 petrol engine. The Wrangler is available in both left- and right-hand drive. With solid axles, removable doors, exposed hinges, a fold-down windscreen and innovative removable and convertible tops, Wrangler retains the brand's coveted core values of freedom, adventure, mastery and authenticity.

Hungary-to-Mali rally goes on

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- While the Dakar Rally is canceled, dozens of drivers are still braving dirt roads and desert sands in a quirkier version of a Europe-to-Africa race.

A caravan of cars, trucks and motorcycles -- including an ambulance, an ice cream truck and a Hummer -- left Budapest on Saturday hoping to arrive in Bamako, Mali, on Jan. 27. It's a journey of some 5,400 miles through eight countries.
More than 300 participants started in the third edition of the Budapest-Bamako rally, an event whose motto is "Anyone, by anything, by any means." But along with the usual dangers of the road, they may have to face an even bigger menace this year -- terrorists in North Africa.

The annual Dakar Rally was canceled last week after organizers said the race had received "direct" threats of terrorism from al-Qaida-linked militants in north Africa, but officials of what is sometimes called the "budget Dakar" decided to go ahead with the competition.

"Our race has not received any terrorist threats," chief organizer Andras Szabo Gal said. "Authorities in Mauritania are aware of our itinerary and while they can't guarantee our safety, security will be strengthened."

After its initial stage from Budapest through Austria to Venice, Italy, the rally will make its way across the south of France and Spain, then cross over to three countries in north Africa -- Morocco, Mauritania and Mali.

Some 40 teams are in the competition section, racing their four-wheel drives not against the clock but each other. The only scheduled events are the daily starts and finishes of the 16 stages and teams score points by completing a wide range of quirky tasks along the way.

One example: Go to Sokolo, a village in Mali, and find Nelson Diarra's home in the Amdalei neighborhood. He has four wives and four homes. Find the right home and look for the letter on the wall.

Most the participants, however, are in the "tour" section of the rally. It's an even wackier event, where vehicles include a three-wheeled Velorex last produced more than 35 years ago in the former Czechoslovakia. Other modes of transportation include a Romanian Dacia, an East German Wartburg, an ambulance to be donated to Bamako rescue services, an ice cream truck and a converted Budapest city bus.

Also making the journey to Bamako -- and hopefully back to Budapest -- is a 54-feet-long bus that for 20 years transported workers building rockets at an army base in eastern Hungary.

"This bus was part of the Cold War but we're using it for more peaceful purposes now," said Akos Sipos, one of the eight passengers on "Bus number 7," named after one of the busiest lines in Budapest and outfitted with a plasma TV, a beer keg and four bunk beds.

The bus, like most of the other vehicles in the rally, is also loaded with bags full of donations such as clothing, medicines and school supplies, which will be distributed along the rally's route in Africa.

Around 25 percent of the participants are from outside Hungary, including teams from Britain, Spain, Poland, Slovakia and Romania.

The "K-Team" of Kevin Smith and Kevin Foster -- both from Watford, England -- is taking part thanks to winning a TV competition. They were awarded a 1985 Polski Fiat to use in the rally, which broke down and needed heavy repairs even during test drives around Budapest.

"Any terrorists which see us will just feel sorry for the car and surely let us go," said Foster, 30, a plumber and builder.

The team is supposed to sell the car in Mali and give the proceeds to charity, although it remains to be seen whether they can find a buyer for "Philip," which unlike its drivers did not need to be inoculated against yellow fever or take pills for malaria.


Guinea-Bissau arrests French tourist killers

Bissau - Police in Guinea-Bissau have arrested three more suspects in connection with the murder of four French tourists in Mauritania three weeks ago. Five detainees have now been extradited to Mauritania. Two were arrested in a hotel on Saturday in the capital Bissau on suspicion of direct involvement. The remaining three were apprehended shortly after and are accused of murder or complicity. Two suspects say they belong to al-Qaeda.

The French tourists were shot dead on 24 December in southern Mauritania, which is considered a relatively safe area. The Dakar Rally was cancelled in the wake of the murders.

Latest News

* Two killed in Kabul bomb attack
* 60 al-Qaeda fighters killed in Iraq
* Dutch soldiers commemorated in Kandahar
* Sarkozy agrees to help Saudi nuclear programme
* Kenyan government rejects Annan's mediation
* Israelis and Palestinians resume peace talks
* Oil consortium reaches agreement with Kazakhstan
* Moscow summons British ambassador
* Council of Europe: more patience with Russia
* Indian PM meets Chinese PM on state visit
* Malawi breaks diplomatic relations with Taiwan
* Armed men raid Sudanese prison
* Ten killed in regional border conflict in Somalia
* South Korean president offers North Korea deal
* Natalee Holloway's mother is guest on Oprah
* Former FARC hostage reunited with son
* Golden Globes presented in sober ceremony
* Eight Thai soldiers killed by roadside bomb
* Australian Open begins in Melbourne
* Investigation into Dutch friendly fire deaths
* Sarkozy tours Middle East
* Mass demonstration in Tbilisi
* Flooding kills 50 in Mozambique
* Interpol chairman resigns
* Iran to clarify secret nuclear activities
* Bush: Iran leading state sponsor of terror
* Pro-democracy activists protest in Hong Kong
* Rubbish problem continues in Naples
* Indian PM in China for state visit
* Suharto's condition worsens