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 NEWS ARCHIVES: January 2001

Archived news on International F3000, Euro F3000 and Formula Nippon.

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30th January 2001 - International F3000:

Marw Webber, Monaco 2000

European F3000 team will race on; Albers hopes to stay Despite Paul Stoddart's takeover of Minardi today (see below), it was confirmed that his F3000 team run by European Formula Racing will continue to operate this year from the same Ledbury base, alongside the organisation's two-seater F1 car. It is as yet unclear whether the team will continue as the European Arrows team, or lose its Arrows link and its junior team status as reports suggested. Despite taking part in Formula Nippon testing, 2000 season driver Christijan Albers may yet remain with European Formula in F3000. According to F3000 Today, the Dutchman will be testing for the team at Imola on February 14th and 15th and is confident of being re-signed.

 

30th January 2001 - International F3000:

Stoddart secures Minardi deal; Webber a rumoured driver Australian aviation magnate Paul Stoddart has completed a deal to purchase a controlling interest in the struggling Minardi F1 team from Gabriele Rumi. Part of Stoddart's empire is the European Formula F3000 team, which ran as European Arrows since the beginning of 2000. Now Minardi will also be partly run from the same European Aviation base at Ledbury in Hertfordshire, in tandem with the team's traditional Faenza home. The 2001 Minardi will take the name PS01 and will be powered by a Ford V10 engine rebadged as a "European V10". Stoddart said: "We do not underestimate the enormity of the task ahead of us, but the logistical issues involved in operating factories in two different countries are eased considerably by the fact that European has its own airline and can do things at a pace other companies would find impossible. The companies complement one another superbly, and together we will be able to achieve more than either one could individually." He added: "European has a number of highly-experienced F1 personnel on staff already. It really is only people of this calibre who could join with the Faenza workforce at this late stage in order to ensure there will be a pair of Minardis on the grid for the first Grand Prix of the season, in Melbourne." No further developments on the driver front have been announced, although Fernando Alonso is widely expected to take one seat. Enrique Bernoldi was mooted as a strong contender for the other, but in the past week he has continued testing for Arrows, suggesting he may be signed as their test driver. Mark Webber, who drove to third overall with Stoddart's European Arrows F3000 team last year, has now cropped up as a possible Minardi driver, despite being contracted as Benetton's F1 test driver. The Australian has been expected to race for Super Nova in F3000 alongside his Benetton commitments for many months, but no confirmation from David Sears' outfit has yet been made. However, if Stoddart is to be believed only one of the aforementioned drivers is likely to get a seat. It appears he values the need for an experienced pilot, telling Autosport: "One of them youíll be definitely wrong on because itís really changed and I think you might get a shock. Weíre hoping to have a young charger and then somebody with more experience alongside him. One will be announced next week and the second the week after."

 

30th January 2001 - Euro F3000:

Giao returns to Formula Nissan Portuguese Manuel Giao will not continue in F3000 this season, despite a promising rookie F3000 Italia campaign last year with Monaco Motorsport. Giao has signed to race for Scuderia Famà in the Open Telefonica by Nissan series, where he will be partnered by countryman Paolo Alho. Late last year Scuderia Famà declared an interest in taking part in the inaugural Euro F3000 series this year, but it appears Giao has decided to step back down to the Spanish-based Formula Nissan series. Last year in Italian F3000 Giao finished 8th overall, 2 points behind team-mate Gianluca Calcagni. Giao and Alho were due to test their Coloni-built Nissan chassis at Monza today and tomorrow to begin preparations for what the team hope will be a title-winning season.

 

30th January 2001 - International F3000:

Sperafico starts work with Petrobras Junior Ricardo Sperafico was due to arrive in England yesterday to present himself to the directors of his new International F3000 team, Petrobras Junior, according to Zaz.com.br. The reigning Italian F3000 champion will test for the first time as a confirmed driver on February 14th/15th along with the rest of the field in the Imola official FIA tests.

 

30th January 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Formula Nippon seats filling up fast In addition to the two ARTA seats being taken (see below), Japanese press reports reveal that a number of drivers have been confirmed at other teams. Satoshi Motoyama is retained by Impul, while rookie race-winner Tsugio Matsuda remains with PIAA Nakajima. Naoki Hattori has re-signed for Team 5Zigen, and Shinsuke Shibahara stays with Leyjun. Tetsuji Tamanaka is again confirmed at Takagi B1, while Ryo Michigami is joining Mooncraft from Dandelion. With a limited number of seats, only a few of the F3000 and European drivers exploring their options in Japan are likely to find a team. The latest to be linked to the series is Brazil's Mario Haberfeld who is considered a rumoured Impul team-mate to Motoyama. An updated silly-season table with contributions from Tooru Kitajima, based on Japanese press, and from Nicolas Korzan can be viewed here to give the latest likely and rumoured drivers.

 

30th January 2001 - Formula Nippon:

ARTA sign Wakisaka and Tsuchiya Aguri Suzuki's ARTA outfit confirmed the signing of both Juichi Wakisaka and Takeshi Tsuchiya for the forthcoming Formula Nippon season at a press conference yesterday. Wakisaka, who raced for ARTA last year, will drive the #55 car, while team newcomer Tsuchiya drives the #56. The team will run two Reynards. ARTA will also be supporting two French F3 drivers, Mathieu Zangarelli and Keiko Ihara. (Source: Formula Nippon Official Site / translation courtesy of Tooru Kitajima & Nicolas Korzan)

 

30th January 2001 - F.Nippon / International F3000:

Albers interview now on-line Apologies for the error with the link to the short Christijan Albers interview. It can now be read here.

 

28th January 2001 - International F3000:

Fontana still hunting Super Nova drive Norberto Fontana revealed he is still in contact with Super Nova and will have to decide soon whether he can find the budget to race or not. The Argentinian, with experience in F1, CART, Formula Nippon and F3000, was previously thought to have been all but ruled out of the drive after an unremarkable test at the end of last year. However, he told SportsYa! on Friday [translated]: "I continue working very hard to try to obtain the budget; next week I have a series of meetings and I hope to clear the economic support to [compete outside Argentina]". He added: "The next ten days are crucial. I spoke yesterday with Super Nova and they told me that they want to confirm their drivers as rapidly as possible. I hope to be one of them." If Fontana cannot secure the budget for F3000, it is said he will have to give up on the dream of reaching F1 again and concentrate on racing at home. He has spoken to Gustavo Ramonda, the owner of the Toyota Team Argentina TC2000 outfit, with a view to partnering Juan Maria Traverso this year.

