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 NEWS

News on International F3000, Euro 3000 and Formula Nippon.

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 31st March 2001 - International F3000:

Wilson wins round 1 as penalties hit top three on track Justin Wilson won a dramatic round 1 at Interlagos this afternoon, having taken the lead after three drivers were handed pitlane time penalties for overtaking under the safety car. Wilson's first win in his third season, his second with Nordic Racing, was the first for a Brit since Jamie Davies won a race in 1997. The action continued as the former Formula Palmer Audi champion took the chequered flag, as he spectacularly lost control on the finish straight as his wheels locked up, almost hitting the pit wall before his car straightened out. Mark Webber (Super Nova) was second after his difficulties in qualifying, while polesitter Jaime Melo Jr (Durango Benetton Junior) took the final step on the podium. Fourth went to Sebastien Bourdais (DAMS), fifth to David Saelens (European Minardi F3000) and sixth to the highly impressive rookie Joel Camathias (KTR). The real losers were Antonio Pizzonia (Petrobras Junior), Rodrigo Sperafico (Coloni F3000) and Tomas Enge (Coca-Cola Nordic Racing). They occupied the first three positions for more than half of the race, Pizzonia edging away from the other two and looking to be heading for a controlled win. But then the trio were each called in to serve a time penalty in the pits, all of them having passed Melo Jr as the Brazilian slowed dramatically when the safety car was deployed on lap 1. Before the start of the race, Mario Haberfeld (Super Nova) was in trouble after stalling at the start of the formation lap. He was forced to start from the back of the field. At the start proper, Ricardo Sperafico (Petrobras Junior) made a bad start from second, baulking teammate Pizzonia who then took to the right of the track and found his way past Rodrigo Sperafico. Ricardo clipped the front wing of Giorgio Pantano (Team Astromega) into the first corner, the Senna "S". Pantano later pitted for repairs. As Melo led from Pizzonia, behind them Ricardo Sperafico lost control exiting the esses, damaging the left side of his car against the barriers. He later broke down in tears in the pits. With Sperafico's car abandoned on the track, the safety car was deployed before the first lap ended, Melo slowed at Juncao and was passed by Pizzonia, Sperafico and Enge, with Wilson remaining behind the Benetton-liveried Lola as they accelerated up the hill through Arquibancadas. On lap 5 the race restarted, Bas Leinders (KTR) spinning and Enge taking second on the road from Rodrigo Sperafico into the first corner, Pizzonia simultaneously surviving an attack on both sides from both of them. Back in the midfield Gabriele Lancieri (Durango Benetton Junior) made an inauspicious debut by spinning out into the gravel later in the lap. The race then looked set to be a procession, Pizzonia edging away from his pursuers, Enge, Sperafico, Wilson, Melo and Webber. Out of the points, the two Red Bull Junior drivers provided some action. Patrick Friesacher passed teammate Antonio Garcia out of the Senna "S", but later in the lap Garcia fought back into a left-hander. Friesacher closed the door, the two cars banged wheels and flew off into the gravel with deranged wings and suspension, coming to rest side-by-side off the track. Nicolas Filiberti (F3000 Prost Junior Team) spun exiting Juncao, and then Viktor Maslov (Arden Team Russia) ran wide into the gravel, got beached and was forced to retire. Haberfeld later retired with what appeared to be a mechanical problem, having fought his way up through the tail enders after starting from the back. Then after 30 minutes of racing, Enge, Pizzonia and Sperafico all came into the pits, Enge one lap earlier, all three dropping out of the points. Wilson took the lead, with Melo, Webber, Bourdais, Darren Manning (Arden Team Russia) and Saelens in the other points positions. At the end of lap 23, Webber made a move for second into the first corner, attempting to go around the outside of Melo. He failed, but later in the lap Melo ran wide, letting the other car dive through. Webber could not do anything about Wilson, however, the Brit controlling the race for the remaining laps and opening up a relatively static three second gap. Outside of the points, Fabrizio Gollin (Coloni F3000) passed Andrea Piccini (European Minardi F3000) for 8th, but KTR's Joel Camathias was a man on the move, later moving past both Italians into 7th. Then Manning mysteriously dropped out of the points into 7th place, promoting Saelens and Camathias into 5th and 6th. The positions remained the same for the rest of the race, Camathias taking the best rookie honours, a real surprise considering the Formula Nissan graduate was not a fancied contender and that he only qualified in 20th. Fighting for ninth place, Pantano then tried to pass Piccini into the Senna "S", left his braking too late and hit his countryman from behind. Both spun, but Pantano was forced to abandon his car as Piccini continued. Justin Wilson crossed the line to take his first victory, and the first for Nordic Racing since 1995. Webber took a somewhat lucky second to start his championship campaign, with Melo third, Bourdais fourth, Saelens fifth and Camathias sixth. Full results and standings are here.

 

31st March 2001 - International F3000:

van Hooydonk to join Coloni from Imola? According to Belgian reports, thanks to reader Wim, Rodrigo Sperafico has only signed to race for Coloni F3000 for today's Interlagos round. From round 2 at Imola, it is reported that Jeffrey van Hooydonk will join the team, the Belgian having been nominated as their chosen teammate to Fabrizio Gollin on the FIA's entry list. Sperafico, who impressed by qualifying third and running as high as second in today's race in Brazil, is reportedly paying for his drive because Coloni are suffering financial problems. His car was adorned with PSN sponsorship at Interlagos.

 

31st March 2001 - Euro 3000:

Sighinolfi to make launch presentation On April 6th Sighinolfi Autoracing are set to introduce their 2001 season Euro 3000 team to sponsors and selected guests. The event will take place at Villa Cesi, near Modena, Italy. Team manager Franco Sighinolfi, team staff and the two drivers, Alex Piccolo and Salvatore Tavano, will all be present, while the hosts will be Giancarlo Minardi and Bruno Zambelli. Elisa Pelatti, classified second in the Miss Italia contest, will also attend the event.

 

30th March 2001 - International F3000:

Interlagos qualifying: Melo Jr takes last minute pole in Brazilian 1-2-3-4 The International F3000 season kicked off today with Jaime Melo Jr (Durango Benetton Junior) taking pole in the closing minutes of the second 45-minute qualifying session, where he will start ahead of three other Brazilians. The former two-time SudAm F3 runner-up took his first pole position and the first for Durango since Soheil Ayari at the A1-Ring in 1998, the Italian team having been forced to take a year out of the International series in 2000. In second place was Ricardo Sperafico (Petrobras Junior Team), the F3000 Italia champion, with his twin brother Rodrigo (Coloni F3000) a remarkable third having only joined the team at the start of the week. Antonio Pizzonia (Petrobras Junior Team) was fourth, having been consistently quick along with his teammate, ensuring an all-Brazilian occupation of the first two rows. Tomas Enge (Coca-Cola Nordic Racing) was fifth, with Giorgio Pantano (Team Astromega) sixth, ahead of Justin Wilson (Nordic) and David Saelens (European Minardi). Two of the pre-season favourites, Mark Webber (Super Nova) and Darren Manning (Arden Team Russia) struggled in both sessions and will start 10th and 14th respectively. Pizzonia emerged quickest in the first session on 1:27.197 from teammate Ricardo Sperafico and Saelens, the times having improved lap-by-lap. Gabriele Varano (Prost Junior Team) spun across the gravel at high speed on his first lap, Mario Haberfeld (Super Nova) suffered two spins, Derek Hill (DAMS) beached his car on the kerbing, Webber, Bas Leinders (KTR) and Piccini (European Minardi) suffered offs, and newcomer Yann Goudy (KJR Monaco) lost the shocks cover from his nose. Patrick Friesacher (Red Bull Junior) failed to set a time in the session. Times dropped further in the second session, as the sun shone on the track unlike in the overcast first 45 minutes. Friesacher went off, teammate Antonio Garcia spun, Hill went off again before beaching his car on the kerbs as before, Haberfeld beached his car after spinning, Webber spun again, as did Gabriele Lancieri (Durango Benetton Junior), while Viktor Maslov (Arden Team Russia) spun out into the gravel. Amongst the action it looked as though Ricardo Sperafico would head teammate Pizzonia on the front row, but Melo set a series of increasingly fast laps and took the pole spot in the dying seconds. Times are here.

