* John Britten (1931-2009), a key player in the rescue of four British tracks under the MotorSport Vision banner, has died aged 78. Britten was a business partner to Jonathan Palmer when MSV acquired Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Snetterton and Cadwell Park in 2004. “John played an active role in turning the circuits business round,” said Palmer. Having raced MG Midgets in the ’60s, Britten went on to create the Arkley SS. An accomplished pilot, he worked closely with Richard Lloyd in the Britten-Lloyd Racing Group C team.
* The Le Mans Series (LMS) in Europe will open with an eight-hour race at Paul Ricard as a possible precursor to longer races in the future. The French event, on April 11, will be the first LMS race longer than the current 1000km or six-hour format. The five-race schedule also includes night races at the Algarve circuit in Portugal and at the Hungaroring.
* Danica Patrick will run a partial NASCAR Nationwide Series programme this year alongside another season in the IRL with Andretti Autosport. Her stock car campaign will be with the JR Motorsports Chevrolet team.
* Fabrizio Giovanardi is taking a sabbatical this year following the end of Vauxhall’s British Touring Car Championship programme. The 43-year-old hopes the arrival of new makes, most likely in World Touring Cars, will allow him to return to full-time action in 2011.
* Briton Oliver Jarvis has been promoted to the factory Abt Audi DTM squad in place of Tom Kristensen, who is focusing on sports car racing in 2010. Jarvis will now drive a current A4 DTM.
* The OAK Racing team, an LMS regular, has taken over the build of the Pescarolo 01 LMP1 and LMP2 designs from Pescarolo Sport owner the Sora composites group. The plans of Henri Pescarolo, who sold his company in ’08, remained fluid at press time.
* The third-generation GP2 car, to be launched later this year, will be built around the monocoque of the present Dallara 208 chassis. Economic factors have been cited in the decision against building an all-new car.