 

28th January 2001 - International F3000:

Lancieri, Piccini and others join Melo in Durango shakedown Durango made their return to the International F3000 series with a test at Vallelunga on Friday, as part of the ROMBO Driver's Day. The event organised by weekly magazine ROMBO gives a chance for young Italians to try out the powerful Lola B99/50 F3000 machinery, although it appears Durango were also evaluating drivers to partner Jaime Melo Jr this year. Melo had his first run as an official Durango driver, while Gabriele Lancieri made a surprise appearance, leading to speculation that he might race at the team. The Italian, an F3000 Italia front-runner for the last two years with Sighinolfi, had already tested one of Durango's Euro F3000 cars. At the Vallelunga test, Melo set a best time of 1m05.48s, although varying track conditions meant it was difficult to set a competitive time. Lancieri finished close behind on 1:05.55. The other drivers to take part were: Matteo Grassotto (Italian and Eurocup F.Renault front-runner), Gianmaria Bruni (5th in British F3 with Fortec), Enrico Toccacelo (7th in German F3 & Bologna F3000 sprint competitor), Andrea Piccini (veteran of 2 F3000 seasons), Fulvio Cavicchi (Austrian and Central European F3 champion), Raffaele Giammaria (2nd in Italian F.Renault), and Armin Pornbacher (from German F3). (Source: Prorace / Durango)

 

28th January 2001 - International F3000:

Diaz still waiting for sponsor money It is still uncertain whether Luis Diaz will be able to race for Prostar (Prost Jr.) in F3000 next year, despite the Mexican being granted an International "A" licence on Thursday by the OMDAI Vltesse (the FIA's Mexican representative). Diaz commented that he has the confirmed support of Telmex, but still needs confirmation from other companies before he can fund his F3000 drive. He is still confident of his chances of competing, and discussed the preparations he will make before the season kicks off at Interlagos in March. Diaz commented that he will have 10 days of official FIA testing and 10 other practice days before the first race. He will travel to Europe at the start of February for the first of the test sessions at Imola. (Source: Sporcar)

 

28th January 2001 - International F3000:

Super Nova to become Renault junior team? Thursday's Autosport revealed that Super Nova may become a Renault junior team as part of a staircase of talent the French marque plans to establish. Renault could place two of its contracted drivers with the team for this season. Mark Webber, Renault-owned Benetton's test driver, has long been expected to sign for the team. He could be partnered by Fernando Alonso, signed on a long term contract by Benetton boss Flavio Briatore. The entire deal depends on whether Alonso will be free to remain in the formula, or will make his F1 debut with Minardi. Super Nova boss David Sears said: "I told them I wanted to know this week whether I will have one or two of their drivers in my team. It depends on what happens with Minardi, but Alonso and Webber would be a strong pairing." If Alonso joins Minardi then there is unlikely to be any change in Super Nova's name. The team are already affiliated in an unofficial manner with Benetton through mutual sponsor Playlife. Sears added: "We will find out this week if there is a long-term deal, otherwise we'll do what we have done in the past. We've been running F1 test drivers for a while now."

 

28th January 2001 - International F3000:

Bourdais and Hill sign for DAMS It was announced in Paris on Friday that Sebastien Bourdais and Derek Hill will race for DAMS this year. Frenchman Bourdais was dumped by Prost's junior team (Prostar) before Christmas, despite having a year of his contract left to run. Prostar look set to run two South Americans in deference to new sponsor PSN. DAMS boss Jean-Paul Driot told Speedvision / Autosport.com: "He [Bourdais] only became a free agent less than two weeks ago, as everybody, including Sebastien, was under the assumption he was contracted to another team. When it became clear he wasn't, I didn't hesitate a minute to sign him on." Bourdais commented: "For a moment it looked a bit scary for this year, but I am extremely pleased to be part of the DAMS team for 2001." Derek Hill, the son of 1961 F1 champion Phil, graduates to the series after an Italian F3000 campaign with Da Vinci. The 24-year old American said: "I am very pleased to be joining DAMS. They are a very professional team and have a great history in F3000. They have worked with some of the very best drivers. I am sure I will learn a lot from them during the season." Driot commented: "Derek is the up and coming talent in the States, and I am sure he will live up to all the expectations his famous last name incurs. His level of professionalism is immense and I think these two drivers can and will create quite a few surprises throughout the season." DAMS are the most successful team in F3000, but their fortunes have waned in recent seasons. The outfit formed by Driot and ex-GP racer Rene Arnoux have won 22 races and three titles (Erik Comas, 1990; Olivier Panis, 1993, and Jean-Christophe Boullion, 1994). Last season the team struggled, Kristian Kolby and Franck Montagny scoring just seven points between them. Kolby was expected to stay at the team after learning the Interlagos circuit with Hill in a SudAm F3 car. Instead the Dane has abandoned F3000 for a seat in Indy Lights (see separate story).

 

28th January 2001 - International F3000:

Kolby quits Europe for Indy Lights After one F3000 season with DAMS, Denmark's Kristian Kolby has opted to race in Indy Lights this season. Kolby, 22, has signed for Conquest Racing, the team owned by Belgium's Eric Bachelart. Kolby will be partnered by the reigning Barber Dodge champion Nilton Rossoni of Brazil. Former IndyCar driver Bachelart is hoping Kolby can challenge for the Indy Lights title. Conquest Racing finished third in the driver's standings this year, having been front-runners for three years with Brazilian Felipe Giaffone. Bachelart commented: "I am very happy to have signed Kristian as he has proven that he has the capability of securing titles, and that is what we will be expecting. It will be Kristian's rookie year which will be hard, especially on the ovals, but we have an extensive testing and development programme which will help him immensely and it will also help us providing him with the equipment he needs to secure success." Kolby is equally confident of his chances: "Conquest Racing has proved before that they can win races. Now I hope to make them say that they can win the Drivers Championship as well. I am not moving to the States to take it easy and learn because whatever I do I want success, and Conquest Racing is a first class organisation who presented me with the best opportunity to achieve my ambitions." Testing was due to start at Button Willow Park at the end of January. Kolby has set his sights on a CART drive and is already in contact with teams with regard to testing duties. Kolby is leaving Europe after finding much success in his adopted home of Great Britain. He won the 1996 British Formula Ford title before a successful jump to British F3. A single race with Coloni in the 1999 Italian F3000 championship demonstrated his talent in the more powerful cars. His first International F3000 season with DAMS however proved a major disappointment, the French team having a disastrous year. (Source: Kristian Kolby press release)

 

28th January 2001 - Formula Nippon / International F3000:

Christijan Albers interview Former European Arrows F3000 rookie Christijan Albers was interviewed following his maiden Formula Nippon test with Cerumo at Motegi last December. He commented at the time that he still had a possibility of competing in International F3000, but he is also interested in racing in Formula Nippon. He hopes to race where the conditions to get good results are best. A slightly amended translation of the Japanese article kindly provided by Nicolas Korzan can be read here.