 

30th March 2001 - International F3000:

Bad start for championship hopefuls A number of championship hopefuls had a difficult start to the season in Interlagos qualifying today. Justin Wilson (Coca-Cola Nordic Racing) finished 7th, having held provisional pole at times during the first session. Mark Webber (Super Nova) was 10th, one place behind teammate Mario Haberfeld. Both had a series off off-course excursions. Sebastien Bourdais (DAMS) topped the recent Silverstone test, but he qualified only 12th today, while Darren Manning (Arden Team Russia) could only manage 14th after an uncompetitive showing. At the same time a number of drivers destroyed the commonly held notion that F3 graduates are supposed to struggle at first in F3000. British F3 champion Antonio Pizzonia (Petrobras Junior) was competitive in both sessions, taking 4th, while German F3 champion Giorgio Pantano was an impressive 6th for Team Astromega, the Italian having set the fastest pace early on in session 2.

 

30th March 2001 - International F3000:

Goudy joins KJR Monaco Motorsport Frenchman Yann Goudy was a late addition to the F3000 field, joining KJR Monaco Motorsport in a last-minute deal. It is not yet clear whether he is on a short or long term deal with the squad, formed from a merger between Kid Jensen Racing and Monaco Motorsport. Goudy, a former French F3 driver, competed in F3000 Italia last season with the Monaco Motorsport Junior Team, but failed to score any points. Neither he nor teammate Justin Keen had any running in the car before today's qualifying session. Unsurprisingly they struggled, qualifying 23rd and 26th respectively.

 

28th March 2001 - International F3000:

Sperafico signs for Coloni F3000 Rodrigo Sperafico will join his twin brother Ricardo in International F3000 this season. According to Zaz.com.br, Rodrigo was officially announced as a Coloni F3000 driver on Monday. The Brazilian impressed in testing with the team at Imola recently, having finished fourth overall in Italian F3000 last season. His brother Ricardo, who drives for Petrobras Junior this year, was the champion of the same series. The news ends the speculation about the Coloni seat, one of only two still to be filled as this weekend's Interlagos race approaches. Jeffrey van Hooydonk was submitted as Fabrizio Gollin's teammate to the FIA, while Enrico Toccacelo, who tested for Coloni at Silverstone this month, was said to be a "99%" certainty according to team boss Paolo Coloni.

 

28th March 2001 - International F3000:

KJR/Monaco Motorsport seat still to be filled With just two days to go before the qualifying for round 1 at Interlagos, the identity of the final driver to complete the International F3000 line-up is yet to be confirmed. Coloni have signed Rodrigo Sperafico (see above), meaning the only vacant seat is at the recently announced Kid Jensen Racing/Monaco Motorsport merger. Jeffrey van Hooydonk has reportedly been linked to the seat, according to today's Motorsport News (formerly Motoring News). Justin Keen has already signed a late deal with the team, but no other names apart from van Hooydonk have been revealed as contenders for the other seat.

 

28th March 2001 - Euro 3000:

Massa fastest in Valencia testing Brazilian rookie Felipe Massa once again set the pace in private Euro 3000 testing at Valencia, Spain, on Tuesday (27th) and today (28th). The Italian and Eurocup Formula Renault champion set a time of 1:20.45 on day 1, outpacing Draco Racing team-mate Luca Vacis by more than two seconds, and improved to 1:20.30 on day 2 when he completed more than 90 laps. The Team Ghinzani pair of Alex Müller and Armin Pörnbacher also tested, as did ADM Competition's new signing Vitor Meira. Known times have been added here. Massa will tomorrow (Thursday) head for Interlagos to drive a medical car in practice and the race, accompanied by FIA medical chief Syd Watkins and the Interlagos medical director, Dino Altmann. (Source: Zaz.com.br)

 

28th March 2001 - Euro 3000:

Sighinolfi to test at Albacete Euro 3000 team Sighinolfi Autoracing will test at Albacete, Spain, tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday, according to Prorace. Their two drivers, Alex Piccolo and Salvatore Tavano, will both take part in the private tests.

 

28th March 2001 - International F3000:

Pre-season driver/team quotes A number of drivers and team members were interviewed by Eurosport at the Silverstone tests earlier this month, ahead of the opening round at Interlagos this weekend. Broadcast today (Wednesday) on Automag, Unofficial F3000 Information has transcribed the quotes:

Mark Webber (Super Nova): "You know, it is obviously a very good team, Super Nova they've got some good results in the past. It's my second year in 3000, so I have the experience of the circuits now, and also the experience of the chassis...There is no confusion what I need to do - I need to win the championship. I finished third last year, I need to go two better. There's a lot of competition out there, obviously also wanting to do the same, but we're working very hard to make sure that we can pull it off."

Mario Haberfeld (Super Nova): "I think there's no pressure, I think the pressure is the same I had last year, it's always...you're under pressure to have a good result, but that's a pressure I think every racing driver has and that's what every racing driver wants to do is have a good result. The ambition for this year is obviously to do very well in the championship. As I said before, we have been doing very well in testing, so I just hope we can do the same job in racing."

David Sears (Super Nova, team boss): "Sometimes a change is a good thing, so we have some colours from Benetton-Renault, which are obviously...at the moment we are still finalising some of the sponsors, but obviously this is an official - how can I say? - tie-up with with the Formula 1 team as we have Mark Webber, their test driver." Asked what he hoped from the drivers (Mark Webber and Mario Haberfeld), Sears said: "Well, obviously the FIA created a Teams championship a couple of years ago and as we won that last year we would like to try and win that as a team again. And hopefully one of these two drivers will be the champion of the Drivers championship as well, so I think that we will try and maintain our tradition."

Justin Wilson (Coca-Cola Nordic Racing): "I don't feel pressure yet, because to be honest I'm not looking too far ahead. It's better to take it one step at a time, and first of all we've got to try and do well this afternoon [in Silverstone testing], and then from there look towards the first race, and rather than getting carried away with thinking about the championship, it's going to be a long year - it's probably best if I don't think about it too much yet."

