the latest news from around the world, courtesy of press snoop Lynne Huntting.

After weeks of rumours, Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP) and Dorna Sports announced that they have "reached an agreement in principal to bring FIM MotoGP World Championships to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for five years, starting next season".

Dorna holds the commercial and TV rights to the event, and will include a USGP for the 2005 MotoGP calendar as part of the schedule to be approved by FIM, which is to motorcycles what FIA is to cars. No date has been set for the 2005 race, but the Honda Superbike Classic race it is replacing is traditionally held in July.

The initial race will be sponsored by Red Bull energy drink, which is also rumoured to be footing the $2million track upgrade costs. It's been ten years since Laguna Seca has hosted a motorcycle race of this magnitude. For eight years, starting in 1988, the races - which were then called the 500 cc Grand Prix World Championship - were held at Laguna. There have been six American riders who have become FIM MotoGP champions - KENNY ROBERTS (1978-80); FREDDIE SPENCER (1983 and 1985); EDDIE LAWSON (1984, 1986, 1988 and 1989); WAYNE RAINEY (1990-1992); KEVIN SCHWANTZ (1993) and KENNY ROBERTS Jr (2000). Rainey now races karts on the West Coast, including Laguna, with his best pal, Lawson. Turn nine is named Rainey Curve. Roberts Jr continues to race in the senior class, while dad runs the KR team.

KIRK McCARTHY of Australia died Sunday after a high-speed motorcycle crash during a race at Willowbank Raceway in Queensland. He had collided at high speed in turn four with JOSHUA FORSTER of New South Wales, who suffered minor injuries. The bikes slid into an unobstructed run-off area, but McCarthy, 35, died while undergoing surgery at Ipswich Hospital.

Both the police and Motorcycling Australia are investigating the accident. JOHN TETLEY, owner of the race track, reportedly said the riders were racing about 180mph and under heavy braking. "We rent them the facility and we make sure that the track meets all the safety regulations" said Tetley.

McCarthy was a long-time rider, in Australia, Britain and Germany. He won the 1995 Australian Superbike Championship while riding for Honda, and he has also ran World Superbikes and 500cc GP bikes. In 2002 McCarthy competed in the AMA Pro Thunder Series, racing on a new motorcycle on circuits he'd never before seen and with a new team, often setting lap and race records in the process, winning four poles out of five races, and winning four races. His only loss was at Laguna Seca. McCarthy became the fifth and final champion in the AMA Pro Thunder Series. McCarthy is remembered as a smiling, positive, and upbeat person.

Still in Australia, but switching to the V8 Supercar series, it has been announced that MARK NOSKE of Australia has left the new Wright Patton Shakespeare team after just a few races, saying that "the upshot is that we have decided by mutual agreement to go our own ways, so we can both focus on progressing plans for next year".

Noske, a long time V8 Supercar driver, joined the team after three races had already run. He ran five races. WPS boss, CRAIG GORE, said it was an amicable parting and designed "to allow both parties to look towards securing long-term arrangements for season 2005".

Soon after the announcement of the Noske/WPS split came the news that ALEX YOONG of Malaysia will finish the season with the WPS team, with an option for the 2005 season. He had already been announced as racing with the new team for the two endurance races at Sandown and Bathurst. His team-mate will be DAVID BESNARD. Far the two endurance races, one of the two extra drivers is JOHN McINTYRE of New Zealand. The fourth driver will be announced soon.

One of Yoong's races will be the V8 Supercar Challenge at the Lexmark Indy 300 weekend at Surfer's Paradise, part of the Champ Car weekend. His other two V8 rounds will be in Tasmania and at Eastern Creek in Sydney.

Yoong's background is mainly open wheel racing in Europe, including the 2002 season with the Minardi F1 team, followed by a short-lived Champ Car career with the Dale Coyne team in 2003.

Yoong got the news in a telephone call Wednesday. Not that he is eager or anything, but he's immediately relocating from Malaysia to the Gold Coast to be near the team.

The next V8 Supercar race is in three weeks at Sandown.

Besnard has been racing V8 Supercars for some time. He just lost his appeal for a blackflag penalty. It was one of 13 penalties assessed last weekend at Oran Park in New South Wales Australia. Besnard is one of four drivers in the V8 Supercar series who have raced in the United States. Besnard, JASON BRIGHT and JASON BARGWANNA - all Aussies - raced in the US F2000 series, with Besnard and Bright nearly winning the Championship. MAX WILSON of Brazil raced in CART before moving to Australia to try his luck in tin tops.

Bright is leading the V8 standings; Bargwanna is tenth, Wilson is twenty-seventh and Besnard is thirtieth, followed by Noske who has raced five of the eight rounds.

 

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