 

28th January 2001 - International F3000:

Montreal seeking F3000 race According to Autosport, the Montreal circuit authorities are making moves to attract International F3000 to the circuit on the support bill to the Canadian Grand Prix. The race would join Interlagos as one of the first championship rounds to ever be held outside of Europe. Canada has hosted races for F3000 machinery before - Halifax hosted the Moosehead Grand Prix in 1993 and 1994, a non-championship race and a British F2 round respectively.

 

28th January 2001 - International F3000:

Bernoldi to take Arrows test drive? Formula 3000 front-runner Enrique Bernoldi made a surprise appearance for Arrows at Barcelona F1 testing late this week. On day 6 he drove the AMT powered Arrows for 14 laps, and it is now believed he may be considering a test drive deal with the team rather than a seat at Minardi which he has been strongly linked to. It was speculated that the Brazilian might choose the route taken by Olivier Panis, Alex Wurz, Ricardo Zonta and Marc Gene rather than settle for an uncompetitive drive in his bid to establish himself as an F1 driver.

 

28th January 2001 - Euro F3000:

Brno aiming for CART race? According to Autoracing1, Brno in the Czech Republic may be making a proposal to CART to run a race on the 3.37 mile circuit. The track will play host to the inaugural Euro F3000 championship on 20th May this year, perhaps a preliminary event to boost the circuit's world status and help secure another European CART round.

 

24th January 2001 - International F3000:

Stoddart confirms Minardi takeover bid; engines re-badged "European" Minardi have confirmed they are in negotiations with Paul Stoddart, the boss of European Aviation, the organisation which includes European Formula Racing and the European Arrows F3000 team. If the deal goes ahead the team will use '98-spec Ford V10 engines rebadged as "European" V10's. F3000 rookie sensation Fernando Alonso will be one driver, while fellow F3000 graduate Enrique Bernoldi is most likely to partner the Spaniard. A group of two or three drivers will be considered. Stoddart told autosport.com: "These things take time and we thought we would be in a position to announce officially today, but unfortunately there's still some last minute negotiations. All I can say is that the talks are at a final stage and we hope to conclude a deal within the next seven days. There are no hiccups and I can see no reason why things won't be concluded satisfactorily, but it's only right and proper that I wait until it's a done deal. The Australian airline magnate also spoke to ITV-F1, saying: "The deal first came up at Christmas and Iíve heard stories come and go but I didnít start working on it 110% until the last fortnight. And I havenít slept properly for two weeks. It has not been easy but if it was everyone would be doing it." He continued: "We are not going to win the world championship but I believe we can give a good account of ourselves and finish 10th or higher. Minardi have done that for the last three years and I think we can make it four. Iím very confident. Weíve got 29 days until the freight leaves for Melbourne and I think we can make that. Iíll use one of my own planes to take the team if necessary but I donít think it will come to that. We will be there. But it is going to be an enormous task and we are going to have to move mountains. Thereís a saying: Ďthe impossible takes a while but miracles take a little longerí. Well, doing this deal and getting to Melbourne is somewhere between the two." It is not clear whether Stoddart taking over Minardi will mean the end of his F3000 team. European Arrows is already set to lose its Arrows junior team status (see news of 20th January).

 

24th January 2001 - International F3000:

Haberfeld joins Piquets for Brazilian race Former British F3 champion and F3000 driver Mario Haberfeld will be competing in the Brazilian 1000 Miles sportscar endurance race at Interlagos this weekend. He will team up with multiple F1 champion Nelson Piquet and his nephew Rodrigo Piquet in a prototype BMW. New Petrobras Junior F3000 signing Antonio Pizzonia was incorrectly announced as a driver instead of Rodrigo in a circuit press release. Haberfeld suffered two disappointing seasons with McLaren and Fortec in F3000. Last year he suffered a leg injury in Barcelona that forced him to miss two races, while he earlier broke a leg in testing before his 1999 debut season with McLaren. The Brazilian's plans for 2001 are not clear at present. (Source: Zaz.com.br/)

 

24th January 2001 - International F3000:

Saelens set to announce deal According to his website, Belgian David Saelens will announce his plans for 2001 soon. He said that the contract will be signed in the upcoming weeks, that he is negotiating with several teams and that he spent New Year's Eve on the Belgian coast (Knokke). Saelens was believed to be on a shortlist to retain his seat at Super Nova, but more recently he was linked to a seat at European Arrows. (Source: www.davidsaelens.com / Geert Barentsen)

 

24th January 2001 - International F3000:

Melo ready for Durango debut Brazil's Jaime Melo Jr will make his official debut as a Durango Formula driver this Friday at the Rombo Driver's Day in Italy, according to Prorace. Melo joined Ivone Pinton's squad having left Petrobras Junior following his rookie season. Melo is moving to Italy in order to be close to Durango's base.

 

24th January 2001 - International F3000:

Diniz backs Prost junior teams and F3000 star Bernoldi Prost shareholder Pedro Diniz revealed he is fully in support of Prost's F3000 junior team, Prostar, and believes the formation of other junior teams is necessary. The Brazilian former Grand Prix driver told F1 Racing: "It's very important to bring on new drivers, so I would hope that Prost will, in the near future, also have a presence in Formula 3 and Formula Renault." Recent reports revealed Prost is set to form junior teams in British F3 (with RC Motorsport) and Formula Renault (with Cram Competition). Diniz also gave support to fellow Brazilian Enrique Bernoldi. Speaking before Gaston Mazzacane took the second Prost seat, Diniz said: "I think Enrique would perform very well for us, even if he is a bit wild on occasions. I think I may be able to have a calming influence on him and bring out the best in him. We'll see." With the loss of the Prost race drive chance and no Red Bull Junior F3000 seat to return to, Bernoldi is expected to join Minardi as a race driver alongside Fernando Alonso, with the Italian team's future hanging on a takeover by Paul Stoddart.