Tomas Enge (Coca-Cola Nordic Racing): "It could be a battle [between him and Wilson] but, I mean with other team-mates it is a battle. Last year with [Stephane] Sarrazin it was always a battle in the tests and in the races as well, and it was good because we were pushing each other to the front. And I think with Justin it will be the same, so I think this is a good opportunity for me and for him as well to be more quicker."

Chris Mower (Coca-Cola Nordic Racing, team manager): "We've changed a lot over the winter, luckily we've been able to keep Justin for another season, it's important to keep continuity in the team. We've also got another good driver that's joined us, Tomas Enge. The team's image has been improved a lot and that's due to the resources brought to us by our sponsors. We just have to make sure we keep them happy now. Obviously having such big sponsors they expect us to be the best so we don't let the side down, and that's our goal, that's what we've got to do."

David Saelens (European Minardi F3000) [translated]: "Well, I'd already been in contact with [team owner] Paul Stoddart in October last year, but then when he got round to buying the Formula 1 Minardi team obviously that took a lot of his attention and so everything took a lot more time than we'd expected. But, to be honest. I never felt anxious about my future, after all you have to stay optimistic. For now I'm delighted to be part of the Minardi Formula 1/Formula 3000 outfit and I'm very happy."

Sebastien Bourdais (DAMS) [translated]: "Our ambitions are clear. Like every other driver in the second year who posted good results in his first year, I want the championship. We're not asking any ourselves too many questions this early on, but we are very motivated, we'll push hard and we'll see how it goes."

Derek Hill (DAMS): "I think I have to be realistic about my aims, but really I'd like to get as many top 10 finishes as I can. I know for a rookie in this series it's very difficult with the limited track time we get on the weekends. But I think that, without a doubt if can achieve some top 10's and score some points and maybe some podiums, that would be an ideal year."

Darren Manning (Arden Team Russia): "Hopefully it's going to be the way to go forward into Formula 1 for me, the test drive [with BAR in F1] is fantastic, I'm setting some quite quick times alongside Olivier Panis and Jacques Villeneuve, but my main priority is to win races in Formula 3000, that way I've got my foot in the door of Formula 1, and yeah, hopefully bigger and better things next year."

Ricardo Sperafico (Petrobras Junior Team): "From this year the cars have a lot of [grip?] in the corners, and so you need trust in the car and you need confidence, so these kilometres [in testing] help a lot to feel better in the car, so now we take confidence a little bit but we need to practice more I think. With the race [at Interlagos] coming we can be better."

Antonio Pizzonia (Petrobras Junior Team): "Of course the first race will be very special for me, that's going to be the first time that I'll be racing in Brazil after karts. When I left karts I came straight to England in '97, so that's going to be my first time there. I know the track a little bit because I did one test in a Formula 3 car, but anyway it will be really nice to race at home."

Giorgio Pantano (Team Astromega) [translated]: "I think I did take the right decision to do the International F3000 championship after winning the German F3 series last year. I think it's the best category to learn in. It's a very competitive series, drivers have a lot of experience by the time they get to their third season, and that's why it's going to be tough for me as well. At the moment, I'm happy with the Astromega team, and obviously we're going to be trying as hard as we can to win races in our first season."

Bas Leinders (KTR) [translated]: "After last year with Kid Jensen I decided to come back to KTR, because I always knew that KTR had the potential to improve, and me as well, I've improved, and I think working together with a basically Belgian set-up should be beneficial to us both."

 

28th March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Mooncraft plan to return after budget problems Mooncraft missed last weekend's opening Formula Nippon round due to budget problems, according to the official BBS and some magazines (news courtesy of Japanese correspondant Tooru Kitajima). Some sponsors reportedly left the team after Hiro Miyamoto was injured in a karting accident, although it is not clear if their defection was related to the incident. Team owner Takuya Yura plans to return to competition in round 2 at Motegi.

 

26th March 2001 - International F3000:

Countdown to F3000 season opener in Brazil This weekend sees the opening round of the FIA International Formula 3000 championship, the race at Interlagos in Brazil being the first ever championship round outside of Europe. The event coincides with a particularly strong Brazilian contingent in the 2001 field. While many people's title favourite is Super Nova's Mark Webber, the Australian teams up with Brazil's Mario Haberfeld, who will expect stronger results in his third season now he has moved to a top team. Petrobras Junior again have an all-Brazilian line-up, Antonio Pizzonia and Ricardo Sperafico being reigning champions of British F3 and Italian F3000 respectively. Durango's Jaime Melo Jr also showed he is a Brazilian to watch by finishing in 2nd in official testing at Imola. Along with Webber, the British pairing of Justin Wilson (Coca-Cola Nordic Racing) and Darren Manning (Arden Team Russia) have both established themselves as title contenders, while DAMS' new signing Sebastien Bourdais could reverse the French team's fortunes after setting the pace in Silverstone testing earlier this month. See the news story below for the times of Eurosport's live TV coverage of the Interlagos round. A full team-by-team preview of the new season can be read here. Visit this site for full qualifying and race reports.

 

26th March 2001 - International F3000:

F3000 round 1 TV coverage Eurosport are again offering live coverage of this season's International F3000 championship, starting this weekend in Brazil. On Friday 30th, the two qualifying sessions are live from 19:15-20:00 BST & 20:30-21:15 BST. On Saturday 31st, the race is live at 17:30-19:00 BST with highlights at 0:45-1:45 BST on Sunday 1st April.

 

26th March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Hattori dominates wet Nippon opener Team 5Zigen driver Naoki Hattori took a lights-to-flag victory in yesterday's opening Formula Nippon round at Suzuka. In a wet race, the polesitter won from Juichi Wakisaka (ARTA) and impressive newcomer Seiji Ara (Cerumo), with Masami Kageyama (Cerumo), Ralph Firman (PIAA Nakajima) and another rookie, Narain Karthikeyan (IMPUL), filling the remaining points positions. In the final laps of the race Hattori withstood tremendous pressure from Wakisaka, ultimately finishing just 0.7secs ahead. Ara was a full 16 seconds behind, while Karthikeyan improved from 18th on the grid, having suffered a crash in qualifying. Other drivers suffered mixed fortunes. The rain caught out F3000 graduate Andre Couto (Morinaga Nova), who crashed after aquaplaning at the Dunlop curve on lap 2. Tsugio Matsuda (PIAA Nakajima) crashed on lap 7 after qualifying third, Satoshi Motoyama (IMPUL) retired with a misfiring engine while Michael Krumm (Team 5Zigen) retired with a blown engine on lap 16, having qualified fifth. Hideki Noda (DoCoMo Dandelion) also retired. On lap 20 the rain increased, catching out Team LeMans' Alex Yoong who suffered two spins before finishing 11th after gambling on dry settings. Katsutomo Kaneishi was meanwhile confirmed in the final seat available in Formula Nippon, the #4 Kondo entry, and finished 7th, one place ahead of rookie Richard Lyons (Morinaga Nova). View the full results and a race report when available at the official Formula Nippon site. Qualifying and race positions and driver/team standings have been added here.

Formula Nippon Round 1 - Suzuka - top 6

Pos

Driver

Team

Chassis/Engine

Time

1

Naoki Hattori (J)

Team 5Zigen

Reynard-Mugen MF308

1:15.59.230

2

Juichi Wakisaka (J)

ARTA

Reynard-Mugen MF308

1:15.59.935

3

Seiji Ara (J)

Cosmo Oil Cerumo

Reynard-Mugen MF308

1:16.15.799

4

Masami Kageyama (J)

Cosmo Oil Cerumo

Reynard-Mugen MF308

1:16.24.041

5

Ralph Firman (GB

PIAA Nakajima

Reynard-Mugen MF308

1:16.41.176

6

Narain Karthikeyan (IND)

excite Impul

Reynard-Mugen MF308

1:17.01.643

See the official Formula Nippon site for full results.

 

26th March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Mooncraft absent from Suzuka There were only 20 cars starting the Suzuka round 1 of Formula Nippon on Sunday, with Mooncraft not taking part for reasons that aren't clear at present. Ryo Michigami and Hiro Miyamoto had signed for the team, but Miyamoto was expected to miss a few races in any case having broken his arm in a pre-season karting incident.

 

24th March 2001 - Euro 3000:

Chinese drivers offered Team Great Wall drive The two Chinese drivers previously linked to Team Great Wall (formerly First GP) have been offered a drive at the team, a Chinese newspaper report on March 19th confirms. Liu Yang and Wang Chao (note: Liu and Wang are their respective surnames, not their first names) would reportedly both drive for the team providing they can find US$ 300,000 between them. The pair have gone to Shanghai to meet with potential sponsors, but the amount of money required and the lack of Euro 3000 television coverage in China may prove to be a stumbling block. The news throws reports from Italy of Italian F3 graduate Valerio Scassellati having already signed for Great Wall into confusion. We have amended the silly season page accordingly. News supplied with many thanks to reader Allan.

 

22nd March 2001 - International F3000:

Kid Jensen link up with Monaco Motorsport; Keen signed As rumoured, it has been confirmed that Kid Jensen Racing will continue in F3000 this year by merging with Monaco Motorsport. Autosport reports that "KJR Monaco Motorsport" have signed Euro Formula Palmer Audi runner-up Justin Keen in a last-minute deal, with their other driver to be announced shortly. Keen will have his first run with the team in qualifying for the season opener at Interlagos, although he did test for Kid Jensen Racing late last year. Both KJR and Monaco were struggling to find two drivers to enter independently, a factor that has already seen the demise of Fortec Motorsport's involvement in the International series. It is not clear whether Monaco Motorsport will continue with its plans to enter two teams in Euro 3000, but it would appear unlikely.

 

22nd March 2001 - International F3000:

Mosley promises stability for F3000 FIA President Max Mosley has promised there are no plans to change International F3000, despite the fact that next year a new car will replace the Lola B99/50 in use since 1999. Asked about the main changes for 2002, Mosley told Eurosport's Automag: "At the moment there will be a tender - I think the contract runs out for making the cars - so there will be a tender for new contracts, but apart from that there are no plans to change the actual formula." Lola secured both of the two three-year contracts that have been granted since F3000 became a one-make formula in 1996, but this year both Reynard and Dallara are known to be interested in taking the helm for 2002. Mosley also commented on the opening F3000 round at Interlagos at the end of the month, the first championship race to take place outside of Europe: "It's good for the teams to go outside Europe, as part of the experience. It's [F3000 is] supposed to be the training ground for Formula 1. Also, Brazil is always a source of new drivers, young drivers, so it's good to for them to see the formula that is just below Formula 1. So, all things considered, if you were going to have a race outside Europe for Formula 3000, probably Brazil's the best one to choose."

 

22nd March 2001 - International F3000:

Albers confirmed in DTM seat It has been confirmed that F3000 refugee Christijan Albers will race for Mercedes with Persson in the DTM this year. The former German F3 champion remains contracted to Paul Stoddart however, the Australian running the Dutchman in his European Arrows F3000 team last season.

 

20th March 2001 - Euro 3000:

SudAm F3 champ Meira seals ADM drive SudAm F3 champion Vitor Meira will compete in the inaugural Euro 3000 series this year with ADM Competition, the team which took Ricardo Sperafico to last year's [F3000 Italia] championship. The Brazilian announced the deal last Wednesday according to Zaz.com.br, saying [translated]: "F3000 was one of the categories that I negotiated, beyond the IRL and International F3000. The fact the championship has [expanded from] Italian to European, with the inclusion of races in Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic, and possibly one in Germany [Nurburgring], influenced in the decision of my sponsors where I ran in F3000 in Europe." According to the latest update on the Euro 3000 series' official site, there will not be races in the Czech Republic (Brno) or Austria (A1-Ring). Various sources have announced different calendars for the series, throwing confusion upon the ultimate schedule. We presume the Euro 3000 site's information has the greatest chance of being correct.

 

20th March 2001 - F3000/F.Nippon:

Sundberg finds Japanese F3 drive Former F3000 Italia driver Peter Sundberg has signed to race for the Lyan team in All-Japan F3 this year, having failed to find a drive in Europe or in Formula Nippon. The Swede will be paid to race for the squad, which only scored a couple of points in last year's series. Lyan hope that Sundberg, the 1999 Italian F3 champion, will help them rise up the final championship rankings. He could also compete in the All-Japan GT series according to Prorace. Sundberg has found it difficult to find sponsorship in Sweden, as he was born and raised in Spain and raced mostly in Spain and Italy, thereby leaving him a relative unknown in Sweden. News supplied thanks to Stefan Persson.

 

20th March 2001 - International F3000:

Manning on Radio Autosport Arden Team Russia driver Darren Manning is a guest on Radio Autosport tonight. Log on before 20:00GMT (15:00 US Eastern Time) at Autosport Online.

 

20th March 2001 - International F3000:

Petrobras rig sinks off Brazil The Petrobras oil rig off Rio de Janeiro, the largest in the world, finally sank into the Atlantic Ocean today, potentially causing a major environmental disaster. Petrobras estimate 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel will spill into the sea as pressure at the seabed causes the 40-storey rig's tanks to rupture. The rig suffered a series of explosions last week that left 10 workers dead and the giant structure tilting to one side, heavy seas today finally bringing it down. Brazilian state oil giants Petrobras have a major sponsorship presence in International F3000, having been the title sponsor of the Petrobras Junior Team (formerly Den Bla Avis) since 1999.

 

20th March 2001 - International F3000:

Camel to make F1 return with Prost? F3000 to follow? Camel cigarettes are tipped by Autosport Online to return to F1 this year, as a major backer of the Prost team. Talks are ongoing according to team sources, while the website predicts that the San Marino GP weekend would be the earliest the cars could run in a new livery. We speculate that the firm could also conceivably return to F3000 with the F3000 Prost Junior Team, which so far is known to be sharing PSN sponsorship with its similarly liveried F1 parent team. No mention of any such move has been made, however. Camel was a prominent F3000 sponsor in the late 1980s and early '90s, most famously associated with Eddie Jordan Racing who took the 1989 title with Jean Alesi.

 

16th March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Suzuka day 2: Wakisaka goes fastest ARTA's Juichi Wakisaka moved to the top of the timesheets as official Formula Nippon testing from Suzuka finished today. His time of 1:44.726 was enough to move him ahead of yesterday's pacesetter Michael Krumm (5Zigen). The German's teammate Naoki Hattori was third, with Tsugio Matsuda (PIAA Nakajima) and Satoshi Motoyama (IMPUL) fourth and fifth. Updated times are here.