 

24th January 2001 - International F3000:

Marc Gene: Jordi should have reached F1 Williams F1 tester Marc Gene praised his elder brother Jordi, an ex-F3000 race winner, and claimed he should have made it into F1. Marc told F1 Racing: "He did very well up to Formula 3000 and he should have been in F1. I think he was the best Spanish driver ever. But you have to be in the right place at the right time and he was not. When the momentum goes, it is hard to pick it up again. Without my brother, I would not be in F1. He taught me so much. It meant I knew what to expect at every stage of my career. When I knocked on a door, I already knew what was behind it. I look up to him still." Jordi had the better CV of the two Spaniards. He drove in F3000 for Pacific in 1992, winning at Silverstone and finishing fifth overall in the title chase. A part-season with TWR in 1993 was less successful, and he bowed out of the category after four races with Nordic in 1994.

 

24th January 2001 - International F3000:

Petrobras announce new sponsorship strategy Brazilian oil giant Petrobras will continue to sponsor the Petrobras Junior F3000 team this season along with Williams F1, an official announcement from Claudio Thompson confirmed. The total motorsports budget of the company is less than US$10 million. Petrobras will supply Williams with 160,000 litres of fuel, while it will supply the Petrobras Junior Team about 600 litres of high-performance lubricants during the season. Thompson commented on the first ever Brazilian round of International F3000 which opens the calendar on March 31st at Interlagos: "We are proud to take a F3000 race out of Europe for the first time in history." Petrobras have decided to stop backing individual drivers, but to concentrate on sponsorship of teams. Currently the distinctive green and yellow colours of Petrobras can be seen locally in Formula Chevrolet, SudAm F3 (with Avallone Motorsports), Stock Car, Karting and Mini-Baja, in addition to their international support. Thompson added: "We changed our strategy last season and stopped sponsoring drivers. This season we will continue investing in teams and testing new technologies with them, which help us to develop new products thinking on our consumers." (Source: APPROACHES ESPORTES / F3000.com)

 

24th January 2001 - International F3000:

CorrectionÖ In the story below of 20th January, it should of course have read that Arrows revealed their own THREE seater car at the Autosport International show, the new AX3.

 

20th January 2001 - International F3000:

Mark Webber, European Arrows, Monaco 2000

European Formula stripped of Arrows junior status? According to Crash.net, European Formula Racing have split with the Arrows F1 team, and will not be running a junior Arrows effort in F3000 this season. The news follows strong rumours last year of an imminent split between the parties, generated by the refusal of European Arrows' F3000 driver Mark Webber to agree terms with the Arrows F1 team for a testing contract. As a result Webber did not become test driver as expected and wasn't given any time in the car. He has since switched to Benetton as test driver and is expected to drive for Super Nova this year. It appears this disagreement has finally resulted in Paul Stoddart's European Formula team parting with Arrows. At this month's Autosport International Show in Birmingham, the 2-seater promotional F1 car built and run by European Formula Racing for Arrows was on display without the distinctive orange and black Arrows livery. Meanwhile the Leafield based F1 squad unveiled their own, separate 2-seater F1 car. As reported yesterday, European boss Stoddart is considering a purchase of F1 team Minardi. European Formula have had a turbulent two years in F3000. In 1999 the team began their F3000 involvement by merging with Edenbridge Racing, but the partnership soon disentegrated and Edenbridge pulled out.

 

19th January 2001 - International F3000:

Luis Diaz

Diaz facing budget shortfall Luis Diaz may not be racing for Prostar (Prost junior) this season after all, despite the Mexican being the most strongly tipped driver for a seat. A contact with a reliable source has informed us that Diaz currently only has the budget to do the first four races of the year. Diaz was sent the race contract last week, but no official announcement has been made and it appears he is struggling to find the necessary full budget. Nicolas Filiberti is expected to race in one seat of the PSN-sponsored squad, while Diaz may now face competition from Jonathan Cochet and Christian Murchison amongst others.

 

19th January 2001 - International F3000:

Kolby and Hill joined by Bourdais as DAMS possibilities Kristian Kolby and Derek Hill have the best chance of joining DAMS this year according to the French press, reveals correspondant Fred Breton, backing up reports in Autosport and at SportsYa!. However, Sebastien Bourdais, dumped by Prost junior (see story below), has also been linked to the French team. Kolby and Hill were both sent to Interlagos by DAMS to learn the track in an F3 car recently.

 

19th January 2001 - International F3000:

Bourdais definitely loses Prost drive; Cochet in contention? The new PSN support of Prost's junior F3000 team has meant Sebastien Bourdais has lost his drive, it has been confirmed. The Frenchman was expecting to remain with the squad, now known as Prostar, for a second season. However, now Argentina's Nicolas Filiberti is expected to be signed due to the demands of the sponsors. He may be partnered by Mexico's Luis Diaz, although the Mexican is struggling to find a budget (see separate story above) while Autosport yesterday claimed French F3 champion Jonathan Cochet has also been linked to the seat. Another possibility is the Singapore-born Australian native Christian Murchison. Bourdais complained that he only found out he would not be able to drive before Christmas, leaving him in difficulties to find a drive for the new season. Many of the available seats have been or are soon to be filled. He has been linked to DAMS (see story above).

 

19th January 2001 - Euro F3000:

Müller stays with Ghinzani for F3000 return German F3 runner-up Alex Müller will make an F3000 return this year in the new Euro F3000 series, formerly F3000 Italia. The German is staying with Team Ghinzani, the squad of ex-F1 driver Piercarlo, reveals Autosport. Müller revealed he was looking at the series at the end of last year's final German F3 round. He previously raced in the International F3000 series for the Oreca BMW junior team in 1998, but suffered a generally disappointing year along with teammate Dominik Schwager. Müller returned to the team, then stripped of its BMW status, for part of 1999, but failed to qualify in his four races. He also raced in French F3 in 1999, finishing seventh overall, before switching to the German series.