 

16th March 2001 - Euro 3000:

Hughes winning at Monza, 2000

Arden quits Euro 3000 Arden Team Russia has decided to pull out of the inaugural Euro 3000 series, according to Autosport online. Arden won last year's F3000 Italia Teams championship with Warren Hughes (pictured), Viktor Maslov and stand-in Darren Manning from the International F3000 team, but have opted not to continue in the renamed series in order to concentrate on their International series challenge. Manning remains with the team for International F3000, where he finished eighth overall last year before moving to the Italian series squad at the end of the year. He is again partnered by Maslov, who raced a full International season and most of the Italian championship with Arden last year. Team boss and former Arden driver Christian Horner said: "We have decided not to continue in the Euro championship for a couple of reasons. Firstly with the increase in races in the FIA [International F3000] championship [from 10 to 12] we would be spreading ourselves very thinly and secondly there was not a driver readily available that, in my opinion, would be able to repeat Warren's performance."

 

16th March 2001 - Euro 3000:

Euro 3000 calendar update - Valencia IS on... There has been yet another update to the Euro 3000 calendar, with all eight rounds now apparently settled upon according to the schedule at the official website. The final round will be at Valencia in Spain on October 7th as initially expected. There is still no mention of the Brno race on the site, despite Autosport Online today mentioning that the series would be travelling there. We can only assume that the race plans have been aborted for some reason. The 8-round Euro 3000 calendar according to the official site's latest update is as follows: Vallelunga (I), 22nd April; Enna-Pergusa (I), 6th May; Monza (I), 24th June; Donington (GB), 12th August; Zolder (B), 19th August; Imola (I), 26th August; Nurburgring (D), 16th September and Valencia (E), 7th October.

 

16th March 2001 - International F3000:

van Hooydonk on FIA entry list in Coloni seat Belgian Jeffrey van Hooydonk was submitted as the driver of the #20 Coloni F3000 Lola for the FIA's latest entry list, published yesterday. He was one of a number of drivers to have been linked to the Italian team, but Enrico Toccacelo was this week said to be a "99%" certainty at the team. The news means there is yet more uncertainty over the seat, which Rodrigo Sperafico was at one time strongly expected to take after impressing in Imola testing recently.

 

16th March 2001 - International F3000:

Prost Jr. team name confirmed as "F3000 Prost Junior Team" According to the latest International F3000 entry list update from the FIA, Prost's Junior squad will be entered as the "F3000 Prost Junior Team". Since an alliance was formed between Dominique Delestre's squad (formerly Apomatox, now Prostar) for the 1998 season, the cars have been entered as Apomatox (1998) and Gauloises Formula (1999-2000), but last year Gauloises pulled out as the title sponsor, as they did with the Prost F1 team.

 

16th March 2001 - International F3000:

Kid Jensen Racing still planning to continue Despite being absent from recent tests, Kid Jensen Racing have not yet given up on continuing in F3000 this season. While Fortec Motorsport has withdrawn its entry due to a shortage of drivers, Kid Jensen Racing is still present on the latest entry list update from the FIA. There is still no clue as to whom the drivers might be.

 

16th March 2001 - International F3000:

Durango Lola on display at Naples marathon The third City of Naples Marathon takes place this Saturday in Italy, with an F3000 Lola of the Durango Benetton Junior Team making a special appearance. (Source: Durango)

 

16th March 2001 - International F3000:

Ruberti and Simon join touring car series Former F3000 drivers Paolo Ruberti and Norman Simon will both race in the FIA European Super Production Championship (SPC) this year. Italian Ruberti will race a BMW 320i for the CiBiEmme Engineering team, while Germany's Simon will race the same package for Ravaglia Motorsport. They are joined on the European Touring Car circuit by another F3000 refugee, Fabrice Walfisch who will race a Honda Accord for JAS Engineering.

 

15th March 2001 - International F3000:

Toccacelo "99% certain" for Coloni seat Italy's Enrico Toccacelo will almost certainly drive for Coloni F3000 this season as teammate to Fabrizio Gollin. Rodrigo Sperafico was recently expected to sign for the team, but Paolo Coloni told Autosport that Toccacelo is 99% likely to race for his team. Coloni added that the final decision would be made depending on how well Toccacelo did in the FIA Silverstone tests that took place this week. The Italian impressed on the occasion, outpacing Gollin on day 2 (when times were quicker) by posting the 12th fastest time. The former Italian and German F3 frontrunner has linked up with Coloni before, having been entered in the 1999 Bologna Motorshow International and Italian F3000 sprint events.

 

15th March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Suzuka day 1: Krumm fastest in series comeback Michael Krumm made an impressive return to Formula Nippon today after his Champ Car debut last Sunday. The German, the 2000 runner-up, topped the timesheets for Team 5Zigen with 1:45.183. He missed last week's Motegi test due to his Dale Coyne Racing CART commitments. In second was Satoshi Motoyama (IMPUL) with Masami Kageyama (Cerumo) third. Times are here. The final test before the season opener at the circuit in ten days' time continues tomorrow.

 

15th March 2001 - International F3000:

Walfisch moves to touring cars Former Team Astromega F3000 refugee Fabrice Walfisch has signed to race for works Honda team JAS Motorsport in the European Touring Car Championship this year. The Frenchman was recently linked to a reported late bid by Monaco Motorsport to secure an International F3000 entry.

 

14th March 2001 - International F3000:

Test times updated... The full test results from Monday and Tuesday's official Silverstone F3000 test are now available on this site, and can be found here.

 

13th March 2001 - International F3000:

Silverstone official test day 2: Bourdais sets the pace Impressive Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais emerged the quickest driver from the 2-day official Silverstone test which finished today. The DAMS driver set a time of 1:36.326 to upstage yesterday's pacesetter Mark Webber (Super Nova) who improved to 1:36.444. Webber's teammate Mario Haberfeld was third today and overall from Brits Darren Manning (Arden Team Russia) and Justin Wilson (Coca-Cola Nordic Racing). Times can be found here.

 

13th March 2001 - International F3000:

FORTEC QUIT INTERNATIONAL F3000 Fortec Motorsport have made the decision to quit International F3000 this season, citing a lack of quick drivers as the reason. The secondary Fortec Italia Motorsport team will continue with their graduation to the Euro 3000 series, according to Autosport online. Team principal Richard Dutton told Motoring News: "I am not interested in just making up the numbers. I only want to compete if we can do it properly, and at the moment there are no suitable drivers on the market. Several who I thought might step up to F3000 this year have decided to stay in F3. There isn't as much sponsorship available as there has been for the past couple of years either." The news means there are potentially only 13 teams competing this season, possibly 12 with strong doubts about Kid Jensen Racing's participation for similar reasons. Kid Jensen Racing, tipped to merge with Monaco Motorsport, were absent from this week's Silverstone official tests. If only 24-26 cars are starting each race, non-qualification will no longer be a threat to drivers.

 

13th March 2001 - International F3000:

Toccacelo tests for Coloni Enrico Toccacelo has emerged as a candidate for one of the last remaining F3000 seats. Although Rodrigo Sperafico was said to be about to sign for Coloni F3000, former Italian and German F3 front-runner Enrico Toccacelo drove for the team on both days of Silverstone testing.

 

12th March 2001 - International F3000:

Silverstone official test day 1: Webber quickest Mark Webber emerged quickest from the first day of F3000 testing at Silverstone, the final test before the season begins later this month in Brazil. The Australian, a championship favourite with Super Nova, set a time of 1:36.811 in the morning session, on the track where he took his first and only F3000 win last year. In second was Nordic's Justin Wilson, with David Saelens (European Minardi) in third. In the afternoon heavy rain fell, meaning there were few improvements, Arden Team Russia opting to remain in the pit garages. Times from the Justin Wilson club are here.

 

12th March 2001 - Euro 3000:

More Euro 3000 calendar changes: Zolder added There have been more changes made to the calendar for the inaugural Euro 3000 championship. While an 8-round series was initially proposed, it appears that organisers may have had to settle for a 7-race championship. The official site has been updated with a calendar including a round at Zolder in Belgium on August 19th, while the Nurburgring will definitely host a race on September 16th. Previous reports claimed Brno, the A1-Ring and Valencia would host races, but all these circuits appear to have now been ruled out. The 7 races confirmed so far are: Vallelunga (I), 22nd April; Enna-Pergusa (I), 6th May; Monza (I), 24th June; Donington (GB), 12th August; Zolder (B), 19th August; Imola (I), 26th August and Nurburgring (D), 16th September.

 

12th March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Yamanishi signed as 5Zigen reserve According to a press release on the official Formula Nippon website, Team 5Zigen have signed Koji Yamanishi as a reserve driver. It is believed that Yamanishi will race for the team in place of Michael Krumm in the Formula Nippon rounds that clash with Krumm's CART schedule. Yamanishi stood in for the German at the Motegi tests at the weekend, since Krumm was making his Champ Car debut for Dale Coyne Racing at Monterrey. Many thanks to Nicolas Korzan for supplying the translated article.

 

10th March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Motegi test day 2: Michigami on top As official Motegi testing finished today, Ryo Michigami finished on top of the 20-driver field with a time of 1:34.330 in his Mooncraft Reynard. Satoshi Motoyama (IMPUL), quickest on day 1, was demoted to second spot with Takeshi Tsuchiya (ARTA) third. Meanwhile Yuji Tachikawa took over the #3 Olympic Kondo Racing car from Katsutomo Kaneishi who drove it yesterday. Tachikawa is already confirmed at the team, while the #4 car (not run at Motegi) is the only seat still available in Formula Nippon. Day 2 of the test took place under bright sunshine following the overnight snow which affected the morning session of day 1. Alex Yoong (Team LeMans) and Narain Karthikeyan (IMPUL) were both held back with gearbox problems today. Yoong had to sit out most of the afternoon session, commenting: "It had been very frustrating for me to wait around doing nothing for the most part of the 2 hour second session watching the times fall. I feel pretty good about the set up of the car and the boys in the team had worked very hard to get my gearbox fixed. But there just wasn't enough time for me to set a quick time amongst all the last minute traffic with only 10 minutes to go before the flag came down." Times can be viewed here. Team move next week to Suzuka for official testing on the 15th-16th March.

 

10th March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Couto suffers from first day crash Formula Nippon newcomer Andre Couto crashed his Nova Engineering G-Force on the first day of the Motegi tests yesterday. As a result the Macanese could not take part today as his team didn't have the parts available to repair the car. The F3000 graduate dropped to 18th overall on the timesheets. Day 1 was affected by heavy overnight snow which left the run-off areas covered, and meant the start of the morning session was delayed by an hour and a half.

 

10th March 2001 - International F3000:

Hynes loses PacWest Indy Lights drive Former WRT F3000 driver Marc Hynes has lost the chance to race for PacWest in Indy Lights at the last minute. Instead Mexico's Mario Dominguez, a former Mexican F3000 front-runner, has signed to partner Dan Wheldon at the team.

 

10th March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Motegi test day 1: Motoyama fastest With just over two weeks to go before round 1 at Suzuka, official joint testing got underway today at Twin Ring Motegi. Former champion Satoshi Motoyama (Impul) finished in first position, as he did in the most recent official test at the same circuit. He set a time of 1:35.470, ahead of Seiji Ara (Cosmo Oil Cerumo) and Takeshi Tsuchiya (ARTA). Koji Yamanishi impressed with fourth place for 5Zigen, standing in for Michael Krumm who is competing in CART this weekend. Katsutomo Kaneishi was 11th of the 19 participants in the #3 Kondo Racing entry, with the team's only confirmed driver Yuji Tachikawa not present on the timesheets. The #4 Kondo drive is the only one still available in the series. Times can be viewed here.

 

9th March 2001 - Euro 3000:

Scassellati joins Great Wall in Euro 3000 Italy's Valerio Scassellati has signed to race for Great Wall Racing in Euro 3000 (previously referred to as Euro F3000), according to Prorace. Scassellati was third overall with two wins in the poorly supported Italian F3 series with Target Racing last year. He now joins the team of Luciano Traini, formerly First GP. Initial reports had suggested the team would be running two Chinese drivers in the series, and Chao Wang and Yang Liu were tipped for the drives.

 

8th March 2001 - International F3000:

Lancieri completes Durango line-up Italian Gabriele Lancieri will graduate to International F3000 this year with Durango Benetton Junior, where he will partner Brazil's Jaime Melo Jr. Soheil Ayari looked to be a strong contender for the drive after testing with Lancieri at Imola recently, but Lancieri has been given the drive thanks to the influence of team boss Ivone Pinton and ex-F1 driver Pierluigi Martini. After graduating from Italian F3, Lancieri has impressed in two seasons of Italian F3000. With Sighinolfi Autoracing, he was the most successful F3000 rookie in 1999 (equal fifth overall), while last year he was a championship contender for much of the season, his debut win at Vallelunga helping him to third overall in the championship.

 

8th March 2001 - International F3000:

Durango test at Vairano Durango Benetton Junior are testing at Vairano in Italy this week, concentrating on aerodynamic work. The test is also a chance to train the drivers, Jaime Melo Jr. and Gabriele Lancieri, who has been announced as the driver of the second car (see above). Durango then move on to Silverstone for the FIA testing on 12th-13th March. (Source: Durango)

 

8th March 2001 - International F3000:

Montagny lands Formula Nissan seat Frenchman Franck Montagny will race in Formula Nissan this season, after failing to land a seat in F3000. Montagny will race the #11 car in a three-car Epsilon by Graff team, alongside countrymen Gregoire de Galzain and Geoffrey Dellus. He impressed in collective testing at Jarama last week, finishing 3rd on day 1 and dropping to 16th overall after he didn't go out in the final afternoon when the track was dry. Another F3000 graduate, Tomas Scheckter (Vergani Racing), topped the timesheets. Montagny, 23, has raced for DAMS in F3000 for the past two seasons, having finished as French F3 runner-up in 1998. de Galzain also raced for DAMS in F3000 between 1997 and 1998, while Dellus graduates from French Formula Ford, where he was third overall last year.