 

19th January 2001 - Euro F3000 / International F3000:

Andreas Scheld racing to 2nd at Nurburgring

Scheld to step down to Fortec Euro F3000 team? According to Autosport, German backmarker Andreas Scheld is unlikely to remain in the International F3000 series this year, but may instead race in the Euro F3000 series, presumably with Fortec's second squad. Scheld had a predictably difficult rookie season with Fortec in International F3000 this year, but finished second on the road thanks to strategy and a mature drive in the rain at the Nurburgring (pictured). He was unfairly robbed of the position for a minor technical infringement.

 

19th January 2001 - International F3000:

European Arrows boss set to buy Minardi Latest reports claim that European Racing boss Paul Stoddart is set to become the saviour of struggling F1 team Minardi. According to reports in the Italian press, the aviation magnate could buy the team and secure a Supertec engine deal. International F3000 team European Arrows is run by Stoddart's European Racing organisation, while his other projects include running the Arrows 2-seater F1 car. He told autosport.com: "We are looking and I think itís fair to say that we are the teamís [Minardiís] only chance. I am quite confident, but it would be wholly wrong to say any more than that at this stage." An announcement on the team's future is expected early next week. Should the deal go ahead, Minardi may be run from both European's base in Hertfordshire, England, and Minardi's current base at Faenza in Italy.

 

19th January 2001 - International F3000:

Prost set up talent ladder from F.Renault to F1 According to Autosport, Prost will expand their involvement in junior categories this year, creating a ladder of talent extending below their existing F1 and F3000 outfits. Reports in Italy state that British F3 team RC Motorsport will become a junior Prost team this season. The ex-Italian F3 championship-winning team has been affiliated to Benetton for the last two years, but the two parties fell out this year and parted company. Prost are also expected to support Formula Renault team Cram Competition, which brought new Euro F3000 driver Felipe Massa to the Eurocup and Italian titles last year.

 

19th January 2001 - International F3000:

Saelens linked to European Arrows seat European Arrows boss Paul Stoddart told Autosport that David Saelens is one of the drivers the team have spoken to regarding a drive this year. The Belgian is unlikely to remain at Super Nova, for whom Mark Webber is strongly expected to sign, and where Fernando Alonso and Jeffrey van Hooydonk are also linked to seats. European Arrows will want a top driver like Saelens to build on a successful season which saw Mark Webber win at Silverstone and finish as the best rookie.

 

19th January 2001 - International F3000:

"Prostar" name clarification Reader Nicolas Korzan has informed us that Prostar is not a new name, but that the former Apomatox squad was renamed under the moniker when Prost took definitive control of it in 1999. The team was however entered as "Gauloises Formula" in the past two seasons, but now that the French cigarette firm has pulled out, the existing name of Prostar will come to the fore. Prost began their affiliation with Dominique Delestre's team for the 1998 season, when it continued to compete as Apomatox. Apologies for any confusion.

 

19th January 2001 - International F3000:

Olivier quits F3000 for tin-tops Belgian driver Yves Olivier has joined DTM Opel outfit Euroteam, according to Autosport. The former German F3 veteran competed in F3000 for Witmeur KTR last year, but consistently struggled and was a frequent non-qualifier. No formal announcement of the deal has yet been made.

 

19th January 2001 - Euro F3000:

Burlotti ruled out of Euro F3000 debut Formula Nissan runner-up Giuseppe Burlotti will not be racing in Euro F3000 next season, despite testing for Fortec and also being linked to a rumoured Super Nova entry earlier in the winter. Autosport reveal the Italian has signed to KMS in German F3, which took last year's title with Burlotti's countryman Giorgio Pantano.

 

19th January 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Krumm set to race in CART after all Formula Nippon runner-up Michael Krumm will race in CART after all following a long succession of rumours. The German has signed for Team PRG (Project Racing Group) where he should partner former British F2 driver Luiz Garcia Jr. Krumm was earlier expected to remain in Formula Nippon with 5Zigen after providing the closest challenge to runaway champion Toranosuke Takagi last year. Now with PRG he will resume battle with "Tiger" Takagi in Champ Cars. Team owner Andreas Leberle announced the deal, but Krumm still has some sponsorship issues to address.

 

19th January 2001 - International F3000:

Max Wilson loses Sigma seat but should join new squad Former F3000 frontrunner Max Wilson has lost his seat at the new Sigma ChampCar team. The Brazilian instead is almost certain to join the new Brooke Racing team, where an official announcement was due to be made. Spain's Oriol Servia will race for Sigma, despite Wilson being with the squad since its inception and throughout initial testing. Speculation claims Servia earned the seat thanks to his Telefonica money.

 

17th January 2001 - International F3000:

Diaz testing for Prost's junior team last year

Prost junior team becomes "Prostar"; Filiberti and Diaz likely The Prost junior team, formerly Gauloises Formula, has been renamed "Prostar" (or "Prostar Gauloises" according to Reforma). The French ex-Apomatox squad are expected to run two South American drivers in deference to new sponsors PSN, leaving the highly rated Sebastien Bourdais out in the cold. According to Reforma, boss Dominique Delestre will not confirm that Mexico's Luis Diaz will race for the team until contract details are finalised. However, Diaz has received the document for a one-year deal and is expected to race this year. According to French correspondant Fred Breton, the Argentinian sometime F3000 driver Nicolas Filiberti will also be racing for the team. His teammate will be either Diaz (which appears almost certain) or Formula Holden runner-up Christian Murchison of Singapore, who is known to have been offered a seat if he could find the money. Prostar team director Delestre commented that an announcement will be made in nine days time. The former racer is confident that Indy Lights graduate Diaz will cope with the pressure. He said [translated]: "Luis is going to improve much on the tracks and soon he is going to be competitive." Diaz himself explained that he is being realistic about his prospects and isn't expecting much until the end of the year. The news is a major blow to Sebastien Bourdais, who was expected to be retained by the team. The former French F3 champion had an impressive rookie season last year and blew away talented teammate Andre Couto. It is unclear what his remaining options are now.

 

17th January 2001 - International F3000:

Kolby and Hill confirmed at DAMS?; drivers test F3 car in Brazil It appears that DAMS will be running Kristian Kolby and Derek Hill in their F3000 team next year. A report at SportsYa! reveals that the pair were sent by Jean-Paul Driot's squad to Interlagos in Brazil to learn the circuit ahead of the first International F3000 round in March. DAMS hired a Dallara SudAm F3 chassis from Augusto Cesario (Cesario Formula) to give the drivers a taste of the Sao Paolo track. Dane Kolby was believed to have already been under contract with DAMS for a second season, while Italian F3000 graduate Hill tested for the team along with others over the winter. Derek is the son of 1961 F1 champion Phil Hill.