 

8th March 2001 - International F3000:

Super Nova's Sao Paolo telemetry advantage? According to Zaz.com.br, Super Nova will have the use of telemetry data collected by Mario Haberfeld at Interlagos recently. Haberfeld was one of a number of drivers to test at the circuit in F3 machinery, while he also competed in the Brazilian 1000 miles sportscar race. Interlagos hosts the opening F3000 race at the end of this month. Haberfeld said [translated]: "It was very legal to participate in the Thousand Miles with Nelson Piquet, and also to kill the homesickness of F3. But best was to be able to bring all the information necessary to the engineers to let them know what [to expect] in Brazil. When they arrive at Interlagos, the engineers already go knowing everything about the lap, from the extension and angle of each curve to the undulations of asphalt." He added that he believes few teams have any concrete information about Interlagos, with those teams affiliated to F1 outfits only having privileged access to out-of-date year 2000 data. Haberfeld hopes that Super Nova will have an advantage as the cars will only need fine tuning, such as adjustments according to the ambient temperature, by the time they go out on track.

 

8th March 2001 - International F3000:

Paffett was looking for F3000 drive According to Autosport, British F3 Scholarship Class champion Gary Paffett's manager Martin Hines had approached some F3000 teams over the winter. However, Paffett is now close to signing with Team Rosberg for a German F3 campaign.

 

6th March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Miyamoto breaks arm in kart crash Rookie Hiro Miyamoto broke his arm in a karting accident last Friday (2nd March). The Japanese driver, 6th in Formula Dream last year, had signed for Mooncraft for his debut Formula Nippon season, but he will now be forced to miss this weekend's joint testing from Motegi and some races until he recovers. There is no news yet as to whether a replacement to drive the #15 car will be drafted in. News courtesy of Japanese correspondant Tooru Kitajima.

 

6th March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Yamanishi to stand in for Krumm Koji Yamanishi will stand in for Michael Krumm in the #6 5Zigen Formula Nippon car at the Motegi testing this weekend. Krumm has signed to race for Dale Coyne Racing in Champ Cars, where he will be making his debut this weekend at Monterrey, Mexico. It is not clear how the German will solve the problem of his clashing Nippon and CART commitments. News thanks to Tooru Kitajima.

 

6th March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Kaneishi to test for Kondo Katsutomo Kaneishi has emerged as an apparent contender for the last remaining Formula Nippon drive. Kaneishi will drive the #4 Olympic Kondo Racing Reynard in testing at Motegi. Kaneishi twice finished on the podium last year for ARTA, but his season came to an end with a spectacular crash at Fuji that saw his car split in two. News thanks to Japanese correspondant Tooru Kitajima.

 

3rd March 2001 - Euro F3000:

Spoldi and Cioci sign for Durango According to the official website, the drivers for Durango Formula's Euro F3000 team will be Michele Spoldi and Marco Cioci. Spoldi, 25, retains his seat as expected, having raced for Durango in last year's championship (then F3000 Italia) after leaving Sighinolfi. He was fourth overall in a single season of Italian F3 in 1999. Fellow Italian Cioci, 23, was 10th in Euro Formula Palmer Audi last year, having graduated from the Renault Megane Elf SportCup, and he also made an appearance in the final F3000 Italia round with First GP. At Durango's International F3000 team, only Jaime Melo Jr. has been confirmed so far. Soheil Ayari is expected to sign to partner the Brazilian, with Gabriele Lancieri the only other obvious candidate.

 

3rd March 2001 - International F3000:

Nordic Silverstone testing preview On Monday 12th and Tuesday 13th March, the final official test of the year before the season starts will take place at Silverstone. Coca-Cola Nordic Racing's Team Principal Derek Mower commented: "The Silverstone test will be important to the Coca-Cola Nordic Racing team for several reasons. Firstly, this will be the last time that the drivers and team will have a chance to run before the opening race in Brazil [on 31st March]. Secondly, it will be a good opportunity to prepare data ready for the Silverstone round in July. Our only concern will be the weather in March and how different this will be to that of July." Team Manager Chris Mower added: "We are looking forward to the Silverstone test where I am sure that both Justin [Wilson] and Tomas [Enge] will again be amongst the quickest drivers on the track. This will be our last chance to develop the cars before Brazil, where our first aim as a team is to qualify as close to the front of the grid as possible." (Source: Motorsport.com / F3000.com)

 

3rd March 2001 - International F3000:

Nordic test correction... On 1st March we repeated news from BBC Ceefax that stated Nordic would be testing at Silverstone on 30th and 31st March. We now notice that this is of course incorrect, as the team will be present at this time in Brazil for the opening F3000 round! Nordic will be testing at the circuit along with the other teams on 12th and 13th March for the official FIA tests. Apologies for the blatant error...

 

2nd March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Krumm seals CART deal as Dale Coyne links up with PRG It was confirmed today that Germany's Michael Krumm will be competing in the opening CART round at Monterrey, Mexico, in just over a week's time. Krumm, last year's Formula Nippon runner-up, has signed for Dale Coyne Racing, which has formed an alliance with the Team PRG squad of Andreas Leberle and Christian Danner. He had already re-signed for Formula Nippon team 5Zigen according to the Formula Nippon website, and Leberle commented: "We are still finalizing the remaining sponsorships for Michael and hope to have further announcements in the next 30 days. Michael also has commitments to run the GT and Formula Nippon Championships in Japan, so we are also working through some of the date conflicts." Krumm will drive an orange and white #19 Lola-Ford Cosworth, named "The Dark Dog Car" in deference to the car's sponsor. He is partnered by former British F2 front-runner Luiz Garcia Jr. Dale Coyne commented on the alliance between the two teams: "If you look at what PRG has to bring to the table and combine it with what our team has in place, it makes sense. Team PRG has worked diligently over the off-season to procure new sponsors, while Dale Coyne Racing has the infrastructure and personnel to run a competitive two-car effort, as demonstrated by our strong end of season showing in 2000. Given the extreme competitiveness of Champ Car racing these days, we will be stronger together than apart. We all felt that this is the best possible scenario to run a competitive program in 2001." (Source: Dale Coyne Racing)

 

2nd March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Driver line-up at Tokyo yesterday (Thursday)

Only 1 of 22 seats left as Formula Nippon launches for 2001 The official launch of the 2001 Formula Nippon championship took place yesterday [click here for larger version of the driver line-up photo, courtesy of Alex Yoong press], with only one seat remaining according to the official site. This is the #4 seat at Olympic Kondo Racing, who will reveal their driver line-up next Tuesday (6th). Yuji Tachikawa has been confirmed at the team in the #3 car. The other confirmations are: Michael Krumm (Team 5Zigen) who has also signed for Dale Coyne Racing in CART (see story above); Yudai Igarashi (Team LeMans); Andre Couto (Team Morinaga Nova); Masahiko Kageyama & Seiji Ara (Cosmo Oil Cerumo); Narain Karthikeyan (Impul); Masahiko Kageyama (Takagi B-1) and Hideki Noda and Jaroslaw Wierczuk (DoCoMo Dandelion). Despite Team Leyjun pulling out to concentrate on their Japanese GT programme for a year, a strong 22-car grid will line-up in the first round at Suzuka on March 25th. The full list of entries confirmed so far can be seen on the silly season page. Thanks to Tooru Kitajima for contributing the news.