 

17th January 2001 - International F3000:

Official testing to kick off at Imola The first official FIA test session ahead of the new season will take place at Imola on 14th/15th February. The other sessions of the year are: Silverstone (12th/13th March), Monza (17th/18th April), Hockenheim (30th/31st May) and Spa-Francorchamps (20th/21st July). Dates supplied with thanks to reader Stephen Hurn.

 

17th January 2001 - International F3000:

Melo to make Durango debut in Italy Jaime Melo Jr will make his first appearance with his new team, Durango Benetton Junior, in testing at Vallelunga on the 25th, he revealed in a press release. The Brazilian is travelling to Italy to find a new home in Padova, close to the team's headquarters, and to begin fitness training in preparation for the new season. He also plans to take full advantage of the testing opportunities on offer before round 1 at Interlagos on March 31st. Melo said: "We will develop the car so we can fight for pole position in Brazil." (Source: Jaime Melo Jr)

 

17th January 2001 - International F3000:

Alonso and Bernoldi to Minardi? According to Fred Breton, latest rumours claim that two F3000 drivers, Fernando Alonso and Enrique Bernoldi, are likely to be racing for the team this year. The team's future is still uncertain, reports claiming they are waiting to hear whether they can have a Renault engine supply. They could be aided by the influence of Flavio Briatore, the Benetton boss who has signed Alonso on a long-term deal.

 

14th January 2001 - International F3000:

Couto could race for Dale Coyne in CART Macanese F3000 driver Andre Couto is said to be a "good possibility" for the #34 Dale Coyne Racing seat in Champ Cars next year, according to Autoracing1. The Macau GP winner of last year, a veteran of three F3000 seasons, was due to test for the team this month. Before this chance came up he was expected to be heading for Formula Nippon after taking part in testing at Motegi. Alex Barron is set to drive the #19 Dale Coyne car. The team will announce their plans at the end of the month.

 

14th January 2001 - International F3000:

Pizzonia to test at Interlagos Antonio Pizzonia will test for new team Petrobras Junior at Interlagos in Brazil, before the 2001 season begins at the circuit in March. The Amazonian will test at the Sao Paulo track this month, to get used to the circuit and the F3000 Lola. He said at the team's recent press conference: "Our first race in Sao Paulo will be very difficult. On the one hand, it is a pleasure to race at home. On the other hand, I wish it was the last race so that I would have time to gain experience. It will be the first time I race in Brazil since I left the country four years ago." The reigning British F3 champion added: "I need to get used to the car. They are heavier, more powerful and have a better brake system than the ones I know by now." Team-mate Ricardo Sperafico, the 2000 F3000 Italia champion, believes he could have an advantage with car and track knowledge: "I have a little advantage over my opponents because I am already used to the car. Iíve also raced in Monza and Interlagos, the circuits which will be part of the calendar for the first time. I think this also can help me." Read the full story at F3000.com (original source: APPROACH ESPORTES).

 

14th January 2001 - International F3000:

For Petrobras read PetroBrax According to F3000 Today, Petrobras has decided to rename itself PetroBrax, as it plans to expand its international market and wants to avoid confusion with Malaysian company Petronas. It is unclear what effect this will have on the name of Petrobras Junior, the F3000 team sponsored by the Brazilian oil giant.

 

12th January 2001 - International F3000:

Super Nova considering van Hooydonk; six on shortlist David Sears told yesterday's Autosport that he is currently looking at six drivers for race seats at Super Nova. He revealed that Jeffrey van Hooydonk is one of the pilots under consideration. The Belgian has raced for the past two seasons with Witmeur KTR. The magazine suggests that Mark Webber will race for the team, despite most believing it was a done deal. They claim one car will be occupied by either the Aussie or by Fernando Alonso. It appears that the team may be waiting for Minardi's future in F1 to be decided before abandoning any hopes to run the young Spaniard. Previous reports have claimed sponsorship demands mean the team must have one French or German speaking driver. If this is the case, it would explain why Super Nova wouldn't run with both Webber and Alonso, and are considering van Hooydonk. He joins David Saelens and Jonathan Cochet who are also believed to be on the shortlist.

 

12th January 2001 - International F3000:

Renault junior team in F3000? According to Autosport, Renault are planning to establish a "staircase of talent" for the development of drivers and engineers for their F1 team, which will replace Benetton. The French marque revealed they are looking at Formula 3 and Formula 3000, meaning in the future they are likely to forge links with an existing team and give it Renault "junior team" status. Benetton already have their own junior teams in British F3 (RC Motorsport) and in F3000 (Durango Benetton Junior).

 

12th January 2001 - International F3000:

Euro F3000 heads to Czech Republic The Brno circuit in the Czech Republic will host a round of the inaugural Euro F3000 championship next year. The race on the circuit, best known for motorcycle and GT racing, will take place on 20th May, reveals Autosport. Now seven of the eight rounds of the series (formerly F3000 Italia) have had a date and venue fixed.

 

12th January 2001 - International F3000:

The Brands pile-up in '88

Herbert: F3000 crash cost me F1 title Johnny Herbert has blamed his horrific 1988 Brands Hatch F3000 shunt on preventing him from winning the F1 World Championship. The 36 year old, now retired from F1, was pitched into a wall on the Kent circuit after colliding with Gregor Foitek. His Eddie Jordan Racing Reynard took two heavy frontal impacts, the first leaving his legs exposed. He told The Independent: "If it wasn't for that, I would have normal feet like everybody else, then who knows what may have been possible? I mashed my feet up pretty badly. They don't look normal and they don't move normally now, so I had to adapt my driving pretty drastically. It changed a lot of things for me. I didn't do too badly considering, but who knows what could have happened?" He added: "After my accident, my character changed because I had to be happy and jolly to get over it. I don't know how much good that did me - in some ways in this industry if you're a nice bloke it does you more harm than good. When you're moody and difficult to get on with, people seem to argue back less and you tend to get what you want. The nicer people seem to get trodden on more."