 

2nd March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Yoong (l) and Karthikeyan (r) yesterday

Yoong and Karthikeyan hoping for good season Two Asian drivers competing in Formula Nippon this season commented on their hopes for the year at the official Formula Nippon launch ceremony in Tokyo yesterday. Narain Karthikeyan has been confirmed at Impul. The former British F3 frontrunner, dominant in this year's Korean GP, said: "I am very happy to be here, especially with Team IMPUL which is the most wonderful team in Formula Nippon. I want to learn every necessary thing from my team principal Mr.[Kazuyoshi] Hoshino. I hope to have a satisfactory season for myself." Second-year driver Alex Yoong, now racing in the main Team LeMans squad, said: "I will aim for consistent results over all the 10 rounds this year. I am well prepared for this year and I believe I have a good chance to do well with the backing of a very good team in Team LeMans."

 

2nd March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Seven "Gaijins" in Formula Nippon line-up The confirmed line-up of drivers for this season's Formula Nippon championship in includes seven "Gaijins" (non-Japanese drivers). These are: Ralph Firman Jr (PIAA Nakajima); Michael Krumm (5Zigen), who was subsequently confirmed as a Dale Coyne Racing driver (see separate story); Alex Yoong (Team LeMans); Jaroslaw Wierczuk (DoCoMo Dandelion); Narain Karthikeyan (Impul); Andre Couto (Team Morinaga Nova) and Richard Lyons (Team Morinaga Nova).

 

2nd March 2001 - International F3000:

Villeneuve wants F1, F3000 & US drivers at the Olympics Former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve has commented that he would like to see motor racing recognised as a sport at the Olympics. The Canadian was quoted on DSF as stating that kart racing for medals would be a good idea. He said that F1 drivers, whom he regards as the best, should be guaranteed the right to compete, with drivers from Formula 3000 and drivers from the US series also invited to take part. Motor racing at the Olympics has been suggested before, but obstacles to overcome include changing people's perceptions of the sport and the need to parity of equipment.

 

1st March 2001 - Formula Nippon:

Lyons in surprise Team Nova deal Having tested for the team recently, Northern Irishman Richard Lyons has been confirmed as a Team Nova driver according to Autosport. Lyons was runner-up to Richard Tarling in Formula Palmer Audi in 1999.

 

1st March 2001 - International F3000:

Sperafico #2 set to sign for Coloni Rodrigo Sperafico is set to graduate to International F3000 with his twin brother Ricardo this season. Rodrigo was set to sign this week for Coloni, the team he impressed with in testing at Imola, according to Autosport. He joins brother Ricardo who signed for Petrobras Junior at the start of the year. Both Brazilians competed successfully in Italian F3000 last year, Ricardo taking the title for ADM Motorsport with Rodrigo taking fourth overall with the Draco Junior Team. Rodrigo had the upper-hand when they competed in SudAm F3 between 1998 and 1999, taking 7th and 3rd overall respectively in the two years, compared to Ricardo's 9th and 4th. Fabrizio Gollin has already re-signed for Coloni, who were recently said to be concerned about his fitness level.

 

1st March 2001 - International F3000:

Prost confirm F3000 team name Prost's PSN-backed F3000 team will be known as "Prost F3000 Junior Team" from this season, according to Autosport. Previous reports suggested the squad, entered as Gauloises Formula in 1999 and 2000, would enter under the name "Prostar", which they adopted to replace Apomatox when their affiliation with Prost became official.

 

1st March 2001 - International F3000:

Camathias in Jerez crash Rookie driver Joel Camathias suffered a heavy accident in last week's private Jerez test, it has emerged. The 20-year old Swiss KTR driver was unhurt in the crash, according to Autosport.

 

1st March 2001 - Euro F3000:

Orbit Motorsport to race only in ISSC Orbit Motorsport will not be competing in Euro F3000 this season, John Reynolds confirmed. Instead the team will concentrate solely on their new effort in the inaugural International Single Seater Challenge (ISSC). Reynolds, who runs the Silverstone-based team with Roy Kennedy, said in an ISSC press-release: "We decided that Formula 3000 is not for us this season. As a one-make series, the ISSC offers real value for money and tremendous racing for drivers, and wonderful racing for spectators. I think once a dozen cars are out there, grids will fill rapidly." Orbit competed for part of last season in Italian F3000, where they were affiliated with Team Astromega. The partnership broke down leading to the team's pull-out. A recent report claimed that Orbit would be returning to F3000 action as one of 14 confirmed Euro F3000 teams, although this is not now the case.

 

1st March 2001 - International F3000:

Red Bull to leave Sauber; implications for Red Bull Junior? Drinks company Red Bull is to end its association with Sauber's F1 team at the end of this season. The company fell out with the Swiss team as Sauber chose the inexperienced Kimi Raikkonen rather than Enrique Bernoldi, the driver Red Bull had backed through two seasons of F3000 at Helmut Marko's Red Bull Junior Team. With Bernoldi now racing for European Minardi in F1, Red Bull are set to continue sponsoring the Brazilian. Peter Sauber commented: "The situation with Red Bull is really special - Red Bull is majority shareholder but I have the majority of the votes. That the majority shareholder wants to have a say is understandable. But you can't have two people running a racing team. That is also why the cooperation with Red Bull will end at the end of 2001" It is not clear whether Red Bull's change of strategy will have an effect on the Red Bull Junior F3000 team. The fact that European Minardi also run an F3000 team may have significant implications for the Austrian squad.

 

1st March 2001 - International F3000:

More on Albers' European Minardi contract Paul Stoddart has hinted that Christijan Albers' new contract with the Australian could lead to the former German F3 champion testing for European Minardi F1. Team boss Stoddart told Autosport Online: "We are trying to 'fast-track' the team's route to increased competitiveness in F1 while also setting down some strong foundations for the future. It is clear that young drivers are being snapped up by Grand Prix teams at increasingly early stages in their racing careers and signed to contracts. We know Christijan well from running him in our Formula 3000 team last season and rate him very highly." He also explained the details of the contract: "In practical terms he is free to compete in other racing categories this year, but we have first call on his services in F1, should they be required. The logical place for any young Grand Prix aspirant to start is as a test driver, since it provides an ideal opportunity to accumulate track mileage and to get to know the team and how it works." Dutchman Albers himself commented: "This is a good step for my racing career. I am aiming to broaden my racing experience this season and am therefore working on drives in a couple of international series. I really hope there will be an opportunity during the year, however, to do some testing for European Minardi F1." Albers is expected to race a Persson Mercedes in the DTM this season alongside Thomas Jäger.

 

1st March 2001 - International F3000:

Oliveira ruled out of F3000 debut Brazilian SudAm F3 runner-up Joao de Oliveira will not be making the jump up to one of the Formula 3000 series this year. Despite his announcement that he was looking for a drive, he has instead opted to move into German F3 with the Swiss Racing Team. Oliveira had tested F3000 machinery for teams including Petrobras Junior and Durango this winter. Another driver ruled out of making an F3000 debut is Germany's Pierre Kaffer. The German F3 veteran has opted to remain in the series for another season, despite stating that he had plans to compete in F3000 at the end of last season.

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