 

10th January 2001 - International F3000:

Manning retained as BAR F1 tester International F3000 driver Darren Manning has been retained by BAR as one of their F1 test drivers, it was announced yesterday. Former F3000 driver Patrick Lemarie also stays at the team, where he is joined by new recruits Anthony Davidson from Formula Ford and 2001 British F3 title favourite Takuma Sato. With the earlier signing of Davidson and the fact that BAR were testing other young drivers, it was speculated that Manning could lose his seat. Now he will dovetail a second F3000 season at Arden Team Russia with his F1 test driving duties.

 

9th January 2001 - International F3000:

Bourdais confirmed at Prost Junior? It appears that the Prost junior team line-up is complete save for the signing of contracts. According to Sporcar.com, Sebastien Bourdais will be retained by the team, which is also set to announce the signing of Mexican Luis Diaz (see story below). Christian Murchison would be the driver to lose out, despite the Singaporean born driver reportedly being offered a seat at the squad. Bourdais always hoped to remain at the team from the end of last season, and at the time commented that he would stay depending upon decisions on the squad's future. Diaz was due to receive and sign the contract for a drive yesterday (Monday), having received confirmation from team boss Dominique Delestre and team manager Joan van der Prat. He commented late last week [translated]: "It is a great satisfaction being on the verge of arriving in Europe, since it remains only to sign the contract which arrives next week."

 

9th January 2001 - International F3000:

Mikola aims for top 3 finish Ananda Mikola has high hopes for the forthcoming International F3000 season. In a press conference confirming his deal with Team Astromega, the Indonesian said he hopes to finish in the top three positions of the championship. Last year, his first in the International series, he failed to score any points, but nevertheless qualified for every round with the struggling WRT team and outpaced his more experienced initial teammate, Hidetoshi Mitsusada. Mikola said that he joined Astromega because it is in his opinion the best team in F3000, and because their 2000 season driver Fernando Alonso now looks set to race for Minardi in F1, after one year with the team. Mikola is aiming for F1 after his two year Astromega deal, and he commented: "Competing in Formula 1 is not easy, the money is an important factor." (Source: Sporcar.com)

 

7th January 2001 - International F3000:

Diaz testing in France, Dec 2000

Diaz to confirm deal with Prost Junior Indy Lights driver Luis Diaz, 13th in the series last season, has agreed to race for Prost's F3000 team next year, reveals Spanish correspondant Jose Ramon Galan. Mexico's Diaz, known as "El Chapulín", received a telephone call from France two days ago and was told he will be racing for the team next year. He is set to finalise a contract next week. He told Reforma [translated]: "I am very happy, the contract will be sent next MondayÖthis confirmation will help me to obtain the sponsorship that I still need." He added: "They need approximately 500 thousand dollars, although with the resources already offered I can participate in the first months of the season." Diaz already has Telmex support which he will bring to the team, and he also has backing from other Mexican companies yet to be revealed. He tested for Prost last month at Lurcy-Levis in France (pictured). Stories at the time revealed the team would be sponsored by PSN, as will the F1 team. Diaz matches the sponsor's requirements for a South American driver. It is unclear who will take the second seat - Sebastien Bourdais has long been expected to remain at the squad, but Formula Holden rookie of the year Christian Murchison has also been offered a drive if he can find the sponsorship. Diaz will be the first Mexican driver since Fernando Plata to race in International F3000. Plata raced for Roni in 1991, and more recently in the defunct Mexican F3000 series. The Prost junior squad, formerly Apomatox, is set to be renamed from "Gauloises Formula" despite submitting that name to the FIA for the provisional entry list.

 

7th January 2001 - International F3000:

Brazil's Oliveira set to announce F3000 deal SudAm F3 runner-up João Paolo Oliveira is finalising negotiations with International F3000 teams for a drive this season, and will announce his plans in the first two weeks of January. Oliveira, 19, raced for Cesario Formula and was the Brazilian driver with the greatest number of pole positions and fastest laps of all the 122 pilots competing in International competition. In 18 races in SudAm F3, he took five wins, seven pole positions and seven fastest laps. The year before he won the Class B series for the team. The All Invest/Flytour backed driver commented to Zaz.com.br [translated]: "I have only two full seasons of experience and had to face drivers with a much longer career. This allowed me to develop sufficiently and it left me more prepared to compete in Europe, which is my great objective." João Paolo hopes to race in F1, and believes the trend for younger drivers could help him if he makes a good impression: "More than to have experience, it is necessary to be fast to move into Formula 1. The driver has to show ability and talent immediately, because the first impression is the one that counts." He hopes to race for one of the teams linked to an F1 squad, his goal being to have the conditions enabling him to fight for victory. Alternatively, he claimed his negotiations include a clause that could see him race in another European category, but with the contractual guarantee that he would be given an F1 test deal for 2002. He has talked to teams in both British and German F3. Oliveira tested for four F3000 teams at the end of last year. He has already been ruled out of the Williams affiliated Petrobras Junior squad, who have signed Antonio Pizzonia and Ricardo Sperafico. Other teams he was invited to test for over the winter were Prost junior, Fortec and Durango Benetton Junior's Euro F3000 squad. Oliveira commented earlier that a Durango deal was desirable: "The biggest problem is money and in the case of Benetton Junior it is a little easier, because the team already has a part of the necessary money for all the season."

 

7th January 2001 - International F3000:

Sperafico and Pizzonia at the Petrobras Jr 2001 driver launch

Increased budgets forced Melo out of Petrobras Junior According to SportsYa!, Jaime Melo Jr lost his chance of remaining with Petrobras Junior partly due to the increased budgets needed for a season of F3000. With the opening race held at Interlagos, Brazil, on March 31st, combined with another extra race at Monza in Italy, budgets have accordingly gone up. Petrobras motorsport commission boss Segundo Claudio Thompson said the team budget for 2001 is US $2.4 million. He said: "Of this value, the company supplies 55% and the drivers must provide 45%." The newly signed Petrobras Junior drivers (pictured), Ricardo Sperafico and Antonio Pizzonia, will therefore have to bring approximately US $540,000 to the team. Melo has since signed to race for Durango Benetton Junior. (Photo © Perspectiva).

 

7th January 2001 - Euro F3000:

Gardel re-signs for GP Racing Gabriele Gardel will remain in Euro F3000 (formerly Italian F3000) with the GP Racing squad of Tancredi Pagiero. An official agreement was made in the past few days, reveals Prorace. Former Italian F3 driver Gardel had a poor rookie season in Italian F3000 last year with the team, with a best result of ninth. Thomas Biagi is likely to remain in the other seat.

 

6th January 2001 - Euro F3000:

Another new team for Euro F3000 It appears that the burgeoning grids for the inaugural Euro F3000 championship will be bolstered by another new team. The Celestine Trophy Team is currently offering subsidised drives in the series, formerly F3000 Italia. Interested drivers should contact team co-ordinator Roy Kennedy by Tel: (UK) 01327 858055 or Fax: (UK) 01327 858450. The news means at least 22 teams have either declared their plans to enter or been linked to the 8-round series. Grids however will be limited to 12-15 teams. It is unclear what criteria are being used to determine which squads can race.

 

6th January 2001 - International F3000:

Super Nova set to confirm drivers According to autosport.com, F3000 champion team Super Nova are set to reveal their driver line-up in the next few weeks. Mark Webber is all but confirmed for one of the team's seats, while the second driver is yet to be chosen. It is believed that there is a shortlist which includes David Saelens and French F3 champion Jonathan Cochet. Both drivers would match reported sponsor requirements for a French or German speaker.

 

4th January 2001 - International F3000:

Mikola on two year Astromega deal It has been revealed that Indonesian driver Ananda Mikola signed a two-year deal with Team Astromega late last year. The former Edenbridge and WRT Italian/International F3000 driver hopes racing for a top team will help him in his bid to race in F1, but stresses the need for government support and sponsorship. Mikola, 20, told BBC Ceefax: "If the money is available and the government supports me, I'm sure I can race in Formula 1." Mikola will be partnered by German F3 champion Giorgio Pantano next year, providing the Italian doesn't need to use his "get-out clause" should he be offered an F1 drive.

 

4th January 2001 - International F3000:

Coke stays on in Palmer Audi In addition to sponsoring Nordic Racing in F3000 this year, drinks giant Coca-Cola will sponsor a car in the forthcoming Formula Palmer Audi season. Czech driver Jaroslav Janis raced successfully with their colours in the Winter Series, and has decided to contest the series proper. Janis is managed by the same team which look after the interests of Coca-Cola Nordic Racing driver Tomas Enge.

 

3rd January 2001 - Euro F3000:

Giuseppe Burlotti

Burlotti tests Fortec Euro F3000 Formula Nissan runner-up Giuseppe Burlotti could race for Fortec in the Euro F3000 championship next year. According to Autosport, the Italian tested for the team at Misano before Christmas. The 23-year old won four races in his Formula Nissan campaign, but lost out in the title chase to Antonio Garcia. Burlotti was earlier linked to a possible Super Nova entry in the Euro F3000 series.

 

3rd January 2001 - International F3000:

Alonso still hunted by Super Nova F3000 race-winner Fernando Alonso could yet remain in F3000 for a second season. Autosport claims the 19-year old Spaniard is wanted by Super Nova, who are waiting to see if Alonso's F1 plans with Minardi fall through. A Minardi seat appears likely, with Alonso helped in his bid for a superlicence by Benetton who gave him some test mileage recently. Rumours claimed that Flavio Briatore might take over the outfit and develop it as a Renault junior team. More recently it was claimed that Mecachrome could buy a controlling interest. Minardi are yet to confirm an engine supplier and their driver line-up despite promising to continue this year, meaning that Alonso's future is yet to be decided. The former Formula Nissan champion was bombarded with offers from F3000 teams after his impressive rookie year, but along with manager Adrian Campos he has decided to aim for an F1 seat. Should he join Super Nova for F3000, the team will have a formidable line-up of the two best rookies of 2000. Rookie of the year Mark Webber is strongly expected to race for the team this year, although no confirmation has yet been made. Alonso finished fourth overall this year behind Webber, who was third.

 

3rd January 2001 - Euro F3000:

Euro F3000 provisional calendar The provisional calendar for the FIA approved Euro F3000 series was released over Christmas (below), confirming that the series opener will be at Vallelunga on the 22nd of April (source: FIA). The other circuits now confirmed as expected are Mugello, Monza, Imola, Donington and Valencia. Two venues in the 8-round calendar are yet to be announced, while at least one non-championship event is also likely. Vallelunga could host two races in April; on the FIA's 2001 International Sporting Calendar the "Gran Premio Roma" has been pencilled in for the 1st April; it is not clear whether this is an extra non-championship race, or just the opening round which has since had its date changed prior for the Euro F3000 calendar's publication. Likely venues for the remaining championship rounds are believed to be Oschersleben in Germany and the A1-Ring in Austria, which already hosts the International series. Other venues rumoured included an Eastern European race, Pau, Silverstone and Estoril.

Euro F3000 Provisional Calendar 2001

Round

Date

Circuit

1

22nd April

Vallelunga (I)

2

6th May

Mugello (I)

3

3rd June

TBA

4

24th June

Monza (I)

5

15th July

Imola (I)

6

12th August

Donington (GB)

7

9th September

TBA

8

21st October

Valencia (E)

 

3rd January 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Formula Nippon provisional calendar The provisional calendar for the forthcoming Formula Nippon season has been released (source: FIA). Suzuka will host the opening round on 25th March, six days before the opening of the International F3000 season in Brazil. The season will end at the same venue as usual on 18th November.

Formula Nippon Provisional Calendar 2001

Round

Date

Circuit

1

25th March

Suzuka (J)

2

22nd April

Twin Ring Motegi (J)

3

20th May

CP Mine (J)

4

2nd June

Fuji (J)

5

1st July

Suzuka East (J)

6

29th July

Sugo (J)

7

2nd September

Fuji (J)

8

23rd September

CP Mine (J)

9

21st October

Twin Ring Motegi (J)

10

18th November

Suzuka (J)

 

3rd January 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Firman tests for IRL team Treadway Racing Formula Nippon regular Ralph Firman tested for Indy Racing League team Treadway Racing before Christmas. According to Autosport, the former British F3 champion completed a rookie initiation at Dallas Speedway and then completed 60 laps at Las Vegas Speedway. He is believed to have set a time just 2mph slower than the pole position time for last year's race. Firman then went to Firebird Raceway in Arizona and tested for Indy Lights team PacWest along with Marc Hynes. Reports claimed that Firman was seeking a drive in the US, but he may remain with Nova Engineering in Formula Nippon with Autosport claiming there was "no talk of him quitting Japan".

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